Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Price Of Gold

As other precious metals, gold is measured by troy weight and by grams. And when it is alloyed with supplementary metals the term carat or karat is used to specify the amount of gold present, with 24 carats being pure gold and lower ratings being proportionally less. The purity of a gold bar can also be written as a decimal figure ranging from 0 to 1, known as the millesimal fineness, such as 0.995. Carat and gold price Carat is a measure of the purity of gold and platinum alloys. One carat is one twenty-fourth purity by its weight. Thus 24-carat gold is pure gold (99.99%); 12-carat gold is 50% purity, et cetera. In the United States and Canada, the word karat is typically used for the measure of purity, while carat is referring to the measure of mass. The carat system is gradually more being complemented or superseded by the millesimal fineness system where the purity of precious metals is denoted by parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy. The most frequent carats used for gold in bullion, jewellery making and goldsmith are: 24 carat (millesimal fineness 999), 22 carat (millesimal fineness 916), 20 carat (millesimal fineness 833), 18 carat (millesimal fineness 750), 16 carat (millesimal fineness 625), 14 carat (millesimal fineness 585), 10 carat (millesimal fineness 417) and 9 carat (millesimal fineness 375). The open market gold price The gold prices is determined on the open market, but a procedure recognized as the Gold Fixing in London, originating in 1919; provide a twice-daily benchmark figure to the industry. The historically gold price Historically gold was used to back currency in an economic system recognized as the gold standard a certain weight of gold was given the name of a unit of currency. For a long period, the United States government set the value of the US dollar so that one troy ounce was equivalent to $20.67 ($664.56/kg), but in 1934 the dollar was revalued to $35.00 per troy ounce ($1125.27/kg). And by 1961 it was becoming harder to uphold this price, and a pool of US and European banks agreed on manipulating the market to stop further currency devaluation against increased gold demand. On 17 March 1968, economic conditions caused the collapse of the gold pool, and a two-tiered pricing scheme was established and gold was still used to settle international accounts at the old $35.00 per troy ounce ($1.13/g) but the price of gold on the private market was allowed to rise and fall; this two-tiered pricing system was discarded in 1975 when the price of gold was left to find its free-market level. Central banks still hold historical gold reserves as a store of value even though the level has generally been declining. The biggest gold depository in the world is that of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Ever since 1968 the price of gold on the open market has ranged widely, with a record high $850/oz ($27,300/kg) on 21 January 1980, to a low $252.90/oz ($8,131/kg) on 21 June 1999 (London Fixing). On 26 April 2006 the London gold fixing was $635.50/oz.

The Flip-Flop Asset Allocation Method

Do you put all of your money into some safe CD’s to earn interest, or buy a biotech index fund to grab the next big move in genomic cancer drugs; or something in between? The world of investment options and strategies grows every year, so I’ll provide a simple tactic to boost your returns over the course of your investing career. The flip-flop method refers to taking the income from an income-producing investment and flipping that profit into a speculative investment. Then, take the profit from that speculative investment and flop the profit back into another income-producing investment. By doing this back and forth you are capturing both ends of the investment spectrum to increase your portfolio in a quicker and safer manner than either one individually. Always start with a relatively safe income investment first. This way, if your first speculative investment is a 100% loss, you’ll still have the income from your income-producing investment to recover and try again. And, you’ll hopefully have the added education that you will have learned from the speculative loss. (Starting with a solid income-generating base can also give you the confidence to reach for a more speculative trade.) Once you are able to complete a speculative profit, put the money into a brand-new income-producing investment. This way, each speculative gain will diversify your portfolio into a wider range of income-producing investments. Once that you have created a stable base of investment income, you should start ratcheting up the interest rate that you are willing to accept for new income investments. For example, you may have started out with a 3-year bank certificate of deposit but now you need to get a higher yield, perhaps by buying an income-generating mutual fund. There are funds of preferred stocks, loan portfolios, and exchange-traded real estate investment trusts. Moving even higher in yield may require some online searching to find people trying to sell their second mortgages, annuities, pension payments, etc. There are websites where people list financial assets like these for sale. If you aren’t comfortable with your level of expertise for buying mortgages yet, you can start with only $100 with loan-broker websites such as So you’ve got some income flowing and are itching to find a speculative deal to step up your investing level. Let’s start as small as possible: How about buying things at garage sales and selling them for more money on ebay? I found an ad for several hundred dollars of new printer cartridges for sale in a local classified ad. They were worth much more by selling them on ebay, even after shipping costs. I recommend you focus on your greatest interest (music, motorcycles, watches, or whatever) and find a market where to buy at low prices. And then add some value (refinish, update, add a bonus), and find a market to sell to the most frenzied fans. Bigger chunks of money are made on more expensive items, but you carry more risk if you don’t keep up to date with the market. Such as cars, boats, planes, homes, jewelry – objects that have a consistent and measurable marketplace to buy and sell them. For speculation with financial instruments, you need to go to the futures market to get the largest moves, and the most leverage. To keep from losing your home at the first “Locked-Limit” move against your position, options must be a part of each of your trades: either buy options alone, hedge a futures contract with an option, or use an option spread. When you’ve accrued bigger dollars to play with, you can speculate with land, commercial buildings, and businesses. In spite of the specific examples that I have provided, you need to find areas that interest you the most for investment vehicles for both income-producing investments and purely speculative deals. Remember to always start with an income-investment first, and then start flipping and flopping your profits between the income-investments and the speculative-investments. This type of asset allocation rebalancing will certainly add greater returns to your portfolio.

Buying Smart...

When you are looking into buying any item there are a few things you will want to be aware of. First, make sure the item is of high quality and will work exactly the way you need it to, regardless of what it is. Make sure you are buying from a reputable retailer or business. If you need to double check, you can check with the better business bureau to see if any reports have been made on that particular retailer. There is nothing worse than buying an item that will break needlessly within days or even arrive broken.

Second, make sure the retailer offers a solid warranty on all items purchased through them. Some retailers will offer an extended warranty on specific items at an additional cost. This is entirely up to you and in addition to the original warranty offered. When buying any item, check with the retailer about the warranty and obtain a full explanation of it. If there is anything you do not understand do not hesitate to ask the sales person. Additionally, you should fully understand what you should do if damage occurs during the warranty period (where you should take the item, how to ship it, and what is covered in shipping).

Another thing you should do when looking to buy a particular item is do some comparison shopping. Look around at various retailers or websites and ensure you are getting the best price possible in addition to the best quality as well. All retailers, rather online or offline, are in constant competition with each other on a daily basis, you may be able to find a better price somewhere else. Before buying your item, look at the price and the warranty offered on that specific item and make your decision based on what is offered.

Lastly, take a good look at the type of customer service that is offered before buying anything. Make sure the retailer is readily available to answer any and all of your questions, that they are kind and helpful, and have a solid track record in customer service. All of this together will help make your buying venture pleasant and easy with the right retailer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Buying Into Japanese And German Exporters

With the euro down nearly 15% this year and at a two-year low against the U.S. dollar, the world’s largest exporting nation is worth a good look. So is another country that has thriving exports in spite of a stronger currency. We’re talking about Japan and Germany, respectively, the world’s second- and third-largest economies.

The top lines at leading German industrial companies are rolling in with impressive numbers for an almost zero-growth economy. Quarterly sales at Siemens rose 13%, the fastest since 2003. BMW’s sales rose by 11% in the third quarter, although high raw-material costs and pricing pressure resulted in weak net profits. A bright spot is Asia, where BMW expects to sell 150,000 cars per year by 2008.

Overall, German exports are up for the third-straight month and sales to countries outside of the European Union rose 18% annually from a year earlier. Clearly, the Germans are good at making stuff and selling it to the world, and the weaker euro is helping spur growth. Germany’s DAX stock index is taking notice and is up nearly 20% year-to-date.

Meanwhile, U.S. exports are up a paltry 2% since 2000. Although exports to China are up 35% during this same period, Americans are now buying seven times more from China than we are selling to them. A good reason why is that, according to research by Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach, consumer spending represents 71% of America’s gross domestic product. The figure is 42% for China and 55% for Japan.

Speaking of Japan, the aftermath of the financial bubble has obscured the fact that it too, remains an exporting powerhouse, despite a currency that has risen more than 20% since 2002 and 13% this year alone. Just look at Japan’s current account surpluses over the past three years: $113 billion in 2002, $136 billion in 2003 and $172 billion in 2004. China is a major market, and despite political difficulties, bilateral trade between China and Japan now exceeds trade between Japan and America.

A majority of Japan’s exports are manufactured goods and components. Fifty percent of its exports to China in 2004 were electrical equipment and machinery, and its top exports to the world include autos, electronic components, optical instruments, imaging equipment and computer parts.

Much is made over China’s huge trade imbalance with America, which reached $126 billion in the first eight months of this year. No doubt a sizable share of Chinese exports to America are chock full of Japanese components. While some of these components were made in offshore facilities, many were made in Japan, which has been able to hold on to its industrial base better than America.

How do they do it? First, the Japanese are continually moving up the value-added curve and are careful to keep the R&D and manufacturing of sophisticated components close to home, while outsourcing the low-end to low-wage countries.

