Would You Like a $3,500 Gas Card?

Gasoline prices are down but gas still costs money. How about a $3,500 gas card? You can sign up for a $3,500 gas card sweepstakes just by taking a survey. How much do you drive and how much do you pay for gas? If you spend $70 a week on gasoline a $3,500 gas card will pay for your gas for the next fifty weeks!

What Is the Point of the Survey?

Big companies like Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola or Amazon.com need information and will pay for it. Surveys often provide critical insight into how consumers feel about various products. Surveys often tell a company why it is that a new product rollout is not successful and provide clues about how to fix things. Anyone who asks you to fill out a survey is doing it to gain something and you should look for something in return.

What Do You Get for Filling Out a Survey?

Many times companies will pay you a few dollars for the time and effort required to answer a page of two of questions. And sometimes, like with the $3,500 gas card sweepstakes they offer you a shot an attractive prize like cash or a prepaid credit card for their merchandise.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Taking Surveys?

Honest companies want your opinion about their products and services. They do not want your personal information. If someone starts asking for you social security number, pin number for your VISA card or bank account information you are looking at attempted identity theft. Then it is time to hang up if you are on the phone or log off if you are on the internet. Here are a few thoughts about identity theft and how to prevent it.

Be Careful What You Divulge

All too many people fall prey online and telephone identity theft scams. If you do not know who it is that you are talking to on the phone do not give them your name, social security number, birth date, address or any other personal identifying information. It is all too easy for someone to use your info to secure their own credit card. They go on a shopping spree and you get the bills!

Federal Trade Commission Advice

A good place to discover identity theft information advice and advice for recovering info is on the Federal Trade Commission web site.

Here is a thumbnail of what they say.

Immediate Steps

If you take action quickly, you can stop an identity thief from doing more damage. Follow these three steps as soon as possible:

  • Place an Initial Fraud Alert
  • Order Your Credit Reports
  • Create an Identity Theft Report
  • Monitor Your Progress
  • Resolving identity theft takes phone calls and letters.  Create a system to organize your papers and calls, and to track deadlines.

That having been said, wouldn’t it be nice to take an honest survey and get a shot at a $3,500 gas card?

All about Credit

If you have good credit you are considered a reliable person to lend money to. Your credit worthiness is judged by a credit rating by one of the major credit rating agencies who give you a credit score. To learn all about credit start with credit scores.

Credit Scores

A credit score indicates how well a person will do in paying off his or her debts. It is a number based on credit data and calculated using statistical techniques. More specifically in the USA a credit score tries to predict how likely it is that a person will go 90 days past due on his bills, or worse, within the next twenty-four months. Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are the big three credit bureaus and they provide the information needed to calculate credit scores. There are times when your credit score misrepresents your ability to pay your bills. There may be a mistake in the calculation or false information may have been entered into your credit history. Credit scores are ranked in the FICO system in a range from 300 to 850, 300 being awful and 850 being perfect. If you want to know your credit score you can a free report every twelve months from each of the big three credit bureaus. But to get a score it costs $7.95. If you believe that the score is inaccurate you have 45 days to respond and contest it. Credit bureaus are liable for damage done to you by inaccurate ratings.

Fixing Bad Credit

If you have a low credit score (bad credit) you will find it hard to get a mortgage or other loan and hard to get a credit card. The best way to fix you credit score is to demonstrate your ability to pay off debts and loans. There are two common ways to do this. One is to get a pre-paid debit card at your bank. You pay $500 to get the card, use it to pay for groceries for example, and deposit money in the bank to replace the balance. If you do this routinely for months to a year or more your credit score goes up and you will be able to get a card with a higher balance. Eventually you will be able to get a regular VISA or MasterCard and have a good credit rating. Another route is the rent to own option for your home. Rather than simply renting you find an institution that provides rent to own properties. You pay your rent every month and a portion of that rent is placed in escrow to pay for purchase of the property. After a period of time, typically five years, you will have demonstrated your ability to pay, have a higher credit score and will be able to get a regular mortgage.

From time to time we run across offers relating to improving your credit, getting credit scores and more. When this happens we will pass this information on to you.

Save Money on Your Vacation

Everyone needs a vacation. And a vacation need not exhaust your finances. Here are a few thoughts about how to save money on your vacation.

Off Season Travel

Want to visit London, Paris or Rome? The expensive time to go is during the summer. If you are more interested in museums, palaces and cathedrals than warm sunny weather consider traveling off season. Years ago this writer spent $1,500 per person on a round trip flight to and from Paris in June. Two years later he paid $300 per person to visit London at the end of February. These deals always exist and are a great way to save money on your vacation.

