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Archive for September, 2011

How to avoid overdraft fees

Written by admin on Sep 30th, 2011 | Filed under: debt relief

Whether it is a late fee or an overdraft fee, no one likes to give away their money for something that could have been prevented.

If you are saving for a home a mortgage calculator will give you a good idea of what you need to save for a down payment as well as what your monthly payments will be. You don’t want to let fees get in the way of the home buying process. Here are a few tips to keep your checking account up to date and avoid overdraft fees.

Keeping your checking account balanced is always helpful. If you always know what you have in the bank, you will be less likely to overspend.

Whether you use your debit card or write out a check, keep track of each purchase. Even when you check online for a balance, it doesn’t always reflect the purchases made for the day and it never accounts for the checks until they are cashed.

By keeping a steady log you will always know, down to the penny, how much money you have in the bank. Keep that mortgage calculator in the back of your mind and the goal of owning a home to keep you disciplined.

The ledger that comes with a new box of checks isn’t always user friendly. You may want to come up with your own using a computer spreadsheet.

You can print out the pages and keep track by hand or you can enter the amounts into the computer at the end of the day. Either way, you have a usable record of the money going out and the money going in.

You can also keep a set amount of money in the checking account for emergencies. Some people keep anywhere from $100-$500 in their accounts at all times.

When you do go over, you are just cutting into your own money and can repay the amount when you get paid again. Your goal is to never have to use this “safety net,” but if you do, it is just your own money that you are borrowing and there is no fee associated with it.

If you’ve looked at a mortgage calculator recently, you have probably been thinking about saving more in the upcoming weeks and months.

There is another option with the same idea of using your own money as a backup, this one just has a little different spin. Some banks will let you attach your savings account to your checking account.

When you go over, instead of charging you an overdraft fee, the money is withdrawn from your savings account and added to the checking account instantly. It isn’t something that you need to do, the computers take care of it the minute you run out of funds.

Many banks will let clients set up low-balance alerts. You can get an email, a text message, or even a phone call when your checking account falls below a certain number. This will at least give you the heads up that you may be headed into overdraft fee territory, so either stop spending or add more money to the account.

Finally, overdraft protection is another way to avoid the overdraft fees piling up. With overdraft protection, a bank gives you, in a sense, a line of credit.

If you overspend from your checking account, they will remove money from the line of credit. It will be your responsibility to pay the money back. In this situation you aren’t paying the traditional overdraft fee, but you are still going to pay a small fee.

In most cases it is less than half of a normal overdraft fee. If you have tried everything, you can always use this method to cover your overspending. Use a mortgage calculator to keep your eyes on the goal and avoid pickup up overdraft fees.


Banking Information That Everyone Should Know

Written by Toi Williams on Sep 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Uncategorized

There are many misconceptions about banking and how the banks work to keep your money secure.  Rumors and misinformation can result in people avoiding banks because they believe that they are not trustworthy or that their money will somehow be at risk if it is deposited with a banking institution.  Learning the truth about banks and how the system works can go a long way towards easing any fears you may have about placing your money in a bank.

Bank Deposits Are Safe

A bank account is considered to be one of the safest places to store your money for a wide variety of reasons.  Bank deposits are insured by the federal government, with some accounts insured for up to $250,000 per depositor.  This means that if anything ever happens at the bank to cause it to fall into bankruptcy or shut its doors, the federal government will give you up to $250,000 of the balance of your account back.

Banks Pay Lower Rates

Banking institutions generally offer lower interest rates on interest bearing bank accounts than mutual fund companies or brokerage firms.  Different banks may use different methods to calculate interest rates, but the reported “annual percentage yield” or APY is calculated the same way across all banking institutions.  To compare the amount of interest that will be earned from various accounts, compare the APY of each account type with the others and see which ones will have the highest yields.

