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Cheap Date Ideas

Dating, or courting as they say, is how we get to know someone who may become our significant other or partner. However, dating takes time, and also money.   It can be costly to wine and dine and get to know someone. Naturally, thinking about money and love at the same time isn’t exactly romantic, but you may find yourself looking for a short-term loan from someone like the UK payday lender eCashWindow.

The first thing to think about if dating is who is going to pay for the date?

The old fashioned way is whomever is asking for the date, usually pays. You ask someone out, you pay.

A more modern approach has been to split the costs, or if you are the one being asked out, to offer to contribute a portion of the expenses.

Vouchers: I am an advocate for the use of coupons and vouchers, and this can be an especially good way to save money on going out. Many cinemas and restaurants offer early bird discounts, or discounts on set menus. Some mobile phone carriers have partnered with cinemas to offer discounts on a particular day of the week. The Orange Mobile network was having Orange Wednesdays where you got cheap film tickets if you were an Orange customer.

Vouchers through Groupon, Vouchercodes, or other web sites are another way to save as well.

Tesco’s Club Card has a “boost” scheme where you can increase your quarterly vouchers by 4 times their value if you redeem them at restaurants Tesco has partnered with. £10 worth of vouchers can be redeemed for £40 of food. That’s a great deal!

Coffee: Meeting someone for a cup of coffee is not only inexpensive, it also allows you time together to speak and get to know one another. Isn’t that is what dating is about anyway, getting to know each other and spend time together.

Starbucks and Costa Coffee shops are very inviting and relaxing places to visit and get to know someone. Many also have WiFi, which isn’t good for conversing, but good if sharing things off the Internet.

Let’s Do Lunch: A lunch or even meeting in the morning for breakfast as a date is less expensive than a full meal out. There are cafes everywhere, and their prices are usually very reasonable. This can be awkward as for a first date you may not want to meet someone for scrambled eggs and toast.

A Table For Two: Staying in and cooking for someone is a great way to save money, have conversation, and get to know each other. They can also see how tidy you are as well.

Both Tesco and Marks and Spencers offer “dine in” meals for two for around £10, which includes a bottle of wine. You get a starter, main course, dessert, and wine for £10.

Museums: Many local art galleries and museums such as the Tate, or British Museum have free exhibits. What a great way to take in some culture, spend time together, and possibly discuss why Van Gogh cut off part of his ear. OK, maybe not the Van Gogh part.

So be creative and think of ways to spend quality time together, and not spend lots of money.

5 Tips on Making Your Master’s Degree Achievable

Earning a master’s degree is a huge accomplishment, both for your professional and personal life. You will be offered better opportunities and higher pay, and you’ll live with the satisfaction of knowing you accomplished something above and beyond what was required. For many, the opportunity to earn this degree feels like it’s just out of reach, but with some careful planning and hard work, it might be much more attainable than you think.

1. Find Scholarships

If you have a passion, hobby, or talent, there’s a good chance that someone is offering a scholarship for it. If you are already working, some scholarships reward those who stand out in their profession. Nurses are offered a variety of scholarships by some of the leading healthcare companies in the nation.

2. Look for the Best Schools

School

Image via Flickr by Beraldo Leal

There are many universities that offer the best possible education and more affordable tuition rates. Choosing a school that’s in-state will help with the tuition fees. You can also look for a school that is committed to your field of study that might offer a grant or some sort of incentive for furthering your education with them.

3. Online Education

You may not be at a point where you can devote yourself to education full-time any longer, especially if you have already taken a job in your desired field. This is why many schools offer a program online for those trying to earn their master’s degree while already committed to working. Ohio University, for instance, offers online study programs for working nurses interested in furthering their education. Attend school where and how you need to as you pursue your studies.

4. Employee-Tuition Reimbursement

Many companies believe in investing in their employees. So much so, that some of the leading companies in the country will offer employee-tuition reimbursement programs. Talk to your employer to learn about the company’s policies on education and see if they offer a program like this. This is especially prominent in the medical field, where higher education is always an asset.

5. Take Your Time

As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In most cases, the things that are worth having are not just going to fall in your lap overnight. They take hard work and efficiency. In a perfect world, we could all focus on one thing at a time, but if you’re trying to earn your master’s degree while keeping a roof over your head or supporting a family, you might need a bit more time to finish than if education had been your entire focus. The important thing is to do the job right, and as you learn to take your time, you will get the most out of the experience.

Earning a master’s degree is more accessible than ever before today. As long as you work hard, look for the best opportunities for your needs, and keep an open mind, you’ll find that you can further your education. Look into a program today and see what suits you best.

