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    Consumer confidence in banking takes a hit

     

    A recent survey has shown that consumers' confidence in banks has taken a real hit, with one of the major causes of this decreasing confidence thought to be the recent situation with Northern Rock. According to the results of the survey close to 25% of Brits state that they do not trust lenders, and less than 50% thought that high street banks could be trusted. The turmoil and chaos that erupted after Northern Rock was found to have taken a loan from the Bank of England, fuelling rumors of a near collapse and resulting in many of the bank's 1.5 million savers withdrawing billions of pounds worth of savings. As a result of this situation the Bank of England has stepped up assurance over the guarantee of savings of Northern Rock customers, as well as the savings of customers with other banks that fall into a similar situation. However, it seems that these assurances have done nothing for consumer confidence in banking, with over fifty percent stating that they no longer trust high street banks. The survey revealed that of the 2484 people interviewed only 46% now trust high street banks. Building societies fared a little better, with 48% expressing confidence in building societies. Online banking has also taken a knock, with experts stating that reduced access to online bank accounts by Northern Rock customers also affecting this area of banking. Only 25% of consumers now trust online banking according to the survey results. One industry professional stated that consumer confidence in banking and finance was already fairly low, and added that the recent turmoil with Northern Rock has contributed to this lack of confidence. It is not just the banking industry that has taken a knock, however, according to professionals. Lenders across the whole financial sector have been affected by lower levels of consumer confidence. It is thought that this could be as the result of problems throughout the whole of the financial sector, which has stemmed from the credit crunch sparked in the sub-prime sector in the Unites States, which has resulted in global repercussions.

         
    Consumers bear brunt of cold winter

     

    Even though Americans are feeling some relief at the gas pump from last fall's record prices, their checkbooks are still likely to take a hit this winter as natural gas and heating oil prices continue to soar. In fact, the Energy Department predicts that those using natural gas to heat their homes can expect to see their monthly bills rise 48 percent from last year. If it's an especially cold winter, the cost will be even greater. This can be a difficult thing for consumers to contemplate - especially when most homeowners already average $4,100 per year for energy. While it is not always easy to understand the geopolitics and economics of energy, rising prices always indicate that there is too much demand, and for years there has not been enough domestic supply. Consequently, America has had to rely on foreign sources for its natural gas, due in large part to the fact that prices are so much cheaper. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the price of natural gas is 75 cents per million Btu, and in Kuwait, it is $1.25 per million Btupare this with the U. S. price of almost $13 per million Btu and it is easy to see why America opts to import its gas. But companies like Mammoth Resource Partners Inc., a Kentucky-based oil and gas exploration company, are beginning to put a dent in skyrocketing natural gas prices by tapping into the gas-rich Appalachian Basin. "The Appalachian Basin, in my opinion, is the largest opportunity in North America to reduce America's dependence on foreign gas," said Mammoth President Dr. Roger L. Cory, a frequent guest speaker on the topic of "peak oil." Much of the rise in heating oil and natural gas prices can be attributed to last fall's hurricanes, which disabled refineries and terminals in the Gulf Coast. Until hurricane Katrina, many did not understand that gas from overseas is liquefied and shipped to the Gulf Coast for offloading and re-gasifying, whereas domestic supply, such as that explored by Mammoth Resource Partners, can safely pass through inland pipelines directly to domestic markets for use in America's homes.

         
    Convert to roth ira regardless of income 2010

     

