Twin Problems of Unprofitable Customers and Services

I’ve been coaching some new CPA firm owners about how to build a profitable professional services firm. And to jump to the punchline? The twin tricks are avoid unprofitable customers and unprofitable services.

But many of the strategies and tactics apply to any small firm that sells services: haircuts, yard maintenance, legal advice, dry cleaning, construction and so on.

Accordingly, I thought it would make sense to share my coaching comments. And then also some other ideas that veteran managers and entrepreneurs suggest.

In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll sort of talk in terms of a CPA firm… but much what the follows applies to any service business.

But What is Profitability?

Let’s quickly start with definition of profitability, though.

I don’t mean (or necessarily mean) you get small business profits that let you drive some fancy car… or live in some expensive home or condo… or spend lavishly on toys and vacations.

What I mean by profitability is this. Your business, once you get it rolling, needs to pay you and your employees reasonable, competitive wages and salaries. And market-rate fringe benefits.

Your business also needs to pay an extra amount that represents a return on the capital you’ve invested in the business. This might include easily paying the bank on some loan.

Finally, the profitability needs to provide some cushioning. The operation needs to not run on a shoestring.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. And to make the math easy for everyone, I’m just going to use very round numbers.

Example: Assume other organizations pay someone who does your job $100,000 in salary and fringe benefits. Assume your small business requires $100,000 of fixtures, technology and working capital and you want to earn 20% or $20,000 on this investment. Finally, say you want $10,000 a year of cushioning. Profitability in this case means $130,000: $100,000 salary and benefits plus $20,000 return on investment plus $10,000 of cushioning.

And just to say this out loud? Sure. For some folks, profitability means bottom-line profits equal to $50,000. Or less. And then for some folks, profitability equal to $500,000 falls short.

The point is, profitability requirements vary. But a profitable small business pays its owner a salary, a return on her or his investment, and a little extra for cushioning.

The Two Lies Service Providers Tell Themselves

One comment related to profitability, too. You and I want to avoid telling two “profitability lies” to ourselves. Because either lie lets you or me pretend we don’t have the “unprofitable customers” problem. Or the “unprofitable services” problem.

Lie number one goes like this: On paper, a business makes the owner $50,000. But if the owner worked for well-run employer with good customers and clients and good products and services, she would earn $100,000.

In this situation, sure, the business “technically” shows a profit. But the owner actually loses (per the example) $50,000. Annually.

That makes sense, right? She earns $50,000 in her own business. But working someplace else, she would earn $100,000. That $50,000 lost income represents her business loss.

Lie number two resembles lie number one. And it goes like this: The business owner makes $50,000 running his own show. And that number works and counts as profitable. The problem here is the owner may not actually have one profitable $50,000 job but two $25,000 jobs.

In this situation, this owner may be selling his time at a giant discount and then making up the difference by working a million hours. That’s also not profitability. That’s self-exploitation.

And now, with that background, let’s quickly step through the strategies and tactics that small service businesses can often use to solve the unprofitable customer and unprofitable service problems…

Most of these ideas are pretty simple to understand. Note that not all will work or be available as options in every situation… But some large handful of options is often available.

Idea #1: Target Customers Who Understand Profitability

A first simple idea for dealing with unprofitable customers? Focus on and target customers or clients who understand profitability.

In other words, go for the folks who understand costs, expenses, revenue, overhead… and then also the impact of this stuff on the profitability of your relationship with the customer.

Probably this means business clients or customers.

Customers and clients want you and me to stay in business. So we can continue to provide them services. And savvy customers “get” we need profits.

Idea #2: Watch for Early Warning Signs

Something else easy to do? Watch out for any early warning signs that suggest a customer or client relationship may be one you or I want to avoid: abusive behavior, requests for undeserved credits and discounts and free services, general aggravation, or unpredictability.

Some people suggest only twenty percent of your or my customers or clients are actually profitable. (I don’t think that’s necessarily right as I’ll talk about later.) But surely many customers and clients aren’t practical or profitable to serve. So, stay away from the problems from the very start.

Idea #3: Homogeneity Helps

You and I want to do a lot of the same thing. Homogeneity in customers, products and services makes spotting problems easier. Homogeneity lets a firm optimize workflow. And homogeneity means a firm can create “hacks” and “work-arounds” for a smaller list of exceptions.

Note: This is a good place, I think, to mention my favorite fast restaurant, In-N-Out Burger, and a blog post we did to recognize and discuss their excellence: In-N-Out Burger a Masterpiece Business.

Idea #4: Say No to Price Shoppers

Service businesses don’t scale well. You and I get limited very quickly by the hours in a day.

Accordingly, you and I can’t compete on price. And we don’t want to work with people shopping on price.

If someone calls our CPA offices, for example, and the first question is “how much does it cost?” Yeah, we immediately disqualify the person. You should do the same.

A price shopper–someone who first looks at the price–has a high probability of being an unprofitable customer for a service business.

Idea #5: No One-off Projects

In some service businesses, like professional services and construction, clients or customers ask for special, customized projects that no customer or client has asked for before… and probably no customer or client will ask for again.

Almost no customer or client can afford a truly personalized service. Even the ultra-wealthy.

You and I want to avoid these “assignments.” Rather, we want to explore whether an existing service–already well-designed in terms of quality and value–works.

Idea #6: No Customer- or Client-led Design of Products or Services

A related point. Customers and clients should not design the product or service a firm delivers. Or the procedures or systems a firm uses.

Customers and clients design a “non-system” that works for their unique, special circumstances… and no one else… at high cost… and which delivers lower-quality results.

Note: You know a good model for product design? Henry Ford. See this blog post for more information: Henry Ford and the Problem of Customer-ization.

Idea #7: Sell Quality or Specialization

If you and I shouldn’t sell services based on price, how should we sell? I think we have two better options. We can sell on the basis of quality. Or we can sell on the basis of being specialists.

With tax return preparation, for example, one shouldn’t sell the cheapest return.

Rather, sell the more complex tax returns that someone can’t do themselves with TurboTax or similar software. Or sell a tax return for a niche of taxpayers with special issues and concerns.

Idea #8: Renegotiate Value Proposition

A great idea from a Harvard Business Review whitepaper, the Right Way to Manage Unprofitable Customers: For the inevitable low-profit product or service and the inevitable low-profit customer or client, discuss with them whether there’s a way to jack the value your firm delivers and so bump the price and the profitability.

A secondary advantage of this renegotiation? If it fails, the renegotiation can be the way we professionally and ethically and kindly wind up the relationship.

Idea #9: Divest No and Low Profit Customers and Clients

Another idea from the aforementioned Harvard Business Review whitepaper? You may be able to divest or sell or giveaway no-profit and low-profit clients and customers.

This weird reality? Customers or clients you or I can’t profitably serve? They may be great folks for some other “competitor.”

And by the way, the reverse is true too. Some customer or client that a “competitor” can’t profitably serve? That sort may work great for you or me. (See Idea #3 and Idea #5 for the reasons why this might be the case.)

Idea #10: Understand Unprofitable Customers and Services “Chronic”

A final helpful notion, I think. Unprofitable customers and unprofitable services represent a “chronic” problem.

No miracle cure exists. Accordingly, you and I simply need manage and mitigate these problems.

About the 80/20 Rule

If you poke around the web and blog-sphere researching the subject of “customer profitability,” you quickly encounter a theory. That theory? The notion that the 80/20 rule applies.

Restated in terms of customer or client profitability, the 80/20 rule postulates that 80 percent of a firm’s profits flow from 20 percent of its customers. Or from 20 percent of its products or services.

And then the “actionable insight” that falls out of this assertion: You and I need to identify the profitable 20 percent… and then cull the unprofitable 80 percent.

Let me unequivocally state I believe this is nonsense. In our service business, I know that more than 80 percent of our client relationships are profitable. Further, the few percent who are low or no profit?

Often, those clients are in transition. Maybe our firm hasn’t yet moved far enough up the learning curve to profitably serve the client. Or to deliver the service. (Which is our responsibility.)

Or maybe a long-time client is temporarily low or no profit due to some bad luck.

Here, however, is the other side of this issue. And boy is this awkward. Surely some service firms serve mostly unprofitable clients and customers.

So maybe, gosh I think probably, the 80/20 rule applies overall.

But that 20 percent of the market that’s profitable to serve? Smart firms target and capture a big share.

And then the 80 percent of the market that’s low profit or not profitable? Those clients and customers are getting served by service businesses who don’t yet know how to identify, capture and keep profitable clients.

A Closing Thought

A closing thought. The work of building up and then maintaining a collection of profitable services and profitable clients? It takes time. And we all need to show both patience and discipline.

The post Twin Problems of Unprofitable Customers and Services appeared first on Evergreen Small Business.

©

How Child Care Tax Credits Work

Anyone who has to pay for daycare for a child knows that the cost of quality child care can be crazy.

After your mortgage, it could be your biggest bill of the month.

It’s not uncommon to spend more than 15% of your income on care. To put that in perspective, the U.S. government defines “affordable care” as costing no more than 7% of family income.

Fortunately, the U.S. Tax Code offers an incentive that can offset at least a portion of those costs. Here’s what you need to know about the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

What is a Child Care Tax Credit?

The Child and Dependent Care Credit helps working families pay expenses for the care of their children, adult dependents, or an incapacitated spouse.

You calculate the credit by taking a percentage of the expenses you paid to a care provider. That rate depends on your adjusted gross income (Line 8b of your 2019 Form 1040).

However, there is a cap on the total expenses you can use to calculate the credit. If you pay for the care of one qualifying individual, you can use up to $3,000 of costs to claim the credit. If you pay for the care of two or more individuals, you can base the credit on up to $6,000 of expenses.

If your employer provides dependent care benefits that you don’t have to include in your taxable income, you have to subtract the amount of those benefits from your expenses before calculating the credit.

How to Qualify for the Child Care Tax Credits

There are several rules you need to follow to qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Rule #1: Only for Working Individuals and Families

You must pay for the care of a child or dependent so you (and your spouse if filing jointly) can work or actively look for work. If one spouse works and the other is a stay-at-home parent, you’re not eligible to claim the credit.

To limit this credit to working families, the IRS requires the taxpayer to have “earned income.” Earned income includes wages, salaries, tips, and earnings from self-employment. If your only income comes from a pension or annuity, Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, or investment income, you won’t be able to claim the credit. For a more in-depth discussion of what does and doesn’t count as earned income, see IRS Publication 503.

Publication 503 also explains a special rule that applies if your spouse is a full-time student or incapable of self-care.

Rule #2: Eligible Care Providers

Many different types of care arrangements qualify for the credit. Care provided in your home counts, as does care provided in the home of the caregiver, at a childcare center, nursery, or day camp. Tuition expenses at a K-12 school aren’t eligible for the credit but the cost of before- and after-school care is allowable.

The care provider can’t be your spouse, the parent of the child, another one of your children who is under the age of 19, or another dependent whom you or your spouse may claim on your tax return.

You’ll have to identify the care provider on your return by providing the person or organization’s name, address, and Social Security or Tax Identification Number.

Rule #3: Care Provided for a Qualifying Individual

People tend to think of the Child and Dependent Care Credit as a credit to offset childcare costs. But for this credit, the definition of a qualifying individual is a little broader. You can calculate the credit based on expenses for:

  • Your child who was under the age of 13 when the care was provided
  • Another dependent of any age, if they are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves
  • Your spouse who was mentally or physically incapable of caring for themselves and lived with you for more than half the year

How Much to Expect in Tax Savings

The credit amount ranges from 20% to 35% of your allowable care expenses, depending on your adjusted gross income (AGI). The higher your income, the lower your percentage.

Those percentages appear on Line 8 of Form 2441, the form used to calculate and claim the child care credit.

The maximum percentage of 35% is only available to people with AGIs of $15,000 or below. So the maximum credit available to a person who pays care expenses for one qualifying individual is $3,000 times 35%, or $1,050. For two or more qualifying individuals, the maximum credit is $6,000 times 35%, or $2,100.

The percentage starts to decrease once your AGI goes over $15,000, but it doesn’t phase out entirely. If your AGI is above $43,000, you’ll at least get to claim 20% of your allowable expenses.

For example, say your AGI is $75,000, you have two children under the age of 13 in daycare, and your total care expenses for the year were $10,000. Since you have two qualifying individuals, you can use $6,000 of those expenses to calculate your credit. Because your AGI is above $43,000, the percentage you use to calculate the child care tax credit is 20%. So, your available tax credit would be $6,000 times 20%, or $1,200.

Another important thing to note is that this is a tax credit, as opposed to a tax deduction. Tax deductions lower your taxable income, so their value depends on your tax bracket. On the other hand, a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax you owe.

Say you calculate your tax return without any credits and have taxes due of $1,600. If you apply the $1,200 Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to your tax bill, you owe $400 instead. That makes the child care credit a valuable tax break for anyone paying for eligible care expenses.

Other Child-Related Credits and Deductions to Consider

If you can’t claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit or are looking for more ways to reduce your tax bill, consider these tax credits and deductions.

Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit is worth up to $2,000 for each dependent child under the age of 17 at the end of the tax year. To qualify for the credit, your dependent must have lived with you for more than half the year, and you must have at least $2,500 of earned income.

The Child Tax Credit phases out for high-income taxpayers. If you are single with an AGI over $240,000 or married filing jointly with an AGI over $440,000, you won’t get any benefit from claiming this credit.

You can learn more about the Child Tax Credit in IRS Publication 501.

Credit for Other Dependents

If you have a dependent who doesn’t meet the requirements to claim the Child Tax Credit, such as a college student or elderly parent, you may be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents. This credit is worth up to $500 per dependent but has the same phase-out limits as the Child Tax Credit.

Medical Expense Deduction

If you paid for health insurance and other health care costs for your dependents, you might benefit from the deduction for medical expenses.

Medical expenses are included in itemized deductions. So to get a benefit, your total itemized deductions, including health care costs, state and local taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions, must be greater than the standard deduction available for your filing status.

For 2019, the available standard deductions are:

  • Single and Married Filing Separately: $12,200
  • Married Filing Jointly: $24,400
  • Head of Household: $18,350

In addition, you only get to deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI. Eligible expenses include:

  • Medical, dental and vision insurance premiums
  • Doctor visit co-pays
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Amounts paid for eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Lab fees

For a complete list of eligible expenses, check out IRS Publication 502.

If you and your family are in relatively good health and have access to employer-subsidized health insurance, that can be a difficult threshold to meet. However, parents of children with special needs may have more expenses that qualify.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits low- and moderate-income workers, with larger credits available to taxpayers who have children.

Your maximum EITC depends on how many qualifying children you claim on your return. For 2019, the maximums are:

  • $6,557 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,828 with two qualifying children
  • $3,526 with one qualifying child
  • $529 with no qualifying children

For more information on the EITC, including income limits, check out IRS Publication 596 .

Adoption Credit

If you adopt a child during the tax year, the Adoption Credit is worth up to $13,810 per child.

Qualified adoption expenses that can be used to calculate the credit include:

  • Adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses

The Adoption Credit phases out for taxpayers with modified AGIs between $207,140 and $247,140 in 2019.

Dealing with taxes can be tedious and frustrating, but taking advantage of the Child and Dependent Care credit and other tax breaks can help offset the high cost of raising children. Take the time to research the tax credits and deductions that apply to you so you can minimize the amount of tax you’ll owe or even increase your tax refund.

How Child Care Tax Credits Work is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Higher Education And Your Business

If you own a business, you might think it is far too late for you to go back to school. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pursuing higher education as a business owner can do wonders for both your business and your team. In fact, there is nothing holding you back and everything to gain for your business success through higher education.

RELATED ARTICLE: ENTREPRENEURIAL EDUCATION: DO YOU NEED ONE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Here are five ways that advanced higher education can help your business grow.

Higher Education Improves Your Skills

One of the main advantages of additional education is an improved skill set. This is especially true for managers. Unfortunately, managers often get promoted to higher positions without ever receiving extra training or education. This can make the managers feel overwhelmed and unsure and is reflected in their work. A recent study found that over 50% of managers say they have never received management training. This most certainly costs your business in the long run.

You Can Continue Working

One of the main reasons adults do not engage in higher education is because they can’t afford to take the time off from work. Because of the growth of online education, earning a degree does not require you to leave your company in the hands of others. You can study while you work. Also, many courses are only a few weeks or months long. So, you don’t need to dedicate years to acquire additional qualifications.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Higher Education Builds Confidence

Learning new skills helps boost confidence. As we mentioned before, many managers feel unsure about their skillset. However, when they receive extra training, their confidence grows and they are more likely to be successful. This has obvious benefits for your business. Better productivity. Professional success. In addition, your self-esteem and happiness levels also increase. Research shows that people who train for their dream jobs (and then work in those jobs) are significantly happier than those who do not.

Creating New Possibilities

Education opens up new possibilities for you in your career. After all, an additional qualification makes you more qualified! However, many people think that on the job training is just as valuable, so they forgo education. However, in order to be promoted well and advance through your career additional education communicates your motivation to improve. That kind of confidence attracts more business!

Education Makes Employees More Valuable

Higher education does not only benefit managers; it can also benefit employees who want to improve their performance. Learning an extra skill set will make the employee (and therefore, the team) more efficient and productive. Supporting education also helps employees feel more motivated and passionate. This is very important, as a recent study found that over 80% of employees feel disengaged at work. That’s four out of five employees. Further education can help to reduce feelings of disengagement. 

For instance, if you run a healthcare department, and one of your employees gets a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, your whole team improves. The newly educated employee can take on more advanced healthcare roles and responsibilities. This eases pressure on other employees, and it makes the team more cohesive and productive.

Finally, higher education for employees improves employee retention. Over time, promoting uneducated managers leads to unproductive employees and high employee turnover. Turnover alone costs businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Therefore, promoting and completing additional education ensures that your business is being managed well. A win-win situation!

The post Higher Education And Your Business appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How to Throw a Coachella-Worthy Festival

Coachella is a festival that makes a ton of money. We’re talking more than $100 million in gross profits. Known for Instagram selfies and trending new artists, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a well-attended, huge event.

RELATED ARTICLE: 8 POWERFUL WAYS TO USE INSTAGRAM FOR YOUR BUSINESS

However, if your event company is thinking about trying to host a music festival, it’s not as easy as you might think. You have music talent to wrangle, logistics to figure out, security detail to hire, and parking issues to fix.

But if you’re ready to jump in and learn more about how you can make a big impact with your festival, keep reading. We can’t guarantee Coachella levels of success off the bat, but we promise these tips will lead to a great event.

Know Your Timeline

Look, all great events take time. It takes months to book musical talent, vendors, and the venue itself. If you’re trying to plan a big event, it may even take a year. What’s more, marketing the event and selling tickets takes time, too.

Figure Out Your Ticketing

For the best guest experience, it’s important that it’s easy to buy tickets for your event and move around within the event. For example, you might want to consider giving your guests cloth wristbands with integrated RFID technology if you really want to make your event stand out.

Also, specialized bracelets can give people access to VIP areas and other in-festival experiences. It’s a way to make the event seamless for attendees, so people can focus on making memories.

Calculate How Much Space You Need

Besides the actual stage where the talent will perform, you’re also going to need to figure out where the bathrooms will go, where vendors will go, and campground locations.

Establish the Budget for Your Festival

Don’t let your festival turn into the Fyre Festival. It’s important to get a mix of up-and-coming local artists in addition to a big act or two. You don’t want to go over your budget by splurging where it doesn’t make sense. You’ll also need to consider hidden costs like permits, any vendor costs, and insurance.

Decide on the General Flow of the Festival

People attending your event need food, beverages, trash cans, access to first aid, merchandise, and restrooms.

Hire Security and Erect Barriers

You need security for a lot more than putting a stop to pesky teens trying to climb over barriers to get into your event for free. You also need to make sure the crowd stays safe and there are no unruly people making the festival dangerous for others. It’s also a good idea to put up a tent or a few tents where people can get first aid, report theft or lost and found items, and so on.

Start the Marketing Campaign for Your Festival

In order to make a return on your event, it’s important to establish your marketing strategy early on in your advertising efforts. For example, you’ll need social media advertising, ads in your local paper, email marketing, and digital advertising.

RELATED ARTICLE: EMAIL MARKETING IS MORE IMPORTANT NOW THAN EVER

It’s also a good idea to team up with the public relations people for the talent you’re booking for the event. They can help to coordinate your advertising efforts.

festival attendees

Festival Planning Is Unique

Festival planning isn’t necessarily like other events such as weddings or parties. It’s a highly specialized and involved form of event planning requiring expertise in organization and management. It’s critical to have industry experience and so you can network with people who can connect you to the talent and staff required for the event.

Before you decide
to host your own musical festival, it makes sense to try and partner up with an
experienced group of planners at national and local festivals to gain
experience. Plus, the people you meet during those work experiences may become
a pool of professional talent you can draw from when you’re planning your
festival.

Final
Thoughts

Planning a music festival is a huge undertaking, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It involves a huge investment of time and money to successfully pull off.

However, if you have the experience and professional network to tap into for an event, it can be fun and rewarding. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to plan your event marketing. Then stick to a strict budget, and be sure to account for hiccups.

It’s important to be flexible because events are prone to mishaps like bad weather, cancelled musical acts, and other such “acts of God.” But by using this list, you’ll be able to put on a successful festival that attendees will be talking about for years to come.

The post How to Throw a Coachella-Worthy Festival appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How to Prepare for a Business Photo Shoot

Photo by Terje Sollie from Pexels

Are you looking for a way to make your business stand out? Then hire a good professional photographer to do a photo shoot for your business. Moreover, make that investment pay off by taking care of the finer details ahead of time. In this post, we share some tips about how to do that.

Does Your Business Need a Photo Shoot?

Whether for your social media posts, printed brochures, your company’s LinkedIn profile, or your own website content, professional photos are a must-have. Moreover, they are one of the easiest ways for your business to make a good impression.

The image you’re trying to convey will vary depending on the type of business you own. For example, a restaurant will have a very different style from that of a law firm.

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy with when it comes to professional photo shoots. However, there are a few things to keep in mind for every business wanting to create a great first impression via the use of images.

What Should You Expect?

Most professional photographs are either headshots or photographs taken from the waist up. They can be taken in a studio, at your choice of locations, including at your workplace.

How you choose to do your photo shoot will come down to what you feel is most natural and relevant for your business. Returning to the restaurant example, a photo of a chef wearing an apron and photographed inside your kitchen will be more appropriate than having them wear a suit and tie against a white background.

How Should You Prepare for a Professional Photo Shoot?

Think About What You Want to Convey About Your Business

Consider what kind of vibe you’d like your business to give off. Is your business serious or silly? Traditional or relaxed? The tone you choose will come across not only in your outfit and the location, but also in your posture and facial expressions.

Trust your photographer to do a photo shoot that brings out the best in you, but don’t be afraid to say what you want. Some people prefer being photographed from a certain angle that they believe to be more flattering. Many also don’t like to show their teeth when they smile.

Feel free to practice in front of a mirror before the actual shoot. Remember that even some photo shots of food take a long time to get ready for photos.

RELATED ARTICLE: BEHIND THE SCENES AT A MCDONALD’S PHOTO SHOOT

Prepare Your Clothing, Hair, and Makeup

If you have the budget for it, hiring a stylist for your professional photo shoot can really help make the images pop. What’s more, it’s not just women who wear makeup during shoots. Even professional male models and actors benefit from the help of a makeup artist. The right makeup artist will make skin look clear and bring out certain features.

Clothing for your photo shoot will depend on your profession. However, a classic office outfit, such as a skirt and blouse for women or a navy blue suit for men, is usually the go-to for corporate shoots.

It’s often advised not to go crazy with colors, patterns, or jewelry. These things can be distracting in the final image. Professional hairstyles for both women and men are easy enough to find. However, don’t worry too much about shoes, as these are rarely seen in the photo anyway.

Hire the Right Photographer

At the end of the day, you’ll want a photographer who puts you at ease. You’ll also want someone who is professional and punctual, and, of course, who takes great photos. It’s not always about their fee or their level of experience. In fact, you can find many great photographers fresh out of training or even still in college who are eager for a corporate photo shoot.

Just because a photographer has 15 or more years of experience doesn’t mean they’ll fit your ideas or your budget. A fresh graduate might bring plenty of fresh concepts and an infectious level of enthusiasm that makes you feel relaxed. You can easily search for photographers online. Then look through their portfolios to find someone who matches your plans for a shoot.

A Professional Photo Shoot Can Put Your Business Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

In this age of selfies and a flood of digital images, having a professional do the job can make all the difference. So show your business in the best possible light by choosing the right professional to do your company’s photo shoot.

The post How to Prepare for a Business Photo Shoot appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

The Biggest Downside To Daycare And Preschool Is Not The Cost

Are you considered rich if you can afford childcare? After all, childcare for one child can cost between $1,500 – $2,500 a month, depending on where you live. Or are you considered poor if you have to pay for childcare because you cannot afford to stay at home and take care of your own kids?

The post The Biggest Downside To Daycare And Preschool Is Not The Cost appeared first on Financial Samurai.

©

Saving up for something? Buy the stock first!

Saving up for something? Buy the stock first!

stock market

Today’s a quickie but goodie for you 😉

I’ve heard of buying stocks from places you love and use every day (in fact, I did this myself back in the day!), but never thought of buying the stocks *instead* of the product before. Or at least while you’re saving up for it…

From Chandrashekhar on our post about controversial finance beliefs:

If you’re planning a large expense, buy shares worth that expense in that industry/company before making the spend.

For instance, if you’re looking to buy the latest iPhone, buy Apple shares worth that phone and see if you still want to buy the phone… That way, you tend to reduce unnecessary expenses while building a decent portfolio to rely on.

Love it! Not only does this make you WAIT and SAVE UP for the purchase first – a good thing to do on its own – but it also gets you into the habit of INVESTING more and probably holding onto the stocks at the end of the day as it’s never fun cashing out of stuff like that.

Now this wouldn’t work on things like cars or houses or other major purchases unless you’re a baller, but every day stuff $1,000-$2,000 or less? Sure! Most people don’t have that just laying around, so “saving up” by investing along the way would make for a great way to motivate yourself whether you end up pulling the trigger or not.

Delayed gratification is a great thing! And perhaps you even end up with both the product AND some extra stock by the time you have enough?

As my friend Mabel likes to say – “if you can afford the product, you can afford the stock!” Something to consider the next time you go to whip out that credit card 🙂

j. money signature

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

Where and How to Sell Your Stuff Online

Need to make a quick $1,000?

It’s possible by selling stuff laying around your house.

A few months ago, I sold a rowing machine for $700 and used the money to help pay for a trip to Italy. Not only did I get the extra cash, I freed up space in my office which now feels a lot better whenever I’m in there.

Selling something online wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be either.

If you sell your items in the right place, you’ll have cash within a few days. I’ve listed the best ones below.

8 Websites and Apps to Sell Stuff Online

You need to look at reliability, relevance, customer experience, and costs while deciding where to sell your stuff. Here are some of the best places where you can start selling:

Amazon

You don’t want to ignore the biggest online shopping website in the world. Amazon accounts for almost half of all retail sales online. For an extra fee, the folks at Amazon will also take care of delivery and customer care for you.

I love Amazon’s advertising platform. It is a world of its own and it’s the single best way to get in front of a ton of buyers.

Fees: Amazon will charge you $0.99 for every item sold in addition to a referral fee that varies between 8% to 20% of the price of the item.

Best for: Almost everything.

eBay

eBay is a marketplace where you can auction your stuff. I find eBay great because of the sheer diversity of things you can sell on it. It’s perfect for obscure items that don’t tend to sell anywhere else.

Pro Tip: Do you have old action figures, Hotwheels cars, mugs…or literally ANYTHING that has an emotional value? If not, go to a garage sale, buy some of this stuff for a few dollars, and then list it for a higher price on eBay. I know people who have “flipped” items this way and made thousands of dollars. eBay is made for side hustles like these apart from selling sophisticated items.

Fees: You pay eBay 10% of the item’s price (including shipping but not taxes). If you list more than 50 items, you have to pay a listing fee of $0.30 per listing. The fee is refunded if you sell the item.

Best for: Almost all kinds of new, old, and used items.

Etsy

Etsy is the place to be if you sell handmade items. I used to think that Etsy was just arts and crafts type stuff. Then I started searching and found several great items that I purchased for my own office.

If you plan to make items regularly and want a reliable source of customers, go to Etsy.

Fees: Etsy will charge you $0.20 for listing an item for four months. It also takes 5% of the item’s price as a fee when you make a sale. In addition to this, Etsy’s payment platform also charges you a 3% + $0.25 fee for every transaction.

Best for: Handmade items and home decor.

Bonanza

Bonanza is newer compared to eBay and Amazon and works similarly. Sometimes, I prefer Bonanza because it has a more loyal and a completely different audience than the bigger shopping destinations.

Fees: Bonanza charges you 3.5% of your product price plus the shipping price above $10. I also love how Bonanza has an option where it handles the advertising of your product for a higher fee.

Best for: Almost everything, but Bonanza says it specializes in unique and one-off items.

Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Groups

Where there are people, there is shopping. To sell something locally, I’d start here. Most neighborhoods have a Facebook group. A quick post could sell your item within hours. Just make sure that the group allows it, some groups ban all promotional posts. Also expect folks to haggle. I always get the most pushback on price whenever I sell on Facebook.

Fees: Only your blood, sweat, and tears. But technically FREE! But keep in mind that you have to do everything from getting in touch with buyers, packing, delivering, and getting paid.

Best for: Think big and wide. I have seen people sell everything from cars to plants on Facebook.

Rakuten

You may not have heard of this Japanese website. It has 126 million users, and 90% of internet users in Japan use it. I believe this is a wonderful place to sell your stuff if you want to break into the Japanese market.

Fees: Rakuten is a bit expensive. You have to pay a monthly fee of $33 as a seller and a flat fee of $0.99 for every sale. In addition to it, you are also charged between 8% and 15% based on what you are selling.

Best for: Almost everything. Perfect for people who are sick of the competition on US websites.

Your Own Website

Selling on your website means you are in complete control, but you are also fully responsible for everything. Not only do you need to do all the marketing to bring people to your online store, you also have to get your store built. Here’s a handy guide on the best ecommerce tools.

If you want to go big and build a large business around selling your stuff, this is the way to go.

Cost: You need to design a website, set up a cart, payment gateway, and get the necessary security certificates. Plus packaging and delivery.

Patreon

Technically, Patreon is not a marketplace or an eCommerce website. It’s a platform where your most loyal fans pay you an amount of their choice either monthly or as a one-time payment. In exchange, you give them exclusive content and access. If you’re selling creative content like comics, art, or videos, it’s a great option.

Best for: Selling content to your loyal fans.

Honorable Mentions: Craiglist and LetGo (both are great for local listings), eBid (similar to eBay and Amazon), Newegg (for tech), eCrater (a 100% free marketplace), and RubyLane (superb for art, jewelry, collectibles, and vintage items).

How to Prepare to Sell Stuff Online and What to Expect

1. Find items to sell

Go around your house and look for anything that you don’t want anymore. If it’s in good condition and you think it has value, add it to your list.

Collectibles, exercise equipment, furniture, electronics that aren’t too old yet, and luxury items are a good place to start.

2. Check if there’s a market

Now it’s time to make sure there are buyers for the items you selected. Check Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, and Craiglists for your items. If you see plenty of them, that’s a good sign.

To really make sure, make a note of all the listings you see on Ebay or Craigslist. Then come back a few days later and see if the listings are still active. Great items sell quickly and listings get closed. You won’t have any trouble selling those items and can probably push your asking price a bit.

3. Decide where you want to sell

You’ll be familiar with which platforms have your items already. Go ahead and pick the ones that you want to add your product to.

4. Build Your Item Profile

On each platform, you’ll need to create accounts and build out your product listing. Get the best photos that you can and write a really compelling description. This has a huge impact on how many buyers reach out to you.

5. Publish

Once you’re ready, hit publish and launch your item.

Be sure to double check the public page and make sure everything appears correctly. That way you can fix any mistakes quickly.

6. Follow up to Inquiries

For hot items, you’ll start getting inquiries within a few hours. And the bulk of people will reach out in 24-48 hours. Make sure to respond to them as quickly as possible and close a deal.

If you’re on a platform that does the selling for you (like Amazon), there’s nothing else you need to do. Simply sit back and wait.

7. Close the Deal

Once you have agreed on price, lay out your requirements for the sale. This could include meeting location, payment method, shipping terms, etc. Assuming the buyer agrees to the terms, keep following up until everything has been completed.

If the deal falls apart at this stage, move on to other folks that reached out. It’s best to keep them in a holding pattern until you’ve completed the transaction. Don’t tell anyone that it’s been sold until the deal is 100% done. That will give you plenty of backup options in case it doesn’t go through.

Tips and Tricks to Selling Your Stuff Online

Here are five simple tricks to take your online selling game to the next level:

1. Focus on The Product Page

When people see your stuff on an online store, getting them to click on your listing is your first goal.

Having a professional-looking image and a good title is crucial. Your product description must shine, and your price must be right. I always look at other listings selling similar items. Then I try to beat everyone else by having a better photo, product description, and a competitive price.

2. Research Market Pricing

Every item has a price band that the market expects. Phone apps are $1-5, Concept 2 rowing machines are $700-900, lamps are $20-1000 depending on the design. Look at a bunch of listings for the type of item that you plan to sell. That will tell you how much you can expect to make.

Remember, we all have an internal bias to over-value what we own. We think it’s more valuable than it is. So go in expecting that you’re going to make less than you think. It takes time to develop an accurate gauge of the market on any item.

3. Use Speed

As soon as you get a response from someone, try to respond instantly. People almost always get less interested in a deal over time. Take advantage of their motivation by responding quickly and getting the deal done as quickly as possible.

4. Stick to Your Price

You will likely get a few folks that try to negotiate hard. They’ll try to pressure you into a much lower price. They’re looking for a great deal themselves. If you’ve done your research and know the pricing bands for your item, hold to your price. Only lower it if you don’t get any legitimate interest.

5. Protect Yourself

Scams do happen when selling stuff online. If selling locally, demand cash. And if someone mails you a check or money order for a larger amount that requested, it’s definitely a scam. Return the check and refuse to mail your item until you get the correct amount.

Where and How to Sell Your Stuff Online is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Employee Retention Tips for 2020

Employee turnover costs your company in multiple ways. In fact, reports show that turnover costs employers a whopping $15,000 per employee, mostly for reasons that are avoidable. In addition, there are massive ramifications to the entire company when your top star leaves the team. As a business owner, attention to employee retention is key for a thriving work environment.

Feature Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

If you run a small business, you are most likely faced with limited resources. So, retaining your best and brightest is vital to your business success. Therefore, efficient and effective employee retention strategies help to improve office morale and productivity. Such strategies ensure that your best workers don’t leave you for the competition. 

Consider these three simple and cost-effective employee retention strategies to help you succeed. 

