Where are all our responsible road users?

Head on collisions, pedestrian killed, taxi rolls, 4 injured – one dead; these are all headlines we see in major newspapers and media outlets. The N1 outbound has become notorious for its incidents of road-related accidents. As a motorist you can try your best to apply precaution on the road, but there is always that one person who loses the plot and causes the bereavement of many lives.

Pay attention on the road

It’s crucial to pay attention to your surroundings, there are plenty of things going on around you while driving and in an instant everything can go from perfectly fine, to disaster. You main focus should be concentrating on the road; that means to continuously check your review mirror and side mirrors – danger can strike from any side. There are motorists who use their commute time to eat their breakfasts, drink their coffee, apply their makeup and change their outfits and these are often the drivers that are involved in road accidents. Too many times it happens that we are in a rush to get things done, and then end up being negligent because we want to scrape off a few minutes from our schedule.

Accidents cost money

To be involved in an accident costs a lot of money, even the person who may not have been at fault will also have to cough up a few bucks.  There are the cost panel beaters, medicines, etc. No one goes wishing to be involved in car accident, but if you can precautious on the road then there is a great chance that you can dodge a bullet that sends you to an early grave.

Obey the rules of the road

The government makes prospective drivers pass a test before they get behind the wheel for a reason; vehicles can be a danger to those who don’t know how to properly operate it according to the laws of the road. Take care to adhere to speed limits, traffic signs and all other traffic signals that you may come across on the road.

According to CrisisOnCall, “Traffic laws are put in place to protect all of the travellers who are sharing space on the road. Following traffic signals isn’t an option, those drivers that treat it as such are usually the ones you see pulled over to the side of the road being handed a violation by officers or off the side of the road due to being involved in an accident.”

There is hope

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced that road fatalities over the 2014/15 festive season showed a slight decrease when compared to previous years.

“Though we half-heartedly acknowledged the decline,” said Peters, ”We have no cause to celebrate as our people continue to be killed on our roads due to irresponsible and murderous acts of fellow road users. These senseless killings could have been avoided if we all behaved as responsible law abiding citizens.”

Even a slight decline is an indicator that change can come about. If we all work together by obeying the rules of the road, there can be change. Whether you are a pedestrian or a motorist, we need to be responsible, cautious and have respect for all road users.

Choosing the best home security company for you

Having your personal space invaded leaves a cold chill down your spine. It unlocks raw emotions of shock and trepidation, leaving the door open for fear to enter. The issue of who to trust constantly lingers on your mind as you check out every passer-by. A common stranger entering your home is enough to make you alert, but when that stranger is someone you are supposed to trust for your own safety, it leaves a “what if?” question in the back of your mind.

When installing an alarm system, how do we know that the company doing the installation is as trustworthy as they appear?

Seek advice

There are so many adverts depicting security companies and how they are the best in their field, but who do you actually believe? All their security measures sound the same and choosing one or the other turns into a daunting task. The easiest way to find a trust-worthy company is through a personal referral. Trusted friends and family who have alarm systems should be able to tell you their experiences with their chosen security company and what makes them the best.

The warranty

It’s important to ask upfront about the company’s warranty policy. Some warranties that are provided by security companies only last for six months; this may include the repair and upkeep of the alarm system as part of the warranty offer. First ensure that you are aware of the types of services that are included in the price.

Are their employees certified?

When you contact potential security system companies, ask if their employees are trained and certified. Security jobs in Gauteng, Cape Town or any other South African town makes it is essential for security to be provided in high level crime cities. These days you can’t take the word of any official looking person who arrives at your door – always make them provide identification first. These professionals must have at least gone through extensive training in electronic security.

 Thoroughly read through the contract

Don’t feel pressured into signing anything after you have chosen the best security company for you. There might be clauses that you are unaware of, so be sure to discuss the terms and ask questions before signing.

