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Increasing Your Bottom Line

(category: Finance, Word count: 658)
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As a small business, your focus on the bottom line is always crucial. But how do you increase your bottom line? Increasing the bottom line can happen two ways. One way is to reduce expenses. The other is to increase sales. Of course - that's Business 101, right? But how does a small or home-based business on a shoe string budget do those things?

Reducing expenses

It all adds up! Five dollars here, ten dollars there, maybe a couple hundred somewhere else. Take a good hard look at the services you're using. Are they all optimized for what you use? A good example is your phone service. Are you signed up for an unlimited long distance calling plan? If not, you should! If you're using a service like eFax, be sure that you're on a plan that matches your monthly usage. Same goes for a service like Freedom Voice. Be sure that the number of minutes you're signed up for each month is in line with how much you use the service.

You can also reduce expenses by making good use of a virtual assistant. A professional virtual assistant can not only help keep an eye on your bottom line, but s/he can save you money because you only pay for what you use. There's no need to hire a bricks-and-mortar temp service and pay for four hours each time you need a one hour task completed. A virtual assistant is essentially on stand-by for whenever you need her and she only clocks in when she's working on your tasks. This saves huge amounts of money over in-office assistance and bricks-and-mortar staffing agencies.

Hiring a virtual assistant also helps reduce, actually eliminate, the cost of hiring an assistant. When you make the decision to hire a staff member, if you're considering an in-house person, you need to factor in the cost of an additional phone line (or two), an additional computer, desk, office chair, etc. With a virtual assistant you don't need any of those things. All virtual assistants come with their own equipment to get the job done!

Increasing sales

Not enough of you to go around? Write up the sales procedure you use, along with the phone script, give her the qualifiers (what makes a good customer for you), send your virtual assistant the names and phone numbers you want called, and have her cold call and qualify leads for you. Imagine being out and about during the day following up on all those leads she finds you! Talk about saving you time and helping you make more money. You can even take it one step further and ask your virtual assistant to send out the preliminary information to your potential customers. Now that's making good use of your time and your virtual assistant's time!

Sending out letters and postcards? Have your virtual assistant do it! As a business owner you shouldn't be spending your time licking envelopes and stamping cards - it should be selling or servicing your customers. What dollar amount do you bill for your time? $50 per hour? $75 or $100 an hour? Isn't it more cost effective to have a $20 per hour assistant handling those menial tasks for you?

Have your virtual assistant answer your inbound calls for you. How many times during the day does someone call that you don't really need to talk to - that someone else could handle. How about the time wasters who call just wanting to chit chat? Let your virtual assistant screen those out for you. Better still - train her on the types of calls that come into your office and teach her how to handle each call type. Again, this frees up your time to do what you do best!

A virtual assistant cannot only help you save money, which of course impacts the bottom line, but he or she can also help you make more money.

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Can Your Mortgage Be Your Savings Account

(category: Finance, Word count: 527)
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It is becoming increasingly popular to use a mortgage in lieu of a low-interest savings account. Is this a good idea?

The latest version is a home-equity line of credit that is used to buy a home. It is marketed as a way to pay down your mortgage faster than the traditional mortgage. But it only works at this if you use it correctly. It could be both good and bad that you can use the funds from the account whenever you want to. All you have to do is write a check.

It is basically an adjustable-rate home-equity credit line that is based on the value of the property. You make interest-only payments for the first 10 years. The balance is then fully amortized over the next 20 years. You will pay both the interest and the principal at this time.

If you go ahead and own the home for ten years, you could be facing amazing monthly payments. Your monthly payment could more than double on you. Yet, there is no negative amortization on this loan program. The interest is capped for five years and high-credit score borrowers are currently looking at a cap of 8% over the starting rate. In today's world, the maximum the interest rate could hit is in the 14% range. Yet, after five years, the cap could revert to either 21% of the state's usury.

This plan could work well for the dedicated purchaser who puts all extra money and bonuses into the mortgage account as payment on the balance. The interest is then lowered and the loan is paid off much faster. Most borrowers must have a score of over 660 to be approved.

Many advisors suggest the use of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with interest-only payments for the first ten years instead. Yes, the payment will go up after the inital ten years, but the interest rate won't. The concern against the equity-line to purchase is that borrowers would simply write checks without thinking about the addition to their mortgage balance. Plus, the interest rate is adjustable - always a risk.

