Friday, April 30, 2010

Asset and liability basics

Knowledge of accounts can make life much easy. If you are to invest in a new business or joining your forefather’s business, planning to take some loan, looking for job in any marketing company, desire to be the manager of a multinational company or have the onus to manage your own assets and liabilities, knowing some basics of accounts becomes mandatory.

Broadly, accounting is bifurcated into two categories-

Cash Bases Accounting

Accrual Accounting

The Cash Based accounting pertains to the management of an individual’s personal monetary transactions. In this case, he keeps a track of the money he withdrew, deposited, gave or received from someone etc. This accounting comes to life when actual cash transactions take place.

The Accrual Accounting requires an accountant who notes the transactions even if no money has been actually exchanged. This method works on the principle of comparing or seeing the ratio of the expenses to expenditure. If the expenditure is more, you need to cut down your luxuries, if not then it’s always good to have some savings for future. This type of accounting tells you the amount that you owed; this might not match with the figure of your bank balance.

In the language of accounting there are several key terms that one needs to be familiar with. Some of the crucial ones are discussed below-

The Assets- the assets are generally those possessions of an individual that have a good market value or are quite valuable. Assets are mainly classified into three types-
Current Asset- the cash is the most basic asset of any individual. The money that is being held in accounts like the checking and savings accounts is also included in the cash. Also inclusive are the marketable securities in the form of bonds, stocks, shares etc. The money lent or payments due from clients, even form a part of it.

Fixed Asset- comprises of all the tangible valuable things like property, machines, equipments, land and the like that are not meant to be sold.

Intangible Asset- incorporates all the untouchable things like copyrights, patents, trademarks etc. that have tremendous monetary significance.

The law of opposites governs the nature; where there are assets, there will be liabilities. These are the debts that you have to pay back to your creditors. This can be done through giving cash or any other asset like jewelry, some other goods etc. Liabilities again are of two kinds-

1. The Current Liabilities- the liabilities that are to be paid back within a certain time limit and most often through your current assets. These include the accounts payable i.e. type of bill that you have to monthly, the Notes Payable-loans taken from banks meant to be repaid within 30 days and the Accrued Expenses- the compulsory expenses like taxes, wages, interests etc. where the bills are not received but the balances of each must be repaid.

2. Long Term Liabilities- those debts that can be repaid at ease for the tenure is more then a month.

The Financial Capital- is the economic capital. It is any liquid medium or merchandise that stands for wealth or other styles or capital. There are four ways to manage and display the financial capital. First, this capital is needed when a contract is made with any sort of capital asset. The financial instruments work in the form of currency in case of sale, purchase or trade of goods i.e. the medium exchanges. Second, it works as a settled medium or mode like gold for the
Standard of Deferred Payment. Third, The Unit of Account has a market value attached to it which in turn varies with the economy of the country. Fourth, The Source of Value is concerned with financial capital that needs to be saved and recovered. It is a collection of things like gold, real estate, collectibles etc.

Petty Cash is an important factor in business. It is the smallest account within a business setting or the cash in bills and coinage required to pay little expenses.

Types of Business- there are several kinds of business one should be aware of like

Sole proprietorship- where a single individual who starts the business owns it too.

Partnerships- the companies or businesses started by two or more persons where they conjointly own it.

Corporations- involve lot many shareholders or investors who are responsible in taking decisions for the company.

Limited Liability Companies- can be said to be sisters of corporations. Here the business members are not under a legal obligation to pay the debts if the business fails.

Payrolls- the term payroll designates the manner in which you will be paying the employees of your company and even yourself. Many multinational companies cater to payroll service provider companies that do the work quite efficiently.

These are some of the broad guidelines that will help you grasp the basics of accounting. It is essential to have some such wisdom for accounts as it is fruitful in all walks of life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Artists Biographies on Film: Top Movies about Visual Artists

Visual artists biographies is a popular theme in the movie world. Moviemakers have always been fascinated by visual artists biographies, especially if it includes struggle with insanity, drug addiction or social conventions. In addition, it gives them an opportunity to depict original or resurrected artworks on the big screen.
Here you can read about some of the most interesting movies about visual artists biographies.
Lust for Life directed by Vincente Minnelli in 1952

Vincent Van Gogh biography had gained several cinematic adaptations. Lust for Life with Kirk Douglas as the struggling artist is one of the most notable. The movie is based on a best selling book by Irving Stone, who also authored The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo, which also had appeared on the silver screen.

If you are a fan of Van Gogh artwork, you would enjoy watching Last for Life, which features almost 200 of Van Goghs original paintings. However, if you are familiar with Kirk Douglas previous filmographic, seeing him as a tortured Dutch painter might take a little adjustment. Another recommended film about Van Gogh is Robert Altmans Vincent and Theo from 1990.

Surviving Picasso directed by James Ivory in 1996

Like Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso image made him an iconic figure outside the artistic circles. While Van Gogh symbolizes the self destructive, manic depressive artist who achieves success only after his death, Picasso represents the misanthropic and womanizer artist. Picasso infamous relationship with women is the focus of this Merchant and Ivory film. The story is told from the eyes of Picasso mistress Francoise Gilot and features only reproductions of Picasso works. With Anthony Hopkins talent and his physical resemblance to Picasso, Surviving Picasso manages to create an unflattering portrait of an artist as a cruel, self centered genius.

Girl with Pearl Earring directed by Peter Webber in 2003

Comparing to Van Gogh and Picasso, Vermeers biography is less known and less controversial. Therefore Girl with Pearl Earring is much more restrained and delicate. The movie focuses on a short period in Vermeers life in which he was painting the portrait of his young low class maid. Although Girl with Pearl Earring does not avoid filmic conventions by over dramatizing Vermeers painting process, the movie is worth watching if only for its artistic design, which success in evoking Vermeers perception of light and color.

Basquiat directed by Julian Schnabel in 1996

The most common critique against movies that deals with visual arts is the way they depict the creation process. Therefore, there were big expectations from Basquiat, which was directed by the celebrated painter Julian Schnabel. Schnabel did well in depicting Jean Michelle Basquiat rise and fall story in less the predictable manner we have seen millions time before. However, the only reason to watch Basquiat is David Bowie plays the role of Andy Warhol.

Frida directed by Julie Taymor in 2002

Like most of the visual artists who had their life story appear on the silver screen, Frida Kahlo carried an unusual biography, which includes bus accident, problematic marriage, and an affair with Leon Trotsky. Like Van Gogh, Picasso and Jackson Pollock, who was the subject of a biopic from 2000, Frida Kahlo was an icon long before Frida was released, but the 123 minutes film did help to strength her position as a feminist idol and probably the most famous woman painter of the 20 century. Frida tries its best to integrate Frida Kahlo life story with her painting and the result is very colorful and pleasant, but still does not stay far enough from the conventions of depicting artists on film.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Art Theft: Most Famous Cases in History

Art theft is an ancient and complicated crime. When you look at the some of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations that involve art dealers, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. Here you can read about some of the most famous cases of art theft in the history.

The First Theft:
The first documented case of art theft was in 1473, when two panels of altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling were stolen. While the triptych was being transported by ship from the Netherlands to Florence, the ship was attacked by pirates who took it to the Gdansk cathedral in Poland. Nowadays, the piece is shown at the National Museum in Gdansk where it was recently moved from the Basilica of the Assumption.

The Most Famous Theft:
The most famous story of art theft involves one of the most famous paintings in the world and one of the most famous artists in history as a suspect. In the night of August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen out of the Louver. Soon after, Pablo Picasso was arrested and questioned by the police, but was released quickly.

It took about two years until the mystery was solved by the Parisian police. It turned out that the 30×21 inch painting was taken by one of the museum employees by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who simply carried it hidden under his coat. Nevertheless, Peruggia did not work alone. The crime was carefully conducted by a notorious con man, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent by an art faker who intended to make copies and sell them as if they were the original painting.

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was busy creating copies for the famous masterpiece, Mona Lisa was still hidden at Peruggias apartment. After two years in which Peruggia did not hear from Chaudron, he tried to make the best out of his stolen good. Eventually, Peruggia was caught by the police while trying to sell the painting to an art dealer from Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Louver in 1913.

The Biggest Theft in the USA:
The biggest art theft in United States took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, a group of thieves wearing police uniforms broke into the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective value was estimated at around 300 million dollars. The thieves took two paintings and one print by Rembrandt, and works of Vermeer, Manet, Degas, Govaert Flinck, as well as a French and a Chinese artifact.

As of yet, none of the paintings have been found and the case is still unsolved. According to recent rumors, the FBI are investigating the possibility that the Boston Mob along with French art dealers are connected to the crime.

The Scream:
The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is probably the most sought after painting by art thieves in history. It has been stolen twice and was only recently recovered. In 1994, during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was stolen from an Oslo gallery by two thieves who broke through an open window, set off the alarm and left a note saying: thanks for the poor security.

