The SME trends fintech companies need to know in the MENA region

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The SME trends fintech companies need to know in the MENA region
Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a neowealth disruptor in Australia. This week we turn our eyes to the middle east when it comes to SME fintech trends. Dubai based SME lender Beehive, has released its SME State of the […] The post The SME trends fintech companies need to know in the MENA region appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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How to Repay Student Loans When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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How to Repay Student Loans When You Don’t Know Where to Start
If you graduated from college this year, congratulations!  Also, your first student loan payment is due. (Cue sad trombone.) If you borrowed federal student loans to cover your college expenses, you get a six-month grace period from Uncle Sam before he starts pestering you for payment. If it’s any comfort (I know, it isn’t), you’re not the only one who owes. Outstanding student loan debt clocked in at $1.48 trillion in the second quarter of 2019, according to the New York Federal Reserve. It’s easy enough to feel overwhelmed — you just graduated, started that first job (hopefully), moved out of your parents’ place and into your own (maybe).  But besides the obvious benefit — getting out of debt — making on-time student loan payments will reflect well on your credit score, which will follow you long after your dorm life memories have faded.  Ready to tackle that student loan debt? Good, let’s get started. A Guide to Student Loan Repayment  When you’re ready to start repaying your student loans, it’s best to create a plan to avoid wasting time, money and energy. Here’s what you need to do before you make that first payment. 1. Know How Much You Owe and Who You Owe If you’re like most grads, you took out multiple student loans over your multi-year college career — the average borrower has 3.7 student loans, according to a 2017 Experian report.  So it’s best to start organizing by figuring out who you owe, how much you owe and when it’s due. Oh, and interest rate is important, too. Need some help figuring it all out? Then check out this article that explains how to find out how much you owe in student loans. 2. Pay Off Your Interest Before the End of Your Grace Period If you have the cash, pay off at least the accrued interest on your federal student loans before your grace period runs out. It can save you a bundle of money by helping you avoid interest capitalization — when the interest gets lumped in with your principal amount and you start getting charged interest on the total amount. Wondering where to find extra money before the deadline? Consider taking up a side hustle to make some extra cash to throw toward the payment. 3. Come Up With a Plan… a Repayment Plan Didn’t land that six-figure job — or maybe any job? Rather than sticking your head in the sand and avoiding your student loan payments, you need to ask for help. That means getting yourself on an income-driven repayment plan. These plans cap your monthly payment typically somewhere between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income. Contact the loan servicer for your loan to find out which plans you can qualify for. 4. Think About Forgiveness It’s possible that you can get your student loans forgiven. But it’s not easy or fast… or likely (cue the second sad trombone). But if you work in specific fields — like teaching or nursing — you could be eligible for loan forgiveness after a set number of years. There are typically a lot of hoops to jump through — including making sure your loan repayment program and your employer qualify — so be sure you know the requirements of your forgiveness program. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Balance transfer credit card 11/27/19 @ 6:39 PM Credit card Debt 11/19/19 @ 3:56 PM Student loans 11/20/19 @ 2:17 PM Debt collections 11/23/19 @ 5:57 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question 5. Avoid Delinquency and Default Remember that part where I told you not to stick your head in the sand? This is why: If you miss your payment by even one day, your federal loan becomes delinquent. If you’ve missed payments on your Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or direct student loan for 270 days, your loan is considered to be in default. If you can’t afford your monthly payment due to unemployment or an approved economic hardship, you might qualify for deferment or forbearance. You can also qualify for deferment if you’re enrolled in an approved graduate fellowship program. During deferment, you won’t owe monthly payments on your federal loans and your subsidized loans won’t accrue interest (but all the rest will).  A high or good credit score allows you to qualify for better loans and credit cards with lower interest rates and more favorable terms. A poor credit score may not even qualify you for a loan. If you don’t qualify for deferment, the other option is forbearance, during which your lender allows you to stop making payments or reduces your monthly payments for up to one year. However, during forbearance, interest will continue accruing on all of your loans. Both options are only temporary fixes, and you’ll probably end up owing more money in the end. But at least you won’t wreck your credit score. 6. Consider Life After College (and Student Loans) It can be tough to see beyond that soul-crushing debt, but remembering that there is more to life than student loans is important for your financial future. First, while throwing every available dollar at your student loan might help you feel like you’re making progress in that arena, don’t sacrifice your present financial state by pillaging your emergency fund (you have one, right?). It’s there to cover those unexpected expenses — like a new set of tires or unexpected vet bill — without sending you into credit card debt.  Additionally, you shouldn’t sacrifice your future for today’s debts. Instead of paying every dollar toward student loans, start saving for your retirement now. With plenty of years to go, you’ll be able to build an impressive nest egg future you will thank you for.  Bonus: Socking away your money in a 401(k) or IRA reduces your taxable income. So if you do decide to apply for an income-driven repayment plan, the federal government won’t count the money you’re saving for retirement. Cue the big brass band. You deserve it. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Black Friday