If you are considering an alternative loan program for the purchase of your home it is important that you sit down and do all of the necessary math. For example, you should calculate how high the payment could go due to rising interest rates on an adjustable rate mortgage. You should be able to afford the worst. If you can't, you probably should look to a less expensive home.

If you only plan on living in a home for three to five years, a loan in which the interest is fixed for five years is perfect for you. You get the lower rate, but you have to be sure that you are going to want to move in the time period. It still remains that the best long-term bet for a mortgage is the 15-year fixed rate mortgage. You pay less interest and build equity faster.

Other new trends to watch for in the marketplace include mortgages that can be automatically converted into reverse mortgages and longer fixed-rate term mortgages.

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Repay Your Debts With Ease

(category: Finance, Word count: 510)
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A person opts for a loan when he doesn't have sufficient finances to meet his necessities. There are a number of people who are poor at handling the finances. Over a period of time if the debts are not repaid it leads to the accumulation of debts. To avoid such a situation one should always repay any loans taken on time. If calculated properly one would get to know the high rates of interest and the huge late payment fees that are associated with any loan amount.

One should try to avoid such a situation, but if one is already going through such a situation the best way out is the debt consolidation loan.

If a person accumulates a huge amount of debt, then he is required to pay the debts at a very high rate of interest. Most people keep accumulating the debts by not paying the bills at the right time. The bill amount keeps appreciating due to the heavy interest that is levied on it and finally a financial crisis is reached. Thus to help such people get over the debts, the financial institutions have introduced the new loan schemes known as the debt consolidation loan.

The main advantage of the debt consolidation loan is the low rate of interest that is charged as compared to the very high interest that a borrower is required to pay at the huge debts. The debt consolidation is very important because if the debt amount is not repaid on time the amount of debt keeps increasing and a person is never able to repay back the debt.

There are various debt consolidation plans that have been introduced lately to help people recover from the bad credit. The main problem with bad credit is that a person carrying a bad credit history is never allowed to take a loan. Every financial institution enquires about the credit history of a person before lending the money.

Under these conditions an individual should think over the debt consolidation. Debt consolidation includes the techniques to get rid of the debts accumulated over the number off years; the best way to get over the debt is to raise money to consolidate it.

Also the earnings are considered for deciding the loan amount that can be issued to a person. Thus one can never get any loan unless the debts are consolidated. The debt consolidation is the only solution to help you recover from the accumulated debts.

One must try to repay the debts as soon as possible by opting for the debt consolidation plans. It might sound silly if a person takes a loan to pay of the previous payments, but a profound thinking would lead to the truth. Generally the outstanding debts are charged heavy interests and also a huge amount of late payment fess is added, thus by opting for the loans which are provided at a lower rate of interest one can save some money. Thus it is the best way of getting out of debts.

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Financial Budgeting Income Costs And Hints Part 3 Of 5

(category: Finance, Word count: 374)
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Part 3 is: Start Saving!

So you are loaded down with bills to pay each month and are wondering how you can begin a savings account for emergencies and other high-expense endeavors. In other words, where can you find that extra cash to put away for later?

Firstly, when configuring your budge, plan for your savings first. You will grow richer each month if you begin to pay yourself first. Before paying any bills, decide on a set amount that you will pay yourself first - maybe five or ten percent - or whatever you decide - of your paycheck. Then, deposit the amount into a savings account before paying any bills.

When you do this at the beginning of the month, your entire paycheck will not suddenly slip through your fingers. If you wait until the end of the month, there may be nothing left to save. Paying yourself first will give you a systematic way to make your money grow. Regardless of your profession or your income, this system will work if you stick to it.

Anoter technique you may try for saving money is to empty your extra change into a coffee can or a jar each day. At the end of the month, roll the coins and put them into your savings account. You may be able to save 30 or 40 dollars each month just with your spare change.

Remember that good money management is more than just a mathematical formula. It's too closely tied with the ups and downs of living to be just that. Your money management plan is always subject to change if your life situation changes. The object of a good budget is to make your money go the farthest in helping you reach your goals, it is not there to force to you to abide by rules.