Does Private Health Insurance Cover me as soon as I buy the Policy?

Since the Affordable Care Act came into being not having private health insurance can lead to a fine if you don’t qualify for public healthcare. But when you purchase a health insurance policy how soon does coverage commence?

It’s understandable that you’ll want to be covered by your health insurance as soon as possible in case you should suffer any health problems. Health care can be extremely costly so you want to get the benefit of your premiums straight away. Find out more about specific coverage times on HBF’s health insurance policies by following this link, you can learn more about peace of mind for you & your family.

So if I buy a policy when does it start?

The health insurance market place was set up to give people a way of purchasing health insurance. It is open for a period each year to allow for purchase of health insurance for that year. For 2014 the open enrollment period for the market place ended on March 31 2014. The proposed open enrollment period for 2015 is November 15 2014–February 15 2015.

If you enroll in a health insurance policy during the open enrollment periods it commences according to the date on which you enroll. If you enroll between the first day of enrollment period and the third week in December your coverage begins on the first day of the new year. After that point if you enroll between the 1st and the 15th day of the month, and you pay your premium on time, coverage starts on the first day of the following month. If you enroll between the 16th and last day of the month your coverage begins on the first day of the month after the following month.

What happens outside of the open enrollment period?

People can enroll for health insurance during a special enrollment period. This is a period of 60 days following the loss of current health insurance or a specific life event. The same rules of entitlement apply as for the open enrollment period.

Of course you can enroll for health insurance outside of the market place altogether, although from 2015 your policy will need to meet the same essential health benefits as those offered in the marketplace. You will need to check with the insurance provider when the policy will become effective, with many policies coverage starts from the month after you take the policy out. Once you start paying for your insurance you will receive a proof of insurance which you will need to prove coverage to medical providers.

What happens if I’m covered but my claim is refused?

The most important thing to find out is why the claim was denied; there can be a lot of reasons for this happening. There could be a perceived lack of medical necessity for the claim, or maybe the claim was made outside of prescribed time limits. Once you know the reason for the refusal you have the right to appeal if you feel you have been treated unjustly. There are two ways the decision can be looked at; an internal appeal which is considered by your insurance provider, and an external review where your case is referred to a third party.

What to do When You Need Cash Now but Have No Job

When you lose a job and the cash runs out, it is hard to figure out which direction to turn in. Getting a loan is not an option since you have no way of repaying it. Borrowing from friends or family may also not be an option due to their own financial status. Even getting a credit card is impossible with no income. There are a few options to consider when you need cash now to purchase groceries, pay rent/mortgage and keep the utilities on.

Obtain a Loan from a Pawn Shop

If you have items of value, this is one way to get a loan. Pawn shops do make loans that are generally required to be repaid within 90 – 120 days. The amount of the loan is based upon the value of the item or items you take in. Some will loan money on vehicles, so if you have a second vehicle, consider getting a loan on one of them but make sure it can be paid back or it will be lost. This temporary funding may not be the entire amount that you need, but it is a good start.

Advertise Services in Online Forums

Consider placing ads on online forums, on social media and in local classifieds advertising your special skills. This may bring a few jobs your way that will pay cash. These funds can be used for anything that you need whether it’s for survival or a vehicle repair. If you are not having any luck obtaining jobs, ask family if there is anything that you can do for them for pay such as yard work or a home repair. Some family members may be more willing to assist if you are actually working for the money.

Sell Items that are Unnecessary

Put items up for sale in local classifieds and price them to sell. Start a little high and be willing to negotiate. Items can be replaced, so anything that has been sitting around or is rarely used would be ideal. This includes electronics, collectibles and tools as the most popular items to sell quickly.

The options above will help you to get quick cash, especially when you are unemployed. Even if you receive unemployment compensation, it is rarely enough to make ends meet. The funds received from sales, pawn shops or side jobs should be enough to get you through until you find new employment.

 

How to Handle Tax Negotiations

Let’s face it, all of us are going to come across financial barriers at some point in our lives, no matter how fiscally responsible you may think you are. For many people, one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of their financial stability is their federal income taxes. While you might be earning sufficient funds to support a healthy and balanced lifestyle, income taxes have to potential to disrupt that lifestyle if you don’t manage your payments carefully and pay close attention to the amounts you owe before particular deadlines. If you happen to fall behind on paying your income taxes, it can be a major pain, but it won’t be the end of the world. You can still maintain financial solvency without having to declare bankruptcy or take other drastic measures. Thankfully you can engage in tax negotiations with the IRS. If your outstanding tax requirements are not in a range that can reasonably afford, it possible to settle your tax balance with an “offer-in-compromise” that is less than the amount you owe. While the IRS is settling for a lesser amount, it benefits them to work with individuals to receive at least part of the taxes owed as opposed to dealing with a bankruptcy case. Negotiating an offer in compromise to pay to the federal government in lieu of the full sum required for your official tax requirements can be a lengthy process but it is one that is worth the time commitment.

