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Author: Katie

Kate is a finance blogger and currently works for one of the big high street banks. In her spare time she likes to educate people on finance and business matters. Married with 3 children she enjoys travel and family time when not in the office.
POS Solutions for Small Businesses

POS Solutions for Small Businesses

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If you are a retailer or service provider, and you take over the counter payments, you will be aware that customers like to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Nobody likes to stand around for longer than is necessary, so getting things done fast is encourages consumers to use your services. For example, if you don’t have a modern, up to date Point of Sale system, you may be losing business. These surprisingly affordable and very capable machines allow you to process transactions quickly and efficiently, and they can help bring your business into the 21st century.

Furthermore, do you take card payments? Many small businesses don’t, largely on the mistaken grounds that it will cost a lot of money, but in fact it is costing you money not to take card payments! This is because people appreciate the convenience of paying by card – it’s quicker for both you and the consumer – especially in these days of swipe cards that don’t even need a PIN. Also, people tend to spend more when paying by card – nobody is sure why but it appears to be true – so you are missing out on potential further turnover.

Modern POS Systems

For the very latest POS systems for small business use check out the range on offer from Merchant Account Solutions, a leading name in the field with many satisfied clients and a reputation for excellent service. They can provide you with fully integrated up to date systems that will enable you to service your clients quickly and effectively, and at a sensible and affordable rate. Indeed, we believe their prices to be the best in the business, so you should take a look now for more information.

You should ensure that your new POS system includes a credit card machine, so you can begin to take card payments immediately. This will also be at an affordable rate, and they have many different models to choose from, and will be happy to advise you on the very best solution for your business requirements, at the best prices in the business. You cannot afford not come on stream, so have a look now and you’ll be impressed.

Online eCommerce Solutions

If you are dealing largely in eCommerce, you will need the latest solutions to enable you to operate efficiently, and at www.merchantaccountsolutions.com you can fine everything from POS solutions to a range of accounting and invoicing software, all specifically designed for use by smaller businesses. You will find they offer an integrated system that will vastly improve your cost-effectiveness, and allow you to ensure all your transactions are processed quickly and correctly.

The 21st century lays many demands on smaller businesses, and being on the ball when it comes to POS solutions is one way of staying ahead of the pack. Merchant Account Solutions are there to help you get the very best out of the latest technology, so have a chat with them now and see how they can bring your business into the modern world.

Turning Your Specialist Hobby or Craft into a Money-Spinner

Turning Your Specialist Hobby or Craft into a Money-Spinner

I won’t get into detail about which languages they were, but when I was younger and we were in one of the additional language classes, speaking about our hobbies had the teacher drilling it into us that a hobby is something you do purely for the love of it and in addition to doing it in your spare time, you actually go out of your way to make some time for it. What a hobby isn’t according to the teacher is something which you do for money or professionally in any way.

Well, I guess we’re going to blur those lines a little and discuss just how you can turn your specialist hobby or craft into an income generation stream. I mean we’re always taught to follow our passions and then working on those passions in anticipation of the money to follow naturally, but in reality it requires a bit of initiative to be taken on your part. You’ll perhaps be driven by your passion for whatever it is you have a special interest in, so it’ll never get old, which means that you can really carve out a nice, consistent stream of income out of your continued perusal of it.

Create a Blog or Website

It really doesn’t take all that much to get a professional website up these days, in the same way that it’s very cheap and easy to get a blog up. Get a website or blog of your own up covering what will undoubtedly be a lot of topics which form part of your hobby or special interest. Don’t think about monetising it yet because then you might run the risk of having the passion sucked out of the content you’re generating. Never succumb to the pressure of feeling like you have to cover a certain topic because that’s how passion slowly dies. Also, it’ll make for the reason why you end up making no money with your blog or website when the time comes for you to monetise it. So don’t be swayed by the latest news doing the rounds or anything of that sort.

Topics covered should be those which you’d perhaps naturally discuss with other fellow hobbyists interested in the same topic.

