How Cashiers Earn Money Dishonestly

How Cashiers Earn Money Dishonestly


In a hotel, lodge or inn, the front office cashier is responsible for the collection of hotel revenue. His or her responsibilities include receiving money for hotel accommodation and services like room upgrades, exchanging foreign currency for international travelers, dispensing small change and sometimes providing safe deposit services to guests. He is therefore able to interact with virtually all guests in the establishment as they check into the hotel, and as they check out. These encounters enable the cashiers to build enough rapport with the guests, gaining their complete confidence and trust, especially on money matters. Here are some methods front office cashiers employ to ensure they end up with some cash in their pockets as well.

Foreign currency transactions; most hotels offer this service to their local and international clients as a way to make extra income. It means their exchange rates, therefore, have to be lower than the current bank exchange rates. If a hotel guest needs to change some foreign currency, but does not insist on a receipt, it is an opportunity for the cashier to make some money on the side. This is how it works; the cashier will bring with him a large amount of local currency with which to purchase foreign currency. This will be done in collusion with unscrupulous guards at the hotel staff entry and exit points, although other hotel personnel could also be involved. The cashier will collect all the foreign currency he can purchase, then sell it himself at the local bank or exchange bureau at a profit.

Safe Deposit Rentals; In the absence of a proper control procedure in the issuance of safe deposit boxes, a clever cashier is able to easily outfox the hotel management and make some money for himself. It works like this; front office cashiers are, in most establishments, responsible for the issuance and sale of safe deposit facilities both in the guest rooms and the shared safe-room at the lobby. Cashiers sometimes collude with guests (because they are getting a lower rate), and fellow technical staff so that the company loses income from the safe rental sales.Especially in establishments that have yet to embrace modern technology in their safe sales handling, and where controls are lax, this is achieved by willfully neglecting to enter important details correctly, such as the duration of the rental. Since almost all safe rentals in hotels are charged daily, the cashier may pocket a nice sum.

Walk-in guest accommodation payments; this one may involve the housekeeper and the receptionist. This is how it goes; a guest walks in without a reservation and requests a night's accommodation, is allocated a room by the receptionist, who asks him to settle up at the cashier's desk. Since the guest is staying for only a short while (and is probably in a hurry and forgets to ask for his/her receipt), the trio may very well pocket the whole amount paid. The housekeeper will enter a 'vacant room' instead of 'occupied' status in his/her report. This is easy to accomplish especially in hotels that are understaffed and therefore may not have adequate personnel to patrol rooms physically.
Check/bill kiting; this simply means transferring a bill that has been settled by a guest to a different account. This is how this one goes; the cashier receives payment from a guest who is checking out (this guest may be in a hurry and forgets to ask for a receipt). The cashier transfers the guest bill to the account of a guest who is staying on, and pockets the full amount paid. If the latter is not observant, or if they are not in the habit of carefully going through their hotel bills, they may end up paying this. This happens mostly when the bills involved are small enough to be hidden among other larger bills.

If you are a hotel owner/manager and you feel like you are losing money in your organization, the front office could be an area to scrutinize. A crafty employee could be laughing all the way to the bank at your expense.

The Significance Of NBFCs

The Significance Of NBFCs

If you ask someone what the stock market is, they will probably tell you that the stock market is where companies' stocks, or shares, are bought and sold on a daily basis. While this definition is true, it is also an oversimplification. In fact, even several professionals can be hard-pressed to find an accurate description of the stock market, at least one that is comprehensive enough without being ascendant technical. The stock market, chiefly, is the platform that facilitates exchanges of financial securities and derivatives. These securities include shares and loan, which companies then utilize in equity capital markets in order to make the process of capital raising all the more fruitful.

The important thing to know is that while the stock market can get confusing at times, especially with its technical jargon, and even though it is prone to risks, with the right financial guidance there are several benefits to be reaped by investing in it.

A prime advantage of investing in shares is the high rate of liquidity. Unlike mutual funds, shares can be bought and sold at the will of the investor for hard cash, which is transferred immediately to the seller's bank account. There is no waiting period to sit out in the stock market, and one can convert their assets almost immediately. This is one of the reasons why stocks are so volatile in nature.

Also unlike mutual funds, stock market investors have sole proprietorship of their assets, even in the market itself. What to buy, what to sell and what to retain are decisions made by the shareholders, rather than by an external fund manager. While brokerage advisors and rating agencies are available for consulting, the final decision is the investor's. Moreover, it has been found that the stock markets provide the most lucrative returns in the long-run, especially when the investment is followed up on a daily basis with constant trading.

