College loan forgiveness programs

Did you know there are absolutely loads of College loan forgiveness programs that may be an option to help reduce or even wipe out your college loans?

For government backed loans such as Stafford loans there are options out there to engage in volunteer or specialist work that will count towards wiping out your loans and provide, in many cases, an easier way to tackle the mountain of debt that many build up after a stint in college!

Of course these programs take time but many do manage to work them into a normal life and it could be a great way to sensibly move beyond stressful school debt!

So how do you find out about them? Here are some links sourced from About.com (src).

Teachers:

The American Federation of Teachers (state-by-state directory)

Medical, Nursing, and Mental Health Professionals:

The Association of Medical Colleges

Lawyers and Legal Professionals:

The American Bar Association

Volunteer Work:

AmeriCorps

Peace Corps

Have you ever used one of these programs or do you know of any other routes to loan forgiveness?

The Nuts And Bolts of an IPad POS System

Setting up a business is expensive but the internet has given small business owners a slight edge in today’s competitive market. All they have to do is set up a website and display their items for sale. Customers come along one way or the other, and the business is good to go. Most online sellers now sell exclusively online but what if you want to expand your business. Consider stores like Abercrombie & Fitch. The huge retailer already had several international stores but it opened a store in London says Tweakyourbiz because its website had a large number of London-based customers. Techrepublic states that this process has now started in reverse with large stores and small businesses being driver to set up realtime stores just because their websites are doing so well.

ipadPOD

What Is The Problem?

The problem lies with expansion. Expansion for any kind of store is difficult and expensive. If you are in a similar situation, you already know that you are investing in a store, hiring employees, stocking it with goods and this is expensive. According to legal requirements and tax rules, you will also have to buy a POS system to help you with the billing and taxation process but you just cannot afford it, you should not worry, as you do have an alternative. One way to save money is by using the same POS system you have on your website but integrating it to an iPad. With an iPad POS system, you can link your store and your website together to complete billing and sales for both simultaneously. As you need a POS for your store, you stand to save a lot of money as the point of sale system is already in place. All you have to do is buy hardware and integrate it with the website.

Setting Up The POS System For Your Store

As you already know, you can use the same POS system as you have on your website. However, as a vendor, you should know that most retailers now encourage the use of iPads for selling in store. There is a very simple reason for this. As your website is online, it makes sense that you need an internet connection to view your website and check sales. As you already have an internet connection, a cloud-based POS is a far better option for your store. The cloud-based system uses an internet connection to connect to an online server. The POS system is on the server and you only have to use an iPad in your store along with minimal hardware to set up your POS system. This is what any POS vendor would usually recommend.

 

Find Out How Big Your Store Is Going To Be – This is important as you will have to invest in iPads. If you plan to set up a small store, two iPads with backup hardware is fine. For larger stores, vendors recommend getting one iPad for two employees or one per employee.

Invest In Hardware – By now, you already have an idea of how many employees you have and based on this you can invest in hardware.

  • iPads and Credit Card Terminals – Each employee will require an iPad for a big store. As the iPads are given to roving staff, each store staff is usually provided with a miniaturized credit card reader. These roving systems are actually billing systems that are already connected to the store POS and they are very useful says Ecommerce. For example, a browsing customer may approach a store salesperson for help at a clothing display. If the customer is happy with the product, they can be encouraged to bill immediately by the store personnel. The mobile iPad and miniaturized credit card terminal can be used to swipe a credit card, take the customer signature, and wirelessly print a receipt for the customer. This not only simplifies the sale process but also encourages spot sales and reduces queue time. Most POS vendors recommend you invest in two to three miniaturized terminals.
  • Printers – Wireless printers are also an integral part of a store POS. The printer will print receipts of online sales and also print receipts of in-store sales made by store staff at the billing counter and all over the store. Most vendors recommend you buy two printers. One printer will be used to print receipts while the other can be used to print barcodes. As you will have a lot of inventory, barcode labels are essentialto keep track of what you have in storage.
  • Barcode Scanners – Your entire stored inventory is usually tagged with a barcode label to ensure tagging and verification. At the time of sale, sales personnel swipe the scanners on the label and the POS system reflects cost price, discounts and deals.
  • Cash Drawers – Some stores still accept cash and a cash drawer is necessary to ensure safety. However, most stores do use alternative methods of payment like PayPal and Bitcoin and cash drawers are being phased out slowly.

