The Best Practice Guide for URLs

URLs form the basic building block of every business that has a web presence. The structure of a URL matters a lot to SEO. Here is a list of best practices that one can consider when creating a URL.

The most important advice from Google is to keep your URL structure simple and readable. The URL should include sentences and words that are logical and readable for human beings rather than confusing numbers and letters. This helps in a URL being remembered easily in case one needs to type it or refer offline.
It is advisable to make your URL in lower case letters. If you have a UR in capital letters, convert them into lower cases, an exception being when you have different pages of the same name.
To increase readability of URLs, use punctuation marks such as hyphens instead of using underscores.
Until a URL makes sense to the human brain, it can continue to have stop words such as a, an etc.
A good SEO practice is to ensure that the keywords for the page are near the front of the URL. However, it still needs to be readable and not just stuffed keywords.
It is not necessary to match your headline with that of the URL. In fact, varying the headline from the URL gives it a chance to be more concise.
It is better to use a single domain or a subdomain. The chances of a blog performing better if it is altogether on a root or one subdomain. The Rankings of such blog are also suggested to go higher.
It is a good practice to use verb stem in URLs. For instance, instead of using the term ‘smearing’, the term ‘smear’ should be used.
Avoid using overly complex URLs with multiple parameters. This can cause an issue with Googlebot since there will be too many URLs with similar content.
Ways of fixing URL issues

Google recommends these solutions to fixing URL issues.

Instead of using session IDs in URLs, use cookies.
Use a robots.txt file such as dynamic URLs or URLs generating search results to block Googlebot’s access to few URLs.
Trim unnecessary parameters to shorten URLs
Add a no follow attribute to links so that dynamically future calendar pages are ceased, if you have an infinite calendar to your site
Broken relative links often cause hindrance. Check your sites for such links

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Proven And Profitable Money Making Ideas

With an entrepreneurial spirit, perhaps you might be thinking about money making ideas that have been proven and are profitable on the internet that you can use to make a living with. Online business is still an evolving tool to earn money. Everyone has predicted a major tech crash as a matter of fact it’s already happening.

According to Hostingfacts.com in 2017, “there will be more internet traffic than all prior internet years combined. Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 68% of all internet traffic in 2017.”

More statistics show that “worldwide retail e-commerce sales will reach $1.915 Trillion in this alone according to Emarketer.com. There are a number of ways by which people can make money online.

Internet businesses provides relaxation and comfortability to people who run their own business while sitting in their homes or traveling the world. E- Commerce refers to the online functioning of businesses in which all of the transactions are accepted by means of the World Wide Web.

Online sales in the United States are anticipated to reach $523 billion in the next five years. This is up 56% from $335 billion in 2015, and mobile devices are expected to be a key leader in that growth, Forrester Research Inc. says.

The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced “that the estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the third quarter of 2016, was $101.3 billion, an increase of 4.0 percent from the second quarter of 2016. Total retail sales globally for the third quarter, was estimated at $1,212.5 billion, an increase of 0.9 percent from the second quarter of 2016.”

With the collapse of the tech bust in full swing, should you even attempt entrepreneurship online, let alone a new business launch in 2017? My answer? Absolutely yes.

On the internet, there are unlimited things that can be done to earn money. It is all up to the individual how much they can profit from these online opportunities. The trend is constantly evolving with innovative business ideas.

The start of a new year means great interest in new and exciting things, as we look forward to the year in the making. The year 2017 is also likely to see some changes with a few money making ideas not being in demand and new ones harvesting up.

Learning how to make money on the internet with an e-business is one of the most proven and profitable money making ideas dominating the economy. Facebook now has 1.55 billion active users and 2.9 billion Google searches are made every day. With this data, there is endless opportunity for the ordinary person looking to create money online.

In this article, I’ve researched a few of the businesses that are going to be profitable for the next 5 years. While tech may be on the decline, the world continually has room for proven, profitable and innovative products as well as services.

Proven & Profitable Money Making Ideas

Blogging

If you have a particular subject that interests you and you are passionate about it, then you can start a blog around such topic. Blogging is one of the fastest growing business trends on the web and the sweetest thing is that it is an information based business.