Three months later, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Government with an offer: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government turned down the offer, but the Norwegian police collaborated with the British Police and the Getty Museum to organize a sting operation that brought back the painting to where it belongs.

Ten years later, The Scream was stolen again from the Munch Museum. This time, the robbers used a gun and took another of Munchs painting with them. While Museum officials waiting for the thieves to request ransom money, rumors claimed that both paintings were burned to conceal evidence. Eventually, the Norwegian police discovered the two paintings on August 31, 2006 but the facts on how they were recovered are not known yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are You Trading to Your Strengths?

Copyright 2006 New Ireland Ventures, LLC

In your trading, are you playing to your strengths, or are you simply being an "opportunity seeker"?

There is a huge difference between the two and if you're just an opportunity seeker, then you are leaving yourself open to frustration and losses.

There are many parallels between trading, business and gambling, and your ultimate success long-term will be determined by how you approach any of the three. Playing to your strengths is critical in all three.

In any of the pursuits, there is competition and you always want to make sure that you're playing to your strengths and not your weaknesses.

The objective is winning, that is profiting, and you want every advantage that you can get.

Too often, the opportunity seeker will go after an opportunity just because they see that there's money to be made, and they figure that they can shore up their weaknesses (learn more) enough to go get that money.

Let's take a brief look at how this applies in each area, keeping in mind the parallels between them.

In business, the long term successes are built by those with an end goal in mind, a vision of what the business will look like when it's mature.

This is critical because the company must stay on a course that is consistent with its vision while it is growing. Distractions and deviations from the path only serve to slow it down or even take it backwards.

Successful business leaders know when to pursue an opportunity and when to say "no". Saying "no" is essential to keeping the company's activities (investments of time) focused where competitive advantages exist and avoiding those where the company is at a disadvantage.

In gambling, the poker player will stay at the BlackJack table and make his money there. He won't jump up and run to the Roulette table just because he heard somebody just won $50,000 over there. He knows what he's good at and will only venture over to other tables for entertainment, not to make money.

In Trading, let's say investing for the sake of argument, a good real estate investor that knows how to make $1 million a year isn't necessarily going to do well in trading. They are completely different games.

Just because a person knows how to buy properties right, increase their value through rehab or raising rents, does not mean that they will have the talents or skills to make money in the Futures or Forex markets.

Even an experienced trader should be hesitant to jump from one game to the next. A buy-and-hold position trader should exercise great caution before jumping into day-trading, and a spread better should hone his skills before thinking about buying (or selling) outright futures contracts.

Each strategy (or game let's say) has different skills associated with it, and different emotional requirements.

The other serious consideration is your proficiency level - period. This combined with your ability to devote time to trading.

If you are completely new to trading or you haven't yet become proficient at the necessary skills to trade, then you definitely should seek out help.

The learning curve can be very costly in trading, and if you don't have the time or a plan to become proficient, how do you ever expect to make regular profits from it?

If you don't have the proficiency, the strengths, needed to be a good trader, nor do you have the time and resources to become one, you may want to consider other choices available to you.

If you have neither the skills nor the time to develop them, but want to take advantage of the nice money to be made in trading, you may want to consider a managed account. Why settle for an amateur trading with your money (YOU), when you can have a pro do it for you?

Do your Due Diligence first though!!! Ask for the track record and the plan going forward.

Your next option if you're "starting from scratch" is to trade with the assistance of a seasoned broker.

That's what they are there for. Of course you can find very low commission brokers to deal with, but you may get just what you pay for. A good broker can be found for $50-$100 round turn commission, and they'll give you the best advice they can.

In the long run, you're likely to be way better off - if you'll follow their advice!

Again, ask for their track record, and check with the NFA to see if they have any complaints.

It wouldn't hurt to see if the broker you're considering is recognized within the trading community as being good.

Many very good brokers publish regular articles or advisory columns on respected websites and in established periodicals.

Generally, if you see that the person has been published for a period of years, then that is a good sign.

The wackos and charlatans bounce around too much and aren't allowed to stay in one place for long before their reputation catches up with them.

Until you have the strengths yourself, borrow them from someone who has them while you're developing.

When you have the proficiency, the skills, and the resources, only then should you venture out on your own. And that is only if you are so inclined to actually becoming a trader and doing it all yourself.

If your true objective is to make money, then play it smart. Make use of other people's knowledge and skills until you have developed your own.

Of course, if you really don't want to devote the time to being a full-time or highly active trader, but still want trading to be part of your income portfolio, consider your other choices.

Whatever you do, don't simply chase another "opportunity" to make money if it doesn't play to your strengths.

For Trading, those strengths need to be discipline, emotional control, coach-ability, ability to focus, follow-through, decisiveness, understanding of probabilities, dealing with uncertainty, and a slew of others.

There are activities for entertainment and others for making money.

Trading can be both, but if it is not taken seriously, with a sincere review of your own characteristics and desires, then it can wind up being neither. In any endeavor where money is the end result, get help from a trusted friend. Rememer, a good mentor is there to show you the right steps to take and those to avoid.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Are You Suffering From Payment Protection Overload?

Critical illness insurance:

Critical illness insurance will cover you in the event of a serious illness such as cancer, coronary artery by-pass surgery, heart attack, kidney failure, major organ transplant, multiple sclerosis and stroke. Additional conditions covered by this insurance can include aorta graft surgery, benign brain tumour, blindness, coma, deafness, heart valve replacement or repair, loss of limbs, loss of speech, motor neurone disease, paralysis/paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, terminal illness and third degree burns. Not all insurance companies will necessarily cover all of these illnesses, whilst some insurance companies will cover more; it is always worth reading the terms and conditions before you sign anything.

Critical illness insurance policies typically offer a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with one of the above illnesses and meet the conditions outlined in the policy contract. The lump sum is most often used to cover the remainder of the mortgage, although can be spent on home alterations or medical care etc.

Life insurance:

Life insurance is usually taken out if your family or partner is financially dependent on your income. Life insurance can also be purchased as life assurance and in this form, can offer a method of protection cover and savings. However, most people simply use it as a form of financial protection for their mortgage and therefore their family. There are three main types of life insurance: term insurance, whole life insurance and endowment insurance. More information can be found on these forms of life insurance on the Association of British Insurers’ website, listed in the resources section of this article.

Mortgage life insurance:

Mortgage life insurance is essentially the same as a decreasing (lump-sum) term life insurance policy and is designed to pay out a lump sum upon the death of the policy holder, should it occur during the term of the mortgage. The size of the lump sum will decrease over the term of the life insurance policy, in the line with the outstanding mortgage repayments. E.g. As you pay off your mortgage, the amount of cover will decrease as the need is less significant.

Mortgage protection:

Mortgage protection, also called mortgage payment protection, is a type of insurance that can help protect mortgage payments and associated household costs in the event of unemployment, illness or an accident. Through mortgage payment protection, you can insure your monthly mortgage payment, monthly life premiums and the monthly cost of your buildings and content insurance. Typical mortgage protection cover could include:

* Unemployment and disability insurance cover

* Accident or sickness

* Unemployment only insurance cover

* Disability only insurance cover

Loan payment protection:

Loan payment protection policies are designed to protect the repayments to any loans you may have taken out. They work on a similar basis to mortgage payment protection, but for a wider scope of borrowing. Premiums for loan payment may be greater than those for mortgage protection.

Income protection:

In the event of unemployment, sickness or an accident, income protection insurance offers a limited income. Do make sure you understand the terms of the policy however, as the income that you received through cover may be significantly less than the income you receive through employment.

Private medical insurance:

Private medical insurance is a policy which will provide financial cover for medical treatment in the event of an acute condition. According to the Association of British Insurers, the majority of insurers define an acute condition as “a disease, illness or injury that is likely to respond quickly to treatment which aims to return you to the state of health you were in, immediately before suffering the disease, illness or injury, or which leads to your full recovery.”

Private medical insurance provides reassurance for people who know that treatment is available promptly should they become ill or injured.

Resources: The Association of British Insurers Consumer Insurance Comparison Research Insurance Guide

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are You Looking For A Financial Planner?

A financial planner is an individual who manages the money of a family, a group or a business. They will provide you with the knowledge that you need about which are the right investments, how to manage them and what you need to do to be set for retirement, college, or to purchase your first home. A financial planner is quite necessary in this day and age. If you do not have one, you may not really know what to look for in those that you can choose from.

Here are some helpful suggestions on things to consider about the financial planner for your needs:

• You need quality. Simply, you are putting your money into someone else’s hands and you need to find a professional who will do his or her best at managing it. They need to be able to provide you with a plan that shows how they can help you. They need to have experience and show you what they have done in the past for others.

