There is more to it than Simple Closure

Professional advice has always warned against closing existing credit accounts. Your credit score is made up of a number of elements one of which is your existing debt relative to the credit that you still have available. You should ideally never exceed 30% of debt against your total available credit. If you zero an account then close it you will be reducing your available credit and therefore potentially harm your score.

You should certainly get rid of expensive credit card balances and can do that with a far more competitive personal loans. Modern online lenders provide a simple and speedy loan vice with approvals dependent far more on affordability rather than the previous history of the applicant.  Decisions are usually fairly immediate with correct applications and the money transferred automatically within the next working day. You will not face another interest rate charge on your card.

The question is whether you should retain the card. As long as you are self-disciplined in the future and only use the card for convenience then why not? You should be certain you can pay off your month’s spending in full at the end of the accounting period in order to avoid interest being applied.

The Scissors

There are occasions when taking scissors to you card makes sense:

  • Self-discipline can be a problem. You may be tempted by some special offer or the latest gadget. How strong is the will power? If you close an account then you cannot spend anything on it. Credit scores do judge accounts of some age higher than new ones and overall 15% of your credit score is made up of the length of your credit history. That is not affected if you close an account and removal of temptation may be worth the slight setback to your short term score. Your good history relating to the card will not disappear until the seven year limit removes it anyway.
  • If your card has a particularly high rate of interest or stringent terms and conditions it may well be worth closing it and getting a more competitive card. That will mean you retain your debt/available credit ratio. If you can negotiate the waiver of fees then by all means keep the card.
  • If your card is ever used fraudulently it makes sense to close the account. If it has been used once it may be vulnerable for unauthorized used again even though the first transaction was identified.
  • If the card is a joint account and you are splitting up it is obvious that the account should be closed.
  • At times a card is useful because of the rewards and promotions that have been a regular feature. If they no longer apply then it may not make sense to keep the card, especially if another card provides what you now need.
  • Where you have resolved never to seek credit again then more than a single card for convenience makes little sense. Your mortgage may already be in place so why have multiple cards when you are handing your payments well? That should ensure your credit score is fairly good.

If you get the scissors out then it is worth taking a couple of other steps at the same time:

  • You must keep your debt levels low. If your debt ration changes and harms your credit score if you reduce your debt you can restore your score without taking on a new card.
  • Where you have a choice of which card to close, close the newest one unless its terms and conditions are clearly better than an older card.

Ultimately anything older than seven years disappears from your credit history but by the time that happens with the positive entries on an account you have closed you can take  other prudent steps to improve your credit score elsewhere. That not only means reducing your overall debt but continuing to pay all your bills on time from personal loans to regular monthly commitments like utility bills or insurance payments.

If your financial management skills improve you need not worry too much about closing any account because you will find that your credit score will start to reflect your better performance when it comes to your financial affairs.

Three Money Mistakes Made by Millenials

Each generation wants to be more successful than the last, whether that is making more money, having enough to retire, or a home to be proud of, but it does not see like we are headed in that direction.  Whether you are just entering the workforce now, need to make adjustments to your spending habits, or looking for advice to pass down to your children, it is never too early to prepare for your financial future.  By avoiding some of the worst money mistakes you can make, you will be setting yourself above most, as I wish that I had followed earlier in life.

No Credit Card Discipline

Signing up for a free t-shirt promotion during my first semester of college started years of bad spending habits that would have been solved had I not had a credit card.  Sure having a card is good for your credit, as long as you make payments on time and pay off the balance each month, but in my case using it as an open spending account to have fun took years to pay off, teaching myself a lesson that I will eventually pass down to my children.

Not Contributing to 401(k)

When you graduate from college and start your career path the last thing you are thinking about is retirement, but pretty soon the years will catch up and you will realize you do not have much to show for it, so even if it is minimal, such as 3% or so, start contributing early.  If you are lucky to have your company match contributions, adjust for the max they will offer, as potentially thousands could be left on the table that you could have in your account.

Putting Off a Savings Account

The fact that the average American only has a couple thousand in the bank is no surprise as there is always something to spend money on, but you need to get in the habit of saving early on.   The more money that is left in your checking account is the more opportunity to spend on unnecessary items.  Use direct deposit to ensure that there are consistent contributions being made each paycheck.  There will always be big items to purchase, such as a home, car, wedding, so start young and you will thank yourself later in life.

