Politicians Harming Americans. Again.

Major Issues in Farm Bill Negotiations

AmericansAfter costing the nation plenty to pointlessly shut the U.S. government down for two weeks beginning October 1st, the Republicans in the House and Senate are now back at their job of desperately seeking ways to hurt as many Americans as possible.

Seems nobody was impressed by the shutdown grandstanding, which cost my region of Western North Carolina a million dollars a day to our biggest industry – tourism – at the very height of Leaf-Looker season. The Blue Ridge Parkway was open for driving, but all amenities were shut down. Smoky Mountains National Park was closed down entirely. All so the Tea Party wing of the Republican bloc could throw their little temper tantrum over the idea that Americans might be able to obtain affordable medical care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010. So now that they’ve cried uncle on that, they’re going after SNAP [“Food Stamps”] big time as the Congress tries to clear its slate for the year for the session before the members go home for the holidays.

SNAP benefits are already being cut on November 1st as the 2009 stimulus bill, enacted in response to the Great Recession of 2008 when a consortium of the world’s biggest banks and insurance companies crashed the economy and threw tens of millions of Americans out of work, expires. The Senate version of the Farm Bill cuts $400 million from the SNAP program, while the House version seeks $4 billion in cuts. The two versions will have to be reconciled in order to bring about a bill the President can sign into law, so hold on to your napkins!

SNAP has been part of farm legislation for many years, as it is tied in with certain farm subsidies. Now, few of us small-time producers would be very upset if ADM or other huge Agribiz outfits lost their lion’s share of subsidies, but a growing number of us understand only too well how much of a good economic stimulus the program really is as our outlets have been authorized to accept SNAP benefits for produce and value-added food products we work so hard to offer our neighbors and larger communities. Worse, some of us are only too aware of how much this is going to hurt our normal customer base as children and families are forced to do without something so vitally important as food. In America! What is wrong with these politicians?!?

There are a number of petitions circulating to denounce these cuts, and I also urge my fellow homesteaders to get in touch personally with phone calls and letters to representatives and senators in D.C. Let them know that making hungry people do without food is NOT an acceptable fall-back position after your attempt to make sick people do without health care fails. There are mid-term elections next November. Make sure all eligible voters in your household are duly registered and can jump over the voter suppression hoops Republicans in several states (including mine) have erected, then vote for some real honest-to-goodness humans who don’t see their task in life as making sick people do without medical care, and hungry children do without food.

Secrets to An Effective Financial Plan

Tracking your money is a crucial part of owning and operating a business. Without knowing where your money is coming from and where it is going you’re slowly creating problems that will become insurmountable if you don’t address it immediately.

A good business owner creates a financial plan even before the business starts and that plan is revisited with regularity and check it against actual business data that you have. This is the way to find out if the business is performing within expectations or not. Corrections to the business should then be made to address any problems. Here are some steps you should take to ensure that you’ve got an effective financial plan:

Make sure your financial plan is well made

Ensure that your financial plan will provides you with a clear idea of the revenue you should ideally have every month, and also a projection of your monthly expenses. These figures shouldn’t be pulled from the air – consult business books or an accountant.

Make a monthly review

After you’ve made a financial plan, make sure that you actually use it. Look at your plan every month and make sure you are meeting the financial goals you’ve set and you’re not overspending.

Make the necessary adjustments right away

In every review you make, if you find out that your profits are not meeting your revenue expectations or your expenses are going way beyond your own expense projections, make immediate adjustments to the business to address these issues. Cut your overhead costs and look for ways to increase your profits.

Be thoughtful in spending

You should think hard about making any new expenses. This obviously includes expenses that will benefit your business – for example, marketing or sales related activities. To do this properly, you should measure the potential earnings you will gain against the actual cost of implementing a new business expense. If the expense can potentially lose you money don’t scrap it immediately. File that idea and revisit it at a future time. Sometimes, the idea is sound it’s just the timing that’s off.

Hire people if it’s needed

Under staffing is not a sound business strategy because the business itself will suffer. If you need to get staff then do so, it’s for the good of the business.

Remember that profit is the key

Some people, especially the new business owners, have a problem distinguishing between profit and revenue. Even if your business is raking in the dollars, if your expenses are also as high then you’re not running your business efficiently and you’re ultimately losing profits.

A Simple Guide to Renting Out Your Country Home

Renting_Country_Home A country home is one of those real estate properties that everyone wants to have. Unfortunately, not everyone has the financial capability to buy or build a country home. If you are one of those people who have been privileged enough to own a country home, then congratulations are in order.

Country homes are sought after as a way to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. If you have a country home but you don’t use it as much, you can consider renting it out to get additional income. Renting out your country home, or any property, entails some preparation. Below are some guidelines on how to rent out your country home:

Assess the situation

Is renting out your country home going to be a positive benefit for you and your family? Study the financial aspects of this business by weighing in what you would potentially earn against any costs that you may have to spend for (home repairs, mortgage payments, maintenance, etc.). You can ask for the help of rental agents to help you assess how much you should be renting out your home.

Talk to your mortgage agent

If your country home is still under mortgage then you should talk to your mortgage agent first. This is an important step because they should be informed about your decision to let. Make a formal request to rent out your home and explain why you want to do so. Mortgage lenders will generally approve these requests and not even sell you a different financial deal on your home. For example, a buy to let loan that is usually offered by lenders if they find out that a mortgaged property is going to be rented out. But if the mortgage lender refuses you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman.

Take out landlord insurance

This is probably the most important thing you need to do. Getting a landlord insurance will ensure that you are financially protected for many things that happen to your country home while it is rented out. For example, any damage to the property is covered by landlord insurance, and even the cost of legal fees in the event you need to bring your tenant to court, or vice versa. Landlord insurance is different from homeowners insurance so don’t think that you can forget about getting landlord insurance since you already have a homeowners insurance policy for your country home.