Three Ideas for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Your taxes have just been filed and now it’s time for spring cleaning – clearing out the dirt and clutter in your homes and work space to allow for a chore-free summer. Why not also use this opportunity to “clean” up your finances? With a little annual clean-up and our three ideas, you can keep your current financial situation well-organized, streamlined and up-to-date.

Clear the document clutter

We are all human and sometimes accumulate piles of important documents and statements. Now is the time to look through your financial documents and consider which to keep and which to discard. Keep recurring documents, such as investment and bank statements, property and casualty insurance renewals or social security and retirement statements, for one year. You need only keep household bills and credit card statements until you have a record that the bill was paid (unless you need these statements as evidence for tax filing or proof of purchase). Shred all outdated and unnecessary statements.

Try organizing your saved documents into a folder with the newest date on top. This way, if you go looking for a specific document, you won’t shuffle through a year’s worth of back up. Maybe, you prefer storing everything digitally. If so, consider naming folders starting with the year, followed by the two-digit month and ending with the name of the institution or document. This keeps the files sorted in an easy, chronological order. Remember, all electronic files should be backed up regularly, whether stored locally or in the cloud. These days, there are plenty of that will sync your devices and securely back up your storage.

When you pare down and keep only what is necessary – for tax purposes and tracking financial records – you’ll have less clutter and a better understanding of what is in your possession.

Consolidate retirement accounts

How many retirement accounts have you accumulated? Throughout your career, you may have switched employers and acquired multiple retirement accounts. You’re not alone: Many people have aging 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement accounts of convenience. Talk about financial clutter! Now is a great time to consolidate these. IRAs, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs can all be consolidated into a single IRA. (Roth IRAs can only combine with other Roth IRAs.) Old 401(k)s can also be rolled into your IRA. When distributing an old 401(k) into your IRA, be sure to review the investment options and expenses in the 401(k) as compared to what is available in your IRA. Combining multiple accounts, may save you fees and most certainly will save you paperwork. Most importantly, you and your advisor can more easily and strategically invest your retirement account for today and the future. When it comes time to take withdrawals, calculations and taxes will be much easier as well.

Update your critical information

Finally, as you begin to clear the financial clutter, you may have various accounts and people who have changed since the last time you organized. That’s why this is a great time to record all your critical information in one central location. We like to call this your critical records organizer. If you already have your information in one organizer, maybe your information is outdated or professionals have changed. Use this spring cleaning time to review the information and make updates. If you have never organized your important information, you should include all your current account numbers, access information and professional contacts. You might like to keep this information in hard copy or choose a mobile app (such as 1Password) or cloud-based document service (such as Dropbox). Creating a central location of this information is not only useful for you each year, it might become critical for your family. You might have account information and professionals in your life that you interact with, but the rest of your family may not know how to contact. Once you update and organize your critical information, remember to let the important people in your family know where they can find this information for the future.

Spring cleaning your finances doesn’t have to be an exhausting process. By keeping important account statements in one place, tossing recurring documents, and shredding unnecessary or outdated personal paperwork, you can clear the document clutter in your life. Consolidating multiple accounts that have lingered over time, will bring you fresh confidence and control over your nest egg, and updating your information in a central location keeps you protected for the future.

Three Card Blackjack, a Casino Table Game Where Players and Dealers Never Bust

The blackjack rules for the casino table game of Thee Card Blackjack vary in that the player is dealt three cards instead of two.

How Three Card Blackjack is Played

Three Card Blackjack is played with a standard 52-card deck. The objective of the game is for players to make the best blackjack hand to beat the dealer using two or three of their cards. Players or dealers cannot bust. Standing, Hitting, doubling, and pair splitting are not permitted, and a player blackjack always beats a dealer blackjack, however a blackjack pays even money instead of the traditional 3/2.

There are three betting positions, Ante, Ace Plus (optional side bet), and the Play Bet. Players must first make an ante wager. Also, the ace plus option if he or she chooses. The dealer pitches three cards face down to each player and three cards to his or herself. The two dealer cards are face down; one is face up.

Based on the value of the dealer’s up card, players must make one of two decisions after looking at their cards:

Fold – the ante wager is forfeited, but the ace plus wager if made will remain.

