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Personal Finance

Online Banking Safety

Only use a secure computer

If possible, avoid using a computer that might not be secure when doing online banking. The security protection software of the home computer or mobile devices should be kept up to date, to prevent hacking and viruses. Also, make sure that the bank’s website is also secured. Often, a small lock or key icon will appear in the top of the browser window to indicate encryption. This means that the content being exchanged is encrypted, so that sensitive information is not available for thieves. Also never provide personal information through an email or over the phone. Banks will never ask for sensitive content unless through a secure method.

Be sure the bank is legitimate

Many banks these days rely heavily on online users. This opens their pool of customers to more than just their physical location. Often, with services such as “deposit at home” and waved ATM fees, it is possible to not even need a physical branch to do banking. However, this opportunity has also attracted thieves that set up websites that look like banks, but aren’t. Read about the bank, the official address of the headquarters, and its FDIC coverage. Also, be sure that the website of a legitimate bank is typed correctly. Some unsavory people purchase a website with a misspelling and set it up to look like the real deal in order to get your information.

Be careful in public places

One of the best conveniences of online banking is accessing the accounts for any reason at any time in any place. It is good to suddenly remember that a bill is due and have the ability to pay the account via a mobile device while in a restaurant on a lunch break. However, the that freedom comes with some responsibility. Pay attention to your surroundings. Unscrupulous people will wait until their prey’s attention is focused on their task at hand and their guard is dropped, so they can look at the screen and gather sensitive information. By simply being aware of those around, the situation can be avoided.

Know your consumer rights

Ask the bank about the account’s fraud protection for online banking. Depending on the type of account, the protection might be included or could be added for a small fee that is often worth paying for the security it provides. Also, know how to lodge a complaint if fraud is suspected. The bank should be contacted immediately. Many of them have robust fraud departments that can handle the situation. A number of consumer protection organizations exist that could also be useful in restoring lost funds.

Money Transfer Services

Compare Exchange Rates

The first thing to look for is the exchange rate. Even a small difference in the exchange rate can mean large savings for you when you receive the money at your end, so it really does pay to look around.

However, some transfer services make it easier to find the exchange rates than others. A quick way to find out what they are offering is to head to a comparison site that will list numerous money transfer services in one place.

Another thing to consider is that some services may provide better exchange rates for larger amounts of money, so if you are planning a larger transfer this is worth looking out for.

Fees

One transfer service may have an excellent rate of exchange, only to go and spoil it all by adding on a hefty fee. Nearly all services come with fees. These typically include a transfer fee, but they may also include a bank receiving fee if you are transferring to your bank account.

The important thing to do is work out how much you will receive when you transfer your money. It may take a while to go through the various services and find out which will give you the best deal, but once you find a good service you will know where to go next time.

Ease of Receiving Cash

It’s not just a case of how much you will receive – although that is the biggest concern – buy also the ease of receiving your money. Some services certainly make it easier than others.

For example, if you transfer money via Western U, you can pick it up in any branch all over the world, even in small towns in the middle of nowhere.

But what about other services? Some of the smaller companies will provide different pickup points with third-party services in your country of residence. How easy are these to get to? Can you find them? Are they in dodgy areas where you wouldn’t want to be walking around with large handfuls of cash? If you need to pick up the money quickly, you certainly don’t want to be running around trying to find a place to pick it up.

Alternatively, you may be able to find a company that can deposit the money directly into your bank account abroad. Just be careful with any extra fees that this may involve.

Trustworthiness

Trust is one of the big considerations when you choose a transfer service and you want to make sure everything is legitimate. As well as reading some online reviews and checking how long the company has been operating, make sure it is also authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Get More when You Transfer Your Money

By spending a bit of time researching a number of transfer services, you could help yourself to get a much better deal when the time comes to send over some money. I’d recommend doing some research in advance so that you have a good idea of which service you’d like to use to save time and stress when the moment comes to transfer some money.

