Small Business Finance Resources

March 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Small Business

If you wish to be a personal small business, but have absolutely no idea where you can get the small business finance resources that you need to being, then you should take several options under consideration to aid your current situation.

Go to your local government agency to see if they have government small business loans on offer. Several government small business loans can be applied to on different levels (local, state, or federal) in order to receive business loans for you to begin with. You can even avail of micro loans or disaster relief loans to build up your business after a natural disasters has occurred or basic short-term lending business loans.

If you are a veteran of the military who once served in the army, you can be granted veteran small business loans. Simply go to your local veteran’s chapter to find out if you are qualified for business loans to begin your business.

If you are qualified for business loans, you can avail from small business loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA0. The SBA works with private financial institutions and offers these business loans with a minimum interest rate for those who qualify for them.

If your business deals with agriculture, then you can be granted small business loans through the USDA. Their website can help you find all the things you need to know on small business loans, along with what you will need for the application thereof.

A lot of small business loans cater specifically to the female gender. Various states offer these business loans via small organizations, non-profits, and business corporations.

Other small business loans are also provided for minority groups. The MBDA, for examples, caters specifically to minorities and takes a look at their situation to see if they qualify for small business loans. They may even give resources and tips to help start your business.

Small business loan grants can also be offered by corporations, non-profits, or the government. This kind of business loan does not need to be re-paid; however, there are some grants with certain rules on how the money is allowed to be spent.

Various small business loan resources are available for various situations. Simply take a look at all of your options to find out the ideal resource for your needs and wants.

Credit Card–The Pros and Cons

March 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Credit Cards, Featured

Credit cards have been a part of our modern culture. The purchasing power it gives the cardholder is substantial and is indeed of good value.

Credit card application is easy and this gives its holder the power to do quite a number of purchases without having disposable cash. Like other things, there are a lot of advantages and disadvantages of having a credit card. Having a basic knowledge on these things might help you while you’re planning to apply for a credit card.

There are a lot of things which give credit cards its popular stature today. Its most attractive feature is the ease of purchase and the increase in purchasing power.

Another great advantage of having a credit card is that some companies don’t accept cash in their online transactions – hotels, airlines, car rental agencies and some other online shops require you to have a credit card instead to process your payments.

In times of emergency, credit cards offer you an irreplaceable source of money. This could fill in if you’re in a situation wherein you really need money. Meanwhile, some credit card companies also offer rewards and large discounts for their long time card holders. They may come similar to the concept of airline miles or travel discounts.

Another important feature of having a credit card is the protection of your purchases. They give you additional protection from defective, stolen or lost products that you may have recently purchased. If you’ve lost your original receipt, your credit card statement can prove to be a valuable resource since it can vouch your purchase. Over time, you will be able to build a good credit line record if you pay your credit dues on time. This credit line can later be used during loan application, rental application or in some cases, job applications too.

Credit cards also have their own share of disadvantages. The most common of such is that it encourages the holder to spend a lot. If you’re not careful on your credit card expenditure, you can end up overspending and getting to your credit limit – which means you will owe your credit company a large amount of money.

Credit cards interest rates are high, and their penalt interest rates are higher if you’re not able to pay your bill on time.

Another thing you have to look out for is that if you lose your card, it is imperative that you report this to the credit card company as soon as possible to avoid fraudulent use of your card.

Having a credit card certainly is certainly an advantage for you if you know how to control your expenditure. However, credit cards can be costly if you do not control your spending.

The only thing you have to remember when using a credit card is to set limits and be a responsible cardholder. Control your expenditure, pay your credit card bill on time and you won’t have any problem.

Home Equity Loans–The Pros and Cons of Home Equity Loans

March 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Equity Loans, Featured

A home equity loan may be the best option when looking for a source of funds for home repairs, costly purchases, or financial emergencies. Generally, an equity loan will allow you a bigger loan at lower financing charges compared to personal loans or credit cards. For whatever purpose you may be contemplating a home equity loan on, it is important to be aware of the basics to help you make an informed decision.

