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Tips for Memorable Family Reunions

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Have you been charged with organizing a family reunion? The thought of reconnecting with distant relatives is no doubt appealing. The responsibility of planning such a large event may well evoke stress and unsettled nerves. The success of every large event can be attributed to systematic advanced planning. Follow these recommendations from the professional event planner to ensure your family reunion is a huge success.

If you’re anticipating a very large number of family members to participate, one option is to recruit several co-hosts to spread out the work of planning the event. After the hosts have been identified, the first steps are to set a budget and confirm a date. Large family reunions can take place in the afternoon, evening, or even span an entire weekend. When family members are travelling in from out of town, take advantage of the group rates many hotels offer. One simple option is to create a social media page with updates on transportation, times, locations and costs of events.

Once the hosts, dates and budget have been defined, send out save the date eVites to the attendees. Many websites offer free eVites with a dashboard that will keep track of responses. The next step is to secure a venue. Options will be dictated by your budget. If your guests are predominantly local, a pot luck, where everyone brings a dish, will keep costs relatively low.

Consider entertainment options for the event. There are several inexpensive ways to commemorate the occasion. One option is to have t-shirts printed for all family members to wear at the event. Another option is to take advantage of the awesome deals offered by Groupon coupons and snag a Vimeo coupon. A commemorative video of the event is a keepsake that can be enjoyed by all members for generations to come. Because there will no doubt be several generations in attendance, be sure to have a variety of activities planned that are appropriate for multiple age groups.

Once the venue, date and costs have been identified, send out final eVites. In addition, create a social media page that can provide updates and options for group rates on lodgings and transportation. Be sure to take plenty of photos to commemorate the occasion for generations to come!

Ways You Can Wreck Your Credit, Costing You Money

Friday, February 16, 2018


While you can hope for a lowes build and grow for money to come out of nowhere, but it takes good financial planning, not to mention limiting spending in order to free up extra money and get out of debt, more importantly staying out of debt.  These are important financial decisions and the same goes for your credit, equally important, as that affects the interest rates you get on huge monthly payments such as your mortgage, any loans, and credit cards.  If you’re not careful you could be wrecking your credit, putting you further and further behind from getting the best rates on the market.

Not Paying Attention to Credit Report

These days you never know who has your information anymore, as you often hear about those that get their card information stolen, whether a glance occurs at a gas pump or if you leave it out too long when paying the tab at a restaurant, even worse have a store you shopped at getting compromised.  Even the credit bureaus that been hacked.  It’s a good idea to get a free copy of your credit report from the major credit bureaus at least once a year to verify all your info and accounts are up to date and accurate.

Careless Payments

One of the largest factors of your credit score has to do with payment history.  While even being a day late will cost you a late fee and even an interest rate bump, but it’s when you get to be thirty days late is when your credit will take a hit, and even if it’s a mistake, it will stay on your credit report for up to seven years, making it all more important to either set up automated payments, or at least set reminders to pay on or before the due date.

Racking Up Debt

Just as important as payment history when it comes to your credit score has to do with the amount of debt compared to the available credit.  The closer you reach your credit limit and your credit utilization is used up, the lower your credit score will go, so if you are using a card for spending each month, at least try and make sure the full balance is paid off by the statement due date, not only to avoid interest, but to keep the balance as low as you can for when that account is reported to credit.

Closing Existing Credit Card Accounts

While you should be applauded for getting out of debt, but one mistake people make when they finally do see that zero balance is to close the account so they don’t risk going on another spending spree, but this can actually lower your score because you are taking away this available credit and if there is a balance on another card, it would increase your utilization.  If you want to avoid using the card, just cut it up, but leave the account open so that available credit stays with you every month, even if you’re not using the account.

3 Quick and Easy Fixes to Raise Your Credit Score Fast

Friday, February 9, 2018


Building a solid credit score can benefit you financially in more ways than one. Not only can a good credit score make getting approved for loans or lines of credit less difficult, it can also help you to secure loans at favorable interest rates. But what do you do when your score isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.

You could pay for credit repair services but there’s a less expensive (and potentially faster) way to make a difference in your score. These simple tips could help raise your score in 90 days or less.

