The 25 Most Expensive Pens In The World

The golden age of fountain pens started in the roaring 1920’s when pens became works of art and treasured status symbols. Nowadays few people even walk around with a pen. Nevertheless, there is still an active market for fine writing instruments – and buyers willing to pay premium prices for them. Celebrities such as Edward Norton, Kevin Spacey, Rosario Dawson, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg all appreciate the pleasure of a putting ink to quality paper with a well-crafted pen.

We are not talking about garden variety pens you can buy from your local department store or stationery shop.  The asking price for some of the world’s finest pens cracks seven figures. Consider that fact the next time you scrawl your signature with a discount store special or the pen you managed to swipe from your colleague’s desk.

Of course, the chances of successfully filching one of the gems listed below lie somewhere between slim and none.  Just ask Mauricio Aguirre-Orcutt, who was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison in 2006 for stealing pricey fountain pens from various victims. But do not despair; several of the writing instruments included below (listed in no particular order) are actually for sale – if the price is write.

1) Conway Stewart Westminster Teal Pen — $1,800

Westminster
This beauty is crusted in teal colored enamel and styled with Gothic engraving on the barrel and cap. And if the design seems oh-so-veddy-British, it’s because the pen also features tiny oak leaves, a symbol of jolly olde England. You can choose between convenient ball points or old-school fountain pens – either edition will set you back a cool $1,800 bucks. Pocket change for a high-roller like you, right?

2) Graf von Faber-Castel Pen — $2,000

Graf von Faber-Castel Pen

With a name like Graf von Faber-Caster, you just knew that there was gold involved with these pens. The nib is hand formed in 18-carat gold. The barrel is carved from aromatic sandalwood. The pen is presented in a wooden case, a brochure for the lucky purchaser or recipient, and a tidy $2,000 price tag.

3) The Caran d’Ache “1010″ Fountain Pen — $19,000

The inspiration for the name is simple: 10 minutes after 10 o’clock. This pen has the works. It is crafted from rhodium-plated silver and features a clip that resembles a wristwatch. This limited edition model was created to honor the world-renowned Swiss watch making industry. Just to ensure that no one misses the intended tribute, the pen also features replicas of watch movements on the barrel that include rubies and a sapphire dome. A mere $19,000 will make it yours.

4) Diamante by Aurora — $1.28 Million

Diamante by Aurora

A pen so exclusive that only one is created every year, the Diamante is encrusted with more than 30 carats of, well, diamonds on a solid platinum barrel. It’s also topped with an even larger diamond and has a nib of 18-carat gold.  The discerning purchaser can also have the pen emblazoned with the family coat of arms, a signature or a portrait. There is no set price for the pen, but the best estimate is $1.28 million.

5) Mystery Masterpiece by Montblanc and Van Cleef and Arpels — $730,000

Mystery Masterpiece by Montblanc and Van Cleef and Arpels

The collaboration behind the creation of the Mystery Masterpiece required more than a year and a half of efforts by skilled artisans and was available with 30 carats of encrusted gems in your choice of three variations: rubies, sapphires or emeralds. Each edition also featured more than 800 diamond accents. Only three units of each variation were ever made, and the selling price was an eye-popping $730,000 for each pen.

6) Fifth Avenue Rollerball and Fountain Pens — $2,400

S.T. Dupont created fewer than 2,000 of these handsome lacquer-coated brown and taupe writing instruments. Both the rollerball and fountain pen editions of these pens also feature a gold and silver overlay and a striking globe design.  Be prepared to drop $2,400 if you want one for yourself.

7) The Four Seasons Pen — $36,000

The Four Seasons Pen

This 18-carat gold fountain pens change color to reflect the changes in seasons: green for spring, red for summer, brown for fall and gray for winter. There were only 33 units of this model ever created. Each pen carried a $36,000 original asking price. The cost would be higher now – if you can locate one for sale.

8) David Oscarson Pens — $4,900

David Oscarson Pens

These designer fountain pens feature whimsical circular designs, but there is nothing playful about the price tag, which runs as high as $4,900 for the Pierrot White Fountain pen. Each pen includes three levels of guilloche and five hard enamel colors. Each pen is finished with a background crafted from rhodium vermeil.

9) OMAS Limited Edition Pens — $16,500

OMAS Limited Edition Pens

These handsome fountain pens feature a recreation of the monument erected by Lysicrates on the cap and a replica of the Laocoon sculpture on the barrel. The clip is cleverly incorporated into the overall votive motif of the monument. These limited edition pens also feature a set of genuine diamonds and a staggering $16,500 price tag.

10) La Dona Menagerie Fountain Pen — $4,000

La Dona Menagerie Fountain Pen

These handcrafted writing instruments are part of the Cartier line, inspired by 1940s Mexican cinema star Maria Felix, who has was considered the Latina equivalent to Marilyn Monroe.  Felix requested a gold crocodile necklace from Cartier, who used a similar pattern to create a limited line of pens crafted with a crocodile head design. The original asking price for the La Dona Menagerie Fountain pen was $4,000, a relative bargain considering only 888 individually numbered units were ever made. 

11) Grayson Tighe Limited Edition Fountain and Rollerball Pens — $24,000

Grayson Tighe Limited Edition Fountain

These custom crafted executive rollerball pens are proof positive that luxury writing instruments are not limited to fountain pens. The nib for each pen is crafted in Germany from 18-carat yellow gold. The pen is engraved with two Acanthus leaf which is two toned with rhodium and iridium. The advanced refill system allows for a full year of writing on a single fill. Prices range from $22,000 to $24,000 for each of these fine writing instruments.

12) Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain Pen — $57,000

Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti

If you revel in gold, the Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain Pen was made especially for you. Available in 18-carat white gold or luxurious black, the Ripple is encrusted with diamonds and finished with an 18-carat gold nib.  At $57,000 each, the Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain pen is literally worth its weight in gold.

13) Forbidden City HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain Pen — $42,000

Forbidden City HRH Limited Edition Visconti

This striking black resin pen boasts an innovative Power Filler filling system which Visconti invented specially for its pens.  The Forbidden City HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain pen is fashioned with 18-carat gold and diamonds and sells for a $42,000.

14) La Modernista Diamond Pen — $265,000

La Modernista Diamond Pen

Another offering from Caran d’Ache of Switzerland, the La Modernista Diamond Pen was created in 1999 to honor architect Antonio Gaudi, who died in 1926.  Crafted of solid silver components coated in rhodium, La Modernista has an 18-carat gold nib, also coated in rhodium.  Encrusted with 5,072 Wesselton diamonds weighing 20 carats and 96 rubies weighing 32 carats, La Modernista required six months of labor by master jeweler Robert Perron. This masterpiece was sold for $265,000 by Harrods in London in 2001 to a very lucky anonymous buyer.

15)  Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi — $8 Million

Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi

Florentine pen maker Tibaldi specializes in proportion, design, and excellent technical execution. Based on the Divine Proportion of Phi, the ratio between the cap and the visible portion of the barrel of the Fulgor Nocturnus equals exactly 1.618 when the pen is closed. This gorgeous writing instrument is encrusted with 945 black diamonds with 123 rubies around the rim. Don’t look for the Fulgor Nocturnus in any store; only one was ever made – and it sold for $8 million at a charity auction in Shanghai.

16) Heaven Gold Pen by Anita Tan — $995,510

Designed by a woman for women, the Heaven Gold Pen draws its inspiration from the changing alignment of the planets. Its design includes 161 brilliantly colored diamonds circling a 43-carat Tsavorite gemstone estimated to be more than 2 billion years old. The $995,510 asking price for the Heaven Gold Pen is hardly heavenly.