Many people in the current world are getting money by having their own blogs and websites. Generally, on these blogs and websites, they are putting thought-provoking and valuable information that interests other people. The science is simple; the additional number of visitors the more money you can make via advertisement and other revenues.

This works much like television where the more viewership means more advertisements and at a higher rate. This is one of the most well-known and informal techniques of producing income online and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Don’t worry about technicalities, programming, etc. You also won’t need to invest a dime to get started as there are free platforms you can utilize like Blogger and WordPress being the most trusted blogging platform since 2004.

E-commerce Store

Another proven and profitable idea to start an internet business is to maintain an online store. You can provide products to your customers online. Yes, you can set up an e-commerce or retail store online and you can start this online business from home without even owning a single product. You can sell virtually anything ranging from books, clothes and electronics to household item through wholesale drop shipping or by setting up an affiliate store with Amazon or eBay.

You may even sell anything from customized cakes to used items to even new products you created on your own. With this kind of business idea, people primarily receive payment via credit card or PayPal accounts. It totally depends upon you as some people prefer to collect payment at the time of delivery of the products.

In the online store, you can provide a wide range of products in one place and keep the customers engaged with new products or services. On the other hand if you are creating products from scratch, you have to keep up good relationships with your suppliers so your business can be successful.

Affiliate Marketing

To become an affiliate marketer means that you will be promoting other people’s products and services through a blog or store online. How it works is whenever there is a sale, you will get a commission. The most stimulating fact here is that you don’t even need a dime of your own money to start it and you get to partner with some of the biggest enterprises in the world. The first venture I would recommend you to start online is your own affiliate marketing business.

Internet Marketing Services

Servicing people to help drive visitors to their websites can be an outstanding online business with a strong profit potential. Examples of services you can provide include pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising services, blog marketing services, article marketing services, guest blogging, link building service, etc.

Doing business on the web can be challenging because things often change quickly online. This idea allows you to help other online entrepreneurs such as yourself, keep up with the latest trends in internet marketing.

VLogging

This is comparable to a blog, but in video form. Basically turn your video camera on, feel free to use your tablet, and just talk! The best vloggers talk about a specific focus or niche. Vlogging about a topic that interest tweens or teens is most likely to get a big following fast.

Some popular topics include makeup, fashion, music, gaming and how to videos. The strategy to making money with these vlogs is gaining a large following and then receiving sponsorship on the platform that you publish the videos on, such as YouTube or Vimeo. You can also make money via advertisement.

E-Book Publishing

The information business allows you to identify people’s problems and provide a solution in the form of an e-book. Any style writing on any topic can be used with this method. If you love writing and you possess some marketing skills, then you can venture into writing self-published eBooks.

Educational Products

People will always be willing to pay for education. A good example is university education. A public four-year college costs around $20,000, and a private college can make an income of $50,000 per year. In spite of the outrageously high prices, people are eager to give out the money. Why? Because a college education is worth it. Right? Well, most of the time it is.

However, some disagree, and with recent improvements in the education platform, the traditional college model is being dismantled or unequivocally disrupted. The cause of these interruptions are startups like Udemy and Teachable, these platforms allow people to share their knowledge and profit from it.

You don’t need a platform to sell your knowledge. You can self-publish a book, create a video coaching session, or teach others how to make money. People will gladly pay to learn a new skill, shape their lifestyle, make new money, impress friends with their knowledge, and change their life in significant ways. If you have something to offer to others, then start teaching.

Graphic Design

There are lots of graphic designers on the web offer free and paid services. However, if you plan to thrive in this capacity online, aiding a specific niche target audience will be the most profitable for you. Suppose you’re focused niche is in music and you have a good graphic design skill, you can launch an online graphic design business that focuses on graphic design for musicians or singing artist. You can also choose to focus on infographic designing, e-book cover design, album cover designs, etc.

Implementing your ideas as an online business is a great way to start your business if you are low of capital. It is necessary that you have a proven and profitable online business idea to start your business. Starting and operating an online business is the new normal these days and continues to rise in popularity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

10 Ways You Can Create Good Website Content

The content on your website should inform, educate and engage your prospects while developing your authority with your audience. Also, when you post new online content it attracts the search engine crawlers. The more pages of a website those crawlers index the more traffic they can bring to your website.