Time

Offers in Compromise

The IRS will make a decision regarding how much it thinks you will be able to pay based on your income versus your allowable expenses. In accordance with how much income you have declared on your tax returns, the IRS will determine if the amount you have proposed as a compromise settlement payment is sufficient. That determination is by no means a guaranteed yes from the government agency. According to media outlet Quartz, “In 2013 the IRS received 74,000 applications for “offers in compromise,” which allow taxpayers to pay less than they owe. The agency accepted fewer than half—31,000; in 2012, 64,000 taxpayers applied for one and only 24,000 were accepted.” As you can see, the statistics are consistently daunting as tax payers are unable to meet the standards set forth by the IRS.

Options for Tax Negotiations

Because so few people who apply for offers in compromise are actually able to solidify such deals, your best option is usually to work with an outside agency to help you with your tax negotiations. Ideally, you can find a firm that will give a realistic estimate for a proposal that the IRS will accept. Sources such as 800TAX are available to negotiate on your behalf to ensure you have filed all of the necessary forms and documents to give you the highest likelihood of coming to an agreement on a settlement amount and subsequent payment timeline with the federal government. These firms are generally well-versed in the details of tax law so they can finesse your proposal to give it the best chances while remaining at the lowest feasible payments.

Submission Types

There are two different types of possible offers in compromise. You can offer a lump sum payment in which you pay the IRS in fewer than six installments. While you are saving money because your offer is lower than the amount you owe in back taxes, you will still need to include at least 20% of the total sum of your proposal up front when you apply.

The second option is generally easier to incorporate in one’s budget as it is a periodic payment offer. When you submit your application for a periodic payment offer, you are required to pay the sum of your first suggested installment. If your proposal is accepted and the IRS determines your timeline to be acceptable, you are bound to that timeline for its duration. Because the government is already making a compromise to accept a lower payment with an extended timeframe, it is generally not receptive to proposals for further changes to the plan. As less than half of the applicants for offer in compromise deals are accepted, those who do manage to reach an agreement should do everything in their power to adhere to that agreement and payment timeline. Should the proposal you’ve submitted for either type of payment plan get rejected by the IRS, your submission fee is not refunded to you. However, this money will be applied toward your outstanding debt with the IRS. As such, an offer in compromise proposal won’t hurt you financially even in the event that it is not accepted.

Difficult

Unless you are an expert in tax law, the offer in compromise system might seem overly complex, but this brief introductory overview should give you some familiarity with the basics of tax negotiations to get you started and on your way toward a clean slate with the IRS.

5 Apps to Help You Budget Better This Summer

Be honest. Sometimes finances get away from you, especially during the summer months. The weather’s nice, everything worth experiencing is finally happening, and summer sales are hot, hot, hot. Unfortunately, that means summertime can drain your bank account faster than you can drain a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at your uncle’s barbecue.

We’ve all been there. Thankfully, we have all of this technology floating around to lend a hand. Since there’s an app for everything, you won’t be surprised to learn that there are apps that help you budget your finances and save money.

1. Mint

Let’s start with the most well-rounded app: the Mint financial planning app. It’s available on the iPhone, Android, and Windows mobile operating systems, and it’s completely free to use.

The app gives you a visual of all your spending, lets you set financial goals for yourself, and plans out a budget based on your lifestyle with bill reminders and mobile alerts.

Mint

Images via itunes.apple.com

Mint likes to claim that its incredibly detailed spending reports make you feel good about where your money goes, but that’s only after you feel great shame at looking at a pie chart that is 75% McDonald’s, 20% Netflix, and only 5% grownup things, like your  or underwear. That’s okay, though. We need a starting point.

2. RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot is a great little app for Android and iPhone that serves no other function than being a treasure trove of promo codes and coupons for thousands of businesses. You can get anything from a half-price pizza to discounted airfare, and anything in between. Scrolling through this app’s deals is more addictive than browsing related YouTube videos. Trust.

RetailMeNot

Image via itunes.apple.com

All jokes aside, RetailMeNot is a lifesaver. We can’t always resist the seductive gaze of online shopping (FREE two-day shipping–how could we not?), so this app serves as a great buffer between our weakness and the poorhouse. This app can use quite a bit of data when you’re on the go, though, so you may want to look at getting a T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan or something similar that has generous data allowances for users.

