Category Archives: Personal Finance

Helping Your Business Save Money In 2018

With a new year just around the corner, it’s time for your business to set its aims and objectives for the year ahead. It’s in every business’ interest to save money, and taking steps to do so could help your business become more efficient and productive without reducing staffing costs. Take a look at some great ways to help your business save money in 2018.

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Reduce your travel spend

Businesses can spend thousands each year on unnecessary travel, which can be considered wasteful in the age of digital technology. Instead of traveling to meetings with colleagues and clients, try more innovative ways of meeting such as video conferencing. There are plenty of useful video conferencing tools out there which can help your business to communicate effectively with people all over the world. Consider adopting your working practices to allow for more flexible meetings.

Be more eco-friendly

Your business could benefit from adopting more eco-friendly practices, something that could help you to save money while also benefiting the environment. There are plenty of ways to make your business greener, with things you can start doing immediately such as recycling waste and switching off appliances and equipment at the end of the day. Greener practices make a positive impression on staff and clients too, adding further benefits to making your office green.

Switch to online services

There are many online services available to businesses that can help save money. Online accounting software, cloud computing and an online check stub maker are all useful tools for businesses. If you’re used to outsourcing your services such as payroll, consider making use of the services that are out there that have low subscription fees and bring the processes back into your business. Do your research carefully to ensure that any online providers you choose have the right security credentials, as online fraud is a problem facing many businesses in the current climate. Many online business tools offer free trials, allowing you to pick the right ones for you to see what’s the most suitable for your business.

Switch providers

How often do you look at other suppliers for your business utilities, phone contracts and other service providers? If it’s not something that’s reviewed regularly, you could be missing out on better tariffs being offered by other providers. Review all of your supplier contracts and see if there’s any wiggle-room to reduce costs, and compare the prices with other suppliers who might be able to offer you a better deal for less. It’s also worth shopping around for better deals on your tech equipment, as you may find that leasing or renting your equipment works out to be cheaper in the long run.

If your business is serious about spending money, then you need to implement some real strategies to help you achieve your targets. For more tips and advice on saving money for your business, the finance category offers some useful insights. Make a pledge to start saving money and enjoy a more efficient and effective business in 2018.

Are You Managing Your Money Efficiently?

It can feel like our money goes in one hand and straight out the other. No matter how hard you work or how much you earn, it can seem as though you never quite have enough, and managing money can be tricky to get right. However it’s important that you do so, falling behind with bills and not having enough money to get by is incredibly stressful. Here are three ways you can manage your money better.

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Budget

Knowing exactly what you have coming in each month and what goes out is key to staying on top of your finances. Without a budget it’s so easy to overspend, and if this is a long term habit it doesn’t take long before you’re behind with bills and getting yourself in a pickle. You could use a budgeting app, software or use a manual method such as a wall calendar or notepad. Either way, knowing exactly where your money is going, and the dates bills and other direct debits are due is essential. You could make it easier by calling up all of the companies you pay money to and have them take payment on the same date in the month. It’s also a good idea to have a separate bills account, that way you’re not accidentally spending into your bill money.

 

Get Out of Debt

Being in debt is a huge drain on your finances. This is because debts accumulate a lot of interest, meaning every month you carry a balance you’re paying additional money to the company. Over time, you might only able to afford the minimum payment each month, which only pays off the interest. This means you could be making significant payment but never bringing down the actual balance where you’re only covering the interest. If things are bad and you can no longer afford to pay, speak to a debt management company or debt charity who will be able to help. They can often negotiate reduced payments and have interest frozen. Another option if you have good credit would be to take out a consolidation loan or credit card, use the money to pay off all of your other accounts. That way you’re only paying one lot of interest instead of many, and some accounts may have an interest free period giving you time to pay off as much as possible off the balance before the interest is added on.

 

Plan For The Future

Even if you’re getting by ok in the here and now, it’s important to plan for the future. For example when you retire you will want to live comfortably and so start preparing for this early. You could pay into a retirement fund, and also consider a gold-backed ira. This is an investment you can make now which will pay off later in life. You should also be planning for the unexpected, an emergency would leave you needing cash right away. It could be a medical issue, you could lose your job and need money to pay your mortgage or something else entirely. Getting insured and having a savings account for emergencies are two ways you can protect yourself here.

