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Is It The Right Time for a Personal Loan?

Making a decision about the economy

Is your job stable enough to justify a personal loan? 

blankUntil recently, many viewed having a personal loan as risky. Having to pay for money you didn’t have would drive a consumer further into debt, jeopardizing their financial situation.

Today, the economic outlook has changed. Economists predict that 2017 will see a slight rebound.

First: wages are actually growing. According to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Board, wages have enjoyed their fastest in crease in the past year. With unemployment at a low 4.6% today, most economists explain that the U.S. is at “full employment.” As workers get harder to come by, wages will rise.

The rise in consumer spending of 3.8% in just the last six months, too, boosts the U.S. Gross Domestic Product which helps the overall economy. This may have been a result of the rise of the employee’s wages over this time also. This is highly comparative to the 3.6 percent of gain for the take-home pay, thus a noticeable drop in the savings rate. The perceptions of the individual also about sending is better than the average and this has come to be stable for the previous months of observation. It is highly likely that they would have their expenditures increasing as directly proportional to the wages that they get to receive in their respective jobs.

Another factor that can be viewed as an advantage is the construction of more houses. The more of them that are built, the lower the prices could go. Houses with lower prices than the usual average price can be a driving force for the individuals to avail, thus setting the economy to be rocketing. The apartments have the most gain for this, though. This is because multifamily starts have an increase of 14 percent over the previous year while the single family has an increase of a mere 1.3 percent.

However, if you do not feel that there is an increase in your wage over the previous months, then you should ask for a raise. The U.S. Census Bureau has already increased the median incomes during the previous year after it has its years of falling or just being stagnant. You can just as your employer to give you a raise. If not, then it are better for you to look for another company that could serve you well as you have served them.

What could this say about the economy of the country? It can be that the business all over the place is booming in such a way that it creates a great many opportunities for the employees to get their own savings and even encourage personal loans.

Unlike a housing loan or a car loan for that matter, a personal loan can be used for the tuition fees of your children, or for the expenses of your travels when you feel like paying another place a visit just for mere relaxation, or anything else that you may want in your life. Further, if you want your personal loan to be secured as you should, you will be required to have a collateral such that it could back your personal loan. Some common cases for this are having a house or a car to comply the said requirement. You can also have your personal loan unsecured, and in this case, you would not need a collateral for your loan.

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Does a Better Economy Translate into Favorable Personal Loan Rates?

We certainly think so!

As economic conditions continue to improve, the Federal Reserve Bank will increase interest rates. That means rates on all loans will increase, although not too fast and not by too much.

Those considering a personal loan should do it right now while it is still early. Most Americans have been putting off home improvements and car upgrades because of concern over the economy. The above information should give you the confidence that we are in a stable period.

Trust A+ Rated First Financial to Get You a Personal Loan Fast and at the Best Rates!

When considering personal loans, don’t forget that online lenders have the automation and reduced overhead to offer the best loans and terms. First Financial is the national leader in providing personal loans for borrowers of all types, even bad credit borrowers. Just fill out some forms, upload documents and get the money in your account in a matter of days. The Better Business Bureau rate First Financial A+ because we make customer service our highest priority.

 

 

 

Why do Pawn Shops Pay Pennies for Your Treasures?

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GET STARTED

An Atlantic article in May, 2016 caused quite a bit of buzz by claiming: “Nearly half of Americans would have a hard time finding $400 to pay for an emergency.” The article, entitled, “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class” went on to explain that The Federal Reserve Board, in its annual survey of the financial condition of the American populace, found:
“ . . . 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover [a $400 emergency] expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.”

Many turn to pawn shops when they have a financial emergency. The number of U.S. pawn shops has grown from 6,400 in 2007, at the start of the Great Recession, to more than 10,000 today. Before trading in your treasures or family heirlooms, consider that pawn shops may not be your best option.

Getting a Loan from a Pawn Shop

Of course, there’s also the option of giving your valuables to the pawnbroker for a loan. Typically, people come in at the end of the month, once their paycheck hasn’t stretched far enough and they need to buy food or pay the gas bill. The pawn shop manager makes a loan against the item and puts the it in storage. Many come back at the beginning of the month, once they’ve gotten their paycheck to get the item. Still, they have to turn over the legally-capped 22 percent interest rate in addition to the monies borrowed. So if the pawn shop values your diamond necklace at $500, you can get it back, but pay $610 (500 + 110) for the privilege. If you don’t come back that month or the next, the pawn shop manager is legally entitled to sell the necklace. A third way is to “roll over” the loan, where you pay just the interest or $110 and leave the necklace at the shop. The next month, you’ll have to pay $720 to get the necklace back.

Keep in mind that pawn shops make their bread and butter from “repeat” customers who come in every month and pay only the interest.

Pawn Shops Have the Power
The desperate need on the individual seller’s side means that pawn shops make very low offers. Generally, pawn shops have strict pricing rules dictating that they won’t pay more than half of what they think they can get for an item. One exception is higher priced guns and jewelry, which provide them more profit. With sales goals they need to meet every month, pawn shop managers know they need to keep cost of goods low in order to keep their jobs or even win a bonus. When they negotiate price with you, they’re considering their own survival. It’s not unusual to get $5 for a chainsaw, $50 for a bicycle or $25 for an SLR camera . . . and all must be in good working condition.

Your Treasures’ Value Are Subject to the Whim of the Markets

Like real estate and stocks, jewelry, gadgets and old silver fall victim to market gyrations. For example, the value of pearl necklaces and earrings has plummeted because suppliers have flooded the market. No matter how lustrous and lovely the piece, its value on the market is constantly checked by pawn brokers. Similarly, diamond shapes go in and out of fashion. Where ten years ago, the marquis cut was all the rage, now the pear-shaped diamond wins the highest prices. Buyers consider the marquis cut out-of-date.

Instead of selling something that may not be all the rage right now, why not wait until its value returns? A cash advance on your paycheck keeps your valuables at home until market conditions return to your favor.

When a Cash Advance Is a Better Option

The cash advance, money fronted to you based on the value of your paycheck, works differently from the sale to or loan from the pawn shop. First, cash advances typically stick to $500 or $1000, based on your proven income. The cash advance lender doesn’t negotiate with you on the value of your paycheck. It is what it is.

The advantage here is that the $500 you get for your diamond necklace can end up costing you. If you first look at eBay and see that similar necklaces are getting $2,000 and the pawn broker only offers $500, time pressure could push you into selling it for $1,500 less than you could get if you just had more time. In addition, you end up paying that $110 in interest. Your eventual money loss amounts to $1,610 just because you had to have $500 in a day or two.
The cash advance, on the other hand, gives you the time to find a better buyer on any number of websites or local estate jewelry shops.

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First Financial Offers the Cash Advances that Keep Your Treasures at Home

When you need to:

• avoid getting low offers for your heirlooms
• avoid bounced checks or credit impacts due to non-payment
• keep cars and computers running so you can get to work
• avoid expensive late fees

. . . turn to Better Business Bureau A+ rated First Financial for a cash advance. America’s leading source of short-term personal loans for people with low or bad credit scores, First Financial makes sure customers can transact all cash advances from the comfort of home. Just upload some documentation and once you’ve filled out the final page of the form and submitted, you’re cash lands in your bank account that evening. Apply here to find out how much you qualify for!

Read This Before You Make The Leap To Homeownership

Read This Before You Make The Leap To Homeownership

Buying your first home is a big deal. Excitement aside, there is lots of preparation to do and many things to consider before you make the transition from renter to homeowner. Keep reading for tips and advice on how to walk this road without wandering astray.