Additionally, there are no time stipulations and constraints in share market investments. Mutual funds most typically come with per-determined holding periods, and opting to withdraw your assets before maturity will most likely result in the levying of a fine, or having to forfeit the interest amount, or some such penalty. In such a case, your money is always in the market, whether you like it or not, whereas in stocks, one can put in or pull out funds at their own wish, and to whatever purpose they have in mind.

Keeping in mind these merits, investing in stocks is an ideal way to channel your funds, provided that you either proactively manage your portfolio, or get a professional to do it for you.

FSA Rules and High Net Worth Mortgages

FSA Rules and High Net Worth Mortgages

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) last year conducted a review of the current mortgage market. The FSA's Mortgage Market Review (MMR) was published in 2012 and contains many proposals which will alter the way the UK's mortgage market operates in the future.

One key part of the Mortgage Market Review concerns the mortgage and lending rules for high value mortgage clients. The FSA are determined to ensure that high net worth finance clients with large mortgages are treated differently to those with more typical levels of mortgage.

The MMR contains several specific recommendations, such as the fact that high value mortgage clients will be able to opt out of advice as discussed below.

The headline of the FSA's Mortgage Market Review is that the income limit of a 'high net worth' mortgage customer has been cut from £1million to £300,000.

In its consultation paper in 2011, the FSA defined a high net worth mortgage borrower as someone with a minimum annual net income of £1 million and net assets of £3 million. The regulator also proposed that high value mortgage clients could opt out of advice, take out a large mortgage on an interest only basis and it provided for a tailored approach to disclosure.

Furthermore, the FSA's definition of a high net worth mortgage client is also different to the definition that the regulator put forward in its consultation paper on unregulated collective investment schemes in August 2012. In that paper it defined 'high net worth' as anyone with net income of £100,000 and net assets of at least £250,000. The FSA has, however, now chosen to apply a different definition of 'high net worth' in the mortgage market.

In the final rules the review recognises that there is a very small subset of genuinely wealthy customers, whose wealth is significantly above average and that this level of wealth gives these customers specific advantages, in particular, a considerably reduced risk of becoming homeless in the event that they experience financial difficulties. The high net worth definition specifically for mortgages is, therefore, intended to target only the most wealthy minority.

The rules also mean that individuals and entrepreneurs can opt out of advice in favour of an 'execution-only' sale. To qualify for this exemption, clients must confirm in writing that they have been made aware of the consequences of losing the protection afforded by an advised sale and have chosen to proceed on an execution-only basis.

Lenders still have to assess the affordability of high net worth mortgage customers and obtain evidence of income when assessing their affordability criteria and experts still strongly advise everyone to speak to a professional mortgage adviser before taking out a large mortgage. However, mortgage experts are pleased that the FSA understand that high value mortgage clients have different needs and that rules governing typical mortgage lending will not necessarily apply to people with very large mortgages. High net worth clients often have complex income or ownership structures and a 'one size fits all' approach to the mortgage market clearly would not have worked for these clients.

Unsecured Loans Provide Benefits to Many Businesses

Unsecured Loans Provide Benefits to Many Businesses

When businesses are considering a loan, they will have to think about many things. While many of them will have an idea of what they want to do, they will need to write up a detailed plan to figure out how much they will need to borrow as well as many other things. They will also need to decide whether or not they want to go with a secured loan with a lower interest rate or an unsecured loan.

The use of the money that they are receiving will be important when considering this. They need to figure out what kind of payment they would have on each loan. They need to be able to increase their earning potential by more than that amount each month in order for it to make it worth their while to get a loan.

They have to be able to pay back the money that they borrowed or it could cause them more problems than what they already have. With an unsecured loan, the business will be able to purchase the necessary items and can sell them when they are done using them whether they are paid off or not. This can be very important in any type of business because there are always upgrades to office equipment as well as other machinery that they may use.

Getting approved for a loan that does not have any type of collateral can be very difficult though. There are certain things that have to be in place in order to get funding like this. The company will have to have a good credit rating as well as proof that they are going to pay their bills on time.

Some companies will use this type of loan to combine all of their debts together and refinance them so that they only have one payment. This can help them get lower interest rates and much more. Making one payment is much easier than making several of them over time.

It can also help them to restructure their finances. Having a good financial plan for any company is very important. There are a lot of different options that a lot of companies will have. Some of these loans are used for a short period of time and will be paid of rather quickly.

With some financial institutions, they have higher interest rates when no collateral is being used to secure the repayment of the loan. Sometimes, they have lower interest rates too. It depends on the finance company as well as the credit rating of the person or company that is borrowing the money.