  1. Start with checking your credit

There’s a lot of confusion about credit scores. For example, you may be wondering what the difference is between a FICO score vs. credit score. (A credit score is a three-digit number that gauges your financial health; a FICO score is a specific type of credit scoring model, developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation.)

Your credit scores — and yes, you have more than one — are based on what’s in your credit report. That includes things like your payment history for your various credit accounts, your debt balances and credit limits, how old your credit accounts are, what kind of credit you’re using and how often you’ve applied for credit.

You can get your free credit report and your free credit score instantly through Credit Sesame. From there, you can look at factors are doing the most good, or the most harm for your score. For example, paying late hurts your score significantly.

  1. Consider opening a new credit card account

Payment history is the most significant factor in credit score calculations, but your credit utilization is also important. This is the ratio between your total credit limit and your credit balances. Ideally, you should be using 30% or less of your total credit line for the best credit score results.

One way to raise your score practically overnight is to open a new credit card account. Having more available credit can lower your utilization ratio and potentially drive your score up. Just keep in mind that this is only effective if you’re not adding to your debt.

You can also achieve the same effect by raising the limits on your existing credit card accounts. If your accounts are in good standing and your creditors agree, you may want to consider this before opening a new card, since applying for a new account can trim a few points off your score.

  1. Make use of inactive accounts

If you’ve got older credit card accounts on your credit history, letting them go dormant can backfire. You might not be charging debt on those cards but if you leave them alone for too long, your creditor might close them down for inactivity.

If you have a card you haven’t used in a while, consider making one small purchase and then paying it off. This updates the card’s activity and gives you another month of positive payment history, which could give your score a lift.

Track your progress

Credit scores can change quickly from one month to the next. Remember to check your score and report regularly to see how you’re doing and focus on developing habits — such as paying on time and keeping credit card balances low — that can lead to a stronger score over time.

Expenses to Reduce to Free Up Extra Money

Friday, February 2, 2018


When it comes to freeing up extra money each month you have a couple options.  First, you can come up with passive income ideas in order to have money generating in.  Second, you can reduce expenses, anywhere from your monthly bills, to what you spend on food, gas, and entertainment.  If you take a look at last month’s debit or credit card statement you can see exactly where every dollar is going.  Next, coming up with a budget is a great way to ensure you are on the right track once you figured out how much you should allot to each area.

Cut the Cable Cord

While it may sound terrible and a huge shock to what you’re used to, but think about how much time you spend watching TV.  How many of the endless number of channels that you get to pick from do you watch, and of those, how many have commercials when you flip to them.  If you are like most these days that either watch from your DVR or on streaming services, you may not actually not miss cable at all and you can gain that extra hundred or two a month that you have been spending up to this point.

Avoid Going Out to Eat

Sure, it’s nice to be able to pick out a restaurant of your choosing, order what you want, have it cooked, served, and not to mention, cleaned up after you, but that comes at a premium price.  If you pick up lunch while at work, carryout for dinner on the way home, or even taking the family out to dinner, that can add up quickly.  Even stopping for coffee each morning on the way to work, even though it may only be a couple dollars, can add up pretty quickly over the course of a month.  If you can opt to go grocery shopping instead and prepare your meals at home, even brew your coffee to be ready by the time you’re ready to walk out the door for work, you can see hundreds of dollars a month add up pretty quickly.

Check Your Credit Report

You never who has your information these days as you always hear info being taken at the gas pump or even restaurants and department stores having their computers hacked with customer data going into their hands, so it’s a good idea to at least check your credit report once a year free from the major credit bureaus to ensure that all of the information is accurate, and that you can get the best interest rates on the market for mortgages, loans, etc.

Stop Paying as Much Interest

Speaking of paying interest, for those existing accounts, let’s say you’ve been carrying a balance on a 16% APR credit card, you’re probably not chipping away much at the balance.  If you can get a balance transfer promo for 0% for say, 18 months or so, you can pay off that full balance within that time a lot faster than your other card, especially since you won’t be wasting money on interest every month.

Getting Ready for University

Thursday, February 1, 2018


For more teenagers than ever, starting this year means getting ready for university. It’s likely the most dramatic change any of them have gone through and it can be an intimidating time.

