As Hurricane Matthew rages on through several islands and countries, people have died and properties worth millions of dollars have been damaged. If you are caught up in the storm or you are in line to be hit, according to the restoration professionals from the Disaster Cleanup Network there are several things that you can do to protect yourself from the storm.
• If you live in a low lying area, it is best to evacuate as soon as possible and move to higher lying areas. You could move to shelters that have been set up by the government or aid agencies in preparation for the storm. If you have not moved to a shelter yet, it is best to identify a shelter close to you that you could move to if there is need to. You should also know how you are going to get there and which route you are going to use.
• Avoid going out to sea until the storm passes. All fishermen should refrain from fishing activities and evacuate to mainland areas that are high lying. If you were planning on going for a cruise, it is best to hold out until the storm passes.
• It is best to stock up on supplies in case you have to stay indoors for quite some time. Make sure to stock up on essential foods and clean drinking water that can last a couple of days. Stock up also on kerosene and candles in case of any power blackouts, which could be caused by trees or heavy objects falling on power lines or as a result of power grids being shut off if storm conditions deteriorate.
• Board up your home and use sandbags to protect your property against flooding. If you will be leaving to go to a shelter or to move to another place until the storm is over, lock up your home securely to minimize chances of unauthorized access into your home by intruders.
• Schools and government offices in most places will remain closed, so it is best to stay indoors. Keep your children indoors or make sure that you do not let them go out unaccompanied by an adult.
• Do not ignore any official alerts and warnings issued by the government. If you are in a danger zone, it is best to heed the warnings given and take the necessary precautionary measures. It is good to react in good time since if you wait for too long, it could be too late to evacuate and it may take a long time for you to get the help that you need after the storm hits.
Free website designers may be a good place to get ideas and start off visualizing what you want for your small business site but they are far from the right option for most small businesses. There are a few different reasons that free site builders are not optimal for those that are creating their small business website.
For starters, most free site builders are very limited when it comes to the overall design features and what you can do to make your site unique. There are going to be a set number of templates that are not easily modified, a set number of extras that you can add, a certain number and range of fonts, colors, and other options which means that there are only so many different combinations that you can do. This also means that you are going to be limited to what you can do and how your site can look overall.
Another drawback is that more people are going to be using a free service which means that there is a danger that your site can end up looking like other sites which may not be optimal. This means that you site runs the risk of not being as unique as it should be and as special as it can be if you use a website designer that is professional and that can give you more options when it comes to overall design.
Lastly, free designers are not going to give you the support that you need to pull off a successful site. There will of course be a certain amount of basic support but when it comes to the complicated tasks that need to be completed, these site builders are not going to be as hands on and they are not going to provide you with the one on one support and help that you need to get your website off the ground and looking great.
Pro Tip – Check Out Web Designers Reviews First
Overall, though a free site builder can give you ideas, it is not ideal for creating your small business website because it is not going to give you the opportunities that are needed to create a great, in depth, unique site that is going to carry your business. Also, free site builders are not going to give you the amount of support that you need to get a site off the ground and looking great. You also run the risk of a cookie cutter site that does not reflect your goals and your business personality, all things that can be avoided with a professional site designer.
When it comes to obtaining funds during an emergency personal loans hands down beat out credit cards. With credit cards you are paying for a higher interest rate in most cases largely due to the fact that credit cards are not meant for planned spending. Credit cards also often have hidden charges and fees. With a personal loan there is a fixed interest rate. Personal loans also feature fixed terms, you always have a set payment per month and always have a date when you are sure the debt will be completely paid off. Also with personal loans you are planning to borrow in advance so you can shop around for a loan that fits your unique financial situation. You can shop around for the best possible rates and you can pay closer attention to what fees may come with the loan.
Personal loans however do have their downsides, lenders like to use a few tricks to maximize the amount of money they can make off the loan they provide to you. I will discuss some of the common pitfalls and tricks lenders use when it comes to personal loans. These are not always buried in fine print either, in fact your lender may even tell you upfront by try and convince you that you either need it or that is is for your own protection. Here are four tricks that lenders often use, once you learn what these terms are you can better decide for yourself if you need them or not.
Lender often try and push loan insurance on you. This loan insurance will be in one or two forms or both. The first form of loan insurance is life insurance, meaning that if you die your family is not responsible for the debt. This is usually a very bad deal, if you are that concerned about life insurance go buy a real life insurance policy as it will be good for more than excusing just one debt. The second form of insurance they try and push on you is unemployment insurance. People can and do benefit from this insurance but you will need to weigh several factors such as the cost versus the likely hood that you may lose your job.
