While owning vending machines does not require any special skills, it is a business.
One of the first steps in starting a vending machine business is finding your niche and deciding what to sell. That takes a bit of research and knowing who your customer is.
To put yourself in the best position to be profitable means finding the right location.
As we continue to make our way through COVID-19, many people are still looking for ways to get items they need without physical contact with another person.
The Vending Machine Business During COVID-19
The startup costs are relatively low, sometimes around ,000. The work is flexible and often doesnât require much day-to-day involvement. The risk is comparatively low and there is growth potential.
âThen you only work probably three days a month, basically on the whole gig,â said Ausmus. âThree four days a month can make somebody a good little extra income.â
Different types of machines have different capabilities. Some take only cash while others will process credit or debit cards. Some models have touch screens or voice capabilities.
- Manufacturing areas
- Retail spaces
- Hospitals and nursing homes
- Correctional facilities
- Military bases
- Restaurants, bars and clubs
âIf (your machine location has) a big break room and a lot of employees, you would have to be there once a day to fill your machines up because thatâs how busy they are,â Ausmus said. Other machines like toys and candy donât require as much restocking.
Think about where people need to wait. While waiting, they may get hungry or thirsty. Ausmusâ novelty machines need kids around.
Revenue for the vending machine industry was .2 billion in 2019, up 3% from the year before.
Many factors make owning a vending machine an attractive business venture.
Some machines have:
That data came from the Automatic Merchandiserâs Annual State of the Industry Survey â before the full impact of COVID-19 hit.
Owning and operating vending machines is big business, providing passive income without any specialized skills. Itâs also called automatic merchandising.
âWeâre in a tough, tough industry right now with COVID-19. A lot of stores donât want the machines there, they donât want the kids congregating, they donât want people touching them,â said Scott Ausmus, director of manufacturing for National Entertainment Network, Inc. and president of the National Bulk Vendors Association.
Starting a Vending Machine Business
When looking for locations, be prepared to approach the owner or landlord with a business plan for the machine.
The more perishable the product and the busier the area, the more of your time the machine will take.
There are also machines for bulk vending like gumballs, stickers, toys, novelties and more. During COVID-19, machines popped up selling masks and hand sanitizer.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
There is the cost of the machine, the cost of inventory, personnel to keep it stocked, maintenance and more.
Cold beverages were the top-selling product category. A majority of vending machines involve food and beverage products including sodas, coffee, snacks and candy.
âYou gotta buy the right product. If you buy the wrong product, it wonât move and you wonât make any money and you certainly donât want to throw [product] away,â Ausmus said. âYouâve got to have the variety for people and find out which ones they want and thatâs what you restock with, what sells.â
Location, Location, Location
At places like airports, vending machines often sell tech accessories and travel essentials like neck pillows, blankets and eye masks. Laundry rooms in residential buildings often have machines with detergent and fabric softener.
Basically, all you need to get started is some startup money to buy a machine, a good location and the right products.
âItâs really not a bad risk to put it in a location and find out that itâs not making enough money. â¦ You can remove it and move it to the next one until you find that right location,â Ausmus said.
Automatic merchandising isnât for everyone, but owning and operating a vending machine can be a good business. Being able to retrieve the money you make and restock your machines easily is the key.
With many offices, businesses and other public spaces closed or restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the vending industry is certainly taking a hit.
You will need inventory and someone to keep the machine stocked and maintained. This may require a van or truck.
Location can be about trial and error.
Then you will need an actual vending machine. There are several types, and prices vary depending on what is in the machine, whether it needs refrigeration or heating, and the interactivity.
- Pay a percentage of sales or other fee for having your machine in their location.
- Pay for the electricity the machine uses.
- Ensure the security of the machine. There is money inside a machine as well as inventory. Theft and vandalism are always possible.
- Research state and local laws and regulations.
- Pay sales tax on the revenue the machine generates.
Key Purchase: Your Vending Machine
âOne of the hardest things to do is to locate a location,â he said.