This January, we’re presenting this short guide to the preparations you need to make before September. Applications should already be in hand, so we’re looking at some more practical tips.


Picking somewhere to live is one of the biggest choices you can make prior to starting your studies. It’s almost certain that you won’t know the town that well, and will find it difficult to make an informed choice.

Asking current students will give you some idea of where you’ll fit in best, be it in halls of residence, or private rented accommodation.

Your budget is obviously a deciding factor here, and if you find you can’t accommodate everything you’ve brought with you in your rented room, it’s worth looking in byStored student storage deals to keep everything safe until you can retrieve it and give it a home.

Reading Lists

One of the big expenses for students are reading lists. Some textbooks, especially for law or medicine can run into hundreds of pounds. Buying them all could put a huge dent in your budget for the term.

Research can help you out here. Speaking to students who are already at the university, doing the course you will be studying will reveal which books are essentials you will refer to every day and which you only use sparingly – this cuts down the number of books you need to buy and which you can consult in the library.

That’s not the only way other students can help you out. Many will sell on their old textbooks after they’re finished with them: this is a great way to save money as long as you don’t mind having second hand books. You might even find some of the older student’s marginalia is useful to your own studies!

Before you go down this path make sure you check the reading list for your course. If your tutor has updated to a new edition of a key textbook and you don’t notice, you’ll have wasted money on the old version and be at a disadvantage compared to other students!

Where Can You Actually Use Bitcoin?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Bitcoin has been in the headlines even more than usual in the past few months, largely as a result of its inflated value. While the cryptocurrency’s jump up to more than $19,000 in worth near the end of 2017 has so far proven unsustainable, it’s still trading over $10,000, where a year ago it was right around $1,000. This has largely made people take it more seriously as a commodity. However, it’s also still usable as a currency. But where can you actually spend it?

This is an important question to answer if you’re interested in the convenience and security of digital currency, or if you buy into the idea that we’ll be using it more and more in the coming years. At this stage, bitcoin is still something of a niche option where day-to-day transactions are concerned. But there are some places to put it to use, and more are emerging on a semi-regular basis.

Major Online Retailers

Clearly this is a broad category, but it’s just as well because it’s probably the most significant one also. While mobile phones can be used to conduct bitcoin transactions in person at brick-and-mortar locations (which we’ll get to below), the easiest benefit of digital currency is being able to use it while you’re already online. And if you take a look at major stores accepting bitcoin, you’ll see some of the largest online retailers in business today. These include Overstock, eGifter, Etsy, and even Microsoft, to name a few. Together these sites can account for a huge portion of your online shopping (or your shopping in general), and each of them makes it easy to pay for a purchase with bitcoin.

Restaurants & Cafés

Restaurants and cafés have been slower to adopt cryptocurrency, but as mentioned there are instances in which you can use a phone or another mobile device to access your bitcoin wallet and make a payment in person. There’s a handy site called SpendBitcoins that is actually designed to help you find brick-and-mortar locations that accept bitcoin, and it can give you an idea of where you might be able to eat and drink with digital currency. You may just find a few restaurants in your area.

Gaming Sites

Gaming has proven to be an interesting avenue for bitcoin payments. For a while Steam, perhaps the biggest online marketplace for conventional game downloads, accepted bitcoin, though it recently stopped due to high fees and price volatility. In casino gaming, however, bitcoin seems to have stuck. Numerous bitcoin-only or bitcoin-compatible casino platforms have sprung up in recent years, and more established gaming sites may well follow suit, particularly in the UK and Ireland, where bitcoin is essentially free from regulation. The Irish site SlotSource, a prominent gaming resource, shows that several platforms already accept PayPal so that users can feel secure in making online payments. The leap from there to accepting fully digital currency isn’t a big one, so it won’t be a surprise if this and similar sites are soon on the list of places you can spend bitcoin as well.

