Prepaid Credit Cards

Tired of carrying around a wad of cash? Prepaid credit cards let you pay bills and make purchases efficiently. Can’t get a regular credit card because of a poor credit rating? You can use prepaid credit cards the same way you would use  a VISA or MasterCard and improve your credit score as you go.

Denied Credit and What to Do

If you have been rejected after filling out a credit card application you are not alone. Poor credit is often the cause. The problem is, a major credit card is commonly necessary for hotel or airline reservations or placing an order online. And, simply having a credit card makes it easier to function than by carrying around the cash that you need. But, how do prepaid credit cards fit into this picture?

A prepaid credit card is a card issued by a financial institution and is preloaded with funds so it can be used like a regular credit card.  However, a prepaid card works opposite the way a regular credit card works. Instead of buying paying with borrowed funds you pay with money funds that you have already deposited with the institution.  With a prepaid card your credit limit is determined by how much money you deposited into an open checking or savings account. Fund the account with a required amount and you get a prepaid credit card that can be used anywhere that you could use a regular credit card. If overspending and running up debts is what got you into credit trouble in the first place, this does not happen with prepaid credit cards because your account needs to be replenished in order for you to use the card.

And, get the right prepaid card and your institution reports you card history to the major credit bureaus. This allows you to rebuild your credit by using prepaid credit cards.

Where Do I Get Prepaid Credit Cards?

Many banks offer prepaid credit cards. You can also find them online. In fact, while researching this article we found a good place to check out prepaid credit cards. Take a look and see if this is what you need.

Checking Your Credit Score

If you have been denied credit and are thinking of prepaid credit cards it is also useful to have an idea about how credit scores are calculated and how to find out your score. A credit score is a number based on credit data and calculated using statistical techniques. The end result is a number that correlates with how well a person will do in paying off his debts. A credit score is meant 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. The information to calculate credit scores comes from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax which are the big three credit bureaus. Credit scores are typically reported in what is called the FICO system and range from 300 to 850. A score in the low 700s is average. Higher score mean a better credit rating and lower scores mean you will be less likely to remain current on paying your debts. You can get a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. But this is not a free credit score! It will cost you $7.95 to get a credit score. If you get a free credit report and find a mistake you can dispute that mistake and the credit bureaus have 45 days to respond.

Good luck in fixing your credit and in the meantime think of prepaid credit cards.

File for Grants the Easy Way

There are hard ways to get a government or foundation grant and easy ways. Our preference is to file for grants the easy way. We offer two examples of how to find a grant, find out if you qualify and apply. The first is to do all of the research yourself and the second is to find someone who does this all of the time and can help you get a grant the easy way. In this regard we have found an offer that will help you file for grants without spending hours, days and weeks doing research. And now here is a little information about going the long way around.

Grants dot Gov

The government web site has a LOT of information. If you choose this route you will get to check out every possibility. The site will show you new grant opportunities, grants by categories, grants by agencies and grants by eligibility. For example:

Let us say that you know exactly what you are looking for. Then start with the categories tab. The number in parenthesis represents the number of available grants in the category.

  • Agriculture (44)
  • Arts (see “Cultural Affairs” in CFDA) (3)
  • Business and Commerce (14)
  • Community Development (32)
  • Consumer Protection (9)
  • Disaster Prevention and Relief (14)
  • Education (476)
  • Employment, Labor and Training (35)
  • Energy (47)
  • Environment (177)
  • Food and Nutrition (130)
  • Health (1075)
  • Housing (7)
  • Humanities (see “Cultural Affairs” in CFDA) (24)
  • Income Security and Social Services (213)
  • Information and Statistics (9)
  • Law, Justice and Legal Services (68)
  • Natural Resources (130)
  • Other (see text field entitled “Explanation of Other Category of Funding Activity” for clarification) (111)
  • Recovery Act (5)
  • Regional Development (19)
  • Science and Technology and other Research and Development (454)
  • Transportation (14)

Alternatively you can look under government agencies for a grant that fits your needs.