Every finance company will offer different terms for every type of loan. Business owners need to make the decision of what is better for their company. One of the most important things to think about is whether or not they are prepared to pay the money back if their plans do not go as planned. This should be the case for anyone who is taking out a loan of any kind.

It is important for some companies to be able to resell the items that they are purchasing with the money because it is the way that the business operates. They may buy products to resell for a profit. Every type of business is going to have different circumstances.

By being approved for an unsecured loan, they will not have any liens placed on their purchases. If they are not using the money to make purchases, they will be able to avoid putting their property up as collateral. The company may be consolidating debts to get a lower interest rate which can amount to huge savings for the companies.

Considerations in Having A Successful Online Investment

Considerations in Having A Successful Online Investment

Be sure that your money and personal information are secured.

If you're planning to invest online, you must ensure that all your personal information along with your billing details are kept confidential before you send them. Because there are lots of scammers and cyber thieves out there, you must be mindful in handing out your monetary information. You should learn the way to protect your money and identity by locking your computer with a dependable antivirus software. Apart from that, you need to be certain that you don't carelessly connect wi-fi connections that are open for public. If you are about to send money, make sure that you take a look at your brokerage firm first. Point in fact, there are several tools that you can utilize which are available on the web that will help you assess if such person or firm is authorized in selling your securities.

Know the information regarding stock

The best thing about online investing is that it is easier for anybody to handle the investments and finances they've made. You can do this by simply knowing the stock information now and then. Details about stock that you need can be simply attained now with the use of search engines. There are also beneficial mobile applications which allow you to download real-time information using your smartphone. You'll be given with a chart having stock price, market value, and price quotes information with these apps. With this, you can make a decision on what economic option you need to take even when you're off to somewhere.

Set price limits.

Whether you are buying or selling stocks, you would like to ensure that they come in a price that you prefer. Therefore, it is very important that you make a decision on the scope of the price that you'll select. Before setting your limit, you have to know the market price of the stock. Once you listen to the term "limit order", it only shows that a security is being sold at a given price. With the buy limit order, you can decide on either to agree to the limit price or make your offer that is lower to the limit price you have specified. If you are transacting with a sell limit order, you have to remember that you can only perform deal with the preferred limit value or the one that is greater. A limit order truly helps you obtain your securities.

You should have to act instantly if you noticed that something is wrong.

It is expected that at times there are problems that you will encounter in online investing. Once you experience such unwanted instances, you just need to make sure that you look for options immediately. You simply have a limited time to take legal action, according to online laws. Therefore, if you're already feeling something is off, speak to your online brokerage firm immediately. When you do, make sure that you ask the important inquiries and keep in mind to take them down. You can also choose to speak with anybody in a managerial position if you really feel that unfair treatment is shown to you. You must take action once you can.

Trading is quick, but making an investment will take time.

You have to bear in mind that the distinction between online trading and investing is that the previous would simply need a bit of your time while the latter may take some time. Selling or buying stocks from online brokers would indicate that you'll just spend some of your time. Nonetheless, to become successful in online investing you should also invest more time. Of course, it is also necessary that you find out the reason why there is a necessity for you to trade prior to doing so. Also know about the risk of your investment. Although it may take time for you to get all the ins and outs of online trading, you can be assured that it will be all worth it ultimately.

12 End-of-Year Personal Finance Must Do's

12 End-of-Year Personal Finance Must Do's

With the end of the year looming, there are many tasks that must be completed before this impending deadline.

There are even a few perks that might help to ease the transition into the new year.

While I am by no means an accountant, financial planner or lawyer, I have come up with a list of items that our family is sure to address before midnight on December 31st.

I would recommend getting in touch with a professional for a complete listing of to-dos and their financial implications.

1. Make Donations to Non-Profit Organizations -

The winter season is a great time to do a little "spring cleaning" and get rid of items that you no longer need.

Not only will you get a tax deduction from most of the items that you donate, but more importantly, people in need will be the recipients.

Warm coats, winter clothes, and blankets are perfect items to donate this winter season.

Spring and summer clothes, are too, as secondhand retail stores stock items one season ahead.

Appliances and electronics end up as gifts during the holidays.

Bathroom towels and accessories and comforter sets find their way into homes where couples are just starting out.

Just make sure to talk to an accountant about the requirements to receive a deduction.

2. Pay Regular Household Bills -

With the hustle and bustle of the season, make sure that you stay on top of your bills.

Put a reminder in your smart phone or on your calendar.

You can even tie a big bow around a stack of bills and leave them out on a kitchen counter or on the desk in the office.

3. Pay Taxes and Fees -

There are many types of taxes and fees that have a deadline of December 31st, so be sure you know what your liabilities are and make them a priority.

