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The Best Ways to View Credit Card Purchases

Towards better use of our credit cards, here are the best ways that you should view your credit card purchases in order to help you become more responsible.

Add to the price. When we shop with credit cards, we always make sure that we are getting the best deal possible. If you consider yourself a responsible shopper, then you also understand that by not paying off your purchase, you are adding to the price of the item that you are purchasing. That means that you can easily add 50% to the price of the item by not paying it off and allowing interest and other fees to accrue.

Look at the temporary nature. The things that we purchase that we think we need most often are not. Once you buy something with your credit card and take it home, the purchase is almost devoid of value because you still owe money on it and yet, it does not satisfy that urge you had to purchase it in the first place. If you view your card purchases in this manner, it will help you keep from making them. Things are temporary, but debt goes on for long periods of time. Just think about how long it will take to pay for the item that you want to purchase. Can you see yourself continuing to pay for it in twelve months? That is very possible with a credit card purchase.

Add to your debt load. You keep adding to the amount of money that you owe when you buy things with your credit cards. It is not uncommon to hear of people who owe tens of thousands of dollars on their credit cards. Those who do are in jeopardy of never being able to pay them off, apart from working out a settlement or repayment plan. So, why allow yourself to get there in the first place?

Pay higher fees. When you make purchases and do not pay them off, you incur fees that add to your balances. But you also pay more in other ways, too. When you go to apply for other loans such as vehicles or mortgages, you will pay higher interest rates because your credit score is not what it should be. Life becomes more expensive when you do not view your credit card purchases properly.

Compare to cash. Suppose you pay most of your purchases with cash or a debit card. Doing so will help promote responsible money management practices and will help you keep your balances low on your credit cards. In this way, you will have a proper view of credit cards and their place in your life. They should not command the amount of attention that they do if you employ responsible practices with them.

Your view of credit cards should encompass an overall money management strategy that puts them in their proper place in your financial picture. Use them for the occasional purchase, and then pay them off every month. And, avoid poor credit card practices and uses like balance transfer cards because of the high fees you can incur. If you can do this, then you have a fighting chance of staying out of major debt with credit cards.

The Facts of Financing

Your mother always warned, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and those words of wisdom can be applied when financing a business. There are a number of methods that can aid buyers in financing a business. Buyers must recognize their available resources such as the seller, lenders, and investors.

As a child, we’re encouraged to “dream big” and told that nothing can stop us, but ourselves. As entrepreneurial adults, this idea of dreaming big is often a part of your everyday routine, but it is inevitable that at some point you’ll come crashing down from those heights into reality. The realization that financing your particular endeavor can instantly dampen even the most impassioned enterprising individual can get you down. To put it bluntly, “Don’t let it”.

Having a reality check on the difficulty of securing financing for a business can be the first step towards making your dream an actuality. There are numerous types of financing available, some more unorthodox or obscure. If you take the time and effort to research all avenues for funding you will be rewarded.

There are two main types of financing: debt financing and equity financing. It is important to you and the success of your business that you familiarize yourself with the types of financing in order to choose, seek, and finally, obtain the right form for your needs.

Debt financing involves borrowing money that will be repaid over a certain allotted time with a set interest rate tacked on. The time of such financing can be short term or long-term. In most cases, short term financing would include repayment within one year, while long-term financing would entail repayment in a time period that exceeds one year.

An advantage of this type of financing is the fact that the lender will not gain ownership in your business. You remain in control and your only obligation to them is to make regular and timely payments. In the case of small startups, a personal guarantee is often needed to facilitate the closing of the financing deal.

Equity financing, unlike debt financing, will involve giving the financing entity a share in the business. Some business owners dislike the idea of losing any amount of control. On a positive note, this type of financing does not incur debt. This kind of freedom from debt can give a greater sense of security in starting a new business. In addition, some entrepreneurs find great value in their equity financing partners, and see their presence as an asset.

The type of financing you will choose is based largely on the needs of your business and the kind of collateral, or available assets you have to offer. A substantial amount of debt financing can lead to poor credit and a shortage of funds in the future due to an inability to apply for more financing. A business that becomes overextended, offers little collateral, and is steeped in debt is not an appealing option for many investors.

