Budget Plan – An Unexpected Windfall

Now check this out—what if Santa Claus comes to town and leaves a nice financial windfall under your Christmas tree? What a sweet surprise! Maybe this is your reward for taking a chance and competing for a lucrative assignment that by some miracle, you won. Along with making sure that you’ll deliver, if not surpass, your new client’s expectations, you should as well think about how you can effectively allocate the proceeds from the billable hours.Most often, we approach the subject of financial contingency planning from the negative side and prepare ourselves for unexpected expenses that could ruin a budget or seriously deplete our savings. But why not manifest prosperity and think about what you can do if your ship comes in? Here’s a sampling of where extra money can be applied:Erase debtWithout a doubt, pay off or pay down all outstanding debts. Interest rates are at loan shark levels and eliminating the burden will increase your credit score and decrease your stress level. If you are not in debt, then pay ahead on monthly installment obligations such as health and auto insurance policies or renewable business licenses and certifications. Payment of these types of accounts payable is recorded as an asset on your Balance Sheet.

Professional developmentAre there continuing education workshops, courses, or certifications that, if acquired, stand to enhance your stature and brand? Is there a conference that not only provides useful information, but also good networking opportunities? Explore how you might raise the bar on your qualifications and make yourself a more employable and more highly paid consulting Solopreneur.Business investmentMaybe your billable hours are sufficiently generous to allow you to buy a new car? Ask your accountant or business attorney if the new automobile can be designated as a company vehicle and permit you to write off some portion of the expenses, plus depreciation, to sweeten the investment. You might also consider purchasing a more powerful computer and making other technology upgrades, or buying office equipment, such as a new desk or an ergonomically correct office chair. Much smaller, but still significant, branding upgrades that are worth an investment might include a new invoice statement, business note cards, stationery, or holiday greeting cards.Retirement accountFund your retirement account to the maximum annual amount with pre-tax dollars. If you have extra money, open a Roth IRA account in tandem with your primary retirement account and enhance your financial future with after-tax dollars. Verify first the financial guidelines required for simultaneously holding these two retirement funds.General savings

You might also meet with a wealth manager, if you meet the investment minimum and can find someone who can be trusted. Alternatively, on your own you can research and invest a couple of thousand dollars in a mutual fund that is indexed to the stock market and watch it grow (and it will, despite some ups and downs along the way).SplurgeOh, go ahead! When’s the last time you took a wonderful vacation? Solopreneurs work so hard and we worry so much about how we’ll be able to satisfy our clients, find new clients, win back lapsed clients, generate relevant content marketing, distinguish ourselves from competitors and on and on. I don’t know about all of you, but I am sometimes so exhausted it’s absurd! Recently, I’ve been able to take brief local vacations, but I dream of taking two weeks or even more in Marrakesh, Morocco. Or Bahia, Brazil. Or Shanghai. Or Rome. Or Tokyo. Or Mumbai.Thanks for reading,Kim

How to Save Money on SSL Certificates

Any web site that exchanges personal information with the site users, such as an e-Commerce site, places themselves and their site users at risk of being hacked unless they use the Secured Socket Layer (SSL). SSL enables a secured, encrypted, connection between your web server and the user’s browser.

SSL also requires an SSL certificate, which is purchased from Certificate Authorities who are in the business of verifying the identities of web site operators.

Given the environment we are dealing with, an internet populated by hackers and infested with malware and exploits, the costs of SSL certificates are well worth it. However, if you operate many sites that require SSL the costs can addup. Since Certificate Authorities charge per year, the costs will only accumulate over time.

How can you save money on SSL Certificates?

Consider the level of site verification that you need

When you purchase an SSL certificate you can choose between basic “Domain Validated” Certificates and Enhanced Verification (EV) certificates.

Both types are “signed” by a third party Certificate Authority. This means that a site visitor’s browser receives information required to check with the third party Certificate Authority and verify that the message was sent from the actual site owner.

However, the Domain Validated certificates only verify that the site is owned by the sender of the certificate. They do not consider the other factors such as the integrity and reliability of the site owner. The Certificate Authorities go through a much more rigorous verification process to ensure that the site visitor is not dealing with a dangerous situation.

Now, you know that you are reliable and on the level so you might want to save some money and go with the cheaper basic certificates. However, there are hacking techniques that can compromise Domain Name Servers to obtain fake Domain Validated certificates and redirect users to another site.

In addition, consider that that the point of these certificates is to assure the site user. Consider the value the EV certificates have in building customer trust and confidence. How do you put a price tag on that?

If your site is important to your business and accessible through the public internet you should go for the SSL certificates that offer the highest level of verification.

Comparison Shopping

One of the benefits of the internet is that it is very easy to comparison shop. If you do, you will find that the price of SSL certificates vary widely. The oldest and largest Certificate Authority, VeriSign, is relatively expensive.

Many other Certificate Authorities offer comparable certificates at lower prices. Verisign SSL certificates start at over $200 while there are comparable certificates available for under $50.

Consider Long Term Discount Plans

Certificate Authorities will discount the annual cost if you sign-up for multiple years. If you are a “going concern” this option could save you some money.

Do you have sub domains?

If your web sites need SSL for sub domains you can save money with a Wildcard SSL. One wildcard SSL can be purchased that will cover a site and all its sub sites.

For example, you can apply one wildcard SSL that covers peanutbutter.com, crunchy.peanutbutter.com and smooth.peanutbutter.com.

Do you have multiple domains and host names?

Unified Communications (UC) SSL certificate can be applied to multiple domains and host names. A single UC SSL certificate can be used for a primary domain and up to 99 alternate names. For example, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Live servers operators find they can save a lot of money with UC SSL Certificates.

Isn’t free the best price?

You may notice that there are free SSL Certificates available. These are tempting because they offer the same secured, encrypted communication provided by other Certificates.

What’s the catch? There is one of two possibilities.

Either it is being offered for a limited trial period or it is an “unsigned SSL Certificate”.

You can always go with a trial offer without harm, but you need to be looking at your long term solution.

However, beware of the unsigned SSL Certificate. If used in the wrong situation they can be penny wise and very pound foolish.

Unsigned SSL Certificates do not do the third party verification. They still leave the site visitor open to some scams where hackers trick users into thinking they are connected to one site and they are actually communicating with another

Unsigned SSL Certificates, like Domain Verified Certificates are best deployed on internal, intranet sites. They are great for test labs and sites inside your corporate firewall, but if you are dealing with the public on the web the risks are too great.