Many home equity loans fall into what is generally termed as a “standard home equity loan” wherein the lender gives you a certain amount of money corresponding to the value of your property. The money is a lump sum amount which you will then have to pay in fixed amounts for a certain period of time. Often, borrowers choose this type of home equity loan because of the simple, upfront transactions. You know how much you are going to pay and you will find security in knowing that after the fixed period of repayments, the lien on your property will be removed.

Another less popular type of home equity loan is the home equity line of credit. The difference of this type of equity loan is that, rather than giving you a lump sum amount as loan value, you will get a line of credit from which you can withdraw funds for your various needs. This is relatively more complex because the interest rates are not fixed and the repayment arrangement is not fixed. This type of home equity loan requires a greater degree of monitoring on your part but will actually pay off better when managed well.

When deciding on a home equity loan, you need to be armed with the right information because there are many deceitful groups preying on hapless borrowers. There are telltale signs of a corrupt company and often these are disguised as well-meaning “help” to get you the best deal out of your home equity loan. Some of these unscrupulous acts include unbelievable high loan offerings. While this maybe very tempting, consider the risks. A big loan amount will mean bigger amortization. If you get an amount higher than the actual fair market value of your property, you cannot enjoy appropriate tax deductions.

Another scam to watch out for is stripping. Corrupt home equity loan agents may encourage you to lie about your true income and actually help you facilitate securing documents showing an inflated income to allow you a bigger loan takeout. Again, while this may be tempting, consider that taking out a home equity loan that is more than your capacity to pay will only bury you in debt sooner or later. In short, they are not helping you get a good deal out of your equity; they are setting you up for foreclosure – and then your property is theirs.

Whether you are looking for home equity loan line of credit, the lowest home equity loan, or debt consolidation home equity loan – there is a service that is available for you!

Prevent Foreclosure by Refinancing Your Home

March 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Foreclosures

Seeking refinancing options is perhaps the best way to prevent home foreclosure. If you have encountered a life-altering event that may not allow you to stay current on your existing mortgage payments, refinancing through a new lender may qualify you for lower payments by extending the loan and possibly even a lower rate.

Every mortgage lender has their own criteria for approving or denying loans, but the most important will be your credit rating, the loan amount versus the value of your home, and your additional outstanding credit. Current income status will also need to be verified, or at least some indication on how you plan on paying the new installments.

Always remember that refinancing should be one of the first attempts to save your home and stop foreclosure processes. If you fall very far behind, this will reflect negatively on you and your credit report, lowering your chances of being approved.

Another option, if you are married and only you are listed on the deed currently, is to refinance by selling your home to your spouse. If he or she has a better credit rating and has never defaulted on a home in the past, this is an avenue you should explore.

When searching for a lender to refinance your mortgage, remember that a long-term fixed rate is what is typically best. You don’t want to find yourself in a mess a few years down the road with increasing rates and once again unaffordable payments!

If you have lost your source of income and are already behind on payments, entering a forbearance agreement with your lender may be a better option. This will allow you, upon approval, to either delay payments completely or at least lower them to a more comfortable level for a short amount of time. This is meant to give you time to find a new job, or resolve the current difficulties that have prevented you from having the financial means to pay the loan.

Foreclosure relief may also be found when entering a modified payment plan with your lender. Due to recent legislation and financial incentives available to lenders that utilize this method, they are inclined to alter your loan terms to make it more affordable for you. This type of plan does not require additional approval, and keeps your original loan in force.

Some lenders may agree to allow you to only make interest payments for a specified period of time, lower your interest rate, waive fees, or simply lower your monthly payment. Each arrangement is designed on a case-by-case basis depending on an individual’s current situation.

The key to any method of attempting to stop a foreclosure is to maintain communication with your lender. They should know as soon as a life-altering event affects your employment status, income or ability to pay, even if you haven’t missed a payment yet. This way, they are more likely to be flexible because you’re letting them know exactly what’s been going on to contribute to missed or severely late payments.

Student Loans-Advice on Student Loans

March 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Student Loans

Even though higher education may cost a lot of money nowadays and may even require the need to borrow money from others in order to pay them off, both parents and students have a lot of benefits and advantages today that wasn’t in existence several years ago. With the invention of the internet, financial aid and student loans can be sought in a number of different ways.

