There are so many car financing options available how do you know which one is right for you? Read on to obtain information about all of the different options available and how to determine which one will provide you with the best benefits. Many people take advantage of an option known as dealer financing. This is when you handle the financing of your new vehicle directly through the lender. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be making your payments directly to the dealer. Usually, they work with a finance company to provide the financing to you. There are definitely some benefits to this option. First, depending on your situation you may be able to obtain extremely low interest rates; in some case you may be able to obtain a zero percent interest rate. In order to obtain this special rate; however, you will need to have excellent credit with no problems. If you have any problems at all on your credit history you will not qualify for the special interest rate although you will probably be able to still obtain a loan; just at a higher rate. When your credit report is not perfect ask yourself whether you could get a better deal at a bank. Bank financing is an option that is typically available as long as your credit history is good. This means it doesn’t have to be perfect but you shouldn’t have any major flaws either. If you have already worked with the bank in the past this will increase your chances of obtaining a loan. While a bank interest rate may not be as low as what a car dealer can offer for individuals with excellent credit, it may be better than what you could obtain at the dealership if your credit is only ‘good.’ Another option you may wish to consider is credit union financing. Of course, this option is only available if you belong to a credit union. If you do happen to have a credit union membership; however, the rate available to you may be much better than what you can obtain through a bank or dealership. These days it is also quite easy to simply go online and surf around for a quote from an online lender. This option has become so popular many lenders are now willing to compete with one another and offer very attractive rates. In the event you do not have perfect credit, this can be a good option for you; just make sure you fully understand all of the terms of the loan before accepting it. Another option would be to simply borrow the funds from a family member of friend. Of course, this is extremely risky because it could cause problems in your relationship in the event that you run into a problem with the payments. But, if you can’t obtain a loan elsewhere because of credit problems this may be a good option. Finally, you may wish to consider refinancing your home or taking out a home equity loan in order to finance the cost of your new home. This basically allows you to pay cash for your vehicle with the proceeds of the loan and then paying back the money through the refi loan. In some cases you may be able to get a better interest rate with this route than you would with a traditional bank auto loan. In addition, the interest you pay on the loan is tax deductible. Like other options; however, there are some disadvantages. With this option, be aware that you could be putting your house at risk, not just your car, if you run into a problem and can’t make the payments in the future.
Lisa Taylor from moneyfacts. co. uk comments on the options available to travellers when spending overseas and the costs that consumers should be but are sometimes not aware of. “Whether planning a summer holiday or jetting off for Easter, consumers are keen to check the costs when it comes to choosing the hotel, flights, insurance, and airport parking, but tend not to use the same level of consideration when choosing the cheapest option when it comes to their spending money. “With each provider charging varying fees which are not immediately visible and often not fully appreciated by the consumer, it is a potential minefield to find the ‘best’ deal, and this becomes much worse as we consider the outside influence of exchange rates. “Consumers have three main options, the traditional travellers cheques and currency, debit cards or credit cards. Amex has also launched into the prepay card arena, with a card designed for overseas travel, but the rest of the industry is yet to catch on. “Traditional cheques and currency are still popular with many travellers and offer a competitive market place for providersmission free deals are becoming easier to find particularly for currency and currency travellers cheques, where there is still scope for profit by means of discounted exchange rates. “Unfortunately without plenty of leg work by the consumer, it proves a difficult market in which to compare deals. Providers offer varying commission deals, but without taking into consideration the exchange rate it is impossible to decipher the ‘best’ overall deal. Moneyfacts complies a full list of providers detailing charges, offers and delivery details, which can be found at moneyfacts. co. uk “The competitive nature of the market reinforces the message that there is profit to be made, even when offering 0% commission. Large institutions such as NatWest and HSBC are offering free prize draws as an means to entice customers to buy their holiday from them. “After finding their chosen provider, in many cases the consumer has a much more flexible choice, than was previously available, with the ability to order online, on the telephone and the option of home or branch delivery. But do beware; these do sometimes come at a cost. “Credit cards are becoming an increasingly popular method of payments and withdrawing cash abroad. Many of us do not realise that, when using a credit card abroad, the card issuer adds on a foreign usage loading; this can be as high as 2.75%. That means a consumer spending Ј1,000 abroad would be charged Ј27.50. “There are however a few exceptions to this rule within the market, including Nationwide and Saga who do not charge for usage anywhere in the world. “ In addition, if withdrawing cash overseas, consumers will also be charged a cash withdrawal fee, which can be as high as 2.5%. So withdrawing Ј1,000 cash could cost you as much as Ј52.50. “Debit cards also come attached with foreign loadings up to 2.75%, cash withdrawal fees and in some cases an additional per item charge for purchases, tucked away in the small print, giving customers a nasty surprise when the statement hits their door mat. Any consumer looking to rely solely on a debit card would be well advised to consider Nationwide, the only provider not to impose cash or purchase fees.”
