Make Peace with Your Wallet

Should You Take Your Food Truck Business Cash-Free?

Posted by on Apr 25, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Should You Take Your Food Truck Business Cash-Free?

If you operate a food truck or mobile restaurant, you may constantly be on the lookout for ways to make your business even more streamlined and productive. One such method may involve changing the way you accept payment by going “cash-free” and accepting only credit or debit cards with a point-of-sale (POS) swiping tool attached to your smartphone. Read on to learn more about some of the benefits going cash-free can offer your mobile business. Why might it be a good idea for your business to go cash-free?  In today’s increasingly computerized society, payment with plastic has begun to dwarf payment by cash or check. Not only does payment by credit or debit card provide instant approval (or denial) of funds, making it a safer transaction from the vendor’s perspective than accepting a potentially bad check, but taking your business cash-free can significantly reduce your risk of being robbed.    If you find that your food truck frequently has long lines causing some customers to wander off to a quicker source of food, changing the way you accept payment could help serve your customers more quickly. In order to pay via credit or debit card, your customers will merely need to swipe their cards through the POS reader and sign on the screen that pops up, a process that usually takes just a few seconds. Putting the payment process in the hands of your customers will allow your cashier to bag your customers’ food rather than fumbling with (unsanitary) money and making change. Going cash-free may also help you boost your profits. Studies have shown that many consumers tend to spend more when using a credit or debit card instead of cash; by increasing each transaction just a dollar or two, you’ll be able to more than cover any fees associated with the use of a POS system while increasing profit.  What type of POS systems can allow your food truck to stop accepting cash?  A number of vendors provide POS swiping tools that can be used on your existing smartphone or tablet. For many such tools, you’ll pay only a per-use “swipe fee” of a few percent of the total transaction. Alternatively, you may be able to rent the tool from the POS company for a set monthly fee. Depending on your truck’s sales volume and the amount spent by each customer, paying a flat monthly fee rather than a swipe fee could be a better investment. Contact a company like Midwest Payment Processing for more...

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Four Tax Mistakes That Can Harm Your Small Business

Posted by on Sep 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Four Tax Mistakes That Can Harm Your Small Business

If you are like many small business owners, you dread tax season and the endless stack of paperwork that comes with it. Although taxes are an essential and unavoidable part of business ownership, there are steps you can take to make the process as painless as possible. By avoiding these four common mistakes, you can spare yourself the scrutiny of an audit and potentially save thousands of dollars for your business.  Leaving Out Small Deductions Without an extensive knowledge of tax law, you may be failing to report deductions to which you are legally entitled. Business purchases, travel costs, and educational fees are all frequently missed deductions that can help to offset your expenses throughout the year. Everything from fork lifts to pencils can make a valid deduction, and you may even be able to claim partial expenses for a home office, if you telecommute. Hiring the services of a business tax preparation expert can help you ferret out these small details, which can add up to a substantial overall deduction.  Forgetting a Tax Obligation As a small business owner, you are responsible for reporting your business’s income, but you are also responsible for payroll, property, self-employment, and any other taxes that apply in your area. Keeping track of all of these different forms can be a hassle, and ensuring that they are all filled out and submitted correctly can eat up hours of your valuable time. Create a detailed checklist of your tax preparations to follow beforehand, or entrust this job to a professional.  Claiming Deductions Inaccurately Nothing will trigger an audit flag faster than deductions that don’t add up or arouse suspicion. Make sure you are familiar with what you can and cannot include as a deduction, especially when it comes to travel expenses. Anything that is significantly out of line for your industry will be noticed, so be prepared to back up any substantial claims with documented evidence.  Losing Track of Records The IRS expects documented proof of every deduction you claim, should they come investigating. This can be a little difficult when all you have is a pile of rumpled receipts in a filing cabinet, or nothing at all. Storing records with your tax preparation service regularly will keep them safe, organized, and ready for analysis when it is time to file, without clogging up your own storage space or relying on the filing habits of your employees. Running a business is hard enough on its own, so whenever you start to feel overwhelmed with taxes, don’t hesitate to call in the expertise of a business tax preparation...

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Should I Use an Online Bank for My Personal Banking?

