Top 5 Things To Look For When Finding The Right Bank For You

bank front

By Casey Haslem

Having access to banking services is a must in today’s day and age, and almost everyone has to choose a bank at some point. If you are in the market for a bank, you may be unsure of how to sort through the masses of banks in your area to pick the right one. In this situation, there are a few different factors that you need to look at to make sure that you get the best.

Reputation

One of the first thing that you should look for when you are checking out banks is its reputation. Some banks have a reputation for being more customer friendly than others. When you are looking at banks in North Carolina, you want one that is going to treat you like a person and not just a number.

Fees

Another factor for you to evaluate closely is the fee structure of the bank. Many banks try to nickel and dime you to make as much profit as possible. They will charge you for insufficient funds fees, low balance fees, online bill pay fees, and other charges. You need to find a bank like Burlington Bank that provides you with a clear listing of their fees on the front end.

Services

The number of services that the bank offers should also play a role in your decision. Most banks offer checking and savings accounts. However, not all of them offer access to investments, health savings accounts, insurance, college savings accounts, wire transfers, or online bill pay.

Locations

The location of the bank should also play a part in deciding which bank to go with. You should probably choose a bank that is close by. The location of the banks ATM’s is another factor to evaluate. You don’t want to have to go to an ATM of another bank that’s closer to your home and pay a fee when you need cash.

Perks

When picking a bank, you should also look for any additional perks that you might be able to secure by opening an account. For example, some banks give you free checks when you have an account. Others will give you some kind of a gift for opening an account.

Regardless of which bank you choose, make sure that you do your homework before picking one. You don’t want to get an account opened and then have to go through the hassle of switching over to another bank.

Do’s and Don’ts in Getting a Business Loan

By Ashley O’connor

One major issue that most businesses specifically small to medium-sized have encountered is financial matter. For big players in the industry, finance aspect is less likely to become an issue (although there are times that it does). But for small and medium companies, finance is a major topic. And when there is a need for financial aid, applying for a loan is the usual solution.

Getting a loan has its own pros and cons – advantages and disadvantages. Nonetheless, business owners who need financial assistance opt to get one to support their needs. Some companies apply for a loan to finance business expansion. Meanwhile, other businesses need a little help with their bills and liabilities. In this situation, entrepreneurs make use of the borrowed money to pay for utility bills or employee payroll. So, are you thinking of applying for a business loan? Here are a few tips to help you out.

Do’s

  • Compare loan policies - With so many financial institutions out there, indeed, borrowers are given several options to decide on. However, not all of these lenders can save you from your financial concern. In fact, some can even worsen your situation. Thus, it is important to be wise enough. Compare the policies, conditions, terms and rates when hunting for a loan provider.  Through this, you will be able to identify which one offers lesser rate.
  • Prepare company portfolio – Before heading out to a lender, make sure you have needed documents. Company portfolio is essential in applying for a loan. Lenders use the portfolio to check the background of your business. Know your company assets and print a copy. Most lenders care about your worth – your company’s worth. They will likely check if you are capable of repaying the loan or if you have good credit rating. Therefore, company documents can make or break your loan application.
  • Determine needed loan amount - Do not appear naïve when meeting up with the lenders. Remember first impression always lasts. If you look-like you don’t know what you are doing, lenders will likely turn your application down. Be prepared with how much money you need. This way, lenders will be convinced that you are serious with your business and you are pretty confident in seeking help. Tell them how much you are planning to borrow. If needed, negotiate the loan amount.

Don’ts

  • No proper documents – In connection to preparing company portfolio, never set appointment with the lenders unless you have supporting documents with you. Without these documents, you will just waste the time of the lenders. Bring with you the copy of business ownership and certifications from local government agencies (if applicable). If possible, get a credit rating report to support you in terms paying owed money.
  • Rash decisions – Avoid impromptu decisions. With regards to money matter, it is critical to think every decision carefully. Never jump into a decision right in an instant. If you need a loan for your business, think of why you need it and where you are going to use it. In choosing a lender, do not be deceived by those out-of-this-world promises. Scrutinize the lender’s background to help you decide.
  • Pile up loan obligations – Do you have other ongoing loans? As much as possible, do not apply for a loan if you have pending or ongoing loan. This way, you can stay away from piling up all those monetary obligations (not unless it is almost done). Getting another loan is like suicidal – finance matter. It will just give you another burden to think of every month. Wait until your other loans mature.

