Five Financial Mistakes Never to Make
November 13, 2017
Whether you’re a prince or a pauper, or somewhere in between, it’s important to know how much of your hard-earned dollars are coming in and going out. Whether you’re new to the work force or have been working for many years, keeping track of your finances is very important, especially as your situation and goals change and mature, like if you want to buy a car or a house, save for educational expenses, and prepare for retirement. Financial planning doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming if you set up a system that works for you and stick to it. And, by avoiding the following five mistakes, you’ll have a lot more in your wallet now and in the future.
Mistake # 1: Use More Than 2 or 3 Credit Cards
It’s soooo tempting to open a credit card in stores to get the 10 or 20 percent discount they are dangling in front of you, but DON’T DO IT! Before you know it, you will have 10 to 15 credit cards, most likely with balances you can’t pay off each month (see Mistake # 2 below), and this will really harm your credit rating. Most credit cards have annual interest rates of 14% or higher, and the department stores are at 18% or higher. For example, if you buy $1000 worth of stuff in January and only make the minimum payments each month, you will have paid at least $120 to $200 of interest and still owe about $300 by December, and half the stuff you bought will be already old or discarded! You can really raise your credit score by buying only what you can pay in full and on time. In any event, you should keep your outstanding balances below 30 percent of your total credit line per account.
Mistake # 2: Buy Large Ticket Items that You Really Can’t Afford
I know, having the newest iPod or iPhone or iWhatever is cool and fun, but getting into debt isn’t. Try to live below your means. Get in the habit of saving for the big ticket items that you really want. Set up a jar and dump in your change and even your one dollar bills every night. Every time you avoid buying that double vente in the morning or that candy bar after lunch, put that money in the jar instead (both your wallet and your stomach will thank you!) Before you know it, you’ll have that fancy new gadget you want (probably a better model than the one you first saw) and savings and spending habits that will last you a lifetime.
Mistake # 3: Don’t Save for Retirement
Well, it may seem like a long ways off, but with people living longer and Social Security looking weaker, you’re going to need to put a little aside now for your golden years. And just a little will make a big difference, especially the sooner you start. The effects of compounding interest are amazing. For example, if you are 25 years old and you put just $100 aside each month at 7 percent interest per year, you will have $264,012 by the time you are 65; if you start at 35, the same savings will get you just $122,709, but that’s still better than not putting anything aside at all!
Mistake # 4: Don’t Maintain a Filing System for Financial Records
You will lose so much time and money over the years if you don’t keep good financial records. It’s important to be sure that all of your credit card charges are accurate when the bill comes each month as well as your bank accounts, etc. (despite what companies want you to believe, computers do make mistakes!) Plus, so much paper comes at you each day – a system to manage it all will save you time and money. You should separate paperwork as soon as you get it or finish with it. First, once you figure you won’t need a record, shred anything with personal information on it. Then, set aside the bills that need to be paid in their own pile. Try to automate bill payment as much as possible, but not to the point where you’re not paying attention to the amounts of money involved. Once you’re finished with paperwork that needs to be kept, file it away in whatever filing system you set up (usually manila folders get the job done; you might also want to look at David Allen’s book Getting Things Done). There are a lot of different systems out there to consider — experiment and find the one that works for you and then stick to it!
Mistake # 5: Don’t Have an Emergency Fund
These days, you never know what’s going to happen, and unexpected expenses pop up all the time. Setting up an emergency fund for those times when you need to get your hands on a wad of cash is a goal worth setting. You should aim to put aside money that will cover your basic expenses for at least three to six months, such as rent, utilities, commuting expenses, food, etc. Put it in a safe and easy to reach (but not too easy) account that earns interest. That way, if you need the money, it’s there for you; if you don’t, you’ve got another source of savings available that’s growing.
Everyone makes mistakes in life, but with a little planning and determination, you don’t have to make these ones!
Hit by Madoff’s Fraud, Indianapolis Couple Rebuilds Finances
October 30, 2017
Indianapolis — Two years ago, my husband and I could see the economic downturn on the horizon. Homes on our block took longer to sell. Fewer customers shopped at the local mall. But we had no idea we were entering a recession that would drag on for at least two years. Now we are wondering when it will end.
We felt lucky to be living in Indianapolis, a city with a relatively low cost of living. We consider ourselves reasonably frugal.
All that changed when Bernard Madoff entered our lives. It was Dec. 14, 2008. My husband and I received a phone call informing us that money we’d invested in a fund had ties to Madoff. We had lost over $30,000 from a portion of a fund, the Merriwell Fund, part of which was invested with Madoff.
Even so, we were fortunate. Madoff wiped out many investors. Local Indianapolis temples and Jewish organizations, which had money tied up with Madoff, not only had to cut costs drastically but fire employees and restrict opening hours to stay afloat. We got off lightly; our financial portfolio had been hit — but not totaled.
