Review your mortgage in 2018

Remember to review the type of loan you have because it can be changed to save more money. Many people in traditional mortgages have opportunities to switch to a loan that matches their specific qualifications.  Consider, for example, farmers in Missouri can get a Missouri USDA Rural Development Loan. The applicant actually doesn’t have to be a farmer, as long as the location in question is in a rural area. There are other requirements too:  there is a maximum income that can be earned by the owner and your income needs to be close to the average income of your neighbors.

There is also the example of veterans living in St. Louis. Current and former military members can get VA loans that are easier to attain than conventional loans. The VA funding fee does not apply if you are disabled while serving. Insurance is not required but there is a credit score stipulation: your credit score must not be lower than 620.

The type of company should be scrutinized as well. A mortgage lender should have looked into how much you make and how much you can spend on monthly payments. Also, there definitely should have been an appraisal of the home you wanted to buy.

ACT Test (Image: PBS)

ACT, SAT Test Season is Here

College Entrance Exam Season is Here

The academic year is well underway and with a new academic year comes test taking season.  Every year, high schoolers across the country take college entrance exams.  The two most popular tests, the ACT and SAT, are required by nearly all colleges throughout the US.  Depending on where an individual lives, the student might take the ACT or the SAT.  Regardless of what test a student takes, the scores are crucial to acceptance at a college or university.  Without these scores, or with low scores, high school students might miss out on college acceptance.  With that said, here’s everything you need to know about the ACT and SAT test.

The ACT Test

The ACT test was first administered in the late 1950s and aimed at serving as an alternative to the SAT.  The ACT slowly grew in popularity, mainly throughout the Midwest US.  However, in the 2000s, the ACT test served a comparable role to the SAT test and in 2011, surpassed the SAT in popularity.  Today, the ACT is as widely accepted and recognized as the SAT test.

The ACT test is scored on a scale from 1 to 36 with 36 being the highest score possible.  A 36 is a perfect score and is the desired score for a student.  The test features Math, Science, English, and Reading with an optional writing test.  Students have over three hours to complete the ACT.  The ACT is typically administered on Saturdays.  Throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, the following test dates are offered;

  • September 9th
  • October 28th
  • December 9th
  • February 10th
  • April 14th
  • June 9th
  • July 14th
(Image : ACT)
(Image : ACT)

The SAT Test

The SAT test has been available to students since 1924 and since its inception has been widely accepted by colleges and higher level institutions.  However, unlike the ACT test which has remained fairly unchanged, the SAT has changed drastically.  Today, the ACT 2 as it’s commonly known, is offered in addition to individual subject tests.  The SAT is especially popular on the east and west coasts.

(Image: SAT)
(Image: SAT)

The SAT test is scored on a scale from 0 to 1600 with 1600 being a perfect score.  The SAT test features mathematics and critical reading and writing with additional subject test available.  Students have 3 to 4 hours to complete the test.  The SAT is typically administered on Saturdays and is offered on the following dates throughout 2017 and 2018;

  • August 26th
  • October 7th
  • November 4th
  • December 2nd
  • March 10th
  • May 5th
  • June 2nd


Top 5 Things to Try with Custom Printed Coasters

5 Custom Printed Coaster Ideas

The personalized and customized gift craze is still alive and well.  Just look at online stores like Uncommon Goods and Mark and Graham.  Both online retailers sell almost exclusively monogrammed or personalized gifts and though you might think the custom gift trend is dying, the success of those two online stores would indicate otherwise.  From flasks to dog beds, people love customizing things.  Moreso, research, and trends in the next generation of consumers (millennials) would indicate that custom gifts and items aren’t going any place anytime soon.  We’re taking a look at the top 5 ideas for custom printed coasters.


This idea is less for the consumer and more for the business owner.  To succeed in today’s climate, businesses including hotels and restaurants not only have to provide quality services and products but also need to do so through memorable and attractive branding.  Younger consumers are attracted to unique branding.  When considering branding, businesses should consider how shareable their brand is.  Young people (millennials), love to share stuff on social media.  Taking advantage of branding and unique promotional methods can increase shareability and therefore increase a brand’s memorability.

Restaurants can take advantage of custom printed coasters
Restaurants can take advantage of custom printed coasters

One practical and appealing use of custom printed coasters for restaurants is printing weekly or monthly specials on coasters.  Some customers will avoid the “specials” menu.  By printing specials and promotional items on coasters, customers will be forced to at least glance down at the menu.  By subliminally pushing specials on a coaster, you’ll be more likely to sell specials and promotional items.  Additionally, including coupons and promos on coasters, customers will be encouraged to order more items.

Additionally, it’s important to prominently display one’s brand throughout the restaurant. Coasters provide a promotion and marketing method that’s inexpensive and can be changed regularly depending on customer feedback.