In life, nothing is permanent in this world. Everything that comes will definitely go. That is why it is best to put our best foot forward and save more for the future. The best thing that you have to start with is to have a retirement plan. Some wait to long before they decide to plan for their future. This is not a good idea because we can never tell what lies ahead. So, here's how and when to start retirement planning: 1. The retirement year. First, decide on what year you would like to retire. It is always best to start something with a goal in hand. This will keep you focused and determined to push it through. 2. Do your homework. The best way to help you start making your retirement planning is to consult your “employer-sponsored 401(k) or IRA,” or to any of your retirement schemes and investigate on the objective date of your mutual funds and see if it matches your target date of retirement. If it does, then start funding your nest egg immediately. 3. Backups. There are many instances where your plan can backfire. So, it is best to have backups. So, when making a retirement plan, better include a backup that will serve as a fallback in case your nest eggs fails or if something else goes wrong. It is best that you do not depend entirely on your funds because sometimes there are circumstances that are beyond our control. 3. Opt for annuities. When doing a retirement planning, you should take note also of the different retirement planning strategies that will surely make your plan work. One good example of a retirement planning strategy is the annuities. Basically, annuities are adaptable indemnity bonds that are exclusively patterned to bestow additional wages at the same time assist you accomplish “long-term” saving goals. These annuities are the “long-term’ items recommended by most insurance companies, though, there are brokers and other financial establishments that provide this kind of service. They will help you set-up a specific goal and aim for it. There are two types of annuity: the immediate and the tax-deferred annuity. In the immediate annuity, you start your retirement planning by giving a hefty amount of money to the insurance company or any financial institution for that matter. After which, your payment scheme will start at once. This type of annuity is usually applicable to those who are already 60 years old and above. On the other hand, the tax-deferred annuities you may choose whether you will pay the retirement amount instantly or make a monthly disbursement until the time you reach your target date. This is usually appropriate to those who start their retirement planning early, generally those who are 20 years old at the least. 4. Consider the Modified Endowment Contracts. Annuities had been heading the limelight for so many years now. Most people would go for annuities, as this is the most popular retirement planning strategy. However, like most plans, it is still vulnerable to problems and crisis. That is why, it is best to make an alternative option when making a retirement planning. The next best retirement planning strategy is the Modified Endowment Contract or the MEC. This is, basically, one kind of “insurance policy.” In reality, MEC is similar to annuity, especially the tax-deferred annuity, in terms of the preliminary premium rates. Though, they differ in terms of tax codes. In annuity, the tax code appears to be very unfavourable especially when the benefactor dies while the “annuity accumulation” stage is in full force. This, in turn, makes the deferred wage taxes on development suddenly becomes payable. In contrast, the MEC resolves this problem by providing the benefactor or the beneficiaries with an “insurance rider” included in the agreement. The “insurance rider” is made to hand over the full amount to your recipients absolutely free from any taxes. Moreover, MECs can give you the suppleness of choosing between the variable and fixed account preferences. This, in turn, will make your retirement planning relatively easier. Nevertheless, whatever retirement planning strategy you choose, the bottom line is that it is really important to save for your retirement as soon as possible. Most often than not, people linger on a little longer before they start making their retirement planning. This should not be the case because you can never tell what will happen next. As they say, life is suspense; you will never know what it can offer you until the end. So, the best time to do retirement planning is now.
: Summary: Did you know your minimum credit card payment is rising? A new government program working to get Americans out of credit card debt is pushing credit card issuers to raise minimum monthly payments. Will you be able to make the higher monthly payment? Here are some tips for getting by.If you're an American, your minimum monthly credit card payment may soon be doubling. If you're only paying the minimums now, you'll have to be careful to adjust your budgeting to pay more.Who's Raising Your Monthly Minimum Credit Card Payment?Whose idea was it to increase credit card minimum monthly payments? The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bureau of the U. S. Treasury Department that has become more and more involved with reigning in the abuses of credit card companies. Yes, this credit card minimum payment increase was thought up by people trying to help you.Who will be raising their monthly minimums? So far, some of the largest credit card issuers have agreed to the new standards. Bank of America has already been asking for the higher monthly minimum payment. MBNA, Citigroup (a. k.a. Citbank), Discover, and Chase (on some of its cards) will be breaking the news to their cardholders as Fall 2005 progresses.How Much Will Credit Card Minimums Increase?For many credit cards, such as MBNA and Bank of America, the new rates mean that monthly minimum payments will double.Right now, the monthly minimum payment is only 2% of the balance on most of these cards. The new rate will be around 4% (the actual number may vary from card issuer to card issuer). This means that if you have the average American credit card balance of about $10,000, your minimum monthly payment will go from $200/month to $400/month.Of course, if you have any additional fees, whether a late fee or a cash advance fee or any of the other fees that the credit card guys cook up, you will have to pay that, too.Why the Credit Card Minimum Payment Increase?You may be wondering why anyone would want to make you pay a higher minimum monthly payment. The basic reason for making you pay more is: for your own good.According to Mike Peterson, co-founder of American Credit Foundation, by doubling the amount you pay per month toward credit card debt, you will cut down on what you pay toward interest by much more. Look:Old monthly minimum payment of 2% of balance, $2,000 credit card debt at 18% percent interest:* Time to pay off debt in full: about 30 years.* Interest paid: about $5,000–two and a half times what you initially borrowed!New monthly minimum payment of 4% of balance, same debt:* Time to pay off debt in full: about 10 years. Time saved vs. old payment: 20 years.* Interest paid: about $1,100–slightly more than half what you originally borrowed. Amount saved vs. old payment: $3,900.Tips for Paying Double EasilyHow do you pay off your new, higher credit card balance?Stop ChargingYes, you will have to make major sacrifices to stop using your credit card. But just look at all the money you'll have in ten or thirty years that you wouldn't have if you had to pay all that credit card interest. If you have trouble resisting the temptation to charge, here are some solutions that have actually worked:* Give your credit cards to a friend or family member to hold in safe keeping.* Freeze the cards in a block of ice.* Never carry more than one credit card with you.Economize on the Small ThingsAccording to Michael Peterson of the American Credit Foundation, even tiny savings really add up when it comes to debt. His favorite example is the Diet Coke example:* If you buy one Diet Coke a day at $1/day, that's $365/year.* If you instead invested that one dollar a day at 10% interest (the average yearly return on major stocks over the last half century), you would be a millionaire within 56 years.* Of course, with credit cards, this logic works in reverse: if you are lucky enough to be paying only 10% interest, fifty years of charging Diet Coke to your credit card will mean you've lost the same amount, not only in interest paid, but in the lost opportunity to save and invest.* You don't have to put aside one dollar a day for fifty years to see a big difference. One dollar a day is $30/month, 15% of the average $200 increase in credit card minimum monthly payments.* In order to get that entire $200 increase out of your daily budget, you would only have to save $200/30 or less than $7 a day. OK, maybe you aren't drinking seven Diet Cokes a day. But there are very few credit-card-holding Americans who can't cut $7 a day out of their spending.* Saving weekly rather than daily, $200/month works out to about $45/week, or the cost of a restaurant meal for a small family--another luxury you might want to skip until you're debt-free.Bigger Savings* Taxes. Most Americans could pay hundreds of dollars less tax each year if they just took all the deductions they were eligible for upfront, rather than waiting to get a refund in April. By April, you will have spent a big chunk of money on interest on debt that you wouldn't have spent if you'd had the money at hand.* Pleading. Call the credit card companies and ask if they can allow you to set up a payment plan, or at least provide a brief extension. Simply calling and letting them know you haven't forgotten about them can help keep you out of the worst trouble.* Credit counseling. Credit counselors can talk with credit card issuers to help you get a repayment plan you can keep up with. They can also open your eyes to untapped sources of income you never knew you had, like kicking the $1,000,000 Diet Coke habit.In short, don't panic. With only a little bit of planning, you can make the higher minimum monthly payment work to your advantage, just as the policy's authors intended.