As previously mentioned, there are other more unorthodox methods of obtaining funds that can certainly prove to be beneficial to your business. Some options can be found in your own circle of friends and family. One benefit of this type of financing is obtaining the money and a silent partner who will most likely not interfere with your business. It can also eliminate some of the red tape involved with more traditional forms of financing. This does not mean you can simply use a verbal agreement or “shake on it” to signify and bind the transaction. This is still a strategic business move and you must treat it as such which means proper documentation, clear terms, and mutual understanding of those terms.

Relationships can be ruined over inept efforts with this type of financing, so value your business and the other person by treating it with professionalism, attention to detail, and respect. Don’t become the black sheep at the next family reunion over some misunderstanding or your falling behind on payments.

A few other options that are largely unknown to those who haven’t done research include unsecured loans and micro-loans. Resources such as TheSnapLoan.com or Prosper.com offer loans based on cash flow, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio. Government grants are also a largely untapped resource that is made available to entrepreneurs. Simply researching the website Grants.gov can be extremely helpful in your search for funds.

Venture capital is another route that many entrepreneurs look to due to the amount of funding that can be procured. A venture capitalist will likely offer larger sums of money that can be of great assistance to your business, but they will also gain a certain portion of control and ownership. This type of funding however is usually scarce due to the assumption that many startups will inevitably fail. You will need to find someone willing to take the risk and who sees potential in your vision.

This type of person could also be found in a more palatable option known as the Angel investor. The Angel investor typically has a high net worth and like the venture capitalist, must believe in the product and the person behind the product. Their loan often converts to stock, preferred stock, or convertible bonds.

Les Brown, an author and entrepreneur, says, “Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars”. This is an extremely appropriate sentiment as it encourages you to keep dreaming big and ultimately those dreams combined with perseverance and research will take you closer to where you want to be.

Financing Your New Look

So you’re considering having some cosmetic surgery done, but your insurance won’t cover it and you don’t have the money to pay for it up front. Believe it or not, there is a way to finance that tummy tuck or eye lift.

What to Consider:

The Cost

Cosmetic surgery is expensive. Procedures cost anywhere from $500-$25,000 depending on the type of procedure being performed. Financing your surgery will only add more to that cost due to interest rates.

As with any type of financing, your interest rate will vary based on your credit history, selected loan term and the loan amount. Available loan terms may include 12, 24, 36 and 48 months or a revolving credit line depending on your credit background. Keep in mind: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be skeptical of financing companies offering 1% rates, because there is usually a hidden cost behind these offers.

Also keep in mind that you may need to come up with a down payment in order to finance your surgery. Down payment requirements are determined based on your credit history and your health care providers requirements, if any. If you have average or above average credit, you may not be required to put any money down.

As with any type of financing, whether it be a car, a home, or even cosmetic surgery, you should take into account what your current financial situation looks like and determine whether or not you can afford a regular monthly payment for the next 24, 36, 48 or 60 months.

If you have not already done so, figure out your monthly income subtracted by your bills, don’t forget to include miscellaneous items such as groceries, toiletries, gas, household products, pet food, etc. After you have created a monthly budget, you can now determine whether or not you can afford another $100-$200 monthly payment.

The Procedure

Before you begin to get all excited about the prospect of financing your new look, it’s important to understand why you want to have this kind of procedure done. Make sure your expectations are realistic and that you are doing this because you believe there are no other options. Consider both the pros and cons of cosmetic surgery and weigh your other options.

A good rule of thumb for financing cosmetic surgery is to finance only major surgical procedures. If you’re considering Botox, for instance, the prices are reasonable enough, but if you’re financing the injection(s), it will cost you more than it’s worth.

You should also keep in mind that most types of cosmetic surgery need to be maintained on a regular basis, and fighting the aging process completely is futile.

Finding a Surgeon

Although a cosmetic financing company can refer you to a surgeon, it’s best to find one before you contact a financing company. Dr. Steve Fallek, a cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon in New York and Englewood, NJ suggests that a financing company is not going to be able to give you the best plastic surgeon.