Question Everything

Before you reach out to a real estate agent, it’s best to ask yourself if you are really ready for homeownership. Architectural Digest asserts that your best bet is to pursue a home purchase only if you plan to be at the same place for at least five years. You’ll also want to take an in-depth look at your finances to make sure you can afford the expense.

Owning a home costs more than just the monthly mortgage — you have to pay to maintain it and keep the lights on, too. And, like when you apply for rent, your mortgage lender will want to know that you can comfortably afford your mortgage payment. To do this, they look at many factors, including your income, debt-to-income ratio, and credit history, which can quickly get your mortgage application rejected, and the property itself.

Just as your lender will look at the value of the home, you also have to consider the type of property you plan to purchase. This is because some loans are better suited to certain properties and buyers. A rural housing loan, for example, may be used by low-income buyers to purchase a certain type of dwelling in a rural area. First-time buyers with little money down may want to opt for an FHA loan, which requires a lower credit score than a conventional loan.

A Narrow Path

Once you have answered the questions of whether you are ready to own a home, and if you can afford it, you can start the house hunting process. Get ready, because this can actually get overwhelming quickly. You can reduce stress and anxiety by narrowing down your selections based on your finances and needs.

In addition to price, The House Designers says to keep your search focused on homes that have the minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. If you like to cook, avoid houses with tiny kitchens. Pay close attention to location, and get familiar with local school zone maps – never assume that your house is zoned for the school you desire just because it’s close.

As you filter your search, there will be fewer homes to choose from, but that means you can focus your attention on properties that are more likely to work. Another tip: talk to your spouse or partner before making your priorities list. You may find that you have wildly different ideas on the type of house you want, and it’s best to come to a compromise before you drive yourself crazy taking turns looking at houses that one of you despises.

In Order And Ready To Sign

Now you’ve found a house that everyone loves, the hard work can begin. With your down payment in-hand, it’s time to make an offer. The real estate climate can help you determine whether you want to offer asking price, less, or more. Your realtor can also help you look at the home and comparable properties to make a fair and objective offer.

When your offer is accepted, things will move quickly. You’ll have a home inspection, appraisal, and will be in constant touch with your mortgage lender. There may be some back and forth, especially if issues are found with the property or if it appraises for less than you’ve offered.

It usually takes between four and eight weeks to get to closing day, which is when you pay your part of closing costs and take possession of your new home.

Your realtor is the best person to help you through the process, which may be smooth sailing or a bumpy road, depending on your credit and homes available in your area. Careful preparation is the key to success. The above advice can get you started and will hopefully give you a few things to think about before you take the plunge.

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Image via Pexels

5 Top Signs It’s Time for a Personal Loan

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While the prospect of a personal loan can be intimidating, trepidation didn’t stop Donald Trump, the founders of Starbucks or flamboyant Virgin Airlines owner Richard Branson when they needed funds. A short-term loan goes a long way in providing a better quality of life and setting up a flush future.

In our blog post, “When the Personal Loan Works Better than the Credit Card,” we explain that the personal loan can:

• raise a credit score
• save a borrower half in monthly interest charges when compared to credit card rates
• help borrowers plan (because the monthly payment is fixed.)

The personal loan can actually brighten your financial picture. Considered an installment loan rather than revolving credit, when you use it to consolidate credit card debt, banks see it as your dedication to paying it off rather than defaulting or going into bankruptcy in order to escape it. Experian and TransUnion often raise your credit score within a month or so. See? The personal loan isn’t so bad!

While you will be in debt with a personal loan, the regular payments (often sent automatically from your account through bill pay), help you budget better for the month. Knowing a set amount will come out of your bank account keeps your urge to splurge under control.

Now that you know the personal loan is a common way people pay for purchases and/or emergency expenses, read the following most common scenarios where people use personal loans.

1. You are paying credit card debt at the average rate of 15% or more (23%? 29%) when you can most likely get an unsecured personal loan for 7 to 10%.
2. Collections agencies are calling you about medical bills. NerdWallet Health’s survey found that 56 million Americans have trouble paying their medical bills. More frightening, 35 million American adults get collections agencies calls for them bills and they cause 17 million Americans to receive a lower credit rating.
3. Moving expenses become overwhelming. U.S. News found the average cost of a move within a state is $1,170, and between states, $5,630. These expenses are most often necessary for family members to earn a living. When a company doesn’t foot the bill, they land on individuals. Putting these expenses on credit cards just sets you up for high interest expenses. The personal loan only calculates interest on the principal amount, not the principal plus the interest the way credit cares do.
4. Your car or computer isn’t running. Unless you live in a city like New York or San Francisco that has reliable public transportation, you’re going to need a car. Even GoCars and ZipCars prices add up, particularly if used regularly. Most important, however, a car adds to your quality of life.
5. Your home equity isn’t sufficient for critical home repair expenses. Failing to qualify for a second mortgage doesn’t mean you have to go without a working water heater, air conditioner or mold remediation. All of these things are critical for your family’s health and well-being. Home prices have remained steady for several years now and chances are your home value will go up if you stay in it long enough.

It’s in these five circumstances that most Americans seek out personal loans.

A+ Rated First Financial’s Personal Loans: Manage from Home and On-the-Go!

First Financial has the most competitive rates for high-credit-score borrowers. We even welcome those with fair, poor and bad credit because they make up 56% of the current American population. Use your laptop or tablet to make payments, review statements, and update account information. You can even check your rate without impacting your credit score!

Apply now for a personal loan with First Financial, A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau!

72- and 84-Month Auto Loans Are the New Normal

Happy embracing couple planning their home kitchen furnishing renovation. Sketch kitchen drawing.

“The market is now comfortable in the 75-month terms.”

– Melinda Zabritski,  senior product director of automotive finance at Experian Automotive

 If you haven’t bought a car in a while, you may be surprised when the car dealer explains that you can buy more car than you thought possible. It’s not a scam and a wishful-thinking salesperson. The changing nature of both cars and car buyers has prompted auto lenders to extend loan terms, bringing monthly payments down.

Those of us of a certain age will remember that in the 1970s and 1980s, a car with 100,000 miles was destined for the junk yard, a hazard no one dared to drive. While the 100,000 mile end-life of a car has been a tough perception to shake, attitudes are changing rapidly.

The Proof Is in the Power Train

Vigorous global competition among auto manufacturers has pushed automobile quality higher over the past 20 years. Today, the classified ads are full of Volvo’s, Honda and more with 200,000 miles and cab drivers brag of getting their Toyota Prius to 600,000 miles . . . with their original batteries, no less!

Not only are cars being designed for longer life, advances in science and engineering have helped created more durable materials. Carbon finishes on parts now approach the strength of diamonds, ensuring that each part remains intact far longer. Hyundai and Kia now include 100,000-mile/10-year warranties on all of their cars’ powertrains.

Increased longevity means that a car’s value as an asset has increased. It only follows then that banks feel more comfortable lending for a longer term. The average car on the road in 1977 was 5.5. By 2014, it was 11.4, a change that indicates not only improved car quality, but a shift in the American mindset.

Pride in Long-Term Ownership

Where once, buying or leasing a new car every two years indicated success and wealth, now it just seems foolish. Conspicuous consumption has been replaced by an ethic of value and sustainability, and car buyers are looking to stretch their dollars by keeping their cars for as long as they can. Banks, therefore, not only have more confidence in the long-term value of the car, but in the trustworthiness of the buyer. Millennials are far more willing to buy a used car than their parents were.

