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This Is the Best Time to Order Roses for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, so if you’ve yet to start shopping, there’s a chance you’ll spend more. That’s according to deals site Brad’s Deals, which recently conducted a little experiment to see how the price of a bouquet of a dozen red roses — a classic Valentine’s Day gift in the U.S. — rises over the year.

In tracking the prices of a dozen red roses at five different online florists — ProFlowers, FTD, Teleflora, 1-800-Flowers and FromYouFlowers — every Monday between Jan. 4 and Dec. 26, 2016, Brad’s Deals found they were surprisingly affordable over the summer but also maintained their affordability throughout the year, except for February, naturally. Prices did not include any vases, upgrades, delivery charges or coupons, according to Rebecca Lehman, director of content marketing for Brad’s Deals. Only the base price shown on the website was considered.

In terms of prices, February was the high point, with a bouquet of red stems costing as much as $49.98, according to Brad’s Deals. The lowest price point was $31.58 in August.

Why Are Red Roses So Expensive?

There are a few reasons prices went up, the site says. When demand rises, labor must be hired to harvest the roses, and that requires some coordination. “If there are more flowers to ship, that also means more trucks, more airplanes to carry them off to the florists,” Brad’s Deals writes on its blog. “Who picks up the cost of all that extra labor? You do.”

“We believe that the high-low pattern we found should be close to what consumers can expect: high prices for Valentine’s Day, when demand for a highly perishable, imported product on a single day in the middle of winter drives costs up, and low in the summer when demand is lower, more diffuse, and flowers are available from domestic sources,” Lehmann said.

How to Save on Valentine’s Day 

Based on their research, Brad’s Deals recommends ordering red roses well in advance of Valentine’s Day, around Jan. 15. The cost will only rise as the holiday approaches. Another tip is to have the roses delivered to yourself on Feb. 13 to avoid hefty delivery fees. You can give the bouquet in person the next day.

It also pays to keep your budget in mind when planning for Valentine’s Day. We recommend keeping track of your finances in an app or the old fashioned way with pencil and paper, as well as knowing the difference between wants and needs so you don’t wind up overspending. After all, the last thing you want to do is go over your budget when you’ve got roses to buy. Another helpful way to keep tabs on your finances is by checking your credit. You can view two of your credit scores, with updates every 14 days, on Credit.com. Checking your scores will not harm them in any way.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

5 Best Industries for Starting a Business in 2017

This could be the year you decide to stop working for someone else and start your own business. While your individual skills and interests are key to determining what type of venture to pursue, the last thing you want to do is start a business in an industry with a gloomy outlook. Here are five industries with promising futures, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research firm IBISWorld and financial information company Sageworks.

1. Health care

As the 75 million baby boomers age, there’s increased demand for health care services. According to an outlook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of the 20 occupations projected to have the highest percent increase in employment by 2024 are in the health industry. Meeting the needs of an aging population creates opportunities for physical therapists, doctors, optometrists and other specialists to open their own practices.

Don’t have the expertise to open that kind of business? Starting a home health aide staffing firm is one idea you could pursue. According to the bureau, employment of home health aides is expected to increase 38% by 2024, and finding employees may be relatively easy since the job doesn’t require a degree.

2. Marijuana

Good news for those with green thumbs: 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. IBISWorld predicts that industry revenue for medical and recreational marijuana growers will jump 33.5% over the next five years. The retail side of the business is also expected to see sales rise this year, according to the firm.

But for every high, there’s a low. Because the drug remains illegal at the federal level, says Dmitry Diment, a senior industry analyst at IBISWorld, new growth opportunities arise only when regulations are approved by the states. Those at the forefront of medical and recreational marijuana — like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California — offer the best examples of how the industry could evolve, he adds.

3. E-commerce

Personal disposable income is projected to grow by 4% per year from 2014 to 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and as disposable income grows, so does the “quantity and quality of online purchases,” IBISWorld says.

But e-commerce can be an easily saturated market, given low barriers of entry. To increase your online business’s chance of success, focus on your customers — whether through customizable products, timely support or fast delivery of products, IBISWorld industry analyst Madeline LeClair says.