âMake sure that you have your phone number on the machine, and that the store location knows your phone number,â said Ausmus. âIf somebody didnât get what they wanted, make sure the store can give them a refund and you pay the refund back to that store. Then get out there as soon as you can to fix the machine so that you can continue to make money.â
Places with lots of foot traffic are good. Before COVID-19, that meant schools and universities, malls, office parks, etc.
Also be prepared to:
- Remote monitoring software: This helps keep track of how the machine is working and notifies the operator if something is wrong.
- Low stock alerts: Notify the operator when items needs replacing.
- Vending management systems (VMS): Tracks sales and other data to help owners make better business decisions.
1/27/21 @ 11:20 AM
2/5/21 @ 8:23 AM
Running a Vending Machine Business
Vending machines serve that purpose â and make money for the machineâs owner.
Vending machine businesses are scalable, meaning itâs possible to start small and expand. You donât have to wait for payments because customers pay when they purchase an item.
Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.
Perishables need to be stocked more often than other items. Learning some basic maintenance skills could keep you from having to hire someone if there is a problem with the machine.
Machines range from about ,500 for a used or refurbished machine to several thousands for a new, high-end machine with many technical features.
There were 2,175,756 vending machines in service in 2019 in a variety of locations including:
While the startup costs are low and the income is often passive, owning vending machines is not without risk. You must be able to understand your own financial situation and how much you can afford to invest.
He grew up in the vending business. The machines he sells and operates are the novelty kind, offering things like stuffed animals, toys and gumballs. Many are in restaurants and entertainment venues like bowling centers.
Buying directly from a manufacturer or supplier is one option, as is purchasing on a secondary market. Some companies also rent machines. Ausmus cautioned to make sure there are spare parts and support available for what you buy.
âThereâs a higher profit in the gumball then there is anything else,â Ausmus said. âThe cost of goods is low on the gumballs and everybody likes gum, so everybody still purchases a gumball and so that is a winner for a lot of people.â
When youâre looking for a new car, it can be difficult to decide whether buying one outright or leasing one for a period of time makes more sense. Itâs true that cars only go down in value the longer you own them, but there are still some solid arguments for owning one outright rather than essentially renting one.
Car-related decisions can be stressful, and thereâs a lot you need to know before buying or renting, but donât worry. If youâre in the market for a new car and arenât sure which way to go, you can use the following questions to help you make the best decision for your situation.
Question 1: How Much Will I Be Driving This Car?
If you only need a car for weekend adventures and plan to use public transportation or to carpool during the week, then leasing might be the better option for you, if you can get a good deal. Most lease contracts come with stipulations on how many miles you can put on the car while youâre using it, but if youâre only using it for a few quick trips each week, you likely wonât come close to hitting that mileage mark. Still, youâll want to pay close attention to that number if you do end up going for a lease. Always ask what happens if you go over the mileage count, since the penalties can be steep. On the other hand, if you have a lengthy commute to get to work and you need a reliable car to get you thereâor you just arenât interested in tracking milesâbuying might be better for you.
Question 2: What Do I Plan to Use It For?Â
You probably wouldnât go into a car purchase intending to rough up the car, but stuff happens, so youâll need to decide what you plan to use your car for to know if leasing is right for you. If you lease a car, the dealer generally allows normal wear and tear upon return at the end of your lease, but youâll be charged extra if they think the car has been more weathered. Be sure to get the specifics from the dealership on what exactly they consider ânormalâ wear and tear, and if that doesnât match your plans for the carâif you plan to off-road in the Colorado Rockies on most weekends, for exampleâit might be better to buy.
Question 3: How Long Do I Plan to Keep It?
One appealing thing about leasing a car is that most car leases end after three yearsâso you have the opportunity to upgrade to a new model every three years if youâd like. Of course you could buy a car and upgrade that way, but it can be harder to deal with the sale of a car than it is to just turn your lease back over to the dealer.
Question 4: How Much Can I Afford to Put Down?
