How to Get Rid of Roaches in Your Apartment | ApartmentSearch

Man in white room looking at over 20 cockroaches on his floorWhen you moved in, everything seemed pristine. The tiles? Gleaming. The stovetop? Spotless. The carpet? Brand new! However, you quickly started finding roaches hidden in cracks, crevices, and cupboards after your move. You’re likely wondering, “Why do I have roaches in my clean apartment?” These pesky creatures are not only terrifying (they can fly!), they are pests that can cause health concerns. Now what? Learn how to get rid of roaches in an apartment if you already keep a clean house.

Why Do I Have Roaches in My Clean Apartment?

A sparkling clean apartment is the best deterrent for attracting cockroaches, but it’s not entirely foolproof, as you unfortunately know. Some common factors that might draw cockroaches to your apartment include:

Damp Areas

Roaches rely on moisture for survival and that search for water will bring them into even the cleanest of apartments. Leaky pipes or a drippy faucet, things you don’t typically associate with a dirty apartment, are just what those cockroaches are looking for. That’s why you’ll most often find roaches in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas where water is used. And don’t forget about things like pet water bowls or standing water in that sink where you’re soaking the dishes overnight.

Cracks and Crevices

Roaches prefer the feel of something solid against their bodies, so even a clean apartment isn’t immune from cockroaches finding their way into the spaces between tiles, cracks in the walls, molding pieces, and gaps found between electrical installation and piping systems. All of these serve as roach shelters.

Food

Leaving any food around and uncovered is inviting cockroaches to come and hang out. Sometimes you may clean your kitchen one day, but then soon forget to wipe down your counters to get rid of food crumbs. Or you forget to close a box of cereal before putting it back into your cabinet. Open tops, lids, and jars make for an easily accessible snack for those pesky bugs.

Best Ways To Get Rid of Roaches In Your Apartment

Cockroaches are quick, sneaky, and adaptable pests that are quite honestly a pain to get rid of. They are also harmful to have around, as they carry bacteria and other infectious agents, so as soon as you spot one of these unwelcome house guests, take action!

Limit Moisture

To reduce the chances of a roach infestation, get rid of standing water anywhere in the apartment. Whether that’s fixing a dripping faucet or avoiding soaking dishes overnight, make an effort to cut down on the sources of water that are available to the roaches.

Seal Nooks and Crannies

You might not usually scour your apartment looking for cracks and crevices, but now is the time to do so. Carefully check for those nooks and crannies and then use caulk to seal them, effectively blocking off the entry points that roaches may use.

Use Bait

Often, the safest and most effective baits work over time to kill off roaches. Place the bait in containers spaced throughout their most frequent hang out spots, and change it out once a month. The cockroaches will either eat it on the spot or carry the poison back to their friends and spread the plague. Various bait and gel options are often found at your local hardware store or supermarket.

Talk to Your Landlord

Finally, if you’ve truly done all you can do, talk to your landlord. Chances are your apartment unit isn’t the only one with a problem, and poorly maintained outdoor spaces may be contributing to the problem. Having a conversation with your landlord could help provide solutions, including bringing in a professional exterminator.

Move to a New Place

If you’ve done everything above and still find roaches in your apartment, you have another option: move! Find a new, clean space, complete with 24-hour maintenance for your next transition with ApartmentSearch.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Margin Call Meaning – What It Is, Causes & How to Handle One

Margins are a commonly used tool among investors, especially those who take part in day trading. Margins allow traders to increase their buying power with borrowed funds using a mix of their own money and loans from their brokers in a process known as margin trading.

Although margin loans provide an opportunity for substantially larger gains, there’s also potential for substantially larger losses should things go in the wrong direction.

Margin traders also have to worry about the dreaded margin call, which takes place when their account value falls below minimum margin requirements, which could ultimately lead to forced liquidation within their portfolios.

What is a margin call and how does it work? Read on to learn about margin calls and your options should one happen to you.

What Is a Margin Call?

Traders who use margins must maintain a minimum margin requirement, or a minimum amount of value in unborrowed cash and equities in their accounts. This requirement ensures the brokers aren’t left holding the bag on bad trades should things go wrong.

Maintenance margin requirements vary from one brokerage to another, but the minimum requirement will be at least 25% — a requirement set by both the New York Stock Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). However, some brokers charge as much as 40% of the amount you borrow.

What’s all of this mean?

When trading on margins, traders take out margin loans to cover a percentage of the value of the securities they are purchasing. For example, you might use $5,000 of your own money and $5,000 of the broker’s money through a margin loan to purchase stock, giving you a total of $10,000 in stock.

In this example, $5,000 of the investment is not your money — it’s borrowed from your broker.

Now imagine your $10,000 investment dropped to $6,250. At this price, after subtracting the $5,000 you borrowed, your personal equity in the investment is down to $1,250.

Because $1,250 represents 25% of the $5,000 margin loan, if the price falls below this point, a margin call would be triggered because the trader’s equity in the investment would fall below the 25% margin requirement threshold.

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Types of Margin Calls

There are two different types of margin calls traders should consider before trading on margins. They include:

Maintenance Margin Calls

Maintenance margin calls take place when the account value falls below the minimum margin requirement with the broker. This is the type of margin call that’s described above. Each broker has a different minimum margin requirement, but the floor for this requirement is 25% of the borrowed amount that you must maintain in your account.

Federal Margin Calls

Federal margin calls are a bit different. While a maintenance-related call has to do with an investment that has already been placed, a federal margin call — often referred to as a fed call — takes place when a margin trade is being initiated.

According to the United States Federal Reserve’s regulation T, margin trades can be placed using a maximum of 50% borrowed money. This is known as the initial margin requirement. For example, if you’re planning on buying $10,000 worth of stock in a margin trade, you’ll have to have at least $5,000 of your own money to put up for that trade.

If you attempt to make a margin trade without having the 50% required to appease the Federal Reserve, a federal margin call will take place, which will lead to one of two outcomes:

  1. The Trade Will Be Blocked. With most brokers, if you attempt to make a margin trade without meeting the initial margin requirement, the trade will be blocked and cancelled, and you’ll have to set up another trade within the parameters set forth by regulation T.
  2. Other Securities Liquidated. In some cases, your broker may force the liquidation of other securities in your portfolio to free up the cash needed to make the trade viable.

Either way, the outcome isn’t what investors want.


How to Calculate at What Price a Margin Call Takes Place

Most traders would prefer taking a loss to triggering a margin call. After all, when a margin call is triggered, it means the loss on the investment was so large that it made the trade fall below the minimum requirements.

Most traders calculate at what price a margin call would take place, giving them a baseline of where to close the trade before prices decline to that point.

To determine at what price a margin would happen, follow this formula:

((Margin Loan Amount X Minimum Margin Requirement) + Margin Loan Amount) ÷ Number of Shares = Call Price

For example, let’s say your brokerage firm has a maintenance margin requirement of 30%. You want to buy $10,000 worth of stock with $5,000 of your own money and a $5,000 loan. The stock is worth $50 per share at the moment, meaning that you’ll purchase 200 shares.

Plugging these figures into the formula above would result in the following:

(($5,000 X 0.30) + $5,000) / 200 = $32.50

In this example, if the price of the stock you purchased for $50 per share fell to a market value of $32.50 per share, a call would be triggered, forcing the trader to respond.

