Monday, October 31, 2011

A Breakdown of The Americans Jobs Act


The Americans Jobs Act was submitted to Congress to help spur the economy and create jobs for millions of Americans but Congress did not approve it. The Americans jobs act has 5 key components: tax cuts to help small businesses grow, rebuilding and modernizing America, help unemployed Americans, tax cuts for employees and families and funding of the act through the long-term deficit reduction plan.

Unemployed
The Act would lower veteran unemployment. A new Returning Heroes Tax Credit up to $5,600 would be available for veterans who have been unemployed at least 6 months. A Wounded Warriors Tax Credit up to $9,600 would increase the tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service related disabilities that have been unemployed for at least 6 months.

The Act would extend unemployment insurance for 6 million unemployed Americans and provide services to help them become employed. The Act would also provide tax credits to employers that hire long-term unemployed. The Act would also provide support for summer and year round employment for youth and provide training to youth and adults. The Act would also work to eliminate discrimination against the unemployed.

Public Service Employees
The Act would prevent up to 280,000 teacher layoffs due to state and local budget reductions and keep police officers and firefighters employed. The Act would expand wireless internet services for police, fire fighters, and emergency services personnel.

Foreclosed Properties
The Act would rrehabilitate hundreds of thousands of foreclosed and vacant properties across the country; support banks to buy, hold and redevelop distressed properties and establish property maintenance programs for previously vacant and abandoned properties.

Small Businesses
The Americans Jobs Act would provide tax cuts to help small businesses who provide 90% of the jobs in the economy. The tax cuts would be available regardless of size or type of business. A 50% reduction in payroll tax would be available to small employers on their first $5 million in payroll reducing the tax to 3.1% in 2012. The payroll tax cut is believed to be one of the most effective ways to create jobs and reduce costs for small businesses.

The Act would help small business startups and existing businesses expand and accelerate government payments to small contractors. A one-stop online site would be created that small businesses could use to access government programs and services to help them compete globally. The Act would delay the Bush Administration’s 3% withholding of payments made to contractors.

The Act would temporarily increase the limit on SBA guaranteed surety bonds from $2 to $5 million to help small businesses compete for and win bids on infrastructure projects. The Act would also work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to reduce regulations that address costs incurred by small businesses complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley auditing requirements.

The Act would extend the 100% expensing provision that rewards companies for making investments by allowing them to deduct the full value (bonus depreciation) of investments such as wireless, energy efficient, technology improvements and other advances through 2012.

The Act will reform the patent system and allow small businesses to get their ideas to market faster to help grow the economy and provide innovative solutions. The Act would repair and modernize classrooms and hire laid off teachers. It would also repair and modernize roads, railways and airports.

What is the reason Congress didn’t want to approve this Act or at least a part of it? Write your congressman to ask them to help the President improve the economy or develop their own bills to help improve the economy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Life Raft for Student Loans


Starting on July 1, 2014 the federal Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program would allow existing student loan borrowers to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15% to 10% of their income.

President Obama recently developed a proposal called “Pay As You Earn” is a revision of the current IBR program that will help recent graduates can reduce student loan payments to 10% of their income starting in 2012 and would assistance more than 1.6 million people. The “Pay As You Earn” will also make it easier to participate in the program and work to educate student loan borrowers on the program.

The IBR is a repayment plan that caps your required monthly student loan payments on the major types of federal student loans at an amount based on income, family size, and state residence and if the IBR payment is lower than your current student loan payment. If you are married and file jointly, your spouse’s income is considered for eligibility in the IBR program.

All Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation Loans available through the Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) programs are eligible. Loans currently in default and Parent PLUS Loans are not eligible. The program may increase the length of the loan repayment and accrue additional interest over the life of the loan. The program is most helpful for recent graduates or those who make a modest income.

Student loan borrowers with multiple student loans are being encouraged by the Department of Education to consolidate their FFEL loans into the Direct Loan program. The terms and conditions of the loans would remain the same, and starting in January 2012, would allow borrowers to make only one monthly payment.