Raise – the player makes a play wager equal to the ante.

Here are some hand examples:

Player #1 – Has an A, 5, 4.

Player #2 – Has a 6, 7, and 9 (player cannot bust, so the 6 is not counted)

Player #3 – Has an A, 3, A

Dealer – Shows an 8-up card and a 10, 6, are face down.

Note that player #1 has a total of 20 (11 for the Ace, + 5 + 4 = 20) this player chooses to raise against the dealer 8. Player #2 has a total of 16 (9 + 7, = 16. The player chooses to fold. Player #3 has a total of 15 (11 + 1 for the two aces, plus 3 = 15.) He or she also folds, but the ace plus bet remains.

The dealer has a total of 18, so player #1 wins even money for the ante, raise, and ace plus bet. Player #2 loses the ante wager and ace plus bet if made, because no ace was dealt in that hand. Player #3 loses the ante wager but is paid 10/1 for two aces.

The dealer must have at least a 17 to open. If the dealer cannot open, the ante and raise bets will push, unless a player has a blackjack, for which even money will be paid. If the dealer can open, the higher hand wins.

Optional Ace Plus Wager

Here is the pay table for the optional ace plus wager, which pays even if the player loses the hand. Pay tables may vary between jurisdictions:

Ace, any, any – 1 to 1

Ace, ten, any – 3 to 1

Ace, ten, ten – 6 to 1

Ace, ace, any – 15 to 1

Ace, ace, ten – 25 – 1

Ace, ace, ace – 100 – 1

Strategy and House Edge

The strategy for a player’s total to raise against the dealer’s up card is as follows:

16 or less – Never raise

17 – Dealer 2

18 – Dealer 2 – 8

19 – Dealer 2 – 9

20, 21,- Always raise

The house edge for Three Card Blackjack is about 2% for the ante and play bets but increases to between 2.5 & 7% for the ace plus bet depending on the jurisdictions’ pay table.

Free Bet Blackjack – The Casino Table Game Where the Dealer Actually Gives You Free Bets

The rules for Free Bet Blackjack are played like the traditional version except for the two variations listed below. The casino uses six decks of cards, the dealer hits soft seventeen, (hand containing an ace +6) a player blackjack pays 3/2, re-split certain pairs up to four hands, and double after splitting is allowed. Here are the two variations:

Variation One

Double Down Rule – A player may double down on hard totals (hands with no ace) of 11, 10, or 9 only. Doubling on other hands is permitted however by doing so the player will not receive the free bet wager offered by the casino.

After a player makes the allowable double down wager, the house then gives the player a free double wager by matching the player’s original bet with a free bet button. If the dealer wins the player only loses his or her original wager. If the hand is a push, the player keeps the original wager only. If the player wins, he or she keeps the original wager plus winnings equal to double that wager.

Variation Two

Pair Splitting – A player may split any pair except 4′s or 10′s up to four times. The player receives one free split wager each time, where the player’s split cards are divided into two one card hands. The player’s original wager is placed on the first card and the second card receives the free bet button. Doubling after splitting is allowed. If the player so chooses to double after the split he or she will also receive a free double wager. For the winning hands, each free bet button is replaced with real chips. For a player loss or push, the house takes back the free bet button(s).

You may wonder why all this generosity? Instead of the dealer busting with a total of 22, where the house would pay winnings to all remaining hands, 22 becomes a push. Therefore, all remaining player hands also push.

Optional Side Wager

Push 22 Side Bet – This is an optional wager where a player may bet that the dealer will push with a total of 22. If the player wins, ascending payouts are made depending on the cards. Here is the pay table:

Suited Dealer 22 – Pays 50 to 1

Same Color 22 – Pays 20 to 1

Any other 22 – Pays 8 to 1

The house edge for Free Bet Blackjack is about 1.0% without placing a Push 22 side wager, but jumps to almost 6% if the option is made.

Strategy for this game is simple. Besides exercising basic strategy, take advantage of every opportunity to free split and free double.

Blackjack Rules: Learn a Simple Basic Strategy Before You Play – Here’s How

Blackjack rules are important to understand when playing this casino table game. If played properly by using a simple Basic Strategy, the house advantage is very low, at about 0.5%.