Sell Products and Services Related to Your Hobby or Special Interest

One of the ways through which to sell products and services related to your hobby or special interest is through your blog or website. This proves to be very effective as a way through which to sell because what you’ll essentially be doing is referring so-called “hot leads” to the online sales platforms you’ll be linking to. If you won’t be selling directly as the retailer then you can sell as an affiliate. Link to products and services that solve a specific problem, like linking to a book, instructional DVD or other form of media which discusses exactly how to solve a specific problem. For example maybe a how-to guide detailing how to use a specific piece of machinery for a specific activity.

Do No Credit Check Loans Exist?

Do No Credit Check Loans Exist?

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Have you noticed that it’s one of the ways that most advertising has? A bold statement to build up the product or service being sold that is at the same time both true and not quite true.

That’s probably the way it is with so-called no credit check instant payday loans. It’s more or less true that there’s no credit check on your ability to repay the loan, yet at the same time, there is strictly speaking no such thing as a no credit check loan.

So, what’s the real answer – do they, or do they not exist?

Credit checking

A credit check offers lenders a way of assessing whether applicants are likely to be able to afford the loan requested and if they are likely to make the agreed repayments without defaulting.

That’s done with reference to your credit history of the way you have managed your borrowing in the past, the extent to which you have made repayments on time or whether there are recorded difficulties – as evidenced by your having been declared bankrupt, have had country court judgments (CCJs) mas against you, have entered any Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) with creditors or have needed to make a Debt Management Plan.

These records of your credit history are kept by the main credit reference agencies in the UK – Equifax, Experian and CallCredit.

Lenders not only choose to conduct credit checks (to safeguard their own interests) but are obliged to do so, in the interests of responsible lending to customers, under the terms of the authorisation and regulation to which lenders are subject by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Under these strict rules, therefore, there is no such thing as a no credit check loan.

No credit checking

On the contrary, insist many providers of instant payday loans. They make a decision about whether or not you qualify for such a loan based only on the information you provide in your application – a “snapshot”, if you like, of your current financial standing, but without any formal check with the credit reference agencies.

This is a process known as a “soft search” or “quotation search” which leaves no trace on your credit history file.

This is an important consideration since every application you make for credit is noted on your credit file. If the application is rejected, this too is noted and is likely to have a negative impact on your overall credit “score” and subsequent ability to secure credit or a loan.

By pre-checking your likely ability to be approved for a loan when you make a formal application, therefore, this represents what might properly be called a no credit check instant payday loan.

No credit check/credit check

In this way, both answers might be seen as correct. The soft search or quotation search done by the provider of a payday loan avoids the need for a formal credit check – it is a no credit check solution. When you finally make your application for the loan, however, any lender is obliged to conduct a credit check on the file held on you by the credit reference agencies.

Cost Benefits of Using Same Day Delivery Services for Your Business

Cost Benefits of Using Same Day Delivery Services for Your Business

Same day delivery is quickly becoming the norm, with a greater number of companies offering delivery within a one-day window. In today’s technology-ruled instant-access world, customers and are no longer content with the discounts, good customer service or quality products. Instead your customers want to be able to purchase and receive an order within the same day, meaning building a relationship with a reliable and reputable delivery service is paramount.

That being said, what are the benefits of utilising same day delivery for your business?

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Happy customers and clients are at the core of every successful business, so any opportunity to increase customer satisfaction should be considered. This is particularly true when it comes to same day delivery, as these services make customers feel appreciated, who will in turn spread good word of mouth about your company. In addition, an express delivery service also promotes your business as being professional and reliable.

Reduce Delivery Costs

Typically, many businesses buy or hire their own vans to ship goods, along with recruiting delivery drivers and paying for vehicle repairs. While this can be cost effective if deliveries are local, costs can soon mount when travelling further afield. Instead, it can be beneficial to hire a third-party delivery comparison company (like Parcels Please), as they can often quote prices that your business would find impossible to match, particularly for same day services.

Boost Business Productivity

Unlike standard delivery options, offering a same day delivery service means that there is no leeway when it comes to completing customer orders. This means that staff can no longer put off fulfilling an order until tomorrow as they must be processed and sent out on the same day. This requirement tends to increase the productivity of employees, although companies could also consider using additional bonus and incentive schemes.