Here are 10 ways you can create good website content.

1. Identify Your ‘Why’

Each piece of content you post on your website must have a reason for being there. If you don’t know what the point is, it’ll be hard to get anyone to take action.

2. Understand Your Audience

When you produce any content it’s crucial that you know who you’re creating it for. Try developing an audience avatar and write the content for that one person rather than creating it for a unidentified person that you don’t know. This can help you develop very personalized content that gets results.

3. Stay Updated

You may think that you know your niche but things change over time as technology improves and styles change. Keep up to date in your industry so that you’re ready for changes that may occur.

4. Keep An Eye On Your Competition

Join your competitor’s mailing lists, and look at the content they’re sending out. Can you identify if it’s working well for them or not? How can you do it better?

5. Know the Buying Process

There’s a set buying process that your audience will go through, even if they don’t realize it. It’s important to recognize where people are in the buying process. Generally it’s a five stage process:

Awareness
Information Search
Evaluation
Decision
Purchase
Plus, after purchase your customer will decide if they will buy from you again.
6. Improve Your Strategy

Take the time to work on improving your strategy to make it work better. Base this on the information and facts you have about your customers, your niche, your products and your customer’s buying process.

7. Be Consistent

To ensure that the content on your website will get results, it’s important to post content on a consistent basis.

8. Promote Your Content

If you don’t let people know that your content is out there, you’ll get a lot less positive results from it. Post it to your social media sites and email it out to your subscriber list. You can even promote it via pay-per-click ads.

9. Create Engaging Content

No one wants to consume boring content. Ensure that the content matches the needs of your audience, speaks to them on their terms and provides value in and of itself to your audience.

10. Mix It Up

The more variety that you provide to your audience, the more engagement you will get. Don’t limit your website content to just text. Content can be read, watched and listened to. It can be an article, a blog post, a report, an eBook, an online course, an audio file or a video.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

My Tips on Improving Your Finances for Life

There is no way to avoid dealing with money and finances these days. Therefore you should try to learn as much as possible to help you make good financial decisions and to increase your confidence about money.

When you make a budget, it should be realistic regarding your income and spending habits. Be sure to include all of your income such as alimony, child support, rental income, or any other. Always use your net income not your gross earnings in these calculations. Once you have the numbers, you can consider how to adjust your spending to stay within your income range. To maintain your budget never exceed your incoming cash flow.

The next step is to total up your expenses, and you should make a list of all monthly expenses. Your list should document each and every expense that you have whether it expense, spontaneous or just a one time expense. Remember that this list needs to have a complete breakdown of your costs. Be sure to add in expenses that you have from restaurant dinners and fast food as well as grocery bills. Reduce expenses linked to your cars, such as gas and insurance. If you have payments that you make quarterly or less frequently, divide them up to reflect a monthly payment. Make sure you include incidental expenses, for instance, baby sitters or storage unit rentals. Try to have the most accurate list possible.

Now that you have a good idea of your income and expenditures, you can start planning a new budget. Look at each expenditure on your list, and decide what you could do without. If you normally buy coffee from a cafe, calculate how much money you would save on a weekly basis if you bought it from McDonald’s instead, or made it at home. Exactly what and how much you are willing to compromise is completely up to you. The first step is identifying expenses that are not necessary so you can use the money for something else.

If your utility bills are rising, you may want to upgrade your appliances to save some money. Upgrading to well-fitted double-glazed windows, for example, can reduce your heating bill dramatically. Besides you can repair any leaky pipes and only run the dishwasher with a full load.

Swap old, inefficient appliances for those that use less energy. Although doing so may cost you some money upfront, over the long-term you will save a fair penny on your utility bills. Unplug the appliances you do not need. In time you will notice significant savings in your energy consumption.

You can make a significant decrease in your heating and cooling bills by improving your insulation, as well as the roof above it. Insulation or roofing issues can be very costly, as maintaining a regular temperature in the home can be expensive. If you invest in the upgrades, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Using these tips not only saves you money, but it also helps you start bringing your budget under control. An expensive upgrade can save a lot of money in lowering electricity or water bills. This is one way that you can make your budget more reliable.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Easy Way to Borrow Money in India As a National

If you are an Indian national and have never borrowed money from a lender before, you might feel confused and intimidated by the prospect. The younger generations at least can easily begin to do this online, since they are more familiar with the virtual environment. The online opportunities are far more varied.

