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How to Manage Personal Finances

Getting control over your money is the first step to financial freedom. Whether you’re fresh out of college or you’re getting close to retirement, it’s never too soon or too late to learn how to manage your finances. Taking an active role in determining where your money goes can help you to get out of debt, build up your savings and make progress toward your future goals.

Budgeting Basics

  • To effectively manage your finances, you need to have a realistic budget in place. A budget is simply a written plan for how you spend your money each month. Creating a budget involves three basic steps. First, you total up all the money you receive each month from income, investments, child support and other sources. Second, you make a list of all your monthly expenses, including your rent or mortgage payments, utilities, grocery bills, transportation costs, debt payments, clothing and entertainment expenses. Finally, you compare the list of expenses to your income. Ideally, your expenses should be well below your income each month.

Cutting Costs and Saving More

  • If your expenses exceed your income, you’ll need to find ways to cut your spending. A helpful way to see where your money is going is to keep a written log of your expenses. Once you’ve identified expenses that are eating into your bottom line, you need to be aggressive in reducing them or eliminating them altogether. You should also go over your fixed expenses, such as cable, Internet or utility service, to make sure you’re not paying for services you don’t need. You can then redirect this money towards paying down debt or building up your savings.

Managing Debt

  • Credit cards are useful if you know how to use them properly, but they all too often become a debt trap. If you have debt, paying it down should be your top priority. If you have high-interest credit card debts or loans, you’ll want to pay these off first. The less interest you have to pay, the more money you can save. Secured debts, such as a car loan, should be next on the list, followed by medical bills and student loans. After these debts are paid off, you can begin aggressively paying down your mortgage, if you have one.

Planning Ahead

  • When you begin to take control of your finances, it’s helpful to make a list of short and long-term goals that can serve as a financial road map for the future. Some examples of goals you may have include paying off your debt, saving for a down payment for a home, planning for your retirement, saving for a vacation or starting a college fund for your children. When establishing your goals, make sure that they’re realistic and create a specific plan of action for achieving them. When you reach a milestone, review your goals to make sure they still fit your lifestyle.

How to Calculate Finance Charges on a Car Loan

An individual may borrow a certain amount of money to buy a new or used car from a bank or other lender. The loan amount is commonly referred as the principal. Under the car loan agreement, the money is paid back in regular monthly installments over a designated period of time. Since the lender typically provides the money at a specified annual percentage rate (APR), you will pay back not only the principal, but also a certain amount of the interest (finance charges). As an example, calculate the finance charge for a $25,000 car loan given with APR of 6.0 percent for five years.


  1. Calculate the loan duration in months by multiplying the number of years and 12. In this example, the five-year loan would be multiplied by 12 to give you 60 months.
  2. Divide the loan APR by 12 and 100 to calculate the interest rate per month. In our example, the monthly interest rate is 6.0 percent / (12 x 100) = 0.005.
  3. Add 1 to the monthly interest rate; then raise the sum to the power that equals to the loan duration in months. In our example, the value is (1 + 0.005)^60 = (1.005)^60 = 1.34885.
  4. Subtract 1 from the value computed in Step 3; 1.34885-1 = 0.34885
  5. Multiply the monthly interest rate and the value computed in Step 3, and divide the product by the number obtained in Step 4. In the example, (0.005 x 1.34885) / 0.34885 = 0.019333.
  6. Multiply the loan amount by the number from Step 5 to calculate loan monthly installment payments. In the example, payments are $25,000 x 0.019333 = $483.32
  7. Multiply the monthly payment by the loan duration to compute the total amount of money you will pay. Given the monthly payment of $483.32, you would pay 483.32 x 60 months = $28,999.20
  8. Subtract the car loan principal from the total amount (Step 7); the difference is the finance charge for your loan. in our example, the finance charge is $28,999.20 – $25,000 = $3,999.20.

How to Finance a Land Purchase

Buying a parcel of land to farm or build upon has many benefits but you’ll have to jump through more hoops to finance such a purchase. Many lenders steer clear of land financing due to the increased risk involved. In typical mortgage transactions, a home is used as collateral to secure the loan’s repayment. With an empty lot not yet developed, the lender lacks this security because the property is not your primary residence.


  1. Plan ahead for building or improving the land, as the land’s intended use factors into your ability to gain financing. For example, know whether you can use the land to build a single-family home, multiple units, or build a home and work the land for farming and business purposes. Ensure that you can legally use the land by checking property lines, parcel dimensions, easements and title restrictions. Also, check with the municipality’s zoning authority to ensure you can build according to your plan. You may need to have the zoning changed if the area is not zoned for development.
  2. Seek financing based on the type of land and its intended use. Raw or unimproved land lacks sewers, utilities, street access and structures, making it the most difficult type of land purchase to finance, according to Don Taylor of Bankrate. As with improved land that includes a home, you pay annual real estate taxes on raw land. Loans for raw, unimproved land are often treated as commercial loans, which makes a difference in the length of your repayment terms and how the lender calculates interest payments.
  3. Tap into a current home’s equity or seek financing through a specialized lender to finance a land purchase. If you have sufficient equity in real estate you already own, you can use a home equity line of credit, a home equity loan or proceeds from a cash-out refinance to help with the land-purchase loan. Your additional contribution can offset the closing costs, lower your interest rate or otherwise help you obtain the best loan for your plans. Low-income buyers seeking rural land to develop can apply for a Department of Agriculture, or USDA, loan. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency can finance buyers that plan to farm or build in designated rural areas. Borrowers must meet income restrictions and must be ineligible for financing through traditional lenders.
  4. Pass the underwriting approval process for a land loan. The land underwriting process takes more time and paperwork on both the lender’s side and your end. Underwriters review the same items needed for a regular home purchase, such as a title report and appraisal evaluation but they also require more specific reports and documentation. For example, they may require land surveys, rather than the plat maps used for traditional home lending.

How to Start a Small Finance Company

A small finance company is one that specializes in making secured loans to consumers and businesses. Typical transactions include home equity loans, vehicle loans and installment loans for the purchase of major household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. Finance companies differ from banks in that they do not accept deposits from customers. Some small finance companies are independent and restrict their market area to one local area, while others have a nationwide presence, with branch offices throughout the United States. Each state regulates the finance companies located there.


  1. Study the market you intend to serve. It may be a city, a county or a larger area. To understand the potential loan demand in your market area, investigate the demographics (i.e., the characteristics of the area’s population, especially age and income) and identify potential business customers.
  2. Identify your state’s regulator of small finance companies. This government entity may be the same as the regulator of banking in your state. After you make contact, obtain the necessary information about how to qualify as a finance company.
  3. Hire outside professionals to assist you in founding your finance company. An attorney or a law firm with experience in financial services will guide you through the many laws and regulations you will encounter. A well-qualified certified public accountant or accounting firm is necessary for establishing financial controls, auditing your books and records, and producing financial statements.
  4. Form your business if you have not already done so. When you fill out the application form, you will have to indicate whether your business is a proprietorship, a limited liability company or a corporation.
  5. Complete your business plan. This will be necessary in case you plan to obtain funding from outside investors. Potential investors will require a suitable business plan that contains detailed financial projections over the next three to five years. It is customary for finance companies to fund their loan business with lines of credit from banks. Those banks will need to study your business plan as well during their approval process.
  6. Apply to the regulator for your license to conduct business as a finance company. Consult your business plan for the information you need for filling in the official forms. Be prepared to attach a check for the application fee. For approval to be final, you will have to obtain a surety bond or an irrevocable letter of credit to support your lending activity. The state regulator will inform you of the amounts.
  7. Locate, lease and furnish a suitable office for conducting business. Hire and train staff. Advertise your business and continue marketing. When you receive final, official approval from the regulator, you can commence business.

How to Start Your Own Bad Credit Auto Finance Firm

The purpose of an auto finance company is to provide individuals with the funds necessary to purchase a car. The borrower then pays back the amount of the loan, plus interest, to the finance company. A finance company’s profits come directly from interest charges and any late payment fees a borrower accrues. Individuals with bad credit are much more likely to seek financing through a finance company rather than a bank. Banks are unlikely to extend financing to bad credit buyers, not just because of the higher risk of default, but because of the extra work that comes along with recovering lost funds and repossessing vehicles. A finance company for bad credit buyers can be a lucrative business venture if you take care to market your business in a way that will attract customers and establish loan recovery procedures ahead of time.

Financing used cars will net quicker profits.

Step 1:Gather the necessary capital to start your business and get your paperwork in order. You will need a substantial start-up fund since you will be loaning money out for quite a while before you begin to see a profit. A small business loan or line of credit through your bank is a good option. You must also obtain a license to conduct business in your state and apply for a tax identification number for your finance company through the IRS.

You must have a business tax ID before filing taxes.

Step 2:Market your services to car dealerships that may be willing to refer their customers to you. Your first stop should be small used car dealerships. Small dealerships are less likely to have the financial overhead to service their own loans, and they often work in conjunction with a local finance company. More partners means more profits.

Make deals with local dealerships for customers.

Step 3:Draw up a risk management model. A risk management model is a chart containing how likely a customer is to pay his loan based on his credit score. A finance consultant or computer program can keep your chart updated with the current interest rates. This will help you offer accurate rates to customers based on their scores. The higher a customer’s lending risk, the more interest your finance company can charge.

Risk management model based on credit scores.

Step 4:Consider defaulted loans ahead of time and plan accordingly. When doing business with consumers who have bad credit, the prospect of defaulted loans is a much larger risk. Interview companies in your area that handle vehicle repossessions. The ideal repossession company will charge reasonable fees and do the work of tracking down the debtor for you. The car dealers you are allied with will probably be more than happy to purchase back the vehicle. If the car loan was close to being paid in full, this may even net you a small profit.

You will need help repossessing vehicles.

Step 5:Hire an attorney who can draw up your legal paperwork such as contracts and repossession notices. You must meet certain legal requirements when repossessing vehicles. If you do not conduct repossessions properly, the borrower may have recourse to recover the car and sue you for damages. It is vital that you successfully navigate the legal red tape involved, and its best to allow an attorney to take care of this for you, lest you risk making mistakes.

Be careful not to accidentally break the law.

Understanding Trends in Steer Carcass Weights

Carcass weight is generally defined as an animal’s weight after partial butchering. Internal organs have been removed along with less desirable parts that don’t make for popular cuts. It counts for around 59 per cent of original weight when talking about cattle. Heavier weights will often have a direct impact on the price of beef, as well as balancing out low cattle figures that might worry farmers.

Understanding Trends in Steer Carcass Weights

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Upward Trends Ongoing

A growth in carcass weights has recently caused experts in the field to look at trends and how they have developed in recent years. Weights usually peak in October and November of each year and then decline into summer. This year has seen a different trend though, with a spring upswing in weights soaring to near 900 pounds by the end of March. This is around 25 pounds heavier than the average weight of last year. The figures aren’t surprising to industry experts thanks to feedlot trends; feedlots being a type of animal feeding operation used in large scale farming. Following this, feeder cattle weighing more than 800 pounds has risen in quantity having a direct effect on carcass weights. In turn, global beef prices are strong as reported as far across the world as New Zealand.

Trends have followed a similar pattern over the last 35 years and there are a number of factors that are cited for this including genetics and management of the cattle farming process. There is also the important matter of information, food production technologies, and knowledge expansion. There are already a range of high tech innovations being used integrally and daily in farming as widely reported. This includes software and hardware, and even robotics in some cases.

Technology a Driving Force

As tech becomes smarter and more integrated into all aspects of the industry, it means that there is inevitable change in the efficiency of cattle management and this then continues to affect other businesses that are branching out from the area such as food machinery and even end users like those who want to buy used food machinery from Clarke Fussells or other similar suppliers.

Experts continue to debate the issue of increasing carcass weights with the overarching theme being what further growth means for the beef industry as a whole, not just locally, but globally.

How To Get Car With Bad Credit Auto Loan?

The importance on getting cars in the minds of people is getting increased on a daily basis. This would make more number of bankers and financial institutions at the same time. They would help people in getting their desired type of vehicle at any period of time. Some of the car dealers will have their own financial supporters and they would help people in providing needed amount of money for owning their vehicle. Each bankers or financial institutions will be following some of the universal standards for approving loans and this would make them to deal with the credit status. It is very important for the customers to have good amount of credit status and value. We need to understand that credit score will be calculated based on the repayment history made by the same customer over a period of time.

Sometimes, people will tend to have bad credit status and scores and they would like to get their own vehicle. There are also some of the dedicated bankers who are working towards in providing car loan even under the bad credit history. However, they will be imposing some of the special instructions and rules on the same customers. We need to know that interest rate for bad credit customers will be much higher than others. At the same time, this would also be considered as the very good chance for increasing their credit value and status against others in the same market. Now, most of the people are getting attracted towards the Bad credit auto loan features.

Useful Information On Bad Credit And Status

There are some of the third party websites operating in internet and this would help people in getting desired amount of money even under bad credit status in the financial world. We need to compare some of the personalized auto loan rates offered by the different financial companies and bankers present in the market. We should also keep keen interest on the features and facilities offered by them. This would help them to understand greatly on these factors in a quicker manner. Some of the dedicated third party websites would help people to compare the interest rates through online with the help of a tool.

Such tool would monitor the website and categorize the factors in a better manner and it is the ideal thing for making people to take better kinds of decisions. We should also make sure to understand our credit status and credit score and in return would help people in understanding how to make a better decision out of it. We need to understand that car loan will be approved easier when compared to house and this is mainly depends on the timeline imposed on it. This would also make people to repay the amount in a faster manner when compared to other kinds of loans present in the financial market. The good amount of credit scores would make people to apply for some kinds of prime loan present in the market with the favorable kinds of choices.

Tips to good marketing

An alternative is the privilege, yet not the commitment, to buy or offer an advantage at a specific cost before a foreordained date. Trading choices opens up a universe of adaptability to the financial specialist yet this accompanies a few expenses. Along these lines, it is prudent to counsel a decent stock market guide preceding leaving into the universe of stock alternative trading.

Taking part in stock market trading utilizing alternatives permits a financial specialist to change his or her position as indicated by different circumstances. The alternative can be as moderate or theoretical as financial specialist wants, exhibiting various approaches to improve the portfolio. Financial specialists can join different choice trading techniques, from shielding their position from decreases to wagering on stock market or file development. The greater part of this accompanies an expanded measure of danger not intrinsic in less difficult securities. This is one motivation behind why having a decent comprehension of the considerable number of nuts and bolts in choices trading is vital. This can be effortlessly expert with the best possible stock market guide.