Creates Competitive Advantage

Whether competing in local, national or global markets, your business needs an edge to help it stand out and increase customer numbers. While your company could consider reducing prices or increasing the quality of products, offering same day delivery services can provide something of a unique selling point. Giving customers the option of expedited delivery not only increases customer satisfaction, but also creates a competitive advantage.

In conclusion, same day delivery services carry several benefits, including: increasing customer satisfaction, reducing business costs, boosting the productivity of employees and providing a competitive advantage.

The First Step to Clearing Your Bad Credit Record

The First Step to Clearing Your Bad Credit Record

Given the rate at which consumers are increasingly getting listed with their country’s version of the credit bureau, one would perhaps be justified in truly believing that the rating system in use favours the creditors and is perhaps a little bit biased against the debtors. The regulations for issuing credit appear to be rather lithesome, with creditors often proving to be the instigators of bending those regulations just so that they can add that next debtor to their books.

How many times have you gone through the parameters and minimum requirements of some sort of loan or credit extension you’re trying take advantage of, realised that you actually don’t quite qualify to get the credit you want and yet you take a chance anyway? Upon filing the application, you delight in the fact that against all odds, you got approved for your financing….

A lot of the time (if not all the time), creditors are fully aware of the fact that they are approving and going ahead with the provision of credit to debtors who aren’t good for the repayments and will essentially eventually default on their loans. It’s a practice mostly instituted by the bigger financial institutions such as banks, but the reason behind them doing this is because holding lots of debt on their balance sheets is big business, perhaps even bigger than the actual interest they earn on the loan repayments. Debt can be repackaged and sold on to other creditors or even to debt collectors, but that’s perhaps a topic for another day because of its technical intensity.

What you need to know is that if you haven’t been reckless with your spending as a consumer and you find yourself sitting with an increasingly bad credit record and a growing pool of debt, it probably isn’t your fault that you have so much debt to deal with and that you’re struggling to pay it back.

That’s where you should look as the first step to clearing your bad credit record and getting out of debt and this can be done through simply looking beyond the big lending institutions by way of credit providers. Why do bad credit car financers exist, for example? They exist because they operate in that little pocket of the industry banks resort to as part of their plans to re-structure the loan repayment terms they’ve essentially shoved down clients’ throats by operating at the very edge of the regulatory parameters. If a bank can give you much better interest and repayment rates on a loan you qualify for, there’ll still try to hit you for the most favourable rates they can benefit out of, so chances are you can always go back to your bank and re-negotiate your repayment terms as a means through which to be able to afford paying the debt back.

That won’t repair your credit record as quickly (if at all) as perhaps going to those specialists who do consider lending to consumers with bad credit records on a case-by-case basis though. These bad credit lenders, so to say, will only give you credit if they are confident you can pay them back after assessing your unique financial situation and working out a plan for you to further reduce the debt you currently have.

This shows up as a positive factor with the credit bureau or ratings agency and thus works towards repairing your credit rating.

Property Investment is Still Good Business: Here’s How to Get Started

Property Investment is Still Good Business: Here’s How to Get Started

The Chancellor has swung his axe, and many landlords within the UK are rethinking their decisions to invest in the buy-to-let business. Impacting the property market are several factors, including mortgage rates, tax, and stamp duty. When the Government decided to review them, panic set in amongst property investors.

To set the scene, investors usually get their money (mortgage) from a bank or some financial lenders to acquire a property. As was previously in place, the Government operated a mortgage interest relief system, which allowed landlords of residential properties to reduce the cost of financing their newly acquired property, but changes to tax relief for residential landlords will see that the cost for finance is restricted to the basic rate of income Tax. And on top of that, the newly introduced Stamp Duty Land Tax means that landlords will now, from 1 April, 2016, pay an additional 3% on any new property acquired.

However, many experts believe that property investment business is still good business in 2016. In fact, The Week reports, “The property portal Rightmove has revealed that enquiries on its website from would-be investors rose by 30 per cent between June and September. It says that the number of new properties being offered for rent rose six per cent nationally and 15 per cent in London during this period.”

With the panic in the sector ebbing gradually, investors could yet gain, but they must learn the tips to investing wisely. Here are five of them.

