Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alternative Ways for Quick Cash Before the Holidays

There is no denying that many people are feeling financially pinched and looking to make extra money.  Perhaps you are contemplating another job but already feel overextended at your current job and don’t want to use your remaining free time to work more.  Luckily, there are several ways to make some extra money that don’t involve getting another job.  Consider the following:
  1. Sell stuff around the house.  We all have clutter.  Identify the items you haven’t used in a year or longer and sell them on eBay or Craigslist or at a garage sale.  
  2. Open a new bank account that offers a financial reward.  There are bank accounts available that offer you anywhere from $50 to $100 after the account has been open a designated number of months (often three) and you have made a designated amount of transactions (usually including a few direct deposits).  Meet the bank’s requirement, and you have free money. 
  3. Use credit cards to your advantage.  Many credit cards offer generous rewards.  The best cash back credit cards often offer 2 to 6% cash back on certain types of purchases.  Use your credit cards for all of your purchases and reap the cash back rewards.  (Just make sure you are disciplined to pay off the balance each month.  Otherwise, the rewards will be offset by the interest you pay.) 
  4. Call to negotiate your cable bill.  Cable and Internet bills often are high.  Call the company to see what discounts they can offer you.  They may offer you a discount for six months, or they may give you options for items you can cut from your service to lower your cost.  Either way translates to more money in your pocket.
If you are looking for extra money, the only solution isn’t to get a part-time job.  There are plenty of ways to trim your costs and generate extra money if you are creative.

Guest Post by Melissa

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What should you look for in a student bank account?

Heading off to college is an exciting time in any young person's life, but it can also be stressful. With so many decisions to make regarding class schedules and dorm room d├ęcor, a student bank account may be the furthest thing from your mind.

College orientation weeks tend to feature credit card and bank representatives beckoning students to sign up for their financial services. Before you go with the bank dishing out the free gifts, look for one with better perks like a free overdraft.

Banks are going to entice college students into opening accounts because they view them as potential life-long customers.

Most students come to college never having held a separate account from their parents and those work-study funds have to be deposited somewhere.

Keep in mind that banks exist that offer free checking, convenient online banking, free savings and overdraft protection, all of which are better for students just learning how to manage finances on their own.

You need to choose a financial institution that has a convenient location.

A national or regional bank near the university will be best for easy withdrawals and deposits, but you also want to consider those emergency or regular care funds your parents want to send. Having a bank in their location as well as near the college will make it easier on everyone.

Make sure that ATMs are within a short distance of your university. Using another institution's ATM will rack up fees you don't want to pay. It's okay if your bank doesn't have an ATM on campus, as long as there's one within a short distance.

Although you may only be thinking about a student checking account at the moment, consider more long-term financial needs. Does the bank lend student loans? Do they offer online bill pay? Are credit cards available?

While you may be tempted to get customized checks featuring your college's mascot, remember that the plain checks serve the same purpose and are often free. Chances are you will be using a debit card more often anyway, so don't bother spending extra money having your school's name stamped at the corner.

Responsible students need to appreciate and utilize a savings account. If you plan to save money during college, consider a certificate of deposit (CD). These accrue higher interest and have to be left alone for a certain period of time, so you could open one during your freshman year and cash it in as a graduation gift to yourself. You can check out a full range of savings and current accounts at moneysupermarket.com.

Don't underestimate smaller regional banks and credit unions. These often provide better deals in regard to lower fees and higher interest rates than national banks and you may even find an on-campus credit union that caters specifically to students.

Set up your online bill pay early, preferably right after you open your brand new account, so you can learn how to pay your bills from the convenience of your dorm room.

If you're still unsure which bank to go with, ask around campus or talk to friends and roommates to get a better idea of where students on campus are banking.

No matter which type of account or bank you go with, be responsible with your funds and keep track of the amount of debt you accrue. You will probably be graduating with some amount of student debt as it is, so you don't want even more from credit cards and other loans.

Guest Post by MoneySuperMarket  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alternatives to savings accounts

Saving money is an essential part of modern life and without a comfortable buffer, if the worst happens, life can become pretty uncomfortable.

However, if you have sufficient money in the bank and want to think about other ways to use your spare cash, what options are there?

Investing money in the US government is said to be one of the safest ways to make a return, despite the state of the country's economy at the moment. Treasuries – or government bonds – are an investment that can offer either a variable or fixed rate return and offer little risk.

The only downside is that to get the maximum benefit, it is necessary to tie up funds for a long time, with penalties usually enforced for withdrawals before five years.

Individuals willing to consider riskier vehicles could contemplate investing their money; an option that has the potential for great returns but also a very real possibility of losing some or all of the capital laid out.

For this reason, investing is not a suitable choice for everyone and the general advice given is that you should never invest money that would have catastrophic consequences if lost.

There are a huge number of investment options, of which simple purchasing of stocks and shares is the one of the most commonly chosen and certainly the best-known amongst the general public.

However, there are a number of other options which could also be considered, such as forex – the trading in foreign currencies – a market that eclipses conventional stocks and shares and offers the same potential for gains.

Anyone with a significant sum to invest might find real estate a viable alternative, especially with the current property prices at rock bottom and expected to rise as the economy eventually strengthens.

Savers with a particular interest could opt to support a project or invest into funds with a special emphasis, such as eco-friendly schemes or sharia compliant shares.

Those who want to help a charity but do not feel they have the spare cash to make the donation they would like might want to consider helping the cause out by purchasing a bond, if available, or shares.

The credit crunch has meant that borrowing from banks has become far more difficult and alternative means of lending are springing up. Peer to peer is one such enterprise but to be successful, it obviously requires members who are willing to lend as well as borrow.

Applicants are usually thoroughly credit-checked and given a risk rating and lenders can bid against each other to offer the individual a loan at the rate of interest they feel reflects their credit score.