  • Agency for International Development (77)
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (2)
  • Department of Agriculture (46)
  • Department of Commerce (27)
  • Department of Defense (73)
  • Department of Education (27)
  • Department of Energy (41)
  • Department of Energy – Office of Science (7)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (1039)
  • Department of Homeland Security (19)
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (3)
  • Department of Justice (72)
  • Department of Labor (12)
  • Department of State (49)
  • Department of the Interior (180)
  • Department of Transportation (12)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (3)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (18)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (36)
  • National Archives and Records Administration (7)
  • National Council on Disability (1)
  • National Endowment for the Arts (1)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (11)
  • National Science Foundation (237)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2)

And if you are still puzzled about how to get a grant you can look under the eligibility section.

  • City or township governments (884)
  • County governments (890)
  • For profit organizations other than small businesses (833)
  • Independent school districts (796)
  • Individuals (40)
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized) (911)
  • Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments) (851)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education (990)
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education (908)
  • Others (see text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility” for clarification) (1347)
  • Private institutions of higher education (997)
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education (1015)
  • Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities (796)
  • Small businesses (879)
  • Special district governments (833)
  • State governments (977)
  • Unrestricted (i.e., open to any type of entity above), subject to any clarification in text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility” (380)

That is the gist of how to start looking for a government grant. You can take the same approach for grants from private foundations but you will need to approach them one at a time. Or you can file for grants the easy way by clicking the link and taking advantage of the expertise of people who do this kind of work every day.

Claim Your Grant Money

There are billions of dollars of grant money available from private foundations and the federal government. The keys are to know where to look and determining eligibility. You can set out on your own personal quest to get a grant for yourself or you can use a service that has organized the possibilities and can help you claim your grant money. In researching the article we found one such service aptly named Follow the link to their site for more useful info. In the meantime here is a brief rundown of info about grants and how to get them.

Grants by Private Foundations

A good example of a large private foundation that offers grants is the Kresge Foundation.

The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grant making and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development efforts in Detroit.

Some of our programs accept applications on an ongoing basis. Others proactively invite or solicit applications. Visit the Apply for Funding page to learn about our open grant opportunities.

Funding Methods

We award single and multi-year grants and – through our Social Investment Practice – make program-related investments that provide capital via loans, loan guarantees and other mechanisms. Taken together, our grantmaking and investing methods constitute our funding toolbox.

Our types of funding consist of:

Operating support grants
Project support grants
Program-related investments

In collaboration with our grantees and partners, we seek to use these grant making and investing tools to create pathways for vulnerable people to improve their life circumstances and join the economic mainstream.

Learn more specifics about Kresge by going to their web site. Other large foundations include but are not limited to:

Wealthiest US Charitable Foundations and Endowments by Billions of US DollarsList limited to Those with Endowments in Excess of $5 Billion

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $43.3
Welcome Trust $25.9
Howard Hughes Medical Institute $16.9
Ford Foundation $11.2
J. Paul Getty Trust $10.5
Kamehameha Schools $10.1
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation $9.53
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation $8.7
W. K. Kellogg Foundation $8.16
Lilly Endowment $7.7
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation $6.4
David and Lucille Packard Foundation $6.3
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation $6.18
MacArthur Foundation $6.0
The Pew Charitable Trust $5.6
Wallenberg Foundation $5.3

The point is that there are a lot of charitable foundations with a lot of money to hand out. Find out what these folks offer and claim your grant money.

Federal Grant Money

Federal grants can be broken down into categorical grants, block grants and earmark grants. Block grants are for very narrowly defined purposes. Block grants are channeled through state and local governments. Earmark grants are specific appropriations of congress. A good first step if you are interested in federal grants is to use the services of an agency that can help you find what you need, avoid spending excessive time and winding up at dead ends and help you claim your grant money in the most efficient way possible.