Research is your Friend

Pre-investment exploration is an extraordinary approach to guarantee the stocks you buy will turn you a benefit over the long haul. Without legitimate exploration, particularly if one goes to buy a stock or make a trade quickly due to some intraday exchanging tips, the repercussions might be brutal and prompt. There are a few approaches to investigate market information to build the odds of a decent trade. For instance, traders can utilize principal investigation and specialized examinations to market calculate and see whether the information can let you know anything to help the decision. A big example is the success of Coca Cola Stocks.

Remember the Basics

Because of the pace and simplicity of on-line stock exchanging, a few traders at times overlook the essentials of the stock market, particularly when they get data from the individuals who offer business sector tips. In any case, it is constantly best to recall that the essentials arrive on the grounds that they have stood the test of time and have served stock business sector traders and financial specialists since the begin of the business sector itself. Depending on them for the step by step business and exchanging the business sector is not a terrible thought. Continuously attempt to instruct yourself by checking noteworthy assets and information mines in regards to your potential investments.

Controlling Your Risks by Careful Preparation

Putting resources into the stock business sector is not a beyond any doubt fire approach winning prompt benefits, gaining is subject to market considers and losing cash is a manifestly obvious danger. To abstain from causing an excess of loss, the financial specialist ought to utilize a stop-misfortune method that will minimize loss and occupy reserves and regard for other more beneficial investments as quickly as time permits. Diversifying their portfolio and exchanging different markets and monetary standards at whatever point conceivable can likewise be compelling in constraining misfortunes because of terrible investment decisions. As is commonly said, don’t put all your investments tied up on one place.

How to Discharge Attorney Fees in a Bankruptcy

As you prepare to file for bankruptcy you may wonder if you can include attorney fees in your case. If you owe attorney fees for services not associated with the particular bankruptcy case you intend to pursue, these charges appropriately can be included as a debt to be discharged through bankruptcy. An attorney to whom you owe money is treated as any other general creditor during the course of your bankruptcy case


  1. Prepare a petition for bankruptcy. If you are proceeding without legal representation, obtain a bankruptcy petition form from the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Alternatively, you should be able to download the petition form (and related documents) from the bankruptcy court’s website.
  2. Fill out the matrix or index of creditors form. The matrix of creditors is a directory of all of the people or businesses you owe money. Include the attorney (or attorneys) that have open accounts for fees you did not pay. In addition to the name and address of the attorney, include the fee balance as well as any file, case or account number.
  3. File the petition, matrix of creditors and related documents with the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Shortly after filing your petition, the clerk will send to your creditors (including the lawyer or lawyers you owe fees) what is known as a proof of claim form. If the attorney wants to attempt to recover fees owed through your bankruptcy case, she submits the proof of claim form to the bankruptcy court.
  4. Attend the creditor’s meeting scheduled for your case. The creditor’s meeting is held before the bankruptcy trustee. At this session, the bankruptcy trustee questions you about your assets, debts and income. Creditors have the right to appear at the hearing to question you as well. Creditors are also able to lodge an initial objection to the bankruptcy itself if they have some facts to support that you are not entitled to bankruptcy relief. As a practical matter, creditors do not often appear at these proceedings.
  5. Develop a payment plan in conjunction with the bankruptcy trustee if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Pursuant to a Chapter 13 plan, an attorney will receive a payment of at least some of the fees due and owing over the course of the lifetime of the payment plan (which normally is two to five years). A final discharge occurs at the conclusion of the payment plan.
  6. Appear in court for a Chapter 7 discharge hearing. The discharge hearing occurs approximately 120 to 180 days after the initial filing of the bankruptcy petition. Through a Chapter 7 case, you pay none of the fees previously due to the attorney who filed a claim. The discharge order permanently relieves you of this financial obligation.

Home Improvement Loans To Give Your Home A Contemporary Look

Most people provide the much required maintenance, update or total overhaul to their homes from time to time. How you choose to improve your home depends on your lifestyle, home management and discretionary income. Most people can easily afford the partial renovation, basic decorations or painting. However, a complete home renovation would need major financial support. This is where the home improvement loans come handy.

Nowadays, most people can change the look of their homes or make major changes easily with the help of a company like Infinity Home Improvement. All they would need is a house renovation loan from the right housing finance partner. When you understand the developments in the interior designing or architecture field, you know that you can overlook some of the trends although you cannot neglect all of them. For example: You can be choosy about furniture or electronic gadgets for your home and these can even be changed as per your convenience and personal choice. However, you must ensure that you use concealed wiring, in-wall plumbing, recessed lighting, etc in your home. In addition, there are certain choices such as wall mouldings, installation of German kitchen, eco-friendly furniture etc. that would require you to possess considerable amount of funds for effective execution. When you plan major alterations for your house, you must ensure that you consider all the involved variables well. If you don’t get a contractor adhering to his deadlines and budget, your borrowed amount may turn out to be insufficient.

You must also pay close attention to your loan contact. The tenure for a home renovation loan can extend for as long as 20 years. However, obviously, you would not want to extend it for that long since you would end up paying much more interest as compared to the principal amount.

The interest rate for home improvement loans is variable. Hence, it is best to negotiate it well with the finance institution or bank beforehand. A lot of people contact the same housing finance company that they were in touch with for their home loan, as the process tends to be faster if you already have shown your repayment ability and credit score to an organization. The borrower must also pay close attention to important factors such as processing fees, stamp duty, EMIs, etc. If you can manage to add it to your existing home loan, then you can enjoy the tax exemption on the respective EMIs of the renovation loan too. Hence, make a smart and financially savvy choice for your home.

How To Structure Your Home Loan?

When you start your hunt for a housing loan, you may have an option of getting the best home loan in India available. However, without the right structure, it won’t be a beneficial financial decision in the long term. When most borrowers go through such a stringent home loan eligibility criteria and a tedious home loan process, they fail to notice the important details of the agreement. Here is how you can structure the home loan process in India.
Finalize the primary details:
There are certain details of the home loan that you will need to determine or agree with the ones stipulated by the housing finance company, since these details are primary foundation of what the home loan structure is all about. Therefore, it is crucial to get them right. So, this part of the home loan structure starts when you decide to apply for a home loan and ends when you receive an offer letter that you are ok with. These primary details are:
• Interest rate
• Type of interest rate
• House loan tenure
• Repayment option
By far, these details will be the most important details in your home loan package. However, they can be easily affected by the smaller factors that seem unimportant while signing the house loan agreement.
Fine-tune smaller details:
When you are opting for a housing loan with a certain bank or a housing finance company, you need to understand that the fine print in the home loan agreement is as important as the details mentioned above. Do not ignore them. When you have an offer letter from the bank or the housing finance company in your hand, it is important to take time and understand how it can affect your future. The factors to be considered are:
• Prepayment charges
• Processing fees and charges
• Home loan term insurance
Anticipate the details right:
Most borrowers ignore the potential variations in the home loan structure over a period of time. The interest rates will certainly vary, especially if you have opted for the floating interest rates. Your EMIs will be affected by quite a few factors that are part of the home loan agreement. A smart borrower will, hence, want to undertake the exercises that will help him to anticipate these details. Some of them may even opt to use the home loan EMI calculators available online to identify these possible variations. Alternatively, if you have plans to earn more in the upcoming future, then determine the prepayment strategy and repayment options that will suit you. This kind of plan may not always fall in place as you will like; yet, you should have itin place.

The Benefits Of A Home Loan Balance Transfer

A home loan balance transfer is a mere financial service to avail certain advantages that you previously didn’t. Any smart borrower should be able to determine if the transfer is worth the expenditure. Otherwise, it may turn out to be a very expensive choice. This is a primary reason why financial experts do not suggest opting for a home loan balance transfer in the last 2 to 5 years of the housing loan tenure. Hence, every borrower must identify the vantage point for his or her Home Loan before considering a transfer.

Lower interest rates

When you opt for a housing loan with certain interest rates, you may gain an advantage by shifting to another housing finance company, which offers much lower interest rates. For most borrowers, who have made well-disciplined repayments, it can be a huge save. This kind of ideal home loan transfer is a profitable choice based on the home loan offer received. So, make your own calculation before making the decision, though.

No prepayment charges

A lot of borrowers do not want to pay the applicable prepayment charges for Home Loans with fixed interest rates. If the new housing finance company allows you to repay your loan in a lesser home loan tenure, you can save a substantial amount of interest. That can make it a smart move, based on the other costs incurred in the home loan transfer, though. So, you must calculate the savings against the expenses incurred before signing on the dotted line again. Most borrowers forget that this is the same home loan process – you will need to meet the home loan eligibility criteria, you must submit the documents required for home loan and you will need to pay the processing charges, service taxes etc. Hence, you must include all these expenses in your calculations.

Loan restructuring options

Some of the housing finance companies in India deny two types of home loan restructuring that you may need as a borrower; extra money for home renovation, and extending the home loan tenure as the current floating or fixed interest rates may be too high for easy repayments. Sometimes, housing finance companies fail to take this into account and make the necessary changes. It is perfectly alright to seek an alternate lender. Even if your current lender fails to offer the restructuring, you still will need to get a NOC (No objection certificate) from them, because no housing finance company will complete the home loan process otherwise. It is a much needed move; though, you must make it cautiously.

3 Ways to Monetize Your Expertise

Teaching others your expertise and skills is a great way to supplement your income. It can also be a low-cost route of profiting from the ever-present demand for valuable information. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs have built their business empires by simply selling useful content and information.

For example, Martha Stewart became the first self-made female billionaire in the United States after taking her housekeeping media and publishing company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO), public in 1999. Similarly, Robert Kiyosaki, author of the New York Times Co. (NYT) bestselling book “Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!”, has made a lot of money by publishing a number of books tall geared towards helping improve the financial conditions of others.

Below are three ways in which you can monetize your knowledge and make some money on the side.

Build an Audience and Sell Advertisements
One way to make money from your expertise is to attract a sizeable audience by publishing free, useful content on the Internet. This can take the form of YouTube (GOOG) videos, articles, blog posts, email newsletters, Instagram photos, podcasts and even tweets. Regularly publishing fresh content will help to rapidly grow your platform because people typically gravitate to free resources. With this approach, you’ll make money from advertisers interested in promoting their products and services to your subscribers.

Take, for example, reality television star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian. She charges businesses up to $10,000 to have her tweet about them to her more than 19 million Twitter (TWTR) followers. Then there’s sales trainer and real estate mogul Grant Cardone, who has produced three online one-hour live shows on relationships, finance and sales every week for the last four years. In the process, he built a YouTube following of 95,000 subscribers. The live shows are streamed to his subscribers for free, and he makes money by selling advertising space to sponsors.

Many well-known online media companies also use this strategy. Sites like, and attract visitors to their website with free, valuable and insightful content. They can then fund their operations primarily with advertising revenue because the volume of visitors they attract is so large.

Schedule One-on-One Sessions
Although selling advertisements can be quite lucrative, building a brand and following that’s strong enough to attract advertisers will take a long time. Individuals that are looking to monetize their expertise from day one should strongly consider charging for one-on-one tutoring or consulting sessions. These sessions can be conducted in person or virtually, and fees can be charged to clients based on the length of time of each session.

For instance, a person who knows more than one foreign language could use a service such as Verbling or italki to tutor private classes, while a recent college graduate could earn extra income by conducting one-on-one piano lessons with children in her neighborhood.

Create and Market Information Products
Conducting one-on-one sessions can become time consuming for anyone looking to make a lot of money by teaching others. One way around this dilemma is to create and sell information products, also known as info-products. These can be any product or service — a books, audio lecture, online course, or instructor guide — that provides learning material on a particular subject matter.

Info-products can turn into a strong passive income source. Unlike one-on-one sessions, a creator of an info-product can make money even while sleeping. Added to that, an info-product can be created once and sold multiple times. For example, an individual who is good at sewing can create a course on sewing by using a service like Udemy. The majority of that person’s time can be spent on promotion and getting new customers because the course creation is a one-time event. This is the complete opposite when charging for one-on-one sessions. Likewise, authors of books receive regular royalty payments years after their books are published.

Fixing Your Credit Score: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Your credit score is a long-term view of your use of credit. Most credit problems, such as late payments or nonpayment of debt, must be removed after seven years, but some types of bankruptcy stay on your credit report for 10 years. Student loans can be there even longer; some may stay on until paid in full or forgiven.

The time it takes to fix a problem will depend upon what is negatively affecting your credit score. If credit information owned by someone else is harming your score, for example, removal of that information could result in almost instant repair once you get the error corrected. But you shouldn’t expect a quick resolution; for most people who want to fix their credit score, it’s not that simple. Here are five steps to improving your score.

1. Get the Facts
Your first step in attempting to fix your credit score requires that you get the facts. You can do that by ordering a free credit report from all three of the credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You are limited to one free report a year from each bureau, which you can order at But it is a good idea to order them throughout the year. Ordering one report immediately and then one in four months and the third in eight months will allow you to order a report every four months for free.

If this is your first time looking at your reports, order a free one from Experian using the link above and then get your TransUnion and Equifax reports for free by signing up at Membership at this website is free, and so are the reports; there isn’t any kind of monthly fee (see Why Credit Karma Is Free & How It Makes Money). You definitely want to look at all three reports as quickly as possible to be sure they are accurate. (To find out what a credit report will tell you, read What’s on a Consumer Credit Report?)

2. Dispute Errors
You may find errors on your report, such as payments being late when you were not late, or a credit card shown as yours that is not yours. Mistakes like these can drag down your credit score. There are several key things to look at that will help you identify the problems:

• Personal information – Make sure the names and addresses reported match your personal history. Sometimes the credit reports of people with the same or similar names get combined incorrectly; having your report tied to that of someone with bad credit can lower your score. To correct an error you need to document what is wrong and send a letter to the credit bureaus. This can be a quick fix if all the negative information belongs to someone other than you, but proving that may take some time.

• Account Information – Carefully check all accounts listed and make sure they are actually accounts that you have opened. If you find an account in your name that you did not open, contact the credit bureaus, explain the fraud and ask that a fraud alert be put on your account. Then contact the card-issuing company to find out more details about the account. The fact that it is on your report means it is likely that someone used your Social Security number in opening that account. Also be sure that the balance information and payment history for each account is accurate. If any information is inaccurate, you will need proof of the correct information and you will have to start a dispute with the credit bureau to ask that the wrong information is corrected. For more detailed advice on this, see How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report.
• Collections – If there are collections on your credit report, check to be sure there are not multiple reports of the same unpaid bills. Collection accounts are bought and sold, so the same information could be reported by more than one agency, which would make your credit history look worse than it is. Dispute the information and send documentation to prove the debt is listed more than once.

