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Smart Ways to Save Money on your Cell Phone Bill

Having a mobile phone is no longer a luxury in today’s society. People are on the go, and need to constantly be in touch with friends, co-workers and the world in general. This is not that bad, except for the fact that cell phone plans can be very expensive. It is no secret that many of the top mobile phone carriers like to do all they can to tack on little fees and service charges that add up to very large monthly bills. It is in everyone’s best interest to know some of the best ways to save money on cell phone bills. Read on to find out some of our most highly recommended tips and tricks to help you save money on your cell phone bill.

Negotiate Your Mobile Phone Billbad credit 1

Though most carriers would like you to accept the defined plans that they have as being set in stone, you can do a bit of negotiation to get yourself a lower bill every month. This is not a tip that will work for every situation, and there are some people who would rather pay a higher bill for coverage than to even think about negotiations on their plan. However, you never know if you can score a lower monthly bill unless you ask. A good starting point is to visit a carrier’s local location and then tell them that you will be taking your service elsewhere. This can open up a productive conversation that may allow you to negotiate a lower bill.

Use Wi-Fi to Avoid High Data Usage Rates

In the early days of cell phones, they were just that “phones.” These days, however, our mobile phones are a gateway to apps, email and other avenues to the Internet. All of this online access can lead to huge bills for data coverage. However, there is a way around this. If you are at home, in a restaurant or even in the office, and there is available Wi-Fi coverage, you can simply use the Wi-Fi instead of eating up data. Every time you open Facebook, send out a tweet or surf the web you use up expensive mobile data on your plan. When you use the free Wi-Fi coverage instead, you can save that data for times when you are in an area with no Wi-Fi coverage.

Avoid Upgrading Your Phone Too Often

We understand that everybody likes to have the latest/greatest phone to use and impress their friends. But let’s be honest, not everyone really needs to upgrade every six months or even every year. If your current phone is working fine for you, and you have no major complaints, avoid the temptation to upgrade to a newer model. Paying for an expensive new phone, even when the carrier offers you a deal, usually just drives up the amount that you pay every month. Being content with a phone that serves you well is a great way to save money.

These are just a few tips that can help you on your quest to save money on your monthly cell phone bill. Don’t forget to look into prepaid plans that the major carriers offer. These plans can often prove to be more affordable than signing on for a long-term contract. Chances are you are going to be paying for cell phone coverage for many years now. Do what you can to cut down on needless charges and fees, and save that money for more important expenses in the future, or add them to your emergency savings fund.

How to Remove Errors from your Credit Report

It is very common for people in the known, when it comes to finances, to recommend that folks go about removing erroneous information from their credit reports. However, there is no simple method that allows people to instantly remove errors from their credit reports. Not that it is all that difficult; you just need to understand the basic steps that you need to take. With all of this in mind, here are some tips that you can use to keep your credit report clean as a whistle with regards to erroneous information that might hurt your credit rating.

Keep an Eye on your Credit Reports

Too many people stick their heads in the sand and then get a very unwelcome surprise or two when they finally decide to check out their credit reports. We suggest that you make it a habit to routinely check your credit reports. It is only when you can establish a baseline of what is normal and legit that you can become good at spotting errors when they show up. Don’t forget that you are legally entitled to get one free copy of all your credit reports every calendar year. You may want to check yours more often, but start off by at least pulling those reports, and scrutinizing them, on a yearly basis.

Be Wary of Using Online Forms670px-IPad_in_Case

If you discover a small error, say for $20 or $30, and you know it is not legit, you may decide to use the online dispute form that the credit bureaus offer. However, if you discover a large error, you need to skip online forms and send a letter to all of the credit bureaus. The FTC recommends that you clearly identify the error and explain why you believe that it should not be on your credit reports. It is best to mail your letters via certified mail with a delivery confirmation. Keep the documentation on hand for future reference. Using online dispute forms effectively forces you to give up arbitration rights with regards to your complaint.

Document Everything

When it comes to your credit, you can never document too much. Any documents that you have which will help you to prove your case should be kept in a safe location. You may even want to make copies, so that you always have ready access to this information. Having your financial dealings well documented can go a long way toward helping to speed up the removal of any errors from your credit report. Without proper documentation the credit bureaus really only have your word to take.

Make some Phone Calls

The credit bureaus all of customer service employees who are more than happy to talk about any errors that you find on your credit report. You can also contact the companies that say you owe them money, as they may be able to help you sort out what happened and get any errors on their side resolved. It is not always the most pleasant experience to talk about these sorts of things with people on the phone, but actually having a warm body on the other end of the line may help you to get errors resolved faster than simply waiting for things to happen on their own.