 

If you know you’re not the best with money, why not get yourself sorted and make 2018 a much better year financially. A little planning in the here and now goes a long way to prevent you from getting into trouble with money and ensuring you’re set for the future.

 

Moving Abroad With No Money: Yes, You Can

When you have decided to pack up your life and get on a plane, it may be out of necessity or just for the fun of it. The move seems to be for the wealthy only, through, or for those who manage to plan and be patient for an entire year in advance. It is actually possible to move abroad tomorrow and start a new life as soon as possible – even if your savings account is empty.


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If you’re going to be broke somewhere, it may as well be somewhere tropical and comfortable, right? Here is how you can muster up the courage to move with no money, and have peace of mind enough to enjoy yourself a bit as well.

Work for a non-profit

If you happen to be seated on the plane, anxiously wondering what on earth you’re going to do when you land, we suggest you locate a non-profit organisation and seek work there. Not only will they be in need of all the help they’re offered, but you may also be able to find accommodation there as many provide their staff with housing as well.

Spend the little money you have on securing a roof over your head, and consider taking up a quick loan to cover your expenses until you’ve found your feet; personalloan.co is a great place to start, for example.

You will have a roof over your head, something to keep you busy, and a full network of people who are friendly and willing to help you out with something more permanent.

Find work as a language teacher

Sooner or later, you’ll need work that pays, though, and you’ll be amazed to discover the amount of opportunities for English-speakers abroad. Ask your friends at the charity or hit the search engine; gooverseas.com has a lot of opportunities listed every day, so you should be able to find something suitable there.

You may want to continue the kind of arrangement where you get food and shelter in exchange for work, in which case you may want to consider a volunteering program where you can work and live on an organic farm. It sounds lovely in anyway, right?

Find the expats

The key to success when you’re transitioning abroad with no cash to your name is to find the rest of the expats. It’s often a tight-knit community, depending on the country you’ve gone to, so when you manage to find one or two, you’ll usually discover the rest of them quite soon.

Expats help each other out, so don’t by shy and take advantage of any opportunity that may arise. They know where to find a cheap meal, the best kind of accommodation – and they may even be able to hook you up with a permanent job.

While you’re in for an uncertain and turbulent experience, it may also be the best time of your life. Stay positive, make an adventure of it, and be safe by reaching out to other expats or non-profits for help.

 

Diversity and Stability: The Difficult Balance of Building a Stock Portfolio

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If making money through prudent investment were easy, everyone would be doing it. In an age where investment is an increasingly perilous minefield subject to the caprices of numerous world markets, investors face a difficult balancing act. Where do they invest their money to minimize their risk while making realistic and tangible returns on their investment?

Nobody wants to bet the farm on an investment that could either double or burn through your investment within a year. Likewise, nobody wants to sink their money into an investment that will trundle along safely enough but without any yield or less yield than any given high street savings account.  While calculated risk is an intrinsic part of investment, there is a way to find a happy medium.

Diversification

Conventional wisdom dictates that the more diverse your stock portfolio, the less vulnerable you are to risk. It sounds simple, but the reality is that it’s difficult to know where, how and how much to invest to avert risk while increasing your yield. Let’s say you have $10,000 to invest. If that money is spread across 50 investments and only 2 or 3 are profitable, your might not be courting risk but your yield will be significantly hampered. For best results, it’s recommended to limit your investment to no more than 15-20 stocks across a broad range of industries. This way you’re protected against major risks yet your investment is not stretched so thin that you face the risk of low-to-no return on investment. This is a difficult balance which doesn’t come overnight. Investors tend to spend years learning their risk tolerance and the extent to which they’re willing to ‘gamble’ on the prospect of a high yield.

Of course, the greatest guard against risk aversion is making sure your money is invested in the right places in the first place but this tends to be untenable unless you understand the different types of risk.

