The Top Three Features of a Good Checking Account

Posted on Wednesday 26 September 2012

In today’s difficult economic times people are looking for ways to save money. With expenses for everything from gas to groceries being high, cutting expenses in every way possible is often the main focus for families and individuals across the country today. That is why people are looking to cut expenses on in how they handle simple things like their banking. For people who are looking for great checking accounts there are few main things to look for in an account.

The three main things to look for in a great checking account are no monthly fees, easy access to banking across the country, and great customer services.

No Monthly Fees

Having a checking account with no monthly fees can save consumers a significant amount of money yearly. In addition to the $10.00 to $15.00 monthly savings, free checking accounts can save consumers from potential overdraft fees. Especially with accounts who charge a monthly fee depending on usage, this fluctuating monthly account fee can cause account holders to overdraft by a few dollars if they are running on a tight budget. Each overdraft fee can range from $25.00 to $40.00 per check and can add up to significant losses for bank account holders.

Easy Bank Access

Another important factor for checking account holders is bank access. For people who travel for business and several annual vacations, having access to their banking can be an important asset. While online banking is helpful, finding a bank branch in the middle of the night for deposits and withdrawals without fees can be a great advantage for account holders.

Great Customer Service

Finally, one of the most important account features for a checking account is customer services, free debit cards, online banking, telebanking, extended phone customer service, zero liability for unauthorized transactions and easy interbank account transfer of funds. While small town banks can be great for customer service, they may not provide the personal care for these items that can be very important to an account holder.

People who are looking for a good checking account should be thorough to ask their bank what services they provide and see how they match up on these important issues. A good bank will have good answers for these important consumer issues. Certainly in the long run a good banking relationship can help a family to excel and thrive, and a bad one can be oppressive. For this important reason the decision to find a good bank is an important one to make.

Bio: Aaron B. writes for CashWire Online Payday Loans and is an under-graduate writer who enjoys writing financial articles that help readers understand their options and how they can save money.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
6 Things to Know About Credit Counseling

Posted on Monday 24 September 2012

The phone rings and you dread the call. You already know that you owe money to more people than you can count, you don’t need another reminder. If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to pay your bills, and pay them on time, it may do you some good to get credit counseling. Before you set up a meeting with a credit counselor, there are a few things you may benefit from knowing in advance.

1. Is Credit Counseling for You?

Before you to take the plunge and start searching for a credit counselor, you will need to decide whether you will benefit from the experience or not. Many factors come into consideration when trying to decide if credit counseling is right for you. The main idea, however, is that you are not properly handling your finances. If you have been making late payments, or see yourself having to make them in the future, you may benefit from a little credit counseling. Taking actions such as transferring balances from one credit card to another, or taking out cash advances to avoid late payments, could indicate that you are in need of credit counseling to help you from falling deeper into financial ruin.

2. What to Expect

When you attend a credit counseling session for the first time, be prepared to bring a lot of information. You will need to inform your counselor about all aspects of your financial situation. This will include information such as amounts you owe on loans, bills, interest rates, and how much you make each month. These details will help your counselor to get a feel for your position and get a plan started. Credit counselors will give you advice on how to budget, lay out your options, and help you to set up a plan of action.

3. Avoiding Scams

If you’re having financial problems, the last thing you need is to be involved in a scam. In order to avoid a scam, it is important to check on a company’s credentials. Seek a company that is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). The Better Business Bureau will be able to tell you about any complaints against a company, which is another way to help avoid a scam. Also, as a general rule, if a company’s claims are too good to be true, they probably are.

4. Declaring Bankruptcy

If you are seriously in trouble with your finances, it may be time for you to think about bankruptcy. Declaring bankruptcy will be tough, and it should be avoided if possible. Fortunately, credit counseling is available to anyone who is in need of help with their finances. It can be of extra help to those who are running out of options. As a matter of fact, credit counseling is a requirement of bankruptcy.

5. Types of Credit Counseling

When it comes to credit counseling, there are nonprofit organizations as well as those who work for a profit. Considering that those seeking credit counseling are having financial troubles, it may make more sense to seek out a nonprofit organization because they will have lower fees. Non-profit, Christian, bankruptcy, and consumer credit counseling are the main types of counseling out there. It is important that you do your research to find the right type of company for your situation. For example, Christian counseling is not strictly for Christians, but it does involve a certain spiritual aspect.

