Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting Out Of Debt,

Getting Out of Debt, The Smart Credit-Card Plan, the perfect paydown strategy

Behavioral economist Meir Statman, recently said “getting out of debt is the financial equivalent of trying to quit smoking." Just like any bad habit, good intentions alone will not be enough. To ensure success, we need to break our underlying patterns of behavior. How is it we live in the richest most powerful country in the world, but the average American is more than $11,000 in debt. Our European friends who live by a mainly debit card system have an average savings of $13,000. On a recent visit to Germany, I was shocked to find that less than 35% of all the shops and restaurants accepted credit cards. What would we need to do to reverse this trend and get into a (plus) situation.

Plastic Surgery
If we are serious about paying off our balances. We don't have to literally cut up our credit cards, just stop using them routinely. We should go green for our everyday spending. Try carrying around a set amount of cash to use each week. We make better purchasing decisions when we actually have to hand over the green stuff plus there's a preset spending limit. When we run out of money, we stop spending it's that simple. When the only way to purchase is plastic, buying online for instance, then use your debit card. Your debit card can also be used as an emergency substitute for cash should you run out.

Leave Those Cards At Home
The best way to ensure that you enforce the cooling off period on new credit purchases is by taking the cards out of your wallet. You should store them in a place that's not easily accessible and safe. Do not let others know where you have hidden them.

Close The Accounts No Longer Needed
Having unused credit available from lenders with whom you've had a long relationship will help boost your credit score. Having too many will harm your credit score. As a rule, 3 credit cards is what works best and try to never spend more than 50% of the available credit on any of the cards. This will keep your score at it's highest. You should also consider closing all your store cards, if you need to make a purchase then use your credit card and pay it off at the end of the month.

Lowering Your Interest Rates
Start by reducing what you pay in interest. We can start by calling our current credit card companies and explaining that we intend to transfer our balance to another issuer unless our interest rate is lowered. Almost all credit card companies run promotional programs with low or 0% interest. They will be willing to put you on one of those rather than risk losing your business. All you need to do is ASK.

Tackling Those Credit Card Balances
Finally we need to develop a strategy for paying off our existing credit card balances.

Gather all your credit card statements together and make a simple table listing the entire amount you owe, and the minimum payment and interest rate for each card. This will help us determine the order in which we should pay off our cards. We need to focus on the highest interest rate cards first and pay off as much as you can each month while making only the minimum payments on our other cards. When the first card is paid off, use the same strategy on the next-highest interest rate card and so on until you're debt-free.

Late Payments
Are the number one cardinal sin of debt management. You get hit with hefty late fees and very high penalty rates that can go to 30%, plus of course your credit score will take a big hit.

We all have a responsibility to improve our financial literacy and develop the required skills and practices for effective financial management. There is a real need to get away from the “Someday things will get better in my life” or the “Someday I will be able to earn enough money to stop worrying about the bills. There is a lot more to life than that, but it has to be said and understood that the only person that can change your life is YOU. There is NO substitute for Action! With Action, you will overcome your fears and hesitations and accomplish everything you set out to do and more.

Have an opinion or a question you would like me to answer, then write me! http://www.CarlHampton.com

Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting Close To Retirement Age?

If you find yourself getting close to retirement age without a nest egg, do not despair. There are still things you can do during your 40s and 50s to get yourself prepared for retirement. They include figuring out how much money you will need during retirement, income sources like social security or retirement pensions, setting goals, start contributing to your 401 (k), be aggressive, downsize, and eliminate debt to name a few.

The first thing you should do if you find yourself close to retirement with no savings is to calculate the amount of money you will need during retirement as well as what age you plan on retiring. You will find many resources online that will help you come up with this number such as retirement calculators.

Once you have a general number you will need for your retirement, then you should figure out the income you will receive each year in social security benefits, pensions, other retirement accounts, 401(k) plans and the like. Be conservative when figuring this number because you do not want to overestimate. Then, you can subtract what you will be earning each year from what you need to live comfortably and that will give you the money you need to save.

Now that you know how much money you will need on average you can set some savings goals for yourself. There are plenty of ways you can save money from shopping with coupons to taking your lunch to work with you to not buying a new car every year. Wherever you are spending money and can scale back, do. It will mean the difference between a happy retirement or a stressful one.

Next, if you have a 401(k) plan and are not using it, start! Start depositing the maximum allowed so you can get your retirement account beefed up and prepared for your years of relaxation. Also, see if your employer has a match program as well, this is free money and will help your nest egg grow that much quicker.

If you have some investments, consider getting a little aggressive with them. The stock market and mutual funds are a good place to start, and with the help of a stock broker you can likely turn a little money into a lot pretty quickly.

If you are still concerned about making it during retirement consider downsizing to a smaller home, less expensive car, fewer vacations, and less shopping sprees. This might take some effort, but it will be worthwhile to be able to retire happily and not continue working when you are 75 years old.

And finally, eliminate any debt you have. Do this as quickly and aggressively as possible because the longer you wait the more money you will have to pay. So, if you pay it off quickly it might be difficult, but it will allow you to save more money for retirement in the long run.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting Cash Now for your Structured Settlement

If you’ve agreed to accept a structured settlement, it’s likely that you felt a sense of relief that your financial uncertainties were being resolved, and that you’d have the funds necessary to pay your bills, support your family and go on with your life. When you agreed to the terms of the settlement, hopefully with the help of a financial advisor, you accepted a series of financial payments that made sense for you at that time.

Perhaps you’d suffered personal injury in an auto or other accident, you were awarded damages in a product liability case, or you were the victim of medical malpractice or were even the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit. You agreed to a periodic (usually monthly) payment, maybe in the form of a lifetime income stream, that seemed to be the answer to paying your ongoing living expenses and perhaps your medical costs. You made the best decisions you could at the time, with the information you had – based upon how life was then, and what you expected for the future.

But life seldom works out as we expect. Maybe you’re on the road to recovery from the accident or other event for which you received the settlement, and want to move and buy a house, get married, go to school, or buy a business. Maybe medical bills or high interest debt is an undue burden on you that you need to resolve now. Or, if your family has grown, and your children no longer need for you to provide for their education or other expenses, you may want to spend more of the money you have coming to you now, instead of later.

What can you do to match your finances – specifically your structured settlement – with the life you now have or want to have? You should always consult an attorney or a financial advisor, but here’s a basic overview of your rights and options in assigning your structured settlement:

Settlements are funded by single premium annuities, issued by insurance companies. Instead of paying you a lump sum amount, the party found responsible for injury or damages to you has paid a one-time lump sum to an insurance company, which has, in turn, invested it. The insurance company has projected the interest rate or securities dividends they will receive on the lump sum, and based upon the length of time and number of payments you chose or were offered for the structured settlement, they calculated the periodic payment amount you’re now receiving.

So who owns what? The insurance company owns the annuity, and you, as the beneficiary, are entitled to an income stream, or the series of periodic payments. Because you don’t own the underlying asset, the annuity, you therefore can’t sell the annuity contract to another party to receive your money. However, under federal and state law you can, with court approval, sell all or a portion of the payments you are entitled to receive in the future. In doing so, you can receive a lump sum cash payout now.

What are your options? As an annuitant, or the beneficiary of the structured settlement annuity, you are, in most instances, able to assign to a third party the payments you are entitled to receive in the future. Some Structured Settlement Agreements state that payments cannot be assigned, and your legal counsel will advise you of options and alternatives if yours is written with such a clause. Fortunately, state laws and recent case law have rendered contracts written with such provisions unenforceable, although other regulations may apply.

How can you determine today’s lump sum value of your structured settlement payments? This depends, in part, upon the amount of each payment and when it is due. The payment amount and schedule will be outlined in your Structured Settlement Agreement. It is also affected by the financial strength of the issuer of your annuity, because the better the financial position of the issuer, the more likely it is that the purchaser of your cash stream will be paid. The current financial climate, as well as interest rates will also affect your cash-out amount. Your financing company will explain these calculations and assumptions to you.

What steps do you need to take?

- First, you really need to take a hard look at whether receiving your funds now will truly be best for you and your family. This is a big financial step, not to be taken lightly. That said, your circumstances may have changed sufficiently so that a lump sum or partial payment in the form of a lump sum makes sense, and is better for your family’s current and future lifestyle and financial stability.

- Next, contact a reliable financing company that purchases structured settlement income streams. They can guide you through the process and help you consider alternatives, such as the sale of a portion of your structured settlement income stream, if this best meets your needs.

- The financing company will assist you by hiring an attorney experienced in structured settlement assignments. The attorney will explain to the court your desire to change your settlement, and any changes in your life that have caused you to make this decision. Because the attorney will be petitioning for judicial approval, he will need to understand your current finances, obligations and desires.