Most lease agreements will come with lower down payments than buyer agreements have. In some cases, if you lease a car, you may even be able to negotiate with the dealer to skip a down payment altogether. (Keep in mind, though, that this will likely result in higher monthly payments.) Either way, if you really need a car now, and you donât have the cash for a decent down payment, then going with a lease may put you in the driverâs seat faster than if you waited to buy a car.
Buying a car is a very personal decision, and whether you lease or buy will be determined by a number of factors. At the end of the day, buying a car is almost always the cheaper option if you need a car for the long term, but signing up for a short-term lease can be a solid option depending on your needs. Putting in a little bit of extra thought before searching for your next ride can ensure you make the right decision.
Whatever move you decide to make, be smart in how you approach car buying or leasing. Donât forget that having good credit will improve your car-buying experience, so before you make car-related decisions, check your credit and see where youâre at. You can always check your credit for free at Credit.com.
The post 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Leasing or Buying a Car appeared first on Credit.com.
Car manufacturers have been feeling the strain during the financial crisis. There are fewer cars on the road, workers in the factories, and consumers willing to spend, and as a result, the automobile industry has been devastated.
But manufacturers and showrooms are fighting back, finding ways to encourage consumers to buy and to make life easier for the ones that already have. In this guide, weâll look at the ways that auto lenders are helping consumers hit by the crisis and the ways that manufacturers are encouraging more drivers to purchase.
Financial Crisis Auto Relief: Manufacturers
Automobile manufacturers saw their profits free-fall in March 2020 and that followed into April, with suggestions that the chaos will progress as the year (and the pandemic that has gripped it so fiercely) continues. They are struggling and their customers are struggling as well.
Over 700,000 Americans lost their job in March and unemployment is set to rise to levels that havenât been seen for years. To make matters work, the countryâs 9.5 million+ self-employed workers have seen their incomes half.Â
As a result, many are struggling with their debts and finding it harder to meet auto loan payments. To lend a helping hand, many of the worldâs biggest manufacturers have established auto loan relief programs:
Ford announced its response to the crisis towards the end of March. Known as the Built to Lend a Hand program, it offers up to 6 months payments on a brand-new Ford and applies to all models from 2019 and 2020.
As soon as consumers sign up, they will be given 3 months of payments from Ford, while an additional 3 months can be deferred as per the customerâs request. The customer can choose to defer these payments as and when they want, but they must get their auto loan through the Ford Credit program to apply.
South Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, was one of the first to offer an auto loan relief program. South Korea was one of the hardest-hit countries in the early stages of the virus and this led to the major automobile brand offering a relief program in the middle of March.
Known as the Assurance Job Loss Protection, this program first appeared following the 2008 recession and has been revived for the recent pandemic.Â
As part of this auto loan relief program, consumers who bought or borrowed a car after March 14 can have up to 6 payments made by Hyundai. They can also request payment deferment that lasts for up to 90 days.
The Assurance Job Loss Protection program is set to run until April 30 and applies to everyone who purchases a Hyundai through eligible finance programs. It also extends to Genesis, the luxury division of Hyundai Motors that is responsible for new vehicles such as the 2020 Genesis G90.
If the pandemic continues to grow in scale and severity, the program may be prolonged, although only time will tell.
Nissan is following in the footsteps of many major creditors and lenders by working with customers on a case by case basis. If youâre feeling the strain of the crisis, whether because youâve lost some or all of your income or your expenses have increased, you can contact them and request some relief.
For borrowers struggling to meet monthly payments, Nissan offers deferred payments, but only if hardship can be proved. You likely wonât be offered anything just because you ask for it and must show that your financial situation is worse now than it was before the financial crisis.
The same applies to all Infiniti car owners, which is Nissanâs luxury brand.
Kia announced that all 0% APR borrowers could defer payments for up to four months. Borrowers who donât qualify for this can still request deferment of up to 30 days on 3 different occasions.
However, as with Nissan and many other providers, borrowers need to prove that they are experiencing hardship to be offered this auto loan relief.
