September 18, 2009

Find a Discount Cash Advance

Posted in finance at 9:52 pm by Jon Symons

For our list of preferred lower fee cash advance lenders, visit our page: cheap cash advances. SMD Loans Information Center provides the latest information on cash advance lenders and payday loans.


April 16, 2008

Business Success Through Lateral Thinking

Posted in web notes at 12:54 pm by Jon Symons

If you’re a regular reader of this site you’ll know that I spend a good deal of my time trying to figure out how to create a website that effectively attracks and converts visitors; usually through clicking ads.

Well yesterday I was reading this thread from the Rich Dad forum when I stumbled across this gem by JscottGecko.

“In fact, on over 70% of my sites I want people to leave and leave quickly. But, I want them leaving through an ad or link…

…On the majority of my sites I want my ads to give the impression that the information they will get by clicking is better than what I am offering. Thus they leave.”

Geez, that is brilliant. A highly keyword-targeted story or site that is purposely mediocre so that viewers will need to click ad links to continue their quest.

April 14, 2008

Headlines – What’s In it for me? WebSite Copywriting

Posted in web notes at 12:26 pm by Jon Symons

In this segment I am sharing some of my research and ideas about writing headlines. As I went throught this process I realized that the same ideas hold true for writing an AdWords ad so I have broadened the scope of this segment to include those concepts as well.

Web headlines are often seen out of context, such as in search engine results, bookmark text, a link text or in RSS readers. Check out Google News to realized the importance of a headline that is out of context. Therefore they must be more of a complete summary of the story. The headline should be an ultra-short abstract of the full story.

  • Put important words at the begining.
  • Don’t tease to try and entice users to click [web users have been tricked too often].
  • Ask: Will the headline make sense if it is seen completely out of context?
  • Think of headlines as your stories first impression with the reader.

The Headline needs to answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”

Headlines that pull in visitors, for AdWords or search results or just page navigation [to get someone to continue reading your story] all answer that question. The best headlines appeal to the reader’s self interest or give news that the reader will value.

Here are two examples taken from the AdWords that were shown on a Google Search for the term ‘Money‘.

1. “$1000 a day from home”
2. “money at home”

Number 1 clearly answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Number 2 doesn’t make any sense. It is a classic example of a headline that doesn’t make sense out of context.

The key to writing good headlines is to understand what your reader is looking for and then answer communicate clearly how your story fills that need.

It the next installment I’ll explain the 4 functions of the headline.

April 12, 2008

A History of Bank Checks

Posted in finance tagged at 10:49 pm by Jon Symons

Though it has evolved much over the years, the banking system’s personal bank checks have always been a part of the system. Bank checks have been used as promissory notes here in the present and even as far back as the ancient Roman Empire and the practice of ordering the checks still goes on today.

First Known Bank Checks

The Ancient Romans used the earliest form of bank checks although it was much simpler than the method used today. There is recorded evidence that they used what were called praescriptiones as early as 100B.C. After about four hundred years, bankers in the Persian Empire started using a similar system of credit.

In The Medieval Period

During the middle ages, Europeans also made use of their own bank check system. To prevent theft, the Knights Templar was developed. This banking system would keep a person’s money for them while that person traveled cross-country. The person was responsible for holding a proof of claim draft, which would allow them to retrieve their money. This proof of claim draft was the earliest known form of a paper check, similar to that of today. It is believed that this was inspired from the Muslims that had utilized this method a few hundred years before.

Bill of Exchange System

The roots of the current check system come from what was known as a “bill of exchange” by early bankers. Using this system, early banks would allow people to pay necessary bills using bank mandated orders. This made commerce much easier, as people could participate in trade without the need for a large exchange of gold or currency. Overall, this was a necessary development, as carrying around large amounts of coin was both difficult and dangerous for traveling merchants.

Bank checks in the United States

In the United States, European individuals brought bank checks to existence during the Colonial time. In the early 1700’s, the system was so extremely popular in Europe that the colonists also adopted it. Bank security procedures have become far more complicated over the past decades. The changes made to bank checks are there to protect you, the consumer.

April 11, 2008

Free Press Release Tips

Posted in web notes at 12:38 pm by Jon Symons

This page has a free press release template and many tips for how to create good quality press releases.

