The Worst Ways to Deal With a Bill Collector

The Worst Ways to Deal With a Bill Collector – SmartAsset

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Dealing with a bill collector is never fun and it can be particularly stressful when you’re sitting on a mountain of debt. Sometimes debt collectors fail to follow the rules outlined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If that’s the issue you’re facing, it might be a good idea to file a complaint. But if you’re personally making any of these mistakes, your debt problem could go from bad to worse.

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1. Ignoring Debt Collectors

Screening calls and avoiding bill collectors won’t help you get your debt under control. Debts generally have a statute of limitations that varies depending on the state you live in. Once it expires, the collector might not be able to sue you anymore. But you could still be responsible for paying back what you owe in addition to any interest that has accumulated.

In addition to the potential legal consequences of unpaid bills, letting old debt pile up can destroy your credit score. Unpaid debts can remain on a credit report for as many as seven years. So if your debt collector is getting on your last nerves, it might be best to stop hiding and face him head on.

2. Saying Too Much Over the Phone

If you decide to stop dodging your bill collectors, it’s important to avoid sharing certain details over the phone. You never want to say that you’ll pay a specific amount of money by a deadline or give someone access to your bank accounts. Anything you say can be used against you and agreeing to make a payment can actually extend a statute of limitations that has already run out.

A debt collector’s No. 1 goal is to collect their missing funds. They can’t curse at you or make empty threats, but they can say other things to try and scare you into paying up. Staying calm, keeping the call short and keeping your comments to a minimum are the best ways to deal with persistent bill collectors.

Related Article: Dealing With Debt Collectors? Know Your Rights

3. Failing to Verify That the Debt Is Yours

When you’re talking to a bill collector, it’s also wise to avoid accepting their claims without making sure they’re legitimate. Debt collection scams are common. So before you send over a single dime, you’ll need to confirm that the debt belongs to you and not someone else.

Reviewing your credit report is a great place to start. If you haven’t received any written documentation from the collection agency, it’s a good idea to request that they mail you a letter stating that you owe them a specific amount of money.

If you need to dispute an error you found on your credit report, you have 30 days from the date that you received formal documentation from the collection agency to notify them (in writing) that a mistake was made. You’ll also need to reach out to each of the credit reporting agencies to get the error removed. They’ll expect you to mail them paperwork as proof of your claim.

4. Failing to Negotiate the Payments

No matter how big your debts, there’s usually room for negotiation when it comes to making payments. If the payment plan your bill collector offers doesn’t work for you, it’s okay to throw out a number you’re more comfortable with.

Sometimes, it’s possible to get away with paying less than what you owe. Instead of agreeing to pay back everything, you can suggest that you’re willing to pay back a percentage of the debt and see what happens. A non-profit credit counselor can help you come up with a debt management plan if you need assistance. Whatever you agree to, keep in mind that the deal needs to be put in writing.

Related Article: All About the Statute of Limitations on Debt

5. Failing to Keep Proper Documentation

Whenever you communicate with a bill collector, it’s a good idea to take notes. Jotting down details about when you spoke with a collector and what you discussed can help you if you’re forced to appear in court or report a collector who has broken the law. Collecting written notices from bill collectors and saving them in a folder can also help your case.

Bottom Line

Dealing with bill collectors can be a real pain. By knowing how to interact with them, you’ll be in the best position to get rid of your unpaid loans and credit card debt (that is, if you actually owe anything) on your own terms.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Steve Debenport, ©iStock.com/RapidEye, ©iStock.com/JJRD

Amanda Dixon Amanda Dixon is a personal finance writer and editor with an expertise in taxes and banking. She studied journalism and sociology at the University of Georgia. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, AOL, Bankrate, The Huffington Post, Fox Business News, Mashable and CBS News. Born and raised in metro Atlanta, Amanda currently lives in Brooklyn.
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How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many? – Lexington Law

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of how many credit cards to have. More importantly, you should aim to understand what affects your credit score, and how the number of cards you have plays into your ability to responsibly manage your credit. 

How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

Is three cards too many? Should I apply for another card? What should I do if I have too many credit cards? How many cards do people with good credit have? If you’re asking these questions, you’re not alone.