However, our financial advisers admonished us to make major changes to our financial planning and not just because of Madoff. Other economic challenges started facing us and other Indianapolis families.
Homes are taking longer to sell and nervous friends asked us for job leads. (Indianapolis’ unemployment rate was at 7.7 percent in September.) When homes on our street sell, they go for bargain rates. After years of seeing our home appreciate it value, it is a shock to discover its lower value. That impacts our financial security, too.
Our investments are diversified, so we haven’t lost everything. But there’s never a good time for a couple in their mid 50s (I’m 55, my husband is 56) to take damage to their investments. We don’t have the advantage of youth and time to make up our losses before retirement.
When we got the Madoff news, we had one son in college. We’d promised to help him out if he got a scholarship that covered tuition. But because of financial woes, we had to scale back on how much we helped him.
That meant he had to take on student loans, something we’d hoped he could avoid for as long as possible. We still paid his health insurance, but he had to take a second job while at school.
Then, in late August, my husband’s employer, a local Indiana university, announced a pay freeze to manage costs. My husband, a college professor, won’t get a pay raise for the coming year. We’re happy he still has a job with benefits. But it did impact our budget. It also affected our investments, the ones outside Madoff’s reach.
Our retirement date was starting to look like a dream, somewhere in the distant future.
We’ve halved our monthly budget and still consider ourselves lucky. Lucky to have jobs when Indianapolis has high unemployment. Lucky to have a home and food on the table. Lucky not to have our finances scorched to the ground by Madoff. We’ve been told that we need to think of the long term and keep investing in the stock market to build our portfolio back to where it was before Madoff came along. Our advisers urge us to have trust in our financial future. We’re working on it.
Small Business Finances During Economic or Seasonal Downturns
October 16, 2017
There are certain necessary expenses for a business to operate and these basic needs must be met. Unnecessary expenses should be reduced or eliminated when economic or seasonal downturns occur. Priority expenses include:
- Phone service
During slow periods, whatever business comes in, complete the projects promptly. The tendency is to be lax in production. It is important to produce as quickly as possible and not overcharge. If the work is prompt and as economical as possible, customers and clients will feel important and return for more service. Repeat business is vital. Customers like to be the first person in line. Making them feel important keeps them satisfied and will bring them back.
Stay in contact with creditors. Make arrangements, if possible, for smaller payments. Most negative consequences can be avoided or postponed with regular contacts.
Start paying “COD” for supply orders. Charging supplies in slow times will create a balance in an account that builds and becomes difficult or impossible to pay for a small business. Smaller pays of cash-on-delivery can keep materials coming when they are needed.
Credit cards are a convenience. In slow Business times, charging on credit cards will build a balance that cannot be paid. Contact credit card companies to work a deal that will freeze the card, but make smaller payments at less percentage of interest. Operate with cash instead of credit cards during a time of slow business.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
It may be pleasant to have the concession delivery for the office, but this is an unnecessary expense. Coffee can be bought at the local supermarket cheaper than concession delivery. Look at business expenses and eliminate any unnecessary charges that do not add work to the business. Items of convenience may need to be reduced or removed for a period of time, until cash flow increases.
When seasonal or economic downturns for small business happens, be prepared to do what is necessary to meet business needs and always maintain a steady work flow ethic. Times change. Be prepared to be flexible in business expense matters.
How Not to Get Your Film Financed
October 2, 2017
The following is an extract of information exchanged between a film producer/writer/director and his friends who I had contacted not long ago only to discover that regardless of what you read on the internet, regardless of what other people say about you, regardless of how much false information there is out there about you, you can never trust anyone in the film industry and you should figure out how to finance your own projects without relying on others to do it for you!
My responses and corrections to the poor chaps leanings and musings and anticipatory drivel are in brackets next to his words posted at some Indie Producer club that is more akin to a bar full of drunk soul less money hungry mavens of moviedom.
I got an email from a guy who said he likes the art work for “I, Creator” and asked me to give him a bid to make a 90 minute animated movie that could be put on TV. (I thought from his web site that he was producing animations, but that was just the artwork for his trailer).
Dummy me, told him I have two distributors waiting on the live action feature. Animated? I said, like a fool, it looks like he will miss the boat. It’s more like I missed the boat on that opportunity. Damn! (The query about doing animation was simply done out of curiosity rather than a sincere desire to hire this wanna-be film maker).
The offer came from Gaberiel (SIC) Acts. I’ve been trying to find out who he is. He has credits as an actor with the Bravo channel. (Not sure where he got that from, but I have never been an actor appearing on the Bravo Channel.)