It stinks when you have to put so much work into fixing errors on your credit report. However, taking these steps can help you to get a handle on how to do it, and they can help you to avoid any type of negative impact that mistakes can have on your credit score.

The CFPB takes action against Non-Action Letters

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) officially commented on a proposal that will take direct action against No-Action Letters. The policy is designed to go after new financial products or financial services that promise to bring substantial benefits to consumers, but that are still a bit uncertain how regulatory or statutory provisions will be applied in the near future. The documents on this proposed policy are set to be released to the public on December 15, 2014.

Bringing up No-Action Letters reminds some of the SEC No-Action Letters which usually involve scenarios where the requester is not sure whether or not a particular financial service or product is in violation of existing federal security laws. In the letters that were released, SEC employees agreed not to ask for a legal action to be taken against the requester because of the facts that were presented. An alternative that exists is for SEC staff to draft a letter to bring clarity about a specific regulation or rule.

The CFPB No-Action Letters bare similarities to the SEC Letters. These letters would inform the business requesters that their staff is not going to recommend enforcement action due to specific aspects of a known legal requirement or policy. However, the CFPB No-Action Letters Policy is different from the SEC’s in that it only applies to financial products that are offered to the general consumer market, or for financial services which have no existing legal uncertainty.

By limiting the CFPB No-Action Letter Policy to only consumer-related products and services, the Bureau is able to remain consistent with how it interprets that Title X of the famous Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which provides governance for the CFPB, is intended to be helpful to consumers and to provide all consumers with access to transparent, fair, innovative financial markets. Additionally, the CFPB is bound to a statutory mandate that promises to promote and facilitate innovation and access in the market for consumer financial services and products.

To meet this goal, the CFPB created an innovative project called “Project Catalyst” in the fall of 2012. This project will support financial innovators that create consumer friendly financial products and services. The No-Action Letter Policy is quite simply the most recent module of Project Catalyst to be put into action.

Consumer friendly financial products and services can get assistance from the CFPB No-Action Letters. Recent consumer spending in the U.S. led to recent financial difficulties, although more complex financial institutions and high dollar deals greatly increased the financial woes of recent years. Quite a bit of effort has been put in to deal with more sophisticated financial businesses during the financial recovery that has been underway for the past few years. And while all of this has been underway, less attention has been focused on underbanked, unbanked and very low income communities around the country; not to mention consumers who may currently use traditional bank accounts but also use non-traditional payment methods too.

Not too long ago, the CFPB began to take steps to bring these sectors to the attention of the rest of the country when it began in inquiry into mobile financial solutions. The Bureau found that nearly 90 percent of United States consumers own cell phones and that this growing trend has led to a whole plethora of new mobile payment solutions that allow unbanked and underbanked households to take more control of their individual finances. We will all have to keep our eyes open to see whether or not these new mobile payment solutions continue to warrant scrutiny from the CFPB and to see how the No-Action Letters pan out for new financial services that are launched in the months and years to come.

Be Wary of the Gift Delivery Scam

With so many schemers and scammers out there, you might think that you’ve heard about every type of scam there is by now. But those scammers are constantly cooking up new schemes to help them take your money and or personal information. The scam you’re about to learn about could happen to anyone, so be on the lookout for any unexpected gift deliveries.

Here’s a victim’s account of what happened to a victim just recently:

I got a call on the phone from some guy who said he was with a company called ‘Express Couriers’ (the company name could be anything, though.) The caller told me that he had a package to deliver to my home and wanted to know if I would be there, since the package required a signature upon delivery. The caller told me that the delivery would arrive in about an hour.

An hour later a uniformed delivery person in a legit looking delivery truck arrived at the house with a gorgeous basket of flowers and wine. This gift was a surprise to me, as it wasn’t my birthday and no holiday was around the corner. But it is always nice to get an unexpected gift, right? Well, that’s what I used to think.

 

There was no card on the basket to indicate who sent it. The delivery person said that the card would arrive a bit later. There was, however, a ‘consignment note’ on the gift. The delivery person explained that since the package contained alcohol that the consignment note called for a $3.50 ‘delivery/verification charge’ to prove that the alcohol was actually delivered to an adult and not left on a doorstep where kids could get to it. This sounded reasonable enough to me, and I immediately offered to pay the small fee.

 

I tried to hand the delivery person cash to cover the fee, and he told me that cash was not accepted for those types of charges. His company had a policy, or so he told me, to only accept payment via debit or credit card. Again, I wasn’t thinking of a scam at this point, so I agreed to pay for the fee via my credit card.