Secondly, even though China’s wages are about 5% of Japan’s, factory automation has lessened the importance of labor costs. For advanced high tech products, it accounts for only 10% to 15% of total costs. Having manufacturing closer to home also shortens new product lead times and increases cooperation between R&D and production teams leading to a crucial edge in staying ahead of its nimble competitors. Supply lines of 2,000 miles can be problematic.

Perhaps most important, there is the critical issue of protecting intellectual capital. Having research, development and production closer to headquarters better protects proprietary technologies.

Canon, Sharp, Hitachi, NEC and Toyota are all good plays on Japan’s manufacturing edge, while Sony will continue to lag until it boosts its R&D and catches up in product development.

The iShares MSCI Japan Index exchange-trade fund is an attractive option, since it has about 50% exposure to Japan’s manufacturing sector with an annual expense ratio of only 0.59%. Similarly in Germany, the iShares MSCI Germany Index is loaded with that country’s top exporters and would be an excellent proxy for overall German export growth.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Facts about Low Interest Credit Cards

So what are low interest credit cards really all about? The following article includes some pertinent information about low interest credit cards --info you can use to make wise financial decisions. Trying to save on interest expense? Apply for a low interest credit card and start saving money by paying less interest expense. Low interest credit cards are considered cheap credit cards because they offer 0% Intro APR (annual percentage rate) up to one year. These offers may only apply to the balance transfer and not to new purchases and cash advance. Therefore, making purchases and taking cash advance with your promotional offer credit card may result in paying multiple interest rates. Individuals who are planning to make purchases and carry a credit card balance each month may be better off with low fixed interest rate credit cards. Customers will need to decide if a 0% intro APR or a low fixed APR credit card is better suited for their personal needs. It’s not uncommon for the interest rate to shoot up dramatically after the introductory period expires. Therefore, customers should know what the interest rate will be after the promotional period ends. The promotional offer or interest free period can save hundreds of dollars in interest expense. During this interest free period no interest is accrued if the account is in good standing. Customers utilize the interest free period to transfer balance from high interest rate credit cards to a low interest credit rate credit cards to save money on interest expense. These cards are also very important for customers who are planning to consolidate credit card loans, make large purchases and carry a credit card balance from month to month. Credit card issuers charge a fee to do a balance transfer. This fee varies from bank to bank so it is a good idea to shop around for the best deal. Individuals with excellent credit score can ask to have the fee waived. Banks and credit card companies competing for the low interest credit card business offer impressive features similar to standard credit cards. Similar features may be cash back, rewards, bonus miles, no annual fee and more. Therefore, comparing credit card features is very important because it allows you to find the card that meets your lifestyle and one that will save the most money on interest expense. The best way to save interest is to pay the outstanding balance off each billing cycle. Credit card companies usually waived the interest charges if the entire outstanding balance is paid on time each month. If the outstanding balance is not paid in full each month then the credit card companies will charge interest on the entire outstanding balance from the date of each purchase. Many customers are not financially able to maximize their interest savings by paying off the entire balance each month. Therefore the next best way to save on interest expense is to use a low interest credit card to make purchases and carry an outstanding balance. It’s a common situation for individuals with bad credit to pay credit card companies large fees and finance charges. This situation keeps them indebted to the credit card companies if no action is taken to improve credit score. However, individuals with excellent credit can apply and get approval for a low interest credit card and avoid the burdensome situation of high interest rates and fees. Credit card companies have the option to change the interest rate on your credit card for various reasons such as making late payment, applying for too much credit, making late payments on different accounts or they can change it without any reason at all. Therefore, understanding credit and how to use it wisely is very important. Low interest credit cards are ideally suited to consolidate credit card debts because of the 0% intro APR or low interest rate offered. It will make monthly payments more manageable and can alleviate the financial problems that come with having too much credit you can’t afford. This is an opportunity to get your finances in order and to start managing your credit more wisely. Having less credit card accounts will simplifies your life and eventually improve your credit score. It’s much more convenient to write one check instead of writing several checks each month to various creditors. Debt consolidation is an excellent opportunity to keep you out of bankruptcy and get your finances back on track. Learning about grace period as it relates to your specific credit card is very important. The grace period is between 20 to 25 days. You have this free period to pay no interest if your payment is credited to your account during that time frame and your account carries no balance. Customer’s monthly payment must be received by the creditor during this time frame. Learning about grace period as it relates to your specific credit card is very important. Usually credit cards without a grace period are charged finance charges immediately on new purchases even if your previous month's bill was paid in full. The internet is the easiest place to find low interest credit cards with online credit card application. Website like offers various types of credit cards. The cards are grouped into different categories. Clicking on low interest credit cards will bring up a list of low interest credit cards. Customers will then be able to compare offers and submit their online credit card application for approval. The internet is very convenient and fast way to apply and submit your credit card application. No more waiting weeks to receive your credit card in the mail. Once approved your should receive your credit card by mail within a few days. Read your credit card agreement to find out if there are separate interest rates for balance transfer, new purchases and cash advance. Card holders maybe charged a very high interest rate and fees for cash advance or making new purchases while getting the 0% intro offer for balance transfer. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to read the credit card agreement. Reading and understanding the credit card agreement is of utmost importance because it gives you the knowledge needed to make the right decision.

Buying Gold - The Logic

Humans have been fascinated by gold for thousands of years, by the way it never tarnishes and by its unique color.

Sadly, gold is useless in engineering terms, except for plating electrical contacts, to ensure they never tarnish and lose their conductivity. The metal is too soft, with too low a tensile strength to be used for much besides necklaces and rings.

As an investment though, gold is a different story altogether. Why do people buy gold? It has zero intrinsic value.

Gold prices fall and rise, according largely to the degree of fear that people have about the future. When war is imminent gold prices soar.

When economic conditions are good, inflation low and employment rate high, gold prices fall. Under these conditions there are investments that are probably going to produce a better return than holding gold bars.

People buy gold because they fear the inflation and catastrophic share price collapse that normally accompanies war and political uncertainty. They buy gold because they think gold will hold its value.

Historically gold holds some value, whereas shares can lose all of their value overnight. However, anyone who buys gold at the high price associated with war will almost certainly lose money, when they sell at a lower price.

Conclusion - buy gold when everyone is saying to invest in the stock market. Sell gold when things are looking grim and there are lots of buyers out there.

If you do buy gold you need to appreciate that this investment has risk. The price of gold may fall. It may be years before you can sell your gold at a profit.

Until recently many countries made it illegal for individuals to hold gold bars or bullion. Individuals could buy gold coins and other items however. The South African Krugerrand was minted to exploit this opportunity and to earn much needed foreign exchange for that country during the years of economic sanctions.

Nowadays you can buy gold, silver and platinum coins in many denominations, including Canadian and US dollars, sterling crowns and sovereigns.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stealing the Home From Under You: The Growing Problem of Title Fraud

Copyright 2006 Donna Lewczuk Imagine this. A Canadian homeowner – a successful professional with a lovely home in a nice neighbourhood – arrives home after work one day to find a “For Sale” sign on his lawn. Imagining that it may be a practical joke, he asks his wife if she’s unhappy with the house! But his wife has no idea why the sign is there, or who put it up. It turns out that the couple are the victims of title fraud – a crime that’s on a worrisome rise here in Canada. How is it possible? While there are several variations on the crime, the basics are usually the same. The fraudster will target a home and falsify legal documents to create a convincing paper trail to “prove” their ownership of the home. They then proceed to mortgage the home and disappear with the money. Often, the rightful owners will have no idea what’s going on until a financial institution tracks them down to demand payments on a loan they never knew existed. In some cases, the fraudsters have actually stolen their identity: an especially difficult twist for the homeowner, who must also clear his/her name. The easy access to electronic data -- on both people and property -- may be contributing to the rise in title fraud, which is costing homeowners and financial institutions millions of dollars each year. And though it’s a serious challenge to the lenders, it can be financially devastating to the homeowner. Fortunately, Canadians have access to some protection against title fraud. A growing number of Canadian homeowners are purchasing “title insurance”: a product that offers some specific protections against title fraud and other potential pitfalls: A new survey shows a minor zoning violation that will require a variance – a process that will delay the close of the sale. Title insurance may allow the sale to close on time. · Several months after moving in, a new owner discovers that the heating ducts were cut off in an amateur renovation, done without permits. Title insurance could cover the cost of the repair and related expenses. · An older property has the lenders worried: though there’s no evidence of any problem, there is no survey for the property, and no record of permits for water or septic. Title insurance may provide lenders with the confidence to proceed with the mortgage. Not surprising, title insurance is gaining support among both lenders and lawyers, who see the value of this kind of increased homeowner protection. Although some protection exists through your lawyer’s “errors and omissions” insurance – and the Land Registry has an assurance fund in place that may be helpful – homeowners have learned the hard way that accessing these monies can take time, legal hire, and money (potentially a lot) on their part. On the other hand, title insurance – available at a modest, one-time cost – gives you immediate payout on a wide range of title problems. Best of all, title protection insurance is not limited to new purchasers only – it’s now available to current homeowners as well. In case you’re wondering, the couple in the story above – which is based on one of the case files of Canada’s leading title insurance company – did eventually regain title to their house. But it’s a cautionary tale. Next time you make any changes to your mortgage, make sure to inquire about title insurance.