Diagnose Your Financial Health

  • Check your credit score. This is one of the utmost priorities because having a good credit rating makes you a reliable borrower and your credit opportunities is wide. The chances of being rejected with loan application also becomes low.
  • Check your savings. The amount of money you save must mean something. For example, can your rely on it for daily expenses and other expenditures if you no longer have a job? For how long? Can I withdraw a portion and invest it somewhere else without making you financially insecure? There are situations when interest on savings are really low that it is pointless to save. These are some of the questions that you need to ask about your savings.
  • Check your investment. Let us presume that many of your investments are for the long term. However, you need to determine if you can easily convert it to cash as soon as possible. If so, by how much? Also, you need to check your investments and see if you can sell some in order to prevent huge losses if some of your stocks are affected by current economic conditions.
  • Check your credit availability. What are your sources of credit if you encounter emergency situations? Indeed, it is quite ironic that sources of credit are one of the indicators of financial health. Financial management teach us that in some cases, it is more financially rewarding to take out a loan instead of divesting assets to generate cash. For example, why unload your stocks if it is earning 30 percent per annum on dividends when you only need several hundreds and there might be some friends who are generous enough to lend you the money interest free?

There is nothing wrong if there are borrowers taking their chances with cash advances and other types of instant loans. It is a matter of choice and there are reasons that they do so. One of such reasons could be that they cannot divest their investments and convert it to cash as those are earning huge dividends so they are better off clinging to such stocks and relying instead on cash advance as the means to solve temporary cash problems.

Money Management Steps

Beginning with easy small steps is the best way to achieve managing money well. Most people are stagnant with the thought that finances affect so much of their lives they become a fluster with how to start confronting this area. Individuals react to situations in the financial area of life so they feel subjected to all that happens. However, to start with a proactive approach toward managing your finances is the best way to change this behavior. Applying this process of addressing financial obligations with the intention of being responsible is an empowering feeling. With this simple change one can stop feeling incapable and start feeling competent.

Part of removing the overwhelming and helpless feelings is by simplifying daily life. Unfortunately, it has become a general practice for people to inundate themselves with activities. Adding too many tasks to your daily schedule is counterproductive and sometimes can cause catastrophic results. Whether you are accountable for many decisions or regularly making yourself busy, it is not the best way to be beneficial. Identifying with this description means that it is time to change. This constant running can have a negative effect on money management skills because it does not allow the time needed to look at your finances.

The next question is where to start. To begin implementing new behaviors to manage finances better and feel powerful in this area of your life, start doing the following:

  • Change Your Attitude: Setting an intention to succeed in this area of your life will help you simplify your life. This conscious choice will guide you to take more time to become alert of the self-defeating thoughts that contribute to miss money management actions.
  • Identify what IS working well and change what IS NOT working: Becoming attentive to your thinking will lead to the next step. Realizing the thoughts and behaviors that guide to bad money management decisions provides the opportunity to replace them with making mindful choices.
  • Organize or Re-Organize: The third part of this process is organizing or reorganizing. Develop a routine to pay your bills and review your finances. This habit is a great money management tip because giving proactive attention to your money improves your financial health.

Successful money management requires structure. Although this process is only the beginning, it will supply a solid financial foundation. Slowing down enough to set a proactive mindset, become intentional about the way you use your money then forming positive habits will help you establish successful money management skills that produce desired results.

Common Investor Mistakes

  • Believing one guarantee covers everything. When you hear, “Your investment is guaranteed,” you’ve got to ask yourself, “What is guaranteed? Is the return guaranteed? Is my principal guaranteed?” Don’t take the word “guaranteed” at face value. Make sure you understand what’s guaranteed, then question who’s guaranteeing it. You don’t want your guarantee in the hands of Conned You Company.
  • Making a purchase or sale based on a previous price. “Picture framing” is an interesting and potentially dangerous behavior. It works like this: You believe an investment has a certain value. You’re so proud of that beautiful value that you take a mental picture of it, frame it, and hang it on your mind’s wall. Every day you look at that picture. You love it. Then one day the market goes down, and now your actual value is less than your picture. But you decide not to sell your investment until it matches that beautiful number that’s in your framed picture. You have to look at the investment and its future. Its past worth is not important. The picture you framed is irreverent. You have to look at the probable future of that investment, and sell if need be.
  • Owning too much of the same thing. Some people think they’re diversified, but in reality they are not. Make sure you have different things in your portfolio, so that some zig when others zag.
  • Not having an exit strategy. A rising market raises all ships, but it will go down eventually. If you don’t have an exit strategy, the market could take away all your gains when it falls. If you want financial peace of mind, you have to know in your heart that you have a strategy that can protect you from bear markets.