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Longer Auto Loan Terms Can Mean More Car for the Money

With longer loan terms, buyers are making bigger, better purchases.  The car buyer with a $300 monthly budget may be able to buy new rather than used. He or she may also choose the certified pre-owned car rather than the questionable auto obtained through private sale. While the loan will last longer, the ability to buy a better car provides more value to the buyer. Down the line, as a trade-in or sale, the car will win the buyer more cash. The average subprime loan amount as of August 2016 was $29,359 for a new car and $16,120 for a used car.These figures are up 3% and 1.3% respectively from the same time last year.

If it’s time for a new or new, used car for you, make sure to check out our loans for all credit types, even bad credit!  Those with bankruptcy still on their credit reports still can get a car loan for a used or even new car. It takes just three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan at the lowest rates!

 

How to Locate Unclaimed Money

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If you’ve lived in various apartments in multiple cities, or switched banks or employers at one time or another, you may actually have some unclaimed funds that you didn’t know about. If these funds were indeed meant for you, it is possible to reclaim that money. What is difficult, though, is locating the exact source of those funds.

Luckily, we’ve done the dirty work for you. These seven helpful websites will help you in your search for re-tracking your own money. So go ahead and become a modern day treasure hunter with a little web surfing.

1. https://www.unclaimed.org/
This is the best website to begin your search for unclaimed funds. The nonprofit group, titled the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, put this site together so can locate money held by your state, from such sources as uncashed checks, old security deposits, and forgotten safety deposit boxes.

2. http://www.treasuryhunt.gov/
Just as its name implies, this website is truly a treasure hunt paradise. This site is where you can discover bonds you’ve forgotten about that are still rightfully yours. You do need to put either your social security number in, or the social security number of the person who gifted the savings bond to you. Once you locate a bond that was truly intended for you, you simply start the claims procedure on this website, and a federal representative will contact you to complete the process.

3. https://www.irs.gov/Refunds
Yes, the IRS actually has a website especially for those of us who never did receive their federal tax refund checks in the mail. This “Where’s my Refund?” website option is something you definitely need to take advantage of if you haven’t received money owed to You just need to enter in your social security number, and the amount you were supposed to receive.

4. https://www5.fdic.gov/funds/index.asp
Banks are insured by the FDIC (The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), so if a bank happens to fail, the FDIC is supposed to provide the funds back to the bank’s depositors (up to $250,000) dollars. If you had your money in an account for a bank that is no longer operating, check out this website and see if the FDIC is keeping it safe for you.

5. https://www.ncua.gov/services/Pages/asset-management/unclaimed-deposits.aspx to When credit union funds go out of business, what happens to the money you deposited into it? It goes to a federal agency called the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Thankfully, this website will allow you to locate those funds from the credit union that failed.

6. https://www.unclaimedretirementbenefits.com/
If you, like most of us, have changed employers, it’s very possible you failed to roll over your retirement plan (401K) or place it into another retirement plan (e.g, an IRA). This website will allow you to search for that money that you worked so hard for and deserve to have. Claim the money from your former employers that is rightfully yours.

7. https://www.pbgc.gov/wr/trusteed/plans.html
This site is geared to those have not received a pension that was due to them, usually because the company responsible for sending it has gone out of business. If you haven’t received your pension and you have had no luck contacting your former employer, try this site, which is run by a federal agency, called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), geared to protection private pensions.

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First Financial gets you cash fast
Hopefully these helpful websites can help you track down those funds deserved to you. We are the leading source of short-term personal loans and cash advances for those with low or bad credit scores, and we will even arrange easy online transfers. Just apply for the cash advance from the comfort of your own home. Start the process now, and you can have cash the very same day.

Will a Solar Car Finally Hit U.S. Streets in 2020?

With our country’s growing awareness of our environment’s sensitivity, it’s no wonder that solar energy has been skyrocketing in popularity. Harnessing solar power makes sense, as our sun is a constant source of energy, unlike our other natural resources that risk depletion, such as fossil fuels. With this mindset, it would seem as solar cars would become a popular trend here in the U.S. Unfortunately, no manufacturer has yet to create a viable solar family car.

Solar technology is challenging. The number of solar panels required to power a solar car inevitably creates a top-heavy vehicle that won’t pass even a basic crash test. In addition, the interior of these solar powered cars can become hot enough to endanger to the driver. Cloudy days make storage batteries unavoidable, but so far these batteries have caused the average solar car to weight too much for solar power to move it.

These setbacks haven’t stopped auto manufacturers from trying to develop the perfect solar powered car, however. In Australia, there has been a World Solar Challenge competition held every year since 1987. There, engineering schools and private companies enter their versions of the solar cars. Generally, the cars entered only have room for a driver, and no passengers, because the solar panels inevitably take up so much room.

Most solar cars only have room for one . . .

Can “The Immortus” Be the First Widely Available Solar Car?
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The tide may be turning, though. At the 2020 SEMA Auto Show, the largest auto show in the world, Australian manufacturer EVX, debuted its solar sedan, called “Immortus” for its ability to run forever. The sportscar not only allows two persons to ride comfortably (along with two, small carry-on bags) it provides solar energy storage. In order to avoid the tough regulations of the crash-test requirements in most countries, the Immortus won’t be mass-produced, but rather, built per order in 2016.

Up until now, the only other commercial vehicle that has been running on solar power is one produced by Organic Transit, called “ELF” (Electric, Light and Fun). This 3-wheeled bicycle/auto hybrid combines solar power with human pedaling, and can reach speeds of about 30 mph. So far, around 500 of these models have already been purchased, and although they are not safe enough for highway use, they are still legal anywhere else that bicycles can be used.

It will be interesting to see where the future of solar powered cars will take us. With our country’s ingenuity and creativeness, it’s only a matter of time before solar powered cars will soon become the norm. Maybe 2016 will be the year it finally happens … we’ll just wait and see.

No matter what your dream car is, First Financial can finance it.
Even if you have low credit scores, bad credit, poor credit, no credit or even bankruptcy, First Financial can help you finance your dream car. We are the leading American provider of bad credit auto loans, and we approve 93% of all applicants through our easy, confidential application and quick email response. We can do this with the same level security and protection as the big banks provide. So apply today! You’ll know in a day whether you qualify for up to $45,000.

3 Trends to Consider Before Buying a New Car

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Cars are synonymous with our nation’s coolness factor. Many car owners have so much pride in their beloved vehicle that they even belong to fancy car clubs.

Yes, Americans have always had deep affection for their cars … or at least they did. Recent auto industry research now indicates that only half of the millennials even bother to get their driver’s license by age 18. This is due to rapidly changing trends that have pervaded our culture recently, affecting our automobile purchasing choices.

So while the general population still longs for their dream car, these three popular trends have changed its shape:

1.Cell Phone Dependence: With the overwhelming popularity of cell phones taking over just about every facet of our everyday life, it makes sense that today’s savvy car shoppers want an automobile that can fully utilize this device. As of 2020, many automobile makers, such as Volkswagen, Chevrolet, and Hyundai, are building their new models with Apple’s new connected-car application, called “CarPlay” (for Android cell phone owners, it’s called “Android Auto.”). This software on the dashboard makes it easier to safely interact hands-free with all of the features on your cell phone, eliminating the need for a blue tooth device. Many more car manufacturers are expected to utilize this technology in the coming years.