Combining Business, Education and Pleasure

Business and professional people commonly attend conferences and seminars. It is common for the conference or seminar to reserve a block of rooms for attendees. It is also common for the rooms to be double rooms and offered at a set rate. The benefit is that the business or professional traveler can deduct the cost of his or her travel, the conference and lodging from taxes. This allows him or her to bring the wife and kids essentially for free. Conferences in locations such as Disney World allow the attendee to catch up on needed business or professional knowledge in the morning while the family vacations and the catch up with the family in the afternoon and evening. This is great way to save money on your vacation.

Corporate Rates

My wife books our hotel when we fly back to her home town. The conversation always starts with the hotel offering its standard rate. Her response is that she is not a foreigner but a home town girl! Don’t they have a better deal? The conversation goes on with increasingly lower rates being offered until she always asks what is the corporate rate? She typically gets the room for a third of the initial offer. Hotels do offer lower rates for frequent business travelers. It never hurts to ask.

Let Someone Else Buy in Bulk

Pretty much everything in life is cheaper if you buy in larger quantities. The problem is that only you and your family are going on vacation. The alternative is to go on a tour or use one of the online booking services for flights, hotels and car rental. The trick is first to use check out several and compare prices. The second is to do this over time. Many times airlines especially offer better rates for a few days a month or two before departure dates. Periodically checking your favorite online booking sources often results in better deals.

Tours versus Going It Alone

If you want to take a trip to Germany and end up at Oktoberfest it is commonly easier (unless you are a fluent German speaker and visit often) to go on a tour. Things are arranged for you and prices are commonly reasonable. But if you decide to go back the next year you can contact the hotels that speak reasonable English yourself and book your own room, always remembering to ask for the corporate rate!

Free Days

It is common for great art museums and other cultural attractions to allow admittance for free on Sundays. This is another way to save money on your vacation.

Make Money Working from Home

There was a time when most people worked from home. They may have been farmers or had a workshop attached to a home. It was the Industrial Age that brought people into factories, offices and mines. Now the Internet Age has made it possible again to make money working from home. Here are a few of our thoughts regarding working from home and improving your life along the way.

Access to the World via the Internet

The efficient tool that makes working from home easier and more profitable is the internet. Options range from things as simple as filling out surveys in your spare time and getting paid to running a full scale online business from your den. Affiliate marketing is a common way to make money from home. By affiliating with a business that is already established there is no need to develop products and services. The home based affiliate marketer builds a client base via the internet and gains commissions for connecting buyer to seller over the internet. The best way to start this sort of business is with representing things that you know about in order to reduce the necessary learning curve.

Contracting Your Services

If you have the gift of being able to write well there are many companies that need content written for their internet web pages. Often times this content needs to be “spun” into PowerPoint presentations or You Tube videos and posted on other sites and then linked back to the main pages of the company and its products. Every company has “back office” work that it needs to get done. Contractors help keep track of sales and expenses and help spot opportunities. Often times it is necessary to develop a skill set with a specific set of online tools to get and maintain this sort of work. We mentioned filling our surveys earlier in this article.

People who manage large companies use information about what their customers think of their products, who might buy and who might go to a competitor in order to remain competitive. The nice part about working in this market research niche is that not only can you do it from home but the hours are flexible.

The Work from Home Workday

Many people who run full time businesses from home find it useful to maintain standard hours. Certainly if one needs to routinely contact or be available to clients or customers a standard set of working hours is necessary. But there are many ways to make money from home that allow you to work in your spare time, a few hours here and there. Because you will be at home with access to your telephone or computer twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, you can communicate with people in different time zones and even different parts of the world. If you are working on an incentive basis the only limit to how much you work will how much money you want to make.

What Do You Need?

The internet age has put all of us in the same small village in the town square. Telephones, cellular phones, handheld smart phones or desktop computers let us be in contact with anyone in the world. Whether you are sending emails for affiliate marketing or getting paid for filling out surveys the tools of your trade are what you already use to call your friends or check in on Facebook. Add a spreadsheet or automated tool for keeping track of information and you are ready to go.

Home Security Systems

If you are concerned about the security of your family you may want to look at home security systems. An important thing to know is that there are alarms, and there are people who monitor alarms. You can get a burglar alarm that will sound if someone enters your home by breaking a window or jimmying the back door. But if where you live there are no close neighbors no one will hear the alarm and the burglars might just rob you before leaving. This article has to do with home safety issues. For more help with home safety visit this link.