Buying A Home After Foreclosure - What To Expect

Even though buying a home after a recent foreclosure is possible, homebuyer should not apply for a mortgage blindly. Because of your current credit standing, many lenders are ready to take advantage of you. Your options are limited. Nonetheless, this does not mean you have to accept a terrible mortgage loan.

Why Does a Foreclosure Occur?

Homes are foreclosed when a homeowner is unable to repay the mortgage. On average, mortgage payments have to be three months late before a lender begins the pre-foreclosure process. If the homeowner is able to acquire funds, the lender will stop foreclosure.

Many factors contribute to a homeowner's inability to repay a mortgage loan. For starters, living beyond one's means will make it harder to maintain regular monthly payments. Sadly, many people fall in love with a home they cannot afford.

Furthermore, some homeowners do not take into consideration utilities and other expenses that come with owning a larger home. Acquiring excessive credit card debt may also result in less disposable income.

The Disadvantages of Buying a Home after Foreclosure

For the most part, many lenders will not approve a mortgage loan immediately following a bankruptcy. In their estimation, you are a risky applicant. If you were unable to make regular payments three months prior, the odds of a future loan defaulting are high.

Naturally, circumstances do change for the better. For example, if loss of employment or illness contributed to a foreclosure, you may be in a better position to afford a mortgage six months after a foreclosure. Still, there are disadvantages to obtaining a home so soon.

Mortgage interest rates following a foreclosure are outrageously high. Because most traditional mortgage companies will not approve your loan, you may be subjected to interest rates 3 or 4 percentage points above current rates. This will increase mortgage payments by a few hundred dollars.

Best Approach for Purchasing a Home after Foreclosure

If you are hoping to buy a home following a foreclosure, be patient. The key is to rebuild your credit. During the next 24 months, attempt to open new credit accounts, and maintain regular payments. Pay creditors on time and avoid missed payments.

Next, shop smartly for a new mortgage. Prior to accepting a mortgage offer, contact several lenders for quotes. If using the internet, you may obtain instant quotes from several lenders in minutes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Should I Buy This Home - Heating Issues

When considering whether you should buy a home, heating issues are something you should take a close look at. This is particularly true with rising energy costs. Heating Issues As you inspect potential homes, heating issues should be foremost in your mind. While obvious issues will be apparent, there are less obvious things that need to be considered. 1. Layout – The layout of a home can have a major impact on both heating issues and energy bills. While high ceilings are beautiful architectural aspects, they can be a huge heating issue. Heat rises, which means you are going to need more of it to warm a home with high ceilings. Always remember that high ceilings equate to high energy bills. A second layout issue concerns the number of stories in the residence. While a tri-level home or townhouse may seem enticing, how are you going to heat the lower floors? Tri-level homes often have a problem with something I call the zone effect. The rooms on the bottom of the tri-level are always cool, while the top floor may be close to a sauna. Unless you have a very sophisticated heating system, tri-level residences are going to drive your heating bill through the roof. 2. Control Areas – One way to reduce the heating requirements for high ceiling and tri-level homes is a controllable heating system. Many modern heating systems allow you to isolate particular sections of the home you wish to heat. These can be a godsend for larger homes where certain rooms are not used often. 3. Vents – A more mundane, but important issue, are vent locations. In some homes, the vent layout appears to have been undertaken by a drunken sailor. If you find vents located under windows, you can expect the heating bills to be outrageous. Also look for very large rooms with one or no vents as these rooms will take a long time to heat up. With new homes, one can expect to find heating issues addressed competently. With older homes, you may need to consider how the heating issue is going to sap your cash flow during the winter months.

Buying a Car and Saving Money

Aside from their home, most Americans will spend more money on their car than on anything else they will buy. And yet, when it comes time to buy that car, most people spend far more time researching the engine, the stereo and the moon roof than they will the finances of the purchase. By failing to do a little homework on the finances, many people end up spending more money for their car, truck or van than they otherwise might.

A little bit of work ahead of time can help you save quite a bit of money on your car purchase. Here are some tips that might help:

Check your credit report - A few months before you decide to buy you should check your credit report for errors. Mistakes on your report could adversely affect your credit score, which will prevent you from obtaining financing at the lowest possible interest rate. While you are checking your credit report, check your credit score, too. That way you can avoid an occasional scam where the salesman tries to trick you into paying a higher rate by falsely claiming that your credit score is too low. You can't fall for that one if you know your score.

Arrange your financing in advance - While you can sometimes get competitive financing from the dealer, you may do better at your bank, credit union, or online lender. Check with those sources ahead of time to find the best possible deal.

Watch for factory incentives - Sometimes, the manufacturer will offer inexpensive financing. In the past, such deals have gone as low as 0%. If such a deal is available, no bank or credit union will be able to match it, so keep an eye out for such incentives. Cash back bonuses are often available from the manufacturer, too, and those can be applied to your down payment.

Check the pricing - A number of Websites, such as, offer information on pricing. With that information, you can negotiate the best possible deal.

Ponder the extras - Undercoat? Extended warranty? These are things you may wish to consider before the salesman asks you if you want to buy them. Whether you do or not is your own choice, but you don't want to get caught with the extra expenses if these are things you do not need.

Buying a car need not be a complicated procedure, but it works best if you know ahead of time how you intend to go about it. The better your preparation, the less harrowing your experience of buying a new car will be.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Save Money And Get Rich Faster

I just finished a Venti Latte at Starbucks, my fifth this week. As I enjoyed my coffee and thought about my next “save money grow rich” article, it hit me like a ton of bricks that my coffee could be the subject of my article. I started doing the math on the latte in my hand; Three dollars and forty cents multiplied by five times a week multiplied by fifty two weeks. That’s eight hundred and forty dollars I’m spending a year on fancy coffee! If I saved that money each year and invested with five percent interest, which is pretty easy to get, I could have sixty thousand dollars in thirty years. I’m spending sixty thousand dollars on a cup of coffee. I’m not even accounting for inflation which is going to make that latte cost over eight dollars in the last eight to ten years of that thirty year period. At eight percent interest it would be one hundred and ten thousand dollars. Yikes! What little things are you spending your money on? You might not drink fancy coffee, but I’ll assure you that there are other things you’re spending your money on that can be cut from your budget. That money can be saved, grown, and used to become rich or at least retire comfortably. How much do you spend on bottled water, cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets? You don’t have to give up all of your favorite vices…, I mean luxury items. Life is pretty boring if all you do is save every penny, but it is a good idea to take an inventory of what you are spending, what you can give up, and what it is worth to you in future dollars. Track your daily expenses for a week. Make a list of each of the expenses and separate them into the items that are absolutely necessary, like gas, and the items that are not necessary, like the coffee. Here are some other areas that you can cut back and save: - Eating out. Only eat out occasionally and take your lunch to work. - The mid afternoon candy bar. Hey, it’s good for your health too. - Pre-packed convenience foods. - Carry over credit card interest. Pay your credit card bill off monthly. - Extra cable channels. You’ll be amazing how fast you can come up with two hundred and fifty dollars a month that can be saved. Using the savings calculator at you can see that two hundred and fifty dollars saved monthly for thirty years adds up to a lot of money. Time to ditch the latte, save money, and get rich faster.

Buyers Closing Cost

Buyers, borrower, closing costs can be divided into two categories. Nonrecurring closing cost and recurring closing cost.

Nonrecurring closing costs on a one-time charge paid upon the close of escrow. Recruiting closing costs are peeping items that the buyer pays advance to help offset expenses that will continue as long as the but it only to property.

Nonrecurring closing cost usually paid by the buyer.

1. Loan ordination fee. A fee charged by a lender to cover the expenses of processing a loan. The fee is usually coded as a percentage of the loan amount

2. Appraisal fee. A fee charged by an appraiser for giving an estimate for property value. The fee for simple appraisal will vary throughout the state, with $350 or more being a typical charge for a single-family residence. Appraisal fees for income properties such as apartments or off his buildings are higher.

3. Credit report fee. Before a lender grants a loan to borrowers credits is checked. Each lender, broker charges different amounts for a credit report.

4. Pest control inspection fee. A fee charged by a licensed inspector who checks for termites, fungus, pests, and other items that might cost structural damage.

5. Tax service fee. A fee paid to a tax service company that, for the life of the loan, each you can review the tax collectors records. If a borrower fails to pay the property taxes, the tax service company reported this to the lender, who can take steps to protect the loan against a tax foreclosure sale.

6. Recording fees. This covers the cost of recording the deep, deep of trust, and other buyer related documents.

7. Notary fees. Signatures on documents to be recorded must be notarized.

8. Assumption fee. A fee paid to a lender if the buyer assumes the loan, that is, buyer agrees to take over and continue to pay the seller's existing loan.

9.Title and escrow fees.

Recurring closing cost usually paid by the buyer.

1. Hazard insurance. A1-year premium for insurance against fire, storm, and other risks. The minimum coverage is the amount of the real estate loan, but buyers are advised to purchase a great amounts if they make large down payment toward the purchase price.