 

The delivery guy pulled out a mobile credit card machine, with a small screen and key pad. He asked me to swipe my credit card on the little machine, and I obliged. The delivery man thanked me and went along on his merry way. A few days later, though, I was outraged when I saw that there were multiple charges on the credit card for thousands of dollars in purchases/cash withdrawals.

 

It looks like the little credit card machine that the bogus delivery guy used allowed him to collect enough information to create a ‘dummy’ credit card with all of our details. As soon as I found out about the illegal transactions on my credit card, I notified our credit card issuer to let them know. The credit card company issued a new card to prevent further fraudulent charges on the old one. I also reported the issue to the local police, and they confirmed that similar scams had been pulled on other people in my town.

 

Consider yourself warned – do not accept any surprise gifts or packages that you have to make any kind of payment on. You should also avoid accepting gifts from anyone that you don’t know, and ask for proper ID from any delivery personnel who visit your home. And the most important thing to remember – don’t give out your personal information and/or credit/debit card account numbers on any type of transaction that you have not initiated. Please pass this story along to others, so people can avoid getting scammed.

Making the Most of your Old Smart Phone

Breaking up is never an easy thing to do. This is just as true of your relationship with your old smart phone as it is with people. When you fall head-over-heels in love with the latest/greatest smart phone to hit the market, you may find that it’s difficult to part ways with your old smart phone – after all, you shared some great times with that old phone, right? Well, there’s good news for those of you who would like to start a new relationship with the latest smart phone models, without tossing the old phone on the proverbial trash heap.
You can actually get a lot of mileage out of your old smart phone, even after you turn of cellular service on it and move on to using your new Droid, iPhone or Windows phone. Here are some ideas for you to make the most of your old smart phones:

1. Turn the old smart phone into a cutting edge baby monitor. As you probably already know, you can use video monitors to keep an eye on your little one while he/she is in the nursery. What you may not have known, however, is that you can use your old smart phone to act as your new video baby monitor. There is an app called Dormi that works great for smart phones and one called Baby Cloud that works well with iPhones. You can keep an eye on your bundle of joy, listen in on the nursery and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you repurposed your old smart phone to keep your baby safe and sound.

2. Use your old smart phone as part of a home surveillance system. You can use the old phone in tandem with your new phone to create a home surveillance system when you use the iOS app called Presence. This app is free and allows you to pair your iPhones up to create a security camera/motion detector surveillance system that allows you to check on your home in real time and to get alerts when something out of the ordinary takes place on the home front.

3. Keep kids entertained. Just because the old phone is not being used for communications anymore, that doesn’t mean you can’t load it up with games to keep your little ones amused and engaged. An old smart phone can be crammed full of fun, entertaining, educational games that will help to keep junior busy while you are out shopping, at church or anywhere where little minds tend to wander.

4. Take part in scientific research. Scientists are always looking for new ways to increase computing power. It turns out that research scientists can do so with the computing power of your old smart phone by way of an app called BIONC. This app allows scientists from the Science Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley to harness the computing power of your smart phone to assist with serious, cutting edge scientific research. Who knew that your old smart phone could be so important?
The most important thing to remember is to never throw that old phone out. Even if you don’t make use of any of the tips we shared with you here, you can always sell that old smart phone to someone or donate it to a charity group. There are lots of people out there looking to buy used phones, and charity groups can often refurbish your old phone and then sell it to make money for very worthwhile causes. So don’t throw that old smart phone away – find new ways to put it to use, or donate it to a charity that can put it to good use!

Little Known Facts About Payday Lending Companies

For the average person, understanding financial issues can be a bit tough. Let’s face it, crunching numbers and staying on top of the latest financial information are not exactly priorities for the average American. Most people just want to make sure they get by from one paycheck to the next one. When you combine those two important factors – lack of understanding finances and the desperate need to get by from one pay period until the next one – it is easy to understand why there are so many misunderstandings about the payday loan industry; an industry that is laser focused on providing people with short term loans to cover any funds that are lacking between pay checks.

Going online to most news websites doesn’t help to clear matters up any either. The majority of stories out there pretty much demonize payday lenders, and jump to some pretty wild conclusions about the short term lending industry. Of course, seeing as the major banks avoid making loans to people with subprime credit and/or avoid offering loans for smaller dollar amounts, it only makes sense that people are going to continue taking out payday loans, regardless of what the mainstream media has to say about this industry.

Perhaps it is in everyone’s best interest to take some time to look at some little known facts about payday lenders to get a better understanding of how short term loans really work. Take a look at some of the data that we pulled from a recent FDIC report to cut through the outlandish news stories and to finally understand the truth about payday lending.