Increasing Your Job Satisfaction as an Educational Professional

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You’re fresh-faced after enjoying a well-earned summer break, and ready to start the teaching year with a bang. But with the general consensus over teacher’s working lives being resoundingly negative, maintaining that positive attitude over the coming months could be a struggle.

In March the Guardian published the results of their teacher survey, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

With 60-hour weeks being common practise, an unhealthy work-life balance was one of the biggest complaints. Concerns over undue pressure on head teachers and increasing workloads are also damaging career progression.

The most concerning result was the record number of respondents who were seriously considering leaving the teaching profession. With staff shortages already affecting schools and pupils, this is an issue the government should be putting serious time and energy into solving.

But we could be waiting a long time before we see the effects of any policy alterations or structural changes. As the teaching year commences, now’s the time to take matters into your own hands and improve your job satisfaction.

Become the next leader

This seems like a big ask but it’s easier than you think. Believing in yourself and your opinions about what could improve teacher’s lives is important, and having the appropriate qualifications will lend your voice more weight.

Undertaking a course in Educational Leadership and Management might seem like a left-of-centre choice, but it’ll allow you to progress to a level where you can actually implement changes.

Studying online around your already busy schedule will require dedication, but the payoff makes it worthwhile. Even the act of trying something new will give you some much needed focus and satisfaction if you’re feeling trapped in a slump.

Fall back in love with teaching

It may not always feel like it but your headteacher is as concerned as you are about the future, and many schools are starting to respond. Schemes to reduce marking by increasing one-to-one feedback systems have proved successful in some English primary schools, as have decisions to shut the school building at 5.30pm.

Similar changes may be rolled out across the nation if these pilot schemes prove successful, but until then putting effort into improving your mental attitude is also key. Talk to your peers and family about your concerns or achievements, and always be honest with your employer about your needs.

If you’re struggling at the moment, asking for help is the surest way of receiving a helping hand. Recent headlines prove you’re not alone, so stay positive and focus on realising productive changes that’ll make a big difference to your career and long term happiness.

 

Filing Your Taxes is Easier Than You Think

Filing your taxes is an inevitable annual process, and for many people, it hangs over their heads until tax season is over. Even though many methods are available to aid in this process, tax season has gotten a bad reputation as a time when you have to spend money with an expensive accounting firm to find out how much more of that hard-earned money to give up to the government. Or you might figure you’ll waste your refund money on frivolous things. As it turns out, many of the negative stereotypes associated with tax season are simply myths.

Filing your taxes used to mean taking them to an accountant who worked some magic, spoke a language you didn’t quite understand, and took your money. Recently, many online resources have begun to offer programs to make it easy to do your own taxes. It didn’t take long for smartphone providers to offer apps on their smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S7 from T-Mobile, to allow users to file taxes from anywhere within the extensive and reliable network. And filing on your smartphone offers the flexibility and simplicity you can’t get from filing by traditional methods.

More people than ever are filing their own taxes now without the need for an expensive accountant. Filing your own taxes doesn’t mean you won’t get a refund, either. In fact, the IRS paid back over $217 billion in refunds in 2015, so refunds are very likely. Taxes go toward helping the educational systems, transportation systems, and other public service systems that make life easier. So instead of falling for tax myths that make you dread tax season, check out these interesting facts and start looking forward to all the positives that come from this time of year.

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Four Items Americans Overspend on the Most

If there is ever chatter about how Americans are racking up the credit card debt or not having much in savings, it is probably true, as they love to spend.  There are four areas that get extra spending attention that could probably be scaled back a bit.

Weddings

The cost of weddings continue to rise to give, whether it is having a little extra money to spend as the economy has recovered, or that a huge dream wedding is in order, Americans are spending over an average of $26,000 for one night of bliss.  Those brides must be watching “Say Yes to the Dress” as well, as the average wedding dress is over $1,200.

Rent

The American dream used to be buying a house right when you finish college and get your first “real” job.  Those that was old enough to live through the most recent economic crash, whether it was seeing parents suffer losses, or not wanting to be stuck in that situation of possibly being under water, seem to lean towards renting over purchasing.  If you do decide that renting is for you, think about the money that is being thrown away each month, with no return on investment or a tax deduction.