• You need to be able to communicate with them on many levels. At first, you’ll need them to be able to understand your needs and desires and they need to provide you with a plan that you can follow. They also need to be available if you have questions or problems come up. You can tell if the financial planner is committed to this just in your first meeting with them.

• You also need to agree on the same principles. If you feel that the financial planner is simply trying to make money, you are less likely to trust them. Make sure that you take the time to find those financial planners who are on the same page as you.

When you do all of these things, your experience in choosing a financial planner will lead to a good choice.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is Re-Financing Always Worthwhile Anyway?

Is Re-Financing Always Worthwhile Anyway?

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If you are conidering refinancing a home loan, mortgage or loan, you've got to stop and think. Is it worth it? This article will give you a few things to think about when you are considering refinancing.

refinancing, mortgage refinancing, home loan refinancing, loan refinancing, refinancing in, debt consolidation, student loan refinancing

Article Body:
This is a very important question which all homeowners should ask themselves both at the start and towards the end of the process of re-financing. The answer to this question can spur the homeowner to investigate re-financing further or convince the homeowner to table the thoughts of re-financing for the moment and concentrate on other aspect of owning a home.

Establish Financial Goals

This should be the first step in the process of determining whether or not re-financing is worthwhile. Without this step, a homeowner cannot accurate answer the question of the worth of re-financing because the homeowner may not fully understand his own financial goals. While financial goals may run the gamut from one extreme to another the most basic question to ask is whether the more significant goal is long term savings or increased monthly cash flow. This is important because re-financing can usually achieve these two goals.

Do You Want to Save Money in the Long Run?

Homeowners who establish a goal of saving money in the long run should consider re-financing options such as lower interest rates or shorter loan terms. Both of these options can considerably lower the amount of interest the homeowner is paying on the loan. This is significant because paying less interest will result in a greater cost savings.

Consider an example where a homeowner has an existing debt of $100,000, an interest rate of 6.25% and a loan term of 30 years. Just by reducing the loan term to 15 years the homeowner can significantly decrease the amount which is paid in interest during the course of the loan. However, this option will also result in an increase in the monthly payments made by the homeowner. Therefore this type of re-financing option may only be available to those who have enough cash flow to compensate for the increase in monthly payments.

Do You Want to Increase Your Monthly Cash Flow?

Some homeowners may have a chosen goal of increasing their monthly cash flow. For these homeowners the overall cost savings may not be as important as having more money available to them each month. These homeowners might consider a re-financing option in which they are able to extend their loan terms. This means they will be repaying the existing debt over a longer period of time. The homeowner will pay more in interest in the long run but will achieve their goal of lower monthly payments and an increased cash flow.

How Will Re-Financing Affect Tax Deductions?

This is another serious consideration for homeowners who are interested in investigating the possibility of re-financing. The interest paid on a home loan is often tax deductible. A homeowner who re-finances in a manner which results in less interest being paid annually may adversely affect their tax strategy. The implications of this type of chance can be amplified for homeowners who were previously just below a significant tax break line. A significant decrease in the amount of interest paid will mean a significant decrease in the deduction the homeowner is allowed to take. This reduced deduction can put the homeowner in an entirely different tax bracket and could end up costing the homeowner money in the long run. For this reason, homeowners who are considering re-financing should have a tax preparation professional determine the ramifications re-financing will have on their tax return before a decision is made.

Are You Living Beyond Your Means?

Do you find that keeping control of your finances is becoming increasingly difficult?

In today’s society, advertisements bombard us with offers which encourage us to Spend! Spend! Spend! With promises such as-

“Easy Credit!”

“Pre-approved loans!”
“3 years interest-free credit!”
“Free gift when you apply!”

To most people this can all seem rather tempting, given the current “live for today” attitude. But too much can be spent on luxuries, leaving not enough to pay the bills.

Certain kinds of debt may be appropriate, such as a mortgage or a car. Many people, however, try to buy more than they can afford. Indeed, banks and businesses encourage us to do so.

Credit cards can be too easy to obtain yet too difficult to maintain, especially when people find themselves borrowing from one card to pay off another.

Credit may even be advertised as free – but we still have to pay in the end.
Many families can loose up to £1,000 a year in instalment debts, resulting in a drop in their future standard of living. Families often live from payday to payday with little or no savings for emergencies.

In America personal bankruptcies have doubled in the last 10 years. Most of these people had jobs yet unexpected bills or reductions in pay caused their bankruptcy.

Many economists agree that a global recession is on its way.
British people have over £130 billion of personal debt. It is estimated that, on average, there is £3,000 of debt from credit cards, loans and overdrafts for every adult in the country – and that’s excluding mortgages.

The amount borrowed from credit cards has more than doubled in the past 4 years.

Debt is fine, if you can afford the repayments. But what if you lost your job?

The time to get out of debt is now!

One major benefit of getting out of debt is avoiding interest payments. For instance; if you owe £1,000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 18.9% per year, and you only pay the minimum, say 3% per month, it will take over 13 years to pay it off plus a HUGE £848 in interest.

But if you double your payments to 6% per month, the debt will be gone in less than 5 years and the interest paid will be £292.

Savings can be gained by switching mortgages and if you fix your interest rate for 2 or 3 years then you can rest easy knowing what your repayments will be for the next few years. But make sure your mortgage is flexible so that you can pay off more if you do have some spare money.

Bank loans or hire purchase agreements can be trickier to pay off, as there may be penalties for early repayment. Just stick to the repayments and make sure that you don’t get tempted into any more debt. Remember that covetousness (i.e. desiring what we see) = debt! This is because we often get into debt over what we want, not what we need.

There are warning signs to indicate whether you are heading for financial difficulties. Look at the following list of 10 signals. If any one applies to you then it’s time to take a closer look at your budget. If more than one applies then you could already be in financial difficulty.

•Using a credit card for purchases that you normally pay for with cash.

•Taking out loans to pay off debts.

•Paying only minimum amounts due on credit cards.

•Receiving “overdue” notices.

•Using savings to pay bills.

•Cashing-in or borrowing from, life insurance policies.

•Working overtime to make ends meet.

•Using your overdraught to pay bills

•Juggling debts and only paying the most demanding.

•Obtaining credit card cash advances for day-to-day living expenses.

If you’re seriously worried about your overspending, The Citizen’s Advice Bureau offers free debt information.

Once your debt is under control, you need to think about saving. A standing order straight into your savings account is a good idea as the money goes straight out of your current account every month along with the bills.

Always remember never to get into debt over things that have no long-term impact on your life. For instance, do you really need an upgrade on your computer? Is a new DVD player really such a necessity? And what about a second car? Is it really essential or just an expensive convenience?

Don’t forget to also take a close look at the small things in life. For example, do you really need to go and have a cappuccino every time you pass a coffee shop? And packing a sandwich for work instead of buying one can save you about £40 a month.

But by far the most important thing to do when it comes to personal finance is to keep a constant check on your outgoings. Don’t wait for your bank statement to scare you next time it comes through your door. Remember the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Instant Cash Loans – Avoiding High Fees

You have heard the stories of people taking out a cash advance only to owe more in finance charges than in principal. You can’t help but ask – how did this happen? Will it happen to me? You can avoid such situations if you shop wisely for a cash advance company and pay your loan on time.

Rolling Fees

Cash advance lenders charge on average $15 for every $100 borrowed. If you were comparing APR, it would be 390%. Some lenders’ APR can be as high as 1000%. This usually occurs when the pay back period is calculated in days rather than weeks.

So a cash advance of $100 will require a payment of $115 on payday. If that loan is rolled over for another two weeks, the loan payment will be $130. Do that for four pay periods, and you will owe $60 in finance charges. After seven pay periods, $105 in finance fees will be racked up, more than the original loan amount.

Research Rates

One way to avoid this situation is to research rates prior to taking out a cash advance loan. Investigate rates of lenders and understand their payment structure. You can also search for first time deals online that reduce or eliminate some fees.

Pay Back Your Loan

Plan on paying back your loan on your payday. This is the surest way of avoiding those rolling fees. You can arrange with your lender to automatically deduct your payment when you are paid. Some lenders default to only a partial payment, but you should request a full payment. Cash advance companies may present it as a benefit, but you are only increasing your finance fees.

Other Credit Sources

If you need a long term loan, then consider your other sources of credit. Credit cards and personal loans offer a better APR. But you should be aware that they will negatively impact your credit score.

Another option is to use a credit counseling service. Through a confidential meeting, a counselor can help you plan your finances. They can also point you toward financial services, such as debt consolidation.

Are You Having Sleepless Nights Because Of Your Finances?

You’ve worked hard all day and come home at night, only to discover that you can’t get comfortable in your own bed. You toss and you turn for well over three hours. As 3a.m. approaches, you finally go to sleep but the alarm sounds all too quickly at 6 a.m. It’s time for you to go to work. Day two comes and you’re off again to the usual rat race. You repeat the same pattern once you get home. Later that night you lay in bed, thinking how you’re going to pay all of these bills. Despite your best efforts on the job, including overtime, it doesn’t seem to be enough. What can you do? Who can you to turn to?

