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The year 2012, marks a pivotal moment in world history. As foretold by Nostradamus, the world may end soon and very soon, we have to account for the worlds resources as its temporary caretakers. Ever since those predictions, the accountant has tracked every aspect of barter and of life. How much tea was dumped during the Boston Tea Party? How many limestone blocks were used in the first pyramid? What was the percentage of gross domestic product loss to England because of the destruction of its exports? What was the logistics strategy that causes all to want to walk like an Egyptian? The accountant has numerated and worked these questions and so many more over time. Yet we, like those before us are still burdened with CRAP. From the forensic accountant to the in home accountant also known as mom, all have counted and fell short. CRAP, in my humble opinion, is isolated as follows:
C credit card fees - R rebates - A auto renewals - P prepaid cards
Only two accounting tasks are more puzzling than this one (formally known as CRAP) : One "the true tax numbers of one Willard Mitt Romney?" and the other "what percentage of butter is in that substance at the movie theater?". I submit, CRAP is money to burn. It is unaccounted loss, monetary deception. In other words crap is money we spend or lose without knowing. CRAP, in my humble opinion, is isolated as follows: C credit card fees - R rebates - A auto renewals - P prepaid cards
Let's begin with credit card fees.
Credit card fees are crap. Credit card fees and surcharges cost consumers billions a every year. Yet, the masses seem to worship credit cards. They do make our lives so expedient. Regardless, that we're paying a sky-scraping outlay for this service. In this down economy, surcharges and fees are climbing as credit card companies skirmish for your dollars.
You may need a Trident Tech accountant to identify those covert, oft concealed fees we pay. Credit card applications rise every year as credit card companies make breathtaking offers to clutch your business. They lure you with no interest transfers, no annual fees, and still cash back! What accountant could resist, right? Cash back seems to be the most popular today, as may credit card provider keeps offering me a plan with 5% cash back. My judgement is, "if you can afford to give me 5% back - how much profit do you actually make off me?" So, judge wisely. Sift through the extra credit card fees and surcharges. They will deplete your cash account or that of a small business.
The best way to avoid these extra credit card costs and beat the crap is to put into action simple solutions for all those fees. Take a quick look at some universal credit card fees:
The Late Fee is crap. If PAYPAL doesn't get your money to the credit card company on time, because we know it's not your fault, you may have to fork out a fee of up to $35. This can cripple your cash flow. Be mindful, that if you pay your balance late on a credit card, it can and will be used against you, raising your interest rate on all your cards!
What all the companies do is raise you interest rate because you paid late on another account. This includes the GE Money type accounts such as "Rooms To Go". " To beat the crap: Pay early and often. When confronted with a late charge because of PAYPAL or your dog ate the check, call the company and give explanation. Often our big brother will negate the late charge.
Over the Limit Fee is also crap. If you're near your maximum credit line, a solo additional purchase or even a late charge will thrust you over the limit and trigger an "over the limit" fee. Also a high credit card balance will lower your credit rating. Having over 50% of your card charged, tells the three credit agencies that you are low on cash. To beat the crap, keep all your balances safely below your limit. Like my grandfather told me, never let you gas tank go past half. So don't charge your balance over half. If you can, pay off your whole bill every month. Make it rain on VISA and MASTERCARD. This will eliminate effectively all of the fees.
Next, the inner accountant in you should be aware of how much available credit you have before you acquire a fresh charge. Get the app on your smartphone, or do it the old way and call your credit card company, to check that your balance is up to date. Note to self: The reported credit limit may be around two weeks behind your transactions. Buying that new robot vacuum when you don't have the money can put you past the limit, or you may have to do the walk of shame after rejection at the register. Hopefully it doesn't happen on a first date or your pastor is in line behind you.
To beat the crap: Start up the Prius, trek to Barnes and Noble, buy "Accounting for Dummies", and maintain a daily accurate record of your credit card transactions. Don't rely soleIy on the convienient Android app for your current balance.
The service fee is crap. Mystery - Is there really a no-annual-fee credit card? Many of them, even some of the 0% plastic cards, charge a monthly service fee. The service fee is also called the minimum finance charge costs around $6 a month. Multiplied, you have an annual fee up to $72. To find out if you are victim to this crap, simply call the credit card company and get all the information you need. The crap is in the details, so be sure you understand the terms.
Accounting 101 stresses "where there is a debit there must be a credit". By its vary nature, the balance transfer fee is crap. My uncle's girlfriend said, "All money aint' good money". The balance transfer fee definitely fits that descriptor. The transfer fee is exactly like it's name, a charge for moving outstanding balance to another card. The fee can be a flat rate or a percentage of the amount you moved over.
To beat this crap: Look before you leap, ask before you transfer! If you can't afford the fee, don't take it. At the very least, weigh the fee versus you savings by doing the transfer. Use your inner accountant and calculate the interest saved versus the transfer fee. Also if you can't pay the balance off within a specified time, the 0% may be revoked. I prefer to pay off my card as quick as I can versus moving the bad debt to another account.