Get a Loan in One Easy Step

The New Year is a good time to get your finances in order. But, many times it is hard to find a lender, sort through different loan requirements and get the money that you need. What would be nice would be to get a loan in one easy step. With this thought in mind we did a little research and came across what is essentially a one click service to help you get a loan in one easy step, get the money that you need, and start putting your financial house in order. Take a look at this service, OneClickLoan, and see if it fits your need for cash now.

The Best Approach to Getting a Loan

There are a couple of best approaches to getting money when you need it. It depends on your situation. For example, in you have a student loan that is overwhelming there may be help. Take a look at our article, Student Loan Relief Solutions, and find out if you qualify for consolidation or loan forgiveness.

The average college grad has more than $26,000 in debt at graduation. More than thirty-seven million people have student loan debts which amount to roughly a trillion dollars owed. If you are having problems paying your student loans be aware that there are student loan forgiveness, cancellation and discharge opportunities available through the U.S. Department of Education.

Depending on your situation you may be able to have much of your loan written off or be able to consolidate several loans into one and reduce your interest rate along the way.

If you own a home you may be able to refinance your home and pull out cash to cover other expenses and debts. Take a look at our article, Home Loan Refinancing Help, for more info.

Do you need home loan refinancing help? When refinancing a home you are seeking to replace an existing debt with a newer one. There are several reasons why you may wish to do this but in the end you want better terms than you currently have. This can be a tedious and difficult process. Getting home loan refinancing help up front is always a good idea. Here are a few thoughts about home loan refinancing, where it is available and best ways to proceed.

The key to home refinancing is to be absolutely clear about the terms and conditions so that you come out better and not worse off on the other end!

Cash when You Need It

Almost everyone runs into situations at one time or another when they simply need cash and they need it now. Ideally one can find a lender who charges a reasonable interest rate and reasonable terms of repayment. This gets us back to where we started. It can be difficult and time consuming to find and evaluate several lenders. An ideal approach to get a loan in one easy step is to use a service like OneClickLoan that can connect you to a hundred or more lenders in one easy click.

Macy’s Winter Gift Card

The holidays have come and gone and now is the time for sales! We recently ran across a great offer that gets you a $25 Macy’s gift card just for filling out a shopping survey. If you would like to do a little shopping at one of the finest stores, take a look and pocket your gift card for shopping at Macy’s. Why Macy’s?


Macy’s has about 850 stores in the continental USA, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam. Of course their flagship store, the world’s largest department store, is on Herald Square in New York City. Macy is also up to date with an online store if your home is unfortunately too far from one of the stores. Macy’s is the largest department store operation in the USA in terms of sales.

What You Can Get at Macy’s

The more appropriate question is what can you not get at Macy’s? Featured home brands include Waterford, Lenox, Home Collection, Fiesta an Charter Club. You can get home essentials and things for dining and entertaining. There are items for the kitchen and luggage for that winter getaway. Heaters are available for those in Northern climates and fans for those in the South. Home décor is featured as is outdoor furniture. You can get your gifts monogrammed as well.

After the Holidays Sales

Very commonly retailers offer deep discounts to shoppers in the days following the holidays rush. ABC News covers the yearly story.

Millions of less-than-satisfied gift receivers will look to return their presents, while millions more will put their gift card money to good use. This has proven good news for stores, which saw their best holiday sales growth in three years, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Analysts credit a number of factors for the strong consumer turnout, including strong economic and job growth along with falling gas prices.

This year’s after-Christmas sales are shaping up to offer some of the best deals of the year.

Especially if you were fortunate enough to receive gift cards for the holidays, the best time to use them is in the days following, when discounts are at their best. And, if you have a Macy’s winter gift card now is the time to use it!

The Beauty of Gift Cards

How many times have you given or received a well-intentioned gift that was simply not what your recipient or you wanted? When you give and receive gift cards you get to go shopping for the exact thing that you want, no questions asked and no apologies for poorly chosen gifts. Gift cards have been around for a couple of generations, taking over from gift certificates when the later became too easy to counterfeit. And the nice part about a gift card is that you can use it to make multiple purchases as the card balance is simply updated with each use. That having been said, check out the offer for a Macy’s winter gift card and go looking for post-holiday bargains!