• Public Records – Negative information from public records can include bankruptcies, civil judgments or foreclosures. Bankruptcies can be on the report for seven to 10 years, but all other public records must be removed after seven years. If the public record on your report is older than is allowed, dispute the information with the credit bureau and send documentation to prove that the debt is too old and should no longer be on the report.

3. Negotiate with Creditors
If you have a past due account and have the cash to pay it off, try negotiating with the creditor by offering to pay the balance in full if it will remove the information from your credit report. If not, try getting the company to make the debt “paid as agreed.” Getting the negative information completely off your report is best, but a creditor may not be willing to do that. Make sure you get any agreement in writing before making the payment.

If your account shows non-payments for a couple of months, but you can prove the problem was caused by a hardship, you might be able to ask your creditor for a “goodwill adjustment.” If you were injured and in the hospital or rehabilitation for a couple of months, for example, you might not have had the money (or been in physically healthy enough) to pay that bill. Write to your creditor, explain the hardship and provide proof. Ask if the company would consider a goodwill adjustment erasing the late payment history on your credit report. Your payments will need to be up-to-date to succeed in getting this adjustment.

4. Get Your Limits Under Control
Check your credit reports to be sure they accurately reflect your credit limits. Then add up all the credit limits in one column and all the outstanding debt in another. For instance, you could have $10,000 in total credit limits and $4,000 in total debt, which would mean you are using 40% ($4,000/$10,000) of your available credit limits.

“It’s best to keep your debt-to-credit ratio 30% or lower – the lower the better,” says Anthony Sprauve, former director of public relations for FICO, one of the key credit score companies.

You can make your credit utilization look better than it is by making your payments just before your statement is sent, rather than waiting until it goes out. Most credit card companies report your balance at the same time that they send a statement, and the balance reported to the credit bureaus is the statement balance. If, for example, your statement goes out on the fifteenth of the month, as long as you have the money on hand, pay your bill early so the money will arrive prior to the statement being sent out – let’s say the thirteenth of the month. That way your outstanding credit balance reported on the statement and to the credit bureaus will be lower.

Even if you pay your bills on time, in full, every month, the credit bureau will only see the statement balance, which can make it look like you are carrying more debt than you are.

5. Eliminate Your Low Balances
A factor that affects your credit score is the number of credit cards you have with open balances. Having a lot of small balances lowers your score. So if you have VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards that you alternate using each month, for example, you could end up with three cards that all have low balances – perhaps under $100.

“The solution to improve your credit score is to gather up all those credit cards on which you have small balances and pay them off,” says John Ulzheimer of Credit Sesame and former credit expert for FICO and Equifax. Then consolidate how you use them.

5 Unique Assets to Invest Your Retirement Money In

When it comes to retirement investing, many people understand the basics. Essentially, start investing in retirement funds as early as possible and utilize your employer’s 401(k) match and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to the best of your ability. However, many people want to know if there is anything else they can invest their money in to diversify their retirement portfolios. While you should always do your research when it comes to alternative investments, many people have had success investing in some of the options below which range from investing in your favorite wines to investing in yourself.

This is a lesser known and highly unique investment that you might consider if you love wine. Essentially, you can purchase wine and then hold on to it for years and wait for the value to accrue. In order to make money investing in wine, the wine has to be stored appropriately. If you don’t have the facility for that, you can actually pay companies to store your wine for you, sometimes without ever holding the wine in your hands yourself. This type of investment requires significant research and know how to ensure you choose the correct types of wine and vintages to create a profit. But it could be a fun and interesting investment for someone looking for a different way to grow their money. The best part is that if it doesn’t sell, well then you just have a lot of wine to enjoy in your retirement years. There’s nothing wrong with that. (For more, see: Investing in Fine Wine.)

If you have a love and a knowledge of antiques, this can be an extremely lucrative way to diversify your retirement portfolio. Keep in mind that during recessions, items like antiques and art do not hold great value. However, with the right piece, you can turn a significant profit at any time. Keep your eyes peeled for unique antiques at thrift stores and garage sales. If you inherited furniture or other objects from your parents or grandparents, keep them in good condition and seek out the advice of an expert who might be able to tell you what they’re worth. You can always sell antiques in a private sale, or if you prefer to make it more official, you can always place them with an auction house. Many people keep their antiques to enjoy them and then sell them off periodically well into retirement to generate cash flow. Either way, if you have a love of old objects with unique history, this could be a good option for you. (For more, see: How to Cash in Your Heirlooms.)
Real Estate
If you enjoy real estate, this is an excellent way to invest any additional funds you may have. Many people invest in second and third homes and rent them out, which can generate much needed cash flow during your retirement years. For the inexperienced buyer, real estate can be risky. However, if you learn valuable skills in the process, you can grow your wealth by adding to your real estate portfolio over time. Be careful, as always, when borrowing money for this endeavor. Namely, always purchase a home that is affordable enough to where you can pay your mortgage and your second home’s mortgage if you don’t have a renter for a certain period of time. (For more, see: The Income Property: Your Late-in-Life Retirement Plan.)

Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer lending has gained immense popularity in the past few years, and many people report excellent returns. Essentially, peer-to-peer lending is when you offer a loan or a part of a loan to someone who needs it. Many of the loans on peer-to-peer lending sites are for credit card consolidation loans or real estate loans. In many ways you can be helping someone who might not be able to qualify for a traditional bank loan.

It’s typically always a good idea to invest in yourself. This might include taking additional college classes, learning new skills, honing your business acumen or paying for a personal trainer to get in shape to improve your long-term health. You should never invest money you don’t have in yourself, but if you have spare cash and have always wanted to learn a new language or experience a new culture, this is absolutely a valid investment that can bring you great joy in your retirement years. (For more, see: 8 Affordable Retirement Hobbies.)

Four Questions to Ask Bankruptcy Lawyers Before Choosing One

Filing for bankruptcy is a scary prospect, even if you do so voluntarily. There are several different chapters, each with different rules. Hiring qualified bankruptcy lawyers can make the process easier and protect you from your creditors. However, it can be difficult to choose the best attorney for your case. Ask these four questions to get answers that can help you decide.

Do you charge a flat-fee to represent me?

Hiring any attorney costs money. This is particularly troubling when you are considering filing for insolvency, as money is the cause of the problem in the first place. Some legal practitioners bill by the hour. The good news is that most bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee for the entire course of representation. Typically, this fee will include consulting with you and analyzing your circumstances, preparing and filing the necessary documents, and representing you during the insolvency proceedings. Sometimes, creditors challenge the bankruptcy. Other times, creditors can still come in and foreclose on a home. Often, the flat-fee does not cover these additional situations. Before choosing from several bankruptcy lawyers, make sure you understand each attorney’s fee arrangement.

Is bankruptcy your primary line of work?

Any licensed attorney can help you file the required paperwork. However, insolvency proceedings involve complex areas of law that do not apply anywhere else. Moreover, deciding what chapter to file involves a detailed analysis of your individual financial situation and expectations. Even a seasoned legal practitioner whose primary work is bringing tort claims or structuring commercial transactions will generally not have the knowledge and skills necessary to adequately protect you from your creditors. You need a legal practitioner who is devoted to handling insolvency cases.

What can I expect from you regarding communication?

It is important to find a legal practitioner whose practice is primarily devoted to handling insolvency cases, but it is equally important to find a legal practitioner who will devote individual attention to your case, because determining the best course of action requires a detailed analysis of your financial situation. You should know how long the legal practitioner will devote to reviewing your situation, how quickly your phone calls will be returned, how frequently the lawyer will update you on case progress, when you can expect pertinent documents to be drafted, and what efforts your advocate will make to cease the creditors’ collection efforts.

Will you have staff who assist you on my case?

Bankruptcy lawyers have a substantial number of clients and will not always be directly available to work on your case. There will be routine matters that will need attention, but do not necessarily require the personal attention of the attorney. It is important that the attorney have staff or junior lawyers available to work on the case when the primary legal practitioner is not directly available. However, you should also make sure that the attorney handling the case will personally review the work of junior lawyers and non-attorney staff members.

Asking these important questions will help you to choose from among the many bankruptcy lawyers in your area.

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A Complete Guide To Understanding Home Loan Interest Rates

Home loan rates can be a complicated plateau to manoeuvre through. There are, however, a few major factors that do stand out. This guide should help you to screen through the major sections that need to be kept in mind about this subject:

Types of interests

This section may seem basic; however, it’s not. There are three types, obviously. Yet, you need to know some of the important aspects that may affect your EMIs and the repayment structure in the long run.

• Fixed rates: These rates are higher and so are the hikes after the first few years. So, you should know when your interest rates will elevate again. If you opt for fixed interest rates, you should aim to increase your earnings accordingly.

• Floating rates: These are vulnerable to economic fluctuations. They can work in your favour if they lower over a certain period of time, though you must know that the tenure for home loan repayments stretches from 20 to 30 years. Unless you earn a significant income over the course of the years to pre-pay the loan, you will be paying EMIs for that duration and may also face unexpected recession and interest rates hike twice or thrice in that period.
• Hybrid rates: These rates combine the best of fixed and floating. You make two home loan agreements that divide your home loan into two types of interest rates and repayment plans. Though it seems like the best of both worlds, you need to understand that it can backfire too. You need to read the home loan agreement papers and the fine print carefully and protect yourself against any backfires.

The factors that influence your home loan interest rates:

All applicants may not be able to get the advertised rates. Very few people, in truth, are in a position to avail the best home loan rates in India. Although you can influence home loan proposals to get the best possible interest rates for your housing loan. So, what are these factors?

• CIBIL credit score
• Repayment ability
• Company appraisals
• Employer
• Annual earnings – income, assets and liabilities
• Any other loans
• Your interest rates negotiations

There are always more factors that can come into play, depending on how you choose your house loan package. So, it makes sense to make an effort to mould all these factors in your favour. It is not always possible to transform them all; yet, if you take an expert’s advice and use it to your advantage, you can potentially get much lower housing loan interest rates in India .

10 Tips for Managing Your Student Loan Debt

Does the debt from your college days seem overwhelming? You’re not alone: According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loans total more than $1.2 trillion in the U.S. That’s second only to the size of the nation’s mortgage debt. Ironically, the burden of student loans is making it harder for college graduates to buy a home. Politicians are debating what to do about the problem, but in the meantime, individual Americans can’t wait around for them to work it out.

Developing a plan to manage your student loans is critical to your long-term financial health. We explore 10 steps to help you get control.

1. Calculate Your Total Debt
As with any type of debt situation, you need first of all to understand how much you owe overall. Students usually graduate with numerous loans, both federally sponsored and private, having arranged for new financing each year they were in school. So gird your loins and do the math: Only by knowing your total debt can you develop a plan to pay it down, consolidate it or possibly explore forgiveness (see Who is eligible for student loan forgiveness?).

2. Know the Terms
As you sum up the size of your debt, also itemize the terms of every loan. Each one could have different interest rates and different repayment rules. You’ll need this info to develop a payback plan that avoids extra interest, fees and penalties.

3. Review the Grace Periods
As you pull together the specifics, you will notice that each loan has a grace period (the amount of time you have after graduation to start paying your loans back). These too can differ. For example, Stafford loans have a six-month grace period, while Perkins loans give you nine months before you have to start making payments.

4. Consider Consolidation
Once you have the details, you may want to look at the option of consolidating all your loans. The big plus of consolidation is that, often, it lowers the weight of your monthly payments burden. It also frequently lengthens your payoff period, which is a mixed blessing: more time to pay the debt, but more interest payments, too. What’s more, the interest rate on the consolidated loan may be higher than those on some of your current loans. Be sure to compare loan terms before you sign up for consolidation. Also, if you consolidate, you will lose your right to the deferment options and income-based repayment plans (see below) that are attached to some federal loans. For more on the subject, see Student Loan Debt: Is Consolidation The Answer?

5. Hit Higher Loans First
As with any debt-payoff strategy, it is always best to pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first. One common scheme is to budget a certain amount above the total monthly required payments, then allocate the overage to the debt with the biggest interest bite. Once that is paid off, apply the total monthly amount on that loan (the regular payment, plus the overage plus the regular amount) to repaying the debt with the second highest interest rate. And so on. This is a version of the technique known as a debt avalanche.

For example, suppose you owe $300 per month in student loans. Of that, a $100 payment is due to a loan with a 4% rate, $100 is due to a loan with a 5% rate and $100 is due to a loan with a 6% rate. One would plan the budget with $350 toward student loan payoff, applying the extra $50 to the 6% loan. When that is paid off, the $150 used to pay the 6% debt each month would then be added to the $100 being used to pay the 5% – thus speeding up that payoff. Once that is paid off, then the final loan at 4% would be paid at the rate of $350 per month until all student debt is paid in full.

6. Pay Down Principal
Another common debt payoff strategy is pay extra principal whenever you can. The faster you reduce the principal, the less interest you will pay over the life of the loan. Since interest is calculated based on the principal each month, less principal translates to a lower interest payment. For more techniques, see Student Loans: Paying Off Your Debt Faster.

7. Pay Automatically
Some student-loan lenders offer a discount on the interest rate if you agree to set up your payments to be automatically withdrawn from your checking account each month. Participants in the Federal Direct Student Loan Program get this sort of break (only .25%, but hey, it adds up), for example, and private lenders may offer discounts as well.

8. Explore Alternative Plans
If you have a federal student loan, you may be able to call your loan servicer and work out an alternative repayment plan. Options include:

Graduated repayment – increases your monthly payments every two years over the 10-year life of the loan. This plan allows for low payments early on, accommodating entry-level salaries and assuming you will get raises, or move on to better-paying jobs, as the decade progresses.
Extended repayment – allows you to stretch out your loan over a longer period of time, such as 25 years rather than 10 years, which will result in a lower monthly payment.
Income contingent repayment – calculates payments based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) at no more than 20% of your income for up to 25 years. At the end of 25 years, any balance on your debt will be forgiven.
Pay as you earn – caps monthly payments at 10% of your monthly income for up to 20 years, if you can prove financial hardship. The criteria can be tough, but once you’ve qualified, you may continue to make payments under the plan even if you no longer have the hardship.
While these plans may well lower your monthly payments (click here to review the complete list of repayment options), bear in mind that they may mean you’ll be paying interest for a longer period, too.They also aren’t applicable to any private student loans you took out.