The game is played on a table containing multiple decks of cards. (Usually six or eight). The cards are dealt from a device called a shoe or a CSM (continuous shuffle machine) by the house dealer in the casino.

The objective is for a player to have a completed hand totaling 21 or closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. Any player’s or dealer’s hand with a sum over 21 is a bust and therefore loses.

The card values are:

2 through 9 – count as their face value

10 through King – count as a ten value

Aces – count as eleven or one

How to Play

Playing is simple. After you placing an initial wager, two cards are dealt face up to each player. The dealer also takes two cards, one face up and one down, known as a hole card.

Based on the strength of the player’s hand and the value of the dealer’s up card, the player must make one of five options:

Stand – If the player has a strong hand such as a 10, 8 totaling 18, s/he would stand by taking no additional cards.

Hit – If the player has a weak hand such as 8, 5 totaling 13, s/he may hit by requesting additional card(s).

Split – If the two cards are of equal value such as an 8, 8 the player can split by playing two hands for an additional wager.

Double Down – Player may elect to double down by requesting only one card after doubling his/her wager. One example would be a 7, 4 totaling 11. The player would hope to receive any 10-value card to make a total of 21.

Surrender – (Where permitted.) When a player has a very weak hand against a dealer’s strong hand, he/she may surrender the hand for ½ of the wager. One example would be a player with 15 and a dealer showing a 10 or ace up.

Per standard rules, a dealer must draw to a hand total up to 16 and stand (no draw) on a total of 17 or higher.

Note that the 17 rule varies between casinos. Some jurisdictions permit a dealer draw to a soft 17, (Ace + 6) others require a stand on all 17′s. Drawing a card with a soft 17 always aids the casino. Standing on all 17′s aids the player(s).

All winning hands, except for Blackjack, pay even money. A Blackjack is a two-card hand containing an Ace and any ten-value card. That payout is 3 to 2. Some casinos have reduced the BJ payout to 6 to 5. Stay away from the 6/5 games if possible. Here’s why:

Players receive an average of about four Blackjacks per hour. With a 3/2 payout at a $10 minimum table, the total win is $60, whereas a 6/5 payout would only net you $48. That’s a $12 loss per hour at a 6/5 table!

Simple Basic Strategy

Prior to playing, it is important to learn basic strategy. It is easy to comprehend and with a little practice your money can last longer at the table. Basic strategy cards are available in most casino gift shops. You can also find them on-line. Most casinos do not object to any player using the cards for reference while playing. Blackjack strategy applied properly is extremely important when playing the game.

The strategy is a blueprint for players that can greatly reduce the house edge to the aforementioned. It is easy to learn, though it does require some practice.

As previously mentioned, correct strategy is always based on the strength of the player’s two card hand against the value of the dealer’s up card. When applying this method, the player always assumes that the dealer has a ten- value card in the hole. Hence, the following strategy should be used whenever playing: Blackjack strategy applied properly is extremely important when playing the game.

Prior to Playing

Rules do vary between casinos so players should first scout the tables to look for liberal rules. In many jurisdictions the rules are posted at the table. If you do not see them, ask. Here is what to look for:

Split any pair

Double down on any two cards

Re-splitting allowed

Double after split allowed

Dealer stands on all 17′s

Surrender permitted

Here is the Simple Basic Strategy:

Player Hard Hands, (no Ace) if You Have:

8 or less, always hit.

9, double if dealer has 3 through 6, otherwise hit.

10, double if dealer has 2 through 9, otherwise hit.

11, Double against dealer 2 through 10, hit against Ace.

12, hit against 2 or 3, stand against 4 through 6, otherwise hit.

13 through 16, stand against 2 through 6, otherwise hit.

17 through 21, always stand.

Player Soft Hands, (one Ace) if You Have:

Ace 2 or 3, double against 5 or 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 4 or 5, double against 4 through 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 6, double against 3 through 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 7, stand against 2, 7 or 8, double against 3 through 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 8 or 9, always stand.

Player Pairs, if You Have:

Aces or eights, always split.

Twos or threes, split against 2 through 7, otherwise hit.

Fours, split against 5 or 6, otherwise hit.