Communicate With Your Employees

You might think communication is handled. Employees come to do their job and go home. However, healthy and transparent communication significantly improves employee retention. Great communication encourages employees to ask questions, addresses employee and company concerns, and provides you a vehicle for receiving feedback. Considering employee feedback and follow-up are key factors for effective leadership. Great leaders foster excellent employees and positively impact employee retention.

Experts explain that “an emphasis on communication equips employees to feel valued, satisfied and motivated which enhances their morale and increases their output.”

FEATURED ARTICLE: BUSINESS SUCCESS DEPENDS ON WORKPLACE WELL-BEING

Our favorite tool to communicate with your employees is Connecteam’s free employee communication app. In the click of a button, you are able to create a two-way communication channel. Managers can send private or group chats and updates. The platform allows you to share weekly goals, celebrate the employee of the month, send birthday wishes, release company announcements and more. Additionally, employees have a tool to communicate with you in real-time if they have issues. Apps like this make communication simple and effective.

Hire For Retention

According to Glassdoor, 35% of employers who hire new employees already anticipate that other employees will resign in that same year. If your hiring strategy includes the expectation that existing employees will soon resign, something isn’t working! Make changes toward retention rather than hiring a workforce you expect will not be with your company for long.

To begin, revamp your interview process. Ask questions that help bring out qualities that you seek to develop among your employees. Consider past performance relevant to tasks you’re hiring for. Be consistent across interviews so you can utilize lateral comparison. 

Employee Retention - Interviews
Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Next, ensure that the job description is clear. Many new hires reported that they would stay at a job and company longer if they knew more about their job role early on. It is essential that you do not omit details of the position. Take the time to find the right candidate, even if you are desperate to fill the vacancy. Remain transparent so the right employee joins your company and stays for the long term. 

On-Boarding Is Crucial 

As soon as a new hire arrives on their first day, make sure they’re set up for success!  teach them about the company culture, training opportunities, mission and values, and so on. Make clear to them that their job role and responsibilities, while very important to success, are just a part of their relationship with your company. HR experts say, “Onboarding new hires at an organization should be a strategic process and last at least one year to ensure high retention.”

Employee Retention Makes The Difference

Employee retention is just one strategy for your business’ success. Still, having the right team with the right employees invested in your company’s success makes the difference. In order for them to invest and be loyal to you, invest and be loyal to them. Your business will most certainly reap the rewards.

The post Employee Retention Tips for 2020 appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How to Write a Bill of Sale

Basically, a bill of sale confirms that ownership has changed.

You can use a bill of sale to document a variety of purchases, with most people using them for cars, motorcycles, or boats. However, you can also issue a bill of sale when you sell personal property like clothes, furniture, or even a puppy.

Generally, the seller writes up the bill of sale which should spell out all the details of the exchange. The point of a bill of sale is to document that the sale happened and to afford protection to both sides in the event of a future dispute.

How Does a Bill of Sale Work?

You can think of a bill of sale as being similar to a receipt. It’s a legal document that gives protection to both parties by proving the sale was completed and that property and payment changed hands.

For the seller, a bill of sale is proof that the item being transferred was accepted by the buyer in the condition described.

For example, if someone is selling their used car, they may wish to sell it in “as-is” condition. This means they aren’t extending a warranty that everything on the car works perfectly since the vehicle’s used condition could mean there is an unknown underlying problem with a component of the car.

By contrast, if they sell it with a warranty, the bill of sale should spell out what they’re guaranteeing.

For the buyer, the bill of sale is a record of the transaction. This gives them proof of ownership as well as a record of their payment. Depending on which state they live in, they might also need the bill of sale to complete the transfer of ownership. For example, some states require motorists to produce a bill of sale before they can register a vehicle in their name.

Sellers can draft a bill of sale on their own, but it’s often helpful to use a template. While there are no universal formats or rules for what a bill of sale should look like, the document should include the names of the seller and buyer, a description of the item being sold, and the date of the sale.

Do I Need a Bill of Sale?

Each state has its own rules for bills of sale and when they’re required. If you’re selling a vehicle, you should check your state’s laws as most states require a bill of sale.

If you’re selling something of minimal value, such as items at a garage sale, you probably don’t need to bother with a bill of sale. However, you might want to draft one if you’re selling something like a TV or valuable antique.

In short, it’s a good idea to have a bill of sale any time you’re selling a vehicle or something of significant value. For items of lesser value, you probably don’t need one.

3 Steps for Writing a Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is a straightforward document that anyone can handle. Here are three easy steps for making your own.

#1. Find Your State’s Requirements

Some transactions are regulated by state law, which may require a bill of sale. The most common example of this is the sale of vehicles, motorcycles, and boats. In most states, you need a bill of sale for any type of titled personal property.

However, some state laws provide that the title itself qualifies as a bill of sale, so a separate document isn’t needed. This is why it’s important to check your state’s laws before going forward with the transaction.

Additionally, states that regulate bills of sale for the transfer of vehicles often have specific formatting and information requirements. For example, your state might require that all bills of sale for motor vehicles be notarized. In other states, a vehicle bill of sale must list out the make and model of the car, as well as its mileage and condition.

To ensure you’re protected and fully compliant with the law, research your state’s requirements for bills of sale. In most cases, you can also find a template approved by the state agency that regulates your type of transaction.

#2. Consider Using a Template

Bills of sale are common documents, which means there are many free templates available online. By using a template, you can feel more confident that your document includes all the details it needs.

Additionally, office supply stores often sell printed bills of sale with blank spaces you can fill in when you make a sale. In most cases, these come in a convenient bundle with carbon copies underneath so the seller has a copy of the document. These are often popular among small business owners who need a fast and easy way to manage inventory and provide their customers with a bill of sale.

Whether you use a pre-printed form you buy at a store or print out your own bill of sale from a template, you should always retain a copy for your records.

Here are some templates for bills of sale you can find online:

#3. Use This Checklist to Know What to Include

Once you’ve found a template you like, you should review it to make sure it includes all the information you need for a legally compliant bill of sale. Keep in mind that it’s always better to err on the side of too much information rather than too little.

A general bill of sale should include the following:

  • Names, addresses, and contact information of the buyer and seller
  • Date of the sale
  • Amount the buyer paid for the property
  • Description of the property
  • If the item is being sold as-is, a statement for this
  • If the item is being sold with a warranty or guarantee, any and all representations of warranty from the seller
  • Signatures of the buyer and seller (notarized if required by state law)

If you’re selling a motor vehicle, the bill of sale should also include:

  • Vehicle make, model, and year
  • Mileage on the odometer
  • Description of the motor vehicle
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN) or serial number
  • Hull number (boats only)

Should You Sell Property As-is or With a Warranty?

In most states, if you don’t include warranty information on a bill of sale, the law assumes the property is sold in as-is condition. However, if you include any promises, guarantees, or warranty information in the bill of sale, a future court could hold you to them.

This is why it’s important to be specific about what you’re promising. When it comes to the sale of used personal property, it’s quite common for sellers to specify that the sale is for property in “as-is condition.” This way, they’re not on the hook for guaranteeing the property’s condition down the road.

For example, if you sell a car “as-is” you aren’t responsible for any repairs if the air conditioning breaks three months after the sale.

On the other hand, state laws typically prohibit sellers from knowingly concealing an item’s defective condition. If you try to hide a flaw and the buyer later discovers it, it might not matter if you sold the property as-is.

In sum, both the seller and the buyer have an obligation to deal with each other honestly. If you’re the buyer, you should conduct a reasonable inspection of the property you’re purchasing before you agree to buy it as-is.

What to Do with a Bill of Sale

Once you’ve filled out the bill of sale and completed your transaction, you should retain one copy of the bill of sale and give another copy to the buyer. The bill of sale is your record that the transaction was completed.

In some states, you may need to produce the bill of sale when you register your vehicle or transfer the title.

How to Write a Bill of Sale is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Life Goes By Quick: Money Thoughts From A Boomer Retiree With Cancer

The following is a guest post from David, a Financial Samurai reader and ex-government bond strategist in his 60s. We had a fantastic exchange over e-mail and I invited David to share his wisdom about money. After all, the best way to learn is to learn from someone who has been there before. Take it

The post Life Goes By Quick: Money Thoughts From A Boomer Retiree With Cancer appeared first on Financial Samurai.

©

Tips for Transporting Heavy Objects by Hand

Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash

If you have decided to move your business to another location, you might need to do some of the heavy lifting yourself.

When it comes to lifting and moving heavy objects, we all know that we should lift with our legs instead of our backs. Additionally, the key to successfully moving heavy objects is to use your mind more than you use your muscles.

RELATED ARTICLE: WANT TO START WORKING FROM HOME? NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME TO MOVE

Here are some additional tips to make things go more smoothly.

Check Out the Logistics

The first thing to do is make sure that all heavy objects and furniture can pass through the openings and around the corners of your office or your home.

For example, if your measurements tell you that a piece of furniture is too big to fit through a door no matter how you turn it, you should disassemble it. In this way, you will avoid scratching the door and the walls. Also, you will be less likely to damage the floor, especially if it is a wooden floor.

Think carefully about how you can move heavy objects with the least amount of effort. What’s more, a big part of your strategy should be not to do this all by yourself. Instead, ask some of your coworkers or employees to help you with moving the object.

The most important thing is to be patient. Do not try to rush the process, but move heavy objects carefully. In this way you will avoid injury to yourself and damage to your property. What’s more, if what you’re trying to move is extra heavy, find more helpers.

Remove the Contents Before Moving

When you’re planning to move a heavy object such as a file cabinet, lighten the load by removing all of its contents.

For another example, it is not very smart to try to carry a bookcase when it is full of books. Also, if you’re moving something like a wardrobe, make sure you have emptied and removed all the inner shelves. This will lighten the object. What’s more, it will also prevent damage that can happen when you turn a heavy object so it can fit through a door.

Be extra careful with heavy items such as refrigerators, stoves, and other kitchen appliances. If you’re moving house, you’ll likely find that the kitchen has the most equipment. So you will need to pay close attention to its packaging.

Sturdy packaging of heavy objects before moving is essential, especially if you are going to transport wooden furniture. Packing objects carefully will help to protect them from damage, while also preventing damage to floors and walls.

One tip is to tie furniture cushions and blankets around wooden furniture to protect it. Then make sure you have a good grip on the object before lifting and carrying it.

Need More Specialized Tips for Moving Heavy Objects?

Remember that pushing a heavy object is easier and more effective than pulling it. Try placing an old rug under the leading edge of object to more easily push it across a tile or wooden floor. This eases the process and helps to prevent damage to the floor.

To move a heavy object such as a refrigerator, make sure you have emptied out the contents, including the drawers and shelving. Then stand behind it, tilt it forward, and slowly walk it from side to side. You’ll need someone to help you.

Do You Need to Move Heavy Objects up or Down Stairs?

To move heavy objects up or down stairs, use wooden boards or planks as a ramp. Another option for less-heavy objects is to place the item on a duvet or heavy blanket. Either way, make sure at least two other people are there to help you.

To move a heavy object up the stairs, crouch behind it, leaning into it with your shoulder. Then lift the object with both hands, using your legs to push the object upward.

If you realize the object is simply too heavy for manual lifting, consider using a tandem scissor lift table.

Are You Transporting a Heavy TV?

Pack a heavy TV by wrapping it with old rugs or furniture pillows. Alternatively, you can purchase appropriate packaging materials from a local shipper.

Even better, use the TV’s original packaging if you still have it. In any case, if the TV is truly heavy, ask someone to help you. This will be much easier for you and safer for your TV.

Conclusion

When you’re moving heavy objects, think the process through carefully beforehand. Then be sure to ask for help. Finally, work smart and be patient so that you don’t injure yourself or damage your property.

The post Tips for Transporting Heavy Objects by Hand appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How Would You Like to Study Business in Europe?

If you’ve decided to study for an advanced business degree, your next step is to decide where to study and at which school or university. When making your choice, do not simply limit yourself to studying in America, because there is a far more interesting option out there.

Study in Europe!

Europe offers many hundreds of years of history, culture, and learning. In short, with their diverse and interesting history, European schools know a thing or two about education.

No matter what your requirements, there is a school or college in Europe that will provide you with exactly what you need. As continents go, Europe is small. But with 51 countries, each having its own culture, language, food, architecture, art, and music, there is nowhere else on earth that offers quite so much.

RELATED ARTICLE: TRAVELING ABROAD FOR BUSINESS: HOW TO NAIL IT

In fact, you will find unrivaled institutions where you can study business in Europe. What’s more, some of these top-rated schools charge minimum fees, and some even offer free education for all.

Additionally, Europe has many cross-border agreements between countries. This has strengthened their international academic community and enhances their diversity and research facilities.

Travel Easily Within the European Union

Once you’re inside the European Union you have the freedom to travel across borders. Just imagine: You will have the chance to visit some of the most famous and historic places on the planet. Meanwhile, you’ll be mingling with lots of other international students and travelers.

To have studied in Europe proves some things to any potential future employer. For one thing, you will have attained skills that are second to none. You will also be showing clearly that you are willing to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone. To top it off, you will have obtained your education on a continent that is a world leader in developing cross-border business.

If you can add any of the many fine European business schools to your CV, your future employer is likely to try to snap you up in an instant.

Europe is home to some of the world’s largest economic centers and business hubs, and all of them have so much to offer. Places such as London, Montreux, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, and Oslo are just the top of the list of top-rated European cities.

Moreover, each of these cities is a powerful hub of business activity, with each having their own extensive background of history and business experience.

Many Americans Choose to Study in the UK

Many American students choose to study in the UK because there is no language barrier. Plus, the UK is home to many globally acclaimed schools. Universities in places like London, Oxford, and Cambridge are only three locations out of many.

Once you find a school that suits your needs, they will help you to obtain your study visa and Schengen visa for the duration of your studies. This is an easy process and provides easy access to the rest of Europe. From London, for instance, you will be only an hour or two away from just about any part of Europe. Therefore, travel and exploration will be extremely easy.

But You Can Study Instead on the Shores of Lake Geneva

Montreux Business School is a serious contender if you are looking to study in the heart of Europe. Located in Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva, this school offers a whole host of internationally acclaimed business programs, including online studies. All its courses are taught in English by its renowned international and multicultural faculty.

Or Study in Germany for a Free Education

If school fees are a problem for you, then consider studying in Germany. There, most public universities offer free education. In fact, you need to pay only a small administrative fee plus your housing and personal expenses.

However, don’t imagine that schools in Germany offer lower-quality tuition just because they are free. They don’t! The quality is as high as any other.

Europe Offers a Wide Range of Settings for Your Schooling

There are many countries to consider for places to study in Europe. For example, Switzerland is famous for its banking industry, and the Swiss know a thing or two about business. Moreover, Switzerland is home to universities in Geneva, Zurich, Bern, and many other cities.

Or you may want to study in France. Located near the center of Europe, France has one of the largest economies in the world. Plus, its diverse history and culture are unrivaled.

Within Scandinavia lie several Nordic countries with schools that are incredibly diverse and of high quality. What’s more, EU residents can study for free in Sweden and Denmark, although living costs can be pricey. And Norway offers free tuition to anyone at most of their universities.

Conclusion

So enjoy choosing the European location where you’ll advance your education in business. You have quite an adventure ahead of you!

The post How Would You Like to Study Business in Europe? appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

The On-Demand Services Spending Trap

In our day and age, on-demand services are a modern convenience that are hard to avoid. For many of us, getting food delivered to our doorsteps, or taking a rideshare home from the local dive is just part of our daily routine.

Per the Harvard Business Review, the on-demand economy is a $57.6 billion dollar industry, and more than 22.4 million people use its services. It’s no doubt convenient and even fun, but if you’re not careful, partaking in on-demand services can lead to overspending.

You might be prone to doling out extra cash just to hit a minimum delivery total on food, or getting lazy and ordering a rideshare instead of hopping on the train. If you find yourself mired in a spending trap when it comes to on-demand services, here’s what you can do to scale back:

Pick Your Poison

Instead of going hog-wild with routine grocery deliveries, a weekly house-cleaning service, and ride-sharing all weekend long, indulge in just one type of on-demand service. That way you aren’t spending on a bunch of things. Think of what would add the most value in your life, or what you would enjoy the most.

Case in point: Call me weird, but I personally never got into having food delivered. There’s something a bit odd about having a perfect stranger come to your home and drop off a pizza. I work out of my home most of the time and welcome breaks outside of the house. However, I will indulge in taking a rideshare instead of driving or taking public transit —especially since I live in Los Angeles, where traffic on a busy Saturday evening can be a nightmare.

Make the Most of Referral Codes

My friend Greg is a master at hustling referral codes. Over the years he’s earned hundreds of dollars in credit for everything from food delivery to ride share services —all by offering a referral code. So what’s his secret?

First, as a barber who owns his own shop in Chicago, instead of asking for tips he asks his customers  if they might be interested in taking him up on one of his referral codes. According to Greg, there are two camps of people when it comes to these offers: Those who get turned off if you let them know that you’ll benefit by extending a referral code, and those who are actually more inclined to help you if they know that you’ll rake in some credit, too.

If you know your “audience,” you’ll be able to position the ask so they’re more inclined to accept the deal. For instance, strangers and acquaintances might be more likely to take you up on your offer if you don’t mention you’ll also benefit from the referral. And friends and family land typically in the second camp. Figuring out the best way to frame the ask could net you more referrals.

Know When It Can Help You Save

This might seem counterintuitive, but there are a number of situations where spending on modern-day conveniences can actually help you save. For instance, it might be more cost-effective to spend a little more on home grocery delivery if it saves you time on errands. And if you’re spending more time earning those dollars, it could be well worth your while.

Or let’s say you’re sick or disabled and have mobility issues. For instance, my friend, who is in her mid-80s, has ailing health. She became ill about a year ago. Since then, she has most of her groceries delivered to her home, and buys most of her clothes, household items, and gifts online. Not only is it far easier for her to order things online than to step into a brick and mortar store, but she saves money by not needing to hire a helper to accompany her on her shopping trips.

Monitor Your Spending

When it comes to scaling back, it’s helpful to see how much you’re actually spending and when. Some money management apps allow you to track your spending with a specific service. If not, you can see how much you’re spending by category.

You can also look at bank or credit card statements to see exactly how much you’re spending on each service you use. If you’re exceeding what you can comfortably spend in a given month, you might want to consider scaling back or tweaking your spending plan.

Tally Your Total Before Checkout

Take advantage of the fact that you can always check your total before checkout. Unlike shopping in a store, where you often have to estimate roughly how much you’ll be spending, when you buy something online, you can easily see how much your total will be before you proceed with the purchase.

I know this might come off as super nerdy, but when I’m at a physical store, I’ll go through my basket of items and remove stuff I realize I don’t really want, won’t use, or can’t afford. Similarly, before I make an online purchase, I’ll go through the items in my shopping cart to see how much I’m spending —and remove things I can do without.

Make Trade-Offs

As far as budgets go, you don’t need to necessarily create a spending category specifically for, say, rideshares. But see how much more you might spend on taking ride shares over the weekend versus driving or taking the train or bus. And if it’s worth it to you, see if you can cut back in another area. For instance, while I do tend to rideshare to concerts, meetups with friends, and the like, I also eat in more often than not. In turn, I’ll save on grocery costs.

As long as you’re paying off your debt, and ideally setting some money aside for your emergency fund and other savings goals, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you spend $200 on transportation or $300. It’s all coming from the same pot of money, anyway.

While it’s quite easy to fall prey to the on-demand services spending trap, you can avoid spending too much by tracking your spending, making adjustments as necessary, tapping into referral codes, and spending a bit of time assessing whether it’s worth doling out extra cash for the convenience.

Which on-demand services can you afford to cut back on? Let us know in the comments!

The post The On-Demand Services Spending Trap appeared first on MintLife Blog.

©

529 Plan: What Is It and When to Leverage

College tuition is expensive.

The average cost for an in-state public school is $20,770 per year. Private college tuition costs $46,950 per year. And they keep going up every year.

If you have young kids today, you can expect these numbers to be significantly higher when it’s time to pay for your kids’ or grandkids’ education.

If you’re planning to put money into a college fund, a 529 plan will be a top option to consider.

What is a 529 Plan?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment savings plan for education expenses. While the program was initially intended for post-secondary education, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 added K-12 public, private, and religious schools to the list of qualifying purposes.

There are two types of 529 plans:

  • 529 Savings plans — Savings plans are only offered by states. Savings are typically held in mutual funds but can be held in stocks, ETFs, or other investment vehicles. These work similar to an IRA, where the intention is to invest money for the long-term. The idea here is to maximize gains while reducing risk for the target date when the beneficiary will be attending school.
  • 529 Prepaid Tuition plans — Prepaid tuition plans allow you to lock in current rates of tuition at specific schools. This protects you from the rising costs of education and inflation between now and the time the beneficiary attends a qualified school. You can prepay for one or more semesters at a time.

The exact terms of individual plans vary by state. Check to see what your state offers before finalizing a decision.

How a 529 Plan Works and What Are The Rules

Any resident of the United States who is 18 or older can open a 529 plan. There are no restrictions on income levels. You just need to have a valid mailing address and a social security number or tax ID.

The beneficiary of a 529 plan can be any US resident with a social security number.

So if you’re planning to open a college savings account for your child, you need to wait until they are born first. The beneficiary of a 529 plan can even be the same person who opens the account, although this is not as common.

529 plans do not have annual contribution limits. However, these plans do have maximum aggregate limits, which vary by state and program. Federal law prohibits a 529 plan from exceeding the costs of the beneficiary’s expected expenses for education.

Examples of qualified 529 plan expenses include:

  • Tuition costs
  • Room and board
  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computers and other equipment required by the school
  • Special needs service expenses incurred with enrollment or attendance

College application costs, testing (SAT/ACT), college prep courses, and transportation costs are not qualified 529 expenses. In the past, you couldn’t use a 529 plan to pay for student loans. Now you can use it to pay $10,000 worth of qualified loans.

Distributions from a 529 plan used for unqualified expenses are subject to income tax and a 10% early distribution penalty. These penalties are waived under the following circumstances:

  • The beneficiary dies
  • The beneficiary becomes disabled
  • The beneficiary receives a qualified scholarship, military educational assistance, employer-assisted educational benefits, or other nontaxable payments for educational expenses

The beneficiary of a 529 plan can be changed to another qualified family member at any time without incurring a penalty or taxes.

The Benefits of a 529 Plan vs. Other Investment Vehicles

529 plans are eligible for tax advantages. Contributions are not deductible at the federal level, but the earnings grow tax-free. Funds won’t be taxed when the money is eventually used to pay for qualified expenses.

More than 30 states offer full or partial tax deductions for contributions toward a 529 plan. Check the terms for your local state and speak with a tax advisor to maximize those deductions.

As the donor of a 529 plan, you have full control of the account. The beneficiary does not have any legal claim to the funds, which is different from UGMA and UTMA Custodial Accounts. In these instances, the recipient has a claim to the account when they reach legal age.

The top benefits of a 529 plan include:

  • Tax-free growth
  • State tax deductions
  • Withdrawals are not subject to taxes or capital gains
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to set up
  • Ability to change beneficiaries without penalty
  • Flexibility (donors can change the investment options twice per year)
  • No eligibility restrictions based on income
  • Simple tax reporting
  • The same child can be the beneficiary of multiple 529 plans

A 529 plan is like an IRA. Except instead of using the funds for retirement, the money will be used for a beneficiary’s educational expenses.

The Disadvantages of a 529 Plan

529 plans are not perfect. There are some potential drawbacks that you should keep in mind before you consider opening a 529 savings account.

  • Limited investment options — Some 529 plans restrict the type of holdings you have. In addition to the limited selection, adjustments to holdings can only be made two times in a calendar year. Depending on the state, investments are limited to specific fund families.
  • High fees — 529 plans typically have higher management fees than other savings and investment vehicles. Earnings on conservative holdings can potentially restrict the account’s growth.
  • Taxes and penalties — Withdrawals not used for qualified education expenses are subject to income taxes and a 10% penalty. This can be a problem if you’re presented with an unexpected financial crisis and need to come up with money fast.
  • Financial aid eligibility — 529 plans are considered an asset. This could affect a student or parent’s ability to qualify for financial aid. The student will have fewer chances to receive federal grants, subsidized loans, and work-study opportunities.

Time is your best friend when setting up a 529 plan. The sooner you start, the more compounding interest you’ll have. That will have an enormous impact on the final balance and you’ll save a ton of money in taxes.

Setting up a 529 just a few years before paying for college comes with more drawbacks than benefits.

Other Options to Consider

Is a 529 plan the best way to save for college? It depends on your state, financial situation, plan, and who you ask. But 529s are not the only way to start saving for college.

These are the best alternatives to a 529 plan:

Custodial Accounts

Custodial accounts are controlled by the parent or account holder until the beneficiary reaches legal age, which could be anywhere from 18, 19, or 21 depending on your state.

UGMA and UTMA custodial accounts do not have annual contribution limits or restrictions based on household income. However, the beneficiary of a custodial account cannot be changed.

Funds in a custodial account are not limited to educational expenses, so no penalties will be incurred if the money isn’t used to pay for college. Earnings in a custodial account are taxed at the beneficiary’s tax rate.

Savings Accounts

A traditional savings account is another way to save for college other than a 529 plan.

The returns on contributions to a bank savings account will be minimal, but the money can ultimately be used for any purpose without a penalty. Unlike mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or stocks, savings accounts are less risky in the short-term and won’t be subject to losses.

If you’re opening a savings account to pay for college, look for a high-yield savings account to get the best interest rate.

Roth IRA

To be clear, a Roth IRA is a retirement account—not a college savings account. But with that said, it can still be an appealing way to pay for college, depending on your situation.

As of 2019, the maximum annual contribution to a Roth IRA account is $6,000, and $7,000 if you’re over the age of 50. The earnings in a Roth IRA grow tax-free.

You can withdraw contributions at any time, penalty-free. Investment earnings can be withdrawn after the age of 59 ½ without triggering taxes or penalties. If your child is attending college after you reach this age, you can use the money from your Roth IRA account to pay for it.

This is not a conventional way to use a Roth IRA, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you had another retirement plan with sufficient funding.

Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA)

A Coverdell ESA is a tax-deferred trust account that can be opened for beneficiaries under the age of 18 to pay for future educational expenses.

Multiple Coverdell ESAs can be set up for the same beneficiary. However, the maximum annual contribution is $2,000 per beneficiary, regardless of how many accounts they have.

Contribution earnings in a Coverdell ESA are not taxed until the funds are distributed.

How to Open a 529 Account

Opening a 529 account is easy. The entire process can be broken down into just five simple steps:

Step #1: Choose a plan — There are hundreds of 529 plans available. First, decide if you want a savings plan or a prepaid plan. Next, consider your choices in-state. You could always set up a 529 out of state, but this likely won’t be your best option if you want to maximize in-state tax benefits.

Step #2: Set up an account — In most cases, a 529 plan can be opened online. Just find a broker that offers the program you want and fill out the appropriate form on their website. You could always print and mail an application, or visit a local broker in-person as well.

Step #3: Select the beneficiary — This will likely be your child or grandchild. Make sure you have their Social Security number ready or you won’t be able to open the account.

Step #4: Fund the account — You can fund a 529 plan using an electronic transfer from your bank or by mailing a check. After the initial funding, you can set up automatic contributions from your bank or automatic payroll deductions from participating employers. Check to see if your state has minimum contribution amounts.

Step #5: Choose your investments — This can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. It all depends on how much risk you want to take. Usually, people invest a 529 plan into a target date fund. This starts off aggressive but eventually shifts to more conservative investments as the beneficiary approaches college age. It also does everything automatically so you don’t have to rebalance the portfolio yourself.

If you open a 529 plan online and fund it with an electronic transfer, the entire approval process can take less than 24 hours. Paper applications and mailed checks could take weeks to approve.

The Best 529 Accounts to Consider

Plans offered by your home state will be the most logical place to start your search. However, most states allow investors from anywhere to open a 529.

Depending on where you live and where you open the account, you may not be eligible for state tax benefits. But it’s still worth shopping around to see your options.

  • CollegeAdvantage (Ohio) — Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage 529 plan offers age-based portfolios, risk-based portfolios, and the ability to customize a basket of investments. The plan has a long history of above-average returns, low management fees, and tax breaks for Ohio residents.
  • NY’s 529 College Savings Program (New York) — Unlike other states, investment options here are limited to just one fund family. Fortunately, the company is synonymous with low fees and high returns—Vanguard. The program has three different age-based portfolios and offers the opportunity to customize your portfolio based on risk tolerance and goals.
  • Bright Start (Illinois) — Illinois’ Bright Start 529 plan provides investment options from 11 different fund families, making it one of the most diverse choices on the market. With a wide range of age-based portfolios, target portfolios, and custom portfolios, Bright Start has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for the lowest fees, consider these 529 plans:

  • ScholarShare College Savings Plan (California) — 0.09% fee
  • U.Fund College Investing Plan (Massachusetts) — 0.10% fee
  • Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan (Arizona) — 0.11% fee
  • Delaware College Investment Plan (Delaware) — 0.11% fee
  • UNIQUE College Investing Plan (New Hampshire) — 0.11% fee

529 plans with the highest 3-year returns are:

  • National College Savings Program (North Carolina) — 30.91% return
  • NEST Direct College Savings Plan (Nebraska) — 14.16% return
  • CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan (Ohio) — 12.23% return
  • Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan (Nevada) — 12.22% return
  • CollegeAccess 529 (South Dakota) — 11.60% return

Overall, a 529 plan is one of the best investment vehicles for saving and paying for college. These plans offer plenty of benefits, including tax advantages like state deductions and tax-free growth.

It’s easy to set up a 529 account to start saving money for a beneficiary right away. Opening an account as early as possible is the best way to maximize investment gains.

529 Plan: What Is It and When to Leverage is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

CIT Bank Savings Builder $200 Deposit Bonus – Both New and Existing Customers (New for 2020)

CIT Bank has a new for 2020 Savings Builder Account deposit bonus. This time, you can get up to a $200 cash bonus depending on deposit amount, and it is again open to both new and existing customers. The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently 1.80% APY (as of 1/1/20) at their top tier for qualifying accounts. Here are the details.

Unfortunately, if you did their 2019 bonus promotion, you are not eligible for this one:

PLEASE NOTE: Existing Customers enrolled in a Savings Builder bonus promotion prior to January 1, 2020, are not eligible for this promotion.

New deposit bonus details. For new customers, you must first open a new account with at least $100 using promo code Bonus20 at this link. If you already had an existing account as of 1/16/2020, you need to first officially enroll in this offer via the “Let’s get started” button at the top of this link for existing customers. After doing that:

  • A new deposit of $25,000 to $49,999 within 15 calendar days of your open/enrollment date will get you a $100 cash bonus.
  • A new deposit of $50,000+ within 15 calendar days of your open/enrollment date will get you a $200 cash bonus.

New accounts will have to maintain this balance for 90 calendar days following the end of the 15-day Funding Period. However, existing accounts will only have to maintain this balance for 30 calendar days following the end of the 15-day Funding Period. The shorter holding period for existing customers is nice, but remember it has to be funds from an external financial institution and not currently in your CIT Bank accounts. This is their definition of “starting balance” when measuring new deposits for existing customers:

The balances of all the customer’s individual Savings Builder accounts, any joint Savings Builder accounts in which the customer has ownership, if not already enrolled in the bonus promotion by another joint owner as of January 15, 2020.

They will deposit your bonus within 1 to 5 business days after the Funding Period, but it will be on hold (can’t withdraw) until 7 days after your minimum holding period of 30/90 days to make sure you satisfy the requirements.

Effective APY. Here are the effective interest rates you could get as either a new or existing customer:

  • For a new customer earning either the $100 bonus on $25,000 or $200 bonus on $50,000, which also qualifies you for the 1.80% APY rate, that works out to a total 3.4% APY for 90 days (1.6 + 1.8).
  • For an existing customer earning either the $100 bonus on $25,000 or $200 bonus on $50,000, which also qualifies you for the 1.80% APY rate, that works out to a total 6.6% APY for 30 days (4.8 + 1.8).

It’s always nice to stack a cash bonus on top of an already competitive interest rate. This promotion is scheduled to last until April 16th, 2020. There are no minimum balance fees, no monthly service fees, no inactivity fee.

Savings Builder high interest qualifications reminder. This a unique savings account with two ways to qualify for their highest interest rate tier. You need ONE of the following in each Evaluation Period:

  • Maintain at least one single monthly deposit of $100+, OR
  • Maintain a balance of $25,000+.

Everyone earns the top tier rate for the first monthly “Evaluation Period”. Then, if you meet one of the requirements listed above during the first Evaluation Period, you’ll earn the top rate for the next monthly Evaluation Period. If you don’t meet a least one of the requirements, you will receive the base interest rate during the next Evaluation Period. They have an indicator in your online account that confirms that you have qualified.

One option that I did is to set up an automatic monthly transfer from my checking account to this account for $100 and satisfy the requirement on auto-pilot. (I can always transfer additional funds in or out as needed.) More details in my previous full review.

Bottom line. CIT Bank has another Savings Builder Account deposit bonus, new for 2020. You can get up to a $200 cash bonus depending on deposit amount, and it is open to both new and existing customers. The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently 1.80% APY (as of 1/1/20) at their top tier for qualifying accounts. While not as high as the last one, it’s still a solid bonus. (Unfortunately, if you did their 2019 bonus promotion, you are not eligible for this one.) These types of bonuses help me earn higher interest rates even when rates are dropping.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

CIT Bank Savings Builder $200 Deposit Bonus – Both New and Existing Customers (New for 2020) from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

Types of Credit Cards

The first credit card was simple. Banks  provided a card with a line of credit. You charged it, then paid it off. That was it.

Today, things have gotten a bit more complicated.

There’s travel cards, student cards, charge cards, business cards, and on and on.

Which type of card is right for you? What are the pros and cons between them all?

We’ve broken it all down below.

Cash Back Credit Cards

A cash back credit card gives you back a percentage of everything you spend.

Cardholders typically receive between 0.5% and 2% of net spending as an annual rebate. Most folks use it to pay down future spending on their card. Some cards also let you get the rebate as cash.

It’s like getting a permanent discount on everything you purchase with that card. Since most cash back cards don’t have annual fees, it’s free money.

PRO: Cash back cards are super simple. You don’t have to do anything to get your cash back. The rebate shows up automatically. For a rewards card, it’s as simple as it gets.

CON: Don’t ever use the cash back as an incentive to purchase more than you usually would. If you carry any interest on the card, you’ll lose more money than you’ll ever get in cash back. Also watch the foreign transaction fees, many cash back cards have them.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

This is the other main type of rewards credit card.

Travel rewards cards follow the same concept as the cashback cards, except users accrue points or miles instead of money. These points can be redeemed for flights, hotel rooms, Amazon purchases, or even cash in some cases.

Some of them also come with great perks like airport lounge access, free nights, companion fares, travel credits, and Uber credits.

PRO: If you enjoy traveling and want to maximize the value of your rewards, get a travel card. You’ll get a better return than a standard cash back card.

CON: Most travel credit cards include an annual fee to gain access to all the perks. These fees range anywhere from $100 for mid-tier cards to $600 for the top-tier travel rewards cards. You’ll also have to put more effort into spending your miles/points. Finding the right flights and hotels can take some work if you’re trying to maximize their value.