Pro tip: Before you add any stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Trade Ideas can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.


What Are Your Options When You Get a Margin Call?

When you log into your brokerage account and see that a call has taken place, it may be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that you have three options to consider to remedy the situation before a forced liquidation takes place:

  1. Deposit Additional Funds. The best option is to deposit additional cash into your margin account to bring the cash and equity value of the account up to the minimum requirements. Of course, this only works if you have additional money outside the account that you can afford to add.
  2. Deposit Securities. The minimum requirements take both cash and the value of securities into account. If you have securities held elsewhere, you can deposit those securities into your margin account to bring the total value of the account up to the minimum requirement.
  3. Liquidate Stock. Finally, you have the option to liquidate shares of stock within your account, using the funds generated through the liquidation to bring your account value back up to par with minimum requirements.

How to Respond to a Margin Call

Returning to the example above, you know that a margin call will be triggered if the price of the stock falls below $32.50. For this example, let’s say the value of the stock fell to $30 per share. That means the current value of your 200 shares works out to $6,000. However, a call triggers as soon as the value of the investment falls below $6,500, meaning that the margin call is for $500.

At this point, you can choose one of three options:

Deposit Funds

First, you can choose to deposit at least $500 into your account to bring the account’s value after the margin loan back up to $1,500, or 30% of the total value of the margin loan. This requires adding $500 of new cash into your account, but you don’t need to move or sell any shares.

Deposit Shares of Stock

You also have the option to deposit shares of stock into your account. Say you have another brokerage account where you own $500 worth of stock. By transferring those shares into your margin account, you’ll bring its total value above the minimum margin requirement, bringing your account back into good standing.

Liquidate

Finally, you have the option to liquidate a portion or all of your holdings in the margin trade. Through the liquidation of a portion of your holdings in the investment, you can balance out the minimum requirement and eradicate the issue altogether.

For example, you could choose to liquidate 100 of your 200 shares, the sale of which would result in $3,000 cash at the current share price. These funds would be used to pay back $3,000 of the $5,000 margin loan.

You’re left with $3,000 worth of stock — $1,000 of your own money and $2,000 left of the margin loan — still invested. Your remaining $1,000 holdings are 50% of the remaining $2,000 loan — more than enough to cover your minimum requirement. However, you’ll have realized a substantial loss.


Final Word

A margin call is nothing that any trader wants to deal with, but if you make the decision to use margins, it will always be a possibility. While margins can expand profitability, they can also result in larger losses, and investors who use them need to consider the extent of these potential losses before getting involved.

Nonetheless, if the risk is worth the reward for you, and you end up with a margin call, don’t panic. Instead, consider which of the three possible remedies to use to bring your account back in line with requirements.

Moreover, if you’re going to trade on margins, treat the trade like any other loan and make sure that you never borrow more money than you can afford to return. In doing so, if and when a margin call does take place, you’ll have the ability to cover the cost if you decide to stay in the investment and await a recovery.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Amazon Prime Day 2021: How to Get the Best Deals

In typical years, Amazon Prime Day falls in mid-July, perfectly placed to interrupt the midsummer retail doldrums.

But 2021 is not a typical year.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt global supply chains in an echo of 2020 when Amazon temporarily refocused its energies on essential business lines like food and personal care products. Prime Day 2020 didn’t happen until October, ahead of a nasty second wave of the pandemic that upended global trade again.

To complicate things further, the arrival of reliable vaccines in early 2021 spurred millions of Americans to make ambitious summer plans. Many people who’d normally jump at the opportunity to capture once-a-year deals in July might not be anywhere near a computer at that time.

That could be why Amazon has decided to move Prime Day 2021 to June.

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2021?

Amazon Prime Day 2021 will take place on Monday, June 21 and Tuesday, June 22.

Be forewarned that Prime Day deals aren’t guaranteed to last the entire 48-hour span. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Despite its new position on the calendar, Prime Day 2021 is shaping up to be no different from past Prime Days in at least one crucial respect: offering a vast array of attractive deals and discounts on sought-after consumer goods, household products, and small-business essentials.

In the past, Prime Day shoppers have enjoyed discounts of 50% or more on high-demand products. According to Amazon, Prime Day shoppers collectively saved about $1.4 billion in 2020, equivalent to 700 million pairs of socks.

This year, they’ll get in on the action early. Amazon has already announced a slew of pre-Prime Day sales that could be gone before the main event begins.

Best Amazon Prime Day Deals for 2021

What can shoppers expect from Amazon Prime Day 2021? Its Prime Day 2021 flyer offers some tantalizing clues.

The retail giant has already instituted some stealth price drops on popular items like the Fitbit Sense, Instant Pot multicooker, Apple products like iPads and AirPods, and Amazon-branded daily essentials like multivitamins and nonperishable food staples.

It’s also promoted specific early deals on the Amazon Halo wellness band ($69.99, down from $99.99) and the controller for Amazon’s all-new Luna gaming device ($48.99, down from $69.99).

Other early Prime Day 2021 deals include:

And on Prime Day 2021 itself? Prime members can look forward to a host of category- and product-specific deals like:

A general word of advice: Don’t wait to jump on specific Prime Day deals. Once inventory runs out, the deal is gone for good.

Tips to Prepare for Amazon Prime Day & Maximize Your Savings

Want to save as much as possible on Amazon Prime Day without impulse-buying items that you don’t really need? Careful preparation is key to a successful, budget-friendly Prime Day shopping experience.

That means becoming an Amazon Prime member (if you’re not one already), making and sticking to a concise shopping list, and using the proper payment method.

1. Join Amazon Prime

Prime Day deals are only for Amazon Prime members.

That means becoming a Prime member is an essential prerequisite for anyone with big Amazon Prime Day shopping plans — and anyone interested in taking advantage of the $119-per-year subscription’s considerable benefits during the rest of the year.

These benefits include:

  • Free two-day shipping on all eligible Amazon purchases
  • Free one-day or two-hour delivery on eligible purchases in select areas
  • Free no-rush shipping with bonus reward credits against eligible future Amazon purchases
  • Free grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh in select areas
  • Access to Amazon Prime Video’s library of thousands of movies and shows, including exclusive features and series not available anywhere else
  • Unlimited e-books through Kindle Unlimited
  • Unlimited access to more than 2 million digital songs through Amazon Music
  • Free games, in-game content, and subscription to Twitch.tv through Amazon Gaming
  • Exclusive savings (and delivery in select cities) from Whole Foods Market
  • Deals and discounts up to 20% on select products (such as diapers) through Amazon Family

If you’re a first-time Amazon Prime subscriber, opt into the 30-day free trial right before Prime Day. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can always cancel after Prime Day and before the trial expires, paying nothing for the trouble.

That said, Prime membership is definitely worth the cost for frequent Amazon shoppers able to take advantage of its content and delivery perks.

For additional savings, read up on more tips to save shopping on Amazon.

2. Familiarize Yourself With Last Year’s Deals

Use actual examples from last year to familiarize yourself with the sorts of deals Amazon is likely to offer on the big day.

For example, CNET highlighted a slew of deals on electronics and home goods, some of which remain available (albeit at different price points) in 2021:

Prior-year availability won’t predict with 100% accuracy what Amazon has up its sleeve this year, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that delayed Prime Day 2020. But it can and should form the basis of informed guesswork.