According to FICO as reported by CNBC, cardholders with “exceptional” credit scores—above 800—have an average of three open credit cards. Ultimately, the perfect amount of credit cards for you comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what you can realistically manage. 

Cardholders with exceptional credit scores (above 800) have an average of three open cards.

Here, we’ll discuss some instances when you may want to consider adding another card—and when to hold off. Remember to consult your financial advisor if you’re ever unsure of the best move. 

When to Consider Adding a Card

If you have zero cards or one card: Having a variety of credit accounts is important. This means incorporating a mix of things like credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and student loans. If you don’t yet have a credit card, consider applying for one to diversify your mix.

If you only have one, it may be beneficial to add another to show lenders that you’re capable of managing multiple accounts and paying them on time.

If you have no trouble managing accounts: Some people have a hard time keeping track of multiple credit cards. If you’re able to stay organized and keep track of relevant account information, having multiple credit cards will be a less risky move. As long as you’re paying all your accounts on time, you shouldn’t have a problem with three or more credit cards. 

If you’re not earning rewards or benefits: Maybe you’re still using the first credit card you ever applied for years ago. If it doesn’t have a cash back or other rewards program, you may be missing out on free money. Additionally, if your credit score has improved in recent years, you may be able to apply for a card with a lower interest rate. 

When to Hold Off on Adding a Card

If you have debt: According to a 2019 survey from CNBC, approximately 55 percent of cardholders have debt. Instead of adding another card—increasing the temptation to rack up a hefty balance—consider shifting your priorities to paying off debt. A smaller debt load has psychological benefits and increases your chances of getting approved for a line of credit in the future.

If you’re struggling to keep track of your cards: If you’re finding it hard to remember payment due dates or keep track of balances, it’s probably a sign you’ve reached your credit card capacity. Staying organized is the key to success with multiple credit cards. 

If you’re about to apply for a loan or mortgage: If you’re planning on applying for a large or important line of credit, hold off on taking any action that could affect your credit score. Lenders like to see that you have a steady credit history, and applying for a new card may cause a temporary dip in your score.

Does Having Too Many Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit?

No, the number of credit cards you have doesn’t directly impact your credit score. Whether you have seven cards or one, two basic principles of good credit management remain important: monitoring credit utilization rate and limiting hard inquiries. These factors do have the potential to substantially impact your credit score.

Pay Attention to Credit Utilization Rate

One of the main benefits of having multiple credit cards is that your combined total credit limit will increase. This is very useful when you’re aiming to stay below the recommended 30 percent credit utilization rate, or the percentage of your total credit limit currently in use.

For example, having only one card with a $3,000 limit doesn’t give you much leeway in terms of how much you can charge. If you were to charge the full $3,000, you would max out your card and likely lower your credit score. However, if you were to add two more cards with the same limit, your total credit availability would now be $9,000.

This would allow you to charge up to a total of $3,000 while still staying at or below the recommended 30 percent credit utilization rate. 

No matter how many credit cards you have, aim to use less than 30% of your total available credit.

Like all things, it’s best to find a balance. Adding multiple cards too quickly in order to boost your total credit limit may trigger hard inquiries. 

Limit Your Number of Hard Inquiries

A “hard inquiry” is a notation on your credit report caused by an official request by a lender to view your credit report. Hard inquiries typically occur when you apply for a credit card, loan or mortgage. They have the potential to lower your credit score, especially if you incur too many in a short amount of time.

A single inquiry may only lower your score by a few points. However, if you have very few credit accounts or a short credit history, the effects may be more substantial.

If you’re looking to apply for multiple credit cards, space them out over a period of six months or longer. Only apply for cards you know you’ll be approved for—or better yet, get preapproved. This means that a credit card issuer may approve you for a card based on income requirements and won’t have to pull a hard inquiry.

In addition to monitoring credit utilization and limiting hard inquiries, remember to keep other credit management best practices in mind:

  • Pay at least the minimum balance—on time and every time—for all of your credit cards.
  • Keep a good mix of credit accounts—cards, auto loans, a mortgage, and student loans, are a few examples.
  • Build a long history of good credit management by keeping accounts open.

