Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pros, Cons, and Reasons for Leasing versus Purchasing a Car

Consumers looking to have a vehicle must know about the leasing and buying features. Leasing is an alternative to buying that must be considered. Leasing has become very popular as reports indicate that over half of all luxury cars are leased. Getting a car on a lease costs less since consumers usually only pay for the car's estimated depreciation over the course of the lease period instead of the car's total value. However, there is no car ownership involved since leasing only allows customers to use the vehicle. Here is a list of pros, cons, and reasons for leasing and purchasing of vehicles.
Pros of Leasing
  1. Lower costs. Leasers are only charged for the car's depreciation instead of the full value. Leasing provides lower monthly payments in comparison with a purchase finance options.
  2. Low or no down payment. Leasing requires lower or even no down payments. It is a viable option for consumers that do not have enough cash to purchase a vehicle.
  3. Simple turn over. There is no selling hassle after the lease term is over. Consumers only need to turn the car in and lease a new car if desired.
Cons of Leasing
  1. No equity. Consumers that lease cars get no equity value from the money spent to use the car. The car will never be owned, unless the lease contract allows for a purchase opt-in after the lease term is over.
  2. Extra insurance costs. Lease insurance doesn't usually include full coverage on stolen or totaled cars. Extra insurance, called gap coverage, can be purchased to cover for these events at higher prices.
  3. No flexibility. Lease car companies charge big fines to consumers who want to withdraw early from a lease term. Depending on the lease contract, fees can cover up to six months of lease payments.
  4. Extra charges. Miles are a major factor to consider on lease vehicles. Most lease contracts allow up to 15,000 miles per year at no extra charge. Heavy car users would incur charges of 15 cents per extra mile. This can amount to hundreds of dollars more per year for heavy drivers.
Reasons to Buy a Car
  1. Consumers should buy a car for the long-term ownership benefit, which would eventually require no monthly payments. The main aspect to consider would be the final amount spent versus the car's yearly or mileage depreciation.
  2. Car buyers can drive their cars without any mileage restrictions. Drive without having to check on the odometer on a constant basis like lease drivers.
  3. Car owners can customize their rides as they see fit. Add any features or details to the car as preferred.
There are many factors to consider on whether to lease or buy a car like available money, usage, and resale value. Check all options to know which one fits your finances and tastes. Experts suggest leasing as an option to financially capable consumers that like to drive new cars every couple of years that otherwise could not afford this alternative.
This article is provided courtesy of Auto Loan Experts, a consumer finance website providing information and tools on auto loans for people with bad credit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Avoid Costly Retirement Surprises

Retirement planning to estimate resources and individual needs is necessary to avoid surprises. It is an important preparation for the way of life after retirement. Saving and investing are the keys to avoid retirement downfalls. Various tools must be used to save for retirement like 401k, IRA, bonds, securities, mutual funds, and stocks. Prepare to retire in a healthy, happy, exciting and fulfilling way by following the steps listed here.
  1. Follow several investment plans. Diversify financial saving accounts to have enough retirement money. Invest in multiple venues to lower risks and secure a better life at older age. Future retirees must not only plan for how their leisure time will be spent like going on vacation or visiting golf clubs, but on the overall lifestyle expenses. All planning should be for at least 20 years of retirement life, but prepare to cover more years. For example, save emergency money to account for unexpected medical conditions.
  2. Prepare for rising health care costs. Health care coverage is one of the main challenges for retirees. Research done by the Fidelity Investments Company says that a 65 year old couple spends $400,000 in average of their own money by the age of 92, not counting costs for long term medical conditions. Furthermore, Medicare costs are higher than what retirees originally considered. For instance, traditional Part A of Medicare provides inpatient care in hospitals, hospice, skilled nursing access, and home health care free. However, premium charges apply for Part B and Part D of Medicare that cover outpatient services and medications respectively. To avoid paying these added charges, a private Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Health Insurance) coverage is available for approximately $6500 a year. Health care takes a big chunk out of retirement savings.
  3. Know about Social Security taxes. Approximately 85% of all Social Security benefits are taxable to couples with income of $32,000 or higher. Although taxes are paid throughout working years to provide funds to the Social Security, taxes apply on its benefits too. Moreover, taxes also apply to preretirement savings accounts. For example, money that is taken out of a 401K or traditional IRA plans are taxable at the person’s highest tax rate up to 35%. Retirement savings options that can be accessed tax free is a Roth IRA.
Research and strategy are needed to live a comfortable life during retirement. Many saving plans are available that should be followed at the earliest possible age. Think about where you picture yourself in the future and how to get there. Avoid further surprises during retirement, by using the official U.S. Social Security Administration’s website which provides estimates and calculators on various topics to assist Americans reach the most comfortable retirement life possible.
This article is provided courtesy of Credit Season UK, a consumer finance website providing information and resources on payday loans and other personal credit services.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tips to Calculate Rate

One of the most common and well-known algebraic equations is calculating distance, time or rate, and if you are one of the many persons worldwide that dread algebra, it can be one of the scariest things to encounter on an examination paper or in your daily activities. Calculating distance, time and rate is one of the simplest algebraic problems however, once you know the formula for working it out. First you should know that all three are related and you cannot find one without information about the other two, so you cannot separate them. With that said, let's look at how you go about solving each problem.