Student Loans

With the cost of college in general, not to mention the cost of textbooks, and add room and board into that, and there is a reason why a recent graduate is entering the workforce with an average of over $37,000 in student debt.  That is only figuring a four-year degree, so add in further education or even worse, medical school, you may never be able to pay off student loans until you are about to enter retirement.

Cars

It is not a myth that a car depreciates the second you drive it off from the lot, so why would you want to purchase a new car.  With loan terms being five or even six years to keep payments somewhat reasonable, that is also assuming that you will not be tired of the car even if it escapes the loan without having any major repairs.  I have learned my lesson and will never buy a car again.  For a few hundred dollars a month, lease, and you can get a new car every two or three years, never having to repair except normal oil changes and tire rotations.

A Good Financial Check-Up Can Save You Thousands

This is a guest post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com

I know so many people who consider themselves frugal, because they don’t spend a lot of money on daily items, such as food or leisure. While that is great, I often notice that these same people just leave their money sitting there on their savings accounts, earning them less than 1% per annum, instead of investing. Now, that’s plain depressing. You work so hard to save a few dollars here and there, and you don’t put the work to grow your savings!

The first thing that shocks me about these self declared frugal people is they often have a mortgage one or two percent higher than the market average. My mother was one such example. She had the cash sitting on her savings account to pay off the mortgage in full, yet was paying the bank interests every month. When I crushed the numbers, because she only had five years or so left on her mortgage, she was “only” saving a couple thousand dollars. Do the same if you have 20 years left on your mortgage, and you might be looking at a mid five figures number! That is a lot of brown bagged lunches!

So how do you prepare for a thorough financial check-up? You will need about an afternoon of your time, which you may claim you do not have, but I can assure you, your hourly rate will end up being much higher than when you clip coupons.

Pull out your bills, and go through them one by one. Is there an add-on that you don’t need on your phone bill? Are you on the best tariff? A quick online comparison will let you know the answers for your phone, broadband, utilities and other bills. If you aren’t on the bare bones package, make sure you are getting value out of each and every option you are being charged for. Otherwise, call your provider and ask them to remove the charge. I call my broadband provider every year and have been kept on the 50% new customer discount for the past 7 years. It takes a 10 minute phone call every 12 months and saves me around $150.

Same thing for your other monthly expenses. Do you get your money worth out of your gym membership? Your magazine subscription? Maybe you joined a sports club but only go once a month, is there a fee per visit instead? If can spend less while doing the same thing, just go for it! Challenge your car insurance, home insurance and other premiums, your cable, even your taxes! You never know, there might be a tax break you are entitled too and not taking advantage of.

Next, let’s have a look at your banking. Do you have credit cards? Is there an annual fee? Is it worth it? Don’t just shrug and assume it is. Write down all the perks you have gotten this past year (cash back, miles, insurance..) and see if the value exceeds that of the membership. Otherwise switch to a free card. Look at the fees you have been charged, such as ATM fees, and see if you can get a card where you wouldn’t be charged. If you have a balance on any card, switch it to a 0% card and make sure you clear the balance by the time the deal expires, or that you switch to another 0% deal.

Finally, let’s cover your investment accounts. Unless you are already investing with a low fee robo-advisor, you are probably paying more than you should in management and investing related fees. And that can cripple your retirement nest egg. The first step is to go through your company’s retirement plan and make sure you are contributing to at least get the full company match. That’s free money you don’t want to pass on. Then, you can invest the rest so you make the maximum contributions to your 401k and IRA for the year. Again, make sure you are getting one of the cheapest brokers of the market. Then, just leave the money there and try not to touch it until you retire.

While that full financial check-up is plain boring, doing it at least once a year can save you thousands for just a few hours of your time. Way better than trying to pinch pennies in my opinion.

Five Items that We Pay for but Do Not Need

One of the best ways to take control of your finances is to remove unnecessary spending, and what better way to take it a step further on items you think could not be a big deal but should be tweaked.  Take a look at five items that we spend money on that could easily be avoided.

Bottled Water

We already pay for water (or if you live in the city of Detroit and you do not pay, you still get for free without a shut off, but that is a separate issue), so why double pay just to get a bottle.  Whether you take a bottle to work for lunch, or only drink bottled water around the house, you could quickly see your recycle bin fill up over the course of a month and think about how much you are spending per bottle.