2. The proration. If the seller has prepaid the taxes, the buyer reimburses the seller for the prepaid portion.

3. Tax and insurance reserves. This is also known as an impound account or trust account. If a borrower's monthly loan payment is to include taxes and insurance, as well as principal and interest, the lender that sets up a reserve account. Depending upon the time of the year a lender or the one the borrower to prepay 1-6 months of taxes and insurance premiums in today's reserve account. Once an reserve account is established, tax and insurance bills are forwarded to the lender for payment.

4. Interest due before the first loan payment.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reducing payments or suspending a Bailiff's Warrant on a County Court Judgment

WHEN DO I NEED TO MAKE THIS KIND OF APPLICATION? Reducing payments or suspending a Bailiffs Warrant is done by debtors who fail to comply with a County Court Judgment. This means that either the County Court already made an order for you to pay a particular amount each month but you cannot afford it or your creditor issued a "Warrant of Execution" and you have been visited by the County Court Bailiff. Making this application often requires two sets of fees to be paid but that should not be the case. Inform the authorities immediately if you have been charged illegally. APPLYING TO REDUCE AN INSTALLMENT ORDER Once your creditor take a court action, naturally, your debt will balloon into something that you may not be able to afford. To deal with this, you must apply for a reduction of an Installment Order, which is also done in court. You will file an N245 form on your local County Court and pay £30.00 for the processing of your application. Some circumstances, however, may allow you to file the application without having to pay any fee. These include being on a low income status and enjoying several benefits. One good alternative to make your creditor agree on a reduced payments is to talk to him directly. Without you going to court, you are obviously saving not just money but time and effort as well. APPLYING TO SUSPEND A WARRANT OF EXECUTION A "Warrant of Execution" is issued to debtors who failed to pay their financial obligations set by the court. This can be applied by the creditor against you, allowing a bailiff to break into your house and take any of your possessions, which will be given up for auction. A notice from the bailiffs saying they intend to visit will actually tell you that a "Warrant of Execution" has been filed against you. But you do not have the responsibility to let the bailiffs inside your home so fpr as long as you refuse their entry, this is quite easy to manage. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LET THE BAILIFF IN As mentioned, you do not have the responsibility to let the bailiffs inside your home. They cannot force you to allow them unless you let them the first time. It is also unlawful for the bailiffs to break into your house. WHAT IF I HAVE ALREADY LET THE BAILIFF INTO MY HOME? Allowing the bailiff to go inside your home the first time gives them the ticket to go back at any other time of the day to take your things. If this happens, the only thing that you can do is to keep guard on what the bailiffs are allowed to do and what are not. Naturally, they cannot take away basic domestic needs such as clothing, bedding, or furniture. They also cannot take equipments that you use in your profession or vocation. Usually, the bailiffs do not take things on first visit. They will just inspect your house, list the goods they can take away from you, and have you sign a "Walking Possession Agreement". On their next visit, whether it's a peaceful or harsh one, they will take away any or all of those listed on your agreement with them. Regardless if you have aleady signed an agreement with the bailiff, you can still file a suspension of the warrant in court to protect your valuables. WHAT IF THERE ARE NO GOODS TO TAKE? If the bailiffs decide on their first visit that your goods are not valuable enough to cover their costs for coming, they will go back to the court, return the warrant, and leave a notice that your goods have insufficient value. They should not take any further action from there. GOODS ON HIRE PURCHASE/CONDITIONAL SALE Note that the bailiffs can only take things or goods that belong to you. These include those that you co-own with a partner. They cannot count the goods that are owned by other people. You must keep substantial documents that will prove different ownership of such goods so the bailiffs will not be able to take them away. Also, the bailiffs cannot take away goods that are on hire purchase or conditional sale. If you have these things, you better keep copies of your agreements and show them to the bailiffs. Sometimes, however, the bailiffs choose to take away goods with such nature, especially if they feel that they can sell it more than the amount you owed to the hire purchase/conditional sale company. But this rarely happens. HOW DO I APPLY TO SUSPEND THE 'WARRANT OF EXECUTION'? As mentioned earlier, suspending the warrant can be filed in court through the form N245. The County Court must accept your application regardless whether the bailiff already visited, managed to break into your home, or not. The bailiffs can continue bugging you around until your application is approved. FILLING IN THE N245 APPLICATION FORM It is important that you sort out your personal budget carefully upon filing for a suspended warrant. All your income as well as your expenses will be needed to fill the N245 form. Basically, you will want the court to agree in a specific amount that you claim you can only afford. You can only make this claim acceptable if you have the necessary documents that will prove to the court that you have enough expenses to mind at home to be able to offer a higher amount. Once you make the application, the bailiffs cannot take away any of your goods. It is permissible, however, that they call you or even pay you visits. They can even list down your valuables that are good for auction also called levying but they cannot take any of those things. Not yet. FEES Applying to suspend the warrant usually charges £30.00. You can waive this amount, however, especially if you are on low income or on certain benefits. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? After completing the required information on the form N245, you must submit it to the County Court and pay the necessary fees. Your creditor will receive a copy of your application so he can decide whether to agree or not on your terms. If your creditor agrees, he will send a notice to the court which will then document the terms and send you the details. If your creditor does not agree, the court will decide on the terms of payments on merits of the information you have written on your application. If your creditor objects to your application altogether, the court will call a hearing so the District Judge will know what to do. In this hearing, you need to explain why you have applied to suspend the warrant and what are the grounds that you feel will make the court agree with you. On the other hand, if you do not agree with the court's terms in the order, you can ask for a hearing to explain your reasons. You will use an N244 form to ask the court reconsider its decision. This form should be filed within 14 days that you receive the notice of order. At this stage, you should no longer be paying anymore fees. At the hearing, you can bring a copy of your personal budget to strengthen your claim that you cannot afford the amount set by the court. COUNTY COURT FEES DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR AN APPLICATION IN THE COUNTY COURT? Usually, a fee of £30.00 is charged for those who applies for a suspended warrant. The court, however, awards exemptions to those who are worthy of them. To apply for it, you must file an EX160 or the "Application for a fee exemption or remission". This application should go with your main application. If the court agrees that you will be exempted based on certain cicumstances, you no longer have to pay a fee. If, however, you have already paid a fee but you have proven to be deserving of an exemption, you will have to apply for a refund within six months. EXEMPTIONS Exemptions to pay court fees are awarded to those who are on income support or on Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA). You can ask the court to give you exemptions by presenting the necessary documents that will prove you are getting any of those benefits. Those who are on tax credit may also apply for an exemption to pay the fee for as long as they are on child tax credit or they have received the disability or severe disability element in their working tax credit. Either way, they must have an annual gross income taken into account for working tax credit that is not more than £14,600. To qualify for the exemption, applicants must present their tax credit award notice. If you do not qualify based on both cases, you can ask for the fee you paid to be remitted or waived by rule of remission. REMISSIONS If paying the fee for your application will cause you "undue financial hardship", the court may waive the amount you have shed. To do this, you must file an EX160 form stating the circumstances or benefits you have that does not automatically exempt you from paying the fees. You must support your claim with documents that will prove your incapacity to pay. The court may remit all or part of your paid fees depending on what they feel you can afford.

Buy To Let -The Pitfalls

Buy To Let -The Pitfalls

Word Count:

Taking on a property in addition to your home can be a time consuming and complex matter. Before you become a landlord (or lady), make sure you’ve thought it through!

mortgages, buy, let, home, rent, accomodation, price, market, sell, loan, secured

Article Body:
Taking on a property in addition to your home can be a time consuming and complex matter. Before you become a landlord (or lady), make sure you’ve thought it through!


While you may be lucky and find the perfect tenant by chance, it’s a good idea to interview potential tenants first. You can ask for references from previous landlords or employers to reassure yourself that they are trustworthy and solvent. While students provide a large part of the tenant market, bear in mind that young people are not always as responsible as they should be!

The property

When looking for a property to buy, try to focus on suitable areas where you are likely to find a ready supply of tenants – close to a university, for example, or in a city centre near businesses are safe bets for students and young professionals looking to rent. Check out local transport links and shopping facilities too. You should also consider the resale aspects of the property – you may not want to keep it forever, and a large part of your investment is the equity of the property. This is called capital growth – sometimes it may be worth buying in a more downmarket location where the rent will be lower, if you consider that property prices are likely to rise. If, however, you want to maximise your income, the more expensive areas of town might bring you higher rent. Leasehold properties are subject to ground rent.


A letting agent will charge around 10% of the monthly rent to take care of finding tenants, and if you want a full management service to minimise the work you do, expect to pay around 15%. It’s advisable to choose an agent that is a member of the ARLA – check for details.


You can make tax deductions for the maintenance of your property, including general ‘running costs’ like insurance, cleaning, and agents fees. Home improvements are not tax deductible, nor are initial costs of furniture and fittings. However, you can claim a wear and tear allowance of 10% of the rent you receive.