  1. Research is the Key

Conducting a full survey of lending rates, tax rates, and capital gains is the first step. You wouldn’t want to buy a property and then discover that your mortgage is due, when the property has not started yielding gains.  A survey is necessary since rates are not always stable. Since mortgage rate is crucial to the survival of property investment, you would do well to look at the rates of several lenders before making a final choice.

  1. Add Value to Your Property

By offering things that tenants are really looking for in a property, you could attract the best tenants who are willing to pay a premium for your property. There are plenty of guides about exactly how to improve your property online.

  1. Choose Your Target Location Wisely

Manchester-based property investor Robert Jones calls the kick to the property investment sector an opportunity. Rather than buying a property in a place where you want to live, you should consider buying one in a place where tenants are willing to move to. Ultimately, this means researching your prospective tenants’ demographics such as family size, income level, and age groups.

  1. Investing Professionally

Seeking financial and tax advice from professional property experts is invaluable before making your investment decisions.

  1. Simon Lambert from Thisismoney.co.uk advises that you go for rental yield. “To compare different property’s values use their yield: that is annual rent received as a percentage of the purchase price.” Say your property’s rent is £5,000 and the cost £145,000, your rental yield would be 3.5%. This method lets you know exactly how much you should gain over a long term basis.

Finally, before you invest in a property, ask anyone you know who has been there and done that. All of these tips will definitely save you from trouble when the grim days come again.

With Low Interest Rates, Does It Make Sense To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

With Low Interest Rates, Does It Make Sense To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

For the past six to seven years, mortgage rates have averaged less than 5%. Many argued there’s no better time to pay off your mortgage than now, especially in an economy that is unpredictable.

It is an appealing proposition as you’re able to shave off significant amounts on your balance if you pay earlier than scheduled. That would after all, seem the goal of lenders: to encourage borrowers to reduce their monthly payments with lower balance payments.

For example, using your mortgage calculator, if you’re on a £150,000 repayment mortgage at a consistent rate of 3.5% spread over 40 years, but choose to pay a reduced payment period of, say 25 years, it will cost you £225,300, instead of £279,000. That means you’ll save a hefty £170 on monthly payment!

Really, no one wants to be indebted longer than necessary and watch it accumulate with interests over the years. But even if you have some free money lying around or got some financial windfall, paying off your mortgage early isn’t always a smart decision. Besides, it could leave you financially drained or left with limited liquidity.

So, if you’re considering offsetting your mortgage balances early, here are reasons why you should review the plan.

Pay off Your More Expensive Debts First

Mortgages are called ‘good debt’ for a reason. They are properly spaced out for convenience and ease of payment, very much unlike credit cards, store cards or unsecured loans with significantly higher interest rates that cost you an arm and a leg.

You should focus on offsetting your more expensive debts that costs you a lot to pay over a long time.

Invest Any Free Money into Your Pension Scheme

Rather than pay off your mortgage from any extra saving or free cash you’re fortunate to get, why not put it in a scheme that rewards you better and helps you save more in the long run? For example, the pension scheme is tax-efficient because the government contributes to your savings while also offering you tax relief.

If you don’t have a pension plan and have some money to spare, you should think of opening one or let your company set up one for you and then invest the money there. Your employer is also obligated to contribute to your pension. This way, your pension savings will double and you could guarantee a more secured future.

Check to See if There are Better Options on Savings Rates

Investing your money into a pension scheme is great idea. However, take your time to review your existing pension plan to see if it’s the smarter option or if it’s better to explore other savings options. That is if the savings offers you a better deal than what you’re paying on your mortgage. This is the time to do your math and make comparison, after factoring in tax deductions on savings.

Millennial? You Should Be Thinking About These Financial Investments Now

Millennial? You Should Be Thinking About These Financial Investments Now

Saving isn’t always attractive or accessible for young people because of the competitive job market and huge debts loans to be offset by graduates. But with good counsel from a trusted advisor and the prospects of investing early, a young person will find that securing their future happiness and comfort starts now.

Here are tips to guide you for your first investment steps.

Find a Trusted Financial Advisor and Start Investing Now

If there was one thing the global recession ever taught millennials, it is that they can no longer put off savings and that they should form a habit of investing for the future early.

But if it is your first time of dipping your toe in the world of savings and investments, it can be overwhelming deciding which choice to make from mutual funds to stocks and bonds or how to appropriately diversify your portfolio.