3. Set a Reasonable Shopping Budget

Next, set a reasonable Prime Day shopping budget. It’s essential you do so before compiling your shopping list. Otherwise, the temptation to overspend on things you desperately want but don’t need becomes too powerful to resist.

As you likely know from budgeting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your retail holiday budget — in this case, your Prime Day budget — should fit neatly into your larger discretionary budget. Avoid the temptation to use Prime Day as an excuse to expand it.

For example, if you typically earmark $500 per month to spend on luxuries or nice-to-haves like restaurant meals and electronics, don’t spend $700 on Prime Day.

In fact, unless you’re willing to go without any other luxuries that month, you need to spend considerably less — perhaps $250 or $300 in this example.

4. Make & Stick to a Needs-Based Shopping List

Making a list is a vital step to take ahead of planned shopping events of any significance, not just Prime Day. The objective is clear: avoiding impulsive purchases you don’t need and could regret in hindsight.

Using clues gleaned from prior Amazon Prime Day deals, your list should include everything you both plan to buy before the end of the year (or, if you prefer and your shopping budget allows, within the next six months) and those reasonably likely to be discounted on Prime Day.

On Prime Day, stay disciplined and condition your purchases on value. If a particular item on your list isn’t discounted for Prime Day, don’t buy it. You’ll likely find better deals later in the year.

5. Use a Browser Extension to Find a Better Deal

Before Amazon Prime Day 2021, add Capital One Shopping, a free browser extension that automatically searches competing merchants’ inventories for a better price when you shop Amazon.

If Capital One Shopping can’t find a better price elsewhere, simply complete your Prime Day purchase as planned. If another retailer has a better price, shop with them instead.

Capital One Shopping isn’t the only browser extension that can save you money on online purchases you’d make anyway. It’s one of the best around, but legitimate and potentially lucrative alternatives abound.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.

6. Ask Alexa for the Best Deals

Fair warning: This is an easy way to blow through your Prime Day budget. But it’s also incredibly convenient.

If you have an Alexa-enabled device like the Echo Show 5, wake up early on June 21, 2021, and pop the question: “Alexa, what are my Prime Day deals?” Just resist the temptation to purchase them all in one go.

7. Shop Early

Amazon makes no guarantees that any given Prime Day merchandise will remain available for the event’s duration. Quantities are always finite, and unexpectedly high demand for specific products could cause certain deals to sell out sooner than expected.

Your best bet is to shop early, logging on right away on Prime Day morning and getting as much of your shopping list out of the way as possible before the day begins.

You can always return later to complete your list or take advantage of last-minute deals (known as lightning deals) as your budget allows.

8. Look for Prime Day Badges

If you happen to be browsing Amazon anyway during the Prime Day period, look for the little blue badges denoting Prime Day deals. These highlight limited-time opportunities that aren’t likely to remain after June 22.

9. Download the Amazon App for Mobile Purchases

Amazon’s main website works just fine on desktop and mobile devices, but don’t overlook its user-friendly app.

The app is especially useful for shoppers stuck at work during Prime Day’s peak hours, as many employers frown on workers shopping (or conducting any personal business at all) on work-issued devices.

Beyond the obvious perks of a crisper shopping experience in a smaller package, Amazon’s mobile app offers:

  • Voice-assisted shopping using the Amazon Alexa assistant
  • Real-time order tracking and notifications
  • Direct chat support from Amazon’s customer assistance team
  • Single-tap shopping with your smartphone camera

10. Use a Rewards Credit Card (Preferably the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card)

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card is the best cash-back credit card for frequent Amazon patrons, period. Its three-tier cash-back program earns:

  • 5% cash back on qualifying Amazon and Whole Foods purchases with an eligible Prime membership
  • 2% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, the otherwise identical Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card earns 3% cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

Of course, Prime Day sales are for Prime members only, so you must become a Prime member before the big event. But if you already have the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card, you don’t need to reapply for the Prime Rewards card — the upgrade is automatic and immediate.

But if you have no interest in applying for an Amazon card or don’t qualify, use one or more of these Prime Day-friendly credit cards if you can:

Final Word

Amazon and Whole Foods aren’t the only retailers worth patronizing on Prime Day. Many big-name sellers — Walmart and Target among them — slash prices to compete with Prime Day deals and offer price-match guarantees that may cover Amazon Prime Day deals (though be sure to read the fine print on these policies carefully).

If you play your cards right, your Prime Day shopfest could turn into a multi-retailer blowout that saves you hundreds on purchases you planned to make anyway while supporting your favorite non-Amazon merchants. Talk about a great way to get everything you need for less.

You can make your purchases count by joining the Amazon Smile program before the big day. Shop through the Amazon Smile site — not Amazon’s main site — to ensure Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the charity of your choice.

You can also purchase actual products to give to thousands of registered Amazon Smile charities using the Charity Lists feature. It lets you buy frequently needed products, such as paper towels and cleaning supplies, preselected by participating charities, which are then shipped directly to them, putting your dollars to work right where charities need them most.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Which Bills to Pay Off First (or Cancel) When Money Runs Tight

Whether it’s from job loss due to a recession, a drop in income, or an unexpected major expense, there may come a time when you struggle to pay your bills. What can you do when your income and expenses don’t match up?

It’s essential you prioritize your bill payments and what you owe, paying the most important bills first.

Bills to Prioritize When You’re Low on Money

The most important bills are those that cover the necessities: shelter, food, water, and heat, for example.

The next most important are bills that cover things that make it possible for you to get where you need to go, such as your vehicle expenses.

Last on the list are bills that can ding your credit history, but not much else, if you fall behind on them.

Although you can make some adjustments to the order you pay bills based on your circumstances, it’s usually best to focus on paying your housing bills first, then paying what you can with the money you have remaining.

1. Mortgage or Rent

If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you risk having the lender foreclose on your home. If you fall behind on rent, your landlord can evict you.

Even though the foreclosure or eviction process can take months, it’s not something you want to risk happening. Keeping up with your housing payments is a must if you want to stay in your home.

When money is really tight and you’re not sure you can pull together enough to make a payment one month, the best thing to do is talk to your landlord or lender.

Many mortgage lenders have programs in place to help homeowners who are facing financial hardship. Your lender can review your options, such as forbearance or loan modification, with you.

During forbearance, you stop making payments on your loan, but interest continues to accrue. If a lender agrees to modify your loan, they adjust your interest rate or otherwise make changes to lower your monthly payment.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has programs available to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. You can contact HUD to connect with an approved counseling agency. The counselor can work with you to create a plan to help you avoid foreclosure.

If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord as soon as you know you’ll have difficulty paying rent. Explain the situation to them in detail, including whether you think you’ll be late with payment, won’t be able to pay all your monthly rent, or won’t be able to pay at all.

Many landlords are willing to work with you to come up with a solution. You can help the situation by suggesting solutions.

For example, if you’re going to pay late, tell the landlord when you plan to make the payment. If you can’t pay the full amount this month, tell the landlord how you’ll make up the difference. For example, you can add an extra $100 or so to subsequent payments until you pay off the balance.

If you’re renting and your landlord can’t or won’t be flexible about payments, you might have more wiggle room than a homeowner.

Depending on how much time you have left on the lease, you can simply wait it out, then look for a less expensive place to live. Another option is to try to find someone to take over your lease so you can move somewhere that costs less.

