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Archive for February, 2011

A Brief Description Of The Most Powerful Economic Data Releases

Written by admin on Feb 28th, 2011 | Filed under: saving

In his best-selling book, Trade Your Way To Financial Freedom, Van Tharp argues that the price of a financial asset at any given time is based on the shifting market perception of the ever-emerging fundamentals.  With this thought it mind, it is easy to understand why it can be useful to understand and track economic data releases as a trader.

Each month, every country in the developed world releases a string of economic data, which gives traders and economists a better understanding of the underlying fundamental strength or weakness of a country.  Financial markets, of course, respond wildly to these data releases.

Bloomberg always polls a panel of economists each month on every piece of economic data that is set for release in order to find what the market is expecting.  These expected figures are then made public, and this figure is where the market expects the data release to be.  If the actual release varies significantly from what the market was expecting, then there is typically a large amount of currency volatility in fx trading in the direct aftermath of the data release as the market prices in the new figure.

In the rest of this article, we are going to list the major economic releases each month and offer a brief description.

Non-Farm Payroll

This is the most important data release of the each month for the U.S. dollar.  NFP is always released at 8:30 am est on the first Friday of each month.  NFP is considered a leading indicator of employment, which in turn is a leading indicator of overall economic health in the U.S.  Currently, as the U.S. economy attempts to gain solid footing after the financial debacle of the last few years, NFP holds extreme importance since employment is a major problem right now.

Retail Sales

The U.S. economy is based on consumer spending, and the Retail Sales figure is a leading indicator of overall consumer behavior.  If Retail Sales comes out better than expected, then the United States dollar typically rallies, as this is a sign of economic strength.  However, if Retail Sales comes out worse than expected, the dollar tends to sell-off as investors remain skittish of U.S. investments.

Inflation

Inflation is reported each month through several reports including Consumer Price Index, Producer Price Index, and Home Price Index.  Each of these reports offers inflation readings in different sectors of the economy, but CPI is oftentimes considered the most important.  When inflation beats expectations, a currency tends to rise as inflation fears lead to interest rate hikes.

Central Bank Speeches

Each month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has several scheduled speeches that he gives about the economy and monetary policy.  These speeches are typically followed by Q&A sessions with the press, and since these sessions are unscripted, they can lead to surprising comments, which in turn lead to strong currency volatility as the market responds to unexpected news.

FOMC Notes

Each month, the Federal Reserve releases the Federal Open Market Committee notes.  These are notes that were taken during the Fed’s last interest rate meeting, and the notes offer further insight into the Fed’s decision-making process, and they can give the market clues about future monetary policy decisions.  The FOMC  notes tend to cause strong volatility in the market during times when there is general uncertainty concerning the Fed’s immediate decisions.

In normal economic times, interest rate announcements are very volatile news announcements, but over the last few years there is basically no movement around those releases in the United States since everyone knows the Fed is now raising interest rates until well into 2012.


Simple Steps To Increase Your Creditworthiness

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed under: credit score

It is easy to unwittingly damage your credit score, but it’s not simple to return to previous levels of creditworthiness.  Any careless act that damages your credit score will take time and effort to correct, so the best tactic is to perform actions that will increase your creditworthiness constantly and consistently to repair any damage that has occurred.  There are some simple steps that can be used to increase your creditworthiness over time.

Pay All Of Your Bills On Time

Paying all of your bills on time is the single greatest thing that you can do to increase your creditworthiness.  Many companies report late payments to the three major credit bureaus and each late payment reported on the accounts that you hold will decrease your credit score by a significant amount.  Too many late payments can easily drop a credit score from excellent to poor in a matter of months and it may take years to raise the credit score back to its previous numbers.  Making sure that all of your bills are paid on time will ensure that you will not damage your credit score with non-payments or late payments.

Keep Your Credit Usage Minimal

Once a credit card has gotten close to the limit, it will only take a minor disaster to push you over the limit of the account and damage your credit score.  In fact, many lenders frown upon using more than 30% of your available credit at any given time and your credit score calculation takes this into account.  The higher the percentage of credit used, the more it will damage your credit score.  For the best credit, you will need to keep your credit usage minimal and pay off your balances whenever you are able.

Use Different Forms Of Credit

A varied credit profile that has been kept in good standing is much more impressive to lenders than a great credit rating based on a single form of credit.  Diversity in your credit profile shows lenders that you are able to get credit for your needs and that you repay these obligations in the manner dictated by the agreement that was signed.  Having a credit card, a car loan, and a student loan that you are repaying or have repaid is better than having just the credit card listed on your credit report.