Required Tools

  • Calculator

Required Materials

  • Pen
  • Paper


  1. The first thing to learn and remember is the basic formula which is that:
  2. Distance = Rate x Time
  3. Once you know the basic formula then just grab your calculator, punch in the figures and write everything down so you don't forget the answers. If you need to find the distance between two points, you need to know how fast the vehicle will travel between each point (rate) and how long it will take to get from point A to point B traveling at that rate (time). So for example:
  4. A car travels at 80mph and drives for 3 hours. Calculate the distance the car traveled.
  5. Remember the formula:
    Distance = Rate x Time
    So Distance = 80mph (rate) x 3 hours (time)
    Distance = 240 miles.
  6. To calculate rate or time the formula has to be rearranged a bit; to determine how long it will take to get from point A to point B (time) the formula is:
  7. Time = Distance/Rate
  8. So if you are given the distance (let's say 220 miles) and you know the speed the vehicle will be traveling at (50mph) then you can find how long it will take to travel the given distance at a given rate.
  9. Time = Distance/Rate
    So Time = 220miles/50mph
    Time = 4.4 hours
  10. The last one is Rate which follows the same pattern as Time, meaning that you divide to calculate both Time and Rate. So if you know the distance between Point A and B (let's use 220 miles again) and you know the vehicle will get to its destination in 4.4 hours, then it is easy to calculate the rate the vehicle will be traveling at to travel that distance in that number of hours:
  11. Rate = Distance/Time
    Rate = 220 miles/4.4 hours
    Rate = 50mph

Tips and Warnings

  • To make things easier, remember that when calculating Distance you multiply the other two, to calculate Rate or Time the formula is reversed and you divide instead of multiply.
  • Always start the formula with Distance to prevent confusion. For instance:
    Distance = Rate x Time
    Rate = Distance/Time
    Time = Distance/Rate
  • If you are taking an exam, write down the formula for calculating each thing before you begin the exam so you have something to refer to if you forget the formula.
For more information on performing calculations, read How to Use a Calculator.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

3 Methods for Saving Money in this Economy

In today’s economy, not too many people aren't looking to save money. No matter the size of your family, a few extra dollars a week can really make a difference. Here are some tips that should put a few extra dollars in your pocket each week!

1. Children, Clothes and Shoes
When you have children, no matter how many you have, one of the biggest expenses is clothes and shoes. Who doesn’t spend a small fortune on outfitting your kids? It helps when you have younger siblings to pass clothes down to. but there are also some other great ways to save. A great place to start is to start shopping at your local thrift store or consingment shop. These places usually have really good deals on the expensive designer clothes all the kids want. You can usually find wonderful outfits for a fraction of the cost, for the whole family. Another trick fis to always look for coupons. Even when planning a trip to your favorite outlet mall, check for coupons. Most outlets have coupons that will allow you to save even more on discounts already offered. Printable coupons all over the internet take advantage of these for all of your purchases. When shopping for shoes, things can become a little more difficult. If you are lucky enough that your children's feet have stopped growing, take full advantage of end of the season sales, and stock up. If you're looking to buy special shoes or sneakers for sports, plan ahead. These do go on sale, you just need to look ahead a couple months and watch the sales flyers.

2. Credit Cards
You can save major money on your credit cards if you're careful. Call all your credit card company's and get them to lower your finance rates. Let them know you can transfer the balance to another card with a cheaper rate, and chances are they will find a way to match that rate. Next, the big thing to remember with credit cards is always pay more than the the minimum payment. If you are only paying the minimum on a card, all you end up doing is paying the finance charges. Of course the best thing to do is don't use them! Pay cash when possible and you will save a fortune in finance charges.

3. Monthly Bills

The one expense everyone thinks they're stuck with is the monthly bills on things you must have - heat, water, gas, electric, and so on. Make sure you have the best rates on all of these monthly bills. You can shop around, even if you don't know how yet. Sometimes, you can save money by just changing companies. Here again, if a company is offering a lower rate, call your company. In a lot of cases, they will match it. Furthermore, you can always cut back on what you are using in utilities. Make sure you always turn things off, and cut back on the length of showers. Just these little things can add up over time. If you can take your monthly expenses and cut back just ten dollars a week, do this with three or four bills, you just saved a hundred dollars a month.