6. Impact on Your Credit Score

Credit counseling is intended to help you improve your financial position by paying off or managing your debt. It is important to know that participating in credit counseling doesn’t always have an effect on your credit score.  Depending on your situation, however, it can have a negative or positive effect on your score. Simply participating in credit counseling will not appear on your credit report. However, using your company to repay your debts may. Settling a debt for less than the original amount is most likely going to have a negative effect on your score.

Guest post from Mickey Scott. Mickey writes for CreditReport.org.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
For all the ranchers

Posted on Friday 21 September 2012

Scales can be used for everything from weighing livestock to checking the amount of product on a pallet. For many businesses, scales are an essential part of day-to-day operations. In some businesses, a scale may even be required by law. For most companies though, scales are used to provide vital statistics and streamline processes.

Where to Buy Floor Scales

Purchasing scales for your business can be challenging. As with everything you buy, you want to be able to get a good deal. Purchasing a quality product that can provide accurate results is also essential. If you are looking for a fair price and a standout product, Floor Scales Direct can meet your needs.

Why Floor Scales Direct?

Floor Scales Direct is a premier online resource for warehouses, industrial organizations, and other businesses that rely on floor scales and weighing products. The company offers a full line of floor scale packages and accessories and will even manufacture custom scales to meet a customer’s special needs.

Livestock Scales from Floor Scales Direct

Floor Sales Direct also offers a wide range of livestock scales, including alleyway scales, large weight scales, and veterinary exam scales. Livestock scales are especially important to the agricultural industry. With quality, state of the art scales, agricultural managers can easily and efficiently monitor their herds.

Many of the livestock scales sold through Floor Sales Direct are part of a discount package. Special promotional deals are also offered from time to time. Customers who place larger orders can take advantage of free shipping, and every customer can buy with confidence. Floor Sale Direct is dedicated to quality and likes to make sure that each client is 100% satisfied with their purchase.

savvy @ 6:43 PM
Filed under: General Finances
How to Earn Credit Card Perks

Posted on Wednesday 19 September 2012

In order to get more and more people to apply for credit cards, many credit card companies offer a variety of perks that can be earned simply by using their credit cards to make purchases. From cash back bonuses and gift cards to frequent flier miles and hotel points, the rewards you can earn from using your card are plenty–and they can really add up fast. Here’s how you can start earning credit card perks today.

Choose the Right Card

If you don’t already have a credit card that comes with some perks, start shopping around for one. Many major credit cards offer rewards programs–all you need to do is ask if you don’t see any featured details. If you travel frequently, you may want to look for a card that allows you to accumulate frequent flier miles, travel vouchers, or hotel discounts. If you have a long commute to and from work every day, a gas card that earns cash back might be a good choice. Shoppers, go for cash back and gift card rewards. There are lots of rewards programs out there–so do your research before signing up for a new credit card.

Be Aware of Restrictions

Almost every credit card rewards program will come with some restrictions, so read the fine print carefully before assuming there aren’t any. A card that allows you to earn cash back points, for example, may only offer points for online purchases. Likewise, a preferred card of travelers might only earn frequent flier miles when used with a particular airline. Familiarize yourself with restrictions right off the bat so that you’ll know exactly what you need to do to maximize your benefits.

Know When Points Expire

In addition to having some restrictions, most credit card perks have an expiration date, as well. Know how long you have to redeem your points–and make sure you do so before they disappear. In order to help you remember important expiration dates, mark them on your calendar so that they don’t pass you by. There’s no sense in signing up for a credit card based on their rewards if you’re never going to use them.

Shop Online to Earn More Points

Many perks and rewards add up quicker when you do your shopping online. Ask your credit company if there are any specific online retailers they partner up with and try to get the things you need from them. Avoid buying things you don’t want or need in order to earn perks, though–spending money on things you don’t need will cancel out your perks and then some when your monthly bill arrives.

Take Advantage of Hidden Rewards

Your credit card may offer rewards that you aren’t even aware of–ones you wouldn’t even think to ask about. It’s not uncommon for credit cards to reimburse you for airline baggage fees, cover car rental insurance, or even to replace a damaged smartphone. Reread your credit card rewards information and keep an eye out for hidden rewards. If you don’t find any, call your credit card company and ask if there are any you should know about. Credit card companies often bank on the fact that consumers won’t read the fine print–and many perks end up going unused.