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

This type of credit card allows the user to transfer a balance from one credit card to another.

The new credit card company usually offers a promotional or introductory period – usually, six months to 18 months – with zero percent interest is charged on the transferred amount. They’re hoping that you forget about the balance, increase spending, then start paying them interest once this period is over.

PRO: If you carry a balance, these cards can give you some relief for a short period. When cash is really tight, they’re an option.

CON: Credit cards are a pretty terrible deal if you carry a balance. The interest rates are crazy high. Balance transfer might help in the short term but they’re not a real solution. Your real goal should be to get yourself to the point where you can pay all your credit cards off in full every month. That’s when credit cards start working for you.

Premium Credit Cards

Premium credit cards, often referred to as black cards, charge an annual fee but offer cardholders lots of exclusive benefits.

Often viewed as a symbol of status, premium cards offer a high credit limit and several perks that are difficult, or expensive, to find elsewhere.

PRO: A popular benefit of premium credit cards is 24-hour concierge assistance with tasks like booking travel reservations, hotels, flights, as well as activities like show tickets, restaurant reservations, home emergency coverage, car breakdown issues, and more.

CON: Premium credit cards are aimed at consumers with excellent credit and people who fall in a specific earnings bracket. For these reasons, many users don’t qualify for these types of credit cards.

For those users with incredible credit and earning a healthy wage, premium cards come with fantastic perks but substantial annual fees typically starting at $500.

Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards are intended for business owners, no matter the size of the organization. They’re an option if you generate any side income.

They usually have a few perks designed for businesses.

PRO: Cash back categories and perks for businesses. You also don’t need an actual business, you can get one in your name if you generate any income yourself.

CON: Getting a business credit card can be a bit more complicated than a personal card. You might also have to agree to a personal guarantee. That means if the business can’t make payments, your personal funds would have to be used to pay off the card. Depending on the size of the credit limit and your business, this could be an enormous commitment.

Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are marketed primarily to people in school who have not yet had a credit card in their own name.

Student credit cards are a great way to solve the “can’t get credit cards without having a credit history” problem that everyone starts out with.

PRO: The requirements are less stringent, you’re much more likely to get approved.

CON: They typically don’t have any rewards or perks. It’s a no-frills card.

The “Plain Vanilla” Credit Card

The standard or “plain vanilla” credit card is exactly what it sounds like. There’s no cashback, no fees, no rewards for usage, and no real benefits besides an extended line of credit.

PRO: These standard credit cards typically get a lower APR than other cards. They’re also typically easier to obtain and come in handy as an “in case of emergency” payment option. If you can’t get approved for a rewards card yet, it’s good to start here and build up your credit history.

CON: There are no perks for spending. In other words, the cards work like a debit card as long as you pay them off in full every month.

Gasoline Credit Cards

These cards offer bonuses and perks for people who frequent a gas station. Many of them are connected to a single gas station brand like Shell.

PRO: A good way to maximize rewards if you spend a lot of money on gas.

CON: Most gasoline cards target specific brands of gas stations, limiting their rewards on longer drives. It’s better to find a cash back card that gives a larger cash back percentage for the entire gasoline spending category.

Retailer Credit Cards

Cards provided by particular companies like Macy’s, Walmart, Target, and more. They typically give store-based perks that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. For example, the Nordstrom card helps get you early access to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

PRO: Exclusive perks and rewards for one of your favorite stores.

CON: Unless you spend an exorbitant amount of money at a single retailer, you’ll almost always be better off getting a standard rewards card to use across all retailers. Some of them are also “closed loop” which means you can’t use that card outside the retailer. The fees can also be much higher than typical credit cards.

Airline Credit Cards

Airline credit cards can be great if you are a frequent flyer. Nearly every airline out there offers multiple credit cards. The higher the annual fee, the more perks you get while flying with that airline. Perks include priority boarding, free checked bags, discounts on in-flight purchases, companion fares, and lounge access.

PRO: Perks and extra miles when flying with that airline. If you fly regularly, I consider these perks to be essential.

CON: Some of the best perks like extra miles and lounge access require you to purchase the ticket on that card. They all have annual fees too. So if you fly many different airlines like I do, trying to get credit cards for all them will add up.

Hotel Credit Cards

The major hotel chains (Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt, and IHG) offer multiple credit cards. The standard perks can be great like getting a 5th night free when booking.

But the real perks come from the loyalty status they help you achieve. Having a card can get you 10-15 nights credited to your status every year. Once you unlock the higher status tiers, you can get amazing benefits like room upgrades, free gifts, and late checkout.

PRO: Makes getting status with the major hotel chains a lot easier, unlocking some incredible perks. You’ll also rack up a ton of hotel points when spending at the hotel.

CON: To get the most of these cards, you really need to pick a single hotel chain and stick with it. If you prefer to try new hotels like I do, the value is much more limited.

Check out this list of the best credit cards to find the right card for you.

Types of Credit Cards is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

The clean slate

I’m pleased to report that seventeen days into 2020, my mental health seems to be making some marked improvements. I’m happy, engaged, and productive. I’m not ready to claim victory over my anxiety and depression, but the changes I’ve been making — more exercise, zero alcohol, separating work life from home life — all seem to be helping me get back to normal.

“Let’s talk about your anxiety,” my therapist said to start our session a couple of weeks ago. “You say that you’ve always had depression but that the anxiety is relatively new. Why do you think that is?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “Kim and I have talked about it. We know it wasn’t there when we started dating in 2012. In fact, I didn’t have trouble with anxiety until sometime after we returned from our RV trip in June 2016.”

“And after you returned, you made some big life changes.”

“Right,” I said. “We moved from the condo to our current country cottage. I repurchased Get Rich Slowly. My exercise declined and my drinking increased.”

“All of those could contribute to anxiety,” my therapist said. “And taken together as a whole, it’s not surprising that you might be struggling.”

“I get that intellectually,” I said, “but it still sucks on a day-to-day level.”

“When do you not feel anxious?” she asked.

“That’s a great question,” I said. “I don’t feel anxious when it feels like there aren’t any expectations on me. I don’t feel anxious when I’m in the middle of social situations.” (We’ve established that although I think I’m an introvert, I’m actually an extrovert. I feel recharged when I get to hang out with people.) “And you know what? I don’t feel anxious when life is stripped back to basics.”

“What do you mean?” my therapist asked.

“Take the RV trip, for instance. On that trip, Kim and I lived with the very basics. Before we set out, we had to be very deliberate about the things we brought with us. We just didn’t have a lot of room. The RV was a clean slate, and we had to be careful about what we put there. Does that make sense?”

“Of course,” she said.

“When we got home, we were both overwhelmed. We were overwhelmed by how much Stuff we had. We were overwhelmed by how many obligations we had. We were overwhelmed by the sheer pace of life. We tried to figure out how to subtract some of the the things we had around us. That’s part of why we moved. We were trying to downsize, trying to simplify.”

“Your new office is like a clean slate too,” she said.

My office at this very moment, as I write this article

“Yes,” I said. “Exactly. And I love it. I’ve spent the past week setting up my space, trying to make it cozy and productive. It is like a clean slate. I’ve tried to be intentional about every object I’ve brought into the room. I’m not just hauling over everything from the house. I’m picking and choosing what I allow in the office, from the big stuff like furniture to the smallest detail.”

“Such as?” she asked.

“Such as paperwork, for example. I have stacks and stacks of papers at home. In the past, I’d simply haul the stacks with me wherever I go. The stacks never get smaller. They only get larger. But the stacks are overwhelming. I told Kim the other night that I want to do things differently this time. This time, I’m bringing over one stack at a time. After you and I finish talking, for instance, I’ll drive to the office and I’ll tackle the one stack of paper I have there. I’ll sort through every single piece of paper — each one — and decide what to do with it. When I’m finished with that stack, I’ll bring over another one. I don’t want to have any loose ends. The office started as a blank slate; when I’m finished moving in, I want it to be organized, efficient, and useful.”

“And what about the website?” my therapist asked. “You told me that overwhelms you too.”

“It does,” I said. “Get Rich Slowly is like a ginormous house filled with crap and clutter from decades of living. It’s a mess. It’s intimidating to think about. When I started my second money blog in 2015, I started from scratch. Everything was simple. Again, it was like I had a blank slate. I could be very deliberate about what I added to the site. When I bought back Get Rich Slowly, though, it was as if I’d purchased chaos. There were nearly 5000 articles from over a decade of publishing.”

“Why can’t you make Get Rich Slowly a blank slate?” she asked.

That one stumped me.

“Well, I can’t just wipe everything out and start over,” I said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

“But you’re not happy with how things are,” my therapist said. “It’s as if you’re dating your website but you don’t even like it. You don’t want to be together with it anymore.”

“Huh,” I said. “I hadn’t thought of it like that. But it’s true.”

“How can you achieve a clean slate with Get Rich Slowly?”

“I don’t know,” I said, sipping my coffee. “I don’t know.”

I thought for a moment. “I guess there are a few things I could do. For one, I could finish the goddamn redesign that I’ve been working on for two years. That’d help. I guess I could consider removing comments from the website. That’d help too, although it’d also have some downsides. And maybe there’s a way that Tom and I could manually create the idea of a clean slate by gradually curating which articles we’d like to keep from the archives.”

The more I thought about this, and the more I talked about it, the more excited I got. I could feel myself becoming energized. What if I did somehow approach Get Rich Slowly as a clean slate? How would that work? I don’t know for sure, but it’s something to explore over the next few days and weeks and months.

Meanwhile, I’m enamored with the idea of The Clean Slate.

I’ve always loved the excitement and possibility of fresh beginnings: heading to college, moving to a new house, starting a new job, diving into a new year. Whenever I start over, I have an opportunity to iterate, to do things better than I did before.

Over the two weeks since this conversation, I’ve thought about it a lot. (Perhaps too much!) Why is a clean slate so appealing to me? (And to many other people, as well.) What is it about fresh starts that makes them so invigorating? I think I’ve found a common thread:

  • When I practice ultra-light packing, spending 20 days on the road with only a 19-liter pack, I feel in complete control.
  • When I set up this office, carefully choosing what I allowed into the space, I felt in complete control.
  • When Kim and I took our RV trip, our entire life was confined to the motorhome. And, you guessed it, I felt in complete control — even when things went wrong!

When I pare my life to essentials, I feel more in control. When I feel in control, I’m happier and more productive. This reminds me of the “locus of control” concept that’s a core part of my financial philosophy.

In personality psychology, the term locus of control describes how people view the world around them, and where they place responsibility for the things that happen in their lives. Though this might sound complicated, the concept is actually rather simple.

  • If you have an internal locus of control, you believe that the quality of your life is largely determined by your own choices and actions. You believe that you are responsible for who you are and what you are.
  • If you have an external locus of control, you believe that the quality of your life is largely determined by your environment, by luck, by fate. You believe that others are responsible for who you are and what you are.

This isn’t an either-or proposition, obviously. Locus of control exists on a continuum. But many people tend to favor one side of the continuum over the other.

[Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control]

With a clean slate — or a 19-liter backpack or a new office — I’m able to limit my environment. There are fewer things to keep track of and worry about. I know where everything is. I am in control.

But when I look at my email inbox or think of all the chores to do at Get Rich Slowly or look out at the jungle that is our backyard, I get overwhelmed. There’s so much going on and it just won’t stop. I feel powerless, as if I have no control.

So, I’ve had a flash of insight, a look into how I work — and many other people work too. At times, we get overwhelmed. When we get overwhelmed, we feel out of control. Each of us responds to this differently. (I tend to turtle up and practice what my therapist calls “productive procrastination”.)

When I’m able to achieve a blank slate, I feel great. I feel in complete control. I’m happy.

I think this is why I (and so many others) find the simplicity movement so attractive. With simplification comes control and power. This also explains why I’ve always been drawn to “additive” budgeting rather than “subtractive” budgeting.

  • When many people try to get their finances under control, they start by trying to decide what they can cut from their budget: cut cable, cut dinners out, cut the gym membership. But this approach leads to a feeling of deprivation. This is subtractive budgeting.
  • With additive budgeting, on the other hand, you start with a clean slate. You start from zero. (And, in fact, that’s what most people call this: zero-based budgeting.) You start with assumption that you don’t need anything and you’re not spending on anything. Then, each day and each week as expenses arise, you analyze them: Do I really want to spend money on this?

After one month of subtractive budgeting, most folks feel icky. They feel like they’re being restricted. And they don’t have a clear idea of what’s essential and what isn’t. But after one month of additive budgeting, you know what expenses bring value to your life and what expenses can be eliminated. It doesn’t feel as frustrating.

In the past, I’ve told Kim, “I wish we could just erase everything and start over from scratch.” I see now that what I’ve been wishing for is a clean slate, the ability to gain more control of my life. Now that I have this insight, I just need to figure out what to do with it!

For five years now, I’ve had the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown in my to-read stack. Maybe it’s time for me to read it. The book jacket says: “[Essentialism] is a systemic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can mek the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter. Sounds like “mindful spending” but with time and energy instead of money, doesn’t it?

The post The clean slate appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

©

Full Stack Development: Global Trends

What is a full stack development team, and how can you build a team that suits your business?

The complex and demanding nature of software and web development environments demand expertise in multiple areas. Consequently, the need for a full stack team is now a top global business trend.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for full stack developers will grow about 13% through 2026. This growth is much higher than it is for other roles in the software development industry. In short, these talented individuals are in demand. 

Let’s talk about what a full stack team is and look at what you need to do to build a team that best suits your business.

What Is Full Stack Development?

Full stack development refers to comprehensive client-side and server-side software development. In other words, full stack development deals with software development for browser, database, and server. Therefore, a full stack developer must have a comprehensive knowledge of all layers of software development.

To qualify as a full stack developer, a software engineer should have command over front-end browser technologies like JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Angular JS, React, Vue, and JQuery. Such engineers must also know server technologies such as Python, PHP, Node, and ASP. Lastly, a full stack developer should have expertise in database technologies like MongoDB, SQL and others. A good full stack developer can develop a complete software program, integrating all development areas. 

Full Stack Development In The Modern Market

The role of a full stack development team is very important in modern software development projects. This is especially true for web development projects. The modern, single web application is complex and demands features and capabilities that the end-user wants. As such, a full stack web developer knows all layers of software development, so they can create an integrated solution to fill a company’s needs.

A full stack development team allows businesses to have complete control over software development and development cost. Such a development team provides a company with a competitive edge. Consider these benefits of employing a full stack development team:

  • The ability to provide a comprehensive solution to complex problems
  • Reduced cost of software development
  • Faster delivery of projects and releases
  • Effective communication and coordination
  • Easy to troubleshoot the software issues and modify the code 

Building Your Team

As a business owner, you must employ experts who work within multiple domains. For instance, your total staff will need to provide software development, human resource management, legal support, social security reporting, and much more. A full stack development team will provide your company with this variety of expertise among fewer employees. In order to build the best team for your company, consider these tips.

RELATED ARTICLE: IT TEAM SUPPORT: GETTING VALUE FOR MONEY

Maintain Technology Stack Skills

Most importantly, you must carefully assess the requirements of your projects and choose the right technologies for your full stack development projects. You should make a comprehensive list of technologies that you want to use in your development project. Then, hire a team that has complete command over the technology stack you have identified. 

You need to ensure that your team can produce on server-side, client-side, database, and software design technologies. Therefore, make sure your team has the skills such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, popular JS frameworks, Python, PHP, Ruby, Java, C++, server-side JS frameworks, MongoDB, MySQL, SQL, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, UI/UX, testing, and others.  

Cost Considerations

The average cost of hiring a single full stack developer is much higher as compared to other software engineers, but the overall benefits are also higher. Therefore, the salary of a full stack developer ranges between $44,000 and $111,000 per annum. Total salary varies based on skills, qualifications, and experience. However, the average cost of building a full stack team should be always less than average development cost anticipated by individual developers.

A Backup Plan

There is an acute shortage of all types of software developers in the market. The shortage of full-stack developers is more severe. In addition, a huge demand is emerging in the marketplace. In such situations, it is very difficult to retain your tech-talent. So, always prepare a backup for any kind of switching of tech resources from your team.

Quality Over Cost

The cost of the full stack development is increasing due to increasing demand. The number of full stack developer vacancies is projected to cross 853,000 by 2024 from just 135,000 in 2019. Though the competition is high, always choose quality tech-talent.

full stack development team

Combine Experience And Location in the Development Team

To make a better team, choose a mix of experience in recruiting members of your full stack development team. You can reduce the cost and maintain good quality by hiring human resources from remote locations among those with a variety of experience.

Final Takeaway

Hiring a full stack developer team offers numerous advantages to small and medium-sized enterprises for achieving the desired business goals. Consider building your team now in order to experience growth for your business.

The post Full Stack Development: Global Trends appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

Did you know you have to pay taxes on all winnings?!

Did you know you have to pay taxes on all winnings?!

you get a meme - oprah

It’s true…

Winnings are considered “income” and you can get in some serious doo-doo if you try to hide it. Though reputable places will at least remind you of it when they send you a nice tax doc at the end of the year informing you they’re reporting it to the IRS 🙂

And it’s not only applicable to things like winning the lottery or hitting it big on slots either. Free *stuff* and giveaways also count! And can put a damper on your party like my boy Joshua is now finding out:

Hey Jay!

My wife recently had the incredible opportunity to go on a [POPULAR GAME SHOW] and she ended up winning a ton of gifts and a killer trip! We feel sooooo lucky, but…. Of course we found a way to stress about it.

The “fair market value” of what she won is ~$1,500, so we’re going to have to foot a $700 tax bill now. Thing is… it’s hard to enjoy the gifts when you realize you actually had to pay $700 for the stuff, especially when we were not planning on buying a bunch of things for $700. It’s basically like getting to buy everything at your marginal tax rate.

Being conservative you think, “would I have bought all this stuff for 60% off?” (Assuming you have to pay 40% of fair market value in tax)… Sure it’s a great deal, but I don’t think we would have still gone out and bought it all.

So even though we got all these great gifts we found a way to stress about it. Then I realized… Is this $700 going to significantly matter when we’re financially independent? No!!! So we might as well just enjoy the gifts we were sooooooo lucky to receive!

Going to just enjoy it all now 🙂

[This note was in response to our post on life when you’re financially free, and he’s absolutely right! While it sucks to “lose” money, it’s not going to matter a whole helluva lot once they FIRE. And plus you can still go and sell it all if you really wanted to or even re-gift them to others 😉 Which ironically does not trigger any tax implications, at least up to a certain point…]

Remember that time Oprah gave out all those “free” cars to people 15 years ago??! Tax ding, Tax ding, Tax ding!! Haha…

“While General Motors handled the state sales tax on each of the new cars (around $1,800 per car), plus licensing fees, audience members were tasked with paying federal and state income taxes on the value of their new vehicle. To keep things simple, for reporting purposes, General Motors issued forms 1099-MISC to the recipients. While actual taxes payable varied based on individual tax brackets, estimates settled around $7,000 per car.” – Forbes, A Look Back At Oprah’s Ultimate Car Giveaway

Now you can always decline gifts, of course, if you’re not willing or in a position to pay the taxes, but most people never think about that in the heat of the moment (or know about it) and just see FREE FREE FREE!! OMG GIMME GIMME GIMME!!! Haha…

So 1) here’s your notice so you now know!

And 2) never go on game shows or ever get anything free in life 😉

Okay I’m just kidding, but do your best to set aside some $$$ so you avoid any nasty surprises later that can wipe away all that experiential joy…

And for the love of all things holy, do not win stuff on national TV and then IGNORE THE IRS!! They have literally seen you win millions of dollars as well as half of the rest of the world! If you’re gonna hide it, do it on the low or change your identity, jeesh! 😉

So that’s my negative nugget for you today, haha… In more positive news, there’s still time to max out that Roth IRA for the year if you’re looking to up your game! That’s a gift that’ll end up paying you the more times you participate in it – no luck required!

j. money signature

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

H&R Block / TurboTax Desktop 2019 Sales

The benefit of “old-school” desktop tax software is that it doesn’t require your Social Security Number and financial details to be stored in the “cloud”, a fancy word for a third-party server where it can be copied or hacked. Amazon and Newegg.com often have limited-time sales (often just 24 hours) on these desktop versions, but you have to catch them in time. Apologies if you missed it!

  • H&R Block Desktop Deluxe + State 2019 is currently $19.99 at Amazon. This is a good price as the all-time low price all last year was $18. Other versions are not on sale this time. Thanks to reader Bill P for the tip.
  • TurboTax Desktop Deluxe + State 2019 is $39.88 at Amazon for the physical disc/PC download/Mac download versions. This is not a special price, although it is rarely discounted (and will go higher as the deadline nears). There may be another deal later on that shaves off another $10 or so.

Keep in mind that for both H&R Block and TurboTax desktop Fed+State products, Federal e-Files are included but State e-File is extra (about $20 each). You can print the (usually shorter) state return for free and snail mail it in if you don’t have a free State e-File option.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

H&R Block / TurboTax Desktop 2019 Sales from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

Methods for Improving Your Mid-Size Business

Photo by Alexas Fotos from Pexels

Has your mid-size business hit a period of stagnation? Moreover, are you feeling uncertain about how to take your company to the next level?

If you own a mid-size company, you already know what it takes to be successful in business. In short, it takes a lot of hard work, ingenuity, and dedication to scale your business up from small to mid-size.

However, what you might not realize is that there are a number of methods that can boost the efficiency and profitability of your mid-size business. If you’re ready to learn more, read on.

Automate Routine Processes

The owner of any mid-size business should always be on the lookout for the latest technology and software. That’s because, thanks to technological advances, you can wave goodbye to many of those monotonous business processes that slow down your output.

Moreover, if you start adding automation into your processes, you will save a bundle of money and loads of time.

Accounting software is one of the most popular pieces of automation when it comes to streamlining processes in a mid-size business. For instance, instead of making manual notes of revenue and costs, accounting software can be set up so it automatically calculates all the numbers.

And this is only a small example of accounting software advantages.

Go Green with Your Mid-Size Business

If your mid-size business deals with a lot of recyclable materials, there are several reasons why you would want to go green.

First of all, it helps the environment and helps to curb pollution. Additionally, you could even use the fact that you are helping to resolve such issues as a promotional tool. It’s a well-documented fact that customers are more likely to trust and purchase from a business whose operations are green.

What’s more, you might even be able to gain an additional revenue stream from the materials you recycle. For example, if you collect enough recyclable paper, plastic, and cardboard—and learn how to prepare these materials properly—you can trade them for cash at a local recycling center.

Use an Automatic Payroll System

Does your mid-size business currently process employee payroll manually? If so, you know how time-consuming and taxing this activity can be. Manual payroll means your accountants have to calculate employee wages, calculate tax deductions, submit payments, and so on. Quite frankly, it is a pain.

However, it is a pain you can avoid. For example, with the use of specialist payroll software, there’s no need to worry about manual processing. You can set everything to be automated. What’s more, your payroll software can even be synced with your accounting platform.

RELATED ARTICLE: ROTA PLANNING: 7 TIPS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR EMPLOYEE SHIFT SCHEDULE

This will save your mid-size business time and resources. And it will also take a giant chunk out of your payroll-related expenses.

Stay Alert and Adapt Your Mid-Size Business to Change

In today’s business environment, it is imperative that you stay alert and remain ready to respond to change. What could these changes be? Well, here are a few quick examples:

  • New competitive threats
  • Evolving customer expectations
  • Compliance with new regulations
  • Potential in-house disruptions

If you fail to maintain a mindset which is all about continuous planning, you could get caught by surprise. Thankfully, there are planning systems available that help reduce the threat of this potential issue.

Help Your Mid-Size Business Achieve Its Full Potential

Follow the tips in this post to help your mid-size business grow to the next level and achieve its full potential.

Want to learn more about managing and running your mid-size business? Be sure to browse our blog often.

The post Methods for Improving Your Mid-Size Business appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How To Fill Out a W-4

One small document that significantly impacts your tax season is the W-4.

Whether you’re making adjustments to your withholding at a current job or beginning a new career, understanding this document can ensure that you save as much money as possible.

Ironically, as money is a top stressor for so many people, many employees are actually paying the government more in taxes than they need to by not properly filling out their W-4 forms. By getting the W-4 right, you could increase your take-home pay.

We’ll walk you through the entire thing.

What is a W-4

The W-4 form is also called the Employee’s Withholding Certificate. Your employer uses this form to determine how much money to keep from your paycheck for state, local, and federal income taxes. You’ll always fill out a W-4 when you start a new job. Other times you may need to refill out the form include if you get a big raise, have more children, get married, or get divorced. The IRS suggests filling out a new one each year to make sure you’re staying on top of the amount of taxes you owe. But in all my jobs, I’ve never seen anyone do this.

Fill out a W-4 when you start a new job or when you have a major life event like marriage or a new child. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

Your employer will ask that you fill out the W-4 form before your first check. If the form isn’t completed and turned into your employer beforehand, they’ll likely process your check as if you’d filed for 0 allowances. You can always update this information throughout the year.

When filled out properly, the W-4 lets you bring home as much of your paycheck as possible without owing a bundle of money during tax season.

Information You’ll Need to Provide On a W-4

The W-4 is a very short form. While the document you receive is around four to five pages, you only have a few lines to fill out yourself.

The information you’ll need to provide includes:

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Marital Status
  • Dependents
  • Declaration of multiple jobs
  • Declaration of a working spouse

Your employer will take the information you provide, then add their employer identification number and the date you started working with your company.

Additional pages included in the W-4 are the personal allowance worksheet, deductions and adjustment worksheet, and two-earners/multiple jobs worksheet.

  • Personal allowance worksheet: The personal allowance worksheet tells you how many allowances you could take. Use this worksheet to determine which allowance options are best for your family. We’ll discuss personal allowances in the next section.
  • Deductions and adjustments worksheet: You only need to worry about this form if you plan to itemize your tax deductions. Most people opt for the standard deduction, but some people may save more money on taxes by opting to itemize. You’ll need to provide an estimate of your potential deductions on this form.
  • Two-earners/Multiple jobs worksheet: If you have two jobs or your spouse also works, this form will help you determine how much money to withhold from your check to account for the second income. This can be a very useful tool for couples who are filing joint tax returns.

Making Sense of Allowances

The purpose of your W-4 form is to tell the employer how much money to hold back for taxes. Allowances tell your employer that your taxes will be less so there’s no need to withhold as much. This reduces the taxes that are taken out of each paycheck and increases the amount that hits your bank account.

If you claim zero allowances your employer will withhold the maximum amount allowed based on your tax bracket, filing status, and paycheck frequency.

Taking too few allowances means you overpay. While overpaying taxes could result in a larger tax return, that’s also less money you have available to spend the rest of the year. Be careful though, taking too many allowances means you could end up owing the IRS more money and having to pay a penalty.

Each individual qualifies for a single allowance. So, a college student who is dependent on their parents’ taxes could claim 0 or 1.  If you’re single with one job and you don’t qualify as a dependent on anyone else’s taxes you could take 1-2 allowances. If you take two, you may owe a little money at the end of the year.

Married couples can claim one allowance for each dependent. You can also add an additional allowance if you will claim the child tax credit.

Note: If you have multiple jobs, you should split the number of allowances between both jobs. If you have two jobs and three allowances, put 3 allowances on your primary job and 0 allowances on your second job.

There are some situations in which you may qualify for additional allowances if you plan to itemize your deductions. New laws increased the standard deduction, so itemizing may not be your best option. If itemizing your deductions will help lower your tax bill, you may be able to add allowances to your W-4. Use the Deductions and Adjustments Worksheet included with your W-4 to determine if this is the best option for you.

Some individuals may qualify for a tax exemption. This means that your employer cannot hold any funds to pay towards taxes. To qualify, an individual or couple must expect their total annual income will result in zero liability. This means that you qualified for all of your withheld federal taxed income as a return in the previous year and expect the same for the current year.

W-4 Vs. W-2

While both the W2 form and a W4 form are concerned with payroll, their functions are completely different.

Where a W-4 tells your employer how much money to set aside for federal, state, and local taxes, the W-2 tells the employee how much they earned, how much they paid in taxes, and where other deductions went (Medicaid, health insurance, Union dues etc.).  The W-2 gives a complete summary of everything you were paid along with your taxes at the end of the year.

The information used on the W-4 will affect the information you receive on the W-2, which is why understanding allowances is important. Once you submit your W-4 to your employee, you begin work and start getting paid. Your company gives you a paycheck each pay period (minus any tax and retirement deductions) and then supplies you with the W-2 form at the end of the year to detail your annual financial report.

If you have a higher number of allowances, you’ll bring home more in each paycheck. If you take fewer allowances, you’ll bring home less money each check.

Things to Know and Tips to Consider

Updating your W-4 with some regularity can affect the amount of tax you owe. You should always update your W-4 after major life events, especially a marriage, new job, or the birth of a child.

Another way to simplify your taxes is to consolidate your allowances. If you and your spouse both work and have multiple jobs, claiming all of your exemptions on one W-4 while claiming 0 on the rest will make filing taxes less confusing.

Strategize your W-4 Withholding

Deciding to maximize or minimize your tax withholding isn’t always a simple decision. There are circumstances where it makes more sense to take more allowances and risk owing money at tax time. Others opt to take fewer allowances in order to get a large tax refund at the end of the year.

If you opt to take 0 allowances your employer will take the maximum allowable tax out of your paycheck. This means less money each check, but you could get a large refund at the end of the year. This can also be beneficial if you plan to purchase a home or take out another large loan and want your taxable income to be higher for qualification purposes.

Taking more allowances frees up more cash each check. This can be helpful for people hoping to pay off debt or invest the money elsewhere.

Here’s how I’d make this decision:

  • To optimize for every dollar, set your allowances so you barely get a refund on your taxes. You want the refund as low as possible. Instead of giving money to the government for up to a year, keep the cash and invest it earlier.
  • To help with saving, pad the refund. Many of us struggle with saving and the refund can help a lot. It’s like getting a bonus of several hundred or thousands of dollars in April each year. Use it to pay off debts, make larger purchases, or invest it as a lump-sum. In this case, claim fewer allowances than you’re entitled to.
  • If cash is really tight, get every allowance you can. This puts more money in your pocket every. Just be careful, you don’t want to give yourself a surprise tax bill in April.

Instead of filling out allowances, the W-4 form does allow for one additional option. You can put the exact amount of money you want your employer to withhold from each paycheck. This option can take the guesswork out of whether you’ll owe taxes, get a refund, or break even.

You will need to do a little math to determine your annual income and your tax responsibility if you want to avoid potential penalties.

If you have unearned income or have freelance work, you could authorize your employer to take additional money from each paycheck by putting an amount on Line 6 of the form as well. Many people prefer this option over estimated quarterly tax payments.

How To Fill Out a W-4 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

What a Man Should Wear for Client Meetings

Photo by Minervastudio from Pexels

In this post we share a list of clothing essentials every professional man should have in his wardrobe. With just a few pieces you can achieve a look that impresses in meetings with your clients.

RELATED ARTICLE: IS YOUR APPEARANCE HONESTLY GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Choose a Professional-Looking Dress Shirt

Every professional man should have a few button-down dress shirts. Whether you are pairing your dress shirt with a blazer and pants or wearing it with a suit, your shirt needs to be properly buttoned-up, ironed, and tucked into your pants.

These guidelines are especially true if your client works in a professional environment such as a bank or an insurance company.

Moreover, men should always keep prints to a minimum. Instead, choose subtle colors such as light pink, aqua, or sky blue. Alternatively, natural tones such as gray, white or cream, ash, and tan, and the like are always good choices.

Whatever color you choose for your shirt, you want something that fits well on your body. What’s more, your shirt needs to be in keeping with your personality as well as with the nature of your business. Regardless of what you might think, men can find high-quality fabric dress shirts at affordable rates, even online.

A Man Needs the Right Tie

Depending on your client and the nature of your own enterprise, you might not need a tie. However, there is no doubt that a man needs a tie whenever the meeting is a professional one. A tie makes a man look sharp, whatever the occasion.

Always have at least one a high-end tie that is made of a high-quality fabric such as silk. For more everyday wear, rayon or other synthetics work well, too. Whatever the fabric, choose subtle and subdued patterns.

If you’re smart about it, you’ll select the colors of each tie so that a single tie can go with various suits, jackets, and dress shirts.

Above all, avoid ties with character prints unless you’re dressing up for Halloween.

Wear Smart-Looking Trousers

If your meeting is a casual one, you may or may not need to wear a man’s dress suit.

However, be sure to choose pants that are smart-looking as well as comfortable. Chinos can work well in such a situation. Look for darker shades of beige, brown, blue, and gray. These will pair well with your light-colored dress shirts.

If your clients work in less formal environments such as software houses, other creative industries, or startups, then men’s jeans can also be suitable, especially when worn with casual blazers. However, make sure your jeans are high-end and constructed of dark denim.

Moreover, they must be cut straight and perfectly ironed. No torn, ragged, or skin-tight jeans are appropriate for professional settings.

Get Your Shoe Game On

Believe it or not, people will judge you by your footwear. So here is where menswear gets really interesting.

When it comes to shoes, men have a wide range of choices: oxfords, derbies, brogues, loafers, and more can work well with a professional-looking outfit.

In keeping with a professional look, limit your choices for shoes, however, to black and brown leather. Suede shoes can work in some settings, but play your shoe game safely and match your shoes with the rest of your outfit.

And don’t forget to wear matching socks in black, dark grey, or navy blue colors to complete that professional look.

Accessorize Like a Man

Accessories are as important for men as they are for women. For example, removable cuff links add a nice touch. You’ll also need a leather belt that matches your shoes, as well as a smart-looking wristwatch.

Your appearance can make a difference in the outcome of your meeting, so pay attention to every visible detail of your look and choose your accessories accordingly.

The post What a Man Should Wear for Client Meetings appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How Effective Dispute Management can Prevent Revenue Loss

An effective dispute management process is essential for any type of merchant that wants to retain hard-earned revenue. There are two sides to dispute management that prevent revenue loss. The first is to stop disputes before they happen. The second is to efficiently respond when they do.

Preventing Disputes From Ever Happening

The first step to preventing revenue loss from disputes is to take preventative measures to stop disputes from ever happening. There are a couple of ways merchants can do this:

Front End Filters

Front end fraud filters can help merchants prevent true fraud disputes from occurring. True fraud is when a fraudster obtains credit card credentials and successfully uses them. The liability falls to the merchants because it is the merchant’s responsibility to prevent fraudulent transactions from being accepted. By preventing true fraud disputes, merchants protect themselves from an unwinnable chargeback and revenue loss.

Fraud filters allow merchants to assess if a purchase is fraudulent or should be accepted. The filters can sort incoming transactions based on predetermined factors such as industry, customer behavior, and more.