Types of risk

Broadly speaking risk comes in two categories when it comes to investment:

Systematic Risks – These risks (also known as “undiversifyable” or “market risks” are associated with all businesses and industry and are dictated by the macroeconomic conditions of the global climate. They are determined by inflation rates, political instaibilities (like Brexit in the UK), and international exchange rates. These will affect virtiually every stock which is shy synthetic investments have been created to immunize investors against the caprices of the market. Bitcoin, for example, is a decentralized digital currency that appeals to many investors for exactly this reason. You can see its value here on the bitcoin price chart. While a nascent concept, many are investing in bitcoin out of an inherent mistrust of the infrastructure of the financial industry.

Diversifiable – Diversifiable risks are not systematic and are specific to particular businesses, industries and markets. They are determined by the growth or stability of these industries and businesses and as such can be averted much more easily through diversification.

While no investment strategy is bullet proof, investors tend to be able to minimize risks without compromising their yield by striking that balance that can only come with time, experience and education.

Money Saving Tips for Moving on a Tight Budget

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Unless you’re one of those minimalist types who only owns enough possessions to comfortably fill a rucksack, moving can be pretty daunting and pretty expensive. Getting all of your stuff safely from your old home to your new place can be a huge drain on your mental and financial resources, but when it comes to the money side of things, well, it’s pretty easy to cut costs and keep your move manageable.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make moving on a tight budget possible:

Research the Cost of Hiring a Professional vs. a DIY Move

A lot of movers fall into the trap of thinking that it’ll be cheaper for them to do it themselves than hire professional interstate movers, and although in some cases this will be true, it is far from a sure thing. In fact, a lot of people end up spending more on their DIY move due to their inexperience in the field.

To work out which option will cost you the less, be sure to get at least three different quotes from removal companies and do the same for truck hire, taking into account any fuel costs you may be expected to pay too. Then, work out how much of your time will be taken up by a DIY move. Go with the option that looks the best on paper, but remember, if you’re bad at packing and safely moving stuff, you could end up damaging your things, which may cost you more in the long-term. It’s something to think about.

Never Pay for Boxes

Boxes are an essential part of the average move, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to the store or log on to Amazon to buy them. You can find empty boxes everywhere from your workplace to local stores, and even on Craigslist and they’re fundamentally no different to the boxes you’ll buy, so why buy?

Cut Off Your Utilities

Not everyone reading this will be able to make use of this option, but if your utility company won’t let you prorate your bills to coincide with your moving date, meaning you’ll end up paying for a whole extra month, even when you won’t be there, you could consider cutting off your supply a few days early, so that you can save some cash. It might be difficult to do this with electricity, but phone and cable bills should be manageable.

Minimize Your Stuff

If you have a lot of stuff that you don’t really get much use out of, instead of paying more to have them moved to your new place, why not sell the good stuff and donate the serviceable, but slightly worn, so that you’ll not only save money on your moving costs, but you’ll actually make a little cash too? It really makes sense, and you’ll be able to start afresh with a less cluttered home at your new place.

Implementing as many of the above tips and tricks as you can, should see a reduction in your moving costs, and it just might help to take some of the stress out of the process too!

 

Lost Your Job: Avoiding Financial Ruin

When you get called into the office by your boss, the last thing you probably expect to hear is that you have lost your job. After all, you might have worked at the company for years. But the climate for businesses is dicey. And it’s easy for companies to fall into financial hard times Despite the fact you might be a long serving employee if your role isn’t crucial, you could be at risk of going. One of the first things people start panicking about when they lose their job is money. After all, if you have a mortgage and household bills to pay for, it could put you in a stressful position. In fact, a lot of people see debt in their future if they do lose their job. However, it doesn’t have to be the case you have to end up facing bankruptcy. In fact, here is how to avoid financial ruin when you lose your job.