The natural temptation is to seek advice from your parents, friends, colleagues or older relatives, but their judgments may – unknowingly to both them and you – be clouded. Find a financial advisor you can trust and who can give you professional and unbiased counsel that fits best for your demographic and specific needs. The goal should be to secure your future, while insuring your financial health for today. For example, the investment strategy or priorities your trusted advisor will outline for your demographic will be different from the advice the give to an older, more established person.

Get Out of a Job that Leads to Nowhere

Does your job match your life or investment goals? Or do you feel trapped in a cul-de-sac that drains your time, energy and creative juices and leaves you high and dry every week without commensurate compensation, bonuses or raises? Then stop wasting your time, get out of the ditch and shop the market now for a better option that allows you to invest in your future.

Match any Income Raise with a Raise in Your Savings

If you do get a raise or bonus, don’t splurge on new luxuries or turn up the volume on your lifestyle. Rather, it is the perfect opportunity to better secure your future with an increase in your retirement savings, find out about funeral plan costs to prepare for unseen events or add contributions to your investment portfolios.

Invest in Yourself

Take advantage of the stacks of useful resources and information available on the web and elsewhere and improve your knowledge to get ahead in the ever competitive market. You can learn new skills that will allow you to start a new business or add new streams of income to boost your financial muscles.

Avoid the Credit Card Temptation

When you graduate from the university, you’ll often be inundated with credit card offers. But it’s better to skip them, especially if you still have students loan to pay off. Otherwise you will get trapped in a dizzying cycle that holds you back from your financial goals.

6 Simple Solutions to Your Payment Problems

6 Simple Solutions to Your Payment Problems

If the title of this article caught your eye, you’ve probably experienced payment problems. As a business owner, you know that payments, whether coming or going, do not always take place easily. Small payment problems can give you a headache while larger ones make your life downright miserable. As you and your company continue working on payment improvement, here are six simple solutions to consider.

More Payment Options

Imagine if your business only accepted cash from customers. You are hopefully chuckling at the thought. Credit and debit cards have been a mainstay for years now but even more options are becoming common. Beyond cards and cash, customers have mobile devices with payment options like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. No-touch mobile payments and direct mobile billing are becoming popular as well. The more payment options you can offer your customers, the more convenient their experience with your company will be. That will fundamentally result in more business.

Automatic Invoicing

As your business grows, invoicing becomes increasingly difficult. A growing customer base and varying levels of services provided can make manual invoicing a nightmare. That is where automatic invoicing comes in. This not only helps your business, but also your customers. They are not left guessing how much they owe, when their payment is due or when their invoice will arrive. This results in a better customer experience and increases the likelihood that you will be paid on time.

Handling Human Error

Mistakes happen. Challenges that you are all too familiar with include missing payment deadlines, paying too much or not paying enough. Human error issues cannot be completely avoided. But, there is a way to help your business handle this problem with more efficiency and less frustration. One software that businesses are benefiting from is automated Bacs payment software. Bacs allows payments to be made and received automatically. It also notifies you of potential issues ahead of time so that you are not left with any unwanted surprises.

Automatic Messages

As you gain more customers, it becomes harder to contact them when there are payment problems. You need a secure and efficient way of reaching your customers in this case. It is important to find a recurring billing system that can notice errors in customer transactions and relay a message to the users. Your customers enjoy being brought up to speed quicker too.

Better Payment Security

The security of transactions for your customers and business is more of a concern now than it has ever been. Every day, new stories surface of security breaches when it comes to customers’ private payment information. Understandably, you do not want to experience something like that. Always make sure that there is a secure connection between your company’s web browser and that of your customers. It is also of vital importance that your process is PCI-compliant so that the credit cards of your customers are not compromised.

More Currencies and Languages

As the world continues to get smaller, transactions between different countries are becoming more common. Eventually, you may have to consider accepting different currencies and assisting your customers in a variety of languages. If you fail to adequately do this, you could lose customers. If you allow customers to pay in their own currency, they will be less apprehensive about using your services. Finding a system that can handle different languages and currencies will help your business continue to expand.