2. Safety Concerns: With the Internet and social media informing us of every tragic, scary, life-threatening event the moment it happens, Americans have become preoccupied with their own safety, and trying to protect it above everything else. Because of this mentality, cars have also come under pressure to provide ample safety features. Therefore, automobiles with excellent safety ratings and even driver assistance technology are essential to today’s car buyer. Whether it’s a blind spot monitoring system, a backup camera, or even a self-parking assist feature, all of these provide an added level of comfort and security to today’s cautious driver.

3. Caring for the Environment: Our culture is now preoccupied with taking care of our environment. Even Barak Obama has put his climate change action plan at the forefront of his presidential legacy. This trend means that when the next generation buys a car, they want to factor in its total carbon footprint. Big gas guzzler cars are waning in popularity in favor of smaller, economical cars that get excellent gas mileage. Electric cars are also on the forefront of this trend, as the Tesla and Prius brands’ skyrocketing car sales have proven.

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First Financial Provides Auto Loans, Whether You Have Good Credit or Bad Credit.
When you’re shopping for a car loan, remember that First Financial has been in business long enough to recognize the subtleties in each borrower’s financial situation. We also know that more than 50% of Americans fall into the subprime category, with credit ratings ranging from “fair” to “poor” to “bad.” Thankfully our lending partners accept auto loan applications and approve these types of borrowers every day, so apply for an auto loan here today. You can also follow us on Facebook to get frequent financial planning tips and research.

Finding a Business Partner? Weigh the Pros and Cons First

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• Apple Partners Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak met in an early summer job
• Microsoft Partners Bill Gates and Paul Allen met in high school
• Hewlett Packard partners Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard met in college
• Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream partners Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield met in high school

Stories like these may inspire you to find a business partner or even bring in a pal, but each year thousands of failed business partnerships end up in court with accusations of negligence, mismanagement, embezzlement and even theft. Even the best of friends break up, turning into bitter enemies. Business partnerships can be like a marriage in many ways, and we all know how 50+% of those go. Before you find a business partner,
consider what’s best for your personality, the business you envision and the market you plan to serve.

Business Partners Provide Great Help with:
• Start-up costs and continuing cash flow. If you and your business partner both work, you’ll be able to use income from two jobs rather than one. You also have access to another’s assets as start-up and continuing costs. It may be easier to get an affordable business loan with two borrowers as well.

• Benefits of collaboration. Most business coaches encourage owners to pick a partner with complementary skills. That way the initial partner doesn’t have to learn all new skill sets, a process that requires extensive time and energy. Having two opinions on business matters can either be a great help or cause for contention and stress.

• Shared risks and business loan costs. Depending on the terms of your partnership, you split all loan costs.

• Pooled network. A business partner brings with him or her a network of contacts who can provide services or ideas for the company.

• Company and support! As mentioned above, comparisons of marriage and business partnerships pop up everywhere. A common quote about marriage is that it needs to be, “more bulwark than confinement.” Similarly, the connection that emerges from the business partnership should have far more positives than negatives.

Business Partners Can Hinder a Business and It’s Owner When:
• Partners default on loan. You will be liable if your partner declares bankruptcy or disappears.
• Business profits can’t support two people. While of course how profits will be shared should be set out in the business plan, poor income can create stress between two individuals when the rent or mortgage is due.
• Shared decisions cause friction. Two different personalities and life experiences lead to very different opinions on important matters. When each one of you is certain they’re right and the success of the business depends on the right decision, the stakes are high. Think of how you operated in college. Did you appreciate working in groups and partnerships or where you a solo operator? Take a careful self-inventory before you find a business partner.
• The friendship starts breaking up. Good friends are hard to find. Do you really want to jeopardize a nurturing friendship by becoming business partners?

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A+ Rated First Financial Supports a Wide Range of Business Borrowers, Even High-Risk!
First Financial is the nation’s leading provider of business loans for all kinds of businesses and even those in the high-risk category. Big banks and processors put many reputable businesses in high-risk categories like golf club manufacturers, vendors and imply because they’re new. Fill out our business loan application in minutes and find out how much you qualify to borrow. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart cash flow, marketing and business growth tips online, too!

How to Manage Cash Flow For New Businesses

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If you watched CNBC’s Shark Tank recently, maybe you caught Mark Cuban telling a hopeful business owner that it can take a lot longer than expected to get to consistent positive cash flow. Financial instruments like the business loan and the merchant advance have helped millions of business owners keep cash flow positive long enough to get that late payment from the big client who just happened to be traveling overseas, in the hospital or just behind. As e-Healthcare Solutions founder and president RJ Lewis remarks in an Inc. article,

“I do some angel investing in new businesses and in my experience, whatever the business plan says in terms of money and time needed to get to break even, the reality is it will take twice the money and double the time.”
Just as losing weight is the delicate balance of reducing calories IN while increasing calories OUT, positive cash flow happens when business owners can delay their own payments OUT to employees and other overhead while speeding up payments coming IN. Tackle the two jobs delineated below and you’re on your way to a flush future.

Job 1: Take Time to Measure
Seat-of-your pants entrepreneurship works in the beginning months of your business, but after a year or so, you need clearer cash flow expectations and projects. Getting these figures takes measuring incomes and outflow for this moment in time (or this month).

The simplest way to start gaining cash flow control is to divide a piece of paper in half. Write down your clients along the left hand side. Draw a line down the middle. On the right of the middle line write down costs for your employees, each vendor and other expenses. These current expenses should be easy to find and track. Don’t discount this low-tech method of cash flow analysis. Even having a cash flow analysis is a step ahead of MANY entrepreneurs.

For those ready to move beyond the sheet of paper, software helps keep cash flow positive. While we could go into detail about how to document each expense in a spreadsheet, it can be more fun to download a little app to your smartphone or computer. These low-cost software tools let you upload expenses and revenues once for repeat accounting. We like Pulse ($14/month), which—made by a small business for small businesses—helps you keep a finger on the pulse of your income and expenses. It also anticipates your business expenses and cash flow management needs, taking the thinking out of it for you. Your business makes you think enough! Another app, Float ($24/month), brings you a simple, intuitive interface and backs up all your data to the cloud.

Up Your Cash Flow costs more ($395 to $795 one-time fee) because it BRINGS more. It takes the thinking out of developing a cash management plan and provides consulting services. Great for the overwhelmed business owner, Up Your Cash Flow helps you drive income and revenues up, up . . . up! For businesses that have outgrown the solopreneur stage, Up Your Cash Flow helps you make the tough decisions and get clarity on your most lucrative products and services.

computer cash register measuring cash flow
Job 2: Take Baseline and Make Projections
For those of you using the piece of paper cash flow program, your cash flow for the next month will be column one minus column two. Will that amount pay for your living expenses? More marketing? An additional employee? These baseline measurements inform your decisions going forward. Those using one of the convenient apps mentioned above get their numbers crunched for them. With these figures in hand, it’s important to look at them with clear eyes.

To nail down your cash flow, you now must project revenues over the next three months. Perhaps everything stays the same. In that case, you can relax. Cash flow plans are not absolutely accurate future forecasting. They depend on your customers’ payment habits, your ability to foresee upcoming expenditures and the time your vendors give you to pay. Make sure you include costs like: loan interest and principle payments, marketing expenditures for seasonal campaigns and one-time fees like subscriptions, insurance and parties.