Fees Can Reduce Your Balance Significantly

There are a wide variety of fees and charges associated with bank accounts that can deplete the balance of the account quickly.  Fees for using a competitor’s ATM can cost you between $3 and $5 per occurrence and having less than the minimum balance in your account can result in a monthly charge designed by the bank.  Some banks also charge for having too many transactions within a specific time period, using a teller instead of the ATM, or transferring money between accounts.  It is important to review the various fees associated with the account that you are interested in before signing up for the account to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future.


How Bad Financial Habits Hurt Your Financial Stability

Written by Toi Williams on Sep 27th, 2011 | Filed under: mindset

Many people have bad financial habits that are costing them a large amount of money over the course of a year.  Many of these habits are unconscious, everyday routines that people have learned by observing others that display these damaging behaviors.  Bad financial habits have the ability to destroy your credit score, cost thousands of dollars in late fees and penalty payments, and cut you off from economic activities that could improve your financial standing.  If you are able to change these bad financial habits, you will find your financial situation much more stable and your ability to handle financial emergencies assured.

Spending Freely

One of the worst financial habits to cultivate is being a free spender.  Spending without planning or considering the consequences of your spending can lead to a lot of wasted money on things that are desired, but not necessarily needed.  Many of us have seen the “hoarders” reality shows on television where desperate homeowners are drowning in piles of stuff that they bought that they didn’t need.  By planning your purchasing ahead of time and limiting impulse purchases, you can reduce the amount of money spent on unnecessary purchases and use that money for more useful activities.

Opening Many Credit Card Accounts

A number of retailers have taking to stalking their customers in the store and online to encourage them to sign up for the retailer’s “exclusive” credit accounts for their stores.  The reason why you are asked when you enter the store, as you shop, and as you attempt to check out is that these credit accounts can be very lucrative for the retailer, but not so good for you.  Retailer credit card accounts often have higher interest rates, higher fees, and lower credit limits than credit cards issued by the major credit card companies that can be used anywhere.  Add to this the hassle of keeping track of multiple payment dates, minimum payment amounts, and credit card terms, and the chances of accidentally missing a payment and incurring hefty charges increases dramatically.

Using Credit As An Emergency Fund

The recent boom in the credit markets steered many people away from saving cash to use for emergencies to depending on their credit cards to handle any financial issues that arose.  As a result, many people found themselves with high levels of credit card debt at high interest rates that they have great difficulty repaying within a reasonable period.  Placing the cost of a financial emergency on a credit card increases the cost of that emergency dramatically as interest charges and financing fees are added to the original cost on a monthly basis.  Saving money in an emergency fund to handle unexpected financial issues is the best way to solve the problem without creating more issues for the future.


Follow These Steps To Pay Off Your Credit Cards

Written by Toi Williams on Sep 27th, 2011 | Filed under: credit cards

There are millions of people across the nation carrying large amounts of credit card debt that they would love to pay off as quickly as possible.  Getting rid of crushing amounts of credit card debt can be difficult, but following some specific steps can help you reduce your credit card debt to a more manageable amount or eliminate the debt completely.  It is important to ensure that you create a payment plan that works with your budget so that further financial hardship does not result from your efforts to pay off your credit card debt.

Know The Terms Of Your Credit Cards

It will be difficult to know how to handle your credit card debt situation if you do not know what you owe and what the terms of your credit cards are.  All of this information should be kept in a central location so you can review how much you owe to each creditor, what your interest rate for each credit card is, and what minimum payment is required to remain current on each credit card.  Knowing this information will help you create a repayment plans that will reduce your credit card debt quickly without greatly affecting your quality of life.

Stop Charging

You will never be able to eliminate the balances on your credit cards if you continue to use the credit cards for purchases.  To reduce your credit card debt, you must live within the budget that your income allows and all purchases that are not emergencies should be put off until you have gotten your credit card debt under control.  Once your credit card debt has been eliminated, make it a point to save up for the items that you want instead of using credit to avoid incurring more credit card debt in the future.