Borrowers who take advantage of consolidation may be eligible to receive up to a 0.5% reduction on their interest rate: a 0.25% interest rate reduction on consolidated FFEL loans and 0.25% interest rate reduction on the entire consolidated FFEL and Direct Loan balance.

Contact your student loan servicer to find out how to sign up for the IBR program. Provide your feedback to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education on the new “Know Before You Owe” project to create a financial aid disclosure form to help current and prospective college students better understand the type and amount of aid they qualify for and compare financial aid packages offered by different colleges which would outline their total estimated student loan debt, monthly loan payments after graduation and additional costs not covered by federal student aid.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Save Money on Insurance


Many consumers hate getting insurance because you feel like you rarely need to use it and is only need just in case something happens. For that reason, many consumers don’t purchase insurance. But, when that unexpected event happens, the cost of not having insurance can range up to the thousands.

Insurance is a form of protection against loss, damage or theft. Insurance should not be used as a form of investment or to get extra money. Insurance should provide enough to reimburse for loss or damages. Three benefits to having insurance are:

a. Can be used to reimburse for a loss that occurs
b. Protects against harm to something or someone
c. Saves you money in the future

There are several types of insurance available: life, health, auto, fire, home, dental, flood, disability (short-term and long-term), earthquake, umbrella policies and many more. The three most important types of insurance everyone should have are: disability, life, car and health.

Disability insurance is used if you have a short-term or long-term medical condition that prevents you from working and ensures that you continue to receive a paycheck, usually at least 60% of your current salary. Life insurance is used if a family member dies and should be enough to at least cover the costs of the burial. Health insurance reduces costs if you require medical treatment, preventive care or prescription medicine. Car insurance should be enough to cover the cost if you hit someone or if someone who is uninsured hits you.

If your employer does not provide health, life or disability insurance you can purchase insurance on your own. Comparison shop to find the best rate and services that you need. You can contact the Better Business Bureau or search their website for a company's reliability report. You can also comparison shop online with companies such Bankrate or Progressive.

Get a free analysis of your existing insurance coverage to see if you have enough or too little coverage. Many consumers have more coverage than needed. Many consumers get the coverage suggested by their insurance agent and don’t bother to answer questions or comparison shop. Here are some tips on how to save money on insurance.

Car Insurance
1. Comparison shop
2. Increase deductible
3. Only buy what you need
4. Ask for discounts
5. Keep a good driving record
6. Drive a car with money saving features
7. Drop collision or comprehensive
8. Keep good credit
9. Ask for an annual review to make any necessary adjustments

Homeowners Insurance
1. Comparison shop
2. Increase deductible
3. Only get enough for rebuilding costs not the value
4. Make your home disaster proof or resistant
5. Make your home secure
6. Ask for discounts
7. Keep good credit
8. Ask for an annual review to make any necessary adjustments
9. Pay insurance yourself instead of the mortgage company

Renter’s insurance
1. Comparison shop
2. Increase deductible
3. Only get enough for replacement costs not the value
4. Make your rental secure
5. Ask for discounts
6. Keep good credit
7. Ask for an annual review to make any necessary adjustments
8. Choose a good location
9. Reputation of company

Life Insurance
1. Comparison shop
2. Get coverage based on your needs not based on your wants
3. Get term life until you 60 or over then switch to whole life
4. Improve your health and ask for a reevaluation if you are in a high rate/risk policy
5. Ask for discounts
6. Keep good credit
7. Ask for an annual review to make any necessary adjustments
8. Purchase insurance with no fees
9. Pay annually or quarterly

Health Insurance
1. Comparison shop
2. Exercise, improve your eating habits and improve your health. Ask for a reevaluation if you are in a high rate/risk policy
3. Ask for an annual review to make any necessary adjustments
4. Keep good credit
5. Ask for discounts or reduced rates
6. Purchase through your employer
7. Get standard coverage at a minimum
8. Use health clinics
9. Purchase generic prescription drugs

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Domestic Violence - Do You Know the Signs


Domestic Violence comes in many forms: physical, sexual, financial, emotional (verbal) or threats or violence. Domestic violence also includes behavior that can intimidate, hurt, humiliate, injure, blame, scare or harass someone. If you have been a victim get professional help via a counselor, therapist, pastor or psychiatrist.