3. Hotel Tonight

What good is summertime without an unforgettable road trip? Not much of a summer, is it? Money shouldn’t hold you back from visiting places you’ve dreamed of visiting.

So, when you find yourself in a strange city, and your back seat smells like feet, you’re going to want a nice bed to sleep in. News flash: hotels are a huge money sink. Unless, of course, you pick up Hotel Tonight, available on iPhone, Android, and Windows.

Hotel

Images via itunes.apple.com

Every day at noon, the good people at Hotel Tonight post unsold rooms at ridiculously discounted rates. What ensues is a feeding frenzy of last-minute bookings, but you’re sure to snag a great deal with this app. You’ll enjoy a comfy bed, complimentary WiFi, and more money in your pocket than if you had booked a hotel the archaic way.

4. Manilla

Here’s another budget app, but this one takes things to a different level. If you’re feeling particularly grown up, check out Manilla for iPhone and Android.

Manilla is a versatile financial app that lets you sync up every single account you pay into, keeps track of your bank accounts, and gathers up all of your account documents to store for safekeeping. Basically it’s a filing cabinet without the cabinet and an awesome way to keep your money in order.

Manilla

Images via itunes.apple.com

If you have tons of different bills, even things like babysitters or dog walkers, you’ll love being able to keep track of them all in one place. Late fees are friends to no one, so let them know they aren’t invited to the party by downloading this app.

5. RedLaser

Everyone has experienced it at least once. You go to one grocery store to pick up a few things. On the way home, you realize you forgot cheese and decide to stop at another store only to discover everything here is so much cheaper. Frustrating, right?

Well, with RedLaser for your iPhone, Android, or Windows device, that level of rage becomes a thing of the past. Scan a barcode, and the app looks up prices online and at local stores to find the best deal available.

RedLaser

Image via itunes.apple.com

You’ll know exactly where to go to save money, and the app even shows you reviews of products, nutritional values, and coupons.

Each of these suggestions offers users a unique way to budget and even save a little money. In this economy, every little bit helps. If your bank account starts looking a bit parched this summer, give these apps a try.

4 Amazing Careers and Their Benefits

Want to find the perfect job? Whether your goal is to make lots of money, help others, or feel like a valued member of a team, today’s economy supports hundreds of thousands of workers in the careers they love. Read on to learn about some amazing vocational choices you can make today.

Software Development

Jobs

Image via Flickr photologue_np

If you’re a creative who loves gaming or tinkering with computers, you might enjoy a career as a software developer. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions in this field are opening up much faster than average. With a Bachelor’s degree, you can expect to earn up to $100,000 per year in this multifaceted field.

Software developers are fluent in different computer languages and platforms. They’re responsible for everything from developing popular games like Candy Crush to creating coding applications for today’s mobile phones. Within the field of software development, a professional can choose his/her area of interest and expertise.

Medical Informatics

Perhaps you’ve never heard of this health-minded career, but it’s growing right along with today’s medical and IT industries. We don’t just need doctors; we need people to help assimilate, store, and retrieve medical information. Physicians and emergency technicians often need quick access to a person’s medical history. An informatic combines his/her medical expertise with a working knowledge of IT to develop and deliver that information.

A Medical Informatic Degree qualifies you to work in this dynamic service field. It’s a popular advanced-study choice for doctors who want to use their IT skills to make a difference, but students without prior medical experience can pursue the degree as well.

Market Research Analysis

If you’re interested in how businesses work, you might enjoy the field of market research analysis. A Bachelor’s degree in a number of areas, including computer science, business, and communications, can get you in the door, but your training won’t stop there. Whatever area of sales and marketing you join, you’ll need to learn the ins, outs, and statistics of that field.

Depending on where you land a job, the pay can range between $43,000 – $85,000. For those interested in upward mobility, the job often boasts great career potential.

Customer Service

Customer service jobs get a bad rap, but some businesses offer their employees stellar benefits and working conditions. The following 4 well-known companies all offer their employees health care and other fringe benefits:

  • Starbucks: Baristas now receive two years of online college tuition from their employer, as well as employer-matched 401K contributions and health insurance.
  • Costco: Employees are eligible for health care and the employee stock purchase plan.
  • Lowe’s: The hardware chain offers health benefits and the right to purchase company stock at a discount.
  • Land’s End: The apparel giant offers health benefits even to seasonal workers who promise to return the next year.

Finding your niche in life can be difficult. It helps to know that jobs in customer service, business, IT, and the medical field can all serve you well in today’s tricky economy. It’s important to find a career that fills your social, emotional, and financial needs. Once you do, you’ll be set for life.