Is It Better to Cancel Unused Credit Cards or Keep Them?

If you have a pile of credit cards that have gone unused, it may be tempting to cancel the accounts. However, this is typically more detrimental than it is beneficial. To build a long history of good credit management, aim to keep your credit accounts open. 

Use your cards every once in a while—even if it’s just for small purchases—to avoid them being canceled. Since credit card issuers aren’t all required to notify consumers of a card cancelation, an unexpected cancelation may result in a credit score dip.

When to Consider Canceling a Credit Card

If the card is newer: If you absolutely need to cancel a credit card, it’s better to close a newer one than an older one. Since length of credit history accounts for 15 percent of your credit score, you’ll want to keep old cards with a long payment history. With newer cards, you haven’t built up that history, so canceling may not be as detrimental to your score.

If the card has a lower limit: Whenever you cancel a credit card, your total available credit will decrease, which in turn will also decrease your utilization rate. This is the main factor that lowers people’s credit scores after canceling a card.

Canceling a card with a low total credit limit will put you at the least amount of risk for going over the 30 percent utilization rate. And if you do cancel, make sure your utilization rate on your other cards is low.

If the card has high fees: Cards with annual fees or extremely high interest rates may be making it more difficult for you to make regular on-time payments on all of your cards or pay off other debts. Even though canceling a card may result in a temporary dip in your credit score, it’s best to consider your overall financial health and debt load.

Always consider what’s best for your unique situation—and if you’re ever unsure, consult your financial advisor.  Improving your credit score, especially when you have multiple cards, can seem like a daunting task. If you don’t know where to start, Lexington Law can help. Explore our credit repair services to see if they’re right for you.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

How to Avoid Racking Up Debt During the Holidays

The holidays bring a lot of excitement and cheer. But is also a time characterized by a lot of spending. Statistics show that holiday spending goes up every year in the last few years. Unfortunately, holiday expenditure can take a big chunk out of your credit card.

It may feel great while the holidays last but the feeling may not last when you find yourself up to your neck in debt accrued during the holidays. Debt can mess up your life and interfere with your plans especially at the beginning of the year. The question is; can you still enjoy the holidays and still manage to keep off unnecessary debt? Yes indeed! Here are proven ways on how to avoid racking up debt during the holidays.

Avoiding Debt During the Holidays

Work with a Budget

A budget helps you to plan for the available resources and keeps you from doing spontaneous shopping. In your budget, categorize your spending and set money allocation for each item. This can help you have a general figure of the amount that you want to spend and also help you to know where to give more weight. A budget would be worthless if you don’t stick to it; be sure to strictly adhere to it and you will be grateful.

Use Cash to Pay for Expenses

Holiday debts result from credit cards and other loans. Research shows that people who use credit cards for shopping are likely to use many times more money than those that pay cash. There are different ways in which you can put aside some cash for the holiday:

  • Sell stuff that you don’t need in the house. This can be furniture, play gear for kids, electronics, kitchen gadgets, etc. As long as they are in good condition and someone can put them into good use, they are better off bringing you some cash.
  • Set up a holiday account early in advance
  • Use your Christmas bonus to boost your expenditure.
  • Cut cost on your normal expenditure to save for the holidays

Adopt Cost-Effective Holiday Events

Taking your family for a cruise around the Caribbean Islands and lodging in 5-star hotels is a great idea. However, if you will still be struggling to pay the debt come next year; it is time to re-evaluate your options. You can still have a memorable holiday with your family and friends without necessarily breaking the bank. Here are some cost-effective options:

  • Spend time with your family and friends at home and in the process share meals and gifts
  • Plan for traveling at a time when it is likely to be less expensive and save towards it
  • Consider Picnics and Parties

Save on gifts

Buying gifts for all your family, friends and other important people in your life can turn out to be one big expensive affair and especially if you don’t have enough cash set aside to cater for this. However, you can also make the gifts genuine, thoughtful, and memorable at a relatively low cost using the following tips:

  • If you are in the service industry, offer a free session of your services as a gift
  • Get creative and make gifts such as cards for your children’s teachers, boss, workmates etc.
  • Instead of buying a gift for each of your friends, bring them together and cast lots where each buys a gift for one and gets one from another
  • When coming up with a list of gifts to buy, include other options of about the same cost to avoid spending more in case the first choice goes out of stock or is unavailable

Shop Early

Shopping early helps to spread out your spending and also gives you time to shop for great deals. Since holidays are already fixed, come up with a list of everything you need to buy and start buying. Be on the lookout for discounts and offers such as the end of summer sales and stock up on items with the best deals.

