The world of business, no matter what that business or industry may be, is often fast-paced, frenetic and completely unpredictable. In order to navigate the business world and come out unscathed, young entrepreneursmust first develop financial fluency and a sense of fiscal responsibility.
With national debt still at an all-time high, young adults have seen the ravaging and burdensome effects of debt, and in turn, have actively searched for financial advice in money management and budgeting to prevent themselves from falling prey to such traps. Loop21 has a few ideas on how budding entrepreneurs can leverage their efforts while staying financially afloat:
Set and Abide by Your Priorities
No one knows what’s best for your brand, and your bottom line, more than you. Determining your priorities ahead of time will make decision-making quicker down the road when you may not have the time to make a “pros and cons” list or take a mental inventory.
Do What You Know
Young business owners should always focus on areas that they are familiar with, specifically those that inherently interest them. Managing a business requires the input of a high amount of time, effort and money, so choosing the right industry can help a young entrepreneur to stay focused, interested, and motivated.
Whether a young or seasoned entrepreneur, budgeting effectively will make or break a business. Fundamentally, young entrepreneurs must learn to habitually consider their expenses against their income, learning how to operate under tight financial limitations as circumstances arise. Loop21 has an entire series dedicated to the fundamentals of budgeting called Your Money Matters.
What do you think is necessary to turn a business idea into an actual company?
Dave Landry is a personal finance manager and small business adviser who has recently started blogging to share his expertise.
If you've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, business coach Marc E. Parham will help you get started with our three-part series.
How many times have you said “I have a great idea for a business” to your friends, family and colleagues, but for whatever reason, let that idea fade away? If you have, you’re certainly not alone; everyone gets a flash of business inspiration from time-to-time that simply goes unfu...
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Your Money Matters: Ask a Money Coach
Loop21 and GoBankingRates.com answers your questions about budgeting in the 3-part series, "Your Money Matters."
It's never too late to get your money in order. Loop21 sat down with GoBankingRate.com’s editor Jennifer Calonia to find out just what it takes to start and maintain a budget that won’t hinder your lifestyle.
Loop21: What's the number one mistake people make in terms of budgeting? Jennifer Calonia: The number one mistake people make when it comes to budgeting is cutting it too close. Spending every dollar – whether on monthly bills or discretionary expenses – and working to a $0 checking account balance every month is not a successful, healthy way to budget.
Loop21: What factors should you base your budget on?
JC: In addition to tracking your monthly obligations (i.e. mortgage/rent, car payment, insurance, utilities, gas, etc.) and spending cash for a movie night out, people should also allocate funds to a savings account.
Loop21: What is the best way to stick to a budget?
JC: Automating bills through your bank or credit union’s online banking system is a helpful way to keep you and your budget aligned. Plus, it limits the possibility of getting a late fee for being forgetful.
Loop21: How do you bounce back if you stray from your budget?
JC: Avoid letting your slip turn into an excuse. Just because you bought something that wasn’t in your budget, doesn’t mean that you’re budgeting goals are a hopeless wreck. Allowing yourself to think in this capacity gives you the false perception that you’ve already fallen off the wagon, and thus justifies spending more. Instead, use comprehensive budgeting tools to keep you on track, like Mint.com.
Loop21: What are the best online resources for online budgeting?
JC: A great resource for finding tips and advice on budgeting is GoBankingRates.com. There are a number of articles on how to effectively create a budget, as well as how to save money on everyday expenses.
Loop21: What is the main thing people should remember when creating a budget?
JC: Remember to be practical. Everyone’s situation is different, so make sure to account for every penny earned, spent and saved to get the whole picture of your finances.
Do you have any questions for the money coach? Ask them in the comments below!
Jennifer Calonia is a journalist and an editor for GoBankingRates.com, which connects consumers with the best interestrates nationwide on savings, CDs and checking accounts, as well as auto and mortgage loans.
Loop21 and GoBankingRates.com breaks down the reasons why you can't stick to your budget.
“Budget” is a word that most people would love to delete from their vocabulary — and according to a recent survey, many people have. A survey performed by Ipsos Public Affairs for legal website FindLaw.com found that 61% of Americans either don’t have a household budget or ha...
