4 Simple Ways a Card Reader Will Enhance Your Business

If you are like a lot of small business owners, you might not have yet invested in a card reader so that you can accept credit or debit cards. It might not seem like a big deal not to have one, but the truth is that investing in a card reader can be a wonderful business move. These are a few reasons why.

1. Provide Convenience for Your Customers

First and foremost, one of the top benefits of accepting credit and debit cards at your place of business is the fact that it can be much more convenient for your customers. More and more people are choosing to use credit and debit cards nowadays for cash for all sorts of reasons; some feel safer and more secure when using a card rather than carrying all of their money in cash, some find that it’s easier for them to track their spending when they use a card and some have other reasons. Regardless, you probably want to make things as convenient as possible for your customers, and accepting credit and debit cards is a good way to do so.

2. Avoid a Loss of Business

Not only do some customers prefer to pay with a card, but some do not carry cash at all. If you only accept cash, it’s true that some customers will simply find an ATM to take out the money to use at your place of business. However, others might simply patronize another business that does accept cash. You don’t want to lose business just because you won’t accept customer credit and debit cards.

3. Enjoy a Reduced Risk of Theft

Another great thing about accepting cards is the fact that it can help reduce the risk of theft. Basically, businesses that accept cash only can be a target for thieves who are looking for a quick hit. Plus, if your business does happen to get robbed, you won’t have to worry about losing everything if you accept credit and debit cards. It can be a tough thing to think about, but robberies do happen, and it’s important to do what you can to protect your business.

4. Make Bookkeeping Easy

Lastly, one really great thing about accepting credit and debit cards is the fact that it can make bookkeeping a whole lot easier. You don’t have to worry about counting down as much cash at the end of the day, and you can quickly pull your credit card machine records if you need information about profits.

As you can probably see, if you have not yet invested in a card reader for your place of business, now is the time to do so. Then, you and your business can enjoy these four benefits and more.

5 Signs its Time to Switch to LED Lights

LED light bulbs have been available to consumers for several years as an efficient way to light up interior spaces and decorate the outdoors. LED bulbs are known for their high level of energy efficiency and for their bright light and wide range of colors. If you have not yet made the switch to LED lights, consider these five signs that now is the time to make your move.

Your Bulbs Frequently Burn Out
Incandescent bulbs may only last for a few months in some types of fixtures. If you have a fixture that is located up high or otherwise difficult to put in a new bulb, LED bulbs are a great choice. They last for a long time, meaning that you will not have to be climbing up a ladder every couple of months to put in a replacement light bulb.

The Electricity Bill Keeps Going Up
If you have noticed an increase in your electricity bill, it could be from your old, inefficient light bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, making the switch to LED light bulbs could lower the cost of lighting your home by 75 percent. This could result in a significant savings over the lifetime of a single light bulb.

Fixtures Are Overheating
When your lamp shade, chandelier and other fixtures are overheating from using incandescent light bulbs, it is time to switch to LED bulbs. LED light bulbs do not emit any heat. This allows them to be used in enclosed fixtures such as a glass globe or in a ceiling fan. Since they do not emit heat, they will not cause your home to get too hot in the summertime.

You Need Better Task Lighting
LED light bulbs emit light in one direction. This makes them ideal for use in task lighting. They are also great in recessed lighting fixtures. The light can be aimed at your work so that you can see better while reading, chopping onions or working on your beading project. All of the light emitted by the LED bulb will be directed where you want it to be.

You Need More Design Options
According to the Energy Star website, there are many more design and color options with LED light bulbs compared to other types of light bulbs. With an LED, you can install a small wall light or a night light that glows blue at night so that it does not jar you awake. You can also select LED bulbs that fit into specialty lamps, chandeliers and other household items. Colored LEDs offer spectacular decorative options for the inside and outside of your home, and they are often used as holiday decorations because of their brightness.

4 Financial Benefits of Buying a Used Forklift

If you are thinking about buying a brand new forklift for your place of business, you might want to take some time to consider your decision. Instead, you might find that buying a used forklift is a much better business decision for your company. These are a few reasons why.

1. Enjoy a Lower Purchase Price

Buying a forklift is not cheap. However, if you buy used, you might find that it’s a whole lot more affordable. If you’re looking for ways to cut costs within your business, going with a used forklift is a great way to do it.