Domestic violence can have a tremendous impact on your life and the life of your children. Getting help is the only way gain strength to prevent being abused again. Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted. Most domestic violence cases are never reported to the police. Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk for domestic violence.

If you are someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence encourage them to leave their current situation and get help. Here are some financial tips to help former or current victims of domestic violence. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline these are signs of domestic violence.

Emotional Abuse:

• Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
• Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
• Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
• Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
• Watches your time, how you long it takes you to go somewhere and come back.
• Does not want you to work.
• Controls finances or refuses to share money.
• Punishes you by withholding affection.
• Expects you to ask permission to do something.
• Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
• Humiliates you in any way.
• Yells at you and then later apologizes.

Physical Abuse:
• Damages property when angry (throws objects, punches walls, kicked doors, etc.).
• Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or chokes you.
• Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
• Scared you by driving recklessly.
• Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
• Forced you to leave your home.
• Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
• Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
• Hurt your children.
• Used physical force in sexual situations.

Sexual Abuse:
• Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
• Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
• Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
• Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
• Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
• Held you down during sex.
• Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
• Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
• Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
• Ignored your feelings regarding sex.

Here are 13 financial tips to help you get back on you recover.

1. Reduce spending
2. Open a savings account and open a checking account with overdraft protection
3. Pay bills online
4. Use direct deposit for paychecks
5. Update beneficiary paperwork for insurance
6. Open one new account in your name
7. Close any joint accounts and cancel the cards
8. Purchase life insurance
9. Remove your name as an authorized user from accounts
10. Start a retirement account
11. Create a will
12. Develop a support network to get advice, support and encouragement
13. Seek professional help

Here are 8 resources to help you get out of your current situation.
1. www.thehotline.org or call 800-799-7233
2. ncadv.org/resources/StateCoalitionList.php
3. ncadv.org/resources/OtherUSOrganizations.php
4. Berry, D.B. (1995) Domestic Violence Sourcebook. Los Angeles: RGA Publishing Groups, Inc.
5. Brewster, S. (2000) To Be An Anchor in the Storm: A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women. Seattle: Seal Press.
6. Browne, A. (1989) When Battered Women Kill. New York: Free Press.
7. Brownmiller, S. (1993) Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. New York: Random House.
8. Davies, J., Lyon, E. & Monti-Catania, D. (1998) Safety Planning with Battered Women: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Retirement Tips


This is National Retirement Week. Have you saved enough for your retirement? If not, why? There are many ways to plan for retirement. Whatever method you choose it is a known fact that unless you are born in a wealthy family you will have to save for retirement. If you retire at age 65 you could live another 10-20 years which means you will need on average $1,000,000 to $1,600,000 depending on your salary.

This translates into contributing to a retirement account for a minimum of 20 years depending on your salary but more likely for 25 to 30 years or more on a consistent basis. The key to planning for retirement is to start planning as soon as your get your first job, planning early eliminates the need to play catch-up in your later years in life.

However, it is never too late to plan for retirement. No matter what your age you should put some money aside for your retirement even if you have to get a job after retirement which is better than having no money saved at all. Many people do not save enough and end up having to work well past their desired retirement age or have to get part-time jobs because social security is not enough to cover all of their expenses. Don't panic and get overwhelmed by the media, fear, anxiety and nervousness of those around you. Don’t let emotions cause you to make bad decisions. If it sounds too good to be true it is. Don’t let someone invest money for you that is not a licensed financial advisor.

How to Save for Retirement:
1. CDs/Bonds/Mutual Funds
2. Pay down debt
3. Contribute extra to your 401(k) or other retirement account
4. The motto is "buy low, sell high" is truly appropriate during an economic crisis. This is a great time to buy stocks or to invest in a mutual fund. When the market bounces back you will achieve great gains.
5. Sign up for matching employer contributions (free money)
6. Increase retirement contributions with each salary increase
7. Save at least 10-20% towards retirement
8. Scale back expenses within at least 1 to 5 years prior to your retirement date
9. Don't depend on your spouse's retirement account because your spouse may not have saved enough money for retirement
10. Review allocations yearly to make any necessary adjustments. Check your statement for any errors and notify your financial planner immediately.

