Pre-Travel Planning Checklist: Essential Things to Do Before You Go

Passport. Make sure your passport is valid through the length of your trip, even better if you have at least six months to spare. Check, because some countries will not issue you a visa if you have less than six months’ remaining on your passport.

Banking. Buy travelers’ cheques if you plan to use them. Call your bank(s) to be sure your ATM/debit cards can be used overseas. Ask what the fees are for using your card abroad, such as transaction and foreign currency conversion fees. Tell them what countries you will be visiting and when. Get phone numbers to call from overseas if you need to. Most banks have international collect numbers that you can call from a pay phone if need be.

NOTE: Look at your bank cards and credit cards to be sure they won’t expire during your trip. It’s a very easy thing to overlook, but the biggest pain in the butt to fix!

Documents. Photocopy important documents such as your passport, credit cards, visas, travelers’ cheques, travel insurance policy and itinerary. Leave a copy with a reliable loved one so that if need be you can call and have the documents faxed/emailed to you. Email a copy to yourself, and make sure your email password is as tight as Uncle Scrooge.

Travelers insurance. You will probably never have to use it, but it’s a must. Compare policies. Nomad and travel1 are excellent companies I’ve used.

Keeping in Touch. If you are planning to take your mobile phone with you, call your carrier to find out exactly what the rates are to make and receive calls and texts in each country you plan to travel to. Even better, get your phone unlocked and buy a local SIM card when you arrive. Usually for just a few dollars, you can have your own number on which you can receive calls for free (someday, hopefully the United States will get on board with the rest of the world and not charge you to receive calls…).

Skype. If you don’t already have a Skype account, set one up now. This is your best bet for calling home or anywhere else. Not only can you talk for free with your friends who have Skype, you can also call anywhere you want to for pennies through the computer. You can get a local Skype number that for just a few dollars a month that you have forwarded to you wherever you are (watch out, though; with this option, YOU pay to receive calls). Most internet cafes now have Skype-ready machines. If it’s the middle of the night or you can’t find an internet cafe (they do seem much less plentiful, what with every cafe, hotel and even hostel offering wi-fi these days), an international calling card is a good idea. Even the worst ones will give you far better rates than your mobile carrier from home will give you for international calls.

Bills. If you are going away for a month or more, make sure to pay any monthly bills that will come due while you are gone. Even better, set up online banking so that you pay all of your bills with a few clicks of a mouse. It’s free, provided by your bank (if not, you need to find a bank that has entered the 21st century! Hello!), your payments arrive faster because they are sent electronically, and you don’t have to find envelopes or lick stamps. Done.

First night accommodations. It’s a good idea to make a room or bed reservation for your first night. Write down their address, phone number and directions.

Know how to get out of the airport. If you plan to navigate yourself with public transportation, write down specific directions, and don’t be shy about double checking with the bus driver to make sure you’re going the right way. If you plan to take a taxi, find out what the distance is and/or what the taxi fare should be, and don’t be shy about disputing the fare if the driver tries to charge you three times what you expected. Unscrupulous taxi drivers routinely rip off tourists in every city in the world, but when you call them out on it, you usually end up paying a more fair price.

Getting Small Business Administration Loans With Recent Changes

In early 2013, getting small business administration loans became easier when the government streamlined the lending process and changed some features of the SBA’s popular loan programs. After complaints that the average SBA loan application was too complex and lengthy, the government decided to reduce the paperwork required to help expand upon the number of businesses with access to a loan or commercial mortgage. Some of the most difficult financing steps a business will face are the loans necessary at the startup phase. Getting initial funding for small business administration loans has been nearly impossible for some business owners, particularly because of the collateral and credit history requirements used in the past.

One of the biggest changes to the SBA 7(a) and 504 loan programs has been the elimination of the personal resource test. Before this change, applicants would need to undergo a complex process to determine how much collateral might be required for a particular loan application. This change has benefited businesses seeking the commercial loan rates offered through SBA loans, particularly when conventional loans have been out of reach. In addition, the rule changes surrounding business affiliation have made it possible for certain companies to qualify for small business administration loans despite having a financial connection to larger companies with significant revenue.

One of the biggest hurdles for qualifying for SBA loans has been the size requirement. The reason why the rules on affiliation were changed is because a large company with ties to a small company that was applying for an SBA loan wouldn’t benefit from trying to get a government-backed loan. Large companies have been able to qualify for conventional loans with rates lower than traditional SBA loan rates. However, loan limits were changed in 2010 to accommodate larger small business administration loans, as well as businesses with net income up to $5 million. This means that a company with $100 million in sales with only $5 in net income could actually satisfy SBA loan requirements.

The recent changes were made to help small businesses, but overall the modifications have made it easier for larger businesses to get SBA loans, too. One of the ways in which SBA loans haven’t changed is the requirement for collateral. Despite changes to the personal resource test, business owners have still had the opportunity to put their personal assets into the application as collateral. Placing a personal home up as collateral for an SBA loan has remained a standard part of building a business from the ground up. Fortunately, the SBA has allowed applicants to use collateral not owned by the business to satisfy SBA loan requirements.