Why apply for loans online
First of all, it is extremely easy and fast. It only takes minutes to provide the lender the needed information and submit your application. Then, you need to wait to be approved, but with certain lenders that can be instant. The third and final stage is when the money is deposited straight into the borrower’s bank account. The entire process is automated, so the borrower does not have to meet any person in order to obtain the loan. Personal or business loans can be obtained on the Internet through the peer-to-peer lending system.

The kind of loans one can apply for
In India, it is possible to apply online for short or long term loans. The money obtained this way can be used for various purposes, such as marriage, education, car, land or home purchase and so on. Loans generally start at Rs. 10,000. Make sure to pay maximum attention when you agree on the repayments period – you must make sure you can make repayments as promised.

Eligibility criteria
To obtain a loan online without any hassle, just make sure you follow the guidelines. Also, you need to meet the eligibility criteria. Before applying, the individual needs to gather all the documents required. The PAN card will usually be necessary, as well as Aadhar card. The client must provide an address proof. The electricity bills required are not always a substitute for this proof of address. As soon as all the documents are gathered, the client should scan these and send the copies online in the provided form. Lenders require to see each client’s credit score before they decide whether to approve the loan or not. In addition, borrowers definitely need to have a valid bank account, so the money can be delivered. Nationality and residency are also important matters here. Applicants need to make proof of their Indian nationality.

How the Aadhar card helps
Having an Aadhar card can help you obtain a loan on fair terms. The purpose of the project involving it was to secure everyone’s social identity permanently. A card with a unique identification number holding biometric data can easily and accurately provide proof of identity and residency. It’s the perfect solution for today’s technological advancements that have also made quick online loans possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Stash Your Cash – A Safe Haven for Your Savings

In the times we’re living in today many people are looking for alternative ways of saving their money. As inflation and debt levels continue to soar while wages remain stagnant, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to grow a nest egg.

In the book, “The Richest Man in Babylon”, Arkad was widely known for his great wealth. The story suggests he had a working theory of, “A part of all you earn is yours to keep. It should be not less than a tenth no matter how little you earn… pay yourself first.”

Unfortunately, most of society has strayed away from this thinking.

The fact is Canadians aren’t saving as they once did and collectively are holding record high levels of debt. The average household savings rate in Canada has dropped from about 20 percent in the 1980′s, to 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.[i] Many people believe they cannot save because after paying “all their bills” there’s nothing much left. However, understand that in most cases if you’re attempting to save after paying all your bills you may find this strategy to be futile. Instead, get in the habit of saving first or, consider it paying yourself first. Once you’ve developed this habit then you can look into what vehicle you want to save your cash in.

Generally speaking, when people DO consider saving often times the traditional approach is taken; open a bank savings account and dump as much cash in it as possible. Sit on it like a goose sits on her eggs and wait for your savings to hatch. The sad reality for most however, is making a future cash withdrawal only to be afforded the ability to buy less with their savings because inflation has eaten away at it. And you’ll always be on the losing side of a bank savings account because interest rates are not higher than inflation.

Another option many consider is putting money into the stock market however, one should not consider the stock market as a savings vehicle because the stock market has had a history of crashing dating back to beyond 1929.[ii]

Search the definition of saving in Webster’s dictionary and see “preservation from danger or destruction” while the definition of investing reads, “to commit (money) in order to earn a financial return.” Neither method is good or bad but you must understand which it is that you’re trying to do.

Finally, during my research I have found throughout history when people lose faith in their national currency, the banking system that controls it and their governments, many rush back to gold. Gold is the oldest form of money and has proved to be a safe haven for centuries. Gold cannot be printed, debased, or inflated. Simply put, gold is financial insurance.