Are You Dealing With A Bad Debt Relief Company?

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 25th, 2011 | Filed under: debt relief

The number of people facing crushing debt continues to increase each year as salaries go down and credit card interest rates continues to rise.  High debt levels make it very difficult for people to make all of their payments on time and fees and interest will raise the balances of these accounts even more.  This is the reason why many of these individuals contact debt relief companies in despair, frantic for any solution that can help them with their problems.

Many debt relief programs are geared to help those individuals facing large amounts of debt reduce their debts in a deliberate and methodical manner, but people looking for a faster solution often get suckered into signing up for debt relief programs that only aim to charge high fees and remove more money from the person’s bank account.  These less than honest debt relief companies are easy to spot if you know the warning signs and signals.

Making Promises That Sound Too Good To Be True

Some companies will tell the people that call them for assistance anything that they can to get the person to choose their business and start sending in fee payments.  If a company is promising that they can reduce your debt to next to nothing, that you will be paying pennies on the dollar to settle your debts, or that they can build you a brand new credit profile, there is a good chance that they are only telling you what you want to hear so that you will start sending them your money.  None of these actions can be accomplished by legal means so the company is either lying or willing to commit criminal acts in your name.

Requiring The Payment Of High Fees Before Work Begins

Most of the fraudulent debt relief companies are interested in getting as much money as they can from you as quickly as possible before you realize that you are paying high fees for zero results.  If the company is asking you to pay high upfront fees before they begin working on your case or neglect to mention the fees involved before asking you to sign an agreement, they may not have your best interests in mind.  Remember, you should be paying for results, not promises.

Communication Stops

One of the biggest signs that you have been dealing with the wrong debt relief company is that the company representatives stop returning your calls or it is very difficult to get into contact with an individual that can answer questions about what the company is doing on your behalf.  Most fraudulent companies are only interested in getting your money, not doing work for you, so they will generally limit communication once your fees have been paid unless it is a solicitation for more money.  If the only conversations you have with the debt relief company are about paying more fees for their services, it is time to end that business relationship.


Financial Inventions That Hurt More Than Help

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 24th, 2011 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Over the last few decades, a surge of financial innovation has occurred that has created hundreds of new financial products that are not well understood by the common consumer.  Some of these products have been designed to be helpful and beneficial to consumers, but some of the others seem to have been created merely to transfer wealth from your bank account into the coffers of the business owners.  Here are some financial products that do little to nothing to help the person that purchases them.

Credit Card Payment Protection

Credit card payment protection services are advertised by the credit card companies as insurance to protect yourself from the high fees and charges associated with not being able to make your credit card payment in the event that you become sick or disabled.  For a nominal monthly fee, which is charged directly to the credit card and added to the balance of the account, the person will not incur penalties if they cannot make their payments and can prove that one of these actions have occurred in their lives.  The amount of time that this coverage is valid after the qualifying event differs from company to company.

The biggest problems found with credit card payment protection is that the premiums for the insurance are extremely high for the balance that it is covering and there are so many exclusions and disqualifying actions that very few people qualify for the assistance when it is needed.  Instead of paying the credit card companies for this protection, most people would be better served by placing money into an interest bearing savings account and using that money to pay their bills if they lose their job or have a medical emergency.

Cash Advances

Cash advances are one of the worst financial products on the market today because the interest rates and associated fees are so incredibly high, often equaling 300% to 500% interest on the loan.  These advances can typically be obtained by using your credit card at an ATM or submitting your employment information to a payday loan lender and can range in amount from $100 to $800 depending on your situation.  Cash advances obtained by payday loan lenders usually must be paid back to the company within 21 days of obtaining the advance.

Many of the individuals that resort to taking cash advances from a payday loan lender are unable to repay the loan within the timeframe given without taking out another loan or cash advance to cover their everyday expenses.  This leads to a vicious cycle of debt where the person is borrowing money from other sources to be able to pay back the payday loan on time.  It is very difficult to use a cash advance without causing future financial hardship so it is best that these loans be avoided altogether and you find other sources of financing to use to solve your problems.


Mortgage Mistakes To Avoid

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 20th, 2011 | Filed under: loans

Purchasing a home is easily the largest financial purchase you will ever make so it makes sense that you would want to be as prepared as possible before making a final decision.  The individuals that end up having trouble with their mortgages are those who made common mortgage mistakes when applying for or accepting the mortgage agreement.  There are several mistakes that are made commonly to look out for and knowing what these mistakes are will make it easier for you to avoid them when obtaining a mortgage.