Why Shop at Macy’s

Christmas is upon us and if you have not bought all of the gifts yet where do you go? One choice is Macy’s. Why shop at Macy’s? Macy’s is a department store that grew into a department store chain. They offer essentially one stop Christmas shopping at any of their locations. If you are down to the last minute these folks have a lot of high quality, reasonably priced items, often on sale to fill all of the Christmas stockings on your list.


Macy’s has about 850 stores in the continental USA, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam. Of course their flagship store, the world’s largest department store, is on Herald Square in New York City. Macy is also up to date with an online store if your home is unfortunately too far from one of the stores. Macy’s is the largest department store operation in the USA in terms of sales.

What You Can Get at Macy’s

The more appropriate question is what can you not get at Macy’s? Featured home brands include Waterford, Lenox, Home Collection, Fiesta an Charter Club. You can get home essentials and things for dining and entertaining. There are items for the kitchen and luggage for that winter getaway. Heaters are available for those in Northern climates and fans for those in the South. Home décor is featured as is outdoor furniture. You can get your gifts monogramed as well.

Macy’s Gift Card

A great way to shop at Macy’s is with a gift card and a great gift at Christmas is a Macy’s gift card. While researching this article we ran across an offer for a Macy’s gift card. Take a look here for more info and happy shopping. Gift cards are the most favorite gift received and women and close to the top on men’s’ lists. The beauty of a gift card is that you can give that hard to shop for person the card and send them off to make their own choice of gift, thanking you all the way.

Why Shop at Department Stores?

Online shopping can be so easy. Why shop at department stores? Why shop at Macy’s? Not everyone makes gift choices or general purchases the same way. Many of us like to wander through the aisles and floors of a large department store and discover things that we would never have thought of and would never have looked for in an online directory. The rap against online shopping is that everyone has taken their cue from They track your purchases and even the pages that you linger over. Then they give you choices based on what they think you are interest in or things that people with you search habits have purchased. This tends to limit our range of choices. Go shopping in a big department store like Macy’s and take in the variety. Then you will stagger out the door laden with gifts and have finished your shopping quest in one location.

Home Refinancing Rates

We have written previously about refinancing your home but conditions and interest rates change so here is an update. As noted in a CNBC report mortgage refinancing interest rates are at an 18 month low. Despite low rates applications for home refinancing are also low.

The drop in refinance activity shows how little the shifts in already-historically-low mortgage rates affect today’s borrowers. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased from 4.15 percent to 4.08 percent, the lowest level since May of 2013. Refinance volume is now off 16 percent from a year ago.

The assumption voiced in the article is that the low interest in refinancing is because of the coming holiday season. Interest rates for various loan types quoted in the CNBC article from are as follows:

30 year fixed: 4.12%
30 year fixed jumbo: 4.18%
15 year fixed: 3.10%
15 year fixed jumbo: 3.10%
5/1 ARM: 3.24%
5/1 jumbo ARM: 3.39%

What is a Jumbo Loan?

According to Wells Fargo if you have high property value and are able to make larger monthly payments you can get a non-forming or jumbo loan. This is a loan for amounts in excess of limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

What Is an ARM?

ARM stands for adjustable rate mortgage. The rate for the mortgage varies over the term of the loan. There are various way that this happens.

A variable-rate mortgage, adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), or tracker mortgage is a mortgage loan with the interest rate on the note periodically adjusted based on an index which reflects the cost to the lender of borrowing on the credit markets. The loan may be offered at the lender’s standard variable rate/base rate. There may be a direct and legally defined link to the underlying index, but where the lender offers no specific link to the underlying market or index the rate can be changed at the lender’s discretion. The term “variable-rate mortgage” is most common outside the United States, whilst in the United States, “adjustable-rate mortgage” is most common, and implies a mortgage regulated by the Federal government, with caps on charges.

Beware when getting an adjustable rate mortgage that you clearly understand the terms and conditions under which the lender can adjust the rate.