Copyright 2006 Debt Management Credit Counseling Corp. Boca Raton, FL – Have you ever looked at your bank statement and felt like screaming at the top of your lungs? Do you feel like you are throwing money out the window? Many people including yours truly, have experienced this annoyance known as bank overdraft charges. Maybe you purchased an item for $197.99 and you have $197.85 in your checking account. Congratulations, you have mastered the art of bouncing a check! Most banks will charge you anywhere from $30 - $36, for being short 14 cents. This has probably affected almost all consumers at one time or another. According to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) radio story by Chris Arnold, banks have always explored new ways to extract money from their customers. Almost all banks have adopted the policy of cashing your biggest checks/purchases such as mortgage or car payments first before your smaller checks/purchases. Here is a direct quote from a local bank’s policy statement; policy “ When processing withdrawals from your account, such as those made through checks, in-person withdrawals, Automated Teller Machines (ATM), point of sale (POS), or by any other electronic means, it is our policy to pay the largest item first. Let us assume in one day you write three checks and use your ATM card once. Assuming you have $500 in your account, check #1 is for $25, check number #2 is for $40, you use your ATM for $22, and check #3 is for $495. You have spent $586. If the banks cashed these checks and ATM amount in the order they were written you would be charged one overdraft fee ($30) for check #3 ($495). Instead, the banks take it upon themselves to clear the largest check first. By doing this you will be charged for three overdrafts ($90). This also does not include the charges from the merchants (about $25) charged to you for giving them a bad check. This is a very expensive day for you. Beat the bank at their own game Yes, it is very frustrating when banks charge you overdraft fees. Be smart and learn how to manage your funds for the month to avoid these charges. Most banks have a toll free number where you can access your account 24 hours a day. You will have the ability to check your balance and hear which checks have cleared. Take advantage of online banking. Most FDIC institutions have online banking centers on their websites. These services alert you when your bills are due and may help you in organizing your payments. Most of these online banking services will archive your purchases and bill payments. This can help you keep track of the bills you have paid and on which date. Also, if you have the possibility to use a direct deposit feature through your employer, take advantage of it. Getting your check wire transferred directly into your checking accounts can help tremendously. You know you will have money in your account at the same time every week. If you do not trust Internet banking, buy a calculator and use the old-fashioned checkbook. The most important part is to keep track of your expenditures so you will not overdraft again. No Matter What I Do, I Still End Up With These Overdraft Fees The good news is that most institutions have some kind of an overdraft protection plan. Overdraft protection is a service to help you prevent from exceeding your checking account balance with purchases. By being enrolled in overdraft protection, funds from a savings account, money market account or a line of credit can cover the amount of the transaction not covered by your checking. Most institutions offer this service free of charge for signing up, but charge you an average of $10 every time the service is used. $10 dollars in much better than $30, don’t you think? So if you are tired of acquiring overdraft charges and you have tried tracking your purchases, it may be a good idea to contact your institution to see what they have to offer in terms of overdraft protection.
If you have a mortgage and are not struggling with the increasing cost of petrol … you are in the minority. And if you aren’t struggling now, how will you fare when the flow on effect of high petrol costs starts to increase the cost of living across the board. For many Australians the question of how to cover all their bills and maintain a decent standard of living for their families will soon become a pressing one. As you struggle with this challenge, you may discover that your mortgage is actually the solution. In recent months, oil prices have skyrocketed to $65 a barrel. This has resulted in the price of petrol rising above $1.30 a litre. This increase has been blamed on the recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the resulting production delays. Already this is beginning to bite the budgets of Australian families. In a BRW report, McDonalds chief executive Peter Bush revealed that McDonalds sales growth had dropped 5 % in just weeks. He attributes this sudden decline to Australians tightening their belts to afford the extra $30 to $40 a week to fill the family car. The same article cited a recent NRMA survey, which stated that 25% of NSW and ACT motorists have cut their spending on food and groceries as a result of the petrol hike. Petrol prices have risen 30% this year; the cost of petrol being a major expense for most Australian families. In a media release from the University of Newcastle, Dr. Abbas Valadkhani said, “You don’t necessarily have to use a lot of petrol to be affected by the price rise.” Apart from the direct effect we have already experienced, we will soon begin to suffer the flow on effects of the petrol hike. The cost of milk has already increased and a range of other industries such as transport, storage, forestry, fishing, agriculture and meat and all dairy products will have their costs increase due to the rising price of petrol. It is only a matter of time before these costs are passed on to us. If you think about it, there are few goods and services in the economy that don’t have fuel costs somewhere in their production and distribution chain. Well, that’s the bad news. The good news is that many experts believe that this spike in petrol prices is temporary. It is a result of diminished production, due to natural disasters. Eventually, the damage will be repaired, supply will return to normal levels and the price will drop. However, that could be six months or a year from now and until then you need to keep paying for the petrol, pay your bills, budget for Christmas and pay your mortgage. But are you paying the right mortgage? Are you using your mortgage to its fullest potential? With interest rates so low and the cost of living experiencing an unexpected and temporary spike, a logical means of maintaining your lifestyle, during this time, is to use your mortgage to offset this temporary fluctuation. This may be the time to either take advantage of your home loans features, or change to a more flexible mortgage. For example, you can switch to a loan that has a redraw facility. This allows you to draw back extra payments you have made and use them to help you through this particularly stressful time. If rising costs are getting on top of you, perhaps refinancing is the solution. You can roll all your debts into your home loan; car payments, credit cards etc., consolidating your debt and reducing your regular repayments, leaving more cash each week to combat this sudden increase in expenses. Instead of running up the credit cards, refinancing your home loan may be the most cost-effective and cheapest way to raise that extra money to help you through the next turbulent 6-12 months. Using a mortgage-offset feature is another way to have that extra cash handy, but still minimise your interest. Let’s say you refinance and leave yourself $10,000 to help pay the bills for the next few months. If your loan is $100,000 and you have $10,000 in the offset account, the interest on your loan is only calculated on $90,000. The current petrol crisis will eventually pass, but in the interim, why struggle to care for yourself and your family when the solution to your short term budget problems is sitting right there … in your home?