Does this sound like you? Are you a Christian having sleepless nights because of your finances? Here are the top five reasons I have found why people get into debt:

1) Try to live beyond their means. Keep up with the Joneses.
2) Lost job and bills pile up
3) Have never been taught money management
4) Divorcing and the other party charged up cards in the process splitting up
5) Impulse Shopping

I too was a victim. Not from just one, but two of these debt catalysts. My husband equally had financial woes, his was still on this list. Being in debt has a way of having a hold on you and causes you not to think clearly. People in debt tend to operate out of fear - for example they ignore phone calls because it might be a collection agency on the other end. How many calls have they missed? Or perhaps, they write a check in the hopes that it will clear the bank; knowing full well they spent the money on luxuries and other needless excesses that have caused the bank account to have insufficient funds.

If any of this sounds like you or someone you know, assure them they can get out of debt without filing bankruptcy. They have to want help and not let pride or embarrassment get in their way of being helped.

At Journey To Wholeness, we work with people who want help getting their finances in order. There is no charge for our help. Why would you pay someone to help you get out of debt?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Internet Banking – The Pros And Cons

Only a few years ago the concept of online banking seemed like a dubious one – concerns about security and computer glitches were enough to put most people off. But with the continuing success of flagship companies like Cahoot, Egg and Smile, more and more of us are choosing to do business over the net. Sophisticated technology means that your information is well protected, and an online account offers several advantages over traditional banking.

Anytime, anywhere

The convenience of being able to log on and carry out transactions at any hour of the day or night could be a welcome alternative to visiting the bank on your lunch hour. No queues and no bank holidays mean the customer has even more control over their finances. Plus, your account information is displayed as a clear overview – no more riffling through mountains of old bank statements to find the info you’re looking for.

Get higher

Because online banks don’t have the overheads of running branches, they can pass on the savings to the customer, and offer better rates of interest on your money. Not only do they offer substantially more interest on your current account but there are also loans available with very low APRs that will save you money in the long run.

Safe and secure

Some experts consider internet banking to be even more secure than traditional methods – you won’t have pieces of paper with sensitive information lying around, and there’s no danger of your business being overheard by other bank customers. Check that the site is secure whenever conducting business online, never send passwords or account information in emails, and be sure to log out when you’ve finished your session

The downside?

In the past there have been a few cases of computer glitches revealing customers’ personal information, but these have been relatively minor and as internet banking becomes more popular, systems are likely to become more secure than ever. Technophobes probably won’t enjoy banking online. You do need to make sure your computer’s security system is sound, and that you have privacy for your session. Some people may miss the face-to-face contact of their local branch, and most will choose a combination of online banking, phone banking and branch visits. As internet banking becomes more established, it’s likely most of us will end up conducting at least a proportion of our business online, and you could find switching on to the new banks well worthwhile.

Are You Getting The Right Values For Your Money

How you spend and manage money is a tangible way to measure your values.

1. Are you able to keep the promises that you make?

When you borrow money you are making a promise to the person or financial institution that you borrow from to pay the money back. Is it more important to keep your promises to your friends and family who probably won't legally make you pay the money back or is it more important to pay the financial institution that can ruin your credit score and will more likely use legal options. Perhaps you honor all of your obligations in an equal fashion, either trying your best to keep your promises or breaking your word.

2. How much money do you give back to others?

There is usually a correlation between the percentage of your money that you give to others who are less fortunate and the amount of time that a person volunteers to help others. The percentage of money that you give also will give you an idea of how self centered that you are. If you do not give a large percentage of money it does not make you a bad or a mean person, it just may be time to reflect upon what you truly believe in.

3. Are you a spender or a saver?

This is an area where moderation is probably the best thing to strive for. People who never have two nickels to rub together are living in the moment with no sense of what the future will bring. They are more likely to live the rest of their lives this way by making decisions with out properly measuring the potential future impact. Many adults with ADD are prone to these impulsive decisions and need to pay special attention before making any big decision. People who save every penny never truly live in the moment and deny themselves of the little joys of life.

The most important thing that you should take from this article is that the way you mange your money often tells a lot more about your values than what you say or what you tell yourself that you believe. How you spend your money is physical proof of your values. The good news is that you can change your habits with money to reflect the values that you want to have.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Immediate Approval for instant cash eases your financial tension!

Seeking extra cash in times of emergency has been daunting? Needs cropped up causing financial crunch. The immediate Approval Personal Loan carry low rate of interest and due to fierce competition they fluctuate from one lender to another. If you are interested in cheap interest rates then the best way is to compare the loan quotes. Loan calculator is another strong tool that helps you to find reasonable rates.
Applicants can apply for the cash regardless of their credit tags like defaults, arrears, late-payments and bankruptcy. The cash is transferred the same day if required details are enclosed accurately. Guaranteed approval quick loan borrower should ensure that an instant approval cash loan should be sort of measure of the last resort. The need for such kind of loans often arises if you have been given a pink slip and you are left with no money for rations and paying your rent. There could be other situations when one has to bear unavoidable extra expenses exceeding earnings.

The bad credit instant approval loan will improve your financial situation either directly or in a roundabout way, you need no doubt it. Otherwise, make sure that the loan is necessary or that you can afford it without sacrifices. A key to considering a loan application is to analyze whether you would be able to afford the monthly payments on your loan if you would see your income reduced by at least 20%. If you could still afford it, though you should take all the precautions possible, you probably have nothing to worry about either.

There is an undisputed evidence of justification when the loan is used to produce rather than to consume. If your loan is meant to reduce debt and thus free money that you spend on interests, if the loan is used to purchase machinery or appliances that will help you earn or save money, then the loan is being put to good use and there is no doubt that it is advisable to apply for one.

Cash advance loans with bad credit are a short-term answer to your unexpected financial problem. Whatever you call it, bad credit cash advance or cash advance loans with bad credit, and they need to be repaid by your next payday. Failing this, the penalties and the interest you pay are quite high, leading you into a further financial mess than you were in, to begin with. Seek help for all your financial queries online.

Are You Earning big time reward points from Australian Credit Cards?

As more and more people turn to using credit cards as the standard mode of payment as opposed to the traditional cash or cheque options, credit card companies are stepping over each other to capture a significant share of this part of the money market. While earlier , one had to pay hefty fees for owning a credit card, an yearly one for using it , and then of course the high interest that had to be paid up in case of late payments, today, many of these have been scrapped as credit card companies bend over backwards to acquire and retain their customers. One of the main features highlighting these changes is the emergence of Reward Credit Cards in the market. Earning rewards from credit cards has become the norm of the day as almost 60 cash back on purchases but this goes up to 5% depending upon scheme to scheme. The cash back is generally paid off at the end of the year in the form of a cheque. This is one of the most preferred ways of earning rewards from credit cards.

Reward Schemes: The consumer can accumulate points based on credit card usage. The more the usage, the more the points which can be accumulated and then used for earning rewards from the credit card. Most companies offer rewards in the form of redeemable gift or discount coupons of certain stores, entertainment coupons for meals or shows or free or discounted gasoline at select stations. Earning rewards from credit cards is the most popular rewards scheme.

Flyer Miles Schemes: Getting flyer miles is another method of earning rewards from credit cards. These schemes let the user accumulate flyer miles which become redeemable for air tickets once a certain amount of points /flyer miles are accumulated. Flyer miles are rewarded based on amount spent through the credit card over a certain period of time. This is the best credit card reward for business men who need to travel frequently, since it is only large spenders who can accumulate enough points to get any significant flyer miles.

While earning rewards from credit cards seems very tempting at first, some points do need to be kept in mind for getting the best out of credit card rewards. First of all, make sure that the card does not carry an annual fee. Secondly, earning rewards from credit cards are profitable only for people who do not let any interest charges accumulate on their cards by paying off their monthly balances on time as interest rates on these cards are higher than average.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Identity Theft is there hope for victims?

One of the lesser known Id theft sources comes from none
other than your credit card company or some other source of a data leak and to make matters worse Visa fine processing companies for breaches of security instead of helping the affected company increase their security. most of the larger companies are indeed secure however a security breach can happen to even the most secure of companies you can never be completely safe from Identity theft, and you certainly don't want your good credit at risk.
There are a truly amazing number of data breeches every year, from a wide variety of sources, here are some examples taken from The Identity Theft Resource Center (a non profit organization) sponsored by a grant given by the U.S. Department of justice via the Office for the Victims of Crimes, they do not publish any information that is not

Here are some statistics from 2007 thru 11/28/2007

Banking/Credit/Financial total number of files exposed 9,303,617

Business such as retailers 57,950,790

Education 1,180,875

Government/Military 7,763,519

Medical/Healthcare 3,635,136

Total number of records exposed 79,473,937

You have certainly heard of all of the companies that promise or even guarantee to protect your identity they generally come with varying amounts of insurance from $10,000.00 to a cool million if your identity is stolen, They will pay a million if you can prove to their satisfaction that you suffered a million or more in losses as a result of the Id theft but beware some major companies limit their liability to expenses incurred legally or thru other services THEY deem as necessary due to the failure or defectiveness of their service, in any case they will generally only pay for legal costs or other fees associated with the failure of their service, the cost of these programs varies depending largely the amount of insurance, so if you decide to use one of them to aid in protecting your identity inspect the guarantee carefully.