Look into temporary work

It might be a while before you manage to find a new position. After all, the number of people on the job hunt can make it hard to compete for jobs. You might be going up against individuals with a ton more experience than you. So it can be challenging to manage to win the job. However, you don’t want to be out of work for long with no money coming in. Otherwise, you might end up facing financial hardship. Therefore, you might want to go down the route of finding some temporary work. After all, it can get you by for a few months. And with a temporary position, you can often start straight away. In fact, they can ring you the same day with some potential work. So you can soon be in an office earning some extra money. Of course, when it comes to temporary work you might not be doing exactly what you want to do. But it’s a great way to gain some extra money to ensure you don’t get into debt. Therefore, contact some agencies about you being placed on their books. In most cases, they will call you in for an interview and might get you to do some basic tests. Make it clear to them if there is anything you don’t want to do. After all, you don’t want to be miserable. And hopefully, they will find you something straight away so you can start earning again.

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Cut your bills

If you have a regular income coming in, you might not be so careful when it comes to things like buying food. In fact, you might put pricier brands in the shopping trolley. And might use the electric all day long. However, now that you are out of work, you need to be a lot wiser when it comes to your bills. After all, if they are too high, you might struggle to pay for them now you have no income. And if you miss any payments, debtville could be on the horizon. Therefore, when it comes to food shopping, you need to make sure you go for the cheapest food possible to cut the cost. And buy ingredients which can help you make meals which will last a couple of days. As for electric, you need to only have it on when necessary. In fact, rather than going on devices and watching TV, it’s worth going for walks or doing cheap activities in the local area. And make sure you aren’t wasting water in the humble abode. Opt for a quick shower rather than a bath, and you might want to hand wash your clothes rather than relying on the washing machine. Cutting the bills down will help you through this challenging time.

Call the suppliers

When you go through a loss of a job, it’s easy to feel all alone. And as the bills start piling up, you might think there is no one to talk to. In fact, you dread contacting the suppliers as you worry what they might say. But if you have been a good payer in the past, you are likely to find they will look into ways to help you during this tough time. For instance, they might be able to put the bill into smaller payments, so it’s easier for you to pay overtime. Or they might be able to delay you paying the bills for a month or two until you are back on your feet. And when it comes to your mortgage, make sure you also talk to them. After all, it might be the case they can delay the payment date to ensure you have the money to pay for it. Therefore, it’s not always the case you have to be headed for financial ruin. And if there is a bill you do need some help paying, you could always consider getting a short-term loan. You can read more about same day loans and whether they would work for you. Just make sure you know how much the interest is. You don’t want something which will end up crippling you in debt!

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Turn to friends and family

A lot of people put their head in the sand after a job loss. After all, they don’t want to tell friends and family what happened. But they are the best people to support you after losing your job. After all, they will give you the love and support you need in the weeks after. And as for financially, they might be able to lend you some money to tide you over until you find a new job. It can be a lot safer than going for a lending agency. After all, your family members are not going to charge you interest! And even if they can’t help you financially, they might be able to help you when it comes to food or transport. That way, you can cut the costs, so you don’t end up getting into debt!

And make sure you get your rightful money when you leave the company. They should pay you at least a week’s wages if you get let go. Therefore, check your contract to see where you stand!

How To Get More Out Of Your IRA

When it comes to IRAs, you might think that you’ve got yours more or less figured out. After all, these accounts have been around since the seventies, and haven’t had all that many changes. However, there are plenty of ways you could be getting more out of your IRA, which very few people exploit. Here are a few you should be looking into.

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Consolidate your Accounts

If you have a few IRA accounts, you should definitely consider consolidation. This is a facet of private fund management far too many people neglect, and then wind up regretting later. By going through with this, it will accomplish a couple of things. First of all, it will save you some money, especially if you have a high number of IRAs, spread out over many custodians. Many IRA custodians charge account maintenance fees on accounts with small balances, so consolidating these can grind down your maintenance costs. Secondly, consolidating will simplify managing your personal finances. Instead of having to keep track of multiple IRAs under multiple custodians, you’ll be able to put all of your available funds under a single custodian. Do this, and you’ll make rebalancing your retirement assets so much easier. When you have your retirement finances set up in a simpler way, you’re much more likely to stay on track towards your long-term savings goals.