Credit Care for Teens and Young Adults It's great when parents are willing to help out with their kids' futures, but make sure that you understand all of the implications before you help your kids build credit. A credit card is a great way to start building credit as a teen or young adult, and many young people receive their first credit card from their parents. Before you hand your teen a credit card as they head off to the mall, think about whether it's helping (or possibly hurting) their future credit. Authorized Users vs. Co-Applicants Often, a teen's first introduction to credit is becoming an authorized user on a parent's credit card. This is an easy way to get a credit card, but it's not usually the best way. In almost every case, an authorized user does not build positive credit of their own, but if the primary cardholder goes into default, it can be reflected on the authorized user's credit report. In other words, your child does not stand to benefit from your good credit but could suffer if you fall into hard times. Placing your child on your account as a co-applicant can have even more harmful consequences. If your credit card company requests a signature from the child, they are likely adding the child as a co-applicant. Think long an hard before you take that step. Being a co-applicant means that they are equally liable for any debts that you incur. If your child is an authorized user and you run up $25,000 in debt that you can't pay, your child could get an ugly stain on his or her credit. However, if you list your child as a co-applicant, the credit card company can expect them to pay back that money, and even take him or her to court! Make sure you look at all the factors. Even if your credit is great and you have no intention of racking up debt, is there a possibility that a lost job, medical bills, or another disaster could change your circumstances? If there is virtually no chance of that happening, your child might be fine being a co-applicant or an authorized user. However, even if you won't hurt your child's credit, you won't help them much either. The best course of action is to get a card in the child's name tied to his or her social security number only. If you've been thinking of adding your child to one of your cards, call you credit card company and ask to open a separate account in your child's name instead. Since you already have an open account with the company, and are bringing them additional business, you will usually get a better rate for your kid than he or she could get on his/her own. Why Start Early at All? Even if he or she has to open a starter credit card offer with a high interest rate, it will still help your child's credit in the long run, as long as you teach him or her to act responsibly. The easiest way to help them build good credit is to have them use their card for one use, paying his cell phone bill or buying gas, and pay it off each month. When your kids get an early start on credit, they'll have a huge advantage over their peers. If you show them how to use their new card responsibly, the credit card company will reward them in the future with higher credit lines and lower rates, so they can gradually use their credit card for more "adult" things, like furniture for their first apartment or a post-graduation vacation. Don't let common mistakes like adding your child as an authorized user or a co-applicant harm his or her future credit. Imagine what a shock it would be if she attempted to buy a car or pass a credit check for an apartment, and she found out that the credit card she'd been making payments to for years isn't on her credit report. And furthermore, imagine the phone call you'd get shortly after asking for a loan! Your kids' credit can have a negative financial impact on you as well, so start early! Stay safe. Sincerely, James
The Roth IRA was born on January 1, 1998 as a result of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. It's named after former Senator William V. Roth, Jr. The Roth IRA provides no deduction for contributions, but instead provides a benefit that isn't available for any other form of retirement savings: if you meet certain requirements, all earnings are tax free when you or your beneficiary withdraws them. Other benefits include avoiding the early distribution penalty on certain Roth IRA withdrawals, and avoiding the need to take minimum distributions after age 70Ѕ. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible, but earnings grow tax deferred and can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement after age 59 1/2 if the account has been in place for at least five years. In addition, the Roth IRA withdrawals may be permitted without penalty sets no maximum age limit for contributions and imposes no schedule for withdrawals. Roth IRA also incorporates a few other options. Both traditional and Roth IRAs allow withdrawals after age 59 1/2, but unlike the traditional IRA, a Roth will permit contributions after age 70 1/2 and does not require Roth IRA withdrawals on any particular schedule. After five years, a Roth IRA allows tax-free withdrawals for a first-time purchase (up to $10,000), disability or certain emergencies without penalty, up to the amount deposited. Larger Roth IRA withdrawals, including some or all of the interest earned in the account will be subject to tax. There is also a loophole for early Roth IRA withdrawals know as the "72(t) exception". Under current tax law, you can avoid the 10% penalty tax if you take "substantially equal periodic payments." The Internal Revenue Service 1989 Cumulative Bulletin tells you how to calculate what it considers to be "substantially equal periodic payments". IRS Revenue Ruling 2002-62 adds additional details and clarifies some issues pertaining to Roth IRA withdrawal early. All of these engrossing volumes are very likely available at your local law library. To take a series of "substantially equal periodic payments" from your IRA without penalty, you must withdraw money at least once a year, and you must keep taking withdrawals for five years or until you reach age 59Ѕ, whichever is longer. So, a 35-year-old must take withdrawals for twenty-five years, while a 51-year-old must take them for eight-and-a-half years. A 57-year-old would have to take withdrawals for five years, until age 62. Also, you must let a minimum of 5 years plus 1 day elapse from the date of your first SEPP withdrawal before making "unlimited" withdrawals from your IRA, even if you've reached age 59 1/2. Otherwise, the IRS will hit you with the 10% penalty and retroactive interest charges. The amount of your withdrawal is calculated based on the balance of your retirement account on December 31 of the preceding year or any date in the current year prior to the first distribution using your age on December 31st of the year in which you make the withdrawal.
