Searching for the best car loan rate 

Average interest rates on new car loans rose to 5.2 percent in February, and many consumers are not taking advantage of several ways to lower their rates and save money in the long run,according to USA Today.

While the market rate had fallen to as low as 3.9 percent at the end of 2012, analysts are forecasting that rates are headed higher. Only 31.6 percent of those that leased or bought a new car in 2015 even tried lowering their rates through negotiation or searching for financing elsewhere.

Many buyers tend to focus solely on the monthly payment when shopping for a new car. They pay less attention to the interest rate and overall length of the loan. With this in mind, car dealers are likely to extend loan terms out as long as possible.

The average loan is three months longer now than five years ago.

Rather than accepting whatever rates the car dealership offers, it pays for consumers to take time to shop around for a better rate elsewhere, as tough competition can lead to better deals, according to Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. As an example, a $35,000 car loan with 7 percent APR will cost $3,800 more than a loan with 3 percent APR over five years.

Different dealerships will have different networks of lenders that might offer better terms.

Also, local credit unions, which have been moving into the auto loan market in recent years, can often provide excellent rates to members.

Sometimes the absolute best interest rate does not make the best deal.

Special promotional rates of 1.9 percent or even zero percent often mean forgoing same-as-cash incentives on specific new cars. When adding that money to the total loan amount, the overall costs could end up being more substantial in the long run than those with a much higher interest rate.

Full coverage vs. liability auto insurance: Which do you need?

There are some in society who are more than self-reliant and financially stable. Such persons are typically millionaires and can pay out thousands at the drop of a hat if they are involved in an at-fault accident. The rest of humanity, or at least those drivers in the United States, need an auto indemnity plan that covers costs associated with incidents on the road. InsureUs is your number one choice when you need car assurance in Cypress, TX, but what type of plan should you choose?

The Pros and Cons of Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is typically recognized as the bare minimum. The coverage ensures that your portion of financial responsibility is paid out in the instance of an accident. A liability plan does not, however, provide you with much protection. You cannot claim damage to your vehicle if you run down a stop sign. You can, however, expect the insurance agency to pay for costs associated with replacing the sign. Liability insurance comes at an economical rate, which is why many drivers are attracted to the option. Consumers financing cars typically do not have the choice to select liability coverage. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Full Coverage

Full coverage insurance is often the number one choice for new car owners in Cypress, TX. This plan usually comes with comprehensive and collision options that pay for everything from damages caused by inclement weather to vandalism. You can rest assured, in most cases, knowing that your car is covered regardless of whether a tree falls on it or a runaway animal cage puts a dent in your driver’s side door. Full coverage is the ideal choice when you want complete peace of mind. 

While there is always the option to go for the cheaper alternative, choosing full coverage is the better option when you want to make sure that you are insured. InsureUS can help you discover the best plan for your financial situation. 

How small businesses can use the gig economy to grow

About one in three workers in America are currently freelancing and this growing gig economy allows small businesses to grow more efficiently by hiring specialists quickly and cheaply, according to Small Business Trends.

An estimated 40 percent of those who work in the gig economy are engaged by small businesses, and those same freelancers are more likely to consider working full time for a smaller company than a larger one in the future.

Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with a small budget and limited access to human capital. It just isn’t feasible to hire full-time experts to provide the skills needed to build things like online infrastructure, branding material, or a social media presence. In these cases, a small business can turn to a freelancer that specializes in these specific tasks but often charges less than an established firm in the industry because they have less overhead and more flexibility with their time, according to CNet. Online services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com allow business owners to connect with freelancers quickly and provide a secure way to track activity.

When searching for a freelance worker to complete a project, such as building a website for your small business, the ability to search among many talented individuals across a variety of factors will allow you to find the perfect match for your situation. Narrow the field by focusing on individuals that have a solidly reviewed track record with a particular kind of project and offer a portfolio of work. From there, sort out whether they prefer to be paid by the hour or completed project and find someone who meets your budget. Once you find a freelancer, there will always be a contract employee on call to help your business grow.

Identifying the ideal team player

The best team players have three virtues: humility, hunger, and smarts.

According to Patrick Lencioni of management consulting firm The Table Group, these traits are sometimes inherent in personality, but more commonly they show themselves through how a person reacts to life, work, and personal development over time.