Alarms versus Alarm Monitoring

Why would you want to pay twenty dollars a month or more to have someone monitor your home alarms? As we noted you might be gone and have no nearby neighbors. The person who entered your home may have overpowered you and be holding you hostage. The carbon monoxide alarm may have sounded but you may have already been unconscious.

When you hear the fire, burglar or other alarm you need to make sure that your family is safe and out their way out of the house. You need to identify what the problem is. And you need to contact help. If you have one of the home security systems that monitor your alarms you only need to get your family together and out of the house.

For many people home security systems are worth the price just for the peace of mind.

How Much Do Home Security Systems Cost?

You can get home monitoring systems for an installation charge and about $20 a month. The total cost is based on the number of services you purchase. The basics include installation, monitoring and home automation.

Professional Installation versus Do It Yourself

There are systems that you can set up yourself. This may be a cheaper route but make sure that you know what you are doing!

Monitoring Connection

  • Landline
    • The system is connected to the monitoring service by a telephone land line although it may be wireless within the home
  • Cellular
    • The security system is connected to the monitoring service via a cellular uplink
    • The idea is that your monitoring system can still make contact even if the phone lines are down
  • Broadband
    • The system communicates with the monitoring service a broadband internet connection
    • This type of service is about four times faster than a landline connection
    • It is cheaper than but not as reliable as cellular monitoring

Home Automation

This sort of system lets you arm and disarm your system and view surveillance camera images from outside the home. Additional features include controlling your thermostat, lighting and small appliances. The more bells and whistles you add the more home automation will cost.

Practical Aspects

How long will you live in the home? Renters often choose an install yourself wireless system that they can pack up and take to their next home. And if you plan to move in the next months or a year or so make sure that your contract allows you to do so with a penalty. Owning your own equipment instead of leasing it allows you to take it with and reinstall at your new home.

Features

  • Security camera
  • 24 hour monitoring and rapid response
  • Notification when there is a problem and you are not at home
  • Two way voice contact with monitoring service
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Equipment warranties
  • Heat sensors
  • Glass breaking sensors
  • Freezing temperature sensors
  • Flood sensors
  • Medical alert services

And Be Careful

When you let someone into your home to set up a home security system make sure that they are reputable. Contact the Better Business Bureau and ask for references. Do not be one of the occasional poor souls who are robbed by a dishonest technician who sells your security info to the highest bidder!

For more information about home safety issues visit this link.

Educational Opportunities

Going back to school? Just finished high school and looking for a college? Are you interested in a trade school to jump-start your chances at a good paying job? There are lots of educational opportunities out there. What are the best ones for you and how should you go about getting the educational opportunities that you need? Can you get help paying for school? Are there work study programs available? Just how much education do you need for what you want? Here are a few thoughts about educational opportunities and how to connect to them.

What Is the Right Fit for You?

Are you a top of your class scholar or a regular student like most of us? Do you like to work with your hands or are you happier talking to people face to face? Do you like to deal with people or would you prefer a job in a quiet setting such as working at a computer? There are educational opportunities for everyone but it does not make any sense to pursue an advanced university degree if what you want to do is become an electrician or plumber and eventually own your own business. On the other hand if you want to manage a major construction business a civil engineering degree may put you at the front of the line. Think about what you want and then pursue the educational opportunities that lead to your goal.

The GED

To be eligible for college you typically need a high school diploma. If you do not have one you can get a graduate equivalent diploma known as a GED. The GED test is designed for adults over the age of 16 who haven’t earned a high school diploma and aren’t currently enrolled in high school. For current students who are considering leaving high school early, the GED test can also provide an alternative to graduation. This is a faster way to catch up than going back to high school but it is not easier.
The GED test is graded on an equivalency scale compared to current high school students. A passing grade must rank above sixty percent of high school seniors These are the subjects that you are tested on:

  1. Science
  2. Social studies
  3. Mathematics
  4. Language arts, reading
  5. Language arts, writing

There is also an essay. You will need to study for the GED in order to pass. There are adult education centers in all states that offer courses in preparing for the GED and suggestions for books to purchase as well as practice exams.

Where Does the Money Come From?

There is federal student aid for many educational opportunities. Grants are scholarships are gifts need not be repaid. Student loans must be paid back. Some scholarships are based on academic excellence but most are based on need so you will need to demonstrate that you need the money for the educational opportunities that you want to pursue. There are many types of grants, scholarships and loans including ones connected to military service. Once you decide where you want to go to school you can ask the aid officer at the school about grants, loans and scholarships. The first choice, however, is to decide what you want to do and pursue educational opportunities that match your abilities and your goals.