- Having all your documentation and agreements, and furnishing them promptly to your advisors and potential funding sources is key to receiving a cash payout in the shortest possible time. Because court approval is required, the time from the initiation of the request to the final approval is typically 45-90 days. So, just as with other large financial decisions, such as obtaining a mortgage or refinancing, it’s in your best interest to begin the process with a little time to spare, before you feel a time crunch. You deserve an equitable deal, as quickly as is possible, not just the deal you can make in the very least amount of time.

- What can you expect now? Once you have chosen a finance company and attorney, the courts will put you on the docket and hear your petition for receiving your funds in a lump sum. They’ll want details of the future payments due you, the proposed amount of the lump sum distribution, and any costs you will incur as a result of restructuring your settlement. Their basis for granting you an approval is satisfying themselves that the assignment of your payments to another party and receipt of current cash will be in your best interest and in the best interests of any dependents you may have.

- Once you’ve agreed upon a lump sum amount with your finance company, and obtained court approval, you’ll receive a wire transfer or a cashier’s check for your lump sum amount. You’ll now have the cash you need – right when you need it most.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting An Offshore Bank Account Via The Internet

There is no need to use the many middleman websites you will find via a search engine. Most of these are *bogus*, even the slick-looking ones.  More and more banks are offering offshore bank accounts direct. Just get a list of banks in the country you're interested in, and go to their web sites.

Opening an offshore bank account is like opening one in your high street; meet their criteria, and you're in. The only difference is you're not there in person.

The first thing is to find out whether they will accept citizens or residents of your country. For example, Swiss banks tend not to want US customers; they don't want the hassle from the IRS.

You will need to prove your identity, and the legal existence of your company, if you wish to open an account for it.

If applying by mail, DO NOT PART WITH ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. Get copies notarised by a notary public.  Originals can be used for fraud or identity theft. Or they can get lost.

A Notary Public is a public officer commissioned by the State to perform notarial acts. A Notary is an impartial witness. The notary is empowered to issue an apostille.

Apostille - Is a method of certifying a document for use in another country pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention. With this certification by apostille, a document is entitled to recognition in the country of intended use, and no certification or legalization by the embassy or consulate of the foreign country where the document is to be used is required. 

In practice this means you provide evidence to this man that you are who you say you are, and/or that your company is what you say it is. You take an oath on the Bible. That's right, it's not a joke. 

Due diligence: Banks need to show they have checked who their customers are, and how they came by their money. 

Passport - If you apply by post a notarised copy is needed;

Information about yourself - name, date of birth, address, phone number etc.  

Your economic background - documents showing how you earn your money (work contract, bank statement, tax return, company documents);

Origin of your deposits - documents showing how you earned them. If you sell a house, proof of the sale, a copy of the estate agent's listing, and so on;

Information about your deposits - how much you plan to deposit, and what you plan to do with the money once you've banked it. 

If opening a company account, you send an apostilled copy of the certificate of incorporation to the bank providing your account, along with evidence of your identity, an application form, and any other documents they ask for. 

If you want to get an offshore bank account, *consider visiting the bank in person*. If you can, travel to the country in question, and open a bank account there. You probably live near one tax haven at least. This especially applies if you are planning to deposit large sums; find out who you're dealing with!


1. Don't pay a middleman to open a bank account for you. See above. 

2. Do not use services which offer bank accounts in Eastern European countries. 

You are likely to be cheated, possibly by the bank itself. Avoid Latvia!

3. Avoid web sites where:

The business address is a P.O. Box, or a 'Suite';  <BR>
The site is on a free web host;  <BR>
The site is badly translated into English;  <BR>
You have the sense you are dealing with Africans or Eastern Europeans;  <BR>
The site has not been updated recently e.g. the Copyright reads 2001;  <BR>
They've only been running for a few years;  <BR>
They offer a range of dubious products - second passports, citizenships, anonymous debit cards;  <BR>
You cannot pay via credit card - it's much harder to get refunds on banker's drafts, Western Union and e-Gold etc; <BR>  
They require you sign a confidentiality agreement, or you have the sense you are entering quasi-legal or illegal territory.

Bogus offshore banking sites can threaten to report you to your tax authority if you question their methods. It's an old con trick; get the mark involved in something illegal, then he can't go to the authorities.

Offshore bank accounts and company formations are just like their onshore equivalents; there's no big mystery about them. If you want a company formation, contact a local registration agent, who speaks English, in the country of registration. Then use another local agent to check what the first one's done.

Open your bank account yourself.

One last thing: *don't think that because your bank account and company are offshore you can do business in your home country, and/or with fellow residents, and avoid taxes there*.

You'll find plenty of websites that'll purport to help you, right up until the time you get a small brown envelope from your country's tax inspectors, inviting you in for a little chat.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Get yourself the Platinum power

Platinum - the name spells ‘elite and special’. A Platinum credit card is no exception! It gives you the buying power of the elite and provides special offers that will have you floored. Get yourself the platinum power, as a platinum card has the twin attractions of lower interest rates and more privileges.

There are several advantages of holding a credit card. With any credit card, you have the greatest advantage of buying now and paying later. When you make heavy purchases like say, an expensive piece of jewelry, you get to make the actual payment usually after a period of one to two months, which will typically be the credit repayment due date. This way, you get to save a substantial amount on interest. Carrying a credit card enhances personal safety as it greatly reduces the need to carry heavy cash around. If you are on an international holiday and are looking to exchange currency, a credit card will get you a better exchange rate. You can easily keep track of your spending by checking your credit card statement periodically and there is no need for you to track it separately.

The special and numerous extra benefits are the chief distinguishing factor of platinum cards from other credit cards. There may be some travel rewards that you can use on airfares or for staying at certain hotels. Shopping points are given that can be used to shop for your favorite things. You might also get some free insurance coverage for a certain period. Some amount may be given as a bonus or cash-back, at the time of getting a platinum card. The credit card fee may be waived for a period – the benefits are endless.

With platinum credit cards, you can actually convert your spending into earnings and if you use your platinum credit card in an intelligent manner, you can make it work for you in more than one way. When you buy at certain shops, you get heavy spot discounts. Other than having a high credit limit for spending and a number of incentives in tow, platinum credit cards can help you to improve your credit rating. By using your credit card to the fullest extent and making the repayments within time, you can build a credible credit history and credit report. A positive credit report gives you a good credit score which is of immense help when you want to go for loans in the future like a car loan or a home loan.

Credit card companies have some standards for the customers who can apply for their platinum cards. These customers usually have their accounts well maintained, that is they make use of the card regularly and make the credit repayments on schedule. Some companies even offer more than one type of platinum credit card to privileged members.

There is a wide choice of platinum credit cards available in the market today. If you are ready to devote some time and effort to compare and contrast the range of options, then it is a simple matter for you to find the platinum credit card that best suits your needs. Before venturing to make your decision, though, you could list all the things you want your credit card to do. Then you could sift through the various special offers and choose those that will make maximum sense for you. Next, all you do is get yourself the platinum power by choosing the platinum card that satisfies all your criteria!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Get To Know The Bookkeeping Basics

Most people probably think of bookkeeping and accounting as the same thing, but bookkeeping is really one function of accounting, while accounting encompasses many functions involved in managing the financial affairs of a business. Accountants prepare reports based, in part, on the work of bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers perform all manner of record-keeping tasks. Some of them include the following:

-They prepare what are referred to as source documents for all the operations of a business - the buying, selling, transferring, paying and collecting. The documents include papers such as purchase orders, invoices, credit card slips, time cards, time sheets and expense reports. Bookkeepers also determine and enter in the source documents what are called the financial effects of the transactions and other business events. Those include paying the employees, making sales, borrowing money or buying products or raw materials for production.

-Bookkeepers also make entries of the financial effects into journals and accounts. These are two different things. A journal is the record of transactions in chronological order. An accounts is a separate record, or page for each asset and each liability. One transaction can affect several accounts.

-Bookkeepers prepare reports at the end of specific period of time, such as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. To do this, all the accounts need to be up to date. Inventory records must be updated and the reports checked and double-checked to ensure that they're as error-free as possible.

-The bookkeepers also compile complete listings of all accounts. This is called the adjusted trial balance. While a small business may have a hundred or so accounts, very large businesses can have more than 10,000 accounts.

-The final step is for the bookkeeper to close the books, which means bringing all the bookkeeping for a fiscal year to a close and summarized.

How To Stop Foreclosure

Foreclosure is not a word that any of us wants to even hear, let alone think about the process happening to us. But, financial hardships may befall the most responsible people and the foreclosure process may look more and more like it may happen in your life or the life of someone you love. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to stop from being foreclosed on. Foreclosure isn’t easy, and stopping foreclosure isn’t easy, but if you are well informed you can keep from losing your home.