Asset Allocation and Location

It’s fairly likely that if you have a few IRA accounts and 401(k) plans, there’s going to be at least some duplication of asset classes. Furthermore, it’s very possible that your overall asset allocation might not be quite what you believe it to be, given the number of different accounts. You need to consider whether you’re putting your assets in the right place, at the right time, and also whether you’re coordinating this with all your other accounts. Once you’ve got a firm handle on your accounts, evaluate all of the funds in them, both taxable and tax-deferred, aiming to rub out duplication, and moving your assets to the best choice of account. Perhaps most importantly, you should look into moving any fixed-income securities into your tax-deferred accounts wherever it’s possible. This can help you bump up your overall return over time.

Tax Diversification

Aside from diversifying your assets and hitting their location on the head, you should also look into tax diversification – having both a traditional and a Roth IRA. By doing this, you’ll give yourself the ability to draw money out of whatever account will leave you with the most possible after-tax income. Distributions from a Roth IRA are untaxed, while those from a regular IRA are taxed at normal income rates. You may not think that you need both forms of IRA, and you may be right. However, if you want to maximize your financial security in retirement, you should certainly read up on the difference between them, and figure out which course of action is best suited to your personal circumstances.

Follow this advice, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’re making the most of your IRA.

How Much Does Getting Out on The Road Really Cost in the UK?

Having your own vehicle gives you a sense of freedom and independence like no other. No more unreliable public transport or bugging friends and family for lifts- you can go where you want, when you want. However having this luxury comes at a cost, and the process from learning to drive to owning your own car is an expensive and time-consuming one. Here are the costs to budget for when you want to get out onto the road for the first time.

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Provisional Driving License

The very first thing you will need to do to get out on the road is send off for your provisional driving license. You can apply for this up to two months before your 17th birthday, although it will only become valid the day you turn 17. It costs £34 if you apply online and £43 if you apply by post, and lasts for ten years. You won’t be able to take any driving lessons until you have this.

Driving Lessons, Theory and Practical Test.

The next cost you will come up against as a new driver is driving lessons. While there is no minimum amount of lessons you need to take, the DVLA suggests most people will need around 45 hours with an instructor and 22 hours private practice with a friend or family member. Since the average price of driving lessons in the UK is £24, you need to make sure you can afford this each week until you’re ready to pass. Since everyone is different, it could take you up to double the recommended amount. So ensure you work out your finances so that you’re not running out halfway through. While you’re taking lessons, at some point before your practical, you will need to take your theory test. This costs £23, although you of course have to consider additional tests if you don’t pass. Once you feel ready and confident on the roads, you will be able to take your practical. This costs £62 on weekdays and £75 on weekends. Again be sure you have money for additional lessons and driving tests if you’re not successful. People usually pass on the second or thirds attempt, but it’s not uncommon for people to need more than this especially if they’re very nervous.

Cost of Car, Insurance, and Tax

You might have ideas about the kind of car you want to drive, but insurance for new drivers (especially if you’re a young new driver) is extortionate. Therefore you’re probably going to be limited to the cars you can drive unless you have a lot of money. Finding a car and affordable insurance is a balancing act. Usually, slightly newer/ more expensive cars are a little cheaper on insurance. If you’re getting the car on finance, your best bet would be to work out how much you can afford to pay in total for them both each month. Then run lots of quotes for different cars through comparison sites to work out which car is best for insurance. Check out how much tax you will have to pay too, as this will bump up the monthly cost for some cars.

Fuel

Once you’ve passed your test and got a car sorted, fuel is the next cost to consider. If you mainly do short, local trips such as to work and back each day it shouldn’t cost too much more than £10 a week. However, it’s always worth ensuring your car has at least a quarter tank of petrol at any given time. There are companies like New Era Fuels out there who can come and re-fuel you in a pinch, although being well prepared will avoid you getting in this situation in the first place. If you’re signed up to a breakdown service, they will often come out if you run out of petrol too- but be sure to check your policy.

Repairs and MOT

Finally, you need to consider the cost of any repairs. If you’re lucky, you won’t need any work doing until it’s picked up at your annual MOT. This costs a maximum of £54.85 and then any work you need doing on top. As with any machine, things can and do break down. You need to make sure you can afford to have any parts fixed or replaced to keep your car running safely.