Business loan can help a lot of small businesses; however, it can also bring you down when you failed to settle it. On the other hand, those who want to start-up a business but do not have enough budget can likewise seek small business funding. Many financial institutions are readily available to offer loan. Just be wise in picking a loan provider.

About the Author:

Ashley O’connor has been in the industry for more than four years. She aims to share simple yet helpful tips related to various niche, such as family, business and education. Follow her on Twitter @AshleyOconnor82, Google+ or add her on Facebook.

Last Minute Tax Prep

By Rob Toledo

If you’ve waited until now to file your taxes, you’re certainly not alone. While you can, of course, still file your taxes without a penalty, you need to act quickly. We recommend using a good tax resource center, and reading through these quick tips to jump start your filing process.

Gather All Necessary Documents

Before you even start working on your taxes, you need to make sure you have all the necessary receipts, documents, and forms. A few pieces of paperwork you’ll need include:
• W-2s from your employer
• All 1099 forms (these will apply to you if you’re a contract worker, had dividend payments, interest income, long term care benefits, etc.)
• All receipts for deductions you might be eligible for, including charitable donations, medical expenses, union dues, moving expenses, etc.
• Documentation of IRA contribution
Of course what you need before you start filing taxes depends on your financial situation. We recommend checking out this tax preparation list for more documents you might need.

Invest in Tax Software

If you’ve waited until now to file your taxes, the chances of finding an available accountant are slim. You’re next best option is to buy tax software, which will be much faster than trying to navigate the confusing tax forms solo. There are several options when it comes to buying tax software, and all of them are pretty affordable. Here are three of the most highly rated options:
TurboTax: TurboTax has a variety of products at a range of prices. The free edition is great for people with very simple financial situations, and costs nothing to file federal taxes (it does cost extra to file state taxes). Most people spring for the basic version, which is about $35 (plus an additional cost for each state return you need to file). TurboTax is known for finding every last deduction you’re eligible for, which can result in a much larger return. It’s very easy to use, and the questions are simple and easy to understand.
H&R Block

: This tax software also comes in a variety of prices ranges, including a free edition and a basic edition for $35. H&R Block is known for having top notch customer service and tax helplines. You can chat a tax expert if you have any questions while filing. They also have a mobile app, which allows you to track your return progress and refund.
TaxACT: This software is gaining popularity because it’s more affordable than TurboTax or H&R Block. There’s a free federal edition and the deluxe edition is only $10. TaxACT offers free online and phone support, should you have any questions. They also have a feature that allows you to check your e-file and refund status.

Need More Time? File for an Extension

If you simply can’t make the April 15 deadline, filing for a 6 month extension is quick and easy. Use IRS form 4868, which has to be filed no later than April 17 at midnight. In general, extensions are granted automatically, and you don’t have to give a reason for filing an extension the first time around. However, one thing you need to be aware of, if you likely owe taxes, you still have to pay the estimated owed amount by April 15. The extension doesn’t give you a payment extension, just a filing extension.

See? Filing your taxes won’t be so bad after all. But you need to get going soon!

Gadget Insurance – How Does It Work?

By Kate Simmons

If you think of the money and time that you put into your gadgets, losing one of them could feel like a real tragedy. Many of us feel more attached to our smartphones than we do to family heirlooms—after all, they are our constant companions in moments of boredom. Insurance companies have known for years that people rarely expect property loss before it happens. Most of us hold some type of insurance for our possessions, but we probably do not know exactly what objects and situations are specifically covered by our policies. So, imagine, what would happen if you lost your beloved (and expensive) tablet device? What if you dropped it in the bathtub? What if a lightning strike hit while it was charging? What if someone broke into your car and took it? What if they broke into your house instead? If you did not know the answer to any of these questions, now is the time to get to know your insurance and your available options.

What Gadgets Can You Get Covered?