Setting Up Your Store

As you can see, setting up your store POS should not be a problem. The cloud-based system has minimal hardware and it is far cheaper than traditional POS systems. Get in touch with your vendor and negotiate a good deal to have your store up and running as fast as possible.

 

Best defensive stocks for retirement

Best defensive stocks for retirement – When putting together an investing portfolio for retirement you want some stability, stocks that will ride the markets and still produce. Of course we would all want that all the time but these kinds of stocks may be stable but not always the most productive. However they are essential to a good safe investment strategy.

Investopedia defines as defensive stock as:

A stock that provides a constant dividend and stable earnings regardless of the state of the overall stock market.

This is not to be confused with a “defense stock”, which refers to stock in companies which manufacture things like weapons, ammunition and fighter jets. (src)

Simple concept but obviously not that easy to find as almost all stocks are somewhat affected by the market, for obvious reasons.

So, defensive stocks, which ones! I’m no expert but Money Morning (src) recommends:

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

Market Cap: $123 billion
Present Dividend Yield: 2.9%
Payment Ratio: 34% of estimated 2014 earnings
Dividend Augmentation: 216% in four-years, from $0.06 per quarter in 2011, to $0.19 per quarter today
CSCO stock currently sits at $22.84 per share, and has gone up nearly 5% over the last month.

Diageo plc (NYSE: DEO)

Market Cap: $77 Billion
Present Dividend Yield: 2.5% according to the total 2013 payouts
Payment Ratio: 48% of estimated 2014 revenue
Dividend Augmentation: 73% in ten-years, from $1.67 paid in 2003 to $2.90 in 2013
DEO stock currently costs $122.43 per share. It’s down 7.48% so far in 2014, which gives investors an opportunity to buy DEO shares at a discount.

Old Republic International Corp. (NYSE: ORI)

Market Cap: $4 Billion
Present Dividend Yield: 4.7%
Payment Ratio: 45% based on FY2013 revenue
Dividend Augmentation: 79% in ten-years, from $0.40 cents per share in 2003 to $0.72 in 2013
ORI stock currently sits at $16.45 per share and is up 28.69% since this time last year.

Huntsman Corp. (NYSE: HUN)

Market Cap: $5.5 Billion
Present Dividend Yield: 2.2%
Payment Ratio: 22% of secured 2014 earnings
Dividend Augmentation: 150% in seven-years, from 20 cents per-share in 2007 to 50-cents in 2013
HUN stock costs $25.19 per share at present. Its stock value has grown 42.11% since this time last year.

Like any investing recommendation takes these as just that, not sound fact, do your research, learn more and think about it from your own point of view (make sure that POV is educated though).

Good luck!

Best up-and-coming cities to buy a home 2014

Best up-and-coming cities to buy a home 2014 – Recent years have seen low prices but extremely high competition and aggresive buying from large investors in the real estate market. That’s left it a pretty rough time for the low level everyday investor looking to buy a home or 2nd property. However with a slight price rise but deals still to be had and the big guys backing off a bit 2014 is shaping up to be a better year for the normal folks.

There are many deals to be had a lot of places that could be said to be up-and-coming throughout the USA.

bird house home

So Forbes put together a list of these places with their forecasts. Of course some things that may be wrong on and due diligence is always needed but the list is extremely interesting.