Of course, this really is just the tip of the iceberg. Do lots of research, there are literally a million resources online for helping to save money. A couple of cents here and there can add up to hundreds in a year's time. If you put a lot of these into effect, you will be amazed how quickly they can add up, and put money back into your pockets.
Melissa Jenkins likes to write about finance, economics & saving money at

Saturday, May 26, 2012

When to Use Retail Credit Cards

Retail credit cards offer many advantages to customers based on the company that they belong. However, these cards have higher interest rates than non-retailer cards, but provide many benefits with no downside if the balance is cleared on a monthly basis. All retail cards are subject to credit approval and the applicant must meet all conditions. Here is a list of some of the largest stores with their credit card rewards.
Best Buy
The Best Buy retail card has various options targeted for rewards with smart financing. For example, it allows for customers that make a one time purchase of at least $499.00 to pay back in full during the next following 18 months without interest. In addition, if the customer spends $299 at one purchase, there is a six-month period to make a full payment without interest. Meanwhile, purchases under $299 get a no interest grace period of 3 months if paid in full. Best Buy also has a reward zone program where you accumulate points with purchases. This reward program provides 1 point for every dollar that is spent on financial offers and two reward points for every spent dollar on any store purchase without a finance promotion.
Amazon’s Visa card provides customers with a $30 off instant gift card for first time users with 1,500 bonus points included. Customers get reward points on all purchases like one point for every other dollar spent, two points for every dollar purchase at eligible locations, and three points per dollar spent on their site. Exchange reward points to pay for full or partial purchases since one hundred points are equal to one US dollar. Furthermore, redeem points for gift cars, cash backs, and travel to name a few. This card is accepted everywhere that Visa is accepted with no annual fees and is great for regular Amazon customers.
Wal-Mart has two retail cards available called the Wal-Mart Discover and Wal-Mart credit card. Customers get $20 back on first card acquisitions of $100 or higher at their site. Although, the purchase must be done on the day that the account was opened to receive the $20 rebate. A Wal-Mart Discover card has more perks than the in-store card since it provides up to one percent cash back on purchases. Both cards have no annual fees, no fraud liability, cash advances for purchases, and 5 cents per gallon savings at some of Wal-Mart’s Gas National gas stations.
This article is provided courtesy of Bad Credit Loans Direct, a consumer finance website providing information and resources on personal loans with bad credit and other personal credit services.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Boris Johnson has Big Plans for London Business

London Mayor Boris Johnson is set to enter his second term at 10 Downing Street – and he’s made it clear that economy and employment are among his top priorities. The newly re-elected London Mayor announced his new team along with his intentions to boost jobs in London and encourage strong economic growth in the coming years.
Boris Johnson stated that the issues of London jobs and growth are “at the heart” of his role as Mayor; the city is still feeling the effects of the global recession, and Mayor Johnson is eager to drive the economy forwards and offer Londoners a financial future with greater security.
Boris Johnson has announced the following MPs as key members in his senior team:
Kit Malthouse – Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise
Mr Malthouse formerly served as Boris Johnson’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, and will now take up the reins in the Business and Enterprise department. Boris Johnson describes Malthouse as someone with “an outstanding business pedigree” and a knack for getting results even in the most trying economic conditions. The Mayor believes Kit Malthouse will play a key role in realising the vision to create jobs and apprenticeships in the hundreds of thousands.
Richard Blakeway – Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property
Richard Blakeway will be Boris Johnson’s right hand in the property department, heading up Homes for London (which will be replacing the London Housing Board). Blakeway will be leading the development of London’s Mayoral housing strategies and policies.
Munira Mirza – Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture
Munira Mirza has a great deal of experience in working for cultural organisations and charities; this makes her ideal for her position on Boris Johnson’s Mayoral team. In addition to serving at the Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Ms Mirza is also a member of Arts Council England, Royal College of Music Council and London Regional Council.
Sir Edward Lister – Deputy Mayor for Planning
Sir Edward was originally appointed Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor of Planning by Boris Johnson in 2011, and will continue in this crucial role throughout 2012.
During his second term, Mayor Boris Johnson plans to boost job employment and create 250 000 new apprenticeships in support of small business; he also plans to invest £250 000 million in London’s high streets. In light of the recent Presidential election in France, Boris Johnson is also encouraging French businesses to relocate to the UK to avoid President Hollande’s tax rates – and international business analysts will be watching developments with interest.
Nicky Warner is a skilled, passionate writer with a keen interest in London news. Whether it’s the latest developments in serviced offices Manchester or breaking economic news in Marylebone, Nicky’s got all the details!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Save on Computer Costs

Owning a computer is a necessity in our technology-driven world. Nearly every business, bank, and creditor offers their services from the convenience of your laptop. While accessibility is the goal, it may be far-reaching if you cannot afford to buy a computer. Spending between $500 and $2,000 can pose a strain on any budget. Before heading to the tech store, review the bargain shopping tips below. Finding a good deal may be easier than you think.
  1. Say “yes” to the super store. Apple and Best Buy aren’t the only computer-selling sources. Superstores like Costco and Sam’s Club carry a variety of computer models at a discounted price. Do some cost-comparison by visiting these and other stores in your area. Why spend more for the same product?
  2. Shop for a refurbished model. If you lack a superstore membership, shopping for a refurbished computer is a great way to save 25% or more. While the term “refurbished” scares away many consumers, these models go through the same quality testing as their newer counterparts. The best part? They usually come equipped with a warranty as well. Set aside your preconceptions and include this option on your shopping list.
  3. Go outside your comfort zone. Long-time computer users are often loyal to a specific brand. While your relationship with Apple may span a decade, don’t let your bias keep you from a bargain. Step outside your comfort zone and get the most for your money. Can you find a similar machine at a $500 discount? Ask yourself if the name attached to your computer is worth the inflated price. Market research contains a wealth of knowledge. See beyond the brand and place a higher premium on quality.
  4. Opt for a package deal. The best savings come in packages. Make sure your new computer comes fully loaded with the latest operating system and relevant software. Without these features, paying to install the necessary updates can cost thousands. Save your money and find a retailer who stocks praiseworthy merchandise.
  5. Don’t buy more than you need. When it comes to processing and memory, the computers in today’s market are faster and larger than ever. However, it’s important to think twice before purchasing the biggest and the best. Consider the added cost for upgraded features. Do you need the fastest processor available, or would a standard model suit your needs? Along the same lines, do you really need a 750GB hard drive for 100GB of information? Smart shopping is about weighing the options and choosing the best fit. Don’t pay for unneeded extras. Protect your wallet and buy with caution.
  • Image from
This guest post was provided by Lexington Law, a credit repair firm that helps people address their credit score issues.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Save on Healthcare Costs

