November 22, 2010

Car loans and car insurance- How to get the best of both worlds?

The adage that "Money talks" means that most people's vocabularies are pretty under-developed. Nowhere is that more obvious than when trying to buy a car. "Speechless" would be a better description. Add to this the fact that the car insurance has a direct correlation with the car’s value, and you have plenty of good reasons for taking a vow of silence.
                        car insurance
Actually, there's a way round this situation, and it's pretty easy. There's a new type of car insurance on the market that makes it a lot simpler to manage your insurance. The ordeal of having to put up with whatever the insurance companies condescend to provide you in return for your money is now over.

What’s happened is that the new insurers, which are mainly online, have come up with actual, not cosmetic, options for car insurance. They're taking business away from the older types of insurers, and it's mainly because this type of insurance can all be done online. There's no paperwork, and you can even shuffle your policy around to suit yourself, handling premiums and cover online.

If you've ever had the experience of buying a nice family car and then getting the feeling you're insuring a limousine against asteroid strikes, you'll appreciate this new approach. The new policies are based on car usage, and if you’re a normal driver, you really don't need the extra fine print. These policies include multiple drivers, accommodation when you’re stuck with a breakdown, towing fees, etc.

There's good business logic behind this idea, and it works for consumers, too. These policies aren’t massive legal documents, they're plain language, and they’re deliberately kept simple.

What you get is:
  • The online policies spell out the coverage
  • They also spell out what’s not covered
  • There’s a product disclosure statement with the policies.
  • The paperwork has been condensed into phone backup when you need it
That’s a big change from the fantastic levels of literature on old style policies, and indications are that consumers appreciate it. You can even get your car insurance quotes online, and it doesn't take days or involve any inconvenience. This approach is a far more efficient way of doing business for the insurers and the insured. Everything is documented, everybody has copies of everything, and the default business practice is that things are done properly all the time.

Compared to the old paper raffle every time someone needed to know something about their car insurance, it's Nirvana. It's a little bit like managing a phone plan, but much less complex, and there's no way of getting confused about your options. Everything is kept straightforward and transparent.

This is a much more functional type of business operation, timesaving and very much based on a series of logical options, not a law degree. Most importantly, it allows fast responses to critical situations. That’s a big improvement, and for people that like their car problems solved quickly, it’s unbeatable.

Shop around and see what’s on the market. It'll save you a fortune, and reduce stress by multiples.
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Money Exchange: An Overview

Foreign money exchange, if done in the proper way, can end up being a proper source of income, for one who wishes to take stock of their financial future in the market. As per the available statistics, only 30% of the traders in the market end up making constant profits. The lack of knowledge and information about the market reduces the chances of one making a successful career in forex online trading. If you wish to make profits out of forex trading, it is necessary to have a trading strategy in place prior to starting out.
                         money exchange
  • Relative Strength Index Strategy: It is an index of the currency market. It is used as measuring index of the market. Statistics below the 70 mark are indicative of the fact that the market is overbought while if it is below the 30 market, then it is oversold.
  • Stochastic Oscillator: The Oscillator is used as a device to indicate whether the market is overbought or oversold. In order to use it effectively, it is necessary to combine its usage with other indicators such as MACD or RSI.
The exchange rate in a country is affected by the demand and supply of the currency of the country in international exchange markets. This is termed as the floating exchange rate. There is a huge amount of money that is at stake in the international exchange markets and money exchange therefore end up been a profitable option for many. It is necessary to monitor the indicators closely prior to doing business in the market.

Trade balance also has an impact on the currency of a country. Money currency exchange is required by vacationers and travelers around the world. The availability of facilities such as online transfer of funds makes it easy for people to exchange funds at any point of time.

Related resource

Buy foreign currency Pawnbroker Ltd is one of the UK's leading online pawnbrokers based in Southampton & Eastliegh. Offering pawnbroking services including Cheques Cashed, Salary Advance Loans and more.
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November 17, 2010

Preparing for Retirement: Budgeting

Approaching those golden years of retirement? Even if they are far away, preparing your finances and getting a working budget in order should be top priority.

Know when the best time is to start planning for your retirement? Yesterday. Unfortunately, most of us live with the belief that we are going to somehow, without much conscious effort, fund our retirement and sail off into the blue seas with nary a financial worry in the world.