2. Utilities

After your mortgage or rent payment, the next most important bills are your utility bills: gas, water and sewage, and electricity. Although some people count TV and the Internet as utilities, those services aren’t essential for everyone.

Fortunately, many programs exist to help people who need emergency financial assistance paying bills. The first place to look is your local utility provider. Many utility companies have programs to help people pay their bills.

Another option is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to help people pay energy bills. LIHEAP has specific income requirements and is grant-funded, meaning only a set amount of money is available each year.

If you think you qualify for LIHEAP, the sooner you apply for it, the better your chances of receiving aid.

3. Insurance Premiums

Having insurance is always a good idea, as it provides financial protection against the worst things life can throw your way, such as illness, fire, or accidents. Paying your insurance premiums even when money is tight is a smart move. Without insurance, medical bills can easily add up.

If you’re struggling to afford your premiums, you do have some options, particularly when it comes to health insurance.

If you purchased a plan from the Healthcare.gov marketplace, you qualify for a special enrollment period if you’ve recently lost your job and associated coverage, if you’ve had a change in income, if you’ve gotten divorced, and for a few other reasons.

During the special enrollment period, you can apply for Medicaid or CHIP if your income is below the threshold or a credit on your insurance premiums based on your income. Doing so can lower the cost of your health insurance considerably.

4. Food & Household Necessities

Food, soap, and paper products are up there with shelter, heat, and hot water on the list of essentials.

Luckily, you have more wiggle room when it comes to adapting your food and household supply costs compared to your mortgage or rent payments and utility bills.

When money’s tight, there are many ways you can trim your food and supplies bill:

  • Limit Shopping Trips. Plan your meals for the week, make a list of the ingredients you need, and go to the store once. The more you go to the store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need.
  • Buy Store-Brand Items. Store-brand products usually taste the same as or similar to their brand-name counterparts, but they cost a lot less. If you typically purchase branded foods and supplies, try switching to the store brand. It’s likely the only place you’ll notice a difference is in your wallet.
  • Limit Packaged Products. Packaged foods, such as grated cheese, bagged salads, and prechopped vegetables are convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. You can save a lot if you buy whole, unprocessed foods and prepare them at home.
  • Skip Bottled Water. If you live in the U.S., it’s highly likely your tap water is safe to drink. According to the CDC, the U.S.’s water supply is among the safest in the world. Bottled water is expensive and terrible for the environment and is often little more than repackaged municipal water.
  • Buy In-Season Produce. Pay attention to seasons when shopping for fresh produce. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries are usually in season and inexpensive during the summer but cost more in the winter. You can cut your grocery costs if you buy what’s in season.
  • Grow Your Own. Another way to cut your food bill is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Herbs and green vegetables are usually the most cost-effective edible plants to grow, as you can get an entire plant for the price of a handful of herbs or greens at the grocery store. You don’t need a ton of outdoor space to start a garden. You can grow plants in containers on a small balcony or patio.
  • Use Your Freezer. Frozen vegetables and fruit often cost less than fresh, so it pays to purchase those when money is tight. You can also prep double batches of meals to freeze for later. That way, if you run out of money before the end of the month, you have a supply of ready-to-eat meals waiting for you.

Note too that depending on your income, you can qualify for financial assistance with groceries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, helps to cover the cost of groceries for people with income below certain thresholds.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re saving as much money as possible on your grocery trip. Apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta allow you to save money on purchases by simply scanning and uploading your receipts.

5. Car Loan & Other Expenses

Your car gets you to and from work and other important places, such as your kids’ school, the grocery store, and the doctor. If you have a monthly car payment, it’s crucial to find a way to pay it.

Just as you can call your mortgage company to work out a deal, you can call the lender behind your car loan to see if you can come to an agreement. Like mortgage companies, these lenders can also offer you loan modifications, refinancing, or forbearance.

Loan modification or refinance can lower the amount of your monthly payments, making it easier for you to afford the car. Forbearance means you don’t make payments for a set period.

Another option is to sell your current vehicle, use the proceeds to pay off the loan, then purchase a less expensive model. If you decide to sell, look for a replacement car that has a low cost of ownership to keep your expenses low. Some vehicles are more reliable than others, meaning you don’t have to worry about expensive repair or maintenance bills.

6. Unsecured Debts

Although you should make every effort to repay your debts, when money is tight, unsecured debt, such as credit card debt and personal loans, should move to the back burner. While these debts typically have the highest interest rates, they also have the lowest impact on your daily life.

You don’t go hungry if you miss a credit card payment, nor can your credit card company take your home or car if you pay late.

That said, it’s still best to pay what you can toward unsecured debts, such as the minimum due on a credit card. If even that is too much for you right now, contact the card company or lender. Sometimes, credit card companies are willing to work with you to create a debt repayment plan or let you temporarily pause payments.

7. Student Loans

While you should make every effort to pay your student loans when money’s tight, the loans often have the most flexibility when it comes to repayment, particularly federal loans.

If you have federal student loans and you’re struggling to keep up with payments, you have multiple options. You can request a deferment or forbearance from your loan servicer, or you can switch to an income-driven repayment plan, which adjusts the amount you pay each month based on your income.

The situation with private student loans is a bit different, as they don’t have the same protections as the federal student loan program.

If you’re having trouble affording private student loan payments, your best option is to contact the lender to see if it offers forbearance, repayment plans, or loan modification.


What to Cancel When Money Is Tight

While some monthly bills are essential, others are considerably less so. Budgeting often involves deciding what you need to spend money on and what you can live without.

When it’s a struggle to make ends meet, here’s what you can consider cutting:

Subscription Services

Netflix, print or digital newspapers, and meal kits are all things that can go. In many cases, you can find free alternatives to the subscriptions you were paying for. For example, some local libraries give you access to streaming movies and local or national newspapers for free.

Make sure you don’t miss any subscriptions that you might have forgotten about. Services like Truebill will find subscriptions and either cancel them or negotiate lower rates for you.

Cable and Internet Service

You may not want to disconnect your Internet completely, but see if you can switch to a slower, less expensive plan.

If you have data on your phone, some providers, like Xfinity Mobile, let you use your phone as a hotspot to get online. In this case, you wouldn’t need a separate home Internet plan.

Phone Service

While you do need your phone to stay connected, you most likely don’t need both a landline and a cellphone. You probably don’t need the most expensive cellphone plan, either.

Shop around with companies like Mint Mobile or Ting to see if you can get a better deal.

Gym Memberships and Wellness Services

Maintaining your well-being is important, especially when money is tight. But if you’re worried about having enough money to pay your most important bills, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a monthly gym membership or studio pass.

There are plenty of ways to work out for free from the comfort of your home. For example, you can find workouts available for free on YouTube.


Final Word

When money is tight, it’s vital you focus on paying for the things that can help you sustain your life and well-being, such as food and shelter, when times are tight.

While a missed payment can affect your credit history, in desperate situations, your health and safety are more important than your credit score.

Along with prioritizing your monthly bills, talk to your lenders and service providers. Many companies have programs in place to keep you from sinking deeper into debt and to help you avoid repossession of your home or vehicle. Keep the lines of communication open, and remember you’ll get through it.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Maintain a Good Credit Score in College

College life brings a host of new and exciting experiences in the various aspects of your life. Financial independence and responsibility also come to play. While your achievements are important in putting you in your right career path, a good credit score is paramount in bettering the deals you will get when renting or buying a home, purchasing a car, getting a cellphone plan, applying for a student loan or in some instances, getting employment.