One golden rule of thumb is that if the money is likely to be needed at retirement, it should be moved to a low risk safe haven where it can remain without the danger of falling in value, at least two years proper to when it is likely to be utilized.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Savings Bonds Explained

When putting money aside for a rainy day, it is all too easy just to open a savings account and reap the meager returns that are offered.

However, there are other savings vehicles suitable for those who want to invest their cash for the medium to long term but who do not want to risk losing their capital.

One of the most secure forms of investment are the savings bonds issued by the government, which are available to purchase either as a savings asset or as a gift for another person.

Savings bonds are provided by the federal government and act as a way for the US to fund the debts it holds by borrowing money from the American public.

There are various type of investments available including fixed rate bonds as well as those offering a variable rate.

The main types on offer are I and EE bonds that rack up interest during the term of the investment. These do not become payable until maturity.

The fixed rate bonds available are primarily the I bonds that provide a pre-agreed interest payment plus an additional amount set at a level in excess of inflation. EE bonds can be fixed rate bonds but are also available as a variable investment.

Bonds can be purchased either via banks or online. Bonds purchased via banks are only available in paper form while online banking offers an electronic option.

Electronic bonds are far more flexible and are available in any denomination of $25. Paper savings bonds are slightly more fixed and offer the option to purchase $50, $75, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000.

Electronic and paper bonds work in two different ways. Electronic bonds begin to earn interest immediately and start at the worth of their face value. Paper bonds, on the other hand, start off with a value worth half of their face value and reach maturity when the interest payments bring the value up to their stated amount.

Electronic savings bonds also have another very unusual feature. Despite having a maturity date, they can go on earning interest for up to 30 years.

Owners of the bonds are able to use the Treasury Direct website to track the value of their investment and see when their bond will stop earning interest.

As well as being a safe haven in difficult economic times, because of the protection of the federal government, savings bonds also have other benefits.

The interest on the various types of bonds can be deferred until the maturity date or earlier encashment, at which point it is not subject to state tax, unlike other savings accounts.

While savings bonds undoubtedly offer investors significant benefits, if they are cashed in before they have been invested for five years a sacrifice equivalent to three months of interest will be made.

In addition, as a fixed rate bond locks in the interest payable, if the economic outlook changes during the investment period and interest rates rise, the bond can become less competitive.

Friday, September 02, 2011

How do you know your real credit score?

While we all know that it is important to have a good credit score, often we do not think about our own score until we have credit declined, for example, when looking to arrange loans. It is important, however, to keep track of your credit score and take action if necessary.

It is interesting that while most Americans have heard of credit scores, many do not know how they are calculated and what they are used for.

At a basic level, your credit score measures your ability to repay loans and other debts. It influences whether lenders will lend to you and, if so, on what terms.

A credit score is a bit like a report card. It records what debts you have, whether you pay your bills and whether you make repayments on loans on time. Any missed or late payments are recorded.

The main benefit of having a good credit score is that you qualify for better rates on loans and mortgages. Lenders see you as a good risk and reward you accordingly.

It is not just when you are looking for credit, however, that your credit score is important. These scores are increasingly used as a background check to evaluate you when you apply for an apartment or job.

So who decides what your credit score is? There are a number of different credit agencies around. The main American ones are Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

Scores can be different at the different credit rating agencies because they may have slightly different information from each other and may use different ratings systems. There should not, however, be any major discrepancies between the different agencies.

Your credit score is constantly changing. You get points based upon the agencies' assessment of your creditworthiness i.e. your ability to pay back your debts such as loans and credit cards. Your whole financial history is taken into account.

There are, however, some things that cannot be used to determine your credit rating such as gender, race, ethnicity and religion. This is because of equal opportunities legislation.

The best way to know what information is being held about you is to obtain a copy of your credit report. These are available for a small fee but the agencies sometimes offer to obtain your report for free. You are also able to obtain a free copy if you have been denied credit in the last 60 days or are on welfare.

The first thing to check is that it is accurate. If anything is wrong, you should contact the credit agency and dispute it. Even if your dispute is not allowed, you are still able to ask for a statement to be added to your credit file.

If your credit score is poor, there are a number of steps that you can take to improve it, such as paying off existing debts on time. It is also important not to continually apply for new credit or loans as these applications will all appear on your file.

It is important to continue to have some form of credit such as loans or credit cards, however, as no credit history can have nearly as much of an impact as a poor credit history.

There are ways to rebuild your credit file. Some companies offer loans for people with poor or no credit history. These are usually for smaller amounts and are more expensive than conventional loans. They can, however, be a good way to demonstrate financial responsibility.

In the modern world, it is inevitable that we will all need credit at some point, whether it is for emergency loans or big purchases on credit cards. It is, therefore, important to make sure that your credit score is correct and take action if it could be improved.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Save Money on Cab Fare

If you’ve tried to get a cab lately and got frustrated at how difficult it was or how expensive the cab trip was, I have some good news for you. Innovative applications and websites are popping up all over the Internet to help you find a cab quickly and for the cheapest possible price.

One of these neat new websites is CabCorner.com. Just select the city that you're traveling in, type in where you're located and where you'd like to go, and search for rides. Say for instances you're looking for a King County taxi that you can share. Hop on the web and search for others going the same route and share the fare. There is even a fare calculator that lets you know how much it will cost you before you get into the car. Plus, if somebody wishes to join you in the cab, then you can split the fare and then both of you save money!
Currently, this is located in most of the major United States cities, but it is getting jump started in major overseas cities too. As more and more people begin using applications and websites like CabCorner, even more people will be able to split rides. That means that even if this doesn't work for you right now because of some inconvenience—say it takes too long to find someone to split a ride with you--stay up to date with CabCorner and similar websites because eventually enough people will join it to make it worth your time. Then, it will be easy to find a shareable ride wherever you are.

Wheeels is trying pretty much the same thing that CabCorner is doing. It's just another way that you might be able to find somebody to share your ride with. Since there isn't a consolidated monopoly over taxi sharing services, it's a good idea to try to join as many as you possibly can to increase your chances of being able to split a cab quickly. Wheeels offers that convenience to you.