Even though rates are on the rise, that doesn't mean you shouldn't refinance. Practically everyone has refinanced or thought about it at one point in time. We've seen the dozens of commercials that urge us to do it. With rates at record lows over the past few years, refinancing has helped many borrowers lower their monthly payments. But rates are now on the rise. Refinancing applications have fallen slightly. Most people don't think you should refinance when rates are going up. However, many refinancings are "cash-out" refinancing. That means that equity is handed over to the homeowner in return for a larger mortgage. Many people need that cash. Some people are refinancing their homes for a "cash-out" because they have a significant home-equity line of credit balance. This line of credit has an adjustable-interest rate, which is going up on them. They refinance it in with their first mortgage at a fixed rate. They aren't eliminating the debt, just fixing the interest rate and monthly payment. If you don't need the revolving line of credit, you should probably take advantage of the fixed rate. There are many homeowners that piggyback their mortgages when they are buying. They end up with one mortgage for 80% of the value of the home and a second mortgage for 10%. They put the remaining 10% down on the home. Since the first mortgage is only for 80% of the purchase price, they avoid having to pay PMI. Many piggybackers have a line of credit as the second loan. Others simply want to consolidate into one loan that would be easier to keep track of. Either way, refinancing into a fixed-rate isn't a bad idea. And one payment is easier to make on time each month than two. Those out there with adjustable-rate mortgages are starting to get a little nervous. Interest rates have been rising pretty fast. The gap between the rate of a adjustable mortgage and a fixed mortgage has narrowed so much that you really don't save much by taking the adjustable mortgage. Many are looking to avoid rising interest rates by financing to fixed-rate mortgages. Refinancing can be a good thing. You can get a fixed rate to counter the rising interest rates. You can use cash from a refinancing to consolidate your debt. You can improve your home. But you should be careful about taking too much equity out of your home. Many advisors warn consumers not to use their homes as personal piggy banks. If home prices decline, you could owe more than your house would sell for. In a cooling, or slowing, real estate market, you do not want to be maxed out on the equity in your home. If something happened and you had to sell, you want to walk away from the closing table with money, not have to go to it with a check. Paying to sell your home isn't how you want to do it. Fixed-rate mortgages are always a good and solid financial choice. Anytime you are looking to refinance, your best option is to go with the shortest-term, fixed-rate mortgage you can afford.
A few decades ago, research into the medical benefits of marijuana was common, and was funded by both private and public grants. Almost every major university had some program underway for studying the subject. But as government began a more aggressive approach to regulating or prohibiting drug use, marijuana research fell by the wayside. Many of the same studies became illegal, and those found to be doing such research faced harsh penalties, including extensive jail time. But during recent years, scientists and medical doctors – as well as their own patients and groups dedicated to legalizing marijuana for medical use – have made headway, and now marijuana use is officially sanctioned in many jurisdictions. In places like California, for example, it is possible to obtain prescriptions to use it for medical purposes. Many who use this medicinal pot claim that it works well for treatment of chronic pain, treatment of glaucoma, and other maladies. Because of the increase in popularity of marijuana as a medical drug, many companies are hoping to profit from this drug, by growing, distributing, or otherwise providing marijuana to consumers who need it as a prescription medication. The global healthcare company Bayer – known mostly for its household name aspirin products – for example, recently signed licensing agreements with a small biotech company in the United Kingdom that specializes in efficient deliver of the active ingredient in marijuana. By providing this active chemical component in an aerosol spray, the company hopes to attract those users who are concerned about the bad health effects of smoking pot. Other mega corporations are experimenting with ways to provide medical marijuana on a large scale. If the drug ever becomes legal, they want to be ready to capitalize on the new market and get the jump on their potential competition. By buying stock in companies that are positioned to benefit from the future of medical marijuana, you can get in on the ground floor of any potential breakthrough in this biotech and healthcare sector. But because the drugs are not yet profitable – at least to those selling them legally – many investors who put money into backing companies that are primarily in the marijuana business may not see earnings for many years, if ever. A safer bet is to buy into companies that are already profitable by selling prescription medicines. If marijuana research convinces legislators to allow it to be sold like ordinary medicine, these companies will surely get a piece of the action. They may get their market share of the business by packaging and distributing it, by coming up with new medicines based on it or by growing the raw product and converting it into usable prescription medicine. But in the meantime, if you have invested in these companies in order to take advantage of the profits that might come from marijuana, you don’t have to simply sit and wait for the future. By investing in solid, profitable companies, you will benefit immediately. And if the future is bright for medical pot, you’ll be positioned to take full advantage of the new and revolutionary products.
Copyright 2006 Damon Clifford Everyone knows you can invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds with your IRA. About 97% of the trillions of dollars of IRA funds are invested in these types of assets. Did you know you can also invest your IRA funds into non-traditional assets like real estate, energy, and tax liens? What!? Yes, you can invest your IRA funds into a house, a duplex, or a commercial building along with many other non-traditional assets. A lot of people are choosing these types of investments to better diversify their retirement portfolio. These are the people that don’t want to see their portfolio rise and fall dramatically due to stock market fluctuations. Any good broker will tell you to keep your portfolio diversified with many different stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. More savvy investors say to keep your portfolio diversified with many different assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, energy & real estate. Some of their portfolio’s actually increased during the most recent bear market! This was due to their portfolio’s being truly diversified. There are two main reasons that more and more people are choosing to invest a portion of their IRA funds in non-traditional assets. First, they don’t know or trust the stock market since it has performed poorly the last couple of years, and nobody can predict what the market will do over the next 5, 10, or 20 years. Second, they may or may not know what certain companies are doing on the other side of the country, but they do know about that “hot” piece of property just around the corner that would be a great rental house! One of the added benefits to a self directed IRA is investing in assets that you know, and understand. The more you know and understand, the better judgment you can make in your own investments. Once the self directed IRA is set up, you have investment control of the funds. You can use the funds to purchase the house and the income from rent will go back into your IRA. If you decide to sell the house, the capital gains from the sell will go back into your IRA as well. Depending on the type of IRA you have your gains can be either taxed deferred or tax free! With the self directed IRA, you are in control. Many people are using the self directed IRA to take control of their retirement investments. Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds still need to be in your portfolio to be diversified, but it’s important to understand that you do have choices outside the stock market!