A Chance to Win a CVS Gift Card – by simply filling out a survey

A great place for your health, pharmacy and beauty needs is CVS. A great way to shop at CVS is with a gift card. If you are interested in winning a $1,500 CVS gift card it is possible if you take a survey. But first, who is CVS and why would you want a gift card?

CVS

CVS Pharmacy is the second biggest pharmacy chain in the United States. It has more than 7,600 stores. It is the retail pharmacy division of CVS Health and ranks as the 12th largest company in the world according to Fortune 500. At their CVS Pharmacy and Longs Drugs retail stores CVS sells:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Beauty products
  • Cosmetics
  • Film and photo finishing services
  • Seasonal merchandise
  • Greeting cards
  • Convenience foods

CVS also provides healthcare services through its more than 600 Minute Clinic medical clinics and Diabetes Care Centers. Most of these clinics are located within CVS stores. A CVS gift card can be a handy thing, especially one for $1,500! For a quick look at what CVS has to offer take a look at CVS.com. This retail chain of pharmacies may already be where you pick up your vitamins or birth control pills. CVS has lots of things that you need, lots of things that you might want and lots of sales. Especially if you have a free CVS gift card this can be a great place to shop. Please take a look at the offer we ran across while researching this article. You have a chance of winning a $1,500 CVS gift card by taking a few easy steps.

Gift Cards

According to market research, the most popular gift choice for a woman is a gift card. For men gift cards rank number three. A gift card is an electronically encoded plastic card similar to a credit card. The point of giving a gift card is that you do not have to guess what kind of gift to give. Many cards are limited to a specific mall or retailer. Gift cards replaced gift certificates when printers became sufficiently sophisticated that they could produce counterfeits. A CVS gift card lets you buy health care, beauty, cosmetic and other products at any of more than seven thousand CVS pharmacies.

How Gift Cards Work

A gift card can be for one time use or can be rechargeable. The card balance is maintained on the card itself as well in the database of the processor. All the recipient of the card needs to do is take it to the retailer and use it to make a purchase. Sometimes the card is set up so that the person receives change in cash and sometimes the card is simply debited. There are often time limits on the use of gift cards so do not let your gift card from last Christmas go unused for too long or you may find that your gift evaporated over time. Often retailers drive sales with gift cards so check out the CVS gift card offer and see if you can save money.

Short Term Cash

There are simply times in life where you need emergency cash. Getting cash when your credit is not so good can be difficult, but not impossible. What are your best sources of short term cash and then how can you manage your financial affairs to that short term cash is not an issue?

Credit

The most efficient source of free short term loans is a credit card. Charge your purchases and pay when the bill comes. This is essentially getting recurring short term loans for a month. But, what if you do not have a credit card? You can apply for one at your bank. It is a common practice to deposit a fixed sum, such as $500 in your bank account and then receive a card with a $500 credit limit. The way to do this is to make your purchases with the credit card and always pay off the card. This will establish a credit history and allow you to increase your credit limit. With smart use of such a credit/debit account you can commonly establish or repair your credit and get a regular VISA or MasterCard. This is a good way to improve your credit and credit score.

Short Term Loans

There are many sources of short term cash via loans. The interest rates may be high but if you truly need short term cash these sources are life savers. One of the sources of credit that we have run across in our research is 100DayLoans.com. These folks work nationwide to provide short term cash for those in need. If you are in need of a quick transfusion of cash click the link and find short term cash today.

Repairing Your Finances

In cases of financial emergency short term cash can be a life-saver. But you also need to address other measures for managing debt. There is discretionary spending and there are fixed costs in life. Cigarettes, video games and movies are discretionary spending. Medical bills, baby food and diapers, rent and the electric bill and bus fare to get to work are fixed and necessary costs. When you are in need of short term cash it is wise to sit down and make a list of what you are spending your money on. Making and following a budget is a smart thing to do as it alerts you beforehand to what you need to spend on necessities and what you will have left over. If you are recurrently in need of short term cash consider putting aside a little of whatever excess you have each pay cycle. Create a so-called rainy day fund so that you will have cash when you need it and will not always be paying interest on your debts.