A+ Rated First Financial Steps Into Cash Flow Emergencies
We are firm believers that, if set yourself up for positive cash flow and positive results will follow. The abstract plan of trying to make as much as possible does not help business owners find where they can increase revenues. Specific management and planning reliably increases revenue month after month.

First Financial is the nation’s leading provider of merchant accounts and other merchant services, particularly for the high-risk borrowers. Big banks and processors put too many reputable businesses in high-risk categories like information technology, simply because they’re new. Fill out the application in minutes. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart business tips online, too!

9 Smart Steps to Choosing Your Business Merchant Services

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Industry research confirms what we all suspect and even have experienced: consumers using credit cards spend from 20% to 250% more than those who rely on checks or cash.

The average cash payer at McDonald’s spends $4.50 while those using debit or credit cards part with $7.00. The theory goes that those handing over dollar bills want to conserve them, but those using credit cards focus more what they’re getting from their purchase.[ii] In short, this second set focuses more on that steaming burger than the money in their hand.

American consumers love convenience of credit cards. Where 66% use credit and debit cards to buy both items and services, just 27% use cash. Further, experts expect the number of cash-using consumers to drop another few points to 23% by 2017.[iii]

These statistics lead to one conclusion: even the smallest business needs to accept credit cards to maximize sales. While a large corporation can put a team on finding the best merchant services provider for their needs, small business owners must evaluate competitors in the minutes between running their marketing program, taking calls and re-stocking shelves. It’s not easy juggling so many tasks. We well understand the saying,

“It’s great having a small business.
You get to choose which 100 hours per week to work!”

If you are looking to accept credit cards while maintaining solid creditworthiness for your business, finding an ethical merchant services provider who will be your partner in success is critical. These steps will shorten and clarify your research process.

1. Understand that to be able to accept credit cards you need to create a merchant account with a third party so that the money can move from the customer’s account to the merchant or business owners.

2. Determine your monthly sales volume. This step will weed out the merchant service providers that have a monthly minimum higher than your volume.

3. Determine whether you’ll be processing transactions online or at a bricks and mortar location. Equipment and software options will vary depending on this factor. You may need to integrate your account with third party services that also charge monthly fees.

4. Determine how many times each day will you run cards. Estimating this keeps you from over-buying features you don’t need.

5. Determine whether you’d prefer to rent equipment ($20 to $50 per month) or buy it (several hundred dollars). If you’re not sure about the business viability, renting for the first few months could be your best option.

6. Create a comparison sheet with these features listed down the leftmost column.

• Transaction rates: the majority of small business costs
• Equipment and setup costs
• Customer service: critical for small business owners who are not finance or technology experts
• Contracts and service terms: make sure you have clear confirmation
• Funding and processing time
• EMV capability: for smart cards that read data from integrated chips rather than magnetic strips. Credit card companies switched to this method in fall of 2015.
• Customization
• Simplicity of setup and use
• Possible third-party disintegration
• analysis and reports: to make your costs clear
• Types of processing
• Types of payments they accept: Visa, Mastercard, giftcards, debit cards and more
• Service constraints: what your merchant service provider WON’T provide
• Any additional features and benefits

7. Call the merchants you’re interested in and fill in the details.

8. Make sure the new merchant services integrate with any other ecommerce or other accounting software you currently use. Ask your tech people about the merchant services provider you’re considering.

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A+ Rated First Financial’s Small Business Merchant Accounts
Accept Revenue-Boosting Credit Cards to Ensure Your Business Longevity

First Financial is the nation’s leading provider of merchant accounts, particularly for the high risk borrowers. Apply for a small business merchant account here. We know that lots of reputable businesses exist in high-risk categories like Information Technology, simply because they’re new. Fill out the application in minutes. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

7 Easy Ways to get Your Credit Score Over 800

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Having an excellent credit score opens up so many more possibilities for you. But if you suffer from a low credit score, all hope is not lost. Here are seven ways to be one step closer to getting a credit score over 800…

1. Pay On Time

Think back to when you were in grade school, and your teacher drilled you to always turn in your homework on time, on the date it’s due, no exceptions. Credit card payments are the same. Make sure to turn in payments to your cards on time, without running a balance on them.

2. Consider Using Payment Tools

If remembering payment dates proves too difficult for you, you can always set up an automatic bill pay, or set up payment reminders. There are even some banks out there that will provide complimentary bill pay reminders via texts or emails.

3. Look for Large Limits on Credit Cards:

It is better to have a large credit limit on a card, as it doesn’t affect your rating if you spend more on that card. Conversely, if you have a lower credit limit, then it is easier to hit the limit, and that will negatively affect your credit score. Don’t fall for the temptation of thinking that just because you have a $50,000 credit, you have $50,000 to spend. To maintain a high credit score, you should use very little of that. In fact, you should keep it under 10% of the credit limit.

4. Don’t Over-Apply

Don’t be swayed by every credit card offer that arrives in the mail. Each time you apply for a new credit card, your overall credit score drops. Instead, work on getting higher limits on the cards you have.

5. Variety is the Spice of Life

Having a variety of diverse loans (including credit cards) in your overall credit collection also boosts your credit score. This can include not just credit cards, but also mortgages, automobile loans, et cetera. If you can prove that you can pay on several accounts reliably, your credit score will be higher.

6. Don’t Forget About those Under-Used Cards and Don’t Cancel Them

You need to prove that you can pay your cards on time, including those underused cards. It’s highly recommended that you not cancel those cards you don’t use regularly, because doing so will reduce the total amount of credit you’re approved to borrow. You also want to show that you indeed have a history of paying all of your cards on time, including the lesser used ones.

7. Check for Errors on your Credit Report
Yes, it is a fact that even the credit score agencies are not perfect, and sometimes have errors on their reports. Be sure to locate these mistakes and then call and have them corrected. Your credit score will benefit as a result.

8. Try Asking for a Break
It doesn’t hurt to call and ask to have late payment penalties taken off of your credit history. Sometimes if you’re polite about it, companies will remove the causes of your bad scoring, so you won’t need to wait. You have nothing to lose in asking.

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First Financial Personal Loans Provide the Savings that only Online Functionality Delivers

First Financial’s lending partners can provide low cost personal loans because of their cost-saving, online structure. Apply for an affordable personal loan here, even if your credit rating is “fair,” “poor” or even “bad.” Our comprehensive application was designed by financial professionals who understand that an applicant’s financial history can be complex. Fill out the application in minutes and learn how much you qualify for within 48 hours. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

The Intricate Workings Behind the Cash Advance or Loan Offer Scam

We will never ask you to send us money upfront for any reason.

*We do not have foreign call centers or automated phone dialers. We do not do direct mail, email or phone solicitation for any service we offer.

*All applications must be completed online at our website. Do not send money or give anyone your banking information over the phone, thru email or on a paper application you received. Our applications online are the safest and most secure way to submit your application.  

Every day in the United States, hundreds of people turn over the last of their hard-earned money to scam artists. According to the FBI, scams related to cash advances and loan offers add up to millions each year.

How can so many be defrauded so easily? Careful criminal planning.

American and overseas operations start by creating websites that resemble those of a government agency or a familiar banking institution like Citibank, Money Mutual or First Financial. They advertise loan offers at very low rates on these websites, but they never make a single loan. They simply collect your personal data including bank account numbers, social security numbers and more. They deny every applicant, BUT the information they’ve collected is a gold mine.

