Category: Helpful Hints

September 14, 2011

Starting a Business: The Five C’s of Credit

A loan officer’s primary concern when considering granting a loan is whether or not the loan will be repaid.  Bank lenders consider five aspects of an application when deciding whether to grant a business loan. They are:

The Five C’s of Credit:

Character:  the potential borrower’s references and repayment histoy help bank officials determine whether he/she has good character and can be trusted to repay the loan.

Capacity: the borrower’s ability to run the business effectively, and have sufficient “cash flow” and “profit” to make regular payments are of primary concern to the lender. Prepare a resume and financial projection.

Capital: the amount of money (equity) the borrower has personally invested in the project is important. Banks will not provide 100% of the backing in a business venture. Be willing to put your money where your mouth is.

Collateral: borrowers must be willing to put up a sufficient amount of collateral to secure a loan.  Collateral may be a home, real estate, car or other personal belongings. Make a list.

Condition: the conditions surrounding the business venture is important. Is it in a field that is in great demand and in an area where that need is not being met? Or is it a business in an industry that is saturated with other firms and has high failure rate? Do your homework on this.


September 13, 2011

Selling Your Home? 6 Worth-the-Price Fix-Ups

Simple and affordable do-it-yourself projects can greatly increase a home’s resale valule, according to HomeGain’s annual home improvement and staging survey.  The marketing company surveyed nearly 600 real estate professionals to discover which DIY home improvement projects give sellers the biggest return for their buck. Here are six projects under $1,000 (amounts are estimated) that made the list.

  • Cleaning and decluttering. Remove any personal items, unclutter countertops, organize closests and shelves, and make the home sparkling clean.  $290 COST   $1,990 RETURN
  • Brightening. Clean all windows inside and out, replace old curtains, update lighting fixtures, and remove anything that blocks light from the windows.  $375 COST   $1,550 RETURN
  • Smart staging. Rearrange furniture, bring in new accessories and furnishings to enhance rooms, incorporate artwork, and play soft music in the background.  $550 COST   $2,194 RETURN
  • Landscaping enhancements. Punch up the home’s curb appeal in the front and back yards by adding bark mulch, bushes, and flowers and ensuring current plants and grass are well-cared for and manicured.  $540 COST    $1,932 RETURN
  • Repairing electircal or plumbing. Fix leaks under the sinks, remove any mildew stains, and ensure all plumbing is in good working condition. Update the home’s electrical with new wiring for modern appliances, fix any lights or outlets that don’t work, and replace old plug points with new safety fixtures.   $535 COST   $1,505 RETURN
  • Replacing or shampooing dirty carpets. Steam-clean carpets, replace any worn carpets, and repair any floor creaks.   $647 COST   $1,739 RETURN

Excerpted from Realtor magazine (April/May 2011)

September 12, 2011

…Thoughful Spending

According to some recent tips from State Farm’s Good Neighbor magazine (spring/summer 2011) consider doing those things you’ve dreamed about or relieve some ongoing financial concerns. Here are a few ideas:


  • Pay Down Credit Card Debt: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an average household had $5,100 in credit card debt in 2009. This number, unfortunately, is expected to increase. If you carry a balance consider doubling your minimum payment, while cutting back on card use.  It will reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off debt, and significantly save on interest.


  • Do A Personal Audit: What habits can you do without? Fast-Food lunches? Designer shoes? Gourmet cupcakes? Daily double mocha lattes? Figure out what appetites -big and small- you have that are creating holes in your balance sheet. Try to pick them off one by one.


  • Plan A Great Vacation: If you’ve always wanted to take your family to Hawaii, your benefit will be twofold.  Researchers in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that leading up to a vacation, people were happier than nonvacationers.  Sharing that experience with others will boost your happiness, and theirs too.


August 25, 2011

Credit Check

Pulling your credit reports are easy and free if you are a resident of Georgia. Georgia residents are allowed to pull one credit report for each of the following three credit reporting agencies once per year.

PO Box 105851
Atlanta, GA  31348


PO Box 2002
Allen, TX  75013


PO Box 1000
Chester, PA  19022
1-800-888-4213 or 1-877-FACTACT


To “opt out” of receiving prescreened mailings and credit card solicitations, call 1-888-5OPT OUT (1-888-567-8688).

Allows consumers to provide opt out information to all 3 national credit reporting systems with one phone call.

August 18, 2011

Energy Savings

Have you ever thought of how much of your monthly household budget is consumed by electric & gas cost? Consider these tips.

  • Is there someone at your home at all times? If not, consider buying a programmable thermostat. There is no need in cooling your home all day long when your family is only at home after 5pm on weekdays.
  • Setting you air condition 5 degrees higher can save you up to 20% on your cooling cost.
  • Consider budget billing. Most utility companies provide this free service to anyone who has been at there current address for more than 12 months. Budget billing, which is also known by other names depending on your provider, finds the average of your bills over the past 12 months. Instead of your bill changing every month, you would pay the same amount. Please note that with budget billing, your account may be up for review monthly, quarterly or yearly to see whether your provider may need to raise or lower your monthly bill amount depending on the cost of electricity and/or your usage.
  • Try running your ceiling fans more often instead of lowering your air condition.
  • Replace standard light bulbs with CFL (compact florescent) bulbs that use less energy to run.
  • Be sure to enable “power management” on all of your computer and be sure to power them down at night. A laptop uses 90% less power than a traditional desktop.
  • Use large appliances, such as your dishwasher, washer and dryer later in the evenings to lower cost on electricity. Using electricity between 8am and 8pm cost you more. Try setting your dishwasher on timer mode and have it run around midnight.
  • Still curious about more ways that you can save on utilities, call your local utility provider and ask them to come out and do an energy audit of your home. Most utilities will do this for free as a service to their customers.

According to some recent tips from State Farm’s Good Neighbor magazine (Spring/Summer 2011) consider this…

Try a Utilities Crash Diet

For one month make it your goal to use as little electricity as you can and still live a relatively normal life. For example see how little hot water you can use when doing laundry and dishes, or when you shower. Then compare your bill with the same month in the previous year and see how much you save. You might decide that a utilities crash diet can help you shed some financial fat.

August 4, 2011

Take a “Productive Day Off”

One piece of advice, that is especially important during these economic times, is to be sure you have your financial house in order before purchasing a home. From time to time, we will be sharing some of our favorite cost-saving tips.

According to s0me recent tips from State Farm’s Good Neighbor magazine (Spring/Summer 2011) consider this…

Take a “Productive Day Off”

This idea comes from New York Times columnist Ron Lieber. He took a day off and spent it online and on the phone working to lower interest rates, find better CD rates and get better deals on rewards cards. He also checked on his current major insurance policies to make sure they were up-to-date and still made sense for his current situation. A few hours of concentrated financial housekeeping can net a big return over the course of a year. For people really seeking to put their money matters in order, it can be a great way to get a good handle on where you stand now, and help you plan for 6-, 12- and 24-month financial goals.

August 3, 2011

Credit Cards Declined

A recent article in the Pike County Journal Reporter points out that effective August 1st, the Pike County Tax Commissioner’s office will no longer accept debit or credit cards. The tax commissioner’s office sites the high fees associated with accepting cards as the reason behind the move. The article also states that the county is in the process of getting a website set up so that these fees can be paid online. In the meantime, please remember to bring cash or check when paying your tax bills.