With the myriad of plans available out there, you can get almost any gadget covered these days—seriously, nothing seems too big or too small. If you are worried about your iPod, you can get gadget insurance specifically devoted to that device. The same is true for your Smartphones, tablets, etc. Believe it or not, you can get coverage specially made for your digital camera, even if you are not a professional photographer. Many of these gadgets can be covered through a form of insurance from their manufacturer. Most gadgets come with the option of a manufacturer’s warranty, and some can be covered for an additional fee from the store from which they were purchased. Look into the fine print on these options, though, since they sometimes do not cover a user-related accident, such as water damage or dropped devices. If you own a business and have many gadgets under your care, be sure to look into a commercial-grade gadget insurance to make sure all of your devices are covered.

Is It Worth It?

Before purchasing gadget insurance, you should sit down with your calculator. Even small monthly payments can really add up. If you pay just a few dollars per month to insure your Smartphone, that could multiply into hundreds of dollars over the course of a year or two. With the fast pace at which most gadgets become outdated, your phone will probably lose much of its value over that time. It may be just as easy to risk losing your phone and plan on buying a used one if something happens. If the cost of your device outweighs the price of the insurance, it is definitely worth protecting yourself. Also, if you are particularly accident prone, it may be best to bet against yourself and cover your gadgets with an insurance plan.

How Does It Work?

There are seemingly endless ways to insure your gadgets in one form or another. The best way possible is to ask questions as soon as you purchase a device. If you get a new phone, ask the manufacturer and your cell phone carrier if insurance is available. If you will be riding frequently with an iPod in your car, ask your car insurance provider and home insurance provider if they cover belongings that might be stolen from your ride. Talk to store representatives before you make a gadget purchase to see if they have a protection plan. Next, look for insurance carriers that specifically cover your device. Make sure that you keep all of your purchase documentation handy for these inquiries, since most providers will only cover new devices. These companies will often cover events that other insurance companies do not, such as damage you cause, but again, check the price and the deductible to see if the fit is right.

About the Author:

As a freelance writer and professional blogger, guest writer Kate Simmons is addicted to her gadgets. Whether it’s insurance news, Facebook or global economy, she loves to stay informed.

5 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

Credit scores are one of the most mysterious things in the world. It may just be composed of digits and numbers, but it’s capable of revealing the financial state of the person who owns it. By just looking at the digits you have on your credit ratings, it will somehow reflect your standing on banks, lending institutions, insurance companies, even your proprietors and employer letting people who you allow see it know of your financial standing.

That is why it is extremely vital to keep your credit ratings in order. A good credit score allows you a chance to get a loan with any lending agency without fuss and hassle. Moreover, there are lots of advantages you can get from a great credit score. If you want to know the top five necessary things to increase your credit score, these are the possible ways you can do so.

Review and check your accounts constantly.

Sometimes, errors do happen and show up on your credit card statements – it’s an inevitable truth. It is of utmost importance that you always check your credit cards so that when errors occur, you can report it immediately to the bank and have these problems fixed right away. You should check and review receipts in order to update information, remove errors and correct problems so that our credit scores improve.

  1. As often as possible, pay your bills on time.

This is one major factor in improving your credit score – paying bills on time, all the time. Some people pay their bills late affecting their ratings and therefore making their credit score worse. In order to avoid this, you should always create a measurable and effective budget plan in order to manage your payments well and pay off your bills in a timely manner.

  1. Always keep your credit card balances low.

Needless to say, it is sometimes unavoidable not to settle all our accounts in one payment. As a result, we leave some credit card balances behind. However, see to it that your credit card balance does not reach up to 35% or more of your credit limit as it will seriously affect your ratings. Also, ensure that you pay your balances as soon as you have the budget for it so that you can maintain your positive score or even possibly boost it too.

  1. Never close or cut down unused accounts

Your credit history is one factor that will be reviewed in order to have an excellent and increasing credit score. However, when you have closed any of your unused accounts, leaving all the balances and unpaid bills behind, it will inevitably harm your credit score. Even if the card is inactive or unused, having a good history of credit cards attracts creditors, so don’t close any accounts unless you have good reason to..