GM has seen some pretty hefty losses during the financial crisis, and this is despite the fact that it began the year on a high note, making noticeable gains that were all but wiped out in the first couple weeks of March.
GM is offering a few different options to keep consumers happy and to ensure cars are still driven out of the showroom. If you already have a finance program with General Motors, and youâre experiencing hardship, you can contact GM directly, tell them what youâre going through, and get assistance.
The GM OnStar program has also been activated for all current owners. This program offers 24/7 emergency assistance and can help you get to a hospital in your time of need.
If you need a new car, you can get 0% APR for up to 84 months on most GM manufactured vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler is another brand that began 2020 with a bang and then quickly suffered a substantial slump. To counteract this, it has improved its online offerings, allowing all consumers to purchase a brand-new vehicle online and to benefit from improved financing offers when they do.
In addition, Fiat Chrysler is assisting current owners by making it easy for them to pay their bills.
If you have a car made by this leading manufacturer and youâre struggling to make payments, contact them directly, tell them about your financial hardship, and they may offer to help you with deferred payments and other solutions.
Financial Crisis Auto Relief: Alternative Options
Contrary to what you might think, lenders are not desperate to get their hands on your collateral. The best outcome for them is that you meet your payments and they get every penny of the vehicleâs value along with the interest.
If you default and they are forced to repossess, they need to pay for the repossession, deal with the extra paperwork and hassle, and eventually sell the car for much less than it is worth. They can still chase you for what you owe, but they know they probably wonât get it, making repossession something that lenders are keen to avoid.
When youâre struggling to make your payments, be honest with them, lay it all on the line, and find a compromise. They will probably be a lot more forgiving than you expect, especially during the crisis, when everyone is more understanding and willing to help.
Unfortunately, you donât have many other debt relief options when it comes to auto loans, as it doesnât make sense to do a balance transfer and debt settlement simply doesnât work here. But if you contact your lender, theyâll help you find a solution.
You can think about returning the vehicle, as well. When you lose your job and your income, and you no longer need to drive several miles to and from work every day, whatâs the point of owning a car that costs you tens of thousands of dollars and leaves you with a substantial debt?
2020 Financial Crisis Auto Loan Relief is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Home is where the heart and all your stuff is, so you probably want it to be pretty nice. Just not break-the-bank nice. There are a few easy ways to save before signing on the dotted lease line, fortunately. Do your wallet a big favor and check out these tips for finding the biggest and baddest apartments with move-in specials.
How to find apartments with move-in specials with Apartment Guide
Apartment Guide is making it easier than ever to know which properties offer the biggest bang for your buck by tagging them with a hard to miss, but easy to use hot deals badge.
Follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way to saving money on your next apartment lease.
1. Search for apartments in your city or neighborhood
Visit Apartment Guide and search as you normally would using filters to narrow in on your desired city, neighborhood, price and features. You can easily select a Hot Deals filter option, which will only show apartments in your search that have an active deal for you.
In addition, as you’re scrolling through your full list of properties, you’ll notice a friendly red badge that says âHot Deals” or âDeals” with your special offer.
2. Claim your move-in special
When you click on a property, you’ll know if it has an active deal when you see the red word “Deals” in an icon under the photos. Click on that badge or scroll down the page to see what special is currently being offered. It could be anything from a months’ free rent to a gift card when you sign a lease.
Then click on “Check Availability” to fill out your name and contact information and it will be sent to the property along with your move-in special. Someone from the community will contact you shortly.
While you’re on the page, you can also sign up for virtual tours, if they are available.
Other tips for finding apartments with move-in specials
There’s no reason to stop there. Double (or triple) up on the savings by heeding a few of these tried-and-true tips for scoring the best apartment deals.
Timing is everything
No one wants to move during the busy holiday season, much less when it’s oh-so-chilly outside. So take advantage of everyone else’s hesitation and cash in on apartment community promotions that run rampant from October to December. Happy New Year, indeed.