Are You Allow To Keep Your Credit Cards In A Bankruptcy?

Many bankruptcy filers are wondering whether they are entitled to keep one or several credit cards for emergencies backup. In general, you may not because your credit cards will be cancelled regardless, since you file the bankruptcy. The credit card issuers tend to punish their card holders for filling any kind of bankruptcy; in most cases, the credit cards of bankruptcy filers will be terminated once they file for a bankruptcy. But there are some exemptions where terms and conditions will be applied to enable the bankruptcy filers to continue holding their credit cards.

There are some exceptions applicable only to chapter 7 bankruptcy filers. Some credit card's issuers will allow you to keep your credit card but with a sized down credit limit, and in return you need to repay them for some of your debts. In fact, some companies will automatically send you or your attorney a proposed reaffirmation agreement, a contract between you and your creditor that you will pay all or a portion of the money owed, despite the bankruptcy filing, in exchange for a minimal amount of new credit.

Beside the sized down credit limit, a chapter 7 bankruptcy filers may allow to keep their credit cards by some of their card issuers but the interest rate will be revised to a higher than the normal interest rate. But, if you can always pay your credit balance in full each month, you will never incur a finance charge, and the high interest rate won't hurt you.

Other than chapter 7 bankruptcy filers, all credit cards must be given up at the filling of bankruptcy. However, there are credit card holders who have maintained their credit cards at zero balance for a long period of time do not report their credit cards during the filing. This action can be considered illegal since in effect your preference on one creditor (your credit card issuer) over other creditors, because repayment ordination is a trustee job.

If you are not eligible to file under chapter 7 or even you are filling under chapter 7 but you didn't manage to get approval from your credit card issuers to keep your credit cards, the best thing is report all your credit cards and give them up. In most cases, your need to wait until the bankruptcy filing has cleared and then work with a debt management consultant to rebuilt your credit step by step. Of course, in the months and years after the bankruptcy filling, you may not be eligible for top-tier or even middle-tier credit cards.

But with some efforts and fiscal strategy such pay your monthly credit balance in full and on schedule will help you to rebuilt your good credit record and you can begin to erase the stigma of the bankruptcy; and eventually put you back in the realm of good to high credit score.

In Summary

In most cases, bankruptcy filers need to give up their credit cards. But, there are exceptions for bankruptcy filers in chapter 7, the debtors who file their bankruptcy under chapter 7 may allow to keep their credit cards with some terms and conditions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Win at Multiplayer First Shooter Games

The way most first player shooters score kills is simple to understand the harder it is to make the kill the more points you get. This means that if you kill someone with a knife you will get more points then someone using a chain gun, but running around with just your knife out is a big gamble unless you are extremely skilled at the game. This method of play will usually just make you the biggest loser.

One way to get a good score is to take a long range weapon like a sniper rifle and camp out near the enemy camps spawn point. By doing this every time someone on the opposing team gets killed they will instantly revert back to the spawn point and you can shoot them, then they will disappear and then reappear and you can shoot them again.

You get fewer points like this, but it is the same principal as playing roulette in the casinos, it is easier to get many smaller wins, rather then one big win.

When using this method try to pick your location using your head and do not just take a gamble on your sniping spot. You will want to have the advantage of height, but sometimes if you can get a good shot and be in a lower location it may be the last place someone looks for you. Many of the newer first player games allow the sun to be used as it would in real life. So going up a hill and having the sun at your back will give you a natural advantage in the game, and allow you to snipe from the same spot for a longer time before someone finds and kills you.

Another way to get a higher score is to work as a team with other players. Most people playing a First Player Shooter are playing alone with the goal of running around and killing everything that moves, but if you and some friends are playing you can use each other as in real combat. Now that you have other people watching your back as a unit you can be a more effective killer in the game, an example of this is that in some of the delta force games you can take a helicopter and if your friend is flying it you and another friend can man the chain guns and you can cover a bigger area, and deciding on a plan before starting the game you can develop a good strategy as a professional gambler or Online Poker player would allowing you to focus on 1 thing instead of many different aspects of the game.

Many times I would jump into the pilots chair and other players would jump in and I would circle the enemy camp but the players in the back of my chopper would not attack instead they would jump out or just wait for me to land instead of helping me attack from the air. So instead of increasing our chances of winning by working together they just wanted to be a team of 1. This will decrease the chances of our team winning the game, just like a player at a blackjack table can make all the other players lose by making bad decisions when it is that players turn.
Formulating a good strategy, playing as a team and using all available tools at your disposal you can not only win more games and get more points, you will also have a better online gaming experience, and this applies to playing first person shooter games and gambling in online casinos.

Are Rates Set For A Hike?

Interest rates will rise by the end of 2006, economists are predicting.

Leading economists are speculating that that the Bank of England will announce a one quarter point rise in the basic cost of borrowing, of interest to those seeking a mortgage or loan, before the end of the year.

While the monetary policy committee (MPC) voted recently to hold interest rates for the 11th consecutive month, many economists are claiming that economic pressures, notably rising inflation, will force a rate hike in the medium term.

Milan Khatri, chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: Rics expects the Bank of England to follow the lead of other world central banks, and raise interest rates later this year by a quarter of one per cent.

With a rise seeming probable in the coming months, many fixed-rate mortgage providers have pre-emptively upped their rates in anticipation, while wider market pressures have already seen fixed rate mortgages become more expensive over the past year.

Fixed-rate mortgages now look expensive unless base rate rises above five per cent, said Ray Boulger, of mortgage broker John Charcol.

However, Mr Boulger predicted that fixed-rate options would continue to find a market, commenting: There will always be a large market for fixes due to many people wanting the security of knowing exactly what they are paying out each month.

Meanwhile, mortgage advisers are warning that tracker mortgages could become more expensive than their holders originally anticipated if the predicted rate hike is followed by a second rise within the next two years.

Those with a tracker mortgage will, therefore, be grateful to hear that not all economists are predicting an interest rate rise anytime soon.

Jonathan Said, senior economist at the centre for economic and business research said that, despite recent economic data, rates are more likely to hold than move throughout 2006.

© Adfero Ltd

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to throw a Poker game in your Home without your wife finding out

It is not uncommon for a man to want to have a night out with the boys, maybe play a little poker. It is also not uncommon to have the plans of men thwarted by their wives.

To help with this problem I am telling you the secrets about how to have some harmless fun at home without the wife catching on.

The best way to get rid of the wife so you can have a little “Man Time” is the easiest but most expensive way to do it. For her birthday you get her and one of her friends a trip to a weekend spa place.

Your wife will think you the best hubby ever and will never suspect you are going to throw a poker game in her absence, and the best part of this plan is that when it is over your wife will be so grateful for what you have done she may be more inclined to allow you to go out with the boys more often.

The next way is a little complicated and will only give you 4 or 5 hours of time at best, but it is much less expensive then a trip for 2. It may seem a little childish and yes I also have seen it on TV but a scavenger hunt scam can work.

The trick to the scavenger hunt is that each spot has to mean something. An example would be the first place you ever went on a date as one of the places she needs to go.

The end of the game is the most important make the last stop a restaurant and make sure to be there before she does. A good idea is to try to think of something meaning full in the area of where you live so you do not have far to drive, this will leave you the maximum amount of time to lay poker with your pals.

I have to admit this is not the ideal way to play poker, but getting away with even an hour of poker without her knowing is more excitement than any regular poker game could ever be.

Now that you have a plan to get her out of the house you need to be ready to go. The most important part of this is a large plastic drop cloth. This is so that if anything spills it will be simple to clean up.

Make sure you are ready to go with the table and chairs and make sure they get put back exactly the same as when you took them. You may want to use a digital camera to make sure you remember exactly how everything was before the game, because I promise you that you wife does.

If you send your wife on the trip I do not recommend using a cleaning service right before she comes back. If the house is too clean she will know something funny is going on

The last two tips I have is to make sure that you have a really nice gift around at all times just incase she finds out, and the other is that if your wife and your friends wives are friends do not invite those friends, if one guy gets caught you will all get caught.

Good Luck.

Are New Bankruptcy Laws Going To Help You?

There are 2 sides to the changes in bankruptcy rules. It will be a lot harder to file bankruptcy under chapter 7 and get a totally clean slate.