17) Caran d’Ache Gothica Pen — $406,450

Caran d'Ache Gotica Pen

Another offering from Caran d’Ache, the Gotica pen, was first unveiled in China. Celebrating Gothic art and architecture, the Gotica is crafted with six rhodium coated solid silver faces, each decorated with Gothic elements such as fleurs-de-lis and rosettes.  The Gotica is also encrusted with 892 diamonds weighing 7.1 carats; the rosettes feature 72 rubies and 72 emeralds. The asking price of 3.28 million Yuan, or $406,453 puts the Gotica far out of reach for all but the very elite of China.

18) Prince Rainier III Limited Edition 81 Pen — $256,000

Prince Rainier III Limited Edition 81 Pen

How limited, you might ask?  Only 81 individual units of the Prince Rainier III Limited Edition 81 Pen have ever been made.  Each pen is crafted with 18-carat white gold and encrusted with 996 diamonds and 96 rubies, but the inner workings of the pen are still visible. There are 19 rubies attached to the clip ring and the 18-carat gold nib also features two rubies. The original price was 200,000 Euros each, or $256,010 – but the current value is undoubtedly much higher – if you can track one down.

19) Limited Edition Boehme Papillion Pen by Montblanc — $230,410

Limited Edition Boehme Papillion Pen by Montblanc

Another limited edition, the Boehme Papillion Pen is available in white, yellow or rose-colored gold, and encrusted with more than 1,400 diamonds and sapphires that reach the internal spring mechanism. Butterflies grace the cap and body while the distinctive Montblanc diamond is featured at the top. Each Papillion is priced at 180,000 Euros, which translates to $230,410 for well-heeled American buyers.

20) Alchemy HRH Fountain Pen by Visconti — $57,000

Alchemy HRH Fountain Pen by Visconti

These candy apple red pens feature dramatic dragon ornamentation in gold and silver vermeil and encrusted with 4-carat diamonds and rubies. The distinctive Alchemy HRH Fountain pen also features dual gold nibs and ink reservoirs. Affording the $57,000 price tag for the Alchemy HRH Fountain Pen would require real magic for ordinary folk.

21) Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen — $1.5 Million

Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen

Another offering from the Boehme line from Montblanc, the Royal features an 18-carat gold, platinum plated retractable nib. The barrel and cap are crafted from 18-carat white gold and encrusted with more than 1,430 diamonds.  The distinctive Montblanc star logo consists of 18 diamonds and 18-carat white gold rings. A paramount cut diamond highlights the clip. The $1,500,000 asking price places the Boehme Royal Pen among the most elite writing instruments.

22) Perrier-Jouët Anniversary Edition pen by Omas — $134,700

Perrier-Jouët Anniversary Edition pen by Omas

A collaboration between Champagne maker Perrier and Omas, each limited edition Anniversary pen is handcrafted in green resin, to reflect the color of Champagne bottles. The bicentennial logo matches the Art Nouveau flower featured on Perrier-Jouët Cuvée Belle Époque bottles. The Anniversary Edition pen also features an 18-carat gold nib engraved with the bicentennial logo. An exclusive lot of 20 pens were crafted of pink gold and available by special order.  The original asking price of $134,700 each has likely been eclipsed.  Only 1,811 units of the Anniversary Edition pen were ever created.

23) Samurai Prestige Lighter and Pen Set by S.T. Dupont — $66,000

Samurai Prestige Lighter and Pen Set by S.T. Dupont

The second offering from S.T. Dupont, the lighter and fountain pen matched set was designed to honor feudal Japan’s military nobility.  Both the pen and the lighter are crafted from solid rose gold encrusted with white diamonds, textured black leather and silk ribbon accents. Only 20 sets were created, priced at $66,000 each.

24) Titanic-DNA Fountain Pens by Romain Jerome — $5,000

Titanic-DNA Fountain Pens by Romain Jerome

The Titanic-DNA Fountain Pen was created by a cooperative effort between Jean-Pierre and Benjamin Lepine and Romain-Jerome CEO Yvan Arpa. Each of the 88 units in this very limited edition lot includes materials reclaimed from the doomed vessel, along with palladium, brass, gold and stainless steel from the Harland and Wolff shipyards – the same shipyards where Titanic was built. A recent eBay auction featured a Titanic-DNA pen and received a single $5,000 bid.

25) CREW 60TH White Gold Fountain Pens by Tibaldi — $43,000

Crew 60th White Gold Most Expensive Pens in the world

Legendary automobile maker Bentley commissioned its own handcrafted pens in collaboration with Italian pen maker Tibaldi.  The barrel of CREW 60TH is designed to match the Bentley dashboard precisely. The tip is 18-carat yellow gold, covered with rhodium and ruthenium.  The cap and barrel of the pen are knurled to provide a comfortable writing grip. The transparent window alerts the writer to ink levels, and the clip features Tibaldi’s signature.  The asking price is $43,000 with a limited edition of 40 solid white gold pens offered for a somewhat higher price tag.

Nutmeg Review: How Investing Should Be

Nutmeg is a new online investment tool based in the UK that is injecting spice into the retail investment market and makes managing your investment portfolio as easy as pie. It was founded in 2011 by a team of former City (London) investment managers. The web-based discretionary investment management company provides similar services to those offered by Wealthfront and SigFig, but offers more choice and agility when determining the composition of your portfolio.

The main selling point of Nutmeg is its transparency and flexibility. If you are currently using a discretionary manager or a financial advisor, the lower fees of Nutmeg could help you save a lot of money in management costs.

How Does Nutmeg Work?

Nutmeg Graphic

After you sign up and link your accounts, Nutmeg determines the type of investor you are based on your tolerance to risk. Nutmeg’s software then divides your savings into a range of funds determined by 10 scenarios with different levels of risk.

Although the funds Nutmeg chooses and how much of your savings it invests is an automated process, the pool of funds available are determined by human investment managers who are constantly looking for undervalued funds. This provides an attractive balance between the low-cost and high-efficiency of automated investment allocation and the flexibility and insight of human investors.

The Pros of Nutmeg

Nutmeg makes investing with a discretionary manager easier, more transparent, and cheaper. Its user interface is simple and intuitive to use, and Nutmeg is not scared of publishing its portfolio performance, something few competitors do.

Nutmeg Portfolio Performance

This portfolio performance graph allows you to compare Nutmeg’s results to those of its competitors (the average results of discretionary investment managers published by Asset Risk Consultants) and of the market as a whole. http://www.nutmeg.com/how-we-invest#portfolio-performance

Nutmeg outperforms the average results of its competitors at all risk levels. One of the reasons for this is that regular investment managers charge higher fees, which eats away at the profits they generate by investing your money.

Nutmeg Percentages

Nutmeg’s pricing model is simple. You get charged a fee between 1.0% and 0.3% based on how much money you invest. If you invest £1,000, you pay an annual 1% fee (£375 a year, £7.21 a week). If you invest £50,000, the rate goes down to 0.75% and anyone investing more than £500,000 is charged 0.3%.

The Downsides of Nutmeg

Nutmeg has only been around for a couple of years. Although its results are encouraging, it’s still too soon to be able to make significant comparisons with other discretionary managers.

Nutmeg is cheaper than other discretionary managers but more expensive than other automated investment services or Vanguard’s target date funds (around 0.30%). For example, Wealthfront charges a 0.40% fee, regardless of how much you invest; SigFig charges a flat $10 a month fee; and Betterment charges from 0.35% to 0.15% depending on how much you invest.

However, Nutmeg is available to anybody over 18 years of age, regardless of whether they live in the UK or not. Automated investment services in the United States are restricted to those who have a US social security number or tax ID number and a permanent mailing address.