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Should I Use an Online Bank for My Personal Banking?

When you choose a bank, there are usually many options, including larger national banks, small local banks, credit unions and online banks. You may be considering switching to an online bank to do your personal banking. There are positive and negative aspects to online banks that you should consider before choosing a bank. Advantages to Online Banking Many online banks are able to operate with a lower overhead cost, and they can pass those savings onto you with higher interest rates on your savings account. Additionally, you do not need to worry about changing banks if you move, because you will still be able to handle your money the same way you did before no matter where you are. If you are dealing with an online only bank, you can access account information as long as you have access to the Internet. This makes it easier to do your banking no matter where you are. Negative Aspects of an Online Bank It can be difficult to deal with cash transactions if you only have an account at an online bank. It can also be difficult to resolve certain problems, because it can be easier to explain issues and get help in person. You may not be able to establish a personal relationship the way that you would if you were at a small local bank. Taking Advantage of Online Banking One option is to have a local bank checking account, but have your savings accounts at an online bank. This makes it take a bit more time to dip into your savings account, which means you might be dissuaded to spend. It also gives you the advantage of the higher interest rates that most online banks offer. Many people are beginning to do this instead of having all of their accounts at just one bank. An online bank may be a good option for an emergency fund that you want to have available, too. Things to Look for When Opening an Online Bank Account It is important that the FDIC (the federal deposit insurance corporation) insures your bank. If it is not insured and the bank fails, then your funds would not be guaranteed. The FDIC recommends that you check the bank’s status by looking for the FDIC symbol on its website. You can also check the FDIC registry to make sure it is insured. You should also look at interest rate and minimum balance requirements as you choose your account. It is important to find a bank that will allow you to make the most of your savings.  For more information about personal banking, contact a representative from an institution like Juniata Valley...

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When To Consider An Auto Loan Refinance

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on When To Consider An Auto Loan Refinance

Many people in the United States opt to take out a loan and finance their vehicles.  This is usually done at the car dealership when the purchase is made.  Recent interest rates on auto loans start around 4.4%-5.2% for new cars or 2.7%-3.2% for used cars, but can soar to 14% or even higher if you have bad credit.  Refinancing extends the life of your loan and may help lower your interest rates and monthly payments.  How do you know if refinancing is a good idea for you? You may want to refinance if you meet any of the following conditions: You’ve lost your job or your finances are tight monthly for another reason If you are struggling to make ends meet each month, you need to make changes in your lifestyle.  If selling your vehicle is off the table, a refinance may help you reduce your monthly payment.  The process of refinancing a vehicle is easier than refinancing a house.  There won’t be an appraisal on your vehicle.  The longer you extend the loan for, the smaller your monthly payment will be.  If you fear you are going to face financial hardship, refinance before you start missing payments on things.  Falling behind on payments will cause your credit score to drop, resulting in a higher interest rate that may cause a refinance to lack benefit. You have a high interest rate on your auto loan If you had questionable credit at the time you took out your loan, you likely have a high interest rate.  Over time, making prompt payments and keeping up on other bills and loans will raise your credit score.  Refinancing may get you a better interest rate, which will make your monthly payments less. You are “upside down” in the vehicle Vehicles lose value quickly.  If you are upside down, you owe more on the car than it is worth.  You may want to consider refinancing to get out of being upside down.  If you are able to pay the difference between what the car is worth and the amount left on the loan, you can refinance and get some equity in the vehicle.  You were awarded the car in a divorce It may be worthwhile to refinance the vehicle in order to get your ex-partner’s name off of the loan.  In fact, it may even be required depending on your divorce decree.  The removal of your spouse from the loan could result in a different interest rate, which may help you lower the payment.  Regardless, it is beneficial to remove their name so that you won’t have to deal with them in the future.  Don’t forget to do whatever it takes to get their name off the title, also.  For more information, talk to your bank or credit union such as Saginaw Medical Federal Credit...