Best Home Refinancing Rates

To get the best home refinancing rates you may need to shop around a bit. Talk to the lender who has your current mortgage and talk to local banks. Here is a link to an online offer for home refinancing with rates that beat the rates listed at the start of this article.

30 year fixed: 3.95%
15 year fixed: 2.875%
5/1 ARM: 2.60%

Shop around and take a look at the online offer. Make sure to read and totally understand the terms and conditions of your new home refinancing loan and be sure to do the math to make sure that you can afford to make the change.

Holiday Loans

The holidays are coming and so are the expenses. There are gifts to buy and food for holiday meals. There are trimmings for the tree and the tree itself. On top of this there are the usual expenses of everyday living. If you are short of cash going into the holidays you may want to consider a short term holiday loan. Things that you need to buy are cheaper running up to the holidays and in the month thereafter. Often times you will be saving money by purchasing what you need during this period and not waiting a few months to save up the money and then find out that they raised the prices again.

Finding a Loan

If you have money and credit you commonly do not need a loan and if you are short of cash and do not have good credit it can be difficult to find a loan to cover holiday expenses. In researching this article we ran across and offer for 24/7 Holiday Loans. If you are in need of a little short term cash check these folks out.

Financing versus Saving Up

In an ideal world we would all always have enough cash for the things that we need and want. In that world we could save up money pay check after pay check and buy what our hearts desire at a later date. In the real world there are things that we need now even though we do not have the cash. In this case we need to borrow money and pay interest. Credit cards are the most convenient way to do this but credit card interest is high. The better choice is to shop around for a loan at a more affordable rate and pay it off in installments. Buying and financing is especially attractive when stores offer no interest payment plans. Buying and financing is especially beneficial when you can buy something today that will not be available later and not available at today’s price. This is especially applicable to shopping in the holiday season and aftermath when there are lots and lots of deals on things that you will need to get anyway.

Comparison Shopping

Comparison shopping does not only apply to what you buy. It applies to getting a loan. Make sure that you know what the market is for short term holiday loans before paying an extremely high interest rate. Shop around to find out how much you can borrow and how favorable the repayment terms are.

What You Want and What You Need

And, do not forget that when you take out a loan you will need to pay it off. If you will have the cash flow to make payments you will be OK. If you expect to be laid off soon it may not be a good time to take out a loan unless it is for the refrigerator that just broke or clothes for the kids who keep outgrowing their old clothes. A wise man once noted that there is no problem that cannot be solved in a quiet room with pencil and paper. When you are going to borrow money give it a little thought before running up debt.

Best Black Friday Shopping

What stores offer the best deals for Black Friday shopping? The holidays are rapidly approaching and many people have the long holiday weekend off. After stuffing themselves with turkey and all the trimmings on Thanksgiving, shoppers head to their favorite stores for the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. You may already have the exact store and exact set of purchases in mind but if not, here are a few thoughts on the best Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday

Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This day is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. This is because many people have the day off and have a long list of people to shop for. Retailers use this day to promote holiday sales and always offer discounts. The term, Black Friday, came to be in Philadelphia in the early 1960’s and referred to the terrible traffic jams caused by shoppers. Retailers came to refer to this day as Black Friday because it is the start of the season when they are most in the black, that is to say make the most money. All of this having been said how about the best Black Friday shopping deals?

A Few Hints

The business magazine Forbes has researched this issue and has its own list of the ten top stores for the best Black Friday shopping deals. Forbes uses research from WalletHub who calculated discounts across the board. Here is list and a comment from Forbes.

  • JCPenney: 65.44%
  • Macy’s: 53.52%
  • Rite Aid: 53.34%
  • Meijer: 50.85%
  • Sears: 50.19%
  • Walgreens: 46.74%
  • Office Depot ODP NaN% and OfficeMax: 43.89%
  • Ace Hardware: 41.01%
  • Kohl’s: 39.89%
  • Staples: 38.56%

“Amazon did not provide all the requested info for all their Black Friday deals. As a result some deals could not be included in the calculations,” writes WalletHub’s Richie Bernardo. Other retailers who wouldn’t play ball: Apple, Home Depot, IKEA and Lowe’s.