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8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Black Friday
You may be a veteran Black Friday shopper with the inside scoop on the greatest deals and strategies — but how much do you really know about the day itself?  For example, can you name which generation goes nuts on Black Friday? Or how Black Friday really got its name? Knowledge is power, so we’ve rounded up eight of the most interesting Black Friday facts and shared them below. 1. More Than 50% of Americans Shop on Black Friday Sure, you knew Black Friday was popular, but did you know it was this popular? Last year, 165 million people shopped during Black Friday weekend (which lasts from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday). That’s roughly half of all Americans.  Wondering how to stay sane amidst the hustle and bustle? Think ahead and develop a plan of attack — bonus: Strategizing can also help you avoid holiday debt.  2. Black Friday Can Be Deadly You may have joked about toy rage and trampling before, but the scary, sad fact of the matter is people actually have died shopping on Black Friday.  In the past 12 years, 12 deaths and 117 injuries have been attributed to Black Friday, Black Friday Death Count reports.  If you’re nervous about battling it out in the stores, then Cyber Monday might be more your scene. 3. The Day Owes Its Name to Philly Cops  You probably heard “Black Friday” originated from an accounting term: the day retailers’ profits finally went into the black.  But, the name really came from Philadelphia cops who were frustrated with traffic and smog caused by the mass of shoppers. Retailers didn’t like the negative connotation, so they spread the accounting rumor.  4. The Average Shopper Spends More Than $300 Can you believe it? Shoppers spent an average of $313.29 on their Black Friday shopping last year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.  Don’t let your holiday shopping get out of control: Create a holiday budget before doing anything else.  5. Black Friday Might Not Be the Cheapest Day of the Year Eek! You’ll find plenty of bargains on Black Friday, but don’t automatically assume everything is at its lowest price.  The cheapest day of the year may be later in the holiday shopping season. Before you buy, check out our comprehensive guide for the best time to buy just about anything. 6. Millennials are the Biggest Black Friday Shoppers Would you have guessed millennials are the generation most devoted to Black Friday? We wouldn’t have.  Technically, the group that spent the most were older millennials and younger Gen X-ers (35-44 years old), who spent an average of $413.05 last year.  That probably shouldn’t come as too great a surprise, since that’s also prime parenting age for younger children. Consider a new, budget-friendly tradition this holiday season: the four-gift rule. 7. It’s the Busiest Day of the Year for Plumbers It may no longer be the busiest day of the year for retailers, but Black Friday still reigns supreme for another industry: plumbing. “Often, the case is that a house already has partially clogged drains that go unnoticed, until holiday guests arrive and overwhelm the system,” explains Roto Rooter. Want to earn money on Black Friday, instead of spending it? Advertise your handyman services in the weeks leading up to the holiday.  8. Most Shoppers Actually Stay Home If you only go for the bargains — and not for the Black Friday experience — you might as well stay home and shop online.  Last year, 41.4 million shoppers said they bought exclusively online, compared to 34.7 million who said they patronized brick-and-mortar establishments only.   Susan Shain is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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These Are the Tax Brackets for 2020 (Plus 4 Tax Changes to Know About)