To understand this concept more, it’s important to start investing in your own education. Financial literacy should be taught in our school system however, sadly it is not. If you are concerned about where to stash your cash so that you can protect your money from danger and destruction, you will have to take those matters into your own hands. And for good reason too, your savings should be in your hands because your economy should be the most important economy to you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

5 Common SEO Mistakes That You Should Avoid

Over the past few years, SEO has evolved faster than the previous decade. And this has made it harder for users to keep up with most recent updates. The launch of Penguin and Panda changed the way things worked in the past. In short, the way Google used to rank website has changed a lot. But if you want to reach your objectives, make sure you avoid some common SEO mistakes.

1. Avoiding RELEVANT CONTENT

In the start, Google said that it would rank websites that have the most relevant content on its first page. This statement is still valid. What has happened is that the search engine has become a lot better at achieving the objectives. In other words, now, Google is in better position to know what is relevant and what is not.

So, what you need to do is offer content that is relevant and avoid content is not relevant to your niche. Of course, the content should be informative and unique.

2. Following Tricks

People have been using many illegal ways of cheating the search engine algorithms for traffic, exposure and backlinks. Some of these tactics can still give you a temporary edge, but they are bad for your blog or website for the long-term.

So, you should avoid using low-quality, duplicate content, keyword stuffing, questionable redirects or cloaking for traffic. It may be tempting to go for these short-cuts, but they will just hurt your ranking, and may even get you banned for good.

3. Overloading your site

It has been a common perception that photos, videos and other graphics make a website more appealing for the viewers. To some extent, this perception is true; however, there should not be too much of it or your website will take ages to load. Your viewers don’t have all day to wait for your site to load. If your blog takes longer to load than other websites, the viewers will just click away. You will not only lose viewers, you will also lose ranking against other websites.

4. Making navigation difficult

Navigation is one of the most important factors for any website. It’s important for both viewers and search engines. Ideally, your viewers should be able to get the desired information from your website in one or two clicks. This may not be an easy task for you. So, what you can do is put important content on the main page of your site. This the users will be able to get what they want more easily.

5. Misunderstanding THE BACKLINK PROCESS

You may not want to be obsessed with obtaining a lot of backlinks. Although you don’t have to have backlinks from authority websites to establish your credibility, it helps a lot. However, what you need to do is try to get backclinks in a nature fashion. But it’s not a good idea to buy backlinks. This is one of the worst mistakes that you can make.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Image Optimization for SEO – Best Practices

Quality content is the key to SEO success. Content doesn’t just mean your text contents. Images must be an integral part of your content strategy. At times, single images can be far more effective than your 1000 word blog post. It also helps you improve blog post quality and performance.

Images, Infographics, Videos and all other multimedia contents on your web page will help you in increasing the user engagement on your site and makes the visitors stay on your site for longer duration which helps in reducing the bounce rate.

Not just adding images to your contents, you should also optimize those images for better SEO performance. Optimization of images must be the one important aspect of your on-page SEO process.

If you are using images in your content, there are many aspects to be considered related to SEO.

Relevancy

Using images doesn’t mean that you should fill up your content with loads of pictures. You should use it only when it is required and also you should use images that are more relevant to your content.

Placement of your images is an another important aspect. It should be placed at a relevant location in your content according to your text content.

Use original images

Originality always helps in improving your user experience and your authority. Usage of original images will be helpful in improving your SEO performance. You can create original images with a graphic designer or you can take your own photographs with a quality camera. It is the reason top White hat SEO companies employ talented graphic designers for creating quality images.

If you are not able to employ an in-house graphic designer or if you are running out of time, you can always use high quality images from the web. But the important factor to be considered is it should be copyright free.

There are many tools available for getting copyright free images without any cost. The most popular ones are Unsplash, Flicker, Freeimages.

Image Size

Images are the main source for damping your site’s speed. And site speed is a crucial factor in your SEO performance. So, you should be extra cautious in using images without compromising your page speed.

It should not also affect your image quality, you should have a correct balance between. You can achieve this by reducing the file size by compression. You can use tools like Photoshop for compression.

File name

Search engine crawlers are visually impaired, it can even interrupt a 5000 word text content, but it cannot interrupt a single image and what the image is about. It is the reason using a keyword rich file names for your images is an important aspect in image optimization.

Google bots and other search engine crawlers can read your image’s file name and if it is named with your target keyword, it gives a signal to search engines about the image topic and thus helps your SEO performance.