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Your Money Matters: 4 Simple Rules to Sticking To Your Budget
Want to keep more of the money you earn? Loop21 and GoBankRates.com break down the basics of budgeting in a 3-part series, "Your Money Matters."
Creating a budget is the easy part. Sticking with your budget is often a completely different story. Some people do well for a few months, but revert to old habits. Living off a budget calls for constant self-evaluation — it’s the only way to stay on track. If you want to create a budget and see it through, the pros at GoBankingRates.com have three rules you will want to live by.
1. Monitor your spending
The first step is to keep receipts or bank statements, and then review how much you spend in each category. Track your spending on a weekly basis to avoid going over budget.
There are several tools that can help you track your spending, and one of GoBankingRates’ favorites is Mint.com. Mint aggregates all transactions between all your accounts and automatically puts them into categories like clothing, groceries, and gas. You can allocate budgets for each of these categories and Mint will do the monitoring for you.
2. Make adjustments
You might need to tweak your budget throughout the year. If you didn’t allocate enough money for groceries and went over you budget, you might increase your grocery budget and decrease your entertainment budget to compensate. Likewise, you may have a new one-time expense, such as an upcoming vacation, in which you’ll need to allocate additional funds to this category.
Sticking to a yearly budget can put you one step closer to your financial goals. Whether you want to pay down debt or build a financial cushion, remind yourself of these goals often. Spending more than you earn is the quickest way to kill a budget. By keeping the big picture in mind, you’re more likely to stick with your monthly spending plan.
4. Put Your Budget Into Action
Keep in mind that every dollar in your budget should have a job. That means each time you receive your paycheck, you should know where and how your money will be used. It could be for fixed expenses (housing, bills, insurance, etc.), variable expenses (groceries, utilities, etc.) or other items, such as savings or investments.
If there is extra money in your budget, then automatically put it toward the top item in the financial priorities list you created when you developed your plan. This takes the guesswork out off budgeting and makes it easier to know how to handle your money.
With patience and persistence, eventually, you will reach your financial goals of eliminating your debt and increasing your savings. It all starts with getting ahead that first month, then slowly increasing your savings from there.
Do you have any budgeting or saving rules that you follow? Share them in the comments below.
“Budget” is a word that most people would love to delete from their vocabulary — and according to a recent survey, many people have. A survey performed by Ipsos Public Affairs for legal website FindLaw.com found that 61% of Americans either don’t have a household budget or have difficulty sticking to one.
Most of us know that a budget is a spending plan that lets you track your income and expenditures over a period of time, and while a budget may limit how much you’re able to spend on everyday expenses, the long-term benefits heavily outweigh minor inconveniences. Living on a budget helps you plan for the future, increase your personal savings, and avoid debt. If you stick with your budget, you can actually stop living paycheck to paycheck no matter how much you make.
Setting and keeping a budget is easier said than done, which is why we’re outlining exactly what not to do. Check out the four most common budgeting mistakes that most people, including you, may fall victim to when it comes to budgeting.
Mistake #1 - Not having a budget
While seven out of 10 people surveyed in the FindLaw.com study said they did indeed have a budget, almost half of those individuals said they either had trouble sticking to it or completely gave up.If you either don’t have or don’t keep up with your budget, step one is to create a realistic budget you can follow for the whole year.
To make an accurate budget for yourself, you need to have a thorough understanding of your expenses. The first step to creating a yearly budget is to write down all your expenses. Start with your fixed monthly expenses including:
Once you’ve established your fixed yearly expenses, divide by 12 to figure out what you’ll need to budget for each month.
Mistake #3 - Not keeping track of discretionary spending
For your budget to be a success, you need to keep track of every dollar you spend. If you aren’t keeping receipts and checking your bank account regularly, there’s no way that you’re going to manage your money properly.
If you buy a new blouse for a party, go to the movies or donate to a worthy cause, you’ll need to account for those expenditures in your budget beforehand and make sure you still have enough funds to pay for fixed monthly expenses. Planning is paramount.
Mistake #4 - Not considering one-time expenses.