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These Are the Tax Brackets for 2020 (Plus 4 Tax Changes to Know About)
The year 2020 is looking a lot like 2019, at least in terms of taxes. The IRS just released its inflation adjustments for 2020 federal income tax rates and brackets. While these changes are unlikely to have a huge impact on your bottom line, there are a few things you should be aware of heading into the new year. Because these are the 2020 tax rates, they’ll determine your tax bill that will be due in 2021. You’ll use 2019 rates and brackets when you file your taxes on or before April 15, 2020. How the 2020 Tax Brackets Break Down There are seven tax brackets that range from 10% to 37%. The 2020 tax brackets break down as follows: Unmarried Individuals Tax Bracket Taxable Income 10% Up to $9,875 12% $9,875 to $40,125 22% $40,125 to $85,525 24% $85,525 to $163,300 32% $163,300 to $207,350 35% $207,350 to $518,400 37% Over $518,400 Married Individuals Filing Jointly or Surviving Spouses Tax Bracket Taxable Income 10% Up to $19,750 12% $19,750 to $80,250 22% $80,250 to $171,050 24% $171,050 to $326,600 32% $326,600 to $414,700 35% $414,700 to $622,050 37% Over $622,050 Heads of Household Tax Bracket Taxable Income 10% Up to $14,100 12% $14,100 to $53,700 22% $53,700 to $85,500 24% $85,500 to $163,300 32% $163,300 to $207,350 35% $207,350 to $518,400 37% Over $518,400 Pro Tip Not sure of your filing status? This interactive IRS quiz can help you determine the correct status. If you qualify for more than one, it tells you which one will result in the lowest tax bill. Tax rates apply to the income within each bracket. So if you’re an unmarried individual with taxable income of $50,000, you won’t pay 22% of that $50,000 to Uncle Sam. According to the 2020 tax brackets, you’d pay: 10% on the first $9,875 12% on the next $30,250 ($40,125 – $9,875 = $30,250) 22% on the next $9,875 ($50,000 – $40,125 = $9,875) 4 Tax Changes That Could Affect You in 2020 The modified tax brackets aren’t the only changes the IRS announced. About 60 tax provisions will be adjusted in the new year. A few highlights: The standard deduction will rise slightly: The standard deduction will rise by $200 to $12,400 for people who are single filers or married filing separately. For those who are married filing jointly, the standard deduction will rise by $400 to $24,800. You may be able to save an extra $500 for retirement: If you have an employer-sponsored tax-deferred retirement plan, like a 401(k) or 403(b), your maximum contribution is $19,500 in 2020, up from $19,000 in 2019. The additional “catch-up” contribution workers ages 50 and older can make will also go up by $500, from $6,000 to $6,500. You can contribute an extra $50 to a flexible spending account. In 2020, the maximum contribution individuals can contribute is $2,750. Some limited-income families can get an extra $103. The maximum Earned Income Tax Credit will increase to $6,660. You need at least three children to qualify for the maximum amount. 3 Tax Rules That Aren’t Changing in 2020 IRA contribution limits won’t change. The traditional and Roth IRA contribution limits will remain at $6,000 for people under 50. The extra $1,000 “catch-up” contribution the IRS allows people 50 and older to make won’t change either. You can still gift someone up to $15,000 without paying the federal gift tax. The gift tax exemption is something you might want to take advantage of if you’re contributing to a 529 plan. There’s no limit on itemized deductions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended these limits. Ready to Start Your 2020 Tax Prep? OK, we get it: You’re probably not thinking about your 2020 taxes yet. After all, you haven’t even had your 2019 Thanksgiving turkey. But if you’re the plan-ahead type, you can check out this comprehensive summary of 2020 tax changes courtesy of the IRS. Even if you’re not ready to jump into 2020 tax planning mode just yet, keep in mind that a new year is often a good time to check your tax withholdings and make adjustments if necessary. So make a date with yourself in early January for a quick tax checkup. Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She edits and writes stories about bank accounts, credit scores, home buying, insurance, investing, retirement and taxes. She is also the voice behind the Dear Penny personal advice column, which is syndicated in the Tampa Bay Times Sunday business section. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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How Do I Know If the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards Mastercard Is Right for Me?