Below are their top 5 places:

1 . Fort Worth-Arlington, Tex.
Pop.: 2,121,231
Actual Home Price: $168,383
Equilibrium Home Price: $210,296
Difference: -20%
3-year Growth Forecast: 25%
**3-year Growth Forecast is Local Market Monitor’s prediction for cumulative rise in home prices over the next three years

2. Dallas, Tex.
Pop.: 4,326,384
Actual Home Price: $180,645
Equilibrium Home Price: $204,453
Difference: -12%
3-year Growth Forecast: 29%

3. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C.
Pop.: 1,745,524
Actual Home Price: $201,855
Equilibrium Home Price: $237,985
Difference: -15%
3-year growth forecast: 24%

4. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn.
Pop.: 1,582,264
Actual Home Price: $199,506
Equilibrium Home Price: $238,411
Difference: -16%
3-year Growth Forecast: 23%

5. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Tex.
Pop.: 5,867,489
Actual Home Price: $191,279
Equilibrium Home Price: $218,610
Difference: -13%
3-year Growth Forecast: 24%

Wow, looks like Texas is the place to be! It sure does get hot down there…. See the full slideshow here.

Do states benefit from legalized gambling

I would have a bet that you couldn’t go a few days without wagering on something. I don’t mean going to the tables or machines, I just mean with your pals, as a bribe to your kids, just figuratively. It starts at a young age and is encouraged during adulthood as taking calculated risks!

It could be argued that betting is an essential part of culture. However when it comes to gambling for money it can range from a little fun to a serious life destroying problem. So why not just ban it outright? Close down Vegas and all the other legal gambling places throughout the USA, close down the problem linked to social ills such as theft, alcoholism and worse!

Of course there are benefits to allowing gambling within a state too. The tax can be as high as 40%, it brings in countless jobs and creates a legal space for people to exhibit some beahvior they may do in more unsavory places were gambling not permitted!

But the drugs, the debts, the crime it brings! We could flip flop over the good and bad all day!

Many states bring in a lot of cash from gambling and that’s fairly easy to measure but the social costs are much harder to quanitify and the answer to the question posed in the title of this post is one I can’t easily answer.

So I would love to hear your thoughts? Is it a benefit, should it be heavily regulated or should the punishments be where the hammer is struck down for people who do step out of line?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Average time to complete taxes

How long does it take you to do your taxes? An hour, a day, a few weeks? Taxes can be tricky and a bit of a mine field if you have a lot of tricky things like various investments, different types of income in different kinds of accounts etc etc.

However, luckily, for the majority of us taxes are fairly straight forward. Keep all your info organised and I would estimate the average time to be around 2-3 hours for preparing and electronically filing your taxes.

For me, I try to make sure I wrap up my accounts each month. I use online software for this (Wave Accounting) and it tracks my overall figures in British Pounds for me (pulls in from various $ sources and does the conversions for me).

When it comes to tax time I have the figures to hand. All I have to do is carefully fill out the forms.

Actual filing time can be as low as an hour for me.

So, that’s my UK taxes. When filing in Canada we would have a tax filing party, get a load of junk food, put some music on, chat and do taxes for a whole day! Then crack open the beers. Actual tax prep time here was no more than a few hours. Just don’t hit the alcohol before the taxes are done!

So how long do yours take?

Should you cosign your kid’s loan

Loans and family, never a good mix and I say that from experience! If a kid asks you to cosign their loan there are a lot of considerations.

Ideally no one would ever need a loan but in reality things in life, namely University and buying property, are expensive. Your kids may just need a little help from the bank manager after they cleared out the bank of Mum and Dad and even then they may put more financial pressure on you by asking you to cosign their loan.

Before doing such a thing I believe there are some things to consider but number one is that once your name is on that loan, no matter the circumstances, you are 100% liable to pay that loan if your kid stops paying. Hence the guarantee you give as the cosigner.

So I believe you have to one be prepared to pay that loan and be financially stable to do so and two know that it’s something that can’t blow the relationship between you and your kid. If you think that it will ruin a relationship then you should not sign at all, in my opinion.

I’ve seen loans wreck families. I have also seen loans refused and the person thinking that borrowing was a life and death situation finding another better route through the issue.

As an alternative to a loan maybe you can gift your kid a sum of money or hand it over as a pay back when you can loan. Maybe you can help them by putting them up in your home, helping them find extra work or some other way that could in the long run strengthen your relationship.

What do you think?