For example, if your image is related to selling sports shoes, rather than using the file name as “IMG_89868″ you can use it as “Black_Tennis_Shoes”.

Alt text

Similar to the file name, search engines can read Alt text of the images. Alt text is known as “Aleternative Text”, is an HTML attribute used to describe the content of images.

You should use Alt text which is relevant to your images and it should be clear and descriptive. You can use your target keywords in the Alt text but be cautious about Keyword stuffing.

If you are not focusing on Image optimization, you are missing a huge opportunity in improving your SEO performance. You can use above mentioned best practices in your on-page optimization process.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Best Support And Opportunities For All Youth

American youth currently face challenging realities along their way to adulthood. With parents working longer hours and the absence of grandparents and other community adults who used to make up support systems, the intergenerational fabric of community has been frayed. Youth development strategies aim to reweave community fabric in a new way – one that takes the supports and opportunities young people should have, and re-institutes them in the context of young people’s realities today. While many of these realities are harsh ones, we know that young people themselves want to be involved in their communities. The importance of building positive youth/adult partnerships in this process cannot be stressed enough.

The mobilization effort is based on influencing three critical elements: information, attitudes, involvement. The transformation of each of these areas, both in the public and private domains, is a necessary condition for change. For example, in the area of information, the country is currently focused on collecting primarily negative youth information, e.g., teenage births, dropouts, and juvenile arrest rate. Inspiring a 180 degree shift, we need to collect information such as: average number of hours youth participate in after-school activities, computer to youth ratio in non-school hours, and the percentage of youth who hold part-time jobs. The three elements are intertwined, for how information is gathered and communicated impacts attitudes as well as how and if people choose to become involved.

Only through broad community commitment, strong public will, and diverse partnerships can youth development take root, go to scale, and be sustained over time. Ultimately, the mobilization must be supported by partnerships among all of the systems in a community that affect young people (i.e., education, corporations, health care, juvenile justice, religious groups, and recreation). To build these relationships and establish youth development infrastructures to improve developmental paths of adolescents will take at least 10 years.

Localities currently spending their resources on efforts to “fix youth” will need to pool, redirect, and increase their financial commitment to youth development. These additional dollars will ensure all youth equal access to supports and opportunities, especially youth living in economically distressed areas.

Our information on the services young people need, and use, is still hit or miss. Communities do not know what they have or what they need. They usually have no way to tell how well services are being used and what services need to be improved.

Good information is important for youth services for exactly the same reasons it is important for everything else. Accurate, accessible standardized information lets people find the services they need and use them effectively. It lets communities manage, evaluate and improve their services and determine the need for changing them, eliminating them, or developing new ones.

Many national efforts to measure outcomes presently use deficit-driven indicators to assess young people’s condition in society, such as teen pregnancy rates, juvenile crime numbers, and percentages of high school dropouts. Although these measures are important, they do not tell the whole story about young people’s experiences. Measures that reflect positive conditions and experiences of young people are also important.

The accelerated trend of the past decade toward empowering our nation’s young people to succeed has fostered a new awareness and commitment to this most valuable resource. Some basic questions are:

- How much do we currently spend?

- How much should we spend?

Some progress has been made through new initiatives in education finance reform and services integration, providing more effective delivery of social, health and educational services for children and youth from the classroom up to the government. This document establishes an initial framework and formula for assessing the financial resources and mechanisms necessary to move American society closer to this ideal. The following were found to be potential root causes of these trends in spending:

- Devaluation of adolescents.

- Lack of consensus on youth development.

- Lack of adequate and protected funding. Funds are not protected and dedicated in the manner necessary to sustain the long-term, comprehensive process that is youth development.

We can support the move toward the ideal by:

- Seeking new types of information.

- Building on the after-school momentum.

- Making a sustainable public investment.

Youth development is an investment that must be made by each sector of the wider community – public and private. Examination of the federal-state matching, local dedicated taxes an incentives for business and philanthropy could lead to models for providing adequate and sustainable funding for youth development. National intermediaries must work to cultivate this leadership at all levels of government, and at the grassroots, by creating constituencies.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

State Sponsored Retirement Plans Continue to Expand

Several states are taking the lead from California, Oregon and Illinois by offering state-sponsored retirement plans that encourage or require private sector employers to participate.