This calls on your effort to not only build but also maintain a good credit. It may sound complicated and intimidating especially when you don’t know how to go about it. Below, is all you need to know on how to maintain a good credit score in college.

Good Credit in CollegeGood Credit in College

Taking Advantage of your Parent’s Good Credit

This is commonly referred to as ‘piggybacking’. It allows people with bad or no credit to enjoy a spillover of other people’s good credit. It is a great way of establishing and maintaining your credit especially if you need a little help in managing your budget. For you to qualify for this, you have to become an authorized user of your parents’ accounts.

This comes in handy especially if you can’t get your own credit card; according to Oct 1st 2013 Credit Act report, students and other persons below 21 years of age cannot get their own credit cards without proof of income or at least a co-signer. Apart from the credit boost you get from your parent’s account, your credit card use is forwarded to credit bureaus in your name.

Get the Most Suitable Credit Card

Your ability to qualify for a credit card opens you to the opportunity to choose from a variety of cards. You should research and shop around to find out what these cards have to offer before making your choice. Some of the benefits to look out for include low interest rate, no annual fees, convenient credit limits and other competitive incentives.

Better still, you can opt for student credit cards. These come with incentives such as cashback rewards, limited credit history requirement, no annual fees and 0% introductory APR among other benefits. Your own credit card comes with sole responsibility. This means that it’s up to you to stay on top of your billing statements so as to improve and maintain a good credit

Always Pay your Credit Balance

Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit. Good credit of course depends on timely and full payment of your balance. Inability to pay or late payment may attract additional interest, accrue more debt and negatively affect your credit.

This can take a long time to repair. Besides this, it is also a sign that you are living beyond your means. Ideally, your credit balance should be about 30% of your credit limit or below.

Tip: The higher your credit balance in relation to your limit is, the worse your credit becomes.

Pay your Bills on Time

Late or failed payment of rent, utility bills, parking tickets, library or school fees and other payments can harm your credit; especially is if they are sent to collection agencies and reported to credit bureaus. Ways of beating this include setting up payment reminders and electronic billing. You can also organize for auto payments with your bank to ensure that timely payments are done.

If you live in an apartment, you might get credit for full and timely payments. You can take advantage of eRentPayment which transfers your payment reports to the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This consequently improves your credit. However, your landlord needs to be registered and the lease needs to be in your name.

Limit Applications and Inquiries for New accounts

Numerous credit inquiries negatively impact your credit score. In the event that you need to make new credit applications that warrant hard inquiries, concentrate them into period of 14 days in which they will factor as one inquiry.

Once you decide to get a credit account, get all the facts right to avoid the urge to close and open others every now and then. Short credit histories with several new accounts are seen as riskier compared to a few accounts with long credit histories. When you close a credit card, you not only lower your available credit but also shorten your credit history both of which can reduce your score.

In a Nut Shell

Maintaining a good credit score in college is important if you are going to get any good deals in personal credit in the future. This requires vigilance on your part to ensure that you do not do anything that can have negative impact on it. When all is said and done, it all comes down to personal financial responsibility.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Retail Arbitrage Guide – Definition & How to Make Money Buying & Selling

The concept of arbitrage has been around since humans invented the concept of money. It’s best known by the adage “buy low, sell high.” Arbitrage involves buying a good or service for a certain price and then reselling it at a higher price to take advantage of market pricing discrepancies.

You might be familiar with the concept of arbitrage when you picture day trading stock brokers or people who flip houses. Or, perhaps you’re familiar with geoarbitrage, which involves taking advantage of your currency by moving to a country where your dollar has more power.

While these forms of arbitrage might seem extreme, there’s also a more accessible option: retail arbitrage.

If you want to make money by buying and reselling everyday merchandise, learning how to start your own retail arbitrage business is the perfect business model to try.

What Is Retail Arbitrage?

Retail arbitrage involves buying products and reselling them for profit. This sounds simple on paper, but like any flipping business, your success comes down to selecting products that sell quickly and knowing your margins so you can turn a profit.

Typically, people make money with retail arbitrage by buying products that are heavily discounted through clearance sales. Buying products on sale helps widen the price discrepancy between your initial purchase and your resale price.

For example, you might buy a pair of men’s swimming trunks on sale at Walmart for $12.99 and then resell it on websites like eBay or Amazon for $19.99, netting a $7 return on investment before any selling and shipping fees.

This is a basic example of making money with retail arbitrage, but swimming trunks are just one example. Popular product categories for retail arbitrage sellers include:

  • Apparel and shoes
  • Books
  • Baby toys and supplies
  • Electronics
  • Jewelry and accessories
  • Personal care products
  • Sports equipment and apparel

The key is to find products on sale that have consistently high demand.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re reselling running shoes or makeup — successful retail arbitrage means selling your inventory for a profit, and it’s the math that matters.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting a Retail Arbitrage Business

If you’re considering making money with retail arbitrage but aren’t sure if it’s the right business model to pursue, consider these pros and cons.

Advantages of Retail Arbitrage

Some benefits of retail arbitrage worth considering include:

1. Existing Market

When you sell on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, you’re accessing millions of global buyers. This is a faster route-to-market than starting your own online storefront or retail business where you have to attract customers yourself.

2. Easier Product Selection

Business models like dropshipping often have high failure rates because finding a product that catches people’s attention is critical.

By contrast, retail arbitrage sellers generally sell a variety of everyday products, like apparel and household essentials.

This means it’s the arbitrage math that matters for your profit margin, not finding the next trending product that sells well through Facebook ads like with a dropshipping store.

3. Consistent Demand

Because you mostly sell staple products with retail arbitrage, there’s consistent demand for your inventory.

4. Niche Variety

With retail arbitrage, you don’t have to brand your business or pick one niche to focus on. You can sell anything if you believe the buy price is low enough for you to turn a profit when reselling.

5. Scalability

It generally takes time to learn how to source inventory for retail arbitrage and what products sell quickly. But once your business is operational, the main growth constraint is how fast you can source cheap inventory.

Online sales channels like Amazon have practically endless demand, and retail arbitrage businesses can generate millions in revenue.

Disadvantages of Retail Arbitrage

Retail arbitrage is largely a case of getting the math right and leveraging demand on existing online marketplaces. But this side hustle still requires work and patience to scale.

Plus, there aren’t any guarantees you can make money, and there are several other downsides to consider:

1. Starting Costs

When you start a retail arbitrage business, it’s important to test several products so you learn what sells well and how to properly price your listings. But this also means spending money on inventory before making any sales.

If you want to try retail arbitrage, anticipate spending a few hundred dollars on initial inventory to test the waters.

2. Operational Expenses

Upfront inventory costs aren’t your only expenses for running a retail arbitrage business.

Depending on your selling platform, you’re potentially paying seller membership fees, listing fees, and shipping costs. Additionally, resupplying your store with products is an ongoing cost.

3. Inventory Risks

Putting money into a retail arbitrage business isn’t a safe investment. This is because the money you tie up in inventory isn’t very liquid. You can’t simply turn boxes of clearance merchandise back into cash if you need your money back.

Slow-moving inventory or products that simply never sell are an inevitable downside of this business model.