Diversify at a minimum:
Pre-retirement invest 60% stocks, 40% bonds/cash; near retirement (5-10 years) invest 40% stocks, 60% bonds/cash; during retirement invest 20% stocks, 80% bonds/cash.

What to invest in:
1. Invest in emerging market funds (foreign markets)
2. Equities (mutual funds) or other items that return a dividend or capital gains
3. Pharmaceuticals
4. Oil and petroleum
5. Commodities (corn, soy, wheat, coffee beans, petroleum, copper, coal, salt, sugar, soy beans, aluminum, rice, gold, silver, palladium, platinum, electricity, gas, oil, etc.) when the prices are low.
6. Real estate, if the home’s value is low it can continue to decrease but over a long period of time you will gain equity and can make a profit
7. Defensive stocks don’t depend on economic prosperity such as the food and beverage industry, manufacturing companies such as Philip Morris, Proctor & Gamble and alcohol and tobacco
8. Under-priced stocks (offer price is lower than price of the first trade, however they carry a higher risk factor because they may not rise in the future) – IPO’s, airline stocks, small cap stocks, etc.
9. Utility stocks – water, gas, electric, telephone companies
10. Green technology and green energy stocks for long-term gains such as Canon, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Nike, Whole Foods, Google, etc.
11. Invest in Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIPs) to offset any losses you may have experienced or use it as an easy way to start investing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The New Credit Score - Help or Hurt


Many consumers have been plagued with the never ending changing rules for calculating credit scores, it seems as soon as consumers understand the system it changes. Once again the FICO company is changing the credit score rules.

Due to the recession or one small transaction many consumers are on the line between good and bad credit, one small slip up could plunge their score in the bad credit zone, one debt payoff could boost their score to good credit and save them in interest and fees.

The new FICO8 credit score can potentially help consumers obtain higher credit scores or lower scores for others, some consumers score will not be affected at all. The FICO score ranges from 300-850, 850 being the highest score. FICO updates its scoring model every 2-3 years.

FICO claims the new scoring model is more precise because it considers more types of consumers. FICO8 rates people who have missed payments on small debts under $100 easier which could help millions of consumers improve their credit scores. These types of accounts will not have the same impact as a missed mortgage or credit card payment. The FICO 8 considers people with high credit utilization rates (credit card balances) to be higher risks than under the previous FICO model.

Major lenders have been slow to switch to the new scoring model. Three years after the actual release, most major lenders still have yet to adopt it and is absent in the mortgage industry.

In June 2011, Citibank implemented the new FICO8 credit scoring model. Bank of America is in the process of implementing the FICO8 scoring model. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to use the older FICO credit scoring model.

Almost half of consumers have FICO8 scores that are close to their scores from the previous version of the FICO score. The main ways to maintain a good credit score under the FICO8 model are: pay your bills on time, keep credit card balances low, and open a new credit account only when you need it.

The FICO8 will look at high credit card balances differently and maxed out credit cards will lower credit scores more. Isolated late payments will weigh less heavily on your credit score. Multiple late payments will weigh more and decrease your credit score. Authorized credit card accounts will be included when calculating your credit score. The FICO8 score will ignore collection accounts with balances less than $100. The five major actions that can greatly lower your credit score are: maxed out credit cards, foreclosure, bankruptcy, 30 day or more late payments, debt settlement or loan modification.

FICO says the new score will help consumers. We will just have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The History of Bank of America


Bank of America serves over 57 million customers with 5,900 banking centers and 18,000 ATMs in the U.S. Bank of America began in 1904 as the Bank of Italy in San Francisco by Amadeo Giannini to cater to immigrants who were denied service to other banks. In 1922, it was renamed as Bank of America and Bank of Italy branches. In 1927, Giannini consolidated Bank of Italy branches with Liberty Bank of America which was renamed Bank of Italy National Trust & Savings Association. In 1928, Giannini merged with Bank of America Los Angeles. In 1930, Bank of Italy was renamed Bank of America.