Don't get discouraged if the budget plan doesn't work perfectly right away. It may involve some revising and editing until it fits your needs. Then, make sure to review it often, and be sure it is making the best use of every penny! Because we know how helpful those spare pennies can be!

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Ways In Which Individuals With Poor Credit Can Obtain Financing

(category: Finance, Word count: 487)
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Poor credit is an issue that plagues many individuals. There are a large number of people who find that their credit is less than satisfactory. Those who experience this problem may be concerned that they will be unable to obtain future loans if a poor credit history is a part of their record. This is not the case and there are many different ways in which individuals experiencing bad credit can obtain financing for a variety of different reasons.

Special Auto Financing

For those individuals who are looking for a poor credit car loan, this is a distinct possibility, as there are lenders who offer special auto financing for those who have poor credit history. Poor credit auto financing is something which individuals looking to buy a new car may be able to receive. The benefit which the lender receives from this relationship is higher interest rates paid by the borrower. However, even though the individual may have to pay a higher interest rate on auto loans than their perfect credit counterparts, they will be able to do so on a monthly basis and have the luxury of transportation while doing so.

Poor Credit Home Loans

Individuals with poor credit may also be able to obtain home loans. One will find that they may be able to obtain a mortgage with poor credit history from a lender who deals with similar individuals on a daily basis. There are lenders who specialize in home loans for individuals with bad credit and one will find a number of options when looking to obtain a home loan with their credit history in mind.

Poor Credit Personal Loan

An individual who has a poor credit history yet wishes to obtain a loan may just be able to do so. As with auto financing and mortgage lenders, there are also financial institutions that will issue poor credit personal loans to borrowers. Those individuals who may not have the best credit possible may still be able to obtain loans, poor credit aside. Individuals of all income levels and credit standings need personal loans for a variety of reasons such as children's college education and home improvements. This is why the financial institutions may offer a type of poor credit personal loan. These loans may have a higher interest rate and stricter terms yet it allows the individual to gain access to money which they may not have had otherwise.

Poor credit is something that plagues individuals from time to time. It is important to keep in mind that although poor credit can have negative connotations it does not have to paralyze the obtaining of loans. Poor credit is not a problem without solutions and individuals can find ways around their poor credit history if they inquire with lenders who specialize in providing poor credit loans to those individuals who really need them.

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Consolidation Services

(category: Finance, Word count: 412)
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Life is tough enough without the burden of financial obligations. People have car payments, car insurance, rent, mortgage payments, college loans, private loans...the list goes on and on. Due to the increase of tuition and the value of homes, the ability to pay all of these payments on time is decreasing by the year. What does that mean? One thing: debt.

Not all debt is so large that you can't handle it. In fact, most debt does not bring a great financial hardship on people. However this isn't always the case. When in debt, it is also easy to go deeper and deeper into debt creating a very deep hole to climb out of. You are then limited to what you can attain whether it be a motgage loan or a car loan, there is a good chance that you will not be eligible due to the amount of debt you are in. In situations like this it may be best to research debt consolidation services.

By using consolidation services you are going through a legal process to take all your existing debts and combining them under one single loan. This will not only simply your monthly finances by paying only one lender, but can reduce interest rates and sometimes even the length of the loan. The consolidation service will pay off your debts with this new loan so they are able to offer you a new interest rate under new terms of repayment. Having less lenders to worry about also makes the financial stress levels go down each month.

Depending on the consolidation service you may have to give them some type of collateral. After all, you are in debt already, you are having trouble paying you current loans, so they sometimes want a guarantee that you will pay them back. Do not take this lightly, if you give them collateral and fail to pay them back then they can foreclose whatever asset you used. If no collateral is needed you will probably pay a slightly higher interest rate.

Debt consolidation services are helpful and can make your life much easier. Please keep in mind that it is not an all powerful solution. You still have debt, you still have an obligation to repay your debt however now you can repay it to a single lender for less interest. And if you can bring down your monthly payments then you are already on the right track and saving money.

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Keep Your Closing Costs Low

(category: Finance, Word count: 535)
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Closing costs can surprise many homeowners if they aren't prepared for them and can seriously deplete savings at a time when most people need money the most. It seems that lenders are constantly finding new and creative ways to tack on a few dollars here, and a few dollars there to the tune of thousands. However, by taking a few simple steps you can keep your closing costs low and know when to tell your lender that enough is enough!