This is an all around bad deal, to put it simply do not go for this. What it does is it is basically a very complex way of calculating interest. Your interest rates are higher at the beginning of your loan and taper down as the length of the loan progresses. If you pay of your loan early you will be paying more interest. If you take the full term of the loan to pay if off than there is no difference in your overall paid interest. This form of calculating interest basically charges you more interest up front and results in higher payments at the beginning of the loan. if your lender calculates your interest using the “pre-compute” method I would advise walking away from that loan and finding a loan elsewhere.
You cant avoid paying this fee but you may be being charged a high origination fee. You need to compare the APR of all of your loan offers along with the interest rates of the loans. APR always includes the origination fee. Understanding what fee you will be paying is crucial when you are loan shopping. This fee is deducted from your loan amount as well so be sure to factor that in when deciding how much you intend to borrow. I should also point out that you do not receive a refund of this fee if you happen to pay off the loan early.
Personal loans are better than breaking out your credit cards when it comes to major spending or expenses. That being said you should be aware of these pitfalls and shop around for you loan carefully. Compare loan offers and their APR. Whatever you do, do not jump on the first offer to come your way. Do your research and pick out the best possible loan for yourself.
As a potentially historic blizzard of massive proportions is bearing down on the Northeast, states of emergencies and travel bans have been put in effect for several US cities and states. As tens of millions of people in the Northeast are bracing for the historic blizzard that could dump several feet of snow, over 7000 flights have been grounded in the region. The big winter storm is expected to intensify overnight Monday wherein it will deliver strong winds in excess of 60 miles per hour, making travel all-but-impossible. Grocery and hardware store shelves across the region were quickly emptied by anxious shoppers preparing for the big storm. Schools, businesses and government offices shut their doors and won’t open until further notice as the massive snowstorm will make travel very hazardous.
The National Weather Service said that the storm could dump 2 to 4 inches of snow per hour overnight in New York City and that the snow will drift due to strong whipping winds, creating a very dangerous situation. Mayor Bill de Blasio told city residents Monday afternoon not to let their guard down as this snowstorm is going to pose a major threat. He also told people to head home and stay there as it will be too dangerous to be out and about. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo said that at 11pm Monday, travel restrictions will be in effect for NYC subways and buses as well as for commuter rail lines running into and out of Staten Island. Cuomo also said that a road travel restriction will be in effect for 13 New York counties which means all vehicles will be banned from roads expect for emergency vehicles.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie also announced a similar travel ban for his state that would also start at 11pm Monday. The city of Boston stopped all public transit for Tuesday while officials for the state of Massachusetts urged people to go home and stay put. Amtrak also stopped its service on many of its busiest lines including those running between NYC and Boston. There will be no flights coming or going out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport Tuesday due to the massive blizzard. There are also flight cancellations and restrictions in place for numerous other airports in the Northeast.
2015 is likely to be a year that in the United States will likely see a push by consumer and civil rights groups to changed current legislation in payday lending. It is predicted that these groups aim to follow suit with the U.K’s current policy & legislation. The United Kingdoms Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which is an independent financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom, but operates independently of the United Kingdom government proposes payday loans cap of 0.8% per day. The plan for the U.K at least is to cap payday loans so that no borrower will have to pay back more than twice what they borrowed. The U.S like the U.K is increasingly taking a second look at the payday loan industry at what many political leaders call predatory lending.
Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said “Right now, I just came out of a hearing on payday lending,” , Warrens top target at the present is combating payday lenders who charge typically poor to middle class Americans upwards of 700% or higher interest rates, trapping borrowers in a non stop cycle of re-rolling loans over and over, trapping them further into debt. Senator Warren is however worried about the current state of congress, stating before the republican take over of the senate and congress that “If Republicans get in charge of the Senate,” says Warren, “a hearing like that has no chance of happening. They’ll get to roll over the issues of importance to the American people.”