They sell it to a second operation. Using a familiar bank name and the target’s personal information, this second company has little problem convincing unsuspecting consumers that it’s legitimate. Often, it explains that it has “more flexible” loan requirements because it is larger or more efficient or specializes in a certain area. The borrower need only prove they can make the first payment to win the loan. Here’s where alarm bells should go off. The “loan agent” then asks the borrower to put the first payment on a Walmart Green Dot or other cash card or wire the money electronically.

When the loan amount doesn’t arrive in the borrower’s bank account, the “loan agent” explains that another sum is needed for insurance. This technicality can be taken care of, again, by putting the amount on a cash card and providing the cash card numbers to the “loan agent” . . . as soon as possible, of course. To learn more signs of certain fraud, read the Beware Common Cash Advance and Loan Scams: Clear Signals of Fraud page in our consumer notices section.

Cash Advance and Loan Fraud Will Always Be with Us

Most of us can’t comprehend taking someone else’s money let alone spending months constructing elaborate schemes, telephone scripts and letters to defraud people in sometimes desperate situations. Our own rejection of such malicious acts sets us up to believe the friendly “loan agent” at the other end of the line really does have our best interests at heart. When a loan proves to be fraud, many prefer to keep the incident to themselves. If you’re in this situation, please don’t let embarrassment paralyze you. These criminals worked hard to concoct the perfect fraud. You didn’t stand a chance. BUT by reporting everything you know to the proper authorities, you can help keep more people from becoming victims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FBI both work hard to find and shut these scams down. If you or a loved one has become a victim of fraud, report the crime to the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. If an illegitimate “loan agent” uses the name First Financial, please call us right away at 800-315-7791 so we can report it to the state attorney general’s office.

Report a crime: FBI – https://www.ic3.gov / Federal Trade Commission – https://www.ftc.gov

A+ Rated First Financial Gets Money to You Fast . . . and Ethically

First Financial proudly adheres to strict ethical standards set by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If you need funds for medical bills, car or computer repair or anything, fill out one of our easy loan applications. With automated services and low overhead (no physical buildings to staff and power), we can charge lower rates and fees than neighborhood banks. Stay connected to First Financial’s offers through our Facebook.

Avoiding Car Buying Scams in 2020

One of the best ways you can learn how to avoid car buying scams will be to go to the website of the Michigan organization H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts). They have many great tips that will provide you with ideas of how to make sure if you were to say buy a car from someone off of craigslist to make sure that the deal goes down successfully with nothing fishy going on.
Some of their tips will include:

  • Meet at the S.O.S.
  • Triple check the VIN
  • Get Guaranteed Payment

In 2020 Tips For Avoiding Internet Financing Scams

Its 2020! Now this is a subject that we take extra serious ourselves since we have been working in this business for many years. There are many sites unlike ours though that really will do you no good and just steal your information and since it is very serious personal information then you can be damaged severely. This will be easy to avoid though and there are two quick things that you will be able to do that will make sure that you know you are working with someone legitimate. One thing that you will be able to do is take the business name and check it against the Better Business Bureau. This is a great way to see that it is a legitimate company and will validate that you are working with someone that is safe. If you do not want to do that kind of research then you will also be able to just check the application to make sure that it is secured. That will be one of the best ways to make sure that you keep safe when applying for an auto loan online. Before you know it you will be able to receive a great deal and hopefully you have learned something and will be safe!

Personal Loan Works Better than the Credit Card

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Most of us have emergency or other expenses that require quick funds. While many resort to credit cards for these expenses, a better option may exist: the personal loan.

The personal loan is a contract created between a bank, credit union or other lending entity and an individual. It states an amount to be lent to the individual and terms like interest rate and duration of the loan. Because establishing a personal loan requires discussion with a bank or credit union representative, however, many feel intimidated to embark on this kind of funding. This said, the personal loan may be the more financially savvy option in several situations.

Apply Now

First we want to cover the biggest advantages of using personal loans over credit cards. These include:

1. the personal loan can be “unsecured,” requiring neither collateral (like a credit card) nor a credit card inquiry that can lower credit scores; this said, some personal loans DO require collateral and perform a credit inquiry. Get these items straightened out with a loan agent BEFORE signing the contract;
2. personal loan interest rates are typically lower than credit card rates and negotiation with the loan officer for even lower rates is possible;
3. unlike rates for credit cards, the interest rate stays fixed for the entire repayment period;
4. monthly payments stay even. Credit card payments change as charges accrue.

With the advantages clear, you can determine whether the money you need should be gained through a credit card or personal loan. The following includes the situations that we think make the most sense for a personal loan.

1. Unexpected Income Shortfall
People make errors. Sometimes these fallible people have jobs in payroll and forget to cut checks. The good news is that banks and credit unions issue small personal loans relatively easily, requiring a few pay stubs and the last few months of bank statements. While going to the bank to discuss the situation can be uncomfortable, people in this situation get money within 24 hours when they use convenient online personal loan solutions. Online banking solutions often have lower interest rates and better terms because these alternative lending institutions do not need to satisfy shareholders or spend exorbitant amounts on marketing. As Bill Gates said in the nineties, bricks and mortar banks “dinosaurs.”

People looking to finance an adoption, in vitro fertilization, a cross-country move or other big activity without traditional financing (like a car or RV loan) turn to the personal loan to move life forward at reasonable cost.

2. Consolidating Credit Card Debt to Increase Credit Score
Who wants to pay 19% when they can pay 11%? An 8% difference per year can save the borrower with a $10,000 credit card balance $800 each year or $67 monthly. Fill out our convenient personal loan application. First Financial lenders’ lower loan rates and better terms may surprise you! We have all the security of the big, bricks and mortar banks, namely 128-bit “banking level” security. We have to. The Security and Exchange Commission and other federal institutions demand it.

3. Borrower Prefers or Needs a Fixed Rate and Term
Borrowers (or their parents or spouses) often advocate for the personal loan because it involves making the same payments at the same schedule until the loan is paid off. Credit card rates are variable and could rise several percentage points yearly. Those who make a clear decision about one large purchase appreciate the clarity of paying for it consistently over a limited period of time.

First Financial Personal Loans Provide the Savings only Online Functionality Delivers
First Financial’s lending partners can provide low cost personal loans because of their cost-saving, online structure. Apply for an affordable personal loan here, even if your credit rating is “fair,” “poor” or even “bad.” Our comprehensive application was designed by financial professionals who understand that an applicant’s financial history can be complex, particularly in the post-recession era. Fill out the application in minutes and learn how much you qualify for within 48 hours. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

Smart Ways to Manage Your Merchant Account for Long Term

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How to Apply

blank You don’t have to tell us how tough it is to win a high-risk merchant account, we hear about it every day from our callers. Luckily, because First Financial specializes in high-risk merchant accounts, every day, we ease minds and get scores of businesses on the path to accepting credit cards. Adult related services, golf club manufacturers, travel agencies and airlines all have one thing in common: relegation to the high-risk merchant account category. Despite a few extra steps, businesses in these industries and 30 or so more niches run profitably. Here at First Financial, we urge applicants to rid the term “high-risk” of its typical, negative meaning and instead consider it just another category that requires a few more steps before credit card money payments start pouring in.

Once a business has proven its reliability and business potential to a merchant services provider, it doesn’t relish the idea of going through the whole process all over again. That’s why it’s key to skillfully manage the high-risk account you win to avoid charge backs and other issues that the processor could see as a red flag. We find that lots of these red flags simply amount to oversights typical of the hard-working, thinly stretched entrepreneur. Still, knowing exactly how to run your merchant account can save you hassle, time and money and hopefully win you a dedicated merchant service provider that stays with you for decades.