The Bottom Line

The Holidays don’t have to leave you with the bitter after taste of racked up debts. With proper planning, a few adjustments, and being flexible enough to accommodate cost-effective ideas, you can still enjoy your holiday without disrupting your future financial plans.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Credit Card News and Headlines – The Points Guy

Travel, Credit Card & Aviation News | The Points Guy


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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

How I earned 491,257 points (mostly) in quarantine – The Points Guy

How I earned 491,257 points (mostly) in quarantine – The Points Guy


Advertiser Disclosure


Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

All About Credit Card Processing Fees

All About Credit Card Processing Fees – SmartAsset

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When you make a payment with a credit card not all of that money goes to the merchant. Your payment has to be authorized by multiple companies or banks along the way and some of them will deduct fees for their services. A portion of your payment goes to your card issuer’s bank, the merchant’s bank, the big payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard as well as payment processing companies. Here’s what you need to know about credit card processing fees.

What Happens When You Make a Credit Card Transaction

Before we break down the individual credit card processing fees, it’s helpful to give a quick rundown of what happens when you make a payment with your credit card.

When you try to make a purchase with your card, whichever credit card processor the merchant uses will need to receive authorization to complete the transaction. To do that, the first step is to send your information and the transaction details to the appropriate payment network, Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover.

The payment network then contacts the bank that issues your credit card. Your card issuer has to confirm that you have enough available credit to cover the purchase you are trying to make. If you have enough available credit, it will approve the transaction. If you don’t have enough, it will deny the transaction. That approval or denial goes back to the payment network, who sends its approval (or denial) of the transaction back to the merchant’s bank.

This entire process only takes a few seconds but it happens every time you make a purchase with your card. It doesn’t matter whether you swipe, insert a card with an EVM chip or manually enter your credit card number.

Average Credit Card Processing Fees

Average Credit Card Processing Fees
Visa 1.40% – 2.50%
Mastercard 1.60% – 2.90%
Discover 1.56% – 2.30%
American Express 1.60% – 3.00%

The table above lists an an average range for credit card processing fees from each major credit card provider. These ranges are meant only to give you an idea of how it works. There are a number of things that go into the final processing fees for any individual merchant (more on that later). Credit card issuers also are not always transparent with their fees and how they change over time. This is particularly true of Discover and American Express. However, credit card processing fees generally average around 2%. Another key trend is that American Express regularly charges higher fees.

Credit Card Processing Fees: Interchange Fees

An interchange fee is money that merchants pay every time they make a credit or debit card transaction. It’s typically a percentage of the transaction plus a flat rate for each transaction. For example, an interchange fee might be 1% of the transaction plus a flat fee of $0.25 per transaction.

This fee goes to the credit (or debit) card’s issuing bank so that it can cover its own fees. In general, a credit card issuer will charge higher fees for cards that offer more perks of benefits. However, the biggest fee that your card issuer has to pay is an assessment fee. This goes to the credit card network (e.g. Visa or Mastercard) and all networks charge the same assessment fee.

Interchange fees make up the majority of credit card processing costs for a merchant. There is a base part of the interchange fee that is non-negotiable because it is the same no matter what credit card companies a merchant works with. There is also a markup fee, which is an additional cost on top of the base fee. The markup goes to credit card processing companies (learn more about them in the next section) and they vary between processors. These fees are negotiable so a merchant should always compare these fees before choosing a company to process their transactions.

Credit Card Processing Fees: Merchant Service Providers

Even though merchants have to contact card-issuing banks to approve every transaction, they do not directly contact those banks. Instead, the transaction goes through a middle man that allows merchants and banks to communicate. This middle man is a merchant service provider (MSP). Common MSPs are Square and Payline.