 

Start Building Your Financial Safety Net

You can’t predict the future, so even if you’re financially comfortable at the moment, you can’t guarantee that you won’t suffer a costly mishap somewhere down the road. However, you can take steps to ensure that accidents or setbacks don’t drain your finances. Since trying to avoid them altogether is an unreliable solution, the best thing you can do is start building a financial safety net so that you can stay completely in control during a crisis. Here are a few ways you can begin your emergency fund.

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Start saving

When you have a steady income, it’s a good idea to set a small amount of money aside each month. Ideally, you should set this money to come out automatically each month so that you can just forget about it and let it slowly build. If there’s ever an emergency, such as home repairs, accidents that result in hospital stays and missed work, or major financial setbacks, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how much money you have to see you through this difficult time.

Reduce your loan payments

In the past, you might have taken out loans to tide you over until your next payday, and you were certain that you would be able to pay it off soon. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you might end up in more debt than ever. Fortunately, not all is lost. All you have to do is reach out to a bank or debt helpers and ask them to consolidate payday loans, or any other debt you might have. It’s that easy! Experts can eliminate late fees, stop collection calls, and lower you monthly payments so you have more money to spend on necessities.

Earn money online

If you have a bit more free time in the evenings, you could also pursue other online ventures. Test your skills as an amateur filmmaker, post your videos on YouTube, and then enable adverts so you get paid each time somebody watches them. Over a billion people visiting YouTube every single month so finding viewers for your videos isn’t difficult. Alternatively, if the written word if your preferred art form, then you could try to get paid for writing articles. You can apply for a part-time position with a content writing company and write as many articles as you can in your spare time, or you can try to pitch stories to local newspapers and online magazines.

Trim your bills

Even if you pay your bills yearly, you can find ways to cut down how much you pay for water, energy, and wifi every month. The easiest solution is to go green. Start by switching to energy efficient LED bulbs, unplugging all appliances you’re not using, and insulating your home so you don’t need to turn up your thermostat as much. Doing these small things can reduce your energy consumption, saving you money on your bills each month and helping the environment.  Going paperless with your bills can also save you money.

 

The Financials Of Family Life

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Starting a family with someone you love, or on your own, is a massive emotional decision. The birth of one’s child is often described as the greatest moment of a person’s life. It is then rather predictably superseded when your child starts making you proud by uttering their first word, walking for the first time, and getting through their first day at school. And that is just while they are an infant. When they are grown up, and they have a job, a loving relationship and children of their own, the joy that you feel is renewed. However, having a child is also a massive financial decision, and while it may seem rather cold to think about human life in such terms, the reality is that children are expensive. A study conducted in the US found that as of this year, the average cost of raising a child until they are seventeen is $233,610. The most troubling aspect of this statistic is that it rose by 3% from last year. The fact that it is getting more expensive should give you pause. As a parent, you will take on the responsibility of raising your child, and if you do not think you will have enough money to do it right now, you may want to wait for a while until your finances are in better shape. Here are a few of the things that you will need to pay for and how to make them more manageable:

There are a lot of initial expenses when you have a child, such as natal care, birthing classes, a nursery for your child, and all the toys, clothes, and safety equipment that they’ll need. If you find that your budget is stretched by these demands, you may want to think about borrowing some money. If you conduct a personal loan comparison, you can get the best rates. It is a risk because the costs of raising your child will continue to mount and starting out in debt is not a good choice.

The study cited above also found that the largest single expense associated with raising a child is housing, which accounts for an average of 29% of the cost. At nearly one-third, the place where you live should be a major factor in your decision to start sharing it with a baby. For example, you may be wondering whether it is better to rent or to buy a house. Well, a study conducted in April found that homeowners pay from 33% to 93% more than renters in all 50 states and Washington D.C. However, if you are starting a family, buying a house may have its upsides because it brings with it lots of benefits such as financial stability and tax deductions. Besides, with every month that passes, you will be closer to owning your own home and being able to bequeath it to your child. Conversely, renting has been found to be cheaper if you do it on a month to month basis. This does not offer you the security of knowing that you will not have a price hike or that your building will be sold from under you. There are benefits to both options, but choosing the right one depends on your own circumstances.