New technologies allowed credit cards to be linked to individual bank accounts. In 1958, the bank introduced the BankAmericard, which changed its name to Visa in 1975. Following the passage of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, BankAmerica Corporation was established to own Bank of America and its subsidiaries. BankAmerica expanded outside California in 1983 with its acquisition of Seafirst Corporation and its banking subsidiary, Seattle-First National Bank. BankAmerica continued to operate its new subsidiary as Seafirst until the 1998 merger with NationsBank.

BankAmerica's next acquisition occurred in 1992. The company acquired Security Pacific Corporation and its subsidiary Security Pacific National. At that time it was the largest bank acquisition in history. Federal regulators, however, forced the sale of approximately half of Security Pacific's Washington subsidiary, the former Rainier Bank. The combination of Seafirst and Security Pacific Washington would have given BankAmerica too large a share of the market in Washington state. The Washington branches were divided and sold off to West One Bancorp (now U.S. Bancorp) and KeyBank. Later that year, BankAmerica expanded into Nevada by acquiring Valley Bank of Nevada.

In 1994, BankAmerica acquired the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. At the time, no bank had the resources to bail out Continental, so the federal government operated the bank for almost a decade. Illinois at that time regulated branch banking extremely heavily, so Bank of America Illinois was a single-unit bank until the 2000.

In 1997, BankAmerica acquired Robertson Stephens, a San Francisco-based investment bank. The bank was integrated into BancAmerica Securities and the combined subsidiary was renamed BancAmerica Robertson Stephens. BankAmerica was acquired by NationsBank in October 1998 and took the name Bank of America Corporation.

In 2004, Bank of America announced it would purchase Boston-based bank FleetBoston Financial. Also in 2004 Bank of America acquired Louisville from National City Corporation and rebranded it as BA Merchant Services. Bank of America also purchased FleetBoston Financial. On June 30, 2005, Bank of America announced it would purchase MBNA and was renamed FIA Card Services.

In August 2006 Banco Ita├║ agreed to purchase Bank of America's operations in Chile and Uruguay. On November 20, 2006, Bank of America announced the purchase of The United States Trust Company for $3.3 billion, from the Charles Schwab Corporation and the deal closed July 1, 2007.

On September 14, 2007, Bank of America won approval from the Federal Reserve to acquire LaSalle Bank Corporation from Netherlands's ABN AMRO North America and the deal closed on October 1, 2007.

On August 23, 2007 the company announced a $2 billion repurchase agreement for Countrywide Financial and the deal closed in July 2008. Countrywide Financial changed its name to Bank of America Home Loans. On September 14, 2008, Bank of America announced its intentions to purchase Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. and the acquisition effectively saved Merrill from bankruptcy. This acquisition made Bank of America the largest financial services company in the world and the deal closed January 1, 2009.

Bank of America received Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) money twice as part of the deal of the merger with Merrill Lynch and repaid the $45 billion it had received from the TARP Program. On August 3, 2009, Bank of America agreed to pay a $33 million fine, without admission or denial of charges, to the SEC over the non-disclosure of an agreement to pay up to $5.8 billion of bonuses at Merrill Lynch. The bank approved the bonuses before the merger but did not disclose them to its shareholders when the shareholders were considering approving the Merrill acquisition.

In 2010, the bank was accused by the federal government of defrauding schools, hospitals, and some state and local government organizations due to misconduct and illegal activities involving the investment of proceeds from municipal bond sales. As a result, the bank agreed to pay $137.7 million, including $25 million to the IRS and $4.5 million to the state attorneys general, to the affected organizations to settle the allegations.

Former bank official Douglas Campbell pleaded guilty to conspiracy, antitrust and wire fraud charges. As of January 2011, other bankers and brokers are under indictment or investigation. Early in the year, the company conducted or announced personnel reductions of 36,000 people.