Shipping

With Amazon Prime offering free shipping it is hard to imagine having to go to any other site to get items sent to your house, especially since you pay sales tax anyways, it is just for the luxury of not leaving the house.  Sure Amazon does charge $99 annually for this service, but think about how many boxes get sent to your house and you will decide it’s worth it.

Top Brand Names

If you go to your local grocery store and compare their brand to the top known brands, you will not notice much of a difference, especially with the quality food craze going on these days.  Top retailer items are always a premium, so if you can avoid those, then try entering the store brand foods.

Pets

I am not saying pets are a waste of money, we love our dog and would do anything for her, but we also did not pay more than a few hundred dollars for her.  With so many animals available via shelters for rescue or with breeders, there is no need to spend thousands at a pet store or specialty dog breed to be your next best friend.

Credit Card Interest

Every time you carry over a balance to the next month the interest starts to add up, some cards charging 15% APR.  The more you sink into credit card debt the more you pay in interest, and the more difficult it is to get out.  Pay your balance off each month or do not use the card!

How to Save Time and Money with Essay Writing Services

Time is a valuable resource, and it’s something that you simply cannot attach a price tag too. You have heard the old, but very popular saying, “time is money”. We can always make more money but we can never recover lost time. Consider what your time is worth to you, and then think about all of the activities you do that use up your time in a week. Perhaps you mow the fertilize, mow, and edge the lawn. Or maybe you spend lots of time cleaning the house and doing laundry. Though if you didn’t have the time to accomplish these tasks you could always hire a gardener, or have someone come over to tidy up the house and do a couple loads of laundry each week. In fact, when you think about it, there are a lot of working professionals who hire out these services. So when you need to write an important essay for school, or a business document for an upcoming business meeting, why are we always so insistent on spending all of our own time doing it? Perhaps you are the type of person who gravitates more towards Math and Science academically, in which case writing an essay is much more time consuming for you than someone who is more literary. Rest assured there are professional services out there that can help you.

I think a name like “Write My Essays” actually does this company a disservice, as it makes them sound like they are limited in the types of items they can write for you. Truthfully, they specialize in many areas outside of just essays. Perhaps you need a full book report done and you haven’t yet read the book, or perhaps you read the book but are having trouble translating that into text on paper. As a blogger I can see the need for help in writing product reviews and fresh new finance content to post up on my site. Even though I’m a blogger I also have a day job as a Corporate Finance Manager. This job requires me to create original and thoughtful powerpoint presentations often, and sometimes I can even find that difficult. They are whizzes at creating powerpoint presentations that will captivate your audience.

They have a well vetted, English speaking, writing staff to handle all of your needs. Twice every month each writers current performance is analyzed in order to ensure they are keeping up with the highest quality and standards expected. Their knowledge of grammar and all basic citation styles is tested before they are allowed to join the service. Still not convinced? They have a sample service that allows you to view your assigned writers previous works so you can be sure that they have the style and quality you are seeking.

Yeah, yeah, all of the above sounds great, but how much is this going to cost me? Well, they have a thorough pricing matrix that you can follow to see what your specific needs will cost. For example, they have pricing based on the timing of your needs. If they are provided a one month lead time by you, then that will provide you with the cheapest pricing based on time allotted. However, if you opt for the shortest window of time, perhaps a report that’s due tomorrow that may have slipped your mind,  that will cost you premium pricing to say the least. Likewise, the level and complexity to which they are writing has a large influence on the pricing as well. For example, a high school biology essay is going to be much less expensive than say, a Master’s thesis. Fortunately, if needed, they have the capabilities of performing even the most complex writing tasks, even for PhD candidates, so even if it does cost a bit more, you can rest easy knowing the option is available to you. They also offer customized pricing if you have an order that over 30+ pages, which you can email and inquire about.

In the end you will be happy to know they offer a money back guarantee of all of their work. If you aren’t completely satisfied with the delivered work they first offer a revision guarantee that is free of charge, and if that still doesn’t satisfy your needs they will refund you in full. Refunds are generally processed within 3 to 4 business days, so no long waiting period to get your money back. The most important guarantee they have is that all of their work is plagiarism free. They understand the consequences of submitting plagiarized work and promise to deliver quality and original content each and every time. Lastly, they have a confidentiality guarantee. Your use of the service is strictly between you and Write My Essay every time.