5 Unusual Ways People Spent Their Lottery Millions

Everyone has wondered what they would spend the money on if they hit the lottery jackpot. Of course we would all sort our family out and fix any personal financial issues, of course we would take our mates on vacation, of course we would invest in some health fixes. But what about the left over cash? What about those crazy things you always wanted to do! Well some lottery winners really have gone hog wild with their money and The Richest put together a list of 5 of the strangest ways people have spent their cash.

Here are the 5 they came up with:

5. Robert Erb: Donated money to causes he believed in….including legalizing pot

4. The 19-year-old who blew his winnings on a sexy wrestling show

3. The man who built a $200 000 water park

2. The Florida senior who paid $2 million to fix up her old school.

1. The man who gave $40 000 000 away to charity.

Details about each one can be seen here.

As fun as the list is I don’t actually think they are that crazy, ok maybe the water park is out there and the TV show, but there must be some winners have have genuinely gone insane with the cash, done something unbelievably outlandish!

Money does strange things to people and I know no matter how level headed you think you would stay it would turn us all a little loopy, even if only temporary.

So what crazy thing would you do with a lottery windfall?

I can’t honestly think what I would do! Maybe i’d buy a load of animals and set them free in the wild (responsibly of course).

What do I do if the IRS audits me

So you got the news that the IRS is doing one of it’s audits and they are doing this audit on you! What on earth are you going to do, why you, are they just picking on you! Maybe you can un to the South America, live your days out in exile with an a new identity, never speak of it again and become the guy at the beach bar with the hidden past and the exotic made up story.

Of course that’s drastic, it’s just an audit. It’s not a big deal. If you have filed within the law then it’s no big deal and if you made a mistake it can be rectified. It’s a real pain in the backside but don’t panic. You can’t change the fact that you are being audited so you just have to breath deep and deal with it.

Now, the problem may come that you are not totally familiar with the system. I would say you are in the majority (including people who work at the IRS) in this case. Tax law and conditions is one of the biggest mysteries to man!

We advise that if it’s not a simple case of providing a few documents that you contact professional help.  Find someone local who has proven experience representing clients to the IRS in the face of an audit and make sure you speak with them in detail before committing.

Ask around, see what friends did and who they used, visit the local chamber of commerce and see what registered tax specialists are on their books The professional help may cost you but the peace of mind it will save you and the potential bullying you will avoid is likely worth your time.

As for what you can do, well just get yourself as organised as you can. Get all past tax returns, supporting documents and accounts in order, easy to access and easy to read. Be transparent and don’t hide anything. If there is a genuine mistake, be forward with it!

Do you have anything to add?

Greedy parents throw worst baby shower ever

Greedy parents throw worst baby shower ever – Ok, the shower itself may not have been that bad but it’s the aftermath that has the mommy blogs (and rightly so) talking.

Mommyish.com published a story about a woman who was invited to the baby shower of a women with whom she shared some mutual friends and who she sat next to in graduation. The woman decided not to attend the baby shower as she did not know the mother-to-be that well.

Of course this is fine, right? Well apparently not as she then received a crafted poem that is quite frightful and bleeds of pure greed! The poem read:

We’re sorry you missed the shower!

There was fun and games to be had
The food and drinks not too bad
The loot was a plenty
But we looked high and low and found none from you
Not even a shiny penny!

Babies need a lot
Of this fact we all know
So we’ve included some shops below!

If none are to your liking, and that we understand
Then grab a pen and get to writing
For checks are to our liking!

The *** Family is registered at these stores and checks can be mailed to this address.

WTF!!!!! Ok, we know babies are expensive but essentially berating people to get them to pay up (especially after you already paid out for a shower) is simply awful and seriously bad etiquette.

It was also said people who did attend and did not bring a satisfactory gift got a “nasty” little poem. That can be read here too.

I’m seriously disgusted by some peoples attitudes, especially when it comes to money.

We should feel pleasure just to celebrate with people and never ever ever care about the value of a gift. If you invite someone to a party their presence should be the only gift they HAVE to bring.

Do you agree?

If the parents meant this all as a joke then they seriously missed the mark!!!

Life, the Universe & Everything!