Nevertheless, the added cost of Nutmeg doesn’t seem to translate in higher returns. The same portfolio return graph mention above also shows that Nutmeg falls behind the market in all risk levels, even after accounting for fees. If these figures are typical, and Nutmeg seems to want you to think so, you would have been better off investing in an index fund that tracked the market, which also would have incurred in lower fees.

In a Nut(meg)shell

Nutmeg summary

Although Nutmeg is more expensive than other automated investment services, it also offers a more hands-on involvement by investment managers. This doesn’t seem to have provided much of a benefit to investors when compared to those who chose low-cost index funds, but it does explain the additional cost.

Nutmeg provides a hybrid investment tool that combines discretionary investing managers with automated investment software. It’s a great deal for those interested in a discretionary investment manager but also want to spend less of their profits on management fees.

Find more Nutmeg reviews here.

Family Trusts

You may have a vague idea of what a trust is, or at least what you think a trust is. You’ve thrown around the term “trust fund baby” more than a few times. You figure that trusts are something for rich people, not for ordinary folks.

It’s true that many affluent people establish trusts. But trusts aren’t just for rich people. In fact, a family trust may be an excellent way to ensure that your final wishes are carried out exactly as you would want. Family trusts protect your family’s privacy and provide potentially significant tax savings.

What Is a Family Trust?

The legal term for a family trust is a revocable living trust. The term revocable means that it can be changed by the person who creates the trust.  A family trust is a legally binding document that determines the administration and distribution of the estate of the person creating the trust.  They’re called family trusts because the beneficiaries are almost always blood relatives and extended family members, although many family trusts also include charitable organizations as beneficiaries.

Many families use family trusts as estate planning tools along with a will to largely replace a will. If you set up a family trust you become the grantor.  As the grantor, you serve as administrator of the family trust as long as you are alive and mentally competent.  Title and ownership of your assets are transferred from you to the trust, but you retain control over the use of your assets. If you include your house as part of a family trust, you can still live there. If you include your car, you can still drive it.

When you die, your designated trust administrator takes over the task of administering your trust. His or her main task is to distribute the contents of your trust to your beneficiaries according to your previously stated wishes. Your trust administrator   also would have power of attorney to take over the administration of the trust for your benefit if you become incapacitated through illness or injury.

A trust has separate legal status for tax purposes. That means that your trust must file its own tax returns. As the administrator, or your trust administrator you are responsible for paying taxes on any income generated by the trust.  Any material changes in your assets would require a modification of the trust.  Any new heirs that you wanted to include as beneficiaries would need to be added. 

What Are the Benefits of a Family Trust?

TrustsOne major benefit of a family trust is that trusts do not go through probate. Unlike wills, trusts are considered private documents. You don’t have to submit your family trust to probate court or obtain court approval for your trust administrator.  As a result, your estate can often be distributed to your beneficiaries faster than with a will.

Establishing a family trust can also save money over probate. Attorneys’ fees and court costs associated with probate in some states can devour as much as 5 percent of the total value of the estate.  Even for a modest estate including a family home, furnishings, bank accounts and a car, 5 percent can represent a significant bite.

Many states have provisions that allow for expedited handling of small estates through probate.  A family trust removes the bulk of your assets from your estate. An attorney can also establish “pay on death” designations to individual beneficiaries for bank accounts, real estate and other assets that are not already included in the family trust to keep them out of your estate. Any remaining assets could be included in a “pour-over” will that would automatically transfer any remaining assets to the family trust when you die, and which would potentially qualify for expedited processing through probate.

How Can I Set Up a Family Trust?

family trustThe short answer: you can’t. Or at least you shouldn’t try, unless you’re a licensed attorney specializing in estate law. Although at least online program exists that allows you to create your own family trust, it’s really a bad idea to try the DIY approach where family trusts are concerned.  Trusts are legally more complicated than wills; there are also many potential pitfalls.  The phrase “penny wise and pound foolish” was never truer than when applied to estate planning.

The money you spend to hire a competent attorney would almost certainly be a bargain compared with the potential costs of a botched trust.  Even if your estate seems simple, an attorney can often catch potential pitfalls associated with family trusts. For instance, if you have minor children or children of any age with special needs, you will need a will in addition to a family trust. That’s because a trust can oversee the management of financial assets for their benefit, but cannot be used to appoint a guardian for their care.

If a tragedy occurred and you died from an accident, your survivors would likely be entitled to the proceeds from a settlement or a lawsuit. A family trust alone would not cover those assets. Without a pour-over will or some other means of inheritance in place, that settlement would be subject to the laws of intestate estates, which might produce the results you would want.

Hiring an attorney can also keep you on the right side of the IRS and state revenue departments.  It’s perfectly legitimate to establish a family trust to lawfully minimize your federal and state income tax obligations, and an attorney can help you establish a trust to accomplish that purpose. But if you go it alone, you may unwittingly establish what the IRS considers an abusive trust, or at least a trust that is legally defective.

Is a Family Trust for Me?

familyIf you haven’t already settled on an estate plan, a family trust may be a viable option. A family trust can ensure that your final wishes are carried out.  A family trust can also maintain the privacy of the distribution of your assets. It’s worth your while to discuss a family trust along with other estate planning options with an attorney.

credit affect my life

How Does My Credit Score Affect My Life?

You may have heard or read the advice that you should work to maintain your credit if you have good credit, and to improve your credit If you have bad credit. But you may wonder just how much your credit actually affects your life. If you are attempting to make changes in your life, your credit score could have a significant effect on your day-to-day activities. But if you never use or need credit, your credit score may have little or no impact.

Rent and Mortgages

Your credit score may have a profound effect on whether or not you are able to rent an apartment or buy a house. Landlords routinely run credit checks on prospective tenants. Banks and mortgage lenders also perform extensive credit checks before approving prospective home buyers for mortgages. If you have bad credit, your prospects for purchasing or renting an apartment or house are grim. You’ll have to work hard to find a landlord or lender willing to overlook your poor credit score.

Employment

get a jobOne of the ironies of life is that if you have bad credit, you may have a hard time finding a job. In some industries, running credit checks seems prudent – such as banking or even retail. Someone with credit problems might be more prone to financial misconduct. But employers also run credit checks in totally unrelated industries, using the premise that good credit is a sign of good character.  Of course, if you’ve been unemployed for months or years, your credit may be damaged due to lack of income, which is one reason why California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington forbid employers from running credit checks as a condition of employment. In Nevada, employers who illegally run credit checks on prospective employees may be forced to hire them anyway.

Utilities

Your electricity. Your heat. Your cell phone – all utilities that often conduct credit checks for new customers. You may be charged higher electricity and heating rates if your credit is poor. If you attempt to obtain a cell phone with bad credit, you may be forced to put down a large deposit or settle for a prepaid phone.

Insurance

You may be surprised to learn that home, rental and car insurance companies also check your credit. If your credit is good, you are offered lower rates. If your credit is bad, you may be denied coverage or obliged to pay much higher rates, even if you have never filed a claim for insurance policies you have held in the past.

Private Student Loans

Federal student loans do not require or use credit checks. But private student lenders almost always run credit checks on prospective borrowers. If your credit is damaged or poor, you will need a credit-worthy co-signer to be approved for private student loans.

Credit Cards

It goes without saying that credit card companies run credit checks. But so-called subprime credit card companies focus on customers with damaged or poor credit. Some credit card companies work with their customers to help them rebuild their credit; others simply soak their customers with high interest rates and stiff fees.