One area of payday lending that Democrats agree on is stopping the Payday loan industries preying on the military. The Obama Administration is seeking to shut down loop holes in the 2007 Military Lending Act, which was passed to protect service members from abusive and predatory payday lending practices that were targeted at U.S service members. The payday loan industry was quick to react to the bill using creative methods to bypass every aspect of the law. Payday lenders have been bypassing the military’s 36 percent interest rate cap using clever loopholes to get around the current rate cap. The Department of Defense or DoD is seeking on capital hill to have these loopholes closed. According to the CFPB or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Lenders have been getting away with charging service members upwards of 500 percent interest, which is 464% more than the current law allows. The lenders simply tweaked their products with minor changes in the wording and paper work to bypass the law entirely.
Republicans are more likely to be resistant to any changes in payday lending practices. Thom Tillis who succeeded in his run for U.S. Senate in North Carolina supported the easing of restrictions on military lending and has hauled in an extremely generous amount of campaign contributions from the financial services industry. Jordan Shaw who is his campaign manager stated that “wanted to make sure that people still have these loans as an option.” Yet it is clear that on both the state and federal level in North Carolina the payday loan Industry owns the politicians of that state. In North Carolina in 2011 the payday loan industry succeeded in a push by financial services lobbyists to ease interest rate restrictions.
While on the Federal level the industry has been facing more regulation due to efforts by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sadly the payday loan industry has been buying state level politicians votes thanks to vigorous financial services lobbyists. The payday loan industry has been targeting the laws affecting their lending practices on the state level and have been succeeding at this level, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and North Carolina have eased financial regulation laws in favor of the payday loan lenders.
Not much Federal legislation may pass in 2015 regarding payday lending, but the FTC is closely working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ensure that consumers are protected in the financial marketplace from abusive practices by payday loan lenders. Many private consumers rights groups are joining the fight and this could force the hand of politicians much like it did in the U.K in 2014. Americans for Financial Reform and the more than 100 consumer, civil rights, labor and community organizations are urging the federal government and state governments to do sweeping reforms to the industry. In particular the groups aim to curb or abolish pre-authorized payment methods that are used to collect on payday loans such as post dated checks , the electronic equivalent known as direct ACH debiting of checking accounts and any other automated repayment methods which trap Americans and ensure that no matter what the loan writer gets paid even when the loans cannot be repaid. One of the main issues on these private rights groups and on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is to force the payday loan lenders to better underwrite these loans with an ability to repay rule as well as placing caps on the APR these lenders may charge. Any such legislation however must be carefully worded to avoid any loopholes as the payday loan industry is infamous for exploiting and creating loopholes to defeat the spirit of any law meant to curb their unfair lending practices.
The first winter storm of the 2014-15 season named Astro released its fury on a big portion of the United States Monday. The massive weather system coming out of Canada extended across several states from eastern Idaho through Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Michigan. In addition to dumping very heavy snow on the ground, Astro is also bringing with it strong damaging winds. The storm has pushed a frigid blast of cold air into the northern part of the US where temperatures have plunged between 20 and 40 degrees below normal. Snowfall from Astro is moving over the northern high plains states into the upper Great Lakes with snowfall accumulations being measured mostly in feet instead of inches.
Up to 10 inches of snow blanketed parts of southern and eastern Montana Monday with drifts up to 3 feet around buildings being observed. Eight inches of snow was measured in Webster, SD where patchy freezing drizzle also wreaked havoc on roadways. Conditions were so bad in the Rapid City area Monday due to blowing snow and freezing rain that the Regional Airport had to close down at one point. Portions of western and central Minnesota was blasted with over a foot of snow by noon-time Monday. The Department of Transportation in that state warned against travel in western Minnesota as roadway conditions were extremely dangerous.
As Astro moved eastward, it dumped 14 inches of snow in northwestern Wisconsin and 12 or more inches in the western portion of Michigan’s upper peninsula. During the evening hours of Monday, the National Weather Service warned people living in the UP of Michigan not to put their guard down just yet as Astro was going to dump more snow Tuesday as well as a wintry mix of precipitation.
The big winter storm is drawing in much colder air and gusty winds that could very well disrupt travel and other daily activities for people living in the north central states through mid-week. The bitter cold air in the wake of the winter storm will continue to zero in on the northern Rockies and northern Plains as it plunges even further south over the central part of the US. Snow, dangerous travel conditions and frigid temperatures will make being outside miserable for people living in the Denver, CO area Tuesday and Wednesday as the main part of Astro moves west and blasts the Upper Midwest. The National Weather Service warned travellers to be ready for poor roadway conditions from the central and northern Rockies all the way to the Upper Midwest.