    An odd quirk in the recent legislation to extend the Bush Tax Cuts is giving IRA holders a huge break. For one year, and one year only, the income cap will be gone. Convert To Roth IRA Regardless of Income – 2010 2010 may seem like a long way off, but something magical is going to happen then if you prepare for it. The recent legislation extending the Bush tax cuts contains a unique clause regarding the Roth IRA. Specifically, it contains language that makes the Roth IRA available to anyone regardless of their income, but only for one year. A Roth IRA is a retirement account that offers a lot of advantages. The primary advantage is found in the distributions from the account. Simply put, they are tax free if a couple of requirements are met. First, the distributions must be made after you pass the age of 59 years and six months. Second, you must have owned the Roth IRA for at least five years. If you meet this test, the money is yours free and clear including all the gains you have made from your investments over the years. The only criticism of Roth IRAs has to do with income caps. Simply put, a person with a modified gross adjusted income of $100,000 or more cannot convert an existing IRA to a Roth. While many people fall below this income cap, those that were just over it certainly have had a beef. In an effort to extend his tax cuts, the President agreed to a number of oddities in the new tax legislation. One of the strange clauses is a single year cap exemption. In 2010, the income cap of $100,000 will not apply to the Roth IRA. Put in simple terms, you can convert to a Roth in 2010 regardless of how much you make. You can only do it in 2010, not 2009 or 2011. There appears to be no reason why the politicians would create a one year exemption to the Roth IRA income cap. It certainly seems a bit fishy, but you might as well take advantage of it. While 2010 seems far off in the future, it gives you time to plan any conversion. Remember, if you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth, you must pay taxes on the moved money. If at all possible, you will want to do this with cash you save between now and then. The more money you can cram into a Roth, the better off you will be in the end.

         
    Correcting four common money mistakes

     

    If you feel as though you keep making the same mistakes when it comes to money, there's good news. By making a few small, practical changes in your behavior, you can often correct financial mistakes and make some positive changes that are likely to last. Here are four examples. • Eliminate emotional spending: Before you head off to the mall, take a minute to note what you are feeling. In a recent study by moneycentral. msn, people who had just watched a sad movie clip were willing to spend more than those who had just watched other types of movies. Remember, if you are feeling sad or frustrated, there are ways other than shopping to make yourself feel better. • Pay off credit card debt as soon as possible: Take a long look at how much you are paying to borrow money from your creditors. Think about consolidating debt with a single loan that has a lower interest rate that's fixed. • Start planning for retirement now: If you are not saving money for retirement, you should be. A recent study in USA Today showed that currently, 53 percent of people in the workforce have no pension and 32 percent have nothing set aside for retirement. If you're planning on relying just on Social Security, you probably should think again. The current average payout is just $955, or $11,460 annually-and could be even less, depending on your work history. You should consider working with a financial professional and completing a personalized financial profile. This can help determine how much you need to start saving in order to reach your financial goals, such as retirement, education savings for your children and other goals. • Prepare for the unexpected: Don't use the "it could never happen to me" excuse when dealing with something as critical as your family's financial future. Sudden accidents or unexpected critical health problems happen every day to those who least expect it. If you are the breadwinner of a young family, according to the experts at Kiplinger's, life insurance protection of eight to 12 times your annual income is recommended. Most experts agree that the most affordable form of insurance is term insurance. According to Kiplinger's, "Dollar for dollar, term life insurance gives you the most protection for your money. Period."

         
    Cost effective ways to cool your home

     

    As the temperature rises, so does the cost of cooling your home. But a new federal law may help keep your home both cool and cost-effective. In January, the U. S. Department of Energy raised the minimum efficiency standards for air conditioners and heat pumps from 10 to 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). Although homeowners aren't required to replace systems that are less than 13 SEER, doing so could shave 23 percent off energy bills. Think of SEER ratings like gas mileage: The higher the SEER or miles per gallon, the more energy "mileage" you get. So as SEER levels rise, your cooling and heating products use less energy, giving you more bang for your buck while providing real environmental benefits through decreased energy consumption. "The new 13 SEER standard not only conserves energy but it also reduces associated carbon dioxide emissions," says Rick Roetken, director of marketing at Indianapolis-based Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems. Bryant recently introduced a new line of 13 SEER models that provide superb savings, efficiency and comfort. The improved top-of-the-line Evolution System reaches levels of up to 20 SEER while allowing users to control heating, cooling, humidity, indoor air quality, schedules and maintenance reminders from a single, easy-to-navigate source. To keep your home cooling system at peak efficiency, Roetken recommends having it inspected at least once a year by a trained service technician. Here are some additional tips: * Install more attic insulation. Upgrading from 3 inches to 12 inches can cut cooling costs by 10 percent. * Plant a tree. One well-placed shade tree can reduce your cooling costs by 25 percent. Place leafy shade trees to the south and west and evergreens to the north. * Use ceiling and box fans to help circulate air throughout the house. * Set the fan on your central air conditioner to "on" rather than "auto." This will circulate air continuously, keeping the temperature constant throughout the house and aiding in dehumidification. * If you use a window air conditioning unit, make sure it's the proper size. It's better to get one that's too small rather than too large. A larger unit will start up and turn off more frequently and won't do as good a job dehumidifying the air. * Invest in a programmable thermostat. * If you don't have central air conditioning, try a whole-house attic fan. This device pushes hot air out through the attic vents, lowering the temperature throughout your home by about 5 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