Often a buy to let mortgage is assessed on the anticipated rental income from the property – the rent potential. Expect to pay slightly higher interest rates, and provide a larger deposit on the property. Lenders usually require 20% to 25% of the value of the property.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Refinancing – Points To Remember

You would consider refinancing only when going gets tough and making ends meet becomes difficult with credits looming over large on you; and you are in a debt trap with creditors calling on you day-in and day-out. Refinancing is your option if it helps reduce your net monthly outgo. Weigh the pros and cons of the option and keeping in mind, the hard facts of life. Some Key Points to Ponder 1. Reducing your monthly installments. Multiple credits and mortgages bog you down with accumulated interests. A reasonable refinancing reduces the monthly outgo and the number of checks to write for a similar period. 2. Breakeven time. Although it depends on multitude of factors, sooner the breakeven the better. 3. “Points” to ponder. Points are onetime percentage costs included into your mortgage. Higher the point lower will be the interest rate. Make a judgment depending on your situation. 4. Risk reduction by paying off high cost flexible interest refinance. 5. Weigh the option of high closing cost with lower interest rate against no/low closing cost with high interest over the same or lesser period. 6. Consider refinancing if you can generate some extra income through refinancing. The comforts of additional resources cushion your efforts to see off debts quicker than you imagined. If not, it is going to take you from bad to worse. 7. You can refinance that portion of the debt which was shared by your spouse before divorcing. 8. Secured refinance gets you lowest interest. You can use your home equity to secure refinancing. 9. Tax matters. Taxation differs when you switchover from one credit to another or when you refinance an existing loan. Consulting an expert must be your top priority. 10. Paper work. None of the above points hold well, unless you got all your requisite papers in place. Don’t haste through the steps. Keep in mind this is your last straw. Check the credentials of the lender before you sign on the dotted line. It takes a very hard effort to keep away from scrupulous operators. Speak to their customers to get an insight. Understand their processes before committing yourself. Better still, take notes and compare with other lender’s credentials. With due diligence, and keeping the key points in mind, re-financing, is afterall not a big eye-monster that is hard to tame. Once that re-financing monster is tame, your financial status should recover in no time.

Buy To Let - The Pitfalls

Taking on a property in addition to your home can be a time consuming and complex matter. Before you become a landlord (or lady), make sure you’ve thought it through!


While you may be lucky and find the perfect tenant by chance, it’s a good idea to interview potential tenants first. You can ask for references from previous landlords or employers to reassure yourself that they are trustworthy and solvent. While students provide a large part of the tenant market, bear in mind that young people are not always as responsible as they should be!

The property

When looking for a property to buy, try to focus on suitable areas where you are likely to find a ready supply of tenants – close to a university, for example, or in a city centre near businesses are safe bets for students and young professionals looking to rent. Check out local transport links and shopping facilities too. You should also consider the resale aspects of the property – you may not want to keep it forever, and a large part of your investment is the equity of the property. This is called capital growth – sometimes it may be worth buying in a more downmarket location where the rent will be lower, if you consider that property prices are likely to rise. If, however, you want to maximise your income, the more expensive areas of town might bring you higher rent. Leasehold properties are subject to ground rent.


A letting agent will charge around 10% of the monthly rent to take care of finding tenants, and if you want a full management service to minimise the work you do, expect to pay around 15%. It’s advisable to choose an agent that is a member of the ARLA – check for details.


You can make tax deductions for the maintenance of your property, including general ‘running costs’ like insurance, cleaning, and agents fees. Home improvements are not tax deductible, nor are initial costs of furniture and fittings. However, you can claim a wear and tear allowance of 10% of the rent you receive.


Often a buy to let mortgage is assessed on the anticipated rental income from the property – the rent potential. Expect to pay slightly higher interest rates, and provide a larger deposit on the property. Lenders usually require 20% to 25% of the value of the property.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Press Release: Why SEO Experts Should Not Use Press Releases

Rumor has it that press releases are the next big thing in the SEO business, and many companies are spending top dollars trying to write the next big press release announcing the next big balloon breaking technology. But is this really the next big thing? By definition, a Press Release is a kind of news item released by the company on whom the news is being reported. As such, you will have to compete with all the other press releases and hope that your will get picked up. Why Will Your Press Release Be Trashed? 1) Unless you are writing a press release about Microsoft, Adobe, Sony or one of the other mega-companies, or at least about a company that is relatively well known, forget about it. Journalists and news editors receive thousands of press releases a day and there is no way that they will waste more than a quick glance. So why should you pay a company seven to eight hundred dollars for them sending your press release to thousands of editors and journalists when they are going to junk it anyway? 2) Unless you are announcing a truly revolutionary product or technology (which I assume you are not since you are only interested in using the professionally paid and written press release to boost your search engine rankings), whatever you make up or announce such as some new free deal or new portal offering something unique, your chances of being picked up are very slim. Yes, the PR companies will tell you that they have vast experience in writing Press Releases that will make yours stand out and get picked up but this is not accurate. The only way your PR is going to get picked up is if it truly is something out of the ordinary or something that no one has ever thought off. 3) Unless you plan to spend millions of dollars and then just by sheer volume your site will go ahead in the search engines, this is not a good option. Why? If you send a large number of press releases then these will be placed on the different PR companies websites main page. Since most of these home pages have a very high page rank, your site will get a boost. The question is whether this boost is worth the large amount of money you will put into the PR companies pocket. No it is not. Use that money to buy (though I do not recommend this) links from high-ranked websites and you will pay less and receive more benefit. 4) Any press release, even if it has been accepted, will remain on the different pages for just a short time, making the time and effort and even more so the amount of money you paid fruitless. Conclusion: A press release is useful if you wish to contact the press and maybe get some free publicity, but it is of no use if you wish to use it as a tool in order to advance your website in the search engines.

Buy To Let – A Change For The Better

Life is set to become a whole lot easier for UK landlords if the findings of a Law Commission report, currently coming up to final draft stage, are to be implemented.

If you own a buy-to-let property, or are considering joining the growing band of landlords, it is important that you’re aware of proposed new legislation regarding tenancy agreements. These are designed to remove some of the head-aches associated with the legal aspect regarding rental agreements.

It appears that there is a steadily growing demand for rental property with many new investors coming in to the market. This has resulted in an increasing number of specialized lenders offering comprehensive buy-to-let mortgage packages. So, there’s a wealth of advice and funding available should you wish to enter the market, and now it seems as though the actual rental contracts are set to become a whole lot simpler too. Many landlords and tenants would agree that this change is long overdue.

These contracts are legal documents between landlord and tenant and at present, unbelievably, there are over twenty different types available. It appears that a great many of them are based on agreements which were originally brought into force over a century ago, with clauses and phrases which are totally out-dated and largely irrelevant. However, they are legal contracts and, as such, can still be used.

The more usual contract currently which is used by the majority of private landlords is called the “assured shorthold tenancy agreement”. This has been in use since 1988 and has specific rules with regard to rental levels, liability for damage, rules regarding pets, parking, etc., the problem with this agreement is that, whilst it is commonly used as a basic agreement, landlords have written in an assortment of terms and conditions and there are now many varying versions of this too.

If the Law Commission’s proposals become law, then the number of these contracts will be reduced to just two. One will be specifically designed to be suitable for the requirements of social housing tenants. This will be referred to as a “secure contract”. The other is relevant for private landlords and will be known as a “private standard agreement”.

It appears that it won’t be mandatory to replace the old assured shorthold tenancy with new ones, but it would seem to be sensible to do so. In the event of any dispute with regards to the tenancy, the courts would obviously be more in tune with the clear and precise terms of the new “private standard agreements”. New rules regarding repossession of the property will come into force too. Whilst at present tenants have the right to hold the tenancy for six months, the new rules will allow more flexibility should the landlord be placed in a position where it is imperative that the property should be placed on the market, for instance.

This “tidying up” will make life a whole lot more simple, both for the current and prospective landlord and promises to be a real change for the better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Password Protection Tips for Online Shoppers

Online shopping was once seen as quirky and impractical, but it has proven that not only is it a viable consumer option, it is also a mega pipeline for billion dollar businesses. In fact, many experts expect to see the growth of the online shopping industry increase in ways that will eventually make offline shopping somewhat obsolete. Already we see that during peak shopping months like December, online sales statistics sometimes top the revenue figures for brick and mortar stores. And this phenomenon has not been ignored by the bad guys, particularly those who make their money by computer-aided theft, fraud, and hacking. If you are concerned about whether or not your online shopping transactions are safe and secure, you are in good company. Even the experts on the subject say that it is a matter of concern, and they advise ways to remain vigilant in protecting our critical personal data. By being aware of the potential for criminal exploitation of our online shopping experiences, we can defend ourselves against such things, and our stress and worry can be transformed into a healthy awareness of our modern need to take reasonable security precautions. The biggest vulnerability of all is that we have special words and codes we use to identify ourselves, since we are not involved in old-fashioned face-to-face business transactions. That means that it is easy to pretend to be someone else, if we have someone else’s personal passwords. Just as covert operators like secret agents do during wartime, thieves can discover our secret passwords and then use them to cross over into territory where they can easily attack us and wreak havoc, plundering our well-guarded assets. The trick to outwitting these crooks is to have codes that are impossible – or next to impossible – to decipher. Password protection is a serious business, and we should take it just as seriously as we do the practice of locking our doors at night or walking on well-lighted streets instead of darkened alleys. Experts recommend that we do not use passwords related to information that could be found out about us easily. For instance, your birthday, street address, and dog’s name are probably not well protected. Anyone with the determination to research those things could find out such personal info about you, and if you are using those dates or names for passwords, they can hack your accounts. It is better to use more obscure and random passwords that have no other relevance to your personal identity. And when creating a password, use a random mix of both numbers and letters. Some computer programs used by culprits will automatically try all combinations of numbers, for instance, to find the one that opens your account. By tossing in a few random letters, you can scramble these attempts and thwart them. Another important piece of advice is to update your passwords regularly, by changing them to new ones. Don’t use the same password on more than one account, and change your passwords on a regular basis, at least a few times each year. Once you’re sleeping peacefully in the knowledge that you have done everything possible to protect yourself online, you can shop the Internet with confidence and reassurance.