Nowadays, it is relatively easy to get a huge amount of information on interest rates, student loan limits and qualifying criteria from the internet. But this also allows a completely different kind of problem to appear: data overload.

With so much information readily available to everyone, it may make analyzing it all the more difficult, most of all with the complexity and wide variety of student loan programs today. To overcome this problem, there is one outdated method that can actually prove to be very useful: seeking personal student loan advice.

For current high school students, visiting the school counselor would be a great place to go to start planning for college education and finding out the various options in student loans. Student counselors are specifically there to aid students in going through a myriad of choices and pointing out the various advantages or consequences of each one. However, this kind of advice can prove to be either good or bad.

Professional student loan counselors usually have the latest updated information and visit several courses every year, in order to maintain their professional standing. The downside to visiting a professional student loan counselor, however, is that they charge for their services. If all you need is a few minutes of advice over the telephone, this is usually free. But if you need a complete and detailed program, then you will have to pay for it. Do take note that this is student loan counselors earn their living, though, so it should be understandable.

Professional student loan counselors you may find online also come with their various pros and cons. First of all, with so many choices available online nowadays, it may be difficult just trying to find a source that can be trusted. One downside to online professional student loan counseling is that there is no form of personal contact, so you cannot judge them by their voice or face. The upside to this, however, is that there are a lot of social blogs and networks available now, so this drawback hardly even matters anymore.

It is completely possible to get a ton of reliable recommendations from people who have regular interactions. It might be hard to judge someone’s worth just by viewing comments made by forum members. As time goes by, however, you will be able to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable information. Soon, you will be able to locate several professional student loan counselors that are capable of giving you in-depth advice. A great place to start looking for student loan counseling is or

Make sure you start ahead. Saving and planning for student loan counseling should start very early; but do keep in mind that the available interest rates, student loan limits and qualifying criteria may change over time, so be wary! And who knows, by the time you are closer to college, the internet may come up with something even more convenient.

Choosing Diversified Investments for Your Portfolio

March 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Real Estate Investing

Choosing what you should invest your hard-earned dollars in can seem like a daunting task to the beginner. Technical terms and fine print details can make the process of balancing risk with reward a difficult subject. However, there are a few simple rules which even a novice investor may follow to lessen the risk and ensure he is placed correctly in the current market.

No matter whom you are, how much money you have, or how long you have until retirement, your portfolio should always remain well-diversified. Savings accounts, bonds and stocks should all be included in some form, and no one type of investment should allocate more than 30% of your total investment funds.

Investing in commodities is risky business and not for the lighthearted. This type of investing requires close monitoring of the daily market, and the ability to move very quickly. There is a lot of money to be made in commodities, but the practice is best left to professional investors only.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) provide ample opportunity to invest in actual property that is not as volatile. Mortgage-backed securities will vary in value and risk, but in down markets can be bought at a discounted rate.

Mutual funds which focus on real estate investing may also be a good option. Generally, mutual fund managers will continually diversify the fund’s portfolio, causing your money to always do the same. This reduces some of the guesswork out of investing, but mutual funds should also be chosen wisely.

REITs invest in real estate assets such as strip malls, commercial buildings and residential mortgages. There are three types of REITs, including equity REITs, hybrid REITs and mortgage REITs.

Equity REITs may invest or own real estate that is rented out and turn a profit for investors. Mortgage REITs are in the business of lending funds to developers or owners at a fee, and hybrid REITs are a combination of equity and mortgage types.

Real estate options are also available as an investment vehicle. These options are offered instead of a formal purchase agreement, and include several contingencies. The reason these options are given is to officially take the house off the market to other buyers for a specified time limit. If the financing is not secured by that time, the investor will lose their earnest funds which are usually a percentage of the agreed-upon sale price.

So, how do investors make money with these options? Well, they offer an option on a home, and try to find a new buyer during the interim that will pay more than the original sale price. This is risky business and should not be utilized unless you already have several years of experience in real estate investing and a network of professionals to deal with.

Of course, you can always invest in property as part of your portfolio as well. Although this carries some risk and requires financial obligations, this is something that can be physically watched over for the faint-at-heart.

How Can I turn My Hobby Into An Income?