It sounds more like he would want me to produce it and he would fund it, if the price is right. (I would fund it if I had the money, but I never said I would fund it, I was merely inquiring about this man’s talents and ability and level of intelligence, and never made any sort of offer, but rather expression of interest out of curiosity – I really do hate the horror flick genre – it is so stupid, really!).
If he has the bucks, I can put together the team. I know very good storyboard artists, animators, and a GREAT sound recording studio for the voice overs. (sic) It would just cost him big bucks. (If I had the bucks, I would not need him to put together my team, my team would already be in place before I got the bucks, but finding intelligent team players is getting harder and harder because not one film producer or director in this country has any money – the money is all owned or controlled by bankers.)
So, maybe I really didn’t blow the deal. Who knows? (How can you blow a deal when there was no deal even started to begin with?)
I’ve worked on animatics (sic) before and have all the right connections for the right price. Such a production would be VERY costly. You’re right James. I’d get the cast of I, CREATOR to do the voice over’s for their characters and make sure they got pro rates for doing it. And, I have a friend who would coach them who records voice over’s for a living. Because doing voice over’s has some differences from straight acting. (All of a sudden this guy is plotting on how to come up with the people to match the delusional funding this guy thinks he might be onto, rather than creating the money for himself first and then getting the talent)
I’d find a way to get the crew some paying work too. (How generous of you!)
I’m getting ahead of myself, (he was way ahead of the bell, even before the horse was hooked up to the cart) but I’d get some people here to help with a big budget animated movie and have all the post work done by THE CUTTING EDGE. They have quite a resume of big budget ads, commercials, and TV productions.
But, I must keep my eyes on the prize and get I, CREATOR on DVD out in the market. And, I will. Even as I type this I’m fixing up more of the movie.
Gabriel Acts is most likely an actor, as his credits indicate, who wants to turn to producing. So, he is green with the producing part of the industry. (Wrong assumption again, while I have acted in plays both on the street and in theatres, and have appeared in numerous indie tv shows and other such nonsense, I am far from being a professional actor and after reading all this guys drivel and exchanges with his friends I must say I am both humored, laughing on the floor, and disgusted all at the same time by the magnitude of ignorance that is rampant in cyberspace).
I just heard back from Gabriel Acts.
He wants to know who my distributors are and how much am I asking for the movie.
You guys should know from past threads my distributors are Round Table Cinema in Japan and BigStar.TV in Florida. (Never heard of them and don’t care, I was just curious if you had anyone really major lined up to distribute your film)
I replied, I’m not looking to sell the movie, just DVDs of the movie to start up a fan base for the characters and story to lay out the seeds for bigger stuff with the characters and story in the future. The distributors I’m dealing with are non-exclusive and I retain all the rights.
He emailed me again and asked how much do I need to produce the sequel. (I didn’t know there was a sequel to a film that hasn’t even been made the first time around)
Let’s see if $2 Million for a cable TV network scares him away. (To a trillionaire that would be like asking for a couple pennies, but to a man as rich as I am, I would not invest in any films, or real estate, or anything but pennies myself, because pennies don’t talk back to you or lie to you like the stock market and financial experts do.)
Money up front, if this guy is for real. That remains to be seen Marius. (Nothing was ever mentioned about money up front, but yes, it takes money to get money, even from crooked bankers).
Yes Marius. I’m waiting to find out. He seems to be interested in a live action version now, since I told him two distributors are waiting to see a live action version. (keyword “seems”)
He asked me for an amount. I told him $2 Million. I’m waiting to see if that scares him away. He is asking for the cost of making another I, CREATOR. I told him $2 Million to build sets, space for the sets, costumes, a skilled DP with their own equipment in the caliber of the Leonetti brothers, a bigger crew, a bigger cast, locations, and post services.
I’m waiting for his reply.
I’m letting you all in on Gabriel Acts, just to see where this whole caper leads. (So seeking funding for a film deal is a caper?)
I just heard back from Gabriel.
He’s considering executive producing a newer version of I, CREATOR. He claims he’s doing due dilagance (sic) on me. So, the saga continues. The $2 Million did not scare him away. (How did a few emails back and forth turn into a saga?)
Thanks Scott. I’ll believe it when I see it. But, if it is real, I sweetened the pot by recommending an experienced line producer. (How this sweetens anything is anyone’s guess.)
I recommended my friend Doug Bruce to line produce the production and he can call Doug as a reference on me if he wants. Doug has line produced, 1ST ADed, and been a production manager for over 20 years now. Doug has line produced two, three, four, and five million dollar productions and made their shooting schedules. (So what?)
If the guy is for real, he’ll recogonize Doug would be a great asset for such a production. (Since when are people not real, he is assuming immediately that I don’t exist).