2. Worry Less About Depreciation

Just like cars, forklifts depreciate in value after you buy them. A lot of this depreciation happens in the first couple of years that you own the forklift, so even if you pay a brand new price for a brand new forklift, you can expect for your forklift to be worth a whole lot less if you try to sell it. By buying used, you can buy something that has already depreciated in value. Even though it will continue to depreciate over time, you won’t have to worry about the huge percentage of depreciation that can happen in the first couple of years of ownership.

3. Make Financing Easier

Unless you have the capital to spend, you might have to finance your piece of equipment when you buy it. Newer forklifts can be trickier to finance, since you might have to go through a bank, and you might have to get approved for a larger amount. When you buy used, you can make financing easier because you typically won’t have to take out as large of a loan. Additionally, some companies that sell used forklifts actually offer payment plans, which can make buying a whole lot easier if you don’t actually have the cash to pay for the forklift upfront.

4. Choose a Forklift That’s Cheaper to Maintain

Many of the newest models of forklifts have a lot of bells and whistles. Even though these can seem nice, they can actually drive up the cost of maintenance for your forklift, since you have to worry about keeping all of these components in good shape. By buying an older and simpler forklift, you can help avoid having to worry about these things.

As you can see, there are actually a lot of financial benefits to buying a used forklift. If you are in the market for a forklift for your place of business, consider these benefits of buying used before you go out and buy a new piece of equipment. If you do, you might just find that buying used truly is the best choice.

8 Innovative Ways to Keep Your Finances in Check for 2017

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to save money or get your finances under control, it’s likely that you’re still floundering with how to get started. These 8 tips will help you get your finances under control, and you can start with the easiest first.

Start Small
Your finances can be daunting to consider especially if you have no money saved and are racking up huge credit card bills. It can be tough pick one part to tackle. This week, pick one part of your finances to focus on, and next week pick another. Take it month by month, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Track Spending
The first thing you should do is track your spending for a week or two. This will give you an average of where you spend the bulk of your money. It’s the best way to deal with the next step. If you don’t understand where you’re spending your money, it’ll be hard to get a rein on overspending or spending frivolously.

Create a Budget
Once you have your spending tracked for a few weeks, you can see where you’ll need to work at creating better financial decisions. Instead of that cup of expensive coffee every morning, you could invest in a coffee maker. It’s a bigger up-front purchase that will pay for itself within a few weeks.

Method to Work for You
Part of figuring out your budget is finding a tracking method that works for you. When your money is deposited directly into your bank account, and you use a debit or credit card for purchases, you’re not really accounting for your spending correctly. You can use an envelope approach or a spreadsheet to allocate your money. Have an entry for rent, utilities and vital expenses and the rest should go into the bank.

Two Bank Accounts
You should have a separate bank account for savings. It gets the money out of the way immediately, and you can be firm with what you’ll spend your money on each week. After paying rent and other expenses, you can leave $50 in your account while the rest goes into a savings account. You’ll know exactly what you have to spend without going over the limit.

Savings Challenge
Challenge yourself to save money, or have your friends join you in a challenge to save a certain amount by summer. It’s easier when you’re doing it with someone else.

Check Your Credit
Each year, you’re entitled to a free credit report from all three credit agencies. Always check your report for inconsistencies and errors to keep yourself safe from identity theft.

Tracking Tools
There’s an app for every task you might want to complete and that includes saving money or just getting a handle on your spending. Software like Mint.com can help you really dig deep and understand exactly where you’re spending.

9 Ideas for Decorating a Winter Wonderland Wedding

Winter is not your typical season for a wedding, but that is sometimes precisely the reason why couples may choose it. Winter weddings can be whimsical and are often cozy, providing warmth, friendship, and family during a time when it can be cold and bleak outside. A wedding during the winter calls for a new approach to decorating. Here are 9 fresh ideas for decorating a winter wedding wonderland.

1. Wedding Invitations
The first impression that guest will get of the wedding is the official invitation, which they might get months before winter actually sets in. Use thick snow-white paper with accents of eggplant, forest green, and berry red, which are very trendy for winter, tucked into gentle chocolate envelopes.

2. Choose a suitable color palette.
Entirely up to the couple, who might choose something unconventional to go against the norm, most couples choose color themes that go along with winter feelings. These might be neutral, cool, and soft color themes with lots of white, blue, metallic silver and gold, and gentle earth tones. Your guests will be dying to attend!

3. Choose accessories that will keep you warm.
It is winter after all, and unless you are in the south of the country (or somewhere tropical) it will be chilly outside. Be sure to have cute warming accessories like finger-less gloves, hats, and scarves. Opt for a longer wedding dress, maybe with long sleeves as well. If it is especially cold then be sure and wear thick leggings under the dress to keep your body temperature up so you’re not cold and uncomfortable. For the men, consider velvet blazers which look chic and will keep them warm as well.