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Make Money From Your Hobby

Are you in a dead end job and are finding it hard to summon up the will everyday, living only for your spare-time when you can enjoy your hobbies and passions? Do you know that millions of people have turned their life around using their knowledge and passions to pave the way to business success? Well if you didn’t, you do now.

These days, with having the internet at your disposal and a world where emphasis is strongly on enhancing our free time you can easily muscle in and be part of the resource base. It really is possible to draw on your expertise in your given subject and create a business venture.

You might be confused as to how you can use your particular expertise in your hobby to a monetary effect. Well, here is where you must do a little research and find out what other’s are doing to get the ideas flowing. Once you realise there are others doing what you could easily do, there will be no stopping you.

To find out what routes are available to you, start with a search on google. Type in your subject area and have a look at the results, you will be looking at the sponsored results on the right hand side of the results page. These adverts are by people who have built a website/business on the foundations of the subject in question.

If you click on the advert you will find out what these people are doing to profit from the subject and what form their business takes. In some cases it may be a physical product that they are selling or a short course on the subject. You will find opportunities that you had never thought possible.

When starting a business you need to know what sells and what people need. An excellent method to discover what people want and are potentially willing to buy which can determine a good premise for your business is an online keyword tool. There are a few free keyword tools available such as the google keyword tool which you can use to find out common words and phrases in your topic.

These words will be somehow related to your hobby and will create a picture of what people are looking for and how there needs can be met.

For other resources to find out what your options are for a business, have a look in your local yellow pages. If you can’t find your exact niche look for something similar and see what is being offered.

Go to your local newsagents and have a scan though the magazine section and see if you can find one in your niche or something very similar. Remember you are just trying to find ideas for forms of selling and how your business will take shape.

Your biggest hurdle will be to find out what your future customers want. The chances are you will already have an idea because you were these people at one time back when you were starting out or when you were in the process of learning your hobby. Take that knowledge and put it to use. Think of your self as a fantastic resource that people can’t afford to ignore.

Considerations When Bankruptcy Seems Like the Only Option

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Bankruptcy, Featured

Bankruptcy seems like a great way to relieve you and your family from the burden created by debt – late fees, penalties, medical bills and credit cards. However, there are some long-lasting effects that need to be considered and ensure you’re prepared to deal with before filing.

Many mistakenly believe that filing bankruptcy is quite easy. Although a popular option for debt handling, you must know that you will be required to meet with creditors and their representatives to justify your filing status.

This means that your personal financial records and history will be accessed and shared with others. In addition, your creditors will have the option of objecting to your claims, leaving a bankruptcy judge to determine which debts to include in the bankruptcy.

Long-term effects on your credit and everyday life will also need to be addressed. Though some debts will be totally eliminated or frozen, other creditors may close your accounts or credit lines with them when they see you have filed.

Filing bankruptcy may also not be a great option if you plan on buying a home or needing to apply for new credit in the near future. This is because the bankruptcy records will remain on your credit for at least the next seven to ten years, and will significantly lower your credit score.

You may also be required to forfeit items and property of value outside of your primary residence and automobile. This means that vacation homes, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, boats and jewelry may be turned over to your creditors that are included in the bankruptcy. This allows them to sell the items of value to try to recoup some of the losses in connection with your debt to them.

Some debts are not even able to be included in a bankruptcy. Student loans and back taxes not older than three years are just a couple of examples.

Filing is also not free. You will incur court and legal fees, not to mention time and energy spent away from work.

Taking all this in to consideration, you may still determine that bankruptcy is the only option for you. It will relieve you of harassing and bothersome collection efforts, garnishments and foreclosures.

It is still possible to rebuild a positive credit rating after filing bankruptcy, though you will need to be extremely strict and justify every one of your expenses in the future. Depending on which type of bankruptcy you file, you may be able to start saving more of your money for a rainy day, or start paying down your unsecured debts. Either one of these actions will develop healthy debt handling habits for your future well-being.

Bankruptcy requires careful consideration, and anyone in the position of possibly choosing this action should seek professional legal counsel. It is always well worth the effort to make a phone call to a non-profit debt counseling agency to see if it is in fact possible to pay back your creditors and still avoid this black mark on your credit.

Creating a Budget and Sticking To It Increases Your Discretionary Income

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Budgeting, Featured

Get this highly recommended Personal Budgeting Software!