Travel Booking Platforms

Technically most travel booking platforms would actually fall back under the heading of major online retailers, but they serve such specific purposes it seems only fair to give them their own category. Expedia is probably the most commonly discussed travel booking site that accepts bitcoin, but it’s been joined by the likes of CheapAir.com, Virgin Galactic, ABitSky.com, and Berkeley Travel to name a few. These options have to be considered particularly interesting given the skyrocketing value of bitcoin, because they involve heftier purchases. At least psychologically, it might seem more natural to buy expensive plane tickets and/or hotel reservations with bitcoin than it seems to order new headphones or something of the like.

The Secrets of Hiring Executives

Sunday, January 28, 2018


When you’re taking your start-up from the development stage into a fuller life on the corporate stage, it’s important to get some experienced executives involved. Your specialism is in the unique service you’re developing, managing your team of developers and technicians who are getting a minimum viable version of your product ready for the market and for investors. You need specialists in navigating the world of business, using their insight and contacts to maintain a reliable and plentiful stream of revenue, and reassure your investors that the business is getting advice from experienced professionals.

You need to make sure you get the right people though. If you make hasty hiring choices you might find that you’re losing your grip on the company you founded, and pushed to make decisions you may not agree with. On the other hand, if you don’t have an executive team who will challenge you and ask difficult questions, you run the risk of falling victim to a problem your limited perspective couldn’t foresee – being surrounded by yes-men is rarely a recipe for success.

Hiring the right people to see your business through these tricky growing pains is a challenge. A good place to begin is with your professional network –founders, entrepreneurs and other peers that you respect and have established contact with over the course of your career so far. They may well be able to recommend people who’d be a good fit for you, and a personal recommendation from someone who’s opinion you trust is worth a great deal, especially in the early stages when your hiring experience is limited.

It’s also worth consulting with specialist executive recruitment firms. Savannah Group is one such recruiter, that specialises in executive appointments, so you know they’ve spent years collectively cultivating a network of contacts from which they can draw the best possible candidates for your business.

When you’re making executive appointments, it’s important to find a recruiter who specialises in your niche, and make your needs very clear. They want to find the right candidates for you, to get a quick result, and possibly bring you back to them in future, so you should take the time and discussion necessary to make sure they have a full understanding of your situation. Think of this as a collaboration: you could be working with this firm over the course of years so building an understanding early on is vital and will help them find you the people you need to take your start-up to the next level.

It’s Good to Save Money, But Not Be Cheap…

Friday, January 19, 2018


Though you may be saving money every month, it’s good to continue to free up extra money by reducing expenses so you can continue to build your emergency fund and save for your future.  At this point you may still be asking what does ira stand for, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a cheapskate in order to save a few bucks.  I just heard the other day about a friend going to another friend’s huge expensive house who was annoyed about guests asking if they could open a $3 bag of chips.

Not Springing for Streaming

Cutting the cord is becoming more and more common as consumers are tired of paying a couple hundred dollars a month on their cable bill, so cancelling altogether, along with getting a $20 HD antenna to still pull in the local channels is a smart financial move.  It’s those that have cut the cord but are still borrowing a family or friend’s streaming password in order to still get shows.  Whether that is logging into their cable company website, or even taking their Netflix password to skim a little more off the top.

Reusing Sandwich Bags

I just saw a segment on a cooking show the other day about reusing sandwich bags, asking if that was good or bad to do, and while it is a cheap move to make, it’s also very unhealthy to reuse these bacteria traps, no matter if you try and wash them, not everything will be removed and cleaned like new.  If you are looking to reuse, they do make thick, dishwasher save bags that you can buy and reuse over and over, provided you can get over the initial investment cost up front, but can be worth it over time for your wallet and saving on the environment.

Having an Unhealthy Stockpile

Which groceries that are on sale may not always be the healthiest, and that doesn’t mean you should stock up and store in your basement just because you are saving money.  Those processed and packaged foods can be filled with sugar, salt, not to mention an entire list of ingredients that you have never heard of, let alone pronounce.  If you can find a line between eating healthy but still saving money you will be in good shape but avoiding an unhealthy stockpile just to save money is not worth it.

Do Everything Yourself

Now I may not be the handiest person there is, but I can do some things, but just because you can take care of projects around the house, that doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself.  By hiring a licensed professional, you can save your sanity and time, which may mean more than money, while getting your project done while you can still hold down the fort.  Now I’m not suggesting say, a lawn service if you are fully capable of taking care of the lawn, but other home renovations and installations it may be best left to the professionals.