The reality is somewhat harsher than those pie in the sky dreams. Most people are dead or broke by the time they hit age 65 (or 67 depending upon what retirement age you're shooting for.) Since this isn't an article on living better, longer lives we'll focus on how to not be part of that broke crowd.

                       retirement
To be clear, being broke at retirement age simply means one thing: you'll continue working until which time you are unable to put out the effort that brings you in the dollars. It's not very appealing. Long gone are the days of the company pension being there to take care of those employees who have put in 20 or 30 years of service.

With the definite uncertainties surrounding the Social Security system in this country, it might be fool hearty to think there will be any revenues coming to you from that agency when your time comes to collect.

So what's left to do? In a nutshell, you need to immediately start planning for how you'll be able to fund your retirement when you get to that point in your life. Obviously, the closer you are to the age when you hope to stop working the more you'll need to have socked away.

If you have them, start looking over your investments. What sort of risk have you been subjecting your money to? As you get older, it could be a good idea to slowly (or lickety split!) move out of the riskier investments and into more conservative funds that have less of a chance at losing money. As many people experienced during our last financial meltdown, even what has traditionally been considered safe, secure investments experienced massive loss of value.

Diversification is the next word you'll want to explore. Those proverbial eggs being in the same basket may not be the most advantageous safety net for your retirement funds. Should the bottom of the basket fall out, splat goes your ability to provide income to yourself and any dependents.

Understanding how and where you spend your money currently should provide you with insight to strengthen your retirement budget. Conservative estimates indicate it wise to try and provide from 60 to 80% of your current income as your retirement money. Obviously, if you are able to reduce what you need to live comfortably now, in the future, you should need that much less to maintain the same level of comfort in your lives.

Whether you're considering an early retirement, or are simply looking to move into another new and exciting chapter of your life, you'll need to have a plan. Some issues you'll need to address are reducing your debt now, while your income levels are higher.

It might also behoove you to spend some time with a tax specialist. There are a number of vehicles you can begin to develop now that will provide your retirement with every chance of success. Whether you're planning a family trust to efficiently pass on wealth to your offspring, or are hoping to develop passive income with a well structured corporate entity, know your options. There are a lot of rules, regulations and laws that when used correctly can provide you safe harbor for a nice percentage of your retirement income.

How are you budgeting for your retirement? Share with us, in the comments below.

This is a guest post from Tim Coffman who is a freelance writer for Quicken. Quicken offers personal finance software that makes money management easy. Quicken’s products help people get their spending under control with helpful budgeting tips.
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How Can I Get Credit Card Companies To Lower APR?

Interest rates on credit cards especially for new card holders can be extraordinarily high. If you need a credit card and have never had one before, chances are, you are going to be charged a high interest rate. That doesn't mean that rate will have to stay high, in fact, you can plan your strategy right now to get that lower interest rate in just 6 short months. You can also use this strategy as a tool towards credit card debt relief. Here is how you can do it.

Establish A Good Credit Rating

The first thing a new cardholder needs to do is establish a good credit rating. You can do this by following these few simple steps:

1. Pay your credit card bills promptly. Try and pay in advance of the due date, but, don't pay late. A late payment of even a day can hurt your credit rating and make it less likely that you can get those interest rates lowered down the road.

2. Send in more than the minimum payment each month. By paying more than the minimum payment you are showing the credit card company you are more than capable of paying those credit card payments. Better yet, if at all possible paying off those credit card bills in full each month will increase your chances of getting those interest charges lowered down the road. A credit card company is in the business to make money.
They make that money by charging interest on charges that are held over month to month. If you have no balance held over, they won't be making money so they are more likely to lower those interest payments for 2 reasons. First, since they aren't making a profit because you aren't paying interest they won't be losing out by lowering your interest.
Second, by lowering your interest rates they may be encouraging you to charge more on your card and hope that in doing so, you will have to carry your balance over month to month and they will make a profit.

3. Even though you have good credit, make sure your credit with the company you are seeking lower interest payments from is excellent.

Do Some Research

After you have spent 6 months establishing your credit it is time to do some research. Check out other credit card companies and see what interest rates they are offering to customers with good credit. Choose two or three companies that offer the lowest rates.