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How Do I Know If the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards Mastercard Is Right for Me?
When you’re interested in applying for a new travel credit card, the overwhelming number of options can make picking the right card seem daunting. How are you supposed to know which one is best? Or worth the annual fee? Or which card will net you the most points? If you’re considering a travel credit card... Alisha McDarris is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article How Do I Know If the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards Mastercard Is Right for Me? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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5 Things to Know About the Key Cashback Credit Card

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5 Things to Know About the Key Cashback Credit Card
The Key Cashback credit card, issued by KeyBank, has an annual fee of $0 and features an appealing 2% cash back on every purchase, an ongoing flat rate that’s hard to beat. But there are some catches for that high rate: You will earn it only under certain conditions, and if those conditions aren’t met, you’ll... Kimberly Palmer is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: kpalmer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kimberlypalmer. The article 5 Things to Know About the Key Cashback Credit Card originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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5 Things to Know About the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

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5 Things to Know About the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
Small-business owners who want a new credit card and who are continually flying out of Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati or other strongholds of Delta Air Lines might shortlist the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card. Learn More It offers airport lounge access, progress toward elite status and other perks. The card is scheduled to get better —... Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart. The article 5 Things to Know About the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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ESL Teachers: Here’s What You Need to Know About TEFL Certifications

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ESL Teachers: Here’s What You Need to Know About TEFL Certifications
English is the language of the global business world, which means demand for English teachers is high while requirements to teach remain relatively low, especially so abroad and even more so online. In recent years, scores of online certification companies have sprouted up to train soon-to-be English teachers, offering credentials in what’s called Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). For our purposes, they’re interchangeable. “This is a very, very rapidly growing industry,” said Jessie Smith, a former English teacher in South Korea and Vietnam who now works at the International TEFL Academy. “The demand can’t really be put into words.”  Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) online is a welcomed side gig for many. Teachers get to set their own schedules, connect with students around the world and rake in between $15 and $25 an hour teaching premade lessons.  Not bad for a part-time, entry-level position. But before you sign up — and pay — to obtain TEFL certification online, here’s what you need to know. What to Consider Before Getting a TEFL Certification Online You might be ready to start shopping for TEFL providers, but do this first: Determine your goals as an ESL teacher. “You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher,” Smith said. “You need to be prepared professionally, mentally.” Why Do You Want to Teach ESL? Do a quick pulse check. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish as an ESL teacher. Do you want a career change? A lucrative side gig? To travel and work in other countries? Your answer will determine what type of TEFL certification you’re going to need.  For career changes, proper education is always a good idea. Colleges and universities are big providers of TEFL certifications, and some degrees even include them. If you don’t have a degree in TEFL, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College provide the most comprehensive certifications — referred to as the CELTA and the Trinity, respectively. These programs are only offered in-person. (Full disclosure: I earned a CELTA before teaching English abroad. It was the most intense program I’ve ever experienced.) But if you’re eyeing a temporary side gig, you may not want to shell out the money for an expensive, in-person certification to teach ESL online. Almost all accredited TEFL certifications will require an in-person component, usually a 20-hour teaching practicum at a local language center or school. However, as members of ESL advice forums will tell you, most online employers don’t check or require accredited certifications with in-person practicums (for now). Lastly, one of the most effective ways to earn money while traveling is by teaching English abroad. Requirements vary by country, though it’s good to have a bachelor’s degree plus an accredited TEFL certificate with a teaching practicum. Latin American and Southeast Asian countries have laxer rules and may not require a degree or a TEFL certification. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Private tutor 8/20/19 @ 1:27 PM How Can Someone Living in the Heart of Africa Make Money Online? 