4. Centerpieces.
With a centerpiece, you want to bring in a little bit of the outdoors. This style tends to go with any wedding theme. Winter white boughs (either aspen or painted white) sitting up in a broad vase, with crystals hanging from the boughs is a good starting point. Decorate the bottom with votive candles for warmth and energy. Frosted glass china would make a great compliment for guests to eat from. Winter flower bouquets should be big, fluffy blooms like white hydrangeas and ranunculus.

5. Glitter.
Winter can mean snow, pure and white and glinting in the light. Glittering, sparkling decorations mimic this most beautiful part of winter weather. If you want to echo the season (of course you do!) then pick decoration that glitters and sparkles in the light just like snowflakes. This can mean glitter makeup, too. Don’t be shy with the glitter!

6. Wedding Cake
The centerpiece of the wedding festivities, your wedding cake could be the most beautiful winter decoration! Big layers of snow-white cake covered with glittering snowflakes, birds, and holly berries. Wintry wedding topper could be the happy couple kissing
under a bough of mistletoe.

7. Winter Weather Nature
Winter doesn’t mean that all the plants wither, turn brown, and drop their leaves. In fact, there are many tree species that are adapted to be hardy in the cold. Evergreen and coniferous species are green year-round, and are a great natural accent to incorporate into your winter wedding theme. Think boughs of fir, pine, and holly.

8. Wintry Wedding Favors
No wedding is complete without favors for the guests to take home with them when they leave. Ideally, this is something that reminds them of the wedding itself. Perfect wintry favors would be warm plush blankets to cuddle up under, packets of premium mulled wine spices, or baked goods made with love. Artisanal candles and lotions in winter scents are a great option – think the smell of a winter forest, the comfort of a glass of wine by a fire, perfectly roasted apple pie…

9. Don’t Forget the Mistletoe!
Another natural element not to be forgotten is mistletoe. An interesting little plant that grows on trees, spread around by birds, and that has a perfect spot at a wedding as it symbolizes love and wintry romance. Have a big mistletoe cluster at the entrance, or have several small misteloes hanging around in mischievous places so your guests can kiss their partners when they least expect it! A fun thing to do is plan where to hang the mistletoe…

Best Types of Wood for Laser Engraving

There are many different types of wood that you can use for projects. However, some types of wood are a lot better than others when it comes to laser engraving or cutting. Wood can be one of the most challenging materials to work with for laser engraving and cutting due to the various inconsistencies in the wood material. The ideal wood that you can find will be light in color, not be coarse or heavy in grain and also will come with a higher resin content.

 

There are different ways you can tell the amount of resin a piece of wood has. One method you can use is to compare pieces of the same species – the lighter the piece, is an indicator of a lower resin count. Another method is to do a burn test on the opposite side that you intend to engrave.

 

Engraving on a darker wood will cause you not to see the details as clearly. You may not be able to even tell what the picture is at all depending on the type of wood and the darkness, which is why the ideal wood for you to use for your engraving project would be light in color. With a lighter wood you are able to get the best possible contrast.

Depending on what you are engraving the type of wood may cause a distraction with the grain pattern/streaking that runs through it. If you are engraving a picture if there is a heavy pattern of streaking it can be distracting to have a bunch of lines running through faces. With laser photo engraving, you want to choose a wood type that has a smooth and consistent gran with very minimal streaking like an Alder wood.

 

Types of wood that are good for engraving/cutting include:

 

  • Cherry- Cherry has a high resin content and is a lighter wood. It may have higher levels of streaking which may not be great for all projects.
  • Hard Maple – Light in color, light streaking, and can burn dark most of the time. The down side is that there is some inconsistency with the resin.
  • Alder – High resin content, light in color, with very light streaking Alder is a good choice for most laser engraving projects.

 

It is important when taking on a wood engraving or cutting project whether for work or pleasure that you plan everything carefully. You want to ensure that you take into account the type of project that you are working on so that you can pick out the appropriate piece of wood so that your work is displayed in the best way.

Top Bridal Trends for the Fall

If you’re planning a fall 2017 wedding, you might have visions of a rustic, autumn-tinged celebration. But beyond the decor, the bride has important decisions to make about hair, makeup, and accessories. Here are some of the top fall bridal trends you can expect to see when shopping for your gown and planning your wedding day look.