Business Owners' Views of Business Credit Cards

There are quite a number of reasons why business owners choose to obtain business credit cards, but recent studies confirm that business credit cards are viewed most useful for keeping business and personal finances separate. Business owners say that their primary reason for using business credit cards is to avoid their business expenses from getting mixed up with their personal expenses: Using business credit cards separates the two, thereby contributing towards maintaining the integrity of their accounting records.

90% of all small business owners use business credit cards purely to make business related purchases, with more than 90% indicating that the primary need for business credit cards is business travel. They believe that airline flights, car rentals and hotel stays would be cumbersome without business credit cards.

Perhaps because of this close association between business travel and business credit cards, you won’t be surprised to hear that almost a third of the business owners consider cash back rewards as the most attractive feature, while one-fifth values the frequent flyer mile rewards most. To a lesser degree, the ready acceptance of business credit cards by vendors and suppliers was deemed to be an important consideration. Business owners are also happy with the ‘no annual fee’ feature offered by most business credit card issuers.

Business owners tend to use their business credit cards with very specific purposes in mind and are more conscious about settling business credit card balances in full. According to recent surveys, 63% of all small business owners execute their credit card payments in this manner to avoid finance charges. By comparison, only 40% of all individual Americans pay their full outstanding balances every month. This means that small business owners are less likely than their individual counterparts to accumulate interest fees on their business credit cards – a fact that issuing banks may not like since they earn their profits from interest charges. Business owners would advise you to pay your business credit cards in full or don’t use them.

Interestingly, nearly half (46%) of business owners thought that interest rates and related terms were their most important considerations when they applied for business credit cards. They indicated an appreciation for the temporary cash flow assistance that business credit cards provide, but expressed a dislike for paying interest fees and for debt accumulation. This concern for interest rates and their diligence in paying off business credit card bills to avoid fees implies that credit card companies do not make much money from small business owners.

Most business owners find one – or at most, two – business credit cards sufficient for their purposes. Compared to the average American who holds four to eight personal credit cards, the survey found that the average small business owner only has one or two business credit cards at most.

In fact, 86% of small business owners believe their business credit card spending limit was high enough for their needs and that too many business credit cards would tempt them to spend more than is really necessary. This attitude towards credit limits and multiple credit cards may be because small businesses, unlike ordinary individuals, do have access to alternate sources of debt financing – something that the ordinary individual does not.

Monday, September 20, 2010

open an online savings account today

Open an Online Savings Account With the popularity of the internet many financial institutions are beginning to see that they can offer their customers many different options. There are several financial institutions that have decided that they can give their customers more services because they have cut their overheads by operating completely online. Using an online bank is often times much better than using your local banking branch, and when you open an online savings account you will find that the fees are much less and the interest rate is much higher which puts extra money in your pocket. One of the first questions or concerns that many consumers have is when you open an online savings account is your money safe? The answer is yes; if they are FDIC insured that means that your money in an online savings account is insured by the federal government just as it would be in your local bank. It also has the limits of $100,000 per depositor. The next question is usually how do I actually open an online savings account? It is very easy, you go online and decide which banking institution you would like to use. They will then have an application to fill out which will include all your personal information. Once you submit the application they will then print it all out and mail it to you to be signed. When they mail your application anyone that will be a signer on the account will have to sign the application and signature card in the appropriate places. They will then ask you to include a photocopy of all the signers' driver licenses. This is due to the changes in bank laws after 9/11. At this time you will then include your deposit, and as with any transaction done through the mail, do not send cash. Once they have received your deposit they will send you your checks or debit cards to access your savings account. Most of the online banks give you one or two free times to use an ATM machine to access your funds without charging you a fee, check the terms and details of your account to make sure. Depositing money is also a question that most people have with online savings account. You can deposit your money three ways. First you can mail in a check for deposit, make sure it is indorsed "for deposit only" and mail it certified. You can also have money direct deposited from your employer; just fill out the proper forms that your employer will give you. Next you can transfer money online from any other banking account, there is usually a limit of how much you can transfer and the bank you are taking the money from usually charges a fee. If you want to save and earn a higher interest rate then your local bank can offer, open an online savings account. Your money is safe, easy to access and will earn you a higher rate of interest and accrue fewer fees than with a standard local bank.

Business JetBlue from American Express - Ideal For JetBlue Flyers

Business JetBlue Credit card is the outcome of the joint efforts of American Express and JetBlue airlines. If you are one of those who frequently avail the services of the JetBlue Airways, then you have an ideal credit card in Business JetBlue from American Express.

You can extract the maximum benefits out of Business JetBlue Card from American Express only if you have enough credit to make monthly payments on time. So, those of you who can afford to pay in full each month after the introductory rate expires (to evade finance charges), can well benefit from the remarkable reward program of Business JetBlue Credit Card from American Express.

Highlights Of The Reward Program

To get detailed information about the reward program of Business JetBlue from American Express go through the following:

§ The rewards program awards you a dollar for each dollar you spend on the card. You will receive additional 2 points (award dollars) for each dollar you spend on JetBlue flights, car rentals, wireless phone charges, gas, office supplies and equipment. Also, earn double award dollars for what you spend at movie theaters, concerts, golf courses, restaurants and other places of entertainment.

§ A 5% discount will be given to you on any JetBlue flight in addition to other rewards program points and savings.

§ Your first purchase will reap 5000 bonus award points. (Your statement credit should be at least $50).

Here it would be necessary to highlight that 200 award-dollars amount to one TrueBlue point and 100 TrueBlue points earn you a one round-trip flight in JetBlue.

Other Features

Take a look at some of the other features of Business JetBlue from American Express, which might concern you:

§ The Business JetBlue card has annual fee of $40, a quite reasonable fee as compared to other airline reward cards.

§ Though the average interest rates are high, you will be able to save money on free reward flights if you are able to pay your monthly balance in full.

§ Your rewards will not expire as long as you earn points or there is some redemption activity in your account within a 1-year period. The TrueBlue awards expire after 1 year of issuance.

§ Through the OPEN Savings program, you can also avail automatic discounts at leading merchants.

Special Benefits From The Card

Business JetBlue from American Express allows a lot of additional benefits you would love to have such as – special Internet account related services, entrance to the OPEN Savings Network, Automatic bill payment and account alerts, extended warranty for purchases, Auto rental insurance, Purchase protection, insurance for Travel accident, Emergency card replacement, various travel and emergency assistance services.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On Valley National Bancorp

