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What You Need to Know About Employee Assistance For Higher Education

Given how difficult the job market is, there is a hidden benefit: you can go back to school on the boss’ tab. With the economy improving along with the labor market, employers have to face stiff competition in order to hire the best talent. This is leading to companies increasing tuition assistance for people to take classes and earn certificates and degrees available.  Three example of companies paying for their employees are Starbucks, health insurer Anthem and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. All of them cover expenses for undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, Southern New Hampshire University and Strayer University. Most companies continue to remain within the $5250 limit for annual contributions to an employee’s education. This is for the reason that until this figure it remains tax-free. But companies can go a bit further: they negotiate with universities for a better deal on tuition. In fact, this will be the best amount than you can ever get. Using the companies above as examples, Starbucks reduces tuition fees by 42% while Anthem has gotten a program with College of America for $2500 in a year or less. This will become a trend as more colleges roll out online programs. Even though some companies only restrict employees to study only job-related programs, others allow them to take a variety of majors and not related to their line of work. When it comes to payments, students will be reimbursed by the company at the end of each semester while companies such as Verizon and Fiat Chrysler pay it upfront. Still, there might terms and conditions to taking up a course of study while working. Sometimes, one has to be academically successful in order to avail of these...

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3 Best Rewards Credit Cards On Offer

3 Best Rewards Credit Cards On Offer

There are so many rewards credit cards on offer. This makes it difficult to pick which ones that might work for you. It all depends on your spending patterns. One thing to remember is that if you carry a balance, a rewards credit card won’t work. This is because they have high interest rates which will offset the point you make. So, here 3 best rewards credit cards on offer for those with a credit score of 750 and above: 1: Chase Freedom This card offers rewards in several categories. Some of these categories include gas purchases, seasonal and holiday spending. You can earn 5% during the holiday season and top rewards when using Amazon. The interest rate is 0% for 15 months and then 13.99% to 22.99% after that. There is no annual fee and the annual rebate is $330. You can also activate 5% cash back for up to $1500 in a given category. 2: Citi Double Cash Even if it’s a new card, it offers some of the best cash-back rewards. The interest rate is 0% for 15 months and 12.99% to 22.99% thereafter. There is no annual fee while the annual rebate is $440. You earn 2% for every transaction made. Finally, once you have $25 in cash back, you can add it to your Citibank account. 3: Chase Sapphire Preferred This card suits frequent travelers. The interest rate is 15.99% and the annual fee is $95. You get a sign-up bonus of 40000 points if you spend $4000 in the first 4 months. The annual rebate is about $371 in value. You have two options: first, transfer the points to other frequent traveler programs. Second, use the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping...

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4 Ways to Check Your FICO Score At No Cost

4 Ways to Check Your FICO Score At No Cost

It’s unfortunate that until now, your FICO score, which is the most popular credit score used in banking and lending, cannot be accessed not unless you pay a fee. However, with the options that are available now, consumers can do so without paying a cent. Having said that, here are 4 ways to check your FICO score for absolutely no cost: #1: Credit Counselors Credit counselors at nonprofit credit counseling agencies might show scores that they might have obtained from Experian, so there’s a chance that they can show people who make appointments with them their FICO credit scores. Check with them if you can view your FICO score or else look for other places. Some of these popular agencies include the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, Local Initiatives Support Corp and Credit Builders Alliance. #2: Enrolling for a Credit Card Enrolling for a credit card can give you access to your FICO scores. While these cards have an annual fee attached to them, viewing your FICO score is anything but free. Simply put, it’s a fringe benefit that they offer with these cards. Some of these banks include Discover, First Bankcard (F.N.B.O.), Bank of America, Barclaycard, Merrick Bank, Citi branded credit cards and Chase Slate cards. #3: Auto Loans If you buy cars through either Ally Financial and Hyundai Capital America (including Kia Motors Finance and Hyundai Motor Finance), then you should be able to view your FICO scores for free. #4: Credit Unions There are three credit unions that are offering cardholders the ability to view FICO scores. Some of them are Pentagon Federal Credit Union, North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union and Digital Credit...