Financial Resolutions to Make in 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018


With so much thought and effort put towards losing weight as a resolution, at least for the first few months anyways, until you start to reduce the amount of times going to the gym until pretty soon every month the monthly fee is taken from your checking account but you haven’t gone in months.  Do yourself a favor and put your resolution towards something more important:  your finances.  If you can prepare your financial resolutions now for 2018 you can be in a much better shape come this time next year.

Set Priorities

Whether it is saving money for a vacation, or putting together long-term financial goals, it’s is good to set priorities, and if you have a significant other you share the finances with, making sure you are both on the same page so you can work together to meet your goals.  Take a budget for instance, if you don’t both work together on making sure it working on a monthly basis, it can make it easy to fall into your old spending trap and not be any further ahead than you are right now with your finances.

Give Yourself a Cushion

You never know when you have an unexpected auto repair, have to take the dog for a surgery at the vet, or even medical bills yourself, so it’s a good idea to have a cushion set aside so that you don’t have to put on a credit card when any unexpected charges come and risk going further into debt than you were before.  If you can stash away a few months’ worth of expenses into an account and not touch it, you can have a nice cushion without having to worry about too much money sitting there not earning interest as it would in another account.

Become Debt Free

Once your carryover your statement balance to the next month it starts to accrue interest, and depending on your card could be upwards of 16% APR, which also depending on the balance, could be a huge payment each month.  If you figure a balance of a few thousand dollars, simply paying the minimum balance will do little to chip away, so large payments will need to be made to get rid of the debt, also providing that you don’t continue to charge on the card going forward.  You may need to tighten your spending budget or use cash going forward until the debt is gone.

Invest in Your Future

Whether it is opening a brokerage account and buying stock in cpxx, contributing to your work 401k account, or saving for your child’s college fund, are all great ways to invest in your own future, so that you can start early and ease the financial burden down the road when you will need to take advantage of every dollar you have saved in order to live off, because as we always hear, there may not be much social security to live off, so you’ll need ample savings to continue the life that you have now.

Ignore Some of the Credit Card Myths

Monday, January 8, 2018


As we are ready to head out for holiday shopping there is no doubt you will be taking out your credit card for most, if not all, purchases.  While that could scare some about having a credit card balance, it doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.  In fact, if used right, credit cards can make a lot of financial sense even based on the fraud protection and rewards that they provide.  That doesn’t mean they don’t get a bad reputation, and there are some myths about credit cards that can be avoided, because they just are not true at all.

You Don’t Need a Credit Card

Why sure, you can probably get through your everyday life without a credit card, but if you do not have a credit card you probably do not have much of a credit history.  If you want the best interest rates on the market when it comes to buying a house, getting a loan, or a credit card, you need an excellent credit score, otherwise any increase in APR will cost you money.  By having a credit card, using, and paying off each month, you can develop a solid payment history, not to mention have credit line increases as well.

Close the Account When Balance is $0

Debt can be a scary thing, especially if you are in so deep that it takes years to get out of.  By the time you come out and see that zero balance you may not want to tempt fate and have that available credit to you any longer.  While that is something to be proud of to get the balance down to zero, closing the account could actually hurt you.  It can actually help to keep the account open, but cut up the card so you don’t use, but still have that available credit to your name.

Accepting a Credit Line Increase Will Hurt Your Score

While sure, the creditor is trying to get you to see the credit line increase and want you to go on a spending spree to charge that much more on your account, but accepting a credit line increase can actually help your score, not hurt it.  If you use to your advance and accept the credit line increase, you can now increase your available credit and increase your credit utilization, so it can actually increase your score.  Just be careful not to see that higher line and want to charge more than you can afford to pay the full balance.

The Name on the Card Matters

You will likely get credit card offers in the mail daily, with “Gold”, “Silver”, “Platinum” added to the name to try and stick out, but the truth is, you really should only care about two things:  the APR, the interest on your charges if your carryover a balance, and the rewards, what you can get back on the purchases you make, whether that is in miles, points, or even dollars.  If you charge and pay the full balance by the due date, you can actually just focus on the best rewards card available.

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