But then, there is Uber. They aren’t so much focused on letting you share a cab as they are at hooking you up with a taxi driver as quickly as possible. They use the cutting-edge of technology in order to cut through all the inconveniences that can sometimes accompany finding a taxi driver. All that you have to do is use your Android or iPhone with their application, and you can get a direct hold of the cheapest cab driver without having to waste a bunch of time on hold or leaving messages on peoples’ answering machines.

Get Taxi
Get Taxi ups the ante where Uber left off. They have that same great ability to order a taxi using your mobile phone. Then they combine it with the ability to get updates on where your driver is, how long it will be until he or she gets there, and all kinds of other useful information that takes the worrying out of finding a taxi. It hunts down who offers the best rates to save you money. Plus, it integrates the ability to rate drivers and read the ratings other customers have given drivers. This will help make sure that you don't end up getting in a taxi only to find that the driver is cranky, mean, or otherwise not so fun--all while saving you your hard-earned green paper!

Stita Taxis is a Seattle taxi service running a clean and green fleet of Prius to take you where you need to go.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Is peer-to-peer lending ever a good alternative?

Peer-to-peer lending (often referred to as p2p) has become increasingly popular in the United States over the past six years. This new way of loaning money was seen as advantageous, but it does have many difficulties.

Peer-to-peer loans are financial transactions between individuals that do not need the input of a traditional financial institution or bank. The lender and borrower have a more direct connection.

Sometimes the peers can be friends or family members, but mostly these loans are arranged through firms with online websites. The use of internet technologies has enabled this idea to grow and prosper.

Peer-to-peer lending is not philanthropic however, so individuals who invest money into the agreement to allow the other party to borrow do expect a return.

Generally the process involves two parties, the borrower and the lender. Lending money can be highly lucrative because of the high interest rates charged.

Individuals with money want it to earn more money, but with low interest rates on savings, there is little positive return. Instead, these individuals are choosing to loan their money to others and receive a higher interest rate in return.

For borrowers, there are some advantages too, although the process also carries risk and difficulties with what some have seen as exploitation in an unregulated market.

In America, the two major firms have seen usage soar in recent years. After the global economic recession began in 2007, their popularity increased and has continued to grow.

These difficult economic times have meant that many people feel they cannot find the financing they need from traditional banks or businesses. For some people, desperation has led them to financing their loans in this way.

Also, peer-to-peer lending is seen as being more flexible than traditional sources of loans. For many people, the attraction is the immediacy of the agreement. Removing banks from the equation can seem like a saving because you are not paying their transaction fees.

However, the rates offered on loans can be as high as a normal bank or financial institution would offer and in some cases, even higher.

If you have a low FICO score and need money to finance a purchase, it may be tempting to use peer-to-peer lending. Be aware that unfortunately, not all transactions work out well.

There has been much criticism of the peer-to-peer lending model as one that can illustrate predatory lending or loan sharking. Both of these are unwelcome situations in which to find yourself.

Predatory lending is often defined as lending that is deceptive, fraudulent or unfair, whilst loan sharks are known for using nefarious methods such as blackmail or violence to extract money from borrowers.

Research suggests that most peer-to-peer lenders are not regulated in the same way as other financial institutions. This means that borrowers may find themselves with more problems should the transaction not progress smoothly.

Peer-to-peer lending may seem that it has some advantages, but like most things in life, it is too good to be true in its entirety. Smart borrowers will always use qualified and regulated financial institutions for their money needs because this is the safest way.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why Use a Mortgage Calculator

The financial squeeze means more or less everyone – including the US government – is looking at their spending and trying to find ways to trim any unnecessary expenses.

This means that an increasing number of people are scrutinizing their mortgages to see if they are getting the most competitive deal or whether it would be more cost-effective to move their home loan to another lender.

This is one way in which a mortgage repayment calculator can come in useful, as it can provide an indicator of what the likely installments would be if you switched lenders.

However, it is important to remember that a mortgage calculator is only as good as the information that is put in and is designed to provide no more than a rough estimate of likely future costs.

Despite this, a mortgage repayment calculator can be a great way to get an idea of the differences between deals being offered on the market and reach a decision about which one is the best for you.

To get the best use out of a mortgage repayment calculator, it is necessary to know the interest rate that applies. This can usually be obtained from the lender's website or literature.

Some lenders provide their own online calculators that are pre-populated with the typical interest rate applicable, which simplifies the process somewhat.

All mortgage calculators need the amount being financed, the length of the loan and the interest rate applicable as a basic starting point. Some calculators are more complicated and take into account additional factors such as annual insurance – including principal mortgage insurance – as well as taxes, but these fields are usually not compulsory.

As well as using a mortgage calculator to work out how much the repayments would be for a deal already in the market, it can also be used as a handy budgeting tool.

Those on variable rate mortgages are watching the interest rates with trepidation, with many wondering what will happen to their monthly payment if the interest rate rises.

By simply adjusting the interest rate field, the repayment calculator can help by predicting how much you are likely to have to pay.

For those looking to find a bit more wiggle room in their budget, a repayment calculator can provide an idea about whether they could reduce their repayments.

By playing with various fields, such as extending the term of the loan, those looking to reorganize their finances can get a better idea of what effect various changes may have.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, those with a bit of spare cash may be wondering whether they would be better off overpaying on their mortgage or putting the money in a savings account. A mortgage calculator can show the effect that plowing some extra dollars in would have.

One of the best things about mortgage calculators is that they are free to use and available to anyone who has access to the internet.

Whilst the same information would be available from a mortgage broker, having the freedom to sit and play with numbers and work out the best deal without any sales pressure or time constraints, can be a very valuable tool.

Guest Post by MoneySuperMarket

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

5 things you should always shop around for

There are many things we purchase throughout the course of our life that don't require a lot of pre-planning or forethought. There are, however, some important things that we purchase that should be carefully researched and considered before rushing out to buy. 