Bank of America provides services: personal banking, small business banking and corporate and institutional banking. Services provided in personal banking include: credit cards, mortgage, auto and personal loans, insurance, investment services, online banking, home equity and retirement. Small business services include: business checking and savings, credit cards, online banking services, automotive services and health insurance.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Athletes Need a Plan B


Recently in the news there have been countless stories of professional athletes who have filed bankruptcy or are broke, in some cases due to the NBA lockout. Many people have asked how is this possible, how can someone who makes millions of dollars a year be broke. The answer is – there is a difference between being rich and being wealthy. Many athletes get caught in the frenzied lifestyle of buying multiple cars, homes, jewelry and spending money without tracking it. When their career is over the money is gone and they are forced to file foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Nothing lasts forever and that includes money. They don’t realize that the money will eventually stop coming in if you don’t have a plan B. Many athletes are focused on their sport, put all of their trust in their support staff and don’t take the time to learn how to manage their money and make it grow. Based on the pension plans of many professional athletic organizations all athletes should have a plan B. As we have learned from other professional athletes who trusted their financial staff, sometimes you have to take control of your financial destiny. Sports pension plans are another reason why athletes should have a plan B.

The NFL offers full benefits at age of 55, with a minimum payout of $200 a month for each season played in the NFL for playing at least 3 years in the league after 1992 or 4 years prior to 1992. NBA
players receive a minimum of $200 a month up to a maximum of $306.34 per month for each season played regardless of performance.

NHL players pensions require at least 160 games played for eligibility and are determined by the length of a player's career. Players who played less than 400 games can receive $8,000 per year starting at age 45. Players who played more than 400 games can receive $12,500 per year starting at age 45 and can receive an additional $250,000 a year starting at age of 55. MLB players can receive a pension after 43 days and can receive full medical benefits after one day. PGA players receive a pension based on a complicated formula to determine earnings for retired players with benefits starting at age of 50. If they continue to play benefits start at age 60. NASCAR does not offer a pension plan. Here are 14 ways professional athletes can develop a plan B.

1. Budget. Track your money in addition to hiring an accountant, lawyer, financial advisor and other financial industry professionals. Create a budget and don’t spend than your budget allows. Track spending, daily, weekly or monthly. Use online tools such as mint.com or online banking to help track spending.
2. Checks. Sign your checks. You can set a dollar limit for checks that do not require your signature but still be aware of what the check is for and verify that check is being paid to a legitimate company.
3. Scams. Be aware of scams. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Do research on the latest “hot business or financial tip” you get from a friend or associate. There are no quick ways to make money. Growing your money takes time so be patient.
4. Spend Less. Always spend less than you earn. Create a balanced budget. Learn how to stretch your dollar. A balanced budget is based on income after taxes and consists of: housing 35%, debt 15% (excluding mortgage), savings 10% (minimum), transportation 15%, and other expenses 25%.
5. Gossip. Ignore gossip and comments from others about what you should or should not have or how you should spend your money. They usually don’t have any money or have bad spending habits.
6. Impress. Avoid keeping up with the Jones’. Newsflash – the Jones’ are broke too.
7. Value. Forget about impressing people with what you have on the outside, impress people with what you have on the inside. Realize that your self-worth cannot be defined by material possessions.
8. Void. You cannot fill a void in your life by buying things or spending money. If you have a void in your life, seek professional guidance on how to eliminate the void.
9. Change Your Thinking. Change the way you think about money, live like a wealthy person instead of a poor person. Wealthy people shop at Wal-Mart, are informed consumers, are financially savvy and find ways to make their money grow. They don’t purchase in excess or buy things that have no value.
10. Educate. Educate yourself about how to successfully manage your finances and make your money grow. Review your financial statements each month to check for errors and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Read self-help books or articles on how to manage your finances with books by experts such as: Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Napoleon Hill or The Millionaire Next Door.
11. Protect. Protect your wealth. Create a will and trust, and get health, life, disability, long-term care insurance to protect your finances and prevent you from going into debt if you become ill.
12. Future. Plan for tomorrow instead of living just for today. Instead of buying a home that costs $1.5 million, buy a home that costs $750,000. Instead of paying for expenses for all of your friends and family members provide options for them to make their own money. If they are physically able to work there is no need to take care of adults unless it is your parent or grandparents.
13. Outlook. Read self-help books on how to find happiness within. People who manage their money and people who are happy are less likely to spend money frivolously or are less likely to be in debt. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have and pass on life lessons to help others.
14. Legacy. For every action there is a reaction. Create a reputation for yourself that shows you excel in every aspect of your life. Don’t be a question mark when you die. Ensure your reputation will be something people will remember and speak highly of; you don’t want to be remembered as he used to have money, or he made millions but lost it, he could have been this or he could have been that. Be exceptional.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Everyday Fixes for Credit Scores


