Monthly Archives: December 2014

Check Security: Stronger Than Ever

2291896028_e54336ab04_bToday’s checks have a host of security features that make it difficult if not impossible for them to be forged or counterfeited. Security features on checks these range from special ink to special paper to holographic images.

Modern checks are printed on chemically sensitive paper, which causes stains or discoloration when someone tries to alter the check.

Most checks also have coatings on the paper that cause the toner to adhere. If someone attempts to lift the toner with a piece of sticky tape, it will rip the paper, rendering the check unusable.

Checks these days also come with a range of features that are meant to thwart copying and counterfeiting. These include:

Watermarks, which is a distinctive symbol that is visible on the original checks but won’t reproduce on a copy;

Visible fibers, often of varying colors, that are present throughout the check paper and make copying nearly impossible;

Security screen backer, which contains words that will fade or disappear completely on a photocopy or scanned image of the check;

Multi-colored backgrounds, which make the check difficult to copy or reproduce;

Microprinting — microscopic words, viewable only under a magnifying glass, that become pixelated and unreadable on a copy of the check;

Void indication, which is an area on the check backer with the word “void” in it that only appears in a reproduction.

You might think that check makers would want to hide these security features from those who might want to circumvent them, but today’s high-security checks do the exact opposite, using several methods to advertise their security features. These include:

A warning band on the face of the check that announces the security features;

A warning box on the back of the check that lists the security features;

A padlock icon that shows the checks meet industry standards for security features.

Four Personal Finance Myths You Should Un-Learn Right Now

2204277278_cbf43f4146_bManaging your personal finances may seem easy enough to do, but many individuals struggle with financial issues and concerns. Everything from creating a balanced budget to finding money to save for retirement can boggle your mind and can create stress in your daily life.

More than that, personal finance myths can add to the complexity of your efforts. The fact is that clarifying some of these myths can help you to improve your personal finance efforts and strategies with great results.

You Can Wait Until Later to Save for Retirement 

You may not plan to retire until you are 60, 65 or even older, but that does not mean that you should delay your retirement efforts.

The fact is that compounded interest, dividend reinvestments and other factors can work in your favor over time. The sooner you start saving, the more effective these will be in working for you.

Tax Breaks Are Only for Rich People 

Many people who are less well-off believe that tax breaks are only for the rich, and because of this, some often fail to look for deductions and credits they may qualify for.

There are actually many rebates and credits that are designed for all economic classes. By learning more about these tax breaks, you can determine which options are available to help you reduce your tax liability each year.

Social Security Will Disappear Before You Retire 

Social Security benefits are often mentioned in the news, and it is widely known that the funds available for Social Security payments are decreasing. This is compounded with rising numbers of people reaching retirement age and applying for their benefits.

The fact is, however, that Social Security will not disappear before most people alive today retire. The benefits may not be as significant for future retirees as they are for today’s seniors, but you can still reasonably expect to receive some benefits.

Your Home is a Ticket to Wealth 

Many believe that the great American dream of home ownership will instantly lead to personal wealth, and this is simply not the case.

A home can provide you with tax deductions, an affordable place to live and other benefits. It may appreciate in value over the years.

However, it also requires maintenance, repairs and even updating over time. Because of this, the costs of home ownership should be compared with the benefits. Many will enjoy selling their home for a profit at some point in the future, but a home should not typically be a person’s soul source of savings or the only retirement plan.

Personal finance can be confusing and complicated. There are numerous factors to consider as you pay your bills, create a budget and make savings and investment decisions. Myths surrounding personal finance can make it more difficult for you to make informed financial decisions and to prepare for the future.

Through the clarification of some of the more common myths that are circulating about personal finance issues, you can easily make better decisions about your finances.

Things To Consider Before Applying For A Small Business Loan

7303255278_7ccd3fc0d6_bWhether you require financing for home improvements or to purchase a new home, banks and credit unions are available to lend you money.

Of course, not everybody qualifies for a loan. Getting a loan is often determined by the applicant’s credit score and income.

Before walking into a financial institute and completing a loan application, it is important to educate yourself on the best options for obtaining a small business loan. This can enhance your chances of being approved for a low interest rate loan.

