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10 Ways To Save On Your Latte Habit

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Java heads everywhere are raising their mugs in honor of National Coffee Day today. So whether you are toasting to a basic cup of joe, double espresso or fancy-whipped frappuccino, now is a good time to reflect on your caffeine consumption and associated costs.

Many personal finance experts talk about the “latte effect,” and advise cutting out the daily java binge in favor of turning $4 into a retirement fund. Ultimately, it’s my belief that coffee isn’t going to make you broke; it’s unemployment, medical bills and credit card interest that are far more catastrophic to your bottom line. If that latte makes you happy or breaks up an otherwise monotonous day, I say go for it. Just be aware of how much you’re spending and take advantage of these simple savings tricks to reduce the cost of your coffee addiction.

1. Sign up for rewards.
Who doesn’t like the sound of FREE drinks? Many coffee shops offer their loyal java heads rich reward programs that help you earn points toward free beverages. For example, My Starbucks Rewards spoils loyal customers with lots of perks like free drinks, free food, free refills, a complimentary birthday beverage and more; Peets Coffee offers five-percent bonus points for any auto-reload amount over $25 to their reward-payment card; and Coffee Bean provides one point for every $1 spent, resulting in a free drink after 40 points.

2. Use discount gift cards.
I don’t know why anyone would want to sell a Starbucks gift card, but there’s an entire online marketplace of unwanted coffee shop gift cards where you can snag them for less than face value. Check out such sites as GiftCardGranny.com to compare deals like 18-percent off Starbucks gift cards, or up to 24-percent off Coffee Bean gift cards. You can even save at McDonald’s (16-percent off) or Dunkin’ Donuts (10-percent off), if you prefer their coffees.

3. BYOC.
If you’re feeling green, you can save some green, too. Many national and local coffee shops have offer savings to customers who supply their own reusable cup or travel mug with each order. Caribou Coffee extends the biggest discount with 50-cents off; Starbucks offers a 10-cent discount; and Peet’s Coffee & Tea gives 10-cents off drinks and 25-cents off ground beans when you reuse a bag.

4. Join the mailing list.
Coffee brands and shops will email you coupons for simply signing up to their mailing list. For example, Starbucks will email you a 10-percent off coupon for subscribing to their e-newsletter. In addition to coupons, you’ll be privy to special promotions like seasonal offers, member-only benefits and discounts on specialty drinks. To prevent your inbox from overflowing with promotions, create a separate email account exclusively for retail offers.

5. Be social.
Follow your favorite coffee shops on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to receive updates about daily deals and upcoming promotions. Last summer, followers of Starbucks’ Facebook page were the first to find out about their “treat receipt” promo, which awarded customers that purchased a morning drink to a $2 Grande-sized cold beverage after 2 p.m. that same day.

6. Grab a coffee coupon.
You can find printable and mobile coupons for your favorite coffee houses with little effort. For coupons that actually work, head to CouponSherpa.com and type in your favorite coffee shop. If you don’t want to print the coupon, download the site’s free mobile coupon app to access deals like $1 off a handcrafted beverage from Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

7. Snag daily deals.
One of the most popular daily deals on Groupon last year was their $5 for $10 Starbucks offer, which sold more than 100,000 certificates in just a few hours and crashed the site. Since you can’t predict when similar offers will be released, check daily deal aggregator Dealery so you don’t miss out. If you’d prefer a local brew, select the Deals category on Yelp when searching for coffee in your neighborhood.

8. Keep your order simple.
A basic cup of coffee is still pretty cheap, but orders including extra shots, whipped cream and caramel drizzles will cost you well over $4 per drink. To keep daily and weekly spending at a minimum while fulfilling your java fix, opt for brewed coffee over an espresso beverage to kickstart your day. When I’m really in the mood for a latte or an Americano, I satisfy the craving for less by sticking to a small size. If you need extra flavor, add a few shakes of vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon or nutmeg powder for no added cost.

9. Go light on ice.
Iced coffees are just the ticket on warm summer days, but you often end up getting less latte than when you order the hot version. That’s because ice takes up more than half the cup without discounting the cost. While this isn’t a revolutionary finding, it’s often overlooked. Avoid paying for too little latte by requesting “light ice” when you order your chilled beverage.

10. Split it with a friend.
Meeting friends for coffee is a popular pastime, but costs can add up quick depending on how often you socialize at your favorite cafe. Consider splitting your favorite beverage with a friend who orders the same drink. While Venti beverages are twice the size of Tall ones from Starbucks (24 oz. versus 12 oz., respectively), they are not double the cost. In fact, you might pay just a $1 more for a Venti Caramel Frappuccino, which you can split with a friend by requesting an extra cup or bringing your own.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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Finance

Why Your Business Needs a Tax ID Number

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Anyone who has ever filed taxes before knows that the amount of information needed to complete the forms can be staggering. This is especially true for small business owners, who will need to supply a variety of documents and figures in order to successfully file. One of the most important things that you will need to provide as an entrepreneur and business owner is a tax ID number. This helps the IRS identify you and follow your business. If you don’t have one yet, keep reading to find out how you can apply for a federal tax ID number and be ready when tax time rolls around.