A secured credit card can help rebuild damaged credit. Secured credit cards work just like regular credit cards, and can help rebuild your credit by reporting a good payment record to the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Beware of prepaid credit cards which almost never improve your credit score.

Bank Accounts

moneySome banks run regular credit checks on new prospective account holders. Other banks check out potential customers through ChexSystems, a proprietary credit reporting agency that focuses specifically on the banking industry. If you have a history of overdrafts and bounced checks, you will likely have trouble opening a bank account.

Auto Loans

auto loanAmericans love their cars, and why not? Cars represent the freedom to go where you want, when you want. And in your own car, you can play the music you like as loud as you want. But if you have bad credit, you may find yourself depending on public transportation or walking to get around. Auto lenders almost always demand credit checks.  So called “buy here, finance here” dealers advertise that “everyone drives, “ but the main driving forces at such establishments are high interest rates and overpriced cars, many of which are sold, repossessed and resold several times to desperate buyers who cannot obtain approvals for auto loans elsewhere.

If You Never Use or Need Credit

The above list may give you the impression that your credit score affects nearly every aspect of your life. For many people, this is the case. But if you never move, never need to look for a job and choose to make purchases only with cash, you can get by without dealing with credit.  For everyone else, obtaining and maintaining good credit is one of the most important aspects of good financial health and a satisfying life.

Top 15 CC Cash Back

Top 15 Cash Back Credit Cards

You like cash back – and you cannot lie. If you’re unapologetic about desiring cash back rewards, you’re in luck. Cards with the lowest APRs are naturally available to individuals with the highest FICO scores. But even if your credit is only average, there are cash back rewards cards available for you. There are even cash back rewards cards for students and business owners, who could almost always use some extra cash. Each of the cards listed below feature the added benefit of carrying no annual fees, and several also offer attractive perks in addition to allowing cardholders to earn cash back.

CapitalOne Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Cardcapitalonequicksilver

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 12.99%-20.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
Each purchase transaction earns 1.5 percent cash back

For individuals with good to excellent credit, the CapitalOne Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is tough to beat. The CapitalOne Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card has claimed at least some measure of cool by snagging Samuel L. Jackson for its entertaining commercials. But the card itself features one of the simplest – and therefore most desirable – cash back rewards programs. Cardholders earn 1.5 percent on every purchase, every day. Period. CapitalOne also sweetens the pot by offering an introductory 0 percent APR through September 2015 on cash transactions and balance transfers. After that, the APR varies from 12.9 percent to 22.9 percent depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. And of course, there are no foreign transaction fees.

Chase Freedomfreedom

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 13.99% – 22.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
Unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase. 5% total cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter

With an introductory APR of 0 percent for 15 months for purchase transactions and balance transfers, the Chase Freedom card is pretty close to qualifying as free money for individuals with good or excellent credit. The regular APR varies from 13.99 percent to 22.99 percent depending on the creditworthiness of cardholders. Cardholders actually do receive free money in the form of a 100 dollar bonus by spending at least 500 dollars within the first three months after opening a Chase Freedom account. Cash back rewards of 1 percent apply to all purchases, with an extra generous 5 percent cash back on specific categories that change every three months.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit CardBankAmericardCashRewardsCreditCard

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 12.99% – 22.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details: 
BankAmericard Cash Rewards cardholders earn 2% cash back at grocery stores, 3% on gas purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases

A 10 percent bonus for Bank of America cardholders who deposit cash back funds into their bank accounts provides a powerful incentive for obtaining the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card. Cardholders who are approved via online application receive a 100 dollar bonus after making at least 500 dollars of purchases within the first 90 days. The introductory APR is 0 percent for purchase transactions and balance transfers made within the first 60 days, with a regular APR that ranges from 12.99 percent to 22.99 percent. Regular cash back bonuses are set at 2 percent for groceries and 3 percent for gas on the first 1,500 dollars of combined grocery and gas purchases every quarter, with a 1 percent cash back bonus for all other purchases, with no rotating categories.

Citi Double Cash CardCitiDoubleCashCard

Credit Needed: Excellent
Standard APR: 12.99% – 22.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
1% when you buy and 1% when you pay card off

The Citi Double Cash Card is a strong candidate for individuals with excellent credit. With the Citi Double Cash card you get cash back bonuses coming and going: 1 percent when you make purchases and an additional 1 percent once you make payments. Cash back benefits never expire; there are no limits to how much cash back you can earn, and there are no rotating categories to keep track of. You also benefit from a 0 percent introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after obtaining the card. Regular APR varies from 12.99 percent to 22.99 percent

Discover It CardDiscoverItCard

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 10.99% – 22.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details: 
Discover it has a cash back rewards program with a 5% cash back rate on certain categories that change every three months and 1% on all other purchases

With customer service becoming a thing of the past in many quarters, the Discover it card raises the bar; beginning with the clever television commercials highlighting its U.S. based customer service – available 24.7. The Discover It card also features no over limit fees, no foreign transaction fees and no late fees for your first late payment. Your cash back bonuses are redeemable for any amount, any time you choose, and never expire. You also enjoy 0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months with the Discover It card. Afterward, the regular APR varies from a super-low 10.99 percent to 22.99 percent, depending on your creditworthiness.

Blue Everyday Card from American Express®Blue Card EverydayCardfromAmericanExpress

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 12.99% – 21.99%
Annual Fee: $75
Reward Details: 
It gives 6% cash back at US supermarkets, 3% at US gas stations and participating department stores, and 1% on all other purchases. The 6% cash back at supermarkets only applies up to $6,000 in purchases, but that still represents $360 in potential savings a year

If you still think of American Express® cards green charge cards which must be paid off in full every month, you are definitely behind the curve. The Blue Card Everyday Card from American Express® is a credit card, not a charge card, and features a generous cash back rewards program. For instance, earn 3 percent on the first 6,000 dollars in grocery purchases each year, 2 percent cash back on gas purchases and 1 percent cash back on everything else. You can also earn 50 dollars in bonus credit plus a free year of Amazon prime by making 1,000 in purchases within the first three months of obtaining the card. Purchases and balance transfers also carry a 0 percent APR for the first 15 months. Afterward, APR varies from 12.99 percent to 21.99 percent.

Barclaycard Rewards MastercardBarclaycardRewardsMastercard

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 24.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details: 
Cardholders receive 2x points on everyday purchases like gas, groceries and utilities and 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases

If you have fair credit, finding a cash back rewards card can be a struggle. The Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard could fit the bill. Along with helping rebuild your our credit by establishing and maintaining responsible use and payment habits, the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard rewards you 2 points for every 1 dollar spent on gas, groceries and utilities – the essentials that you use anyway – and 1 point for every 1 dollar spent on everything else. There are no limits on how many points you can earn and points can be used like cash to pay for purchases.

BB&T Spectrum Rewards CardBB&TSpectrumRewardsCard

Credit Needed: Fair – Excellent
Standard APR: 10.15% – 19.15%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
3 percent on all purchases for first 90 days, 1 percent after

With transparent and generous cash back rewards program, the BB&T Spectrum Rewards card is one of the best cash back credit cards available. Cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on all purchases during the first 90 days after opening an account, and 1 percent cash back afterward. An extra 5 percent bonus applies on every anniversary after obtaining the card. Big spenders earn a whopping 30 percent cash back bonus after spending at least 50,000 dollars during a single year. Rewards can be spent on travel, merchandise, gift cards or redeemed for cash. The BB&T Spectrum card carries 0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. APR varies between 10.15 percent and 19.15 percent afterward.