1. Spanish Influence
According to Brides magazine, gowns that feature Spanish-inspired details are hot for fall. Think romantic ruffles, off-the-shoulder or tiered necklines, and even capelets to cover bared shoulders. This fits right in with the ruffled trends seen on recent runways.

2. Integrated Sparkle
As reported in Vogue’s look at the bridal runway for this season, trendy fall brides are eschewing the jewelry box in favor of gowns that have the bling you’ve dreamed of built right in, with bejeweled necklines spotted on the runway from designers including Carolina Herrara, Marchesa, and Badgley Mischka. In addition to jewels, gowns brought the sparkle with silver beading, sequins, gold brocade, and other metallic embellishments.

3. Minimalism
Brides who want to go sweet and simple will be excited by the options they have this fall, with clean lines and silhouettes offered by a range of designers. Anything but boring, the new minimal gowns are enhanced with subtle, sweet details like delicate ruching and tiny sleeve ruffles.

4. Capes
Brides who crave drama are casting aside the traditional veil and train for a different kind of flow–a cape that cascades to the floor for an unforgettable entrance when you walk down the aisle. This look can also go romantic with a body veil, a wispier, delicate cape made of lace or another light, transparent material.

5. Higher Necklines
You might have your heart set on the ubiquitous strapless sweetheart neckline, but the trendiest gowns this season are sexy without showing skin. Designers are showing higher than ever necklines on this year’s runway, as well as long sleeves. Far from Victorian, though, these dresses provide coverage in the front along with flirty details like peekaboo lace, illusion paneling, and even cut-out patterns.

6. Midi-Length Gowns
While shorter wedding dresses have been showing for awhile, the latest hemline is a romantic tea length. These dresses are perfect for the dance floor and impart a fun, youthful vibe. In addition, many brides are opting to go for the princess gown for the ceremony and swap it out for a shorter dress when the cocktail hour rolls around.

How to Avoid Getting Denied for a Personal Loan

A personal loan can be used for a variety of purposes including consolidating debt, taking a vacation or paying taxes. They are designed for those with poor credit as well as for those who have good credit. What are some steps that you can take to ensure that you aren’t denied for the personal loan that you have applied for?

Make Sure You Apply for a Loan That Fits Your Credit Profile

If you have a credit score of 500 or have several missed payments in the recent past, you shouldn’t expect to get a loan from your bank or credit union. Instead, you should apply for a loan from a bad credit lender. You may also have to be flexible regarding your loan terms if you have a low income, are self-employed or don’t have an extensive credit history even if it is a positive one.

Can You Secure the Loan?

As a general rule, a secured loan is easier to get than an unsecured loan. This is because the lender has better odds of seeing his or her money back compared to a loan that is secured only by the promise of the borrower to pay it back. You can use your home, a car or any other valuable asset to secure a loan. In some cases, a borrower may secure the loan with a cosigner who pledges to pay the money back if the original borrower is unable to do so.

How Much Are You Asking For?

A borrower who asks for $50,000 despite having no assets, little income and a lot of debt is unlikely to get his or her request approved. However, it may be possible to get a loan for $5,000 with the understanding that future loans could be worth more if this one is repaid on time. Typically, a lender will tell the borrower ahead of time how much he or she is approved for prior to deciding whether to accept the loan.

Don’t Make Too Many Loan Requests at Once

Each time that you fill out a loan application, you have an inquiry placed on your credit report. If a lender sees that you have too many inquiries, it may raise some questions about your ability to obtain or manage credit wisely. Ideally, you will limit loan requests to no more than one every six to 12 months.

Getting denied for a personal loan be a blow to your ego or put you in financial dire straights if you needed the money to pay a bill today. However, even if you are denied, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ask another lender for a loan or apply again in the near future if you overcome the issue that led to the denial.

4 Water Treatment Techniques to Avoid

Treating water to release it back into the ecosystem is different than treating water for the purpose of making it potable. The requirements for each type of water treatment and the methods used would vary as well as the end-product purity level. Water treatment for drinking water must meet minimum federal standards for purity. Even though water may technically and legally pass tests for potability, it still may not have been treated in the best way. Here are four water treatment methods to avoid.

Bleach and Chloramine

Chlorine is sodium hypochlorite. It is the same chemical found in liquid household bleach. However, household bleach is manufactured for household cleaning, disinfecting and laundry. It is not made for water purification. Bleach cleaning products may contain other chemicals, such as fragrances, that could pose a hazard. Plus, the purity of the sodium hypochlorite in bleach may not meet the standards for use in water purification. Chloramine poses the risk of becoming corrosive and causing the leaching of lead in pipes that contain lead.