Set up meetings with the security companies

Once you have gone through your search of finding a couple of security companies you should schedule to meet with them. Avoid making telephone calls to the respective companies, it’s best to do it in person, to get the best possible feedback. Upon arrival at the company, ask for identification from the person whom you are meeting and consult further about home inspection and security recommendations for your property. When getting a quote be sure to get it in writing for that extra absurdity.

Knowing that you chose the right security company that suits your safety needs brings about peace of mind. Installing an alarm system in your home is just one measure to protect your loved ones and property from theft and harm.

 

How to pay off your bond faster

moneyNo one likes to sit with debt to pay, but we all must end up paying back some debt at some point. One of these debt is a bond on our houses and it’s important to find ways that we can reduce it – quicker, easier and in more efficient ways.

First, it’s important to understand what exactly a bond is. As Property24 puts it: “a bond is a loan for which your house functions as the collateral.” That means a failure to meet the bond results in you house being taken.

“When a lending institution lends you, the potential home buyer, money to purchase a property, the actual house is used as a form of security in the event that the repayments are not made.”

Depending on interest rates, instalment periods and amounts will obviously differ for each transaction. But inevitably: “The first few bond repayments made will cover the interest and fees occurred from the sale of property; later instalments will then go towards paying off the capital amount of the loan.”

To help you calculate, many experts suggest using tools like a bond calculator to help you get a handle on what you need to do and pay.

One of the best ways to quickly reduce your bond, once you acquire one, is to increase how much you pay back. Mike van Alphen, National Manager for Rawson Finance, suggests: “The first and most obvious way to reduce your loan term is to put in extra money every month. You’d be surprised at what a big difference just a couple of hundred rand a month can make.”

He also notes: “Interest on mortgages is calculated daily, so the earlier in the month you pay, the less interest you accumulate.”

Another key way is to put any bonuses you might obtain into a big lump sum to help pay back.

MoneyClub advises:

“Things like a thirteenth cheque or SARS refunds are great bonus payments you can sink into your bond.

Instead of splurging on things you don’t need, rather put these additional funds into your bond and see you shed years of your loan.”

The important thing here is to try take active steps, not simply let it come off your account; this will benefit you in the long run and you can take comfort in knowing that are making efforts to reduce your bond. This also means you’ll get freedom sooner and can go about getting those things you really want.

Car safety tips for South Africans

Safety is something that matters a great deal to me. I think we can all be safer and take better precaution. As the old saying goes “Better safe than having your car stolen”. This is particularly the case when we are in more vulnerable positions for being targets of thieves. Being aware of how we can better protect ourselves is not a reason to think we are responsible for what happens, of course.

First, I like to consider how and where I’m parking. Parking in a dark area is highly inadvisable as you can’t see if your car has been broken into, has been scratched or been tampered with. Further, by parking in a well-lit area, it means others can keep an eye on the car in case of any break-ins or tampering.

Another important consideration is to prepare to have your keys on hand before you walk to the car; the sound of it may draw unwanted attention or you may not have them out by the time you get to your car. Light may be an issue or, perhaps, you left them from where you journeyed from.

Independent Traveller highlights another important aspect of driving, especially if it’s long distances.

“If you can, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and also enable you to nap without losing time. If you’re driving alone, turn on the radio or put on some music, and keep your window cracked open. You may also want to refrain from using your cruise control if you’re driving alone at night — having to concentrate on maintaining your speed can help you stay awake.”

We also need to be aware of the weather; yes, cars are designed to withstand all kinds of weather conditions – but it’s not just about the whether these are new or pre owned cars in South Africa. You need visibility and need to know whether you can handle the transition and travelling; also it prevents you parking in areas that might be too open and thus mean you suffer from the sudden temperature changes that might make it worse for your car being able to start. I certainly don’t want to be caught out in the rain.

Having back-up here is important. This is why having foundations like AA ready to respond immediately can be vital; you never know what might happen and I always feel secure knowing I have that backup.

These are important tips to keep in mind, especially if we’re more vulnerable.

The pros and cons of using your home equity instead of a credit card

houseDo you own property? You may or may not be aware of something called a home equity line of credit. In case you aren’t, it is money that you ‘borrow’ based on your home equity. Sometimes called real property value, home equity is the amount of money you have already paid on your bond.