         
    Creating surplus cash for savings and investments

     

    You know you need to be saving money but you never seem to have enough at the end of the month or worse, you are further in debt. Living below your means is more a matter of self-discipline. A few adjustments here and there could be all it takes to have the necessary funds available for saving and investing. Some mutual funds can be opened up for as little as $200 with minimum contributions around $50. Here’s a list of ways to save money by spending less. *Open up bank accounts that have little or no service fees. Keep a cushion to avoid accidental bounced checks. These can eat you alive. Be sure to maintain your minimum balance to avoid service charges. *Try to avoid banks that charge you a transaction fee for using their debit cards. If you have no choice, plan how much money you will need in a given period and then withdraw it all at once to avoid too many transaction fees. *Compare credit cards. Look for the ones that have little or no annual fees. It’s not too hard to find those with no annual fee. *Avoid specialty store charge cards as they often have interest rates six or seven points higher than major credit cards. *Never choose a card based solely on incentives or reward programs. These include auto reward points and air travel miles. These cards may lead you to spend more money over time than you can afford. *Most importantly, avoid unnecessary interest charges by paying off the complete monthly balance. You can avoid hundreds of dollars in interest expenses on an annual basis. *When you buy a car, consider buying one that is one to three years old. A one-year old car will be about 20% to 30% less than a new car. A three-year old car is a good buy because it could be around half the price of a new car. A car depreciates the most in its first three years. After that the depreciation levels off and it will lose less of its value. *Another good saving when buying a used car is you will pay less for the insurance. *When going on vacation, consider staying in your home state instead of long distance trips or even international travel. It's often cheaper to travel within your own borders, that way, you avoid visa and passport costs, border hassles, currency exchanges, tropical shots, medication, and additional health insurance. Frequently, people travel thousands of miles to see sights not nearly as spectacular as what's next door. *You should consider off-season vacations. Travel at a time when everyone else is at work or school, and the staff will actually be glad to see you. You may also save 50% or more on the usual travel expenses. *Avoid large cities and tourist traps; you'll save a ton by avoiding these places, where you pay more to eat, drink, sleep, and travel. If you do decide to visit a big city, consider accommodations in a smaller town close by. *If you have a lot of credit card debt at high rates, look into consolidating your debt at a lower rate. *Refrain from making impulse purchases. Exercise self-discipline. *Refinance your mortgage or debt at a lower rate. *Refinance your car loan at a lower rate. *Shop around for cheaper car insurance rates. There can be a big difference. *Lower your phone bill by using self-control on long distance calling. *Use a phone card for long distance or international calls. *Use coupons when you shop. *Don't buy things just because they are on sale. *Wait for things to go on sale before buying them. Keep a record of when things go on sale. Some items will seasonally go on sale. Ask stores when certain things will go on sale. *Buy generic, or non-name brand merchandise. Most times the quality is just as good. *Stop smoking. This habit is extremely expensive. *Contribute the maximum each year to your 401K or to an IRA. *Remember, paying down debt is also a way to save money. If you can make extra payments on your mortgage or go for a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year mortgage. The savings are enormous. *Reduce the number of times you eat out. Oftentimes eating out at a restaurant involves paying a lot of money for over-priced and over-sized meals. For healthy meals and to save money, eat at home. *Watch videos or DVDs at home instead of going to the movies. Pop your own popcorn instead of paying a lot for theater popcorn. *Evaluate your entertainment and recreational activities. Many are very expensive to participate in. There are many others that are just as fun and entertaining that are at the fraction of the cost. *Don't try to compete with your friends and neighbors. Sometimes, an apparent prosperous lifestyle can be an illusion. Those illusions come with a lot of debt. It’s much better to have peace of mind. Be alert. There are always ways to save money. Soon you will yourself with money you never knew you had. The key is to put that money to work for you instead of spending it.