Operational Changes

The transaction doesn’t have to be true fraud for a merchant to receive a dispute. Invalid disputes can happen because of malicious intent, buyer’s remorse, or simple forgetfulness. While preventing invalid disputes can be difficult, merchants can help by making changes to their operations. For example, by having easy to reach and attentive customer service, a customer can reach out to your customer service to resolve an issue instead of their issuing bank. Other operational changes could include a reminder email before the subscription charge happens or promptly crediting the customer after a return.

Real-time Resolution

Real-time Resolution (RTR) in the Chargeback App enrolls merchants in Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)—allowing for real-time communication of customer, order, and product details between the merchant and issuing bank.

With Real-time Resolution, the dispute analyst can use transaction details to decide if the dispute is invalid and prevent it from being filed. In cases of friendly fraud, the additional data helps jog the cardholder’s memory about the purchase. And in cases where the cardholder is trying to intentionally misuse their chargeback rights, the extra layer of confirmation acts as a critical deterrent from proceeding with the dispute.

Why Stopping Disputes is so Important

When merchants are able to prevent a dispute from happening, they are preventing the loss of revenue, a dispute fee, possible loss of product or services, and avoiding the costs associated with the response process (time and labor).

If true fraud disputes are not stopped, merchants cannot regain the transaction amount. For invalid disputes, merchants can recover the transaction amount by submitting a dispute response, but will still receive a dispute fee. By creating an effective front end fraud strategy, merchants can prevent true fraud and invalid disputes from happening—and, in turn, save time and money.

Recovering Revenue

The second part of dispute management is responding to disputes when they do happen. The response process can be a tedious process of collecting information for different data sources and keeping track of card network rules and requirements. There are a couple of processes that merchants can put in place to make the response process easier.

Collecting All the Necessary Evidence

Each card network has specific reason codes that inform the merchant of why the cardholder is disputing the transaction. Each reason code has particular evidence that is required to disprove the customer’s claim and for the merchant to regain revenue. Merchants need to first look at the required evidence and make sure it is being collected and can be easily accessed when the dispute response document needs to be created.

Staying up to Date on Rules and Regs

Card network rules and regulations usually get updated twice a year. This means your team needs a method of staying up to date on any changes to the required evidence, response process, or time limits. The most effective way to respond to disputes is to follow the card network rules precisely.

Dispute Management Software

Dispute management software makes the process of responding to disputes the most effective. The software allows merchants to integrate their payment platforms to pull the necessary data for the specific transaction in question. The software will automatically select the appropriate compelling evidence for any given dispute based on your industry, the reason code, and any specific modifiers that may be relevant. The logic behind crafting the appropriate response is already programmed. It also stays up to date on the latest changes to rules and regulations without your team having to lift a finger.

Why Having an Effective Response Process is so Important

Responding to disputes is necessary to regain revenue lost to invalid chargebacks. But having a well thought out and effective dispute management process is also vital. Creating a dispute response takes time and labor. The slower the process is for your dispute team, the less money you are actually recovering from a winning dispute response. For example, if it takes your employee two hours to create a dispute response, that is two hours of pay that is taken from the recovered revenue. By making the dispute response process as efficient as possible, it allows merchants to recover and keep revenue.

The post How Effective Dispute Management can Prevent Revenue Loss appeared first on Chargeback.

©

It’s official – I’m a Minivan Dad!!

It’s official – I’m a Minivan Dad!!

Honda Odyssey

And boy, do I feel like a dad haha…

One of the first things I actually noticed, but it’s kinda cool! I AM a dad, and I’m proud to be one! 🙂

I’m not sure it’s my favorite car yet, but after a week of driving it so far it isn’t the worst thing in the world… And my kids are obsessed with it! They literally ask to go with me EVERYWHERE now just so they can hang out in it, haha… They’re also enjoying their newfound independence of buckling themselves in and opening/closing the doors too – now that they can’t ding a car even if they tried. They even stand up in the back to put their jackets/backpacks on – it’s crazy roomy!

The one thing I’m finding I like the most so far, though, is just the fact we’re finally now *experiencing* life with a minivan instead of always wondering and thinking about it all the time. We bought it, and will now know pretty shortly whether the fuss was all worth it! 😉

And thinking about it along those lenses make decisions like this a lot more easier to swallow too – especially when you’ve been fighting it so long 😉 Regardless of how it turns out we’ll know KNOW instead of wonder! And so far I’d say I’m about 70% convinced it was the right move?

I’ll have to come back in a few months and see where we’re at 😉

2016 honda odyssey inside

In the meantime, here are some of the stats of the van for those who enjoy such things:

  • 2016 Honda Odyssey
  • 60,000 miles
  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • 19/28 mpg
  • Seats 8
  • Sunroof
  • Leather seats
  • 5 out of 5 star safety rating
  • Backup and side cameras (which I never use, hah)
  • Third row seating that folds down flush with floor for more cargo area (great for yard saling!!)
  • Detachable 2nd row middle seat for creating a walkway and/or hang out area for our dog (who now LOVES being in the car too! Hasn’t thrown up once since shuttling her around compared to being in the back of the SUV (where she threw up almost every time :())
  • Purchased at Carmax again, because despite the higher prices I just love how easy and efficient they are! And always such a good inventory to poke around and test drive from too…

2016 honda odyssey seating

As for costs, we paid a little over $21,500 which includes tax and titling (and NOT having to spend 10 hours at the DMV – a priceless win itself!!), and we traded in our 2005 Toyota Corolla as well.

And then we also got to cross off another experience on the list – PAYING FULLY IN CASH! My first time doing so, which surprisingly also cut down the time and paperwork involved by half too. Though only because we paid w/ a *check* vs cash in a briefcase, haha… I asked about that, of course, but apparently that actually doubles the time due to all the compliance stuff it triggers! And unfortunately the option to slap it on a credit card for rewards wasn’t available either, which was my first question 😉

At any rate, a far cry from this experience 3 years ago when we were on the verge of depleting our cash reserves and barely hanging on cash-flow wise, but as it tends to do, it just goes to show that a lot can change over the years when you keep at it… I never want to go back to those days again, but I sure can appreciate where we are now more having gone through it! 🙂

So there we have it! I’m officially a minivan dad now, and my wife has already plundered the Lexus for her daily driver, haha… I’ll keep you posted with how it goes, but so far I haven’t suffered any dire consequences or major hits on my street cred, at least that I’m aware of…

How are your car journeys going? Anyone else recently give in to The Van life? Anyone pulling the trigger on *other* experiences they’ve always wondered about?

That really has been the best part of it for me so far… Just finally *going for it* and experiencing the hubbub once and for all… Not completely sold on it yet, but for now we turn up the tunes and roll!

minivan gangster

******
PS: There are some things I’m NOT liking very much so far… Like the millions of *electronic* features from the keyless push start to the automatic sliding doors to the dual screens and cameras that just seem to complicate things even more! I get that it’s more convenient, but man – so many more things that can now break! What was wrong with early 2000’s technology?! 🙂

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

Bask Bank Review: Earn American Miles On Your Cash Savings

Bask Bank is a new online savings account that pays you American Airlines (AA) miles instead of cash interest. Every $1 earns 1 mile a year. For example, $1,000 kept for a year would earn 1,000 AA miles at the end of the year. If you kept $50,000 there for a year, you would earn 50,000 AA miles at the end of a year. There is no minimum balance and no monthly fees. They state there is no hard credit check upon opening. Note: They do not currently offer joint accounts.

Bask Bank is part of Texas Capital Bank (FDIC Certificate #34383), which also runs BankDirect. BankDirect has been giving out American Airlines miles for a while on their checking account, but with different requirements and a $12 monthly fee. Note that they are all the same bank in regards to the $250,000 FDIC insurance limits per depositor type. Bask Bank routing number is 111026177.

New account bonus + feedback bonus. If you maintain a minimum balance of $1,000 for 30 days within 60 days of opening a new account, you get a 5,000 mile bonus. You must apply by February 29, 2020. In addition, if you provide feedback on their app, they will give you another 1,000 miles. For this bonus, you must open an account by April 30, 2020. These are the “easy” bonuses.

Log into your Bask Savings Account, select “provide app feedback” in your Welcome Checklist and take our quick survey!

Additional deposit balance bonus. If you maintain a minimum account balance of $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000 for 360 days, you can get an additional bonus of 10,000, 20,000, or 40,000 miles respectively at the end. Note that you must open by 3/31/2020, fund within 60 days of opening, and maintain the balance for 360 consecutive days without dropping below even once.

Value calculations. If you valued American Airlines miles at 1 cent per mile, then this account would earn you the equivalent of 1% APY. ($10,000 a year = 10,000 AA miles = $100 value.) Given that many established online savings accounts earn 1.70% APY, you would need to value AA miles at more than 1.7 cents per mile to exceed that alternative.

This calculation ignores the bonuses above. If you kept $25,000 in the account for 360 days, you would earn 25,000 + 10,000 bonus = 35,000 miles. At 1 cent per mile value, that is still only an effective APY of 1.4%.

1099-INT details. If you get miles instead of cash, what happens at tax time? Bask Bank and BankDirect has stated that they plan to issue 1099-INT for 2020 interest earned based on a valuation of 0.42 cents per mile. This can be found deep in their disclosures:

Since you are Awarded Miles based on the average collected balance in your Account each month instead of interest, Bask Bank calculates an interest equivalent based on a good faith estimate of the value of the miles. Your interest rate and annual percentage yield may change based on a change in either the Miles Award Rate or the estimated value. Miles are currently valued at 0.42 cents per mile, the equivalent of 0.42% annual percentage yield.

So if you held $10,000 for all of 2020 and earned $10,000 miles, current your 1099-INT will show $42 in interest paid. However, this is subject to change and I don’t like that sort of uncertainty. It is unlikely but still possible that they could change this to as much as 2 cents per mile and it would be a pain to dispute such a valuation.

Low-hanging fruit… Airline miles are useful, but also subject to rampant inflation. Since AA miles are worth less every year AND they are not worth 1.7 cents a point in my opinion, I do not plan on using this as my main savings account. The balance bonus takes too long in my opinion (1-year inflexible lockup) and does not improve the effective rate enough to exceed that of cash-earning alternatives anyway.

However, the relatively easy upfront 6,000 mile bonus and the ability to keep about $15 in there and earn at least 1 mile per month to prevent my existing American miles from expiring, that could be useful. If I need a certain amount of American Airlines to reach an award, this may be a backup option as well.

Bottom line. Bask Bank is an online savings account that pays you American Airlines (AA) miles instead of cash interest. It’s not a great deal, but may be interesting to those that can maximize the value of an American Airlines mile. There are also some low-hanging fruit you could pick. Read all the details above and make sure you understand how it works.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Bask Bank Review: Earn American Miles On Your Cash Savings from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

How to Better Your Physical and Financial Health at the Same Time

You may be wondering how your physical and financial health have any connection whatsoever.

A few years back, after a routine checkup, my doctor had some bad news: My cholesterol and blood sugar levels were on the high end, and I was pre-diabetic. While I was only in my late 20s at the time, this news shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise. I loathed exercise, and mainly subsisted on quesadillas and instant noodles.

What’s funny is how someone like me, who, for the most part, is pretty disciplined with her financial habits, can be drastically different when it comes to physical health. And as I’ve worked on improving my health, I’ve discovered quite a few parallels between financial and physical health, and how to go about improving them:

Find Your Way In Through Fun

When I started working on bettering my diet and exercise habits, I had trouble with exercise. In fact, I hated it. I dreaded running up and down the stairs near my house. At first, I would be gung-ho and workout five days a week. Fast forward to a few weeks, and I would exhaust myself, get discouraged, and quit altogether.

Part of the reason why I was relatively good with my money was because I found ways to make it enjoyable. I approached frugality as a fun game in being resourceful. There were always ways to save money. What’s more, I felt a burst of motivation after tracking my progress through money management apps and checking my bank accounts.

It was only until I tried things I actually enjoyed doing that I stuck to being active: biking, hiking, yoga, and water aerobics, to name a few. So if you’re trying to improve your financial fitness, figure out what might be relatively fun. Maybe you’re nerdy about creating a spending plan using a spreadsheet, or coming up with ways to do something for less money.

Or you might be excellent at earning more money. Take on a side hustle, or put on your negotiation hat and ask for a raise at work. Whether it’s spending less, saving more, or boosting earnings, play to your strengths to improve your money situation.

Physical and Financial Health Can Be Emotional

For the longest time, I had a printout of healthy eating tips tacked to the wall. It included a diagram of “healthy plate” along with basic guidelines for eating well. And while I knew full well the rules for healthy living, practicing them was another story.

I’ve often caved in to junk food cravings, especially when I’ve felt tired, bored or anxious. I also tended to overindulge during social events.

The same goes for money. We’ve heard time and again to save for an emergency fund, and not to carry a balance on our credit card. All too often decisions with money are frequently rooted in emotions. A lot of us don’t make rational choices when it comes to finances.

In part, that’s because money, just like food, has an emotional aspect. We make impulse buys for the temporary feel-good rush when we’re bored, anxious, depressed, and lonely. Or we might go into debt to help a loved one who is experiencing some trouble.

We have to make room for these splurges or bad decisions. If I anticipate eating poorly, for instance, during the holidays or while on road trips, I’ll make sure I balance it with eating healthy or exercising. If I trip up and spend too much money, I’ll aim to cut back for a bit so I can replenish my splurge fund.

Expect to Lapse

My friend Jen had some great advice about the road to physical well-being: you’ll no doubt encounter good cycles and bad ones. There will be times when you’re on the ball with eating clean and getting regular exercise. And there will be times when you’re prone to junk food and lounging on the couch.

Despite trying various diets and signing up for fitness classes, there will be times when I return to old habits. It’s no different with money: sometimes you’ll be on top of your goals and spending within your means, and other times you’ll want to just spend with abandon and slack off.

The goal? Reduce the time in between lapses. So let’s say you fall off the horse with your financial habits for a month. The next time it happens, aim to get back into, say, saving mode or monitoring your spending within two weeks.

It Gets Easier Once You Experience Results

Whether you’re working toward being more physically fit or having a more robust emergency fund (or anything else that takes commitment, grit, and perseverance), it’s the results that are the sweet meat of any endeavor.

As a longtime money nerd, being on top of my finances has equated to not stressing out when hit by an unexpected expense or out of work. It also means I have more options. I don’t have to worry about carrying a balance on my credit card because I’ve saved for big-ticket purchases.

After eating healthier, I realized my normal state had been feeling groggy and low-energy from tuna melts and cheesy fries. Nowadays, eating well and working out regularly makes me feel energized, stronger, and more clear-headed.

Similarly, if you’ve never experienced financial fitness, you might think that living hand to mouth and being chronically stressed about money is the norm. It’s only when you see the freedom and emotional well-being that comes from being on top of your money situation that you’ll have an easier time exerting willpower and sticking to it.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

For most of my adult life, I was “skinny fat”. You know, when you’re thin so people assume you’re in relatively good physical shape. However, because of my struggles with diet, I was unhealthy on the inside.

When it comes to financial wellness, there are those who seem to be doing well financially: They go on trips and have nice things, and have no problem paying for their share of the restaurant bill. But when you pull back the hood, they might be deep in debt, or barely covering their bills.

Have Compassion

It’s important to have compassion for others and for yourself. A sad truth: I used to harshly judge those who didn’t have their financial act together. But it’s not that easy. When I struggle with compassion, I remember how hard it is for me to take care of my body.

Achieving financial and physical health is a long game. I’ve been a money nerd since I was a teenager. It’s safe to say that it ultimately took me decades to practice sound financial habits.

I’m proud to say last year my lab work revealed my blood sugar and cholesterol levels were in normal ranges. It took a long time:about seven years.

The parallels between physical and financial health are many. Whether it’s food, fitness or money, knowing the basic rules versus combating your deep-seated habits are two completely separate things. Understanding how they’re similar, having compassion for yourself and knowing it’s a long game can help you discover ways to improve your financial well-being.

 

What other connections do you think link physical and financial health? Let us know in the comments!

The post How to Better Your Physical and Financial Health at the Same Time appeared first on MintLife Blog.

©

Selling our home was the best financial decision we have ever made

Hello! My name is Wendy Mays, and I’m super happy to share a bit of my story. In the past couple of years, my husband and I have taken several big steps to change our financial future.

From the outside looking in, it appeared we had it all: a perfect family in a beautiful, Pinterest-worthy home in sunny San Diego, California. We’d reached the pinnacle. We were living the American Dream.

Wendy's dream house

The reality, however, was that we were drowning in debt, burned out, and coming to terms with the fact that if things didn’t change, we’d carry our debt to our graves. As we explored changes we could make to improve our financial situation, we realized that the biggest and best move we could make was to sell our dream home.

Turns out that selling our home was the best financial decision we have ever made.

Given the long trail of money mistakes my husband have made in the past, some who know us might be skeptical that this choice was the right one. But if you’ll indulge me for a few minutes, I hope to dispel the belief that owning your own home is always best.

The American Dream

Home ownership is part of the American Dream. It’s something most folks look forward to accomplishing. It’s a rite of passage. It’s how we show the world we’ve “made it”. We’re constantly bombarded by messages that home ownership is something successful people “should” do, the same as going to college, getting married, and having children.

Too, most people have a personal attachment to their homes. We understand this. Emotional investment was a big barrier for us too. My family had put our hearts and souls into our home. On every wall, there was something our hands had touched.

We had planned to make the place into our dream home, to stay there indefinitely. It was the first home we owned in San Diego, the first home we owned after adopting our boys. Our house meant something to us. It was sentimental.

But after attending last year’s FI Chautauqua in Greece, my husband and I agreed that becoming financially independent was an important goal for both of us. At age 46, we were late to discover the world of early retirement, but we knew if we implemented a few strategies we could change our lives — and the lives of our children.

We began to envision the legacy we could leave our children, the generational wealth we could begin to build.

The Problem with the American Dream

But there was a problem. We were broke. More than broke. We were in debt, including the house, by almost one million dollars. We didn’t discriminate when it came to debt. We had it all! We had a mortgage. We had car loans. We had credit-card debt. We had revolving debt. We had tax bills.

When we crunched the numbers, we decided we had two choices to change our money situation.

  1. Cut expenses, then work our way out of the mess we’d created.
  2. Liquidate the only asset we had access to: our home. (All of our other money was in retirement accounts.) We could use the equity to pay off a good portion of our debt.

While we recognized that we absolutely should work to cut costs and build income, the latter option made the most financial sense. Really, it was a no-brainer. But homeownership isn’t a decision we make only with our brains; our hearts have to be considered as well.

It took us about six months to arrive at a decision. For weeks, we wavered back and forth about what to do. We didn’t want to sell our house. We loved the home we had created.

Inside Wendy's dream home

Making the Decision

Ultimately, it was our children that allowed us to align our heads with our hearts. We asked ourselves, “Why do we want to achieve financial independence?” It was for our kids, to change our family tree.

We decided that “home” would be wherever we were. Home was a meal at our dinner table. It was game night. Home was watching the Littles ride their scooters in the front sidewalk and family movie night in the drive-way.

Our home wasn’t limited by four walls. It wasn’t defined by a specific house.

Once we agreed to sell our house, there was another decision to make. We would capture enough money from the sale to not only pay all of off our consumer debt, but have some left over to put into another home.

We weighed the pros and cons of renting versus purchasing another home. We ran the numbers through several different “buy vs. rent” calculators – and in each one, renting came out ahead. In fact, renting could save us anywhere between $800 and $1200 each month

Not only that, but by not buying another primary residence we’d have a significant amount of money left over that could be used for something else, such as investing in out-of-state rental properties.

We decided to rent.

Soon, we found a nice home in our current neighborhood (which was important for us). We were able to rent the place for $1100 less than our previous mortgage.

Crunching the Numbers

For my family, letting go of the attachment to our home allowed us to do some amazing things.

  • We paid off all of our consumer debt. Gone are two car payments and several credit-card balances. This is a savings of about $1600 a month. ($900 in car payments and the rest in credit-card payments.)
  • By renting — and downsizing slightly — we save about $1100 per month in housing payments.
  • Selling our home provided seed money to begin real-estate investing, which will add $1000 of positive cash flow into our budget per month.

That’s a grand total of $3700 per month that we put back into our budget. That equates to about $44,000 each year.

Let that sink in for second. Millions of people live on less than this amount comfortably. (What could you do with an extra $44,000 per year?) It’s the equivalent of a modest income in the United States.

In fact, freeing up this money allowed me to quit my career as a lawyer and close my practice. For the first time in our lives, my husband and I can live on one income!

Wendy, Curtis, and the kids

After the Sale

Now, several months after selling our home, we can say without hesitation that it was the best thing we’ve ever done with our money.

This one move has not only decreased our monthly expenses, but it also allowed us to pay off a lot of debt. Plus, we’ve start investing in real estate, which has also increased our monthly income.

Last year — 365 days ago — we had almost $1,000,000 in debt. Through this one unconventional move, we’ve gotten rid of almost $700,000 of that debt.

We still have about $350,000 of student loan debt to go – but we have a plan in place to attack that as well.

Once you allow yourself to think outside the box, give yourself permission to make unconventional moves with money, you can do amazing things. Housing is the biggest expense for most Americans. It almost always makes sense to seek ways to decrease that expense. Doing so can bring about all sorts of opportunities.

I encourage you to do consider the possibilities.

The post Selling our home was the best financial decision we have ever made appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

©

The Best Mortgage Lenders

The single biggest financial decision most people ever make is buying a home.

Makes sense. The decision is filled with a lot of important questions:

… and many others.

Perhaps one of the biggest decisions though is finding a good mortgage lender. This isn’t a step that should be taken lightly. Finding the right mortgage lender gets you a home loan that’s affordable and the home that you want.

Find a bad one and you might find yourself saddled with a mountain of debt at a high interest rate.

Let’s try to avoid that. That’s why we gathered this list of the 5 best mortgage lenders out there.

The 5 Best Mortgage Lenders

These are a few of the mortgage lenders we like. Just like with anything else finance related, though, you’re going to want to do even more research to make sure it fits you. 

Here are a few good place to start:

Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans

  • Minimum down payment: 3%
  • Minimum credit score: 620

Quicken Loans is a reputable home mortgage lender (A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau) that offers an intuitive home loan program online. Through their digital platform, Rocket Mortgage, potential home buyers can easily see if they qualify for a home loan and what kind of loans they qualify for.

On top of conventional home loans, you can also get FHA, USDA, VA, and ARM loans through Quicken too.

Chase

Chase

  • Minimum down payment: As low as 5%
  • Minimum credit score: 620

Chase is a major national bank that offers a wide variety of lucrative home loan programs depending on your personal financial situation. On top of conventional home mortgages, Chase also offers FHA, VA, ARM, and a first-time home buyer program. Their in-person team can also help you find a good home buying assistance program if you are low income.

It’s worth mentioning though that Chase is a major bank—so you might be wary of being nickel and dimed by small fees (that can really add up).

SoFi

Sofi

Minimum down payment: 10% for loans up to $3 million

Minimum credit score: 620

Social Financial (SoFi) began as a student loan refinancing organization in 2011, but has since grown to become a leader in home mortgages. They offer a wide variety of loan types including:

  • 30-year fixed
  • 15-year fixed
  • 7/1 ARM
  • 5/1 ARM interest-only

When looking at loan applicants, SoFi is distinct due to how they look at elements beyond credit history as well such as your college degree in order to determine your earning potential.

LoanDepot

Loan Depot

  • Minimum down payment: 10% – 20%
  • Minimum credit score: 600

LoanDepot is another great online lender that provides a seamless underwriting experience. Where they really excel is at giving borrowers great refinancing options with good interest rates. If you choose to refinance, they’ll waive any lender fees and appraisal fees you might have on any other future refinancing with them.

The organization also has a ton of brick-and-mortar locations across the United States, which is great if you’re looking to meet with someone face-to-face.

Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate

  • Minimum down payment: 3%
  • Minimum credit score: 620

Guaranteed Rate offers a fantastic online lending experience with a wide variety of loan types including:

  • 30-year fixed
  • 15-year fixed
  • Adjustable rate
  • Jumbo
  • FHA
  • VA
  • Interest-only

Their interest-only home mortgages are a good option for someone looking to make smaller payments each month—but you won’t build equity or pay down the principle on your home. Still, Guaranteed Rate is a solid option if you’re looking to go that route.

Understanding Your Options: Different Kinds of Mortgage Loans

Among the many decisions you’ll have to make when purchasing a new home is what kind of mortgage you should get. 

And there are a lot of different kinds too. Here are a few of the most common types you can expect to be offered—and what they mean to you:

Conventional mortgage

A conventional mortgage is one of the most common types (ergo “conventional”). It refers to any loan that isn’t backed or insured by the government. Instead, it’s insured via payments and fees by the borrowers.

There are many different types of conventional mortgages you can attain too. The most popular ones are fixed rate mortgages. These are mortgages with set interest rates and term limits. That means you’ll make regular payments over a fixed period of time.

And there are many different kinds of fixed rate loans. For example:

  • 10 year
  • 15 year
  • 20 year
  • 30 year
  • 40 year

15 and 30 year mortgages are the most common types.

Overall, this is a popular choice because homeowners know exactly how much they need to pay each month—as well as how long the loan will last. That means easier budgeting and less confusion.

They also have the least amount of risk for you. The interest rate is set in stone, you don’t have to worry about it going up on you.

Government loans

The US government offers a number of lucrative loan options for first-time homebuyers. They’re insured by different agencies in order to encourage more Americans to become homeowners.

The most common loans are:

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. These loans are great for those with low credit scores. If you have a credit score of 580 or higher, you can expect to make a down payment as low as 3.5%.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) loans. These loans are available to current or former members of the U.S. military and their families. Down payments are not often required and you’ll also have protections if you default on the loan.
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans. These loans are aimed to attract homebuyers to live in rural areas of the country. Benefits include no down payment, 100% financing, and low credit score requirements.
  • Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) loans. These loans are to assist “law enforcement officers, pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians” to purchase a home. This loan gives those applicable a 50% discount on a house’s listing price.

For more on this, be sure to check out our article for first-time homebuyers.

Interest-only mortgage

These loans allow homebuyers to only pay the interest on your monthly mortgage rather than the full amount.

Typically, there’s a fixed timeline for when you can do this (five to ten years) but can be helpful to people who are in a good financial position, have their assets in order, and don’t anticipate living in the property for a long time.

For everyone else, we highly suggest you don’t pursue this type of loan. Sure, your monthly payments will be less, but the term of your loan will be much longer since you won’t be paying down the principle. Look towards some of the other options on this list instead.

Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)

ARMs have changing interest rates over time. You’ll typically see ARMs represented by two numbers such as 5/5 or 5/1. The first number refers to the length of time in years a fixed-rate will be applied to the loan. The second number refers to the length of time a variable rate is applied.

For example, a 5/1 loan will have a fixed rate for five years. After that, it will have variable rate determined by the performance of an index for one year.

So depending on how the economy is doing, you might have a good interest rate or a high one. It all depends on the performance of the index.

ARMs have a few major advantages:

  • They’re available at lower credit scores
  • You can get one with a lower down payment
  • Your interest rate can improve with the economy is doing well

But they have one major disadvantage: the interest rate can spike when the economy isn’t doing well. This is exactly what happened during the 2008 financial crisis. Be really careful with taking on an ARM and make sure you’re prepared for a worst case scenario. If not, you could lose everything.

How to Qualify For The Best Mortgage Rates

If you want to get the best mortgage rates possible, build up a good credit rating.

Here are a few fast tips on improving your credit score:

  • Get out of debt. Debt of any kind has a massive impact on your credit score. That’s why you need to take the steps to make sure you get out of it as soon as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done — especially if you have a large amount of debt due to something like student loans. Check out our article on how to get out of debt for a solid system to do just that.
  • Keep your accounts open and keep a recurring charge on them. 15% of your score is reflected by the length of your credit history. That means getting rid of old cards is getting rid of that history. Instead of doing that, keep your credit cards open even after you’ve paid off their debt. Just be sure to keep a recurring charge on them in order to keep that history alive.
  • Create new types of credit but only if you are out of debt. You can do this by requesting an increase to your line of credit in your credit cards, or by opening up new ones (we suggest the former). Remember: Only do this method once you’re out of debt. It’s risky to open up new credit cards — especially if you’re prone to falling into debt in the first place.

For more on this, be sure to check out our article on how to improve your credit score for more.

The Best Mortgage Lenders is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Should I Refund a Customer that Dispute a Charge?

After receiving a dispute, merchants may be tempted to refund the customers to try and fix the situation. But should you refund a customer? What about when you receive issuer notifications?

Do Not Refund the Customer After a Dispute

After a dispute is already filed, merchants should not refund the transaction. Because if the customer wins the dispute and you have refunded them, they will receive two credits. The credit that was pulled from the merchant account when the dispute was filed and the refund you credited them. Once a dispute is filed, merchants have to work through the dispute response process to right the situation.

What if I Refunded a Customer, then Received a Dispute?

If you already refunded the customer before you received the dispute, you can provide proof that a credit that directly offsets the disputed charge has already been processed. This should include timestamps showing that the credit was processed before the dispute.

But there is a way merchants can intervene before the customer files the dispute. This process allows merchants to refund a transaction before the dispute is finalized.

Reaching Customers Before They Dispute

Real-time Resolution

Traditionally, it is tough for merchants to reach customers before they decide to dispute a charge. For example, a recent Javelin report found that «merchants face a great challenge in getting customers to reach out to them in cases of suspected fraud: Cardholders bypassed merchants and went directly to their issuer in 76% of cases.» That means the majority of people that do not recognize a transaction head straight to the bank to dispute a charge. As a result, the merchant is unable to remedy the situation until after the dispute.

With Real-time Resolution (RTR) merchants are able to intervene before the dispute ever happens. RTR enrolls merchants in Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI), allowing for real-time communication of customer, order, and product details.

With RTR, the issuing bank uses the transaction details to decide if the dispute is invalid and prevent it from being filed. In cases of friendly fraud, the additional data helps jog the cardholder’s memory about the purchase. And in cases where the cardholder is trying to intentionally misuse their chargeback rights, the extra layer of confirmation acts as a critical deterrent from proceeding with the dispute. RTR is essentially allowing merchants to share their side of the story before the issuing bank decides if a dispute is valid or not. Beyond helping prevent disputes, RTR also helps merchants take meaningful actions with VMPI issuer notifications.

VMPI Issuer Notifications

There are a couple of different types of VMPI issuer notifications, but the one we will focus on is the inquiry notification. An inquiry notification is a request for more information about the transaction. The response from the merchant should contain an enhanced level of company information, transaction, and order details.

In general, merchants should not refund the transaction connected with this notification unless your company is at or above the dispute rate limits. Then you may want to consider proactively refunding inquiries. Doing this will prevent a dispute from ever being filed. Proactively refunding is specifically helpful for merchants that have low ticket items, and the dispute fee will cost more than just refunding the purchase. If you do choose to refund proactively, you can change your enhanced descriptor with VMPI to state, «this transaction will be refunded.»

Click here to learn more about Real-time Resolution and the possible ROI for your company.

Customer Service

Although cardholders are more likely to reach out to their issuing bank when they don’t recognize a transaction, it is still essential for merchants to be prepared to answer any questions a customer has with excellent customer service. If a customer reaches out to your customer service, it is an opportunity to prevent disputes from happening and keep a customer relationship.

Having your customer service available at every part of the transaction and buyer journey will make it easy for customers to talk to you. And makes your customers aware that you are willing to work with them to make the situation right. Merchants can make the process of reaching out as easy as possible by putting your contact information wherever the customer may look for it. This could include email, webpages, merchant descriptors, in-app, or anywhere else your customer interacts with your brand.

The post Should I Refund a Customer that Dispute a Charge? appeared first on Chargeback.

©

What To Do If Your Real Estate Offer Is Rejected And You Still Want To Buy

There are many times when even after you submit what you think is a great real estate offer, it still ends up getting rejected. This has happened to me more times than I can count because I’ve been incorporating my “spray n’ pray” methodology since 2015. With the creation of Docusign, once your realtor has

The post What To Do If Your Real Estate Offer Is Rejected And You Still Want To Buy appeared first on Financial Samurai.

©

Side Hustle #78: Being a TV / Film Extra! [$200+/day]

Side Hustle #78: Being a TV / Film Extra! [$200+/day]

tv & film extra

[Welcome to another edition of our Side Hustle Series! This time around one of my FAVORITE gigs I’ve always wanted to try but still haven’t – yet 😉 Peggy Bree stops by the blog today to share her experience being in over 200 shows/films over the past 6 years, and what you can expect to be paid from it all… Seems like the perfect gig for any multitaskers out there! Or those who just want to say they’ve been in movies! Lol… Take it away, Peggy!]

******

During my university days, I took a regular part-time job at the mall. One day, a co-worker of mine asked if I could take her shift. Curious, I asked her why she wanted me to cover for her the next day, and she told me she was booked to perform as an extra in Degrassi.

Her reply intrigued me as I never thought I could make money from being a film extra. I asked her how I could get started, and she gave me her agent’s contact information. Afterward, I sent over my headshots and personal info to the agent. Within a few days, I started getting booked for shows and movies!

It was pretty awesome to do this while I was still in school. I would bring my laptop to work so that I could do my homework in-between long scenes. It was like getting paid to do my homework! I’ve had this side gig now for about six years.

shadowhunters extra

Girl on the far right, Shadowhunters Season 3 Episode 12

What It Takes To Be a TV/Film Extra

To be honest, anybody can be a TV extra. You don’t need any formal acting experience. In fact, you don’t even need to look like a supermodel or know Steven Spielberg or David Cronenberg to succeed. You just need to know how to market yourself as a brand/product with diverse headshots and looks.

Once you have a variety of headshots, you should send them to your agent so that they can start submitting your photos for background casting roles. More importantly, you need to build a good relationship with your agent if you want more work in the future.

How Much I Get Paid

I’m currently a member of ACTRA TORONTO, the local film union of Toronto. The base rate for 8 hours is about $220.50 Canadian Dollar (CAD). Even if you work for 2 hours, you will still be paid that amount. And if you are on set for more than 8 hours, you will receive overtime bonus, which is double the hourly rate!

I once made close to $800 CAD working on set for 16 hours. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can get upgraded and get a line, and then be paid the rates of actors. Once, I was given a line and made close to $1,500 CAD for the day! However, the truth is that it’s rare to receive upgrades, even though it does happen.

PRO TIP: The more you are *physically present* on different sets, the higher your chances of getting upgraded and earning more money. So try accepting as many gigs as you can!

Pros to Being a Film Extra

#1: Great Extra Cash!

From my experience, I can testify that this is a great side gig to add to your basket of income streams. Like I mentioned previously, with this job you are guaranteed to make $225 CAD a day, even if you work for 2 hours. This side gig also allows you to work on your other projects during waiting times, and, if you work overtime hours on set, your base day rate can go up to $800 CAD (or more) for that day.

#2: Fun and Variety

Every set is different and packed with fun. One day, you can have the role of a Handmaid on The Handmaid’s Tale; the next day, you can play the role of a fairy on Shadowhunters.