Fives, double against 2 through 9, otherwise hit.

Sixes, split against 2 through 6, otherwise hit.

Sevens, split against 2 through 7, otherwise hit.

Nines, split against 2 through 6 and 8 or 9. Stand against 7, 10 or Ace.

Tens, always stand.

Blackjack side bets are also available at almost every table. Although tempting, the house edge increases a great deal when these options are selected, some into double digits. Always keep in mind that your bankroll is at a greater risk of a quicker depletion when making these inviting side bets.

Remember that no matter which game you choose, the house always has the edge over the long term. The benefit of applying proper strategy is to increase your chances for short term gain.

Casino Hold ‘Em: The Poker Table Game Where Players Compete Against the Casino, Not Other Players

Casino Hold ‘em is similar to the king of all poker games, Texas Hold ‘em. The main difference being players compete against the house rather than other players. It is easy to learn and play, as long as you understand poker hand rankings. Novice players need not worry about being intimidated by other players. First let’s list the face value for each card and the five card poker hand rankings in sequential order:

Face Value of Cards

2 through 10 and Jack, Queen, King, Ace (2 is lowest, Ace is highest)

Poker Hand Rankings

High card – Five cards of different values with mixed suits and Ace being the highest.

One Pair – Two of the same cards such as 2, 2.

2 Pair – Two of the same cards twice, 7,7, & K, K

3 of a Kind – Three of the same cards, K, K, K, (AKA Trips)

Straight – Five cards in sequential order with mixed suits, 7,8,9,10, J

Flush – Five cards with the same suit in any order (5 Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds.

Full House – Trips and a Pair, Q, Q, Q, 8,8, (AKA, Full Boat).

4 of a Kind – Four of the same cards, J, J, J, J, (AKA, Quads).

Straight Flush – Five cards of the same suit in sequential order.

Royal Flush – 10, J, Q, K, A, of the same suit.

How to Play

A standard 52 card deck is used. All players must first make an ante wager before play begins. There is also an optional bonus wager called AA Bonus. The dealer will then deal his or herself two hole cards face down, and place three community cards face up in the center of the table. This is known as the flop. The community cards can be used by all players to complete their hands.

Players examine their cards and must make one of two decisions:

Fold – forfeiting the ante bet.

Call – Make a wager equal to two times the ante bet.

The dealer will then deal two more community cards face up for a total of five, and reveal his or her cards. The players and dealer make their best five card poker hand by using any combination of their own two cards and the five community cards.

The dealer must have a pair of 4′s or better to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, the call bet pushes and the ante bet will pay according to the pay table listed below.

If the dealer qualifies and player beats dealer, the call bet pays 1 to 1 and the ante bet pays according to the ante pay table below.

If the dealer qualifies and beats the player, the player loses the ante and call bets.

If the dealer qualifies and ties the player, the ante and call bets push.

Pay tables may vary, below is supposedly the most common one:

Ante Bet Pay Table

Royal Flush – 100/1

Straight Flush – 20/1

4 of a Kind – 10/1

Full House – 3/1

Flush – 2/1

All Other – 1/1

Optional AA Side Wager

The AA optional side wager pays if the player is holding a pair of Aces or better. The bet pays even if the player folded the original hand. Here is the pay table:

Royal Flush – 100/1

Straight Flush – 50/1

4 of a Kind – 40/1

Full House – 30/1

Flush – 20/1

Straight – 10/1

Three of a Kind – 8/1

Two Pair – 7/1

Pair of Aces – 7/1

Strategy

Strategy is rather simple for this game according to gaming Analysts. Only the worst 18% of hands should be folded. Which are two low unsuited hole cards with no chance of a straight or flush when matched with the three-card community flop.

Mini-Baccarat Side Bets Are Tempting, But It’s a Bad Bet For Players

Mini-Baccarat was developed as a floor table game in casinos to accommodate the average player. Along with that however, optional side bets were also introduced to increase the house edge. Before I detail them, I’ll explain how the game is played is played.

Objective

The objective of this table game is the same as original Baccarat where player must come as close to the number nine as possible. Aces count as one, two’s through nines are face value, and Tens through Kings count as zero. Regardless of the number of players, the dealer only deals two hands from a 6 or 8 deck shoe. Prior to the deal, players must place one bet on either the Bank hand, player hand, or tie.