While federal taxes are not due until April 15th, quarterly taxes are due at year-end.

You may also have association fees that are tied to your neighborhood or professional memberships.

Review your bills because the due date may actually be January 1st, which poses the risk that you will mentally categorize them as a responsibility that has to be taken care of in January.

4. Mail Rebates -

Oh how rebates are a procrastinator's nightmare, but luckily, many of them have a mail-in-date of the end of the year.

Companies are betting that you won't send them in, which means you will have paid full price for that item that seemed like a steal when you bought it.

If you do not take care of a rebate as soon as you get it, make sure to staple the form, a cut out UPC code, serial number, item number and the original receipt to a white piece of computer paper and write the deadline date across the paper in bold marker.

Fortunately, many rebates are online these days, so they are a bit less of a hassle.

5. Annual Benefits Elections -

Most companies have an annual enrollment and benefit election period between November and December.

This period has a firm close date, after which adjustments can not be made unless there is a major life change.

You will want to review your 401K contributions, medical, dental, and vision plans, health care spending account contributions and short-term and long-term disability options.

For the time being, some companies might even offer other perks such as additional life insurance, legal services and stock options.

Take advantage of these while you can.

6. Retirement Account Contributions -

There are several options for saving money for retirement, but many have contribution deadlines of year-end.

Talk with a financial planner about a 401K, Roth IRAs, and Traditional IRAs as well as other investing options such as stocks, mutual funds, bonds and T-bills.

7. Funding College Accounts -

There are quite a few opportunities for funding a child's college education, as well.

Some states have plans that freeze the cost of a college education at today's price, even if your child will not be attending for years to come.

There are also investment accounts, such as Education IRAs, that should be discussed with a professional to obtain maximum benefit and protection of your contributions.

8. Transferring Money -

With the Death Tax alive and well, many people take advantage of transferring assets to their loved ones long before they pass.

The federal government allows between $13,000 and $14,000 to be gifted to any individual per year without incurring a gift tax.

This is also a topic to discuss with a financial planner to get a complete understanding of the rules and tax implications.

9. Financial Contributions to your Religious Institution -

Any contributions that you make will not only serve you well from a tax deduction standpoint, but it allows your religious institution to reach out to hurting or needy people during the holidays.

Your institution also has an annual budget that relies on end-of-year contributions to help meet it.

10. Use Gift Certificates and Gift Cards -

Since companies generally run their business by calendar year and perform end-of-year duties in December, your unused gift certificates and gift cards are in danger of expiring.

Make sure to contact the places for which you are holding credits to find out their holiday hours of operation.

This little perk can at least provide some relief from the stress of spending money.

11. Buy a Car -

Car dealerships often have end-of-year buying incentives that help reduce inventory before they incur year-end carrying costs.

These rebates are often quite substantial since they have met their sales quota for the year and have received their marketing and advertising dollars from the manufacturer.

Plus, with the new year's models already on the lot, last year's models become much less attractive to buyers.

Throw in the fact that salesmen's bonuses help pay off their holiday purchases and you've got a dealership that is motivated to move cars.

12. Buy a House -

The winter break is the second busiest time of year to buy a home.

Kids are out of school and adults have vacation time that they have to take.

Couple that with the fact that builders also pay inventory taxes and you've got yourself a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of.

One very important detail - make sure that you purchase the home early enough to get your homestead paperwork filed for the following year.

I hope this list of the 12 End-of-Year Personal Finance Must Do's provides you with some financial benefit, too.

Here's to another Inspired Minute!

How You Will Benefit From A Contract Underwriting Company

How You Will Benefit From A Contract Underwriting Company

To help as many prospective homeowners gain entry into the US real estate market, you can use a contract underwriting company. This is usually a huge firm that provides mortgage processing services. It can be hired on either a short-term or long-term basis depending upon your business needs. Additionally, you should know that this company operates under the concept of outsourcing. It does not require you to expand your office space or procure more equipment. A contract underwriting company is completely independent. It only demands a service fee from the customer. To ensure great results, you should communicate effectively with the outsourced contractor. This is because many third party underwriting firms do not want to directly deal with your customers. They make you the middleman between the customer and them.

Even so they take away your mental burden and free your time so you could concentrate on marketing your organization. One advantage to using a contract underwriting company is that you will be exposed to a pool of qualified underwriters. They will be more productive than the team you have in the office. Unlike your small bank or sacco that has just the employees it can afford, a huge contract underwriting company has either hundreds or thousands of staff. Its employees are scattered across the country. That's because many companies have subsidiaries to ensure you get served by a professional who is near you. Because many underwriters are made available to serve the customer, you can get as many home loan applicants as possible. During economic crisis and inflation, home buyers are fewer than they are when the economy is good.