About Gold Coins and Rounds

The reason why all round shaped pieces of precious metal aren’t called coins, but also rounds, is that the word “coin” is reserved by the United States Mint for circulating currency minted by government mints world wide. Most investors that buy gold coins, does that because they consider them as a more secure product to invest in, since the coin is backed by a government and will most likely be in production for a long time.

The purity standard for these coins is somewhat different from silver. Since it’s such a malleable and soft metal, pure gold coins are very fragile and sensitive to mechanical wear and impact. In the old days when real gold was actually used to make circulating currency, the gold purity was lowered by adding silver and copper to the gold. This alloy is commonly know as crown gold and are still used today in some popular gold coins, like the American Gold Eagle (which features the statue of liberty on the obverse and a soaring eagle on the reverse). To compensate for the lack of gold in this alloy (91.67%), the American Gold Eagle is heavier than other coins. This makes the total amount of pure gold contained in the American Eagle coin exactly 100% of the weight stated on the reverse side of the coin.

Other gold bullion coins usually have a purity of about 0.999. In other words, they have less than 0.1% impurities. Canadian gold coins, like the Gold Maple Leaf made by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) are sometimes made with a purity of 0.9999, which is amongst the finest of all mass produced solid gold coins in the world. All of these coins are strictly for investing and collecting, and must be handled with the utter most care, since damaged, scratched, or otherwise out of state conditioned coins will have a reduced value.This will again affect the price of his investment, once the investor advertises his gold coins for sale.

Picking the Right Mortgage Advisor

  • Bank – The first tip is that you should not use a bank. You might be shocked at this but this is what people usually do, but then, they haven’t got all the information about the financial services that are available to them. A bank advisor will want you to choose the financial services that they offer. They have to meet targets and sell the banks services. So, they might not listen to your requirements as much as an independent advisor. They will just be interested in selling the banks financial services.
  • Independent Advisor – Your best bet would be to go with an independent mortgage advisor. This is because they will have access to everything that is available to you. They don’t have any allegiances to one service over any others, so they will listen to the requirements that you need, and then put you in touch with a service that is right for you. They won’t push you in one direction over another because it is better for them, or they get more commission. They will do their best for you, to make sure that you have a mortgage that is better for your circumstances.
  • Interest Rates – One of the most important things about your mortgage will be the interest rates. You need to make a choice between having fixed interest rates or variable interest rates. With fixed interest rates, you will pay the same amount of interest on your mortgage, so the monthly payments will be the same for the duration of your mortgage. This is better for some people because they are able to better plan their budget because they know how much will be coming out each month. However, other people will opt for variable interest rates. This is where the amount of interest that you will pay, will change depending on the market. So if the market is going well, then the interest will be lower. Therefore, your payments will be lower. But, if the market is bad, then you will pay high interest and your payments will be higher. Therefore, you won’t know how much the payment is per month. Some people choose variable rates because they think that they will have lower interest and so their payments will be less. But, they are taking a gamble because they might find that one month, their payments are incredibly expensive.
  • Comparison – It might be easier for you to use a comparison company because they will have access to all the services that are available to you. They will be able to key in your requirements, to their computer and with a simple push of a button; they will be able to find you the exact service that you need.

Setting Realistic Financial Goals

The first step in seeing yourself out of trouble is to estimate how big the trouble is in the first place. You need to create a spreadsheet containing your monthly net income and your expenditures. Be as detailed as you can, because it is important to see exactly why you can’t make ends meet and where you could possibly cut from in order to be able to recover.

The main rule of a healthy family budget is to always spend less money than you make. You should setup a savings account and direct 5%-10% of your earnings into it prior to paying any bills. Even 2% of your monthly income could be something if you stick to this habit long enough. The key thing here is to set this money aside before spending on everything else, otherwise your best laid plans won’t work, especially if you are already in trouble.