Make A Phone Call

Now that you have the names of some credit card companies that offer lower interest rates than you are getting make a phone call to your credit card company. Make sure to be courteous and polite. Give them your name and credit card number and then tell them exactly what you want.
Point out to them that you have excellent credit with their company, and then tell them how much lower interest people with your credit are paying with other credit card companies. Come right and ask them if they would be willing to lower you interest rates so they are comparable with what other credit card companies are offering.
In many cases, the credit card company will almost instantly agree. In other cases, the person you are talking to may have been instructed to give a standard negative response to such a request. If you get a negative response ask if you can talk to a supervisor. In most cases supervisors are in a better position to agree to lower your interest rates and will do so if you clearly state your reasons and are polite.

What Happens If The Credit Card Company Says No

There are times that no matter how good your credit may be or how articulate you express your reasons for feeling that you deserve a lower APR the credit card company will decline to lower your rate. If this happens, politely ask them what you can do so that they may consider lowering your interest rates in the future.
It may be, that they simply want you to build up a few more months of good credit before agreeing to lower your rate or there may be some other reason for their refusal. Knowing what their reasoning is will help you decide whether to stay with this credit card company or find a new one.
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November 14, 2010

Insurance Loss Assessors – What To Do After A Fire At Your Business?

It is the worst fear of every business man or woman on the planet, whether you are a small business or a large corporation – how do you survive following a massive disaster like fire? Unlike other disasters that can occur at you business premises, fire can be absolutely devastating, ruthlessly ripping through your stock, your records and the very fabric of the building itself.

Many business work of the assumption that if they have the necessary insurance in place that they will be compensated adequately for their losses - but unfortunately this is not always the case. The loss adjusters that the insurance company will appoint to the case will (in the end) be working for the insurance company ensuring that they pay out the least amount of money with regards to the claim. Whilst this is done in the confines of the law - and the loss adjuster’s job is to adjust the claim in accordance with your losses – you will find that more often than not those businesses come out with less money than they hoped for. Indeed many businesses that have suffered a major disaster at their premises often flounder and fold within the first 18 months.

So how do you and your business avoid suffering the same fate? Is there a secret weapon that you can use to ensure that you get a fair deal form the insurance company?

There is, and it comes in the form of insurance loss assessors. Insurance loss assessors have a similar job to that of the loss adjuster that your insurance company will appoint to your case. For this reason it is a common misconception that loss adjuster and loss assessor are one and the same – which is understandable. But there is one major difference – the insurance loss will be employed by, and working for you. This means that they will have your interests at heart rather than that of the insurance company.

Without a loss assessor you will be expected to deal with the insurance claim in house – if you are a small business the likelihood of you having someone with the knowledge and expertise to deal with an insurance claim efficiently and quickly is unlikely. To see real results the insurance loss assessors expertise and industry knowledge can be invaluable – both in the short term and in the long term for the continued success of your business.

When the smoke has cleared you need to make sure that you are thinking clearly – and if you want your business to have continued success you could do a lot worse than tracking down you local insurance loss assessor and discovering if they can help you rise from the ashes like the phoenix.

This is a guest post from Wayne Barker who is the copywriter for Harris Balcombe, the foremost claims recovery company in the UK. They offer advice and services that include business interruption insurance claims and are expert in fire insurance claims and flood insurance claims.
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November 9, 2010

How to ensure that you spend less?

It can be incredibly frustrating when you feel like you simply don’t have enough money. It’s a situation that many of us have experienced at some time in life.

But how do you react when you are in such a position? Do you bemoan your lack of income? This is a common response, but it can actually be misleading.
                    spending
When thinking about the lack of cash that we have available, it’s certainly tempting to complain that we don’t earn enough. If only we had a better paid job, then surely our financial problems would be over. But would they really be?

Many of us notice that the more we earn, the more we spend. If we get a 5% pay rise then we don’t suddenly start saving more money as a result. Instead, we may find that we spend more on different items, products and services.

Is this because there are now more necessities in life that we need to buy? This certainly seems rather unlikely.

A more obvious explanation is that we often make spur of the moment decisions. We don’t think things through. We fail to budget.

It’s easy to see how spending levels can get out of control. If we keep buying more stuff, without considering how much we’re spending then we could be heading for trouble.

So what are we to do?

If you really are short of money then you might want to forget about your income levels for a moment. Instead, why not think about your levels of expenditure. How much are you spending each month? Where is all your money going?
                             spending
Most of us may actually struggle to answer these fairly simple questions. We may think that we have an idea of where the money goes, but how close is this idea to the reality?