I was confused as well, Darlene when he asked me to bid. After doing some due diligence, I see that he lives in Budapest, Hungary. So, English is not his native language. He is an actor and a casting director for a company called King Penny Productions. (I don’t live in Budapest right at the moment but I was born there and did live there, but where I live is irrelevant to the issue of getting a film financed).
I asked him point blank, what is his interest in I, CREATOR. His reply is to be an executive producer and possibly provide the financing after he does due diligence. (Sure, I’ve got about ten scripts sitting around collecting dust that people want financing for between $500K and $35 million but not a single one of them has any real A List Talent behind their scripts or production companies, it’s all just more hot air coming out of the script peddlers penniless poopers).
I also did some research. If we were to shoot this budgeted version in Hungry, (sic) we could use both union and non-union people and the US dollar would be worth something like twice as much. (The guy is a script writer but he cannot spell, and he goes off on this wild tangent about Hungary)
I can see selling the budgeted version to Showtime TV. (Is there an unbudgeted version?) It would be right up their alley. We could make something better than a Roger Corman Production. If we can get a DP like John Leonetti who is great with shooting action and Karen Sheperd as the stunt coordinator with her experience with stunts and fight choreography, we would have some of the best low budget action scenes around. That would be quite a dream team. And, I see it as possible. (If this…, if that…, its all pure delusional mind numbing speculation and a waste of everyone’s time and energy, dropping names left and right of people I never heard of and don’t care to waste time researching).
They’re not asking yet. (referring to up front fees) Scam artists don’t always post that on their web site to begin with. (Anyone who asks for an up front fee is considered a scam artist by this guy) I still remember how productiontrax tried to stiff me with a contract NOT posted on their web site with their stock footage. That’s why I’m not using their stuff. I have too much good stuff from gotfootage.com and pond5.com to worry about them. Let’s first see how the due diligence works out. That’s step number one. (He already knows how many steps there are to get his film funded but has he ever funded a finished product before?)
I’m looking out for the people who made I, CREATOR so desirable to begin with. I want them to benefit by getting paid and working alongside some top industry professionals to take I, CREATOR to the next level. (You get what you pay for Dude!)
I found Gabriel’s profile from other sources. It’s best not to trust his web site. Anyone can put anything they want on their own web site. (And anyone, including the government and SEC lawyers can accuse anyone of anything they want to and if you don’t have the money to defend yourself in the Federal Courts or the Courts of Cyberspace, you are permanently labeled a criminal, con man, crook and can never work in Hollywood ever again. The only crime ever committed by anyone is not having enough money to defend oneself against false reports, false accusations and false judgments, and it does no good to try to defend oneself against them, because you will go insane trying to prove your innocence. It is much better to just expose the attacker, the covert liars, the conniving scoundrels who conduct whisper campaigns and innuendos behind your back and put them away forever into the rotten places from where their minds dwell).
I know he’s joking. But, he should also realize I’ll try to get as many talented people I know involved with this is (sic) the money is real. That’s job one … to see if he and the money are for real. (What money, no one ever mentioned anything about having any money, I simply asked him what his budget was and perhaps I might know someone like my adopted Uncle George Soros who bought DreamWorks Film Library for $900 million.)
A $2 Million production to look like a $200 Million without the names will be a big undertaking, but possible. (What flavor of crack is this guy smoking?)
My friend who produces for the cable TV networks told me that HBO and Showtime buy filler movies from time to time from independent producers. That $2 Million investment can be recouped from one sale to Showtime. They invested in Roger Corman’s bad girls of BLACK SCORPION and VAMPERELLA. Something with better production values would certainly sell. Heck, we’ll pay a good sound crew with the budget, if it is for real.
My bad, he’s with Penny King Productions. (I am not with Penny King Productions, I am the creator, inventor, writer and producer of everything Penny King and his Productions.
Here’s his page: Gabriel Acts Page! (The page belongs to Associated Content. The content is produced by writers for the Infinite Freedom Foundation. Infinite Film Finance helps finance films. It’s a division of a division within a division of a battalion of an infinite supply of money but this guy won’t see a penny of it because what he thinks is real money is in fact phony and what he thinks is phony is in fact myopically blinding his brilliance).
But, as I said, it’s better to look for other sources on him. Once again, he found me. I didn’t find him. It’s a matter of using the Internet to post movie trailers and teasers everywhere, so the right people can find you. It’s a lot cheaper than going to film festivals. (This guy is all over IndieProducer.net, schmoozing with every woman actress and potential money pocket he can connect with, he’s actively looking for money for his films and he doesn’t take responsibility for even that much of his own life, so how would he even begin to know who I am and what I am really?)
Here’s a page on Penny King Productions:
Penny King Productions
Mike, it’s just a suspicion, but “Gabriel Acts” doesn’t sound like a real name. It sounds like a name based on a play or screenwriting or something. (Duh, What was your first clue?)