         
    Credit card debt and interest

     

    Credit card debt is one of the leading cause for needing to file for bankruptcy or take out mortgage loans on your home or other drastic measures. Studies indicate that credit card debt is slowly making a consumers financial situation bad or worse than ever before, and can also cause psychological depression and contribute to lower GPA's and increased substance abuse among college students. Credit card debt can build up quickly, especially if you have more than one card and a habit of charging everything. Interest The interest is the money paid on a balance to a lender by the borrower, which is to be paid every month, if you roll over your balance from month to month. Interest doesn't usually go down on its own, and when only minimum payments are made your balance can grow to un-manageable amounts. If you are late on a payment your interest rates can increase to 35 percent, making it very hard to pay off balances. With interest rates still on the rise, there's no better time to take a good close look at your finances. Payment Debt, especially credit card debt can accumulate very fast and many people soon find themselves barely able to even make the minimum payments. Remember if you are late on only one payment, your rate could increase drastically. If you are not good at remembering payments, it's wise to set up direct debits to pay your credit card bills. It's always best to control your spending and try to pay more than the required minimum payment whenever possible. The main problem with credit cards is that they make it very easy for you to spend money. The most important step take to reduce credit card debt is to not use your credit card for every little thing, use cash whenever possible. Studies show credit card debt is higher for males than female debtors, and even higher for joint accounts. The problem with carrying credit card debt is that the interest on the card will typically accrue much quicker when you only make minimum payments.

         
    Credit card fool

     

    We allow the credit card industry to make fools of us and we do nothing about it. If someone told you that you were being made a fool of, wouldn’t you address the issue? I know I would. Credit card companies have revenue of $76.03 billion dollars and the majority of this revenue comes from late penalties and over limit and cash advance fees. $29.2 billion came from late penalties, $15.2 billion from over credit limit fees and $3.04 billion from cash advance fees. This amount is 62% of the credit card companies’ revenue and this does not include finance charges. Nice profit! The above is the reason why credit card companies can afford to mail over 5 billion credit card offers per year. This equals to 6 offers per household per month. Maybe the $2 billion in postage alone is a reason why our government does not look into the credit card industry seriously. Every bank and retailer wants you to have their credit card. Having their credit card enables them to make huge profits. In 2001 both Sears and Circuit City reported that over half of their corporate profits were from finance related revenue. Do you think this could be the reason why retailers always have an employee at the front door of their store offering you to sign up for their credit card and in return you receive a special gift or extra “so called” discount? Most special gifts and extra discounts end up costing you more than the original purchase due to finance charges. I may not be able to confront these institutions that are trying to make a fool of me, but I can fight back by believing that “Cash is King” and using cash instead of credit will save me money in the end. It’s a New Year and personal money management should be on the top of your list for 2006.

         
    Credit cards for bad credit how to choose

     

    Needing credit cards for bad credit can be a real pain. It can really take a toll on your life and make you feel like you will never rise above it, that will always be a part of your life and gone are the days of loans, credit cards, and other forms of credit. This does not have to be true. Many companies in the world today understand that sometimes things beyond our control happen and we all need a second chance at rebuilding our lives. This is why some companies are now offering credit cards for bad credit. Credit cards for bad credit are specific to those who have a tarnished credit history for one reason or another. Your credit score might be low because of bad decisions, loss of employment, reduction in wages, injury, or a host of many other things. However, everyone deserves a second change to prove themselves credit worthy once again. This is where credit cards for bad credit come in handy. With these credit cards, even though you will have to pay an extremely high rate of interest on the card, are perfect for those looking to rebuild their credit and improve their credit ratings. While you will likely not have many of the same benefits as traditional credit cards such as, rewards, long grace periods, or even long introductory periods, you will still have the opportunity get your financial affairs back on the right track. Credit cards for bad credit can be found on the internet. It is important that you do your homework and find the right credit cards for bad credit that suits your needs and situation. Using the internet for research is a great place to start. Check out the interest rates and benefits before you start applying for any credit cards for bad credit. Ideally, you will want to find a credit card that periodically checks your credit report. This way, if you are improving your credit rating, making your payments on time, and showing credit worthiness, they may consider lowering your interest rates or raising your credit line.