In order to get the best value for money, make sure to shop around for items such as loans, insurance and your home/apartment. Automobiles and high-ticket electronics & technology should also be carefully researched.

There are a number of different types of loans we may need to take out at one time or another. 

Student loans help us pay for our much valued college education. Automobile loans help provide us with the luxury of owning our very first brand new car. 

Home loans help us buy that dream house we've always wanted. Home equity and personal loans make it possible for us to put in that swimming pool the kids have been begging to have for ages and ages. 

As interest rates and repayment periods vary greatly from lender to lender it is important that you shop around for the product to make sure that you are getting the most out of your money. Comparison websites
 are a great way of doing this as it cuts down on the amount of research required by you.

Check competing interest rates and figure out which loan terms best fit your situation. Do you want a 10-year loan with a higher interest rate or a 30-year loan with a lower interest rate? 

Another item for which you should always shop around is insurance. Whether it's medical, home, auto, or life; insurance is a necessity. 

Ask for referrals from people you trust. Often, a good insurance broker is a policy expert and can find the best policies for you, at the best prices. 

Much as you would shop for a loan, consider using the same criteria when shopping for insurance. Purchase the policy with the terms that best suit you. 

Do you prefer a medical policy with a low-copay and a higher deductible? Or would you rather pay a higher monthly premium and have a lower out-of-pocket maximum? 

When shopping for a home or apartment, make a list of your "must-have" items, a list of "would-be-nice" items and a "no way, can't do it, won't deal with it" items. Work with a respectable realtor to help you find a suitable living space that meets your standards.

Do your research and shop around before buying an automobile. Whether shopping for used or new, take your time and find the best car for the best money. Dealerships offer some advantages, like on-site financing and service, but buying from a reliable individual may be less expensive because you're not paying for a lot of overhead.

Often, if you're trading in a car or if you have a substantial amount of money to put down on the purchase price, you can reduce your monthly payments significantly.

High-ticket electronics such as desktop and laptop computers, flat screen high digital televisions and home theater sound systems should be researched in advance. With the abundance of these items now being sold in warehouse-type chain retail stores, price shopping is easier than ever before.

Post by MoneySuperMarket

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Right Way to Obtain a Credit Card

“You can save 10% on this purchase if you open a credit card at our store.  Would you like to do that now?”
Make any purchase at a department store and, if you are not currently one of their store’s credit card holders, you will hear that pitch.  You may have even fallen for it.
Credit card offers abound, but there are right ways to obtain credit cards and ways you should avoid.
The Wrong Way to Obtain a Credit Card
  • Open an account just because a store offers a one-time discount off your purchase.  In most cases the 10% discount on your purchase will easily be recouped by the store.  They are counting on you using the card frequently, running up a balance and having to pay interest (which many customers do).  Don’t be enticed by the discount. 
  • Apply for a credit card because you get a free tee shirt or mug.  Credit card companies used to be notorious for setting up a table at a college campus and enticing students to open a credit card by giving them a freebie bag.  Rules on this behavior are stricter now, but again, don’t sign up for a card just because you get a small item for free.

The Right Way to Obtain a Credit Card
  • Apply for one from your bank or credit union.  Chances are they will have a reasonable interest rate and agreeable terms.  (Still, be sure to read the fine print before signing up.) 
  • Apply for one that offers you rewards.  There are many credit cards that give members rewards.  If you fly frequently, try a credit card that offers flyer rewards.  If you drive frequently, consider getting a credit card that rewards you with gas discounts.

When applying for credit cards, make sure that you know what the APR will be, if there is an annual fee, and what the terms of payment are.  Once you have done your research, open an account with confidence.
Credit is part of life, and if you are responsible about the way you obtain credit after careful research, you can make sure credit cards are a positive part of your life.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Are you a rate-hopper or a promo junkie?

Rate-hoppers and promo junkies. You may have never heard the terms, but each apply to a certain type of credit card consumer.

As you may have guessed, rate-hoppers always keep a lookout for the lowest interest rates and make balance transfers more often than the average consumer.

Promotional junkies are lured by the promise of rewards and sign-on promos. A promo junkie may not care about balance transfers like the rate-hopper, but he'll sign up for more credit cards than he needs in order to reap the benefits.

Certainly there are true benefits to transferring balances to lower interest rate cards and for taking advantage of promotional offers, but there can be some disadvantages as well.

Rate hoppers know the value of a low interest rate. It is never a bad idea to transfer a balance on a high interest rate card to one with a 0% introductory rate.

Transferring a high balance to a 0% interest credit card can save a lot of money, even if the introductory period lasts for no more than a year.

The trick to taking full advantage of a balance transfer is to pay the credit card off in full before the 0% introductory rate ends. Most rate-hoppers, however, do not do this.

Rate-hopping can show up as a negative on your credit report. Some financial institutions have reservations about lending to a rate-hopper because of the number of closed accounts. They may assume you will bail out of your financial obligation to them before they can make a profit out of your business.

Promo junkies like opening new accounts with any company that offers a deal that's simply too good to pass up. Tempting promotions can come in the form of cash back, airline miles, free trips and those popular credit card points.

These promotional junkies dream of the day they can cash in those points for rewards, but it takes a lot of spending to rack up the points. Even if you don't use the card enough to stockpile the big points, some companies offer smaller awards such as MP3 downloads, books and DVDs.

Some credit card companies allow you to combine points with another cardholder, meaning you could end up sharing a reward that neither of you could have earned alone.

Other rewards include cash-back options. This means you can redeem those stockpiled points for cash or even a credit on your account.

The problem some promo junkies may run into is the temptation to apply for more credit cards than necessary. Having too many cards makes it more difficult to earn a substantial amount of points on one card alone. It may even mean a larger debt than intended.

Whether you are a rate-hopper, a promo junkie, or simply a savvy consumer, comparing credit card offers is a smart move. Utilize websites that allow you to compare cards before applying for any offer that comes in the mailbox.