Weddings, Events

Through variable and short run custom coaster printing, it’s now affordable to produce coasters for events like weddings and parties.  Coasters can be customized to include the names of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding.  Initials, favorite quotes, or images of love can also be included on the coasters.  Thanks to variable printing, both families can even get their own personal coasters unique to their family.

Weddings are a great time to use custom coasters
Weddings are a great time to use custom coasters

At other events, coasters are a fantastic way to celebrate and remember a fun event.  Bachelorette parties, birthdays, and baby showers are also a great time to bust out your own custom coasters.

Taste Testings

Taste testings are a unique way in which custom printed coasters can be used.  If taste testers are tasting a variety of beverages, coasters can be used to display notes about a wine or beer.  The brand of beer or the vineyard from which the wine originates can also be displayed on the coaster.  If taste testers are voting on what they enjoyed most, the coasters can be used as ballots during voting.


The average consumer probably uses coasters, for this reason, the most.  Though coasters serve a practical reason, protecting furniture from drink rings, they’ve also been known to make great decorations.  With variable printing, you no longer have to settle on one design. When ordering coasters, feel free to include multiple designs that fit your decor.  Here are a few ways you can design coasters;

  • Initials
  • Quotes
  • Humor
  • Pictures and Illustrations
  • Wi-Fi Passwords


What better way to remember an event than to give your guests coasters remembering or celebrating the occasion.  Take a wedding, coasters can be a great memento for your guests to take home.  Not only will they have received a thoughtful gift but your guests will always remember the day.


Preparing for Fall, Coffee Sleeves and Pumpkin Spice

Fall Coffee: Custom Coffee Sleeves and Why Pumpkin Spice Will Die Out

The first day of fall is now just 44 days away.  That might seem like it’s a ways off and yes, it is.  However, like with any holiday or season, the festivities and traditions start early.  That means by the end of August, we should already start to see a transition from summer to fall.  Look for TV and web ads to feature less fun and sunshine and more gloom and doom.  Until the holiday season, advertisements will look a lot less like Corona ads.  It’s not all gloom and doom.  Sure the days are getting shorter and all of the trees and plants are about to go dormant.  There are parts of autumn of which we can agree are enjoyable and something to which to look forward.  Take cooler weather for example.  Regardless, we’re all about to feel a lot more groggy and tired than we did back in June which means we’re about to enter peak season for something we all love.

We’re on the verge of beginning the peak season for lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee-based drinks.  Here’s your fall guide to all things coffee.

Trends Coffee Shops Should Embrace

During the summer months, hot coffee drinks take a backseat to cold and chilled beverages.  It makes sense.  We all want coffee regardless of what day it is but for most of us, a scorching hot latte isn’t very attractive on a 100-degree day.  So come summer, coffee shops big and small stock up on products to brew cold-brew drinks.  This past summer, we saw a massive increase in the number of independent brands offering their own cold-brewed drinks in to-go cans and bottles.  Consumer loved it but come the fall, a cold drink will no longer have the same appeal as a hot latte.

Coffee shops and chains are left to come up with a new way to entice coffee drinkers to visit their shops and visit them often.  Here are the trends to notice this fall;

Flavored Lattes, Again.

I’ll get into the whole pumpkin spice dilemma in a second but for now, I’m going to get into the flavored latte trend.  First off, flavored lattes are actually quite gross.  The flavors added come from sugary artificial syrups and fatty creams.  I avoid flavored coffee drinks as much as I possibly can.  However, a lot of consumers don’t. Though I think pumpkin spice is about to die out, there will be a plethora of other disgusting flavors from which to choose.

Look for pecan, caramel, apple, and other fall desserts to make their way into a latte additive.  As fattening and gross as they are, people love the sweet and vaguely familiar taste of seasonal lattes.

Craft Espresso Beverages

Hate flavored lattes replacing actual coffee?  Look for try-hard cafes to try even harder to lure coffee drinkers into buying expensive espresso-based beverages.  Even plain ole’ coffee will become a trend for hip cafes replacing their traditional coffee pots with pour-over contraptions.

Custom Coffee Sleeves

Offering a customized approach to coffee is a trend that’s been around for a while.  Whether it’s incorrectly writing a customer’s name on the side of their cup or frequent drinker programs, we love when something is personalized or made for us.  Branding that’s appealing to a consumer’s aesthetic and appears to be directed at them will bring them into local coffee shops more often.  Look for the customized trends to continue with coffee shops introducing custom coffee sleeves and custom coasters.

The Demise of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin spice is disgusting.  The only reason people embrace the flavor is because it’s seasonal.  If it wasn’t for the fact that it only stays around for a few months, people wouldn’t care.  Unfortunately, the media and personalities on social media love to make pumpkin spice seem better than it really is.  It’s not good and the only reason it’s coming back is because of its new meme status.  Give it one or two more rotations and pecan or caramel will be brought to the forefront.  People are getting sick and tired of pumpkin spice whether or not we can see it.