Since Earth Day is this Sunday, April 22, 2012 it seemed like a perfect time to write about the ways we can help Mother Earth while saving money in the process. When people thinking about going green they often think about how it is too inconvenient and how it will drastically change their lifestyle. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways you can help the environment without making any major changes and you may even save a buck or two.
- Bottle your own water – In 2009, Americans spent $9 billion dollars on bottled water. If you spent $15 a week on water that adds up to $780 a year for something you can get for free. There are many different types of containers, even ones with built-in filters, which can reflect your own personal style.
- Brew your own coffee – Coffee can be a huge budget buster for most people. If you only drink 1 cup per day 7 days a week at a cost of $3 a cup that’s $1092/year. Realistically the fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks cost a whole lot more. By brewing it at home or in the office you can save money, reduce the amount of coffee cups you use and sport some fancy travel mug.
- Borrow a book or go electronic –If you spend a lot of money on books each week you may want to consider going to the library instead. You not only save money, you reduce waste and you don’t have all those books hanging around. E-books will save you a little money compared to their paper counterparts plus they reduce paper and don’t take up space. Many magazines have electronic editions. If you need to buy books, try used. It’s better for the environment and it gives the book a new life. Also sharing magazines and books with friends is another money saving idea.
- Buy antique or vintage –Instead of furnishing your home with disposable furniture made from particle board that will eventually fall apart, buy used. Many antique or vintage items are back in style, are better quality and will last longer.
- Reuse, repurpose and recycle –By repurposing items, donating them or selling them you give the items a new life and protect the environment. Plus you save/make money in the process. One example, repurposing an old spice rack with jars to store screws, hooks, nuts or bolts you save money on buying an organizer plus you can easily find the items. Try sites like thredup, eBay and Craigslist for used clothing, toys, furniture, books and more.
- Use grocery bags as trash liners –Reduce your environmental footprint, save money and keep your trash can clean.
- Regular vehicle maintenance –It extends the life of your car, extends the tires and improves your gas mileage when you keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. So it saves you money and your carbon footprint.
- Avoid vending machines –A huge budget/gut buster is vending machines. Instead buy your favorite snacks in bulk and store them in an airtight reusable container. You save money and waste.
- Dine in–Eating out can be costly. Instead get out your favorite dishes and eat with family or friends. Talk, laugh, play games and have fun without spending money or wasting resources.
- Go paperless –Online bill pay is convenient as well as easy. You can even send yourself reminders or have payments taking out automatically. It also helps you save money by avoiding late fees and stamp. Plus it reduces the amount of paper being used.
Some other ways people go green are by using recycled building materials for their home improvement projects as well as buying energy efficient appliances. Some people will buy a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation, upgrade their HVAC systems or move closer to work. If you're looking for ways to finance some of your green endeavors, your future payments might be the answer. To get a free market evaluation, please call Rescue Capital 866.688.3532.
After the 2011 tax year refund anticipation loans (RALs) will no longer be available from banks, according to the National Consumer Law Center. The loans, which are often marketed to the poor and unbanked, have been under scrutiny for years because of their expense as well as risk.
This tax season, the Republic Bank & Trust Company of Louisville, Ky., is the only bank offering the loans and it will not be doing so next year, due to a settlement with the FDIC. Filers who choose a RAL from Republic through Jackson Hewitt will be charged a 124% APR based on a 12 day loan.
H&R Block stopped offering RALs last year when federal regulators ordered HSBC, Block’s banking partner, to stop funding the loans. This year they will be offering free refund anticipation checks (RACs) until early February if the customer uses its prepaid Block Emerald Card to receive the refund.
With RACs the bank opens a temporary bank account into which the IRS direct deposits the refund check. After the refund is deposited, the bank issues the consumer a check or prepaid card and closes the temporary account. A RAC allows the consumer to pay for preparation fees from their refund and provides the speed of direct deposit of tax refunds for unbanked taxpayers for an additional cost.
Consumer advocates suggest these lower cost alternatives:
- Taxpayers with a bank account can get their tax refunds in 8 to 15 days with e-filing and direct deposit.
- Taxpayers without a bank account can get a fast refund by e-filing and having their refund deposited to a prepaid card, including any existing payroll or prepaid card that the taxpayer already has.
- Refund anticipation checks
While the above mentioned suggestions allow taxpayers quicker access to their money without high-interest rates consumers need to be aware of the hidden ATM costs of the prepaid cards. Depending upon which card you use and what network the ATM your using is, the prepaid card user is subjected to a variety of withdrawal fees.
Recently the Bank Talk blog reported that JTH Holding Inc, owner of the Liberty Tax chain, has found a yet to be named nonbank partner to offer a product similar to RALs. Since the partner isn’t a bank, it is not subject to the same federal rules. However cash advances tend to be more risky and with more risk comes more expenses passed to consumers.