4. Tech

In a similar vein, continued innovation in the tech world means continued opportunities for tech-savvy entrepreneurs. IBISWorld projects a 31% revenue boost for smartphone app developers alone in 2017. Don’t forget about the support side of the industry; Sageworks found that tech consulting and installation services had strong sales growth in 2016.

5. Home and building maintenance

From landscaping to cleaning to pest control, businesses in maintenance industries that service residences and commercial buildings saw a 13% increase in sales in 2016, according to Sageworks. If you gain the right expertise, Sageworks analyst James Noe says, these businesses are easy to start because they have relatively low upfront costs and don’t require large inventory, staff or dedicated office space.

Jackie Zimmermann is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: jzimmermann@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @jackie_zm.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Mortgage Rates Jan. 17: Steady; Millennials Lean Toward DIY

Thirty- and 15-year fixed mortgage rates saw no change from Friday, while 5/1 ARM rates dropped slightly, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders on Tuesday.

Mortgage Rates Today, Tuesday, Jan. 17 (Change from 1/13) 30-year fixed: 4.30% APR (NC) 15-year fixed: 3.70% APR (NC) 5/1 ARM: 3.82% APR (-0.02) First-time millennial homeowners more DIY-focused

A survey released last week by Better Homes & Gardens revealed that 85% of first-time homeowners between 22 and 39 view homeownership as an important part of the American Dream. But the aspirations of these first-time millennial homeowners come with a practical view on spending money and do-it-yourself projects, according to the survey.

» MORE: Calculate how much house you can afford

“Millennials and millennial ‘firsts’ are paving their own paths in homeownership based on their own budgets, timeline and needs,” Jill Waage, editorial director of digital content and products at Better Homes & Gardens, said in a news release. “These ‘firsts’ are replacing big-budget homes and expensive renovations with patience, frugalness and practicality.”

The survey found that just 50% of “firsts” are willing to “spend top dollar to get exactly the features and quality they want.”

Half of “firsts” said that their current homes required some amount of repair or remodel when they moved in. “Firsts” are more willing to save money and take on DIY projects, with only one in four saying they would first call a professional for repairs, and three of four doing some degree of DIY in the home. Almost 90% of “firsts” are “very or extremely interested in learning about home repair and home improvement projects,” the survey found.

“These first-time millennial homeowners are focused on building equity, not debt,” Waage said. “They are strong believers in being able to afford their dreams as they achieve them and not overstretch themselves.”

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Michael Burge is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburge@nerdwallet.com.

Donald Trump's childhood home goes on auction block

A home built by President-elect Donald Trump's father, real estate developer Fred Trump, is set to be auctioned off by Paramount Realty USA on Tuesday. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Donald Trump lived in the house from birth until he was 4 years old.

Michael Davis, a real estate prospector, bought the house last year for just under $1.4 million with the intention of flipping it, The New York Times reported. Now, Paramount is selling the home.

"It's unique, and it has intangible value that goes beyond just the physical real estate," Misha Haghani, the principal of Paramount, told The Times. "The value of Trump's name, the value of the president-elect living there as a child, an infant, that value is impossible to define."

>> Photos: Donald Trump's childhood home

According to Paramount, the 2,500-square-foot house features "a brick and stucco exterior and an old world charm interior featuring arched doorways, hardwood floors, five bedrooms, four and a half baths, library, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, basement and more."

The Tudor-style home is located in Jamaica Estates, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. 

Photos: Donald Trump's childhood home

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture: Which Should You Get?

When people talk about travel credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture, are almost always in the conversation. Both cards offer some of the biggest and most popular reward cards currently available and can be great options if you have excellent credit. They are also quite similar to each other. Because of that, it can be difficult to decide between the two, when looking to add a new card to your wallet.

Within this article we are going to walk you through the different parts of each card. This will help you decide which card might be the best fit for you.

Comparing the Rewards

When you sign up online for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you will receive 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Plus, you will receive an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase during the same three-month period. (Note: There is a differential if you account for the Chase Sapphire card’s original 100,000 bonus points, which are still available, but only if you apply at a branch by March 12.)