For businesses, relying on issuing credit, the new personal bankruptcy law is doing great, reducing personal bankruptcy claims from the thousands to double digits.(In the short run).

However, lawyers working with the actual people filing for bankruptcy say that the new law is seriously flawed because it puts more financial burdens on already broke clients and reduces potential debt repayment to small businesses.

And then of course you have the credit card companies charging high interest rates which in quite a few cases caused the bankruptcy in the first place.
According to some financial specialists, much of the debt people accumulate is a result of keeping up with the Joneses and not thinking ahead.

For 80% of clients counseled each month, the debt is credit card related and averages $32,000 - a result of six to eight cards. Consumer credit organizations say the new law provides debt-reducing strategies for those considering filing bankruptcy and curbs abuse.

Under the new law it has become a requirement that the person filing bankruptcy obtains credit counseling both before and after filing for which that person will be charged..

So now the consumer would then know the advantages and disadvantages of declaring bankruptcy. Yet it seems merely another expense for an already financially stressed individual.

People filing bankruptcy in general are not overspenders, but merely faced with temporary financial disasters such as medical costs, layoffs, a divorce, gambling debts or other crises. Before you can file bankruptcy,you are now required to complete credit counseling with an agency approved by the U.S. Trustees office.

This credit counseling is designed to help you determine whether or not bankruptcy is appropriate.

Once you complete your bankruptcy, the law requires you to attend another credit counseling session.

These are new requirements, before this law was passed the law did not require a person to go through counseling either before or after the filing of bankruptcy.

Second, under the old law, a person could decide to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Under the new law, the court will look at your monthly income and apply a means test relating to the state in which you live. If your income is less than or equal to the medium income then you will be allowed to file Chapter 7 which in effect will give you a clean slate.

This medium income can vary from $28,000 in Missouri to $56,000 in Alaska. If your income is greater, you may be forced to file Chapter 13 unless you can demonstrate you do not have enough disposable income.

Under Chapter 13 you will not get a clean slate but will have to make payments on your debts.

Also, your attorney now has to personally certify that your bankruptcy filing is accurate. This means more work for the attorney, with higher legal fees.

Advantages of declaring Bankruptcy:

Legal protection from creditors
Takes care of all or most debt
In some cases, can keep home and car
May stop complete financial ruin
Provides a fresh start

Disadvantages of declaring Bankruptcy:

Bad credit
May have to repay partial debt load and return collateral to creditors
May lose assets, including house and car (If the house is worth more than a certain amount).
Bankruptcy becomes public record, and
Remains on credit record for seven to 10 years

“In the past, a bankruptcy offered a fresh start for the filer,” said Columbia attorney Gwen Froeschner Hart. “The new federal legislation offers language directed at helping creditors.”

If you analyze credit card expenses for most people you'll see that they often include medical bills and day-to-day expenses for the elderly or those earning low or fixed incomes. Records show that 50% of credit card holders do not pay their full credit card bills every month.

33% of the population can't afford medical insurance so have to charge their prescription drugs.
With the recent Medicaid cuts and rigid bankruptcy legislation who knows what is going to happen to these people.

There are some who say consumers are abusing creditors. The irony is that credit card companies are begging for customers and offering large amounts of unsecured credit, yet at the same time, lobbying for stricter debt controls.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Protest the Online Gambling Ban

Protesting the government is not a cast of protesting a company because you do not like a product, this is a case of you trying to change the mind of the government and this can be hard to do, but it can be done.

Before you can even have a chance at holding a successful protest the first thing you should do is to circulate an online petition, this will give you an idea of how many people support your cause and gives you a list of names with phone numbers that you can call to get people to come to your protest.

The next step is to go online and find other groups protesting the new internet gambling act, and see if that group would be willing to join your protest, the more people protesting the online gambling ban the better the chances are of getting the law reversed.

After this you should start a letter writing campaign not only to your local congressmen but to all the Congressmen and see where they stand. Some of them will not be in support of the online gambling ban and will be willing to not only sign your petition but will be hey may be even willing to speak at your protest.

The next step is to plane your protest. The timing of your protest is important if you choose to protest at the Whitehouse you do not want to do it when the president is not there or if you choose to make your stand at congress do not do it at a time they are on a brake, this can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your protest.

Make sure to have a well written press release to the press at least 2 days before the protest to ensure that you will get press coverage. The more people who hear about your protest the more names you can get on your petition.

The point of a petition is to basically let someone know that people are not happy with what they are doing, and if enough people protest the government you can get them to change their decision. This is especially true with a politician. They know thee job depends on votes and if they are going to gain enough votes to secure their job they will do it even if they truly do not agree with it.

You must apply for a permit to protest at least 30 days in advance, or if there are delays you may not have a permit on the day you have told your protesters to show up, to truly insure you have time, apply for the permits at least 60 days in advance.

When applying for the permits you should be able to find out about the rules for setting up any sound equipment you will need so you can make the arrangements for them.

The only thing left to do for your online gambling ban protest is to wait for the big day.

Are Free Grants Really Free?

The short answer to this simple but fantastic question is that yes, free grants do in fact come at no cost to the recipient. That does not mean that there are no strings attached but we will talk about that later. First we need to get the basic concepts down first so that you can understand why the government is willing to hand out these monetary offerings to it’s citizens.

How does the government make its money? That’s right taxes. Taxes on property and income are the major money makers for good old Uncle Sam. So the government in order to make money has to have citizens who number one make money and number two own property. We all know that the only way to make money is to have money, so it makes sense that the government would want to provide this impetus (money in the form of free grants) to people in relatively small amounts, in hopes that people will turn this into large amounts of profit. If this happens everybody wins!

So the only stipulation for eligibility for these free grants is that they will be used in specified ways that will create revenue for the recipient and in so doing for the government. Examples of grant uses are small business grants, housing grants for down payments, real estate grants to improve existing buildings and areas to attract consumers, public housing grants, education grants, and the like. All in hopes of stimulating the economy.

The next important thing to know is that there is more money available than is being handed out and so there is no shortage and you are almost guaranteed money if you make the appropriate application. Perhaps the only difficulty is learning how and where to apply. This information is available for free but is (because it is government run) very unorganized and messy. The best way to learn about free grants that are available is to purchase (for a relatively small fee when compared to the profit it will bring) lists that different companies have organized that have all the information that you need. You simply get the list and look in the areas that apply to you, apply, and once accepted receive the money and go to work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to Rip Off the Rich and Make Yourself Wealthy

Copyright 2006 Geoff Morris

In this day and age of uncertain pension plans, rising unemployment, and a general feeling that however hard you work, doesn’t it amaze you that your bills just somehow seem to keep pace with your earnings?

Want a solution? Then use Other People’s Money to make yours!

So, how does this work then, and how can it make you wealthy?

Let me use a real live example. About a year ago, my friend Mike and I purchased an investment property each in Middlesbrough. He paid for it out of his savings, I paid for it using ‘Other People’s Money’.

Mike is not a risk taker. A nice bloke, but he likes to take everything very carefully without taking any risks. So he thought, by paying cash for his property, he was minimising his risk, as he would not have to be dependant on tenant incomes to meet his repayments. But, he was not trying to WIN, and unless you at least try to win, you will, out of definition, Never Win!

So lets examine these two investments side by side – Mike with his cash deal, and me with my ‘Using Other People’s’ deal.

Mike drew his £100,000 out of his savings account (where it was making around 5% per annum anyway), and luckily got a tenant in place the day after he completed. So from Day 1 he was earning some £500 a month from his investment.

Now me, I borrowed 85% of the money to purchase my apartment, which was going to cost me some £430 a month with an interest only mortgage. And, as luck would have it, it took me two months before I got my first tenant, also at £500 per month.

So, in the first year, Mike earned £6,000, which, after tax, generated him around £3,600 in his pocket, as he had no outgoings such as a mortgage to offset his tax liability.

Now for me, as I had a two month ‘void’ period with no tenant, my income from rent was just £5,000. Now, as I was paying £5,160 a year in mortgage, I had no tax liability, but looked like I lost £160 in revenue on balance. If I had had a full year’s tenancy, I would have actually made a surplus income of £840.

But now let’s look at the capital gains from both of us.

Mike, who was getting 5% in his savings account with his £100,000, saw his property go up in value by some 10% last year. So he made double that in his property, and actually gained some £10,000 in equity in his property, or a 10% growth on his investment, using all of his own money.

Now me, being a tight-wad, and never likes parting with money, especially my own, also saw a 10% appreciation in the value of my property.

But look, as I had only used 15% of my money and 85% of other people’s, my deposit of £15,000 had returned me £10,000, or a 67% increase in my investment.

If I had managed to get a deal where I only needed say 5% down payment, my £5,000 initial investment would now have returned me some £10,000, or a 200% increase in my capital.