When a hand is totaled, it cannot exceed nine. If the two cards total more than nine, the first digit (number one) is dropped. The second digit becomes the total. A few examples are:

7, 8 = 15 (drop 1) total = 5
4, 3 = 7 (two cards, face value)
10, 6 = 6 (10 is zero, 6 is face value)
K, 9 = 9 (King is zero, 9 is called a natural)

Baccarat requires no skill on the part of the player. All s/he needs to do is decide where to place one bet before the deal. The dealer examines both hands and then decides if a third and final card should be drawn for either hand. The determination is made according to a fixed set of game rules.

A bet on the player’s hand returns even money if won. A bet on the Banker’s hand returns even money minus a 5% commission to the house if won. A tie bet returns 8 to 1 if won, otherwise it is a push when not bet. The reason for the 5% commission on the Bank’s win is that the drawing advantage is with the Bank, according the following game rules:

Player

The player position always draws on a 0, 1, and 2,3,4,5 unless the Banker has a natural 8 or 9. The player always stands on 6, 7, 8, and 9. When a player has a natural 8 or 9, the game is over.

Banker

The Banker position always draws on a 0, 1, 2 unless the player has a natural 8 or 9.

The Banker always stands on 7, 8, and 9. When a Banker has a natural 8 or 9, the game is over.

Baccarat Side Bets

There are a number of optional side bets available at Mini Baccarat tables everywhere and like any side wager, all of them exist to increase the house edge. Nevertheless, Players are attracted to them because of the hefty winning payouts. Here are some of the popular ones:

Dragon Bonus

The bettor may wager on the Player or Banker side that the hand will win by a natural or by 4 or more points. The bet must be made before the hand is dealt. The greater the number that the hand wins by, the greater the payout:

Win By: Payout

9 – 30/1
8 – 10/1
7 – 6/1
6 – 4/1
5 – 2/1
4 – 1/1
Natural – 1/1

The house edge for this bet is 2.7%.

The payouts are the same for a bet on the Bank side however the house edge jumps to 9.7% if chosen.

4-5-6

This is a side wager that the total number of combined cards to complete the Player and Banker hand will be 4, 5, or 6.

# Cards Payout House Edge
4 – 1.5/1 – 5.3%
5 – 2/1 – 8.9%
6 – 2/1 – 4.7%

3 Card Six

This is a bet for a winning 3 card six. If player and banker have a 3 card six, the wager pays 100/1. If there is only one three card six, the bettor wins 8/1. The house edge is a whopping 13.4%!

Royal Match

Wagering that the player or banker hand will have a king and queen on the first two cards drawn, called the Royal Match. Not to be confused with the option of the same name found in the game of Blackjack. The bet pays 75/1 for a suited king & queen, and 30/1 for an unsuited royal match. The house edge has been calculated at about 2.1%.

Dragon 7

Dragon 7 is an optional side bet found in EZ Baccarat, which is played the same as regular Mini-Baccarat except the game has a commission free bank hand with one exception: A winning bank hand with a three-card total of seven will push instead of paying even money. A player may wager on that outcome for which the winning payout is 40/1. The house edge is about 7.6%.

Panda 8

The Panda 8 side bet is sometimes found in EZ Baccarat games. The wager pays 25/1 if a player hand has a three card total of eight. As for the house edge, it’s 10.2%.

Tie Bet

The Tie Bet is not considered a side wager, as it is included on all Baccarat table games. However, due to the atrocious house edge of 14%, it should be avoided at all times.

Remember that Baccarat, next to Blackjack, has a very low house edge of 1.2% when the Play bet is chosen, and a lower edge of 1.06% when betting the Bank when you avoid the side bets.

Financial Skills – How to Budget & Balance Accounts

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for a few topics:

How to open a bank account
How to budget & balance accounts
How to write checks and pay bills
And how to start saving for retirement
It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.
In the last article, we focused on opening a bank account. This article is the second article in the four-part series and will look at how to teach kids to budget and balance their accounts.

Budgeting

It’s not shock that budgeting can be boring and tedious. I’ve personally never been excited to sit down and create my budgets, but it’s something that creates wealth and pays off down the road.