Myth – Payday Lenders are Pulling in HUGE Profits

Compared to the big banks of the world, payday lenders are hardly tycoons. In fact, there are some major misunderstandings about just how much money these types of lending companies actually make. Take Advance America, for example. They are one of the country’s most successful payday lending companies. In 2011 they recorded a pre-tax profit of $105.3 million. Sure, that is a lot of money, but compare that to the pre-tax profits of the big banks, and that money is really just chump change. And remember, Advance America is one of the big dogs in the industry. The payday lending industry is amazingly competitive, so even the most successful lenders are pulling in a smaller piece of the pie each and every year.

Typical Loan Stats

Now that we know that payday lending companies certainly are not the most profitable companies in the world, let’s take a look at just how much people typically borrow from payday lenders, and how much they pay in charges/fees associated with those loans. Advance America reported that the average loan amount given to their customers is about $375. The average charges/fees tacked onto those loans is around $55. Finally, the average loan term is a little over two weeks, at 18 days. Now, if you crunch the numbers, the APR comes out to be 294 percent. And while that is high, you have to remember that these types of loans don’t charge annual percentage rate fees the same way that banks do. They typically charge flat loan fees that their customers are well aware of prior to taking out any loans.

In Conclusion

While this overview doesn’t delve too deep into complex financial issues, it should help people to have a better understanding of the payday lending industry. With traditional banks making it very difficult for people to get short term loans – especially people with credit problems – it is a sure bet that payday lenders will continue to stay in business well into the foreseeable future (despite the negative media attention and government scrutiny of the past few years.)

Government Study Finds What We Already Know; Overdraft Protection Is Costly

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a new study regarding the cost involved with overdraft protection. When you get a checking account you have one of two choices. The first of these choices is that you can opt out of overdraft protection and hope that you never overdraw your account or you can decide to pay whatever amount the bank decides to charge and get the overdraft protection.

If you are one of the many people who decide that it would be best to go ahead and pay for the overdraft protection you may be a bit confused as to what exactly you are paying for. Most of these overdraft protection programs are complex and tend to leave the consumer confused and when they are going to be hit with a fee that they knew nothing about when they signed up. The banking industry insists that consumers understand what they are agreeing to when they sign up for these programs; however the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not so sure.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s director, Richard Cordray released a statement saying “What is marketed as overdraft protection can, in some instances, put consumers at greater risk. Consumers need to be able to anticipate and avoid unnecessary fees on their checking accounts, but we are concerned that some overdraft practices may increase consumer costs beyond reasonable expectations.”

Consumers do not want to pay any more than they have to in banking fees and in overdraft protection charges. While banks and credit unions would prefer for the consumer to pay as much as possible in fees and overdraft protection charges because they want that income. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that as much as 60 percent of the income that credit unions and banks bring in every year is from overdraft protection charges. This is a large chunk of their income, so as you can imagine they do not want to lose it.

If you choose to not pay for overdraft protection, the bank will deny any purchase that you do not have money in your account to cover. If the transaction is cancelled then you pay nothing for a fee. If you pay for overdraft protection and make a purchase but do not have the amount in your account to cover it, your overdraft protection will take care of it, but the bank or credit union that you use will charge you a fee, which on average is around $30.

In the end whether or not you get overdraft protection is up to you but you should take some time to consider the cost to benefit ratio. How often do you risk overdrafting your account? Is it really worth spending that money on it? Overdraft protection can get quite costly if you are not careful so you need to make sure that you are taking your time when making this decision.

Payday Loan Reviews for 2013

Like most things in this world payday lenders are reviewed. Each company gets a rating on how they did for the year. Here is a review of some of the companies from 2013. The review will be starts one through five, one being the worst and five being the best.

The first company is called Plain Green Loans. This company gets five stars. They have a very easy application process and they have very low fees. You can also pay back your loan over a long period of time with this company, typically six to nineteen months.

Fast Cash Online gets four out of five stars. They provide an easy no hassle application process that many people like. This company gives you the flexibility to receive your money in your checking account within twenty four hours. Most agree that this website is very upfront with the terms of the loan.

Four out of five starts goes to Payday Max. This company is considered a good option especially for someone who has never had a payday loan before. Payday Max has a no hassle application that does not require a credit check and has a flexible payback period.

Ideal Payday is the next payday company to receive a review. It received three and a half out of five stars. Ideal Payday has one of the most comprehensive networks of payday lenders on the internet. It has taken them years to get to this point. This company services most states in America and will deposit your money directly into your checking account.