         
    Credit cards for bad credit might be helpful

     

    Applying for and getting credit cards for bad credit can actually end up being quite helpful to consumers if they are used correctly. The following are a couple of great reasons why getting a credit card especially for those with bad credit can be a wise idea. Credit cards for bad credit can help people keep track of their spending habits. Most credit cards designed for consumers with not so healthy credit send detailed reports of what is being purchased with the credit card. This is really a fantastic way to find out exactly what you are spending your money on each month and then decide what can be cut out. More responsible spending habits are a great practice for consumers no matter what their credit history may be. Credit cards for bad credit generally fall into two categories. The first is a credit card that has a maximum limit to the amount you can charge. For example a consumer with bad credit may be able to apply for a credit card with a $1000 limit. This can help the consumer from over spending and getting into a financial bind that they cannot get out of. The second of the credit cards for bad credit is the secured credit card. These credit cards involve the consumer making a small deposit onto the credit card in order to use it. Some cards will increase your spending limit if good spending practices occur while others you can simply only spend what you put onto the card. Either way it is a great way to be responsible with your money and start rebuilding your credit. These are just two of the great reasons as to why it is not a bad idea to look for a credit card tailored to those with bad credit. Credit cards for bad credit can be the first step in taking the needed steps to restore your credit to good health.

         
    Credit cards for people with bad credit facts

     

    Credit cards for bad credit are certainly not going to be the best credit deals, but credit cards for people with bad credit might be your only option available. The interest on credit cards for people with bad credit are usually much higher than on a regular credit card. These types of credit cards are especially designed for people with a bad credit history and don't qualify for a regular credit card. If you are a young person just starting to build credit, or if you've had circumstances that has damaged your credit history, you usually can qualify for credit cards for bad credit. Bad Credit Deals Bad credit, credit card deals are readily available online with easy, secure applications. Bad credit deals are often divided into secured credit cards for bad credit that need a deposit and bad credit unsecured credit cards, a bad credit card with much higher fees. These types of bad credit offers people with a poor credit score or no previous credit history a quick and easy way to re-gain a good credit history with bad credit cards. If you keep your credit balance under the limit and make your payments on time, you'll become eligible for much better deals on your credit card rates and improve your credit score. Interest There are many temptations by having credit cards and while using bad credit cards to hold you over in tight situations, remember it is only temporary relief as the interest rates on credit cards for bad credit are extremely high. Shop around and look for credit cards for bad credit with an interest rate that you are absolutely sure you will be able to pay. Probably the single most important part of picking credit cards is the interest rate, especially for people who will be rolling over balances from month to month. Tips A person must always keep in mind that credit cards for bad credit are very easy to use so don't go overboard or you might find yourself in a much worse situation. Check out the interest rates and fees before you start applying for credit cards for bad credit. Don't apply for every bad credit card there is as this will effect your credit score, only choose two of the best bad credit deals you can find.

         
    Credit counseling why it doesn t work for most debtors

     