Entertainment is good, but it shouldn’t throw you into even bigger debt. Budget for some inexpensive entertainment every month, but consider cooking with friends rather than going to expensive restaurants, for instance.

When you make your family budget, don’t forget to include expenses that occur only once or a few times a year. Insurance, car maintenance or medical expenses may fall into this category. Don’t overlook them, because they are important and they will ruin your budget if you don’t expect and plan for them.

If you don’t make enough money to cover all your current expenses, consider what you could be cutting without suffering too much. You may be able to take the bus instead of driving your car, for instance, or maybe you could ride your bicycle. When shopping for groceries, you could watch and take advantage of special discounts, promotions or coupons. When you are at home, maybe you have the habit of keeping the lights on in all rooms, even if nobody stays there. Consider switching off what you don’t need. It’s good for your finances, as well as for the environment.

Create Holiday Financial Blueprint

  • Determine your large holiday occasions: Your large festive occasions: The holidays provide various favorable circumstances and the question become which event to attend. Selecting your major holidays assists you in assigning your money properly in your financial plan. Potentially, it also makes certain that a little part of your holiday financial planning is saved for unexpected occasions like spontaneous dinners or cocktails with friends.
  • Place¬†your attention on experiences rather than things: We are in a buying culture where we regularly are barraged to spend money. Television, radio commercials or even emails inform us of a sale and now while we are in stores flashing announcement highlights more products to purchase. For this reason, I encourage you to consider if a gift is what you really want to give. I have noticed that people desire mostly to connect and feel that they their lives have purpose. Think if you can provide human connection and meaning for those you love. An example is that your family can volunteer at a holiday soup kitchen and then have an intimate meal at home. Another example is to ask all family members to bring a dish in December to the family dinner. Also, one of my favorite things is to donate to a charity that has meaning for a loved one and give in their name. My uncle for instance is my Godfather and annually I donate to an organization in memory of my aunt who passed from Lupus complications. My uncle is not interested in gifts, but he enjoyed receiving the card acknowledging the gift the organization received in memory of his wife.
  • Intentional Giving: The song says “He’s (Santa) making a list and checking it twice”. I ask you to consider doing the same action. List the people you want to give including those that service your needs like the US Postal worker and your hair stylist. After making this list reviewing it see if someone on your list would benefit more from step 2, of connection and meaning. For those that remain on your list for a gift, decide the amount you are going to spend for each gift. Come up with an idea of how much you want to spend and finally seek promotional codes and coupons online that can help you save.

 

Free Up Money in Your House

Re-mortgage to release equity

When you buy a house, you get a mortgage for the amount of money that you need to buy the house. That is the way it works, but if you bought the house 20 years ago, then the house will be worth a lot more than when you sold it.

Therefore, you will get a new mortgage on the amount of money that the house is worth now. You pay off the old mortgage and then you have the difference left over for you to do what you want with.

Now, you will have to pay the money back on the new mortgage, but it is just a way of having the money now. Yes, you will have to pay the mortgage payments for a bit longer, but you have a lump sum in your pocket now.

You will have to think long and hard if this is something that you want to do because you will have to pay interest on the mortgage that you arrange to free up the equity.

Payments

If you have decided that you want to get a new mortgage, to access the equity, then you should be careful which mortgage you chose. You should look to keep the payments the same, so that you will still be able to afford the repayments.

If you end up with more expensive payments and you haven’t used a mortgage calculator to make sure that you can afford it, you might end up missing payments and if the worst comes to the worst, then you could end up losing the house and you will have nothing.

Interest Rates

When choosing a new mortgage to get access to the equity, you have to choose the mortgage wisely, based on the interest rates. For example, if you have $50,000 worth of equity in the house, so you re-mortgage the house, so that you can use the money for something else, but you have to pay $60,000 in interest, then you won’t have made a wise decision.

You would have leant more than you needed and you wouldn’t have made a single penny for yourself. You will have made the bank $10,000 though. Therefore, you have to make sure that the re-mortgage is worth it for you in the long run.