You want to go to a board-certified cosmetic surgeon who is reputable, honest and who hopefully you’ve gotten the name from someone who has had plastic surgery from that person. Fallek says patients should ask their surgeon to recommend a finance company.

Financing Companies

Before you chose a financing company, make sure they are reputable. They should have a good track record in financing health care procedures and should work with a network of doctors.

If you have found a surgeon to do your procedure, you may also ask if he/she has financing available. The terms of the financing should be clearly outlined in writing before you apply for any financing, and you should never pay a broker fee.

Most surgeons use the same financing companies, so don’t waste your time looking for surgeons who may have lower rates. Seeing different surgeons takes up time and money.

You may also want to consider using your credit card if the interest rate is lower. Some people also borrow from family or even take out a home equity loan.

Choices in Finance Education

The finance industry offers a plethora of options to students wanting to join the finance profession.

Today’s finance profession is not limited to just the accounting jobs. With the right kind of finance education, a finance student can find himself suitable for a variety of finance roles. Most finance careers require you to be good with numbers and have knowledge of basic business statistics. Let’s take a look at some of the lucrative financial education options.

Accountancy: This is the most widely popular financial career. Commonly referred to as a public accountant, you learn about to prepare and maintain a businesses financial records. You also learn about taxation and other financial aspects of the business. Education in this area is very comprehensive, and the exam is considered quite difficult. Apart from public accountants, there are also other specialized fields such as cost accountant, management accountant, and tax expert.

MBA Finance: Another popular area in finance education is the MBA in Finance. This program is at the post-graduate level and is offered by most universities as well as business schools. An MBA Finance degree opens up career opportunities in a plenty of areas, which include banking, financial analysis, financial markets, research, etc. In general, the reputation of an MBA Finance is measured based on his skill level and the reputation of the college from where the program was completed.

Financial Planning: This is one of the most sought after professions in the finance field. As a financial planner, you are required to manage the personal finances of individuals. You are expected to invest people’s money in the best assets based on their risk profile and also advice them on various matters such as taxation, real estate, among others.

Finance Certifications: As the finance profession has grown, many new finance certifications have emerged that help students get equipped with very specific financial knowledge. For example, the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) designation helps you become a financial analyst. There are popular certification programs for becoming risk managers; these are Financial Risk Manager (FRM) offered by GARP, and Professional Risk Manager (PRM) offered by PRMIA. If you are interested in Alternative investments, then you have the option to become a Certified Alternative Investments Analyst (CAIA). There are financial certifications in almost every area of finance.

Diversify Your Business Finance

Introduction

The Government has announced a new initiative to help diversify business finance which will be led by UK industry experts from both the business and finance sectors.

UK businesses still rely heavily on bank funding to help finance their business activities even though there are many alternative sources of funding available to them in today’s ever changing financial marketplace.

The Government wants to ensure, in light of recent and current banking reforms, that the flow of finance to businesses is maintained. Alternative sources of finance will be crucial to help businesses deliver the wider economic growth the UK economy needs.

The panel of experts will seek to establish a framework of alternative finance sources by working with businesses and business investors, financial institutions and providers of alternative finance to coordinate and facilitate the availability of funding that businesses need.

Bank lending

Even though there has been a recorded increase in new lending from the largest banks this year many businesses are still unhappy with bank lending levels and how they have been treated by their banks.

Tighter lending criteria, non-renewal of overdraft facilities and poor communication by the banks are the common problems cited by businesses as making their funding objectives difficult to achieve.

Without the finance they need, UK businesses struggle to survive and grow, and so the UK economy does the same. This is why the Government is not only introducing schemes to increase bank lending but is also keen to encourage as much competition in the financial market as possible and provide a wide range of alternative sources of finance to UK businesses.

Alternative finance

There is already a wide range of alternative finance sources available to businesses.

One of the biggest barriers to increasing the take up of these sources of finance is simply general awareness. New and emerging providers of alternative financial products do not have the branch infrastructure that makes for the efficient and effective distribution of their products.