Humility allows a person to drop their ego and put a team ahead of themselves. Humble people recognize the contributions of others and don’t step on others to get to the top. If a team member lacks this characteristic, they will not be able to build trust and work through conflict over time.

Hungry people are always trying to learn more, improve themselves, and achieve more responsibility and recognition. This drive will propel them to work with a high level of self-motivation and see that projects are completed quickly and correctly. Their ambition will keep them moving upward towards the next opportunity. A person that isn’t hungry will have a hard time getting the desired results and will likely only perform at the bare minimum required.

Smart team players understand how to talk to other people. Listening, asking the right questions, and engaging the team in conflict resolutions are all qualities that a smart person will bring to the table. People without this emotional intelligence will tend to create interpersonal problems that require constant mediation from others.

Lencioni suggests that these virtues should permeate interviews, performance reviews, and even personal introspection to help identify the best way to hire, retain, and coach employees. Deficiency in even one of these areas can cause problems for business, and it can take time to correct a culture problem caused by weak team players.

Dilemma: Buy big or big enough

Dilemma: Buy big or big enough
Buying a house might come down to a choice: A big-enough house or the biggest house you can afford?

The choice you make affects not just your wallet, but your lifestyle as well.

Many considerations go into the house you buy and they are just as important, if not more so, than square footage.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median size of an existing single-family home purchased in 2017 was 1,930 square feet, down from 1,950 square feet in 2016. Square footage in new construction also decreased slightly from 2,473 in 2015 to 2,419 in 2016.

Location is a big factor. If a house is just big enough, but close to work, it could be a better choice than the big homestead. Be sure to figure in the cost of a commute in time and money before choosing the larger house over the just-big-enough house.

Consider neighborhood. Older neighborhoods might have smaller houses, but they also can have stable housing values. For example, buying new construction can be satisfying, but once newer houses are built in the tract, older houses can decrease in value. On the other hand, you still have a new house with all the security that implies.

One thing you don’t want to do is buy a house that is too small. Allow some consideration for guests or just a home office.

Think ahead to your future financial needs. Buying the largest house you can afford will lock you into high payments for not just a mortgage, although that is the most dramatic cost, but also higher utilities, taxes, insurance and repairs over the time you own the home. Some of those funds could be directed to retirement, for example.

Here is an example from the Wall Street Journal: If your smaller home saves you $20,000 each year over the life of the mortgage, you could invest that amount. That investment during the same time in a stock market portfolio making 4 percent could add up to a $1.2 million retirement fund.

It’s also possible to buy smaller but remodel over time. Pick a smaller home in a desirable neighborhood and renovate.

 

New headlight technology stalled by regulation

New headlight technology stalled by regulation
Outdated federal regulations have blocked automakers from introducing new headlight technologies that could help drivers see better and even prevent some pedestrian deaths, experts say.

About 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night in the U.S., but new headlight technologies could help, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Adaptive beam headlight technology automatically adjusts head lamps to oncoming traffic, reducing glare and helping drivers see better. The technology is legal and widely available in Europe and Japan.

In fact, Japanese automaker Toyota petitioned the NHTSA in 2013 to allow adaptive beam technology, but no decision has yet been made.

NHTSA did evaluate the technology in 2014 when it was first introduced by Audi, according to ArsTechnica.com. At that time, NHTSA found the adaptive beams too slow to respond at an intersection or when two vehicles are oncoming on a curved road.

Drivers should use high beams responsibility for proper lighting does involve the driver, however according to the IIHS, drivers should always use high beams, except when another driver is approaching. According to one transportation study, drivers activated their high beams only 25 percent of the time they should have been using them.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Security or Landscape Lighting System?

Landscape and lighting go hand in hand when you are trying to beautify, as well as protect, your home. In Cypress, TX, the agents of InsureUs are constantly working with their clients to make sure they understand the many ways they can minimize their potential risk and improve their home security.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape designers use ambient lighting to spotlight focal points. In the process of illuminating your landscaping, it also sheds enough light to be able to identify possible intruders that may be lurking around your property. When landscaping is placed directly beneath or adjacent to windows or other entryways, the additional lighting is a deterrent for potential criminals who may be looking for a way into your home. The lighting doesn’t have to be overpowering to be effective and can be set up to turn on and off through the use of a motion sensor.