As opposed to a home equity loan, which gives you a lump sum to spend and pay back, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) works similarly to a credit card in that you use a line of credit to borrow money that adds up to no more than the credit limit.

This leads one to ask whether you could in fact just use a HELOC instead of a credit card. Technically you could, but there are certain pros and cons you should be aware of.

Pros

The major advantage to using a home equity line of credit instead of a credit card is the fact that it has a much lower interest rate. It is no surprise that credit cards come with sky-high interest rates. You also have a longer repayment term with a home equity line of credit, so there is less chance that your interest piles on and on, leading to rampant credit card debt. (Read this entertaining comic about why your credit card debt will outlive you – and your children’s children.)

The easier repayment plan is why HELOC’s are often used as debt consolidation plans. What’s more, the interest paid on HELOC is generally tax deductible, unlike what you would pay on credit cards.

If you really want to be thorough, use a bond repayment calculator to work out the interest you’re still going to pay, and how that compares to using a credit card.

Cons

As with most things, there is also a down side. First of all, which is pretty obvious but we’ll get it out the way anyway, home equity lines of credit are only available to home owner. And not brand new home owners at that because what you can borrow is determined by how much of your home loan you have already paid off.

The other con is the more serious one: your home is used as collateral. This means that if you default on your payments, you will lose your home. You will pay higher interest rates on a credit card, but if you are unable to pay at least you aren’t in too much danger of losing your home.

For this reason, using a line of credit against your home isn’t a good idea if you are in a precarious financial situation. Most people actually just use a HELOC to finance renovations, which makes sense because you’re essentially using the monetary value of your home to reinvest in it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t consider this financial option, but don’t if you are in any way at risk of defaulting on your payments.

What concerns should small businesses have

meetingStarting a business is already an achievement. This is not a decision anyone makes lightly, due to the costs involved in setting up. This isn’t just about money or capital, but time and energy. These are resources too in that they are finite, but necessary to produce outcomes we want.

Consider, for example, what you need for starting a business. As BizEmpire notes, getting started requires knowing what your business is:

“If you are a sole proprietor (sole trader) which means that you simply trade in your own name and not as a company or cc, then [you can trade with your existing personal bank account]. If you are intending to trade as a private company (pty ltd) then you will need to be audited each year. The documentation required in setting up a private company generally requires some professional help. We suggest you choose your auditor first and then they can assist you in this regard. The third common type is that of the close corporation (cc). This is simple and inexpensive to do.”

Immediately we note that even deciding what we are has enormous impacts on the future of the business. Your first concern is the foundation and figuring out what and who you are.

This also allows you to set goals, as business change over time. President of Formula PR, Michael Olguin points out that:

“Business owners should not fear setting goals or projections because there is absolutely no downside to doing so. Also, it is important to remember that goal setting doesn’t have to be only about revenue. It could relate to innovation, employee retention, service offerings, or anything that is important to enhancing your business.”

He suggests constantly measuring your success, however difficult to see, is essential; without knowing where we are failing, how can we know how to improve?

Other concerns are not specifically business-orientated but have enormous impact on businesses. In South Africa, for example, we are experiencing enormous problems with regard to electricity. This has had and will continue to have an impact on business. Gavin van der Nest, a researcher at tralac, points out the effects.

“The inability of South Africa to service its electricity needs has led to downward revisions of economic growth and investor confidence in the economy. These structural constraints were initially thought to be temporary but have become increasingly embedded into the fabric of the economy.”

Small businesses should be prepared to show that such an impact won’t affect their business, as much as possible. Taking necessary precautions, such as looking into generator finance, going more mobile, and so on, can be beneficial in important ways – even if it means slightly more expenses. Unfortunately, that is the landscape now and we must adjust to it.

The business world is always a difficult one, but many can and do make successes of it – regardless of a business’ size. But we need to be aware of many factors in order to not only thrive, but survive.