Creating a budget sounds like quite an easy task that even your eight-year-old could perform, but many don’t ever implement one because it does require some organization, math skills and discipline.

Budgets are the number one tool that everyone can use to keep expenses in check, track debt payoff plans, and save for that new house or car. When unexpected expenses come up, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford and where the funds will come from as well.

If translating your income and expenses is simply too difficult to do on your own, find a professional or close friend with experience performing this task. You’ll need to itemize monthly income sources and expenses, as well as account for some of the unexpected surprises that inevitably arise on occasion.

Spreadsheets are the easiest ways to outline these items, but you can also write them down by hand to at least start the process and have a plan to follow. When using a spreadsheet, such as Excel or Google Docs & Spreadsheets, use one column for income and one for expenses. You’ll also need to figure an added 10% for unexpected expenses that may arise at any time.

You must first track your expenses for at least a couple of weeks before performing this task. This includes not only set bills like your mortgage and insurance, but everyday expenses like your morning coffee or lunch. If you pay cash for everything, you’ll have to record these by hand. If you always use a credit or debit card to pay for expenses, simply print off your most recent statement and itemize the expenses shown.

Next, create a “what-if” scenario to see how your income will greatly increase by paying down your debt. This will provide a constant reminder and source of motivation to keep sending extra money every month and sticking to your debt consolidation or debt reduction plan.

Subtract all of your credit card and auto loan interest, as well as 25% of any unnecessary or impulse purchases. The total of these three amounts will show you how much in unavoidable fees you’re paying each month. If this amount is higher than 10% of your monthly expenses, you need to address the problem and eliminate some of them.

Now create a budget that eliminates all of your debt payments except for your mortgage. How much does your net income increase? This is what can be accomplished by simply paying off your debt sooner!

An ideal way to pay down your debt is to stop spending on the impulse and unnecessary purchases each month, and applying this amount to your outstanding debt principal balances. Your amount owed and minimum payments will greatly decrease (though the minimum should only be utilized when things are tight and it’s absolutely necessary), and you’ll be on the way to a much higher net income. Many find that doing this one thing allows them to live at a much higher standard on even the most modest income.

Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Home Loan Refinance

Everyday, homeowners are bombarded with offers and advertisements to refinance their mortgage at a lower rate. There are times when home refinancing is a great idea, and others when it may not be.

Reasons to pursue a mortgage refinance would include a lower interest rate, which may lead to lower monthly payments and the total amount of interest paid. Perhaps your credit score has greatly improved since you took out your first mortgage, or interest rates are considerably lower. You may also be considering financing improvements to your home and taking additional equity out of your home to pay for it.

Refinancing your mortgage can require quite a bit of time and effort in research and actually providing needed documentation to your proposed lender. Paycheck stubs, taxes and personal financial records will be needed to complete the application process. There are also fees charged by the bank when issuing a new mortgage.

Often, homeowners consider refinancing or using their home equity to pay off current credit card and other debts.

Other than refinancing your entire mortgage, you might want to consider a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. Rates for this type of credit are slightly higher than first mortgages, but are still much less than those charged by credit card companies. In addition, lapses on second mortgages in the event of a hardship or lost job will most likely not cause you to lose your home altogether.

Another reason to consider a HELOC is that you only use what you need. You may have $25,000 in equity on your home, but only $10,000 in credit card debt. This means that you can avoid using available financing unless absolutely necessary. In addition, borrowing only part of what is available will lower your interest charges owed on the HELOC.

That being said, using the hard-earned equity in your home should only be used as a last resort to pay off credit card debt. Debt consolidation help is available from several licensed advisors and counselors in every city and town, and may provide a better option that will not require you to seek additional credit sources.

Consolidating debts may include negotiating with individual creditors for lower interest rates or payments, or even forgiving parts of the principal balance owed. This will save you time and money, as well as expensive charges to take out a new mortgage or refinancing.

If your credit and income are high enough, another option is to pursue a debt consolidation loan. This may be unsecured or secured with property other than your home such as a boat or vehicle that is already owned outright. This option can still save money on interest rates and charges, while preventing your home from being at risk should you ever fall on hard times.

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