First, you should always be a savvy consumer when it comes to title work. You have the right to select any title company you want and not the one that the mortgage company wants to force upon you. Of course, the mortgage company they want you to use always turns out to be one of the more expensive ones (because they are getting kickback fees). Shop around for a title work company and you can often save 30% right off the bat, and if you are willing to really work at it, save upwards of 50%. It's not chump change either - a title company can easily charge $1,200 for basic title services.

Next, be on the lookout for junk fees. Lenders love to pile on the document preparation fees, interest locking fees and anything else they can think of. Often times they throw these fees onto mortgages that have no points attached to them. Make sure that you ask your lender for a full disclosure of all the fees and then ask them about any that seem out of line. If you aren't happy with what they quote you, tell them you are looking around at other lenders. The last thing a lender wants to do is lose 30 years worth of interest because of a $200 junk fee!

If you aren't going to be in the house for more than a few years, ask the seller to pay the closing costs. Sure, you'll end up paying a higher interest rate, but if you plan on moving in a few years then the cost of the interest won't match the closing costs you would have to pay up front. Plus, you pay the extra interest off is small chunks each month rather than being out a lot of money up front.

Watch out for lenders who try to sell you add-on products with your mortgage. They love to try and get you to buy credit insurance (a total waste of money) and some lenders even try and sell you services such as "plumbing protection" or "whole house appliance protection". Just say no!

Remember, you have the power to say no thanks at any time before you sign on the dotted line. If you don't like the figures your lender is talking about for closing costs, shop around - in fact, you should around and get several mortgage offers before you even consider one. Don't be afraid to get up and walk away from the table. After all, it's your money - don't let a greedy lender try to squeeze another $1000 out of you when you have enough stress taking place buying a home in the first place!

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Do You Know About Money

(category: Finance, Word count: 586)
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In a test of basic economic principles given to 2000 Americans, both adults and teenagers, the average grade was failing. Throughout the years, it has been proven by numerous studies that when high schoolers graduate, they leave with little understanding of personal finances.

I was never taught how to count back change, balance a checking account or understand compounding interest. But yet, I graduated with the highest math honors, having tackled calculus and physics courses at the neighboring college. But at no point, was I taught the basics of finances before I entered college. Nor were many other American teenagers.

And now credit card debt and financial troubles seem to be everywhere. It is surprising how many people don't really understand their finances. For example, one of my close friends recently told me that her credit cards had great rates once the 0% interest expires. I told her that her rates can go up at any time, but she didn't believe me.

So what do you and your children need to know about money?

You need to understand the basics of how to balance your checking and how to budget your income. These two practices will keep you financially grounded. If you can balance your account and stay within your budget, you are probably doing well.

What can throw you off track is debt. And it is coming at you from all sides. You need to understand that there is good debt and bad debt, but that debt becomes fatal if you can't afford what you have racked up. For example, having a home mortgage is good debt. But if you can't afford the mortgage payment and risk defaulting on the loan, there is no good in it.

You have to know how debt works. Understand the advantages and disadvantages to using your credit. If you have or are thinking about taking out a credit card, I suggest that you learn all of the tricks of the trade. I would say that the one thing to remember is that debt costs you. All debt costs you. Credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and student loans aren't designed for your good. They are there to make the lenders money. Keep that in mind.

When you are thinking about taking out a loan, you should do main things:

Know your credit score and what your credit report says. Figure out the total cost of the loan. This includes all of the interest you will have to pay back. The number might surprise you. See how long it would take you to save for it versus paying off the loan. Shop around for the best interest rates and terms.

One of the most important things is understanding compounding interest. This can be slightly hard to get a grip on at first, so have someone show you how the numbers work. And keep in mind that though interest can cost you in debt, it can give to you in savings.

Finally, you need to understand that as an adult, there is more to finances than just money. It is about self-control, trust and other emotions. There are also many facets to managing your finances. You have insurance policies, investments and wills and trusts to consider. It's all about making the best future for you and your family. That's what money spent wisely can do for you. Take the few hours to learn how to get there. It will pay you back thousands and thousands of times.