As you can see, there are several time and money saving benefits to using their services. With clear indications of quality, pricing, and a money back guarantee you truly have nothing to lose. Stop by and peruse their site for yourself and you can see all that they have to offer.

Craft Ideas for Your Laser Printer

Whether you use these ideas to decorate your own home (or skin!) or whether you give the finished products away as unique gifts, you’ll have fun getting to grips with these craft projects. You’ll need to find a cheap place to get toner cartridge supplies, though!

A Vintage-style laser transfer

This is an eye-catching way to display a favourite photo and it’s surprisingly easy to make.

You need nail varnish remover, a piece of plywood or a plank of pine, masking tape, rubber gloves, a paper towel or burnishing cloth and your favourite laser print. Then…

Prep

Trim your photo so it fits the piece of wood you’re using, before taping the edges down (the printed side should be facing down).

Burnish

Douse your cloth or paper towel with nail varnish remover and rub the paper vigorously. A smooth burnishing tool would come in handy if you have one. When the paper is transparent, you’re probably ready, but lift up a corner of the paper to check. If the image is too faint, tape it back down and have another go.

Finish and seal

Once you’re happy, give the wood a few minutes to dry out before spraying some clear varnish over the image to seal it.

Create Your Own Temporary Tattoos

This is a fun summer holiday project for the kids, or for a hen night, or just for plain fun. The tattoo should last for a couple of days as long as you don’t scrub too vigorously in the bath.

You’ll need some printable tattoo paper and some adhesive sheets – they’re available in kits from most hobby stores.

Create your image

You need to design your image or wording, then, if necessary, reverse it before printing onto the special sheet. You then need to peel back the adhesive sheet and carefully apply it to the printed side of your paper. Work slowly and carefully to stick the adhesive sheet onto the printed sheet, removing any air bubbles as you go.

Apply your designs

Once you’re happy with the adhesion, cut around the individual tattoos with sharp scissors. To apply the tattoo to skin, remove the glossy backing from the adhesive side and place the tattoo on clean dry skin. Press it down evenly and apply a damp sponge to the surface of the tattoo, wetting the top layer, for 10-20 seconds. The top layer will move away from the skin, leaving the design in place.

Make jam jar labels

This works in the same way as the tattoo, essentially, although you’ll be applying the sticker as well as the design. Print out your design on plain paper before covering it with pressure-sensitive box-tape. Make sure all the air bubbles are worked out before submerging the paper and tape in a bowl of warm water for five minutes.

After five minutes, remove your label from the water and peel away the box-tape, which should have picked up your design. Let it dry for a few minutes before applying it to your jars

Teach your College Graduate to be Financially Responsible

There is plenty to be learned at a university in addition to partying, but unfortunately what usually does not sink in is being financially responsible.  While the “making good life choices” may not be a class, that needs to come from the parents.  As your child graduates and now has the knowledge to get a job in their chosen field, how they spend and save money could affect them the rest of not only their young life, but their adult life as well.

I may have been tougher to get through to than the average child, so I typically had to learn from my own mistakes.  It is not that my parents did not try to teach me to make good financial decisions, but of course I knew better than them, so saving money was the least of importance for me.  Spending money was at the top of my list during college while I was not making much money working part-time, but after when I had my first job out of school I was making more, which meant I could spend more.  Credit cards were my biggest vice, as it was something easy to use when I did not have money, and would worry about it later.  Well the credit cards kept coming in the mail and the limits increased, so I was a favorite customer from the credit card companies, while I sunk further into debt.  When I finally came to realization that this could go on is when it was time to buy a house and get married, probably later than I should have.  It took many years to get them paid off, and plenty of discipline on not racking them back up.

Sure this is just my story and I am probably a more extreme case than others, but when you come out of college without a plan and go on a spending spree, it sets you up for disaster, whether you are hundreds or thousands in debt.  Teach your child to have a budget, which monitors the money coming in and going out.  Bills will increase as homes and cars are purchased, so it is important to stress the importance of maximizing spending, while still contributing to savings accounts.  We always strive for our children to do better than we did, as our parents did for us, so make sure your child comes out of the gate ahead.