4. Not Passive

If you want to earn passive income, retail arbitrage isn’t the right business model. Between sourcing inventory and managing your listings, there’s a lot of work that goes into a retail arbitrage side hustle.

You can eventually outsource these tasks if you generate enough revenue, but expect a lot of shopping hours and administrative work unless your business takes off.


How To Make Money With Retail Arbitrage

Like other online business ideas, it’s helpful to follow a game plan when starting a retail arbitrage business. There’s a steep learning curve and it takes time to grow your inventory and monthly revenue.

But if you stick to a process, it’s possible to turn your retail arbitrage business into a significant side hustle or even full-time business.

1. Research Products to Sell

Before you spend money on your first batch of inventory, spend time researching products that sell well online. This provides a foundation of product knowledge you can refer to when shopping in-store for deals.

One useful resource for product research is Amazon’s best sellers list. This page highlights top-selling products based on sales volume across dozens of Amazon categories.

As you scour each category, make note of details like:

  • Price Points. Many retail arbitrage sellers stick in the $10 to $40 range for products. This price range lets sellers buy in bulk. Staying above $10 also means you’re making meaningful profit per sale and not selling cheap dollar store products for $0.25 in profit per sale. There are exceptions, but prioritize products with reasonable entry prices and profit potential of a few dollars per sale.
  • Product Ratings. Always check Amazon ratings for products you’re considering. Negative reviews and a low rating can turn away potential customers or mean more product returns, all of which hurt revenue. Ideally, look for four- to five-star ratings.
  • Size and Weight. Selling bulky, heavy products means expensive shipping. Shipping costs are a major, downward pressure on your profit margin, so review shipping rates for the platform you sell on. As an example, Amazon has a comprehensive shipping fees table that you can use to factor shipping costs into your profit margin before buying a product.
  • Seasonality. Christmas lights might be a top seller during the holidays, but this is a poor retail arbitrage buy unless you capitalize early on seasonal demand. As a general rule of thumb, don’t invest too much money into seasonal inventory to avoid holding products for a long time.
  • Expiration Dates. If you’re selling products with expiration dates like groceries or personal care products, factor this risk into your purchasing decisions. Marketplaces usually have rules for selling products with expiration dates. For example, Amazon has specific shelf-life requirements for different product categories, and eBay requires delivering orders to buyers before product expiration dates.
  • Durability. If your product breaks during shipping, it’s a complete loss for your business. Online marketplaces generally side with buyers in the event of damage or disputes, meaning they get a complete refund.

2. Source Products From the Right Retailers

Once you have an idea of top-selling products and product buying tips, you’re ready to source inventory.

Low everyday prices and clearance sales are your best bet to find products ripe for arbitrage. Some popular retailers for sourcing inventory include:

  • Best Buy
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Big Lots
  • CVS
  • Home Depot
  • Kmart
  • Kohl’s
  • Lowe’s
  • Office Depot
  • Old Navy
  • Rite Aid
  • Target
  • T.J. Maxx
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

You can also try flipping products from thrift stores, provided product condition is good enough to sell as used online. Similarly, garage sales can also have gems like clothing, toys, and books that are excellent resale candidates.

Local stores and bargain hunting at garage sales are in-person shopping options. You can also try sourcing products from online retailers with low prices. Popular online stores that resellers often use include wholesalers like Alibaba and AliExpress.

Wholesalers are beneficial for retail arbitrage because you typically get a lower per-unit price the more you buy.

For example, on Alibaba, a protein shaker bottle costs between $1.70 and $1.99 per unit. But to get the lowest price, you need to order over 1,000 units, which is obviously a lot of money you shouldn’t spend out of the gate when you’re learning.

Buying products online to resell is still viable. But as a beginner, focus on finding clearance items at local retailers that have a higher retail price online.

When you find a product you think you can flip for a profit, double-check what it’s selling for online. One quick way to do this is to use the Amazon seller app for Android or iOS. This app lets you manage your Amazon seller account if you decide to sell on Amazon.

You can also research a product’s current prices, Amazon sales rank, customer reviews, and profit estimates if you sell the same product. The app also lets you scan product barcodes or type in the product name to find data.

Other scanning apps that help you find profitable items include:

For starting out, Amazon’s seller app is more than enough to check potential profit margins for products you’re considering. If you want to dig deeper, Keepa lets you track Amazon prices over time, so you can check if a product you’re considering historically trends upwards or downwards in price in the coming months before buying.

As a final tip, anything you can do to get sale prices even lower helps your retail arbitrage efforts. For example, one popular retail arbitrage trick is to shop at Kohl’s to take advantage of Kohl’s Rewards.

This free loyalty program pays you 5% cash back in Kohl’s Cash for shopping, so you can use cash-back earnings to get even cheaper inventory on future purchases. If you spend $1,000 on inventory over the course of several months, it’s a free $50 discount.

Other stores like Target and Walgreens also have loyalty programs that let you save money, ultimately boosting your retail arbitrage profit margin.

If you can’t use a loyalty program to save, shop with a cash-back credit card. Retail arbitrage is a high-expense business, especially as you scale, so even earning 1% to 2% cash back on everyday spending could be hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings.

3. Resell Products Online

After purchasing inventory, you’re ready to start generating sales.

Many retail arbitrage businesses rely on the Fulfilment by Amazon program, or Amazon FBA, to power sales. This is because as an FBA seller, you’re not responsible for shipping and logistics. Rather, you send inventory to Amazon warehouses so Amazon handles order fulfillment when you make sales.

This lets you focus on sourcing more inventory and managing your listings instead of dealing with endless shipments.

Amazon FBA has various seller fees, warehouse storage costs, shipping expenses, and potential long-term storage fees. But for starters, you pick one of two plans to sell under:

  • Individual Plan: Pay a $0.99 fee for every sale
  • Professional Plan: Pay $39.99 per month regardless of sales volume

Amazon retail arbitrage has a steep learning curve. This is because Amazon has specific packaging requirements, variable fees depending on product categories, and numerous seller rules you have to comply with.

But despite these complexities, Amazon FBA is still one of the best ways to start a retail arbitrage business because it takes logistics off of your plate. Amazon also has comprehensive documentation on its Seller University portal to help you start your own Amazon business.

You can also find affordable Amazon FBA courses on Udemy that provide a step-by-step guide for starting a FBA store. You can also use a product like Jungle Scout to help get started.

Other marketplaces are also viable sales channels. Different platforms you can resell products on include:

Just avoid spreading yourself too thin. If you start with a batch of 10 to 20 products to resell, list everything on one marketplace.

Take multiple, high-quality product photos and write comprehensive product descriptions. Additionally, research competitor prices and price your listings to be the same or similar to the market average.

If you receive questions from potential buyers, answer them in a timely manner and provide the best customer service possible.

Ultimately, you want your seller profile to gain a positive reputation. Websites like Amazon and eBay have seller ratings. Over time, a high rating becomes a competitive advantage for you over beginner retail arbitrage sellers.

4. Use Profits to Replenish Inventory

To keep your retail arbitrage business running, it’s important to reinvest a portion of your profit into new inventory.

It’s often tempting to use extra income to pay off bills or put towards a vacation. But keeping your online listings stocked and growing your inventory is important to drive sales.

This is especially true if a particular listing is selling well and ranking on websites like Amazon when people search for that product. In this case, keep that listing as well-stocked as possible since you’re getting a steady stream of sales.