MSPs charge merchants a certain fee for every transaction, whether it’s a sale, declined transaction or return. They may also charge the merchant a setup fee, a monthly usage fee and a cancellation fee.

Some merchants may have a bank that provides these services, but the majority of merchants have to use a third party MSP.

Online Versus In-Store Transactions

Credit card processing fees are cheaper if you pay in-person versus online. That’s because there is a greater risk of fraud with online payments. If you buy something in a store, the merchant has the ability to confirm that someone if using a real card and that they are the cardholder. This is harder to do with an online payment. The result is higher fees as companies try to protect themselves from fraudulent payments.

MSPs also charge additional fees for providing the software that makes an online payment transaction possible for a merchant.

The Bottom Line

It only takes a few seconds for a credit card transaction to go through, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Multiple banks and companies help facilitate transactions and they all want their cut of the profit. This is where credit card processing fees come in. A merchant has to pay an interchange fee every time a transaction is made, some of which is non-negotiable and some of which varies depending on the merchant service provider that a merchant uses.

A merchant bears the brunt of credit card processing fees and some merchants cannot afford to pay all the fees. This is a common reason why smaller merchants do not accept credit cards. These fees are also the reason that some merchants will require a minimum transaction amount in order to use a credit card.

Common Credit Card Fees to Avoid

  • Some credit cards charge an annual fee. This is a fee the cardholder pays each year simply for the privilege of having the card. Annual fees are particularly common for credit cards that offer valuable rewards. Shop around though because you can avoid an annual fee with some of this year’s best rewards credit card.
  • If you plan to travel, using your card outside of the U.S. could leave you paying a foreign transaction fee. Luckily, we have some cards with no foreign transaction fee in our list of the best travel credit cards.
  • One fee that you can avoid with responsible credit card usage is a late payment fee. This is a fee that your card issuer will charge if you do not pay your bill by the due date. You should always pay on time because paying late will not only result in a fee but your credit score could also be negatively impacted.

Photo credits: ©iStock.com/Juanmonino, ©iStock.com/NoDerog, ©iStock.com/andresr

Lucy Lazarony Lucy Lazarony has been writing about personal finance for more than a decade. Lucy’s a credit card expert. She is a freelance writer and award-winning journalist living in South Florida. Lucy earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. Her work is featured on Credit.com, CardRatings.com, MoneyRates.com and Art Hive Magazine.
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Source: smartasset.com

Mergers & Acquisitions as a Pathway to Growth

When it comes to growth strategies, there are many directions a broker or owner can take to elevate their business to the next level. While many look first at opening new offices or attracting new agents to their brokerage, an often-overlooked course is that of mergers and acquisitions (M&As). From growing market share to broadening team skills and market knowledge, pursuing a merger or acquisition can be a beneficial decision for your company. However, there are a variety of factors to consider to set a successful path ahead for your company now and in the future. At CENTURY 21 Real Estate, you’re not alone on this journey. Just as your agents are there to guide their home buying and selling clients, our Franchise Sales teams are here to support you throughout the entire M&A process so that you have all of the information and resources needed to choose the right path for your brokerage.

We sat down with two of our Century 21 Real Estate leaders – Evan Barnes, President of CENTURY 21 Jackson Real Estate and Jennette Phillips Toderick, Broker and CEO of CENTURY 21 Union Realty Co. – who have effectively integrated M&As into their own growth strategies to learn more about their approach to the process and advice for others looking to do the same.

WHAT ROLE DO MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS PLAY WITHIN YOUR CURRENT OVERALL BUSINESS GROWTH STRATEGY?

BARNES: I would say M&As encompass ninety percent of our company growth strategy. By continuously seeking new opportunities, both within our existing markets and newer areas, we have grown our market share from 9% to 24% in just 5 years. And that’s within a region that currently has over thirty other brokerages offering home buying and selling services.

TODERICK: Mergers and acquisitions have been a significant part of our company’s growth strategy for the last couple years as we have been looking to gain a competitive edge in our marketplace and acquire new skill sets. In my opinion, it is the fastest way to double your agent count and really grow at a much faster pace.

FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GROWING YOUR BUSINESS IN A NEW MARKET VIA M&A VERSUS OPENING A NEW COMPANY OFFICE?

Mergers & Acquisitions as a Pathway to Growth image 1
EVAN BARNES

BARNES: In my first few months of ownership I opened a cold start office. It was terrible. No one knew me yet in the industry, and I did it inside of a town I was not familiar with. Now I understand that an M&A allows you to develop existing agents and build upon the foundation that the previous owner has created in that market. The key is to ALWAYS be looking for an M&A. Bring up the topic with brokers and at local association meetings, let everyone know that YOU are the person to call if they are considering retirement.

WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 THINGS BROKERS AND OWNERS SHOULD LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING A COMPANY FOR MERGER OR ACQUISITION?

Mergers & Acquisitions as a Pathway to Growth image 2
JENNETTE PHILLIPS TODERICK

TODERICK:

  • Culture is the number one factor I consider. When companies come together and do not share common goals or beliefs you are setting yourself up for failure. It can potentially compromise the beliefs and behaviors of your current leadership, employees and agents. I learned a long time ago from a great mentor of mine David Kellerman, if you pull into the parking lot and dread seeing certain cars parked there you know it’s not a good fit. 
  • The second most important consideration is cost. Go over the finances of the company you’re looking to acquire and make sure to investigate its background. How is their current market share? Are their numbers up or down? Do the numbers match up?
  • Lastly, retainability. Do we have existing relationships with any of the agents currently there? Will the current management be supportive of this change?

BARNES:

  • First, is the existing culture and reputation of the agents in the target. I will not jeopardize my company and plan as a whole with agents who are perceived to be dishonest or cannot work well with others.
  • Second, I look at the physical distance from my other offices. In my current business structure, I personally spend a lot of time traveling between the offices, so location is very important.
  • Third, I look at what the situation is for the building they are occupying. Part of my goal is to acquire the real estate. If they rent, I determine if there is a building close that I can buy and move them in to, or if the building they are in can be purchased. 

WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU FACED IN THE M&A PROCESS?

TODERICK: Unfortunately, there is no instant gratification in a merge or acquisition. It takes time. There will be hiccups in remodeling and not everyone will trust you the way your current office does. Nothing is perfect. All you can do is learn from it and move on. I’ve learned to really just be honest and upfront – to be an open book with everyone involved.

IS THERE EVER A SITUATION WHEN PURSUING AN M&A IS NOT THE RIGHT DECSION?

BARNES: Never complete an M&A without first having developed relationships with the agents you are acquiring. Every day of your business you should be treating all agents kindly and fairly, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because those relationships will usually come back around to benefit you during an M&A. There is nothing keeping your company from having a mass exodus after an M&A, which could prove fatal. The relationships you have formed along the way with these agents are the foundation to your growth.

TODERICK: I’d say don’t execute a merger just to say you did a merger. Make sure the numbers make sense, especially in today’s market. Not knowing where the economy is going along with the pandemic could put you in a rough spot if you’re not financially prepared for it. Make sure the number makes sense to your bottom line.

But in the end, all I can say is don’t be afraid. If it’s not the right time now, build and cultivate those relationships, so down the line you’re the person they come to when ready.

QUESTIONS?

If you have questions related to the CENTURY 21 Brand and Franchising or how our team can help support you in the M&A process, please visit century21.com/about-us/franchise

Source: century21.com

Should you get an MBA if you want to start your own business?

The path to owning my own business started around 10 years ago. I graduated from high school and went on to college for business. I graduated, got a job as a financial analyst, and then around five years ago, completed my MBA with an emphasis in Finance.

Should you get an MBA if you want to start your own business? Is it a need? Or, can a person start a business without a college degree?

Should you get an MBA if you want to start your own business? Is it a need? Or, can a person start a business without a college degree?It seemed like a logical path – graduate from high school, go to college, get a job in that field, and then get my MBA to further my career opportunities.

It was the path I fell into, and I never really gave it a second thought. For my MBA, I figured I needed it in order to be successful in the corporate finance world.

However, I’m now a full-time blogger.