Up next with two and a half out of five starts is Cash Central. They are not just a payday lender but a good and upstanding lender of other loans as well. Unfortunately they are only licensed in the western half of the United States. This seems to be their biggest downfall, if you live on the eastern half of the country you are out of luck with this company.

Great Plains Lending gets two out of five stars in this review. This is a tribal lending company. Great Plains Lending says that they will lend up to one thousand dollars in the event of an emergency. If it is not an emergency loan this company typically lends out two hundred to five hundred dollars at a time to any one customer.

Large Cash Loans landed one out of five stars. This online company offers those who visit their sites lots of general money related information as well as financial resources. This is one think that almost all customers appreciate. With this company you can borrow up to fifteen hundred dollars.

There are a lot of payday loan companies both online and in storefront locations all across America. Finding the one that is best for you is something that should take you some time. You should check reviews and find out what others think of the companies. Finding the best lender for you will get you the best loan possible for you.

So you have an iPad, Now You Need These Apps

Since they first came out on the market Ipads have increased in popularity. With that came an increase in apps for it. Now there are so many to choose from it can be hard to know which ones are worth getting. Here are some that are recommended for anyone who has an iPad.

Almost everyone and their pet have a Facebook account these days, which is why you should get the Facebook app for your iPad. It would make checking your news feed and updating your statuses very easy and convenient. You can even play your favorite Facebook games on your iPad with this free app.

Adobe reader is one app that you should not hesitate to download onto your iPad. It is useful for so many different things you cannot even imagine. If you do any work with PDF-files this app is a must have, so make sure to download it right away.

Are you a fan of ereaders? If so then you should download the Kindle app to your iPad. Why have two devices when you can have them in one? It makes it much more convenient. You can go from checking emails to reading your favorite book without having to switch devices. If you are a reader this app is one you should definitely have.

Pintrest is another site that is becoming incredibly popular. You can organize the things you like into various boards to share with others and see what other people are interested in; you can also get great ideas for anything that you are interested in doing. If you enjoy pintrest then this is yet another app that you must have on your iPad.

English: The iPad on a table in the Apple case

YouTube is a site that many people enjoy going to so they can watch cute cat videos or whatever they are into. Did you know that you can get a YouTube app for you iPad? Well you can, and you should. Think of all the hours you can spend laughing at all those cats and their cute antics.

Many people enjoy Skype so they can have a face to face conversation with their friends who do not live close to them. You can download the Skype app to your iPad and talk to your friends on a much larger screen than your phone can provide. If you have it on your computer just think about how much more convenient it will be to have it on your iPad and be able to move around if you need to.

It is important to stay up to date on the weather. It does not matter if you have plans at home, somewhere close, or if you are traveling you need to know what the weather is going to be where you are going to be. Downloading the Weather Channel app to your iPad can let you know that information.

These are all great apps that anyone can use. There are so many to choose from it can sometimes be overwhelming deciding which ones to choose. I recommend starting with these and going from there based on your needs. These apps will let you have information and fun right at your fingertips all on your iPad.

The Best Bracelet You Will Ever Own

Okay so it is not really a bracelet, but you do wear it on your wrist. If you have never been a fan of health monitors before, you should really look at this one before you write it off completely. The Basis Band is unlike any health monitor you have ever seen before.

This is a band you wear on your wrist, and you should keep it there pretty much all the time. This may seem strange to some as they would think that they would only wear it while they are exercising. There is a good reason to keep this on longer though. Unlike other health monitors, this one can even keep track of your sleep patterns. Some may not need this function, but some may need it and then can take that information to their doctor.

English: Picture of person taking Heart Rate o...

Of course it does the traditional thing that health monitors do such as tracking your heart rate. This is something that most people want to keep track of when they are exercising. This way they know when they have reached a heart rate that they want to be at.

It will also keep track of the calories you have burned. This is something that comes in handy for many people. Many people like to know how many calories they are burning when they are working out so they can keep track of calorie intake and calorie burning. This is especially helpful when you are on a diet or just trying to maintain a weight.

The Basis Band will also just keep track of a variety of your physical activities as well. Pretty much you can expect most things that you do will be monitored and recorded in this band. It can provide you with tons of information on what you do during the day.

This is obviously not your average health monitor. It does so much more. It really does fit the name health monitor though. It helps monitor your health as a whole during the day and night, not just during the time when you are exercising. This is something that most people should check into getting. It can change the way you look at your health, and if you get one for someone you love it can change the way they look at their health too. So if you had a goal of getting healthy this year, this is one tool that can truly help you.