9. Defer Payments
If you not yet employed, you can ask your student loan lender to defer payments. If you have a federal student loan and you qualify for deferment, the federal government may pay your interest during the approved deferment period. If you don’t qualify for deferment, you may be able to ask your lender for forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop paying the loan for a certain period of time. With forbearance, any interest due during the forbearance period will be added to the principal of the loan.

10. Explore Loan Forgiveness
In some extreme circumstances, you may be able to apply for forgiveness, cancelation or discharge of your student loan. You could be eligible if your school closed before you finished your degree, you become totally and permanently disabled or paying the debt will lead to bankruptcy (which is rare). Less drastic, but more specific: You have been working as as a teacher or in another public service profession.

Should You Trust a Robot to Manage Your Money?

The projections for the growth of robo-advisors are ambitious to say the least. However, this is a normal reaction for a growing trend. In many cases, the analyst is not looking at long-term patterns, assuming that the investment environment will remain the same for many years. This doesn’t mean robo-advisors are a bad option. It depends on your goals. Where do you fit in?

Robo-Advisor Popularity
A few of the most popular robo-advisor services today are Wealthfront, Betterment, Personal Capital and FutureAdvisor. Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) offers its Intelligent Portfolios service.

A big reason for robo-advisor popularity is affordability. For instance, 90% of Wealthfront’s 30,000 clients are below the age of 50 and 60% of those clients are below the age of 35. This points to the Millennials, a generation that is still in the early stages of building wealth. Most Millennials can’t afford the fees of a traditional financial advisor who also typically require a minimum amount of assets to invest.

Wealthfront has a minimum investment of $5,000. If that total is below $10,000, then the service is free. After $10,000, there is just a 0.25% fee. Betterment works a little differently, with no minimum investment required and a 0.35% fee if the total investment is below $10,000. If the investment is between $10,000 and $100,000, there is a 0.25% fee. If the investment is north of $100,000, the fee is 0.15%.

But let’s skip right to Schwab and its Intelligent Portfolios. This service requires a $5,000 investment, but there is no fee. That being the case, it’s going to be difficult for Wealthfront, Betterment, and its peers to compete over the long haul. As we all know, nothing beats free. And if you’re wondering how Charles Schwab makes money on this service (you have to read the fine print), it’s through its proprietary exchange-traded funds (ETF) and third-party ETFs. But this is still a top option for an investor interested in robo-advisor services. In addition, Intelligent Portfolios will diversify your account across stocks, fixed income, real estate, commodities and more.

Another reason for the popularity of robo-advisors is tax-loss harvesting, which automatically minimizes tax obligations on your profitable trades and maximizes tax reductions on your losing trades. And, best of all, it’s all done by a computer, requiring zero effort on your part.

Robo-Advisor Risk?
Millennials have seen the worst of it during their lifetimes, including the Dotcom Bubble and 2008 financial crisis. Many are risk adverse and wary of the stock market. Unfortunately, the same pattern that helped create the last crisis is likely taking place again (record low interest rates). Only this time, the problem is global. And instead of just corporations being overextended and unable to pay their debts when growth stalls, you can now add countries to that list.

Is a bear market is approaching? Even if it isn’t on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time. It’s important to realize that while robo-advisors can rebalance portfolios all they want, those portfolios are going to be almost 100% long (excluding cash positions). It will be impossible for those robo-advisors to deliver a positive return. Millennials will see their investments head south and robo-advisors may wane in popularity.

Paying for a good financial advisor might be money well-spent in a bear market. Unlike a robot, a human can look at trends, keep up with all the up-to-the-minute headlines and make sense of them in a way that only a human mind can. At least there is potential of navigating a bear market when you have a human financial advisor. When you use a robo-advisor and the markets head south, your investments are likely to head south as well.

5 Ways to Grow Your Business (While Having Fun)

When you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life. At least that’s how the saying goes. Even if that is a high ideal to live up to, it doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate some of the things you love into your work. The marketing of your financial advisory business can often be conducted while you are pursing your hobbies. So why not take advantage of the situation when the opportunity presents itself?

Mixing business and pleasure is actually not that hard. Many people find golf to be an ideal sport for business owners and advisors in that it allows them to get outside, engage with others and talk shop, all while getting in a bit of exercise. In fact, many professionals, from Presidents to Wall Street moguls, have closed deals or settled on a plan of action while taking in 18 holes on the golf course.

Do the thing you love while at the same time trying to sell your services to prospective clients or forge partnerships with other professionals that could help your business, like insurance agents and tax attorneys.

Tee Time
Many of your current clients may already be golfers, or they may have friends who play. So why not arrange a day of golf that includes lunch and a financial advisory workshop that you offer to your clients and any friends they would like to bring along? Not only will your clients enjoy a day out on the golf course, but the outing may provide an informal setting for them to get better acquainted with you, your work and some of your colleagues.

It could also be a good way for some of your clients to get to know one another, and if they bring friends, you will have a chance to pitch your business to these potential clients in a relaxed atmosphere among people who already know and trust you and your work. Be sure to extend the invitation to women as well as men — more and more women are looking to take up this pastime.

Wine Tasting
Knowing the difference between $10 and $100 bottles of Chardonnay can not only help you choose the right taste for any meal, but it’s also a good way to impress others. When attending a business dinner, the last thing you want to do is look lost when the waiter hands you the wine list and asks you to choose a bottle for the table. Many of your clients most likely feel the same way. A wine testing event for your clients, where you can all learn together, enjoy the wine and talk shop would be a unique, interesting chance to network (not to mention that wine can be a good investment). Again, encourage clients to invite friends who may be looking for a financial advisor.

Ladies Night Out
If you advise a good amount of female clients, you could organize a ladies night out. Dinner, drinks or taking in a cultural event like an art exhibit or a play would provide a comfortable environment in which they could talk about their investments and their futures. Invite professional women to join who work in a field that would be of interest your clients. The outing is also a good opportunity for the women to network with one another and talk about some of their concerns and goals. The women may find some common ground in their financial challenges, or they may be looking for more information about investing or buying insurance. This type of night out could easily pay off in terms of increasing your client roster.

Play Ball!
Clients and other professionals you work with might appreciate a day of letting off some steam at a sporting event. If you can get enough people together who might be willing to rent a box, you will have a place where you can have some food and drinks and chat while you watch the game. Exchange investing and saving ideas with those in attendance and make sure to give your card to any potential clients who join in.

Gone Fishing
If you have the time, organize a weekend away, take some clients fishing. Professionals often look forward to time away from the stresses of the office. A day or two away to decompress in nature may provide a way for clients to relax and talk about their hopes and dreams for the future and exchange ideas about how they can financially accomplish those goals. Again, encourage clients to invite friends. Fishing involves a lot of time sitting down and waiting, so you could use the time to ask prospective clients if they have any questions for you about financial planning.

How To Invest For The Greater Good

When discussing how to invest like a millennial, I mentioned that social responsibility is a key factor when making investment decisions. A study from Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing supports this claim, finding that millennials are two times more likely to invest in companies that target impact outcomes. What’s more, 76 percent of women surveyed prioritize economic, social and governance factors in their investment decisions. But this phenomenon isn’t limited to any one generation or gender. I spoke with Deborah Winshel, BlackRock’s Global Head of Impact Investing, to learn more about what she is seeing in this space and why sustainable investing is here to stay.

First things first. What is sustainable investing?
At BlackRock, we define “sustainable investing” by three key segments: exclusionary screens, ESG considerations and impact investing.

1. Exclusionary screens

Exclusionary screens remove specific products or industries that don’t align with an investor’s values. For example, you may decide you don’t want to invest in tobacco or fossil fuels. This approach was really the first iteration of making investment decisions based on factors other than just financial performance, applying constraints based on personal beliefs.

2. ESG considerations

ESG considerations use environmental, social and governance factors to identify not just what a company does but how they do it. Companies report on how they pursue environmental responsibility, how they support employee diversity, how many volunteer hours they devote to the community every year, etc. We then use these standards to build a portfolio.

3. Impact investing

Impact investing targets a very clear social or environmental outcome that is measurable and transparent. Instead of just refraining from investing in something that doesn’t align with your beliefs, you’re focusing on companies that are operating responsibly and having a positive impact on the world.

How much of an increase have you seen in sustainable investment assets globally?
We have seen sustainable assets increase by 61 percent in the last few years and the growth continues globally. About two thirds of the sustainable investment market is in Europe and 30 percent in the U.S., where we are seeing faster growth. We know that exclusionary screening is most prevalent in Europe, whereas the ESG approach is most common in the U.S.. In my opinion, a key reason why growth isn’t even greater is because there hasn’t been a wide range of investment opportunities to meet the demand until very recently.

If you could pinpoint the source of this increased demand, what would it be?
No matter how old you are or which generation you identify with, there is an increasingly undeniable overlap between our personal lives, our financial lives and the world at large. Whether it’s carrying reusable bags with you to the grocery store or hearing the Pope talk about climate change or reading about President Obama’s environmental initiatives, it’s clear that what we do today has long term impact. There’s now an opportunity for people to direct their investment capital in a way that is meaningful to them beyond just generating a financial return. This opportunity is resonating with individual investors who are looking to do more with their money. At BlackRock, our job is to try to protect and grow our clients’ assets, and our investment platform, insights and technology drive our ability to identify and track attractive impact opportunities. Our objective with any impact investment is to deliver two outcomes: (1) defined and measurable impact outcome alongside (2) a targeted financial return.

How can an investor be certain that they are making a difference and having a positive impact overall?
Transparency is very important. With the reporting capabilities that are being made more readily available through technology, it is becoming easier to effectively measure the repercussions of where we as investors direct our money. For example, my colleagues and I are laser focused not on what makes a “good” company or a “bad” company but which companies have a carbon footprint that is better than the index, or companies that are achieving environmental outcomes through green technology and innovation. By making this information readily available to the investor, we are helping them to decide for themselves which investments will have the impact that they are hoping to achieve.

How To Select The Right Housing Loan Lender?

If it could be answered in a single statement, then the right housing loan lender will be the one who can package the loan suitably for you. Yet to be fair, the lender doesn’t really matter unless they can make a perfect home loan offer with the 3 right factors. The factors are:
The home loan interest rates have to be cost efficient
This is the first factor that borrowers consider while selecting a bank or a finance company as a lender. The equation is simple. Once you borrow the money to pay the previous house owner or builder, the principal amount won’t change, neither would the tenure. So, you want to optimize the home loan interest rates. For most borrowers, the right lender is all about the lowest interest rates. However, there is certainly more to it than just home loan rates.
The house loan has to suit your fiscal needs
If you are like most borrowers, you believe that the best home loan in India is the one with the lowest interest rates. Financially speaking, it can be true. Though, if it is not packaged right; it can become the toughest one to repay too. So, you need to consider the home loans in India from a holistic perspective. When you meet the home loan eligibility criteria and submit the required documents, the potential lenders have a reasonable idea about your finances – assets, savings, liabilities, income, etc. So, a smart housing finance company will make an offer that you can afford individually. It should lead to a home loan with lower EMIs that you can afford to pay. Therefore, along with affordable interest rates, the lender should offer a suitable tenure, repayment option, and type of interest rate too.
The home loan should remain manageable
The home loan lenders should offer ECS to transfer funds, simplified terms and conditions document and lower prepayment charges on fixed interest loans. The borrowers will benefit from these simple details. A right lender will be able to support you for the entire loan tenure of 20-30 years. The importance of this factor cannot be overstated. The right lender should also okay the top-up loan for renovation and offer suitable re-structuring, if required. This support goes a long way in retaining the borrower for a long term.
A housing finance lender who prioritizes borrowers is the right lender for you. You cannot fully depend on the home loan rates to help you to identify it;nevertheless, with a holistic look, you will be able to find the right lender for sure.

Signs of a Struggling Economy?

BlackrockLast week was another difficult one for stocks, marked by a bruising mid-week selloff triggered by China’s surprise devaluation of its currency. For many investors, the move reinforced fears about the growth prospects of the world’s second-largest economy. Though U.S. equities remained resilient, other markets came under pressure. European equities in particular struggled as the fall in China’s currency and the appreciation of the euro hit exporters especially hard.

It also did not help that the news came on the back of another worrisome trend: an accelerating decline in U.S. inflation expectations. Too little inflation can be just as perilous as too much, as a decline in inflation expectations can indicate slower growth ahead.

That said, as I write in my new weekly commentary, “The Scene Is Set for Higher Volatility,” there is a big difference between slow growth and no growth, so it’s important to put last week’s events in context.

China’s surprise devaluation.
While I don’t believe China’s move has the dire repercussions some have suggested, it does fit within the broader narrative of a slowing global economy, with less support from emerging markets.

But it needs to be viewed in the context of the currency’s relative strength: The yuan was one of few currencies to have appreciated against the dollar over the past five years. In that light, the move can be viewed as part of a shift toward a market-determined exchange rate and broader financial liberalization. In addition, over the intermediate term, it should provide some modest stimulus to that economy.

Declining inflation expectations.
Despite the slump in inflation expectations and other signs that U.S. growth remains below trend, I don’t view deflation as a real risk. Last week brought more evidence that U.S. economic growth should be modestly higher in the second half of the year, although it’s unlikely to surge. Reports on retail sales, industrial production and producer prices were all solid.
Finally, much of the recent drop in inflation expectations is being driven by lower commodity prices, particularly oil. Last week, headlines were focused on oil trading down to a six-and-a-half-year low. However, this had more to do with supply than demand and was mostly a U.S. phenomenon, driven by the recent stabilization in the U.S. rig count as well the fact that production has remained resilient, despite the pullback in drilling activity.

As for what this means for investors, there’s one key takeaway: the ingredients are in place for more financial market volatility.

At its peak last week, the VIX Index, which measures volatility of the S&P 500 Index, was up 50 percent from the previous week’s low, according to Bloomberg data. Yet volatility is still below its long-term average, and the low-volatility climate of the past few years is incompatible with a world marked by slow growth, unstable inflation expectations and a likely Federal Reserve rate hike before year’s end.