A contract underwriting company will be affected by the bad economic situation as much as your small company will. So to stay afloat itself, and to help you survive the inflation, this company will continue to share its resources with you. This way you can avoid using in-house employees who may demand a pay rise to meet the rising cost of living. Even if your in-house underwriters do not demand a pay rise; they will continue to enjoy other perks at your small company's expense. On the other hand, a contract underwriting company will not receive any perks from your business. It will not demand a paid leave, workmen's compensation, health insurance and a working environment that goes beyond OSHA standards. It will only demand its service fee per contract it has with you.

In the long run the company will help you reduce up to fifty percent your normal office expenditures. It will free your time and help you save all the money that is paid in salaries, bonuses, employee training and so on. What's more, the outsourced underwriter will let you use its underwriting software and give you many employees who know how to use the software. Because of this you will avoid buying expensive modern software and the cost of training your underwriter on how to use it. Any task that your internal employees finish in almost five days will be completed within 24 to 48 hours by the contract underwriting company. So far you have realized the importance of using an outsourced firm rather than one or more full-time underwriters.

The Revolutionary ATMs - Tablet Cash Machines

The Revolutionary ATMs - Tablet Cash Machines

A tablet cash machine is the latest ATM feature which functions like a smart phone or a tablet to process cash transactions on the go with a highly secured technique. This new feature is introduced to give a personal experience with advanced features to make it convenient for users to conduct transactions at the ATM.

How does it work?

A tablet cash machine is a new terminology that defines quick access to cash from the ATM which functions like a personal tablet or a smart phone. The process to conduct this transaction is very simple. The tablet cash machine has touch screen keypads and an internet connection to initiate transaction. A face recognition technique enables the customer to proceed to conduct various transaction options on the tablet. Finally, a QR code is provided on the smart phone to authenticate the user to receive cash from the ATM.

What is there for the user? An array of special benefits

Tablet cash machines are a revolutionary technology of the ATM services acquiring a cult status even before its launch. They are the new personal ATM facilitator, which are going to bring manifold benefits with special features beyond users expectations.

Facial recognition

These touch screen machines have an inbuilt security camera to facilitate authentication and eliminate the misuse of identity. Additionally the camera allows the users for a secured transaction by checking if no one is sneaking into the screen from the back. The video is useful in catching fraudulent acts and minimize criminal activities at the ATM. The facial recognition matches the users accounts which can be linked to the smart phone to safely proceed with the transaction.

Eliminate Paper use

The tablet cash machine functions just like a smart phone. The ATM user will find all features very handy as its navigation and control of the new tablet like machine is similar to the touch screen smart phone. One need not bother to keep receipts as the new system does not follow the printing process but sends e-receipts on the phone via text or e-mail.

Cloud Transactions

This highly advanced revolutionary technique uses a speedy cloud service to connect to the user's communication gadget and eliminates the use of the ATM card. The QR code, which is essential for authentication is sent to the user's phone via the cloud connection. Upon receiving the code on the phone, the user scans it on the ATM screen and receives quick cash.

Pre-planned cash

With the QR code available on the phone, the user can sync the ATM transaction screen with the smart phone to select the withdrawal amount. This allows customers to plan their transactions in advance and pass on QR codes to others who are in urgent need of cash a from any ATM kiosks by simply scanning the received QR codes.

Records previous transactions

The machine is designed with a system which can remember the customers withdrawal history. Upon inserting the ATM card, a person's personal profile is displayed on the screen which shows identify information and recent transactions conducted by the user. This is a great way to help a person accurately re-collect previous transactions and minimize misuse of the ATM card.

Portable Design

The design of the new tablet cash machines qualifies it as a simple to use drive through machine. Disabled people will be able to lower the screen to the eye level and elderly people will enjoy the large swift buttons, which eliminates the use of hard pressing keys. Future holds that these machines will appear more like drive through machines with portable designs and additional features such as streaming live link videos and access other custom ATM programs offered by the service provider.

The tablet cash machines have so much to offer to ensure that the modern man benefits the maximum with every transaction. For this purpose ATM facilities are continually enhanced by exploiting suitable technology to deliver a promising valuable service to the customers, an outstanding example being the new tablet cash machines.

A Better Understanding To Invoice Factoring

A Better Understanding To Invoice Factoring

If your business delivers particular goods or services to another company, an invoice is typically created during the life of the transaction. The average invoice may be paid within 20 or 30 days, but more time can elapse before the invoice is paid in full and the seller receives their funds. However, instead of waiting for payment, a business has the choice of receiving an immediate advance via a factoring company. This means that a delayed billing cycle will in no way concern (or jeopardize) the overall finances of a company in this kind of situation.