Stop the process in its tracks

The best thing you can do is to stop the foreclosure process in its tracks. As you may or may not know, foreclosure is a long, drawn out process that gives the owner of the home plenty of chances to stop the process and deal with their debt. The first interactions that the bank or lender has with you is not part of the formal foreclosure process, and that is a good time to get a handle on the situation and really keep it from going any further. If you have missed a handful of mortgage payments, don’t write it off as too late to save your home and your current lifestyle. If the bank has not yet sent you a notice of foreclosure, the process is not yet official and you still have plenty of time to turn it around.

The first thing you should do is respond to the phone calls and the letters that are coming in the mail for you about your late payments. This may be painful and something you don’t feel like doing, but it will be less painful than having your home taken right out from under you. Call the bank your lender; you may be surprised to learn exactly how willing they are to work with you. If you explain what your financial situation is, your bank will likely be willing to work with you and will just be happy to hear from you. Sometimes, all it takes to stop the process from becoming a formal one is a response from you.

Once you contact the bank or lender you need to be prepared to set up payment arrangements that will get you back on track. Let the bank know exactly how much you can pay each week. Even if you can only pay a couple hundred dollars each week, this will eventually get you back to where you should be and the bank will consider it a good faith effort to keep your home and as long as you keep up with these scheduled payments, you’ll find that the bank is willing to work with you as long as you need them to so that you can keep your home as well as keep them off your back. It might take awhile, but you can get on top of your late payments. Remember, your bank doesn’t want to foreclose on your home, so you should take all of the chances you are offered and communicate with the bank about the issues you’ve had paying your mortgage, and then arrange payments, and be sure to make them.

Show the bank you mean business

Once you’ve received a notice of intent to foreclose, you still shouldn’t lose all hope. Most of the time you can still keep your home and reconcile the debt with your bank. You might have to make a larger payment or the bank may actually try to demand that you pay the debt in full, but if you get a foreclosure attorney involved you may be able to undo these issues. Most of the time if you can pay a portion of the missed payments on the spot you’ll be able to proceed normally and set up new monthly payments so that you don’t have to lose your home. An attorney can often step in and help you set up payments that will not leave you broke, but will also satisfy the needs of the bank. Sometimes it is easier to have an attorney present to sort of act as a middleman since this is a very stressful situation for most owners, and it can be difficult to keep emotions out of it. Attorneys will also be able to ensure that your rights are protected and that you have every chance possible to save your home from being foreclosed on.

If you miss the boat on this type of thing, you can actually show up at the auction for your home. As long as you are the highest bidder, the bank doesn’t care who buys the home just that the home sells. If you are intent on saving your home, the auction is a great place to be because there may only be a handful of people there that bid on the home and if you are able to put down a large sum of money, you might just win your house back! Don’t dismiss every chance possible to win your house back, as you may figure out how to come up with the money just in the nick of time.

As you can see, there are many ways to keep from being foreclosed on. Many people simply sell their homes, sell belongings, stock, or take money from savings accounts to pay off their debts and get back on track. Foreclosure does not only mean the loss of your home, it means damaged credit and the need to look for a new place to live. If more people would realize that the bank really does not want to foreclose on their homes and that they can take advantage of these offers by just picking up the phone and getting in touch, fewer homes would be foreclosed on. Banks will often help you refinance if you are just not able to make such big payments each month, or they’ll make payment arrangements for you to get on top of the debt. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get help, and get aggressive about keeping your home because you can stop foreclosure.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Get To Know The Bankruptcy Filling Process If This Is Your Option

Filing for bankruptcy is a very personal decision. Heavy debtors may choose to file a bankruptcy if they see no other way out from their heavy debts. By declaring bankruptcy and filing a petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the bankruptcy filer will be protected and relief from debts under the Bankruptcy Code.

Bankruptcy filing should be you last option if there are no better options available, because the consequences of filing a bankruptcy will follow you for 7 to 10 years. If bankruptcy is your only option, then by understanding the process of filing bankruptcy will get you more prepare to face it. Bankruptcy procedure and exemptions may vary from one state to another state. This article will walk through with you the general process of filing a bankruptcy.

The first part of the bankruptcy filing process is collecting your personal financial information. This includes your existing secured and unsecured debts and tax returns for past two years. Prepare all your deed documents which include real estate you own, car title, land title and other loan documents. You may want to order your credit report, it will provides you some helpful information on your past records.

Then, you either assign a bankruptcy attorney or you can choose to file the bankruptcy yourself. If you choose to file the bankruptcy yourself, you need to get the bankruptcy forms (you can get these forms online) and get them fill up. You have to fill in your current financial status and recent financial transactions (within last 2 years) into the bankruptcy forms. At the mean time, you need to decide to file under what type of bankruptcy; there two commons types which are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, chapter 7 bankruptcy is the preferred one, but not all are eligible to file under chapter 7. If you choose to file under chapter 13, you need to enclose your proposed repayment plan with your petition. Once the bankruptcy petition is completed you will need to file the petition with your local United States bankruptcy court. If you have assigned a bankruptcy attorney to handle your bankruptcy case, the attorney will help you and guide you through the above process.

Once you have submitted your petition to the bankruptcy court, you will be immediately protected under the bankruptcy code. Your creditors are not allowed to make direct contact with you or making a claim to any of your property from the date of filing. About 1 month later, the trustee will call a first meeting with all your creditors and your creditors&#39; lawyer. Objections are typically resolved by negotiation between you as the debtor and your creditors. If there is no challenge raises in the meeting, you should receive a notice from court after 4 to 6 months stated that your bankruptcy has been discharged; otherwise, if compromise can be reached by all parties, a judge will intervene.

<b>In Summary</b>

Bankruptcy filling is a long process, it may takes up 6 months to a few years if a court case involve. You must be prepared to face it and if you have no confidence to get through yourself, it&#39;s better to assign an attorney to handle the bankruptcy process.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Get Started With Wells Fargo Online Banking Today!

Wells Fargo online banking offers many of the features you would expect a bank to offer. In addition to the ability to view your bank accounts, pay your bills, and keep up-to-date with your loan payments, Wells Fargo online banking offers customers something even more important: convenience.

That’s because when you choose to go the Wells Fargo online banking route, you no longer have to spend your lunch hour doing your banking. You can sit right at your desk or anywhere you have Internet access and find out everything you need to know about your money. And you can find it out regardless of the hour or the time zone you’re in.

Need to make a mortgage payment but don’t have your coupon book? No problem. Away on vacation and had a little too much fun and now you need to transfer some money from your savings account over to your checking account? That’s no problem either! Want to calculate loan payments or trade stocks and bonds? Once again, when you’re set up with Wells Fargo online banking, you can do almost anything you would normally do in person. You can even order new checks and get stock quotes. In addition to consumer and business finances, Wells Fargo also provides investments and insurance.

Running a business is hard, but your business banking doesn’t have to be. If you have your business banking set up with Wells Fargo, you’ll be happy to know that the same activities and monitoring capabilities are available for business customers.

If you haven’t already signed up, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity. Anyone who has an account can start taking advantage of the many Wells Fargo online banking features right now. There’s no cost to enroll in this program and you need not worry about security either. The Wells Fargo online banking site is secure and you can confirm this by looking for the yellow security padlock on the bottom of the screen.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Get out of credit card debt by changing your mindset

1: Get a grip

It is estimated that Americans will charge $148 billion to their credit cards during Christmas period. A new poll also found one in four Britons felt they were struggling with debt as the UK annual interest bill for credit hit £93bn

Don’t just sit back and wait for the postman to deliver those credit card statements before you start to think about how you are going to pay them. If you have to borrow money to pay off your credit card debts, you’re in big trouble!

You also need to look at your debts objectively, if you are paying out between 15-20% of your monthly income on your debts than you need to revaluate your finances. If that figure is higher than 20%, you may need to enlist the help of a professional.

Financial experts say that paying off this year’s credit card debts are going to be particularly hard with rising fuel and food costs, allied to a double hit of rising mortgage payments and falling house prices.

2: Prioritize

There are many different types of debts you can have such as personal loans and mortgages. Credit cards may be one of the most convenient sources of money but is definitely one of the most costly. Credit card rates can vary from 14% to an unbelievable 35%.

If you realize that credit card debts are so expensive you need to prioritize this debt first. If you persist on just paying the minimum payment it could take you 30 years to pay off the debt. Considering most mortgages are base on a 25 year term, 30 years to pay off a credit card debt is not sensible financial management.

Ask yourself wouldn’t the money you save from your credit cards be better on funding a holiday or new car?

If you want to calculate how much interest you are going to pay with minimum payments use this rudimentary but effective method: Take your balance and multiply it by your APR. Take that number and divide it by 12. That’s the amount you will have to pay in interest
If you could consolidate your credit cards debts into a low interest rate personal loan than this would save you a load of money. But make sure you rip up your credit cards or hide them away as you do not want to be in the same situation again.

3: Watch the rewards

Everybody likes presents or “rewards” but remember why they are giving you these rewards. Credit card companies team up with other providers to offer everything from air miles to points to spend at a retail shops but remember the reason for them giving you these rewards, it’s so that you spend more money!