Russ Koesterich, CFA, is the Chief Investment Strategist for BlackRock. He is a regular contributor to The Blog and you can find more of his posts here.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The opinions expressed are as of the date indicated and may change as subsequent conditions vary. The information and opinions contained in this post are derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources deemed by BlackRock to be reliable, are not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. As such, no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given and no responsibility arising in any other way for errors and omissions (including responsibility to any person by reason of negligence) is accepted by BlackRock, its officers, employees or agents. This post may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include, among other things, projections and forecasts. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Reliance upon information in this post is at the sole discretion of the reader.

Optimize Your Real Estate Assets With Loan Against Property

People perceive loans as a huge liability. Aside from marriage, it is probably the longest commitment that people take up. Apart from savvy business owners and investors, most people do not even understand the financial strategy of loans well enough. One of the better strategies available is loan against property. Before analyzing that, it is important to consider some principles of borrowing money that businessmen and investors use to optimize their funds:

1. Stay updated about the aspects of loan process and eligibility criteria that matter.

2. Take each and every effort possible to get the best loan possible. It’d be time worth spent for years to come.

3. Do not sign on the dotted line if you are unsure about any aspect of the loan agreement.

So, how do you use these principles for getting the best loan against property in India ? There are several factors that play a vital role in such an important financial transaction. Here is how you can optimize this loan on each factor:

• Know where you stand and what you want.

If you are taking a loan against property for the first time, this is where you may fall short. You need to understand a few important aspects such as:

1. LTV ratio: Loan to market value of the property
2. Potential criteria for evaluating the cost of the property
3. Suitable repayment strategy

These are very important and can be considered almost non-negotiable. It may not seem to make sense that this list doesn’t include interest rates, but the fact is, after you have taken this loan,  these factors will matter as much as loan rates.

• Know what you would be willing to adjust.

You may not find the perfect loan against property in India . In that case, there are certain factors that you will have to adjust with. You should, however, be certain about how much you can adjust. In other words, if the interest suggested by the housing finance company is too high to make comfortable repayments, then you should negotiate it. In the end, ensure that these factors are within your comfort zone. These include:

1. Loan tenure or the loan term offered
2. Pre-payment penalty
3. Interest rate
4. Processing fees and other charges

• Know your finances well enough.

Here are some factors that should be in the best possible condition to provide you with maximum advantage in loan negotiations:

1. Credit score
2. Property documents and evaluation
3. Employment details

The list may seem to be a long one. Keeping these factors in mind though, you can ensure that you get the best loan as per your requirements.

Best Ways to Save on Currency Exchanges

Even in this charge-it world, there are times when having cash on hand is handy, especially when traveling out of the country. When abroad, you have to deal with the issue of coin. Specifically, the coin of the realm.

Sure, there are plenty of places waiting to make a currency exchange quick and easy. But that almost always means that you will pay more for converting money than you should. What’s the best way to exchange without giving too much of it away? We asked around.

If you have to have cash fast, an exchange firm is the easiest way. Travelex is probably the best-known company. You don’t have to order five days in advance (as you often do with your local bank, see below) and you don’t have to deal with language barriers. Travelex will even deliver the money to your home or to your departing airport.

Of course, all of this convenience comes at a price: the service charge. If you wait until you get to an airport to exchange your currency, you’re probably going to pay a hefty foreign transaction fee. Branch locations may be a little cheaper: Some Yelp customers (who generally give Travelex high marks) have commented that fees were waived if they checked in to a branch location online, and the company would take back any unspent money within 90 days of their trip, converting it back to U.S. dollars for no additional fees. Others comment that there are minimum amounts you have to exchange to avoid larger fees.

Think of Travelex as a concierge service. Like most anything else, you can always pay less if you’re willing to invest more of your valuable time doing the legwork on your own. But if you are taking an impromptu trip, waited too long or just don’t want to go through the hassle, Travelex, and companies like it, will make the process easy.

Your Local Bank
To avoid high fees, you can always go to your friendly local bank branch. But you’ll probably have to arrange for the money several days in advance. “Most banks will allow you to order foreign currency prior to traveling internationally. Banks such as Bank of America offer their customers the options to order currency online or in their banking locations by using Bank of America checking or savings accounts,” according to Ileaa Swift, owner of the website Swift Travel Deals. “If you do not have a savings or checking account with a particular bank, but have a credit card with the bank, visit the local branch and ask about onsite foreign currency exchange options. Most banks even offer tips that will help you figure out how much foreign currency you will need to order and also offer options for cash advances. Most banks also have the option to print out currency exchange rates as wallet cards for you to take with you during your trip.”
You read that right. People who travel abroad sometimes end up with foreign currency they haven’t changed back into dollars Place an ad on Craigslist, Facebook or your local newspaper saying that you would like to exchange your currency. You avoid all fees and depending on the other person, you can probably make the exchange at current exchange rates without any markups.

There are some caveats. First, you have to understand how to calculate exchange rates. There are online currency exchange rate calculators and plenty of articles to help with that, like Understanding The Spread in Retail Currency Exchange Rates.

Second, any time money is involved safety becomes a concern. Make the exchange in a public place and have somebody with you. If you have a GoPro camera, consider recording the transaction by leaving the camera on your dashboard.

The plastic in your wallet isn’t a bad resource. But be careful: If you use your bank ATM card or a credit card, make sure it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. If it does, be prepared to pay an extra 1% to 3%. If you plan to travel abroad regularly, consider getting one of the Top Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee.

“Not only is the lack of a foreign transaction fee important, but so is the exchange rate,” says Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born to Sell, a software development firm that creates covered call investment tools. “I did a test when I was in Japan. I used the same ATM machine first with a Bank of America debit card and then with a Capital One Visa card (with a cash advance feature). Even though the transactions were done one minute apart, the Capital One [card’s] exchange rate was much better than the Bank of America [card’s] exchange rate. Plus, Bank of America charged a foreign ATM fee, where Capital One did not. Even though the Capital One [withdrawal] was treated as a cash advance (since it was a credit card and not a debit card), I was able to pay it off immediately with online banking so there was no interest charge for the cash advance.

If you have multiple cards, you can do a similar test in a foreign country and then log onto the bank site to see what happened. Take out $100 with each of two or three different cards and see which cost you the most. Then use the best card for the rest of the trip.”

Smart Tips To Avail The Best Home Loans

When you are in a market for home loans, you need to make smart choices. You cannot rush into decisions. There are several aspects of your professional, personal and financial life that will come into play as you opt for a housing loan. The best home loans in India cannot be selected randomly or by mere luck. It needs a more studied approach for the home loan eligibility process as well.

Finalize a property meticulously

This is the most challenging part of the entire process. Most borrowers want to buy a property based on their personal requirements. However, your financial life plays a vital role as you need to select a property that you can afford to pay EMIs for comfortably. Most housing finance companies select the candidate who can spare about 30% to 40% of their in-hand income as housing loan EMIs without trouble. So, selecting the property that you cannot pay for will be unwise. You will need to consider that the principal amount of the home loan will include 80% to 85% of the property cost, legal charges, processing charges, home loan insurance plan, service taxes and allied fees. Hence, property selection will depend upon the likely principal amount, EMIs you can afford on a monthly basis and your credit score report.

Ensure eligibility criteria

When you apply for a home loan at any housing finance company in India, you must make sure that you meet their basic eligibility criteria in order to receive a decent loan offer. This is much easier nowadays as these details are straightforwardly available online. This is important, because a home loan application rejection becomes a permanent part of your credit history. You can compare the home loan offers online, check their websites for details and visit the branch office to understand all that you need to know. However, you should apply for home loan in a particular housing finance company when you believe that you can meet their criteria and get an acceptable house loan offer.

Watch out for all the possible charges

A lot of people are relieved once they get a decent house loan offer. Hence, most of them do not go through the terms and conditions of the home loan to vet it out. Although, you can’t be certain about the graph of your financialsituation for the next 20 to 30 years, you need to know about the prepayment charges as well as the home loan default fees. You also need to understand the consequences of the financial agreement that you are getting into. So, do not enter into this vital contract blind-sided. The best home loans in India are selected with close attention to detail. Thus, you should read thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line.

How to File for Bankruptcy With No Money Down

The perennial challenge of consumer bankruptcy attorneys is how to get paid by clients who, by definition, are short of cash. Some bankruptcy attorneys offer “no money down” incentives to potential clients as a way to get the client to sign a representation agreement. But California Bankruptcy Attorneys report that, according to the fine print, they’re not under any obligation to file your bankruptcy until they’re paid in full. After all, if they did, the debt owed to them could be wiped away in bankruptcy too. Of course, the only real way to file bankruptcy without laying out any cash is to file yourself, and get waivers for the normal fees.


  1. Choose the right credit counselor. The 2005 bankruptcy reform made it mandatory for all debtors to receive credit counseling before filing. Usually there’s a fee of about $75 to $100 for this service. Some, but not all, credit counselor’s offer a fee waiver for those who are truly unable to pay the fee. Taking advantage of such an opportunity; it is possible to meet the credit counseling requirement without shelling out any money. For a list of approved providers in your area see the Resources section below.
  2. Get a fee waiver from the court. The normal fee associated with filing bankruptcy is several hundred dollars, depending on where you file and which type of bankruptcy you file. But, most bankruptcy courts have some provision for those who truly cannot pay the waiver. Form 3B is the formal request for a fee waiver, which usually must be filed at the time of filing your bankruptcy petition.
  3. Prepare your petition yourself. The form you file to start the bankruptcy process is called the Voluntary Petition, Form B1. Along with the form, several detailed exhibits must be attached if they are relevant to your situation. Filling out these forms is usually where a lawyer can be helpful. If you are filing on your own, consult free bankruptcy books at your local library or the legal self-help services of your local courthouse or community.

What Salary Does a Bankruptcy Lawyer Earn?

The career outlook for attorneys specializing in bankruptcy appears promising, particularly given the economic troubles encountered by so many in recent years. Bankruptcy lawyers provide protection from potential ruin for individuals and businesses in financial distress, and their services continue to be of great value to many as the nation slowly emerges from the economic struggles that began around 2007.

Bankruptcy lawyers speaking to each other in library

Location and Experience

  • The national median salary for bankruptcy lawyers in 2014 was $110,000, according to That figure is prone to fluctuation, of course, depending on the attorney’s experience and practice location. For instance, the average salary for a bankruptcy attorney in New York City is $129,000, while in Butte, Montana, that figure comes in at $88,000. Career prospects appear strong for lawyers practicing bankruptcy don’t appear likely to diminish anytime soon.

Job Outlook

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that opportunities for lawyers in general were expected to increase 10 percent from 2008 through 2018.

6 Reasons Why Every Investor Should Consider ETFs

Exchange Traded Funds. Likely you’ve heard of them. But you may not know exactly what they are or how they could work for you.

The truth is ETFs are an easy and low-cost way to invest across many stock and bond markets. But even as they’ve gained broad investor acceptance and lots of media attention, many people still have questions about them, such as, “Why should I use ETFs?” and “How do I buy them?” Here, we cut through the noise and offer some key facts about ETFs.

Once you understand the benefits of ETFs, you’ll see how they could be an exciting and smart way to help meet your financial goals, no matter your age, investment experience, or how much money you’re looking to invest.

The simple facts

Let’s dissect what the name “ETF” actually means. ETFs are investment funds that trade like a stock. Made up of a mix of stocks and/or bonds, most are designed to track a major index, like the S&P 500 or the Russell 2000.

Index ETFs aim to match the returns of their market index, often at a lower cost than most mutual funds. Over time, you may do better than if you were invested in a similar mutual fund. In fact, for some markets, ETFs may outperform active mutual funds.

Put simply, ETFs can help you:

  1. Save money — ETF managers help keep fees low by managing a fund to track its benchmark index. And the taxable capital gains distributions of an ETF can be lower than the average mutual fund. Over the long term, these savings can really add up. Note that you may need to pay a trading commission to buy or sell an ETF (just like a stock), although some brokerages let you trade many ETFs for free.
  2. Diversify your portfolio — There are many ETFs to fit your personal investment goals — whether it’s building a diversified core across broad markets, investing in short- or medium-term opportunities, or targeting a specific purpose such as cushioning against jumpy markets. You can quickly achieve broad diversification with a single ETF that contains both stocks and bonds. Or choose from specific asset classes, sectors, geographic regions or countries.
  3. Quickly capture market opportunities — ETFs offer the same trading flexibility as stocks, meaning you know the price throughout the day and can easily buy and sell them during market hours using limit, market or stop-loss orders.
  4. Earn income — Many ETFs pay dividends, and some focus specifically on high-dividend-paying companies, which can be important if you’re looking for potential regular income. ETFs are also an easy way to access bond markets.
  5. Manage risk — There’s a growing array of ETFs that can help you hedge currency risk on foreign investments, reduce market volatility, or target specific “factors” such as growth-oriented companies.
  6. Stay invested — Rather than parking your money in low-interest cash accounts, you can invest in an ETF and still have the potential to earn market returns while you save for short-term goals or decide on specific stocks or bonds to buy. Of course investing in ETFs comes with more risk and volatility than cash accounts. But you may also have better growth potential.

How to File For Bankruptcy In North Carolina

Filing for bankruptcy can be a confusing and intimidating process. Knowing what to do to file your personal bankruptcy in North Carolina can reduce the stress and make the process smoother.

Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer can be worth the cost.