To date, I’ve been on over 200 shows and movies as an extra! The shows range from Private Eyes, Titans, Good Witch and more.

umbrella academy extra

Girl on the left, The Umbrella Academy Season 1, Episode 6

#3: Good Food 

As a film extra, you also have the privilege to eat all kinds of food that’s provided during catered lunch. Most of the time you’ll be eating the same meal of the highest-paid actors or actresses, so you know it’ll be good!

#4: Cool People

Apart from the fun and cash perks, this side gig will also allow you to meet many interesting people. In fact, I’ve met so many friends on set who’ve now become my best friends (Julie Tu, Julie Abcede, Gloria Li, Michelle Moon).

disney zombies movies extra

Middle, with Julie Abcede, Disney Zombies Movies

Cons to Being a TV/Film Extra

#1. Long Waiting Times

Expect long waiting times. Sometimes, you may not even get to set. Nobody ever knows for sure when a day is wrapped because the decision is dependent on so many random factors.

For example, if the scene is daylight dependent (meaning the scenes are all filmed outside and none of them are set in the night), you can probably expect the director to stop filming in the evening. However, this schedule might change if the director decides to add some interior shots that are not daylight dependent. Needless to say, the waiting time is incredibly unknown. And you will never know for sure how long you will be there!

A few times, I was on set for 18 hours and it was brutal. The more you can fill that time being productive in these cases, the better. During wait times you can work on freelance projects (like me) or chat/network with new people.

#2. You Can’t Really be Sick

Cancelling bookings or projects that you’ve already accepted is usually frowned upon in this profession. Even if you are sick, you can’t default. If you do, your agent will not be happy with you and he or she may not contact you again in the future for being unreliable. Hence, it is always advisable to think twice before accepting any bookings.

#3. Variable Pay

This job is seasonal. Based on my experience, I think there’s more work in the summer than in the winter. This means the income you will earn from this job will not be stable as it depends on what’s filming and available. However, when there’s a lot of work available, you could sometimes be working every single day!

How to Become an Extra

If you want to add this side hustle to your basket, I would advise you to research the agents in your area or to visit sites/resources like ACTRA Toronto.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A quick google search for U.S. resources sent me to these places – maybe others in the industry can elaborate more for us?

  • CentralCasting.com — “the leading Background Actor casting company in the United States.”
  • SAGAFTRA.org — “The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists”
  • Backstage.com — Open casting calls and auditions for extras

Also to note: it seems that “background actor” and “extra” are interchangeable here, at least in the U.S…. Maybe it’s akin to those who call themselves “writers” instead of “bloggers?” ;)]

Bottom Line

Based on my experience, the PROs definitely outweighs the CONs. You can pursue other interests while on set, meet new friends, and eat good food. If a regular girl like me can do it, you can succeed too in this hustle and earn extra cash!

*******
Peggy Bree is a part-time digital nomad from Toronto, Ontario. She is the founder/ creative lead of BLANK ROOM, a branding studio intended to uplift curious entrepreneurs and experienced folks with thoughtful branding and design. Recently, she published a book called BRANDING QUICKIES, a collection from 20 women who share their best insight, tips and advice to help others grow their brand. You can follow her on Instagram and BLANK ROOM’s Facebook page.

peggy bree

For the full list of our side hustles, click here: 70+ Ways to Make Extra Money

For the past 3 we’ve featured:

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

How to Start a Sinking Fund (and Why You Should)

Accomplishing anything is easier with specific goals. Whether you’re training to run a marathon, learning a new programming language or trying to advance in your career, you’ll make faster progress if you have a clear vision of where all that hard work is taking you.

The same is true for saving. While you certainly could stash all your money in one big pot and distribute it as you see fit, that’s an easy way to leave certain goals unfulfilled. This approach also makes it easier to spend your savings on discretionary purchases, because you don’t have a clear picture of what you’re sacrificing.

Enter the sinking fund, the best way to organize your savings into specific and discernible groups, allowing you to focus on each goal individually. Here’s why you need one – and how to start it.

What is a Sinking Fund?

A sinking fund is a special savings fund for a long or short-term goal. People set up sinking funds for vacations, Christmas presents, a down payment on a house or any other goal where funding is needed.

A sinking fund may have a firm end date or no specific timetable. If you need to buy your boyfriend a birthday present, that’s an example of a sinking fund with a clear deadline. If you’re saving for car repairs, the timetable can be open ended.

Having a sinking fund in place will prevent you from dipping into your emergency fund, charging a credit card or using student loan money. It can help you avoid borrowing money from your parents or taking out a high-risk payday loan.

How to Start a Sinking Fund

A sinking fund should be stored in a savings account, ideally earning an interest rate between 1.5 and 2%. Because many sinking funds have a long time frame, it’s best to earn as much interest as possible. Check the interest rate before opening a savings account.

Keep the sinking fund separate from your everyday checking account so you’re not tempted to raid it for something else. It should also be separate from your emergency fund, which should only be used for events you can’t plan for like a visit to urgent care or a sick pet.

Some people have multiple savings accounts for different sinking funds. You may decide to save for a vacation, a new laptop and textbooks for next semester. Instead of saving for all three goals in one savings account, you can create a separate account for each sinking fund.

Online banks are often the perfect place to store a sinking fund. They usually have the best interest rates on the market and make it easy to open multiple savings accounts.

Some banks let you give each savings account a separate name. If you’re stashing money away for a new bike, you can call the savings account “New bike.” I have about 10 different sinking funds at the moment, and naming each account after the goal it’s tied to helps me stay motivated to keep making deposits.

How to Establish a Sinking Fund Goal

Before you open a savings account for a sinking fund, decide how much money you need for your goal. If the goal has a specific end date, work backwards to determine how much to save. For example, if you want to travel to Mexico for spring break, find out how much you need for the trip. Then, look at how many months you have left to save. Divide the total amount by the number of months remaining to figure out how much you’ll need to save.

Next, look at your budget and monthly expenses to see how much you can allocate. Use the Mint app to see how much money is left over each month. If there’s enough left to meet your desired saving rate, congratulations – your work is done.

But most people will realize there’s a discrepancy between how much they earn and how much they need to save. If that’s the case, there are two solutions: cut expenses or make more money.

Cutting expenses can be difficult, but it helps to remember why you’re doing it. If it’s for spring break travel, think about how much fun hanging out with your friends will be. If it’s for a new laptop, think about how slow and annoying your current one is.

When I wanted to take a two-week trip to Europe, I cut back on eating at restaurants for a semester. I hated saying no to my friends, but planning for my trip kept me motivated.

How to Start Saving

If you don’t have a part-time job or side hustle, now might be the time to start. When I was in college, I got a part-time job working at my dorm’s front desk to save for a study abroad trip.

I had to work Sunday mornings, and I hated getting up early while all my friends slept in. But I wanted to study abroad in London, and I needed the money to pay for it. That was usually motivation enough to get me out of bed. Usually.

Think about any jobs or side hustles you can start. Monetize any skills or talents you have, like web development, graphic design or crafting. Ask professors or your advisor if there any on-campus jobs available. You can also look into picking up more hours at your current job, or asking your boss for a raise or promotion.

Put any extra windfalls toward the sinking fund. If you get a tax refund or birthday check from Grandma, add it to the sinking fund instead of spending it. This is the easiest way to make significant progress towards your goals, because depositing an unexpected windfall doesn’t require you to do extra work or sacrifice money you’ve already budgeted elsewhere.

Once you start making more money, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to the sinking fund. Automatic transfers take just a few minutes to set up and are easier than remembering to transfer money every month.

 

What do you need to set up a sinking fund for? Let us know in the comments!

The post How to Start a Sinking Fund (and Why You Should) appeared first on MintLife Blog.

©

VMPI Integration Through a Visa Facilitator: How it Works

Merchants who are integrated with Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) can prevent invalid disputes and take meaningful actions to retain customer relationships and to avoid revenue loss. Merchants have two options to integrate with VMPI: go through a VMPI facilitator or integrate directly to Visa.

What is VMPI?

VMPI was started after Visa saw over 2.6 million chargebacks initiated in 2015 because cardholders did not recognize the transactions, which was an increase of over 13% from the prior year. The cost of working disputes, along with the dispute fee, can end up being more expensive than the transaction. So, Visa created a way for merchants and issuers to prevent invalid disputes from occurring.

With the VMPI integration, merchants can provide detailed company, customer, order, and product information to card issuers on-demand. This connects merchants to millions of cardholders working with thousands of different financial institutions. Ultimately, VMPI empowers representatives at your customer’s financial institution to stop invalid disputes from being filed against you.

Why Integrate to VMPI?

Three statistics illustrate the current state of the dispute landscape:

  1. In 2017, $31 billion was lost to chargeback costs.
  2. Merchants were saddled with $19 of that $31 billion.
  3. In 76% of cases of suspected fraud, customers bypass the merchant and go directly to their card issuer, which leaves merchants with little opportunity to intervene.

VMPI addresses this situation by improving the dispute process for merchants through real-time communication. When connecting to VMPI, merchants will receive issuer notifications. Issuer notifications (through VMPI) allow merchants to receive a request for more information, as well as notifications when a transaction has been reported as fraud, disputes are finalized, and when the cards have been blocked from further purchases with a stop payment request. These notifications allow the merchant to resolve a problem or refund a transaction and take other preventative steps.

VMPI Integration Options

Merchant DIY

Merchants can opt to connect to VMPI by directly integrating to Visa and do the integration work themselves. But, the lack of development resources, time restraints, or other factors can make the integration process too challenging for merchants to do it themselves.

VMPI Facilitator

When VMPI was initially released, it was only possible for merchants to connect directly through Visa. This caused problems because there were limited staff and availability, which narrowed VMPI’s scope to only large merchants. Because of this issue, Visa introduced VMPI facilitators that allow all sized merchants to be able to connect to VMPI. By going through a VMPI facilitator, merchants are able to easily and quickly become integrated without any integration work on the merchants’ end.

Chargeback is a Visa approved VMPI facilitator. This means through Real-time Resolution (our VMPI integration solution) Chargeback has already done all the heavy lifting by building the integration to VMPI. To get started, merchants will just need to provide their CAID (Cardholder Acceptance Identification Number) and BIN (Bank Identification Number). After that information is provided, you will be connected to VMPI. By using Chargeback’s integration, merchants can start preventing disputes and protecting revenue right away, without any integration effort.

For a full explanation of how the Real-time Resolution (RTR) integration with VMPI works, check out this on-demand demo:

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of VMPI or how to get set up with a VMPI facilitator, you can click here.

Do More than Just Stop Disputes

There are a couple of types of issue notification that can be received through VMPI. Here are the different kinds of notifications and what actions merchants should take:

Inquiry Notification: An inquiry notification is a request for more information about the transaction. If your company is at or above the dispute rate limits, you can consider proactively refunding inquiries. If proactively refunding, you can change the enhanced descriptor to state, «this transaction will be refunded.»

Dispute Initiated Notification: This notification is when the customer disputes a transaction, and the issuer finalizes it. A dispute initiated notification contains the same information you would receive from your payment processor for your merchant account, but will often be received days in advance. These funds will be deducted from an upcoming settlement, and you should take whatever action you normally would when a customer files a dispute.

Until chargebacks can be blocked on previously refunded transactions, do not refund disputes. If the customer’s goods or services have not been delivered or can quickly be canceled, notify the customer and let them know their initiation of a dispute resulted in a cancellation of their order/service.

Visa Fraud Notification: Fraud notifications come when a transaction is confirmed as fraudulent by the customer. If you receive this notification, stop accepting this card for payment and reach out to the customer to confirm they wish to maintain their account or relationship with you.

Visa Stop Payment Notification: You will receive this notification when issuers block future transactions by your company for a specific customer account. Customers can ask their issuer to prevent recurring transactions or subscription payments from continuing. This effectively stops your ability to process a payment on that card account. If delivery or access to the goods or services can be canceled, any shipments can be rerouted, or fulfillment can be stopped, you may want to do so immediately.

Exception File Listing Notification: When you receive an exception file, it means at some point the customer’s card was used fraudulently. This notification does not say the transaction was fraudulent, but the card has been compromised. If you receive this notification, cancel all upcoming payments and reach out to the customer and ask if they’d like to update their billing information.

The post VMPI Integration Through a Visa Facilitator: How it Works appeared first on Chargeback.

©

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Review: 50k Points Worth $750 in Travel, $300 Annual Travel Credit, $550 Annual Fee, New Lyft/DoorDash Perks

Updated with new annual fee and perks list. Chase has updated their “ultra-premium” credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which has headline features of Visa Infinite benefits, 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus, $300 annual travel credit, 3X points on travel and dining, and a $550 annual fee. Here is the long list of perks:

  • 50,000 Bonus Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That can be redeemed for $750 of airfare, hotels, and other travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • $300 annual travel credit. Every year, the card will rebate you back up to $300 in travel purchases such as airfare and hotel nights charged on your card.
  • $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Priority Pass Select membership. Provides free access to 1,000+ airport lounges in over 400 cities worldwide.
  • 3X points per $1 spent on travel & dining worldwide. The 3X points on travel kick in immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • DoorDash credits. Up to $120 in statement credits towards DoorDash purchases ($60 in 2020 and another $60 in 2021). Also get $0 delivery fee with free DashPass membership for at least 1 year.
  • Free year Lyft Pink membership + 10x points on Lyft purchases through March 2022. Lyft Pink usually costs $19.99 a month and includes 15% off Lyft rides, 3 complimentary bike and scooter rides a month, and priority airport pickups.
  • 1:1 points transfer to various frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Annual fee is $550, not waived the first year.

Note the following text:

This product is available to you if you do not have any Sapphire card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.

Ultimate Rewards points. This card offers a special 50% bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards travel website. That is more than any other Chase card (a 25% bonus is the most otherwise). 50,000 Ultimate Rewards = $750 in travel. Similar to Expedia or Travelocity, you can book flights on most major airlines and hotel chains. This makes it much more flexible to spend your points. You can even buy something more expensive and pay the difference.

If you have other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Unlimited, you can transfer points into this card account and take advantage of the this higher premium. In other words, your existing Ultimate Rewards points balance could be increased in value by getting this card.

Prefer airline and/or hotel points? This card also allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points into hotel and/or airline miles. Transfer to United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt Hotels, IHG Hotels, and Marriott Hotels at a ratio of 1 Ultimate Rewards point = 1 mile/hotel point. Miles redemption continue to offer great value for savvy travelers, especially for last-minute travel and business class seats.

Cash redemptions are a simple and easy option, but the conversion is a straight 100 points = $1.

Sharing points. Ultimate Rewards points are instantly transferable to other accounts like family members, as long as they have their own Chase card with Ultimate Rewards as an authorized user (free with Chase Freedom). This way, you can pool points together for transfers and redemptions if you like.

Additional card benefits:

  • Dedicated customer service line with a live person that answers the phone 24/7. No waiting or complicated phone trees.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Primary car rental collision damage waiver insurance. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. Most other cards only offer secondary coverage that kicks in only after the deductible of your individual insurance policy is used.
  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement. If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket
  • Enjoy special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar when you book with your card.

Note that Chase has an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years (aka the 5/24 rule). This rule is designed to discourage folks that apply for high numbers of sign-up bonuses. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers.

As for the $300 annual travel credit, “annually” means the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date. So it’s not exactly by calendar year, but roughly close and you can likely get this twice under the first year’s annual fee.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t need the new Lyft and DoorDash perks very much. I have also been redeeming my points for Hyatt hotel nights primarily, so I will stick to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with a lower $95 annual fee and the same 1:1 ratio for turning Ultimate Rewards points into Hyatt points. I will miss the Reserve’s 3X earning power on travel on dining, however! Your spending and point-redeeming situation may be different.

Bottom line. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has a 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus, $300 annual travel credit, 3X points on Dining/Travel, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, up to $100 Global Entry application credit, Lyft perks, DoorDash perks, and more… in exchange for a $550 annual fee. You should compare against that of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has less perks but also a lower annual fee.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Review: 50k Points Worth $750 in Travel, $300 Annual Travel Credit, $550 Annual Fee, New Lyft/DoorDash Perks from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

How to Apply for a Credit Card

When I was younger, I applied for a first credit card. Notice I didn’t say I applied for a first right credit card.

I didn’t know any better. I just accepted the first credit card for which I successfully applied. It happened to be a Wells Fargo card because there was a Wells Fargo branch in my local grocery store.

Getting that card was a mistake.

I wish I would’ve taken a bit more time and applied for the right credit card for me. Don’t make this same mistake. We’ll help you learn how to apply for a credit card, including finding the right credit card for you.

Know Your Credit Score

Before applying for a credit card, you’ll want to know your credit score. Two credit scoring models exist, FICO and VantageScore. These models study your financial history and assign you a score between 300 (worst) and 850 (best). Average scores are around 700.

Payment history and the percentage of your credit limit you’re currently using are key components of both FICO and VantageScore.

Credit reporting services, such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, add the score to your credit report which banks and other organizations can check.

Knowing your credit score will give you a better idea which cards will accept you.

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free

If you’d like to know your credit score before you apply for a credit card, multiple sources are available for free.

Some options for receiving a free credit score include:

  • Your bank: Your local bank where you have an account may check your credit score for you for free.
  • Credit card issuer: Some credit card companies will print your credit score on the monthly statement, or they will check your credit score if you make a request. I now have several cards with Chase which also gives me access to my score.
  • Equifax: If you visit the Equifax website, you’re allowed to create an account and receive your credit score for free.
  • Experian: You can see your credit score for free at the Experian website or by using the Experian app.
  • Free annual credit report: If you sign up at the Annual Credit Report website, you can receive a free copy of your credit report, which contains your credit score. You may receive a report from each of the three credit reporting companies once per year.

What Credit Card Issuers Are Looking For to Approve You

Your credit score has a massive impact on whether you get approved for a given card. The better the card, the better the score that you’ll need.

Some of the premium rewards cards need a score of 700. Others might need a score of only 600. And some cards are designed for building credit from scratch or improving a low credit score.

To improve your score, you’ll need a credit report that shows flawless payments on all your loans (including credit cards) for years on end.

But other factors also play a role in determining whether a credit card issuer will approve your application.

  • Delinquencies: If you have reports of delinquencies on your credit history, your chances of receiving a new credit card will drop. Late payments count as a delinquency, as do missed payments. These delinquencies can remain part of your credit history for several years.
  • New account requests: Each time a creditor checks your credit history because you’ve applied for credit, it counts as a hard inquiry that stays on your account for a couple of years. With too many hard inquiries on your account, a creditor may see you as a risk, believing you may be trying to open too many accounts. Each time you apply for a credit card, even if you receive a denial, it counts as a hard inquiry.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: The credit card issuer will attempt to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. If you have too much debt, the issuer may deny your request.
  • Credit limit usage: The issuer will calculate how much of your credit limit you’re actually utilizing across all of your credit accounts. If you’re utilizing less than 30 percent of your total credit limit, you’ll have a better chance to receive approval for a new credit card.

Understand The Different Types of Credit Cards

There’s several different types of cards that you’ll be able to choose from. Here are the primary types:

Rewards Credit Cards

A rewards type of credit card allows users to earn free benefits or other perks over time. Rewards cards calculate what you can receive by the amount of money you charge to the account. Subsets of rewards credit cards include:

  • Points: A points card gives users the ability to receive points which they can redeem for flights, hotel rooms, Amazon purchases, and other rewards.
  • Travel: Not only does a travel credit card usually give points or miles for free travel, it also might have special perks for traveling.
  • Cash back: You get a small percentage back on every purchase, usually 1-2%.

Cards for Building Credit

Some credit cards market themselves toward college students, people who haven’t built up a credit profile yet, or folks with previous credit problems. Some of these types of credit cards include:

  • No perks: A credit card aimed at someone who’s trying to build his or her credit likely will not have rewards or perks associated with it.
  • Student: Some banks are willing to extend college students a special type of credit card as a first card. This may be a low credit limit card.
  • Secured: A secured credit card requires a deposit to receive it. If you end up being unable to pay back the card, the bank will keep your deposit.
  • Poor credit: For people with a poor credit score, a bank may have a special type of card to help them rebuild their credit. However, these cards often have very high interest rates and very low credit limits.

Specialized Credit Cards

Some cards will have specialized features that differ a bit from a standard credit card.

  • Business: A business credit card has specific features aimed at business users, such as extra perks or high credit limits. Using a business card is a good way to keep track of expenses you may have in a side business.
  • Balance transfer: These cards are designed for folks with high interest rates on another card and then want to transfer that balance to a card with a lower interest rate. I don’t recommend looking at these cards, you need to get in the habit of paying off your cards in full every month.
  • Low interest: Some cards provide you with a lower than average interest rate, which is beneficial for those who carry a balance. Again, don’t spend much time with these. Focus on getting yourself to the point that you can pay cards off in full every month.
  • Charge card: A charge card is one that the user must pay off within each statement period. You can’t carry a balance like a normal credit card. Some people prefer the charge card because they have no temptation to run up the balance.

Figure Out The Best Credit Card For You

Looking for the right credit card boils down to finding a card that matches your spending habits and your current financial situation. Here are some tips for applying for just the right credit card for you.

Find the Best Card for Which You Qualify

Based on your credit score, you’ll receive approval for some cards. But other banks may deny your application.

Don’t worry if you don’t qualify for the exact card you want. Use the card for which you qualify responsibly for a couple of years, and your credit score should rise so you can receive the card you really want.

Look for a Card That Has the Perks You Want

If you’re a big fan of travel, look for a travel card that provides perks that match how you like to travel.

Or if you prefer a simple credit card that you don’t have to think about using, maybe a cash back card is up your alley.

Avoid Picking Up Too Many Cards

Those new to credit card usage should stick with one card until they have built up their credit scores. After a couple of years, you can expand your collection to two or three cards.

Don’t apply for several cards at one time, just to try to receive a large number of sign-up perks, or you could end up with more cards than you need. You’ll end up creating confusion for yourself with too many cards, trying to remember what steps to take to receive various rewards. And you’ll place multiple hard inquiries on your credit report which lowers your score.

Apply Online – Here’s What to Expect

Now for the easy part, which is the actual application.

Just visit the website for the credit card for which you want to apply. Fill in the information in the form and hit the submit button.

The majority of credit card applications require less than five minutes to complete, and you should receive an answer about approval or denial within a couple of minutes.

Some of the information you must provides includes:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Estimated annual income
  • Common monthly expenses
  • Balance of checking and savings accounts
  • Social Security number

Credit Cards Help You Get Rich

Having a credit card, putting your day-to-day spending on it, and then paying it off in full every month is the easiest way to build up your credit score.

The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate that you’ll have when you apply for a mortgage or a car loan. A lower interest will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

And a good rewards card basically gets you a 1-2% discount on everything you purchase for life. Plus some sweet perks when traveling.

You can get all that for free.

How to Apply for a Credit Card is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

When does it makes sense to spend more on your looks?!

When does it makes sense to spend more on your looks?!

hipster

Didn’t think I’d be blogging about *looks* today, but I’d be lying if I said this stuff hasn’t crossed my mind in the past either 🙂 Maybe you’re the same?

Here’s a convo I recently had with a reader, and would love to get your take on it too…

Is it all a bunch of malarkey, or are there certain times when spending more on our looks just makes more sense?!

Jay,

Let me tell you something which opened my brain on purchases this last year. This is a memorable purchase for me which really surprised me.

One of the things that I have been rethinking is how much I get out of what I purchase. For an example, your Goodwill story. I love Goodwill and shop there all the time. I know you can get great deals there.

Last year I met up with a life insurance agent who cleared $300k last year and he was telling me how he bought these suits at $1k-$3k price points. I was shocked and told myself I would never. Clothes depreciate. What a waste.

Then it struck me. He made almost 3x money as me last year! Maybe he understands something I do not. I still shop at Goodwill, but I started buying very nice and expensive Polo shirts after this thought struck me. Direct from Polo at $80 a piece. I thought if I presented myself better and opened stronger with a new nice Polo shirt it might help me generate more business like my friend.

I’m a realtor and as soon as I did this I started getting much more respect and picking up clients at a faster rate. I just inked a contract for a $340k property from one of my last open house leads. That’s a $10k commission check from an $80 shirt purchase.

Of course, some may say that it’s just in my head and maybe I got lucky, but the reality is that I did feel more confident in my abilities to close more business for myself. I feel that’s 100% worth it.

If I was on the outside watching myself buy a piece of clothing for $80 I would shake my head and think how superficial. But now I have been buying branded t-shirts that say “Realtor”, “Real Estate Agent”, “I sell real estate,” etc and still to this day when I order off eBay I cringe. I never have paid $20-$40 per shirt as most of my clothes have always been hand me downs from growing up in a family of 6! And I’m the Goodwill guy like you.

That being said, the opportunity for my business and ROI from being a walking billboard and spending just a little bit more to “redeem” a depreciating asset is amazing to me. This took me by surprise, and made me think to myself that maybe cheap is not always best in every circumstance. I feel strongly that if I had worn my Goodwill polo shirt at that last open house it would have been more difficult for me to close that deal.

I always used to wonder why the Uber rich purchase things that don’t make the most sense to the rest of us, but maybe your money really is a mirror of your priorities. By prioritizing my appearance and professional image and nothing more, I was able to pick up more clients for my business.

What are your thoughts around this?

******

Here’s what I wrote back, which may surprise you?

******

I think you could be very right on that!

And even if it IS just in your head, does it really matter since business is booming?! 🙂 I’d be buying $80 shirts left and right too if I was experiencing that, haha…

So I say keep going with it and see how far you can take it. What does your car look like for example? Whenever I see realtors in Beemers and Benzes I’m always thinking they’re much more successful/skillful whether it’s the truth or not.

In areas where perceptions matter like in realty/sales/etc I def. think it’s worth “putting on a show” more, so long as it doesn’t go overboard. You only need so much to milk 90% of the rewards, and you could pick up a 7 or 8 year old luxury car for the same as you can a normal car but get that “oomph” out of it.

So yeah man – I’m with you! Sometimes spending money really DOES help you make money in the end. Just gotta know *where* to spend it 🙂

Let’s see if you can get close to that $300k this year!

******

We went back and forth a little bit more (turns out he already rocks a luxury car), but that was the gist of it all. Spending more in order to gain more – in this case with business. It sounds stupid and really shouldn’t matter at all what you wear/drive/etc, but perception is a silly thing and sometimes you have to play the game.

My thoughts on it anyways. Ever catch yourself spending more in certain areas to get better results?! Whether in career or goals or *cough* love? What do you wear on a first date – your everyday duds or your nicer ones? 😉

I remember being a realtor myself years ago and how lame I looked rolling around in my bright yellow Ford Mustang when I was trying to get people to take me seriously. I had no problem with those who already knew me (my only sales! Hah!), but I guarantee I would have been more successful had I *looked* the part more. Thank God I had normal hair at least!

On the flip side, it eventually led me to becoming a professional blogger which ironically means wearing unprofessional clothes too, haha, so this stuff can work in the opposite way as well 🙂 The trick is knowing what makes you more credible in peoples’ eyes and then taking advantage of it.

Agree? Disagree?

******
ADDENDUM: I was reminded of another article of clothing to consider when trying to boost your confidence/sales 😉 From my friend Hélène Massicotte: The Sexy Underwear Trick

[Photo credit up top: distel.com]

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

3 Ways to Jump-Start Your Online Trading Business

Image by Csaba Nagy from Pixabay 

An online trading business can be quite lucrative if you do it correctly. Most people who fail at online trading make one or more mistakes.

For example, they follow the advice of amateur traders, or they invest too much too quickly. Others fail because they think they can set it and forget it.

The good news is you can learn from their mistakes to achieve the success they only dream of.

How to Jump-Start Your Online Trading Business

There are three ways to jump-start an online trading business:

  1. Follow the advice of reputable online traders who have a track record of being successful with their trades.
  2. Keep your risks small while you learn how to trade, and then increase the risk as you gain confidence.
  3. Continuously improve your trades by analyzing how you decided to choose them and then the results they produced. You can learn something from every trade you do, as long as you take the time to look for the lesson.

The above ways to jump-start your online trading business may seem easy enough, but there’s more to them that you need to know.

RELATED ARTICLE: DESIGN A HOME OFFICE YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE IN

Follow Successful Online Traders

Unfortunately, many people online will try to tell you they are successful at what they do when they are not. They do it because they want to sell you their consultation services or courses.

However, if you’re not careful, you’ll not only lose the money you invest in their education, but you’ll also lose the money you put into online trades based on their information.

The best way to know if someone has been successful with their online trading business is to see independent proof of their success.

For example, there are legitimate real-money trading contests, verified by third-party auditors. When you see traders who have their own online trading businesses who have won legitimate contests, then you know they can actually trade.

Beware though: The trading education scammers are now creating fake contests, with phony credentials. So make sure you investigate the contest.

Real traders should be able to show how well their trades did. Moreover, they should be able to share their system of coming up with the plan that led them to those results. If they can’t show you that information, it’s likely they aren’t being truthful, and they are probably to be avoided.

Start with Low Risk and Increase as You Learn

When you first start your online trading business, don’t throw all of your capital into your first online trade. If you do, you will likely lose a majority of it, and you can put your dream of having an online trading business to rest.

Instead, start with a small amount of capital. Then, if you lose it, you won’t be so devastated. You can also learn what you did wrong by making small trades. Then you can move on to place better trades. As you see better results, you can get take more risks with your trades. This can help you to increase your returns.

Patience is a virtue, and that is what you need to achieve success with your online trading business. Of course, you want to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. However, if you don’t go through the process of learning how to make that money, you’ll never get to that point—and your online trading business will never be a success.

Identify What Works and What Doesn’t

The only way to improve your trades is to implement what worked from your previous trades, and ditch what didn’t work. This is why it is imperative that you keep a watchful eye on your trades and analyze them every single time.

This goes for when you first start as well as when you’ve been trading for years. As soon as you learn something from a trade, take that lesson and use it for another trade. Then see if it produces better results.

Sometimes it will, and other times it won’t. But identifying what works and what doesn’t is part of the fun of online trading, so get ready to have a good time.

Now Jump-Start Your Online Trading Business

Now you know how to jump-start your online trading business. Get started by reading the advice of reputable traders. Start with low risk and increase riskiness of your trades as you become more comfortable.

Finally, improve your trades by identifying what works and what doesn’t. These are the ways to become successful with your online trading business.

The post 3 Ways to Jump-Start Your Online Trading Business appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

New Year’s Resolutions: How to Keep Them

Featured Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay 

Are you in the habit of starting each new year with a list of New Year’s resolutions? Many people do. However, almost as many fail to follow through with their positive intentions. In this post, we share some tips for making realistic resolutions and keeping them.

Trim Your List of New Year’s Resolutions Down to Only One

If you have a long list of resolutions, you may feel burdened by them. Instead, why not resolve to make only one resolution? Then make an honest effort to keep that one resolution all year long.

After all, small and simple changes in your habits can lead to lasting improvements in your life. You might even need to make further refinements to your single resolution.

For instance, let’s say your New Year’s resolution this year is to get more exercise. That is a pretty broad resolution, so get specific and trim your resolution down even further.

Let’s just say you’re a total couch potato, with your focus on little else besides running your business. If so, then a more specific resolution for you might be just to walk around the block a few times each week.

That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s the point. If your New Year’s resolution feels like a burden, you probably won’t get very far.

For example, if you’re not in the habit of exercising regularly, then you probably won’t use a gym membership after the first few days. And that’s if you even go at all!

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Realistic

Maybe you have resolved to become one of the world’s wealthiest individuals by year’s end—even though you’re starting with a negative balance in your checking account. If that’s the case, be sure to reach out to 24cash.ca for help.

Once you have that handled, of course, it’s possible that you could achieve your goal in the short space of only a year. However, for most people, closing such an enormous gap is well-nigh impossible.

Instead, resolve to become better at managing your finances, both at home and in your business. Then take small but specific steps to do so, such as creating a budget and tracking your spending.

Start Small and Allow Good Habits to Build

Let’s say you’re determined to attract new clients to your business this year. So maybe your New Year’s resolution is to learn more about marketing in general and apply what you learn to your business.

However, you need to make your resolution specific so you can measure your results. Therefore, you could write something like this in your journal: “My New Year’s resolution is to read 52 books about marketing this year, one each week.”

Now, while your resolution is specific, your overall objective can remain large: You want to become better at marketing your business. And this year, you’ll make progress toward that objective by reading books about marketing.

Encourage yourself in your new habit by tracking your results. For example, each time you finish reading a marketing book, make a note of your accomplishment with a big red “X” on a wall calendar in your office.

As you progress with your reading project throughout the year, those visual cues will spur your enthusiasm for your marketing efforts. By year’s end, your New Year’s resolution may well have become a full-blown passion.

RELATED ARTICLE: MARKETING FOR NON-MARKETERS: GET GOOD AT IT BY LEARNING TO LOVE IT

And, who knows? In the years to come, you could become someone others turn to as an expert in what it takes to market a business in your niche.

Conclusion

So whether your New Year’s resolutions have to do with bettering your health, improving the way you manage your finances, or attracting more customers to your business, make each resolution small, realistic, and manageable.

Then next year, you can improve on your improvements. And with each new year, you will always be reaching toward the better human being and the more expert businessperson you are becoming.

About the Author

Carrol Strain is a Top Rated copywriter on Upwork. She
is also editor and on-call writer for the
Business Opportunities blog.

The post New Year’s Resolutions: How to Keep Them appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How to Use a Company Credit Card Wisely

Featured Image by Kay on Unsplash

There are many advantages to using credit cards to finance your business. However, a company credit card must be used wisely in order to be beneficial. Otherwise, credit cards can quickly lead your company into unmanageable debt.

Here are some tips to help your business use the company credit card wisely.

Maximize Rewards Points

Business credit cards come in various types, including rewards credit cards. Rewards cards offer cashback for purchases, vouchers, points, and so on. For instance, some company credit cards offer cashback for paying utility bills or dining out. Your company can save money with a cashback card.

In addition, credit cards that offer rewards can also be a benefit when used correctly. For this type of company credit card, make sure the rewards program matches your business needs. For example, if you and your employees travel frequently, then look for cards that offer rewards for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and so on.

Always Pay the Full Balance of a Company Credit Card on Time

While this may seem obvious, if you don’t pay the entire balance on your company credit card, the card provider simply forwards the outstanding balance to the next month once you’ve paid the minimum amount due. Managing your company credit card in this way can quickly lead to high interest fees on the outstanding amount, costing your company a pretty penny.

In addition, paying only part of the balance each
month can damage your company’s credit score. This can make you look like a
risky investment when it’s time to apply for a loan. And if you don’t pay on
time, the card issuer will likely increase your interest, which will cost the
company even more money.

Paying the full balance on company credit cards on time each month, on the other hand, can help improve your credit rating. The business will also look financially responsible, making it easier to get a loan when you need it.

Take Advantage of Balance Transfers

Balance transfer credit cards can be a huge benefit to your company. If you’re carrying a balance on another card, it might be beneficial to search for a balance transfer offer from another credit card provider. Upon each credit card balance transfer you’ll have an extended time to pay it off without having to also pay the interest fees.