If you have a balance on your credit card your monthly interest charge will far out weigh any benefit from these rewards.

Look at the rewards objectively, if you have to spend £40,000 or $75,000 to earn enough reward for a airline ticket that you would have cost you cost £800 its really not worth it.
The moral of the story is that reward cards can be good for people who pay off balances in full and for those who use the card for business purposes but if you have balances that you are struggling to pay off, stay away from them.

4: Roll over debt with caution

Taking out a loan using your house as security to pay off your credit card debts can be a smart move for some people. The loan may have a lower interest rate compared to the several credit cards you have so you could save a lot of money. But it is important that you consider all the possible downsides that come with this option.

First of all, when you stop making credit card payments, the credit card companies are not going to come and take your home away from you. If you stop paying instalments of a loan that is secured against your house than repossession is a risk.

The solution is not paying off your credit card debts with a personal loan and then continue using your credit cards. The solution is addressing the underlying problem which is your spending habits and having far more control over your budget. The credit card should be your last resort not your first option.

5: Change your thinking

At their essence, credit cards are 30-day loans that should be paid back in full. It's a convenience. Not a way of life. Credit cards are not a license to shop.

And although more and more people are doing this, you shouldn't put your mortgage payments on your credit card. This will just compound the trouble that you'll have down the road.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Get away from it all

Haven't you ever had time you wanted to get away from it all? In March/April 1978, www.motherearthnews.com published a story about a couple who bought McLeod's Island — a 90-acre island off the coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.

They have a few animals, spend very little on groceries, and are pretty well sustained by the island itself. Although it does present them with some challenges:

    "The sea, you know, is not called "restless" for nothing. A glass-smooth bay (as we've learned so well!) can churn-sometimes seemingly in seconds-into a windswept chaos of currents and combers. We've also seen that same bay (the one in which our island is located) thaw and then completely refreeze in just hours on a single December day.

    Winters up here can be especially variable. Continual spring-like thaws throughout 1976's cold season, for instance, kept our bay filled with slushy ice that was too thick to push a boat through ... but too dangerous for even a fox to walk on. We were marooned for three full months, from the first of January until the end of March. Last winter's record cold snap, on the other hand, filled the bay so solidly with pack ice that we could hike back and forth to the mainland for our mail and toboggan loads of supplies any time we wanted."

For some of us, we find the Internet gives us the freedom to be able to work and live almost any place we want to. These people didn't have that luxury. I use the past tense as I can't find any current information about them. Who knows? Maybe the tide swept the out to sea.

Life is full of sacrifices. Some are just more dear than others. Still, I don't think buying an island is in my future.

You can read the whole article here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gas Prices, Hurricanes and a Madman

Did you think the non-inflation adjusted record high in oil and gas prices form hurricane Katrina last September was just a blip on the radar?  If you did, you may be in for a very rude awakening. Directly below are some very compelling reasons why this may be the case.

In the late seventies and early eighties automobile ownership in China was virtually non-existent.  China's roadways, once synonymous with packs of bicycles, are experiencing an explosion of car traffic driven by the nation's ever growing consumer class. Last year, automobile sales in China exceeded 5 million units. China is now the world’s fastest growing auto market. However, even with this recent surge of automobile ownership in China the market remains virtually untapped. At present, its estimated that significantly less than two percent of China’s population, 1.3 billion people, owns an automobile but with cheaper models and a growing used car market, auto ownership in China is steadily increasing.

The oil production decline rate, sometimes referred to as Hubbert’s production curve or peak oil, at several major global oil fields has been considerably steeper than expected. For example, the U.K. has now become a net importer of crude oil and its production is dropping fast. Presently, crude oil production in the U.K. is below 2 million barrels per day and has appeared to reach its absolute peak of 2.9 million barrels in 2000.

Shortages of unleaded gas could potentially occur this summer because the U.S. ethanol industry can't keep up with the demand for fuel-grade alcohol to mix with gasoline.
Imports of ethanol could possibly meet demand but are currently subject to a 54-cents-per-gallon tariff.

The current standoff between the United States and Iran, OPEC’s no.2 oil producer, over Tehran’s nuclear energy ambitions also applies upward pressure on the crude oil market. Although Iran has claimed in the past they will not use oil as an economic weapon that could change at any moment. Iran recently has officially gone nuclear with the first successful enrichment of Uranium.  So the whole Iran situation is tense at best.

AccuaWeather has forecasted the 2006 hurricane season, which starts June 1 and runs through December 1, to be more active than normal. Considering the current fragile status of refining capabilities within the U.S. any potential damage to those facilities from hurricanes this summer could have a dramatic effect on prices.

Due to political instability and rising violence in Nigeria, oil companies
have suspended the production of over 600,000 barrels per day of crude oil.
Don’t expect any quick resolutions to these long-term problems in Nigeria. At present, over 20 percent of Nigerian production remains at a stand still following attacks by militants.

Crude oil demand is rising at a very fast pace. At present, it’s increasing around 1.75 million barrels per day. Even with Saudi Arabia's vast crude oil resources the market will be unable to cope without some drastic measures. Furthermore, the water content is rising in the old supergiant oil fields of Saudi Arabia. Referred to as the water cut, there are rumors now circulating that water content is over 50 percent. When it reaches 80 it’s for the most part game over. Of course the water cut is considered a State secret in Saudi Arabia for obvious reasons.

Many of the world’s major oil fields are very old and potentially are nearing or have already surpassed their peak in production. There are about 120 oilfields in the world that produce half of the world's crude oil supplies. The top 14 fields, which make up 20 percent of global supply, are over 50 years old. In Saudi Arabia, which contains a quarter of the entire global oil supply, there are only five major fields producing 90 percent of their supply.

It was estimated after the Iraq invasion that this area would produce close to 5 million barrels of oil in future. However, plans to develop Iraq’s infrastructure have been scrapped because of relentless insurgent attacks as well as the threat of potential civil war. Although, even with a peaceful Iraq, the two oil fields that comprised about 80% of their crude oil production in the past are in very poor condition.

Crude oil prices recently broke out of a long-term bullish symmetrical triangle trend continuation pattern. For those without a working knowledge of technical analysis this is a very common type of trend continuation pattern.

All of these points really lead to the potential “perfect storm” in regards to oil pricing. Petroleum is utilized in many of the products we purchase on a daily basis. There are some people that agree with our predictions and believe that we should just turn to alternate sources of fuel. This is a good idea but it is truly logistically impossible to just stop using oil.  So how does this affect the ordinary person? The only way one could potentially deal with such potential calamities, as any of these many scenarios will pose, is proper preparation. I am afraid just driving a hybrid will not cut it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Games: Which are the Easiest to Play

Here is a guide to the best online games. Find yourself winning, or at least not necessary losing in the long run. The best casino games are games that have a low house edge or games where by practicing your skill you can have an advantage over the casino. Those with the lowest house edge are blackjack and video poker. By improving the skill with which you play poker and blackjack, you gain an advantage over the other player or over the casino.

House Edge:
First, here is an explanation about the term house edge. The house edge is the way the casinos create an artificial advantage over the player to ensure their profits. The advantage is created by not paying the true odds. The house edge is the gap between the true odds and the odds the casino actually pays out for a winning.

Here is an example for clarification. The true odds in an American roulette game are 37:1. However, if you place a one dollar bet, you would be paid 35 dollars instead of 37 dollars, which are the true odds. The two dollars gap between the true odds and the actual payout is the casino house edge. You can calculate American roulette house edge by dividing 2 dollars by 38. The result is 5.26 percent.

This is an exceptional casino game. It is the only casino game where you play against the other players instead of competing against the casino. There is not a house edge in poker. Instead, most casinos ensure their profits by collecting a rake, which is a certain percentage of the pot used to cover expenses. Other casinos charge each player by the hour.

Poker is the best casino game to play if you are a skilled player. A skilled player with experience, excellent knowledge in certain game rules, smart strategy and an ability to read facial expressions would have an advantage over the less skilled poker players, especially those who rely on their good fortune.

This is the only casino game where the advantage can be shifted from the player to the dealer. When you are <a href="http://www.gambling-portal.com/blackjack.html">playing blackjack</a> and using an optimal strategy, the house edge can be lower than 0.5 percent. You can increase your odds of winning and lower the house edge by learning the strategy based on the mathematics of the game.

Another way to lower the casino advantage in blackjack is by card counting. A skilled card counter can adjust his bets and his strategy according to the proportion between high cards and low cards. Mastering card counting requires skill and practice. In addition, since casinos are not especially welcoming card counters to their blackjack tables, you should also practice your hiding skills. 

Video Poker:
The resemblance between video poker and slot machine sometimes causes confusion. Nevertheless, contrasting to slot machine, video poker is a game of skill. Playing video poker using an optimal strategy can lower its house edge to less than half percent. As opposed to slot machines, in video poker machine the pay table on the front of the machine enables you to determine the expected return of the game.