One of the questions I’m often asked is if I regret going to school for so many college degrees (3). After all, it took a lot of time and led to a significant amount of debt.

I definitely did not learn a thing about blogging back in college, and an MBA isn’t 100% focused on the topic of starting your own specific business, especially a niche one. Plus, I did not get my MBA thinking that I would be starting my own business. I went for it to better my career opportunities.

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According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28.8 million small businesses in the United States, which make up 99.7% of all U.S. businesses. And, a huge number of the population are starting their own business and working for themselves.

But, does that mean they all need or have an MBA?

Remember, an MBA is not required when starting your own business. But, does that mean that those without an MBA do better or worse?

I researched to see what the value of an MBA is, and I was able to find a great chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment for 2016.

This data shows earnings for full-time wage and salary workers, but it doesn’t specify those who have started their own business. However, it does show that there is some value in a Master’s degree.

According to this chart, the unemployment rate is much lower for those with one or multiple college degrees. The median usual weekly earnings tends to increase as well.

However, according to a report released by the Harvard Business Review, most of the top business leaders in the world actually do NOT have MBAs. In fact, only 29 of the 100 best companies had executives with MBAs, and less than half of those received their MBA from an elite business school (think Harvard, Stanford, etc.).

Here’s a short list from Business Insider’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs Who Made Millions Without A College Degree:

  • Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company, dropped out of high school at 16.
  • Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more. He also dropped out of high school at 16.
  • Rachael Ray, Food Network cooking show star, food industry entrepreneur, with no formal culinary arts training. She never attended college.
  • Michael Dell, billionaire founder of Dell Computers, started his business out of his college dorm room, but he later dropped out of college.
  • Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Ellison actually dropped out of two different colleges.

However, there are also many successful people who do have MBAs, such as Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Dr. Oz.

So, should you get an MBA if you want to start your own business?

MBAs can be expensive.

An MBA can cost anywhere from $5,000 to well over $100,000 depending on what college you attend.

And, according to Poetsandquants.com, the cost of obtaining your MBA continues to rise.

New York University’s Stern School of Business costs over $200,000, Harvard Business School has a total two-year cost to $204,640, and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business costs $210,838.

That is a TON of money in order to get your MBA.

I went to a moderately priced state university and received my MBA, and I think that it was a great value. However, if I had to pay over $200,000 to receive my MBA, I don’t know if it would be worthwhile. That’s a lot of money for not much real world experience that can be applied to a specific business idea.

And, let’s not forget about the amount of time it can take to receive your MBA.

For some students, they focus on their MBA full-time, which means that they aren’t bringing in an income, or they are bringing in significantly less than needed to sustain most living expenses. Some MBA students do work full-time, but they usually take a smaller course load.

I worked on my MBA full-time and worked full-time, which meant that I didn’t have time for pretty much anything else in life.

Plus, if you know that you want to start a business, the time it takes to get an MBA can make that goal that much farther away.

An MBA surrounds you with other determined people.

By earning your MBA, you’ll most likely be surrounded by a network full of people who are wanting to succeed in the business world.

This can help you build your future business idea, gain contacts that may help you and your business later on, and more.

I always say that networking is extremely important, and an MBA can definitely help you in that area.

An MBA won’t specifically teach you about the business you want to start.

An MBA will give you a pretty well rounded background on business in general. However, it won’t teach you everything you need to know about starting and sustaining your specific business plan.

This means that you will probably have to learn how to start your specific business elsewhere, such as researching your ideas and business plans outside of your MBA program.

For example, if you want to start a blogging business, you most likely won’t learn anything about a blogging while earning your MBA. The same goes for many other business ideas as most MBAs aren’t really focused on specific markets.

What they do offer is a good background on the actual “business” side of starting your own business, as discussed below.

You do learn about business, though.

While earning an MBA is more about business theory, it still offers you a lot of background information that can help you create your own business.

Through my MBA and the career I had as an analyst, I learned about business accounting, business law, managing a business, economics, business finances, marketing, advertising, and more. These are all things you should know about when running your own business. Sure, you can outsource a lot of these tasks, but for most start-ups, you may personally have to take on many of these tasks, especially in the beginning.