Comparing credit card companies puts you in control. You can quickly see the card with the lowest APR percentage and lowest fees for balance transfers. The 0% interest period is plainly listed with other perks and rewards. Reading product reviews is another way to ensure you're making the right decision.

No matter your style, rate-hopper or promo junkie, it pays to be mindful of options.

Guest Post by MoneySuperMarket

Monday, June 27, 2011

Save on your Monthly Bills

With everything from food to energy increasing in price alongside the economic downturn and government cuts, it has become even harder to keep within a monthly budget.

So just how can people cut down on their monthly outgoings without compromising on household necessities? With some clever financial planning and advice, we will show you how.

Firstly, deal with paying off debts and loans before any further spending. Take a quick look at our loan repayment calculator as it may be cheaper to consolidate your debt onto a new loan with cheaper rates.

If you are struggling to pay off debt within your current timescale, look to consolidate the debt onto a loan with a longer timescale, which will reduce payments to a more manageable amount.

Take a look at any big ticket items you may already have on finance, such as a sofa or car loan. If these are on finance agreements with the places of purchase such as the car garage, you may find the APR high.

These can often be reduced by switching this type of debt onto a loan using our loan payment calculator to find a better rate and reduce monthly outgoings.

If you already own a credit card, make sure that it is working efficiently for you and your circumstances. Look at whether you use the card for purchases or balance transfers.

If there is a large balance on the card, consider transferring it to a zero per cent interest balance transfer deal with another card provider.

Look out for credit card deals where there is a promotion period for zero per cent on purchases as well if you intend to spend on the card.

If you use the card for both, get two credit cards and use one solely for paying off a balance transfer at zero per cent and one for purchases.

When it comes to the weekly food shop or occasions such as Christmas, purchase using a credit card with cash back or rewards so that you gain from each shop you do.

The cash back or reward scheme can then be used towards other monthly outgoings, such as supermarket credit card reward points towards clothing or cash back to put towards the next month's food bills.

When it comes to shopping for larger items such as a television, do your homework to find the best price before purchase. Shopping online can often be cheaper and easier to compare prices.

Individual bills such as the home phone, digital television package and broadband can soon add up. They are often cheaper if you combine them all under the same provider, helping to reduce monthly outgoings.

Energy prices are set to increase again and therefore monthly bills will be hiked. Now is the time to shop around and fix your energy prices to freeze the current price for a set timescale and avoid the increase.

Combining our money saving tips with our loan repayment calculator could benefit your household, helping to reduce monthly outgoings and cleverly manage debt and spending.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to Spend Less on Internet Service

According to Federal Communications Commission, approximately 93 million Americans don't have access to home broadband because the cost is too high. If you are in this position or if you are just looking for ways to spend less on internet service, there are several savings options you can consider.

Look for Promotions

Every internet service provider runs periodic promotions. Some of these promotional offers are available to new customers; others are available to current customers. You can find information about potential promotions through sites that focus on internet service providers, coupons, and web deals. You can also contact your current ISP and others in the area to inquire about promotions available in your neighborhood.

Haggle with Your Provider

If you aren’t happy with the price you pay for internet service, try haggling with your provider. Be polite and explain why you think you are paying too much. Then, ask for a discount or a special promotional price. If that doesn’t work, let your ISP know that you are thinking of switching to another company. They may prefer giving you a deal to losing you as a customer.

Downgrade Your Service Plan

Some internet service plans come with extras like download boosters, web hosting, web development services, and multiple email addresses. Some of these extras are free, but others are offered at an additional cost. Check your internet bill and make sure you know what you are being charged for. If your bill contains extras that you don't use, get rid of them.

Lower Your Mobile Bill

According to recent estimates, nearly one third of all adults have a smart phone with internet access. This is incredibly convenient but can also be expensive. Make sure you are not paying more than you need to for your mobile service. There are several sites online, including LowerMyBills.com, BillEater.com, and FatWallet.com, that can offer you tips on lowering your mobile bill as well as information about special coupons, promotions, and offers. Don't be afraid to switch providers if you can find a better deal through another company.

Get Naked DSL

In 2005, the FCC began encouraging ISPs to unbundle their DSL internet service from their local phone service. This led to Naked DSL. Also known as standalone DSL, naked DSL is a type of internet connection that is available to people who do not have a land line telephone. This connection is available through several well-known internet service providers, including Verizon, AT&T, and Quest Communications. Naked DSL is relatively cheap and can be purchased for as little as $10 per month.

Go Back to Dial-Up

Dial-up internet service is not an ideal option for some people. It can tie up your phone line and does not run nearly as fast as other types of internet connections. However, it is very inexpensive. Dial-up can sometimes be purchased for as little as $10 per month. In some areas, it may even be free. If you need to slash your internet bill or if you only need the internet to access email and perform basic tasks, dial-up is worth considering.

Use Your Internet More

According to a Pew Internet Life Study, the average broadband user pays $39 a month for internet service--nearly $500 per year. If you are going to pay this much or more for internet service, make the most of your expenditure. Use the internet to watch movies, stay in touch with friends, and study the things that interest you. Doing so may allow you to save on other things like cable TV service, cell phone bills, books, tuition, and more.

Guest post from Karen Schweitzer. Karen writes about internet service providers for Internetserviceproviders.org.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kitchen Improvements That Will Increase Your Homes' Value

If you're trying to sell your home, you naturally want to get the most out of it. In some cases that means sticking a little into it first. There are many areas of a home that would benefit from a little spritzing up. Curb appeal is important, as is the overall integrity of the building which could be improved by redoing the roof. Remodeling the bathroom or home office could add to the structure's sale price.

Some people think the kitchen is the heart of the home. It's where people congregate before, during and sometimes after meals because it seems like something is always going on in the kitchen. When showing a home the kitchen is always important to the buyer. It stands to reason that improvements to the kitchen will increase your home's value.