  1. First, you should speak to a bankruptcy attorney or attorneys to make sure that you have absolutely no other means of handling your debt. Most bankruptcy attorneys will offer to speak with you at no charge to help you assess your situation. They will help you determine if you are eligible to file, look for alternatives to bankruptcy if there are any and give you an idea of how your life will be affected once you’ve been declared bankrupt.
  2. If you decide to proceed with the bankruptcy, you will then need to decide if you’re going to retain an attorney or file the proceedings yourself. While it is possible to handle your case on your own, many people choose to enlist the help of an attorney to guide them through the process.
  3. To file for Chapter 7, you will need to do a means test to determine if you are truly insolvent. Your previous six months of income will be measured against a median income scale to determine if you pass or fail the means test. The means test determines whether or not if, after your other obligations are met, your monthly income will allow you to repay your debt. According to the North Carolina bankruptcy law website, as of 2011, you will probably qualify for Chapter 7 if you are unable to pay at least $6,000 over the next five years.
  4. If you pass the means test, you will next need to determine how much of your property is exempt. This means listing all of your assets and determining their worth and measuring that against what the bankruptcy court says you are allowed to keep. Generally, a certain amount of equity in your home and vehicles is considered exempt, retirement accounts, and a certain amount of cash and personal possessions. Any property that is not exempt may be liquidated and used to repay your creditors.
  5. Once you’ve determined which of your property is exempt, you will then be required to attend a mandatory credit counseling class. You must provide proof of your attendance to the court along with your filing.
  6. Next, you will need to complete the bankruptcy paperwork, including but not limited to: the actual bankruptcy petition, your filing fee or fee waiver request, the list of creditors you are claiming in the bankruptcy, statement of your social security information, verification of your credit counseling attendance, notice to your debtors, and your list of exempt property. These will need to be filled out, copied, and filed with the local court.
  7. Meet with the court-appointed trustee who will take possession of any property you are not allowed to keep. The trustee will liquidate any of said property and use it to pay your creditors.
  8. Attend a 341 hearing or meeting of creditors. This meeting gives creditors the opportunity to appear to question your filing and offer any challenges to prevent you from completing the bankruptcy. While the opportunity is available, most creditors do not actually appear.
  9. If your bankruptcy is not challenged, then the next step is to file any motions or claims for exemption pertaining to your case. You will also need to reaffirm any secured debts, such as mortgages or car loans, that you will continue to pay on after bankruptcy. Once these steps are completed, the court will issue a Discharge Order which will declare you bankrupt and wipe out your debts for good. Once you receive your discharge order, usually within 90 days of filing, you are no longer legally liable for the debts included in the bankruptcy.

How to File Bankruptcy for Low Income Individuals

According to the website, 936,795 Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2014. This represents a 12.5 percent drop from 2013, but many are still seeking relief from crushing loads of debt. Bankruptcy filings are particularly problematic for low-income individuals, as they have far fewer resources to pay, but there are ways to lower the cost.

Hiring a Lawyer

The first decision in a low-income bankruptcy is whether or not to use a lawyer. Depending on where you live, a non-profit legal aid association may be able to help. Special circumstances, such as being a veteran or dealing with a disability, may lessen the income requirements or make you more likely to qualify for assistance. Some lawyers also perform a certain amount of casework pro-bono. Your state bar association may have information on both of these programs. Some lawyers will allow you to complete some filing paperwork on your own, saving you money.


  • Do not charge the lawyer’s fee on a credit card. Credit card companies review charges in the time before bankruptcy carefully, and any charges in that time period may be excluded from the bankruptcy –and perhaps the entire balance on that card along with it.

Filing Fees

Bankruptcy requires a $300 fee just for filing the paperwork. However, you can ask the court for a waiver of that filing fee. To qualify for that waiver, you must have income of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and be unable to pay the fee in installments. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a family’s income must be less than $36,375 per year to qualify for the fee waiver. Even then, approval of the waiver is up to the judge.


  • Even if you do not qualify for a fee waiver, you can ask to pay the fee in installments. This can make a bankruptcy filing more affordable.

Chapter 7 or 13

Many people with low incomes qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, because they cannot make installment payments that Chapter 13 requires. Because of this, low-income filers usually do not have to deal with the increased costs of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, if you do file for a Chapter 13, you’ll pay monthly debt payments to the trustee to send to your creditors. The trustee keeps a percentage of these payments as a fee for handling the bankruptcy.

Pro Se Filing

A pro se filing means that you file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. You may choose to do this if your case is very simple. A paralegal may be able help you complete the forms and do the calculations needed for the filing for much less than a lawyer would charge.


  • Be careful when completing bankruptcy forms yourself. The complicated calculations make mistakes common, and with an error, you could have your bankruptcy dismissed.

Are Your Financial Advisor Fees Competitive?

If you charge fees to your clients for your financial advice or asset management services, then setting the right price can be a difficult task. You of course need to be adequately compensated for your services, but your clients also need to feel like they are getting their money’s worth in return for what they are paying you. But increasing competition and an explosion of technological alternatives have made it harder than ever to be able to determine whether the fees that you charge your clients are in line with your competition.

Start With the Basic Questions
To some extent, the fees that you charge as an advisor can be determined by common sense. The following questions should be able to help you to determine the types and amounts of fees that you charge.

Would I prefer to charge by the hour, by the job or plan or a percentage of assets under management?

Will I also be charging commissions for some cases or services?

What is my competition charging for similar services to similar clients, and are they making enough profit in order to grow and thrive?

How much revenue will I realistically have to generate in order to stay in business?
Fee Options
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will probably have enough information to at least be able to set an initial fee for your services if you have not done so already. And while the laws of supply and demand will ultimately determine whether your fees are too high or too low in the long run, there are several things that you can do in the here and now to add value to your fee structure and incentivize clients to enlist your services.

Charge low-net-worth clients a bit more – Although the difference in fees should not be too severe, this can make good fiscal sense in many ways. All clients require at least a certain level of administration, but you need to focus more on making your higher net worth clients happy. Those with fewer assets under management can end up taking up just as much of your time as your richer client base, but allocating equal time to them ultimately costs you money.

Offer freebies like a no-fee initial consultation – This can be a great way to get clients in the door so that you can show them what you are able to do for them. The lack of an obligation on their part will make many more prospects willing to meet with you at least once.

Give clients who require the least amount of maintenance a discount – This idea is founded upon the critical distinction between low-net-worth clients and low maintenance ones. As mentioned previously, low-net-worth clients can still take up a lot of your time and should therefore pay slightly more than those with more money. But those who require little or none of your time should also be rewarded for their simplicity.

Charge a single rate for assets under management – If you like to keep things simple, then charging a single rate for all of your clients may be the way to go. Although this may be frustrating to your small clients, it will provide better value for your large ones and may also encourage some of your other clients to increase their asset base with you in order to get a better value.

Offer a few different options to clients for how they can pay – Some clients may be happy to pay you by the hour for your services, while others would rather pay you a percent of their assets for your management services. The ability to offer a choice here can expand your marketability and thus your client base.

Here Come the Robo-Advisors
If you charge a percentage fee for assets under management, be prepared to contend with the coming wave of automated investment services that only charge a fraction of a percent for their services. Websites like Wealthvest and others like it can provide a basic level of money management for less than half a percent in many cases, and you will need to be able to show why the human element that you offer justifies the difference in cost between them and you. Having a top-notch website with technological amenities like a cloud-based platform, skype and chat services for your clients and other convenient features can also set you apart from a set of algorithms that is being packaged and marketed to the public.


Debit vs. Credit Card: Which Is Better for Booking a Hotel?

Credit card are always going to have an overall negative stigma attached to them. With so many people struggling with debt every day, most will just stay away from credit cards altogether. Unfortunately, that is not always the best idea.

There are a few instances when you should always use a credit card to make your purchases. One of those times just happens to be when you book a hotel. The next time you go to book a hotel room make sure you consider these reasons why it’s important to use a credit card and not a debit card.

The Rewards
If you have a cash-back or travel-rewards credit card then you are rewarded for every purchase that you make. With cash-back cards you will receive a percentage of each purchase back, and with travel-reward cards you will earn hotel points or airline miles.

There was a time when banks offered reward earning debit cards. Those days are long gone and now it requires a credit card to earn any type of meaningful rewards. There are a few reward earning cards that are great choices for anyone.

Top Choices

Chase Sapphire Preferred – The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best overall credit cards available today. One of the reasons it’s so popular is because it offers two Chase Ultimate Reward points per $1 spent on travel expenses. You will need to book your room directly with the hotel and not through an online travel agency.
The Hyatt Credit Card – If you frequently stay at Hyatt Hotels then The Hyatt Credit Card is a great option. First, you will earn a bonus of two free nights anywhere in the world after you sign up and spend $1,000 in the first three months. You will also earn three Hyatt points for each $1 you spend at Hyatt properties.
Foreign Transaction Fees
There is nothing worse than being charged a fee just to have the right to make a purchase. If you are planning a trip outside the United States and need to book a hotel then you might want to think twice about using your debit card in order to avoid fees. Most banks will charge a foreign transaction fee when you use your card outside of the U.S. This fee typically ranges from 1% – 3% of the total purchase price. If you are booking a week-long hotel stay then this could be a pretty large amount.

Instead of using a debit card make sure you use one of the many credit cards that don’t have a foreign transaction fee. A couple of the best options include:

British Airways Visa Signature Card – If you book your next hotel stay with The British Airways Visa Signature card then you don’t need to worry about foreign transaction fees. If you aren’t currently a cardholder and need to sign up, they offer a bonus of 50,000 British Airways Avios after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard – Another option for avoiding foreign transaction fees would be the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. You will receive 40,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.
Trip Cancelation or Interruption Insurance
When planning vacations no one ever expects things to not go as they had planned. Unfortunately, things sometimes aren’t as easy, especially when weather causes delays and in some cases cancelations.

If you paid for your trip using a debit card then you have no protection against non-refundable expenses if your trip is delayed. Instead you could use a credit card that includes trip interruption/cancelation insurance. If your trip is delayed for a number of covered reasons and your hotel is non-refundable then you will receive a reimbursement check up to a certain value.

Here are a couple of credit cards with the best trip cancelation/interruption insurance:

United MileagePlus Explorer Card – One of the many card options that include trip cancelation insurance is the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card. If you book a non-refundable hotel with this card and your trip is canceled then you can be reimbursed up to $10,000.
Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Signature – If your trip is canceled or interrupted and you prepaid any non-refundable hotel expenses using a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Signature card then you could be reimbursed up to $5,000.
Extra Loyalty Points
If you book a hotel using one of the hotels co-branded credit cards then you will earn additional hotel loyalty points. Instead of earning the base rate of one or maybe two points, you can earn a lot more. For example, anyone that uses the Hyatt card mentioned earlier will earn three points for every $1 spent on purchases at Hyatt including food and shopping. All other purchases with the card earns just one point.

A couple of the best credit cards that earn consumers additional points for hotel stays include:

IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card – When you use an IHG Rewards Club Select card and make any purchase at an IHG property then you will receive five points for every $1 spent.
Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express – Cardholders will earn one point for all purchases, but when you book a hotel at any of the 1,200 Starwood locations you can earn up to five points for every $1 spent.

Understand Your Expenses With Home Loan Calculations

Most expenses for a home loan seem small as compared to the principal amount, due to which people fail to take them into account and include them in the principal amount. Thus, it should come as no surprise when the final home loan calculations bring about EMIs that are shockingly huge to pay. It makes sense, thus, to include these minor expenses in your principal amount while calculating your EMIs with the home loan EMI calculators in India .
Processing fees:
It is a tiny percent of your principal amount and can even be waived off in certain cases. In most banks, it can be anywhere up to 1%. However, the final processing fee will be charged along with the requisite service tax.
Stamp duty:
This amount was earlier included in the principal loan; however, from mid-2012, this amount must be paid in its entirety separately. So, calculate the stamp duty and set aside sufficient funds for it like you would save up for the down payment. Since it costs up to 8% to 10% of the principal amount, you must include it in your home loan calculations carefully. As, you can’t pay it via EMIs, exclude it from the amount you enter in the home loan EMI calculators.
A home loan protection plan is a term insurance product for homes. You can pay it all at the start or you can pay it in monthly instalments. This choice mostly depends upon available funds after the down payment and stamp duty cost. If you plan to pay it on a monthly basis, you must include it accordingly in your EMI calculations.
Interest rate fluctuations:
These are really challenging to anticipate. Most people fail to include them in the home loan calculators in India . But, for floating and fixed interest rates, these fluctuations are very common. So it would be smart to make a few rough calculations to observe their impact on your EMIs. You should be in a position to pay off the EMIs in spite of the variations as they would occur eventually. Therefore, don’t plan your EMIs in such a way that there is no money left for these additional expenses.
It is imperative to foresee all these factors and understand their impact on your total expenses. A smart strategy would be to keep sufficient room in your monthly cash flow for these additional expenses. So, plan smart and choose well for your dream home.

A Borrowers Guide For The House Loan Terms And Conditions

Every finance expert and finance blog suggests that reading the fine print for your home loan agreement is very important. You must understand it, clarify your doubts and enter into a contract with complete awareness about the implications of the terms and conditions in the contract. However, most borrowers don’t. But, this long and boring document can help you to understand the ramifications of your contract like no other housing loan blog post or article can. So, it is a must-read. Though it is not entertaining, it is an important piece of information. If you would not want to read it all, here are a few crucial pointers that you should pay attention to:


There will be an extended section about all the possible charges and fees. It will be vital to understandhow and where you will need to pay. This category will include details about:

• Prepayment charges and foreclosure charges on fixed rate housing loans
• Applicable variations in floating and fixed interest rates on housing loans
• Late payment fees for house loans
• Loan default
• Top up loan processing charges

Documentation &Notifications:

Most borrowers are likely to take certain actions under specific circumstances. They are expected to present certain documents and inform precise changes to the lender. The housing finance companies in India are at liberty to change the house loan agreement accordingly. Though the best home loans in India are accommodating in this section, it is essential for people to understand their duties as borrowersand submit all the required documents on time. The primary advantage of this kind of effort will come in handy when you want to opt for a top-up loan for renovating your home.This is more important if you are a self-employed person because there will be over-draft facilities available on the property in question. So, understanding the rules and regulations for home loans are vital.

Last but not the least, these documents are complicated and include quite a few terminologies, which will be well-explained in the document itself. So, take a look at the definitions of certain words if you do not follow them easily. It will help you to process your home loan terms and conditions clearly. When you submit the documents required for home loans and sign the agreement, these are the rules and regulations that you are agreeing to. Hence, understanding the terms and conditions appropriately will be as crucial as the signature on the document.

Simple Interest Loans: Do They Exist?

When you borrow money, you have to pay back the amount of the loan (called the principal), plus pay interest on the loan. Interest essentially amounts to the cost of borrowing the money – what you pay the lender for providing the loan – and it’s typically expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. You might be paying 3% interest on your car loan, for example, or 4% for your mortgage.

There are actually two different kinds of interest – and it pays to know the difference. Depending on the loan, you will pay either compound or simple interest. Compound interest is calculated on the principal amount plus the accumulated interest of the previous periods, which means you effectively pay interest on the interest. In contrast, simple interest is calculated on the principal only, so you don’t pay interest on the interest. Because you’re paying interest on a smaller amount of money (just the principal), simple interest can be advantageous when you borrow money. But do simple interest loans exist?

Short-Term Loans
You’ll find simple interest loans offered by a variety of loan products, including car loans. With most car loans, interest is calculated on the principal loan balance on a daily basis, and payments are first applied to any interest due, and then towards the principal balance. The daily interest amount is equal to the annual rate (3%, for example) divided by the number of days in the year (365, except 366 during a leap year). So the daily interest on a loan balance of $10,000 at 3% interest would be $0.82 ($10,000 x 0.03 ÷ 365), assuming it’s not a leap year.

