It can be difficult to pick out the college you want to attend, especially if you have been accepted at more than one institution. There are so many factors to think about: finances, professors, classes offered, location, and school culture. Individual acceptance letters can make the decision process much easier, but only if you can decipher them. While no two acceptance letters are just the same, each school will organize them with at least a few common features. We will identify and explain each of these in the infographic below from Citizens Bank. When you understand all of the information gleaned from your acceptance letters, the choice of what college you want to go to may not be so difficult after all.
Many people are advocating for more personal financial skills to be taught to students in high school as more and more people graduate with few personal finance skills. Currently, only 17 states in the U.S. require high school students to take a personal finance course. Mismanaging your personal finances can have negative repercussions for many years and making a financial mistake soon after high school could affect your ability to secure employment and save for your future well into your thirties and forties. It is important for everyone to know some personal finance basics that will help keep them out of financial trouble. Here are some of the things you need to know.
Keep Track Of Your Spending
One of the biggest financial mistakes you can make is spending freely without documenting where your money is going. People who take this approach often overspend and fail to save for their future. When you document where your money is going, you can easily see if you are overspending in any one area of your life and can determine where spending can be cut to save money for future needs, such as buying a home, college savings for your kids, or funding your retirement. There are a number of personal finance software options that will track your spending for you based on the information provided by your bank accounts and credit cards.
Create A Budget
Spending without a budget is almost as dangerous as neglecting to track your spending. Your budget should be used to determine the portion of your income that should be spent on food, housing, transportation, entertainment, etc. It is also important to put an amount for saving into your budget and to transfer that amount from your checking account to your savings account as soon as you get paid to ensure that the money is available for the future. If you are having difficulty creating an effective budget or need help getting started, financial management programs like Mint can help you get on the right track.
Use Credit Sparingly
Many of the people that find themselves in financial trouble are in that situation because they used credit excessively and are now dealing with mountains of debt. The best way to avoid this fate is to use credit sparingly and only charge what you can afford to pay off in a month or two. If you must carry a balance on the credit card for more than a month, pay as much as you can to get the balance paid off quickly. The minimum payment amount tricks you into staying into debt forever as most of the money you pay goes towards paying the monthly interest amount, not the principal amount that the interest is based on.
It is amazing to me that so many people in the United States have no clue what their credit score is or how that three-digit number affects many different areas of their lives. Many seem to think that their credit score will take care of itself as long as they do not pay any of their bills late. Imagine how surprised they are when they find out their credit score is less than perfect when they have never had an account go delinquent or even made a payment late. Understanding your credit score and how it affects you financially will go a long way towards helping you increase your financial security. Here are some of the things that you should know.
Credit Score Basics
Your credit score is a calculation of your credit-worthiness that lenders and others use as a gauge of the risk you pose to their company. Lenders use your credit score to determine whether you qualify for one of their loans and the interest rate you should be charged for borrowing money. Landlords and property owners check the credit scores of potential renters to determine whether they will be diligent about paying their rental payments on time. There are even some employers that review the credit scores of potential employees that would be placed in positions of trust once hired. The most commonly used credit score is the FICO score, although there are others that use slightly different calculations to come up with your personal credit score.
Credit Score Factors
There are a number of different factors that go into the calculation of your credit score.
- Credit utilization rate – the amount of your total available credit limit you’re using.
- On-time payments – your ability to pay your bills on time.
- Number of negative reports – these reports include bankruptcies, foreclosures, accounts in collections, tax liens or civil judgments.
- Length of credit history – amount of time your accounts have been open, averaged across all your accounts.
- Number of credit accounts – total of all types of credit accounts, including credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and other loans.
- Number of hard credit inquiries – hard inquiries are reported whenever a lender requests your credit report to make a decision on whether to approve your application.
Improving Your Credit Score
If you want to get the lowest interest rate for your loans and increase your chances of being approved for the things that you want, you will want to keep your credit score as high as possible. A great credit score is generally a FICO score of 720 or higher, while a decent credit score is typically around 650. For a great credit score, keep your credit card balances low, be careful to never miss payments, and only apply for credit when you really need it to minimize the number of hard inquiries reported.
One of the principal concerns of any business is to increase the sales of its goods and services. An essential part of making those sales is providing your customers with the means of making payment for the goods and services they buy.
The following briefly explains how to arrange for your customers to be able to make credit and debit card payments online – thereby increasing your potential for sales and business profits.
The principles of setting up card payments online are very similar to those for setting up card payments through a physical point of sale terminal (say, in a shop, restaurant or any other business premises) – each uses slightly different technology.
Although a common perception might be that card payments – through a physical terminal or online – have become almost universal, the fact is that an estimated two-thirds of Britain’s small and medium sized enterprises do not accept this method of payment, according to a report on the Real Business website recently.
Such a failure to provide customers with the method of payment they want – since one third of customers who are unable to pay by card simply decline to make the purchase – amounts to lost revenues of an estimated £10 billion.
One of the reasons for businesses apparently being so slow in providing customers with methods of payment they prefer is the perceived cost of installing and maintaining contracts for the use of physical terminals and online payment gateways.
Given the potential for considerably increased sales as a result of accepting card payments, however, the costs are probably overestimated.
Besides, this might be precisely the kind of one-off business expenditure for which a finance loan may be perfectly suitable. Business loans from Everline do just that –sums of anywhere between a few thousand and up to £50,000 may be borrowed over the relatively short term of a few months up to 24 months. The ease and speed with which such borrowing may be set up through an online application may make this an ideal source of funding for your card payment installation.
Terminals come in different types, depending on the business requirement and may be fixed countertop, such as for use in a shop, or portable, often used in restaurants.
Because the security of payments and of course the cardholders personal details is so important, you might want to ensure that any terminal you install meets the current Payment Card Industry (PCI) Date Security Standards (DSS).
The ongoing cost of running such a terminal depends on the type of machine you choose and the number of customers who use it. The cost is made up of a contract with the supplier, a charge for each transaction made, and insurance protection for the terminal.
In order to accept card payments online there is of course no access to any such physical terminal.
Instead there is something called a payment gateway which acts as a service provider for the authorisation of card payments. The gateway effectively takes the place online of the physical terminal you might find at a retail point of sale and provides the same degree of security for protecting cardholders’ information and for the details of the transaction to pass from the customer to the business and from the business to a designated payment processor (the third party agent appointed by the business to handle card transactions).
With the aid of technology, the following bewildering series of steps allows your customer to make a card payment online for the purchase of your goods and services:
- the customer signifies the purchase by clicking on a button on your webpage labelled “Purchase” (or something similar);
- the customer’s web browser encrypts his or her transaction before the details are passed to your webserver;
- you forward these transaction details – again encrypted – through your payment gateway and the payment gateway forwards it to your chosen payment processor (bank);
- the payment processor directs the transaction details to the relevant card association, such as MasterCard or Visa;
- the bank that issued the card receives a payment authorisation request and gives its response back to the payment processor, which forwards the answer to the payment gateway;
- the payment gateway is then able to authorise the purchase that has been made online.
Incredibly, this whole process takes little more than two or three seconds and then it is then over to you to fulfil the customer’s order. Once that is done, the final steps are taken to ensure that the funds authorised by the card issuer and payment processor are deposited into your bank account.
Trevor Wetherly lives near Birmingham and spends his weekends renovating a small cottage. He intends to retire there and enjoy the quiet life very soon.