Updated Kitchen Equals Increase in Value

According to some, improvements to your kitchen can produce a return on investment (ROI) of 80% to 100% of what you spend. That is a tremendous percentage. If you could be guaranteed of that kind of result from stock purchases you wouldn't hesitate to jump in with both feet. Updating your kitchen to increase your home's value is a proven path to greater equity. You also get to enjoy the improvements until the house sells.


Since the person who does the cooking and cleanup will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, giving it an open, inviting look is important. Having a large window over the sink that looks out into the patio or backyard can provide something interesting for them to look at while preparing a meal or washing the dishes afterward. Installing new windows that are easy to keep clean will not only add to the value of the kitchen, but offer them a chance to daydream while they labor.


One of the most popular improvements to modernize a home is to put in granite countertops. Quality granite countertops are well made, durable, and expensive. Those are all reasons they will add to the value of the home. Because they are tough as well as attractive, they provide the perfect combination of usefulness and value.

Stainless Steel Appliances

A standard kitchen improvement is to replace the old appliances. By installing matching stove, refrigerator and dishwasher, you add a sense of continuity to the kitchen. Stainless steel appliances are among the most popular upgrades available. They look good, will last a long time, and give the kitchen a modern, luxurious look.


If there is sufficient space in your kitchen, you may opt for an island. They are becoming increasingly popular because of their functionality. Useful as a place for the kids to do homework or just hang out and talk to mom while dinner's being prepared, an island provides extra space that's sure to be used. It is also useful as a place to eat informal meals that are easy to clean up. The top of the island would naturally match the countertops, giving the kitchen a flowing, finished look.


A modern, updated kitchen needs lighting to match. Installing overhead and under cabinet lights should match the overall decorating scheme.


The same goes for flooring. Many people appreciate wood floors, while others would go with vinyl or tile flooring. Whatever your choice, make sure it enhances the looks of the kitchen.

Cabinets and Drawers

Installing updated cabinets and matching drawers will also increase the value of your home. There are many styles and varieties to choose from, and they come in a wide range of prices.

On a Budget

As you've no doubt noticed, it's possible to spend a great deal of money on a kitchen remodeling project. Perhaps more than you're able to justify. Any kitchen remodeling project should maintain an overall flow with the rest of the home. If you have a modern, up-to-date kitchen but the rest of the house is falling apart you may be better off disbursing that money throughout the property. There are ways to improve your kitchen on a budget, but the results will be commensurate with what you spend--so will your return on investment.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about home insurance and related topics for www.homeownersinsurance.org.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ladies, Have More Money in Retirement

My sister has two youthful little ones. She just lately produced the comment that there were two milestones with every single of her children that made her experience like she received a elevate. Initially was once they switched from drinking method to milk; 2nd was once they became potty trained. She no lengthier had to purchase pricey formula or diapers (she didn't use cloth diapers). I recognized that I, too have provided myself a raise by removing some expenses around the previous couple of decades in my quest to simplify my life. I built the following variations, leading to substantial savings:

 * I give up getting my hair highlighted. Annual cost financial savings: $1,120. I was a all-natural blonde in my youth. As my hair naturally darkened, I started out highlighting my hair in salons when I used to be 19 (I lived in Texas in the time - it was pretty much a requirement). It grew to become a vicious cycle to break simply because I generally needed to keep up with my 'roots.' Final yr at 36 I decided to conclude the madness. I obtained a superb colorist to match my organic color, and I obtained a few high-quality haircuts to eliminate these fried ends. I really like the flexibility!
 * I stop getting manicures and pedicures. Annual price savings: $480. For a quick time (once again, even though residing in Texas) I obtained sculptured nails. But I won't even handle that expense. That fad ended for me right after a few decades. Following that madness, I might frequent the inexpensive nail salons in people strip purchasing centers to get a monthly mani/pedi. At any time my toenail polish would commence to chip, I felt the need to head back again to the salon. I loved the feeling of staying pampered in this kind of a girly way. But I realized two items: initially, there is no reason my nails can't look wonderful and presentable without nailpolish and second, there is no reason I cannot do it myself. I invested in a very superior manicure set, and now I do my very own nails just about every week whilst watching my favored show, Nova, on PBS. I actually delight in doing my nails, I do an improved position than the salons, and I get instant gratification.
 * I give up obtaining department keep cosmetics. Believed annual charge savings: $200. I will not use considerably makeup - just blush, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. I use for being a victim of all those cosmetics gift sets which can be provided in the department keep in case you shell out a certain quantity of income. I might acquire items I didn't require simply to obtain the present set. Talk about consumerism at its best. Due to this fact, I had a drawer filled with unpleasant lipsticks. I ended that madness by switching to drug save brand names and effortlessly, I cannot tell the variation in my cosmetics at all. I no lengthier purchase needless items, and I can affordably exchange my mascara just about every three months without having taking out a second house loan. .
 * I quit purchasing cheap clothes. Believed annual cost financial savings: $800. I use to purchase various garments things every single period from retailers like Old Navy and Target. I believed I was becoming thrifty by searching there. They've cute designs, but obviously the garments will not previous more than a 12 months or two. As I entered my mid-30s, I realized that getting stylish wasn't as crucial to me anymore. Now I favor classic models and I only purchase quite higher top quality items from outlets like Brooks Brothers and Harold Powell. I shop very much less generally and simply maintain the garments that I very own. My winter season do the job wardrobe includes several turtlenecks, several cashmere sweaters, and three pairs of pants. Almost everything mixes and matches and I constantly feel good in my apparel. After the initial investment in clothes, I find I only must purchase underwear and socks on an ongoing foundation.

The total believed annual price cost savings is $2,600. Which is almost adequate to fully-fund my IRA. I really like raises!

Friday, April 08, 2011

5 Ways to Get Out of Debt

Everyone’s looking for the best (and quickest) ways to get of debt. The problem for a lot of consumers trying to get their finances back under their control is that they’re so steeped in unpaid debt, they don’t know where to begin paying it all back.