For example:
1) In a 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker machine, the expected return percentage can be as high as 99.5 percent.
2) In a 8/5 Jacks or Better machine the return percentage can be 97.3 percent and 95 percent in a 6/5 Jacks or Better video poker machine.
3) In a full paying Deuces Wild  machine, the expected return percentage can be 100.17 percent.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Full Service versus Discount Stock Brokers

Investing in the stock market has become more popular than ever. And especially since brokerage services now offer Internet transactions that can be placed from home, work, or from the local cyber café; individuals have begun investing for themselves without the help of a full-service broker. But many find that they either don't have the time to properly research their stock picks, or they lack the expertise needed to successfully trade the market. For those who want professional help, there are both full and discount service brokers.

The traditional full service stockbroker does more than simply buy and sell stocks for clients. A qualified full service broker will also act as a financial advisor, to help clients choose stocks that are appropriate for their particular needs and investment goals. For example, a full service broker may recommend steady, dependable stocks that pay a quarterly dividend to someone who is on a fixed retirement income. To a younger person trying to grow savings into a nest egg, a broker might take a more aggressive approach, and recommend stocks that carry more risk but also have more upside potential, like small companies in new and revolutionary technical industries. The full service broker will evaluate a person’s entire financial situation, and then help pick stocks to enhance one’s portfolio. Each time a stock is bought or sold, the broker also handles every detail of the actual transaction, by calling in the order and following up to ensure that it was properly executed. A full service broker is in charge of the day-to-day technical details of buying and selling, but is also a professional who gives stock market advice and educates customers about stock market strategies.

The discount broker, on the other hand, may be equally qualified, but does not dispense any advice to customers. Even if the discount broker can see that a client could use some guidance and personal advice, he or she will refrain from playing that role and will only follow the client’s orders to buy or sell specific stocks. In other words, these brokers will assist in doing the technical tasks involved in participating in the major stock exchanges – something that ordinary consumers can’t do because it requires training, licensing, and certification. But if you are confident that you can make your own stock market decisions without anyone’s oversight, a discount broker can execute your trades. Because they are not responsible for picking successful stocks for you, they don’t charge as much money. A full service broker charges for doing research and giving professional advice, in addition to other brokerage duties. But a discount broker only charges for basic buying and selling services.

Discount brokers charge a fraction of what full service brokers charge, and they are a good and economical choice for those who prefer to do their own research and analysis of the stock market. But you don’t have to limit yourself to one or the other. Many investors use both types of brokers. They may have part of their portfolio of investments under the care of a full service broker, and then trade other stocks on their own, through a discount broker.

Choose one – or one of each – for your own stock market transactions, and see which works best for you once all the fees are paid and you have a chance to evaluate the wisdom the stock picks made by your broker and by yourself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Filing For Bankruptcy Will Be A Thing Of The Past

This year President Bush signed a bill to change the bankruptcy law. This will go into effect this October of 2005. The new bankruptcy law will make it more difficult to file for bankruptcy. This may be bad news to individuals who are drowning in debt. On the other hand it is good news to business and individuals that work very hard to maintain good credit and not suffer from profit loss.

When the new bankruptcy law goes into effect it will be harder for anyone to file for chapter 7 and chapter 11 bankruptcy. Filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy will be your most likely option.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy? It is an option that is given to those who have any kind of steady income. Basically, anyone who has a job. It is a payment plan and not a way to wipe a way your debt. Which means the days of wiping the slate clean are over. However Chapter 13 does protect your assets. The court devises a payment plan in which you are to pay to a trustee that is appointed by the court. Usually the payments are to be paid off in three years time. There are some exceptions, but that is up to the courts to decide.

So now that the bankruptcy law is changing what are some things people should do to avoid debt?

One very important thing is to never live outside your own means. If you have credit cards don't use them as if you will have the money every month to pay the minimum balance. Be prepared for the unexpected such as a loss of your job or loss of any other source of income. This is where some people get into trouble. Protect yourself and your assets by being insured. Some people get into debt due to unexpected medical expenses or property damage. When you don't have a way to help cover these expenses you will find your self in some kind of debt.

Try and keep some money off to the side in case some kind of unplanned expense should arise. Have some kind of back up plan to avoid the need for bankruptcy.

One of the reasons for the bankruptcy law change is because of over use of the system. There are actually some people who pre plan filing for bankruptcy as they abuse their credit cards. It sounds hard to believe, but it is true.

One may ask how this is fair to the people who didn't do anything wrong and still landed them self in debt? Unfortunately changes in the law aren't always fair to those who did nothing wrong. As the old saying goes, " It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch".

The only thing we can do now is become more responsible about our finances. Take more steps to avoid the need to ever file for bankruptcy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Free Money for Your Retirement?

It can be more than a little discouraging to start making retirement planning calculations. You’ll usually find that to achieve the annual retirement income you want, you need to be saving a lot more than is practical.

Suppose, for example, that you use a program like Quicken or Microsoft Money to determine that your retirement savings should equal to $5,200 a year—which is the same as $450 a month. (This savings amount will produce roughly $15,000 a year of retirement income if you save for 20 years, increase your savings with inflation, and earn 9 percent.)

Okay. That's great information to have. But practically speaking, where do you find this money? Well. first you want to get the free money that's available.

<b>The first source of free retirement money</b>

While $450 a month seems like a lot of money, you may be able to come up with this figure more readily than you might think. Say, for example, that you work for an employer who’s generous enough to match your 401(k) contributions by 50 percent. In other words, for every dollar you contribute, your employer contributes $.50.

In this case, you need to come up with $300 a month to have $450 a month added to your retirement savings. To make this calculation, you divide the monthly savings amount, $450, by 1 + the employer’s matching percentage, 50%. The formula $450/(1+50%) equals $300.

<b>The second source of free retirement money</b>

Also suppose that you pay federal and state income taxes of 33 percent and that you can deduct your 401(k) contributions from your income. In this case, the actual monthly out-of-pocket amount you need to come up with equals $200, not $450. To make this calculation, you multiply your share of the needed monthly savings, $300 in this example, by 1minus the 33% marginal tax rate, which equals 67%

In this case, the actual amount you need to come up with on a monthly basis equals $200 because $300 times  67% equals (roughly) $200.

<b>Sometimes, most of your retirement savings money can come from others</b>

Admittedly, $200 a month is still a lot of money. But it’s also a lot less than the $450-per-month savings you need to add to your retirement savings. In fact, most of the money in this example you need to save comes from other sources!

The preceding calculations argue for two tactics when saving for retirement. First, if an employer offers to match your contributions to something like a 401(k) plan, it will almost always make sense to accept the offer—unless your employer is trying to force you to make an investment that is not appropriate for you.

TIP    If you do want to contribute $300 a month to a 401(k) plan and need to reduce your income taxes withheld by $100 a month to do so, talk to your employer’s payroll department for instructions. You may need to file a new W-4 statement and increase the number of personal exemptions claimed.

Second, any time you get a tax deduction for contributing money to your retirement savings, it’s almost certainly too good a deal to pass up. As described in the preceding example, you can use the income tax savings because of the deduction to boost your savings so they provide for the desired level of retirement income.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Free Money and Government Grants: Frequently Asked Questions

Numerous grants from the government are unclaimed every year for various reasons. Many people just don't know these free money from the government is accessible to the public. Some people are discouraged about the application process for grants mostly because they've been given incorrect information on the actions necessary. Another reason people just don't take the time to apply for grant money because they are frightened about what is unknown to them. Because billions are unspent every year resulting from a lack of understanding and knowledge, the following will help you answer a few frequently asked questions.
Can I obtain government grants for debt that is personal? There are many reasons why individuals face debt. irresponsible spending habits rank highly on the list of leading causes of debt. Yes, there are some government grants intended to help people with personal debt.
Are grants from the government meant to be for the general public? You bet. There has been a lot of debate on whether there is free money accessible to the American public. If you are in need of financial aid in the form of housing grants, building a small business, living expenses, college tuition or home improvement, there are probably several different grants from the government available that might be of help to you.
Is it possible to receive free money right away? do not be misled into assuming that the government is able to give out grant money at a moment's notice. That isn't how it works. There is usually an application process that is involved in applying for government funded grants. Depending on the kind of grant you are applying for, the amount of time is going to vary.
Can I obtain more info relating to free gov grants? Most are not educated on the free money that is out there for them. For this specific reason, resources such as books, Internet sites, CDs, and tapes have been designed to aid citizens of the United States discover more tips and information regarding money from the government. There are agencies and specific people that specialize in researching grants for those that are in need of help. Various companies offer guides and resources that will help moderate the time and expenses generally required for the application process for grant programs.
Do I have to repay the grant in the event I'm approved? A grant is different from a loan that has to be paid back. Government grants are free when the funds are utilized for its expected purpose. Government grant money is intended to encourage citizens of the United States to make an absolute effort to advance their well being and community. Education grants are particularly designed to help people advance their lifetime earning potential.
Is it difficult to come by free government money? Because grants have been made known to the American public, more of the argument is about whether or not government grants are easily acquired. The truth is that there is a process for application and a level of commitment that is involved in getting approved for any government grant. It's up to the individual to fill out an application and agree to what is described in each grant program. But, of course, the process that is required is certainly worth it when you consider that the money doesn't have to be paid back.
Why does the US government give away free grant money? The government dispenses billions in free grants every year to aid US citizens with their endeavors to get money to pay bills and to make improvements in their community. As a taxpayer and a United States citizen, the government has allocated funds to work on our behalf.
Taxpayers and Citizens of the United States are eligible for many incentives from the government. It is the individual's responsibility to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. Knowing is half the battle.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Money? Not quite – close enough.