Start With The Highest Interest Rate

Targeting the credit card with the highest interest rate first will save you more money in interest payments than starting with the credit card with the lowest balance.  Reducing the amount that you are paying in finance charges will help you pay off the credit card faster and free up more of your income for other expenses.  During the time that you are paying off your credit cards, pay the monthly minimum for all of your credit cards except for the one with the highest interest rate, which you will pay more than the monthly minimum on until the credit card is paid off.  Keep working your way down the list of credit cards, continuing with the next highest interest rate, until your credit card debt has been eliminated.


Save Big Bucks By Changing Your Lifestyle

Written by Toi Williams on Sep 26th, 2011 | Filed under: mindset

There are many ways to save money and some are easier than others are.  Some of the best ways to save money is by changing your lifestyle in small ways.  Many of our daily habits cost us a great deal of money without us realizing it and these charges add up over time.  Making these small lifestyle changes can result in big bucks in your bank account.

Give Up The Bottled Water

Bottled water is one lifestyle choice that many of us can do without.  The cost of bottled water is very expensive when compared to tap water, costing the average consumer nearly $1,400 annually.  Most bottled water is just purified municipal water, so you can get the same results by placing tap water in a reusable filtered water bottle and save yourself a ton of money.

Cancel Unused Memberships

Many people are paying for memberships that they never use.  Whether the membership is for a wine club or a fitness club, if you are not using the membership you are just wasting money.  The average gym membership will cost you around $600 per year and some memberships cost even more, so if the membership is not being used, cancel it and keep the money in your pocket.

Boot Your Bad Habits

Many of the most common bad habits are very expensive.  People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day are spending between $1,800 to $2,700 per year, depending on where they live.  Individuals that drink high calorie lattes on a regular basis are spending around $900 annually for their habit.  Gambling is the most expensive bad habit, costing regular gamblers thousands of dollars as they try to beat the house.  Instead of indulging in these habits that are costly and unhealthy, place that money into your savings account and watch your savings grow.


Financial Lessons Hurricane Irene Taught Us

Written by admin on Sep 21st, 2011 | Filed under: saving

Hurricane Irene left many people on the east coast dumbfounded about how to financially deal with the natural disaster. While there were not as many human casualties as expected and the storm was relatively milder than many predicted; the weak hurricane/tropical storm combination took out a lot of vital infrastructure. It is estimated that the damage left by Irene will cost between $7 billion and $10 billion. Residents of the eastern seaboard were left without financial restitution and didn’t know how to properly financially prepare for the aftermath.

What if Irene had been a more violent storm? The entire population of the US would be in trouble because the financial hubs and firms that make our stock picks are clustered along the Atlantic. Here are some vital things to take care of if you are worried about a disaster knocking out power or crippling our infrastructure:

Insurance

Most of the damage caused to homes during Hurricane Irene was not covered by insurance because most of the damage was not caused by wind, but by flood. Like most Americans, floods are an unexpected natural disaster which can jump up and bite you like a snake without notice. The National Flood Insurance Program is a government run flood protection service which can protect your home starting at $129 a month. By conducting research about weather patterns and flood maps, you can better prepare yourself for unseen catastrophe.

Stock Necessities

Hurricane Irene did not only take out homes and businesses; many of the fisheries, cotton farms, and tobacco plantations were damaged in the wake.

Keeping a house stocked with supplies isn’t just a good way to stay prepared in case of emergency, it will save you a lot of money down the road. If you are worried about eminent disaster or not being able to access your local grocery store, there are several places online where you can purchase emergency food kits and MREs. If you want to stock up on the essentials, you should visit a Sam’s Club and purchase canned and dried food in bulk. Purchasing fresh produce, meat, dairy, and frozen products is a bad idea because your power might be out for a long time.

Evacuate

If you are truly worried about damage coming to your area, the best idea is to evacuate. You can rent a trailer and use your own vehicle to haul your most coveted possessions to a safer place. Government agencies will usually give you a couple of days warning before a disaster happens, so you should have plenty of time to make reasonable accommodations.

Hurricane Irene taught us not to take anything for granted when it comes to our personal and financial safety. Always be prepared because a light disaster might be more threatening than you think.


Is now a good time to invest in property?