8/20/19 @ 1:23 PM Passive Income 8/9/19 @ 1:07 PM Extra Income 4/10/19 @ 3:01 PM B See more in Make Money or ask a money question What Does it Take to Become TEFL-Certified? The majority of programs simply require that applicants are 18 years old or older and have a high school diploma. Native English fluency isn’t required, as TEFL certifications are popular credentials for foreign English teachers as well. But a high level of English fluency is required to participate in top-tier programs (C1 or IELTS Band 7, for the ESL nerds). Programs may vary slightly, but quality programs should include at least 120 hours of coursework with 20 hours dedicated to hands-on teaching to foreign-language-speaking students. These lessons should be observed by a qualified ESL professor. CELTA and Trinity programs are graded on a pass/fail basis while some online hybrid programs may include quizzes and a passing score of 60%.  How Much Do TEFL Certifications Cost? Depending on what program you choose and what your goals are as a teacher, costs will range widely. A fully online TEFL certification can run for $9 on Groupon, but you should know that it’s unaccredited. Online ESL teachers tend to purchase Groupon programs simply for a certification code that they add to their job applications, which can boost hourly pay toward the $25 mark. But if you plan to teach in person or long-term, skip the bargain bin programs. Pro Tip Plan to teach English in person? Get a TEFL certification with an in-person practicum to boost your confidence and gain real-world teaching experience.  The “brand name” TEFL certifications, aka the CELTA and Trinity, run between $2,000 and $3,000. These programs are internationally recognized and are more suited for career ESL teachers. Most accredited TEFL programs are usually half that price: around $1,100. “A true, university-level TEFL class could not possibly run under $1,000,” Smith said. How Do You Know If a TEFL Certification Online is Legit? Online TEFL providers are everywhere. They’re quick. They’re cheap. And most of the time, they’re unaccredited. Some companies aren’t transparent in their accreditation, which means they probably aren’t legit. In some program listings, you’ll see the words “self-accredited,” Smith said. “Which — needless to say — means just about nothing.” Price is another factor. The cheaper the price, the higher the chance the program is unaccredited. That doesn’t mean, however, that expensive programs are automatically legit. Shady providers can just as easily charge more money to give an air of quality. If the program costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, confirm that it’s run by an experienced professor and that the company holds a recognized accreditation.  The most popular accrediting bodies for TEFL programs are: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) British Council Chartered College of Teaching (formerly College of Teachers) Training Qualifications U.K. (TQUK) The World TEFL Accrediting Commission Popular accredited TEFL providers include: Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) International TEFL Academy International Open Academy University-run TEFL programs, including the CELTA and Trinity You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher. You need to be prepared professionally. The list is by no means exhaustive. If you stumble upon a program that you’re unsure of, search the website for an accreditation seal or license number. Still unsure? Contact the accrediting body directly to confirm that the provider is legit. If you’re only shelling out $9, you may decide it’s not worth your time. But if you come across an expensive TEFL program that isn’t mentioned above, be sure to check for accreditation.    Most accrediting bodies require TEFL providers to include a practicum to receive accreditation. One notable exception is International Open Academy’s TEFL program, which is fully online. The Penny Hoarder confirmed with [...]
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6 Things to Know About United Lounges

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6 Things to Know About United Lounges
When it comes to airport lounges, there are many options for travelers. If you’re evaluating which lounge will be the best for you, here’s what you need to know about United Airline lounges. 1. United lounges are everywhere It’s not hard to find a United Airlines-associated lounge, especially if you’re flying first or business class... Amanda Johnson is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 6 Things to Know About United Lounges originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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5 Things to Know About the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card

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5 Things to Know About the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card
Virtual window shoppers who use Rakuten.com — formerly known as the cash-back shopping website Ebates — could be earning even more cash back on their purchases with the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card. Image courtesy of Synchrony In 2019, Ebates rebranded as Rakuten, but the $0-annual-fee credit card’s rewards structure remained the same. The new name, which means... Melissa Lambarena is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlambarena@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LissaLambarena. The article 5 Things to Know About the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How Do I Know If the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard Is for Me?

