Posted on April - 21 - 2011

Correct Credit Card Applications May Enhance Approval Chances

Whether through excitement or oversight, credit-worthy consumers can be denied credit through errors on the applications. People can present responsibility by not only applying for 0% credit cards only when they have the means for repayment but also by presenting an error-free application. If you want to apply for credit cards application click here to visit website

People should spell each word correctly. Remembering spelling rules, such as ‘I before E except after C’ prevents confusion and aggravation. Whether manually completing an application or using an electronic form online, always ensure that each word is spelled correctly.

Make sure that the address designation is correct. Using ‘road’ instead of ‘street’ may indicate that the applicant is a different person than who is supposed to be applying.

Generational names, such as those using ‘Sr.’ or “III” should annotate the suffix.
Consumers who use middle names instead of their first names in daily life and in their legal signatures should note the legal name—not the common-use name.

Applicants should take care that every digit is correct, in its correct order and in the correct box: Transposing digits in a house number or postal code could annotate a different rate than might otherwise be approved, all based on credit history of other applicants.

Account numbers, income levels and outstanding balances must be accurate. All figures can be investigated. If any are wrong for any reason, the applicant can be and may be denied the interest free credit card that’s often preferred by otherwise-qualified applicants.

Showing the ability to pay even the minimum balance each month is very important, and submitting an accurate application can get the card in hand.

Posted on June - 21 - 2011

Seven things to look for while choosing your financial planner

Recently, a new breed of professionals has emerged who are making financial plans for everyone and are not just restricted to investment planning.  A financial plan includes planning for your taxes, retirement, kids’ education and marriage, buying a home, estate planning or any other goals which you may have.
This new breed of professionals known as financial planners, write a plan for you with all your goals specifically laid down and then provides you with a road map on how to achieve these goals. He always gives you a holistic account of all your finances keeping all your assets and liabilities into picture, besides taking care of all the risks associated with you and your family and also the assets owned by you.  These financial planners will first collect all the data related to your finances and the goals you have for  future. These goals may be anything like buying a home, planning for your child’s education or going for a vacation. After this exercise of data collection, the financial planner will analyze all your goals and accordingly he will write a financial plan for you. This financial plan will carry recommendations which you need to follow as these will help you to achieve all the goals you have in future. These financial planners may charge professional fees for making this plan for you. You will find various planners who can do this job for you.
But how to choose a financial planner who can handle your finances in the best possible way for you?
Below are a seven pointers which you can keep in mind while scouting for a professional who can write a complete financial plan for you.
1. The planner should start with collecting data relating to your finances, analyze your goals and then recommend through a written financial plan and not just recommend a plan to you without understanding either your finances or your goals. Your financial planner should provide you with a holistic picture of your personal finances and provide you with a road map of how should you go ahead with your finances rather than just trying to sell you products.
2. Ideally you should always go for a ‘fee only’ financial planner. This will ensure that the planner doesn’t have any interest in selling any particular product along with the plan. Along with that it will make sure that the recommendations provided to you in the plan are completely unbiased and to your benefit. A fee only financial planner will disclose his fees upfront.
3. The financial planner should analyze all your goals and take a holistic picture of all your finances. Once the analysis is done, he should draw out an asset allocation for all your goals. All the product recommendations should follow the asset allocation suggested. The financial plan may or may not carry any product recommendation. In case the plan is carrying product recommendations, then be sure that you have an option of buying the product from any other broker or distributor.
4. The financial planner should be well qualified to take care of all the decisions taken for your money. You must verify if your planner holds professional degrees like a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Accountant (CA) who has specialized in financial planning. Both knowledge and qualifications will build up your confidence in the financial planner and will assure you of good management of your money.
5. If your financial planner is suggesting you to buy products like a traditional insurance policy, then be sure that he is just trying to make money for himself through commissions for himself or some of his associates. Stay away from a financial planner who suggests you to buy such dead products which cannot be justifiably recommended by any financial planner.
6. Do some research on your planner and his reputation in the market. You can go on google and search for his/her name. A financial planner with good reputation will always be very popular with media and you will find enough to read about them over the Internet.
7. Stay away from a financial planner who starts off with advising you a product without analyzing all your goals.
Most importantly, go with your gut feeling after the first meeting.