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Settling Construction Disputes Out of Court

Settling Construction Disputes Out of Court

There are three main ways to avoid going to court: dispute prevention, dispute resolution, and of course dispute management. Disputes are common in construction, but they can also be a real hassle if you’re ill prepared. Read on for tips on handling these disputes with efficiency. Dispute prevention requires focusing on the areas of greatest legal risk when it comes to compliance. Then, there has to be a system to monitor contract performance by both parties. One popular method outside of trial is construction mediation, which can save substantial money and hardship for both parties. In fact, the most important piece of dispute resolution is deciding the route you want to take to solve the dispute. Trial is final, at least in most cases you’re not likely to remain friends or business partners, but construction mediation offers you the chance to save your relationships. Most construction companies should maintain a budget for solving problems out of court, and then pass the money not paid to attorneys to this budget. Large construction outfits should have a problem- solving team in place so that problems are taken care of before they are considered legal problems and private mediation is required. Some people believe that most construction disputes can be resolved without a lawyer, but that would underscore the value of some level of mediation. If there is a contract breach, whatever the specifics, it is best to address it immediately before things snowball. Contractors and owners must do a better job at documentation.  Anyone experienced in private mediation can often do an OK job of documenting everything themselves, especially with simpler strategies. Bio: Lyle Charles is an expert witness, steel fabrication expert and construction consultant. Lyle Charles Consulting can help expedite your claims and get your crew back to work...

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3 Warnings to Heed Before Investing in Index Funds

3 Warnings to Heed Before Investing in Index Funds

Index funds are an average Joe’s best chance for investing success. The truth is if you do the numbers, they don’t lie. However, as with all things, there are certain nuances that one must be aware of before making any investments in index funds. So, with that said, here are 3 warnings that you must heed before investing: #1: Don’t Take a Passive Approach While picking the right stocks is the first thing to do, there are a number of things to do. Yet the most important thing to do is to constantly review and maximize the after tax return. Apart from this, he also has to rebalance, pick an asset allocation, and tax-loss harvest too. #2: Be prepared to stick with the ‘down years’ Given how the media always paints a picture of doom and gloom, it can be difficult to stick with your investment during a bear market. During the last financial crisis, bringing down stock allocations was advised. However, this wasn’t good advice considering how the equity valuations had dropped completely. So, no matter what, make sure that your investment is for the long-term, regardless of good or bad news. #3: Don’t Spend More Than Usual During the Good Years Even though U.S stocks usually offer 10 percent every year for the long-term, there are some years when one gets different results. While it can get good during a couple of years, there are others where one can truly make a killing. That said, it isn’t a good idea to overspend during these years as these extra earnings will help cover for the years that can be considered as...

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Using Private Mediation to Settle a Construction Dispute

Using Private Mediation to Settle a Construction Dispute

Written by: Lyle Charles Summary: Private mediation for construction disputes can be highly effective at solving costly problems. Litigation is a part of the construction industry, but the process is long and costly. Smaller crews stand to see even greater losses dealing with claims, because they don’t usually have the manpower to fight the claim and manage tasks at a work site. That’s why so many in the industry turn to private mediation as a method to solve disputes. Why Mediation Mediation solves a few important problems that trials can cause. For one, mediation is a lot faster than going to trial. Mediation is over within a few days, so you’re not standing around waiting on deliberation and hoping for a verdict. You’ll usually have an idea of where things are headed during the process itself. Having a neutral third party means that you can air your grievances honestly, which also means that both parties have a good chance of leaving mediation feeling satisfied with the outcome. Mediation is good for scheduling, relationships and your budget. What You Need to Know A mediator is someone who has basic familiarity with the law surrounding your case. They will not advocate for you, but they may help you clarify a point you’re making. Their job is a lot like a counselor. They will also go over any documentation related to your claim and review it for accuracy. Their goal is to present a judgment that is fair to both parties, so don’t expect a large payout for damages if you win. Bio: Lyle Charles Consulting is a firm that specializes in construction turnaround services for commercial...

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3 Everyday Items to Avoid Buying in Bulk

3 Everyday Items to Avoid Buying in Bulk

While you can save money by buying things in bulk, this doesn’t always apply since certain items might get spoiled or expire they get used. In some cases, smaller packages tend to cost less per-unit rather than super-sized containers of everyday items. That said, here are 3 items that you should clearly avoid buying in bulk: #1: Cereal There is no need to buy cereal in bulk at all since it is often less per ounce on smaller boxes that you find at the local supermarket. In fact, buying a 30-ounce box of Kashi organic cereal costs at least $3 than two 16.3 ounce boxes that is on sale at your supermarket. Buying granola won’t save you money either. #2: Cooking Oil Cooking oil might seem like a bulky buy but it isn’t so since it has a shelf life of only 6 month. Not unless you are frying food everyday, it should be obvious that a gallon of vegetable oil will definitely go bad by then. Apart from this, the bigger bottle isn’t always cheaper. In fact, the 1 gallon bottle (about 128 ounces) that you can get from Walmart costs the same per ounce as the 48-ounce bottle available. #3: Eggs Given that most packages sold at warehouse clubs are about 36 in a package, you’d have to eat one or two eggs a day to finish them in 3-5 weeks. This is why it is better to purchase only a dozen eggs at your local supermarket and which is actually cheaper than the bigger packages sold at these warehouse...

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