Like many loans, simple interest loans are typically paid back in equal, monthly installments that are established when you receive the loan. These loans are amortizing, meaning a portion of each payment goes to pay down interest, and the rest is applied to the loan balance. At the beginning of the loan, more of your monthly payment goes towards the interest since the interest is always calculated off the remaining balance, which is highest at the onset of the loan. As the loan term progresses, less of your payment goes towards interest and more applies to the principal.

If you have a $10,000 loan at 3% for three years, for example, your monthly payment would be $290.81. Twenty-five dollars of your first payment would go towards interest and the remaining $265.81 to the balance. The next month, $24.34 would go towards interest ($9,734.19 x 0.03 ÷ 12), and $266.48 to the balance, and so on until the loan and interest are paid in full. (If you are thinking of buying a car, see How Interest Rates Work on Car Loans.)

If you make all your payments on time each month, you should expect to pay back just the amount that is stated on your loan agreement. If you make a late payment, however, more of that payment will be used to pay the interest you owe because you’ll be paying more days of interest – and less will go towards reducing your principal balance. This adds interest to your loan, plus you may have to pay late fees.

Other Loans
Most student loans use what’s called the Simplified Daily Interest Formula, which is essentially a simple interest loan since interest is only calculated on the balance (and not on the previously accrued interest).

Most mortgages are also simple interest loans, although they can certainly feel like compound interest. In fact, all mortgages are simple interest except those that allow negative amortization. An important thing to pay attention to is how the interest accrues on the mortgage: either daily or monthly. If a mortgage accrues interest daily, it is always a simple interest loan; if it accrues monthly, it is simple interest unless it’s a negative amortization loan.

It’s important for borrowers to know how interest accrues on their mortgage since simple interest loans need to be managed differently than monthly accrual mortgages. One thing to watch out for: Late payments on a daily accrual loan can cost you dearly. If your payment is due on the first of the month, for example, and your payment is a week late, you’ll end up paying an extra seven days’ worth of interest. The grace period just allows you to avoid paying a late fee – not more interest. Since more of the payment goes towards interest, the late payment can actually make the loan balance go up instead of down. See What Are the Pros and Cons of a Simple Interest Mortgage? for more on this topic.

The Bottom Line
Simple interest loans calculate interest on the principal balance only, so you don’t end up paying interest on interest as you would with a compound interest loan. If you keep a balance on your credit card, you probably pay compound interest, and any interest charges are added to the principal – making your debt grow exponentially over time. Adding insult to injury is the fact that most cards compound interest on a daily – not monthly – basis, which can cost you even more over time.

Compound interest can sometimes work in your favor – just not when you borrow money. Here’s when: Simple and compound interest also apply to interest you earn when you invest money. But while simple interest can work to your advantage when you borrow money, it will end up costing you when you invest. Say you invest $10,000 at 5% interest paid once a year for 20 years. If your investment earns simple interest, you will have $20,000 – your original $10,000 + ($10,000 x 0.05 x 20) – after 20 years. If the investment earns compound interest, on the other hand, you will have $26,533 – your $10,000 + ($10,000 x (1 + 0.05/1)^20) – assuming interest is compounded one time per year. If it’s compounded 12 times a year, you’ll end up with even more – $27,126 in this case.

Dollar wise, you’re typically better off with simple interest any time you borrow – as long as you make payments on time and in full every month – and compound interest any time you invest.

Key Financial Ratios to Analyze The Healthcare Industry

Some key financial ratios investors and market analysts use to evaluate companies in the health care sector include the cash flow coverage ratio, the debt-to-capitalization ratio and operating profit margin.

An Overview of the Health Care Sector
The health care sector is one of the largest market sectors, encompassing a variety of industries such as hospitals, medical equipment and the pharmaceutical industry. The sector is popular among investors for two very different reasons.

First, it is viewed by many investors as containing stable industries that offer a good defensive play to help weather general economic or market turndowns. Regardless of the state of the economy, individuals continually need health care. Hospital and pharmaceutical revenues may suffer somewhat during difficult economic times, but the overall consumer demand for health care services is considered less subject to significant drop-off due to economic conditions than is the case for sectors such as the retail sector or automotive sector. For the same reason, while health care stocks may decline in conjunction with an overall bear market, they are generally considered less vulnerable than the stocks of companies in many other sectors.

The second major reason the stocks of health care companies are attractive to investors is the fact the sector has consistently been one of the best-performing sectors in terms of growth. Two contributing factors to the sustained growth of companies in the sector are an aging baby-boom population in need of ongoing health services and continued development in the fields of medical technology and pharmaceutical disease treatments.

Evaluating Health Care Stocks
Because the health care sector is so broad, it is important for investors to compare similar companies within the same industry in the sector when making equity evaluations. However, there are some key ratios that can be effectively used in a basic analysis of virtually all health care stocks.

Cash Flow Coverage Ratio
The cash flow coverage ratio is a good general evaluation metric, but it can also be particularly important for businesses such as hospitals and medical practices. Because such companies must often wait substantial periods of time to obtain financial reimbursement from insurance companies or government agencies, having sufficient cash flow and good cash flow management is essential to their financial survival.
This ratio is calculated by dividing operating cash flow, a figure that can be obtained from a company’s cash flow statement, by total debt obligations. It reveals a company’s ability to meet its financing obligations. It is also a ratio considered particularly important by potential lenders, and therefore impacts a company’s ability to obtain additional financing if necessary. A ratio of 1 is generally considered acceptable, and a ratio higher than 1 more favorable.

Debt-to-Capitalization Ratio
The long-term debt-to-capitalization ratio is an important leverage ratio for evaluating companies that have significant capital expenditures, and therefore substantial long-term debt, such as many health care companies. This ratio, calculated as long-term debt divided by total available capital, is a variation on the popular debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio, and essentially indicates how highly leveraged a company is in relation to its total financial assets. A ratio higher than 1 can indicate a precarious financial position for the company, in which its long-term debts are greater than its total available capital. Analysts prefer to see ratios of less than 1 since this indicates a lower overall financial risk level for a company.

Operating Margin
Operating margin is one of the main profitability ratios commonly considered by analysts and investors in equity evaluation. A company’s operating profit margin is the amount of profit it makes from the sales of its products or services after deducting all production and operating expenses, but prior to consideration of the cost of interest and taxes. Operating margin is key in determining a company’s potential earnings, and therefore in evaluating its growth potential. It is also considered to be the best profitability ratio to assess how well-managed a company is, since management of basic overhead costs and other operating expenses is critical to the bottom line profitability of any company. Operating margins vary widely between industries and should be compared between similar companies.

A Step-By-Step Guide For A Home Loan Transfer

Most housing finance companies offer ahome loan balance transfer as a housing finance service. This has been available in the market for quite some time now. However, you need to do this smartly. You cannot rush into these decisions as they can turn out to be expensive. Therefore use this step-by-step guide to select the right financial service for you.

Step 1- Consider all the options available:

Most borrowers do not research the home loan transfers holistically. However, it is a new home loan after all. So, you need to take similar precautions. Check out the organizations offering this particular product because all the organizations don’t offer it. Then, identify the most beneficial one that will suit your requirements perfectly. Are you getting lower interest rates or a no-prepayment-charges clause in the home loan transfer? Find out.

Step 2 – Focus on your requirements:

Why do you need to opt for a home loan balance transfer ? What are your requirements that aren’t being met efficiently withthe current housing finance company? Are you earning more and need the loan with no prepayment charges? Or do you want to be offered lower interest rates that are available to new borrowers? Are you interested in the top-up loan for home renovation? When you make a clear list, you eliminate some organizations by default. You will only select the housing finance companies that serve the requirements you seek.

Step 3 – Watch out for loan details:

You will need to check out the terms and conditions of the home loan agreement. You need to look at it as a home loan rather than just a home loan balance transfer because you do go through the entire home loan process again. You need to meet their home loan eligibility criteria. You need to consider the housing loan offer along with its terms and conditions. This is not optional. It should meet your financialsituation too. Simply put, an ideal home loan transfer  will allow you to save more than the amount that you are spending on it, since you will spend on the legal fees, processing charges, credit score report, service taxes, etc. So, as long as you are profitable in this equation, it is a smart decision. If you are not profitable, you will have to say a “No.”.

Step 4 – Finalize the transfer:

If you are certain that you will be in a profitable situation, then you will need to obtain a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from your current lender. This is an additional document required for a home loan transfer. The submission of all the documents and signed application form will seal the deal. Though, you must realize that the NOC is non-negotiable and will not be issued by your current lender if you have defaulted any of your repayments. So, make this transfer swift by following up diligently for the same.

What Finance Companies Look For

When applying for a loan, the likelihood of being approved for the loan depends on several factors that the lender evaluates. Knowing what the lender will look at in advance can help you increase your chances of getting approved. The lender may look at several variables, including your credit history and your income.


  • One of the most important variables for a lender is the applicant’s income. When you apply for a mortgage or any other type of financing, the lender will look at how much money you make. Not only is the amount that you make important, but the frequency and steadiness of the income is also critical. If you do not have a regular income that you can document, it can be difficult to qualify for any kind of financing.

Payment History

  • Another critical variable that a lender looks at is your payment history. This can be found in your credit history and it tells the finance company exactly how you have paid your bills in the past. For example, if you have a history of making late payments on any of your debts, this can hurt your credit score significantly. If you have never missed a payment, you will look very attractive to any financing company and you should have a solid chance of getting a loan.

Debt Level

  • When evaluating you for financing, a lender will also look at the amount of debt that you accumulate. The amount of debt that you have will be compared to the income that you bring in on a regular basis. This is done by using the debt-to-income ratio. If you have a high debt-to-income ratio, you look less attractive as a borrower.

Other Credit Factors

  • When evaluating you for financing, the lender will also look at several other variables. For example, the amount of time that you have had credit is an important factor. The financing company will also look at the different types of credit accounts that you have. Having a good mix of credit and handling it responsibly makes you look like an attractive borrower. The financing company may also pay attention to how many credit accounts you have opened to make sure that you are not at risk of overextending yourself.

What Are the Primary Functions of Finance Companies?

A finance company seeks simply to finance the activities of other businesses and individuals. This means that the company is in charge of lending money to those interested in pursuing such funding. Finance companies focus solely on this lending aspect and do not accept deposits the way that banks do. This allows finance companies to respond more quickly to changes in interest rates, so they are often able to offer slightly better deals on the money they lend out.

Personal Loans

  • One of the most common functions for finance companies is the distribution of personal or individual loans. These are loans to individuals not affiliated with any business, and designated for personal uses. The most common type of individual loan is the home loan or mortgage, but smaller loans, such as auto loans, are also popular.

Business Loans

  • Business or commercial loans are granted to businesses for use in an enterprise. There are many types of business loans, and finance companies may handle any of them. Some businesses may want money to buy assets like property or equipment, while others want a loan for their first major supply purchase, or a bond payout they cannot currently afford. Business loans are often larger than individual loans and make the finance company more money on interest.

Funding Activities

  • Since finance companies do not receive their money from deposits the way that banks do, they need another way to come up with the money that they loan out. One of the main functions of a finance company is borrowing these funds from banks themselves, or acquiring the funds from money market activities.

Capital Financing

  • Capital financing is a special type of financing that is conducted by finance companies owned by parent companies that sell products or services. These finance companies work with the customers of the parent company, loaning them money so that they can purchase parent company goods. The parent company benefits from the decrease in inventory and the interest that the loan will generate.

What Is a Consumer Finance Company?

Consumer finance companies provide an alternative to banks for individuals who need to borrow money. Unlike a bank or credit union, a consumer finance company doesn’t offer savings or other deposit accounts. Typically, finance companies will make loans to consumers with weak credit who don’t qualify for a bank loan.

Consumer Finance Company Features

  • Consumer finance companies are licensed by states to lend money to consumers for both business and personal reasons. The lender category of consumer finance companies doesn’t include title loan businesses or pawnshops. Some consumer finance companies make auto loans with the vehicle as collateral or offer secured and unsecured credit card accounts. State laws regulate how much consumers can borrow and set limits on interest rates. For example, in Florida a consumer finance company can lend a person up to $25,000. Florida caps interest rates on consumer finance company loans at 30 percent for the first $3,000 owed. The interest rate on the next $1,000 owed is limited to 24 percent. If the principal balance exceeds $4,000, the maximum rate on the excess can’t be more than 18 percent. Since each state sets its own rules, the limits on consumer finance company loans may be different where you live.

How to Start an Insurance Premium Financing Company

Insurance premium financing is one of the newest offerings in the insurance market. Basically, this activity involves having a bank extend an individual a line of credit to pay for an insurance policy over the course of a certain amount of time. Generally, this option is only available to clients over the age of 65, and most will need to already have a good financial standing. If the policy is needed during the term, the loan is paid in full from the funds. If not, the client can either pay off the loan and keep the policy or sell the policy on the secondary insurance market. Now you can get involved in this profitable approach to insurance; here’s how.


  1. Get Licensing. Because you are going to be working in the insurance field, you’ll need to have a license to do so in every state in which you hope to offer your services. Be aware that many states have very different licensing requirements and some are fairly strict. Because this can be a time-consuming process, hand over the responsibility to your lawyer.
  2. Look into a captive financing company. When you start this type of business, financing is going to be a big part of your success. If you control the financing company, you get to make the important decisions, such as what interest rates to charge and what other lending terms to set in motion. You also profit from the deals, even when things don’t go well with the transaction. For example, normally, if the client had to sell the policy because he could not afford to pay off the loan you would end up taking a loss. If you own the financing company, that’s not going to be the case.
  3. Find clients. Even before you officially open the doors of your business, you should have your eye on potential clients. Hopefully, you already have a strong reputation in the insurance or financial planning market which will make lining up clients easier. If you are currently working in those fields, consider marketing yourself to existing clients if there would be no conflict of interest with your present employer. Another way to find new clients is to start hosting free seminars or by offering to do presentations for individual potential clients.
  4. Consider outsourcing management. One of the popular options available for premium financing companies is to outsource their management to services that can run them. The benefit is that you’ll be able to reap the benefits, but you won’t necessary suffer if you don’t have a lot of business acumen or if you want to continue working in your present field while also opening up this additional income stream.
  5. Build your capital. Because of the higher than average capital costs required to start one of these companies, you’ll need to either finance the business yourself or find some partners who will assist you. Remember that your expenses will be determined, in part, by how many policies you plan to extend. You may also not generate much profit right away either so you’ll need to have sufficient capital to cover the costs of hiring a management team and covering all of the financing fees, such as interest, associated with each of these loans.