Posted on June - 18 - 2011

Pros and Cons of Paperless Billing Statements

Many credit card companies, store charge cards, and other companies are moving toward a greener approach with their billing statements. You’ll often notice when you log into your account online that there is a big push to get consumers signed up for paperless billing. Often a screen pops up before you can access your account details, giving you a pitch to sign up for the paperless statements. You’ll even notice that the button to accept these greener statements has a more enticing appearance than the button to decline them. Before you click that button to accept paperless billing statements, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both options.

Pros of Paperless Billing Statements * It’s an eco-friendly, green approach that is good for our planet. * Reduce the amount of mail you have to go through every month. * Sometimes companies give you a statement credit or a special reward or promotion when you sign up for paperless billing. * This definitely helps you to embrace the digital age.

Cons of Paperless Billing Statements * Without a physical paper statement in the mail, it becomes more likely that you will forget to make a payment, causing all kinds of bad situations with your credit. * You may have a trickier time getting in touch with customer support now that you don’t get your documents in the mail anymore. * You need to have a computer and an Internet connection to take full advantage of the paperless statements. * Automatic payments may put you in a position to overdraw your account. * It becomes necessary to remember or keep track of your password and username in order to pay your bills and check your balance.

Consider the above points to help you decide if paperless billing is a good option for you.

Posted on June - 17 - 2011

17 Easy Ways to Save Energy at Home This Summer

Are you ready for summer yet? While the temperature here in New Mexico is still in the “I can’t decide if it’s summer or winter” mode with 80 degree days and 25 degree nights, we all know that sooner rather than later summer will be here, accompanied by heat, humidity, and bugs! Just when you start learning to cope with snow, ice, and below 0 days, everything changes and now you’re sweating those upcoming summertime utility bills. Depending on where you live, the size of your home, and how much utility costs are in your area, summer can often bring the highest monthly bills of the year. The good news, however, is that it’s only May and you have time to prepare for those hot summer days and high electric bills, so here are some easy to implement tips to both keep cool at home and save a little money at the same time. Let’s get started!

  • Install programmable thermostats in your home (in each zone, if you have several) rather than just ON/OFF switches. Setting a temperature saves a ton of money because the AC doesn’t just run constantly, but rather only when needed.
  • If you don’t have central air conditioning and instead just have window units, put each one of them on a timer. You can set the cycle to turn the units on and off throughout the day rather than just leave them running.
  • Put ceiling fans in the rooms where you spend the most time. And once they are installed, make sure the blades are spinning in the right direction! In the summer they should be rotating counter clockwise, pushing air towards you downward.
  • While this tip is good all year for saving on energy costs alone, it can also save on your cooling bill. Replace those old fashioned incandescent light bulbs with either CFL or LED bulbs, as they emit far less heat than incandescents.
  • Insulate, insulate, insulate. If your attic isn’t insulated correctly, guess where all that cold air you are paying to pump into your home is going? Yep, right out through the attic rafters into the hot outdoors wasting a ton of money in the process.
  • Speaking of attics, make sure you have an attic fan. And if you have one, make sure it works! Attic fans draw hot air out of the attic, helping to reduce cooling costs inside your house.
  • Lower your shades and close your curtains, and not just because you’re modest. Blocking the sun from coming in and heating up your space can go a long way towards keeping your space cool.
  • Seal windows and doors efficiently to keep the cold air inside and the hot air outside Weatherstripping costs just a few bucks but goes a long way to keeping the heat out and the cool in.
  • Have your central AC unit serviced and cleaned prior to the hot summer months. HVAC professionals are busy during the first part of summer, so get that taken care of now so your system runs efficiently.
  • Consider using regular old tabletop fans aimed at yourself in one room rather than run your central AC 24/7.
  • Sleep naked!
  • Raise the temp of your thermostat by a degree or 2. You won’t feel the difference but your wallet most certainly will.
  • If no one is home all day long, why keep the house ice cold? Turn the temperature up on your thermostat during the day, and program it to bring the temperature back down an hour before you arrive home.
  • Close any central air registers in empty and/or unused rooms. If you use a room in your house as a closet, why air condition it all summer long?
  • Get outdoors and plant shade trees around your home. Sure, it wont help you much this year but it will down the road when energy bills are bound to be higher.
  • Open a few windows upstairs to draw the hot air up and out of the house.
  • Run any hot, energy-intensive appliances sparingly. Instead, consider using the microwave for quick heat-ups rather than turning on the stove or oven.

Well, now you have no excuse for not implementing at least a few tips for saving money on your utility bills this summer in an effort to keep cool. Do you have any tips to add to the list? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below!