Webster Bank Visa Signature® Credit CardWebsterBankVisaSignatureCreditCard

Credit Needed: Excellent
Standard APR: 9.99% – 20.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details: 
Cardholders earn 1 point for every 1 dollar spent, with an extra automatic 25 percent bonus each month, and a 25 dollar bonus after the first purchase using the card

With the Webster Bank Visa, cash back rewards come in multiples. Cardholders earn 1 point for every 1 dollar spent, with an extra automatic 25 percent bonus each month, and a 25 dollar bonus after the first purchase using the card. There are no limits on how many points can be earned, and cardholders have five years to redeem accumulated points. The introductory APR is 0 percent for purchases and balance transfers for the first 6 months. Afterward, APR varies between a super-low 9.99 percent and 20.99 percent, based on creditworthiness.

TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express®TrueEarningsCardfromCostcoandAmericanExpress

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 15.24%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
Earn 3 percent cash back on gas, restaurant dining 2 and everything else 1

If you love Costco, this card belongs in your bill-folder or pocketbook. The TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express® combines Amex and Costco membership, with an introductory APR of 0 percent for 6 months for purchases. Afterwards, APR is 15.24 percent. Cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on gas purchases up to 4,000 dollars annually. Restaurant dining earns 2 percent cash back; 1 percent cash back applies to everything else. Add more members to your account to earn even more cash back. Cash back rewards are issued as a reward coupon once each year.

USAA Cash Rewards American Express® CardUSAACashRewardsAmericanExpressCard

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 9.90% – 25.90%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
2.25 percent cash back on gas and groceries while 1.25 percent on everything else

If you or a family member are on active military duty or have received an honorable discharge, you’re entitled to apply for the USAA Cash Rewards American Express® card. The introductory APR on purchases is 0 percent for the first 12 months for purchases and balance transfers; regular APR varies between 9.90 percent and 25.90 percent, based on the prime rate. Cardholders earn 2.25 percent cash back on gas and groceries; 1.25 percent on everything else – with no limits on how much cash back can be earned. Rewards are issued as a rebate in January of each year, based on eligible purchase transactions made during the previous year.

Citi ThankYou Preferred CardCiti ThankYouPreferredCard

Credit Needed: Good – Excellent
Standard APR: 13.99% – 22.9%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
30,000 bonus after spending $2,000 in first four months and then 2 points for every one dollar

Besides generous cash back rewards program, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Earn 30,000 bonus points is embedded with Chip Technology. Cardholders earn an amazing 30,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending 2,000 dollars within 4 months of opening the account. Cardholders also earn 2 ThankYou points for every 1 dollar spent on dining and entertainment and 1 ThankYou point for each dollar spent on everything else. ThankYou points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel gift cards and cash. There is no limit on the number of ThankYou points that can be earned and points never expire.

NFL Extra Points Credit CardNFLExtraPointsCreditCard

Credit Needed: Fair – Excellent
Standard APR: 14.99% – 24.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details:
10,000 points when spending $500 in the first 90 days

The NFL Extra Points Credit Card was designed with football lovers in mind, with custom editions available for every team in the league. Your chances of approval are good even if you have fair or average credit. The introductory APR is 0 percent for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers completed within the first 45 days of obtaining the card. Ticket purchases also carry a 0 percent APR for the first 6 months. Regular APR is either 14.99 percent, 19.99 percent or 24.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness. Cardholders earn a generous 10,000 bonus points – enough to redeem for a 100 dollar cash back statement credit – after spending $500 within the first 90 days of obtaining the card. NFL or team purchases earn 2 points for every 1 dollar spent; purchases at NFL.com get a 20 percent discount. Redeeming points for NFL VIP experiences, tickets or 1 percent statement credit entitles cardholders to an additional 25 dollar cash credit.

DiscoverIt Chrome for StudentsDiscoverItChromeforStudents

Credit Needed: Fair – Excellent
Standard APR: 12.99% – 21.99%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details: 
The rewards program is a straightforward cash back program that gives 2% on gas stations and restaurants and 1% cash back on all other purchases

College can be pricey. The DiscoverIt Chrome for Students card helps students with fair credit make a dent in their expenses while giving them a chance to boost their FICO scores. The introductory APR for purchases is 0 percent for 6 months; introductory APR for balance transfers is 10.99 APR for 6 months. Regular APR varies from 12.99 percent to 21.99 percent. Cardholders earn 2 percent cash back for up to 1,000 dollars of combined restaurant and gas purchases – no signups required. Cash back earned is 1 percent for everything else. Points can be redeemed any time and never expire.

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MastercardBank of America CashRewardsforBusinessMastercard

Credit Needed: Fair – Excellent
Standard APR: 11.24% – 21.24%
Annual Fee: None
Reward Details: 
Earn 1% cash back on purchases, 2% on purchases at restaurants and 3% on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores

Back in the day cash back rewards cards for business were scarce but that’s no longer the case. The Bank of America Rewards for Business features a 0 percent introductory APR for 9 billing cycles for purchases; regular APR is as low as 11.24 percent. Cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on gas and office supply purchases, 2 percent cash back at restaurants and 1 percent on everything else. There is no limit to the amount of cash back that can be earned. Rewards can be distributed to employees invested in the business, deposited into a Bank of America bank account – or enjoyed for yourself!

You’ve heard the stories of those seemingly lucky people who have retired young and really rich, and you’d love to do the same. Bill Edgar wants you to control your financial destiny, too, which is why he wrote the book, The Minimum Wage Millionaire: How a Part Time After School Job Can Change Your Financial Life. The book is designed to help young people skip the school of financial hard knocks he attended.

“When I got my first job as a paperboy at 12 years old, I immediately took the money from my first paycheck…and bought a bottle of Coke and tons of baseball cards,” says Edgar in his book. “By the end of the week, all the money I’d made was gone. Back then, it wasn’t much, but today—if I’d just invested part of that somehow—I’d have enough to buy a small island in the Bahamas.”

Time is on your side and you have fewer financial responsibilities when you’re young, says Edgar, who urges those under 30 to take advantage of that fact.

If you’ve already completed these 14 financial moves, you’re likely to retire rich.

1. Set Up A Budget

BudgetDevising and sticking to a budget is the first step to building wealth. A budget enables you to live below your means, which is the only way to become a millionaire. Within that budget you should have dedicated at least 20 percent of your income to saving.

2. Establish An Emergency Fund

Emergency FundThose who retire early and rich know that it’s not a matter of if you’ll need an emergency fund, but when. Life happens and you have unexpected bills because of it—even when you’re young. Your emergency fund should grow as you get older in order to cover at least three months’ worth of expenses if you aren’t able to work.

3. Save Automatically

saveSetting up automatic savings accounts ensures that you save no matter what, and doing so allows you to take advantage of compound interest. ”Money makes money,” says Edgar. “This is why it’s so critical for you to start saving while you’re young. Over long periods of time, your money compounds—snowballing from just a few crumpled up ones to a massive truckload of Benjamin Franklins!”

4. Pay Yourself First

Pay yourselfSetting up your automatic savings plan to occur at thebeginning of each month before you pay any bills, ensures that you meet your savings goal every month.

5. Learn To Live Frugally

frugalMost millionaires are unassuming and live below their means. “The media portrays an image that all millionaires drive Lamborghinis and Maseratis, wear Gucci shoes and Rolex watches, and live in 30,000-square foot mansions by the beach, but that’s not even close to the truth,” says Edgar. “They drive used cars, have average sized homes, budget and save most of their income.”

6. Open An IRA

IRAIf you’ve opened an IRA and each year contribute the maximum allowed, you’re well on your way to being really rich. Roth IRAs allow you to save money now that you can take out later without having to pay taxes when you turn 59 ½ years old. You can also withdraw contributions from your Roth tax-free after the account has been open for five years.