How to Evaluate Financial Investment Companies

Evaluating a financial investment company is important before using that company for personal finance needs. A company should only be used when the evaluation of the company shows that the company is the best possible financial investment company and there are no possible complaints that a client can have regarding the company. There are key points to look for in a financial investment company before giving the company money.


  1. Find out the company philosophy. The company managers should be able to provide proof that shows how they invest, which risks they take and how they minimize the risks of investments. The philosophy of the company should be acceptable before considering any other factors about the company. The public disclosure of any investment company can be obtained from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure, or IAPD, website.
  2. Look at the company process of investing. The process that the company uses should match up with what it claims for a philosophy. If company managers claim that they invest in environmental friendly investments and then turn around and invest client money in stocks or companies that are known to harm the environment, the company is not a good company.
  3. Ask questions of the people working for the company, especially the individuals who are handling client money. Questions should include asking about their methods and understanding of the company processes and philosophy, whether they work individually or as a team, who they work under and how they make investment decisions. It is very important that the people in the company that handle client money are considered before hiring a company.
  4. Find out about the company’s background. Check on the company through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s website, under the broker check section. FINRA’s search will give information about the company including whether the company has committed crimes in the last ten years or if it has filed for bankruptcy.
  5. Find out how the company charges clients. Some financial companies charge very specific fees and rates while other companies, especially hedge funds, will charge a specific percentage of the investment gains instead. This should be clarified to determine if the fees and charges are acceptable.

Job Description of a Financial Administrator

A financial administrator has responsibility for a company’s financial operations. In the business world, administrators organize processes, people and other resources to meet objectives. In finance, administrators focus on the company’s fiscal activities, including accounting, budget management and financial reporting. Position titles vary from company to company; they are often referred to as finance managers or financial managers.

Overall Responsibilities

  • A financial administrator oversees daily financial operations and long-term financial planning. The job involves developing the processes, reports and guidelines needed to build and maintain the financial health of the workplace, and coordinating finance department staffing. Professionals in this role also ensure the company’s financial reports meet legal and regulatory requirements, such as those defined within the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to protect the company from claims of fraud.

Specific Duties

  • A financial administrator develops and monitors budgets, and prepares or directs the preparation of income statements, balance sheets, financial summaries and forecasts. Management duties include overseeing the functions and staff members in accounts payable and accounts receivable. This administrator should also monitor market trends and have the ability to provide business leaders with sound financial advice on opportunities to maximize profits.

Attributes and Skills

  • Successful financial administrators are highly organized and detail-oriented professionals with strong analytical, communication and math skills. These administrators must understand legal and regulatory requirements relating to business finance at local, state and federal levels, and know auditing techniques to help ensure the company’s financial operations remain in compliance. Computer proficiency for this position includes spreadsheets, presentation, word processing and reporting software.

Educational Requirements and Outlook

  • Some companies hire financial administrators with bachelor’s degrees in business, finance or economics, but master’s degrees are often preferable. An in-depth knowledge of accounting principles and practices, along with the ability to perform thorough financial analyses are required.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the annual median salary for financial administrators at $109,740 in 2012. The projected job growth through 2022 is 9 percent.

What Are the Top-Paying Jobs in Finance?

The world of finance offers many jobs. Certain finance jobs tend to be more lucrative than others, and these jobs generally require advanced training and degrees. Top-paying financial jobs also typically come with heavy responsibilities and a demanding work schedule, though many people in these positions feel the monetary benefits outweigh the costs.

Finance Director

  • Finance directors or chief financial officers (CFOs) have big responsibilities in companies because they manage financial risk. According to, financial directors made a median annual salary of $121,000 as of 2010, with the top-ranking financial directors were making $214,000 a year. Companies hire financial directors with plenty of management experience and a certain educational background, which is usually an MBA and a CPA at large companies. Their job entails making accurate financial forecasts and managing a company’s budget.

Sales Director

  • Sales directors are crucial members of a company who are largely responsible for bringing in cash. For this reason, those who perform the job well rarely get laid off despite company cutbacks. Sales directors recruit, train and motivate members of the sales department, and their salary varies according to their skills and experience. The median salary for a sales director as of 2010 was $140,000 a year, with the high earners raking in $239,000, according to CNN Money.


  • Actuaries are math-savvy business professionals who analyze and report on the impact of risk and certainty. They play an important role in companies because they closely monitor potential problems and calculate possible damages. They are experts on financial security systems and typically train for nearly a decade beyond their undergraduate degree. Actuaries are also responsible for pricing products and making sure cash is secured to keep the business afloat. According to, actuaries in 2010 made an average $129,000 a year, with the highest earners raking in $257,000.

Financial Adviser

  • Financial advisers are consultants who work with businesses and individuals by helping them manage their accounts, make smart investments, pay their taxes, budget their money and manage their estates. They may work for big financial advising firms, small practices or independently. Financial advisers who work mostly with high-end clients usually make the most money, as their high-profile job entails considerable risk and responsibility. According to US News, the median wages for a financial adviser were $68,200 in 2009, but the highest-earning advisers pulled in as much as $166,400.

Finance Officer Job Description

The duties of a financial officer are an important part of the operation for any organization, nonprofit or commercial. The financial officer is the person who controls the spending, and sometimes the funding, of an operation.


  • The financial officer of a company is the person who is in charge of finances, accounting and investment activities of the company. A financial officer can have many titles but is mostly referred to as the Chief Financial Officer, or CFO.


  • The financial officer’s duties include administration of the financial system, employee pay records and benefits and approval of payouts. This includes monitoring all expenses and budgets within the company to comply with approved policies.

Specific Duties

  • Specific duties include approving invoices, issuing receipts and creating overall budget projections. Other specialized duties can include maintaining the required government documentation and ensuring the delivery of financial records in a timely manner.

Corporate Rank

  • Depending on the organization, the financial officer can be as high as a Vice President reporting to the CEO or further down as someone strictly in charge of overall accounting. In nonprofit organizations, the financial officer can also be head of human resources or fundraising efforts.


  • The financial officer’s ability to carry out her duties can directly impact the ability for an organization to finance daily operations or raise funding. Her ability to follow government oversight also impacts the amount of government involvement in the business should the organization become financially unstable.

Jobs That Fall Under Financial Service Careers

To be successful in financial services careers, individuals must be analytical, with a passion for breaking down figures and explaining them to their clients, colleagues and oftentimes, investors. Financial service careers can range from a customer service agent calling to collect on a past due bill to a chief financial officer who oversees spending and manages the profit center of a business.

Personal Financial Advisor

  • This type of career revolves around helping individuals create a financially sound future by offering tax, insurance and investment advice. This job requires the ability to network and market your services effectively to gain a larger clientele, since in many cases personal financial advisers have to find their own business leads.

Investment Broker

  • Investment brokers work with buyers and sellers. They act as the middle man, as they help with the buying and selling of commodities among parties. They often work with private and public organizations. Their pay primarily comes from the commission they make on their deals.


  • Auditors work to assure that companies are adhering to compliance laws and regulations regarding the financial dealings of their company. They review everything from financial statements to client files, checking them thoroughly for accuracy.

Insurance Agent

  • Insurance agents offer protection options to consumers and businesses. They offer casualty, life, health, disability and long-term care insurance that provides coverage if an accident or emergency occurs. They work to advise their clients on way to reduce risks in their homes and at their businesses, which may help reduce insurance costs.


  • Using generally accepted accounting practices, accountants work with businesses and families to keep track of money spent and money earned. They ensure that financial documents are up-to-date and accurate. They are responsible for tax records and preparation.

Financial Consultant

  • Most financial consultants operate independently and run their own businesses. They are responsible for securing their clientele. They work with businesses and individuals in a combination of capacities. They may play the role of a financial adviser, insurance agent, auditor or analyst depending on the businesses’ needs, the consultant’s skill set and licensing.

Retail or Commercial Banker

  • Bankers work with businesses and individuals at small and large banks. They are responsible for building a relationship of trust with clients, handling financial transactions, reviewing accounts and suggesting new financial products to customers when applicable.

Financial Analyst

  • Financial analysts review and analyze financial statements for businesses so that they can make effective recommendations regarding investment decisions, investigate industry trends that can hurt and help the business, and project future earnings. They review sales, expenses and tax information to advise both large and small business owners.

Bill and Account Collector

  • Collectors contact customers to let them know a payment is past due and make payment arrangements where necessary. They work for organizations to collect receivables and update accounts.

Financial Adviser’s Job Description

Financial advisers, also known as financial planners, advise individuals, couples and organizations on financial matters, such as spending income, saving for retirement and making sound investments. Although most financial advisers practice as generalists, others specialize in investments, savings or insurance. Individuals looking to become financial advisers must have the relevant professional qualifications and be able to follow industry regulations. Top employers include investment firms, consultancies, insurance carriers and brokerage firms.

Doing the Job

  • To study a client’s financial information, evaluate his financial goals and create a good investment portfolio, a financial adviser needs strong analytical skills. Math skills are also essential, because an effective adviser must convert currencies, determine percentages and derive financial ratios. Financial advisers also need strong speaking and active listening skills to interact and share information with clients effectively.

Advising Clients

  • Personal financial advisers help clients make sound financial decisions by providing all the relevant information. For example, when a client wants to buy education insurance for her children, the financial adviser analyzes the client’s financial position to ensure she can afford the policy, and researches the insurance market to identify the best providers and advises accordingly. These financial advisers also help clients improve credit ratings and secure bank loans.

Maintaining Contact

  • After helping clients implement financial plans, such as investing in securities, investment financial advisers often keep in touch with them to discuss the progress of the investment. When a client wants to change his investment options, the adviser furnishes him with new information on potential investment options. These financial advisers also liaise with financial services providers to ensure the interests of their clients are being met.

Maintaining Compliance

  • Financial advisers must update their knowledge on industry regulations. For example, investment advisers who manage $110 million or more in client assets keep tabs on the US Securities and Exchange Commission to monitor changes in relevant regulations. Other financial advisers or planners usually are regulated by state agencies, such as boards of accountancy.

Getting In

  • To become a financial adviser, you must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, mathematics or business. You also need to obtain a license or registration with a state regulator. Investment financial advisers running large firms must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To improve your ability to attract more clients, pursue a master’s degree in business administration or earn the certified financial planner certification from the Certified Planner Board of Standards.

Getting Compensated

  • In 2013, the mean annual wage for personal financial advisers was $99,920, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the same period financial advisers offering investment services was $117,460, while those working as resident advisers in companies made $92,700. Between 2012 and 2022, the bureau also estimates a job growth of 27 percent for personal financial advisers, greater than the estimated 11 percent average for all jobs.

Finance Job Skills

To find a job in finance, you will need to use your math, statistics, budgeting, bookkeeping and business skills. Finance jobs relate to managing money for different purposes. If you work at a car dealership, as the finance manager you would oversee the representatives who get customers approved for new and used vehicle loans.

Cash Flow

  • A finance job requires skill in tracking cash flow around a business. In some businesses, you collect and handle cash, prepare reports documenting cash receipts and make deposits to the bank. In other businesses, cash flow management begins with handling cash receipts or records, verifying revenues collected and posting revenues to the right accounts. The other side of cash flow involves disbursing cash from the right accounts to the right invoices, such as paying the company’s expenses.

Asset Management

  • Another skill set applies to managing the assets of a business. You might ensure that a company has enough assets to cover its financial commitments at any time. Your skills might apply to a career in corporate banking or finance, or you might consider investment consulting, helping businesses and consumers to grow their assets by investing and getting a higher financial yield than they would by depositing money in a bank savings account.

Quantitative Skills

  • You need educational preparation and strong skills in quantitative disciplines, including statistics, math, economics and computer modeling. These skills work well with analytical skills to help you understand financial problems from different angles. To work for a corporation, you will have to use quantitative skills to help your employer achieve goals and objectives. Number-crunching helps you to make financial recommendations to managers and executives.

Information and People Skills

  • Utilize your skills in problem-solving, information-gathering and customer service in a financial services career. You might find work in your own small business or in companies that provide services to consumers. People consume financial products, such as loans and investments, to use money for different goals. You might work in commercial or residential real estate lending, banking services or other financial services such as selling insurance policies and annuities.

Jobs for Finance Majors

If you are thinking about a degree in finance for your undergraduate degree major, you might be in for a rewarding and lucrative career. While it might be tempting to assume that a major in finance will lead only to a career of numbers-crunching, in reality, various careers in other aspects of finance and financial management are possible with a finance degree.

Financial Analyst

  • Financial analysts, like economists, analyze financial trends and how a business is performing so they can offer advice and guidance on major financial decisions. Financial analysts may make recommendations about investment strategies and long-term financial goals. These recommendations are typically based on how they perceive the financial data with which they are working. Financial analysts typically analyze various types of investments, such as mutual funds, stocks and bonds to evaluate their performance and potential for economic gain. Analysts work for corporations, banks, financial services firms and even for the government. In addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, financial analysts typically obtain licensing through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial analysts made a median salary of $73,150 in May 2008.

Financial Manager

  • Financial managers are responsible for the long-term economic growth of their company or firm. They are responsible for planning and implementing plans that ensure this growth. Financial managers review and analyze financial reports produced by individuals, like financial analysts. They also utilize cash management strategies and help make investment decisions on behalf of a company. The BLS notes that financial managers’ job titles can vary by the function they perform. Some serve as cash managers, others as credit managers and yet others as branch managers for financial firms. The bachelor’s degree in finance can open up careers in this field, but the BLS notes that the master’s degree is becoming increasingly important for management positions. The median annual salary of financial managers was $99,330 in May 2008.


  • Stockbrokers and other financial services providers are individuals who work on behalf of clients to help them with both long- and short-term financial goals. A stockbroker is a financial services sales representative who may advise clients to buy stocks in certain companies or other securities like bonds and mutual funds. Some financial services representatives are referred to as financial advisers or financial planners. A degree in finance can provide suitable preparation for individuals wanting to work in this field. Like financial analysts, stockbrokers have to be licensed by passing an exam regulated by FINRA. The median annual salary for financial services representatives, according to the BLS, was $68,680 in May 2008.