However, if you don’t pay the balance by the time the
balance transfer offer expires, you could be facing even higher interest rates.
This can lead you down the path of the debt cycle, which is almost impossible
to climb out of once you’re in it.

These are some of the wise ways to use your business credit card while keeping your company finances in check and avoiding higher interest rates.

Pay Attention to All Fees

When you’re searching for the right company credit card, make sure to check each card for the fees that will be charged. All credit cards, even “free” cards, will include fees. You may have to pay a membership fee, an annual fee, or some other type of fee. In addition, credit cards charge interest, late fees, and more.

Make sure to read through all the terms and conditions
before you apply for any kind of business credit card. Find out what fees are
included, as well as service charges and interest rates. You need to have a
thorough understanding of the credit before applying. In fact, if you have
questions, now’s the time to contact the card provider’s customer service and
ask them about any issues you may not understand.

RELATED ARTICLE: BUSINESS SERVICES YOU MAY WANT AND SOME YOU NEED

Have a Plan for Managing Your Company Credit Cards

Once you have a company credit card, have a plan in place for how the balance will be managed before making any purchases. Why? Because you need to figure out if you’ll be able to pay off the balance each month, or if you’ll need to pay the balance off over a specific period to avoid interest fees.

Not having a plan can be costly. For instance,
carrying a balance will cost the company more interest over the long term. And
interest can go up if payments aren’t made on time. A plan will help you better
manage the balance and the time needed to pay it off in order to avoid these
problems.

The post How to Use a Company Credit Card Wisely appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

Determining How Much To Contribute To A 529 Plan: Too Much No Good!

Because of the SECURE Act, the 529 plan has received a functionality boost in 2020 and beyond. A 529 plan can now be used for: All college tuition and qualified expenses $10,000 a year for K-12 tuition and qualified expenses Apprenticeship programs and qualified expenses $10,000 to pay down a qualified education loan repayment for each of

The post Determining How Much To Contribute To A 529 Plan: Too Much No Good! appeared first on Financial Samurai.

©

How Earned Income Tax Credit Works

A few years ago, I helped a recently divorced mom prepare her first tax return on her own.

She was anxious about dealing with taxes because her ex had always handled them for her and worried that she’d owe the IRS because she didn’t make much money.

Thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit, not only did she not owe, but this single mom ended up getting a decent-sized refund she could put toward paying her bills.

That’s the power of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Read on to find out how this valuable tax credit works, and whether you can benefit from it too.

Understanding Earned Income Tax Credit

The U.S. federal income tax system is progressive, meaning the more money you make, the higher your tax rate. But Social Security and Medicare taxes aren’t progressive. As a result, low-income people end up paying a much larger percentage of their salary towards payroll taxes than high-income taxpayers do.

To help offset this and encourage people to work, Congress created the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 1975. Forty-five years later, this tax credit is still available and providing tax relief to low- and moderate-income workers, especially those with dependent children.

The EITC is a refundable credit, meaning it can reduce your tax liability to zero, and you’ll receive any remaining credit in the form of a tax refund.

The maximum credit depends on the number of “qualifying children” you claim on your return. The IRS has a four-part test to identify a qualifying child:

  1. Relationship. The child must be related to you in some way. They can be your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, adopted child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, niece, or nephew.
  2. Age. The child must be under age 19 or a full-time student under the age of 24 at the end of the year. If you file a joint return, the qualifying child must be younger than either you or your spouse. However, if you have a dependent that is permanently and totally disabled, the age limitation doesn’t apply.
  3. Residency. The dependent must have lived with you in the U.S. (or with your spouse if you file a joint return) for more than half the year.
  4. Joint Return. Normally, you can’t claim someone as a qualifying child if they file a joint return with a spouse. However, there’s an exception for when the dependent was not required to file a tax return (because they did not earn enough income) but filed a joint return solely to claim a refund of taxes withheld.

For the 2019 tax year (returns filed in 2020), the maximum EITC credit is:

  • $6,557 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,828 with two qualifying children
  • $3,526 with one qualifying child
  • $529 with no qualifying children

How to Qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit

The EITC can deliver significant tax savings for some taxpayers, but there are a lot of complicated eligibility rules for claiming it. Pay attention to these rules, because if you try to claim the EITC when you’re not eligible, the IRS can bar you from claiming it for up to 10 years.

Rule #1: Earned income below the limit

First, to qualify for the EITC, you need to have what the IRS refers to as “earned income.” Earned income includes wages, salaries, tips, commissions, or income from self-employment or farming. People whose only income comes from Social Security, welfare, pensions, or investment returns aren’t eligible.

And since the EITC is designed to benefit people with low income, it’s only available to taxpayers whose income falls below certain limits, based on filing status and the number of qualifying children listed on the return.

For the 2019 tax year, your earned income and your adjusted gross income (Line 8b of Form 1040), must each be less than:

  • $50,162 ($55,952 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
  • $46,703 ($52,493 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $41,094 ($46,884 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $15,570 ($21,370 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

Rule #2: Must have a Social Security number

You, your spouse, and any qualifying children listed on your tax return must have a valid Social Security number (SSN). You can’t claim the EITC using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number – a number issued by the IRS to foreign nationals and other individuals who aren’t eligible for an SSN but are legally required to file a U.S. federal income tax return.

Rule #3: Not filing married filing separately

You can’t claim the EITC if you are married and file separately from your spouse. Any other filing status can qualify for the credit.

Rule #4: You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien

You (and your spouse if married) must have been a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year, or a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and filing a joint return.

Rule #5: Limited investment income

Your investment income for the tax year must be less than $3,600. Investment income includes interest, dividends, capital gains, rents, and royalties.

Rule #6: Not claiming a foreign earned income exclusion

If you file Form 2555 to claim an exclusion of income earned in a foreign country from your gross income, you cannot claim the EITC.

Rule #7: Can’t be the qualifying child of another taxpayer

You can’t be eligible to be claimed as a dependent or qualifying child of another taxpayer and claim the EITC.

Rule #8: Additional rule for people without a qualifying child

If you don’t have a qualifying child, you (or your spouse, if married) must:

  • Be at least 25 years old but younger than 65 by the end of the year, and
  • Have resided in the U.S. for more than half the year.

There are some additional rules for members of the military, ministers, members of the clergy, people who receive disability benefits, and taxpayers impacted by disasters. You can learn more about those special EITC rules from the IRS.

If you need more help with the EITC eligibility rules, the IRS offers an EITC Assistant tool. After answering a few questions and providing some basic income information, you can find out if you’re eligible to claim the EITC, determine whether your child or children meet the tests for a qualifying child, and estimate your potential credit.

Similar Tax Credits and Deductions to Consider

Even if you don’t qualify for the Earned Income Credit, you may be able to take advantage of other tax credits and deductions to lower your tax bill. Here are a few to consider.

Child Tax Credit

If you have at least $2,500 of earned income and at least one dependent child, you may qualify for the Child Tax Credit. This credit is worth up to $2,000 for each dependent child under age 17 at the end of the tax year.

The credit phases out for taxpayers with higher incomes, but the income limits are much higher than those for the EITC. Single taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) over $200,000 or married couples filing a joint return with AGI over $400,000 will see their credit reduced by 5% of their AGI. The credit phases out entirely if your AGI is over $240,000 (for single filers) or $440,000 (for married couples).

If your available Child Tax Credit exceeds your taxes owed, you can receive up to $1,400 of the balance as a refund. This refundable portion is also known as the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).

Credit for Other Dependents

If you have a dependent that doesn’t meet the requirements to claim the Child Tax Credit, you may still be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents. For instance, you can claim this credit for:

  • A child who does not have an SSN but does have a Taxpayer Identification Number
  • A child who is age 17-18 or age 19-24 and in school
  • Other older dependents, such as an elderly parent

The maximum Credit for Other Dependents is $500, and it has the same phase-out threshold as the Child Tax Credit.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you paid a care provider to care for a child or other dependent while you worked or actively looked for work, you might qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

The credit is worth a percentage of your allowable care expenses. You can use up to $3,000 of expenses for one dependent or $6,000 of the costs of care of two or more dependents. The percentage ranges from 20% to 35% of your expenses, depending on your income. The higher your income, the lower your percentage. However, there is no upper limit on income for claiming the credit.

To qualify, you must have paid someone to care for:

  • A child under age 13 at the end of the tax year whom you claim as a dependent on your return
  • Your spouse, if they are unable to take care of themselves and lived with you for at least half the year
  •  Another person claimed as a dependent on your return, if that person can’t take care of themselves and lived with you for at least half the year

These are just a few tax deductions and credits available to individuals and families in 2019. If you might qualify for one or more of these tax breaks, take time to research the rules or talk to a tax professional. Claiming them can significantly lower your tax bill or even result in a generous refund.

How Earned Income Tax Credit Works is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

What are some of your controversial personal finance beliefs?

What are some of your controversial personal finance beliefs?

shock

Answered this question on Twitter last year, then got re-sucked back into it all again when it bubbled back up randomly this morning 😉

Now passing it on to you to give your brain a work out! Haha…

controversial financial beliefs

Here were my answers to it, and then I’ll list out some others from the community I found interesting as well… Maybe you have some controversial beliefs of your own?

Statements I usually get the stink eye on:

#1. Renting is better than owning for a lot of people. Both in terms of money and freedom.

#2. Buying Starbucks is perfectly fine! There are millions of other areas you can skimp on that are less important to you, leave us coffee drinkers alone!

#3. Always tip 20% no matter the service. So many benefits to this like never having to think about tipping again, being a fair tipper each and every time, easily being able to calculate it, and then just walking away feeling GOOD about it overall.

Agree? Disagree?

See you how feel about some of these other comments from the thread 😉

It really is like financial porn up in here, haha…

  • Being frugal won’t make you rich
  • Save before paying off debt
  • Credit cards are a scam. (After 5 years without them, living the same way as before, I won’t ever get one again. – @MichLovesMoney)
  • It’s okay to pay fees to use great banking products
  • It’s okay to work a 9-5
  • Buying items on clearance is not the same thing as saving money
  • Index funds are not the end all be all for wealth creation
  • Do not marry someone with debt if you are not prepared to pay it off with him
  • Side hustles are a huge waste of time and resources. (Just focus your effort on your day job and do It well enough to get promoted while keeping your sanity at home. – @ali_fo_fali)
  • Massive student loan debt can be worth it to increase your human capital
  • I don’t include our home (or vehicles, or any other possession) in our net worth calculation
  • I believe in getting tax refunds. (It’s conscious delayed savings. – @ImmigrantFin)

No real rules to this money stuff – gotta figure it out on your own and then STAY STRONG when people poo poo it!

What others can we add here to keep the party going? 🙂

(Fun mental work out, @PeerlessMoney – thanks!)

*******
// Pic up top by Prawny

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

How To Deal With Credit Card Debt

Climbing out of the black hole called credit card debt seems impossible.

Since credit cards have such high interest rates, making the minimum payment can feel like the cards will never get paid off.

Many of us have thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Even $30,000 to $50,000 worth of debt is more common than you think.

I know this can feel like a straight jacket that you’ll never escape. I still remember when my Mom discovered that my Dad had taken on $50K worth of credit card debt when I was little.  I’ll never forget the feelings of shame, fear, and uncertainty that the entire family felt for years until it was paid down.

There’s hope. Getting rid of credit card debt IS possible. Lots of folks have done it and so can you. If you trust the process and stick with it, it’s just a matter of time. You will get there.

The True Cost of Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt can sneak up on all of us.

A few months ago, my dog passed after 4 days at the VR emergency room. It was a complete surprise. At the end, we had a $10,000 vet bill hit us out of nowhere. Luckily, I had emergency savings to get me through it. Even if I didn’t have the money on hand, I would have racked up credit card debt and then figured out what to do afterwards.

Sometimes life hits you hard and a credit card is your only option.

And when things start to deteriorate, I have a habit of not wanting to look at the problem anymore.

Gained a few pounds over the holidays? Stop checking the scale. A critical number of work not improving like I need it to? Stop pulling up the report. Too much credit card debt? Stop checking my balance.

Then things really snowball.

“I’ll pay it all off next month,” becomes the monthly motto. The minimum fee gets paid and that’s it.

That’s when the interest rates hit deep.

Annual percentage rates (APR) are typically 15-20%. Let’s say that the total amount owed on a credit card is $10,000, with an APR of 20%, and a minimum payment of $200 per month.

Once that card has been fully paid off, over $9,000 worth of interest will have been paid.

That’s like having every store double the price of every purchase.

If you have a higher APR and only make minimum payments, you generally have to pay twice as much for everything on your credit card.

Compared to just about any other type of loan, the interest rates on credit cards are brutal. Not all debt is bad but credit card debt sucks. Get it paid off as soon as you can.

3 Options For Dealing With Credit Card Debt

Before we jump into the different methods on how to get rid of credit card debt, start by listing all your credit card debt in one place.

List out each card include:

  • The card
  • Amount owed
  • Minimum payment
  • APR

Put all of this in a spreadsheet, a note-taking app, or a notebook. Whatever you’re most comfortable with.

This will come in handy when working through any of the pay-off methods below.

It’s totally fine if you haven’t looked at this stuff in awhile, that’s normal. It’s also normal to be surprised by amounts or APR. Don’t feel guilty or shameful, you’re taking action which means you’re already ahead of the game.

Method #1: Pay off the highest APR first

Technically, this is the fastest method to paying off your credit cards.

Out of all your cards, find the one with the highest APR and then get as aggressive as possible with paying it down. Start by paying an extra $50 a month. Make double payments. Make payments every week. Look for ways to save money or make extra cash from a side hustle. Put every extra dollar towards that card.

Whatever it takes, attack the card with the highest APR. For your other cards, pay the minimum payment and then pretend they don’t exist.

By paying down the higher APR card first, you’ll reduce the total amount of interest that you’ll pay.

For example, let’s say I have a 20% APR card with $5,000 on it and a 15% APR card with $3,000 on it. I’d focus on the 20% APR card until it was paid off in full.

Method #2: Pay off the lowest balance first

This is commonly known as the snowball method of paying off credit cards.

Instead of going after the highest APR, we pay off the card with the lowest balance first.

Why would we do this?

Psychological momentum.

Paying off a credit card with a high APR might be the best method mathematically but you know what feels amazing? Paying off a card.

Getting a win in the bag feels incredible. You’ll get your confidence back, build up momentum, and be ready to take on a bigger challenge. The value of this win can not be overstated.

If you’re feeling unsure about all this, I highly recommend that you focus on the card with the lowest balance. Get aggressive, make as many payments as you can, and throw every spare dollar you can scrounge up toward that card.

Before you know it, you’ll have it paid off and you can move to the next card.

Method #3: Use the envelope system

Made famous by Dave Ramsey, the envelope system involves using physical envelopes and cash for all your spending.

This is a good option if you’ve tried other methods but still struggle to control your spending.

Grab a handful of blank envelopes. On the front of each, write the most critical budgetary expenditures like groceries, gas, household items, kid’s activities, and anything else that must be paid for each month. Each envelope will be one of your spending categories.

Look over your spending in the last few months and come up with an amount of money that will go into each envelope. Write that amount on the outside of the envelope. Make sure these amounts are sustainable and allow you to get ahead of your credit card payments.

On payday, withdraw the total amount due in all the envelopes and stuff each one and use that money to pay those bills. It’s critical that you do this with real cash.

Essential points in the envelope system:

  • No borrowing from one envelope to pay for another. Once an envelope is empty, it’s done for the month.
  • Revisit the envelope amounts each month if one goes empty quickly while the other is flush with cash.
  • If there’s leftover money in an envelope, do NOT roll it over into the next month.
  • Take the extra money and put it into savings or put the additional money towards that credit card debt.

This works by forcing you to make a conscious choice with every purchase. It also adds more weight to each purchase. Instead of swiping a credit card, using the envelopes forces you to pull out cash and watch it disappear. This helps folks make smarter decisions with their money.

How To Avoid Credit Card Debt Moving Forward

Once you get ahead of your debt, then what? How do we avoid sliding back into old habits?

Pay off your cards in full every month

Credit cards can be a great tool to building wealth and living a rich life.

But only if you follow one rule: you always pay your cards in full every month. If you do that, you avoid all fees and interest. Combine that with a few of the sweet rewards you get from the best credit cards and it’s like getting free money back.

Once you pay off your credit cards in full, figure out how much money you can put on your credit. I like rounding down to a number that’s easy to remember like $2,000. If my budget allows up to $2,000 in credit card spending each month, I’ll hold off on all purchases until my next payment cycle once I’ve spent close to $2,000. That way, I know I’ll be able to pay the card in full.

Use a single credit card

There are a ton of reward credit cards that have all sorts of rewards and parks. To maximize those rewards, folks will have multiple cards and use each one for different kinds of purchases.

That’s an advanced personal finance strategy.

If you’ve struggled with credit cards in the past, I highly recommend using only one card for spending.

When I got my second credit card, I couldn’t keep track of my own spending for about 6 months. It was too difficult to always remember how much of a balance I had on each card.

Keep things simple, only use one card. You’ll only have one balance that you need to track.

Only use multiple credit cards after you feel completely comfortable paying one card off in full every month.

Generate side income

If you have the time and talent for a side hustle, go for it.

Having a way to generate some extra cash when you need it really helps staying out of credit card debt.

Surprise expenses hit all of us. Right when you’re hitting your groove, you could get hit with a large, unexpected bill. Eventually, you’ll have an emergency savings account to absorb expenses like that. But when you’re getting out of credit card debt for the first time, you could get hit right when you find your footing.

Having a side hustle is a great way to absorb these shocks if they happen.

If you get hit or if you overspend one month, ramp up the side hustle to bring in some extra cash. This keeps you on top of your payments.

Do dog walking, meal prepping, graphic design programs, check websites like Fiverr and FlexJobs, Uber, or meal-delivery. This is also a great way to build up some extra cash flow so you can start paying down your credit cards in the first place.

Credit Cards: Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy?

Considering all that can go wrong, is it wise for a person to have credit cards at all?

Credit cards aren’t evil IF you pay them in full every month.

Not only can you get a bunch of rewards from them, they’ll help you build a good credit rating which will save you thousands of dollars when getting car loans or mortgages.

I use my cards for travel rewards. Every 1-2 years, I usually get round-trip business class tickets to anywhere in the world that only cost me about $100. That gets me once-in-a-lifetime experiences which cost me almost nothing.

You can get there too.

No matter how you owe, eliminating credit card debt is possible.

Look up all the credit card debt that you owe, pick one of the methods above, and get your debt paid off. Then stay on top of your credit cards by paying them off every month.

Then you’ll be on the path to building wealth and living your rich life.

How To Deal With Credit Card Debt is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising Good for Business?

SEO dominates the world of organic online marketing. However, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising still has a place in business marketing, even in 2020. PPC allows online searchers to find products and services through targeted ads and links. This type of marketing may once have been seen as less effective than SEO. However, it’s more sophisticated—and probably more effective—than ever before.

It’s important to say that pay-per-click advertising might not work for all businesses or entrepreneurs. The same goes for many other types of marketing. But PPC marketing appeals to a certain kind of searcher and to pitch a certain type of product. If you’re considering trying PPC for your business, you may wonder whether or not it’s going to be worth your time and money.

FEATURED ARTICLE: MARKETING CONTENT STRATEGY – 8 TIPS FOR SUCCESS

Let’s consider which types of businesses can most benefit from PPC.

Small Businesses

PPC advertising is fantastic for helping start-ups and small businesses to get off the ground. Pay-per-click helps immensely to push products to relevant groups. It can also help with brand recognition. PPC delivers exceptional results to local customers, too. So PPC is the best tool for tackling a specific niche without extra time and effort.

PPC is a great playground for marketing strategies. Partnering with a company offering PPC consultation, known as white label PPC, allows you to set up a flexible plan of action. This means you can adjust and enhance your advertising and approach depending on how well your campaigns perform. PPC experts can adjust your campaigns mid-flow if needed. Unlike print advertising, online marketing is easy to fine tune, and problems are inexpensive to remedy. 

Pay-Per-Click In The Niche

PPC advertising targets specific phrases and keywords online. Therefore, it meets specific needs. For example, if you provide a personal service that’s otherwise unheard of in your area, targeted PPC enables you to approach people who are looking for the specific services you supply.

Without PPC, you risk falling behind more generic stores and services. This is especially true if you leave everything to SEO (search engine optimization). PPC lets you target specific needs and niche concerns so you can turn a lead into a customer quickly.

Single Lead Success

PPC is an especially good option for businesses that can benefit greatly from a single sale. While PPC doesn’t function well for broad category selling, it can really increase your marketing success in niche markets. PPC is ideal for specialist services and for generating leads to inspire customer loyalty.

For example, luxury items, vacations, or even legal services demand high monetary investment from consumers. Therefore, their successful sale instantly outweighs the costs of a basic PPC campaign. On the other hand, if you can expect only a small margin of profit between PPC expenditure and consumer revenue, then it’s probably worth looking at other advertising options.

If you offer a service or a product which people are likely to invest in long-term, a single PPC ad is probably going to pay off. Therefore, consider this form of advertising worthwhile if you have long-term, high-margin revenue to pull.

PPC For Every Business

The fact is it might be a little shortsighted to suggest PPC will only work for specific types of businesses and services. PPC works wonders for a variety of niches and specialties. While generic and larger brands can benefit through SEO alone, PPC offers a lot of support to smaller or growing firms.

pay-per-click ppc advertising
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Perhaps you run a small workshop and might be looking for clients who need help with woodwork. Maybe you operate a car repair clinic and want to target people who have cars with faulty carburetors. Or perhaps you sell delicious pastries and desserts in your local area. Whatever the case might be, PPC can work well for your business.

Don’t be afraid to try PPC. It still has a place in modern digital marketing.

The post Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising Good for Business? appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

How To Buy a Car

Part of my rich life is buying as much coffee as I want. I never sweat small purchases like that.

A car, however, is one of the biggest personal expenses that I’ll ever make.

I’m actually thinking of buying a new car myself right now. Sweating the details and purchasing a car will save me thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of lattes.

Not to mention the impact that a car has on my life. I’ve had my current pickup for a decade. And purchasing my next car will shape my next decade.

You can’t spend too much time buying your next car. It’s worth the trouble.

I’ve done a ton of research on how all this works, putting my best tips and best practices in this guide to get a great deal on the perfect vehicle for you.

Make a List of Priorities

I believe that everyone should be looking for a car that has a great maintenance record.

Yes, there are exceptions. If you’re at a stage of your life where cars can be considered a drivelous expense, go ahead and get the Maserati that needs to be taking into the shop every other month. If that’s how you enjoy spending your money, embrace it.

For the rest of us, we want a car that will keep us out of the mechanic’s shop.

After that, it really comes down to your lifestyle. Here’s a items that could be hard requirements for you:

  • Snowy weather: I learned to drive in the mountains of Colorado. For me, 4×4 or AWD is a requirement.
  • Kids: You might need the extra space from a minivan or SUV.
  • Cargo space for dogs: I have a 200lb mastiff, having enough space and easy accessibility for him is another hard requirement of mine.
  • Electric: If you live near electric charging stations, you could make the jump to an electric car.
  • Camping or other activities: Get enough clearance to handle bumpy roads and obstacles.
  • Gas mileage: If you drive a lot and have a tight budget for your car, get one with better gas mileage. You can easily cut your monthly gas bill in half by choosing the right car.

Start your list with “must-have” features that you can’t live without.

My main recommendation is to avoid picking out a flashy car just for the sake of having one. Some of you may truly want that brand new BMW. If it’s part of your rich life and truly makes your life delightful, find a way to make it work. But many of us get sucked into thinking that we should enjoy luxury cars when we don’t. Every dollar you don’t spend on your car is one extra dollar you can spend on an area of your life that brings you true joy.

Determine Your Budget

Most financial experts suggest that you spend a maximum of 15% of your take-home pay on a car.

Let’s say you make $65,000 per year. If you pay 30% in taxes, you’re left with $45,000. 15% of your post-tax take-home is $6,825. That translates to $568.75 per month on a car.

Of course, there’s a big difference between how much you can spend on a car and how much you should spend on a car.

It’s always in your best interest to find something that’s below your budget. But you should still determine the maximum amount that you can afford to spend.

One way to give yourself a larger budget is by saving up ahead of time. That’s what I’ve been doing. I set up an automatic savings of $100/month several years ago that goes into a special car savings account. The whole automatic savings system is broken down here. Now I have a tidy sum that gives me a lot more flexibility on the car I want.

How you’re planning to pay for your car will also impact your budget. Are you taking out a loan, or will you be paying cash?

Don’t forget about the other hidden costs associated with buying a car, such as:

  • Vehicle registration
  • Title fee
  • Insurance
  • Ownership taxes
  • Parking
  • Gas
  • Maintenance
  • Smog or emissions testing

Be sure to estimate all these costs. Once you buy a new car, you could easily be spending an extra couple of hundred dollars every month.

Buying vs. Leasing

Let’s keep this simple.

Leasing is almost always a terrible idea. Don’t do it.

Buy your car, keep it for 7-10 years, then buy another. That’s how you get the most value out of a car.

Leasing only makes sense if two things are true for you:

  1. You love having a new car every couple of years. This is part of your rich life and you’d gladly cut costs in other areas of your life to support this.
  2. You have the budget to pull this off.

Basically, you have both the means and the genuine desire to drive new cars regularly. Since you’ll be swapping out cars often, leasing will be the best option for you. It’s still a lot more expensive than buying and owning for 10 years but you’ve made the conscious choice that it’s worth it. In that case, go ahead and lease guilt-free.

New vs. Used

I have two facts for your.

One, buying a used car is by far the better deal. As soon as a car drives off the lot, it loses a ton of value. Essentially, you will be spending several thousand dollars for the privilege of driving it off the car lot.

New vehicles depreciate by more than 10% in the first month of the purchase. Vehicles lose roughly 20% of their value in the first 12 months of ownership. Expect your vehicle to lose an additional 10% of its value each ear.

If you want to maximize the value of your dollar, get a used car.

Two, I don’t care. I only buy new cars myself.

I’m not sure what happened in my childhood but I hate sharing. And that applies to used stuff. I’d rather buy new, use it until it falls apart, then buy another one new. I’m like this with EVERY purchase.

So yes, buying a used car is the better decision financially. But I still buy new out of personal preference.

You get to make the same choice.

If you plan to go the used car route, a certified pre-owned vehicles (CPO) will be your best option. In most cases, CPO cars have low mileage and no history of major accidents. They are gently used, pass a thorough dealership inspection, and include a warranty from the original manufacturer.

What to Know About Auto Loans

The majority of car purchases are financed. So if you’re buying a new or used car, there’s a good chance that you’ll need an auto loan.

Most people will get financing directly from the car dealership, but smart buyers shop around for the best loan option. Getting your loan from a dealership can be an expensive mistake if you fail to seek alternative lenders.

These are some of the most common places to get an auto loan:

  • Large national banks
  • Small community banks
  • Credit unions
  • Car dealerships

I recommend getting your financing pre-qualified from a third-party lender before you start shopping around at dealerships. With an accurate budget, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford.

Your credit score will have the most significant impact on getting approved for a car loan. You should check your credit score and view your credit report before you start applying for loans. Remember not to close any credit cards before applying for a car loan. That’ll lower your credit score and give you a worse interest rate.

Try to boost your score and remove any errors from your report. These factors have a direct correlation to the amount of your loan, as well as the interest rates.

According to Lending Tree, the average APR financing for credit scores 720 or higher is 5.33%. Consumers with a credit score between 620-659 have an average APR in the 13% range, and scores below 560 have an average APR of 21.10%.

If you seek pre-qualification from multiple sources, you can potentially get these lenders to compete against each other for the best loan terms. But it all starts with a solid credit score.

Due Diligence

Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on your priorities and budget, you should make a shortlist of two or three cars that fit the description of your needs.

But before you finalize a decision, you need to keep doing research to find the best year, make, and model.

Read consumer reports. Review vehicle safety reports and crash test ratings. Pay particularly close to maintenance ratings.

If you’re buying a used car, make sure you know the full history of the vehicle, including how many owners and any accidents. The best way to do this is by researching the car’s VIN for specific reports. Carfax and AutoCheck are two popular tools for this purpose.

Use online resources to gauge how much a car is worth based on factors like mileage and condition. Compare prices between dealerships to make sure you’re getting the best price.

You should always take the car for a test drive and inspect it yourself whenever possible. Buying a vehicle sight unseen is never a good idea. Test drives won’t be an issue when you’re going through a dealership, but it’s no guarantee when buying directly from an owner.

Always get a pre-purchase inspection if you’re buying a used car. This is conducted by an independent mechanic. The mechanic will evaluate the condition of the vehicle and let you know if certain things (like brakes or tires) need to be replaced soon.

What to Expect With Dealerships

Once you locate the car you want to buy, it’s time to take a visit to a dealership.

As you’re browsing the lot, you’ll likely be approached by a car salesman within a few minutes. If not, you can always request assistance from the receptionist or front desk.

The initial introduction will be pretty informal. You’ll exchange names and give some brief information about the type of car you’re looking for. The salesperson will show you some different options, and offer to take you on a test drive.

It’s important to take the approach that you’re not in a hurry to buy. I’ve purchased a handful of cars in my life, and none were bought on the first day I walked into a dealership.

You can’t make an informed decision and complete your due diligence if you’re in a rush. A car that was initially at the top of your list based on preliminary research could be eliminated after a test drive.

The salesman at the dealership will likely follow-up with a phone call over the next week to see if you have any questions.

Once you’re ready to make the purchase, you’ll come back to the dealership to negotiate the price and discuss financing options. We’ll talk more about these negotiations shortly.

Buying a Car Directly From an Owner

Some of you might be interested in purchasing a used car from a private seller.

There is no financing with a purchase directly from an owner. So be prepared to pay upfront with cash. You could potentially take out a personal loan from a bank or credit union, but the financing will be set up on your own.

The two most important documents in a private sale are:

  • Title
  • Bill of sale

If the owner doesn’t have a clean title, don’t buy the car. The car could be stolen, or the seller might not own the vehicle outright. If you buy a car with a lien on it, the financing company could repossess it if the seller stops making payments.

The bill of sale typically includes:

  • Year, make, model
  • VIN (vehicle identification number)
  • Date of sale
  • Sale price
  • Names and addresses of the buyer and seller
  • Notation of conditions or guarantees

In most private sales, the notation is “sold as is.” The seller won’t be responsible for anything that happens to the car after the transaction is made.

You can request a pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic, but the seller doesn’t have to agree to anything. That’s part of the risk of buying directly from an owner.

In most cases, I wouldn’t consider a private sale unless the purchase was for a low amount, like $5,000 or so.

Negotiating The Best Deal

Time is on your side when it comes to negotiating. Make it clear that you’re in no rush to buy, and be prepared to walk at any minute.

Don’t fall victim to high-pressure sales tactics or make an impulse purchase. The best time to buy a car is at the end of the year or end of the quarter when the sales staff is trying to meet their quota. Buying a car on New Years Eve could get you a 8% discount alone.

Also wait until the new year models are released. Dealerships will be trying to get rid of the previous year’s models at that time.

In other words, negotiate when you have leverage. At the end of the year, sales reps short on quota are willing to push deals to the limit. This also works at the end of each quarter.

If you only do one thing to improve your car negotiation, do this.

There’s plenty of smaller tactics you can try too.

  1. Try to find a cheaper price for the same vehicle elsewhere then bring that up during the negotiation process.
  2. Get the dealer to eliminate unnecessary add-ons like rust-proofing or extended warranties. Or ask them to add them at the last minute for free.
  3. Research any manufacturer incentives or rebates that might be available for the car you want.

During the negotiation process, it’s easy to get confused as the dealer starts throwing numbers around. Always repeat things slowly and write everything down to confirm.

Don’t mention your trade-in until the very last moment. If you tell them about your trade-in from the beginning, the dealer could use it against you.

For example, let’s say you’re looking at a $25,000 car, and the dealer’s rock-bottom price is $20,000 (although you won’t know this information). If the dealer knows your trade-in is worth $3,000, they might drop the price to $23,000 to get you out the door for a total purchase price of $23,000.

But if you wait to mention the trade-in, you could negotiate all the way down to $20,000, and then talk about the trade-in. In this case, the final sale would be $17,000.

How To Buy a Car is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Best Interest Rates on Cash – January 2020

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for January 2020, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. I track these rates because I keep 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you’d earn by moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 1/9/2020.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks like to get away with 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I list the top rates as well as competitive rates from banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you with a temporary top rate and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. Marcus Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.00% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. My eBanc has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.00% APY with a $100,000 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.85% APY with a $25,000 minimum deposit. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.75% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Quontic Bank has a 12-month CD at 2.20% APY ($1,000 minimum).

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are not FDIC-insured, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.

  • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 1.69% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 1.54%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 2.00% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 2.16% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 1.97% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.25% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 1/9/2020, a 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.53% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.54% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 1.83% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 1.38% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.

US Savings Bonds
Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.

  • “I Bonds” bought between November 2019 and April 2020 will earn a 2.22% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
  • In mid-April 2020, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.

Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.

Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore.

  • Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking (my review) has up to 5.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you make $500+ in ACH deposits, 12 debit card “signature” purchases, and spend $1,000 on their credit card each month. TAB Bank Kasasa Cash Checking has 4.00% APY on balances up to $50,000 if you make 1 ACH transfer and 15+ debit card purchases of $5+ each month, but read their vague fine print first. Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.
  • If you’re looking for a high-interest checking account without debit card transaction requirements, the rate won’t be nearly as high, but take a look at MemoryBank at 0.90% APY.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.

  • Financial Partners Credit Union (LFCU) has a 5-year Jumbo certificate at 3.00% APY ($100k minimum) and 2.85% APY with a $1,000 minimum. As with many credit union specials, this likely won’t last long. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization American Consumer Council ($8 one-time fee).
  • Navy Federal Credit Union has a special 37-month IRA CD at 3.00% APY ($50 minimum + add-on feature), but you must have a military affiliation to join (includes being a relative of a veteran).
  • Andrews FCU still has their special 84-month certificate at 3.05% APY. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. The rates are not competitive right now. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.

  • Willing to lock up your money for 10+ years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. I don’t see anything noteworthy. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. You could also view it as a hedge against prolonged deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 1/9/2020, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 2.17%.

All rates were checked as of 1/9/2020.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Best Interest Rates on Cash – January 2020 from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2020

Updated January 2020. That space in your wallet or purse is more valuable than you think. Credit card companies are fighting it out, offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to encourage you to apply and try it out. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would personally apply for right now, if I didn’t already have most of them. Notable changes:

  • Southwest 75k – limited-time offer.
  • United 65k – limited-time offer.
  • NavyFed 50k expired.