Written by admin on Sep 16th, 2011 | Filed under: saving

With house flipping a thing of the past, you may not think investing in real estate is a good idea right now with the economy still in recession. With mortgage rates so low, however, this may be the ideal time to buy property for a more long-term turnaround.

The current real estate market boasts properties for far less than what they cost a few years ago. This means that if you are looking into buying a house you can get more bang for your buck.

Whereas flipping was an incredibly popular investment venture, it required quick remodels and even less time to sell the remodeled houses in order to make a major profit.

At the same time, many people lost money on house flipping and it was a risky business. Many of the current foreclosures were homes that had been purchased with the intention of being sold very quickly.

That frenzied flipping trend possibly even added to the false positive economy prior to its implosion.

So, real estate investors should take things back to basics. Forget flipping and short-term investments and make money on properties the old fashioned way.

Buying a home right now in a depressed economy will save you money in the long run, especially given the top mortgage deals available.. Home values will inevitably increase, albeit slowly, as nations recover from the recession.

Living in your purchased property for a few years will allow the home to build up equity. You can even purchase existing properties and rent them out to tenants for a more stable income.

Once the economy has recovered and housing prices are up again, sell high and reap the profits.

For those who don’t think they can qualify for loans to invest, think again. Another advantage of a recession is that mortgage lenders are more lenient with people who have less than perfect credit.

This is because countless families and individuals have gone through foreclosures or bankruptcy due to job loss. Many lenders are willing to hear your side of the story.

With so many foreclosures being listed every day, take advantage of them. Some foreclosures are listed at as little as 50% of the current market value. You simply cannot get a better deal for real estate at this point.

To find the best rates, compare mortgages at moneysupermarket before applying for a loan and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Be realistic when considering the amount of house or property you can afford. If it seems like it might be a financial stretch, don’t borrow that amount.

Keep in mind, however, that loan interest rates have reached rock bottom and will only climb from here. Do your homework and calculate the interest rate and loan amount to see if you can afford the loan if interest rates go up again.

No matter which piece of property you choose, shop around for those mortgages. With so many lenders going bankrupt or out of business, it’s a good idea to compare all your financing options. Mortgages, like real estate, are long-term commitments, so be smart to take advantage of this buyer’s market.


How to Avoid Getting Ripped-Off on Motorcycle Insurance

Written by admin on Sep 9th, 2011 | Filed under: saving

Making sure you are not paying too much for a motorcycle insurance premium means shopping around for the most competitive and honest company. The process of shopping for motorcycle insurance quotes involves more than traditional comparing of best price, but involves being smart about which websites a search starts from. The best searches begin by browsing the large online mall websites that compare multiple insurance companies’ side-by-side in one location.

Once you compare what multiple mall sites offer in information, you could compile a list of individual companies that have a great product at a reasonable price. At each individual insurance site, motorists should begin comparing the features of individual policies, procedures, loopholes, small print, and their individual quotes. The quotes the individual companies give to a motorist could very well differ quite substantially from those offered on the mall sites. Another increasingly important factor to consider is whether any Better Business Bureau or other bureau complaints have been filed in connection to the motorcycle insurance quotes offered by the individual company.

The BBB President of Northwest California territory has cautioned consumers purchasing certain types of insurance to be careful of seemingly good priced quotes. He has done research on several unethical instances and found key areas where people are being taken advantage of most involve the promise of “low rates” on “classic, RV, motorcycle, and pleasure vehicles, liability coverage only, multi-car policies and typically only for individuals with good driving records,”

Unfortunately under this recession, insurance fraud, especially in certain areas such as motorcycle and health insurance, have become more prevalent and damaging to consumers. While most of the fraud is occurring through written media like phonebooks and newspapers, online fraud does exist and could cost unnecessary financial setbacks. This means that reading the fine print, networking with friends, and asking questions to insurance companies directly will become more important for motorists.

Thankfully, unethical motorcycle insurance quotes are being reported, but as a consumer, it is critical to be honest in the information you give to the insurance company regarding your age, amount of passengers you will have, and the type of vehicle you have. Once an accident occurs, the insurance company can use information against you to change your policy terms, increase rates, or terminate your coverage. By being honest yourself along with diligent shopping, you can find the best premium for the best price.