Most U. S. citizens walk into, get online to, or drive up to their bank several times each week and hand over their hard earned dollars. Why do they do it? How many other strangers would they trust to hold their savings, and return the money and additional funds back to them at any point in time? What makes banks safe, and how do we know they are? Well, the first indication that you're money's in a safe place is the placard that greets you at the door - FDIC. This federal U. S. agency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, typically protects up to $100,000 of your deposited funds from loss. Established in the 1930's, the FDIC became a way to curtail the runs on banks that occurred directly after the Depression. By 1934, with the initiation and support of the FDIC legislation bank runs had been reduced by nearly 4000. In addition to FDIC protection, banks also pay for supplemental banking insurance from private carriers. This insurance is set up to protect investors' funds from vandalism and bank robberies. Banks offer a variety of options to their customers, many of them an evolution of the traditional checking and savings account operation. While a checking account is still the most familiar and most common banking feature, there are now a variety of checking account choices - some, known as negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts, actually pay interest on the balance. Besides the traditional savings account, banks also now offer loans, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. Some offer IRAs and education savings accounts. With a traditional savings account, you are able to deposit and withdraw virtually at will, with no minimum deposit or balance required. For this you earn a small interest - currently at an all time low range of .6 - 2 percent. A money market account offers the immediacy and convenience of a traditional checking account along with the interest bearing advantage of a savings account. There are some limitations, however. Generally you can write just a few checks per month - at some banks as few as three. You are also limited to just a few more withdrawals as well. You'll also be held to a minimum running balance, although a money market account almost always pays more interest than a traditional savings account. A certificate of deposit is a banking account purchased in a specific amount for a specified period of time. Banks traditionally offer a variety of time periods for certificate maturities - anywhere from 30 days to 15 months. The longer the time to maturation the higher the rate of interest paid. For the length of the certificate, however, you are not able to withdraw any of the funds. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and education savings accounts are designed to accrue a substantial amount over a lengthy time period for a specific purpose, IRA's for retirement, education savings account for college education. They generally offer the highest rate of interest but also deliver hefty financial penalties for early withdrawal except for emergency hardship situations. With as many options as are offered by today's banks, and the protections established by the FDIC, you can indeed bank on your local bank.
Sometimes, saving money may seem impossible. You buy groceries on Monday, pay bills on Tuesday, and by Wednesday your paycheck has disappeared. However, if you establish a savings plan, you’ll “find” money in places you’ve never thought to look! If you’re like most American families, you wait for “extra” cash to save. However, by creating a plan, most people find they can save regularly—and reach their long-term financial goals. In the beginning, the amount you save is less important than the fact that you’re starting to save regularly. It’s O. K. to start out small, but make the amount you decide to save each week or month a commitment—it’s very important to “pay yourself first.” Begin with an amount that you are sure you can set aside so that you build a sense of accomplishment rather than frustration. Giovanna Masci, money management expert at ACCION suggests the following to establish a savings plan. • Distinguish between wants and needs: Real needs are items that are necessary to sustain you and your family such as shelter, food, clothing, and transportation. All the items that enhance or possibly improve your family life, like new electronics and meals out, are wants that could be eliminated from your budget. • Set realistic and achievable savings goals. Experts suggest you place 10 percent of your income into savings. That's a good goal, but don't give up if you can't save that much. Establish a savings habit and save consistently—it’s better than putting aside a big sum just once. • Set up a separate savings account using automatic deposit. If you mingle your savings account with your checking account, you'll dip into your savings and may never pay it back. If possible, have your employer deduct a set amount from your paycheck each pay period and deposit it directly into your savings account—after a few weeks, you won’t even miss the money! • Put your savings goals in writing. Writing down your savings goals can have a motivating impact on your savings habits. It makes your goals real and concrete. Write down your short, medium, and long-term goals along with your projected timeframe to achieve them. Make sure the goals are attainable and realistic and review them regularly. For more helpful tips about managing your money and to improve your financial literacy, visit Your Money and You (yourmoney. accion. org).
Will the Wyoming Uranium Province Rival Canada’s Athabasca or Australia’s Northern Territories? “Geology is 90 percent terminology and 10 percent science,” laughed Ray E. Harris, one of Wyoming’s leading geological theoreticians, having been with the Wyoming Geological Survey since 1982. He died on March 7th. Two weeks earlier, we met with and interviewed Mr. Harris. Everyone we met in Wyoming, and who was interested in uranium mining, had, at one time or another, passed through his office, which was adjacent to the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Ray Harris traveled the world, investigating and studying uranium deposits. He was well versed on the geology of every significant uranium deposit on earth and was also involved in the exploration, development and mining of uranium. In a Geological Survey of Wyoming Public Information Circular, published in 1986, Ray Harris presented a unique, and possibly controversial, thesis, “The genesis of uranium deposits in Athabasca, Canada and Northern Australia – Wyoming exploration significance.” In his introduction, Harris wrote: “Wyoming has some uranium occurrences in geological environments similar to those of Australia and the Athabasca Basin, and appears to have the potential for a uranium deposit similar in magnitude to those deposits.” Harris acknowledged in his paper, “Reported reserves for these two regions are 436,360,000 tons of U3O8, or one quarter to one third of the noncommunist world’s proven reserves.” At the same time, the total 1982 U. S. uranium reserves at $30/pound stood at 203,000 tons. Wyoming’s piece of that mineable pie stood at 32,700 tons. His was a bold statement, open to debate it not outright dispute and dismissal. Perhaps there may be truth in Harris’ claim. In 1981, E. S. Cheney published an article in American Scientist, entitled “The Hunt for Giant Uranium Deposits,” where he explained a giant deposit would contain more than 100 million pounds of recoverable U3O8. But can the parts amount to more than a single giant uranium deposit? William Boberg in his 1981 article, “Some Speculations on the Development of Central Wyoming as a Uranium Province,” published in the Wyoming Geological Association