If you pay off your balances every month, then you can join me and many others in funding a huge chunk of your annual travel budget with cash credits, points, and miles. You don’t need to be a “I only fly business class” world traveler. I mostly use my rewards points on domestic economy flights, mid-class hotels, and cheap car rentals. If you have credit card debt, you should focus on paying that off first as the interest charges could offset most of the perks.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Business Card Offers. Small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. 3X on Travel and Dining, Priority Pass airport lounge access, $450 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • Up to 75,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
  • Southwest still gives everyone two free checked bags.
  • More than halfway to Companion Pass. If you can sign up for this one and also the small business version, you can qualify for a Companion Pass in 2020/2021.
  • $69 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase United Explorer Card

  • Up to 65,000 bonus United miles. 40,000 miles after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months, plus an additional 25,000 miles after $10,000 total in purchases within the first 6 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your United ticket.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after any purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. See link for details.
  • $99 Companion certificate offer. Earn a certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in the first 90 days.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $99 annual fee.

Citi Premier Card

  • 60,000 points (worth $750 towards travel booked at ThankYou.com) after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points for every $1 spent on travel including gas stations.
  • Must not have gotten bonus from or closed a Citi Rewards+, ThankYou Preferred, Premier, or Prestige card in the past 24 months.
  • $95 annual fee.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card

  • 50,000 points (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $100 annual Airline Incidental Statement Credit.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $95 annual fee.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

  • 50,000 miles (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2% cash back on ALL purchases. Plus earn 10X miles at Hotels.com through January 2020.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

  • 60,000 Hawaiian miles after $2,000 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardmember when using your card to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and The Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • Up to 50,000 Hyatt points. 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • $95 annual fee, free night award upon card anniversary.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2020 from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2020

Updated January 2020. Do you have small business income or work as an independent contractor? Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which keeps your personal and business expenses separate. If you are not a corporation or LLC, you can apply as a sole proprietorship, with your name as the business name and your Social Security number as the Tax ID number. I did this for years successfully before incorporating my business.

Small business credit cards are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to try out a new card. Below are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for (or have applied for already). Recent changes:

  • CapOne Spark Cash/Spark Miles $2,000/200k miles – limited-time offer ends 1/27.
  • United Biz 100k – limited-time offer.
  • Citi/Barclays AA Biz 75k x 2 – limited-time offers.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers for personal cards. Notice that small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Card

  • Up to $2,000 cash bonus. $500 cash bonus after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, plus another $1,500 cash bonus after $50,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. This is on top of the 2% cash back. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Flat 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card

  • Up to 200,000 bonus miles. 50,000 bonus miles after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, plus another 150,000 bonus miles after $50,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. 200,000 miles is redeemable for $2,000 towards travel. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Flat 2X miles per dollar on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,000 towards flexible travel) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

United Explorer Business Card

  • Up to 100,000 United miles. 50,000 after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months + another 50,000 after $25,000 total in purchases in the first 6 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip).
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Card

  • Up to 75,000 American Airlines miles. 65,000 miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. Additional 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $95 annual fee.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

  • 75,000 American Airlines miles after $5,000 in purchases in first the 5 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

American Express Plum Card

  • $600 cash back. Earn a $200 statement credit after each $10,000 you spend in purchases, up to $30,000, within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 1.5% early pay discount on all purchases which stacks on top of the bonus above.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $250.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard (Barclaycard)

  • Up to 70,000 Hawaiian miles. Earn 60,000 miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, and an additional 10,000 miles after a purchase is made on an employee card. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • One-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and the Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

JetBlue Business Mastercard (Barclaycard)

  • Up to 60,000 JetBlue True Blue miles. Earn 50,000 miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, and an additional 10,000 miles after a purchase is made on an employee card. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 3 companions on the same reservation when you use your card to book JetBlue-operated flights.
  • $99 annual fee.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Cash Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

American Express Business Platinum Card

  • Up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points (worth over $1,000 towards airfare). 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 within your first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Largest airline lounge access network. Includes Delta Sky Club membership + their own Centurion lounges.
  • Free year of WeWork co-working membership.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a calendar year in baggage fees and more at one airline that you pick.
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit.
  • $595 annual fee.

Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card

  • $500 cash back bonus after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent, OR earn 1 point on every $1 spent + 1,000 bonus points when company spend is $1,000+ in any monthly billing period.
  • No annual fee.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2020 from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

How To Write A Real Estate Breakup Letter To Get A Better Deal

Nobody likes to break up. But sometimes you need to break up to get what you really want. In a previous post, I explained how to write a real estate love letter to get the best deal possible. The goal of the real estate love letter is to make a connection with the seller. Once

The post How To Write A Real Estate Breakup Letter To Get A Better Deal appeared first on Financial Samurai.

©

My spending goal for 2020: Spend less on food

I’m pleased to report that 2020 is off to a fine start. As I mentioned in my year-end review, 2019 sucked for me. I have high hopes that this year will be a vast improvement. So far, it has been.

The biggest change is that I’m not drinking alcohol. While this is meant as a January-only test, it’s possible that I’ll extend the experiment. It’s saving me money and making me more productive. Plus, it may be helping with my anxiety and depression. I like that. (Thanks to the GRS readers who sent me private notes about their own struggles with alcohol. I appreciate it.)

I’ve made other small changes this year too. While I didn’t make any resolutions — I rarely do — I’m using the new year as a prompt to alter some of my habits, to do things differently.

One area that both Kim and I want to focus on in 2020 is our food spending. In 2018, I spent an average of $1038.03 per month on food. While I don’t have complete numbers for 2019 (my expense tracking was messy in the latter half of the year), I know that while my food spending declined, it didn’t decline by much. I want to change that.

To that end, Kim and I are making a couple of changes. For one, I’m canceling HelloFresh…at least for now. Plus, there’s the whole “cut out alcohol” thing. While alcohol isn’t included in my food spending, it contributes to my food spending. It leads us to eat out more. We want to reduce our restaurant spending in 2020.

Let’s take a closer look at how I hope to spend less on food this year.

Good-bye, HelloFresh

Last year was the year I experimented with HelloFresh, the meal delivery service. Mostly, I like it. Mostly. I like the HelloFresh recipes. I like the convenience. I like the company itself.

That said, there are enough downsides to HelloFresh that starting next week, I’m dropping the service. Part of this is because of me. Part of this is because of HelloFresh itself.

On the me side, I need to walk more. I need to get more exercise, and I need to experience my neighborhood. As part of that, I want to make regular trips to the grocery store — by foot.

Also on the me side, I like greater variety than HelloFresh offers. It’s not that HelloFresh doesn’t offer different meals and cuisines — because it does. But the recipes themselves have a relentless sameness about them. Yes, you can choose Italian or Korean or American dishes, but the preparation is always always always the same. It’s boring.

Those are the problems with me. There are also problems with HelloFresh itself.

For instance, I’m sick of the never-ending push to get me to promote the service to my friends. Get lost. Every week, the HelloFresh package contains a plea to share sign-up codes with friends. Every week when I choose my meals online, there’s an additional plea to share sign-up codes with friends. Every week in the follow up e-mails, there’s a plea to share sign-up codes with friends. I’m over it.

But the biggest strike against the service is its inability to get produce right.

Most weeks, there’s at least one meal with a shitty piece of produce. It’s usually (but not always) a tomato. One meal I prepped last week had a rotten lemon. (I’ve never even seen a rotten lemon before!) It’s as if there’s no quality control.

And at least once per month, a vegetable is simply missing. Absent. Not in the bag. During Thanksgiving week, for instance, I was prepping a meal with asparagus almandine, which sounded awesome. But the package I received contained no asparagus. I scrambled to find a substitute — Brussels sprouts — but it was a poor replacement.

The Cost of Convenience

Plus, there’s the cost. When we first tried HelloFresh in June 2018, I crunched the numbers. Meals from HelloFresh cost about $10 per person. If I were to purchase the ingredients myself, the cost was just over $3 per person. At three meals per person per week, I’ve been paying an extra $175 per month for groceries that I don’t need to pay.

When I signed up for HelloFresh, I did so because I hoped it would save me money. I hoped that it would keep me out of the grocery store (which it does, actually) and that in turn would reduce my grocery spending. I tend to make a lot of impulse purchases at the supermarket, so this seemed like sound reasoning.

The results of this experiment were inconclusive. For the first half of 2019, my home food spending (HelloFresh and groceries combined) dropped from $620.92 per month to $553.45 per month. But during the last two months of the year, I spent $729.38 per month. Was that year-end spike because of the holidays? The huge Costco trip I made in early November? I don’t know. Maybe I should dive deeper.

In any event, if I did save money, it isn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped I would save.

That said, Kim and I have really enjoyed many of the meals we’ve ordered from HelloFresh. And we’re especially keen on the recipe cards. They’re a lot of fun. They make cooking simple — even if they are relentlessly the same.

Because I’m a nerd, I’ve saved every recipe card from every HelloFresh meal we’ve ordered. And to get nerdier yet, I’ve both graded each recipe and taken notes on it. In other words, we have a customized illustrated “cookbook” containing over 100 different recipes. (Plus, all 2500+ of the HelloFresh recipes are available for free from their website.)

Going forward, I intend to use these recipe cards to plan and prep our meals. Instead of ordering from HelloFresh itself, though, I’m going to walk to the grocery store (carrying my backpack) to buy the ingredients. This should prevent me from buying crap we don’t need while allowing me to obtain better produce than HelloFresh tends to send.

We’ll see how it works.

Here’s another way Kim and I have come up with to cut costs on food: batch cooking. It’s nothing new, I know, but it’s new to us. We won’t do once-a-month cooking, but we’ll each pick one recipe per week and make a larger version of it.

I’ll pick one HelloFresh cards and make three nights of the meal, for example. Last Sunday, Kim prepped a big batch of pork tacos that we’ve eaten for dinner the past three nights. And so on. We think this’ll keep life simple and keep me out of the grocery store.

Rascally Restaurants

Kim and I will also try to cut back on food spending this year by reducing how much we dine out. Left to our own devices, we choose restaurants much of the time. That gets expensive.

  • In 2017, I spent an average of $567.97 per month on restaurants. Kim spent some unknown amount too (but much less).
  • In 2018, I spent an average of $389.63 per month on restaurants. Plus, Kim spent some. So, we made big gains in 2018, but our spending was still high.
  • As I mentioned, my records are incomplete for last year, but I know I spent $288.04 for restaurants during the last two months of 2019.

From 2017 to 2019, we cut our restaurant spending in half. That’s great progress! Still, there’s room for improvement.

I spent an average of $66.47 per week on restaurants last year. My gut feeling is that this is basically dining out once per week. I know from experience that our typical check is about $55, which includes our two meals plus two beers each. After tip, that’s $66. That’s our standard meal. (And it’s usually on a Thursday night.)

So far in 2020, we’ve had one restaurant meal and it cost us exactly $34 (including tip). If we’d both had our typical two beers, that check would have been about $58. By not drinking, we saved ourselves more than twenty bucks!

Kim and I do enjoy eating out together, so it’s not something we want to eliminate. Instead, we want to be more mindful about how and where we dine out when we do dine out.

We’ve already shifted our focus from fancier places (which is where we were eating in 2017) to cheap and tasty spots. But now we’re interested in finding places that are even less expensive. And, at least for now, we want to be careful to avoid spots that might tempt us to drink. (Our favorite pub has great food and a cozy environment, but we both know it’s madness for us to eat there. It’ll make us want to drink beer.)

It’s far to early to predict how this whole restaurant thing is going to go in 2020. But we’ve thought of a couple of ways to cut costs (in addition to the “not drinking” thing.) As I said, we can turn our attention to less expensive eateries. Why go to the fancy Mexican place with “gourmet” tacos that cost $8 or $9 when we can go to the cheap place down the hill with $4 tacos? Let’s try that new ramen spot.

Plus, we might try take-out this year. Neither one of us has ever been a big proponent of ordering food to go, but I think it makes some sense right now. On my way home from the new office, I can pick up something tasty for dinner from the Thai place or the Italian place, maybe. We can have the restaurant food without restaurant temptation.

The Last Big Win

Food seems to be the last major place that I can trim my budget. My austerity measures in 2019 yielded excellent results, and I’ll continue to pursue those in the future. But I’ve cut most of my discretionary spending as far as I want to cut it at present. Food is the exception.

  • I averaged spending $1176.06 per month on food in 2017.
  • That dropped to $1038.03 in 2018.
  • During the last two months of 2019, I spent an average of $1053.28 per month on food.

As I say, we’re making progress, but I feel there’s more to be had here. This is the last big win left in my budget. It’d be great if I could trim my food spending to, say, $800 per month (or lower!) in 2020. That’d be a fantastic drop from $1200 each month in 2017, right? I’d call that a victory.

On a food-related note, I should point out that eliminating (or reducing) alcohol could also save me plenty of money. During the past three years, I’ve reliably spent about $250 per month on alcohol — and that doesn’t include alcohol in restaurants. Going dry could help my health and wealth.

The post My spending goal for 2020: Spend less on food appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

©

Money Orders – Everything You Need to Know

Money orders are sort of like a check. Except they’re prepaid and safer.

Instead of a check that can bounce, a money order is guaranteed.

But they have a few drawbacks like fraud.

Here’s everything you need to know about money orders, including how they work, where to get one, and when you might want to use a different form of payment.

What’s a Money Order and How Does It Work?

Money orders look similar to a check, it’s a paper document used to make a payment. Unlike a check, however, a money order is paid in advance.

Let’s say someone gives you a money order, that means you’re the payee since you’re receiving the funds. When you present the money order to your bank, they can rest easy knowing they will receive the amount stated on the order. This is different from a check which can bounce if there are insufficient funds in the account holder’s account.

In short, a money order works in much the same way as a personal check, except the amount listed on the money order must be paid up front.

For example, assume you find a piece of furniture on Craigslist for $1,000 and would like to purchase it. The seller might ask for a money order before handing over the furniture or shipping it to you. They want the extra guarantee that you have the $1,000 before handing over the furniture.

To get a money order for something that you want to purchase, you must pay in advance, address the money order directly to the seller, and pay a service fee to the company that’s doing the money order for you.

Money orders also have an advantage over cash in that they’re addressed to a specific individual or entity. This means that only the intended recipient, the payee, can cash it out.

When to Use a Money Order

Money orders are a useful form of payment in a variety of situations. Here are five instances in which you might prefer using a money order over other types of payment.

1. You Need Extra Security

Money orders offer both you and the payee more protection than cash, especially when you’re sending payment through the mail. If you send cash, there is a risk it could get lost or fall into the wrong hands.

With a money order, however, the payee is specifically addressed on the order. In the event the money order gets lost in the mail or the payee never receives it for some reason, you can easily cancel it and replace it without losing any money.

2. You Don’t Have a Bank Account

You can obtain a money order from a variety of places, and you don’t need a bank account to do it. This is a contrast to personal checks, which require you to have a checking account before you write out a check.

3. You Want to Protect Your Privacy

Money orders are also a good option if you want to keep your personal information private. When you give someone a personal check, it lists your account number, address, and maybe even your phone number. If you own the account with a spouse or other joint account holder, that person’s name will also appear on the check.

This type of information doesn’t appear on a money order, which makes a money order ideal when you need to make a payment to someone you don’t know.

4. The Seller Asks for It

In some cases, a person selling an item might require payment via money order. This is especially true if you’re buying something online or purchasing a high-value item. Sellers want to protect themselves from the risk of a bounced check. With a money order, they don’t have to worry about getting a notice of insufficient funds.

5. You Need to Send Money Abroad

A money order can be a good way to make a payment to someone in a foreign country. You can purchase international money orders from the United States Postal Service, which provides regular updates about which countries accept international money orders.

Where and How to Get a Money Order

You can find money orders in a variety of places, including banks, the post office, convenience stores, check cashing businesses, and grocery stores. You can even find money orders at big box stores like Walmart.

In most cases, the fee for purchasing a money order is quite reasonable, with some locations offering money orders for less than a dollar. Generally, you can expect to pay less at places like Walmart and convenience stores than you will at a bank or credit union.

When you’re ready to buy, it’s important to remember a few key points:

  • Have the funds ready – A money order requires an advance payment, so you’ll need to have the full amount of funds on hand.
  • Don’t leave the payee area blank – Similar to a check, the money order will contain a line that states “pay to the order of” followed by a blank where you can fill in the name of your intended payee. You should fill in this information right away to protect yourself in the event the money order gets lost. With the payee’s name on the money order, no one but the payee can cash it.
  • Retain your receipt – Hang on to your receipt and other documents related to your money order. These documents can be important down the road if you need to cancel or reissue the money order for any reason. Additionally, the receipt will include a tracking number you can use to make sure the money gets to your intended recipient. Some financial institutions let you track your money order online, while others provide tracking via phone.

Once you have the money order, you’re ready to deliver it to the payee.

Considerations Before Using a Money Order

Before you use a money order, it’s important to be aware of a few drawbacks. Here are four issues to watch out for:

1. Potential for Fraud

Unfortunately, money orders are sometimes used by scammers to defraud innocent people out of money. In 2017, about 500,000 people in the U.S. fell victim to fraudulent checks, including money orders.

Financial experts warn consumers to be wary of possible red flags when it comes to money orders. For example, one common scam involves a fake buyer contacting sellers over the internet and using a money order to pay for an item.

When the seller receives it, however, the money order is for an amount beyond the item’s sale price. In this type of scam, the buyer claims they made a mistake and asks the seller to send back the difference.

When the seller goes to cash the money order, they discover it’s fraudulent. This leaves the seller on the hook for both the sale price and any money they forwarded to the scammer.

2. Money Limits

Most money orders have a $1,000 limit, and some limits may be even lower depending on the financial institution issuing the money order.

This means you must purchase several money orders if you need to pay for something that exceeds this amount. By the time you factor in the inconvenience and fees, it’s usually easier to use a cashier’s check or another type of payment.

3. Can Be Time Consuming

Other forms of payment, such as a PayPal transfer, are much faster and more convenient than a money order.

If you have the ability to use an electronic transfer site like PayPal or Venmo, you can send money directly to another person without the hassle of driving to a store that sells money orders, waiting in line, and mailing the money order. Most electronic transfer sites and apps also offer fraud protection and the ability to dispute a transaction if something goes awry.

4. Not as Convenient as Other Forms of Payment

Not everyone accepts money orders, and some people aren’t willing to take them because they worry about the possibility of fraud. You may find that certain banks and other financial entities refuse money orders.

Many banks also prohibit customers from using mobile deposit apps to deposit money orders into their account. Again, this is likely due to the risk of fraud and the prevalence of online scams that use money orders.

Money Orders – Everything You Need to Know is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

Favorite reads around the web this month ✨

Favorite reads around the web this month ✨

magic book

Happy Friday, guys!

How are your 409s doing? 😉

Plucked out a lot of great articles for you this month, so no talking about how “bored” you are anytime soon like my 5 y/o likes to do – EVEN ON CHRISTMAS DAY (!!!)

Consider these your overflowing “toys”, only they make you rich in the end and never require a bloody battery…

Read anything good yourself, lately?

********

taxes cartoonHow to Pay Less Taxes – A Very Cute Cartoon via Burrito Bowl Diaries — “You have to pay taxes, but you don’t like it. You would rather spend your days having fun, and taxes and fun are inversely correlated – It’s MORE fun to pay LESS taxes, and vice versa. So what’s a person to do?”

A Financial Independence Spreadsheet from Mad Fientist — Want to take your finances more seriously in 2020? Start tracking your money in the FI Spreadsheet!

Total Cost of Ownership: Tesla Model 3 Compared with Audi A5 and Toyota Camry via EVANNEX — “Using 2019 figures, the new study reached the astonishing conclusion that, when all relevant factors are taken into account, Model 3, which is indisputably a superior car, is slightly cheaper to own and operate over a five-year period than Toyota’s mass-market sedan.”

silvio gesell

The ‘Strange, Unduly Neglected Prophet’ via NPR — “He proposed a new kind of paper money that would have an expiration date. To avoid expiration, the bills would have to be periodically stamped for a fee. With no new stamp, they would become worthless… Gesell believed this would keep money whizzing through the system, preventing future depressions and increasing public prosperity.”

Budgets Really ARE Sexy! with J. Money via BiggerPockets Money Podcast #103 –“In this episode we cover: J. Money’s journey with money, what his biggest financial regret is, building income on buying and selling blogs, where he got his blog name from, the “no spend month” challenge, his net worth, his advice on starting a blog, the reason why he was called the Miley Cyrus of finances.”

‘Kakeibo’: The Japanese Art of Saving Money via CNBC — “Kakeibo, pronounced “kah-keh-boh,” translates as “household financial ledger.” Invented in 1904 by a woman named Hani Motoko (notable for being Japan’s first female journalist), kakeibo is a simple, no-frills approach to managing your finances.”

keanu reeves

Keanu Reeves on Money via Medium — “Keanu Reeves rarely talks about money — but when he does, it’s life-changing. Choosing one of these goals as your focus will produce more money than you could ever expect.”

The Economics of Unused Gift Cards via The Hustle — “Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on gift cards. But what happens to the money when the cards aren’t redeemed?

You Can Literally Sell Your Poop For Cash via Scary Mommy — “I know. I KNOW. Who on God’s green earth would want to donate their dung? Well, according to The New York Times, quite a few people would. And not only are these people making a pretty penny for handing over their chocolate lava, but they are helping to save lives in the process.”

demon clouds

Overcoming Your Demons by Morgan Housel — “About 20% of kids stutter. Most outgrow it by age 5. About 1% still stutter by age 10. A lucky 0.1% stutter into adulthood, with some small fraction of that being chronic enough to affect their daily life. I’m one of them… Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t. But I want to tell my story, because it ends well.”

Changing My Attitude… Changed My Life! by 5 A.M. Joel — “Instead of walking out the door, I went straight to the bar and ordered two pints of Guinness. One for me, and the other for… well, me. I returned to my table of friends and announced that I was there to have a good time, and I am no longer in a bad mood! They all cheered! And then an angel appeared…”

Twitter has to figure out what to do with dead people by MIT Technology Review — “Twitter said it would shut down any account that hasn’t logged in for six months, starting from December 11. It wasn’t ready for the backlash.”

lake photo

How To Go Deeper In 2020 via Raptitude — “Taped to the door of my friend’s apartment, right at eye level, is an Anais Nin quote: “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.””

The Dog Walking Side Hustle via Black Tee Money — “This is my Wag Walker review, based on my experience thus far. As of the time of this posting, I’ve completed approximately 80 Wag walks. In addition, my current rating is 4.99 out of 5 stars.”

Life Hacks I’ve Picked Up From The Death Notices via The Globe and Mail — “I spend Saturday mornings with a coffee in one hand and my newspaper’s death notices in the other… What is it that makes me want to know these people? I have been asking myself the same question for a decade.”

And lastly…

A great new site I came across –> SpreadsheetMan.com — “I have used spreadsheets for decades – making all kinds of business calculators, fun simulations, data collectors, analyses of business deals, pricing calculators, and everything else you could imagine – and some things you couldn’t 😉 … Over the years I develop spreadsheet solutions to interesting problems and I share them here.”

spreadsheet man

XOXO,

j. money signature

*******

Past roundups:

 

********
[Prefer to get these blog posts *weekly* instead of daily? Sign up to my new weekly digest here, and get other thoughts on life/business/money as well: jmoney.biz/newsletter]

©

How Freelance Creatives Can Make More Money

Freelancers who are eager to get hustling or didn’t get exactly what you wanted for the holidays—more freelance job leads, a real vacation, or that holiday un-office party —you can focus on boosting your earnings.

Whether you’re a freelance newbie or veteran, here are a few ways you can make more money in the new year:

Think About Synergy

I know. “Synergy” is a buzzword that often feels fluffy and insufferable. But it’s important to see how the different parts of your freelance business work together in service of your goals. You can think of synergy as being a giant ball, that only gets bigger as it moves in a single direction and forward.

For instance, I have a friend who wants to transition from practicing law to creating content, both on his website and for clients. So he decided to write a series of books on different aspects of the law. The first installment in the series gave him experience not only in writing long-form content, but also polished his skill at social media marketing and putting together events. His book launch party in Los Angeles was a glowing success.

That project gave him the confidence and know-how to do more writing for clients in the new year. And he’s working on perfecting the story pitch to land more clients. Plus, he might use his new knowledge to offer ebook creation and marketing services to writers working on their ebooks.

Land More Retainer Work

The first few years, I took every freelance gig that came my way. A total game changer for me was landing clients that offered steady work. While none of this work was retainer in the traditional sense —in which case all terms would be agreed-upon beforehand and I would be guaranteed a specific amount of work each month —as a digital content creator who specializes in the personal finance space, I would contribute anywhere from two to five pieces of content a month.

Having a set amount of freelance work not only helped with my income, but it also allowed me to set a better work schedule. Not only was I more productive, but I could plan my work days, which freed up more time to volunteer and focus on my personal projects.

Get More Work from Existing Clients

Sure, you can cold pitch potential clients. But of the clients I work with regularly, only a few came from cold pitching. With the freelance clients you do land by way of the cold pitch, it’s usually a long game. It could take months, sometimes years, before they offer you steady work.

Instead of always hunting for new clients, talk to the companies you already provide services for. See what their needs are, and how you might be able to help. It’s also a good idea to reach out to them when you’ve expanded your services with a new skill set. For instance, maybe you’ve had some recent success with copywriting, or you’ve built up your graphic design portfolio.

Ask for a Higher Rate

Already have an established rapport with an existing client? Do you enjoy working with them and want to continue the working relationship? Consider asking for more money for the same amount of work.

Asking for a higher rate doesn’t only boost your income, but it can be helpful to the client, too. When you’re paid well your client can rest assured you’ll deliver quality work, on-time. What’s more, they don’t have to worry that they’ll get dropped should a better-paying gig come along.

While the end of the year is a great time to ask for more money (as companies are reviewing their budgets for the new year), when you work for yourself you can technically ask for a rate increase anytime you like. If now isn’t the best time, ask your clients if they might be able to reassess after a certain number of assignments or a period of time. Some clients review their budgets every month, others at the end of each quarter.

Come Up with a Median Rate

You’re probably familiar with a base rate, meaning the minimum you charge for your services as a freelancer. But you might not have considered a median rate, which I’ve found to be super helpful: Instead of feeling like working for less than rate X is an absolute no-no, give yourself a median to work from. It offers you and your clients a bit more flexibility. For instance, if your median rate is $50 an hour, then if you take a few gigs that average $40, and a few that average out to $60 an hour, then you’ll stay along your baseline of $50.

Not sure what your median rate should be, or your base rate, for that matter? Do some research, either online or by poking around freelancer groups. For instance, Contently has a freelance rates database that is updated periodically, as does the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Expand to Different Niches

I’ve found that it’s better to niche down when you’re first striking out on your own as a freelancer rather than offer a wide-ranging skill set —perhaps you’ve been patchworking your way toward building your freelancing business. Once you’ve gained a few clients in a certain industry, you could earn more by expanding to a new niche. Once you know how to build in one niche, you can add another.

For instance, maybe you specialize in creating content in the tech industry, but want to try writing travel pieces. The worst thing that can happen? If it doesn’t boost your earnings as much as you’d like, scale back, and venture into something new.

Create New Products for the Market

The phrase “passive income” needs to be reworked. For the most part, creating different income streams —such as ebooks, webinars, or a cool new app —takes a ton of work, time, and resources up front.

That being said, if you have an idea for a product that could really help people —and hopefully generate income down the line —don’t let me discourage you. But it might help to put out some feelers to trusted friends and gauge interest in your idea first.

And instead of ponying up tons of time and money on a project that could flounder, start small. Case in point: Let’s say you want to offer online social media marketing classes. Test the waters by doing a two-hour webinar before you invest in creating a 12-week course. Once a project shows proof of concept, you can devote more resources to it.

By expanding your offerings, asking for higher rates, and diversifying your income streams, you can boost both your earnings and your chances of steadier work in the new year —and hopefully, you end this one on a high note.

Have any tips to boost freelance earnings? Leave them in the comments. 

The post How Freelance Creatives Can Make More Money appeared first on MintLife Blog.

©

Southwest Credit Cards Limited-Time Offer: 75,000 Bonus Points, Good Timing For Companion Pass

New limited-time 75k bonuses. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book either paid or award flights (including to Hawaii!). If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points (or 100 one-way flights) within calendar year 2020, you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021! (That makes right now the perfect time to start your collecting.) You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count toward that 125,000 point requirement, including sign-up bonuses. You can often get very close to that magic number when you add up the potential miles from these Southwest consumer and business cards. This is on top of the value of redeeming those points for miles (75,000 points can get you $1,100+ in Wanna Get Away airfare).

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority card

  • Up to 75,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • Up to 75,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $69 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card

  • Up to 75,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card

  • 70,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Inflight WiFi Credits of up to 365 x $8 credits.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Fee credit in the form of a statement credit of up to $100 every four years.
  • $199 annual fee.

Value of Rapid Rewards points. Redeeming Southwest points for flights varies in a narrow range, but a very reasonable approximation from my experience is 1.5 cents in Wanna Get Away airfare in per point. That works out to $600+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 40,000 points or $900+ in Wanna Get Away airfare for 60,000 points or $1,100+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 75,000 points (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on traditional airlines.

Now, if you manage to qualify for the the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with those points, that doubles the potential value of each award redemption. In other words, 125,000 Rapid Rewards, would usually get you $1,850 in Wanna Get Away airfare, but with the Companion Pass you’d get an extra companion ticket for every flight booked.

A backup option is gift card redemptions. You can still redeem 5,000 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Wal-Mart gift certificate. That makes 60,000 points still worth $600 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person. The fees on the other airlines have crept up to $30 per bag, each-way. That adds up.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. Just the free award flights from the points are enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the potential value of the companion tickets.

Card restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months.

Extending your Companion Pass with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points on a 1:1 basis. The idea is is to book an award flight with those Southwest points while you have the Companion Pass, thus doubling the value of your Ultimate Rewards points as well.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn up to 75,000 Southwest points from qualifying for a single credit card sign-up, which in itself can be redeemed for a lot of free Southwest flights (including to Hawaii!). However, if you can qualify for two (one personal and one business), you can surpass the 125,000 points needed for the Southwest Companion pass, which provides a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of the current year and all of the next year. Finally, Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person on every flight.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers and also the Top 10 Best Business Card Offers.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Southwest Credit Cards Limited-Time Offer: 75,000 Bonus Points, Good Timing For Companion Pass from My Money Blog.


Copyright © 2019 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

©

Selling Your Business? Read This First

Featured Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay 

Gaining the most profit when selling your business depends on a number of crucial factors. Foremost among these is contracting the services of a qualified and knowledgeable business broker.

However, many business owners assume their business acumen will convert into an ability to cash in on their company when they’re ready to sell. In reality, this is often not the case.

The following list sets out five things you should take into consideration when you’re thinking of selling your business.

RELATED ARTICLE: 6 EXPERT TIPS FOR SCALING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

1. Formal Valuations Are Vital When You’re Selling Your Business

When word gets out that you’re considering selling your business, expect to hear from a range of people. Some will even try to provide you with a ballpark figure of the value of your company. Then they will expect you set your asking price on the strength of their opinion. However, paying heed to such people is not a good strategy.

The only figure that matters when you’re dealing with potential buyers is a valuation carried out by a highly-rated, independent third-party business valuation firm.

If you do not do take this step before going to market, you run a high risk that a buyer will push for a valuation by their own firm. This will lead to costly delays in the transaction process.

2. It Is a Mistake to Assume Your Buyer Will Be One of Your Local Competitors

Many business owners begin the process of selling their business with the mistaken belief that the prospective buyer will be a local competitor. However, this is seldom the case.

In fact, the probability that you will have interacted with the person who is looking to acquire your business is less than 10 percent.

Instead, you will likely discover that there are many powerful investors on the lookout for ways to put their money to work. Many will be looking for profitable takeover opportunities.

Therefore, it is prudent to look at the bigger picture and consider the possibility of selling to a buyer outside of your immediate circle.

3. Cash Flow Is the Be All and End All When You’re Selling Your Business

The fundamental purpose of conducting an independent, third-party valuation is to work out the health of your business. This firm will look closely at your company’s assets. More crucially, they will scrutinize its cash flow.

All businesses have assets. If those assets are worth more than the business’s financial obligations, then the business should be valued more highly. This will drive up the asking price.

It is worth stressing again that the appraisal of your business must be performed by an independent valuation firm. Only in this way will you attain the maximum sale price.

4. Favor an “Offer to Purchase” over a “Letter of Intent”

When you’re selling your business, expect some prospective buyers to submit letters of intent to your broker.

With such a letter comes an unwritten understanding that the business will be taken off the market. The ensuing delay provides the prospective buyer with time to collect the funds necessary for the purchase.

However, this tactic is not likely to wash with serious brokers. Nor will it pass with sellers who are intent upon selling their business for the greatest profit.

Any broker who is worth his salt will request a formal Offer to Purchase (OTP) before allowing formal negotiations to take place. An OTP provides the basis and structure to the dealings. It will most likely be accompanied by a commitment that is backed up by demonstrable funds.

This separates buyers with legitimate interest from those without the means to follow through. This is a critical point to keep in mind if you are seriously thinking of selling your business.

5. Do Not Try to Go It Alone

You will have learned much during the many years it took to build a profitable business. And one of those things is that you can’t attain worthwhile goals without the assistance of an excellent team.

Therefore, be sure to choose the best people to value, market, and properly hammer out every aspect of the deal when you’re selling your business. This will ensure the eventual success of the sale.

This article was provided by A Neumann & Associates, LLC, an experienced and professional business brokerage firm headquartered in New Jersey. If you’re considering selling your business, contact this firm to ensure that you receive maximum profit from the sale.

The post Selling Your Business? Read This First appeared first on Business Opportunities.

©

The Complete Guide to Selling Your Car

Thinking about getting a new car?

Figured out what to do with your old one yet?

One option is to offer your car as a trade-in to a dealership.

But you might make more by selling it yourself. In many cases, you can turn a profit on your old car through a few well-placed ads and a car wash.

Here’s the complete guide to selling your car so you can maximize price and minimize headache.

What to Watch Out For

Most people selling a car use a combination of flyers and online ads to reach as many potential buyers as possible. If you plan on advertising online, however, it’s important to watch out for scammers.

According to media reports, private car sellers are a favorite target of internet scam artists. In 2017, over 100 sellers were caught up in a widespread scam in the Chicago area that left them with fraudulent checks and without their vehicles.

You can protect yourself by ensuring the buyer’s payment is the real deal before you hand over the car. If a seller wishes to pay by check, make sure you feel comfortable about engaging with them. Don’t be afraid to learn a bit more about their back story and why they need the car.

You should also refuse to accept a check written out for more than the sale price of the car, as this is a red flag that indicates a scam. When scammers do this, they mail the seller a check in an amount that exceeds the sale price, then ask the seller to mail back a check with the difference. In the meantime, the original check bounces, leaving the seller with no car and missing funds.

Timeline and Price Expectations

To get an idea of how long it will take to sell your car, it helps to look at the average sales timeline reported by dealerships. In general, dealers report that cars have been sitting on their lots a bit longer than usual. In 2017, for example, the average new vehicle remained on the lot for 70 days. The trend seems to have continued in 2019, with dealers reporting sluggish sales.