Be Responsible

One of the best ways to earn credit card perks is to be a responsible card holder. Pay your credit card bill on time each month, and try to pay off the balance if you can. Using your card often will help you earn rewards, but they aren’t worth it if you end up paying high interest or late fees just because you can’t pay off your purchases.

Credit card perks are a great reason to use your credit card to pay for your monthly purchases and expenses. If you’re able to handle your card wisely–you can stand to earn some great rewards and benefits that you’d never get by paying with cash.

Guest post from Alex Storm. Alex writes for BestCreditCards.net.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
7 Ways to Lower the Cost of College

Posted on Wednesday 19 September 2012

It is almost impossible to find a good job these days, unless you have a college degree. Without the benefit of a higher education, you may be limited to low paying jobs that don’t have much of a future, because there would be no room for advancement. At the same time, the cost of getting that college degree seems to be skyrocketing. People are continually looking for a way to get the education they need without ending up with multiple thousands of dollars worth of student loans when they graduate. Following are a few ways to lower the cost of college.

Take Advanced Placement Classes in High School

It is possible to start your college career while you’re still in high school. You can do it by taking advanced placement classes. These classes are college level courses that are designed to prepare you for your college experience. Upon completion of the course, you can take an advanced placement exam. If you score high enough on the exam, you will receive a college credit for the course. In some cases, providing your score is high enough, you may be awarded an entire year’s credit, which will save the cost of tuition, plus the other ordinary expenses, of a full year at college.

Start Out at a Two-Year College

In most cases, a two-year college will charge much less for tuition than a four-year school. If the two-year school happens to be near your home residence, you can save the cost of room and board by living at home. At the end of the two-year program, you can transfer the credits you’ve earned to four-year school–providing you have the foresight to make sure all the credits can be transferred.

Apply for Scholarships

Probably the best way to lower the cost of your college education is by having someone else pay for it. There are numerous grants and scholarships available for college students, and you should apply for as many as you can. Start looking for scholarships early in your junior year in high school, or before. Consult your high school counselor for advice on where to look for grants or scholarships. They are trained to know where and how to look and will be happy to help you find and apply for any grants or scholarships that may be available to you.

Get a Part Time Job

Although this may not actually lower the cost of college, getting a part time job will help you pay for your education, thereby reducing the amount of your student loans when you graduate. Working part time will provide spending money, and if you’re thrifty, will help pay for part of your books, tuition, or room and board. The more money you can bring in, the less you’ll have to borrow.

Join the ROTC

You can join the ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corp, in college. There is a ROTC scholarship program that you could apply for. If you’re not interested in being in the ROTC during your college years, you could always join the military before going to school. Once you’re released from active duty, you can use money from the GI Bill to help pay your way through college. That would save you a bundle in student loans.

Go to School in Your Home State

Going to school in your home state is generally much less costly than attending a college in another state. Instead of opting for some large, high-status school, you would probably be much better off financially to stick closer to home–you’ll undoubtedly pay less for your education at a nearby college. Every state has more than one college where you can earn a degree that could be useful in getting a good job. In most cases, you don’t really need a degree from that ‘prestigious’ school.

Start Saving Early

One of the best ways to lower the cost of your college education is to pay for it out of your own pocket as you go to classes, instead of having to borrow money, because you’d have to pay it back, with interest. If you start saving early, and don’t tap into the savings account unless an emergency comes up, you could have quite a bit of money put away before you start your college career.

Guest post from Max Quinn. Max writes for OnlineCollegeCourses.com.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
How to Stock Your Pantry for Less

Posted on Monday 17 September 2012

A lot of people like to keep their pantry well stocked with food. Some do it simply because they don’t like going shopping, while others keep a lot of food on hand in case of a natural disaster, such as a flood or hurricane–people who live in a flood plain or in a hurricane zone know that a storm could leave them stranded for awhile and plan accordingly. No matter what your reason for keeping your pantry stocked, it’s only common sense to try and do it as economically as possible. Following are a few tips on how to stock your pantry for less.

Buy in Bulk

Most people know that buying in bulk is a good way to save money. It’s no different when you’re stocking your pantry. If you go into a natural food store, you’ll notice that they offer staples in bulk. Instead of being prepackaged, you take as much of each item as you want or need. Foodstuffs such as oats, lentils, black beans, and rice can be taken home and stored in sealed glass jars so they maintain their freshness. If you buy enough of each item, you should be able to save some money.