Choosing An Adjustable Interest Rate

One of the biggest mortgage mistakes a person can make is choosing an adjustable rate for their mortgage loans instead of getting a fixed rate.  Although the initial interest payments may be lower than those of fixed rate mortgages, if the interest rate rises it can increase your payments significantly.  These interest rate adjustments are a large contributing factor in the high rate of foreclosures among those who chose an adjustable rate mortgage.

Choosing An Exotic Mortgage Product

Over the last decade, many mortgage lenders begin offering exotic mortgage products to help individuals qualify for larger loans to buy larger houses with a lower down payment.  Many of these mortgage loans are only possible if accounting tricks are used or actual income data is ignored and many of these loans turn sour as soon as an introductory time period has passed or something triggers a higher interest rate.  Many people chose these loans hoping to refinance into a more traditional mortgage when their credit score improved, but foreclosure typically results before the person can refinance.

Neglecting To Read The Agreement

Many people trust that their mortgage lender is doing the right thing for them and sign any document that the lender puts in front of them without thoroughly reading it first.  This is an invitation to disaster because there could be hidden clauses and triggers in the agreement that you will not be aware of until it is too late.  Be sure to read any documents associated with the mortgage loan carefully to ensure that you know exactly what you are agreeing to in the contract.

If you’re looking for the best fixed rate mortgage deals, consider the Mortgage Broker.


Where To Buy Credit Repair Software Online

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 19th, 2011 | Filed under: credit score

Many people that use a credit repair software program on a regular basis chose to buy credit repair software online because of the reasonable prices and simplicity of ordering the program.  It is important to save money when you buy credit repair software online, which is why many people look for credit repair software in several different locations.  These credit repair software programs are not difficult to find if you know where you should be looking and the money saved can be used to pay down any debts that the person may have.

Internet Retailers

There are many online retailers that sell different types of credit repair software programs and many of these will allow you to buy credit repair software online at a sensible price.  Some of these internet stores get their credit repair software programs from physical retail stores that are making space for new merchandise while other online retailers only carry programs from smaller designers that are trying to make a name for themselves in the credit repair software industry. 

When you buy credit repair software online from these stores, it allows you to compare the prices of a number of different credit repair software programs from the comfort of your own home and the programs that you have chosen are shipped directly to your house.  You may even choose to buy basic credit repair software from discount websites to get a practical program for an extremely low price.

It is important to be careful when you buy credit repair software online from an internet store because in recent years, many fraudulent companies that scam consumers have appeared online for the sole purpose of stealing a person’s credit card information.  Make sure that the company selling the credit repair software is a reputable one by reviewing consumer websites for any negative information about the company.  If the price to buy the credit repair software online seems too good to be true, then the price is probably to get you to disclose your credit card information to the crooks at the company.


Tips For Finding Great Debt Relief Programs

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 17th, 2011 | Filed under: debt relief

Many individuals have accumulated high debt levels in recent years and have found that the debt level that they are carrying is unmanageable.  This predicament has made using debt relief programs a popular way for an individual to reduce or eliminate their debts in a simple and straightforward fashion.  Many individuals across the country have used debt relief programs reduce large debt levels that were typically accumulated by using financial products unwisely. 

There are various debt relief programs that will offer debt relief steps to individuals that have accumulated large debt levels and each of these debt relief programs offer steps that are different in subtle ways.  When trying to find great debt relief programs, there are some important features to look for that will indicate the best debt relief programs for your financial situation.

Look at The Cost

One of the most important items to look at before deciding whether to use debt relief programs is the cost that you will be charged for using the program.  The programs with the lowest cost may not always be the best choice and looking at the cost of various debt relief programs will help you determine an appropriate cost for the program you desire.  The cost of the program may be based on the debt level the individual is carrying, with higher debt levels requiring a higher price. 

The higher the cost of the program, the more you will pay to reduce or eliminate your debt.  It is not uncommon to see some programs that cost hundreds of dollars to help an individual get out of debt.  Be sure to look at the cost of the debt relief programs to be sure that you are getting the best deal available for your predicament. 

Are There Any Additional Fees?

Another feature to look at prior to using debt relief programs is whether you have to pay any additional fees associated with the debt relief assistance.  These fees may include charges for contacting creditors, for completing paperwork, or other actions that are routine in the debt relief process.  Very few reputable debt relief programs have excessive additional fees, so it is possible to find programs that do not charge for these actions or includes them in the initial fee for using the program.