    "Cut Your Payments in Half!" the headline screams. "Consolidate Your Bills into One Low Monthly Payment!" When you see ads like this, they are often from Credit Counseling firms. In this article, I'll explain the principles behind the Credit Counseling approach and discuss the main problem consumers face when they join one of these programs. First, let's get our definitions straight. The term "Credit Counseling" is actually quite misleading, since it has nothing to do with preserving or improving your credit score. In fact, Credit Counseling will often damage your credit, an unpleasant reality that is sometimes downplayed by industry representatives. Credit Counseling is a debt management program where you make a single monthly payment to an agency. In turn, that agency distributes the money to your creditors on your behalf, ideally at lower interest rates so you can pay off the debt faster. Credit Counseling should not be confused with Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, or Debt Termination. Each of these debt programs takes a very different approach from Credit Counseling. Of all the available debt options, Credit Counseling is by far the most popular, with millions of Americans participating. Does this mean it's the best choice for most people struggling with debt? No! There are numerous problems with this approach. In recent years, the Credit Counseling industry has been heavily criticized by impartial consumer groups like the Consumer Federation of America. But these criticisms often miss the mark entirely. They usually focus on the aggressive companies that use their non-profit status to trick consumers into thinking they are charitable organizations, or even that their services are free of charge. In reality, these outfits charge hefty "voluntary" contributions, often adding up to hundreds of dollars, plus steep monthly fees as well. However, I'm not talking here about the bad companies who provide little or no actual "counseling," or the ones that are only in business to make their owners rich. No, I'm talking about serious problems with the actual business model itself. So let's take a closer look at how Credit Counseling works. Let's say you owe $25,000 on several different credit cards. Let's also assume your average interest rate before you enrolled was 20% (which is actually low these days, especially if you've missed any payments). Your minimum monthly payments are $500, which you've been struggling to keep up with. At this rate, it will take a whopping 109 months (more than 9 years) to pay off your debts, assuming you don't miss a single payment along the way. You enroll in a Credit Counseling program that promises to get you out of debt faster. But does it? Assuming your creditors agree to participate in the program (not always the case), the real key is the concession they will grant on your interest rates. In prior years, creditors looked more favorably on Credit Counseling and they offered steep discounts off the normal interest rates. But lately they have squeezed the industry, and the concessions are not so good any more. Currently, most of the major players will reduce interest rates down to a range of 7% on the low side to 18% on the high side. We'll use 12% as the average. So if you keep your payments at $500 per month at the new 12% rate, how long will it take? First, we need to deduct the monthly fee charged by the agency. In this example, we'll use a fee of $25 per month, so $475 of your $500 will go toward debt reduction. The good news is you'll be out of debt faster. The bad news is that it will still take 75 months (more than 6 years) to become debt-free. But what happens if you can't keep up with that $500 per month? After all, you sought help from a credit counselor because you were struggling financially, right? Let's say you drop down to $450 per month. After deducting the $25 monthly fee, that leaves $425 toward your debt plan. Now you're looking at 90 months (7 years & 6 months), which is not much better than the 109 months you started out with. So how can credit counselors claim to cut your payments in half? Good question. If you dropped down to $250 per month, you'll never pay off your debt! At 12% interest, the debt will climb faster than your $250 per month can reduce it. The lowest you could go would be $300 per month. However, it would now take 20 years to pay off the debt, hardly an improvement! In order to truly cut your payments in half, down to $250 in this example, the agency would need to completely eliminate all interest! And even then, it would still take more than 9 years to pay off the balance! So the ads claiming you can cut your payments in half are simply false. Bear in mind here that in our example, we're assuming you're working with a good company that charges low fees and actually obtains good interest rate concessions from all of your creditors. Even with the best of credit counselors, you're still looking at a 5-9 year program to pay off your debts. That's why Credit Counseling is usually only effective for people with short-term financial problems. Consumers with long-term financial instability have trouble keeping up with the regular payment stream required to make these programs work. The result? Even the most favorable statistics show that about 3 out of 4 people drop out of Credit Counseling programs before completing them. If you do decide to join one of these programs in order to obtain some short-term relief, be sure to do your homework first. Here are a few tips to help in your selection: 1. Look for a company that actually provides old-fashioned budget advice and counseling. If they want to sign you up right away without first understanding your budget situation, move on! 2. Obtain copies of the contract and read it carefully before signing up. Make sure you understand all of the fees involved. Are there enrollment fees? "Voluntary" contributions? Monthly fees? Extra fees per account? These hidden fees can add up to big bucks. 3. Make sure they work with all the creditors on your list and not just some of them. 4. Don't be fooled by "non-profit" status. That doesn't guarantee you're dealing with a good company. And it certainly doesn't mean the service is free! 5. Aim to find a local company that you can visit in person. Check out your target company with the local Better Business Bureau. 6. Make sure they provide support after the sale. Try calling their customer service number to see if you can get through promptly. Remember, you can eliminate your debts if you take a disciplined approach to your finances, make a budget and stick to it, and don't use your credit cards unless you can pay off new balances in full each month. Good luck in your financial future!