Avoid Chargebacks by Providing Helpful, Available Customer Service
We tackle the biggest issue first. A high rate of chargebacks (returns) is the number one reason so many large banks refuse to even speak to the businesses in the 30+ high-risk industries. Airlines and travel agencies get chargebacks when travelers decide last minute that Las Vegas is too just crowded and Yosemite calls to them instead. Golf club manufacturers get chargebacks when their clubs DON’T turn buyers into LGPA tour competitors (imagine that!).

While many put chargebacks in “the price of doing business” category, conscientious customer service reduces them significantly. Giving your ideal clients easy ways to contact you—rather than the merchant service provider—reduces your chargeback rate significantly. Make your business transparent and easy to contact by making the following adjustments to your website and other customer contact points.

• Clearly post email addresses and phone numbers on your website.

• Create Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube channels where customers are free to post their opinions, complaints and even praise. Recognize that every business now has customers posting criticism and praise every day. Most readers can differentiate the crackpots from the reasonable people.

• Consider setting up an email newsletter that keeps your customers in contact with you. Make it clear that the newsletter’s purpose is to support the customer’s optimal use of your products and services.

While this level of transparency can intimidate some business owners, rest assured that research consistently confirms that customer service representatives and others easily turn complaining customers into brand evangelists simply by listening to customer complaints, sympathizing and rectifying any errors.

One of the most respected ways to indicate a business’ transparency is to make sure to include complete descriptor information on the consumer’s monthly credit card statement. Make sure the consumer can read the full company name and complete customer service number. High-risk merchant accounts get cancelled when incomplete phone numbers or business names appear. Ensure your contact information is correct by running a test transaction.

Other ways to limit chargebacks include:
• Manually review transactions where the customer’s authentication request was declined. Consider calling the buyer.
• Create and disclose all return, privacy, refund, return and cancellation policies.
• Review and batch transactions on a daily basis.
• Insist on proof of identification upon delivery for high priced items.
• Cancel orders immediately upon client request.
• Consumers change credit cards frequently. Work with your merchant account provider to set up automatic credit card updates.

Demonstrate Client Service
In the era of digital marketing when businesses have to provide all kinds of value before winning a sale, businesses must go the extra mile to forge lasting relationships with each and every customer. Merchant service providers appreciate signals that a business works to benefit its clients. Express client services take the form of emails to customers to report when an order is shipped that also provides the tracking code. Emails that explain an order is on backorder also indicates to merchant service providers that the high-risk business operates for the benefit of their customer base. Finally, satisfying customers demanding refunds may feel like short-term pain, but long-term reliability and respectability. Even if a business wins a chargeback dispute, that chargeback still remains on their record. Is it worth it?

Fast Response to Merchant Services Inquiries
When the merchant services agency contacts the business to discuss a dispute, a fast response reassures the agency that the business operates in a responsible, efficient manner. Business occurs between people. A merchant services representative that gets a satisfying, friendly answer from a customer service representative or business owner will of course view that case more favorably than the business without this courtesy.

Take the Time to Monitor Accounts and Use Fraud Protection
Increasingly sophisticated Internet criminals attempt fraudulent purchases in hopes for a return that results in cash. Always manually review your monthly statements and consider calling buyers that seem suspicious. Do not ship until you’ve established the buyer’s sincerity.

Most merchant services offer fraud protection that block transactions from countries notorious for high levels of fraud. It also compares each credit card transaction against reliable standards to reduce instances of fraud.

First Financial Merchant Services Welcomes Businesses In High Risk Industries
First Financial has found the merchant service providers who are hungry to get businesses in high-risk industries accepting credit cards. With the majority of American consumers using credit cards more than other payments at a rate of three to one, any business that wants to reach optimal cash flow must accept credit cards. Apply for a high-risk merchant account here. Follow us on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips!

When Loans Do a Lot of Good

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blank Tracey Espinoza remembers the day in 2013 when she had to leave the home she loved due to foreclosure. As she was packing up her bedding, she thought, “Well, at least they can’t take my pillows. At least I don’t think they can.”

Like many Americans, Tracy and her family got caught up in the aftermath of the economic downturn of 2008 to 2011. By 2012 neither her nor her husband’s salary had increased and getting another job at higher pay wasn’t panning out.

Complicating matters, they’d had two children in the previous four years, and Tracy cut back work to part-time to care for them. When Tracy could not find full time work in her field, they were unable to keep up with mortgage payments and fell into foreclosure, ruining their credit. When her husband’s 8-year-old Toyota Acura needed a new transmission, they turned to a “bad credit” credit card to pay for it. He needed to get to work reliably—without missing a day—after all.

Even now in 2020, wages have not caught up with the stock market rebound. A Wall Street Journal article quoted the senior human resources manager of Ohio’s First Solar manufacturing saying, “Wage pressure? I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen that.” After all, at their last job call, 700 people showed up for 120 positions. They had their pick.

Surmounting the “Bad Credit” Stigma
“Bad credit” loans and credit cards suffer from a somewhat undeserved reputation. Where “good credit” typically starts at the 700 score and above, “fair,” “poor” and “bad credit” make up the tiers beneath. With over 50% of Americans now in these “subprime” categories, many turn to higher rate loans to keep their computers, cars and even bodies working so they can earn a living.

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Where “Bad Credit” Loans Do the Most Good

These three situations prompt borrowers to gather their courage and get a “bad credit” loan to keep going.

Building Credit: If you’re in the subprime credit category, most likely you’ve learned that every credit card you apply for checks or “dings” your credit record. Every “ding” drops your credit score by 10 points or more. Ironically, those with the best credit use credit cards the least. They have the most “available” credit. Of the $30,000 that their banks, mortgage holders and auto lenders feel they can afford to borrow, they may currently be using $3,000 of it. We all should be there someday! Borrowers working to build their credit rating, on the other hand, can avoid incurring a credit check and subsequent credit “ding” by getting a bad or low credit loan. Typically, the lender requires no collateral and will not contact Experian, TransUnion or EquiFax, the three largest credit reporting agencies. It simply needs bank statements, pay stubs, proof of residency and limited other documents.

Keeping Income Earning Tools Functioning: Many Americans today are abandoning corporate careers for freelance work. In fact, software giant Intuit performed a study of thousands of American workers and found an interesting draw to an independent lifestyle. Their findings prompted them to declare that by the year 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be freelance. While the freedom and the endless pajama-wearing is great, freelancers have to pay for lots of things that don’t even cross the corporate employee’s mind. These items include: computer repair, subscriptions to SaaS services, and transportation. When any one of these breaks down, the time and the repair budget fall on the freelancer. With work mounting, rectifying issues as quickly as possible becomes paramount. If clients have not paid but bills are due, freelancers and other entrepreneurs often have to resort to credit cards. The start-up business may not even have a credit line established. Therefore, they fall into the “subprime” category. Should they give up on their business? Is THAT the American Way? The most successful freelancers work back channels and creative pathways to reach their goals. Many businesses have resorted to “bad credit” loans and even credit cards to stay in business until their breakthrough.

When Fees and Penalties Are Burdensome: A 5% late payment on a $2,500 rent runs to $125 of money-for-nothing. A bad credit loan, on the other hand, comes in handy when big payments come due. When an unavoidable fee or penalty comes within just a few days of a paycheck or accounts receivable avalanche of past due payments from clients, it makes sense to pay the expense and then quickly pay off the short-term loan.