Ok now I just checked the description on that profile. “Gabriel Infinitely Acts” is his full name. (A Pen name that is a trademark and copyright of the Infinite Freedom Foundation).
Well, I hope you get your 2 million and that somebody isn’t just getting your hopes up. (The delusional always get their hopes high on their own without help from pen names).
Ps: James, YOU’re not “Gabriel Infinitely Acts” are you? Kinda like playing a joke thing on mike? Sorry to suspise (sic) you but it’s the only thing that makes sense for the way things are presented here with the guy just showing up out of thin air and offering someone he doesn’t know 2 million to make a movie. (I didn’t know humans could perform the same way as money -showing up out of thin air – is the thick air where the film maker wannabes and their lawyers who take up front fees all the time called “retainers” come from?)
It wreaks (sic)of deceit. But I hope for mike’s sake it’s not. (Lawyers on message boards who cannot spell, they should have their secretaries do their postings for them).
It appears that this so called executive producer wants to give our South Afrian friend a run for the money with aliases. Although, Marius is a good guy. (I never said I was an executive producer, I said I was interested in becoming an executive producer which is totally different. Had he asked about how I could become one he would have learned and perhaps gotten past the gates of the barbarians who run the banking system in this country).
I don’t think the same can be said for Garbor (sic) S. Acs. Garbor (sic) seems to be involved with lawsuits and people after him. (No one is after me, if anything I am after anyone who is ignorant, just to educate and enlighten them into the truth, but most people cannot handle the truth because they cannot find themselves and are looking for the truth in everything and everyone else. I am still whatever they perceive me to be after all is read and done).
Gabriel Infintiy (sic) Acts is a.k.a. Garbor S. Acs a.k.a. Penny King Holdings and several other names. ( I have infinite pen names and you will never know me until you “Know Thyself”).
This doesn’t sound good: Garbor (SIC) S. Acs and the US Securities and Exchange Commission
Penny King Stock Patrol Report
Penny Stock Fraud Info
This is why it pays to do due diligence. I had to first discover what this guy’s real name is: Garbor S. Acs (that is not my real name and never was) and his company is Penny Knig Holdings (Not, wrong again! Gong! Next!) and a google search turned up the above links. (Trust in Google, it will always pull up the wrong crap on the wrong people and soon enough the world will be engulfed in gaga googlers suing each other over spreading rumors and lies and false information).
Well, something else may be developing from my day job. I met a friend of a friend whose brother-in-law invented Internet banking (Is his name Al Gore?) and made so much money from it, he’s investing some of it in film productions. (Sure! Name one!) He asked for my web site to show my stuff to his brother-in-law over the Thanksgiving holidays.
So, there’s a chance at something. (There’s always a chance that you missed your chance and you should just stick to your day job and don’t try to fool genius ever again).
And, I heard back from the Penny King. He claims the charges are false and he is being harassed. In the mind of a con, the world is against them for “working outside the box.” (From one report, from one false and misleading report, all judgments are pronounced by the wise Mikey the flim flam filmmaker who comes seeking pennies from a King yet knows not how to turn his own pennies into dollars with sound investments).
I have copies at work of the SEC reports and judgments and they look pretty real to me. (So do your delusions, but does that make them true to fact, true to life and true to experience. No man can know another man’s truth unless they walk in their shows, shews, shoes, or whatever their wearing for skin, for more than a thousand miles.)
I hear you, Darlene. After seeing copies of SEC documentation and court judgments on him, he’s bad news. He tried to steer me to read an article on one of his web sites he most likely wrote himself under another alias. (I don’t have any web sites and if he had checked All Who Is he would have had more intelligence than to make that assumption, but he is just like millions of other Ameri-“can’ts” and Ameri-cons, they cannot see past what the “authorities” have said about a man to look deep into the heart and soul to determine the true due diligence. I mean really, does anyone really honestly believe anything written by anyone who works for the government publishes anymore?).
In the latest World According to Gabriel, he says the SEC and courts beat him by default. I wonder why … a no show would do it. (Yes, if you file ten thousand pages protesting the false accusations in a federal court case and the petitioner moves for a summary judgment and you do not respond within the time frame of the rules which you have to learn as you go as you try to defend yourself against the abusive lying scoundrel government agents because you have been permanently damaged, emotionally, mentally and physically through a continuous dwindling spiral from the onslaught of legal harassment, the courts have no compassion for people who say I’m not showing up to play your stupid mind games any more…boom – guilty for failing to appear!)
Now if a lawsuit were filed against this man, and he ran out of money to pay lawyers and legal fees, then surely he too would begin to know the truth of how it all works, but what do I know, I was just asking a few questions and look what happened!
Three thousand more words upon words upon words that result in nothingness! No film. No budget! No real entertainment. Just more boring drivel!