Why you shouldn’t take on a credit card lightly

Written by admin on Sep 9th, 2011 | Filed under: credit cards

Taking on a credit card is a big responsibility and so before taking on any lines of credit or new cards, it is important to examine the weight that they hold and what they mean for finances and credit rating.

Each new credit card shows up on your credit rating. It becomes a new listing complete with the amount available, the amount that you owe and your minimum payment. Once you start making payments it will also record when you are late and how far you have fallen behind.

Even if you make every payment and continue to be on time, this credit card can still hurt your financial ratings. The amount is added into your total lines of credit and can push you over the edge of an acceptable amount to owe.

Getting more credit can be exhilarating. It gives you instant access to funds. It gives you the opportunity to purchase new things, go on vacation or even get a cash advance. Things can spin out of control easily.

Many people don’t realize how quickly debt can add up. They keep multiple cards and use them over and over without realizing the amount of money they are going to owe.

Don’t just look at a credit card as an easy way to gain access to unlimited funds. It is important to remind yourself that with every purchase that you make, there will be payments due and every single penny will need to be paid back.

Misuse of a credit card is what puts many Americans in financial turmoil every single day. Look at the card as a way to get you out of emergencies or a way to purchase something a little sooner than you normally would.

Most people that use credit cards correctly strive to pay off the balance at the end of the month.

Lack of education about credit cards is another major problem that many people face. They don’t realize that the money needs to be repaid.

They don’t realize what an interest rate is and how it can affect their minimum payment each and every month. They also don’t realize that once a certain balance accumulates, it can take years to pay back the debt.

Before you fill out the first credit card application that comes, it is important to think about why you are looking for a credit card.

Are you trying to build up your credit rating? Are you looking to live a little above your means? Do you just want to be able to purchase what you want, when you want?

If you are using the card to build up your credit, start with healthy financial habits from the very beginning. Don’t let the card get the best of you.

Use it to your advantage by making responsible choices and paying off the balance in a reasonable amount of time.

Instead of letting the card run you, make sure that you are in control of the spending from the get go.

Article provided by MoneySupermarket.com where you can instantly compare everything from mortgages to bad credit credit cards at moneysupermarket.


Creating A Streamlined Financial Life

Written by Toi Williams on Sep 8th, 2011 | Filed under: mindset

If taking care of your finances seems to be taking up a large amount of your time, you may want to consider taking steps to streamline your financial life.  By streamlining and simplifying the handling of your finances, you will find that taking care of your financial needs is easier and requires less of your time than before.  There are several different methods that can be used for streamlining your financial life and incorporating one or more of these methods into your regular routine is one of the best things you can do for your financial health.

Use Automatic Deductions To Increase Your Savings

A very effective method for increasing your savings is to use automatic deductions from your paycheck or your checking account to make automatic deposits in your savings account.  This allows you to save money every pay without having to think about it and removes the money from your available spending funds before you will miss it.  It is important to leave the money deposited in your savings account alone to allow the funds to grow and to ensure that you will have the funds to handle a financial emergency.

Use Automatic Bill Payment Systems

Using automatic bill payment systems to ensure that monthly bills are paid on time is quickly gaining in popularity as people discover how simple the service is to use.  The name of the company to be paid and the account number are entered into the system and the payment for the bill is automatically deducted from the person’s checking account.  The service can be used for a wide variety of payments, including mortgage payments, rental payments, loans, utility bills, credit card payments, and subscriptions.  Many banks offer this service for free through their secure websites.

Create Financial Goals

Most people must have financial goals to motivate them to save money and spend wisely.  Without financial goals, much money is wasted on fruitless pursuits and unnecessary purchases.  Creating financial goals identifies something desirable to aim for and allows you to create a plan for reaching that goal.  There are many worthy financial goals that can be used to help focus your financial planning, including paying off credit card debt, saving to purchase a home, or saving for a child’s tuition.