Factoring is a form of secured funding involving the selling of invoices for instant cash at a discount to a factoring company that acts as an outsourced credit agency. Also known as "accounts receivable factoring," the funding goes to a credit department who collects and manages the entire payment process, which is a highly useful service for any small business. Many small businesses will therefore not need to spend time managing payments or taking the time to make lots of collection calls. It also streamlines the payment process so that no-one wastes time trying to decipher if certain invoices have been paid and which ones are left outstanding.

As such, invoice factoring can help to eliminate any serious cash flow problems that a small business might be experiencing at a certain period of time. Instead of requesting a bank loan, outstanding invoices are simply purchased by a factoring company. Some factoring companies can charge a one-time setup fee when a business accepts their terms of contract, while others may choose to relinquish the fee (although this is generally dependent on the length of the factoring contract, and the amount of product involved).

The concept of invoice factoring harks back to the days of King Hammurabi of Mesopotamia over 4,000 years ago and was predominantly used in the Middle Ages throughout countries such as Spain, England and Italy. In fact, its origins in the United States might have been due to the first English colonists settling in America who created a precedent, as many London-based bankers touched down on U.S. shores. In the 1920s, invoice factoring was used extensively across both the textile and garment industries.

Nowadays, because many large banks are restricting the amount of small business loans they offer, invoice factoring has become a more popular alternative financing method. Seasonal businesses may use invoice factoring because the majority of their sales come during the summer months and they see almost no trade during the winter. These types of businesses are often unable to get a bank loan because the overall total of their sales is wholly inconsistent and can wildly fluctuate through the year.

Invoice factoring provides you with quick access to your money so that your business can pay its bills, meet payroll expectations, purchase additional inventory and extra equipment, as well as being able to manage your overheads. Many Fortune 500 companies have used accounts receivable financing to enhance their business growth in recent years.

What You Should Know About Taxes in the United Kingdom for Tax Savings

What You Should Know About Taxes in the United Kingdom for Tax Savings

The taxes in the United Kingdom are applicable at two levels, the local government level and the central government level. However, the major taxes on your income are levied only by the central government. If you know the taxable income levels and various allowances and exemptions available to you under the UK tax laws, you will be able to save considerably on taxes on your income. Certain items are counted as taxable income and other items as non-taxable income.

Items Counted as Taxable Income

• Earnings from your employment or your self-employment
• Majority of pension incomes, such as state pension, company pension and personal pension
• Interest earned on most of your savings, such as bank interest, excluding individual savings account (ISA), building society interest, interest from national savings, bonds or other investment accounts
• Income from shares or dividends
• Rental income
• Income that you receive from any trust, such as trust income or pensioner bonds

Items Counted as Non-Tax Deductible Income

• Income from state benefits, such as disability living allowance, pension credit, attendance allowance, Christmas bonus, winter fuel payments, lump sum bereavement payment, housing benefit, income-based employment allowance and support allowance, child benefit, maternity allowance, war widow's pension, industrial injuries benefit, bridging allowance for young persons, severe disablement allowance, etc.
• Interest on your savings, such as savings certificates and all ISAs
• Rents
• Tax credits like working tax credit and child tax credit
• Winnings from premium bonds

Allowances and Reliefs on Income which is Taxable

Even though several items are counted as taxable income, you are entitled to treat a portion of your taxable income as tax-free during any specific tax year, such as

• Tax-free personal allowance, which will depend on your age and your total income
• Tax-free allowance for blind persons
• Allowance to married couples, including civil partnerships
• Reliefs on maintenance payments, such as payments to your ex spouse or your ex civil partner
• Other allowances, expenses and reliefs for employees and directors, including travelling in your job, expenses you met in your job like expenses for subsistence, special clothing and work tools, subscriptions and fees paid to professional bodies, home working expenses and capital expenditure
• Other allowances, expenses and reliefs for self-employed persons, like motor and travelling, advertising, business premises costs, etc.

It is advisable to consult a reliable tax professional to maximise your savings on your taxable income. Nowadays, the Internet has become a reliable source of information; you can take the help of that also.

College Applications: How Parents Can Help

College Applications: How Parents Can Help

Applying to college is a lot of work - and it can be stressful. 80% of college applicants are currently trying to get done in about 4 weeks what they should have been doing for the last 8 to12 months! I see it all of the time. That's why I have some great tips to offer to parents during this stressful period.