Guidebook, wrote, “The Wyoming Uranium Province consists of several uranium districts (Gas Hills, Shirley Basin, Crooks Gap, Red Desert, Powder River Basin and Black Hills) each of which is made up of a few to numerous individual uranium deposits. In Part 2 of this Wyoming Series, uranium savvy Senator Robert Peck speculated there were “50 to 60 million pounds of recoverable uranium in the Gas Hills proven by previous drilling.” Warren Finch in U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin #2141 (1996, US Government Printing Office, Washington), wrote in his paper, entitled “Uranium Provinces of North America – Their Definition, Distribution and Models,” that “… provinces are identified by the distribution of major uranium clusters, generally of a size of 500 tons and more U3O8…” Since January 1970, when S. H.U. Bowie described how to go about defining uranium provinces and searching for major uranium deposits in a paper he presented tot the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, geologists have been eager to compare similar geological settings between geographically diverse uranium deposits, and more accurately define uranium provinces. Ray Harris wrote in his previously quoted article, “There are no producing ore bodies in the United States similar to those of the Athabasca Basin and Northern Australia, but two deposits, not currently being mined, may be of similar genesis. These are the deposits near Chatham, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and at Copper Mountain, Fremont County, Wyoming.” (Editor’s Note: According to the Strathmore Minerals website, the company’s Copper Mountain property, previously drilled by Anaconda Uranium Corp through 1997, lists an historical contained resource of more than 38 million pounds of U3O8. Strathmore has not done sufficient work to verify this resource estimate.) Harris explained that a high-grade uranium deposit in the United States, of geological similarity to an Athabasca Basin grade deposit, could not be quickly ruled out. He cited the Chatham, Virginia uranium deposit, grading four pounds per ton of ore, and which he believed might contain 30 million pounds of uranium oxide. He wrote, “… the setting is similar to non-conformity uranium deposits… on first glance, it seems to have formed similarly to the Athabasca and Northern Australian deposits.” Unfortunately, the Virginia legislature voted to ban uranium mining, which offers a temporary setback on this deposit. That is not the case in mining-friendly Wyoming, where in Part One of this series, the state governor is urged companies to bring uranium projects and money to his state. Wyoming’s Geology Potential for U. S. Utilities It is known that Wyoming has multiple roll-front uranium deposits in its sandstones. A pro-mining state, prolific numbers of roll-front uranium deposits, and a rising spot uranium price in a uranium bull market all combine to make Wyoming the U. S. center for in situ leach mining (ISL), also known as solution mining. However, as Ray Harris had suggested during our interview there may be larger uranium source, possibly one that may be competitive with Athabasca Basin or Northern Australia. It is a premise he had argued in the 1980s, in the previously quote work, and again in 1993, Harris’ paper, entitled “Geological classification and origin of radioactive mineralization in Wyoming.” In his 1986 work, Harris concluded, “Given the impressive length of exposure, the relatively shallow subcrop depths of favorable nonconformities in Wyoming, and the great amounts of uranium available for mobilization, a nonconformity-related uranium deposit should exist somewhere in Wyoming.” One possibility, as Harris suggested, may be in Fremont County’s Copper Mountain area. Harris wrote that at the Copper Mountain area, “Uranium occurs in fractured and faulted Precambrian rocks and in the nonconformably overlying Eocene Tepee Trail Formation. The uranium occurrence is subeconomic but of promising grade and size.” He added, “The uranium is spatially related to fractures and subsidiary faults associated with the Laramide North Canning fault. Rocky Mountain Energy Company has conducted detailed drilling on the North Canning deposit.” Harris explained that mineralization occurs in the Precambrian granite and enclosed metasediments. The mineralization is said to be primarily low-temperature pitchblende and coffinite. Harris compared the North Canning deposit to nonconformity - related uranium deposits. He wrote, “It is likely that the deposit formed by processes similar to those that operated in the Athabasca and Northern Australian regions.” We checked with David Miller of Strathmore Minerals (TSX: STM; Other OTC: STHJF) about their Copper Mountain holdings. He responded by email, “We own all the federal minerals in the area that covered uranium mineralization: about 75 percent of the gross uranium resources. The Canning Deposit is owned about 60 percent by us and 40 percent by Neutron. Strathmore Minerals has around 100 mining claims in the area.” The source of Wyoming’s roll-front uranium deposits are open to debate and have yet to be clarified. In 1981, William Boberg wrote, “The major deposits of Wyoming occur in the Lower Cretaceous Inyan Kara Group of the Black Hills, in the Paleocene Fort Union Formation in the Powder River Basin, in correlative Eocene sandstones in all of the major uranium districts.” Warren Finch later described Wyoming’s roll-fronts, in his previously quoted work, “The predominant type of uranium deposit is the roll-front sandstone deposit in Tertiary continental fluvial basis developed between uplifts. These ore deposits were formed by oxidizing uranium-bearing ground waters that entered the host sandstone from the edges of the basins. Two possible sources of the uranium were (1) uraniferous Precambrian granite that provided sediment for the host sandstone and (2) overlying Oligocene volcanic ash sediments.” Ray Harris appeared to lean more toward the former. William Boberg has argued more toward the latter explanation for a uranium source. Boberg wrote, “It appears that currently available evidence is in support of a hypothesis calling for combined sources of Precambrian granites and volcanic ash falls which produce a unique, uranium-rich, ore-forming liquid that invades very porous and permeable young sediments to form large altered tongues and discrete deposits in a geologically short period of mineralization.” It has been calculated that a typical altered “tongue” would take 700,000 years to form; a typical roll-front uranium deposit could be formed over 50,000 years. Boberg speculated it was the numerous and extensive uranium-enriched ash falls from Middle Eocene volcanism, which was responsible for these deposits. He wrote, “Of greatest importance is the fact that a series of volcanic events from a variety of extrusive centers began about 50 million years ago generating tremendous volumes of ash, which was distributed across Wyoming and adjacent states for greater than a 40-million year span of time.” His explanation of the volcanic ash provides a valuable insight into how Wyoming’s uranium deposits were formed: “The volcanic ash, when flushed by the first rainfall, produced a unique fluid, which was acidic and charged with ions. The chemical reaction of the buffering on this fluid on contact with the Precambrian granites, the ash and other rocks brought the pH back to approximately neutral but leached additional uranium from the granites and probably the ash. The high rainfall and climate assured a steady supply of dissolved oxygen to the fluid resulting in the formation of a unique, oxidizing, uranium-enriched fluid, which entered the unconsolidated, reduced sediments oxidizing them and carrying the uranium to the eventual