So how do you get kids excited about it? How can you add a little glamour to something so dull and boring? Easy – make it a game with payoffs.

Firstly, it’s important to know how to create a budget, then to adhere to the budget.

Creating a Budget

You may have your own way to create a budget, and that’s fine. In my experience, the easiest way to make a budget is as follows:

On a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle:

Spending BudgetCalculate your average monthly gross income and put that at the top of the page, then multiply it by.80 (for example, if you earned $1,000, you would end up with $800)
Fixed ExpensesWrite down all of your FIXED expense categories (i.e. phone bill, insurance, mortgage etc… ) and put them in one column on the left side of the page
Variable ExpensesNext write in the variable expense categories (i.e. food, gas, leisure, etc… ) and put them in another column on the right side of the page
Fill in all of your expenses
Net Budget after Fixed Expenses – Subtract fixed expenses from your spending budget If it’s a positive number, you don’t need to change anything If it’s zero or a negative number, you should look for expenses that you can cut or lower
Budget variable expenses – Using your Net Budget after fixed expenses, determine what you can spend on variable expenses without overspending each month
Set a budget for each variable expense so you know what you can spend on each category in a given month
Making it Fun
OK, now that you have a budget outline, it’s time to get the kids excited.

I know what you’re thinking: “My kids will never be excited for this.”

They will if you give them some prizes or payoffs. Here’s how:

First, tell them what a budget is and show them the paper. Next, tell them that you’re going to do a contest (if you have more than one kid, this works even better).

Contest 1: Anticipating Spending

The first contest is to see how close they can budget their money to reach a break-even or $0 over the course of a month. In other words, the goal is to predict your spending as close to the penny as possible.

If you have more than one kid person that gets the closest to break-even without going negative wins a prize. With just one kid, tell them that they get $5 or $10 if they reach break-even, and every penny they are off, you deduct 10ȼ

Contest 2 – Saving After Spending

The second contest is to see how well they can budget their money over the next 30 days. If they can save money, tell them you will give them whatever they save. That means if they save $5, you’ll give them another $5 (just like companies matching a person’s 401K contribution).

If you have more than one kid, tell them whoever is able to save the most will win and get a special prize. You will obviously choose the prize since you know your kids best.

Coming Soon

In the next article, we’ll discuss how to write checks and pay bills. You will also learn how to combine check-writing with these contests to simulate the real world of budgeting for your kids.

Fully Maintained Novated Lease Vs Non-Maintained Novated Lease

Novated lease is considered as a financially productive way in securing yourself your dream car. There are two types of novated lease. A fully maintained lease and a non-maintained lease. Both leasing options allows you to get the car that you want through salary sacrifice and with tax benefits. However, one is more financially rewarding compared to the other. Let us differentiate the two through this article.

What is a fully maintained lease?

Fully maintained novated leases were designed with an easy life for a driver in mind. In this contract, a pre-determined amount is deducted from your wages before tax in each pay cycle to cover for the lease expense as well as the operating cost of your vehicle as well as any FBT payable.

The operating expenses that is included in your lease pay is reviewed in regular intervals to be able to be in a balanced amount. If your vehicle is costing more to operate than expected, you will be expected to add a top-up on your leasing account to meet the shortfall. On the other hand, if what is being deducted to your salary as operating expense exceeds your actual expenses, you will be reimbursed with the excess funds.

A fully lease also includes several day-to-day inclusions that can help you save more in the process.

You can basically fill up with a fuel card. Simply presenting your card to participating service stations allows you to quickly purchase fuel without having to shell out cash from your pocket.

You can call for help through a 24-hour roadside assistance to help you in case of a dead battery, flat tire or even something more serious.
High maintenance anxiety can be avoided. Maintenance of your car is paid from the funds that already deposited into your salary packaging account that ensures you to receive pre-negotiated discounts on labor and parts costs that are in line with the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Life becomes even easier with a fully maintained novated lease.

What is a non-maintained lease?