No matter which service you choose, it is important to research all the fees before committing.
When it comes to selling all or some of your future payments many things can affect the outcome. If you’re properly prepared the transaction can go smoothly. However, if you don’t do your research ahead of time the sale might not go as planned. Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.
- Do your homework-Research a few companies with the Better Business Bureau, talk to them to see what they have to offer. Some funding companies have merged but are still acting like they’re separate companies. Get multiple offers from separate companies and discuss the different options available to you such as deferring the sale or selling only a portion of your payments.
- Getting it in writing-Get a concrete offer in writing. If the company you’re talking to won't put it in writing go elsewhere. Reputable firms put their offers in writing and won’t give you the run-around.
- Going with someone you don’t feel comfortable with-If your representative avoids your calls, gives you the run-around or doesn’t take the time to explain things to you they may not be the right company. Go with a company that provides you with excellent customer service and treats you with the respect you deserve.
- Wasting the money-Instead of using the money to pay off high interest credit card debt or purchasing a home as intended, some people will go on costly shopping sprees or buy extravagant gifts. By using your money wisely you can avoid getting yourself into a deeper financial hole.
- Being Hasty-Haste makes waste. In other words, don't make rash decisions. Think everything through and don't just go with the first company that sends you an unsolicited check in the mail or has a memorable TV spot.
- Not reading the fine print-If you don't read your contract completely you could be getting in over your head and not even know it. Read your contract thoroughly and ask for help from a trusted advisor.
- Using a broker-Why pay someone part of your money in order to get you a good deal. By calling around to different companies you can get competitive quotes without the expense of a middleman.
- Selling too few or too many payments-Sit down and figure how much you need and the purpose. For example, if you need a new heating system you don’t need $300,000. Make a list of the things you need to purchase or pay off. Bring any estimates or bills with you when you appear in court. Make a budget and stick to it.
- Not getting advice-It’s important to talk to an independent advisor to determine if selling your future payments is in your best interest. In addition, make sure you understand your paperwork and the consequences of your transaction.
- Not calling Rescue Capital at 866.688.3532-Rescue Capital offers highly competitive rates, some of the best around. They take the time to listen to you and understand your financial goals. At Rescue Capital, you’re not a number but a person who needs our help.
Traditionally, marriage has been a big business in this country with the average wedding costing almost $28,000, according to theknot.com. That’s a lot of money to spend on just one day but many couples are still having expensive weddings just the same. Although marriage rates have been declining in recent years, the wedding industry will soon be making a comeback in New York State where it is estimated that over the next 3 years 63,000 same sex marriages will be performed. While there are some huge benefits to this legislation there could be costs that were not considered.
Let’s say hypothetically the average gay wedding was more affordable and only cost $14,000 that comes to $882,000,000 of additional revenue for New York businesses. If gay weddings stay closer to the national average that could be $1,764,000,000 in revenue. That’s definitely a boost to New York’s economy. Obviously it is great way to create jobs. Unfortunately, it is also going to create more debt for some couples as they finance their dream wedding or honeymoon with credit cards or personal loans. Although some couples may choose this route, others may opt to save for their big day or sell a portion of their future annuity payments for cash.
As many heterosexual couples can attest to, sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. For a small percentage of married couples the inevitable separation/divorce happens. Unless you have a cohabitation agreement, no children or pets and your finances are separate, divorce can be expensive. The average divorce can cost as much as $10,000 so don’t be surprised if you start seeing attorneys who specialize in “gay divorce” in the near future. Despite the fact that there are divorce funding companies for couples with significant divorce settlements, it might make sense for couples to save 6 months worth of family income or be prepared to liquidate their assets.
While most expenses in gay marriage or divorce will fall upon the couple, New York State may not have considered their additional expenses. With more weddings or divorces there will be more paperwork as well as more court hearings. Although the additional paperwork and court proceedings have fees, they will have to hire additional people to handle it all. While again job creation is good for the economy, towns and cities will have to provide these employees with competitive pay and benefits during a time when most government offices are having furlongs or layoffs.
While gay marriage and divorce may fuel New York’s economy, taking on additional debt to pay for it all is not the answer. As couples race to alter, they should considering making a budget for their wedding as well as their future together. Unsecured personal loans, credit cards and divorce financing companies charge a great deal of interest. If you have assets like an annuity, royalty, pension or life insurance payments you might want to look at the rates charged by factoring companies. Their rates tend to be more competitive than banks and you don’t have to pay the money back like a traditional loan. With any major financial decision whether you’re selling an asset, accumulating debt or getting married you should measure the pros and cons of your decision as well as discuss it with your trusted advisors.