The key to creating a budget you can keep is to consider all possible expenses. Prepare for unexpected expenditures like car repairs and medical emergencies, and be sure to factor in birthday and holiday gifts, membership renewals, annual weekend getaways and all the other one-time expenses that pop up year after year.
Need more tips on how to stick to a budget? Check out the video below!
How do you approach budgeting money? Is it easy for you or do you have a hard time sticking to your budget? Tell us your budgeting rules in the comments below.
This article was contributed byGoBankingRates.com, a leading source for CD rates, savings account rates, personal finance news and more.
If you’re getting lucky between the sheets, that luck is spreading to your finances.
People who have sex about four times a week or more, earn higher wages than their less-sexually active counterparts, according to a study.
Of course, more sex doesn’t mean you’ll get a fat stack, there were other contributing factors. Those who have sex frequently tend to be in a more positive mood, have a higher self-esteem, helps with reasoning skills and are less likely to be depressed.
Sex makes you happy and happy people tend to make more money.
Kids of Latino immigrants start off with more advantages than children of U.S. born Latinos, faring better in areas like education, economics and health, according to a study. Over time, however, children of Latino immigrant parents will face disparities in income, health insurance and education.
Latino immigrants have strong family structures, cultural pride and work ethic which motivates the family to find and maintain employment creating a good environment for children to thrive.
As time progresses the advantages disappear as Latino immigrant families have lower incomes and lack of access to medical insurance and in turn have poorer health.
Why do you think there are disparities for children born to Latino immigrants or U.S.-born Latinos? Tell us in the comments.
Work Hard, Play Hard: You work hard everyday, and since your boss won’t give you a raise, you figure you’d give yourself one. Hey, we know the feeling and we’re not judging. But be careful just how much you reward yourself. Going to the fancy club, eating at the nicest restaurant and shopping at the high-end store at the mall will catch up with you after a while.
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Congrats, you've got a great job and some decent money coming in. You can afford to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want, wherever you want.
But did you know that you are probably robbing yourself by overspending on certain things?
According to DebtRoundUp.com, the average American spends $1.33 for every dollar they earn. Much of it due to paying too much for the things we enjoy, or think that we will.
African Americans are generally satisfied with their lives overall, but concerns for the future are still present, according to poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.
Will all the optimists please stand up?
The results showed about 53 percent of Blacks surveyed said their lives have gotten better in recent years, while ten percent said its gotten worse. A whopping 86 percent said they are content with their lives, while 48 percent said they are very satisfied with their current situation.
Let’s keep the momentum going.
Over half of Blacks said they are financially better off than their parents were at their age, but one in seven said they are worse off. Also nearly half of employed African Americans said they are concerned about losing their jobs within the next year.
Hmm, how can we change this?
In terms of health, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes are top health concerns for the African American community. Also, about half of them are not confident that they could pay for medical expenses.
Physical activity should be implemented in daily routines in order to maintain overall wellness. Yoga anyone?
Looking into the African Americans personal lives, the poll also mentions 82 percent of Blacks are happy in the area they live and mentioned crime as a top issue in their communities. Another main concern was access to health food.
In a love-related breakdown, Black men are 43 percent more likely to say they are looking for a long-term relationship versus 25 percent from their female counterpart.
Also, one-third of Blacks surveyed said they have experienced some sort of racism at least a few times a year.
The poll results is a launching point for the NPR series, “The View from Black America,” where the news outlet will explore how Blacks see themselves in a changing country. Stories will air all week.
Do you think the poll presents an appropriate reflection of Black America? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
While much buzz circulated the reduction in cable subscriptions, a new survey revealed more U.S. households are also cutting Internet services and are relying on mobile devices and Wi-Fi hot spots to surf the web.
In 2012, about 1 percent of homes across the country stopped paying for home Internet subscriptions and opted for wireless access instead, according to a survey by Leichtman Research Group Inc. Comparable to cable subscriptions, less than half a percent of homes canceled their pay-television access in order to get video entertainment through Internet services like Hulu or Netflix.
The average monthly cost for at-home Internet access is nearing $50, paralleling a typical low-end smartphone plan. The equivalent costs have many Americans not wanting to pay for both and showing more people are choosing to stick to their mobile device’s service to go online.