The cost of staying healthy is staggering in the United States. According to the Department of Labor, the average household spends over $3,000 per year in healthcare costs. For those struggling with a chronic or ongoing illness, that number is undoubtedly conservative. When the cost of self-maintenance stands to drain at least 6% of your income, what is the solution? Take a look at the tips below to learn some cost-cutting strategies. Saving money means taking on less stress, a valuable and healthy commodity.
  • Utilize your network. Insurance coverage is an invaluable resource, one that only works if you use it. Ask your provider for a list of physicians covered under your plan. Venturing outside the approved network could mean paying the total cost of your last doctor’s visit.
  • Find the best doctor. Not all physicians are created equal. In fact, choosing the wrong doctor could result in a repeat trip with another co-pay attached. Make the most of your money by doing some research before booking an appointment. Look up your doctor’s credentials, patient satisfaction rates, etc. Why waste time and money? Visit a good doctor the first time around.
  • Assess the necessary level of care. A little cough is no reason to run to the emergency room. It’s also no reason to pay more for qualified care. Before escalating the situation, determine the kind of care you need. For example, did your son break his ankle or merely sprain it? A trip to urgent care is probably best. Many of these facilities come equipped with x-ray machines and other devices not found in your average doctor’s office. A bonus: they can provide the answers you need at a cheaper co-pay rate. “Expensive” doesn’t always mean “necessary.” Practice some prudence before racing to the ER.
  • Ask for generic drugs. Prescription drugs can have a debilitating effect on your budget, especially if name-brand pills are filling your bottle. Drug companies charge an inflated rate for their products, a price that has little to no bearing on their effectiveness. Why foot the bill for an arbitrary mark-up? Ask your pharmacist for a generic form of your medication. Getting healthy should never induce stress.
  • Seek preventative care. Like any problem, spotting the early symptoms is the fastest way to solving it. The same is true for your health. Schedule regular check-ups and applicable screenings to ensure the best care possible. Illness is expensive, but cost is often proportional to the level of urgency. Don’t put your medical and financial well-being on the backburner.
  • Change your lifestyle. Speaking of preventive care, the time to change your lifestyle is now. Do your part to stay healthy by kicking bad habits like smoking, eating junk food, etc. Start exercising for at least 30 minutes per day and make an effort to get more sleep. Your immune system will respond to a healthy lifestyle. Be your own cost-cutting strategy by making health an everyday priority.
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This guest post was provided by Lexington Law, a credit repair firm that helps people address their credit score issues.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Budget-Friendly Father's Day Ideas

