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09/04/17 Debt #

Wear and Tear Important Considerations in Auto Lease

Wear and Tear Important Considerations in Auto Lease

Leasing a car means you don’t own it – you’re renting it for the term of your contract – and at the end of your lease period you must return it to the dealership.

One of the most important terms in your contract states that you must maintain the car so that you return it in a reasonable state. The leasing company will examine the car at handover and if excessive wear and tear is found, you may have to pay surcharges for repairs.

It’d be a real shame if you come to the end of your Mercedes leasing period and you’re all ready to fall in love with your new car, only to find you have to stump up huge fees to sort out the upholstery, some prangs and scratches or dents. One thing you can do is to look through the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) Fair Wear and Tear Guide a few weeks beforehand to see if there’s any need for concern and action.

The most common causes of surcharges

The most common reasons for people getting hit by surcharges at the end of a lease are tears, stains and scorch marks on the upholstery, damaged paintwork, scuffs on the wheel trims and scratches and dents on the bodywork.

What does fair wear and tear mean?

It means the slight deterioration of the chassis, interior and engine caused by everyday driving and usage. It’s not damage, it’s not caused by dangerous driving or neglectful storage, or by driving along with a cigarette in your mouth.

Preparing for handover

If, after reading the BVRLA guide, you think there’s an issue, such as a scratch that’s longer than 2.5cm, for example, then you’ve got time to sort it. You also need to thoroughly clean and dry the car before looking it over, as dust might hide scuffs and smaller scratches. You should wait for a bright, dry day to look at the bodywork, taking photos of dents or scratches as you go.

Even if you’ve driven like a saint for two years and there’s no visible scratches on the outside, you should still have a professional valeting, especially if you’ve been a bit lax with cleaning the interior during your lease period. It’s easy to become desensitised to the smell of dogs and small children.

Repair any damage

Anything that’s beyond fair wear and tear needs to be dealt with – the inspector won’t miss a thing and so you need to do the best you can.

One option is to take the car to a lease return specialist who can look over and valet the car, as well as perform minor repairs. These companies will clean the car to the same standards as the leasing company.

It’s up to you

Of course, if you want to avoid penalties and repair fees when you hand the car back, you need to make sure you look after it from the get-go. Go for regular valeting, watch where you park the car and also where you drive it – salt water is very damaging if it’s not rinsed off – and always drive as safely as possible.

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03/22/17 Debt #

Top 5 Reasons to Own a Credit Card Terminal for Your Business

As a small business owner, you are always on the lookout for new ways to increase your bottom line and reduce your overall expenses. Unfortunately, for many new companies, that means that they forgo systems like credit card readers due to the added costs per transaction.

However, this is a mistake, and you should instead be looking at the best credit card machines for businesses. Here are five reasons why:

#1 Improve Customer Experience

Because your clientele is the lifeblood of your company, it’s imperative that you treat everyone that buys from your store with respect and convenience. Since most people don’t carry cash or checks anymore, having a portable credit card reader means that you can cater to your customers and meet their needs.

#2 Increase Your Sales

As you make it more convenient to buy things from your store, you will invariably make more money in the long run as customers do not have to make sure that they have enough cash. This is most common with impulse purchases.

#3 Expand Your Market

Being able to take credit cards means that now you can take orders over the phone or sell online, thus expanding your reach and enabling customers to buy your goods in more ways. If you want to build your company and make it thrive, credit cards are the way to go.

#4 Adapt to New Trends

As physical currency is becoming less common, people are starting to use all kinds of payment methods, from enhanced credit cards to phone apps that store financial information. If you don’t want to be left behind, you need to add credit payments to your business.

#5 Better Security

One of the problems with being a cash only business is that you can become a target for thieves or criminals. If you process credit cards through a secure terminal, then you aren’t holding as much money on hand that can be stolen. This also helps prevent stealing from employees, too.

Many merchants or account providers offer free credit card machines to new customers, meaning that your investment probably won’t be as involved as you think. Overall, the benefits greatly outweigh the expense.

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02/06/17 Debt , Investing # ,

Financing Solar Panels for Your Home

Financing Solar Panels for Your Home

The sun’s energy is free, but harnessing it isn’t.

Figuring out how to finance solar panels can be tricky, with more options for putting solar panels on your roof than there are loan options for buying a home.

Solar panels and the equipment that goes with them to convert the sun’s energy into electricity is expensive. Based on the average house paying $75 per month for electricity, a solar system that generates that much power costs around $25,000 to $35,000, according to the Solar Power Authority.

Utility company incentives, tax breaks and other subsidies can cut the cost in half, but even then it can take years for the solar panels to pay for themselves in energy savings.

A system that costs $18,000 — which includes installation, labor and the solar power system — has a payback period of about 20 years, the Solar Power Authority estimates.

Cost considerations for solar panels

How many solar panels your home will need and if solar power is worth installing depends on a number of factors. These include the size of the roof, amount of sunlight your home gets, energy needs and how much electricity you’ll still need to buy from your utility company.

Since the sun doesn’t shine on your home 24 hours a day, it won’t generate power all the time. Unless you live in a sunny state such as Arizona or don’t use much electricity and your solar panels produce more electricity than you’ll use, you’ll need to buy electricity from the power company when it’s dark or your solar system isn’t providing enough electricity.

The good news is there are many ways to finance solar panels and eventually power your home for free with power from the sun. Continue reading

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11/29/16 Children , Debt # ,

How I’m Trying to Rein Christmas Spending

How I’m Trying to Rein Christmas Spending

Every year around Thanksgiving, I vow to buy fewer Christmas gifts and rein in my Christmas spending. I’m rarely successful.

I try to spend only cash, but that usually doesn’t work and I end up facing a big credit card bill in January. It’s not something I want to do again and again.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, especially with a child (our daughter is now 12) and seeing her light up on Christmas morning as she opens her gifts. But seeing many of her gifts unused a month later always gets me to thinking about how we’ve got to buy her fewer gifts next year. Continue reading

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02/10/16 Debt # , ,

Hiding Debt From Your Spouse?

Hiding Debt From Your Spouse?

I was working on a story recently about one of the worst types of loans — auto title loans — when a credit counselor I was interviewing told me something I had never considered as a reason for getting such a horrible loan that often leads to spiraling debt.

Some of her clients had good credit, she said, and could probably get a loan at a bank, but they chose not to. Why? They didn’t want their spouse to know about their debt.

“A lot of my customers were hiding things,” she said.

She didn’t say what the debt typically was — though it’s often everyday expenses and not always for emergencies, as I thought it would be, according to a report I was writing about. The title loan was often needed to pay off a credit card bill, and was for debt the borrower didn’t want their spouse, significant other or employer to know about, the credit counselor told me. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.