Posted on June - 16 - 2011

Which is more appropriate for Your Business? Bookkeeping or Accountancy?

Is your business growing rapidly and you no longer feel comfortable keeping your own books? Many small businesses will start out with the business owner taking the time to do his own books. He will record all of the sales and money spent each day. As the business grows it becomes more difficult to keep these records and run the business. It is time to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant.

Bookkeeping is the recording of money coming in or out of the business. It can be done by single entry or double entry methods. By keeping records like this you will be able to take one look and know where the money was spent. You will be able to see what sales were for any particular day and you will be able to see if you are spending more than you are making.

Accountancy will take the records created by the bookkeeper and do an analysis of those records. Statements will be made up that shows the profit and expenses made by the business. You will be able to know where most of your businesses money is spent. At the end of the year the accountant will prepare the taxes for the business. Accountants are also able to help with audits. They will make up the financial statements for all the business heads.

With a small business oftentimes a bookkeeper is hired and an accounting agency may be used to perform audits and taxes. Having financial statements prepared on a quarterly basis will keep you informed of how well your business is doing. It will then be possible to make changes where they are needed. If you are spending too much on your utilities you can cut back, if business is poor in a certain area you can make changes to try to improve that area

Posted on June - 15 - 2011

HSBC CEO Says U.S. Credit Card Business No Longer Makes Strategic Sense

The CEO of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, announced recently that while he’s pleased with the state of the U.S. economy, he feels keeping the card business in the country does not make strategic sense. As a result, he is hinting at the possibility of phasing out the company’s credit card business in the United States.

HSBC Looking for a Buyer

While attending a World Economic Forum event in Jakarta, Gulliver told reporters on the sidelines that he was considering a departure from the U.S. card market. He stated, “If we can’t find a buyer we will put it into rundown.”

HSBC is currently Europe’s largest bank. Last month, it said it planned to slash up to $3.5 billion in costs and cut back in retail banking in order to lift its return on equity.

Gulliver Wants to Change the Shape of the Business

The bank noted its decision to consider dropping the U.S. card business has a lot to do with the fact that the U.S. customer base is not linked to the rest of its retail banking group.

Gulliver stated the relationship of U.S. cardholders is often with a store rather than the bank itself. In other words, the bank could not cross-sell as it could in other retail banking markets as is the focus in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and emerging markets in Indonesia.

Ultimately, Gulliver says the company needs to change the shape of the business.

While he says the U.S. card business could indeed land on the chopping block, currently, the company is just reviewing the state of the business to decide which route to take.

Posted on June - 13 - 2011

Traditional Passbook Savings Account

Traditionally when you want to save some money, you go to your bank and you open what is referred to as a pass book savings account. The minimum amount you are required to deposit in order to establish one of these accounts varies from bank to bank, but generally you need around one hundred dollars to open your account.

Once you have filled out your paperwork, and deposited your money into your new account, the customer service personnel at the bank will issue a small book that you are supposed to record your deposits and withdrawals in. This pass book will be much smaller than a checkbook is, as a matter of fact it will be about half the size of a checkbook register. Your account number will be in the pass book so you can fill out your deposit or withdrawal slips for your account.

You will probably be told that you are allowed either three or four withdrawals from the bank every quarter that will be free of charge, if you make more than that number of withdrawals within the time period, you will be charged a set amount for each additional money transfer. A quarter is a three month period of time usually Jan-Mar, April-June, July -September, October – December. Your quarter does not start when you open your account, but follows the normal pattern for the bank.

These traditional savings accounts do not pay a very high interest rate on average, but they do pay higher rates than some of your other options. You will find that these type of accounts are steady in the amount of interest they pay, they vary only slightly from year to year.

You do have to report all the interest you earn from an account like this to the Internal Revenue Service as money earned each year. The bank where you have your money at will send you a yearly statement that tells you how much money you deposited throughout the year, how much you withdrew, and how much interest you earned on the money. You will send a copy of this statement into the Internal Revenue Service when you file your yearly income taxes.

If you’re not happy with the options provided at your bank, you might want to consider opening an online internet savings bank account who more often than not will give you better rates than your bank.

Posted on June - 11 - 2011

Your Top 10 Retirement Abroad Questions Answered

If you want to retire abroad you will probably discover that you have a whole heap of questions that need answering! From concerns about healthcare, pensions and property laws to worries about your pets, family and friends we’ve got your top 10 concerns covered…

On the face of it there’s not a lot keeping retired persons in the UK nowadays – the general feeling in Britain is not a positive one, economically the country is suffering, the weather doesn’t ever get any better, and the health, wealth and lifestyle aspects of retirement can often be improved upon with a relocation abroad.