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Secure Your Property And Protect Your Finances – Questions To Ask Your Mortgage Broker

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Secure Your Property And Protect Your Finances – Questions To Ask Your Mortgage Broker

Whether you’re in the process of purchasing your first home or you’re looking to alter your financial commitment on a piece of property you already own, your mortgage broker can provide a great deal of assistance in terms of finding you a better rate. However, in order to secure that rate, you have to know the right questions to ask and be prepared to gather all the necessary information. Below, you’ll find a guide to some questions you should be sure to ask your mortgage broker. Keeping these suggestions in mind can help you unravel some of the mystery surrounding mortgage rates and can guarantee that you’re in a position of maximum financial flexibility and stable property ownership. Ask About Adjustable Rates If you want to maximize your flexibility and are willing to accept a degree of risk, an adjustable rate mortgage may be a valuable tool. Before you commit to that flexibility, however, it’s important that you have an understanding of how your responsibility may change. Your mortgage broker will be able to walk you through recent adjustments in the market and work with you to project how rates may change in your future. In this way, you can develop reasonable expectations and brace yourself for a “worst case” scenario, allowing you to conduct more accurate financial planning. Ask About Prepayment Penalties When many people come into sudden windfalls such as tax returns, inheritances, and other large lump sums, their immediate reaction is to apply that money to their mortgage. While that’s largely encouraged, some mortgage companies may penalize you for those payments, as it undercuts the profits they’re expecting to generate from your loan. Before you make such a payment, you should discuss the potential penalties with your broker. In some cases, it will make sense to couple a prepayment with a refinancing, as that will allow you to shorten the term of your loan and avoid any fees associated with the additional sum. Ask About Private Mortgage Insurance Whether or not your loan will require private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is determined by a number of factors including your credit score, your loan history, and the rate of your mortgage. PMI can be a significant cost that’s added to your mortgage payment every month, so seeking to eliminate it can be a wise financial choice. You should ask your broker if you can refinance to a lower rate in order to eliminate your PMI, as doing so can perhaps provide you functionally with double savings. To find out more, talk to a mortgage broker at a bank such as Cheviot Savings...

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3 Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Fraud

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Fraud

Running a small business can offer a lot of rewards, but to reap those benefits you have to accept a certain amount of risk. What you don’t have to accept, however, is people in your organization committing fraud. In 2014, 28.8% of companies with less than 100 employees experienced fraud, and their average loss was $154,000. Here are three ways to protect your small business: 1. Keep your cards close to you. Credit cards make it easy to purchase items your company needs, but giving too many people access to your company cards can leave you vulnerable to loss. Sure, it would be easy for a restaurant owner to spot a purchase for clothing, but it would be harder for that same person to identify an extra $10 worth of steaks in an order, which could add up to $520 in a year. In addition to yourself, give company credit cards to one or two other key employees that are responsible for stocking your company’s inventory and keeping your office running. That way, purchasing power is concentrated, which makes it easy to hold your trusted staff members accountable for their actions. 2. Watch your cash. Most businesses need a cash register or a collection of petty cash to deal with customers or to buy odds and ends for the office. That stash of cash presents a very good opportunity for sticky fingers to collect a little extra money. To prevent this temptation, place a security camera near your cash register or cash box. You can use the guise of wanting to beef up your external security measures while you also strengthen your internal security measures. It can cost up to $1,000 for a high-end camera that streams to your web browser, but you can also get a basic version for about $50. After all, it’s mostly about the perception of being watched that can prevent your employees from padding their wallets. 3. Hire an outside professional. If you’re uncertain whether fraud is occurring but want to cover your bases, or if you think you should be generating more profit than you actually are, it’s a good idea to hire a third party to help you identify any sources of loss. Forensic accountants are skilled in this task, and they’re trained to look at your books carefully to find anything that doesn’t add up. Since small businesses are often staffed by a group of people who claim to feel like “family” to each other, it can be hard for you, as an owner or manager, to point the finger at someone you’ve known for years. But, it’s much more likely that a “trusted employee” is the one with the opportunity to commit fraud in the workplace, and 87% of those who do are never charged or convicted of a fraud-related offense. Just like a parent might want to hire another person to teach their kids how to swim or to coach their baseball teams (due to the inherent tension between a parent and a child), so too should a business owner hire a professional forensic accountant to find any criminal activity in the organization. You can contact Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC for more information about...