Well would you look at that, there goes Mother’s Day. This year is flying by so fast, my head is nearly spinning. Before you know it, Father’s Day will be right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but every year I put a ton of energy into figuring out what to do for my mom, and by the time her holiday is over, I am completely out of gift and activity ideas for my other parent. Which I don’t think is very fair to my dad. He is, after all, a huge role model of mine and someone I love and respect very much. My other annual dilemma is that I often splurge so much on Mom, it leaves the budget rather tight for Dad.
This year, I am doing two things differently. One, I decided to start early on Dad’s gift idea. A month early, to be exact. I wanted to be sure my creative juices were primed and that my dad didn’t get a skimpy celebratory day in his honor. And two, I am balancing a budget for both Mom and Dad’s gifts and found that you can, in fact, create a truly special and meaningful day without spending an excessive amount of cash. Below are my tips for heartfelt, but economical (hey, we are still coming out of the recession here!) gift and activity ideas for Father’s Day:
1. BBQ Tools: My dad is nuts about grilling, and takes a lot of pride in his technique. BBQ tools are a great gift for a guy that loves to grill, especially paired with the dinner that you will grill with him on Father’s Day. Who said that the Father's Day dinner has to be crazy expensive? For a really budget-friendly BBQ dinner, string together some shish kabobs with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and marinated chicken. (Throw in fresh pineapple slices if you’re feeling wild.) If you’re willing to splurge just a little, go to Costco and buy dad a 6-pack of Hickory bacon wrapped sirloins. They’ll run you less than $5 apiece, but it’s still far less than you’d spend anywhere else. Hit up Costco’s chilled produce section for a $5 bundle of fresh asparagus to accompany the steaks on the grill. Best father’s day dinner, ever.
2. Cigar and then some: Not just any old cigar, mind you. A cigar that he’s going to smoke with you when the two of you go golfing. And taking dad golfing does not have to break the bank, either. I found this great website,, which lists discounted tee times in every state in the US. When I plugged in my state and town, it came up with a dozen hits and included the name of the course, the tee time, the cost per person, and how much you save on the price (for example, 20%.) When I did my search I found discounts as low as 10% and as high as 40%. This is a great gift because it’s the gift of time, and I’m a big believer that experiences are better than material things, anyway.
3. Beer Gift Basket: My dad is a big beer fan, I’ll just come right out and say it. One idea which I’ve actually done before is to create a really fun, personalized beer gift basket for him. I bought him a new beer mug (I got it at a swap meet for less than $10, it’s the kind with the crystals in the outer edges so that when you put it in the freezer, the crystals freeze and keep the beverage incredibly chilled. It also has his favorite NFL team’s logo feature on the front.) Then, I catered the beers to my dad’s taste. Does your dad like lagers? Beers with a lot of hops? Ambers? Imports? One of my favorite places to go is honestly Trader Joe’s. They feature a wide variety of beers, for a really reasonable price, AND you can mix-and-match six or twelve packs. I’ve taken advantage of this perk many times, and it’s perfect for this idea specifically. Wrap everything up together, and voila. You’ve got one happy dad.
4. Personalized Mug and Breakfast: This one might sound a little corny, but we made one for my dad years ago and he still has it, and uses it. Walmart can do a custom picture one on side and a personalized message on the other for as little as $12. This is one of those things that you could buy, and use for his Father’s Day breakfast in bed (or, if your dad is like my dad, his breakfast in front of the TV in his Barcalounger watching Sports Center.) Make the eggs the way he likes them—over easy, poached, omelet style—and go all out on the meat. My mom never lets my dad eat as much bacon and sausage as he does on Father’s Day. If you REALLY want to win best son or daughter of the year, strong coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice will go a long way. Nothing says love like a glass of hand-squeezed fresh juice.
5. Golf Basket: Maybe you and your dad can’t find a time to golf together, or maybe you don't close enough to be able to golf together. That’s when this gift basket comes in handy. Pack it full of golf balls, tees, a visor, maybe a travel coffee mug with something golf-themed on the front, and anything else you can think of that he’d appreciate the day of golfing. Does he burn easily? Throw in some sunscreen. Does he chew gum or like to snack? Add a couple packs of gum or some individually wrapped cookies, pretzels, or chips. And you can still add a cigar here, just tell your dad to enjoy it solo until you can have one together.
6. Groupon Gifts: And last but not least, keep your eyes peeled on Groupon. In the past month alone, I’ve seen deals on doormats with MLB logos on them for under $25, half-off Whale watching tours, deals for kayaking day trips, and even an airsoft deal where dads can shoot objects with a BB gun in a competitive game. Even if Mom puts her foot down at that one, there are always deals to be had here, especially if you start looking and planning early, aka now.
So there you have it, a few tips including some tried-and-true so that you can honor your dad the way he deserves on his big day, without breaking the bank. After all, wasn’t it your old man that taught you the value of saving money, spending wisely, and keeping your credit score in good shape? Let’s hear it for dads everywhere, and celebrate them with love… and with a budget.
Dk loves to blog about all things finance. You can read more of his work at

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How To Save Money On Your Vacation

Most people spend an excruciating amount of time on planning their vacation. If only they'd invest as much into the financial aspects of their trip! Finding a cheap flight and accommodation won't be of much help, unless you back it up with a strategy to protect you against currency fluctuations, excessive ATM charges and absurd exchange costs. As a consequence, many either end up spending a lot more than they initially intended or find themselves unable to afford the things they really want – both of which can turn what promised to be a magical vacation into a major disappointment. To prevent this from happening again in the future, you need to look for affordable solutions.

Saving money with a currency card

As mentioned, desperately few holiday-goers take currency exchange and payment options into their considerations. When going abroad, however, one of the things you absolutely need to consider is how you are going to take your money. Travellers cheques, once the ideal payment method abroad, are no longer widely accepted. Taking your money to an exchange bureau on location is about as sensible as throwing it away. Which leaves you with the option of exchanging money before you go at an exchange bureau or use a currency card which is preloaded with money before you go. The latter is increasingly catching on with many people and with good reason - it can save you money.

No ATM charges

Firstly, a currency card usually won't charge you for using an ATM abroad. This is great news because most people have been caught out with hefty fees when they have made a withdrawal, even a small one. It is even better news considering ATMs are now widely available in most countries and thus make it a lot easier to budget in advance or to come by much-needed cash should you urgently need it. And besides saving you money, free ATM use has another benefit – your peace of mind. After all, you won't have to run around trying to exchange your money whilst enjoying your holiday and will know that you can use it almost anywhere.

No debts

A currency card will also give you the freedom of using a card whilst abroad whilst avoiding any fears of getting into debt. After all, you can only spend what's on the card. Which is not to say that you can not top it up – all major currency card vendors are allowing you or even family or friends in case of an emergency, to add money to your balance. But it does mean that you are firmly and fully in control of how much you want to spend and what you'd like to spend it on. This way, you can be sure to always have enough just the right amount of money at your disposal.

