Back in the old days, if you worked for yourself and needed to be paid by a client, cash or checks were the only viable forms of payments. In recent decades, it has been easier self-employed people to accept credit cards, but it still involved a clunky machine that was tethered to a land line. In fact, I had a side business in college and I decided to accept credit cards, and I had to use one of those. It was confusing and frustrating.
Over the last few years, I have seen some incredible progress. Two years ago, I went to a local artist’s market and bought some handmade jewelry. I expected to have to pay with cash, but they actually accepted credit and debit cards. That was more convenient for me, so I handed my card over. She opened up a payment app on her iPhone, manually entered my card information, then had me “sign” it with my finger to complete the purchase. I was amazed.
I recently heard about Square for mobile device payments for major companies such as Starbucks. It turns out they also have a tool for individuals or small businesses who want to accept plastic.
To get paid via credit card or debt card, you just plug a little white device (“Square“) into your phone that has a swipe slot on top. I looked into it out of curiosity, and the card reader is free and works on an iPhone, Android phone, or iPad. The only fee is 2.75% per swipe — no other fees, plus next-day deposits. I wish something like this had come along sooner!
That led me to a conversation with someone about how this could really change how individuals get paid. Lawyers can get payments from clients before or after entering a courtroom. Artists and craftsman can get paid anywhere they choose to display their work. Handymen can get paid on the spot. As consumers rely more heavily on credit cards as payment, it behooves all businesses to accept them. I love that it is now possible for the little guys to compete and receive real-time payments just like large businesses. What do you think of these advances?
Read on for my roundup of my favorite posts from the personal finance blogosphere from the past week.
1. Tired of giving gift cards or presents people will never use every holiday season? Money Under 30 shares some ideas on how you can give investments as gifts and provide long-term value to the recipient.
2. Good Financial Cents lists 11 personal finance programs and software that can help you stay on top of your budget and credit card debt.
3. Not Made of Money explains how you can save time with your finances, from automating your payments to using online banking.
4. Beating Broke recently underwent a personal finance reassessment with his wife and discusses the interesting lesson that came out of it.
5. Modest Money lists five reasons why you should avoid having a low credit score and what you can do to prevent it.
6. My Dollar Plan explains why it can be beneficial to tell your family about your debt and provides tips on how to handle it.
7. Thousandaire describes why it can take a major change to get the motivation to save money.
8. Enemy of Debt shares how he improved his marriage by simply talking about money and learning how to better communicate about finances.
9. Money Q&A reveals why it’s so critical to build a small emergency fund before you start paying down your debt.
10. Money Smart Life shares four ways you can make the most of travel reward credit cards.