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How Do I Know If the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard Is for Me?
With a sign-up bonus, a 50% companion discount, free checked bag and lots more nice benefits, there’s plenty to like about the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®. But it’s not for everyone. Like any travel rewards card, it’s better suited for some travelers than for others. Here’s how to know if this Hawaiian Airlines-branded card... June Casagrande is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article How Do I Know If the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard Is for Me? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Tax Planning for Beginners: 6 Concepts to Know

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Tax Planning for Beginners: 6 Concepts to Know
Tax rules can be complicated, but taking some time to know and use them for your benefit can change how much you end up paying (or getting back) in April. Here are some key tax planning concepts to understand before you make your next money move. Understanding your tax bracket You can’t really plan for... Tina Orem is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: torem@nerdwallet.com. The article Tax Planning for Beginners: 6 Concepts to Know originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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5 Things to Know About the Banc of California Los Angeles Football Club Mastercard

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5 Things to Know About the Banc of California Los Angeles Football Club Mastercard
Do you bleed black and gold for the Los Angeles Football Club? You might want to check out the Banc of California Los Angeles Football Club Mastercard®. Learn More The $0-annual-fee card, issued by Elan Financial Services, earns decent rewards, but it’s also packed with perks that any superfan would get a kick out of....The article 5 Things to Know About the Banc of California Los Angeles Football Club Mastercard originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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5 Things to Know About UBS Business Credit Cards

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5 Things to Know About UBS Business Credit Cards
UBS Bank caters to wealthy individuals, institutions and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. So naturally, when the bank launched a trio of business credit cards in June 2019, the cards all came with princely perks and swanky benefits befitting the high-end clientele most likely to bank with UBS. Not everyone will be... Robin Saks Frankel is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: rfrankel@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @robinsaks. The article 5 Things to Know About UBS Business Credit Cards originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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4 Things to Know About Singapore Airlines Lounges

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4 Things to Know About Singapore Airlines Lounges
Airport lounge access continues to be one of the more sought-after travel perks. Travelers can escape from the bustle of the main terminal into a smaller, often quieter area that includes snacks, drinks, private bathrooms and more. Singapore Airlines offers some of the most exclusive airline operated lounges out there. Here’s how to gain access to... Curtis Sprung is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 4 Things to Know About Singapore Airlines Lounges originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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5 Hidden Features of 401(k) Plans That You Should Know About

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5 Hidden Features of 401(k) Plans That You Should Know About
When it comes to 401(k) plans, you may be missing out on benefits that you don’t know about. Your 401(k) plan doesn’t have to offer all the tax-savings provisions that the IRS allows for 401(k) plans. So, not all plans have every possible 401(k) feature, which means there are features you might not realize exist. The only way to find out what options your 401(k) offers is to ask your... [...]
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Everything You Need to Know to Become an Airbnb Host in D.C.