No exchange rate problems

Finally, a currency card fixes the exchange rate, meaning you're no longer subjected to the wild mood swings and speculations of the money market. While this is unlikely to constitute a major issue in mainland Europe, currency fluctuations can cost you a lot of money over a very short timespan in other parts of the world. Even currencies like the Japanese Yen can oscillate wildly against the Pound, and others can turn out to be even worse.
And you no longer have to worry about spending the full amount on the card, either: If you return with money on your card you can always exchange it back to the original currency subject to mostly minor charges You will always get the best exchange rate though so this won't be too much of a problem.

No safety issues

The safety of a currency card is also important. It contains a chip and PIN so you needn't worry about someone stealing your money. In fact safety is one of the major benefits of the currency card. If you have your card stolen or you lose it then just let the currency card company know and they will replace your card and the money that was on it when it was stolen. They could even deliver it to where you are staying on holiday.
The best thing about the currency card, however, has to be the knowledge that you are saving money when compared to other holiday money options. By reading this article, you've already demonstrated that you're willing to invest time into sensible budgeting. Thanks to a currency card, you will now be able to reap the benefits of this investment.
This article was written in association with Tuxedo, a leader in the field of currency cards and prepaid technologies.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can The Retail Industry Stage A Recession Recovery?

What Is The Problem?

The problems enveloping the retail industry are in many ways symptomatic of the issues faced by the wider economy, both throughout the United Kingdom and indeed across the globe. There is a total lack of confidence from consumers in terms of spending at the moment, and this is being most acutely felt by the retail industry. As belts and purse strings are tightened even further, many stores are being pushed to the limits of their ability to continue to trade.


Many of the issues which are faced by businesses today actually stretch as far back as the beginning of the previous decade. The early 2000’s saw a dramatic rise in the number of commercial properties for rent for a number of reasons. The first major factor was a number of up and coming retailers looking to gain UK market share, thus agree to pay vastly inflated rents so they won contracts and were able to establish themselves on the high street. Unfortunately this then manifested itself in either high prices to cover their overheads, or savage reductions which completely took away the profitability of the business, and thus their credibility in the eyes of both customers and creditors.
As a knock on effect from this, landlords felt empowered now to charge similarly high rates as contracts became renewed, not worrying at the time about the prospect of being left with empty commercial property for rent. Times were good then, and landlords were virtually assured of always having someone who would come in and pay their rates, no matter how prohibitive they may have seemed initially.

Further Industry Damage

It must be noted that it is only truly the physical retail industry on the high street which has taken a sustained battering. With stubborn landlords not willing to renegotiate rents, tenants are either having to leave the premises by refusing to renew or unfortunately when the company ultimately folds.
Coupled with a continued strong performance from the supermarkets and the continuing growth of online sales, the outlook remains bleak for the retail trade, at least the physical aspect we are used to seeing on the high street. While the double dip could ultimately spell the end for large chain stores taking up hundreds of tenancy agreements on decade long leases, an eventual softening of landlord attitudes could open the door for small businesses and independent stores to breathe new life into the struggling UK high street scene.
Harworth Estates are one of the leading land owners in the UK, and have a vast amount of commercial property for rent in the UK.

Friday, May 18, 2012

When Should You Put Your Hand Up For Help? The Ins and Outs of Choosing a Financial Advisor

If you’d like to have more time to focus on other things in your life, and you want to entrust your finances to someone more experienced, enlisting the help of a professional financial advisor could be a great option.
The decision to hand the reins over to a financial advisor or planner is a big step for most DYI investors and one that comes after a lot of research and shopping around. But how do you know if you need a financial advisor in the first place? The answer to this question will often depend on a variety of factors including:

- The amount of money you have to play with: Most people who come into a large sum of money choose to get a financial advisor since more is at stake. On the other hand, if you have less than $500.00 to invest, a financial planner may not be very effective since it is likely that a good chunk of the principal amount will be eaten up by fees.
- Whether you are at the cusp of retirement – this is a critical period to get you money in order and any wrong financial decisions at this time could mean working another decade into your retirement. Most people are not willing to gamble their retirement livelihood and will happily hand the reigns over to an advisor who will help with retirement planning.
- Your level of expertise and interest in investments – If you have little to no knowledge of investing, then a financial advisor may be the perfect way to get some guidance and help you get on track.
- Time and interest - You need to have plenty of spare time on your hands to personally monitor stocks and adjust a portfolio. If you have no time (or interest) for this, then perhaps a financial advisor is the best option for you.
If you finally decide that a financial advisor may the best option for your situation, then it is important to shop around for a registered and licenced financial planner. When deciding on the best financial advisor for you, consider asking the advisor some of the following important questions:
- Are you associated with any organisations or companies – or are you free to invest in any company?
- What are your fees and charges?
- What are your commissions for financial products?
- Do you have license? (you should also conduct your own checks by looking online.)
Sarah Paige has a passion for managed funds. By her own admission, she loves playing with her own managed account, perhaps a little too much.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why Having a Will Makes Good Financial Sense