But don’t tell this guy that Infinite Film Finance is open for business!
How to Avoid Mortgage Arrears: Stop repossession with Mortgage Insurance
August 5, 2017
Whilst missing unsecured loan repayments can be managed via a debt solution, mortgage arrears present a greater challenge because the family home can be lost. It is important to seek debt counselling and mortgage advice at the first sign of financial difficulty.
Seek Independent Mortgage advice
Receiving mortgage advice early on is invaluable for any home owner. When problems do occur, mortgage advice and debt counselling can often be combined. Ways of saving money can be discussed, methods to make extra money identified and a complete solution brought into action to stop repossession.
A High Mortgage Interest Rate with a Standard Variable Rate Mortgage
If it has been several years since the last remortgage, there is a strong possibility that the borrower is on a Standard Variable Rate (SVR). SVR only serves to help the lender as the rate is typically 2% or more above the Bank of England base rate.
It is possible to save money by getting a less expensive mortgage interest rate. Getting a tracker or fixed rate mortgage can literally save hundreds every month. For example, an online mortgage calculator reveals that a fixed rate mortgage at 5.5%, as opposed to an SVR mortgage at 7.5%, would save a borrower £250 each month.
This additional sum could be the difference between affordability and mortgage arrears. It is often the accumulation of a small amount of money that finally causes financial difficulty. A remortgage alone could stop repossession from ever happening.
Extending the Mortgage Term to Help Stop Repossession
An extension of the mortgage term does result in more interest being paid, but also brings the monthly repayments down. Being able to stop repossession is all about making life more affordable and spreading the cost over longer helps to achieve this objective.
An Interest-only Mortgage to Stop Repossession
With the lenders permission, it may be possible to switch from a repayment to an interest-only mortgage. This would have the effect of reducing a typical £150,000 mortgage by over £300 per month.
Loan Insurance to Prevent Mortgage arrears
As a preventative measure, it helps identify the cheapest and most comprehensive sources of mortgage insurance. This would provide the insured with coverage in the event of unemployment, poor health or an accident.
It is vital that the insurance policy is gone through with a fine tooth comb as some sources of loan insurance are full of loop holes that seek to escape providing assistance. Checking the T&C’s gives a potential policy holder the chance to make sure that the necessary coverage is provided.
Mis-sold Loan Insurance
If the mortgage advice comes from a tied agent to a financial institution, opinions can be heavily prejudiced and tend to be more expensive. Some advice is even negligent or unlawful.
A number of cases are currently going through the court in relation to being mis-sold loan insurance. There are instances where customers have been sold loan insurance when they would never be able to claim. This included the self employed and those above the maximum age of qualification.
If there is a possibility that loan insurance was mis-sold, it is possible to take legal action against the provider. This can result in literally thousands of pounds of compensation. If mortgage arrears are already a problem, the compensation can be used to clear them.
Sorting out financial problems early on is key to stopping repossession. Mortgage arrears can be tackled through a series of lifestyle changes or debt solution, provided things haven’t been allowed to continue to the point of no return. Seeking debt counselling can prevent this situation from ever arising.
How to Get the Highest Cash ISA Interest Rate: The Best ISA Rates on Tax Free Savings
July 29, 2017
Given that the Bank of England has set base rates at just 0.5%, achieving the highest cash ISA interest rate on personal savings is extremely important. Whilst a saver isn’t going to become rich over night, there are a number of ways to ensure that the best possible return is achieved. Don’t settle for the first rate offered by a bank as there are a number of online deals that aren’t widely available on the high street.
Individual Savings Accounts
Under current Inland Revenue rules, an ISA is a form of tax-free savings. Savers born prior to the 5th April 1960 can invest up to £5,100 in a best buy cash ISA. Those born after this date can currently only invest up to £3,600, but this is set to change on soon. Up to £10,200 (or £7,200 for under-50’s) can be invested in a stocks and shares ISA or divided equally between equities and cash.
Perform an ISA Transfer
It is advisable to move funds to an Individual Savings Account offering the best ISA rate. The process should be initiated through the new provider, not the old one. An ISA transfer should be completed within a 30 day period, although this could be affected by business volumes – especially towards the end of the current tax year. Those with variable rate ISA’s should check cash ISA interest rates at least once a year.
Cash ISA Interest Rates
Whilst a saver can visit high street banks to find the best buy cash ISA, it isn’t a terribly efficient method. It is far more effective to use an online comparison site, such as uswitch.com or moneysupermarket.com. These sites allow someone to trawl through the cash ISA interest rates offered by all the leading banks and financial institutions based on specific search criteria.