  1. Keep bankruptcy out of your way

When experiencing very serious financial problems, as much as can be avoided, filing for bankruptcy should be a last resort. It will greatly devastate and harm your credit scores and will affect your credit history for as much as the next ten years.

How to Save on Travel

Every time holiday season rolls around many people find themselves with few options due to budgetary concerns. As the cost of air travel and accommodations increases, the average person can rarely afford to explore distant locales. Good news, financial restrictions do not need to hold you back. There are a number of options for thrifty travel that can fit into nearly any budget.

Air Travel

The airport can be one of the most financially draining places you will come into contact with when planning a trip. Thanks to the technology you have available to you, saving money on airfare has never been easier. Sites that offer deeply discounted last minute flights can help you save a lot of money right from the beginning. Familiarize yourself with the airline’s guidelines and know their additional fees; otherwise, you could end up spending all your savings on something like baggage check. Checking your bags used to be free but times have changed, you may need to pare things down to just one small carry-on to avoid extra charges. Even with the carry-on get to know the limitations, that way there will be no surprises at the gate. Flights with layovers are often cheaper than direct flights, do your homework and you could end up exploring more than just your planned destination. Lastly, if you book online print your boarding pass at home, some airlines will charge to print it for you.

Hotel

The prices for hotel accommodation vary drastically. Shop around and find the room that suits you in the price range with which you are comfortable. Be sure to check hotel websites as well, often times they will offer exclusive deals when you book directly through them. These packages can include meals, car rentals and tours. Keep in mind that some hotels offer loyalty rewards, so if you travel a lot you could end up saving more in the end through participation in one of these programs.

Home Exchange

If you are not concerned about having someone else in your home, a home swap or exchange may be the answer to saving money on accommodations. There are websites set up to help connect people worldwide who would like to swap their houses for a week or even more. This is beneficial if you are concerned about seeing your destination from a local’s point of view. Once you have paid for airfare, your spending is complete with the exception of food and mementos from your trip. Your food expenditure can also be minimal if you decide to cook instead of eating at restaurants.

Couch Surfing

Couch surfing is cost effective and as an added bonus you can make a new friend. Maybe you can even get some information about points of interest that only locals know about. Again, there are websites whose sole mission is to hook surfers up with couches.

Hostels

A hostel is a very modestly priced option. If privacy is not an option, this communal setting may be for you. Very seldom are rooms private, usually there are bunk beds and all guests share the remainders of the hostel. The interesting thing about hostels is that you can stay in an old out-of-use prison or even a medieval castle. If you are truly looking for a social and one of a kind experience, this may be for you.

Volunteer Vacations

To make your trip a little more meaningful, consider a volunteer vacation. Many organizations that are doing great things in other countries need volunteers. A majority of these programs require that the participant pay their airfare and then food and a place to sleep will be provided by the charity. The only requirement is that you volunteer an agreed upon number of hours during your stay. This is a memorable experience that allows you to see somewhere off the beaten track and to give back to the hosting community.

Packages

If the lap of luxury or close to it is where you see yourself check out one of the many sites offering last minute resort packages. Many people have had the all-inclusive vacation of their dreams for sometimes as much as fifty percent off. This is a good idea if you are not too fussy about the dates or if you are open to any destination.

Eat domestically

If you are not at an all-inclusive restaurant and have to fend for yourself in the way of nourishment, talk to hotel staff and those who live locally. They will generally have insight into the best places to eat and these places are less costly than those usually populated by tourists are. This means you will need to eat the foods that the locals eat which can make your trip a more culturally rich experience. The only place this is not wise would be in destinations like Mexico where the water can make you sick.

There you have it. There is no reason for you not to realize you travel dreams. Saving money on travel does not mean sacrificing. As you can see, quite often budget travel can mean a more rich and fulfilling experience.

About the Author :

Simon hails from Europe as a Blog owner and regular contributor for various financial Blogs, among others the financial Blog of the UK based text loans provider Poundaccess.  He also likes to write in various other topics and fields and prides himself in being a versatile professional writer.

Ward off Debt and Financial Crisis with Your Family

You, or a loved on, may suddenly find yourself in a terrible situation financially, because of a death, or a divorce, or a job loss.