More Bulk Buying

Another way to buy in bulk is to go to what’s called a big box store. In these stores, a lot of the products can be purchased in oversized containers. If you compare the prices, these large-size boxes are cheaper than buying a ‘regular-size’ box in your local supermarket. If you go this route, be sure and purchase only what you’ll be able to use before the expiration date. You may be able to lengthen the time a boxed product will remain usable by storing them in sealed glass jars.

Stock Up on Canned Goods

If you intend to stock your pantry so you won’t have to purchase food for awhile, you’ll need to buy items that have a long shelf life–meaning food that will last a long time without spoiling. Canned goods are usually among the things that you should stock up on, because they generally last a long time before going bad. Various kinds of soup are among the many items that will last a long time on your pantry shelves. You can also stock up on canned vegetables. Most items in your local supermarket come with an expiration date stamped on them. When these items go on the shelf in your pantry, make sure you keep the earliest dated cans toward the front, and rotate them forward as you use the food.

Watch for Sales

Most supermarkets have sales on a regular basis. It’s a way to get people to come into the store. When something that you like to eat comes on sale, it’s time to stock up–especially if it has a long shelf life. In many cases, a store will have a limit on the number sale items you can purchase. You can defeat this stipulation by making multiple trips to the store, or by having individual family members purchase the maximum number of items the store allows.

Use Coupons

Another thing that your local supermarket most likely does to increase foot traffic is to publish coupons that are good for certain items in the store. National and regional companies do the same thing–your local store accepts these coupons, and then redeems them for cash. It would be to your advantage to watch the local newspapers and online sources for coupons that you can use to stock up on items for your pantry.

Barter for Food Items

Before people used cash money to make a purchase, bartering was the accepted system of exchange. Basically bartering is trading either a product or service for something of equal value–the perceived value of any particular product or service would be left up to the individual. For instance, if you were good at sewing, and you needed repairs done to your home, you would trade your sewing service for carpentry work. That same system can be used today to stock your pantry without having to pay money. If you have chickens that lay more eggs than the family can eat, you could trade some of those eggs for oats, beans, or some other item that you could store in jars for future use. Another example would be to trade your services for those same food items. No money would trade hands, but each party would have something of value.

Guest post from Nicky Shaw. Nicky writes for HomeSecurity.org.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Resist The Urge To Spend And Reduce Your Debt

Posted on Friday 14 September 2012

Many people out there today are in debt and it’s unsurprising with the availability of credit cards and overdraft facilities. It can be hard to avoid the temptation to spend when you want something and think you’ll pay for it later. The worst times for this kind of behaviour are around holidays such as Christmas.

Of course, we all know that credit card debt and overdraft facilities at the bank incur interest, but if you don’t keep up with your monthly minimum payments, the interest that you owe can be compounded month on month and your debts can quickly spiral out of control.

But even though it is hard work to get there, there is the possibility to become debt free if you take some proactive steps.

For a start, you should make sure that you don’t put any more purchases on credit until you are back in the black. The easiest way to do this is to take your cards out of your wallet and hide them away somewhere safe. This reduces the temptation to pull out the plastic when in the shops.

Next, you need to start paying off those debts. Whenever you can afford it, pay more than the minimum payment on each card and this will help reduce the amount of growing interest you have to pay.

You also need to cut spending wherever possible. Shop more wisely – go grocery shopping at the supermarket that offers the best value and buy ingredients to cook rather than buying ready-made food. Change your telecoms and internet provider to one that offers a better deal, and do the same with your insurance policies and utility bills.

For those with serious amounts of debt, it may be that trimming your budget to rein in expenditure simply isn’t enough. You can get advice from debt management companies and you could consider debt consolidation – where you take out a loan to pay off all your separate creditors and then you only have one monthly payment to make. It certainly lifts the administrative hassle as the debt consolidation company will deal with all your other creditors.

If you owe a large amount of money, it may be that the best option for you is bankruptcy or IVA debt management, but these both have serious consequences attached to them, so you should really seek independent financial advice before deciding if this is the right option for you.

Even if you feel overcome by the burden of the debts you owe, don’t give up – there is a way back. You just need to knuckle down to achieve it and live within your means.

savvy @ 7:31 AM
Filed under: General Finances