We all know there is no such thing as free money (even a lottery win or a donation are not free as they require buying a ticket or some marketing to attract the donor which costs money).  So how would one go about trying to get almost free money that lasts?

Well one way is to ensure that a good proportion of the money that you earn is designated to going into two things one is savings and the other is investments.  Save for a rainy day is a common saying however with everything that is happening in the world saving is not enough we all need to plant seeds that will grow over time and compliment the savings.

With investments you can be an armchair investor or an active investor that choice is up to each individual and their risk appetite.  There are many ideas for investing unfortunately a lot of them require a lot of money to start with and some need you to practically have a degree on that subject!  I have come across one market that is little known by the common individual which offers a wealth of benefits to its participants.

The market I was referring to is also very straightforward and that market is the Currency (Foreign Exchange or Forex) Market.  This market is the largest in the world; it is not trading in any one place and it trades 24 hours a day from Monday morning in Australia or Japan to Friday evening in the USA.  There are a lot of things that affect the currency markets.  Regardless of these the markets are very simple to follow and one can profit from them as long as they follow a simple system, with the understanding that small manageable losses will have to be incurred to make large, long term, consistent profits.

Due to the constant market it is the most liquid as well, meaning there are a lot of participants so you are not limiting your opportunity by being involved like you would with stocks & shares.  Access to the forex is now available to the individual and at very little investment cost, some firms will allow you to start trading with as little as 300 (£, $ or Euros).  However, it is probably better to start somewhere near the 1,000 mark (and trade as if you had only 300).  Also most firms do not charge a commission – so for your small investment and some trading you could get some free money (profits).

How is the profit made?  Most firms work on the basis of 100:1 margin which means for every 1 (£, $ or Euro) you control 100!  This poses a risk and a major benefit.  If the price moved 1% on the day you will be making or losing the face value of the trade!  Here is the good bit – you can limit the downside by using stop losses – you predetermine the level by how much money you are willing to lose if your decision should be wrong.  You can even use this technique to protect your profits.

Forex trading is very simple if you understand the very basics.  Should you wish to learn techniques and ideas there are courses available showing you how you too can invest actively to get an extraordinary return, over time this will provide for that rainy day with ease; let’s not forget that it is commission free with most firms and with a small amount of initial investment capital you too can make your almost free money!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fraud. Beware Of The Fraudsters

According to Which, the consumer watchdog, about 5 million of us have been targeted by fraudsters and have lost money as a result. Fraudsters are clearly finding rich pickings!

So what are the most widespread scams and how do you steer clear of them? Here are six scams to be aware of.

You've won a lottery prize

Here you receive a letter, or e-mail telling you that you've won a big prize on some lottery you've never heard of. All you have to do is pay an administration fee to claim your prize. The alternative approach is to get you to call a premium phone number to claim.

Guess what – there's no big win and there never was! This scam catches out tens of thousands of people every week.

The “My money is frozen in an overseas account” scam.

It normally starts with an e mail giving a long and involved sob story about someone or some business, which has a very large amount of money tied up in an account and, through the most unfortunate of circumstances, they cannot get the money out. To do so, they need a UK bank account to have the money paid into. Of course, if you help them they will give you a big slice of the money. And the money is always held in a some obscure country, often in Africa.

Another really common fraud. It starts with an e-mail giving a long sob story about someone or some business, which has a large amount of money, often $ millions, tied up in a overseas bank account. Through the most unfortunate circumstances, the money is frozen and they can't withdraw the money. To do so, they must have a UK bank account to pay the money into. Naturally, if you help them, they'll give you a good slice of the money and you'll be rich!

Invariably the money is always held in a some obscure country, often in Africa. Then, once you've taken the bait, they come up with stage two of the scam. They say that for the money to be transferred to your account, you need to send a payment, often thousands, to cover the administration or legal costs of facilitating the money transfer. The actual details always change, but the bones of the story remain remarkably consistent.

Will the payment arrive? Will you ever get your money back? Of course not! In fact, after you've made a payment, they'll ask for more! The up-front money has to be increased and, unless the extra is sent, the money you've already sent will be lost. It puts you in a classic catch 22 situation. But not really - either way, you'll never see any of your money again!

Millions receive these e-mails every month, so if you get one, delete it.

Boiler Room scams

This is a hard-selling technique often targeting middle aged professional people with some but limited investment experience. The fraudsters often trace their targets by searching for small shareholders in the share registers of UK quoted companies.

They then contact their victims by phone or e-mail to persuade them to buy shares in obscure companies on the promise of great returns - all turn out to be worthless. Sometimes they even try to sell shares in companies that don't even exist. Similar versions of the same basic scam involve currency investment, futures or stock options.

If you receive an approach from an organisation trying to sell you investments, ask for their Financial Services Authority (FSA) registration number. Under the UK's regulations everyone promoting investments must be regulated by the FSA. If they won't or can't supply the number, put the phone down. If they do give you a registration number, don't agree to anything until you've phoned the FSA's help line. There you can check out that the firm is indeed genuine. (call 0845 606 1234). Remember, never commit yourself until you are absolutely sure that the company is reputable. 9 times out of 10 it won't be – you have been warned!

Credit Card Fraud

The introduction of PIN numbers has greatly reduced credit card fraud. But purchases through the Internet use the “card holder not present” system, not PIN numbers.

This means that if a fraudster can get hold of your credit card details he'll happily use it to buy on the Internet. Then he fades into the mist with the spoils, often to sell them for cash.

To reduce your chances of being caught by credit card fraud, you should sign up to “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard Secure Code”. You'll find further advice about credit card fraud on www.getsafeonline.org and www.cardwatch.org.uk.


Fraudsters are also highly active on the Internet persuading bank account holders to disclose their banking details, security codes and PIN numbers.

The fraud kicks off with a bogus e-mail apparently from your Bank. The e-mail always explains that for security reasons, it needs you to confirm your account details. Often it says that unless you complete the security confirmation, your account will be frozen. But security is the least of their concerns – once the fraudsters have your bank details, they'll simply empty your account!

You should be aware that Banks never ask you to send them confidential security details by e-mail or by any other method. If the Bank does need to confirm some confidential information, they'll usually ask you to visit a Branch.

Identity Theft

Every four minutes an identity theft takes place in the UK.

If fraudsters can get your personal details, they can apply for credit and open bank accounts in your name. This inexorably leaves a trail of criminal activity and debt - all conducted in your name.

All the fraudster needs is a utility bill in your name and a credit card or bank statement. So watch out for unauthorised bin men! Better still, shred any personal letters, bills and documents you need to dispose of.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Four Steps to Being 'King of the Economic Jungle'

To compete in today's economic jungle, you need to embrace change and respond to it better than your competitors. Those leaders who do so recognize the opportunity such an approach can bring.

Therefore, if you want to survive and prosper in today's marketplace, you need to anticipate your clients' needs and respond quickly and efficiently. If you don't, your competition will seize the new opportunity and leave you behind.

To position yourself advantageously, learn as much as you can about your client, because he or she is your highest priority. Just as a lion only targets large prey, you must focus and expend your energy strictly on the clients who will provide the greatest return for your efforts.

Below are suggestions for how you can be different and gain the competitive edge.

1. Be different: Fire your clients. To strengthen your business, keep only the clients with whom you have a good relationship, who consistently use your problem-solving services and who are loyal to your business.

2. Be different: Make a personal visit. Clients are the center of your business, and e-mail or telephone calls can't take the place of a personal visit. Many companies also waste time and effort trying to capture business that is not worth the effort. The solution is to insist on direct contact with

potential customers. There is no substitute for the firsthand information you will gain from a face-to-face meeting.

3. Be different: Have the right attitude. Your clients' power resides in their level of contentment with your services, and your power lies in determining the best and the most profitable actions to take with your clients. Develop an attitude of service to show your clients that they are important to you, and put that attitude into action every day. Also, bring your clients into your circle of influence. You will gain their trust, and the more they trust you, the more they will promote your business, resulting in an ever-widening circle of contacts for your company.