The other important factor here is that many owners and managers of small and medium sized businesses, which are the backbone of the UK economy, are unaware of the range of alternative finance available and where to find it.

New methods of communication are required and it is hoped this will be a key objective of the Government’s initiative.

Invoice Finance

Invoice finance is one of the most popular options in the alternative finance portfolio and has grown over the last fifteen years from about 13,000 companies using it in the UK to over 50,000 companies now.

This extremely flexible method of business finance advances funds against unpaid sales invoices. There are variations within the invoice finance family of products which includes invoice factoring and invoice discounting.

The invoice finance lenders will advance up to 95% against a company’s unpaid sales invoices and use the sales ledger as security by taking assignation of the invoice and so the outstanding debt is effectively owned by them.

When the invoice is paid by the company’s customer the invoice finance company will pay over the balance of the invoice that has not been funded after deducting their fees. There is usually a charge for the facility and an interest charge for the amount of funding advanced.

One of the main benefits of invoice finance is that the facility will grow as the business grows thus making it a very effective method of funding working capital.

Alternative Financing

Alternative bank financing has significantly increased since 2008. In contrast to bank lenders, alternative lenders typically place greater importance on a business’ growth potential, future revenues, and asset values rather than its historic profitability, balance sheet strength, or creditworthiness.

Alternative lending rates can be higher than traditional bank loans. However, the higher cost of funding may often be an acceptable or sole alternative in the absence of traditional financing. What follows is a rough sketch of the alternative lending landscape.

Factoring is the financing of account receivables. Factors are more focused on the receivables/collateral rather than the strength of the balance sheet. Factors lend funds up to a maximum of 80% of receivable value. Foreign receivables are generally excluded, as are stale receivables. Receivables older than 30 days and any receivable concentrations are usually discounted greater than 80%. Factors usually manage the bookkeeping and collections of receivables. Factors usually charge a fee plus interest.

Asset-Based Lending is the financing of assets such as inventory, equipment, machinery, real estate, and certain intangibles. Asset-based lenders will generally lend no greater than 70% of the assets’ value. Asset-based loans may be term or bridge loans. Asset-based lenders usually charge a closing fee and interest. Appraisal fees are required to establish the value of the asset(s).

Sale & Lease-Back Financing. This method of financing involves the simultaneous selling of real estate or equipment at a market value usually established by an appraisal and leasing the asset back at a market rate for 10 to 25 years. Financing is offset by a lease payment. Additionally, a tax liability may have to be recognized on the sale transaction.

Purchase Order Trade Financing is a fee-based, short-term loan. If the manufacturer’s credit is acceptable, the purchase order (PO) lender issues a Letter of Credit to the manufacturer guaranteeing payment for products meeting pre-established standards. Once the products are inspected they are shipped to the customer (often manufacturing facilities are overseas), and an invoice generated. At this point, the bank or other source of funds pays the PO lender for the funds advanced. Once the PO lender receives payment, it subtracts its fee and remits the balance to the business. PO financing can be a cost-effective alternative to maintaining inventory.

Non-Bank Financing

Cash flow financing is generally accessed by very small businesses that do not accept credit cards. The lenders utilize software to review online sales, banking transactions, bidding histories, shipping information, customer social media comments/ratings, and even restaurant health scores, when applicable. These metrics provide data evidencing consistent sale quantities, revenues, and quality. Loans are usually short-term and for small amounts. Annual effective interest rates can be hefty. However, loans can be funded within a day or two.

Merchant Cash Advances are based on credit/debit card and electronic payment-related revenue streams. Advances may be secured against cash or future credit card sales and typically do not require personal guarantees, liens, or collateral. Advances have no fixed payment schedule, and no business-use restrictions. Funds can be used for the purchase of new equipment, inventory, expansion, remodeling, payoff of debt or taxes, and emergency funding. Generally, restaurants and other retailers that do not have sales invoices utilize this form of financing. Annual interest rates can be onerous.