If a deal seems too good to be true it probably isn’t going to be there long. Starting a few months before the big move, monitor rental prices in your desired area. This will give you a better idea of what’s fair to pay and what a true apartment deal looks like. That way, when a truly great promotion or rent reduction pops up you’ll be able to swoop in and grab it right away.
Although it seems pretty backward, it can sometimes be cheaper to score a brand-new unit. This is because newbie communities have a lot of space to fill, so they run excellent specials to get people in the door. Just make sure your rent and amenity fees won’t get jacked up without your consent in a year or two.
Make the ask
Many people don’t realize that rental rates aren’t set in stone. If a community is struggling to fill units they’ll be more likely to throw you a bone or two, in the form of reduced rent or waived fees. Don’t be afraid to check out these potential caveats. The worst thing they can say is no, right?
Brag a bit
Now’s not the time to be modest. Landlords would far prefer to have reliable renters in place, so if you have an impeccable credit history and references go ahead and drop this info like it’s hot. Be sure to include your score, if you know it. The apartment community is more likely to offer discounted rent to a sure thing, rather than someone who’s racking up debt all over.
Explore payment options
Some apartment communities have flexibility as to whether you pay month-to-month or upfront for a certain period of time, such as three, six or even 12 months. If you have the savings this could land you a discounted rent rate since they’ll already have your money in the bank. This apartment deal will cost you more upfront but will save plenty in the long-term.
Don’t be a diva
Sure, you might want a view of the bay or whatever, but if it works better with your budget to rent a middle floor unit it’s probably smart to make the concession. The same goes for ua-desirable first-floor units. It’s simply cheaper to snap up a middle unit.
You can also save major bucks by opting for a community with onsite, rather than in-unit laundry. This minor inconvenience can net big savings in the end.
The same concept goes for fixer-upper units. Although it’s lovely to move into a turnkey place with a fresh coat of paint, pristine hardwoods and gleaming stainless steel, it’s also going to be reflected in the rent price. So think about what you really need, versus what you really want, all with your budget in mind. Many communities will approve minor repairs and upgrades, so check into that option and do the work yourself for a fraction of what they would have up-charged you!
Cast a wider net
Sure, you want to be in the trendy part of town, but it’s not worth being near all the hot spots if you have no money left over after rent, utilities and amenity fees to enjoy them. Instead, move a little further out to find the unit you want at a price that won’t break you. Then use ride-shares or public transportation to get you where you need to go if you don’t have your own wheels.
Find your apartment with move-in specials today
Searching for an apartment can be overwhelming in more ways than one. A little extra diligence on the front end, however, is likely to net big savings in the end.
So whether it’s a coupon, selecting a basement abode or a combination of the two, take a beat to figure out what you really want, when you want it and what you’re willing to give up to reap the best cash savings possible.
The post How to Find Apartments with Move-In Specials appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
If a fire happens, will your important documents stay safe?
Apartment dwellers need to be proactive about protecting critical information in case of a fire. Plenty of us have gone digital when it comes to storage of personal information, but certain items still need to come in hard copies. And some things, other than papers, also need a tangible safe place.
The safety deposit box at the local bank is still an option. However, bank hours aren’t always aligned with yours. If you want to go the digital route, look for companies that specialize in the storage of critical data. You can access your info directly from your phone, tablet or Amazon’s Alexa device. But if you prefer to go more old school â you need to think about protecting your valuables that are difficult to replace.
What will you need easy access to when you’re in an emergency fire crisis? Your list will probably look like this: an original birth certificate, social security card, insurance papers and car titles and other original docs. You could also include spare keys, passports and irreplaceable items like heirloom jewelry. A fireproof safe box will give you peace of mind. And, it will act as a security measure should a fire occur.
Are all fire safe boxes the same?
Did you know that not all fire safe boxes are alike? For example, standard fireproof safes protect your valuables against intense heat and smoke damage for periods of up to 120 minutes, according to Western Safe, while others can withstand the heat for longer. So, what’s the best type of fireproof box? Experts say it all depends on what you intend to store.