maximum extent of oxidation.” Boberg explained the development of the roll-fronts, writing, “Fluid flow through the very porous and permeable sediments would be relatively fast allowing for the development of large oxidized tongues with the young sediment as well as scattered uranium deposits at the redox (oxidized reduction) interface within approximately a million years. Deposits formed near the granitic highlands would be larger and of higher average grade because of the proximity to the dual source of granite and ash.” J. D. Love’s uranium discovery in Tertiary sandstones, in 1951, was a near-surface roll-front type of redox deposit. A roll-front deposit follows a sinuous linear trend, often C-shaped. Colorado and Utah miners began calling the cross-sectional configuration a “roll” in the early 1940’s. Roll-fronts occur in sandstones, bordered above and below by less permeable shales. In Wyoming, the “rolls” are bordered by altered and unaltered sandstone. It is generally concave from altered ground and convex into unaltered ground. Harris’ idealized roll-front uranium deposit would have “uranium concentrations decrease abruptly away from the concave boundary, and concentrations gradually decrease away from the convex boundary in reduced rock.” Uranium is not always present everywhere along a roll front. It may be unevenly distributed and there are often other elements, such as vanadium, selenium, molybdenum, copper, silver, lead and zinc. Geologists look for where coarse-grained sandstones grade into finer grained or clay-bearing equivalents as indicators for uranium ore. As uranium geologists know with roll-front deposits, it may be mined as long as it is below the water table. Once deposits are brought above the water table, the uranium concentration can be eroded and severely modified. It is not the roll-front uranium deposits, which interested Harris, but the tabular redox uranium occurrences found in many parts of Wyoming. He found those most prominently in the Cretaceous Inyan Kara Group in the Black Hills. Harris explained, “The uranium mines in New Mexico and many other parts of the Colorado Plateau are also tabular deposits.” The tabular bodies, Harris noted, describe their irregular tabular form, and are found parallel to bedding, dissimilar to roll-front mineralization, which crosses bedding. Harris believed some of the tabular bodies in Tertiary rocks were “the limbs and detached limbs of roll fronts left in less permeable rocks at fluvial channel margins.” He also said that tabular bodies could be preserved in oxidized rock due to high concentrations of other rock, such as coal or pyrite. In any event, Harris agreed with other geologists that Wyoming is a uranium province with uranium occurring in nearly all major time divisions in the state. He concluded, “Uranium was available for mobilization during every major weathering period related to the nonconformities.” In our final minutes together, he was convinced that many of the uranium development companies should sink more funds into exploration and find the elephant uranium deposits, which he pointed out in three different parts of uranium. To his way of thinking, that was more exciting that the simple ISL extraction of uranium from previously drilled areas. As with others interviewed, few of those areas will hold surprises, but instead offer the steady, cash-producing uranium extraction that help develop budding companies. That’s what U. S. utilities, and utilities from other countries, are eagerly seeking right now. Wyoming uranium could fuel many of the U. S. nuclear reactors as more companies commence ISL uranium operations.
WHY CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT? If anything in your report is out of date or gives a misleading picture of your willingness or ability to repay a loan, mortgage or credit card, it can affect your chances of getting the best deals. It can even lead to outright rejection by lenders. For example, you may have separated from a partner who has since run up debts but, because you have still got a joint account, his or her payment behaviour could be affecting you. You won't see their credit data on your report but you will find a note of any financial association. Or you may have shopped around for the best offer, without realising your enquiries have been registered as multiple applications. These should show as quotation searches. If they are down as applications, lenders could think you are desperate for money, have over-extended yourself or even that a fraud is being planned. You could even discover applications and credit accounts in your name that you did not ask for. In that case, your identity may have been used fraudulently. A range of behaviours can have an effect on your credit file. Issues such as late payments or missed payments, applying for a number of credit facilities (loans, credit cards etc.) in a short space of time, moving address regularly, or not appearing on the electoral roll will have a NEGATIVE effect on your credit file. On the other hand, if you stick to managing your existing credit facilities well, you register on the electoral roll and stay at the same address for a period of time, then you will POSITIVELY effect your credit report. With a better credit record, you will be able to access cheaper sources of finance (lower APR's on loans) and will be able to obtain credit from a greater number of resources (prime lenders favour good credit scores). With access to credit becoming increasingly more difficult to many people, managing a clean credit file is increasingly beneficial. Two categories of people are going to be really affected by their credit reports following the impact of the credit crunch. 1) Home Owners: Anyone with a variable rate mortgage will have already seen interest rates rise, thus pushing up the sum of their monthly repayment. Those on a fixed rate mortgage will have thus far been untouched. However, it is the fixed rate mortgage holders that need to be most careful about managing their credit score. When their mortgage comes to an end, they are going to need to find another mortgage deal. Whatever mortgage they go for, fixed rate mortgage holders are going to find that their monthly repayments will have vastly increased. Therefore, the only way to minimise the effect of the credit crunch is to increase your appeal to lenders by enhancing your credit score. This will help widen the number of lenders happy to offer mortgage facilities, whilst also lowering the APR's on offer to you. 2) Sub Prime & Near Prime Borrowers: Anyone that has had to borrow money with high APR's (typically in excess of 35%) is now going to find funding sources more difficult to access, as many lenders have moved out of the sub prime lending market. Interest rates in the sub prime and near prime lending market have also increased. This can have a particularly harsh impact on borrowers - especially those with low incomes, as individuals may struggle to keep up with repayments. If you fall into the sub-prime category, you'll need to keep an even closer eye on your credit report so as to ensure that you can still get access to credit (some lenders are already pulling credit facilities away from non-prime borrowers). By accessing your credit file online, you'll be able to see that every aspect of your credit report is in order, thus ensuring that you can still gain access to credit. The easiest way to check your credit report is to get your credit report online. By visiting TheCreditAgency. co. uk you will be able to discover which credit report is best for you and then gain Free access to it, along with identity insurance and credit monitoring facilities. Use any of the web address details provided and enter them into your web browser to access your credit report.