Money to Shop With

You may know of the best Black Friday shopping deals ever and not be able to go shopping if you do not have cash or credit. We were thinking of this when we ran across an offer for a $25 Visa card just for filling out a survey. Take a look. Do the survey. Enjoy the best Black Friday shopping with your Visa Gift Card

Alternatives to Black Friday

Some folks prefer to wait to see if retailers drop prices even more just before Christmas and others prefer to give and receive gift cards so that they can sweep up bargains in the first days of January when stores are essentially running clearance sales. MarketWatch quoted a study released by predicting the best shopping days with the best discounts this year. They looked at the last five years and when stores dropped prices in the run up to Christmas. Their three best days, best, second best and third best are as follows:

  • Toys, Nov. 26, Dec. 8, Dec. 19
  • Apparel, Dec. 1, Dec. 11, Dec. 18
  • Electronics, Nov. 1, Nov. 26, Nov. 28
  • Novelties, Dec. 15, Dec. 22, Dec. 23


If you want to shop online pick Thanksgiving Day when the rest of the world is eating Turkey and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Home Repairs Warranty

Did your clothes washer spring a leak or did your microwave simply stop working? Let’s say that both appliances are out of warranty and you need to get them fixed. What do you do? Whom do you call? What is it going to cost? You wish that you could get a home repairs warranty for all of your appliances, furnace, etc. Where can you get a home repairs warranty before your dryer, dish washer, oven, refrigerator and stove decide to follow the microwave and clothes washer into non-functioning oblivion?

While researching this article we ran across a useful service on the internet. Take a look here for the Total Protect Home Warranty service. In the meantime here is our review of what to look for in a home repairs warranty.

Range of Coverage

If you pay money every month for a home repairs warranty you expect it to cover at least the following:

  • Dishwasher
  • Washer
  • Refrigerator
  • Dryer
  • Stove
  • Air conditioner or system
  • Water Heater
  • Furnace

You may want to include a few other items in this list as well:

  • Microwave
  • Freezer
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Garbage disposal
  • Range Hood
  • Icemaker
  • Compactor
  • Grill
  • Television(s)
  • Garage Door Opener
  • Garage Door
  • Sewing Machine
  • Digital Camea
  • Camcorder
  • Home Theater
  • Exercise equipment
  • Lawn mower
  • Snow blower

It is unusual to find a service that covers outside appliances such as a lawn mower or your furnace. However, often times your natural gas supplier for your furnace will offer maintenance and repair plan with monthly charges on your gas bill.

Prompt Home Service

You really do not want to have to load up your washer and dryer and take them in for repairs. So, any home repairs warranty should include prompt home visits and all repairs possible on site. If an appliance needs to be taken into the shop the home repairs warranty should cover that possibility and no extra cost. And there should be some sort of guarantee as to the promptness of getting repairs completed and your appliance back at work in your home.

Cost Effective Plans

A home repair warranty should not only provide you with prompt and competent service but it should also be cost effective. In this regard we took this price list from American Home Shield. It give you an idea of what it will cost to repair or replace various home appliances if you do not have a home repairs warranty. If all of your home appliances are of the older sort you can probably expect to pay repair or replacement costs on one or two a year for several years. If that is the case you can simply add up the list of cost and divide by the percentage of appliance that will likely fail each year. The compare that yearly cost to what a home repairs warranty service offers.


Household Item Replacement Costs* Repair Costs*
Clothes Dryer $546 $133
Clothes Washer $543 $103
Refrigerator $1,115 $149
Dishwasher $515 $127
Oven/Range $782 $114
Air Conditioner $2,141 $306
Wall Furnace $2,683 $113
Heating with Ductwork $2,885 $390
Water Heater $761 $92
Main Electrical Panel $651 $210

Competent Service

And, you want the job done right. A cheap service that really does not get things fixed is pretty much useless. So, check with the Better Business Bureau or ask for references before you sign up.

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