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Everything You Need to Know to Become an Airbnb Host in D.C.
Have you thought about becoming an Airbnb host in D.C.? In a city that’s so expensive, home sharing can be a great way to supplement your income. Thousands of Airbnb hosts list places in the District, according to data from the home sharing platform. “Part of what makes Airbnb so successful for me is the city,” says Snyta Keeling, a 43-year-old Airbnb Superhost. “D.C. is great for home sharing because there’s something going on at every time of year.” Between the cherry blossoms in the spring, the Fourth of July in the summer and the elections in the fall — which draw businesspeople, students, lobbyists, sports fans and activists — there’s certainly a demand for space. How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in D.C. The first step to becoming an Airbnb host is to list your place. The process itself is simple, but you’ll want to exercise tact, so your space stands out from others. We’ll walk you through the process, plus share some pro tips from Keeling, a federal government employee and attorney who hosts guests in her three-bedroom townhome in Southeast D.C. She quickly rose to Superhost status when she started hosting back in 2015. Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, which could be anything from an apartment, an extra bedroom or house to a campsite, yurt or RV, depending on your local laws. Basic questions in this section include the number of guests your space can accommodate and the included amenities. Pro Tip If you don’t have an entire place, list your spare room. That’s what Keeling, a D.C. Superhost, does. At first she was worried guests would be uninterested, but she’s found they love the hospitality. Set the Scene With Photos Keeling compared Airbnb listings to dating profiles — and she’s so right. If you come across someone who’s posted a bathroom selfie with the flash on, you’ll probably move along — even if they do rescue puppies and own a private jet. The same idea goes for Airbnb; photos are everything. The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective. In addition to internal photos, Keeling emphasizes the importance of external photos as well. “It’s important to do external photos, so you guide a person through how they’ll approach the home and what the surrounding community looks like,” she says. “If you live close to a metro stop, you’ll want to have a picture of that, for example.” Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. In addition to metro stops, you might also include photos of the nearby neighborhood, any tourist attractions (ahem, the National Mall), or even a photo of the closest grocery or convenience store. Write a Description Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description. Here, you’ll be able to highlight what makes your space unique. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight. Keeling has a few tips you can follow when crafting your description: Manage expectations. “You know the idea of putting your best foot forward?” Keeling asks. “No! What you do is put the blemishes out there, so your guests will have set expectations.” Turn negatives into positives. Keeling’s townhome is located in a residential area on the easternmost point of D.C. That means it’s not central; you have to take a metro to get to the closest grocery store, which could be a downside for some guests. However, in her listing, she emphasizes the perks of free parking, which is difficult to come by in D.C. It’s also a quiet retreat after you’ve spent the day in crowds. Add an element of surprise to your space that you don’t mention in your listing. For example, Keeling has a high-end Tuft and Needle mattress with nice pillows. Because she doesn’t mention it in the listing, guests are surprised and are more likely to rave After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that. For example, Keeling quickly realized she’s not attracting club-goers and partiers; she gets guests who are looking to get away from the bustle of the city and value their sleep. Name Your Listing This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space. For Keeling, one of the most appealing aspects of her listing is the free parking — a rarity in D.C. Her space is also green; it’s decked out with solar panels, rain barrels, vegetable gardens and composts. This is a unique draw, so she emphasizes it in her listing title. It also attracts like-minded guests, which is important when you’re sharing your space. Set House Rules Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, smoking allowed, and events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules. “Don’t go crazy with the rules, but come up with some core rules that are important for you,” Keeling says. Keeling, for example, maintains a shoeless house. That’s partially cultural, but it also just makes the space easier to clean. She also emphasizes no smoking of any kind, and no eating in the bedrooms. Set up Your Calendar Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee. A few questions you’ll answer include: How often do you want to have guests? How much notice do you need before a guest arrives? When can guests check in? How far in advance can guests book? How long can guests stay? Pro Tip When starting out, Keeling suggests limiting guests’ length of stay to a couple of nights. That way you can get guests in and out and start racking up reviews, which will build your ratings. Keeling allows for at least one day between bookings, so she can have time to reset the spaces, and she doesn’t let guests book more than three months in advance, in case something comes up. You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you. Price Your Space Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, when the demand during the Cherry Blossom Festival or Fourth of July spikes, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically. You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Although Airbnb will suggest these amounts when you’re signing up, Keeling urges new hosts to do their own research. Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers: Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements. Be realistic. “People tend to have an inflated view of their place,” Keeling notes. Search other Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in, accumulate reviews and work your way to that Superhost status, which will help increase bookings in the long run. Note Your Local Laws You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws. In December 2018, the D.C. Council passed a set of regulations that would limit some kinds of short term rentals. Check with the District if you have questions about current laws or when (and if) the pending regulations will come into force. Also Consider… In addition to hosting laws, you’ll al [...]
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5 Things to Know about the AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver Mastercards

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5 Things to Know about the AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver Mastercards
The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®, both issued by Barclays, will reward users who book a lot of travel on American Airlines. In fact, American Airlines purchases are the only way to earn double AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on the Aviator® Red — for every other purchase,... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article 5 Things to Know about the AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver Mastercards originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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70% of Older Adults Don’t Know This Key Social Security Fact

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70% of Older Adults Don’t Know This Key Social Security Fact
Millions of Americans depend on Social Security as the financial foundation of their retirement. Yet, nearly 70% percent of older people cannot correctly identify the age at which they are eligible for full retirement benefits. That finding — courtesy of a recent survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute — has profound implications for how well people will live in retirement. [...]
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