Nonbank Loans may be offered by finance companies or private lenders. Repayment terms may be based on a fixed amount and a percentage of cash flows in addition to a share of equity in the form of warrants. Generally, all terms are negotiated. Annual rates are usually significantly higher than traditional bank financing.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) usually lend to micro and other non-creditworthy businesses. CDFIs can be likened to small community banks. CDFI financing is usually for small amounts and rates are higher than traditional loans.

Peer-to-Peer Lending/Investing, also known as social lending, is direct financing from investors, often accessed by new businesses. This form of lending/investing has grown as a direct result of the 2008 financial crisis and the resultant tightening of bank credit. Advances in online technology have facilitated its growth. Due to the absence of a financial intermediary, peer-to-peer lending/investing rates are generally lower than traditional financing sources. Peer-to-Peer lending/investing can be direct (a business receives funding from one lender) or indirect (several lenders pool funds).

Direct lending has the advantage of allowing the lender and investor to develop a relationship. The investing decision is generally based on a business’ credit rating, and business plan. Indirect lending is generally based on a business’ credit rating. Indirect lending distributes risk among lenders in the pool.

Non-bank lenders offer greater flexibility in evaluating collateral and cash flow. They may have a greater risk appetite and facilitate inherently riskier loans. Typically, non-bank lenders do not hold depository accounts. Non-bank lenders may not be as well known as their big-bank counterparts. To ensure that you are dealing with a reputable lender, be sure to research thoroughly the lender.

Despite the advantage that banks and credit unions have in the form of low cost of capital – almost 0% from customer deposits – alternative forms of financing have grown to fill the demand of small and mid-sized businesses in the last several years. This growth is certain to continue as alternative financing becomes more competitive, given the decreasing trend seen in these lenders’ cost of capital.

How the Best Entrepreneurs Manage Their Personal Economy

The most accomplished entrepreneurs follow key strategies in to achieve their business success. According to many experienced business coaches and professional technology advisors, one of the most important strategy is to learn how to effectively and wisely manage and control one’s personal economy during the growth of an entrepreneurial venture.

In fact, personal economy management is so crucial that this ability alone can make or break the growth and success of a business! The following are some insights for achieving these goals.

Flaws In The Common Views Of Money

So many people today are caught up in a consumer-driven lifestyle — one that is built around the addictive accumulation of trappings that make them appear to be “as successful as” their neighbors. To many people, it doesn’t matter how much consumer debt they accrue, or how their future is mortgaged, as long as they can be seen in the “right” car and the “right” clothes and vacationing in the “right” location… nothing else seems to matter!

Well, the truth is that sound personal economy does matter, and it matters a lot. Entrepreneurs who build million dollar incomes do not operate this way. Yes, I’ve mentioned that “the best entrepreneurs cultivate a positive and successful professional image,” but they don’t do so at the expense of a strong personal economy!

Image isn’t everything… because after all, images can be deceiving. Living on credit and surviving from paycheck to paycheck guarantees a lack of freedom, whereas creating a strong personal economy allows for infinitely greater time-freedom and financial freedom!

Creating A Thriving Personal Economy

Entrepreneurs who understand their own business are passionate about managing and controlling all of their assets, and money is one of the most important. While it has become more feasible to market a new business with no money, it is also true that as a business grows there will be more finances available to manage, or to mismanage.

The very purpose of creating a business of your own is to be able to create significant income for yourself and lead the kind of lifestyle you want. In order to make this happen, financial focus is a key ingredient. Financial focus is what leads entrepreneurs to forgo unwise purchases for the moment, and build a business that will provide income for them throughout the future. Ideally, an entrepreneur doesn’t rely on any outside source or sources over the course of their careers, which is an incredibly liberating idea!

Keeping Control Of Your Personal Economy

The most effective way to manage finances well is to maintain an element of control over them. This usually will mean steering clear of many popular financial tools, such as incurring debt and a reliance on money managers and financial institutions for advice. The most effective entrepreneurs are those who find themselves with a significant and regular income of their own creation, and with little or no debt to counteract their money! This requires financial discipline and the ability to think differently than most, but isn’t that what entrepreneurship is all about, in the long run?

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