However, because moving is a massive undertaking – and moving abroad brings with it additional challenges and issues – a cautious approach should be applied if a would-be expat retiree wants to be assured of success.

If you’re thinking about relocating overseas in retirement you very likely have a whole host of questions that need answering.  Naturally enough we frequently hear from those who are planning a retirement abroad, and often the same questions come up.  Today we have decided to answer your top 10 retirement abroad questions in this report, so that once you know some of the most fundamental facts you can get on with actually planning your international relocation.

Whether you believe the NHS delivers on its promises of delivering the highest levels of patient care or not, Britons are to a lesser or greater extent spoilt by having relatively swift access to free treatment for the vast majority of ailments.  A reciprocal agreement exists across much of the EU that means qualifying Brits of retirement age can gain basic free treatment if they retire to the likes of Spain or France for example.

However, if you retire early or fail to qualify for some other reason, you may find yourself having to foot any medical bills if you retire within Europe.  What’s more, this reciprocal agreement does not extend beyond the EU’s borders and it really is restrictive.

As a result you must not assume you will get free medical treatment abroad, furthermore you need to know that if you move abroad permanently and therefore take up residence overseas you will not be afforded anything other than free emergency care in the UK…so don’t bank on being able to come back to Blighty if you need an operation or to see a GP.

Do your research based on the country you’re choosing to retire to.  The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health are good places to start when researching reciprocal agreements and any forms you may need to fill in to access treatment abroad, such as the E106 form for example.  But look closely at how healthcare is funded in your new nation.  Will you need private medical insurance, is there a state scheme you can effectively buy into – is national or international health insurance appropriate for you.

If you do have to buy insurance note that premiums increase with age, pre-existing conditions may not be covered, there may be an age cut-off point beyond which insurance cannot be bought – and look also at the facilities available locally.  Are they good enough for you to maintain good health?  Knowing all of this in advance of your retirement abroad will mean you are not stung with unexpected bills or let down if you need to access treatment abroad having not secured insurance in advance for example.

Yes.  If you qualify for the state pension then moving abroad will not stop your entitlement to it.  You can choose to have it paid into your UK bank account or your overseas bank account provided you live in the government’s approved list of nations.  See the Direct Gov website for more details.

Your state pension will only be index linked however, if you retire to the European Economic Area, Switzerland or a nation with a social security agreement that includes the UK State Pension.

Those who retire to Australia or Canada, to name but two examples, will not receive the annual index link adjustment.  There is an ongoing fight against this injustice being led by the International Consortium of British Pensioners if you want to learn more.

You do not have to open a bank account in your new nation, however you may find it is advantageous to do so to enable you to manage day-to-day bills and financial aspects of your retirement abroad.  Alternatively or additionally you may discover that having one centralised international or offshore bank account suits your needs better.

Such an account can allow you to have multi-currency accounts beneath one account number umbrella, which can make transferring money between currencies and countries easier and cheaper perhaps.

There may also be reasons why you wish to keep the majority of your wealth offshore – from tax advantages to improved saving and investment opportunities – these should all be explored and examined with the help of an independent, regulated and qualified financial adviser used to assisting expats with their money management.

There is no legal requirement that states you must learn the language of the nation you’re moving to, and many expats around the world who herald from many different nations find they can get by with just a rudimentary understanding of the local lingo.  However, you will get far more out of life in your new nation if you do learn the language.

Also, think about how you feel towards foreigners who move to the UK and fail to learn English.  You may feel that they are failing to make sufficient effort to integrate, and that they don’t therefore have as valid a place in society as someone who makes more of an effort.  Now turn that argument around on yourself as a foreigner living abroad who cannot speak the local language! 

You may now be inspired to take language lessons!

The older we get the harder it can be to learn a new language – but in retirement we often find we have more time to dedicate to new hobbies and pastimes.  Invest some of your spare time wisely in learning the local lingo and see how much more welcome you are in your new community.

If you can communicate with neighbours and shop keepers you will make more friends, get better service and be much more likely to achieve a better level of integration.  Even if you only master the basics ensure you use them as often as you can – in making an effort you will endear yourself to more people.