The Cash Advance Fee is crap. I never get cash from my credit card. For others, in certain circumstances a cash advance may be rightly what you need, but the immense fees can drown you. After cash in hand from an ATM, one is responsible for the ATM fee (more crap), and a tacked on 10% charge or more of the amount you borrowed. When you pay back your credit card, they often credit your regular charges first and keep the cash advanced balances charged to you at the higher rate. To beat the crap: Know all the costs involved forthright. Do not pull the trigger with this advance unless you can quickly downsize the balance, or can borrow from you accounting teacher
Blank check fees are crap. I know you receive those blank drafts from your credit card company in your mailbox. They actually do tempt me when I get the $2,500 blank check. The look so good, I detest them, so hear me clearly. Destroy them! This gimmick is not free. You are by and large charged a towering percentage based on the total check.
To beat the crap: Refuse to use these checks unless you're prepared to cover the extra costs. Try a regular bank loan before you go this route. Always be your own accountant and watch all transactions. Remember to negotiate with the credit card company. It is more expensive for them to entice new customers, instead of writing off disputed fees and charges. We can beat the crap. Yes we can!
I say again - CRAP, in my humble opinion, is isolated as follows:
C credit card fees - R rebates A auto renewals - P prepaid cards
Let's transition to rebates.
Rebates are crap. Manufacturers and stores make it incredibly complex to claim the refunds they I still have not got the refund from Jiffy Lube, after mailing the receipt, survey, and request form of to the semi-corporate office in Bangladesh. Now , another bargain was the AT&T new phone rebate that I may get back in six months or so in the form or an AT&T card! Just, consider this: The AT&T ad says notes "post sale rebate." First I had to pay the full price phone, complete a rebate form, and then wait months - if lucky.
In fact, manufacturers, offer an estimated $4 billion a year in rebates. The unknown is that millions, perhaps up to 40% of it are never paid. Some simply ignore the rebate claims to making it close to impossible to qualify. Several big names retailers have been admonished by Elizabeth Warren's new government watchdog agency. The credit companies still practice this crap. First they realize that many simply don't know how to claim the rebate. To weed out the others through disqualification there are institutional practices such as the crap below:
Crap is when manufacturers may insist blue ink or block style letters must be used.
Crap is when they maintain you circle the price on the receipt.
Crap is when boxtop with scan code is required and you already tossed it in the garbage.
Crap is when you don't submit claim on time because the small print says you had to submit your claim within seven days of purchase.
Crap is when the rebate check they sent you must be deposited within three days.
CRAP, in my humble opinion, is isolated as follows: C credit card fees - R rebates - A auto renewals - P prepaid cards
Let's explore auto renewals.
Auto renewals are crap. It is a sneak tip clause in a contract imparts that the contract term will automatically renew, unless you give notice of intent to cancel. Most, often you don't know you are even victimized by an automatic billing renewal scam. You may get a free service like extra movie channels when you order cable. You think you have it for a specific time period, such as a year, but when the time period ends, the channel access stays on and you automatically get billed for another time period, because the cable company still has your bank information on record.
When you try to resolve this crap, you discover it was easy to "sign up" for the service, but nearly impossible to cancel. AOL was notorious for its toll-free number to call and cancel and then -shocker! - you can't get through. Now they are equal opportunity and just love to scam baby boomers who might be confused about what they've ordered or whether they have renewed.
To beat the crap, check before you sign up for something to make sure there is no automatic renewal. CRAP, in my humble opinion, is isolated as follows:
C credit card fees - R rebates - A auto renewals - P prepaid cards
Let's end with a look at prepaid cards.
Prepaid cards are crap. They overdose in lots of anonymous fees. Your inner accountant will be surprised when you find a dozen or so different kinds of fees. Reloadable prepaid cards akin to debit cards without a real brick and mortar bank. Often parents load cash onto them and students can use them on campus where plastic is accepted. The gimmick prepaid cards often with catchy names like the Rush Card tend to serve illegal immigrants or someone with bad credit. Areas, like low-income neighborhoods in North Charleston have a host of places to reload a prepaid card.
Crap is activation fees. Just to activate a card you get a fee. Service fees and even for talking to a customer service representative in off-shore China. Other fees are less likely to be disclosed, to my surprise a fee may be charged when a purchase is declined. Now, that is truly adding insult to injury!
To conclude, I covered four elements of crap in our lives. Other than these, there are many more. Consider the pennies the stores keep when they round off your change. Consider the change lost when you kid goes to the store for you. Consider the campaign contributions to the candidate you drops out and then endorses the other guy. I hope that upon reading this paper, you call on your inner accountant and recognize the crap. Once you recognize the crap you can adjust and realize true profit. I describe crap as unaccounted for money, but now this money can be accounted for by you and only you. Consider it a second chance, as if the British jumped in the harbor and got their tea back!