According to the Pew Research Center, minorities or people in low-income communities are more likely to rely on their smartphones for web access.
Though women may earn less money than men, a survey says females are better at handling credit.
Ladies, take a bow.
The report, released by Experian, stated men have 4.3 percent more debt than women. Women have a higher average credit score of 675 compared to their male counterpart who have an average score of 674. Turns out men use more of their available credit than women who use about 30 percent of it.
Is there a clear divide in how men and women approach credit?
The take away in this includes paying attention to credit reports, making payments on time and taking advantage of low credit card utilization rates as you step toward financial freedom.
PBS political and economic correspondent, Paul Solman was asked: What is the unemployment rate for Blacks 16 to 24 with less than high school, high school only, and four years of college?
Solman said according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Black unemployment rate was reported at a 13.2 percent in April. The number is slightly higher than it was a year ago.
While the same data does not include a specific breakdown for 16 to 24 year olds, it does so for 16 to 19 year old African Americans who do not have any college education. In that demographic, the 40.8 percent are unemployed, compared to their White counterparts who rate at almost 22 percent.
These numbers are real folks, what we do as a community to educate and empower Black youth?
The African American community is continuing to make financial progress and feel more economically secure than the general population. While the group is advancing, African Americans still continue to face challenges like debt, financial priorities and the support of family.
According to Prudential’s “African American Financial Experience” study, half of African Americans say their financial situation have improved from a year ago, compared to a 33 percent of the general population.
While African Americans are feeling more confident about making financial decisions, survey participants said they received 13 percent less contact from financial advisers. This means only 19 percent of African Americans have money advisers compared to 30 percent of the rest of the population.
This gap may provide an untapped resource for financial firms. Do we have any takers?
The study revealed debt continues to be a main financial concern for African Americans, revealing the median African American household had $18,000 in non-mortgage debt, which included student loans, credit card and personal loans.
More debt, translated to less savings, the study showed. The median African American household savings tallied up to $40,000 compared to $97,000 nationally. The numbers went up when education was added but the gap remained primarily because African Americans with college degrees were twice as likely to have student loan debt than the average educated American.
African Americans who participated in the survey also said they are half as likely to have long-term investments like bonds and stocks, and were significantly more likely to be financially supporting an unemployed family member.
How do you create your own financial freedom?
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
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Redemption: I Survived A Home Foreclosure
A personal recovery story from the subprime mortgage crisis
Jamaica native Melonie Griffith had pretty much all she really wanted: marriage, children, and a dream home in Boston.
Despite having declared bankruptcy in her early 30s, the paraprofessional in Boston Public Schools and her husband were able to purchase a $470,000 Dorchester duplex in 2004 at the height of the real estate bubble.
But she separated from her husband a year later, and it wasn't long until she fell behind on the $4,000 monthly mortgage payments.
When the housing bubble burst in 2007, the value of Griffith's two-family property plummeted to $260,000, nearly half of the amount of her mortgage. Although U.S. Bank and Countrywide were her original lenders, Griffith says it was the New Hampshire-based subprime firm Ocwen, which took over her mortgage, that she ended up fighting.
Within four years, the bank foreclosed, and a sheriff was at the door ready to forcibly evict her and her three children.
“They weren’t really working with me,” Griffith said. “One of the things they were unwilling to do was reduce the principal.”
City Life/Vida Urbana, a Boston-based organization, staged a blockade for Griffith in January 2008. Dozens of community members formed a human chain blocking the officers from her front porch. That kept the eviction from happening and brought the bank to the negotiating table. But initial talks fell apart.
Two months later, the bank issued another 48-hour eviction. City Life staged a second blockade, which again kept Griffith and her three children off the street.
In the end, she couldn't come to an affordable long-term agreement with the bank and she had to leave the home -- but at least not with a police escort.
She moved into an apartment down the street. After a year, Boston Community Capital helped her move into an affordable condo. She’s been there ever since.
“One of the names people use for us is ‘Project No One Leaves,’” said Steven Meacham, organizing coordinator for City Life. “We urge people not to move when the bank tells them to move. You can win all kinds of [agreements] you’d think were not possible. And that understanding is spreading.”
