5 Ways To Save On Utility Bills

5 Ways To Save On Utility BillsWe spend millions of dollars on utilities in America each year, and the rates seem to keep rising. Your heating bill could be seemingly under control until you have to turn your heat on in the winter, or crank up the AC in the summer, at which point you could be in for a surprise. Water bills fluctuate from state to state, and depending how much water you use, your bill can go from normal to a nightmare quickly. For someone in a one bedroom apartment, keeping the water on is very manageable while the water bill for a 5 person home can be a shocker each month.

Although utilities like lights and water are necessities that we’re all entitled to, all the bills can be overwhelming, especially if you are on a fixed income. With other monthly bills we accumulate such as cellphone plans, credit cards and student loan repayments, you may find yourself having to choose between which bills to pay while letting others fall to the wayside.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to lower utility bills without having to decrease your quality of life. Let’s take a look at five great tips that can help shave your utility bills down and give you more wiggle room to save.

Unplug and Unwind

The first step in saving money on your electric/gas bills is as simple as turning lights off when nobody’s in the room. Make it a point to perform a walk-thru of your home at the end of the night. Make sure all lights, TVs, and other electrical devices are turned off and unplugged before going to bed. The savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly.

Monitor Your Meter

Compare the meter reading on your utility bill to what actually appears on your meter. If the amount on your meter is lower than the one on your bill, you might be getting overcharged. However, remember that we’re human and mistakes do happen sometimes, so don’t automatically assume the worse if there is in fact a discrepancy.

Plug Those Leaks!

If you have any leaky faucets around the house, those tiny drops of water can turn into big bucks at the end of the month. Make it a point to check all of the sinks, tubs, and toilets in your home for leaks and get them fixed immediately. It could be as easy as simple tightening a screw, so pay attention to slow leaks and handle them accordingly.

Give Autopay Some Love

Some companies knock a couple of dollars off just for signing up with automatic bill pay programs where money is taken out of your bank account each month on a set day. If this is an option that’s reasonable for you, try it out and see. You might find that autopay not only saves you money, but also time as you won’t have to worry about stopping your day just to pay a bill. Also, talk to a customer service agent about other programs they offer that could save you money. You never know until you ask.

Bundle It Up

Many cable companies these days offer phone, cable, and internet bundle packages which cuts down the price of having to pay for them individually. However, do a little research before signing up for a bundle package. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for, what channels you’re receiving, how vast the phone coverage is, how fast the internet speed is, and if there’s any hidden fees. The key is to be completely aware of where your money is going. With a little time and research, you could reduce your bills by half!

Dealing with Payday Loan Debt: Six Tips

Payday loans are quick and easy to get but if you are not careful, you can easily end up in debt on account of them. https://cashcofinancial.com/payday-loans-locations/ presents six tips for how to avoid debt when you take a payday loan.

Six tips for dealing with payday loan debt effectively

Don’t panic – First of all, don’t panic. Many companies advertise payday loans as a way to finance a ‘one off expense’. But payday loans are more common than you think. Many people use payday loans to pay for essential items like petrol, food and utilities. Some people take a payday loan to pay off another loan. So you are not alone if you’ve taken a payday loan. Speak to your payday loan company if you are having problems. They want you to pay the loan, so they may help you.

Pay off debt proactively – Don’t delay making debt payments when you have the money. High interest loans should be paid off first. On the rest of your loans, keep making timely payments. Do not delay payments on payday loans. These loans are given with the assumption that they will be paid off when you get your next pay. If you are not sure you can spare that money, do not take a payday loan.

Research loan consolidation companies – Many people sign up with loan consolidation companies when they have difficulties paying back their loans. These companies can help you lower your payment. But be careful. Some payday lenders will report this to credit companies, denting your credit. However, most payday lenders don’t pull credit reports when vetting customers for payday loans. So it won’t be a problem.

Don’t perpetuate the borrowing cycle – Many people can’t actually afford payday loans but they take them anyway. It comes to a stage that they have to keep taking loans, just to pay off the earlier loan. You have to stop this cycle. Taking one loan after another is not a solution to your problems. If you don’t draw a line somewhere, you will only fall deeper into debt.

