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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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Business

My Untold Story Of Inventing the Sports Bra And How it Changed the World (And Me)

Following are excerpts from "Unleash the Girls, The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)" By Lisa Z. Lindahl


There is an idea that has popped up everywhere from Chaos Theory to Science Fiction and New Age memes known popularly as the "Butterfly Effect." Simply put, it is the notion that one very small thing—the movement of a butterfly's wing say, or the ripple in a lake caused by a pebble being thrown into it—can cause tremendous effect far away: the butterfly's wing a tornado, the ripple a large wave on a distant shore. Cause and effect, does it have limits? The field of physics is telling us that it takes only observation to bring a thing into being. We cannot consider these areas of investigation and not acknowledge that everything—everything—is in relationship in some way or another with everything else.

So, it is evident to me that commerce of any kind is, also, just about relationships. It all boils down, on every level to this simplicity. While we usually think of relationships as occurring between people—it is far more than that.

I used to teach a course in entrepreneurship specifically for women in The Women's Small Business Program at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont. I made this concept of relationship and its importance central in how I taught the marketing thought process. I would stress that for a product or service to be successful, it had to meet a perceived need. There is a need, and it wants to be met; or it may be thought of as a problem to be solved. Or there may be an existing solution that is less than adequate.

For example: In my universe as a runner there already were a plethora of bras available, but they were inadequate for my purpose. The relationship between my breasts, my running body, and my bra was creating discomfort and distraction. A new solution had to be found, the relationship occurring when all these things came together had to be fixed. Utilizing this point of view, one sees a set of issues that need to be addressed—they are in relationship with each other and their environment in a way that needs to be changed, adjusted.

Nowhere is this viewpoint truer than in business, as we enter into more and more relationships with people to address all the needs of the organization. Whether designing a product or a service or communicating with others about it—we are in relationship. And meanwhile, how about maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves? All the issues we know about stress in the workplace can boil down to an internal balancing act around our relationships: to the work itself, to those we work with, to home life, friends and lovers. So quickly those ripples can become waves.

Because Jogbra was growing so quickly, relationships were being discovered, created, ending, expanding and changing at a pace that makes my head spin to recall. And truly challenged my spirit. Not to mention how I handled dealing with my seizure disorder.

"My Lifelong Partner"

Let me tell you a bit about my old friend, Epilepsy. Having Epilepsy does not make any sort of money-making endeavor easy or reliable, yet it is my other "partner" in life. Husbands and business partners have come and gone, but Epilepsy has always been with me. It was my first experience of having a "shadow teacher."

While a child who isn't feeling she has power over her world may have a tantrum, as we grow older, most of us find other more subtle ways to express our powerfulness or powerlessness. We adapt, learn coping mechanisms, how to persuade, manipulate, or capitulate when necessary. These tools, these learned adaptations, give a sense of control. They make us feel more in charge of our destiny. As a result, our maturing self generally feels indestructible, immortal. Life is a long, golden road of futures for the young.

This was not the case for me. I learned very early on when I started having seizures that I was not fully in charge of the world, my world, specifically of my body. There are many different types of epileptic seizures. Often a person with the illness may have more than one type. That has been the case for me. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy—with a seizure type now referred to as "Absence seizures"—when I was four years old. I have seen neurologists and taken medications ever since. As often happens, the condition worsened when I entered puberty and I started having convulsions as well—what most people think of when they think of epileptic seizures. The clinical name is generalized "Tonic-clonic" seizures.

In such a seizure the entire brain is involved, rather like an electrical circuit that has gone out as a result of a power surge. I lose consciousness, my whole body becomes rigid, the muscles start jerking uncontrollably, and I fall. Tonic-clonic seizures, also known as "grand mal" seizures, may or may not be preceded by an aura, a type of perceptual disturbance, which for me can act as a warning of what is coming. The seizure usually only lasts for a few minutes, but I feel its draining effects for a day or two afterwards. Although I would prefer to sleep all day after such a physically and emotionally taxing event, I have often just gotten up off the floor and, within hours, gone back to work. It was necessary sometimes, though definitely not medically advised. I'm fond of saying that having a grand mal seizure is rather like being struck by a Mack truck and living to tell the tale.

Having Epilepsy has forced me to be dependent on others throughout my life. While we are all dependent upon others to some degree—independent, interdependent, dependent—in my case a deep level of dependency was decreed and ingrained very early on. This enforced dependency did not sit well with my native self. I bucked and rebelled. At the same time, a part of me also feared the next fall, the next post-convulsive fugue. And so I recognized, I acquiesced to the need to depend on others.

The silver lining of having Epilepsy is that it has introduced me to and taught me a bit about the nature of being powerless—and experiencing betrayal. I could not trust that my body would always operate as it should. Routinely, it suddenly quits. I experience this as betrayal by my brain and body. It results in my complete powerlessness throughout the convulsion. Not to mention an inconvenient interruption of any activities or plans I might have made.

Hence, I am the recipient of two important life lessons—and I was blessed to have this very specific and graphic experience at a young age. It made me observant and reflective, giving me the opportunity to consider what/where/who "I" was. I knew I was not "just" my body, or even my brain.

So, who or what did that leave? Who, what am I? Much has been written about trauma, and about near-death experiences, both of which seizures have been classified or described as. I won't delve into that here except to say that experiencing recurrent seizures and the attendant altered states of consciousness that sometimes accompany an episode (the euphemism for a seizure) changes one. It deeply affects you. It is both illuminating and frightening. It opens you up in some ways and can close you way down in others. For me it made it easy to consider the possibility of other ways to perceive, of other realms. And as an adult I became interested in quantum physics, where Science is pushing and challenging our long-held perceptual assumptions. Me, who was poor in math and disinterested in Science while in school! So if not merely body and brain, who am I? Spirit. And with Epilepsy's tutelage, I was encouraged to question, seek, try to understand what lies beyond.

Living with Epilepsy has also given me great strength. In realizing the futile nature of trying to have "power over" Epilepsy, I developed a deep well of "power within"—that inner strength that comes in the acceptance of that which one cannot change—and looking beyond it.

Through my experience building the business of Jogbra with the unique lens afforded me by my Epilepsy partner, I came to understand more fully the nature of power and what it means to be truly powerful.

Specifically, that having power and exercising it is not simply a manifestation of the ego. It need not be "power-tripping." It is how I wield my power that matters, making the all-important distinction between creating a situation of power over, power with, or empowering and having and creating strength in oneself and others.

Being powerful is a big responsibility.

To put all this another way: do I choose to create situations in which I am able to wield power over others? Or do I choose to empower others, sharing my strengths with them, while nurturing their strengths as well? The first is not true power. It is control. The second I believe to be the essence of true and positive power: strength. And integral to creating a more harmonious world, oh by the way.

While this may be apparent, even basic to others, it was an "aha!" moment for me. Too often in the years ahead I would give away my power and question my own strengths,. Time and again, however, my inner strength, my shadow teacher's gift, helped me survive and thrive until I could take responsibility for and embrace more fully my own power.

© Lisa Z. Lindahl 2019