Here are 5 tips from My Credit Group for helping you chip away at your debt:

1: Pay according to highest interest

I won’t get into the Dave Ramsay debate because yes, I agree there’s something to be said about making small, quick mental victories on your road to debt repayment. But this article is about getting out of debt in the shortest amount of time possible, not small mental victories. With that said here’s our recommendation.
List your credit cards from highest to lowest interest rates -- including their minimum monthly payments. Then figure out every single penny you have to put towards getting out of debt.
Start making the minimum payments on all your cards EXCEPT for the one with the highest interest. That one gets every available penny. Once it’s paid off, move on to the next. Rinse and repeat

2: Have a garage sale

I’ve never personally had a garage sell, but I’m a fan now. We are moving into a new office in 2 weeks, going from a traditional space with individual offices, to a more open, modern environment. So, it was the perfect excuse to ditch all the Cherry wood, executive looking furniture and redecorate with all looking modern couches and bean bag chairs.
 Now, because I’m lazy I voted we just donate all our old furniture so long as whoever was taking it picked it up so I didn’t have to deal with it.
Eventually, I was convinced to put it all up on Craigslist. I said fine, as long as I didn’t have to do anything (yes I’m that lazy sometimes). It was gone in two days and we made nearly $4000. In used furniture. Holy crap!
That kind of money could go a long way to pay off your credit cards or other outstanding debts. Do you have anything you could put on eBay or Craigslist?

3: Get all Abe Lincoln on Impulse Shopping.

Retail stores are experts at merchandising. They know exactly what to display and where to increase their chances of getting your money. Impulse shopping is one of the biggest killers of our bank accounts
I read a book on Abe Lincoln once where I learned Honest Abe had a habit of writing down anything he wanted to do when he was angry. He put those thoughts down on paper and locked them in a trunk for 24 hours and would later revisit those “impulsive” thoughts.
Apparently that 24 hour wait changed the course of history more than once. In fact, historians say that had he acted on those impulse thoughts, life today as we know it could be totally different. So the next time you see something you “have to have,” wait 24 hours before you buy it. It will still be there, but you might just find you don’t need it as bad as you thought you did.

4: Keep a monthly spending log

Last year we had a little experiment here at the office. Everybody was encouraged to keep either a little notepad, or handheld device with them at all times for a month. The purpose was to log every single purchase we made; right down to a pack of gum.
The results were pretty eye opening. Most of us don’t think twice about buying coffee, a pack of gum, a bagel or a little $2 ATM fee.
But after 30 days of logging all those little expenditures, the results might shock you once you add them all up. We encourage you to try it for a full 30 days. I’m willing to bet you’ll see an entire credit card payment’s worth of small little purchases you could have gone without.

5: Use coupons

Much like garage sales, I didn’t believe in clipping coupons. I shop for food pretty infrequently, and never really thought twice about bringing coupons along with me – even though my mom kept a vast coupon book which she took with her on her weekly grocery store trips.
Then I saw a show on TV about extreme coupon clippers who’ve turned the practice into a science. They showcased one lady in particular who brought over $600 worth of groceries to the checkout counter, and only ended up paying around $11 when all her coupons had been scanned and processed.

Now think about all the money you spend on groceries every time you make the trek to fill up your pantry. If you aren’t clipping coupons, you might wanna think about doing so before you throw out that Pennysaver.

This is a guest post from Marc Chase, President of Product Development for MyCreditGroup, a leading  credit services company.

5 Simple steps to avoid credit card disaster

In today's life credit is very popular among consumers because it maintain a standard of living . People can purchase any kind of their needs with the help of credit card but it can be a disaster for you if you will not maintain it properly. There are millions of people which are facing the disaster of credit card debt in recent days. So there are some easy tips by which you can reduce it .

1. Avoid excess use of credit card : Now a days lot of people purchase their their most of needs with the help of credit credit card and then then fell into credit card debt. Because if you keep your utilization ration of your credit card more than 30 % it will reduce your credit score. So you need to keep this below 30 % to maintain your credit score.

2. Avoid late payments : According to the new credit card rules you no need to give penalty of late payments of your credit card but it does't mean you cansleep peacefully and make late payments because according to new FICO rule lot of late payments can also affect your credit score . So always try to make payments on time.

3. Avoid variable rate cards : After the Credit Card Reform Act , most of the credit card companies are encouraging people to take variable credit card because in this the company can charge intrest on you so it is better to avoid it.

4. Don't take 0% balance transfer card : Most of the people take 0 % balance transfer card after the credit card law but you should avoid this because the credit card insurers has increase its fees from 3 – 5 % . It means you have to pay higher amount of noney for consolidating your credit card debt.

5. Don't take cards for kids : It is better to not take any cards for kids because you have to take the full the responsibility of all the payments . It means if your kid fell in the credit card debt then you need to pay it.

So that was some useful tips by which you can decrease the rate of credit card debt as well as it also help you to build a good credit score.

Friday, April 01, 2011

A study to see the condition of the investing market

Singapore is the most fruitful and profitable place for the investors all over the world. Due to the debt crisis and inflation in US, the investors are shifting their base to other places such as Singapore. Investment is lucrative in all fields such as gold, real estate, stocks and shares. This also has given a few people chance to go for debt reduction options as the returns are better than other markets.

What does ING survey result show?

The survey results of ING Survey Dashboard result shows that the investing in Singapore market has increased 5% in the quarter 3 of 2010 that is, from 140 in Q2, it has increased to 147 in Q3. The investor sentiment is on the positive side as there is around 100% improvement in the investing market in Singapore from 73 for quarter 3 in 2008 to 147 for Q3 in 2010. The investors owe their confidence in the Asian market to the debt crisis in the US financial market.