Credit. Credit. Credit. Do you ever get tired of people talking about credit or asking for your credit score? Companies used to have IOUs and you would pay them back when you could. Credit has become an ugly monster in the world of finance. It has destroyed lives, caused suicide, caused health issues such as high blood pressure, depression, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. Is this the effect that credit card companies had in mind when they created credit in the 1950s? I don’t think so but greed has caused them to operate as a mafia.

Some owners, customer service representatives and collection agencies have no remorse, no feelings, and refuse to provide good customer service to help clients who are willing to pay back debt owed. Sometimes you feel as though you committed a crime based on how potential employers, current employers or companies treat you when they look at your credit score or when you owe a company money.

Credit is one of the most important aspects of your financial life. It is easy to create a credit history but can be hard to maintain. One you have bad credit it can take years to recover and establish good credit again. Here are 13 everyday tips on how to raise your credit score.

1. Pay bills on time
2. Get current on late payments
3. Pay more than the minimum monthly payment – pay multiple times per month
4. Pay late accounts in 3 installments
5. Re-age accounts
6. Get paid delinquent (negative) accounts removed from your credit report
7. Ask for a settlement or setup payment bills for late accounts
8. Ask a company not to report a late payment on your credit report if it is less than 90 days late
9. Open a secured credit card or a department store credit card to establish credit history or increase your credit score
10. Avoid cash advances, payday loans and home equity loans to pay down debt
11. Don’t open new accounts often
12. Don’t close old accounts that are 2 or more years old, this will lower your credit score
13. Keep credit card balances at 20% or less of the credit limit

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bank of America


In my article entitled, “Are Debit Cards Dead” on my blog on September 16, 2011, I mentioned that some banks would increase their ATM and other fees to $5 due to the changes from the Dodd-Frank Act. No matter how much money a company makes or losses they still find a way to pay their executives millions of dollars a year, so why can’t they pay their debt and manage their money better.

Free checking at some banks such as Bank of America will be eliminated. TD Bank still offer debit cards. Some banks have eliminated or reduced debit card rewards programs. Chase, SunTrust, Continental and United ended their debit card rewards program. Other banks charge business owners a fee when using a business debit card. Bank of America will begin charging customers that use debit cards a $5 monthly fee regardless of the number of purchases made starting early next year.

Debit cards are good because:
• Prevents consumers with bad credit from overspending
• Yu don't have to carry cash, a checkbook or traveler's checks with you
• They are accepted at many locations
• Is easier to obtain than a credit card
• You don’t have to show identification or give personal information at the time of the transaction
• Returning goods or canceling services treated the same as cash
• Avoid finance, interest charges and late fees
• May get perks such cash back rebates, airline miles, etc.
Debit cards are bad because:
• There is no grace period
• Some banks may charge a fee for using a check card as a debit card
• Transactions are verified to see if there are adequate funds
• Some banks process debit charges although insufficient funds are in the account and you will be charged $30 for every transaction that occurs when the account is overdrawn
• May not be accepted by some merchants unless it has a Visa or MasterCard logo
• May place a hold on your debit card for more than the cost of the purchase
• Provides less protection for purchases but you may dispute unauthorized charges or other mistakes within 60 days.

In my article entitled, “Do You Have Swipeitis” on my blog on July 7, 2011, I mentioned that we are addicted to using our debit cards. Here are 13 alternatives to make purchases without using a debit card.

