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Advice for Students: How to Get Your Full Tenancy Deposit Back

Advice for Students: How to Get Your Full Tenancy Deposit Back

The last thing you want after renting a property is to lose your deposit and not understand why. It’s well known that students can often be susceptible to losing their deposits and landlords often have the misconception that all students have messy houses from endless parties and gatherings. This isn’t always true. Hopefully this  guide will help you tackle any problems with getting back your deposit.

Ensure your deposit is protected

Before you move in, ensure your landlord has protected your deposit using a government-backed scheme. You’d be surprised by the amount of landlord scams that are are regularly pulled on unsuspecting 20-something year-old’s, so make sure you check online to see if your deposit is protected. If your landlord hasn’t protected it, you can go to the small claims court to reclaim it PLUS you can receive up to three times the original value as a penalty for the landlord (then you can finally start paying off your student loan).

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Pick the right accommodation

There’s that saying: “the prevention is better than the cure”; one of the best ways to ensure you don’t get burnt when leaving a rented property is choosing the right one to begin with. Make sure you do your research before you sign anything; do some stealth Googling about the company, make sure they’re reputable; check with past tenants about what they’re like to rent with – no one will be more honest than people that once lived in a property and rented through the company you are considering renting through.

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What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. It specifies the legal terms and conditions for your tenancy, and states the certain rights for you and the landlord; letting you live in the property as long as you pay the rent and follow the rules. The tenancy can be fixed-term or periodic. For students, fixed-term is the most common, but periodic is also available which runs on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis. Ensure you follow the set rules of the tenancy agreement to receive your deposit back.

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Tips on getting your deposit back

  • Clean! I hate to sound patronizing, but it’s honestly the most simple solution. Pick up your washing up gloves and tackle the moldy takeaway remnants and sticky red wine spillages. Aim to make it look identical to how it looked when you moved in.
  • Your Camera is Your Weapon. Take photos when you leave the house to ensure you’ve got visual evidence just in case you need to dispute charges.
  • Invest in a Tester Pot of Paint. It’s hard to resist putting up pictures and posters to make things more homely. But when it comes to moving out, the blu tack or sellotape marks that remain can end up costing you a lot. If you buy a small pot of paint that matches your wall colour, you can take it into your own hands by splashing on a few neat blobs of paint to cover the damage.
  • Check the Contract. This may sound very boring, but it could end up saving you a good sum of money. Ensure that you’ve read everything so they can’t charge you for something you’ve simply forgotten to do.
  • Grab a Friend. Drag someone round to help you spot any missed areas of dirt or mess. As you’ve lived there for over a year it can be easy to get used to the mold on the bathroom wall or constant crumbs on the kitchen floor, but these probably weren’t here when you moved in. A fresh pair of eyes can help you spot these trouble areas.

Inspection time—what is the landlord on the lookout for?

Sometimes you have to pity your landlord; you’re probably one of the good tenants – having your deposit unjustly withheld. However sometimes tenants can leave houses in truly disgraceful conditions, and landlords leaving homes in disrepair because they can’t afford to fix them, is actually one of the leading causes of empty homes in Britain. You don’t want to be a part of that problem.

Focus on cleaning the fixtures: bathroom cabinets, kitchen cupboards and units, built in desks, etc. These are harder for landlords to replace so it is important to ensure they’re in good condition. Whether it’s carpet or wood floors, make sure there are no obvious stains, dents, scratches, rips or burns on the floor. If there are marks on the floor, often these can be easily covered up with a cheap stain remover like Vanish. As previously mentioned, add a dash of paint over any markings on the wall to ensure you don’t get charged for a whole wall of painting by the landlord.

Featured photo credit: infoetudes via infoetudes.com

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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