The plans are referred to as auto-IRAs because eligible workers are automatically enrolled, generally within 30 days of employment. The default contribution rate is typically 3-5% of a paycheck and the employee can stop, restart or transfer plan assets depending on their needs. Referred to as “public-private partnerships” by the Pew Charitable Trust, there is no cost to the employer. Proceeds are managed by a private financial firm management for a pre-determined fee. The plans are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) like other sponsored pension and benefit plans.

This article provides an overview of the states that currently offer savings programs, as well as those that plan to do so in the future.

OregonSaves

Oregon was one of the first states to implement a savings program for employees of small businesses who are not otherwise eligible for a workplace sponsored pension plan. Titled OregonSaves, it is a state retirement program that is available to an employer or an individual planning for the future.

OregonSaves had almost $57 million in assets as of mid-2020. Employee contributions averaged $127 to $135 per month as of that time.

Enrollment is automatic for employees, with contributions being made through payroll deductions. Each employee account is portable and can be moved from one job to another.

All Oregon employers, regardless of employee size, must facilitate the State’s program for their employees if they do not offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The plan is working with small employers to make the process as simple as possible.

CalSavers

CalSavers is available to California workers whose employers do not offer a workplace retirement plan, self-employed individuals, and others who want to increase their savings. Plan participants contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that belongs to them.

California employers with more than 50 employees must register with CalSavers by June 30, 2021 if they do not already sponsor a retirement plan. Registration is available to all California employers with at least five employees.

The CalSavers program opened statewide in July 2019 and had $4.3 million in assets as of mid-2020. On average, participating employees contribute $105 to $120 monthly. Like the Oregon plan, the default savings rate is 5% of the employee’s pay and employees are automatically enrolled after 30 days of employment. They can stop, restart or transfer plan participation at any time if they change employers.

CalSavers Retirement Savings Program is designed to simplify employer participation with no employer fees, no fiduciary responsibility, and minimal ongoing responsibilities. Employers that fail to offer participation in the plan as required are subject to fines.

In May 2021, a federal appeals court in San Francisco dismissed a legal challenge to the CalSavers plan.

Illinois Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program

Illinois launched its Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program in 2018. It is a state-facilitated retirement program that is open to employees who work for an eligible employer as well as other employees who want to enroll independent of their employer. Approximately 32,000 Illinois employees saved $8.5 million in the first year of the Illinois Secure Choice program, according to state reports.

The Illinois Secure Choice account is a Roth IRA for the employee. The default savings rate is 5% of gross pay. Employees are automatically enrolled through payroll contributions after 30 days of employment. An employee can opt out at any time. Plan participants are charged a fee of 0.75% of assets per year ($0.75 for every $100 saved), which pays for program administration and operating expenses.

The Illinois Secure Choice had 5,544 registered employers as of May 2020. There are no fees for employers to facilitate the program and employers cannot make contributions to their employee accounts. Employers serve a limited role as a facilitator. As of November, 2019, employers with 25 or more employees that have been in business for two years or more are required to participate in the program. Employers that already offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan are exempt from this legislation.

New Jersey Secure Choice Savings

The “New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Act,” was signed into law in March 2019, with a two-year time frame scheduled to take effect in March 2021.

The Act requires employers that have been in business for two years and have 25 or more employees to participate in a retirement savings program administered through automatic payroll deductions. Private sector employees of businesses of any size are able to participate in the retirement savings program. Smaller or newer employers could join voluntarily. Failure to comply will result in fines to the employer.

Employees will be automatically enrolled at the leve of a 3% paycheck contribution. The annual contribution maximum is $6,000 for those under 50 years old, and $7,000 for those 50 or older.

Connecticut Secure Choice Savings Plan

Connecticut employers with five or more employees must offer a retirement plan to employees, and private employers with four or fewer employees may choose to do so. Employees are auto-enrolled within 120 days of employment, and employees must be notified of their rights within 30 days. Employers are not permitted to make contributions to the program.

The Connecticut Retirement Security Authority, a quasi-public agency, was formed in 2016 to oversee the program. The state estimates that as many as 600,000 employees may benefit from the plan.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off