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Different Types Of Rewards Credit Cards

(category: Finance, Word count: 1003)
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In today's world of the often and ever-buying consumer, it has become de rigueur for credit card companies, airlines, gasoline/oil companies and a host of other businesses eager to garner a share of the wildly spending and charging public's money, to offer some kind of bonus or reward for using them and their services. Who can blame them? In a time when spending has become a national pastime, there are deals to be made and companies offering some pretty good benefits for signing up with them.

To further convince us that we need these cards are the attractive bonuses these companies are willing to issue. These days the offering companies know that the rewards they offer is what creates consumer loyalty. To help illustrate this point, let's look at a few of the many reward programs out there to entice the consumer to choose their card. The choices of reward credit cards we'll look at are, frequent flyer credit cards, cash back credit cards and gas credit cards.

Frequent flyer cards, also known as travel cards, offer great bonuses for people who actually are "frequent flyers". This group of select travelers should consider signing up with the airline that they travel with the most often. Most airlines today proffer such cards, both the large and small carriers. The biggest plus this kind of card offers is that the miles you earn by using your card can be incorporated into the miles you earn when you fly. There is a drawback to having and using an airline card and that is an annual fee. Though fees have decreased in the past few years, many cards still charge consumers anywhere from $25 to $125. It's wise to remember that it usually takes roughly 25,000 miles to cash in on one free ticket. That might not end up to be such a bargain if it takes three years for you to accumulate enough points on a card that still charges an annual fee.

There are also some bank cards that will give a customer a mile towards travel for every dollar they charge. They usually also have a broad selection of airlines that will honor these points. Because this type of card generally does not charge an annual fee, it is an attractive option for the larger group of travelers known as the "less-frequent" flyers. This type of card also targets flyers who are dissatisfied with the limitations that airlines will put on available flying dates. One drawback of using this type of card is the inability to add the miles you receive by using this card with any other frequent flyer points you may have. Some newer card offers are changing this by giving a point for each dollar spent and also a point for a certain number of documented miles logged flying.

Cash back cards are becoming an increasingly popular choice with reward-seeking credit card users. Many people like that there are no limits on cash back cards as to what can be chosen as a reward, as is the case with merchandise cards. Cash spends anywhere and that is always an attractive benefit for consumers. Some cash-back cards will offer a flat rate and that type is often the choice for people who don't charge large amounts. This is in contrast to cash-back cards that will offer "tiered" rebates, i.e., ones that will offer increasing cash-back options for consumers charging higher amounts.

There are also cards which offer greater cash back if the card is used at specific retailers and a lesser amount on all other purchases. In order to receive this lesser amount of cash back, these larger spenders will get a portion of the percentage at various levels of spending. For instance, if the cash-back offer is for 1%, in order to get this, the consumer must reach an annual spending goal. On their way to meeting this goal, they will receive .25% for the first quarter of the total met, 50% when half is reached and so on.

The gas rebate credit card is another popular choice of today's consumer. These credit card offers are marketed in generous-sounding advertising terms, but the wise consumer will read all of the fine print before signing up to be sure that the card offers them exactly what they're looking for. Some companies will begin with a great rebate of 10%, but further reading will explain that amount is good for only the first 60 days. After that, the rebate drops to 5%. This might not be too bad if you are always buying your gas from one company only, but this is not always the practical case. To counteract this, some cards will start out offering a 5% cash back option on any gas company brand, but will also give the spender a cash rebate on other purchases at select grocery stores or drug stores with a 1% rebate for items purchased elsewhere. There are some controls that should make a potential gas credit card holder wary before deciding to sign up. A few of these are:

Terms and conditions of these cards can change at any time, with very little notice to the card holder.

Not all gas stations will qualify for the full rebate. These mainly will be gas stations associated with business such as wholesale clubs or reduced-price gas stations connected with other retail companies.

Some gas card policies do not automatically issue your rebate without a specific request from the consumer. Other issuers will have an expiration date for rebate claims.

Whatever rewards credit card a consumer chooses to have, it is always wise to read the small print before committing. When someone goes into these agreements aware of all terms and conditions, they can offer compensation for using something that is a mainstay of our modern spending culture-our credit cards.

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