Once you have a gauge on your monthly revenue, set a percentage of your profit aside specifically for buying more merchandise. After some practice, you can put more money into inventory if you’re confident it will sell quickly.

But for starters, grow your store slowly and avoid dipping into your savings account to continually fund your business.

5. Optimize Your Operation

If you get your retail arbitrage business off the ground and turn a profit, that’s already a significant achievement. But like any business, there’s always room for optimization that can save time and money.

The more time and money you save, the better. A retail arbitrage side hustle is like running a small business, and optimization is a never-ending process that you should always consider. With retail arbitrage, some operational areas you can improve include:

Shopping Speed

When you’re new to retail arbitrage, sourcing products is slow. But as you become better at identifying profitable products, shopping becomes faster.

You should also note which days certain stores in your area typically put products on clearance.

Additionally, get to know store managers and ask them for insight on upcoming sales. If a manager knows you’re going to buy out their clearance inventory, they might give you a heads-up or inside info on when you should swing by the store.

Seller Fees

Fees are often complex with retail arbitrage, especially if you sell through Amazon FBA. This is because there are seller membership fees, shipping and storage costs, and even fees for removing your inventory from Amazon warehouses.

As you get your first sales, pay attention to what fees eat up most of your profits. For example, switching to a professional Amazon seller plan for $39.99 per month is cheaper than an individual plan if you consistently sell more than 40 products per month.

Shipping

Like inventory sourcing, shipping has a learning curve, so you’re slow when you start selling. But shipping is also an area where you can save money.

For example, Amazon FBA offers a package preparation service that ensures products have compliant packaging and labels for shipment. But you pay a per-unit fee for the luxury depending on the product category. Apparel, for example, costs $0.50 to $0.80 per unit in preparation and labeling fees with this service.

As a beginner, rely on Amazon’s prepping services so you have fewer rules to worry about. As you gain experience, you can package and label inventory yourself for significant savings on large shipments.

eBay also has various shipping discounts you can take advantage of, like discounts on UPS, FedEx, and USPS shipping rates that help you cut costs.

Listing Performance

When you list a product on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, you include images, a product title, and a description. Improving your listings helps get your products in front of more customers since your listings can appear when people search for specific products.

Including more high-quality photos and writing comprehensive product descriptions are two fast ways to optimize your listings. You can also spy on what successful sellers do for their product description writing and apply the same tactics.

6. Experiment With New Products

After several months of growing your retail arbitrage store, you should have a solid understanding of products that sell well. You might even find yourself gravitating toward a few niches you feel comfortable with, like apparel or beauty products.

Part of growing your sales means venturing into uncharted territory. You should still focus on resupplying your storefront with your top-selling products. But don’t be afraid to use some of your revenue to purchase new products you spot on clearance to test new opportunities.

Product diversification also helps mitigate risk. The last thing you want is to have most of your money tied up in inventory for a single product, only to find it stops selling quickly due to changes in consumer preferences or another seller stealing your business.


Considerations

Before jumping into retail arbitrage, there are several other business risks and requirements to consider.

1. Earning Guarantees

Many ways to make money online come with a reliable paycheck.

For example, working as an online English teacher or becoming a virtual assistant both pay an hourly wage. If you need to pay off bills or grow your savings, it’s comforting to know your side hustle efforts yield results.

By contrast, retail arbitrage doesn’t guarantee a paycheck.

Plus, earnings can be volatile even if you find success; you can be in the negative or barely break even some months and potentially make hundreds or thousands of dollars the next depending on sales.

The upside is that retail arbitrage can scale as a business whereas freelance income depends on how many hours you work. But if you absolutely need money today, stable online work or gig economy jobs are better choices.

2. No Brand Building

Because retail arbitrage involves reselling products, you don’t build your own brand in the process of building your business.

You can private label products to solve this issue, which involves selling products from manufacturers with your own packaging or slight product modifications to develop your own brand. But private labeling often requires negotiation with manufacturers, which takes time and effort.

If you don’t want to build a brand, this isn’t a downside. But if you like the idea of having an identifiable business that customers recognize and trust, retail arbitrage isn’t for you.

As an alternative, you can make your own products and sell on Etsy or create a storefront on platforms like Shopify.

This usually takes more time to find buyers because you’re offering something new under your own brand versus selling an already-familiar brand to consumers. But the trade-off is that you own everything, and seller fees are lower than Amazon FBA.

3. Competition

E-commerce is immensely competitive. According to Statista, 55% of goods sold on Amazon come from third-party sellers. Similarly, if you search for products on eBay, you often see hundreds of thousands or over a million listing results.

As a beginner in retail arbitrage, you’re competing with larger operations that can squeeze you on pricing because their scale creates better margins. This means it usually takes time to get your first sales and to grow your inventory using profit.

In short, don’t expect to start making thousands of dollars or even getting sales the moment you list your inventory.

4. Time Requirements

Running a retail arbitrage business is like having a part-time job.

Sourcing inventory and shipping can take hours out of your week. Plus, these tasks gradually take more time as your operation scales. When you add in listing optimization and dealing with customer service, the time commitment can become significant.

Successful retail arbitrage sellers use their revenue to outsource time-consuming tasks. But for smaller operations, this probably isn’t an option.

The bottom line is that you have to have enough time to try this side hustle. If you only have a few hours per week to spare, flexible business ideas like starting a blog or YouTube channel are more viable.


Final Word

With the growth of e-commerce, business ideas like retail arbitrage and dropshipping have grown rapidly in popularity. Thanks to technology and changes in shopping habits, new ways to make money online continue to become available.

However, retail arbitrage isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme or for the faint of heart. Immense competition and tight margins make it a tough business model. If you don’t have much free time, it’s also difficult to source products and manage your listings each week.

That said, with time and practice, you can make money with retail arbitrage, even while working a full-time job. The key is to slowly learn the ropes, use your profit to fund additional inventory, and continually optimize your business.

It might take weeks or months to get your first sale, but flipping is a viable business model with high earning potential if you’re willing to put in the work.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Remove Hard Inquiries from your Credit Report

Good Credit ScoreGood Credit Score

Credit inquiries refer to requests made by businesses to check on your credit. They are made to credit bureaus and the record becomes part of your credit report. According to FICO, these inquiries are classified as either hard inquiries or as soft inquiries. Each is different and it affects your creditworthiness differently. Before we look at how to remove hard inquiries from your credit report, let’s understand a few of the terminologies.

Soft inquiries are those made by you when reviewing your own credit. They can also be made by businesses that are on the lookout for new clients. These inquiries do not have an effect on your credit score and as such may not be a cause for concern.

Hard inquiries are inquiries made by lenders or businesses that you give authorization to when applying for new lines of credit. They are listed in your credit report with each appearing as a single inquiry. Inquiries made within a 45-day period are listed as a single inquiry; this usually happens when you are ‘rate shopping.’

Why should you remove hard inquiries from your credit report?

A single hard inquiry may not affect your score if your credit is good. However several inquiries with a short credit record can lower your credit score significantly. This in turn impacts negatively on your creditworthiness.

Removing a hard inquiry can increase your score by up to 5 points. Getting rid of a few of these inquiries can significantly increase your chances of being eligible for a loan and getting one at a good rate.

Removing hard enquiries from your report

Expert Tip: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act you are within your rights to dispute erroneous hard inquiries made on your credit report.