Assuming you’re asking a fair price, you can expect buyers to negotiate. Be prepared for them to offer anywhere between 20 and 25 percent below your asking price. If you’ve gone weeks without an offer or the interest in your vehicle has started to wane, this is a sign you need to reduce your price.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Car

You can maximize price and reduce stress by avoiding mistakes when selling your car. Here are five missteps to avoid.

1. Setting the Price Too High

You want the highest price possible for your car, but it’s important to be realistic. Research your vehicle and compare it to similar models to make sure your price is in line with vehicles in the same condition and class.

2. Vague Description

Potential buyers want to know as much as possible about a car before taking time to schedule an in-person meeting. If your ad’s description is vague or incomplete, people might assume you have something to hide or that you’re not a legitimate seller.

To maximize your chances of making a speedy sale, take time to write a detailed description. You should also include plenty of photos from various angles so buyers can see your car clearly.

3. Slow Inquiry Response Time

When you’re selling a car, you need to become customer service oriented. This means responding to inquiries quickly. My rule is always respond within 24 hours at the absolute latest.

Nothing kills deals like time.

4. Concealing Information About the Car

Be honest about your vehicle’s condition, including the mileage, its maintenance history, and the overall condition.

For example, if the A/C isn’t operational, you should clearly state that in the ad. If the car needs new brakes, be up front about it. This reduces your risk of legal troubles after the sale.

5. Dirty Condition

Give your car a deep clean.

Remove any personal belongings, shampoo the carpets, and wipe down all hard surfaces. You should also wash the outside, including the tires. An hour of work and the price of a good car wash could easily get you a few extra thousand dollars in your asking price.

7 Steps to Sell Your Car Without Any Problems

To ensure a pleasant and hassle-free sale, follow these seven steps.

1. Gather All Paperwork

First, gather all the important documents related to your vehicle. Having these documents handy ahead of time can put potential buyers’ minds at ease and shorten the amount of time between an inquiry and the close of the deal. Here are the documents you’ll need:

  • Car Title – This is the legal proof that you own the car. If you still owe money on the car, you’ll have a memorandum of title instead.
  • Maintenance Information – If you have kept any documentation regarding maintenance or repairs, make copies of these documents.
  • Vehicle History Report – Most used car dealerships offer Carfax or similar reports to buyers. You can get a Carfax report for $39.99. If it helps you make a quick sale, the cost is well worth it.

You should also contact your local department of motor vehicles (DMV) to determine what types of documents you need to complete a sale and make a transfer. In many cases, you can download these forms from the DMV’s website so you can have them ready to go once you’re set to close the deal.

2. Set Asking Price

Next, determine your asking price. To get an accurate value, visit the Kelley Blue Book website. You can also search your car’s value on the Edmunds site. These sites will give you an idea of your vehicle’s fair market value.

3. Make Your Car Look Its Best

Home sellers strive to give their houses curb appeal. The same rule applies to cars. You don’t want potential buyers opening the door and seeing a muddy floor mat or collection of fast food cups.

Make your car shine by giving it a thorough cleaning. Wash the outside as well as the interior. Plenty of car washes offer affordable detailing services, and some even have do-it-yourself shampoo and vacuum facilities. It only costs a few dollars to make your car shine.

4. Create Eye-catching Ads

Your ads will make or break the sale process. To attract the best buyers, take time to create ads that show your vehicle in the best light. Include plenty of exterior and interior photos so buyers can see your vehicle from various angles.

You can post car ads in a variety of places. If you’re looking to advertise online, here are a few sites to consider:

  • Craigslist – This is a free site that lets you post an ad without revealing your email address to the public. However, it’s important to be wary of scammers.
  • Cars.com – Cars.com distributes its ads to nearly 200 newspapers and online sites. You can post an ad for free for 30 days. There is also a premium option that costs $49. At that price, you can list your car on the site for 150 days and receive a free Carfax report.
  • Auto Trader – There are three packages to choose from on AutoTrader.com, and each package runs your ad for 30 days. The basic package is $25 and includes three photos. The premium package is $90 and includes 30 photos plus a bunch of other features.

5. Vet Potential Buyers

Avoid scams and dangerous situations by doing your homework on potential buyers. Many people set up a special email account just for the purpose of selling their car. This prevents spammers from flooding your regular email with bogus offers and junk mail.

Before you agree to meet with anyone in person, talk to them over the phone. Take the time to chat with them so you can get an idea of their personality and their level of seriousness. This helps you eliminate casual “window shoppers” and scammers.

6. Arrange a Test Drive

Once you’ve connected with a serious buyer, offer a test drive. Protect yourself by arranging the test drive in a public setting, such as a shopping mall parking lot or busy retail center. If you’re uncomfortable meeting a stranger alone, ask a spouse, relative, or friend to accompany you.

You should also ride along during the test drive. This ensures the buyer doesn’t drive off with your car, and it also gives you an opportunity to answer any questions the buyer might have about your vehicle.

7. Negotiate and Make the Sale

Assuming all goes well with the test drive, you can expect the buyer to make an offer. Understandably, most buyers want to get the lowest price possible, so expect potential buyers to offer a price below your asking price.

Don’t be afraid to take your time with the negotiation process. At this stage, you don’t need to feel pressured to close the deal. Instead, let the buyer make an offer. If it’s too low, let them know they need to come back with something higher.

Once you agree on a price, you can move forward with closing the deal. If you still owe money on the vehicle, you might have to sign paperwork at your bank. If you own the car outright, you can usually transfer ownership by signing off on the car’s title and filling out a bill of sale.

The Complete Guide to Selling Your Car is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

The best business credit cards of 2020

Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Business credit cards have the potential to unlock ridiculous rewards for you.

Since businesses tend to spend a lot more money, you can earn a LOT more rewards.

Featured Business Card – Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is a point-earning machine. Learn More.

Don’t skimp on this, get your business set up on the right credit cards. A little time on this could easily earn you tens of thousands of dollars in rewards value.

The Top 5 Business Credit Cards of 2020

Jump ahead to

The Best Business Credit Cards For Travel

How do some folks rack up millions of points and never pay for travel again?

By owning a business and running as many expenses as possible through their business credit card.

This is when the rewards get ridiculous.

Depending on the size of your business, it’s possible to rack up enough points to stay at the nicest hotels in the world and fly first class on multiple international trips each year. Then pair those points with perks like airport lounge access and free hotel upgrades. You’ll be traveling like a VIP on every trip.

The cost? Just the annual fee charges on your credit cards and small airline or hotel fees that can’t be covered with points. Otherwise, it’ll all be free.

If you love to travel and own a business, I strongly recommend getting a travel business credit card. The rewards are too good to pass up.

You might even consider getting two business travel cards. Use one as your point-generating machine and the other for travel perks.

The Best Cash Back Business Cards

Running a business isn’t easy for any of us. We’re always juggling a ton of stuff. When we have to manage so much, simplifying any aspect of our business goes a long way.

One way to do this is by picking a cash back card for your business.

I love cash back cards for their simplicity.

There’s no points to manage, no spending categories to worry about, no partners to transfer rewards to, all that stuff goes away.

Simply spend money for your business and get a straight cash back on every purchase.

The real benefit comes from freeing up your mental energy to keep growing your business. I can’t overstate the value of this. Less stuff to manage means better decisions. In the long-run, most folks probably earn a better return from having more time and energy than they do from having rewards points.

If you dread having one more thing to worry about by having a rewards points program, skip them altogether and get a cash back card for your business. It’s like getting a 1-2% discount on every purchase that you make. That’s a great deal considering there’s nothing you need to do after you get the card.

Even if the other business credit cards aren’t for you, at least get a cash back card.

The Best Fair Credit Business Cards

Business credit scores work a bit differently than personal credit scores.

If you’re applying for a business credit card as a sole proprietorship, your personal credit score will heavily influence the credit score of your business. Even if your business has an employment identification number (EIN) and is a separate entity, your personal score can still influence it.

On top of that, the formulas and data for business scores are more varied. Each business credit score company has its own method.

This means two things:

  1. If your have poor or fiar personal credit, that will likely impact the credit of your business.
  2. Even if you have good personal credit, your business might not have enough credit for the better cards.

In either case, you may have to build up the credit of your business before getting the best business credit cards.

To do that, use the Capital One Spark Classic card.

There’s no annual fee, gets a straight 1% back on every purchase, and will approve businesses with a wider range of credit than other cards.

Get this card if you’ve had trouble getting approved for a couple of the other cards or you have fair personal credit.

The Best Cards For Loyal Frequent Travelers

For personal use, I’m not the biggest fan of loyalty cards. I like having the flexibility to travel wherever and however I like.

But as a business owner, I completely endorse loyalty cards.

When traveling for business, I have a completely different mindset. I don’t care about unique or memorable travel. I want fast decisions, consistency, and dependability. Get in, do the job, and get out.

This means I try to fly the same airlines and stay at the same hotels when traveling for business. Loyalty cards are perfect for this.

For example, I have a friend that helps open to new Chipotle locations across the US. He usually travels once per week for a one night trip. Sometimes he’ll fly back on the same day. The point is that he’s racking up a ton of miles back and forth to smaller airports. Guess what airline he uses? Southwest. In this case, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is a perfect fit. He’d get upgrades, bonus points, and wifi credits when flying.

Each set of credit card parks is a bit different but they include things like:

  • Priority boarding
  • Upgrades
  • Bonus points when spending money with that airline or hotel
  • Employee cards that add points to your account

Get the cards that match your travel habits. You’re already spending the money anyway, get the card perks to go with it.

Even if that means locking into the same airline and hotel when traveling for work, I consider that a benefit. Consistency when traveling more than makes up for a slight decrease in flexibility. Here’s a few rules that I follow when picking the right loyalty programs for my business:

  • If I travel to major cities or internationally, I pick the major airline (United, Delta, or American Airlines) that has the most flights out of my home airport.
  • If I travel to small airports often, pick an airline like Southwest.
  • Pick Hilton or Marriott and stick to it. Both have good coverage worldwide and their loyalty programs are very similar.

How to Find The Right Business Credit Card For You

Here’s the step-by-step process that I use to find the right card.

Step 1: How good is the credit for your business?

For individuals, everyone has their own score and scores are all basically calculated the same way across different credit agencies.

For businesses, things get more complicated.

First, your individual credit score might be used for a new business until it has its own credit history.

Second, business credit scores can be calculated quite differently depending on the agency.

This means that you might have to build the credit for your business from scratch regardless of how good your personal credit score is. And if you have little or no credit yourself, that could also impact your business credit.

The best business credit cards all require excellent credit. So if you haven’t been approved for a few of them or know that you need to build up your credit, start with a business credit card that helps you build up your credit card over time.

Our favorite card for building credit is the Capital One Spark Classic.

Step 2: Do you want to maximize value or simplicity?

Once your credit is high enough, you’ll need to decide whether reward value or simplicity matters to you more.

I personally prefer to maximize reward value. That’s why I always pick points cards that I can then redeem for international flights and hotels. I also use travel cards to get perks while traveling. All this gets me the most value in rewards.

However, I totally understand when folks want to skip all that and keep things simple. Points do take more effort to manage. You have to track them, transfer them to the right programs, find good points deals, and plan out your trips. Managing a business is complicated enough, keeping things simple goes a long way to helping you stay focused on your business.

If managing points and travel cards sounds like a headache, skip those cards entirely and get a cash back card. Giving up a bit of rewards value for simplicity is a great trade.

And if you don’t travel, pick a cash back card. The points cards really shine with travel perks and redemptions. If you don’t travel, you won’t be able to get the same amount of value. Sticking with a cash back card will be a much better option.

Step 3: Pick a primary spending card

Once you’ve decided on whether to get a travel card or a cash back card, your next step is to pick your primary spending card.

No card is perfect.

Some have better perks, some have bonus points on certain categories rather than others, some are simpler.

No one gets a card that’s perfect. The goal is to find the card the overlaps with your business spending the most.

For example, if you want a travel rewards card and spend a lot on online advertising, get the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and use it as your primary spending card across all spending categories. You can always get additional cards later, start with one card as your primary card.

Here are a few of the cards that we frequently end up with:

  • To maximize points, get the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • To maximize travel perks, The Business Platinum Card from American Express
  • For cash back, get Capital One Spark Cash for Business.

Step 4: Add optional cards for extra perks or rewards maximization

This step is entirely optional. Many businesses can stick to a single rewards credit card and never need to go beyond that.

And if your goal is simplicity, I strongly recommend that you stick to a single card. Additional cards will only add complexity.

But you may be okay with some extra complexity in order to get some nicer perks.

Especially for frequent travelers, a few extra cards can really up your travel game. Here are a few options that I’d consider:

  • If you don’t have it already, consider the The Business Platinum Card from American Express. It’s the true VIP travel card with a bunch of perks that you won’t find anywhere else. Serious business travelers usually have one of these.
  • Get the airline card for the airline that you fly the most. Just make sure that the perks are worth the annual fee to you. Most likely, you won’t be using this for any ongoing spending since the miles earning power tends to be lower than other cards.
  • If you travel for business regularly, consider a hotel loyalty card for the hotel chain that you use the most. I like to stick to the largest chains like Hilton and Marriott for business since they have locations in most cities. The perks and loyalty status that come with their cards are definitely worth it.
  • To really push the points earning, consider multiple points cards. I avoid this myself because I find it to be more effort than it’s worth. But it is an option if you’re trying to rack up as many points as possible. With multiple points cards, you can use each for different types of expenses, getting as many bonus points as possible. Some also have limits where the bonus points stop at a certain spending amount. Once you hit that limit, you can rotate to another card that still has bonus points for that category.

Again, all this is optional. Only consider these options if you’re comfortable managing some extra complexity on top of the card you already have.

Business Credit Card Reviews

Let’s go through our deep-dives on all our recommended cards.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express Review

Amex Business Platinum

You won’t earn as many points as some of the other cards on this list but you’ll get perks that you can’t find anywhere else with the Business Platinum Card from American Express.

You’ll earn these points on your spending:

  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels via amextravel.com.
  • 1.5 points on purchases of $5,000 and above. If you regularly make large purchases, this could come in handy.
  • 1 point on everything else.

And if you love perks, this is THE card to get.

The biggest perk: access to the Centurion Lounges. They’re amazing and only available to cardholders. If you fly regularly through an airport with one, this could be worth the fee on its own. Definitely check the list of locations though, only about a dozen US airports have them. You’ll also get access to the International American Express lounges and Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta.

American Express did add a perk with WeWork. You’ll get a year of Platinum Global Access. This gets you access to WeWork common areas during the normal business hours of any WeWork location. If you travel regularly, this would give you a reliable place to work in major cities.

It has a few other perks worth mentioning:

  • Hilton Honors Gold Status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status. This is a huge perk if you regularly stay at either hotel chain but don’t want to bother getting a dedicated loyalty card for that hotel.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check, a pretty standard perk these days.
  • $200 in Dell statement credit
  • $200 airline fee credit but it’s limited. First you have to pick the airline that you want this to apply to. And it doesn’t count towards flights, only incidental fees like baggage fees and in-flight drinks.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

All this for a $595 annual fee, one of the highest in the industry. If the perks are worth the added expense for your business, get the card.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business Review

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

This card may be simple but it packs an amazing punch.

You’ll get 2X points on everything.

That’s right, double points on every dollar spent. That’s an amazing deal. I also love the simplicity of it. No categories to remember at all.

It also comes with Global Entry or TSA Pre-check Credit, no foreign transaction fees, and free employee cards.

The only downside to this card is the points network. Well, it’s not really a downside, it’s just something to be mindful of.

You’ll be collecting Capital One points which can be transferred to these partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air France KLM
  • Air Canada
  • Alitalia
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines

Emirates, Etihad, EVA, and Singapore are all amazing airlines. As long as you enjoy international travel, you’ll get a good use of your points. Other than JetBlue, there aren’t any US-based airline partners. You’ll still be able to book US flights through other airlines or through the Capital One travel portal. But you won’t have as much flexibility as other points programs. Not a deal-breaker by any means, just something to watch out for in case you have a strong preference on airlines.

There is an annual fee of $95 which is waived the first year. That’s extremely reasonable for the value that you get out of this card.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


American Express Business Gold Card Review

American Express Business Gold Card

The American Express Gold card gives you a ton of points and flexibility on how to earn those points.

Here’s how it works.

The Gold card has 6 categories of spending:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for shipping

Each month, you’ll earn 4X points on the top two categories. So wherever you spend the most, you’ll get bonus points. This applies to the first $150,000 in spending for the year. Once you’ve gotten 4X points on $150,000 worth of spending, you’ll get 1 point on everything after that.

And you get 1 point on all other purchases.

This gives you a ton of flexibility. Let’s say you get a huge advertising bill one month and a giant software annual contract the following month. It’s possible to get 4X points on both without any effort on your part.

No other card gets you this many points with this amount of flexibility. For point generation, it’s easily one of the best.

Keep in mind that these categories are only for US spending. If the bulk of you spending is international, you won’t be able to rack up enough bonus points for this card to be worth it.

Unlike some of the other American Express cards, you do have the ability to pay down purchases of $100 or more over time. You’ll get charged interest but it is an option. Every purchases under $100 must be paid in full every month. While I always recommend paying every card in full each month, this option does give you some cash flow flexibility on large purchases when your business needs it.

There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

You also get two travel perks when you book hotels through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel:

  • $100 hotel credit, to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities.
  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available.

It does have a $295 annual fee which is on the high end. Since there aren’t many perks, make sure you can take full advantage of the 4X point categories.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Review

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

I truly love the simplicity of this card.

2% cash back on everything. Super simple and a great return for not having to do anything

There aren’t any foreign transaction fees either so feel free to use this card for all your purchases. And the employee cards are free, helping you get more cash back across your company.

The only downside is the $95 annual fee. While it’s much smaller than other fees, this will ding the total value of the rewards a bit.

You’ll need to spend enough on the card to cover the annual fee and still come out ahead compared to a standard 1% cash back card without an annual fee. If you consistently spend $10,000 annually (about $830/month) on your card, you’ll get enough cash back on this card to justify the fee. If you spend less than that, you’ll get a better return from a 1% cash back card without an annual fee.

If you don’t travel much or want to keep things as simple as possible for your business, get this cash back card.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Review

Chase Ink Business Preferred

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is a point-earning machine. It’ll rack up more points than you’ll know what to do with.

Here’s how it works.

You’ll earn 3X points on the first $150,000 in combined spending each year on these categories:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

If you spend a lot on travel and shipping, those could be big winners.

The other key category is the social media and search engine spending. Those advertising budgets can get quite large at many businesses. I’ve personally managed budgets as large as $170,000 per month in spending. If you’re already paying for this advertising, get the 3X points by using this card.

After that, you’ll earn 1 point for every $1.

If you max out the 3X spend limit, that’s 450,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points every year.

Any business with $150,000 of annual spending or below in theses point categories should get this card.

The best part is these points are pretty valuable. They’re Chase Ultimate Reward points which is one of the top point programs. It has a ton of great partners with 1:1 points transfers. This means you’ll be able to book amazing flights and hotels with your points.

While there aren’t many perks on this card, that’s not really the point. This card is all about point generation for a very reasonable annual fee of $95.

And when your business is ready, it has free employee cards so their spending earns you even more points.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business Review

Capital One Spark Classic for Business

This is the ideal card for building credit.

First, the cash back is 1% on every purchase. Super easy and simple.

Second, there’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Employee cards are also free.

Third, it’s designed for folks with average credit so you have a much better chance at getting approved than the other cards in this list. If you’ve been denied by some of the better cards, try applying for this one. It’s a solid card to start with. Use it to build your credit and apply for one of the better rewards cards later on.

Yes, the APR is pretty high but that shouldn’t matter. Always pay your cards off in full every month. Otherwise none of the rewards will be worth it, you’ll pay more in interest charges than you’ll ever get back in rewards.

The Capital One Spark Classic gives you 1% cashback on everything, has no fees, and is easier to get approved for. That’s an ideal card for building credit.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card Review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend that someone commit to Southwest as their primary airline and points program. The lack of international flights and airline partners really limits the usefulness of the miles.

That said, Southwest could easily beat every other airline for you. It all comes down to the type of flying that you do.

If you often travel to smaller airports, Southwest could be a game-changer. They don’t have a traditional hub-and-spoke model like the major airlines. That means they have a lot more direct flights to and from smaller airports. Instead of flying small airport -> major hub -> small airport, you have a much better chance at going direct with Southwest.

As much as I like free international flights, I’d immediately make Southwest my primary airline if I traveled to smaller airports regularly for business. Cutting out connections easily makes it worth it to me.

If that’s you, I recommend getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card. Why not get some extra Southwest perks on flights you have to fly anyway?

Granted, it is possible to book flights on other carriers through the Southwest rewards portal. But in general, these portals don’t give deals that are as good as transferring points into airline programs directly.

You’ll get these perks when flying:

  • 4 upgraded boardings every year when available
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.

There are some bonus points but they’re generally not as strong as other card programs:

  • 3 points per $1 spent at Southwest and at partners including Hertz, Marriott, Hyatt, and others
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
  • 1 points per $1 on all other purchases
  • 9,000 anniversary points

Like most airline cards, I’d use a better rewards card to rack up cash back or points while using this card to get extra perks when flying Southwest.

There’s also no foreign transaction fees.

It all comes down to whether the perks are worth the $199 annual fee to you. If you fly Southwest often and the fee is worth the perks, get the card.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express Review

Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card

The mile-earning potential on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card is pretty limited so you won’t want to use this as your primary card.

You’ll earn:

  • 2  miles per dollar on Delta purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases

This is much lower than other cards.

The perks, however, are quite good for Delta flyers.

You’ll get the standard airline perks like priority board and a free checked bag. Even if you fly a few times a year on Delta, this makes a huge difference.

The stand-out perk is the companion fare. You’ll receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card. That’s a fantastic deal. That’s like having a 50% discount on one domestic trip per year. It’s worth getting the card for this perk alone.

You’ll also receive a 20% savings in statement credit on all in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets. This isn’t a game-changer but it’s a nice little perk.

Lastly, this card could help you super-charge your status progress. When you make $25,000 in eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs). And when you make $50,000 in eligible purchases on the card in the same calendar year and earn an extra 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs.

This will help a lot if you’re trying to get to the highest levels of Delta status. But it does require that you use your Delta card for purchases. Since you’d have to give up higher value points by not using another card, the costs can be substantial. Let’s say that you only earn one Delta mile per dollar on $50,000 worth of spending. You’d be giving up 100,000-150,0000 points by not using another card that gives 2-3X points on those same purchases. That’s a lot of points. Only use this card to pursue Delta status if you’re already maxing out bonus categories on your primary spending card or you have a lot of purchases throughout the year that would only earn you 1 point per dollar anyway.

The card does come with an $195 Annual fee but no foreign transaction fee. When you factor in the campion fare, that’s an amazing deal.

If you fly Delta often and the Delta perks are worth the annual fee to you, get this card. Just don’t make it your primary spending card for your business.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard Review

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

Like most airline loyalty cards, consider the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard if you fly American Airlines often. You’ll get a nice set of perks that are worth the annual fee. But avoid using this card for most purchases since the miles-earning power is limited.

You’ll get these perks when flying American:

  • Priority boarding
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions
  • 25% discount on in-flight wifi
  • 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases

And you’ll earn these miles:

  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on cable and satellite providers, eligible American Airlines purchases, gas stations, select telecommunications merchants, and car rentals.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

While you do get double miles across a large number of categories, it is limited to only 2X miles when other business cards give out 3X and higher points on their top categories. I’d only use this card for spending categories that your primary card only gives 1X points on.

You can earn a companion certificate for domestic travel after spending $30,000. But since this card doesn’t earn a ton of points, you’ll have to give up points that you could have earned on another card. This significantly devalues the companion certificate. Because of this, I wouldn’t factor this into your decision on whether or not to get the card.

It has a $99 annual fee that is waived for the first year. And no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

Get this card if you fly American Airlines regularly and the extra perks are worth the $99 annual fee. It also makes for a good secondary card for getting bonus miles on spending categories that your primary card doesn’t cover.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Review

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

I highly recommend getting a hotel loyalty card if you travel often for business. When I travel, the consistency and dependability that comes from staying at the same hotels gives me more time and energy to focus on whatever objectives that I have for my business.

Since I’m staying at the same hotels consistently, a hotel card gets me extra perks and helps me rack up more points. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is one of the best.

This card will earn you a ton of points:

  • 12X points per dollar for purchases at Hilton hotels
  • 6X points on business on U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchases directly from U.S. service providers, U.S. purchases for shipping, U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 3X Points per dollar on other purchases

Yes, that’s a lot of points across a lot of spending categories. The point-earning is so good on this card that you could consider making it your primary spending card. The only downside is that these points will be Hilton Honors points which are great as long as you’re planning on using them for Hilton redemptions. They’ll have less flexibility and value when trying to get international flights or nights at other hotels.

You’ll also get Gold Status with Hilton. This includes perks like late-checkout, free breakfast,  free upgrades when available, and 5th standard reward night for free. It’s only one level below their top tier: Diamond.

At different spending levels, you’ll unlock several great perks:

  • $15,000 gets a free weekend night award
  • $40,000 earns you Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • $60,000 gets a second free weekend night award

And since the point-earning is strong on this card, there’s no major downside for using it regularly on purchases. I recommend using it as a secondary card for purchases categories that don’t get bonus points on your primary card. Many businesses will be able to hit these spending levels to unlock those amazing perks.

All this for a very reasonable $95 annual fee. If you stay at Hilton hotels a few times a year, it’s absolutely worth it.

*Terms apply Learn how to apply online.


United Explorer Business Card Review

Chase United Explorer Business Card

The United Explorer Business Card is a great option if you fly United a lot.

You can earn some bonus points with this card:

  • 2 miles per $1 at gas stations and office supply stores
  • 2 miles per $1 on purchases from United

All other purchases get 1 mile per dollar.

But honestly, the miles earning power isn’t great when other cards that produce 3X or 4X points which can be transferred into United at a 1:1 point transfer.

The real advantage from this card (like all airline cards) comes from the United perks that you get when flying:

  • Priority boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • 2 United club passes per year

Employee cards are also free and there aren’t any foreign transaction fees.

All for a reasonable $95 annual fee

Are the United perks worth $95/year to you? If so, get the card. If not, skip it. It’s that simple.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Review

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

If you travel a lot for your business, you should absolutely consider a hotel loyalty card. And the Marriot Bonvoy Business Card is one of the best options.

First, you get serious point-earning potential with this card:

  • 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 2X points on all other purchases

You’ll also get put on the fast-track for getting higher tiers of status at Marriott hotels.

First, you get complimentary Silver Elite Status. This gets you 10% bonus points, priority late check-out, and a dedicated reservation line.

Second, you receive credit for 15 nights towards the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status each calendar year. This makes it a lot easier to unlock higher status levels with even better perks. If you’re trying to get into the highest tiers, this perk is essential.

On top of all that, you’ll get up to two free nights per year:

  • 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary.
  • 1 Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases in a calendar year

It also comes with complimentary in-room, premium Internet access during your stays.

There’s no foreign transaction fees to worry about either.

While it is possible to transfer Marriot points into partner programs, the transfer rate is usually 3:1 which is pretty terrible. That negates most of the point-earning power of the card. So if you get this card, I’d plan on using points exclusively at Marriott properties. You’ll easily get the most value that way.

The annual fee is only $125 too. The free night award covers this on its own.

If you travel regularly for business, I strongly recommend getting a hotel loyalty card like the  Marriott Bonvoy Business.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

The best business credit cards of 2020 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©

The best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2020

Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Foreign transaction fees silently kill your credit card rewards.

Depending on the card, foreign transaction fees add a 1-3% fee on top of every foreign transaction.

Featured No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card – Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite rewards card with no foreign transaction fees. Learn More.

For me, international trips can be one of the biggest expenses that I have all year. Flights, hotels, tours, restaurants, it adds up.

Adding a 3% fee on top of all that gets hefty.

Let’s say you spend $10,000 on an international trip and every dollar gets hit with a nasty 3% transaction fee. You’ll end up paying an extra $300 just for using that card. That’s a lot of money! And for what? The convenience of using a credit card? No thank you, that’s a terrible deal.

Even as you rack up points, perks, and cash back, you could negate all of those rewards by using the wrong card during one international trip.

Here’s the worst part.

Foreign transaction fees can ding you even if you never leave the country.

These fees trigger any time there’s a transaction through a foreign bank. So when you purchase something online that happens to be located internationally or uses an international bank, the fees can still trigger.

I can’t stand hidden fees like this.

Since I love to travel internationally, I have a mandate of only using credit cards without any foreign transaction fees. Even the one debit card I carry for emergencies doesn’t have them.

That way I never have to think about it.

Some types of cards are more prone to having foreign transaction fees than others:

  • Many travel rewards cards don’t have them.
  • Most business cards don’t have them.
  • Most cash back cards DO have them.

Regardless, I always double check every card that I’m considering.

If you never travel internationally, you can get away with choosing a card that has foreign transaction fees. Just be aware that you can still get hit with them occasionally.

Top 3 Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

How to Pick a No Foreign Transaction Fee Card

I have a deep guide on how to pick the right card in our best credit cards post. It walks you through everything you need to pick the right card from scratch.

As a quick summary:

  1. Start with your credit score. The best cards require higher credit scores so if you need to build credit first, get a card for building credit and then get a  better card later.
  2. Decide if you want simplicity or rewards maximization. Travel rewards cards get you more value back but require a bit more work. Cash back cards are super simple and don’t require any effort at all.
  3. Once you’ve decided to get a travel or cash back card, pick one primary spending card that’s the best fit for you. Try to align the rewards as best as you can with your spending.
  4. As an optional last step, consider getting additional cards to maximize rewards on other spending categories or to get extra perks. This is entirely optional, simplicity goes a long way and having a single card does make things much easier.

Go through the same process when looking for a no foreign transaction fee card. The only difference is that you’ll only consider cards without these fees as you go through the process.

Depending on the type of card that you want, your selection process will be a bit different.

Most travel rewards credit cards won’t have foreign transaction fees. Folks with travel cards tend to…well… travel so it’s a common perk to have no foreigh transaction fees. Once you’ve picked the card you want, check their fees to be safe but you shouldn’t have any issues getting the card you want. The point is you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees until the end. Focus on finding the right card, then double check that there aren’t any fees.

Business credit cards are even easier. Almost all of them don’t have foreign transaction fees. So pick the best card, double check just to be safe, and you’ll be all set.

Cash back credit cards are almost the exact opposite. Most cash back cards have foreign transaction fees. It’s the most common downside of having a cash back card. Instead of picking the ideal cash back card and hoping it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, it’s usually best to work in reverse. Start with the few cash back cards without fees and then pick the one that’s the best fit from that pool. Unfortunately, you’ll have much fewer options with cash back cards since it’s not a common perk.

I personally restrict myself to cards that have no foreign transaction fees. So this is the exact process that I use when looking for a new card..

Or you could go straight to our favorite no foreign transaction fee cards.

Reviews Of Our Favorite No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards

What if you want to jump straight to the best cards with no foreign transaction fees for 2020? Which should you choose?

We’ve combed through all the cards to find our top three favorites, one for each of the main card types: travel rewards, business, and cash back.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (Travel Rewards)

Chase Sapphire Preferred

I love love love the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

It’s probably the most popular card on the market right now and has been for a long time.

It earns 2X points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants.

For me, those tend to be my biggest spending categories. Earning double points on them gets me a ton of points over the year.

Does it have the best rewards or perks? Not quite. Other cards do earn more points or have more perks.

But it’s an incredible deal at a very reasonable annual fee of $95. The value that you get from this annual fee is unbeatable. That’s why it’s so popular.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards points are solid too, it’s one of the best points networks out there. You’ll be able to transfer your points at 1:1 to plenty of airline and hotel partners, giving you tons of flexibility on finding great redemptions.

For your first rewards card, I strongly recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

It was my first rewards card and I racked up a ton of points with it that I used for many international trips.

And of course, you get all this with no foreign transaction fees. I used mine worldwide and never had a single issue.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Ink Business Preferred (Business)

Chase Ink Business Preferred

I love the Ink Business Preferred card for businesses, it’s a point-earning machine.

You can earn 3X points per dollar spent on travel and select business categories on the first $150,000 you spend.

There is a cap of $150,000 for these bonus points. So once you’ve earned 3X points on $150,000 worth of spending, you’ll start earning 1 point per dollar after that. You also earn 1 point per dollar on all spending that doesn’t fall into the categories above.

If you max out the point bonus, you’ll earn 450,000 points per year.

I particularly love using this for online ad budgets. It’s easy to spend thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars every month on adds. When done correctly, that spending goes directly to growth for your business. Now add an incredible point bonus on top of it. That’s amazing.

If you average $12,500 across any of these spending categories or are even in the ballpark, get this card. You’ll rack up almost half a million points per year.

This is how business owners generate millions of points for first-class flights and nights at the best luxury hotels without having to pay for any of it. Other than a few minor fees, you’ll easily have enough points to travel in top-tier luxury for free.

These are also Chase Ultimate Points. You’ll have tons of flexibility in how you redeem your points for great airline tickets and hotel stays.

It does have an annual fee of $95 which is super low considering how many points you can earn with it.

Employee cards are also free, making it even easier for you to earn points off their purchases.

And of course, there’s no foreign transaction fees so you can use it worldwide. If you do any business internationally, get this card to avoid any foreign transaction fees. An extra 1-3% charge for businesses can add up to serious amounts of money.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Building Credit and Cash Back)

Hands down, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is the best cash back card without foreign transaction fees.

Be aware that there are two versions of this card:

  • QuicksilverOne Rewards for average credit
  • Quicksilver Rewards for excellent credit

They’re almost identical.

They both get you 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You won’t have to worry about rotating categories, cash back limits or anything else. Simply spend money and get a flat 1.5% cash back.

Of course, neither of them have foreign transaction fees.

Now let’s get into the differences.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

The QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards will accept folks with average credit but does come with an annual fee of $39. That’s a really low annual fee. As long as you spend $2,600 per year, you’ll come out ahead with your cash back rewards.

The APR is also higher but I never worry about that. And neither should you. You want to get in the habit of paying off your cards in full every month.

And it doesn’t have a signup bonus. I don’t worry about that either. Signup bonuses come and go quickly. In the long-run, they have very little impact on your total rewards.

This is a fantastic option if you’re building credit in order to get access to the better cards.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

The Quicksilver Cash Rewards is only available if you have an excellent credit score. In exchange for having great credit, there won’t be an annual fee.

The APR is also lower and there’s a signup bonus. Again, neither of these should matter much.

Regardless of which one you get, I love the simplicity of these cards.

1.5% cash back without foreign transaction or annual fees. That’s an amazing deal.

No annual fee, no worrying about getting hit with a foreign transaction fee, no points to manage. Use the card anywhere and everywhere without ever having to think about it.

Are there cash back cards with better returns? Yes. You can find cards with higher cash back rewards. But they have foreign transaction fees and possibly annual fees too. That really dings the rewards that you get to keep.

This is the only cash back card I’d ever consider getting since I refuse to have any card with foreign transaction fees. I highly recommend it.

*Terms apply – Learn how to apply online.


Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

The best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2020 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

©