Meanwhile on a non-maintained novated lease, a pre-determined amount is being deducted from the wages each pay cycle to cover for the least costs of your vehicle and any other FBT payable. Compared to a fully-maintained novated lease, you only pay for service and maintenance costs only when they occur. This plan allows you to enjoy tax benefits while paying for your car, through salary packaging, while giving you full control of your service fee, maintenance and other operating expenses.

Student Loans – How to Choose a Lender

When you are applying for student loans it is extremely important that you choose your lender carefully, make sure that you have thoroughly researched the company that you will be dealing with for the next few years.

There are many choices that are available to you and, really, it is a buyers’ market. In other words, there are many loan companies that will be trying hard to get your business. This is a good thing because it means that due to the competition that many companies will be offering very competitive rates.

Keep in mind that ‘oils ain’t oils’ and that the quality of lenders can differ vastly.

Tips For Choosing a Good Lender

Consider all the options. It is a good idea to make a spreadsheet or even just note things down on a piece of paper what the pros and cons are for each lending organization.
Get Help. If you are at odds as what company to eventually use for your funding, then it may be an idea to ask your school councilors as they will have the latest information.
Ask Someone. Before you commit to signing up for a loan, find out what other student from your organization has also used this company. Ask their opinion about the service and helpfulness of the loan company.
Double Check. It is also a good idea, after you have been armed with a boatload of information from your educational institution, to then, do your own research. Do a further search on the internet to find out if the information you have received is accurate.
Benefits. Look at all the different benefits that the lenders are offering and work out the ones that will benefit you the most.
Rates. Check to see what rates that each company is offering, although they should all be fairly close to each other, there still may be room for you to ‘negotiate’ a little more.
Fees. Some lenders will also look at decreasing your fees, find out which ones will do it.
Terms. Some terms will be more favorable than others, you need to check to see what is the longest term available for your loan.
Flexible. What help will the loan company offer if there are some hiccups along the way.
Choosing the right lender is extremely important. The bottom line in the loan process, is that you must always ensure you double check your research before you sign. I hope this article about student loans has been of help.

Why Do More and More People Choose Online Payments?

Consumers are used to having instant connections with information, entertainment, other users through text message, social media and products they want to purchase. Since people expect that almost all their needs can immediately be addressed with the help of technology, it is not surprising that they would rather go for online payments and the businesses that accept them.

The top reasons why people choose online payments are as follows:

They get rid of geographical limits.

A person who travels to another country/continent has to adapt to the place and make do with what they have inside their wallet. This may mean exchanging foreign currency or using another credit card than what they would commonly use. Online payments get rid of the problems that keep them from joining in an international marketplace.

A lot of payment processors supply businesses so they can accept a wide range of currencies, automatically compute the current exchange rate based on the currency, and also adjust to the language and info provided in checkout forms to take in the different languages spoken by buyers, depending on the currency used.

They are more convenient than ever.

Payment technology is so advanced to the extent that consumers are able to make an online payment even though they did not bring their card or wallet with them. Besides the growing popularity of mobile wallets, studies reveal that online consumers continue to go for other simpler forms of funding. As a matter of fact, above 80% of respondents said that they made use of a card-free payment tool last year for online payment.

They let consumers save on time.

Aside from being convenient in terms of transaction speed, online payments get rid of the need for consumers to go to a physical store, spend their precious time, and wait for their turn to pay. Studies regarding the psychological effect of waiting in line show how time is precious to consumers. They have the tendency to exaggerate how much waiting consumes their time by almost 40%. Even if the length of time lost by a customer from waiting in line is true or just imagined, the perception is real. Online payments give a clear advantage just by providing the buyer with a choice of how to spend time.

They give more buyer protection.

When customers buy from a small business – whether online or from a physical store – they need to establish a certain amount of trust with the seller, since this is their first time to buy from this merchant. No matter how clear a business explains its policies on return, exchange, as well as customer satisfaction, consumers may still be a bit hesitant. Online payments can address this problem. When they use a credit card for online payment that gives a guarantee of the lowest price for a declared number of days, an extension of manufacture warranties and the right to dispute a purchase, they can have the peace of mind that they will be given protection, whatever the merchant’s policy is.

They duplicate their present financial habits.

More than 50% of Americans depend on the online banking tool to pay bills, transfer funds and track their money. Online payments duplicate the financial habits that have been adapted by a lot of consumers.