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Making Your Credit Card Work For You: Tips For Business and Personal Users

Finance

Opening a credit card certainly has its perks, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. Whether you are opening the card for business or personal, use credit cards can wreak havoc on your personal or business finances – which is the last thing you want. The key to successfully navigating and managing credit cards – for you or your business – is to be thoroughly educated on the basics. Here are some tips to get you started.


"Having healthy business credit will be beneficial to your company in the long run if you need to rent space or equipment, open accounts with suppliers or take out a business loan" - Leslie Tayne

Business Use

Choose the Best Card for Your Business

As in any major decision for your business, it's best to do some research first. Check out some reviews of some of the top business credit cards offered to see what may best suit your needs. Some cards specifically cater to small business owners, while corporate cards are offered for larger companies. Researching the interest rates and rewards offered can be helpful in choosing what makes the most sense for your business. Additionally, it may be best to use a card provided by the institution where you already do your business banking. Keeping all of your finances under one roof can be beneficial for managing your accounts and for contacting the company for customer service.

Keep Track of Your Interest

If you are carrying a balance from month to month on your business credit card, monitoring your interest will be crucial. It is important to remember that you need to account not only for the charges you've made but also the interest they will accrue, meaning you should be aware of your exact interest rate. If you open a card that is interest-free for the first year, be sure you are attentive to when interest will start to be added. Keeping track of your interest and including it in your monthly budget will allow you to have a better grasp on your business's overall financial situation.

Build Good Credit

Making consistent and timely payments – and paying off your full balance when possible – will help build good credit for your business. Many services offer free credit reports to help track progress with your credit. Having healthy business credit will be beneficial to your company in the long run if you need to rent space or equipment, open accounts with suppliers or take out a business loan.

Keep Your Business Credit Separate From Your Personal Credit

Be aware of whether your business credit is tied to you personally. Unfortunately, if you're not careful, business credit can affect your personal credit score without you knowing, so be sure to look into this when opening a business credit card.

"Some cards specifically cater to small business owners, while corporate cards are offered for larger companies. Researching the interest rates and rewards offered can be helpful in choosing what makes the most sense for your business." - Leslie Tayne

Personal Use

Find the Card That's Right For You – And Stick With It

As with a business credit card, do your research before you decide to open a personal card. Consider interest rates and rewards bonuses. If you plan to use your credit card mostly for travel, look into cards that have airline or hotel rewards. If you are looking for a card for more general use, one that offers straight percentage cash back may be best. Once you have found the card that suits your needs best, try to stick with just the one or as few cards as possible. Having fewer cards makes managing your payments much more manageable and can help you maximize your rewards.

Pay Off Your Balance Every Month

If you can, pay off your balance in full every month. Doing so allows you to avoid racking up interest on your bill.

Never Skip a Payment

Even if you can't pay off your full balance, it is always best to make sure you are at least able to make the minimum payment every month. By ensuring you never miss a payment, you will avoid late fees and will decrease the amount of your interest payments. Missing a payment can also lead to a dock on your credit score, and missing multiple and building up late fees can be disastrous. Make a habit never to charge more than you have available in your bank account.

Only Use The Card When Absolutely Necessary

You can think of a credit card as a personal loan to yourself when you may not feel comfortable having that money taken from your checking account. But consider only using this tactic for essential purchases, such as paying a bill that is coming due or buying significant items for your home. Using your credit card for frivolous spending can lead to trouble in the long run.

Never Use Your Full Limit

To keep your credit score healthy, it is best never to use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Your utilization rate is a crucial component to determine your credit score. Keeping your usage to a smaller percentage of your credit line will help keep payments and interest manageable.

"As with a business credit card, do your research before you decide to open a personal card" - Leslie Tayne

Never Use Your Full Limit

To keep your credit score healthy, it is best never to use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Your utilization rate is a crucial component to determine your credit score. Keeping your usage to a smaller percentage of your credit line will help keep payments and interest manageable.

"Even if you can't pay off your full balance, it is always best to make sure you are at least able to make the minimum payment every month. By ensuring you never miss a payment, you will avoid late fees and will decrease the amount of your interest payments." - Leslie Tayne

The key takeaways to remember when opening credit cards for yourself or your business is to be educated and to be proactive. By knowing the kind of card you are using, and understanding both the interest rates and the rewards offered, you will have a solid grasp on your financial situation as it relates to your credit. And by taking in active role in managing your credit – tracking your payments and interest, keeping an eye on your usage, budgeting effectively – you can ensure that you are making your credit cards work for you, and not the other way around.

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4min read
Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."