The returns are very good and improved and the investors are very happy with the results. People are now buying properties and other stocks in the Singapore market to get better returns on their endeavors as well as get help of debt reduction options if they had any money overdue. Singapore ranks 5th in the real estate market in Q3 in Asia after India, Philippines, Thailand and Honk Kong. This result excludes Japan. South-East Asian has emerged as top performers in case of investment.

What positive do banks say?

Seeing the huge market shift from the Western countries to the South East Asian countries, the banks have commented in the reason for this. They say that after Q2, the South-East Asian countries Singapore being one of them have a seen a surge of investors. They had feared that since the debt crisis in US markets has improved a bit, people will invest there. But investors are not taking any chance and investing in Singapore and other neighboring countries. The most important reason for investors to invest in Singapore is the optimism in the housing market. But some of the optimism was removed and replaced with some of the other measures.

What negative do banks say?

But there is also some downfall in this type of market upsurge. Investors have to watch out for global currency war in 2011 as the US dollar will be weak for sometime. The US Federal Reserve may implement some measures to make improvement in the consumer price index. The interest rates in South-East Asia will be low but will create asset price overheating and pressurize the market currency in Asia to increase their value. Until the economic conditions improve, Asia has to deal with inflationary measures.

The interest rates are quite low so the most lucrative areas to invest in Singapore are gold, bonds, real estate and telecommunications. The personal financial market in Singapore and other Asian countries have improved so much that investors are forecasting for better market conditions in the future.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hypermiling Basics

In the event you own, drive or your just thinking about buying a car, the buying price of gas Really should be major concern. Auto makers are putting up some impressive numbers when it comes to MPG to aid the earth, but mostly to help sales. New cars such as the Honda Civic Hybrid are boasting MPG of 45 if not more, but this is almost nothing when compared with what some drivers are obtaining out of there tanks.
What if I said that on a single gallon of gas you can boost to 200 miles. Yes that’s 200 miles. Well, I can’t really make claiming, but Wayne Gerdes the king of “Hypermiling” can. Gerdes drove 2,254 miles on a lot less than 14 gallons of gas, and also this was a student in 2006. Since then Hypermiling has grown to be some what of the talent that is quickly spreading. The Oxford dictionary has even selected the phrase as the best new word for 2008. Gerdes website clean MPG is a Mecca of info about Hypermiling techniques. fuel efficient autos and also a forum for hypermilers to congregate. You can even educate yourself on the techniques they may be using to realize these incredible numbers.
Bankruptcy lawyer las vegas tools to acquire the most out of your tank such as Scangauge 2, it monitors much of your cars data, like speed, fuel use, fuel till tank is empty and even more. Having pretty much everything information can guide you to refine your technique and perfect your art.
It is simple to adopt a few of these skills in your everyday drive and low cost if you are at it. The name might sound just a little crazy, but it's really only learning how to be considered a better driver. In reality, it's rather a great big win for you personally, figure out how to become a better driver, save fuel and funds and help you save the earth.

Friday, March 18, 2011

IFAs and Changes in Personal Finance

This post is from the NerdWallet.com team of finance writers and experts in helping consumers find the best rewards credit cards.
The Finance World is Changing. Independent Financial Advisers Could Help.

The way people are handling their personal finances is changing greatly, so many are turning to IFAs, or independent financial advisors.

There have been recent adjustments to the tax code, bankruptcy laws, and debt management regulations, which means that big changes have to be made in the way people handle their household finances. Many believe this will lead a greater number of people to turn to financial pros for advice. It’s not always easy making financial choices, so the right IFA can make it simpler, and can even be more cost effective.

Changes in Financial Planning

With the economy taking a beating, changes have been made to state benefits and financial products, which will have an effect on those planning for retirement. Fixed income yields are unnaturally low and a lot of experts are also predicting lackluster equity returns for the foreseeable future. This means that people will have to re-calculate how they’re going to live after they retire. Two of the biggest factors that are driving people to find IFAs are investments and retirement planning. Experts believe that this trend is going to continue on for some time.

Financial advisors are around to help consumers plan and arrange their finances. They will help to customize an investment portfolio for you and help to manage it. They can also provide timely updates regarding accounts and the financial markets. In case you’re in need of more advice, you can seek help about managing credit card debt or help in choosing the correct low APR credit cards to minimize your interest expenses.

All Advisors are Not Created Equal

Independent financial advisors are not all created equal, and not all have the same services available. The best advisors that you can find will not be affiliated with just one company (hence the “independent” nomenclature). This type of advisor will most likely give you the best advice and will offer more options for financial solutions from various companies and their products. Then you’ll either pay for their advice by commissions or by a flat fee schedule.

You should ask your IFA whether he or she is tied or independent. If he or she is tied, then they will only be able to advise products from the company that they’re tied to. Independent IFAs have access to all types of products that are on the market. You should also inquire as to how long they’ve been an IFA, and to see their credentials. The minimum requirements for an IFA are the Certificate in Financial Planning and the Certificate of Financial Advice. The FSA (Financial Services Authority) regulates and authorizes all IFAs.

It’s important that you also find out how the IFA charges for their services and if they offer ongoing services. You may not want to go with one that charges hourly, especially if you’re looking to take a buy-and-hold or hands-off approach for your financial portfolio. This will give them the opportunity to tinker as much as they can, charging you more. In this case, a commission-based IFA could be more suitable, since there will be fewer transactions to pay for.

Beginning Your Financial Planning

When it comes time to begin financial planning, it’s important that you look at where you are today, and what resources and financial goals you have. An IFA is able to help you plan out your financial goals by gathering your financial info, determining life goals, looking at your financial status now and helping to strategize a way to achieve your goals.

These are also good tips for what you should be doing on your own anyway, but it can always help to get a second opinion. They can also give you better steps to take and the best products to use, that aren’t typically found in resources like Money magazine.

Since the new year has come and gone, it’s the perfect time to take control of your personal finances and investment options. You could save yourself a big headache in this downing economy by seeking advice and looking into an IFA.