Increased Security

The type of materials and foliage you include in your landscaping can also make it difficult for intruders to gain access to your home. Trellises, thorny bushes or prickly succulents are ideal if you want an added layer of protection. When coupled with the benefits of ambient lighting, both can be extremely effective at turning away intruders. Landscape designers work to help homeowners create beautiful, landscaped areas that double as protective barriers against both human and animal intruders.

If you live in the Cypress, TX area and are interested in learning about more about ways to increase your home security, call the agents of InsureUS. They can help you to identify different ways that you can use to protect your home and family from financial loss. Call their office today to schedule an insurance evaluation.

Avoiding high payment fees in a small business

Avoiding high payment fees in a small business
Only 11 percent of shoppers used cash during 2016, according to creditcards.com.

For small businesses, this means lots of credit card processing fees are coming out of each sale and that can be expensive.

According to small business financing blog Nav, there are three ways for a credit card processor to charge fees: flat, interchange plus, and tiered pricing. Flat fee providers, such as PayPal or Square, use one rate for every transaction no matter the price or volume. Interchange plus models use a flat percentage fee along with a small charge for each sale, such as 30 cents. Tiered pricing applies three different rates depending on what type of card is used; such as debit, credit, or rewards, and is more expensive when manually keyed in.

It is easy to see that a per-transaction charge of even 30 cents could be devastating to a business that sells a high volume of cheap items, such as a dollar store. In these situations, it is entirely acceptable to list a minimum purchase amount for credit processing to make the sting of a per-transaction charge less painful.

As such, The Simple Dollar recommends that small business owners do their research and shop around for the best rates that their business can command. Those currently using or considering a tiered pricing structure, for instance, have reduced the complexity of their accounting and found savings by switching to a flat rate service. While an online search can be helpful, reaching out to other local businesses can be a great resource to see what works for those in a similar situation.

When it comes to equipment, purchasing a credit card terminal can save money over the long run compared to renting it each month so don’t be lured by the promise of savings from the credit card company. Additionally, many of the newer options such as Square provide a free scanner that can be used with any smartphone or tablet to act as a digital register both in a store or on the go.

Who can use the new business tax deduction?

Who can use the new business tax deduction?

Recent reforms in the tax code will be a significant benefit for small business owners who claim company income on their personal tax returns, according to The New York Times.

When income is declared in this way, it is called pass-through income, and the legislation will impact as many as 40 million taxpayers with small businesses making up almost half that number and ‘non-business’ individuals making up the rest. In many cases, a full 20 percent of all pass-through business income will be deductible, and further changes to deductions for depreciable property can help certain types of businesses as well.

Individuals that operate sole proprietorships and contract out to other companies, as well as people that claim income from things like hobbies or vacation home rentals, will fall into the non-business category. Even before these changes, it was desirable to declare this income to make use of other deductions like home offices and equipment. With the new deduction on income.

Do You Have Adequate Commercial Coverage if An Employee Gets into an Auto Accident While Working?

Business owners in Cypress, TX may not be aware of the complexities that are involved in commercial and company auto insurance policies that provide coverage to employees if they get into an accident on company time. Even if they are driving their own car, if an employee is involved in a car accident while performing company business, the firm can be held liable for any damages or injuries that are caused. InsureUS is here to help our customers in the greater Cypress, TX area get the comprehensive insurance that they need to protect their business interests.

If, for example, your secretary goes to the bank to make a company deposit in her own vehicle, the company can still be held responsible in the event of an accident. The insurance policy of the involved vehicle will take the primary position, and if the policy is not adequate to cover the costs of the accident, the business’ insurance will be next in line to pay.

Also, it is important to add all employees to the employer’s auto policy, for both company-owned vehicles, leased vehicles, and any auto that is rented for use in company business. These simple and straightforward steps can safeguard the financial health of your company in the event of an unforeseen accident. Does this all sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be! The professional and highly-trained staff and agents at InsureUS are here to help! 

If you are a business owner in the greater Cypress area and have questions about your commercial insurance, stop by and see us! Our helpful and knowledgeable agents can help to ensure that you have all of the commercial and vehicle coverage that you need to protect your company.