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The Benefits of a Snap EBT Card

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also referred to as the food stamps program, allows qualified individuals to purchase groceries at participating retail food stores with the use of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Each month you remain eligible, regardless of weekends or holidays, your designated benefits amount will be transferred onto your EBT card. Every EBT card transaction that you complete will be free and will not include a limitation on the number of times you can use your card. The key benefits of the EBT card are listed below:

  • Access to authorized EBT products: The EBT card will be accompanied by a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to ensure the safety of your provided SNAP benefits. When using your SNAP EBT card, you can purchase foods for the household to eat, such as breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, dairy products, and even seeds and plants.
  • Monitor your benefits through your EBT account: Along with your SNAP EBT card, you will be provided with an account that gives you an in-depth look into your benefits and recent transactions. For security purposes, you will be required to create a user ID and password to protect your SNAP benefits account.
  • 24/7 Toll-Free Customer Service Hotline: The customer service hotline also allows you to choose from an array of options including changing your pin, reporting a stolen card, checking your balance, or reporting a transaction error. Typically, SNAP account claims will be resolved within a 15-day period and you are eligible up to 90 days from the date of suspected error to file your claim.

Why Having a Low Credit Score Can Affect Your Employment

During the hiring process, an employer might review an applicant’s credit history to obtain information regarding his or her potential performance. Credit checks are often performed on applicants for jobs that entail security clearance and access to funds, confidential company information or customer data. Having large amounts of debt and limited credit might cause the applicant to be viewed as someone who could be possible of theft or fraud. So you can better prepare for your job search, arm yourself with the information provided below on what affects your credit standing and how to fix it.

  • Learn what affects your score: Credit scores will be negatively affected in the case where the amount you owe is close to your credit limit. Payment history includes late payments, declaring for bankruptcy and if you had an account referred to collections.
  • Learn about protective laws: Reseach what states allow potential employers to check your credit and be aware of your rights regarding those findings.
  • Find your credit score: View your credit score through your credit card company, use a credit service to discuss your score with a credit counselor, or view your score through an online service.
  • Improve your score: Reducing your debt and making payments on time will go a long way on approving your credit score. You might also consider meeting with a credit counseling representative so he or she can help you establish a budget so that you can efficiently live without getting yourself into further debt.

Your Guide to Rent-to-Own Housing

Rent-to-own housing enables you to have the opportunity to lease a property from a landlord and purchase it at the end of the agreed-upon lease term. While the lease period is active, the seller must maintain full insurance for the home and pay all the property taxes. He or she will also be responsible for the homeowner association fees and any other necessary costs such as repairs.
Factors to consider when entering into a rent-to-own housing agreement include:

  • Purchase Price: The current market value is the exact resale value of a property and gives potential renters a price that they can start their negotiations with. The buyer and seller might determine the purchase price for when the lease expires, which will be based on the market value in the future.
  • Section 8 Rent-To-Own Housing: Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher helps low-income participants pay for rent and rent premiums during their set lease. Once the lease is complete, renters may be able to use their homeownership voucher to make payments on the mortgage once the property has been purchased.
  • Protect Yourself From Rent-To-Own Housing Scams: When going through with the rent-to-own process, make sure that you get all the details of the deal in writing. The law will not enforce the agreement unless it was written down on some type of contract. Review the agreement as well, make sure you understand which part of the payments are for rent and which ones will be applied towards the overall purchase.

Tips for Navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Health Insurance Marketplace can be divided into Medicaid or CHIP users, Medicare users, and those who are commercial fully-insured or commercial self-insured. Most individuals fall under commercial fully-insured and self-insured, meaning that they will have to pick their coverage level and plan type for themselves. For those looking to understand their options, here are some helpful tips for navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace in Pennsylvania.

Your coverage level will need to be determined by your household’s specific medical needs and financial constraints:

  • Bronze – This coverage level has the lowest monthly premiums, but the highest deductibles. You will also need to pay out of pocket for most of your routine care.
  • Silver – This level has moderate premiums and moderate deductibles, but is a great coverage level for those who qualify for “extra savings.”
  • Gold – Gold-level coverage has higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles.
  • Platinum – The most expensive coverage level is Platinum. This level has the highest premiums but the lowest deductibles and covers almost all of your medical expenses.
  • Catastrophic – Catastrophic coverage is only available to individuals younger than 30 years of age who qualify for a hardship exemption. This coverage level only covers the bare minimum and requires most expenses be paid out of pocket.

There are plan types for every level of coverage, which you will also need to decide on:

  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) Plan – This plan only allows you to use physicians and hospitals within a plan’s network.
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plan – HMOs often only allow you to see doctors within the network and require you to use pre-approved hospitals.
  • Point of Service (POS) Plan – With POS plans, you are allowed to see doctors outside of the network, but only with a referral.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan – PPO plans do not require a referral if you wish to see a doctor outside of the plan’s network. However, you may have to pay extra for seeing a physician or visiting a hospital outside of the network.