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4 Tips That Can Help You Do The Most With A Hard Money Loan

Posted by on Jun 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Tips That Can Help You Do The Most With A Hard Money Loan

Like all types of private loans, it behooves you to think a hard money loan through before committing to it. Hard money loans represent a resource that can help contractors, house flippers, homeowners, investors and others who deal with real estate. However, if you’re not careful, the loan can cost you far more than you bargained for. Here are some tips to help you keep that from happening. 1. Have a Full, Actionable Plan Remember that hard money loans are very short-term. In most cases, you’re looking at loan terms that last a couple of months at least and maybe a year at most. After all, these loans usually come from private individuals. That means somebody just like you is taking as much of a chance as you are. These loans favor fast flips. You have to know within a reasonable estimate that you can purchase the property, make money from it, and pay the lender back in a short amount of time. If you’re purchasing a property on a whim, or with vague designs on how to use it, then a hard money loan is not for you. That’s why many house flippers like hard money loans. These loans allow them to: Quickly make a purchase Quickly do repairs to raise the property’s value Sell the property for a profit They pay back the loan and move on to another property to repeat the process. Because the professional flippers go in with a plan, and know they have a good chance of profiting, they can repeat the process as long as they’d like. 2. Factor in the Costs of the Loan Beforehand Hard money loan rates vary widely between lenders. One thing is always certain about the rates, though; they will be higher than any kind of traditional loan. When planning to purchase, flip, or renovate a property, you should plan with that in mind. Try to work out a budget that can include that high rate. A good way to do this is to check out a few different interest rates for hard money lenders, and use the highest one as a baseline. If you can make your expenses work on paper with that interest rate factored in, then you’re good to go. Factoring in a high rate will help you in several ways. If there are unexpected fees, costs, or problems that you have to pay out of pocket, the budget with the high rate will remain viable. It will also help give you an edge when you negotiate with the lender. 3. Always Negotiate with the Lender You should always negotiate with the hard money lender. Even if you worked the numbers and found out that even with a highest interest you can still quickly repay the loan, a lower interest rate won’t hurt. Negotiating for a lower origination fee percentage can help you as well. Remember that with a hard money loan, you will deal directly with your lender or a broker for that lender. Private lenders usually work on a case-by-case basis, so nothing is ever set in stone. Use that to your advantage and always try to make the terms more favorable or convenient for yourself. 4. Borrow with Confidence Confidence will put lenders at ease about what their money. If you...

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3 Signs That An Independent Broker-Dealer Is The Best Choice For Your Financial Needs

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Signs That An Independent Broker-Dealer Is The Best Choice For Your Financial Needs

If you are looking to make some investment decisions for yourself, you could be looking to hire a professional who works in the financial industry. Since there are a lot of financial professionals out there who can help you, you could be wondering how you can make the right hiring choice. One great option is to hire an independent broker-dealer, however; these are a few signs that one of these financial professionals is the best choice for your needs: 1. You Would Prefer to Hire an Independent Contractor One big difference about an independent broker-dealer (IBD) is the fact that he or she is an independent contractor. There are a few benefits to hiring an independent contractor for your needs, such as the possibility of saving on taxes. Talk to your accountant or tax preparation professional to determine if you can save money by hiring an independent contractor for your financial needs. 2. You Want to Invest in Multiple Different Ways Some people prefer to sink more of their investment funds into one or two projects. If this isn’t your preferred style, however, an independent broker-dealer could be your best choice. These dealers generally work in several different investment options, which means that you can choose between a lot of different options or can distribute your investment funds in as many different ways as you want. If you are the type who would prefer to diversify your investment portfolio as much as you can, one of these professionals could be your best possible choice. 3. You’re Investing on a Smaller Scale Don’t assume that you have to have a lot of money to invest just to hire an independent broker-dealer to help you with your investing plans. When you work with a huge investment firm, you can often count on working with financial professionals who are accustomed to handling very large amounts of money. This is not the case with independent broker-dealers, however, who are generally accustomed to handling smaller amounts of money and working with individuals who aren’t investing a lot at one time. This can make you feel more comfortable and can work better for your needs. As you can see, hiring an independent broker-dealer can be a smart choice when you are investing. If you are looking for a different experience and can relate to one or more of these three things, hiring an independent broker-dealer could be your best course of action when planning your investing...

