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6 Ingenious Ways Businesses Can Save Money In Shipping

6 Ingenious Ways Businesses Can Save Money In Shipping

Every organization, established or starting up, is keen on keeping cost as low as possible to make maximum profits. Shipping cost can take up a huge percentage of cost if not properly strategized, which could eat into profits or prevent a start-up from breaking even.

Recent developments in technology have opened new doors for businesses to outsource functions to established shipping organizations. This is especially beneficial to organizations with large shipments. What about small organizations that do not have the volumes to economically employ those services?

Shipping cost can drain your business’ profits and extend your break-even point if you do not keep a keen eye on it. These tips could help keep it checked. Check out these six ingenious ways on how businesses can save money in shipping costs.

1. Package Appropriately

You want enough space for your merchandise without paying too much for unused space. Experts recommend that you leave about two inches of clearance to give your merchandise enough space for safety. If the items to be shipped are fragile, be sure to have enough bubble wrap to keep them from breaking.

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The essence of having just the right packaging is to avoid paying too much for using larger-than-necessary boxes. Seal it appropriately with heavy-duty tape so that it does not come off during transit and force the transporter to seal it afresh. That, of course, would increase your shipping cost.

In as much as the merchandise in transit determines the type of box used, regular boxes do just fine for most shipments. Avoid using heavy packaging that only attracts high parcel costs for regular merchandise.

2. Establish Relationships

If you are a small start-up, the market is still new to you or you have not gained enough mileage to play in the big league then your best bet are the companies in your league. Look into the start-ups that offer these services and grow with each other. If they provide services as good as the established transport brands, you could score some good rates.

Depending on the number of products you ship, you could negotiate for better rates. Ask them to give you discounts based on targets that both of you set, or generally, agree to a flat rate of the total cost. Check if they provide terminal to terminal shipping and if it can help cut the costs as well. If you stick with them long enough, you could help them become a bigger brand, and they could keep you, their loyal customer at a special rate.

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You could also agree to market them to your networks, and they could give you discounts for every referral.

3. Use Volume as Leverage

As your business grows and volume increases, make the numbers known to the more established providers. You could drop a number to an executive from the company that you want to work with and let them bait.

Let them know what your current provider is offering and see if they would come down to your level. If the volumes are decent and the future looks bright (your information is on the internet), most of these companies will let you play with the big boys. Convince them that getting your business would be to their best interest.

“A lot of small businesses think they aren’t large enough to negotiate rates with the shipping services, but they can. Open an account, get a rep and talk about options,” advises Rhonda Abrams, a columnist and business owner in Palo Alto, California.

Established shipping companies such as FedEx are quite expensive, but well known in the industry. With them, you are sure that your merchandise would be safe in transit and that time consumed would reduce drastically. That is why they are worth the premium cost. If you find a way of bringing them onboard at a favorable price, take it. Volumes and consistency are your greatest assets.

4. Recycle and Keep Records

If you have lots of incoming goods as well as outgoing merchandise, you could save the boxes from your incomings. The idea here is to ensure that you unpack carefully to prevent extensive tears that would render the boxes useless.

When you unpack, collect all the perfectly undone boxes, and use them for your outgoing merchandise. If the box is still in excellent condition, none will be the wiser. This only applies to regular packaging. Of course, for premium products, you would have to use brand new boxes.

As for your records, monitor what you send out. Measure the package before it leaves the warehouse and compare the data with your service provider’s. This will inform you on how much you are spending per day even before your service provider sends you the invoice.

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5. Declare War on Expensive Packaging Material

You cannot afford to have one supplier and to stick with them for the rest of your company’s life. You have to shop around to establish whether you would get better rates elsewhere. Companies such as USPS will give you flat rate boxes free for using their services (or rather, they incorporate the cost in their rates) and so you can take advantage of that.

You can also buy packaging material in bulk to benefit from quantity discounts. While doing this, you are paying attention to your storage capacity. You do not want to spend too much on storage for material that you will not use in the short run. Keep an eye on the market for cheaper yet quality supplies.

6. Demand Refunds For Late Deliveries

When you are only getting started, you cannot afford to be late in your deliveries. Mistakes like those could cost you the same customer base that you are working hard to build. Most shipping companies, FedEx and UPS included, have a money back guarantee. If they fail to keep the agreed time, they promise to issue a full refund.

As a start-up, you may find it tedious and costly to track all the untimely deliveries and to seek a refund as stipulated in the contract. That is how Refund Tiger helps. They audit your transactions and follow the refund process on your behalf from service providers for a percentage of the total amount.

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Conclusion

It is prudent to keep your own records that you countercheck with those of the courier service. Never stop scouting for cheaper means of transport because every penny counts. Establish rapport with shipping companies, possibly the smaller start-ups with a stellar reputation. Endeavor to keep your cost as low as possible, but the services as professional as you can. If you stay with a selected group of service providers long enough, you will reap benefits in the name of discounts.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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