While completing applications and meeting important deadlines is no doubt your student's responsibility, you can provide support and encouragement. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Ask how the applications are going - but don't nag! Show interest in how the applications are coming along, but don't add to the pressure your child is already feeling as they try to get things done. Keep telling yourself, it will get done on your student's timetable, not yours.
  • Don't add your worries and anxieties to your student's. Let your student get things done on his or her schedule, instead of yours. Insisting that he add colleges to his list at the last minute, "just in case", rewriting his essays for him or talking about your student with other parents can add more stress to an already stressful process. Your child needs to feel that you are confident everything will be OK - your kid will be happy and successful no matter what college he or she lands at!
  • Organization. There's lots of paperwork involved so help your student put together a method to store all of the college application materials so he or she doesn't have to spend hours just looking for something in order to spend additional hours completing it. Organization will set you free to focus on what's important - getting things done. Help him cement the organizational and time management skills needed to be successful in college - so help but don't do it for him. Don't deny your kid this important learning and growth opportunity by taking over. Offer suggestions, for example, color coded tabs and folders with labels always works great for me. Suggest a calendar on their phone with reminders set for important deadlines.
  • Offer lots of love, hugs and support while keeping comments to a minimum. This is an important experience, made easier if you focus on having a fun, exciting journey rather than an anxious one. It should be exciting because of the opportunities before you. Focus on that rather than saying all of this work is a 'burden".

The Dow Is Going Bearish

The Dow Is Going Bearish

The NASDAQ stock exchange moved up about three points yesterday to hold over 2300. This is the highest it has been in five years. The market appears to be strong when it comes to this exchange.

However, the Dow Jones has declined in value by giving up 65 points. It is now it 11,150.70, a value that is under its 20-day moving average.

The S&P did not do any better than the DJIA. It went down by 2.64 points during the same trading period.

Small-cap stocks are also holding steady in the area even after getting to a new historic high recently. The Russell 2000 went down by 1.58 points on Wednesday. However, the small-cap performance barometer has reached 13.28% this year. This makes for a good increase but at the same time I am concerned about the potential for the index to keep on going up after a while.

The commodities industry appears to have a few changes as well. The May light crude futures report on the NYMEX went to $67 a barrel. This is a big move after a rectangle formation around $61 to $65.50 had occurred. It's estimated that oil could get to the $70 a barrel range like it did back in February but this is only if the value can hold for now. There's also the need to watch for how much money it will cost to get oil as prices tend to cause stocks to feel the heat.

NASDAQ trading featured about two billion shares in the last three trading days. The trading volume in the NASDAQ was around 2.22 billion yesterday. It is slightly over the moving average from the past five and ten trading days. This is particularly interesting considering how the market has increased slightly during these strong trading days.

Trading picked up a bit on the NYSE as well. The trading was at 1.61 billion shares on Thursday. This was over the five and ten day averages of 1.55 billion each.

The NASDAQ appears to be bullish for the most part but there are some weak spots to take a look at as well. The Relative Strength of the NASDAQ exchange is strong and could show gains. The index is over its last pivot point of 2332.95. It is also over its twenty and fifty day moving averages.

The MACD appears to be something worth buying as well. The MACD trend has been negative but it appears to be going over. The trend has been in a sideways channel for the most part and has experienced some high values that could get to be near 2387. The index is traditionally overbought so there are some risks to take a closer look at.

The near-term signs on the market have weakened on the Dow Jones. The DJIA was in a bullish trend but it fell below its 20-day average of 11,156. This means that the market could fall if the average cannot hold. In addition, the Relative Strength is showing a loss while the MACD is at a moderate sell.

The DJIA has to stick around its 20-day moving average if it is going to be viable. The DJIA has to get there or else it could go down to 11,000. A rebound can result in a pivot point closer to 11,234.

The Bollinger Bands have been trending up and are suggesting that the market might become volatile. This means that things could go either way at this particular point in time.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has a bullish look with a relative strength above neutral. The index has a netural MACD and is over its twenty and fifty day moving averages at 1,294 and 1,283. The next target is around 1,310 with the market needing to stick at a twenty-day moving average of 1,294 in order to stay strong.

The Russell 2000 has a bullish look to it with a good relative strength and MACD. It also went over its pivot point at 745.18. However, there are no guarantees that this will hold after a while. The small cap stocks have experienced limited lows.

The Russell 2000 could keep moving up but there are concerns about how people buy stocks here. The index is historically known for being overbought for the most part. The area of resistance for this exchange is listed at 772 and 803.