You should look for a fire safe box that has emergency override keys so you can open it up even if you forget the passcode. The keys are also good if the batteries run out on the keypad.
To help you know what things to keep in a fire safe box in your apartment, we’ve organized a list. These items make good sense to safeguard against fire:
- Critical documents: Store your checking and savings account bank books, birth certificates, social security cards, wills and passports in a fire safe box. If you need to get out at a moment’s notice, these important documents will be safe and accessible.
- Digital media: Your digital must-haves include USB sticks, memory cards and CDs. These items are your physical back-up. And this is especially true if you don’t want your most private data to live on remote servers.
- Insurance policies: Talk to your insurance company about your renters insurance following the fire. Having access right away to your policy will help you to take action post-fire.
- Cash: Life today is debit and credit card-driven. But it’s also smart to keep a stash of small bills on hand. If an emergency calls for quick cash, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and put some aside.
- Other valuables: Remember to organize a file with essential information. Include emergency numbers of family members. Have your prescriptions, who your family doctor is and contact info for your pet’s vet, too.
Do your homework
Before purchasing a fire safe box, be sure to research what’s on the market. You’ll be surprised to find a range of choices. You can even select from fireproof safes that you can bolt to the ground or wall. Is the fire safe box waterproof? If not, be sure to protect all contents by storing them in plastic.
An official fire rating from the Underwriters Laboratory comes with all safes, according to Haven Life. The rating lets you know what temperature the fire safe box will stay inside during a fire. It will also let you know how long it will stay at that temperature.
Look for fire safe boxes that are either 125 degrees Fahrenheit or 325-degrees safe. They typically come with up to three hours’ worth of protection. Spruce reports that some fire safe boxes can withstand fires with temperatures up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
Does size matter?
Fire safe boxes are compact to mid-size and come in a range to meet your needs. You can find options with a capacity of 0.17 cubic feet and weighing in at just 14 pounds. Or, one that weighs a little less than 28 pounds and can store flat 8-1/2-by-11-inch, letter-sized documents.
Extra-large capacity fire boxes can hold much more. They can weigh more than 100 pounds and measure more than 1-1/2-feet on each side. But the size is worth it because it gives your stuff a greater chance of surviving a disaster, according to Wirecutter. The site recommends a fire safe box the size of a mini-fridge that weighs in at 56 pounds.
Choose a fire safe box that has all the protective features and benefits to keep your important documents safe. In the long run, the investment could prove to be a wise one.
The post What Items Should You Put in a Fire Safe Box appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
As the Bob Dylan song goes, the times, they are a-changin’, and that couldn’t be truer than for apartment living.
Renting used to be a lower rung on the ladder as you climb toward the American dream â owning a single-family home in the suburbs. But as homes increase in cost and competition, renting is on the rise.
According to Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies 2017 rental-market report, the number of high-income households (earning at least $100,000) renting their homes rose by 6 percent from 2005 to 2016. As a result of this increase, apartment complexes have added more amenities to appeal to the influx of renters. The same study found that in 2016, 89 percent of new apartments offered in-unit laundry and 86 percent provided swimming pool access.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Today’s apartment complexes are not what they used to be, and apartment living is significantly nicer and more desirable than it was just 10 years ago. Here’s what you can expect for modern apartment living in 2020.
1. High-end amenities
Forget the bare-bones coin-operated laundry room and trash dumpster in the back parking lot or basement. According to NMCH’s 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey, 83 percent of adult and millennial renters said it was important to have an apartment that offered convenience and flexibility. Additionally, fast internet access, technology, and green initiatives are now considered must-haves for modern apartments.
To keep up with the competitive rental market, apartment complexes are upping the ante when it comes to amenities. In-unit laundry and pool access are quickly becoming par for the course, while many luxury complexes offer trash collection and recycling programs, high-speed internet, fitness centers, eco-friendly rooftop gardens and communal spaces, such as BBQs and theater rooms. These amenities make it easier to enjoy life at home and to entertain friends and family, just as one would if they owned a single-family home.