Starting Over via Bankruptcy

If your debts are way too much you can apply for bankruptcy. You file for bankruptcy in order to restructure debt and get back on your feet. The point of bankruptcy is to continue to work and do business while dealing with debts. The court will often require debt counseling to improve how you handle your finances. This is usually a requirement for receiving bankruptcy protection from the court. And it is especially true for those who repeatedly find themselves far in debt.

In the Meantime

While you can start putting your financial house in order you still need short term cash now. Check out the folks at 100DayLoans.com and see if they can help.

Background Checks

There are times when your personal security and that of your family are paramount. At those times you need information. One of those times is when you are dealing with a suspicious person who has just moved into your neighborhood or is applying to work with you. Here is where it is useful and often crucial to do a background check on that person to protect you and your family. What is a background check and how can you obtain one?

Background Checks

A background check is simply the process of looking up financial, commercial and criminal records of an individual or an organization. These records are useful if the person’s credit is at issue, their honesty or your safety. You may want a background check for a job candidate, especially if the position requires a high level of security or a is position of trust, such as in a financial institution, hospital, school, airport, or government. What you will receive should include verification of past employment, the person’s credit history, and any criminal history. In the workplace the job of vetting an employee is simple. They pass or they do not. If the issue is a suspicious neighbor the problem is twofold. One is that you need to get sufficient information to run the background check and two, if they do not pass you still have them as a neighbor. Usually one does a background check to verify that a person is who and what they say they are. But, you may be doing a background check to make sure that a person is not a dangerous criminal just released from prison. Luckily in the USA the Brady Bill requires criminal checks for those wishing to purchase handguns from licensed firearms dealers. Restricted firearms (like machine guns), suppressors, explosives or large quantities of precursor chemicals, and concealed weapons permits also require criminal checks. Background checks are also required for those working in special security positions such as airports, ports of entry, trucking and working with the elderly, disabled or children.

What Information Can You Get?

Available information in background checks includes criminal, arrest, incarceration and sex offender records. Information regarding citizenship, immigration or legal working status are available as are litigation records, driving and vehicle records, education records and records of employment.

How Do You Do a Background Check?

The most reliable way to find out criminal records is to go to the appropriate agency in your state. But this only is useful if the criminal record is in your state. There are numerous agencies that make it their business to collect background check information from across the country. These agencies will be able to tell you if a person who has just moved into your neighborhood in Iowa spent time in prison in New Jersey. The background check should include the type of offense as well as the sentence and if all time has been served. If you are concerned about the safety of your family it can be useful and worth your while to look into a background check if you are concerned about a suspicious person at work or in your neighborhood.

Dealing with Tax Debt

Tax season has come and gone but for many people tax debts remain. If you owe more than you can pay, what do you do? If you find out that you owe taxes from previous years and do not have the money what is your best course?

Double Checking and Using Professionals

Taxes and paying taxes are important parts of life. This is why it is important to take it seriously when you keep all of your records in one place throughout the year. Then when it comes time to fill out your tax return you do not miss out on any deductions. And if you always seem to be paying too much take your taxes to a professional. This serves two purposes. You will get the job done professionally for that year. And you will learn what to keep track of so that you can legally maximize deductions year by year. If you are surprised by a letter from the IRS that says that you owe on previous tax returns pull out the info for that year and double check everything. If it is not clear what happened take all of your info and old return to a professional to sort it out. And if you had your taxes done in that year by a professional and the return is called into question by all means go back to that tax preparer as the problem is now theirs as much as it is yours.

When There Is an Issue

There are times when dealing with tax debt that you and your tax professional disagree with the Internal Revenue Service or the taxing authority of your state. When that is the case you really need the services of a professional. There are tax attorneys if you have a lot of money at stake and there are tax advocates, some of whom worked previously for the IRS, who can deal one on one with people in the IRS to reach an agreeable solution. When there is an issue it is not the time to handle things yourself. You need a professional on your side. If you do not have one in mind, consider checking this option. Contact Consumer Connect. This service can put you in touch with a professional who can help you prepare your taxes, check your taxes and represent you in dealing with tax debt and the various issues that come up when dealing with state or local tax authorities.

EX IRS EMPLOYEES

There are people who have spent much of their working life in the Internal Revenue Service and decide that enough is enough. Some of these folks go into business for themselves and represent clients who are dealing with tax debt. These professionals may or may not be tax attorneys but they are often 1) on a first name basis with the person that you need to deal with at the IRS or 2) were the boss of that person in previous years. If you are dealing with tax debt and need help, find a professional to help negotiate on your behalf for tax amnesty or tax debt consolidation. Check out Consumer Connect and find a professional who can help you in dealing with tax debt today.


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