Meacham said more than 300 homeowners in the New England region have gotten their homes back after a foreclosure and are “building their credit and building a new life.” He attributes some of that success to financial groups like Boston Community Capital, which buys foreclosed properties from the banks and sells them back to the previous owners at the current or affordable market value.
The foreclosure crisis has more profound effects on the financial health of minority homeowners and their neighborhoods, say advocates at United For a Fair Economy, a policy group looking for community and legislative solutions to America’s socioeconomic ills.
The average net worth of white families is more than six times higher than the average worth of black families, and 5.7 times greater than that of Latino families.
"Most of what's been done [to address the banking and foreclosure crisis] fails to acknowledge the gamble that was taken on family's lives to begin with," says Maz Ali, co-author of State of the Dream.
Griffith, now a City Life organizer, says getting the home was almost too easy. She never met with a bank loan officer. She really didn’t make a normal down payment. After settling on the property, her realtor instructed her to, “sign here, sign here, [and] sign here.”
“One of the best things that happened to me was losing my home,” Griffith says. “I know that our work is righteous. We have to challenge the way people think about affordability and sustainability [in the housing market].”
For more information on City Life’s post-foreclosure eviction resistance model and other methods, visit www.clvu.org.
Twinkie hoarders need worry no more, all of the classic Hostess snack brands will return to national store shelves this summer.
“We expect to be making and selling in July,” said Michael Cramer, executive vice president of Hostess Brands LLC, in an interview with NBC News. “Probably the later half of the month before the product hits the stores.” Some of the treats will be available until August and September.
Last November, all 36 Hostess Brands Inc., plants shut down manufacturing after an extended stand-off with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union and has almost completely shut down its operations, selling its assets. The bulk of Hostess brands were purchased in April for $410 million by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co.
It is the new company, Hostess Brands, LLC, that will resume operations in plants in Georgia, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Dallas. The company will also resume hiring, but the jobs will not be in conjunction with the unions, Cramer said.
"We're sure not going to invite the unions in. We don't have to do it," he said. "Though of course nothing prevents the workers from unionizing down the line."
We all know that failing to pay your bills on time will get you on the fast track to a bad credit score, but not all credit mistakes are obvious. Among the biggest? Closing a credit card account.
In an attempt to be more financially responsible, you’ve made the final payment and successfully cleared off your balance. While calling in to cancel your card my seem like the best option, 10 years down the line, the positive history associated with the account will drop off your credit report, according to Credit.com writer Adam Levin. If your overall length of credit history declines, your score will eventually take a hit.
Levin says that there are special circumstances closing your account will benefit you. If a card is used fraudulently and your bank doesn’t cancel or replace the card, you should definitely close it right away. If you share a joint credit card with a partner you are no longer in a relationship with, or if you have a card that charges a high annual fee and the card goes unused, closing it might make sense, but think about the repercussions first.
Here are three ways to minimize damage and improve your credit score:
-If you must close a card, avoid closing the cards you’ve had the longest as well as the cards with the highest credit limit and lowest interest rate and fees. Consider closing store credit cards, which usually tend to come with high fees and low credit limits.
-Be conscious of your timing. Closing a card immediately before applying for a loan could cost you in higher interest payments. Don't close it until after the loan is approved.
-Manage your ratio. If you are planning to close a credit card account, you should first pay down balances on the remaining cards to make sure the balances don’t drag down your score.
Do you have any other tips on dealing with credit cards? Share them in the comments below!
Then when he wrote about his achievement for CNN Money, he paid another price -- public derision.
In only a few hours after his story was published, responses accused him -- a single, black, college-educated male -- of being too atypical to be relatable; that he oversimplified the scope of his debt; and that repayment was more difficult than he explained.
“I wasn’t gloating,” McBride, 25, tells Loop 21. “I just wanted to show that young people could be debt free if they have the willpower and dedication and patience to do it.”
The skeptical reactions highlighted an issue among nearly 37 million student loan borrowers. There are few examples or easily accessible road maps to how to become debt free quickly. The national average of student loan debt is $24,301. In 2011, student loan debt was $1 trillion nationally.