When you use your card at restaurants and on travel, you will receive two times the points. Every other purchase made with this card will earn one point.

The Capital One Venture card comes with a signup bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will then earn two times the miles on every purchase you make.

Redeeming the Rewards

Chase Ultimate Reward points are a favorite for many because of how they can be redeemed. If you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each. By going this route, you will be able to pay for portions of a trip, even if you don’t have the points to book the entire thing.

Where you will find the most value from your points, is by transferring them 1:1 to the following loyalty programs:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards

By transferring your points to loyalty programs, many people are able to get a much higher value than 1.25 cents.

Capital One Venture miles are extremely popular with cardholders because of the flexibility they have. Each miles is worth one cent each and you can use them in a couple of different ways. You can book travel directly through Capital One, or you can book travel on your own, and then redeem your miles for a statement credit.

Both of these cards also give you option to redeem rewards for things like gift cards and merchandise, but you won’t get near the value you do when booking travel.

The Fees

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One Venture card waive the annual fee the first year. Then for each subsequent year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred charges $95 and the Capital One Venture card is $59.

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards do not have foreign transaction fees. That makes both of these cards perfect for travel outside the United States.

Which One Is Right for Me?

As you can see, both of these are excellent options for anyone looking to pick up a new travel credit card. Both cards offer a generous signup bonus and the ability to earn double points on purchases. When deciding which card would be the best fit for you, it will come down to redemption. If you are looking for something that is a little more flexible, then the Capital One Venture card might be best.

However if you don’t have a problem booking your travel through individual loyalty programs, and know how to search for optimal value, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred card would be a great fit.

No matter which card you decide to go with, you’re likely going to be very satisfied with your choice. Before applying, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to make sure there aren’t any errors or surprises on your credit reports that will keep you from being approved. It’s easy to get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

How Can I Determine What My Mortgage Will Really Cost?

Costs to secure financing are a big factor when it comes to getting a mortgage. And knowing why your loan costs a certain amount is critical to being able to understand how lenders price loans in the marketplace. People tend to think of interest rates when it comes to mortgages, but that’s not the only cost to consider.

Here’s what you need to know about the things that determine your mortgage fees.

Do I Really Have to Pay Mortgage Fees?

Remember, all loans come with fees and all fees are paid for by someone. You can have what seems like the perfect loan and there will still be fees, like closing costs. There are two situations where you might not have to pay all of the closing costs. The first way is for a seller to credit the closings cost when you purchase your home. The second is to select an interest rate that generates an overage, or credit, which is applied to your loan fees.

For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll focus on the factors that determine your interest rate and any points associated with that rate.

Two factors that determine your loan fees above anything else are your loan-to-value (LTV) and your credit score. (Not sure where you stand? You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) Your loan-to-value (LTV) is the difference between the loan amount you are seeking and the value of your home. Your credit score is particularly important to how your loan is priced because it determines the risk associated with your loan.

The following things play out in terms of how your loan is priced:

High Loan-to-Value (LTV) Loans

Loan adjustments start at 65% LTV, in increments of 5%, all the way up to 95% LTV on conventional loans. For example, if you’re looking for a conventional mortgage and you have 20% equity in the home — 80% LTV — your loan will be priced worse than someone who has 30% equity and 70% LTV.

Your Credit Score

Your credit score is the barometer the lender uses to gauge your potential for default. The higher your credit score, the less likely you are to default, and the less risk the lender assumes by granting you that mortgage. When it comes to mortgages, credit scores generally break down like this:

  • 740+ — Excellent
  • 720-739 — Great
  • 700-719 — Good
  • 680-699 — Fair
  • 620-679 — Poor

Occupancy

If the property you are looking to purchase is a second home or a rental property, you might end up paying an additional pricing adjustment in the origination of your mortgage loan. Rental properties are especially known for this pricing adjustment. This change can influence an interest rate by as much as .375 compared to a primary home loan.

Property Type

If your property is a condominium and/or a multi-family property, you can generally expect to pay more. Specifically, this is because both types of properties contain more risk to both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than a single-family home.

Condominiums also have rules and regulations that single-family homes do not. A multi-family property, such as a duplex, is more risky because there is another unit involved and more potential liability compared to a single-family home.

Some General Guidelines

If you are looking for a mortgage with a high loan-to-value and a great credit score such as a 95% financing … then you can expect to be paying interest rate of .375 to .5 more than what you might see advertised online or in print.

If you are financing a triplex as either an owner or a non-owner-occupied transaction … then, if the property is a primary home, you can expect to pay about .5% in the form of a discount point based on the rate chosen.

If you will be renting your property out for investment purposes … then you can expect to pay as much as .5% more in the interest rate, with up to one discount point based on the rate chosen.

Final Thoughts

The moral of the story is that not all mortgage rates and pricing are created equal. If you are pricing out a loan with a lender and your scenario falls into any one or more of the intricacies outlined in this post, you can expect to pay more for the type of financing you are seeking.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Preparing For Your Annual Tax Meeting

MoneyTips

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are incredibly busy during tax season. Their time is precious, and that makes it even more important for you to prepare for your allotted tax preparation time. Nobody benefits from wasting an hour rifling through receipts and guessing about numbers. Your CPA needs the following four categories of information to prepare your taxes properly. Make sure to bring all the necessary forms and receipts and organize them so that they may be found quickly. Identification and Basic Information – For any new relationships, you will need to supply identification for you, your spouse, and all dependents claimed. Social Security cards are preferred, but other government-issued ID is usually acceptable. Check with your preparer before you visit. Other basic information includes your address, your previous year’s tax form, and any information relating to a change in your tax status such as inheritance, marriage/divorce, and change in dependents. The IRS is cracking down on cases of divorced spouses filing separately but claiming the same child as a dependent, so make sure that situation is clarified if it applies to you. Income Documents – Most taxable income will be summarized in standard IRS forms sent by payers – W-2 forms for traditional salaries, wages, bonuses, and tips; 1099 forms for self-employment, independent contracting, and most investment and interest income; and K-1 forms for personal taxes relating to ownership (S-corporations, partnerships, LLC’s, and trust/estate incomes). Each income source owes you a corresponding form. There are many variations of the 1099 form related to specific sources; check the IRS website if you are missing a form and are not sure what type of form you should receive. It is up to you to supply documents, such as bank statements, spreadsheets, or written summaries, for any income not covered by these forms. These sources include rental income, alimony, and self-employment income below the $600 limit that triggers a 1099-MISC. Expense Documents – Expenses such as mortgage interest, larger charitable contributions, and student loan interest will be documented on a 1098 form. Many other potential deductions such as medical expenses, property taxes, moving expenses and childcare/daycare costs require verification through receipts, cancelled checks, statements, or spreadsheets. Your CPA may be able to help you find extra deductions that make itemizing worthwhile or save money on your current itemizing, but he or she must know what types of expenses you have. Ask for a checklist of potential deductions in advance so you can research possibilities prior to your meeting. If your CPA doesn’t have a checklist, there are many available online. Do your homework to consider all possible deductions, then organize and bring any documentation you think may be relevant. Don’t forget to include documents relating to unusual or catastrophic claims such as theft and casualty losses and losses from natural disasters. If you deduct these losses, be sure you include any reimbursements toward your losses when tallying your income. Health Insurance Information – If you purchased health insurance through the Marketplace, you will need to bring the 1095-A form issued by the exchange. It contains the insurance premium and subsidy information for you and your family members. Your CPA will use it to fill out other forms that may apply to your situation, such as the Premium Tax Credit form (Form 8962) and the Health Coverage Exemption form (Form 8965). If you qualified for subsidies, it may be helpful to have the income estimate used to calculate your tax subsidy. Your tax preparer may need that estimate if your income differed greatly from the estimate and you end up with a large subsidy repayment to defend (or refund to claim). You may also need to provide information on payment or refund methods. If you intend to use electronic payment methods, you will need information such as your account number and the bank’s routing number. That is not necessarily the number printed on your check – verify the correct information with your bank. With proper preparation, nothing will go wasted during your tax preparation trip to the CPA – none of your time, your CPA’s time, or your money. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/fstop123

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/preparing-for-your-annual-tax-meeting

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