Before deciding upon which loan to apply for with a local lender, a business borrower should figure out which SBA loan program would offer appropriate funds. Different loan programs available through lenders include CDC/504 loans for real estate and equipment, general SBA loans through the 7(a) program, and micro loans. The government even offers disaster loans that homeowners and renters can use. The variety of available small business administration loans ensures most small business owners can find an appropriate type.

The economic recovery has helped make it easier to qualify for small business loans, and with the rule changes in effect, it has been the government’s hope that there would be additional businesses applying for SBA loans. When seeking a small business loan, it’s important for business applicants to research a variety of lenders to determine which offers the best opportunity for approval. Small business administration loans do have some eligibility requirements, but many businesses can meet those requirements by finding a lender who specializes in small business loans.

The Popularity of Online Education

Since gaining an education is typically done in the original way, almost all people still find it a surprise to find out that they can get an online education. We commonly think that only the more bold people would be satisfied with this. Whether it be online or not, every one of us have to have a college education to ensure a better future for us.

Back in the olden times, parents would most likely break their back trying to send their kids to school. Despite this, it was still not possible for many people. The cost was very high to send their kids to school. Typically, these young people wound up with incomplete degrees.

A large amount of parents still suffer from the exact same situation. Conditions permitting, a few parents prefer that their kids work in place of going to school. This is where online education steps in. Because of this type of education, those people who are capable can work and study as well.

When there is almost no time and a lot more sacrifices required, online education programs could very well be customized to suit the learner’s desires and time. One can take advantage of the daytime job and pursue his education and learning during the night time online.

This is also great for young moms who want to pursue education even with all the current responsibilities at home. This allows her to attain education of a higher degree without missing out on her tasks at home. Moms would genuinely appreciate the opportunity to expand their horizons but still have the ability to enjoy her home routine.

People consider this to be less expensive as well. There won’t be unnecessary fees for transportation, additional textbooks, or even day care fees that a mother or father must pay while at school. Online education sets you free from travel stress.

As well as its practicality, people like that you are able to be relaxed and comfy while you go to school and study. It really is both relaxing, and practical. Education is just easier this way.

They say the effectiveness of such an education is subjective. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that an excellent education proves to be a better answer for someone who has to work while they go to school. This system enables them to be successful in all areas of life from career, friends and family and finances.

Auto Finance – Six Steps to Follow When Financing a New Vehicle

If you are planning to buy a new or a used car, the first thing you would require is proper auto finance at a reasonable rate. However, in order to get the best deal, it is very necessary to do the required research and homework before getting your car financed. Following are six steps you should follow when financing a vehicle:

Step 1:
Compare and contrast all the available models from different automobile manufacturers and choose the one that best suits your interests, needs, as well as your budget.

Step 2:
Once you have chosen the vehicle you wish to purchase, look out for discounts and special financing rates available on it. Generally, most of the manufacturers offer attractive interest rates, such as 2.9% for 5 years and 0% for up to 3 years, on their new models to lure customers. The current incentives and rates offered on different makes and models of automobiles can be easily found online on popular automotive websites.

Step 3:
The next step is to decide the duration for which you want to finance your vehicle. However, this decision largely depends on your budget and present income. If you can afford to pay bigger amounts as monthly repayments, it is always advisable to opt for shorter repayment duration. On the other hand, if you cannot afford big monthly payment amounts, you can reduce them by getting the automobile financed for a longer period of time. However, bear in mind that with longer repayment periods, you would have to bear the burden of auto finance for a much longer period, and in due course of time, you would owe much more on your auto loan than it is worth in the open market.

Step 4:
The fourth step is to decide the amount of the down payment you want to make on your new car or truck. Here are a few guidelines to help you take this decision:

- If no special incentives are offered by the manufacturer on the model you are targeting, it is advisable to make a large down payment as it will help you save big by reducing the total amount of interest required to be paid on the total loan amount.

- However, if special interest rates are offered on your vehicle, it is better to put as little money down as possible. In such a case, it is advisable to invest any down payment and get the entire car financed at 0% or 2.9%.

Step 5:
The best way to obtain auto finance is to get it from a car dealership. However, before you get in touch with local auto dealers, it is not a bad idea to get pre-approved to finance it through a local bank, credit union, or an online bank. This will help you in two ways:

- It would prompt the dealer to offer you a rate lesser than the one that you have already been quoted.
- It would give you an estimate of the interest rate you qualify for and thus help you negotiate a better deal.

To get pre-approved, get in touch with a local financial service or an online loan officer and negotiate a low selling price.

Step 6:
Choose the most reliable, local car dealership that has the vehicle you want to purchase on its list. Get in touch with the dealer and try to negotiate a rate lower than the one you have already been approved at by the financial service. If the dealer agrees at a lower rate, get your vehicle financed through him without a second thought. If you could not negotiate a better deal, get back to the bank that you are already approved with.

Thus, in order to get the best deal, you should follow the above six steps when financing your new vehicle.