2. Online communication with apartment management
Speaking of convenience, flexibility and technology, many modern apartment complexes simplify the tasks that were previously pain points of renting â namely, rent payments, maintenance requests and apartment management communication. A number of complexes are capitalizing on technology to streamline these tasks.
For example, rather than having to mail a check each month, platforms like RentPay allow renters to automate their rent payments and pay via credit card or electronic check. Even if a landlord doesn’t accept electronic payments, RentPay prints a physical check and mails it directly to the landlord each month.
Additionally, it’s becoming more common for larger apartment complexes to offer an online portal or website for easier communication with apartment management, from submitting maintenance requests and asking questions to renew leases and sign contracts. This saves renters significant time and money.
3. More emphasis on safety and security
In the past, one of the downsides of renting was security. With people constantly going in and out of the building or complex, it seemed as if anyone could walk in. With so many technology advances this past decade, in terms of access and price, it’s easier for complexes and renters to invest in security.
Many of today’s complexes offer gated access to the parking lot, codes for elevator access and security key fobs to all points of entrance. Some even offer enhanced security within the individual units, like video doorbells and camera security systems.
If your building doesn’t offer in-unit security features, there are multiple home security options available that are non-intrusive, as far as security deposits and installation are concerned. Simply plug in the device and monitor your apartment from your smartphone. Many systems are easy to pair with indoor security cameras and other alarms for additional safety.
4. Smaller space
While apartments are getting smaller in square footage due to space constraints and population growth, architects are getting smarter with layout designs to maximize every inch of a room. For instance, micro homes, the tiny house equivalent in apartment form, are as small as 350 square feet but make use of movable and folding furniture so it can serve as an entertaining space by day and bedroom by night.
Open floor plans are still popular and, while they can at first seem daunting to decorate, they offer the most options for room layouts. And thanks to more furniture companies starting to specialize in small home living, it’s much easier to find compact couches and dual-purpose furnishings that go beyond the futon.
Popular home stores like Pottery Barn, CB2 and IKEA offer couches, tables and other items designed specifically for small spaces. While it’s becoming harder to find spacious apartments, complexes are making up for it with communal spaces for entertaining.
Apartment living has changed for the better
If you’re looking for a place to call home, apartment living may be the perfect solution. The evolution of apartments in the past decade means they’re a favorable housing option for a variety of lifestyles â in both urban and suburban settings.
Lush amenities, online communication, security measures and optimized floorplans have helped renting become a more comparable alternative to buying. You can enjoy the in-unit laundry, entertainment amenities and peace of mind without worrying about the costs or inconvenience of maintenance tasks.
The post What to Expect in Apartment Living in 2020 appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Paying the annual fee on a credit card doesn’t mean you’re wasting your money.
In fact, the top travel and rewards credit cards offer welcome bonuses that are worth considerably more than their annual fees, and that’s on top of the cardholder perks and benefits you can receive.
Case in point: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card* charges $95 per year, yet the sign-up bonus of 60,000 points is worth $750 on its own. Meanwhile, the more luxurious Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee, but the sign-up bonus is worth $750 in travel, and you get perks like a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years, Priority Pass Select membership (valued at $429), a $300 travel credit and more.
Still, a problem can arise when you can’t use the benefits your card offers – or when you cannot (or don’t want to) pay the annual fee anymore.
In that case, you should know credit card issuers can be surprisingly receptive to cardholders who may not be excited about paying their credit card’s annual fee another year. With this in mind, you have some options that can help you avoid annual fees, get something in return or switch credit cards altogether.
See related: When is a credit card annual fee worth it?
You may have more power than you think
According to Howard Dvorkin, CPA and chairman of Debt.com, it’s always worth it for consumers to negotiate their credit card fees or terms. Whether a consumer will get their fees waived is another question, but “it never hurts to ask,” he said.