In Summary

The fact that you need more complex solutions to your company’s payment problems is a good sign. It means that you are experiencing the necessary growing pains in becoming more successful. You can have the confidence to know that, in time, you will find adequate solutions to your payment problems. Hopefully some of these solutions may help you work towards a more efficient payment system.

5 Lesser Known Money Saving Tips for Motorists

5 Lesser Known Money Saving Tips for Motorists

Owning a vehicle in today’s economy can be a major financial drain, forcing motorists to double up as thrifty experts as well as their duties as considerate drivers.

Whichever vehicle you drive, you have the chance to make excellent savings by turning to cost-effective techniques. In this article, I’ll highlight some of the lesser known pieces of advice which may help you make the most of your budget, as well as you save time, and allow you to learn more about how to make the most of your circumstances.

  1. Fuel Saving Advice

No matter how fantastic and expedient modern vehicles become, the reality is you will still have to intermittingly find a petrol station to fill up on fuel. To delay this inevitability, the trick is to use the right techniques to make sure you save on fuel and add more mileage.

There are simple tips such as ensuring your vehicle isn’t overloaded. Superfluous weight means your vehicle isn’t performing as well as it should be and you will be wasting fuel. Additionally, the higher the gear you’re driving in the better the fuel efficiency, so bear this in mind when out on the road.

A few other pragmatic tips will ensure you become fuel efficiency experts. Double check your tyres are at the right pressure (turn to your manufacturer’s booklet for details) for your vehicle model, and be aware anything which drains your vehicle’s battery (charging your smartphone, the radio, using your air conditioning) will lead to more wasted fuel.

You can learn more about this from industry experts such as Shell, who helpfully provided details about 10 Fuel Saving Tips.

  1. Compare Insurance Quotes for the Best Deal

There are many free online tools which will let you compare insurance quotes. This can help you find the right deal for your budget. As insurance is one of the main annual costs for any motorist, it’s important to ensure you’re with the right company. Experts claim by making a comparison 51% of motorists could save up to £256 annually, which is a strong impetus for anyone to head out and have an online check-up.

  1. Try Mobile Tyre Fitting

This highly convenient and time saving service is becoming an increasingly popular option for today’s motorists. Rather than having to find a garage and sit around waiting for your fitting, these services bring the garage straight to your front door.

As a result, mobile tyre fitting offers excellent value for money (as well as a great deal of saved time) as it often comes with a free fitting and in most cases you only have to pay once your vehicle is set up with new compounds. Add in to this other discounts (such as brand membership offers) and a complimentary balancing of your wheels, and this really is the future for all of your tyre changing needs.

  1. Pick the Right Tyres

Up to 20% of fuel consumption on cars due to tyres. Which makes it important to understand what you’re putting on your vehicle. Compounds and tread patterns are becoming increasingly advanced as the world’s leading manufacturers have developed technology which ensures your tyres become environmentally friendly and offer ever improving durability.

When you’re buying a new tyre, take the take to look into which ones offer enhanced durability and fuel efficiency. Longer lasting tyres typically decrease rolling resistance and ensure less fuel wastage. This offers excellent annual savings for motorists.

In addition, swapping to the right seasonal tyre can help you save extra money by having the optimal vehicle performance. For instance, winter tyres fitted during winter months will provide you have the best braking, grip, handling, and fuel efficiency.

Another option is to fit specialist tyres such as run-flats. “Changing a tyre at the roadside can be a thing of the past”, Continental claims, with its compound providing drivers with a quick repair option. You can then drive to your nearest garage at speeds up to 50mph to get a replacement, all with a tread pattern which has been manufactured to ensure fuel efficiency.

  1. Drive Efficiently

Finally, whilst it may be tempting to floor it in certain situations and pretend you’re an F1 driver, the best way to drive road cars, vans, and SUVs is with a smooth driving style. Being ragged and convincing yourself you’re the next Lewis Hamilton isn’t a good way to save you money on your annual budget.

To get from A to B, adopt a smooth driving style which doesn’t involve dramatic accelerating. Change gear steadily at around 2,500rpm and build your speed up gradually – with your tyres maintained at the right pressure, this will help ensure you keep fuel efficiency and your tread patterns in good shape for many financial benefits.