Typically, when people start to ponder this question, they initially conclude that most of their money is spent on rent or mortgage repayments. These are typically large outgoings and attract a lot of attention.

They may be areas where savings can be made. You may, for example, be able to move to a cheaper house.

But it’s more likely that these large expenses are actually hiding the spending areas that are really hitting you hard. If you dismiss your problems as being all about a lack of income and the high rents that you are facing, then you may be missing the root of the problem.

Draw up a simple spreadsheet and start calculating how much you spent in the last month. You could use your most recent bank statements to assist with this process.

What you’re likely to find is that a large amount of money is wasted on luxuries, or purchases that you didn’t really need to buy. You may discover that you spend a surprising amount on clothing, or eating out.

But it’s only when you start noting down your spending levels that you start to see the true picture.

By keeping a record of what you spend, you can start to cut down on areas that simply aren’t critical to your lifestyle. That’s the best way to make sure that you spend less and have more money available as a result.

Simon Barnett takes a keen interest in all aspects of personal finances. He also contributes to Offer UK online, helping consumers to save money when shopping online.
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How to Save Money on Big Ticket Items

It is easy to save money on small purchases. You clip a coupon and take it with you to the grocery store to save fifty cents here or ten cents there. Those savings do add up and they can be very valuable over time. However, it is also very important to learn how to save money on big purchases as well. That’s where you can really save a lot if you’re smart with your purchases and it’s an area of saving that many of us don’t know a lot about.
                      save money
Here are some tips for saving money on big ticket items such as cars, appliances and consumer electronics:
  • Look for rebates. It isn’t easy to find coupons for expensive items. When you do, they really save you very much compared to the total cost of the purchase. Instead, you want to be looking for rebates. This is where some real savings can take place. Government rebates are your best option. When buying appliances, for example, check your recent state government rebate options where you’ll often find rebates if you choose energy-saving or green devices. Likewise you can sometimes get government rebates when buying green cars or even green computers. And manufacturers also offer rebates (especially for computers and other consumer electronics). Make sure that you cash in the rebate as soon as you make the purchase so that you get the money back as quickly as possible.
  • Check group buying deal sites for expensive services. The one time when it’s possible to get coupons for expensive purchases is usually through the use of group deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. If you are interested in the services that are being offered on these sites (salon services, hotels and travel services, etc.) then you should certainly take advantage of these offers. Just make sure that you’re not indulging in impulse purchases on those sites that waste money instead of saving you money.
  • Buy used. One of the leading ways to save money on expensive items is to buy gently used versions of the item. This is true for everything from a slightly used car to a once-used designer dress found at a thrift shop. It’s particularly true with consumer electronics and high-tech gadgets; people often rapidly turn over these products on sites like eBay because they want the hottest new gadgets even if the ones they’re using are perfectly fine. The one thing to be aware of is that used items might not have the same warranty protections as new items.
  • Shop at auction. One way to save money on very expensive items is to attend auctions. This can be a very time consuming process and you may not immediately find what you want. However, you can save a lot of money in the long run if you shop this way. School auctions and police auctions are two examples of auctions that the public can attend to save money on everything from computers to cars.
  • Purchase expensive items in the off season. For example, if you are considering buying a boat then you should make this purchase right at the end of the summer rather than at the beginning of the summer. If you want a brand new car then get it at the end of the year of its release instead of the beginning. Make weather-related updates to your home in the opposite season of when they’re needed. This isn’t always the cheapest option, so look at prices carefully, but it’s often a smart way to go.
  • Do your research. It is always smart to take the time to shop around when making any purchase. You can often find a slightly better deal just by choosing the right place to make the purchase. This is especially important when making a purchase of an expensive item. Take the time to shop around to get the item that you want at the very best price possible.
  • Save up to pay cash for the item instead of getting a loan. Many people purchase expensive items using credit cards or loans and then end up wasting a lot of money on interest as they pay back the purchase. Identify the items that you want and save up to get them instead of getting a loan. Even with very expensive items, such as a new home, you can save up a large chunk of the cost of the item to reduce the total amount of the loan that you need to take out.

Sujan Patel is the managing editor for Free Insurance Quote, a leading site providing insurance quotes and advice.
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November 3, 2010

Are you a smart money saver?