Federal Tax ID Number Application

In order to obtain a federal tax ID number, you must complete a federal tax ID number application. This lets the IRS know that you are in need of a number in order to file your taxes correctly, and they will begin looking through your application as soon as they receive it. The process should be an overly long one, and before long you will have the federal tax ID number that you need in order to stay compliant with the IRS.

Get Tax ID Online

Are you wary about the time involved to complete the federal tax ID number application? It’s understandable to be concerned about how much time you might have to spend filling out paperwork. In reality, however, you can often fill out the application and get your tax ID online! That means that you can apply when the time is convenient for you and not have to worry about mailing or faxing in hard copies of your application. Complete the federal tax ID number application today and get your tax ID online!

Apply online for an IRS EIN/Tax ID Number at irs-ein-tax-id.com.

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Finance

What Would You Do If You Won Tonight’s $1.5 Billion Powerball Jackpot?

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Winning The Lottery

I’m not usually one of those people who get Powerball fever, but with a record-breaking $1.5 billion jackpot up for grabs, you’d better believe that I picked up a ticket on my way to work this morning!

The odds of winning this historic jackpot are 292 million to 1.. So while it looks like most of us will be heading off to work tomorrow, as Lloyd would say, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

So what would you do with $1.5 billion if you won? Yeah, we’d all pay off our debt, buy a big house and fill up the garages with exotic cars. But what would you splurge on?

Take a trip to the moon for $750 million? Buy the Playboy mansion for $200 million? Stay at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai for $35,444 a night? Fly around the world in your own $65 million Gulfstream G650? Maybe buy a super yacht for $275 million? The possibilities are endless..

Sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you’d spend the money on!

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These Young Men Risked Everything And Funded Their Startups On Plastic

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Capital is one of the primary inputs required for productivity. In the modern realm, a young man might have a great idea but may find it very difficult to qualify for a personal loan. Fortunately, there’s a source of capital that he might be overlooking: His credit card.

Many young men, especially college graduates, receive numerous credit card offers in the mail. What if they funded their startups using their own credit cards? These three young men risked everything and funded their startup on plastic.

Gray Line Between Business & Personal Credit Cards

Most business credit cards have much higher credit lines than personal credit cards. But for a smaller startup with virtually no overhead, personal credit cards might provide just enough money to get the ball rolling and it’s now easier than ever, with most banks offering the ability to apply for a credit card online. I’ve met some entrepreneurs who used multiple credit cards to fund their startups.

The truth is that since most small businesses are sole proprietorships, the business line of credit will actually be based on the owner’s personal creditworthiness, with the entrepreneur being the guarantor of the loan. Some entrepreneurs will spread out the risk by getting their family members involved.

There are many solid reasons for using credit cards to fund startups. First of all, it’s much easier to qualify for a personal credit card; since the Credit Crunch of 2008, small business loans are an endangered species. Secondly, credit cards can help you build up your credit history. Thirdly, each month you’ll receive a monthly statement, which can be like having your own accountant. Fourthly, plastic is ideal for the do-it-yourself (DIY) entrepreneur mentality.

1. Google Founded On Plastic
Google-HQ

In the 1990s, the World Wide Web was still taking baby steps. It had grown from being simply a VAX account for sending messages, but it was still missing something. It was difficult to conduct searches using regular human keywords as opposed to computer source code. In January 1996, two Stanford University students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, started writing the computer algorithms which would eventually become Google.

“We had to use all of our credit cards and our friends’ credit cards and our parents’ credit cards ….” – Larry Page

With the nascent idea in their heads, the two Google founders collected $15,000 from family, friends and their own credit cards to create a business plan. The rest is history.

2. Are You A Guitar Hero?
Guitar-Hero

In 2005, Charles Huang struggled to raise capital to build small plastic guitars for gaming consoles. So Huang maxed out his credit cards to finance RedOctane, the publisher of Guitar Hero, the highest grossing game in U.S. history. The series went on to sell more than 25 million units worldwide and brought in $2 billion in retail sales, prompting Activision to acquire RedOctane for nearly $100 million in 2007. Without the ability to use credit cards to finance his venture, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

3. Filmmaker Kevin Smith Finances A Cult Classic
Clerks

In the early ’90s, director Kevin Smith made the movie Clerks for $27,575. It was mainly funded by 10 credit cards that Kevin had to his name, funds garnered from store credit after he sold his comic book collection, a family donation, and paychecks from working at the Quick Stop and RST Video. The movie was filmed in the convenience store in which Smith worked, and he was only allowed to shoot at night after the store closed.

While Clerks didn’t do so great at the box office, it became an instant classic when it came out on video. The earnings from the first movie allowed him to create sequels, and he was able to further his career with several other successful movies. Today, Smith is a household name, and it was his willingness to risk it all that allowed him to achieve his dreams.

With your own credit cards, you can take the bull by the horns.

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