All you need is a paycheck to open a Roth IRA, and you don’t have to be any particular age. Even kids can open one. If you’re under 18, you can open up a custodial account with your parents.

7. Create An Investment Plan

Investment PlanMost people work for money, but wealthy people have their money work for them. “Rich people don’t trade time for money,” says Edgar. “They create a plan to invest money to get a return without having to do any of the work. They find a good investment, put their cash in, and, if they’ve chosen well, they get more money back than what they’ve invested. They keep doing this over and over, until they wind up with A LOT of money.”

From the many mutual funds available, Edgar encourages choosing investments from the S&P 500 index funds. Each of these funds represents a wide variety of companies and they tend to be diverse and steady in their return. Index funds also have the least expensive fees, which makes a big difference over time.

8. Don’t Panic

panicStock market crashes and panics happen over time and are normal, says Edgar. “When something in the world occurs, many people may decide to sell, but never feel that you have to do what everyone else is doing.” He advises instead to stay the course and invest something with every paycheck.

9. A Career With No Financial Ceiling

financial CeilingMost of the wealth in the U.S. is made by entrepreneurs. “There are no employees on the Forbes Richest List,” says Edgar. “Not even a world-renowned heart-surgeon or a top-paid, super lawyer. All of the richest people in the world invest to make their money work for them, because they know their earnings are capped, if they just trade time for money.”

10. Seek The Help Of A Financial Mentor

mentorTake the time to learn from someone who has successfully built wealth, after all, they are often the best teachers. You’ll likely retire young and rich if you sought and took advantage of such a mentor relationship and emulated the person’s successful financial moves.

11. Learn To Take Advantage Of Free Money

free moneyIn addition to rarely paying retail and using coupons and rebates, young wealthy people also take advantage of opportunities to get substantial amounts of free money, such as signing up for a company 401(k) plan with a contribution match. Many such plans match your contributions by 50 to 100 percent, which can add up to really big bucks.

12. Write Down Your Financial Plan

writeStudies have shown that the key to accomplishing your goals lies in committing those goals to paper, and handwriting them is the most effective. Saying you want to be rich when you’re young, won’t work. You need a written workable plan that contains specific steps and actions on your part.

13. Use Limited Credit 

creditReally rich people know that irresponsible use of credit robs you of your financial future. You’ll retire really rich if you use credit infrequently and only when you can pay the balance off without interest.

14. Believe in Your Dream

believeThe most important aspect of becoming really rich early in life is believing that you can do it. Inspire yourself by reading about others who have done the same, and you’re likely to reach financial independence at a young age and live the life of your dreams.

Best_Auto_Financing_Companies

What to Look For In a Vehicle Loan: 10 Tips

Car buyers will spend hours researching reviews on their favorite models looking for the vehicle that best fits their needs and their budget. For instance, according to a report by AutoTrader Group, the average car shopper spends more than 11 hours online researching cars and three and a half hours offline. The loan used to finance the car, on the other hand, is often just knocked together in the back office without the buyer giving much thought to anything but the total amount of the monthly payment.

This is great news for car dealers who have seen their profit margins shrink as customers become savvier about the true cost of vehicles. Car dealers view car financing as an additional source of revenue and often sell your loan to bigger lenders for a commission. The profit they make on car financing sometimes exceeds the profit of the actual sale.

According to a survey by the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average dealer margin on new car and truck sales in 2013 was 3.84% or $1,204. Yet a difference of just 3% on the interest rate of a 60-month loan could add over $4,000 to the financing cost of a $15,000 car.

These ten tips will help you avoid overpaying on your next auto loan.

1. Get Pre-approved for a Car Loan

The golden standard to buying a car is to buy with cash. The second best option is to line up your financing before buying the vehicle. Doing this will help you know what interest rate you qualify for, which will determine how much you can afford to borrow. It will also help you negotiate as a cash buyer, which gives you more clout when negotiating a price.

Even if you decide to go with the dealership’s financing, which is rarely a good idea, you can still use your preapproved loan offer as a bargaining chip when negotiating the terms of your loan.

2. Check Your Credit Score

Avoid surprises and get a good feel for the interest rates you qualify for by checking your credit score. You can do it for free at www.annualcreditreport.com or shell out a few bucks at a credit reporting company. Here are a list of reviews on the top credit reporting companies.

3. Find the Lowest Interest Loan You Qualify For

Now that  you know your credit score, you can get a good idea of what interest rates you qualify for. SuperMoney allows you to research all major auto lenders as well as get competing auto loan offers back from SuperMoney lending partners.

4. Improve Your Credit Score

If you have the time – repairing your credit doesn’t happen overnight – it’s smart to make a special effort to improve your credit score before you start shopping for a vehicle loan. Even a modest improvement can translate into big savings.

To illustrate, according to myFico.com, if you live in Michigan and try to get a $15,000 auto loan on a used car with a term length of 48-months and a credit score between 690 and 719, you should expect an interest rate of 4.979%, a monthly payment of $345 and a total interest paid of $1,574.

Improve your credit score to something between 720 and 850 and you could save $400 in interest.

5. Choose the Shortest Term Length You Can Afford

The term length of a loan is the amount of time you have to pay it off. The longer the term length the lower your payments will be and the more you will pay in interest. Keep the term length as short as you can afford to save money on interest.

6. Pay as Much of a Down payment as You Can Reasonably Afford

Having cash lying around in your savings account may be comforting, but the measly 1% interest (if you’re lucky) your savings generate would be put to better use on a down payment.

The bigger the down payment you put on a car, the smaller the loan you’ll need. Every dollar you put toward a down payment is saving you 4% to 21% in interest, depending on the health of your credit. Paying a substantial down payment doesn’t only mean you have to borrow less, it’s also a show of good faith to lenders, which can result in better loan terms.

7. Treat Your Trade-In as a Separate Transaction

Buying a car often involves three transactions: the car, the loan and the sale of your old car. Messing up any of those transactions could turn a great deal into a rip-off.

Although trading in your car with the same dealer is convenient, you will probably get a better price by selling the car yourself. If you do decide to sell your car to the same dealer, don’t allow the car dealer to bundle all three into one deal.

Before talking about a trade-in price for your old car, negotiate the best possible price on the new car and make sure you have a clear idea of the current value of your car. You can do this by checking the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.

8. Check the Financing Terms Are Set In Stone Before You Leave

If you must finance your new vehicle through the dealership, make sure you read and understand all the terms in the contract before you drive off. Ask for a copy of your credit contact and check it has all the signatures and terms filled in.

A classic dealers’ trick is to give you a great car loan deal that is “pending approval” and then call you a few days later with the sad news that your loan “application” wasn’t approved and that you must return to arrange a new loan with a higher interest rate.

If you don’t agree to the new price, you could lose your deposit, your trade-in, and even have to pay a rental fee for the time you drove the new car. As mentioned in tip 1, it is much better to line up your financing before you set foot in a car dealership.

9. Consider all costs involved in the purchase

When determining whether you can afford an auto loan, look at the true cost to own the car. Apart from the sticker price, that includes all related running costs, such as insurance, maintenance, repairs, depreciation, licensing fees and fuel efficiency. You can find this information for your vehicle at ConsumerReports.com, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.

10. Ask How Interest is Calculated and Check for Prepayment Penalties

Whether you choose to borrow money from a bank, credit union or dealer, you should ask whether you can pay off the debt early without paying a penalty. The answer to this question will depend on how the lender calculated the interest on the loan and whether the terms include a pre-payment penalty.