4. Be different: Learn from failure. A strong leader takes responsibility for failure and uses it to the best advantage. Failure is an integral part of success. Accept failure and learn from it. Recognize that every hour you spend dwelling on failure could be spent creating a successful project. Do not let failure stop you from trying again.

When you get to know your clients and treat them like your No. 1 priority, you'll capture the "lion's share" of the market. Practice the strategies above so you can better embrace change, meet client demands and combine action with a positive attitude. You can then create a vision for your business and your future success.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Foreign currency trading

Foreign currency trading is done in a foreign exchange market where one type of currency is exchanged or traded for another type of currency. Currency trading is regarded as the largest financial market in the world. Players participating in currency trading within a FOREX market are the large banks like Citibank and Deutsche bank, nationalized and government banks, multinational firms, financial institutions and investment companies. The daily volume of the present global forex market is around US $3 trillion. Given the huge size and high liquidity of the markets worldwide, small players cannot easily do trading in a FOREX market.

Trading within a market is done in levels, where a player in a level doesn’t have access to other levels. The top level is the inter-bank market comprised of large banks like Deutsche bank, Citibank, Union bank of Switzerland and other banks across the world. The top ten players sweep off 70% of the total business done in the FOREX trading. In the top level, the difference between the bid and ask price known as Spread is very minute and is not available to other circles outside. As the levels descend, the difference increases mainly due to the volumes traded. Level of access for a player is determined by the ‘line’, the money with which one is trading. Currency trading has almost doubled today since 2001 mainly because of the recongnition of FOREX trading as an investment and asset class and also an increase in the fund management assets of pension funds and hedge funds.

Commercial companies do currency trading mainly to pay their customers for their good or services and trade in small amounts compared to large banks. Investment management companies do trading to manage the pension or endowment or investment portfolio of their customers and are usually in large amounts, because they have to invest in foreign equities for which they need to exchange currency to buy those equities.

Let us see the typical characteristics of a FOREX currency trading. Due to the over-the-counter nature, the currency markets doesn’t trade in a single dollar or a euro rate, but rather a different number of rate applicable only to that particular market. There is no central house or hub or exchange or clearing house as traders deal directly with each due to this OTC nature.  Usually these rates are close to each other; otherwise special traders called arbitrageurs take advantage of the difference in the rates and make huge profits out of it. Main trading centers across the world are in London, New york, Tokyo and Singapore. As the time zones differ, trading is done almost 24 hours a day. Fluctuations in the rate occur due to changes in the inflation, interest rates of banks, GDP growth, trade deficits and surpluses, cross-border M&A deals, economic situations, financial health and some other macro economic conditions.

Currencies are traded for each other and each pair of currencies is a separate and unique product and usually denoted by XXX/YYY. During creation, the XXX is known as base currency is the strongest and YYY the weakest. Today the US dollar is in almost 88% of the transactions followed by Euro (37%) and yen. The most traded pairs are Euro/US dollar, US dollar/Yen and GB pound/US dollar.

Trading is done through different kinds of instruments like derivatives, spot transactions, forward transactions, options and futures, swaps and exchange-traded funds. Currency speculation is done by speculators who do an important job of transferring the risk from those who can’t bear to those who can bear it. Speculators always face controversies due to the risk they take up. Currency trading is affected by some factors like economic and financial situations, political scenarios, and other psychological issues related to the markets.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Foreclosure is a Problem Across the Nation

Do you own your own home or business? If you have a mortgage, and you are working, struggling to survive from paycheck to paycheck you are not alone. There are millions just like you were are in jeopardy of losing their home, because of foreclosure. Foreclosure is when one is behind on the mortgage payment, when you miss two or more payments to the financing company and the bank decides to take your home from you.

Foreclosure is going to wreck your credit, and it is going to leave you homeless. You will have to move out and to another place to live, and sometimes you can even end up owning additional money to the bank even after they take your home or business. If you are unable to pay your monthly payments, you need to find a way to get your finances back on track, to catch up on those payments, and to keep your home.

To get your personal finances back on track you can do a few things. First, if you have already received a letter from the bank about foreclosure you should call the bank. Find out if you can set up any payments to avoid foreclosure. Ask if there is anything you can put up against the house to avoid losing your house. Foreclosures are not something that the bank or financing company likes to do, but must do in the case of your non payment. If you have a retirement account, if you have CD’s or any type of savings this could be the time it is going to pull you out of trouble and for you to avoid foreclosure.

If you have nothing you can fall back on, and the bank states there is nothing you can do to avoid foreclosure you need to get moving on a back up plan. You need to find a place to live, and for your family to move. You need to get out of the house that is being foreclosed, and you need to take with you the stuff you can before the house is locked up by the foreclosing company. The foreclosure of your home mortgage, can often times include the sale of all your personal items to help the bank recoup some of their money they lost on your mortgage. The foreclosure of your home is going to cost the bank money, in interest, payments, and more money in the cost of having to resell your home, which is why items in the home are often auctioned off by the bank.

A foreclosure process is actually quite a long one. If you have missed one payment on your home mortgage loan, you will receive notification by the bank of your missing that payment. If you miss more payments, the bank will begin calling your home. The foreclosure process is going to start. You will not have more than three months, generally, before the foreclosure process begins not only to affect your credit, but also where you live, the items that you own, and your ability to obtain any type of help in resolving the matter.

To avoid foreclosure on your home, get a second job. Cut back on the money that you spend when you are out on the town. Avoid spending money on things such as a cell phone, the car, television shows, extra activities, gifts and presents, avoid spending money that is not being spent on your home. Catching up on your mortgage payments for your home is something you must do to avoid foreclosure by the bank, and to avoid them taking your home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Forecasting the Future Value of Your 403(b)

If you’ve got Microsoft Excel (or just about any other popular spreadsheet program) running on your computer, you can use its FV function to forecast the future value of your 403(b) account.

The FV function calculates the future value of an investment given its interest rate, the number of payments, the payment, the present value of the investment, and, optionally, the type-of-annuity switch.  (More about the type-of-annuity switch a little later.)

The function uses the following syntax:


This little pretty complicated, I grant you. But suppose you want to calculate the future value of a 403(b) account that’s already got $10,000 in it and to which you and your employer are contributing $200-a-month. Further suppose that you want to know the account balance—its future value—in 25 years and that you expect to earn 10% annual interest.

To calculate the future value of the 403(b) account in this case using the FV function, you enter the following into a worksheet cell:


The function returns the value 385936.13—roughly $386,000 dollars.

A handful of things to note: To convert the 10% annual interest to a monthly interest rate, the formula divides the annual interest rate by 12. Similarly, to convert the 25-year term to a term in months, the formula multiplies 25 by 12.

Also, notice that the monthly payment and initial present values show as negative amounts because they represent cash outflows. And the function returns the future value amount as a positive value because it reflects a cash inflow you ultimately receive.

That 0 at the end of the function is the type-of-annuity switch. If you set the type-of-annuity switch to 1, Excel assumes payments occur at the beginning of the period (month in this case), following the annuity due convention. If you set the annuity switch to 0 or you omit the argument, Excel assumes payments occur at the end of the period following the ordinary annuity convention.

Monday, May 9, 2011

For Sale By Owner and the Web

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the Internet has radically changed society. In real estate, this has led to a massive surge in for sale by owner properties on the web.

For Sale By Owner and the Web

In the past, choosing to go the path of “For Sale By Owner” could turn out to be incredibly difficult and overbearing. Realtors dominated the market because they had proprietary access to the multiple listing service, known as MLS, and you had to be listed in it if you wanted your property to be seen. Thankfully, the Internet has made selling a home yourself incredibly easy in a variety of ways.

If we flash back 10 years to the pre-internet days, we would find a real estate market that looks foreign to what we have today. In that market, the number one method for selling your home was to list it in the multiple listing service controlled by real estate agents. This, of course, allowed them to get their hooks into you and squeeze out a commission regardless of the quality of service they provided. If we flash forward to the present day, we find a new landscape.

A 2005 study of homebuyers across the United States revealed a fact that most realtors are loath to admit to, but know exists. Over 70 percent of homebuyers shop for potential properties on the internet. Yes, seven out of every 10 are hopping online and finding the property of their dreams. Why? The reason is very simple. Would you rather drive all over town looking at homes that don’t really match what you are after and blowing your valuable time or would you prefer to sit at your computer and click through properties with pictures? Unless you really love driving, the answer is obvious.

In our modern society, time is the most valuable asset. Listing your property on the internet is a huge time saver because it is all point and click. If you are selling, you can upload descriptions and pictures for buyers to view. If you are buying, you can see pictures of both the inside and outside of potential properties while relaxing at your desk. Either way, it beats sitting in traffic while driving all over town.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Follow Through With Your People To Make YOUR Team Strong!