Valley National Bancorp (VLY) is a conservative bank with a strong position in northern New Jersey and a presence in Manhattan. The bank, founded in 1927, has about $12 billion in assets. Valley has consistently earned extraordinary returns on assets and equity. Over the last twenty years, Valley has averaged a 1.74% return on assets and a 21.12% return on equity. Valley’s worst two-year performance occurred in 1990 and 1991. During that period, Valley’s return on equity dropped as low as 14.54% and its ROA dropped as low as 1.29%. Even in Valley’s worst year (1991), the company still managed to roughly match the average long-term performance of most of its peers. In other words, Valley’s worst year was a close to typical year for many other banks. It was at this low-point in 1991 that the board of directors decided not to increase the cash dividend. That was the only year in the last 37 that Valley did not increase its dividend. The company has 79 consecutive years of profitable operations. That’s over 300 quarters (Valley has yet to post a quarterly loss). More importantly, Valley has a record of earning great returns on both assets and equity over long periods of time. So, what’s the company’s secret? Location Northern New Jersey is about the best place in the world to situate a bank. This isn’t hyperbole; if there’s a better location, I’ve yet to hear of it. As you know, American banks are unusually profitable. The market is large and highly fragmented. So, naturally the best place to situate a bank would be in the United States. But, why north Jersey in particular? In a September 20th, 2001 interview with The Wall Street Transcript, Valley’s chairman, Gerald Lipkin explained why northern New Jersey is such an attractive market: "Northern New Jersey is the single most densely populated area on earth. There are more people per square mile in northern New Jersey than there are in India, China, Japan or anyplace else. We have the highest median family income in the United States in that area. So, we serve a very densely populated and affluent area, which is not dominated by any single industry." Focus Valley maintains a narrow focus both in terms of geography and services. The company’s offices are kept within one hour of the bank’s headquarters in Wayne, NJ. In the same interview, Mr. Lipkin explained why this geographic concentration is important: “We like to make it very convenient for our client base to meet with senior management as well as the other members of our staff." Valley focuses on relationship banking. The company has residency requirements for its directors. The majority of directors are to live within 100 miles of the corporate headquarters. Furthermore, each board member is required to use Valley for both business and personal accounts. Theoretically, these two requirements ensure board members are familiar with the bank’s services and are best able to understand the needs of local businesses. Discipline Valley has a history of highly disciplined lending. Charge-offs are immaterial. Current reserves are adequate to cover many years of future charge-offs with little difficulty. The company’s asset quality ratios and loan to value ratios both indicate Valley has a more conservative approach to lending than many of its peers. Undoubtedly, the local economy is helpful in this regard. Valley does not need to make questionable loans, because there is an abundance of opportunity in the local area. It is possible for the bank to remain fairly selective without forfeiting growth entirely. For instance, despite having $12 billion in assets, Valley only has about a 6% market share in northern New Jersey. Management Banking, like insurance, is a business where a particularly good or particularly poor management can greatly affect long-term results. The current Chairman, President, and CEO, Gerald Lipkin, has served for just over thirty years now. His record is unblemished. Of course, the real responsibility for avoiding mistakes lies with others in the organization. There are few businesses where individual employees can do as much harm as they can within a bank. Valley’s past record and the level of experience of its top managers suggests investors should encounter very few unpleasant surprises resulting from human error. Mr. Lipkin made his management philosophy quite clear with his concluding remarks in the aforementioned 2001 interview with The Wall Street Transcript: "We never bet the ranch – we never put the bank in harms way on any single issue that could really harm it. Lending money is a risk taking business. So, obviously we at times have problems, situations with individual loans, but we try to avoid concentrations that could create major problems." Valuation Valley National Bancorp is a solid, well-run bank operating in a geographic area with excellent economics. The company’s physical footprint and its existing relationships give it a narrow moat in a highly profitable (and increasingly competitive) region. Unfortunately, the company is trading at more than three times book. Three times book is a lot to pay for any bank. Valley’s future growth will likely be somewhat restrained by the company’s conservative approach. Therefore, dividends are going to make up a significant portion of an investor’s total returns. Conclusion Valley is a good bank. It has a real moat, albeit a narrow one. Competition is increasing within Valley’s territory. However, the company has been able to compete successfully with new entrants (who tend to take on far less profitable business). The stock isn’t cheap today, but there is one wrinkle worth keeping in mind. Valley is more dependent upon interest rate spreads than most banks. If the yield curve was to become significantly steeper, Valley would reap outsized rewards. The current dividend yield on a share of Valley National Bancorp is a little less than 3.5%. Considering the company’s limited growth prospects, this is an unattractive yield. If, during a period of general uncertainty within the banking industry, shares of VLY were to trade closer to two times book, investors would have an opportunity to make a long-term commitment in a quality bank.

Business Credit Cards Versus Business Lines of Credit

Nothing quite matches the convenience of business credit cards. When you are looking for a good alternative to cash, checks, and personal credit cards, it is probably a business credit card you want. With credit-when-you-need-it convenience, savings and discounts on purchases, and extremely helpful reporting facilities, business credit cards can be a good tool in your financial management tool kit.

You will find it easier to get a business credit card than to open a business line of credit. For this reason, business credit cards can do a lot to help you ease your cash requirements even as you are still gearing up with office supplies and equipment. It can never be repeated too often: use business credit cards with caution and afford it the same respect you would afford any other business line of credit!

The ability to borrow money, whether from a business line of credit or from business credit cards, is something that you need for your business. Like business credit cards, the line of credit is a revolving credit, and both charge interest only on the balances that are left outstanding. The credit limit on business credit cards may be lower than on lines of credit, but both do have a predetermined ceiling. There are however a few differences between these two forms of business credit:

Business credit cards generally have higher annual percentage rates and lower credit limits, than lines of credit. When it comes to cost-effectiveness therefore, the commercial lines of credit will beat business credit cards anytime.

However, if you manage business credit cards wisely, you can maximize the 21 to 25 days grace period or float on purchases. When the statement comes and you pay off the entire balance, you will actually avoid paying any interest. The crux of the matter is that you get a 25-day interest free loan! Not bad…and only from business credit cards.

Business credit cards may lose on cost, but they are miles ahead when it comes to convenience. If your checking account is running low and you need to buy some supplies, you no longer have to call the bank to transfer funds from your credit line. You could easily charge the whole transaction to your business credit card, get out of the store and back to running your business. Business credit cards also offer you the convenience of easy bookkeeping and quick cost analysis.

What’s more, business credit cards are heavily loaded with perks like frequent flyer miles, purchase protection and warranty extensions, discounts and cash backs on hotel stays, car rentals, gas purchases, and more. These business credit card incentives can be valuable to a business, not only for the sake of convenience but also for the cost savings that you get.

Business credit cards and lines of credit are two financial tools that you can use together. Business credit cards are perfect for very short-term borrowings – we’re talking 30 days at the most. You should pay off the bulk of the balance when it falls due, to save on interest. You may want to carry 20% of the balance forward to the next month to make your business credit card issuer happy, otherwise they’re never going to earn any interest income from your business credit card account.

Lines of credit are perfect for larger purchases, particularly those that would exceed your business credit card limit, as well as for reserve funds when cash flow becomes irregular over a period. Lines of credit help you to shore up your working capital, such as payroll, paying off merchant credit and payables, or settling the quarterly taxes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

No-Fault Insurance Explained

If you’re fortunate, or depending on how you look at it, unfortunate to live in one of the twelve states that are under a non-fault auto insurance system, you can cause an accident, yet your insurance company won’t pay for the other parties’ damages. If you live in a No-fault state (DC, FL, HI, KS, KY, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, ND, PA, UT) that means you live in a state that both requires drivers to carry insurance for their own protection and places limitations on their ability to sue other drivers for damages. Your auto insurance company will pay for your damages (up to your policy limits), regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Any other drivers involved will be covered by their auto insurance policies. Since all are required to carry insurance, in theory, there should be no uninsured motorists in those states. Stop laughing; the term “in theory” was used! These states opted for the no fault insurance system because it guarantees every driver immediate medical treatment in the event of an accident. Further, it's intended to reduce the legal and administrative fees associated with insurance claims. Again, in theory, this should equate to lower premiums. Unfortunately, often times the liability issues that still remain will actually drive premium costs up. However, because no state is pure no fault, drivers can always be held financially responsible for the cost of injuries they cause in certain circumstances – that’s the loop hole. Some states allow injured parties to sue if their injuries meet certain standard for severity, while others allow it when total costs reach a certain dollar level. Below is a classic case of a no-fault situation. Neighbor lived in a four-plex apartment building. It had a 4-stall garage along with a 4-stall wide driveway. Because the driveway was so wide it was second nature for the tenants to pull out of their parking spots and turn around in the driveway instead of backing into the street. One Sunday afternoon, one of the tenants decided to go visit a friend. She got into her car and began backing out of the driveway in her normal manner. When all of a sudden she felt a bump and heard a scream. At first she thought she ran over her cat who would occasionally escape. She opened her car door and found half of a body. Scared half out of her mind, she shut the car off and ran into the house and immediately called 911. The driver was too scared to go outside at that point. As far as she knew, the half body, belonging to one of her neighbors, was still under the car and the driver was certain the injuries were serious. Her left rear wheel had crossed her body from her thigh on one side on the diagonal to above her pelvic region. The driver later learned that some strong man from across the street came over and picked up the car so she could get out from underneath. The neighbor announced that she was feeling fine and didn’t want to go to the hospital. But the police and ambulance didn’t feel the same way so they took her the four blocks to the hospital. Turns out the neighbor was sunbathing behind her car and somehow the driver didn’t see her when she walked to her car. She ended up with no broken bones, no internal injuries; just a tire track from her right thigh across to her left stomach. The driver felt absolutely terrible, accepted full responsibility, wanted to do everything and more to make it up to her. The next day, the driver phoned the insurance company to explain to them what had happened. They asked her two questions. #1 Does she drive? (yes) and #2 Does she own a car? (yes). The insurance company informed the driver that due to No Fault insurance the neighbor’s own car insurance would have to cover the medical costs. The driver was clearly at fault, yet the driver’s insurance wouldn’t cover the damages even though it was her fault. The driver went as far as to tell the neighbor to sue her since it was her fault and she felt totally responsible. The neighbor merely responded, “It was just an accident.” The lesson here - next time lay on the grass, instead of the drive way to sunbathe and risk the doggy doo. Interesting No-Fault system, wouldn’t you say?

Business Credit Cards for Those With Bad Credit

Corporate executives and successful business owners, who have exemplary credit records, usually have no problem in obtaining business credit cards. The card companies that issue business credit cards are in a constant race against one another – competing to achieve poll position in a race aimed at securing the custom of these ‘elite’ business credit card holders.

But then, what about those people whose credit records have suffered a few incapacitating knocks, leaving them in the bad debt category? The truth is that they will definitely have a much harder time when trying to gain approval of a business credit card application than those with good and excellent credit histories. This does not mean to say that those with bad credit records don’t need business credit cards!