If the terms of your loan call for simple interest, you only pay interest on the balance of the loan. So the faster you pay it off, the less interest you pay. However, if the terms of the loan ask for pre-computed interest, then the interest you pay on the loan is fixed, regardless of whether you pay it off early or not. Loans with pre-computed interest may offer a rebate for a portion of the interest you paid, but not all of it. Loans with simple interest may charge a pre-payment penalty or fee to customers who pay the loan off early. When negotiating the terms of the loan, try to get a simple interest loan with no prepayment penalty.

These tips are only a primer of the ways you can save money when applying for a loan. Check out SuperMoney’s section on loans for more information on how to get the best deal possible out of your next loan.

health is wealth

Knowing how to make money is important but, without a healthy lifestyle, key factors enabling the task can be sorely affected.  Energy levels, mental sharpness, and communication skills can all drop to unproductive levels.  Both the National Institutes for Health, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide valuable information regarding behaviors necessary for a healthier life.  A healthy body provides resources needed for being more effective in generating greater revenue and enjoying personal time.  Consider these 10 Golden Rules:

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet.

dietThe saying ‘you are what you eat’ is actually quite true.  This phrase dates back to the year 1826, but gained its greatest popularity in the U.S. during the hippie movement when organic foods gained popularity.

Commonly, consumers are unaware of the toxic nature of many foods purchased at grocery stores.  Suffice it to say, the less processed the meal, the healthier it is.  A person that sticks to eating natural foods (plants and animals) prevents unwanted chemicals from entering their bodies.  Food additives can wreak havoc on the body and mind.  As a matter of fact, according to FoodMatters.com, many countries have banned the use of some additives in their food.

2. Get Regular Exercise.

exerciseThe CDC recently reported that 80% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of exercise for health maintenance.  A team of medical researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston, analyzed global data on deaths in 2008 and came up with an alarming result: 5.3 million deaths were attributable to physical inactivity, compared to 5 million smoking related deaths.

This certainly makes a poignant point- start moving!  The National Institutes for Health reports that taking a 20 minute walk a day makes a large difference in our bodies.  Ultimately, adding in aerobic activity and muscle strengthening components will only serve to increase the health benefits of exercising.

3. Spend More Time Outside.

outsideAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans now spend 93% of their time indoors.  Since sunlight is our main source of Vitamin D, more and more individuals are developing Vitamin D deficiencies which result in an increased risk of such things as cardiovascular disease, cancer, severe asthma in children, and cognitive impairment in the elderly.

Being outdoors is imperative to improve physical and emotional health. As reported in US News and World Digest, although the government recommends adults get 200IU to 400IU a day, experts believe this is far too low and should be 10,000 IU of Vitamin D daily for improved health.  Sound like a lot?  This same report states that just 10-20 minutes a day of having exposure to the sun in mid-day will provide 10,000 IU.

4. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule.

sleepGetting enough sleep each night is directly related to the productivity and well-being experienced the next day. A report by the CDC states that, “Sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health.”

The National Institute of Health recommends 7-8 hours of sleep per night for adults.  NIH also points out the importance of staying on a consistent sleep schedule, having a quiet and comfortable environment, turning all gadgets off, and avoiding eating large meals before bedtime.

5. Reduce Stress.

no stressThree hormones are involved in what happens when the brain anticipates a threat and add fuel to the stress fire:  Adrenalin, Cortisol and Norepinephrine.  As reported by the Huffington Post, these 3 hormones which are produced by the adrenal glands, automatically respond after receiving a message from the brain that a stressful situation has presented itself.

Resultantly, the mind gets focused and the muscles tense up.  The inability to sleep, digestive disorders and irritability can occur.  WebMD suggests the following to reduce stress:  Find a balance between your work and personal life, find a sense of purpose in life apart from work, get enough sleep, pursue exercising more and adopt healthy habits.

6. Strengthen Intellectual Health.

thinkThe brain is an organ that needs stimulation.  New York Times writer Barbara Strauch states, “the trick is finding ways to keep brain connections in good condition and to grow more of them.” Strauch refers to Dr. Kathleen Taylor, a professor at St. Mary’s College of California, who has studied ways to teach adults effectively.

“The brain is plastic and continues to change, not in getting bigger but allowing for greater complexity and deeper understanding,” Taylor states.  Increasing the health of the brain includes reading material that will challenge thought patterns, taking up a new hobby, or getting involved in activities that will open up new connections in the brain.

7. Incorporate Relaxation Practices.

stressIt is critical to learn how to relax, take a deep breath, and ‘smell the roses’ as the saying goes.  In an article in Psychology Today written by Barton Goldsmith Ph.D., he relates the importance of taking time to give yourself the gift of a deep breath, the view of a long sunset and remembering that this time of being unproductive is giving you the opportunity to reboot your resources.  Goldsmith states, “Pick whatever day and time works best for you, and make it a plan. By committing to take some time for yourself and for those you love, you are giving yourself and your family a gift.”

8. Pursue Moderation in All Things.

moderationAlcohol addiction and tobacco use are major issues in American society.  One of the major foibles is that both are legal and, therefore, not controlled.  An organization called Moderation Management addresses the fact that quitting alcohol or tobacco use ‘cold turkey’ is ineffective.  Chances of eliminating them are slim unless you employ practices to moderate them.  While tobacco use is clearly detrimental to health, alcohol becomes detrimental when used in excess.

According to Moderation.org, “The better approach is to break the change process down into a number of smaller, more manageable steps. With the step-by-step approach you gain a sense of confidence, direction and momentum as you go along.”

9. Increase Emotional Health

smileAbout 10% of Americans report being clinically depressed, according to the CDC.  However, emotional health has to do with having healthy relationships, friends and co-workers that create a support system.  HelpGuide.org reports that “the mind and the body are linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. For example, exercise not only strengthens our heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that energize us and lift our mood.  Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if and when they arise.”

10. Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

healthyThis may sound like an odd golden rule, but the escalating rise in obesity along with increasingly sedentary lifestyles has produced a sharp spike in Americans being affected metabolically.  The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains this phenomenon.

“Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.  The term metabolic refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease. In the future, metabolic syndrome may overtake smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease. It is possible to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome, mainly with lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment.” Ultimately, if consistently addressing the 9 aforementioned rules, there is a strong likelihood that metabolic syndrome will be prevented.

You have a great idea for a product or service, and the passion to be your own boss. That’s a great combination for a successful start-up, but there is one essential missing ingredient: start-up capital. If you’re lucky, you can obtain grant money, but grant money is hard to come by. Many aspiring entrepreneurs put their own skin in the game, bootstrapping their enterprises with credit cards. Other would-be business owners are able to obtain the cash they need from family and friends. But if those resources aren’t available to you, or you need to raise more money than those resources allow, there is still hop. Read on to see which are are the top sources for a start-up business loan.

Small Business Administration

sbaThe Small Business Administration (SBA) represents a tremendous resource for start-up capital. The SBA administers a variety of loan programs, including the popular 7(a) Loan Program for general start-up capital, the 504 Program for equipment purchases and its micro-loan program. The SBA website also provides a wealth of useful information for aspiring entrepreneurs, even if you don’t wind up borrowing through the SBA.

Veterans Administration

VA-bannerIf you are a veteran, you are entitled to a broad range of services and resources, including loans and other forms of start-up capital for your small business or entrepreneurial venture. The VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization website serves as a portal to a variety of resources exclusively targeting veterans. You can obtain information about federal, state and local information through the portal.

Community Banks

community bankMany large banks have severely tightened their credit requirements, especially where small business and entrepreneurial lending are concerned. But many community banks emphasize lending to local constituents, including would-be business owners. If you have a well-executed business plan that will create local jobs, you may find that community banks are more receptive than their national counterparts.

