Being addicted to technology is one way to describe my generation. With laptops, iPods, blackberries, iPhones, and a plenty of other portable electronic devices, it’s no wonder why today’s college grads are searching for that extra outlet to plug in. Still, new technology also brings new ways to harness energy.Over the last few years, we have become more environmentally conscious, looking for new and innovative ways to make our lives greener. Hybrid cars and the Toyota Prius are just two examples of how we have used technology to help the environment. There are many companies in America dedicated to using modern technology to help transfer our dependency on oil and electricity to solar energy.Reware is a company that develops bags that harness solar energy to power small electronic devices. It won the Environmental Innovations Award in 2005 from EcoVentures, and is known most for the signature Juice Bags and PowerPockets. These products contain photovoltaic panels that are durable, flexible and waterproof, storing solar energy for charging any twelve volt electronic device such as mobile phones, PDAs, gaming consoles, GPS units and digital cameras. Juice Bags come equipped with a universal Car Lighter Adapter socket (CLA) that transfers the stored electricity right to your portable devices.Emergency Energy at Your FingertipsNot only is solar power efficient, but it is also a good backup power source. For example, if your car stalls and your phone is out of battery, a PowerPocket in your glove compartment will solve this problem easily. If you have an older car that can’t be left in the heat for long periods of time, you can use one to plug into your dash to keep the electrical system right and ready. With free energy, the possibilities are endless. You can use PowerPockets for camping, hiking and biking. Instead of searching for electrical adapters that fit foreign sockets, a Juice Bag or PowerPocket will come in handy as an environmentally safe and free way to charge phones, cameras, and any other device.Reware also offers SolarReady Batteries that store sunlight from Juice Bags or PowerPockets so that the energy can be used at night as well as during the day. This is extremely useful for emergency power for flashlights, walkie talkies and other battery operated devices that can be useful in a power outage.Save Energy: Recycle and ReuseAnother environmentally friendly product that Reware recently released is a new line of messenger bags, hobo bags and attachés that are made from recycled two-liter soda bottles. The bottles are repurposed and Rewoven into a cloth that is both durable and water resistant. Although they do not store energy like the Juice Bags, they are made of 100% guaranteed post-consumer waste and made in the US.The truth is that the world only has a finite amount of resources. Therefore, the more we recycle and the more we do to help the environment, the healthier our planet and country will be. Imagine if we could eradicate America’s dependency on foreign oil by just recycling and using solar power. The need for going green is growing as population increases and resources are stretched thin.Using solar energy and recycled goods is a great way to protect our environment as well as keeping a lifestyle full of energy and electronics. By purchasing solar powered and recycled products allow consumers to harness free and renewable energy anywhere in the world as well as keep the earth clean and safe for generations to come.
It goes against the grain but sometimes using your home equity for your business makes sense. If you are a small business owner and you need financing to help your business grow, start a new business, your SBA loan is up for refinancing or maybe you need to buy out a partner? Most small business owners look to get a loan from the SBA or another commercial bank for this purpose but very few think to use their home equity for such a purpose. The reasoning by most is that they want to keep their home separate from their business or their spouse does not want to “risk” their home for the business.Point of fact is that the majority of small business loans have a personal guarantee associated with them and therefore the house is still at risk. A strategy we suggest with many of our clients is to use the home equity (via a cash out refinance transaction) to satisfy the needs for the business. The main reason for doing it this way is that you can usually borrow the money out of your house for two and sometimes up to four percentage points cheaper than a traditional business loan. In a recent case study a client was buying out their business partner and needed to remove the partner from the current $400,000 business loan.Traditional banks were offering a commercial loan around 8.75% and we were able to provide the client with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for only 5.75%. We then instructed their CPA to draft a private note from the clients as individuals to their business in order to claim this deductable expense that the commercial loan would have provided. Now there is some leeway on how you can structure this private note but their CPA left the rate the same so it was a wash.End result: The client was able to buy out their partner much quicker than going the traditional route and at a much lower cost than their CPA originally thought. The client was able to save $812/month or nearly $10,000 per year in cash flow resulting in close to $300,000 in savings if they carry the loan to term. While this is not always an option, you should investigate if this strategy may be right for you? Ask your mortgage planner to run a scenario and if it looks like it makes sense then call your CPA to discuss. Take Control of your Finances and Make Life Happen!