My analyst position also taught me a lot about running a profitable business, since I dealt with successful business owners every day.

There are a lot of times that my education and work experience have helped me run my own business. And, I am extremely grateful because it has helped me run my business extremely well.

According to Investopedia, around 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years, and 66% during the first 10 years.

Some of the reasons for failure that are cited in the above article include:

  • Business owners not investigating the market.
  • Business owners have problems with their business plan.
  • A bad location, bad internet presence, and bad marketing for the business.

These are all things that are taught, in general, when working on your MBA, which can be great background knowledge for someone wanting to start their own business.

What about real experience?

I believe that real experience is the best. However, with an MBA, you can receive a well rounded education that can help you to launch a successful business.

You can learn how to manage a team, understand business specific finances, research the best business plan, and more.

When put together with real experience, I think that an MBA can be a great learning tool.

Does that mean that everyone should get their MBA?

No. Everyone is different, but I do believe that my MBA has helped me manage my own business.

What do you think? Should a person who wants to start a business get their MBA? If you’re already a business owner, do you have one? Why or why not?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Suburban vs. Urban Life: Where Should You Rent? | ApartmentSearch

city skyline of Melbourne, AustraliaWould you rather spend a night on the town, or a night on the backyard patio? Walk to brunch on the weekends, or wake up to fields of green and chirping birds? Be close to the action, or have some space to breathe?

There are no wrong answers! Still, between suburban vs. urban living, it’s a tough call. We’ll help you weigh the pros and cons so you can find an apartment in the part of town that works best for you and your lifestyle.

Should You Rent a Downtown Apartment?

City living certainly has its perks, but be sure to weigh the good and the not-so-good before you sign a lease on that urban loft.

Pros of Renting a Downtown Apartment

  • Close to the Action: When you rent a downtown apartment, you’re close to what you need: restaurants, stores, nightlife, and events. Depending on your specific location, you may not even need a car—you could live close enough to walk or bike everywhere.
  • Easy Commuting: Work downtown, too? Your commute will be almost nonexistent, and you’ll be able to drive to other parts of town quickly.
  • The “Cool” Factor: City centers tend to be full of creative souls and entrepreneurs, which can give your neighborhood a “cool factor.”

Cons of Renting a Downtown Apartment

  • Noisy Neighbors: City life isn’t for everyone. Most downtown apartment buildings are close together, and many are located right next to busy streets, highways, or railroads. Do you really want to hear everything that’s going on outside?
  • Higher Rent for Less Space: Since space is at a premium in densely populated metropolitan areas, you’ll likely pay more for rent than you would in the suburbs, and for less space—which is a bummer if you want to live with a pet or entertain friends in your apartment.

Renting an Apartment in the Suburbs

Not into the idea of city life? Renting a suburban apartment might be your best bet.

Pros of Renting a Suburban Apartment

  • Easy on the Budget: Your budget may get you a small apartment in the city, but how much apartment can you afford in the suburbs? As it turns out, much more! In the suburbs, you’ll usually get more square footage for less money.
  • Great Amenities: Apartment communities in the suburbs tend to have more amenities (think pools, a gym, or a dog park!) because the suburbs are less densely packed than the city centers and real estate doesn’t cost as much.
  • A Calming Escape: If you need the opportunity to recharge and retreat from the world every so often, a suburban apartment can offer just that: a calming escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Living in a suburb provides a small-town feel and a slower pace, but still allows you access to the city when you want to change up your routine.

Cons of Renting a Suburban Apartment

  • Distance from the Action: Unfortunately, living in the suburbs can mean a longer commute to work, and make it difficult to get around the city quickly to visit with friends or run errands.
  • Slower Pace: The suburbs likely won’t have as many entertainment or nightlife options, and you may not find as many locally owned, Instagram-worthy spots like coffee shops or boutiques.

Rent Where It’s Right for You

Whether you’re looking for a chic downtown loft or a laidback suburban apartment, find your perfect apartment with ApartmentSearch. We’ll help you discover the best city spot that’s close to the action, or a quiet location in the suburbs to call your own. Wherever you sign a lease, mention ApartmentSearch and we’ll hook you up with a $200 reward!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com