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Four Factors That Drive Gold Prices Sky High

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you’ve been eyeing a collection of gold jewelry and wondering how much it’s worth, the answer depends on several economic and political variables around the world. A lot of factors have significant influence on gold prices, but four stand out as the most important: Sovereign Debt Concerns When governments around the world appear unable to pay their debts, the price of gold tends to climb. The bigger the currency, the bigger the rise in prices. The constant struggles of the Euro, for example, apply upward pressure on gold as investors look to sell the European currency in favor of a more stable and predictable asset. People in countries with unstable currencies also tend to hoard gold since they don’t have confidence in the buying power of their paper money. Both those factors conspire to send gold commodity prices skyward. Political Gridlock in the United States Gold prices respond to political gridlock in the United States just as they respond to sovereign debt issues in other markets, but the effect is often much larger. When Congress seems stalemated and unable to pass a budget or even raise the debt ceiling, investors start worrying about the value of their treasury bills. These “t bills” are supposed to be an ultra-low risk holding. When gridlock in the United States is at its worst, they start to look much riskier. That sends panicked investors flocking to gold, raising the price. Stock Market Volatility Another example of investors’ perception of gold as a safe haven in turbulent times is stock market volatility. Stocks and bonds are the primary investment vehicle for most people. In times of high volatility in the markets, however, investors go running for a safer long-term bet. Traditionally, gold prices have seen major jumps whenever Wall Street prices start bouncing around, as investors feel the high-risk environment. The High-Tech Sector Precious metals aren’t just precious to investors. Silver and especially gold are extremely important to the high-tech sector, where they form the basis of important components in microchips and transistors. According to United Nations University, about $21 billion in precious metals goes into devices like cell phones, tablets and computers every year. Gold is also an important ingredient in medical lasers and satellite communication devices. The upshot is that when the high tech sector is booming and churning out more devices, the extra demand for gold tends to pressure the price of the commodity. That’s a recipe for success for cash for gold sellers. If you’re thinking about cutting a deal to get cash for gold, look closely at these four variables to maximize your profits. Contact a company like Advance U Cash to learn more about selling your gold for...

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5 Steps To Turn Your Finances Around And Avoid The Risk Of Eviction

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Taking out a payday loan to prevent eviction can be a practical choice, since it stops an expensive and stressful situation from occurring. In addition, after an eviction, it may be nearly impossible to find another place to rent with a troubled credit history and not being able to use your landlord as a reference. If you’ve come this close to losing your home, you must become dedicated to stopping this from happening again. Take steps over the next few weeks to get on more solid ground.  1. Earn More Money if You Can If you can work more hours at your current job or can take on a second job, do so. Even if you can’t feasibly work more hours, you still might donate plasma for cash, hold some yard sales and sell a few unwanted belongings online. The idea is to build up enough cash before your next rent payment so you’re not caught short again.  2. Cut Expenses if Possible Write down every penny you spend, starting today. This can shed light on problematic habits. You may already have canceled cable TV and quit eating lunch at restaurants. However, some other expenses can be almost hidden, or you may be so accustomed to them you can’t see other options. ATM fees, for instance, can add up without your even noticing. If you pay to dry clothes at a laundry facility, consider bringing them home to hang up instead.  3. Apply for Food Assistance Swallow your pride and apply for assistance if you haven’t already done so. Nobody has to know if you receive help paying for food or if you go to a food pantry this month. Apply the money you save to next month’s rent.  4. Consider Filing for Bankruptcy You may qualify for chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allows you to pay back a large portion of what you owe to various creditors over a set time frame. This can substantially lower your monthly payments and get you back on track financially without having to default entirely on the money you owe.  5. Pay Back the Payday Loan on Time The payday loan will prevent eviction, but it’s important to pay it back within the two-week time frame generally allowed. These lending companies encourage borrowers not to view payday loans as long-term or ongoing credit sources because the interest rates tend to be high.  Concluding Thoughts If you’re late enough on your rent to be facing eviction, you only have a few weeks before your next rent payment is due. That may seem overwhelming, but dedicating a certain amount of time to turning your financial situation around can make all the difference. To learn more,...

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