         
    Curing yourself from leaky wallet syndrome

     

    Financial stewardship of a business empire or $100 bill require a particular psychology if they are going to survive over time in the same hands. The lack of this same psychology is why most lottery winners cannot hold onto the giant sums of money they receive; and I call this psychological mind-set the “Leaky Wallet Syndrome”. The difficulty with holding onto money is that it only takes a single weakness to lose it entirely. By weakness I mean that something has caught your eye that is so desirable that you will buy it spite of the fact that you cannot afford it. Whatever this purchase or payment may be, it psychologically reaches your personal threshold where having something right now is more important than having something tomorrow. There is a trigger that sets aside your normal, balanced decision-making with instant gratification. In my opinion, it is similar to dieting in that you have to eat food, but there are consequences if you continually eat even a little too much. Likewise you need to spend money, but there is a predictable consequence if you continually spend even just a little too much. Let me list some of the common categories where people could have financial weakness: vacations, clothing, cars, shoes, personal electronics, charities, collections of any kind, books, Christmas gifts, watches, pets, jewelry, relatives, dining out, boats, hobbies and sports activities. And these are only single leaks in your wallet, if you have many of them your wallet could be in more serious trouble. If you’ve never felt like you’ve had much “extra” money, you may not be aware of what your financial weaknesses may be. They may not show up until you receive a sudden windfall (annual bonus, tax refund, pay raise, inheritance, lottery winners), and you are not familiar with or prepared for your psychological pressure to spend money. If you want to know a few of your weaknesses, think about some of the items at the top of your list that you would buy if you had the money. How many of these items would seem like reasonable purchases to friends and family vs. how many would seem like ridiculous extravagances? If you are still not sure if you suffer from Leaky Wallet Syndrome, your checking account may tell you: Do you have money leftover at the end of every month? Are you unable to payoff your entire credit card balance each month? Do you have any past due bills? Do you hide your checking account or avoid balancing it? Let me give you a couple examples. An acquaintance of mine has three children, and in my view, is financially prudent in all matters except for one. And this single weakness has caused her to continually have trouble with high levels of credit card debt. She’s had this debt problem as long as I’ve known him and his only weakness is a particular self-help seminar. At least once a year, if there is room on her credit card, she attends one of these seminars and charges it all to a credit card. I don’t see her do anything with the information that she learns, and she feels it is so important, but I fear that she is sacrificing her family’s financial future. I’d rather not see any more exposйs about non-profit organizations spending their donations on supercomputers to analyze direct-mail campaigns instead of their stated cause. In another example, an acquaintance’s grandmother has a weakness for requests that she receives from left-wing political organizations. If a direct-mail piece lands in her mailbox, then they are guaranteed to receive some donation from her – no matter that she can’t afford it. And like a good poker player sensing weakness, the fund raisers now flood her mailbox with donation requests. Leaky Wallet Syndrome doesn’t only afflict individuals. A family-friend is a business turnaround consultant for private companies. He says that the majority of the time his services are called during the third-generation from the business founder. The founder builds a successful business and the second-generation coasts on this success, and is mentored by the founder. But by the third generation, the business is supporting so many family members on the payroll that don’t contribute value and family infighting prevents any efficiency or reform, that only Herculean effort from an outsider can save the business from so many forms of overspending. You don’t have to look far from home to find Leaky Wallet Syndrome (has anyone seen my Ferrari? I mean my Ferrari keychain with a used Honda key?), but all the leaks in your psychology need to be plugged before you can successfully move toward your financial goals. And this effort also helps prepare you for any windfalls that would quickly leak from your wallet.

         
     
         
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