1. Create a budget. Create a budget to track your spending daily or weekly. Set aside a specific amount for extra things you want. One reach that amount don’t spend anymore.
2. Pay your bills first. Pay your bills first. Put a portion of any extra money left over in a savings account.
3. Switch banks. Switch to another bank that has little to no fees.
4. Alternate payment. Write checks, get money orders or cashier’s checks, and use automatic paycheck deduction or online banking to pay bills.
5. Credit union. Switch to a credit union which generally offers the same products and charge lower fees.
6. Pay with cash. Go to the bank or ATM and take out the amount of cash you need for the week. Once you spend that amount don’t withdraw any additional money unless it is an emergency.
7. Use prepaid debit cards. Use prepaid debit cards to make purchases.
8. Local branch. Go to your local branch and make transactions.
9. Get a receipt. Get a receipt each time you make a purchase and keep it.
10. Track spending. Take all of your receipts from your debit card purchases and put them in an envelope. At the end of each week add up the receipts to see how much you spent. Use pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet or Mint.com.
11. Wait. Wait a few days before making a purchase. Go back to the store to see if you still want the item. If you still want the item, comparison shop to see which store offers the best price.
12. Impulse Shopping. Avoid shopping when you are emotional. This will prevent you from spending more than you have or buying unnecessary items.
13. Leave at home. Leave your debit card at home unless you know you will make a purchase. This helps to reduce the temptation to make an unnecessary purchase.

The best way to send a message to Bank of America that you are not happy with the new debit card policy is by switching to another bank.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Starting Over is Not So Bad


“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better” by Samuel Beckett is a great way to explain why you should start over. Making a change is grueling and doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to make a change in your life you have to first change your thinking. Thoughts become feelings, feelings become words and words become actions. You may have to relocate, change your job, change your friends, change your diet or change every aspect of your life.

Change is scary but that is a part of life and growing. As a baby you totally depended on your parents to carry you around because you couldn’t walk. You began crawling then taking steps to walk. Babies are overcome with fear, once the overcome their fear they began walking, then running, then talking then talking and running all over the place.

Change is good. Over 1.5 million people filed for personal bankruptcy in 2010. Over fifty six thousand businesses filed bankruptcy y in 2010 (56,282). Henry Ford went broke five times before he started Ford Motor Company. R.H Macy failed seven times before opening his Macy’s store in New York City. Colonel Sanders (Harland David Sanders) of Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it. Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.

Making a change takes time and effort. After failure comes success but may require that you fail multiple times before you become successful. Being successful is hard work. Anything worth achieving is worth working hard for. The difference between being a failure and being a success is your attitude. If you choose to remain a failure you will. If you choose to see the failure as a lesson and don’t repeat the same mistake you will become a success. Failure is the seed of success. Failure helps birth success as evidenced by successful people in the world today. Failure is a great lesson; it shows you what didn’t work and what you need to be do better next time. Failure helps you to develop a plan B, C, D or even E.

Failure happens so expect it but don’t dwell on it. I have been a failure several times in my life, in my career, relationships, and with money. I went to college and got my first credit card at age 17. By the time I graduated college I had 13 credit cards and racked up $19,000 in debt, one was a gas card and I didn’t even have a car or a driver’s license. When I got my first job I was only making $21,000 a year. I failed at using a credit card and continued to fail for 4 years. When I lost my job and realized that I was unable to pay my bills, the light bulb came on and I knew I could not continue to fail at using credit. I made a decision to get myself out of debt and never get into debt again and I did. The only debt I have is my mortgage. Here are 5 ways why starting over is not so bad.

1. Never say never. We don’t know what the future holds so don’t assume that your current state in any aspect of your life will remain that way, plan for the unexpected.
2. Be a winner. Decide you will be a winner and take steps to overcome your situation. Let go of your pride and ego. Humble yourself. Ignore advice from those who are not successful.
3. Future. Be a role model for your children, family and future generations to show them that failure is not a permanent option; it is merely one stop in the path of life.
4. Change is good. Sometimes change helps us to refocus on what is really important so don’t reject change, embrace it.
5. Outlook. Change your outlook on life. Eliminate negative behaviors, thoughts and people from your life. Read inspirational articles or books such as “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill or The Law of Attraction.