In order to keep that terrible situation from turning into a complete catastrophe, the best thing you can do is turn to your friends and family for help.

The most critical task is to keep yourself from sinking into a pit of stress and despair. You must look to your own mental health and stability first, before you even can address your family. If you are not strong and capable, taking care of yourself first, then you will likely not be capable of taking care of your family, either.

You need to surround yourself with supportive people, whether they are friends or family. They need to be people who will encourage you and lift you up, not those who will sit around and lament and say things like, “What are you going to do??”

If someone is not helpful at this point, and in fact may even be detrimental to your state of mind, then you need to remove them from your life, at least temporarily. Your single-minded focus needs to be on moving forward and getting out of the particular situation you are in. You cannot worry about extraneous things, like whether or not So-and-so’s feelings will be hurt if you don’t call them five times a day with an update on your job search.

You *will* need to confide in people and talk to them about your problems. If there is no one, no friend or family that you can turn to for sympathy and good, solid advice, then perhaps try a clergy member or even a professional therapist. Even if you can only talk to someone once or twice, it can help relieve your mind and release some of the stress and fears that you have been holding inside.

Once your mental state is stabilized, then you need to turn to the task of moving forward and working your way out of your current bad situation. If you’ve lost your job, don’t hesitate to talk to everyone that you know about your search. You never know where a great job lead will come from. The more people you can reach with your message, the more people will be keeping an eye out for you, and your chances of finding a new job quickly are much improved.

Another option would be if you know someone who has a business that can actually offer you a job.  It may not be in the same industry as you worked before you were laid off, or it may be for far less than you were previously making, but if you are seriously in need of employment immediately, it can definitely help out while you look for a more permanent position.

If you require a lot of money in a short period of time, and you have a family member who is fairly well-off and can afford it, the IRS allows people to give cash gifts to other people, up to a maximum of $13,000 per person per year. A couple (such as your parents) could give an individual up to $26,000, or up to $52,000 to another couple (you and your spouse) without any tax implications.

The cash could also be structured as a loan, at low interest rates and flexible repayment terms, if necessary.

If you don’t have wealthy relatives, perhaps you have someone who has good credit, who can cosign a loan for you. Remember that this obligates your co-signer to pay the loan in case you do not, so be sure to take your fiduciary relationship seriously.

If you don’t have anyone who can help you out in a big way, maybe there are several people who can help in small ways. If you can line up a couple of people who can help out with certain expenses, you can possibly get your situation under control.  For example, maybe one person will help with your rent or mortgage, and one will help with groceries, and one will help with the electric bill. Spreading out the costs in this way means no one is unduly burdened, yet they all are working together to help you out.

In the end, friends and family are what’s important, and they’re the ones that will help you get through a tough situation. Keep in mind that the bad times won’t last forever, and that with love and support, you and yours will make it through just fine.

 About the Author:

Simon hails from Europe as a Blog owner and regular contributor for various financial Blogs, among others the financial Blog of the UK based instant text loans provider Poundaccess.  He also likes to write in various other topics and fields and prides himself in being a versatile professional writer.

Digital Options at CedarFinance.com

I recently tried my hand at digital options, these are option where the payout is a fixed amount after stock price exceeds the predetermined level. I used Cedar Finance for my experiment.

The results were good for my small investment of $100. The fee was reasonable. overall a good experience for this first try of mine at Forex trading on the web.

The Cedar Finance contract was easy to understand and I was able to easily withdraw my money, and customer service was responsive, so I will try it again.

I have always been curious about Forex. Currency markets at the present time can be a way make good return on investment. But as with all trades understanding how the system works and how to protect your investment is essential. So I’m studying up on this before I invest more.

Caution and moderation are practical whenever an investor enter forex trades. Investor.gov says “The forex market is a large and generally liquid financial market. Banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions as well as large corporations use the forex markets to manage the risks associated with fluctuations in currency rates. However, the risk of loss for individual investors who trade forex contracts can be substantial”

Vending Machine Business – Tips and Advice

By Victor McNamara

Many would-be entrepreneurs are now looking into the vending machine business. The main reasons for this are because such venture is recession-resistant and it can provide you with high profits. You will need some effective tips and pieces of advice if you want to succeed in this kind of business.