Is your news “newsworthy?” The purpose of a press release is to inform the world of your news item. Do not use your press release to try and make a sale. A good press release answers all of the “W” questions (who, what, where, when and why), providing the media with useful information about your organization, product, service or event. If your press release reads like an advertisement, rewrite it.

The press release is an often overlooked method of publicty…most people think only in terms of the big “News” and therefore don’t consider press releases.

But the many media outlets in the world have a huge need for filler stories and press releases like, “ Releases The Top 10 Tips to Get Your Garden Ready for Spring” can drive a pile of visitors to your website and also land you [and your business] on television.

March 21, 2008

Printing Your Own Personal Checks

Posted in saving money tagged , , , , at 8:02 pm by Jon Symons

Check ordering is one of the biggest hidden costs of having a checking account. In order to turn a profit banks may offer free checking, but you pay dearly for the checks. By actually check printing yourself, you can save those costs and benefit financially.

There are a few precautions that you should take before you start spitting out your own checks. It’s not as simple as just having them come out on a piece of paper. There are quite a few really good and inexpensive programs to help with check printing, so purchasing one of those isn’t a bad idea. Beyond that, here are some things to know.

What is Required?

To print your own checks, there is some important equipment to acquire if you want to achieve a professional finished product. This is in addition to the software already discussed. Conveniently, you can use your own home printer. Purchasing magnetic ink should definitely be on your to-do list, however. It can sometimes be difficult to find this ink, so be prepared for some searching.

In addition to the magnetic ink, it would be wise to use special paper, to prevent your checks from being easily manipulated. There are many online and offline retail stores that sell check stock paper. You can buy blank check stock in sheets of hundreds, and these will last for a really long time for anyone that doesn’t write a large amount of checks. This paper will closely resemble the checks that your bank uses.

The most important aspect of these checks is that they incorporate full security features, making it difficult to be subject of manipulation and theft. You can also purchase checks for Quicken or other programs, if you are using a money management program. For certain expenses that are a part of your bookkeeping program, you can automatically print checks with this kind of check stock, since it is primarily created for such programs.

More on Magnetic Ink

Magnetic ink is imperative for numerous reasons. Most importantly, after you write a check, it will subsequently be run through a reader and non-optical readers can only read checks printed in magnetic ink. If you don’t print with magnetic ink the bank will have to manually process the check. This can lead to delays and additional fees, defeating the purpose of saving money.

What are MICR Fonts?

Have you ever given any thought to why exactly the bank account information and the routing data printed upon your check look so peculiar? It is due to the fact that they are written in what is called an MICR font. For most banks to consider honoring a check, the numbers must either be printed in the MICR or a similar font, known as E-13B. These fonts often require a laser quality printer in order to print properly, so you should check the compatibility of your printer first.

In addition, it will be less complicated to print these fonts on laser stock paper. If you tend to write a large number of checks, then you can save money by check printing from home. The benefits of check printing outweigh the initial cost of extra equipment. All these security measures must be taken seriously. Without doing so, you could fall victim of theft since the checks could be so easily manipulated.

March 11, 2008

4 Safety Tips for Writing a Personal Check

Posted in finance tagged , , , , , , at 8:54 pm by Jon Symons

For anyone that has little experience in check writing, it is strongly recommended that you read on. Although, safely writing a check may not be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, it is one of the most important.

Use Ink Only

use a pen to write personal checksAlways use a pen to write a check to prevent any kind of tampering with the check. Never use a pencil when you are check writing because someone whod prefer to fill in the blanks with the amount they’d like to receive could easily erase your pencil marks. To avoid dishing out blank checks to people, be sure to use some kind of ink. Although a pen is acceptable according to most people, it is wise to use a permanent marker if possible. This is significant due to those occurrences in which people have committed “check washing”, which is a process in which criminals use chemicals to remove checks’ ink. A permanent marker prevents this possibility.

Dating and Identifying Tips

Upon first glance at the check, it might seem complicated to the inexperienced. If you know all of the information, however, the blanks are very easy to fill out. To start with, enter the current date on the check. It is illegal to post-date a check so always recheck the date that you put on the check. Once this has been completed, be certain to write the name of the person who shall be the recipient of the check on the “pay to the order of” line of the check. Make sure that you’ve accurately written the business name or the person’s first and last name.