You spend a great deal of time and energy building up your wealth over a life time, so why not take just a fraction of that time creating a will to ensure your hard earned assets go to the right people? A recent Roy Morgan poll conducted in 2010 in Australia showed that 36.1% of people over the age of 25 (equivalent to over 5 million people) do not have a will. A legal will is perhaps one of the most important documents you will ever have to make in your life time, and the financial (not to mention emotional) consequences of not having one are great for the loved ones you leave behind.
So why make a will?
You have say in who gets what:
By specifically directing which members of your family get what, you can ensure sentimental assets stay in your family by explicitly expressing it in your will. Dying without one means that a court will decide who will get what according to formulaic intestacy rules. This means the court will decide how your estate should be distributed with your loved ones having no say on the way your assets should be dealt with. It is also likely the court will distribute it in a way that you yourself would not have wanted. Moreover, if members of your family or friends are unsatisfied with distribution, expect your will to be subject to protracted court proceedings which could incur unnecessary financial and emotional toll on your family and friends.
If you get married or divorced
The general rule is when you get married, any existing wills are cancelled. Therefore, if you are going into marriage with significant assets, it is important to draft a new one once you get married, regardless of whether or not you already have an existing will. Similarly if you are divorced or separated, ensure you have a solicitor create a codicil to your existing will. This basically is a formal document attaching to the will expressing any further additions you would like to add to the will.
Allows you to get clear on tax liabilities
Drafting a will with a solicitor also ensures you think through the tax implications of the types of gifts you leave behind for family and friends. For example, if you decide to leave your house to one of your children, the sale of this asset later down the track may attract capital gains tax. Drafting a will can ensure you are clear about what taxes might result from certain provisions in your will and allows you to plan ahead.
Sarah Paige is interested in investment management and is currently enjoying all things dividend yield related.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Things that Can Increase the Cost of Your Home Loan

There is nothing as good as being successful at securing a home loan, but on the contrary, there’s also nothing worse than irrational attempts that make the loan more expensive. Everyone who wants to secure a home loan looks for interest rates that could benefit them in the long run. However, securing cheap interest rates is not conventional for every one today.

A home loan is of one the most expensive and long lasting financial investments one makes. Several wrongdoings can jeopardize the process and cost you in terms of high interest rates and closing fees, etc. In this article, we will tell you 5 things that could make your home loan more expensive.
1. Stop Making Costly Purchases
If you intend to refinance or purchase a new home in the future, you must never make other costly or luxury purchases including car, electronics, and home furnishing items. Don’t do this either on cash or credit card as both will immensely affect your future cash flow. Doing so can lower the credit score which will give you higher interest rates on the loan.
2. Do Not Pay Off Your Outstanding Debt At Once!
Never pay off your debt hastily that will mature on a later date. Only pay the bills that are due and will affect your credit score. Impulsively and abruptly paying off your bills will not affect your credit score adversely, but can certainly increase cash outflows. In fact, you will end up getting a costly mortgage with restricted options, rather than a better one.
3. Never Decide On a Mortgage Type Too Soon
This is of utmost importance since there is a chance that you might have thought of securing only ARM or fixed rate mortgages with lower payments. In fact, this type of loan could be the best one for you; however, you must be able to assess your financial objectives for the next five years or maybe ten years in order to sail safely. Discuss these matters with a financial planner and identify both, your short and long-term goals.
4. Never Falsify Your Mortgage Application
You should bear this in mind that hiding facts will lead you nowhere with the lending institution. Since they will get to know your financial portfolio before they sanction your loan, it is better not to hide anything from them. This means that if you have not paid off your debt yet, or you have court judgments pending, it is better to include this information as asked on your application form.
5. Refrain from Applying For Credit Cards Months before Applying For Mortgage
Just as you were advised to not make any costly purchases prior to applying for a loan, make sure that you do not apply for a credit card as well during this period. Doing so during this period can lower your credit score greatly. Also, while you are applying for the loan, cancel out the cards that you are not using because it adversely affects credit score.
Allan enjoys blogging about finance and especially how to save money on financial products. Allan's favourite topics include credit cards, loan refinancing and savings.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

4 Essentials to improve your credit score

Having a good credit grade is an essential element for making life easy. With a good credit rating, you can easily apply and get approval for loans, get better interest rates, receive efficient service from utility companies, even get better jobs. On the other hand, a bad credit history will only create obstacles for you and make life more difficult.

Given this, it’s highly essential to work towards maintaining good credit or improving your credit score. How? Here are some tips that might help you maintain and improve your ratings.

• Review report- Maintain accuracy

There are chances that information on your credit report might be incorrect or incomplete. Hence, it is desirable to check credit score on routine basis.

If you do find flaws, proceed to do the following steps:

* Monitor the error-- usually within 30 days and update it, if desired

* Inform the company, which is source of incorrect information.

* Get another copy of the free copy of credit report. This is already provided if alterations are made.

You can refer to the Federal Trade Commission for more details on the information to access free credit reports.

• Free credit report- Request for a free copy

Any individual can request for a free credit report every 12 months from each of three credit bureaus- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The credit file will house all your credit related transactions which you can review and study for corrections, if any. .