On the contrary! Every small business - in one way or another - is benefited by having small business credit cards. These benefits are fairly well established by now: the ability to get the business expenses on track with the business credit card, the rewards and cash backs, and the ever ready credit line should the small business face a temporary cash crunch.

The question is: Can they get it?

Here’s the rub. Those with bad credit will have to work harder to get a business credit card secured. They will have to find a way to rebuild their credit standing. Contrary to popular belief, personal bad credit cannot be hidden behind the veil of a business. The business credit card issuers will inevitably draw your personal credit report in the process of evaluating your application for a business credit card.

That does not mean to say that all is lost. It is possible to get yourself approved for a business credit card even if you have less than sterling credit. Most of the business credit card issuers have specially designed business credit cards for people with bad credit or no credit history. The only requirement will be that your recent credit activities must be squeaky clean. That goes to say: no recent late payments and no filings for bankruptcies.

In addition to these business credit card issuers, there are also companies that are willing to help build or rebuild your business credit. This eventually leads to business credit cards. These companies have access to a pool of vendors who agreed to provide credit to people with bad credit. By continuing to transact with them – and being religious in your payments – they can report consistently good credit behavior to the business credit rating agencies, thereby gradually establishing the improvement in your business credit standing

They may have a business credit card issuer participating in the program, who then approves a business credit card for you. The benefits package under this business credit card product can be quite attractive. They can establish an immediate line of credit for you starting at amounts between $5,000 and $10,000 and eventually approve a credit limit of three times that initial amount.

What’s more, the business credit card will be issued with minimal credit or employment checks; in some cases, it is waived altogether. You will not even need to have a checking account. If your business needs some fresh capital, you will also be able to arrange for a secured loan.

If you can link up with groups like these, make sure that you use the opportunity well. Business credit cards are an especially good way to jumpstart the process of preparing your business to qualify for future commercial loans. Good credit histories involving your business credit cards will really lend credence to your business credit report.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Offshore Option May Lower Natural Gas Bills

Lowering natural gas prices begins with increasing supply to meet demand. That's the word from industry experts and a growing number of Americans are beginning to understand. In fact, Congress is considering legislation that would give natural gas suppliers access to the outer continental shelf to relieve the natural gas demand/supply imbalance. Natural gas is used to meet nearly one-fourth of the country's energy needs and is used for purposes ranging from cooking to dehumidifying schools to generating electricity. However, existing natural gas wells are running low, causing prices to jump. The American Gas Association (AGA) estimates that there is enough natural gas in the outer shelf to allow for nearly 30 more years' worth of American consumption. The new offshore natural gas wells would be produced using technology that not only helps efficiently draw natural gas from the ground, but that helps protect the environment as well. The technology represents a new way to access natural gas and has been seen as a cost-effective solution that balances America's need for more natural gas and its need to protect the environment. In addition, natural gas by its very nature is relatively clean to mine. Unlike oil, it dissipates when it hits the environment (as opposed to spilling), meaning offshore wells pose a minimal risk to aquatic life. In addition to increasing supply, the AGA says accessing the outer shelf will diversify America's natural gas supply, making it less vulnerable to hurricanes and other problems. Currently, about 20 percent of the country's natural gas comes from the Gulf of Mexico. When the 2005 hurricanes hit, production was severely disrupted, causing wholesale natural gas prices to rise, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Adding supply-side resources to other parts of the country can help protect natural gas (and prices) from a repeat of last year. Perhaps surprisingly, consumers aren't the only ones hoping natural gas prices will drop. Utilities say they want lower prices, too. Higher prices have actually hurt natural gas utilities for the simple reason that people use less natural gas when prices are up. By law, utilities are prevented from profiting on current prices. If access to the outer continental shelf expands, it will add to and diversify the nation's sources of natural gas supply, ensuring that there is enough gas to meet demand. A more diversified, less vulnerable supply of natural gas is considered to be the best way to help stabilize prices.

Business Credit Cards Essential for Home Based Businesses

Those who run home-based businesses belong to one of the most dynamic segments of the working world. Technology has revolutionized the way people work and we are witnessing probably the largest sociological shift in generations. If you are a home-based business owner you are part of that revolution.

Working from home gives you two wonderful benefits: you don’t have to pay rent for office space, and you don’t have to commute (no rush, no traffic, less gas). But working from home also entails careful planning especially when it comes to funding the business. This is where business credit cards become very useful.

The most common reason why home-based businesses fail is the mismanagement of finances. Many of those who own home-based business are using their hard-earned savings, home equity loans or lines of credit, and personal credit cards, not business credit cards, as sources of their business funds.

Using your savings may be preferable, if you have reasonable assurance that your home-based business will earn income at a rate higher than the interest rate on your small business credit card. In home equity loans or lines of credit, you will have to pledge the equity of your home. And if your home-based business does not succeed, you could lose your home. On the other hand, unless you use business credit cards for your business, you run the risk of commingling your personal and business expenses, and that makes them harder to manage.

The importance of business credit cards, especially for home-based businesses, cannot be disregarded. Whether the business is home- or office-based, the business needs to keep business finances separate from the owner’s personal finances. Business credit cards give owners the freedom to do just that. You will really appreciate this business credit card benefit when tax season comes and you download your business credit cards transaction history, as well as your monthly and annual reports, from your business credit card company’s website: tax filing becomes a breeze. Keep your personal and business finances separate with your business credit card; it’ll be good for you in the long run.

When you are just starting out your home-based business, you’re likely to incur big purchases. Use a business credit card to pay for office equipment such as computers. You will get some purchase protection, and this is one business credit card benefit that is impossible to overstate.

There are a number of ways to apply for a business credit card. You may be confused about which one of the many business credit cards offers to choose: there are so many flying around. You may want to talk with a friend who is business savvy before making any decision on which business credit card to get.

There may be downsides to using business credit cards, but prudent usage gives you a really effective financial tool. Any business needs credit; and business credit cards help you to establish just that for your home-based business. The best thing to do, if you have doubts on whether you should get a business credit card or not, is to talk to a business consultant about it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Making Shopping Lists

Most people these days are in a position to comfortably pay for the necessities of life. Bills like rent and electricity as well as food and clothing expenses, while not cheap, are at least affordable for most people who are in employment. What causes most people the financial hardships that they experience is the discretionary expenditures that they make. This is the money spend on things that they do not really need, and sometimes do not even want, but are enticed into buying while shopping. There is a field of science that retailers spend millions of pounds on every year that studies what is most likely to make people spend money in stores. Therefore, everything about a modern store, from the lighting, the music, the layout, the colours, everything, is carefully calculated to give you a sense well-being. This well-being will then make you far more likely to spend money on items that you had no intention of buying when you entered the store. It may be surprising, but for many people who overspend, the problem is not that they want to many things, but that they succumb too easily to the devices in stores that are designed to persuade you to make a purchase. Therefore, the most important thing to help you reduce spending on unnecessary items is to discipline yourself when you are shopping and not be tempted into making the purchases. One of the best ways to avoid succumbing to unnecessary purchases is preparation. What this comes down to in practice is making a shopping list. Then when you are in the store, stick to the list. Even before going into town or doing your Christmas shopping, or shopping for clothes, make a list of what it is you want to buy, how much you are expecting to pay and then stick to the list. Obviously you will not be able to know exactly how much everything will cost but at the very least you can limit yourself to only buying the items on your list. Another thing you can do is set a maximum amount to spend. You can set the limit at an amount you know you can afford and are comfortable with before hand and then you can keep yourself within this limit. You can even consider taking out the cash you are prepared to spend before hand and then leaving your credit and store cards at home. Whatever your limit, keeping to it, and deciding before hand what you want to buy and what you want to spend is the secret to keeping your spending under control.

Business Banking Explained

No matter where you are within your business, just beginning or have been in business for many years, one thing remains the same; your business needs a banking institution that is solid and great for businesses. Within this article, we will look at some of the main items you should consider when looking for a bank account for your business. There are many things you should think about when opening a new bank account for your business, each one of them should work to benefit your company in all ways necessary.

For starters you should look at some of the basics, first consider what type of company you are, limited or sole trader. For a limited business, you will be required to obtain a business bank account, while a sole trader has the ability to use their personal bank accounts for any activity within their business. For those who insist or are required to have a business bank account, you should consider a institution that has a team in place specifically for businesses.

Consider any fee’s that are associated with the bank account for example, overdraft fees or transaction feeds. Also, consider if the bank offers a period of time that is fee free for new accounts, if they offer this it is wise to take advantage of this offer. You should also look at any incentive offers that the bank gives you, for example, charge cards, free statements, or credit cards. Always check the interest rates offered on these account and consider if the chosen bank has internet banking, this is important because it allows you to have up to the minute information regarding various aspects of your account. Businesses will benefit from internet banking because it allows you to do your banking at your convenience, which we know that many busy business owners frequently do not have the time to visit the bank.

When you have finally sorted out the proper banking institution for your business it is time to open your account. There are many things you will have to bring to the bank when you go, this documentation could include your business plan or other various details in regard to your business. Additionally, you will have to take along your incorporation certificate, any items necessary to prove your identity (Photo ID, utility bills, and perhaps your passport), and a list of those who are authorized to sign any company checks.