See Nerd Wallet's video on credit, debit and prepaid cards:
“I’ve got $100k in student debt,” wrote one commenter, identified as Adam. “I’m working for $9/hour now and pulling 12 hour days just to keep my head above water.”
Even more impressive was that McBride, an associate producer for CNN, left out personal context. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he was raised by a single mother, a retired administrative assistant for the city of Santa Monica who is also a five-time cancer survivor. He is estranged from his father.
While his family was not necessarily good with money, McBride says he always has been frugal. As a kid, he saved pocket change in a vault-shaped piggy bank. He had a bank account by age 11. And when it came time to make big purchases -- a video game or other non-necessities -- he paid for them himself.
His mom couldn’t afford to help him attend a four-year university right out of high school. So he attended a community college in Los Angeles before transferring to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He took out loans to help pay for it. He graduated in the summer of 2010.
“It was then I knew that, if I did have a family in the future, I never wanted to be that person that couldn’t provide for someone,” McBride says.
With the student and car loan debt gone, McBride is a lot more financially agile. He has a credit card but only uses it to pay for airline tickets and other trip-related expenses. He generally pays the balance off immediately.
“There’s a psychological component to being debt free,” McBride says. “It does something to you. It’s like winning the lottery.”
More than that, McBride says he doesn’t want to be counted among the African Americans who are so disproportionately outpaced by whites when it comes to wealth and debt. In 2012, whites had six times as much wealth as African Americans. That gap has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, according to a new study by Brandeis University.
“I didn’t want to be another African-American male who doesn’t have their stuff together,” he says. “I imposed the frugality almost as a precautionary measure, and now that I don’t have the debt, it’s a habit that has just stuck with me.”
For most entrepreneurs, fulfilling the dream of being a business owner doesn't include the headache of tax collection issues.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, one in six taxpayers owe Uncle Sam money. In fear that the IRS will act aggressively to collect, taxpayers often go unresponsive to letters and don’t reach out to the agency, instead prowling for advice and quick fixes from third parties. In the case of tax debt, however, any information or tips offered that seem too-good-to-be-true usually is. The IRS offers the following tips for tardy filers that could save time, stress and money in the long run:
To those that owe, avoid finding yourself deeper in debt by communicating with the IRS directly. Blindly trusting in a debt-settlement company is likely to keep you stuck in a tax bill.
If you owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest, set up an online tax payment agreement for up to 72 months. Visit irs.gov and search for the “Online Payment Agreement Application” form. It only takes a few minutes and you can also request a payment agreement by filing IRS Form 9465.
If you are facing financial hardship, ask the IRS for an “offer in compromise,” or OIC for the agency to accept less than full tax payment under specific circumstances. Use the agency’s OIC pre-qualifier tool on its website to determine your eligibility.
If your income is low, find help through the agency’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic program ran by the Taxpayer Advocate Service for low-cost assistance.
Online, the agency offers a series of videos about the collection process with tips on hiring someone to represent you before the IRS.
Do some research and learn about the agency’s collection process before consulting a tax professional for help. Ultimately, if you’re in tax debt, the best way to get out is by communicating with the IRS.
You've heard the saying "money makes the world go 'round." Well, it also makes your weight go down. A recent study found that weight loss participants who received financial incentives were more likely to follow the assigned weight loss program strictly and, in turn, drop pounds than those who didn't receive any reward. The incentive group would receive $20 per month if they achieved the goal of losing four pounds a month. And those who failed to do so would instead need to pay $20 each month towards a bonus pool. Researchers noticed that 62 percent of the participants in the incentive group achieved the goal, while just 26 percent from the non-incentive group hit the target. "The financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence," said Steven Driver, M.D., an internal medicine resident at Mayo Clinic. (Science World Report)
Starting Sunday, many merchants will be free to impose a surcharge on customers paying with a credit card. The new surcharge comes as a result of a $7.2 billion settlement reached last summer between credit card companies and merchants. Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at Credit.com, doesn’t expect there to be too many merchants that will exercise this right at first but the number could grow.