Credit bureaus are mandated to provide accurate and actionable reports. This means that hard inquiries authorized by you will remain in your report for the natural duration which is 2 years. After this, the hard inquiries will disappear automatically.

That said, some fraudulent and erroneous inquiries can find their way into your report. These items are disputable and form the bulk of hard inquiries that you would wish to be removed from your report. Here are the steps to follow;

Step 1: Check your Credit Report

Start by getting your credit reports from the bureaus. To better identify the erroneous or mysterious hard inquiries, compare reports from the three major bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Identify the inquiries from credit grantors that you do not recognize.

Step 2: Get Information on the Creditors

Using the credit report provided by the bureaus find the addresses of each creditor whose inquiry you dispute. Of the three major bureaus, Experian lists these addresses. For the others you need to match the creditors’ addresses with the Experian report, or get the info from official websites. You can also go the long way and call the 800 phone directory and ask for the creditors’ address or official number and inquire from them directly.

Step 3: Write a Letter to the Creditors

Armed with the addresses of each creditor, write a letter notifying them of the disputed inquiries.  The letter should include any documentation that supports your claims. These can be payment records that contradict the items in dispute. Request them to contact the reporting bureau that they gave the information to and have them remove the items from your records.

Step 4: Write a letter to the Credit Bureau

Write a letter to the credit bureau whose report you dispute. Clearly identify and circle the items in a copy of the credit report. The reporting bureau will carry out investigations to ascertain your claims. They will do so by collaborating with the information provider to weed out the errors. This should be completed within 30 days, after which they are supposed to remove the items in question. The removal will depend on whether your claims are found to be true, if not the items will remain in your report.

Conclusion

The above steps give you a 2-pronged approach to having hard inquiries removed from your credit report. One is by requesting (in writing) the company whose inquiry you dispute, to contact the credit reporting agencies and notify them of the mistake. The other is by writing to the credit bureaus and having them investigate the inquiries in question; both of which are within your rights.

For assistance with removing hard inquiries and other negative items from your credit report to increase your credit score quickly, contact Credit Absolute for a free consultation.

Source: creditabsolute.com

How to Protect Yourself From a Mechanics Lien

Every homeowner who’s considering hiring a contractor to do some work in or around their house should make sure they’re familiar with their state’s mechanics lien laws before making a decision. Never heard of a mechanics lien? You’re not alone. Let’s uncover what it is and why you should protect yourself from it.

Think Twice About Not Paying

If you wind up having a beef with the contractor you employ for builds or repairs – poor workmanship, perhaps, or maybe they walked off the job before it was completed or failed to finish the work in a timely manner as promised – and you decide not to pay, that contractor can respond by attaching your house to a legal claim for unpaid work until some kind of settlement is reached.
That could turn into a waiting game if you are not considering selling your home. But, if you intend to put your home on the market in the near future, that lien could stop you in your tracks.
mechanics lienmechanics lien

What EXACTLY is a Mechanics Lien?

Sometimes known as a materialmans lien, every state has a a mechanics lien law granting tradespeople a way to protect themselves from those who fail to pay them for services and time rendered.
Here’s how Rusty Adams, a research attorney for the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University, described it in a recent edition of Terra Grande, the Center’s monthly magazine:
“It is an equitable interest that gives its holder the right to have satisfaction out of the property to secure payment on a debt. It is not title to the property, and a lien holder does not have ownership rights. Rather, it is an equitable interest that gives the lien holder the right to have satisfaction out of the property to secure the payment of a debt.”
In other words, it is an encumbrance the property owner must deal with, one way or another. Otherwise, it could result in a foreclosure and forced sale of your house.

How Mechanics Liens Work

None of what follows should be considered legal advice. Rather, it is intended only as a brief, mile-high overview.
A mechanics lien can be filed by anyone with a claim against the property. This concept isn’t new; for example, Uncle Sam can place a lien if you fail to pay your taxes, as can your state. Your homeowners association can do the same if you don’t pay your dues or a special assessment.
In the case of work done to your house, the contractor can file if you fail to pay, even if you feel you’re justified in withholding. The company from which he or she gets their supplies – roof shingles, for instance – can also file against your house if the contractor doesn’t pay them. And if the contractor uses subcontractors, they, too, can go against the house if the contractor doesn’t pay them.
The “very broad” law in Maryland “covers almost everything,” attorney Harvey Jacobs says. For example, if the developer doesn’t pay the paving company hired to cover your cul-de-sac, the company can file a mechanics lien against every house that touches that street. Ditto for the outfit hired to landscape, sod and plant shrubs.
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How to Protect Against Mechanics Liens

Fortunately, lien laws afford owners some protections. In some places, the amount owed must be of at least a certain amount. They also must be filed within a certain number of days from when the work was completed, and may require the property owner to be notified within a specified time that a lien has been filed.
The rules, which also apply to subs and suppliers, can be somewhat tricky for an owner to decipher. But the absolute best way to protect yourself is to require the contractor to provide lien releases before you pay anything more than your down payment. In other words, no draws or final payment until he or she certifies that everyone in the chain has been paid.
Often, says Texas attorney Adams, a notice of intent to file or the actual filing is enough to resolve the debt attached to the property without going through the process itself.
Once payment has been received, a contractor has a duty to remove the notice or the lien itself from public records. Failure to do so allows the property owner to file a lawsuit against the contractor to compel the lien’s removal. But to avoid that, Adams suggests making sure the release has been recorded.

(READ MORE: The Difference Between a Handyman and a Contractor)

Some Important Distinctions

A lien release is not the same as a lien waiver. Nor is it the same as a lis pendens. While a release removes an existing lien, a waiver is an agreement that prohibits a contractor or supplier from placing a lien on the property. But some states don’t permit waivers at all.
A lis pendens, which is Latin for “suit pending,” is a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed in the county land records office involving either the title to the property or a claimed ownership interest in it. The notice alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property’s title is in question, making it less attractive, if only because the buyer or lender is subject to the suit’s ultimate outcome.
Beyond this, it is crucial for a homeowner to ensure the contractor, subcontractor or supplier has followed the rules of the road.  In Texas, said Adams, the claimant must give the appropriate preliminary notices, make the proper filing and give filing notice to the property owner.
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In Maryland, the unpaid amount must be at least 15% of the property’s assessed value. So if the house is assessed at $100,000, the lien must be for $15,000 or more. “Small jobs don’t count,” Jacobs said. Contractors must also file a lien within 180 days of performing the work in Maryland, but subs must file within 120 days.
In neighboring D.C., though, there is no minimum to file, and the contractor, supplier or sub has only 90 days to file.
(Note: In the case of mechanics liens, property value is an evidentiary question. Courts often use assessed value in deciding whether a lien can be brought.)
In Texas, though, contractors aren’t required to provide a preliminary notice, but they are required to present a list of all subs and suppliers before starting work. But subs and suppliers who have a contract with the original contractor must send notices to both the contractor and the homeowner by the 15th day of the second month.
As you can see, once you get into the tall grass with mechanics liens, it becomes fairly complicated. It’s at this point that it may be time to consult legal counsel.


Lew Sichelman

Syndicated newspaper columnist, Lew Sichelman has been covering the housing market and all it entails for more than 50 years. He is an award-winning journalist who worked at two major Washington, D.C. newspapers and is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

Source: homes.com

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