First Financial Welcomes Bad Credit Borrowers
First Financial can find the right loan instrument, even for those with poor, fair or bad credit. Because more than 50% of Americans fall into the subprime category, enterprising alternative banks (with all the security the big, bricks and mortar banks offer) deliver affordable loans. Apply for a bad credit or low credit score in minutes here. Follow us on Facebook to get smart about building your fin

Ways to Avoid Going Upside Down in an Auto Loan

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“Upside down” is only fun for kids.

Adults know too well it’s all about owing more money on a large asset than it’s worth. More, they are responsible for that debt. Many homeowners were upside down in their home loans from 2008 to 2012.

Some don’t realize that a car buyer, particularly a new car buyer, can spend several months to two years upside down in their car loan. You may ask: what’s the big deal about owing more than the car’s worth if you’re going to keep the car for several years? Problems arise when the car gets stolen or crashed. More serious problems arise when buyers realize they bought too much car and can’t afford it anymore. Unexpected medical expenses, job changes, new babies and even floods and fires have a way of tightening budgets very quickly. Sell the car, and you end up paying the bank an additional $1,000 – $5,000 to fulfill loan requirements.

Car buyers who are smart with their finances take a long-term view. Just a few adjustments to the car-buying plan ensures you won’t go upside down on your car loan.

Buy Used and Make a Good Deal
It’s common knowledge that a brand new car loses 11% of its value the minute the car buyer drives it off the lot. After one year, this new car loses 20% of its value and by five years, many cars have lost half their value. These average numbers don’t reflect the wide variety of car depreciation rates. Depreciation rates are faster for unpopular cars, slow for the popular models. But who knows what will be popular in 5 years?

The bottom line is to let the original owner to pay the first few years’ depreciation costs (one of the highest costs of vehicle ownership). Buy a car that holds its value. Financial planning and organization website Bankrate.com lists the makes and models of autos that hold their value most tenaciously. For 2014, these are the Hyundai Accent, Mazda 3, Chevy Corvette, Toyota Avalon, Kia Soul and Chevy Camaro. Any of these tickle your fancy?

The other advantage of buying a used car with a low depreciation rate is that you’re less likely to have a hangover loan amount into a new loan when you buy a new car.

Put Down a 20% Down Payment
This move will take care of the annoying taxes and fees outright. Paying interest on these taxes bumps these abstract fees even higher. Since car buyers get nothing for these charges, it’s best to dismiss them ASAP. Also, putting down 20% jumps you ahead of depreciation so that you leave the lot with a vehicle worth as much as or more than your loan. Also, manufacturers’ cash-back rebates can go right to that 20% down.

Consider A Loan Term That Is No Longer Than How Long You Plan To Keep The Car.
Some people are in the habit of buying a new car every two years. Others have just as much pride driving a 20-year-old “beater.” While, typically, car loan terms extend to just 5 years, recently, six and even 10-year loans have come into the market. If it’s your nature to keep a car until it dies, a 10-year loan makes sense. If you’re family is changing either by adding or removing members (kids born; kids off to college), you may be trading up or down when those events occur.

Get the Best Interest Rate You Qualify For
Online, and other alternative banks can offer lower auto loan rates because they labor under a fraction of the marketing and operating costs that saddle the large, bricks and mortar banks. More, online banks typically don’t have shareholders demanding higher profits every year. While the difference in the loan rate may be one-half of one percent, these charges add up to thousands of dollars saved over five years.
ALWAYS Comparison Shop to Get the Lowest Price for the Model You Want
Aside from homes (and maybe shoes?), cars evoke more emotion than most other large purchases. Cars reflect our identities. They are accessories we live with from two to 20 years. If you’ve found the perfect pumpkin-spice-colored Kia Soul, rest assured there will be another one across town or in another month. Go into the car dealership with your emotions fully under control. This experience must be ruled by the mind, rather than the heart. Remembering that you’re not just saving another $2,000, but $2,000 plus six to nine percent yearly interest keeps you sober and PICKY.

First Financial Provides Auto Loans, Bad Credit, Good Credit and More!
First Financial has been in business long enough to recognize the subtleties in each borrower’s financial situation. We also know that more than 50% of Americans fall into the subprime category. Their credit ratings range from “fair” to “poor” to “bad.” Our lending partners accept auto loan applications and approve these borrowers every day. Apply for an auto loan here today! Follow us

How Terminated Merchants Get Card Processing Services

blank Have you been surprised with a terminated merchant notice? You’re not alone. Each year, tens of thousands of business owners get the same notice for both legitimate and unnecessary reasons. Terminated merchants have several options available. Landing in  “Terminated Merchant File” (TMF) doesn’t mean you’re out of business. While these designations are confusing and even infuriating now, rest assured that A+ rated First Financial can help get you back to accepting credit cards fast.

Terminated merchants turn frown upside down

 

Who Controls TML and MATCH?

For a long time, the term “terminated merchant list” served as a casual designation indicating that a merchant has become “black-listed” with even high risk merchant account service providers. MasterCard made the system official by creating a database about businesses and their owners whose merchant account services providers had terminated them. They gave the new system the acronym MATCH for “Merchant Alert to Control High Risk.” At this time, most in the industry use this terminology.

Understanding Why Your High Risk Card Processor Dropped You

When terminated merchants get in contact with us, their designation “MATCH-listed” has come as a surprise. Many only realize their business is on this list after seeking a new credit card processor. The MATCH list was the first place the new processor went when considering this new high risk merchant account. Presence on the MATCH list is the quick and easy way the new processor finds rationale to turn a business down—AFTER collecting the application fees. If you’ve been placed on the MATCH list, the only way of removing your name is by contacting the processor or bank that put you there. Only that entity has the legal authority to remove you. Disputing the designation with the bank or merchant processor may require a lawyer’s help, and some lawyers specialize in this niche. Legal expenses can be worth it considering the MATCH listing remains active for five years. Understanding why your processor placed you on the MATCH list will prevent this hassle from happening again. Generally, the acquiring bank or processor finds out that while you were with your previous processor, you committed one or more “disqualifying acts” that exceeded the level of risk they contracted to undertake. Typically, your contract listed these acts and informed you that committing them qualified as a breach of contract and justification to end the relationship. Disqualifying acts include:

  • Excessive deposits for transactions without cardholders authorization
  • A conviction for credit or debit card fraud in any federal, state or county court
  • Evidence of counterfeit activities
  • Excessive chargebacks caused by business practices or procedures
  • Evidence of money “laundering”
  • Sufficient evidence that merchant is engaging in fraudulent activities.

On the other hand, keep in mind, too, that banks and card processors SOMETIMES MAKE MISTAKES. If you feel your MATCH listing is an error, by all means fight it. Beware “Guaranteed Acceptance” Offers for Terminated Merchants In an effort to bring in application fees, some shady businesses imply or even claim that their high risk merchant account processors accept all terminated merchants. Merchants apply and wait a few weeks or even a month, only to learn that they didn’t qualify after all. First Financial’s carefully screened and selected processors specialize in terminated merchants in high risk industries. These processors are aware from the beginning that the merchant is on the MATCH list. They strive to make the relationship work. Further, A+ rated First Financial merchants get:

  • the most competitive rates in the high risk niche
  • highest levels of security and encryption permitted by the U.S. government
  • the most current processing equipment
  • quick response time and courteous support
  • simple approval process and set-up

The ability to accept credit cards can make or break many businesses. Get your business

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