The amount legally permissible will be between 1.5 percent and 4 percent of a purchase price. American Express customers don’t need to worry: AmEx’s contract with retailers forbid imposing a surcharge. Also, ten states prohibit credit card surcharges: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. (ABC News)
It's a new year, and people don't have anytime to play around on the dating scene. For good reason; it's pretty ratchet out there.
Now more than ever, the term "people are crazy" is applicable to everyday life no matter where you live. Not to mention, the economy is not at its peak at the moment. Times are tougher than most, and people want to know that whoever they are dating is bringing more to the table than what they're eating.
“It was as if the music stopped,” Jessica LaShawn, a 31-year-old flight attendant from Chicago, told the Times. She says she was out on a date with a tall, handsome gent who "popped the question" over dinner. “It was really awkward because he kept telling me that I was the perfect girl for him, but that a low credit score was his deal-breaker.”
Wow. With questioning dates about how many people they've had sex with being still somewhat taboo, the next most logical question to ask would be "What's your credit score?" Right?
All last year, we explored various relationship conundrums, asking questions like "Is Sex Fun Anymore?" to which the general consensus was "No, not really." We asked if the number of a mate's sexual partners mattered and we came to a similar conclusion. So if sex and past relationships aren't necessarily deal breakers anymore, it may only make sense that financial irresponsibility take their place.
And believe it or not, there are still people out there who date to find a spouse and not just a good time. For them, knowing their potential partners' credit score could save a world of headache in the future.
We already know that the divorce rate in the U.S. has long hovered around 50 percent. Add to that Forbes Magazine reporting that disputes over money are the leading causes of divorce and you have plenty of reason to be concerned about how who you're seeing handles financial responsibilities.
Low credit scores make life more difficult in general. You have to jump through hoops to get approved for apartments or homes, if you're lucky enough to get approved at all. Banks charge you higher interest rates when applying for car loans. In the worst cases, banks will tell you your money isn't even welcome at their establishments when you're trying to do the responsible thing and open an account.
Low credit scores also indicate that a person may not like to, or is not able to pay bills on time. Who wants to come home after a long day's work to a house with no lights because "sweetie" didn't take care of the utilities?
Dealing with a crazy ex-fling, worrying about infidelity or opening yourself up to an STD are extremes on their own. But all three may be at least easier to talk or vent about in the comfort of a nice home, with all of the bills paid -- on time. Kicking someone out after an argument goes a lot smoother when they have their own car to drive off in, instead of asking you for a ride back home.
Considering all of this, perhaps asking someone "what's your credit score" may not be a bad thing. Creating more open and honest dialogue about money could lead to people becoming more responsible, improving the dating pool for everybody.
However, there are ways of going about such conversations. Instead of flat out demanding to know a credit score, it would be nicer to simply start a conversation about finances in general where the subject can discussed comfortably. And it's probably not something that should be asked on the very first date.
But if it means that much to you, know that there are plenty ofdating sites you can use if that's the first thing you want to know about somebody. Personality and crazy kinfolk be damned.
Intellicorp This agency collects data on your criminal background and provides it to whomever's inquiring. You may want to get familiar with them if you have a checkered past or an incident that landed you behind bars that you want to make clear was resolved or rectified when potential employers start asking questions. You can request a report for free.
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By now, we're all pretty familiar with the three main credit bureaus aka The Three Wise Men (or The Axis Of Evil depending on whom you ask). Equifax, TransUnion and/or Experian are commonly used by entities ranging from employers to car dealerships to landlords to look up your credit history and determine if you qualify to make certain purchases. If your credit score isn't up to par, you may find yourself sitting outside singing one of those FreeCreditReport.com songs.
However, the big three aren't the only ones watching your money moves and impacting whether you get that financial deal you desire.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has compiled a list of 40 other financial reporting agencies [PDF] that track what people do. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, these agencies sell the data they compile to places like insurance companies deciding how high to set your premiums, health insurers looking to see if you have preexisting conditions that can impact rates, potential employers trying to determine if you’re trustworthy, or banks calculating how high to set your credit card limit or whether to allow you to open a checking account.
So that you don't get caught off guard the next time you try to make a big purchase or apply for credit, here and in the gallery above are 10 financial agencies you may want to check out to see if you made their list: