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Spring into workshop season! – The Willits News



March is soon upon us and with its arrival come a change in the seasons and plenty to celebrate throughout the month. The first Friday of the month is National Employee Appreciation Day and although it’s been a tough Covid year (already!?), take a little time on March 5, 2021 to show your employees just how much you appreciate them.

International Women’s Day falls on March 8 and this year it has the very appropriate theme of #ChooseToChallenge: “A challenged world is world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change.” We can all attest that this has been, and continues to be, a most challenging time. And spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on Saturday March 20 with the vernal equinox and the promise of warmer days ahead.

At West Center, we celebrate the month with an impressive line-up of workshop webinars that cover learning about business basics to a four-part crash course on QuickBooks. Kick off the month with a lively Q&A session led by our two favorite PPP Loan experts, Steve Lamb and Sid Harper. If you’re a PPP recipient or thinking of applying for a loan (deadline March 31), bring all your questions to their session on March 2.

Facebook has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. We use it not only keep up with friends and family but to promote our small businesses, connect with customers, and drive sales. Instructor Lani Lott will show you how to maximize your Facebook business page to its full potential in her workshop on March 3. Lani is an expert at helping small business owners with building a plan to grow their business and increase profits.

Our February series of QuickBooks workshops was so successful, we’re continuing them in March! The four-part QB series begins on Thursday March 4 with workshops each successive week through March 25. From the basics of accounting and terminology, instructor Rebecca Lehman leads participants through setting up data files, the ins and outs of invoicing and payments, to accounts payable and reconciliations. Even if you’re a seasoned QuickBooks user, consider these classes as a refresher and a great place to pick up helpful tips and strategies.

With April 15 in our sights, it’s time to get ready for tax filing… a prospect that can inspire high anxiety. But small business owners will gain confidence from the Tax Prep for Small Business Owners workshop on March 10 led by Joseph Dorko who has been helping small businesses prepare and file their taxes for many years.

Attention Artists! With many galleries temporarily closed, art festivals postponed, and people just not visiting their favorite artist communities, turn your attention to learning how to successfully exhibit your work in a virtual gallery. Sign up today for our ongoing Artists in Action series workshop on March 11.

Restaurants continue to face their fair share of Covid challenges so West Center is presenting a two-part series on March 15 and 22. Marketing that Customers Will Devour will highlight smart, simple, and budget-friendly marketing ideas for the new 2021 restaurant reality. Instructor Kate Bourland brings more than 20 years in digital and direct response marketing savvy.

Let’s go “phishing” in our “ABCs” series that on March 16 tackles the thorny issue of Business Email Compromise. Any business conducting operations online and via email is vulnerable to attack from criminals impersonating trusted colleagues and vendors, so learn how to protect your business.

Do you have an idea for a new business venture but don’t know where to begin? If so, register today for our Startup Essentials workshop that will tackle All Your Business Basics. Learn what a business plan is, how to test your business idea, where to look for loans, and gain an overview of finance and marketing. Workshop is on St. Patrick’s Day: March 17!

Maintaining good credit is an essential business practice but many of us don’t really understand how a credit score works, what factors affect it, and how to access your credit report. Business export Joe Rodola will take you through the processes in his Credit Repair workshop on March 18 and, if your credit isn’t what it could be, will offer some fixes to make repairs.

Balance is essential to our wellbeing and West Center continues our successful monthly Business Balance series with what promises to be a fun and lively workshop led by self-care addict Alexis Asbe. Alexis will open the doors for you to learn how to give appropriately, receive abundantly, and turn on the money magnet boss babe inside of you! Join us on March 23 at 1:30 p.m.

No matter what business you’re in or whether you’re a business newbie or a seasoned veteran, West Center is here to help you with your business questions. If you need advice or assistance, please give us a call at 707-964-7571.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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