Fixed Vs Variable Rate Cash ISA Interest Rates
The returns on a fixed rate ISA deal will be higher in return for locking up money for a specific period of time. Early withdrawal will incur a penalty that is equivalent to x months of interest. Bank base rates are low and look set to stay that way, but it is impossible to be 100% sure. Should the saver feel that interest rates are likely to rise, a variable rate ISA would be the better option.
Achieving the best possible cash ISA interest rate isn’t a complex process, but it does involve a bit of research. Too many savers become complacent and simply accept the rate that is offered by their high street bank. Use a comparison site, such as uswitch.com, to find the best buy cash ISA at least once every 12 months. Make the most of tax-free savings allowances before April 5th each year.
Bankruptcy Means Test: Comply with the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Rules
July 22, 2017
New bankruptcy rules were introduced under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. In order to prevent Americans from eliminating debt that they could realistically afford to repay to their creditors, a bankruptcy means test was introduced.
As well as a means test for bankruptcy, you will also be expected to surrender any non-exempt assets, such as a second home or luxury car, to a court-appointed trustee. These are then sold and the proceeds disseminated to creditors on a pro rata basis. You mustn’t have filed chapter 7 in the last eight years.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test Based on Your Monthly Median Income
The standard means test for bankruptcy involves checking to make sure that your income is below the median for your state. If your average monthly income over the six months prior to lodging your petition is below the state median, you qualify for chapter 7 under the new bankruptcy rules.
The median figure is calculated based on the census bureau median family income data by family size. In essence, the larger your family, the more likely you are to qualify. If you have more than four dependents, you should add a further $6,900 for each additional member of your family for that 12 months.
Means Test for Bankruptcy Based on Your Disposable Income
If you don’t qualify under the standard means test for chapter 7, the new bankruptcy laws allow you to deduct certain expenses from your disposable income. There’s a lot of different expenses that can be legally deducted from your income, such as rent, utility bills, transportation, taxes and child care.
After the deduction of all relevant expenses, multiply your monthly disposable income by sixty. If your total income is less than $6,575 you can file chapter 7 under the new bankruptcy laws. If the figure exceeds $10,950, you are unlikely to be eligible unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Chapter 7 Means Test Based on Your Total Unsecured Debt
If your income falls between $6,575 and $10,950, you’ll need to assess your debt relative to your income. You’ll need to calculate the value of a quarter of your total unsecured debt. If your disposable income figure is less than 25% of this figure, you can file for chapter 7 under the new bankruptcy rules.
Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer to Perform the Means Test for Bankruptcy
If you don’t qualify under the standard means test for bankruptcy, it can be difficult to ascertain whether you are likely to comply with the new bankruptcy rules. Most bankruptcy lawyers will provide a free initial consultation to help decide whether filing chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you.
How to File for Bankruptcy when You Don’t Qualify Under Chapter 7
Not everyone qualifies under the chapter 7 bankruptcy means test, but you can still file for chapter 13. You will receive full court protection from your creditors, but you’ll be expected to make a payment to creditors for either a three or five year period.
Debt Solutions Suitable for Homeowners: Resolve Financial Difficulties and Become Debt Free
July 15, 2017
A borrowing culture in the UK means that financial difficulties are rife. According to CreditAction.org, Britain’s personal debt increased by £1 million every 40.6 minutes in January 2015. Just 12 months earlier, it increased by £1 million every 5.3 minutes. A debt solution, such as an IVA, can help a homeowner to balance household bills.
What Debt Solutions are Available for Homeowners?
There are fewer debt solutions available for homeowners than tenants, but a Debt Management Plan or Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) can help someone that owns a home to become debt-free. Homeowners don’t qualify for a Debt Relief Order (DRO) and personal bankruptcy should normally be avoided due to its connotations.
Become Debt Free with an Individual Voluntary Arrangement
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement is the principle alternative debt solution to personal bankruptcy. A minimum of 75 per cent of creditors, in terms of value, must vote in favour of the agreement. Debtors provide a breakdown of all household bills in order that affordability can be established. If voted in favour of, an IVA is legally binding on anyone that is owed money by the debtor.
There is a requirement that a homeowner should be employed full-time and owe a minimum of £15,000. This is because the IVA debt solution requires an Insolvency Practitioner to manage and administrate the agreement. Whilst not an up-front fee, their services can cost up to £6,000. Individuals that owe a smaller amount may wish to consider a Debt Management Plan.
An IVA often contains a clause requiring that a remortgage is taken out at the end of year 4 in order that up to 80 per cent of the available home equity can be contributed towards the agreement. Once agreed, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement allows a homeowner struggling with financial difficulties to become debt-free in just 60 months.
How a Debt Management Plan Can Help Manage Household Bills
Unlike the Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), a Debt Management Plan isn’t a legally binding debt solution. It involves paying a revised monthly amount to help alleviate the pressure brought on by financial difficulties. There must be a minimum of 3 creditors and that the debtor must also be able to contribute at least £100 per month towards the agreement.