Distillation

Distilled water is made by first boiling it and then condensing the water vapor back into liquid water. Distillation can remove many contaminants, but it also removes minerals that are needed by the human body. Part of the dietary intake of necessary minerals includes what is ingested through drinking water. Demineralized water can potentially lead to mineral deficiencies. Plus, distilled water is not very palatable. For those who must drink distilled water for a time, aerating it to oxygenate it improves the taste. Aerating can be accomplished by quickly pouring a quantity of distilled water back and forth between two containers such as drinking glasses.

Reverse Osmosis

This method of water purification is in wide use. There are home systems available to purify drinking water at the tap. It is a very effective water treatment process. You should not necessarily avoid it but rather take the time to understand its risks as well as its benefits. Reverse osmosis water treatment uses semi-permeable membranes (filters) to treat the water. Pressurized water is forced through the membrane. The contaminants stay on the pressurized side of the membrane while the purified water passes through. The problem is that minerals get filtered out too. Relying on only reverse osmosis-treated water for daily intake may result in mineral deficiencies. Also, demineralized water has an odd taste to many. This is why bottled water treated through reverse osmosis has minerals added back in for taste.

Iodine

This water treatment method is typically used for short-term survival and other emergency situations. Iodine tablets for water purification are sold online and in stores that sell camping gear. However, the tablets are getting to be more difficult to find on store shelves because the chemical is also used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. It is still typically available in limited quantities by asking for it at pharmacy counters or as prepared in tablet form for water purification use. The problem with iodine is that it can cause thyroid problems and goiters if used as a long-term water treatment method. The standard is to not exceed 2mg per day and not drink water treated with iodine longer than three weeks.

Most water purification methods have a risk versus benefit profile. Minuscule amounts of residual chlorine in drinking water are preferable to pathogenic bacteria and other contaminants that can cause illness or death. Demineralized water that is pure and safe to drink is preferable to drinking contaminated water that has minerals. It is easy to take a daily mineral supplement to compensate for drinking water treated by distillation or reverse osmosis. No water treatment option is perfect for every person. Those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses should take the time to educate themselves about water treatment methods used in the treatment of the water they drink.

4 Ways To Add Value To Your Home With Tile

As a homeowner, it’s important to consider the different ways you can increase the value of your home. Whether you choose to go the DIY route or hire a contractor, home renovation projects will make a major difference in how your home looks and feels. Granite, marble and concrete are some of the more popular choices for home renovations. However, don’t overlook the power of a beautiful tile. When done correctly, tiles can turn a house into a luxurious home. Insert tile in these four areas to see the value of your home go up.

1. Bathroom Tile
Stepping into a shower should always be a rejuvenating experience. If you’ve ever been to a spa, you’ll notice that the showers are covered in ornate tile. You can create a similar experience in your home or start simply with subway tile. Whether you have a standalone shower or a tub, you can line the walls of the shower with tile. Make sure to leave an indentation in the wall for your soap holder. Depending on the size and shape of your shower, it might even be nice to line the ceilings of the shower.

2. Kitchen Floor Tile
Tile on the kitchen floor is a great way to update and upgrade any kitchen. If you choose to do a DIY project with the tile, make sure to map out your strategy and have a solid plan for each step. Once the tile job is finished, just make sure to keep some warm slippers by the kitchen entrance since tiles can get pretty cold.

3. Backsplash Tile
The wall area between the cupboards and the countertops is considered the backsplash area. While many people prefer to leave this area bare, adding backsplash tile can do wonders for the entire space. Out of all the tile projects, adding a backsplash tile is actually one of the easier ones. Make sure to get the right amount of tile and the proper measurements so that you can easily line it up in the area. Once it’s installed, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

4. Outdoor Tile
Outdoor tile is popular in a lot of vacation homes. If you have any verandas, balconies or front/back porches, outdoor tile flooring would be a nice added bonus in these spaces. During the warmer months, it’s nice to enjoy time outdoors barbecuing or enjoying the pool with friends and family. Tile will upgrade your outdoor experience and add more value to the overall curb appeal of your home. Outdoor tile is easy to keep clean and polished. Make sure to choose tile colors that will complement the rest of the exterior of your home.

These are four excellent ways to increase the value of your home by using tile. Tile is timeless and versatile. Don’t be afraid to shop around for great prices and be open to incorporating complementary designs to improve the visual appeal of your home.