Using Direct Deposit To Increase Your Savings

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 16th, 2011 | Filed under: saving

Saving money can be difficult, especially since there are so many wonderful things in the world to buy with the money you earn.  This is why many people choose to save money by using the direct deposit feature available through their company payroll department.  This feature became popular over the last decade and many people now choose to have their paychecks directly deposited into their bank account.

How To Use The Service

Using direct deposit to increase the balance of your savings account is simple.  Most payroll departments allow each employee to deposit portions of their paycheck into three separate bank accounts.  The portion allocated to each account can be a percentage of the total paycheck or a set monetary amount decided by the employee when disclosing their account information. 

Reducing Overspending

Setting up a direct deposit into your savings account reduces the risk that you will spend the money instead of saving it because the money is never available to you in your checking account.  Most of the excuses for not saving more money are that there was something important that the person chose to spend the money on instead of transferring the money to their savings account.  If the money does not have to be transferred, the person will have no opportunity to spend the money before it reaches the savings account.

By removing the saved amount before it can be added to your available balance, you are less likely to regret saving the money and less likely to let temptation lead you into raiding your savings account for frivolous purchases.  ‘You will never miss what you didn’t know you had’ and ‘out of sight, out of mind’ are two phrases that can be used for this method of saving because it is placing the money in a place where it will be saved with the least amount of effort on the part of the account holder.  The only way your savings will grow is by adding to the balance on a regular schedule and leaving the money alone until it is needed for an emergency.


Understanding Information About Financial Products

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 11th, 2011 | Filed under: Uncategorized

There are a number of various types of financial products available today that can be found at financial institutions across the nation.  Various types of traditional and online financial products are quickly gaining in popularity as more and more people find that the benefits of these financial products are worth the cost of buying them.  So how does a person decide what type of financial products is right for them? 

Some people choose to use information about financial products found online to learn about the various types of financial products available and what the people that have used the financial products in the past think of them.  Choosing which online website containing information about financial products to use can be hard because there are many websites available to choose from and each one of them may have different information and outlooks about the financial products that you are interested in.

What You Will Find In The Information About Financial Products

Information about financial products can focus on specific financial products or the company that creates the financial products and all of their offerings.  If you are looking for information on specific financial products, using a search engine to find information on that particular financial product will return a listing for every website that contains information for that financial product.  This makes it much easier to find information about the financial products that you are interested in buying.

An important thing to look for in the information about financial products is if the information includes the price of the financial product somewhere within the information.  This allows you to see whether the financial products are affordable and within your means before taking the time to read all of the information for the product.  Although various types of financial products cover a wide range of prices, the information found can let you know when a cheaper price means decreased quality or when the cost of buying that particular type of financial product is a good deal.

Information about financial products can be written in several ways to attract more consumers interested in reading about a particular product.  Some informational sources do not contain a great deal of information about the product other than what people that have purchased the financial products have to say about the product.  Some websites will have more detailed information about the financial products and the companies that sell them.  The type of information chosen will depend on the person’s preference for how they would like the information presented to them.


What You Need To Know About Money Management Programs

Written by Toi Williams on Feb 9th, 2011 | Filed under: debt relief

The debt levels of ordinary individuals have increased by a significant amount over the last two decades, leaving many people with unmanageable piles of debt.  People seeking a way to improve their finances or eliminate their debt often turn to money management software programs to provide them with a way to meet their goals.  Using this type of software can be an effective way to reduce debt quickly and create a plan for improving your finances.

The Information Provided

The information provided by these money management programs can differ from program to program depending on who authored the program.  Different experts may have different advice about the best way to approach a money management issue, but all will be focused on helping you utilize the money you earn in the best possible way.  When choosing a type of money management program to follow, you should ensure that the information provided is something that you agree will help you reach your financial goals.

Price Ranges

Money management programs can be found in a wide range of prices, from free basic programs to professional programs that cost hundreds of dollars.  If you are in debt, it may be best to choose one of the inexpensive programs to use until your debt is eliminated and then pay for a more professional program to manage your finances from that point forward.  Reading reviews of the programs before deciding which one to purchase will help you get the best value for your money.

Handling A Bad Financial Situation

Dire financial situations will require more than the assistance available than the free programs can provide.  If the situation is so bad that you are facing eviction or bankruptcy, you may want to seek professional help for your financial issues before a point of no return is passed.  Getting your financial house in order can be painful, but it will be worthwhile once you have eliminated your debt and gotten on the right financial path.