What does this mean? Well, if Mike wanted to buy another 9 houses, making a portfolio of 10 such houses, he would have to use (if he had it) another £900,000 of his own cash, or ONE MILLION of cold hard cash that could have been earning at least 5% in any old savings account.

Well OK, if Mike had bought another 10 houses, and they were all fully tenanted, he would have generated an income stream after tax of around £36,000 per annum, or a 3.6% return on his investment. The return on his capital would have been £100,000, or 10%.

Now suppose I were to buy another 9 such properties, but this time, using a lot more of ‘Other Peoples’ money?

Well, I would have had to invest £50,000 of my own money, alongside £950,000 of other people’s money.

My net revenue income would have been around £8,400, but by the properties all increasing in value by some 10%, my £50,000 would have generated me some £100,000 in increased equity, or 200% return on my investment.

After three years, I could probably sell say four of those properties, and assume the growth was 10%, 5%, 5%, and then excluding my deposits, I could have withdrawn some £85,100 from the deal, to re-invest or to buy a few luxuries – but my choice – and still have equity in the region of £127,650 plus my deposits left in my other houses.

The important thing here to realise is that I have actually created this extra £85,000 in cash and the remaining £127,650 equity, mainly by the use of other people’s money!

Just think how much Mike could have made if he had invested his whole MILLION alongside 20 MILLION of other people’s money.

Are Business Buyer Notes Profitable?

Like anything else, it depends on the type of business you're selling. Business buyer notes are documents secured by a business, much like a mortgage broker except there is no real estate involved. Often, personal property like cooking equipment, furniture, and office equipment obligates one individual or company to make payments, usually monthly, to another person or company. Businesses are sold without the help of bank financing; this makes it much easier for a person to buy a business with a small down payment. Because the down payment is small, most banks will not finance the remaining balance, so the seller {owner} agrees to hold a “note” on the remaining balance for the buyer. This is called seller-financing or owner-financing. The buyer then agrees to pay the seller a monthly payment. The person holding the note however does not want to wait that long to receive all the money from the business, so he or she looks for a someone to buy all or part of the note being held.

Business buyer notes can be a good asset because the holder of the note can get cash in hand from an interested buyer and there are a lot of company's willing to buy business notes. The note holder may choose to sell all or part of the note and receive a lump sum for the cash he or she needs to pay off bills, go on vacation, or to buy another business, while still receiving monthly payments from the one who bought the business. The holder may also want to sell the note to get out from under the responsibility of the business. Most business owners really don't want to be note holders but in order to sell the business quickly the note was agreed upon. A drawback to being a business note buyer is when future payments are sold for cash, the current balance is always sold at a discount. The reasons behind this is time erodes the value of money, and the payee is paying the owner over time. Another reason business buyer notes are sold at a discount is because personal property and office furniture does not provide the same degree of safety that real estate does. Also the interest rates on business buyer notes are not high enough to interest investors to purchase these notes unless it is sold at a discount price.

If you are interested in purchasing a business buyer note it's probably a good idea to contact a service that will help you in these matters. First there needs to be an assignment of the security instrument and receive the endorsement of the promissory note. The service you hire in this matter will examine all aspects of this transaction, and verify all notes in question, plus they will of course record all of the necessary documents for your records. It all depends on the nature of your agreements with all involved whether your business buyer notes are assets or not.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How To Loose That 0% APR - All Is Not Lost

So you decided to consolidate your high interest rate credit cards into one 0% APR credit card with a transfer balance offer. The low introductory offer is good for twelve months, which will give you a chance to pay down your debt virtually interest free for a whole year!

But then six months into using that new 0% APR credit card, poof! The 0% APR is gone and you're paying 10.9% or maybe 17.99% interest or maybe even higher. What happened?

Oops, you didn't read the fine print and the penalties if you didn't adhere to the terms and conditions of that new 0% APR credit card. You must have missed this quote: "There is no grace period on balance transfers. Any introductory/special rates will terminate if you are late making a payment or your account is overlimit as discussed..."

Taking advantage of a new credit card 0% APR that includes a balance transfer offer can be a wise move if you have a plan and you are able to abide by the rules. That's why everyone needs to read the fine print to know what the penalties are if you slip up, even once. By knowing the rules and working with your plan, you can avoid costly mistakes.

Now, if you should find yourself in such a situation, all may not be lost. After all, you did get six months of interest free. But chances are that new credit card has added features that you also found attractive and fit into your life style and financial goals.

Many balance transfer credit card offers, in addition to the 0% APR, also have a number of rewards included that made it attractive in the first place. Although you do have an interest rate that you must pay each month, you still may be able to enjoy things like 5% cashback bonus points on gasoline, or a percentage of cashback on other purchases. Often times the added incentive could be an accumulation of points for air miles. You still may be able to take that trip next year after all, for free.

So with this learning experience, you did save interest for six months and were able to pay down part of your debt at no cost to you. Now that you are being charged interest, you can still take advantage of the additional options of that new credit card. Plus, you learned a valuable lesson and will never make that mistake again.

Appraisals - Plan for It

A critical part of selling a home is the appraisal. Here’s how to plan for it.

You have a contract to sell your home and now the appraiser is coming. The appraisal needs to come in at a good price in order for your buyer to get his loan. What should you do?

The Appraiser Says

Appraisers typically tell people not to do anything special before they come. They tell the owner they see lots of houses and they can look past a little clutter and dust. “Don’t be nervous,” they counsel. Appraisers are sincere people. I’m sure they mean what they say.

I Say

On the other hand, appraisers are human. They respond to cleanliness and order and to good maintenance the same way buyers do. If you’ve let your hair down, get your home back into “show” condition before the appraiser comes.

Everything you know about a tidy approach to your home, well mulched flower beds, door knobs that are attached firmly and work smoothly, lack of finger prints, lack of clutter, and all the rest applies. Take a look at a “Uniform Residential Appraisal Report” form if you doubt me. The age of the home and the “effective age” are asked for under the “General Description.” Don’t you think how well your home appears to be cared for affects the number that appears under “effective age?”

The Uniform Appraisal Report requires information about materials (and their condition) used for floors, walls, trim and finishing elements, bathroom floors and wainscots, and for interior doors. Appraisers train themselves to notice these details. If yours are dusted, polished, and free of scratches and fingerprints, don’t you think you might be giving your appraisal a nudge in the right direction?

The Report also asks about kitchen equipment (refrigerator, range and oven, disposal, dishwasher, fan and hood, microwave, and washer and dryer). Do you think it’d be a good idea to have them clean and purring?

The Report asks about amenities such as fireplaces, patios, decks, porches, fences, pools, and sheds. If an appraiser is going to take special note of such things, shouldn’t they be swept, cleaned, and have paint in good condition? Also, clean out the gutters if they need it. If it should be raining on the day your appraisal is done, you want your house to handle the rain water well.

Let me share the “comments” section of an appraisal which got the owners what they wanted. I think it’ll give you a good feel for what you need to do. “The subject is well maintained and no physical, functional or external inadequacies were noted. Marketability is enhanced by hardwood flooring throughout a majority of the home, an updated kitchen, fresh interior and exterior paint, transom windows, built-ins, a front porch, a rear patio, a large storage shed, 4 fireplaces, etc.”

The appraiser is a human being. Make sure you do everything you can to appeal to them and you’ll get a good appraisal.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How to Learn about Gambling

Many people use casino gambling as a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. It is very common for males to go to the casinos on their 18th birthday for some fun, and usually they come back with no money left in the bank.

But it does not matter why you decide to gamble if you are going to do risk your hard earned cash you should at least be ready for what is going to happen in the casinos.

Everyone knows how to play the most Popular Casino Games like; Roulette and Blackjack, but they do not know anything more then the basics. By learning the game more in depth you will not only increase the chances for you to take home some of the casinos money, but you will have more fun while playing the games.

There is not much to learn about playing the slot machines. The only thing to learn about them is that the longer you stay on one machine the more your odds of winning increase. The best thing to do with the slots is try to find a slot machine that someone has been playing for a while without winning and then when they leave you get that machine. Most people will play 10 or 20 dollars in a machine then leave if it does not pay off, this is a big mistake.

Games like Craps, Blackjack, Poker and Roulette have many different variables to them, making it important to educate yourself about a casino game before playing it for high stakes.

One way to learn is to spend time in the casinos playing the game and building experience. In my opinion this is the best way to learn. You are literally paying your dues for your education.

If you can not afford to spend your money in the casino or if you are not old enough to enter a casino and you want to know how to learn to gamble you can go online and many sites offer casino games that can be played against a computer or against other players just for fun. These fun games are not played for money so there is no minimum age to play these casino games.