In many nations around the world Britons can buy and own property – sometimes you may only own a lease for a fixed period however.  What’s more, you must not assume that property laws are anything like our own in the UK.  The laws relating to the purchase and ownership of real estate differ from nation to nation which is why it is imperative that you get independent legal advice every step of the way.

Do NOT rely on an estate agent to tell you the truth!  Do NOT rely on their suggested lawyer or use the same solicitor as the person you’re buying from.  Speak to other expats about their experiences and rent for a good while before you even consider buying.

You need to get to know the lay of the land and see where you might be happiest living before you commit to purchase.  Many nations’ real estate markets are very restrictive and if you make a mistake and want to sell you may find it next to impossible or that you are taxed highly.

Ensure that if you need permission to purchase from the government for example, that you have this permission before you go house hunting.  It is never a matter of course, do not believe those who tell you it is.  Also, ensure the correct buying price is entered on the contract of sale and purchase.  In many nations vendors attempt to avoid taxation by putting a cheaper price on the contract – this can backfire on you when you come to sell.

Finally, as stated, tread slowly and cautiously and double-check every element of the process at every step of the way.

The answer to this question depends where you want to retire.  As holders of British passports we have freedom of movement within the EU – but even then all EU countries require those who want to reside therein to register their presence.

In some countries in the world you will have to prove that you have the financial means to support yourself in retirement, and that you will not become a burden on the state.  In other nations you have to apply in advance for a residency visa.  You will need to check your obligations depending on the country you want to move to. 

A good place to start is by visiting the website of the nation’s consular services in Britain.

Nowhere in the world is 100% safe – you may have to face the realities of bugs and spiders and snakes, you may need to factor in the risks of earthquakes or hurricanes.  Crime statistics may be higher, or road safety may be worse than in the UK.  If you want to know what the British government thinks about a country’s safety then visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website.

Once upon a time the pound was a formidable force abroad – now it is a weak pretender in the face of other currencies’ strength.  This means that it is much more expensive for Britons to retire abroad than it was just 4 short years ago, as their currency has less buying power in the majority of nations.

However, some countries do have a cheaper cost of living than our own in the UK.  Nations where the national wages are lower, and/or where they produce the majority of their goods and services nationally tend to be cheaper in relative terms for Britons to consider.

It will be exceptionally critical for you to ensure your dreams of your new life in retirement are affordable based on your pension budget.  So, work out how much money you will have to live on and then spend time in your chosen country looking at the cost of living.

Factor in property costs, taxes, groceries, utilities, fuel and the few luxuries you enjoy…make sure you protect against inflation and currency blips too when planning how you will manage your money for an overseas retirement.

Those of us who love the company of our four legged and furry friends could not imagine a life apart from them.  However, not all nationalities feel the same way about pets!  If you want to take your animals abroad there are a number of considerations to take into account.

Firstly you will very likely need permission to export your pet!  Some nations won’t enforce quarantine on your animals as long as they have been inoculated against the main diseases and rabies too.  Speak to your vet for advice and cross check it with DEFRA and their Pet travel scheme as well as with the embassy of your chosen nation.

Next up you need to think about getting your pet back to the UK in the event that you decide retirement abroad is not for you.  Most people skip this point and then despair if ever they need to return to Britain.  UK is one of the most restrictive nations in terms of animal movement, and once your animal is out of Britain it may not be allowed back in without spending 6 months in quarantine.

One country that causes confusion is Northern Cyprus – if your animal moves to TRNC then it will not be allowed back into the UK without quarantine.  Southern Cyprus is a different matter – see the Green Line restricts so much.

Finally, you need to think about how your animal will travel and adjust to your new nation.  If you’re moving to a very hot climate will your dog or cat cope with the heat?  If your animal is old or unwell will they survive a long haul transit.  Many Muslim nations are less loving towards dogs in particular, and what are the local vets like in your new nation?  Be kind and careful.

This final question is really only one you will be able to answer – and perhaps only with the benefit of hindsight.  You can reduce the amount you miss family and friends by keeping in close touch by texting, instant messaging, using social networking sites, utilising the likes of SKYPE and of course by using traditional methods such as letters and phone calls.

You can visit and they can visit you.  Perhaps your family will relocate with you once they see how happy you are abroad?  And you will certainly make new friends overseas if you go out of your way to socialise and integrate.

But would it make sense for you to try before you buy?  What about renting a house overseas for 6 months to see if you really like it before committing to a full and final relocation?  Think about what will work for you and your family and friends, and make every effort to keep in close contact if you do decide to relocate in retirement.