Finding nuggets in the numbers is not only possible but very
probable.  Never give up and you will see the potential of
making money with the nuggets you have mined and shined.
With your nuggets you are making progress with people that
will build your program.

On with the show! Keep your team organized, let them do what
they are good at. People have a high energy level when they
do something that interests them.  Setting the tone for team
work with the load split between your group with expertise
and counsel of the whole group.  Marketing is like making a
movie right director- right cast- right script makes the perfect
movie.  Program this to your business good directions- people
willing to learn the program- makes the program workable for

Leadership is amazing, another word for educator, this is your
key to take control and getting the job done.  Train your
downline and then they will train theirs.  When someone needs
direction do not fail to give them opportunities to succeed
and grow, they will come to respect you as a leader.  Just
like the spider and the web, he starts with a web and finishes
with a maze that captures his prey.  We know if someone has
been trained right he will continue to see progress with his
people in his/her business.  counsel your people to be there
for their people with a conscious effort to lead to success.
Leadership is knowing how to help sow the seeds of independance
for your team members.

Lean on your mentor to understand how to follow up with your
team members.  He will let you know the ins and outs to help
you succeed with your folks.  Always listen and read about your
niche to help you learn how to help your group.  Interest in
learning all you can about the program to make yourself
knowledgeable to help others.  Articles and forum posts will
give you means to learn what will work for you.

Okay follow through is a very necessary step to keep your
momentum up.  Let your downline team members know how important
it is to do the same.  Communication is the glue that holds your
book together.  How can you help your people prosper with no
direction.  Every program can be workable with a plan and this
is a very certain part of your plan.  Know your program and make
sure your team is educated about all the steps to finish up in
the front of the pack.

Weaning little kittens mom knows takes time.  She knows being
close makes them feel secure.  Take time to instruct but know
marketers need to spread their wings to fly.  Also know they
can do it with the right training.  Time spent training your
downline will increase their value because they will be able
to train their people.  Stay in touch and give them tips for
advertising as you find it.  They can use free or low cost
advertising to start,  with traffic exchanges, (your time is
valuable, so if you have funds buy credits to show your site
without the hassle of surfing and move to another source of
advertising).  Solo ads to contact addresses work well, ezine
ads and blog and forum posts all allow you to get known on the
internet.  These are not hard to use and it will work for people
just coming on board.

Follow through with your people is simply doing what is right and
very necessary.  When someone purchases from you give them what
they bought and bonuses to keep them as your customer for a long
time to come.  If someone connects with you as a sponsor, stay in
touch.  Send them updates of advertising that works for you so they
can get off to a good start, staying in touch is double fold for you
to keep your team excited and accountable to you and to themselves.
It is also easier to keep a team member than searching for a new one.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Focus to Reach Your Goals

How YOU Focus on getting what you want!  Frame your outline to give your business a drive to succeed.  Layout so you can see how far you have come and where you still need to go to achieve your formula for success.  Making the money you need to have the life you have dreamed of for you and yours.  With the table set it is easy to enjoy the buffet of life.  Everyday, list the things that need to be done in the priority of their importance.  If the list is not completed, not a problem, continue to work on the high priority items. 

Outline all the details, just like planning a trip your goal is just like the destination of your trip.  You make reservations, pack and continue on your way.  Here you put down on your list what it will take to accomplish your goal, how to get started.  What form of advertising, follow-up with your people and helping them when they need it.  Lay it out so you always have it clearly in your mind where you are going and how you are going to get there.

Call yourself up to follow your goals.  Start small and work up, you will allow yourself to see your successes along the way and that will inspire you to continue.  If you find a title to an ad is not drawing like you think it should rethink what you are trying to get across to your people.  Your ad tracker lets you know what is working, put a new one on a up and coming title and see if it draws better.  Test & re test until you get it right.  If your results are failing then start from scratch again, brainstorm until the right one appears and use it.

Using established ways to promote is fine if it is working to bring in people for you.  Using your banners and traffic exchanges will help get you traffic.  Ads in your safelists get you known as will your picture to bring recognition and value to you as a real-live person working online.  Don’t be afraid to try new ways.  Having your own site or Blog gives you the freedom to use ads, banner exchanges & contact pages for others to find you online.  Traffic is key and you need your advertising to bring this to your site.  Calculate what is working for you and concentrate with priority there.  The goal is to get results to reach your first milestone and continue on.

Sending your articles to sites help keep you in tune with your goals.  Always send them in regularly, this holds you accountable for goals set and the ones to come in the future.  Remember articles inspire you to reach for the top as well as others.  When you think about doing it you think its impossible but your mindset is very important as with anything in life.  You are what you think that you can do.  Climbing the mountain is just as easy as getting started with your online business one step at a time.  The impossible becomes possible.  Focus until your goal is achieved.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Five ways to increase your income.

Copyright 2006 David Brown

Here are five positive and effective ways to increase your income.

1. Do you have objects or clutter around your house which you are not using and could sell to increase your income? In today’s electronic world EBay would be a good choice to use to sell these objects. There are books which are available to assist with becoming effective with using the internet for this means or even to design a simple web page which could sell advertising. Holding a yard sell or boot fair would be another excellent option to increase ones income.

2. Do you have an effective budget, planning system working in your life? A budget is an organised managed system which tells you exactly how much you have coming in and going out over a period of time. There are several types of budget systems which can be used. On the internet there are different web sites that gives free down loads for basic budget systems. I suggest that you use them as it can make life easier. It is amazing that when money is managed correctly then it produces more. It is a fact that the universe will provide more income when finances are managed correctly!

3. Do you have an idea which you are passionate about? Think about Alexandra Bell, he invented the telephone. Today a telephone is amazing! When you have an idea, go to work on it NOW! First of all write the idea down on paper. Then work to expand the idea as soon as possible, while it is fresh in your mind. Continue creating the idea until it becomes reality. Seek advice and help from people who can help you. It could provide you more income.

4. Think about starting a small business. It does not have to be a big business but with a lot of hard work and focus on long term goals then it is possible to establish. Use experienced people who have already set up businesses in the past. Work on that life time idea.

5. If starting your own business seems daunting or not for you then if you work for a boss, negotiate a pay rise. Tactfully approach your boss and ask for a pay rise. Give your boss positive reasons why he should consider this. Make sure that you are willing to work longer or harder, but remember your priorities in life.

Thank you for reading our article.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Five New Trader Pitfalls You Can Avoid

So you want to trade, eh? Or have you already started? What drew you to it? Was it the huge profit potential? Maybe it was the excitement. Or perhaps you love the challenge of solving a big, multi-dimensional puzzle.

Whatever the case, there's certainly a number of things that make trading the financial markets worthwhile. At the same time, however, there are some huge obstacles along the path to profits and success. This article discusses five ways to avoid trouble in the markets. They will help protect your capital and increase your chances of success. Ready? Let's jump right in!

#1 Avoid Errors in Order Entry!
The quickest way to lose money in the markets is to make mistakes when you place your orders. Fortunately, this is something very easy to fix. PAY ATTENTION! It's as simple as that. Every trade entry system you could use has some kind of order confirmation mechanism. Take the extra two seconds and check to make sure everything is correct. I can assure you this will save you money.

#2 Use Only Risk Capital!
New traders often get so caught up in the excitement and anticipation of trading that they let common sense go on holiday and trade with money they have no business putting at risk. Any money you put in to the markets must be risk capital, money you can afford to lose and not impact your basic financial situation. It's hard enough to be successful as a fledgling trader. You do not want the added pressure of having to make money and/or not being able to afford losing it.

#3 Start With Enough Capital!
It takes money to make money. You've heard that often enough. Accounts that are too small can be a major hindrance to trading success. They suffer from transactions costs that are proportionally higher than is the case for larger accounts, which hinders returns. They also restrict the number of positions you can have at one time, which means you cannot always take good trades that come along and you may not be able to diversify as you should.

#4 Trade Small!
When in doubt, put less money at risk. There is no more swift way to lose huge chunks of money than to trade too big. Your trading size should be determined by your account size based on the risk being taken. If you are risking an amount of your account that potentially puts your long-term ability to keep trading in question, your position is too big. If this means you cannot trade certain instruments, find something else.

#5 Avoid Trading Too Often!
Trading can be fun, exciting, and profitable. It is also an intermittent reward system, like gambling. That means it's easy to get hooked and in a dangerous cycle. The feeling you have after a winning trade will make you want to do it again. This can lead to sloppy trading. Some traders do not make any additional trades the same day as they close out a position. That helps get some time and space to ensure good decision-making based on their system, not their emotions. Do whatever you must to ensure you always trade in control.

New traders are prone to mistakes as they learn how to be successful. If you take the advice of this article, you should be able to prevent unnecessarily losing money because of things you could have avoided. Learn from the mistakes of others. It will make you more successful in the long run and make the path you take a bit smoother.