Whilst free Debt Management Plans are available, most are offered by private companies. They impose a charge of approximately 15 per cent of net contributions for their services. The main problem with this debt solution is that it can take many years to become debt-free.
A Debt Management Plan doesn’t result in debt being written-off, but it can lead to further charges and interest being frozen. It helps a homeowner manage any unsecured debts in order that they can concentrate on paying the mortgage and managing essential household bills. It can also help prevent creditor harassment.
Tracy Suttles Helps Understand Adjustable Rate Mortgages
July 8, 2017
The following is a guest post from Houston, Texas real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles.
There are many reasons to consider an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). With fixed mortgage interest rates rising, ARMs are becoming popular again. Some consumers may be advised that they need an ARM product in order to qualify for the mortgage that they are requesting. Other consumers may want to take advantage of a lower interest rate mortgage on a home that they do not plan on owning for long. Whatever your reasons may be, there are many ARM products and they can be confusing. Hopefully, the following will help clear up some common questions regarding various loan products.
GENERAL ARM CHARACTERISTICS
An ARM has an initial interest rate that is substantially lower than current fixed mortgage interest rates. This is called the start rate or teaser rate. How long the start rate is in effect varies from product to product. The interest rate is determined by an index. The index used varies by product also.
An index is a measurement tool that reflects the cost of money. Interest rates are set by lenders who determine the cost of money using an index. For instance if the index raises, fixed mortgage interest rates rise. In the same way, when the mortgage is set to adjust, it adjusts based on the current index. The best indexes are ones that don’t move too often. There are many different indexes and different ARM programs use different ones.
There are protection clauses in ARM products. Each product has a predetermined amount that the interest rate can change per adjustment. This is called the adjustment cap. It protects the consumer from going from a 4% interest rate to a 10% interest rate on one adjustment. Each product has a predetermined amount that the interest rate can change over the life of the loan also. This is called a lifetime cap. It protects the consumer from going beyond a reasonable amount above where they started. The caps make the interest rate adjustments more of a gradual process and protect consumers from giant leaps, which could lead to financial difficulties.
The margin is also an important aspect of an ARM. The margin is the number that is added to the index to determine the new interest rate at adjustment time. The lower this number, the lower the change to the interest rate at adjustment time. Some loan programs allow the option to pay discount points to buy down the interest rate. In the case of an ARM, it may be in your best interest to buy down the margin instead. The initial interest rate will change shortly, so why pay for it to start lower? Instead, you can get a lower margin which will affect every single adjustment to your mortgage.
Charging Orders a Threat to some Debtors: Good Free Debt Management Advice – Defence Against Unfair Creditors
July 8, 2017
In a recent report, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Chief Executive David Harker said: “The law as it stands at the moment leaves debtors far too exposed to unfair treatment and the risk of losing their homes from unsecured creditors…”
Unsecured Judgment Debt
While acknowledging, that to date, few have lost their homes (there is a second court stage to go through before repossession) Harker’s view was that some creditors were trying to intimidate vulnerable judgment debtors into paying more than they could afford.
A Charging Order is a way of enforcing a previously unsecured debt by securing it against a debtor’s property. The charge will be the amount that is owed by the debtor.
Since 2000 there has been a colossal 722% rise in the number of Charging Order applications by unsecured creditors (CAB 25/6/2009).
Office of Fair Trading
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the UK’s consumer and competition authority, is currently carrying out a wide-ranging review into the use of Charging Orders as a method of enforcing judgment debts.
In a update the OFT said: “The interim results of this review indicate that there may be potential problems with the way in which some creditors use Charging Orders as part of their debt enforcement activities.”
While Citizens Advice welcome the OFT review they have challenged the Ministry of Justice to re-examine current legislation and limit access to Charging Orders when debtors are already striving to repay outstanding amounts.
Debt Management Plan
Of course a structured repayments regime lies at the heart of any debt management procedure. A court is always more likely to be more sympathetic towards a debtor’s plight if for example, a well-prepared debt management plan (DMP) is in place.
However there are thousands of organisations offering debt management advice; it is for the unwary and vulnerable a minefield. While many of these companies will offer reasonable advice and will be happy to set up a DMP, they will charge for it. Consequently a sometimes sizable chunk of the amount the debtor is repaying will go to the company and not to their creditors.
So where are the places to go for free and independent debt advice? The Citizens Advice Bureau, which can be found throughout the UK, might well be the starting point for those seeking debt help. They offer a range of services including:
Debt Management Plans
Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)
These other organisations listed below can also help those looking for free and independent budgeting or financial planning advice.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS)
The information in this short article is not exhaustive and does not constitute financial advice.