This is especially true in light of the coronavirus pandemic. As we all know, credit card issuers have been fairly generous when it comes to offering struggling customers relief, with some extending options for deferred payments or waived fees. As an example, a March 2020 statement from Capital One CEO Rich Fairbank noted that the bank was offering assistance to its customers, such as “waiving fees or deferring payments on credit cards or auto loans.”
Dvorkin says consumers can improve their chances of getting their annual fee waived if they have a history of responsible credit use. In some cases, it may be possible to have an annual fee waived altogether, while in others, an account credit may be offered to take the sting out of the fee.
Some credit card issuers even have their own “retention offers” meant to entice you into keeping your card. For example, American Express is known for offering a set number of points for customers who agree to renew their card and pay an annual fee for another year. Sometimes a specific amount of spending is required on the card as well.
On the FlyerTalk website, you’ll even find a running guide of retention offers from several different card issuers, including Amex. After you dig through it, you can find that, as recently as January 2021, at least one person was offered 50,000 Membership Rewards points to renew their Platinum Card from American Express.
See related: Which cards earn American Express rewards points?
6 tips for negotiating annual fees
But how do you make sure you have as much leverage as possible? We interviewed the experts to find out their best tips for negotiating credit card fees:
1. Use the card
Lending expert John Li of Fig Loans says you’ll have the best chances at negotiating your credit card’s annual fee if you use your card frequently.
“At the end of the day, doing so makes the bank money, and a steady flow of transactions puts you in front of the credit card issuer as a worthy customer to build a long-term professional relationship with,” he says.
2. Be respectful
Dvorkin recommends keeping a level head before you pick up the phone. Take the time to state your case, but don’t fly off the handle if you don’t get your way.
“Credit card issuers get angry calls from cardholders all the time, so it helps consumers to be positive when calling to get a fee waived,” he says.
3. Negotiate by phone
While some card issuers like American Express have an online chat feature, you may have better luck negotiating with a customer service agent over the phone. In fact, phone agents can usually perform more services on your behalf versus agents you speak to via online chat.
4. Have a legitimate grievance
Nishank Khanna, CEO of business lender Clarify Capital, says you’ll have a better shot at negotiating if you have a compelling reason for not wanting to pay an annual fee.
“If you’re having this conversation with your lender to begin with, you’ll want to be able to articulate a logical reason for why you deserve to have the fee removed or reduced,” he says. “Customer service representatives are often receptive to legitimate reasons and may have a policy in place to help accommodate customers with specific concerns or circumstances.”
5. Leverage the competition
Khanna also says you can point to other card issuers that may have a better deal right now. Have competitors waived their fees? If you’re looking to knock off a fee on a travel credit card because you haven’t been able to use the card during the pandemic, for example, you should find out how other card issuers are handling the situation.
6. If you’re not satisfied, call again
Persistence can pay off when it comes to negotiating credit card fees and terms. Not only that, but you don’t have to accept the first “no” you receive. If you don’t get the answer you want, you can always try the famous “HUCA” method, which asks you to hang up and try again. You may be connected to a different agent who is more agreeable.
See related: Does applying for a credit card by phone boost approval odds?
What to do when the issuer won’t budge
If you are trying to negotiate an annual fee but can’t seem to make any progress, keep in mind that other options may make just as much sense.
For starters, Dvorkin says consumers who find they cannot negotiate their card’s annual fee should consider opening a credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee and closing their old one.
Note that closing a credit card can lower your credit score by reducing your overall available credit. Depending on how high the card’s credit limit is and what balances you have on other cards, this could raise your credit utilization ratio and lower your score. But this may be a risk worth taking if you can no longer afford your card’s annual fee.
Also, keep in mind some card issuers might let you downgrade your credit card to another card they offer that doesn’t charge an annual fee. You will probably earn a lower rewards rate and get fewer perks if you take this route, but moving your line of credit to a different card won’t cause damage to your credit score like closing an account can.
*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.
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