• Study credit report- Understand the elements

You should learn the elements present in your credit report, as understanding it will help you make better decisions when it comes to management of finances. Because a good credit score is based on a healthy credit report, maintaining good score means you can enhance your worthiness in the eyes of lenders.

Your credit file includes the following information.

* Payment history.

* Number of loans and number owed by you.

* Bankruptcy (if you have ever filed)

• Pay bills- Timely payment

Timely payments of bills are essential in attaining good credit score. On time payments depicts your creditors that you are a responsible consumer. However, there are other issues that might influence your score:

* It is good be selective when you shop for credit and pay great heed while applying for it as too many applications might lower down your score.

* You should never exceed your credit limits. You should only consume 30 percent of the balance.

* It is mandatory to regularly pay your debts.

Apart from taking care of the above mentioned steps it is good to check credit score often. The check of the score is desired as fluctuation might caution you about the identity theft, inaccuracy or any update in your report. You can sign with one of the several sites that let you access your credit score.

Joy is a financial expert that shares her knowledge of improving credit score & maintaining good credit report. Share your queries/comments & she will soon get back to you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Renting Out Your Home

If you want to rent out a property you own rather than sell it, there’s definitely a right and a
wrong way to do it. Renting out your home can help you pay your mortgage and even leave you
with a small profit every month. Or it can end up costing you. If you want to rent out your home
the right way, consider these tips:

1. Calculate how much your going to charge for rent with care – Take your mortgage and all the insurance you’ve taken out on your house into consideration. Additionally, see how much other rental properties are charging each month in your area. Ideally, the amount you charge you tenants each month should cover your expenses related to the home, and it should be in the same ballpark with what other landlords in your neighborhood are charging. If you need to charge a hundred dollars or so more each month than other landlords in your area are charging, don’t hesitate to do it. It may take you a little longer to find tenants, but it will pay off in the end.

2. Screen your tenants wisely – Unfortunately, just because someone looks like a good, honest person doesn’t mean that they are a good, honest person. It’s a wise practice to do a credit check on each of your prospective tenants. Bad credit isn’t necessarily always an indication that someone won’t pay his or her rent. However, you should look for red flags like evictions on
credit reports or a dramatically low credit score. Additionally, you should ask that all prospective
tenants provide proof of income before you hand the keys to the house over to them.

3. Inspect the home – Before the new tenants move in, get an electrician and a plumber to cometo your home and inspect the appliances, air conditioning, gas, tubs, and faucets. You don't
want the tenants to move in only to realize that you have to make thousands of dollars worth of
repairs. It’s best to be proactive and take care of any home-related issues before they move in,
since their daily use of things in the home can exacerbate issues.

Renting out your home doesn’t have to be a financial headache or a source of stress in your life.
Follow the tips above, and get the most out of being a landlord!

Carolyn is a guest blogger who writes about personal finance, small business finance, and ecommerce order management involving Shopify, BigCommerce, and 3dcart.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How to Start a Family Savings Program After Divorce

One of the biggest challenges of becoming a divorced family is dealing with financial strain. While financial strain may have been a part of your life while you were married, after your get divorced your problems double because your family income is now supporting two households.
Fortunately, there are strategies that you can implement that will not only bring you closer to your kids, but that will also help you make ends meet. One fun methods of coping with financial strain is to start a family savings program.

Strategy #1: Change Your Spending Attitude

There are a lot of things you can learn to live without when you have to. For example, you don’t need cable and you don’t need to go on a two week vacation to the Caribbean, however, it is nice to have little luxuries when you can afford them.
In order to make ends meet you most likely will need to eliminate many of your luxuries, however, this mild deprivation can be a great motivator for your family to work together to save money for a special family treat like cable for the year, a weekend camping trip or some other special treat.

Strategy #2: Decide Upon Your Goal Reward as a Family

The first step is starting a family savings program is to identify your goal item. This is the item that you all want to work for. For example, you may want to save up for a new home entertainment center, sports equipment or a great family vacation.
The goal needs to be something that everyone is excited about and will benefit from.

  • To come up with a family goal, hold a family meeting and brainstorm ideas without judging each idea.
  • Have someone be the secretary who writes the idea on a big piece of paper. Put down whatever the idea, no matter how silly or unpractical.
  • Vote. Let everyone vote 3 times. Then choose the one that is most popular.

  • Strategy #3: Save For Your Goal Rewared

    Determine how much money you will need to save up to get your goal. For example, a home entertainment center may include a wide screen television, a surround sound system, a new DVD player for new movies and games.
    After determining how much money you will need, you will then need to set a time goal. For example, have the money in 6 months, or you can set a specific date as your goal terminus.
    Now that you have your goal set, your next step is to figure out how each member of your family can contribute to meeting that goal. For example, mom can put aside $50 a week, teens can contribute $10 a week from their part-time job to help reach the goal and younger kids can gather and recycle cans and newspaper to help save for the family goal item. The objective is to have everyone contribute to the purchase of the family goal item.
    Living with children and divorce doesn’t have to be a negative thing. By investing your time and love into your family, you can develop stronger relationships with your kids and reduce miscommunications that often lead to divorced family strain.
    See other financial divorce family strategies on our children and divorce blog and add your ideas. We welcome your input.