Credit Unions

Credit-UnionCredit unions frequently have more tolerant lending policies than banks, because they are run as nonprofit ventures. You have to be a member of a credit union to qualify for a loan, but there are so many credit unions in existence these days that you are almost certainly qualified to join at least one. As with community banks, you may also receive a favorable reception from a credit union if your proposal boosts job opportunities for local residents.

Finance Companies

financeFree-standing finance companies have been a traditional resource for individuals who could not obtain bank loans. Interest rates for finance companies are typically higher than those for banks and credit unions. However, lending standards are often more lenient as well. Do not confuse finance companies with payday lenders, many of which prey on aspiring entrepreneurs just as they do with desperate individuals seeking personal loans. If you’re considering borrowing from a finance company that you’re unfamiliar with, check out the company with the Better Business Bureau or the Secretary of State or District Attorney’s offices in your states to be sure the company is legit.

Peer-to-Peer Loanspeer-to-peer

Peer-to-peer loans are the 21st century version of lending circles, with one important difference. Lending circles involve extended families, tribal groups, and other community-based relationships. By contrast, Peer-to-peer lending involves borrowing money collected from strangers. One important implication of this lending model is that prospective borrowers must disclose extensive personal information essentially to complete strangers. This information is compiled through online profiles, which may be subject to malicious attacks. Many peer-to-peer lending programs also have minimum credit score requirements that borrowers must meet in order to be eligible.

Home Equity Loan

home_equityHome equity lending used to be considered the go-to source of funding for everything from big weddings to kitchen overhauls. The housing crisis and tighter lending standards have put a damper on home equity loans, but they have not disappeared. If you cannot obtain funding any other way, a home equity loan can mean the difference between opening your doors for business and remaining a would-be entrepreneur with a dream.

Credit Card Factoring

creditCredit card factoring involves obtaining financing based on projected future credit card transactions. As a business owner, you would receive a portion of your credit card payments immediately in exchange for allowing the credit card factoring company to take over your actual credit card revenues. Credit card factoring is usually only an option for more mature businesses. This is because business owners must demonstrate they have actual credit card revenues. If you have managed to pre-sell your product or service in advance of production as part of your start-up venture, you may be eligible for credit card factoring.

Venture Capitalists

ventureVenture capitalists are individuals or firms who provide capital to companies who don’t have access to equities markets. If your start-up has the potential to generate large revenues, you might peak the interest of a venture capitalist. If so, he or she will invest in your venture in exchange for equity or ownership of your company.

Angel Investors

angelAngel investors are similar to venture capitalists. Like venture capitalists, angel investors also seek promising ventures in which to invest their money. But angel investors tend to specialize in higher-risk and early-stage businesses. Venture capital investors will, typically, focus on more established companies with some kind of track record and a strong growth potential.

scams

Paying with a card is considered a secure form of payment, but the truth is if you swipe your card or order online nowadays, you put your credit card and your financial security at potential risk. According to the Federal Reserve, in 2012, the estimated number of unauthorized transactions (third-party fraud) was 31.1 million instances, with a value of $6.1 billion.

Today’s hackers have the capability of stealing account numbers, PINs and other personal information and going on spending sprees at the expense of consumers and banks.

Here are some of the most diabolical credit card scams of all time.

1. TJX (TJ Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods)

T.J._MaxxDate: 2007

Stolen: 40 million credit cards, resulting in about $1 billion stolen.

A security breach in December 2006 showed that 94 million customer credit cards had been exposed. Officials ended up apprehending legendary hacker Albert Gonzalez and sentencing him to 40 years in prison. He was working with 11 other hackers on the TJX system, which didn’t have any firewalls.

2. Best Western

BestWesternDate: 2008

Stolen: Guest credit card details over three months at the hotel chain’s 1,300 hotels, resulting in at least $4 billion stolen.

No one was caught in this heist that gave thieves the information they needed to tap the Best Western IT network and obtain credit card numbers, as well as addresses and phone numbers, the latter of which gave them the information they needed to steal identities.

3. Target

TargetDate: December 2013

Stolen: 70 million debit/credit cards affected and personal information, including addresses and phone numbers. Estimated cost to Target over $2 billion.

One of the largest data breaches on record, this hit just in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season. They initially reported that 40 million debit/credit cards were affected, but later said that the number was much higher. It was caused by a new, sophisticated malware.

4. Home Depot

home-depotDate: September 2014

Stolen: 56 million debit/credit cards exposed, Total cost: Still unknown

Caused by the same new variant of a particularly dangerous malware that affected Target, this security breach has caused a ripple affect across the U.S., with fraudulent charges popping up all over. The card numbers were sold on the black market, and the results are likely to be felt for a long time.

5. Michaels/Aaron Brothers

michaelsDate: 2013

Stolen: 3 million customer debit/credit cards exposed

The attack on Michaels/Aaron Brothers was so insidious, that two independent security firms initially found nothing out of the ordinary when they investigated. It took weeks of searching for them to discover that the credit cards had been accessed with a sophisticated malware that the security firms hadn’t yet encountered.

This breach wasn’t the first for the company, which reported in 2011 that criminals had replaced PIN pads in stores across the country and stole 94,000 debit/credit card account numbers. The two men who stole the cards were arrested attempting to use 1,000 of the cards at ATMs to withdraw money.

6. International Credit Card Fraud Scam

cc scamDate: 2013 (arrests made)

Stolen: $200 million

One of the largest credit card scams to be charged by the US. Department of Justice, this elaborate fraud scheme involved criminals inventing 7,000 fake identities so that they could obtain thousands of credit cards and steal at least $200 million. Part of the plan even involved doctoring credit reports so that the thieves could get increased credit lines. The heist spanned many countries, but in 2013 a total of 13 people in the New York and New Jersey area were caught and arrested.

7. 7-Eleven

7-11Date: 2009

Stolen: 140 million customer credit cards exposed. It has cost the company at least $12 million in payments to credit card issuers.

7-11 uses the credit card processing company Heartland Financial Systems, and in 2009 the company’s system was breached because of a weakness in the IT security. The thieves cut through the company’s firewall with a SQL injection attack. What made this attack especially surprising was the fact that Heartland had recently been certified as having a secure payment card system.

8. Card Systems Solutions

cardsDate: 2005

Stolen: 40 million Visa/Mastercard accounts breached

This Arizona-based credit card processor may have been hacked internally, leading to leaked customer information across the globe. The company reported that hackers installed a virus script that created the exposure of some cards.

9. Anup Patel and his Counterfeit Credit Cards

patelDate: 2008

Stolen: 20,000 credit/debit cards stolen to collect $3.2 million fraudulantly

When you look at the numbers, this caper pales in comparison, but the incredible thing about it is that it was masterminded by a UK computer science student, Anup Patel, who worked with a partner, Anthony Thomas. The duo used a complicated method of installing hidden cameras at gas stations, gathering information and making counterfeit cards that they used to withdraw money at ATMs around the world.

Patel is reported to have led the police to him by his late night phone calls to the police where he compared himself to the famous American con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., who was depicted in the film, “Catch Me If You Can,” starring Leonardo di Caprio.

10. Debit Card Rip-offs at ATMS 

thiefsDate: 2013

Stolen: $45 million from debit cards at ATMS

After stealing information from databases of prepaid debit cards, a network of thieves used the information on plastic cards that they created to extract money from ATM machines in 26 countries. From February 10-20th, they took out $40 million in 36,000 transactions over a 10-hour period. The other $5 million was withdrawn on December 22. It is being considered one of the biggest cash heists ever. Eight thieves in New York were eventually indicted.