Another way you can learn to gamble is to go to a school that teaches you to deal some of the most Popular Casino Games played today. These casino dealer schools can be found all over the country and especially near Atlantic City and Las Vegas. You will not only get to learn to play but you will learn the secrets of the dealers. This can give you a very nice advantage in the casino. It may seem like an expensive way to learn to gamble, but in the end you will probably spend less on the school then what you would lose if you just learned at the table in a casino or an online casino.

The lest recommendation I have is to go out and get a book or two on the casino game you are interested in learning about and reading about it. The books will offer advanced strategies and help you memorize the odds of each bet in each situation so you know which bet is the best and when to make it. This does not mean you will win every hand, but it increases your chance of winning some of the casinos money.

By reading this article and taking the advice you will win more money and enjoy your time in the casinos more.

Applying For A Government Grant

A quick search of the online grant searches will quickly demonstrate to you how much grant money is truly available to the American public. You can find grants for virtually every type of business, field of study, or artistic endeavor. Whether you are a struggling playwright or the sole proprietor of a new small business, you can greatly help your cause by applying for a government grant.

In many cases, you will be able to find organizations on a local level that cater specifically to people in your situation. This can greatly limit the competition you face for grant money, and it can often give you the opportunity to connect with a group that will work closely in developing your project.

Applying for a government grant is much easier than most people think. There are certain steps that must be followed, but most agencies spell them out clearly for you before you ever start filling out the paperwork. In many case, you will have to register with the CCR (central contractor registry).

If you are applying for a grant for an organization, you will most likely have to register yourself as an authorized organization representative (AOR) before you can move forward with the process. Once the paperwork is in place, it will take several days to process, so you will have to wait before you take the next step.

The next step will depend upon the grant you are applying for. Usually, artistic grants will require you to submit past work, the present project you are working on, or the future piece you are trying to develop. Grants for new businesses are often dependent on business plans or an organization's commitment to community.

Grant requirements are as varied as grants themselves, so it is crucial that you fully understand the specific agency you are contacting before applying for a government grant.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Annuity Transfer - What Are The Risks

Many people who know in the back of their minds that they got the possibility to transform a monthly payment or annuity long term payments into a big lump sum and by that to relieve some temporarily financial problems, or need to buy a new car or a house or help their children and so forth are tempted to exercise this process into action.

Although it is a very natural feeling and sometimes even a real life need or deep inner quest for power and control, it is not in their best financial interest to say the least.

It is no wonder that the U.S federal laws encourage long term payments in both cases like Structured settlements and lottery winnings. There are many good reasons for that and I’m going to spell them out as clear as I can.

- In some countries around the world it is legal to pay for lottery winning in one lump sum. Experience shows many of these people lose most or all of their money in a few years time, due to the following reasons:

- Ordinary people who get into their possession a very large sum of money don’t really know how to manage their treasure or how to invest it wisely, they are not prepared for it and they are overwhelmed with a delusion of over abundance of wealth, they become totally careless on how and on what they spend their money.

- Even if they invest their money, they go for high risk speculative investments as they try to get high yields. Instead of going for a much solid and safer, “widows & orphans” type of investment portfolio. Neither do they go for the golden middle way in between of a mixed portfolio. They don’t use investments advisers or financial consultants.

- They become over generous with their family and friends, they buy their children homes, cars or any other materialistic requests, they “ lend “ money to a friend in need...

- They listen to shrewd business people who talk them into investing into all kinds of business adventures that seems to them very profitable but in a short while turn into total failures and the money is gone.

- All kind of addictive behaviors like betting horse races or going to play the roulette in the casino are now intensified with the feeling of power and wealth, it might drive the person to gamble high sums of money as if there is no tomorrow.

- Believe it or not but criminal elements might engage in putting pressure to extort monies from the overnight rich poor guy. They might threaten to harm his family etc’

- Charity institutions start to call all day and night asking for donations to a very noble causes, they even send some slick reps to convince him to donate money.

- His own children, some times his spouse becomes very greedy and exert emotional pressure to give them more and more money. In some cases the sudden riches literally ruined the families.

As I have shown you above, getting a large lump sum of money might be a risky thing, this is In addition to the fact that you are loosing a lot of money which was Tax free, that alone might be a difference of anywhere between 35% - 65% , add to it the profits of the fund who bought the annuity from you and you are loosing big time. It is not recommended for an injured or a disabled person, to transform the whole Structured Settlement long term payments into one big lump sum or you might find yourself one day without the money and facing high medical expenses and other bills you cannot afford.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Annuity Lead Generation

Copyright 2006 Brian Maroevich

If you want to generate more annuity leads from your marketing efforts, here are five annuity lead generation tips you should consider:

Your Audience: Whether you are marketing on the Internet, using direct-mail, or creating display ads, marketing to the right audience is crucial. Even the best marketing piece or sales presentation is worthless if it's presented to people who are not interested!

Do your research. Who is your target audience? What do they read? What are their fears? What are their desires? These are just some of the questions you should ask, and once you have the answer you are on your way to uncovering a hungry market.

Benefits: Although it's important to know your products thoroughly, it's equally as important to know the benefits of each feature. Agents are so focused on how an annuity works that they often lose sight of the benefits. It's what drives your prospect to respond to your offer or sign the application.

A good exercise is to squeeze out as many benefits you can for each feature of your annuity, and write them down. This will not only help you in your annuity lead generation efforts, but it will help you sell more annuities as well.

Do you really want to market a product?: One thing is for certain, if you're marketing a financial product like an annuity, you can expect small response rates. The reason for this is that your potential prospects have been hit with advertisement after advertisement on the advantages of owning products like annuities. As a result, your prospect is more likely to throw your marketing in the trash, or simply click delete.

An alternative to marketing annuities on the front end is to create what is called a “lead generator”. A lead generator comes in many forms, but the most common is an information product. In this case it would be a booklet, report, or something similar. Do not mistake this for a brochure. A lead generator, written properly, works more like a sophisticated sales letter.

Instead of advertising an annuity, you would advertise your lead generator. The key is to use the lead generator as a tool to capture your prospects contact information, and as a result, you build an extremely valuable list that most agents and financial advisors would crawl over broken glass to own.

Systemize: Whether you decide to market an annuity on the front end or use a lead generator, it's important to systematize your marketing system. Studies show that it can take up to 17 contacts to make a sale. In other words, for every lead you generate, you should have a sequence of follow-ups ready to go.

Test: Another important area you should consider is testing small. Once you decide upon your market and how you want to generate leads, test a small ad or test a small number of names on a well selected list. If your response rates do not provide you with a decent return on investment, you haven't wasted a lot of money.

Secondly, you can find out where you went wrong in your marketing system and fix it. Once you have a profitable annuity lead generation system put together, you can roll it out on a bigger scale.

A successful annuity lead generation program has the best chance of success when you target the right audience, uncover the benefits of your product, choose the right approach, follow-up regularly, and test small (to get the kinks out).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Annuity Basics

Annuities can be very good things for some of us and a disaster for those of us who have not been made aware of the pitfalls and traps that in turn can easily befall them.
Since most people have or are going to look into annuities as a retirement or and an investment vehicle, make sure it fits into today’s needs and parameters. It has to be right for the times we are in and it needs to be periodically revaluated for tomorrow’s world.

Precautions to be taken when buying annuities:

1. One should not Buy Annuities With Long Surrender Periods:

People are talked into buying an annuity that locks up their money for an excessive period of time with a surrender period that is longer than another comparable annuity with similar interest rates.

2. Do not fall for First Year Bonus Interest Rates:

Some annuity companies offer you a ‘bonus’ or ‘bonus interest rate’ on your first year deposit into an annuity.

3. Understand exclusion rations and the value of a partial 1035 exchange.

This is a rather complicated subject because there are enormous variables in determining how to properly structure your annuity contract from day one so as to maximize the taxable exclusion ratios when and if you decide to take an annuitization income from your annuities in the future.

4. Do not use small companies with questionable financial ratings

An annuity by definition is a contract guaranteed by an insurance company. Annuity consumers sometimes forget this and buy and annuity without factoring the claims paying ability of the insuring company. This does not only apply to the questions of solvency or bankruptcy but to the more subtle effect it might have ones contract. If an annuity company has financial trouble it most likely will not go bankrupt (even though it is a possibility) because of the various government regulatory groups that monitor annuity companies. But what can happen is the annuity company will lower the rates at which it credits interest to your account in order to make up its losses in other areas of its business.

5. Know the guaranteed cover per person per insurance company

One needs to know if an insurance company goes broke what is the guaranteed cover per person per insurance company is available .One should not invest more than that in the fixed or guaranteed annuities and the variable annuities are not covered. Because if they broke then one may get stuck or spread the amount between different insurance companies.

6. Consider the shortest penalty free surrender date
The next thing you have to consider is getting the shortest possible penalty free surrender date term as possible so long as the interest rate is better than any CD.

Lastly and most importantly get the best professional help, one who will always tell you "like it is" even if its sometimes hard to listen too and even harder sometimes to act upon.