Don’t give the payday loan company a CPA –  Here, CPA stands for Continuous Payment Authority. Payday loans are not a priority debt. Groceries, utility bills, fuel, rent, mortgage, and other household bills must have first right on your pay. So if you have given the payday lender a continuous payment authority, stop it. If you don’t, the lender will keep trying to take money from your account until the money is collected in full. Note that we are not saying that you should not pay the company. Read the next tip about what to do in such cases.

Repay only the money you can afford to give – Sometimes, your circumstances may change and you may be unable to pay the payday lender in full when you get your pay. If it is so, call up the company and tell them your problem. The company wants to make it as easy for you to pay. If it is a legit company, they will be ready to discuss the best way to make the payments.

Payday loans can ward off your short term financial troubles. If you follow these tips faithfully, your payday loans won’t give you trouble.

6 Upsides of Alternative Business Loans

Don’t let the name fool you; alternative business loans are very mainstream. As technology evolved, platform lenders emerged to fill a business financing gap that existed for the more than 80 percent of small businesses that could not qualify for big bank loans. While these financing tools are often referred to as alternative business loans, the advantages they offer could make them the first choice for small business owners.

How Alternative Business Loans Fill Key Financing Gaps

  1. High Approval Rates

According to a NSBA 2012 Small Business Access to Capital Survey, 43 percent of small business owners said they needed but couldn’t find financing sources at some point during the four years previous. Most businesses qualify for at least one (and often several) types of alternative business loans, in part, because they are available to young as well as established businesses. Most companies need to exist for two or three years in order to qualify for a working capital loan from a bank; however, young businesses are often those most in need of small working capital loans.

Alternative loans are available to businesses after they have been in business for just a few months, unlike bank loans which are often available only to companies that have been in business for several years. Overall, lending requirements for alternative financing programs are generally significantly less stringent than for traditional loans, and are often based on nothing more than projected sales.

  1. Application Requirements

The application process for bank loans and peer-funding models can be particularly onerous while the application for an alternative business loan can usually be completed online and may only take a few minutes. Since many are based on the most recent six months’ deposit or sales history, there is very little (or no) additional documentation business owners are required to supply.

In addition, while traditional lenders often require business owners to provide proof of assets (called collateral) as guaranty against a loan, alternative loan approvals don’t hinge on collateral. Nor will a low credit score preclude approval for alternative financing, though a low credit score may result in automatic disapproval for a bank loan.

  1. Time to Funding

It takes the average business a week just to hear back from the bank about their credit application (Bank of America 2015). However, there are many times in the course of the life of a business when it might need access to working capital immediately. Equipment failures, payroll shortages, fast-developing business opportunities and other situations can crop up and demand immediate action.

Time to funding may be the most significant advantage of alternative business loans, since time to funding could be minutes from the moment an application is submitted. At most, small business owners can expect alternative financing tools to provide access to working capital within a few business days of approval. Traditional lenders application and underwriting processes can be lengthy, taking weeks or even months. For business owners that need immediate access to working capital, waiting simply might not be feasible.

  1. Renewable Resource

Most alternative business loan programs give borrowers the ability to renew funding and some even allow business owners to draw against and up to a given credit amount on demand. This type of financing could be especially appropriate for long term projects or when a business owner foresees that cash flow highs and lows might present a challenge.

  1. Flexible Use of Funds

Financing that comes from banks, grant programs and peer-lending programs is often project-specific. Meaning, funds can only be used for specified purposes. Business owners may even be required to submit periodic reports showing use of funds. Alternative business loans are far more flexible and most allow the business owner to use funds at their discretion. For this reason, alternative financing could be preferable to other options, especially when a business owner needs working capital that can be applied as-needed or be used to support multiple areas of operation.

  1. Short-Term Solutions

The median amount banks loan out to small businesses is $130-140k (SBA 2013); however, small business owners often need working capital loans in much smaller amounts – amounts that are often below the threshold of consideration for traditional lends. Alternative loans range from as little as a few thousand dollars up to $100k or more, once again filling the gap left by traditional lenders.

Every type of business financing has pros and cons that might make it more advantageous in one situation or another. When it comes to alternative loans, it is essential to consider the benefits that can be provided for small businesses. Alternative loans can be a strong option as they have the ability to fill gaps and offer small business owners working capital financing tools that can bridge short term cash flow lows and fund growth.

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