Credit History

Before you apply for a loan, get a credit report and use the information in the report, to identify factors that may cause the loan to be denied.

Your credit score determines if a lender will extend credit. In addition, a low credit score attracts higher interest rates. It’s also important to maintain a decent payment history.

In addition to assessing your credit history, lenders consider your personal income and finances.

They will request employment information, and if you do not have a steady income or employment, you may not qualify for financing.

Having few or no debts makes your loan application appealing to lenders and makes you look reliable, and having a personal savings account and down payment can also enhance your chances of approval and help you obtain a lower loan rate.

Collateral and Co-signer

Lenders may ask for collateral. This is an asset that you can use to secure a loan. To qualify, the dollar value of the collateral must match or be comparable to the dollar value of the loan.

Lenders require different types of collateral including, vehicle titles, jewelry, electronics or equity.

If your credit score makes it difficult to obtain a loan, consider using a co-signer. A co-signer is essentially somebody with great credit who guarantees to pay your debt if you are not able to satisfy the contract.

In other words, they assume full responsibility for the debt. This is a risky situation for the co-signer. However, it helps individuals who are not able to gain financing by themselves.

Loan Application Process

Select a lender. The first financial institute to contact should be the one with whom you have an established financial relationship. Local financial institutes prioritize their clients when processing loan applications.

Itemize your expenses for the small loan. For example, give an itemized breakdown of the machines you wish to purchase for a home improvement project. Give precise totals and estimates for each expense.

Grant the lender permission to acquire a copy of your credit report from one or several credit reporting bureaus. Small personal loans may not require an asset as collateral. However, lenders treat applicants who are creditworthy favorably.

Fill in required paperwork. This includes an application for a small loan. Check the accuracy of the information provided in the application forms before turning the application over to the lender. When applying for a small loan, you must include your legal name, Social Security number and year of birth.

Inquire the terms of your small loan. One such term is the repayment period of the loan. Work with the lender to come up a repayment plan that works for your budget.

Six Tips For Saving Up For A Big Purchase

Saving MoneyIt takes careful planning and strict discipline to save up to make a purchase on an expensive item such as an appliance, a car, or a home.

Even if you take out a loan for such an item, you’ll probably still need to make a down payment that will require more money than you typically have in your wallet at any given moment.

Simplifying the saving process

Many of us assume that saving up money is always difficult unless you’re earning an enormous salary. However, those who make this assumption fail to factor in small expenses that sabotage their efforts at constantly enjoying a comfortable balance in their savings account.

The following are some simple tips that will help you save up the money for an imposingly priced item that you nevertheless need:

1. Be patient

Don’t let yourself get frustrated by expecting things to happen too quickly. The first step to saving up is realizing that your savings will grow gradually.

You can’t speed up how quickly those paychecks come in, so be realistic concerning how soon you’ll be able to make your purchase.

2. Sell things you don’t need

You might have a lot of unused items lying around your home that you can use to put yourself in a better situation to make a large purchase.

Before you even start saving, you should consider what you might be able to sell. If you have a lot of fairly valuable possessions cluttering up your home, you might be able to finance your entire purchase by selling them.

3. Budget

Laying out a budget will help you figure out how much you can afford to put aside every week. When you set out a detailed budget, you’ll be better able to see where you might be wasting money.

While you should set out as strict a budget as possible, you should still realize that you’ll still need to accept certain expenditures to keep yourself going.

4. Drop bad habits

Most of us spend a great deal of money on bad habits like eating out and smoking.

Consider dropping such habits not only to make saving up easier, but also to improve your health and lifestyle. Simply quitting smoking can save you $100 a week or more.

5. Do some research

Saving money is like anything else: the more effort and time you put into it, the easier it will become. Take some time to look at money-saving offers and special programs that can help you to cut back on spending or purchase items you need at a lower cost.

Don’t only look for ways to save money on your big purchase, but also seek out everyday savings on things like groceries, medications, entertainment, and more.

6. Consider buying used

If you’re contemplating a large purchase, you can probably cut costs in half by buying used.

Seriously consider cheaper ways of making your purchase if you need to buy an expensive item as soon as possible.