Filling in the Amount

The foremost piece of information on the check is the amount of money you want the Bank to pay. This information will need to be inputted twice. The first place to put the information is in the dollar amount line. You’ll find this just under the line that says “PAY TO THE ORDER OF.” Include the full amount and any cents that are involved in the transaction. You need to complete this portion of the check thoroughly to avoid another from changing your numbers. Look at the right side of the check. Put the numbers you see there in the amount box.

Sign the Check Properly

Signing the check may be the last but not the least part of check writing. Be absolutely certain to sign the check with your own unique, standard signature, very stylistically similar to the one printed on your driver’s license. You could face the hassle of questions and accusations about fraud if you don’t sign the check with your standard signature. Deviations can cause the bank to red flag your check. Given how much check fraud and forgery is going on these days, banks are vigilant against suspicious-looking signatures that do not match up against your normal signature. The info section is somehow optional. Many people elect to make a quick note of what the check was for, just to keep their own bookkeeping records straight. Speaking broadly, you will be better off providing as much information as possible.

In general, it isn’t difficult to write a check. However, check writing isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Be certain to take a great deal of care in filling out each section of the check as carefully and completely as possible, so as to minimize the possibility that your check will be manipulated. This will prevent future headaches from occurring.

To save money on your next personal checks purchase, look for designer checks coupons that can be used for a discount when ordering online.

February 16, 2008

Image Check Deposits

Posted in finance tagged , , , , , , at 7:26 pm by Jon Symons

If you dread going to the bank and standing in line to deposit a simple check, you’ll be happy to hear about the latest innovation in the financial industry. Digital deposits, or remote deposit capture is a method for consumers and small businesses to deposit checks remotely, from a home or office for example, using an image scanner. Simply upload a check image to your bank’s website, and presto, the funds are in your account.

What Makes Digital Deposits Possible?

scannerIn 2004 US legislation known as “Check 21” made it unnecessary for banks to handle the physical checks in order to clear the financial transaction. These transactions could now be completed based on images of checks. The bill was passed in order to make the banking system, specifically around check clearing, much more efficient as the need to physically transport the checks between banks would be eliminated.

Companies like CheckFree quickly recognized the opportunity to extend this new legislation to the benefit of the consumer so they began developing solutions that would enable banks to offer remote check image scanning on a wide scale.

Image Check Deposits Step by Step

From the user’s point of view, it is actually a very simple process that requires only a standard computer, an Internet connection and a scanner which is built-in on most modern Inkjet printers.

  1. You receive a check that you want to deposit.
  2. You simply scan the front and back of the check on your home scanner.
  3. Log in to your bank’s secure online banking website.
  4. Visit the remote deposit page of their site.
  5. Enter the basic information about your check: routing number, amount and date.
  6. Upload the images of the front and back of your check with a few clicks.
  7. Verify the deposit once the images are shown back to you.
  8. Your bank then completes the process electronically or in cases where the check is not compatible with electronic clearing systems, the check is reprinted onto paper and cleared the old fashioned way.

It’s really that simple. For trusted clients, some banks will instantly credit the funds to their account. For others there may be a small delay, but certainly no longer than an “in person” check deposit.

The Pros of Image Check Deposits

  • Safety – you eliminate risk of losing or having the check stolen in transport to the bank.
  • Speed – banks should be able to process check transactions quicker when they come to the bank in electronic format.
  • Time – this deposit can be done in a couple minutes without having to get into your car and drive to a bank and stand in a long line.
  • Freedom – you are no longer tied to your bank. If you move to a new city, you could keep your bank even if it is hundreds of miles away.

What are the Potential Pitfalls?

  • Security – just like any other bank transactions, this will attract attention from potential fraudsters, which will probably deter some people from using check images.

Digital image check deposit or remote deposit capture represents a major innovation in the banking industry and passes along a huge set of benefits to the consumer. Currently only about 20% of banks are offering this service, but recent surveys suggest that almost 90% of business clients (and probably almost as many personal clients) said they would use it when it comes available. If you deposit checks on a regular basis it is worth inquiring if your bank is offering this innovative check cashing feature, and if not letting them know that you would appreciate it being available.

February 7, 2008

A Visual History of Artistic Checks

Posted in finance tagged , at 11:43 am by Jon Symons

Financial transactions have been tracked on paper documents like checks and various types of notes for hundreds of years. Our obsession with money makes it easy to miss the historical, archaeological and artistic value that checks can provide. This article will present a brief look at the world of artistic checks as more than just a simple bank balance transfer record.