Hard work often gets associated with rich rewards. While putting more hours into a job or jobs usually means more income, time is the ultimate scarce resource. With unlimited time, consumers would not have to worry about budgeting, but given the limitations of a lifespan, only smart consumers come out on top. One way to learn about smart spending and smart money saving is to study the habits of successful people.

Lessons from the "Oracle of Omaha"
Warren Buffet became a financial legend through his investing brilliance and his humble lifestyle. Buffet still owns and lives in the first home he purchased in Omaha, Nebraska. Even as Buffet’s assets grew, he lived within the means of his salary. Living within means is the ultimate financial decision. Borrowing money comes at the great cost of paying interest, which means extra hours or perhaps years of labor.

Refraining from credit card use might be the most important step in ensuring financial freedom, but without the purchasing power of the card, some consumers might feel as if their lifestyle has taken a hit. Cosmetics tycoon Charles Revson teaches another important lesson. The founder of Revlon was famous for his perfectionist personality that bordered on brutishness and his spending habits. Revson paid for some of his preferred products in bulk and as a result earned 20 to 30% revenue tax-free annually.

Save with Bulk Purchases
Purchasing in bulk can be done for nearly every product and has many positive benefits. The 10% saved by purchasing six or more bottles of wine, for example, immediately puts money into the pocket of a consumer, while also saving on the time and cost of transportation of taking multiple trips to the store.

Purchasing online is another way to save on the price of traveling. Sites like overstock.com offer consumers deals on almost every product. Overstock coupon codes can offer consumers huge savings for choosing to shop this way.

Affordable Autos
Cars and transportation are usually one of the largest parts of most consumers’ budgets. The era of inexpensive gasoline has given away to $3-per-gallon prices with prospects for increases as demand for crude oil grows in emerging markets. Driving an economical car can save thousands of dollars on your budget for gas annually.

Transportation might be one of the biggest black holes in a budget. Cars depreciate in value, and the markups for new cars make splurging on a fresh model a decision that makes little financial sense. Few consumers have the ability to pay cash for a new car when many new models cost more than $15,000, and financing through a dealership is similar to carrying a large credit card balance.

The advantages of buying a used car include:

• Cheaper to insure
• Lower purchase price
• Easier to avoid financing
• Prices generally more negotiable

Automobile insurance is another area for consumers to be wary. Smart shoppers will use online resources to find the most reasonable rates. After finding a reasonable rate, raising insurance deductibles with provide all but the most unlucky motorists with savings over the lifetime of driving.

If you follow the above tips, you'll learn how to save money on the areas of life that seem to stretch our budget the most. Make sure you understand and have considered all financial commitments you make- and make it your personal mission to get a better deal or save some money.
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November 2, 2010

Cash Only Budgeting - How to build a realistic budget

Cash-Only Budgeting

Consumers who relied on credit have had to contend with loss of credit during the recession. In some ways, that has helped many to learn how to build a realistic budget. The cash-only lifestyle clearly shows a family where they are spending money and how to save it on unnecessary expenses. Even if you still have options for credit, it can be a good exercise in getting an in depth view of your expenses and income to build a healthier future on a realistic budget.

One Month on Cash Only

This is going to take some discipline, but the insight you get into your finances is going to be worth it. Put the credit cards and even your debit card away. Sit down and write out a budget of what you think you spend in a month, and then set up cash envelopes with that amount. Label them so you know where your money is going. Have one for utilities, another for rent, one for food, and one even for entertainment. When you get paid, distribute the money into the envelopes and try to stick with a cash-only diet to pay your bills. If this is difficult because you pay online or with a debit, use a prepaid credit card that you load with the money to pay a bill, but do not use any form of credit. Another way to do it is to load your debit account right before you make a payment by transferring the money from your envelope into your checking account. If you use bank services you'll also have to factor in some bank fees.

By the End of the Month

You may find that you budgeted $100 for entertainment and ran out of cash by the middle of the month. This tells you that either you need to reduce your entertainment expenses or earn more money. You may find that there were envelopes you didn't create for expenses that showed up. This tells you that you have to create another envelope for emergency expenses and include that in a realistic budget. Continue the experiment until you get a good idea of what you are actually spending, where you can make cuts, and how much income you need to produce to cover your expenses comfortably while saving for a rainy day.
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