Here are some tips for you:

  • Keep the vending machine well-maintained. Never neglect the machine because your target market will not use it. If you want to enjoy bigger returns, proper maintenance is required. Providing a selection of products is also a good idea.
  •  For security purposes, collect the money at different schedules. There are plenty of unscrupulous people around you, waiting to take your money so you must be extra careful.
  • If you currently have a day job, don’t quit. You have to start out small, and if you are able to make good money, you can start expanding. Perhaps one day you can earn big profits and you can already quit on your job.
  • Some entrepreneurs prefer to purchase an existing route. If you want to follow the same path, you have to do your homework to determine if the route is viable enough.
  • Some manufacturers try to throw in deals that are too costly on your part. Do not overinvest especially if this is your first vending machine. There are other ways to obtain a vending machine at a cheaper price. You can shop online or you can try buying second-hand machines. It is possible to find discounted prices when you shop around.
  • Stock the machine with saleable products. You have to study the market to find out what people want. You can try rotating the products, and keep the machine stocked.
  • Know the competition. Before entering this venture, you need to determine the existing competition. It is possible to work with other vending machine operators and trade accounts; it is a good way to find out your competitor’s weaknesses and use them to your advantage.
  • Dusty and dirty machines are synonymous with low quality products. The market prefers vending machines that are well stocked and clean. When making your rounds, you can try talking with customers. You see, customer support is an important aspect when you’re in the vending business.
  • To guarantee success, you need to be organized. Even if you’re managing a small business, having the right software is an advantage because it allows you to keep track of your overheads, profits, inventory, etc.
  • To continuously attract customers, you should establish brand name. Having a business logo on the machine, a business uniform, or vehicle are added advantages. Customers are easily attracted to businesses that are instantly recognizable.
  • Put vending machines in the right locations. If you don’t have a good location, it can be hard to make money. In fact, if you don’t have a location, it wouldn’t be a good idea to enter this kind of venture.

Follow the tips above and you can go a long way.

Author Bio:

Victor McNamara works at Vending World. Vending World is a leading distributor of used vending machines. They have been selling vending machines since 1968 and can fill almost all of your general vending machine needs.

 

Long Term Health Care Options

As we age, housing options need to be reviewed, especially if you have health problems. Will you need help with cleaning, cooking, bathing and home maintenance? What kind of t long term health care do you need? To make a plan, start first by checking your Medicare supplement insurance to determine what it covers.

In-Home Care

Medicare now covers some In-home health care, but often you need supplemental insurance too. In-home care is good for folks who are mobile and want to maintain their independence. Home health care nurses can come and visit you daily, or every couple of days, to take care of your medical needs. Consider hiring a housekeeper or a home health care aide to assit you with day-to-day living. Or a  companion, driver, or cook. In-home health care is quite easy to find, check any senior center or ask your friends for referrals.

Retirement Communities

These communities often provide a multitude of services from meals to transportation for going to grocery stores, church and fun activities. These communities are usually all-inclusive,includinge lodging, meals, social events, and some health care.

Entrance fees can be expensive in addition to monthly fees, but, services usually are guaranteed for the rest of your life if you choose this option.  If your health fails, you can always be moved to the nursing home portion of the facility.

Since this is usually an all-inclusive type of health care, carefully read the fine print carefully in the contract. What are all of the recurring and one-time fees? What exactly is covered s? What health care options are available , and  which are not offered? Do you need to purchase extra health insurance to cover your specific care costs? Also don’t forget to check with the Better Business Bureau about the  facility you are interested in; if you plan on living there the rest of your life, you should double check it’s reputation, too.

Nursing Homes

You may need a nuring home for a short period of time while you are recovering, or for a longer period of time as you age. Nursing homes cover almost all health care for the elderly or severely disabled. If this is an option that you think you may require,consider purchasing long term health care insurance. Before you go, research the history of the nursing home; are there any black spots on their record? Talk to people who have lived there, have used their services, or who are still living there now, to get their viewpoint.