Artistic Checks Throughout History

The history of money has always been meshed with art and artists. Even centuries ago artists were commissioned to decorate money and other currencies like checks, notes and coins.

For example, the check used by the United States to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1868 was a very artistic check. Decorated with fine cut lithographs, it featured perfect calligraphy and even the endorsements are historically very valuable and interesting. I wonder if, in a couple hundred years, we’ll be looking back on our credit card statements with the same reverence?

Increased Perceived Value with Art on Checks

Artistic checks also serve a need beyond pure decoration. Art imbues value into the financial record process. Can you imagine a simple blank piece of paper serving as a bank check? It simply wouldn’t express the perceived value that check needs to instill confidence.

Decorating money and checks with art is actually quite necessary. With the exception of gold and silver coins, money doesn’t have any real value. Artwork, symbols and decoration are used to create a feeling of trust in the value of the individual or institution that is backing the check or note.

Artistic Checks offer Higher Security

Our current artistic checks take the combination of decoration and security to new levels with all sorts of embedded features like watermarks, holograms and micro printing. All three of these methods have been developed to make checks much more difficult to counterfeit, thereby reducing fraud.

  • Watermarks are transparent markings that are only visible when the check is held up to the light. They are specially created by an artist so they will not reproduce if the check is copied.
  • Holograms are a more recent security innovation attached to checks on metallic foil. They contain an artistic 3-D picture which is visible only at a certain angle of viewing.
  • Micro printing is a special check inking technique that embeds words as simple lines that make up the images on an artistic check. Only when these lines are viewed with a magnifying glass, can someone read the words.

Current Day Artistic Checks

The Internet has given rise to an explosion in artistic checks. These days the security features remain, but it is not uncommon for check printing companies to offer thousands of images, patterns, designs, and scenic elements for consumers to use to decorate their personal checks.

I hope this article has provided a new view into the rich history and the value of the artistic checks beyond the simple exchange of funds between two people’s bank accounts. They provide a look at the society of their time and even into the personal style and interests of the issuer.

January 31, 2008

Designer Checks

Posted in finance tagged , , at 11:41 pm by Jon Symons

When it comes to applying the word “designer” to the purchase of checks, it isn’t quite the same as in the world of haute couture, where the latest styles are cranked out by the likes of Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani. Designer checks actually refers more to a straying away from the traditional blue bank check and into the world of almost endless colors, shapes, images and scenes to decorate your financial exchange notes.

The fact is there are so many check designs that it can be overwhelming to narrow down what is possible when you want to purchase exciting checks. I’ve created this overview to give you a look into the main category options and make the journey to a more fun and interesting checkbook a bit more direct.

Being a sports lover, checks featuring major league professional teams are at the top of my list. You can purchase personal checks with backgrounds printed with any of the teams in the four top sports leagues:

  1. Major League Baseball – MLB Checks
  2. National Football League – NFL Checks
  3. National Hockey League – NHL Checks
  4. National Basketball Association – NBA Checks

Patriotic checks are the next most popular choice for designer checks. Personal checks with the Stars and Stripes of the United States flags as well as most major national landmarks and even images of former presidents and famous geographical vistas.

cars checksAutomobiles and motorcycles are well represented as images to decorate your personal designer checks. These designs are varied enough to excite any car lover. Styles include everything from American muscle cars, exotic foreign sports cars checks and even hot rods and dragsters. There is also a complete range of check designs emblazoned with Harley Davidson and other cool motorcycle styles.

It is also worth noting that the check sellers offer groupings of check styles. For example you can purchase a batch of designer car checks that will contain backgrounds images of 4 different cool hotrods.

Are simple stylish checks more your speed? Consider the many designer checks which are created without a recognizable image but have a pattern or beautiful color as their background. You’ll find a full range of styles: everything from the most traditional and conservative to cutting edge swirls and latest designer fashion trends.

The last type of designer checks worth mentioning are probably the most fun. These checks cast YOU in the role of the designer! Have a favorite photo from a vacation or your sports team or whatever. The only limit is your imagination.

That concludes this brief tour of the possibilities for customizing your financial transactions with designer checks. You no longer have a excuse for suffering the burden of those plain-Jane ugly blue checks that your bank over charges you for. Yes, it’s true that all the cool designer checks won’t even cost you any more than the ones you receive from your bank.

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