The advance-decline lines are also different for each exchange. The NYSE has a mixed 0.77:1 rate while NASDAQ is up higher at 1.004:1. The daily A/D on the NASDAQ has been over one for most of the last few sessions while the five day moving averages are at 1.42:1 for the NASDAQ and 1.27:1 for the NYSE.

The new high new low ratio is above the 70% level for NASDAQ. It has been like this for fourteen days in a row. The stocks have come in at 89.35%.

Also, the NHNL ratio is 82.69% for the NYSE. It has been over the 70% rate for fifteen consecutive sessions.

The DJIA will have more pressure for selling with a bearish market in spite of a weak status. There should be some support coming as the index is sold a little higher.

Also, tech stocks will continue to help some of the stocks. It is still important to watch for how the NASDAQ is oversold while the Russell 2000 is overbought.

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Bank Issues in Italy

Bank Issues in Italy

Recently in the news, there was a reporter asking random people on the street how much they spend on their a bank account. The reporter is reporting that supposedly Italians are paying around €252 a year while the world median is €108. They also compare with other European countries: France €99, Sweden €80, the UK €64, and Holland €34. They also state that the president of the Association of Italian Banks claims the Italian median is actually €65 a year excluding taxes.

I don't know where those people are banking but I can use Unicredit as an example. Since I'm between 18 and 30 years old, I can have what they call a Genius "Free" account. It's not free, in fact, I pay a monthly fee of €3.50. For those over 30, the fee is €8 per month. They make you think that's all you're going to spend for their service (they may have more information in the small print, but who has time for that when you're opening an account and have to put your signature on various forms 15 times? Even 3 times on the same side of one form!). So, later on when my quarterly statement arrived in the mail, I found out there's a quarterly tax of €8.55 (I don't know how much for the over 30yr account). Furthermore, keep in mind that none of their accounts accrue interest as they expect you to invest in stocks and mutual funds. Also, I believe this account is one of the least expensive on the market. They'll give you a Bancomat (ATM card) and you'll have to pull some teeth for a normal credit card (which is another crazy autographing experience). It's amazing that debit cards still don't exist here.

Now, let me compare that bank with my American bank accounts. Bank of America offers accounts where the monthly fee is waived either for having Direct Deposit (your pay from your job wired to your account), a certain minimum account balance, or even just having your mortgage with them. Otherwise the fee is as low as $7 (€5.73) a month. US Bank offers several truly free checking accounts with no minimum balance requirements. Both of these banks will give you an ATM card and a Debit (check) card. So, don't even think I spend €76 ($93) on each of my bank accounts!

For the Italians, let me explain what a Debit card (or Check card) is. It works like a bancomat but it's not. It looks like a credit card but it's not. It's a card that you can use anywhere the symbol Mastercard or Visa is accepted (even online) and the money comes straight out of your account the same month (possibly even the same day). For example, I used to go to the gas station and pay using my check card. Then I could, literally, go home, log into my Online banking, and see the amount withdrawn from my account.

For everybody else, let me explain what a Bancomat is. It's like an ATM card but there's one difference. A lot of stores have a device that will allow you to pay using your Bancomat. However, this card is not accepted everywhere even if the card says Maestro (Mastercard) or Visa (these cards don't have the hologram like a credit card or debit card). It's only accepted where there's a Bancomat symbol and they don't work online.

Finally, why do I think Italian banks cost more? A difference of mentality on doing business. Since the US is based on the idea of free enterprise, companies must and are allowed to be competitive. The banking market is so competitive that after years of lowering their monthly fees, they had to introduce free accounts. They'd rather have you as a client of one of their free accounts so that you'd go to them for credit cards and loans rather than not have you as a client at all. While Italy still has their socialist government keeping competitiveness under their fist, companies are over-regulated and restricted from becoming competitive. Therefore, in this environment, banks worry less about lowering their fees because not many banks are doing it.

The Role of Financial Advisor Recruiters in Today's High-Demand

The Role of Financial Advisor Recruiters in Today's High-Demand Environment

Seasoned financial advisors are harder to come by these days. Proof to this is a recent research conducted by Cerulli Associates which revealed that the number of employable highly skilled financial executives will drop by 18,600 over the next five years. The competition among banks, brokerage firms and wirehouses to fill finance jobs with the cream of the crop is getting tighter. This is where the expertise of financial advisor recruiters becomes crucial. Typically, the human resource departments of financial firms would have the sufficient capabilities to fill up these executive positions, but this is an extraordinary time that requires extraordinary measures.

It's a consensus across the human resource departments of financial institutions that one of the most important aspect of effectively recruiting top tier executives, seasoned brokers and highly experienced financial experts is networking. However, between running the company and thinking of ways to grow the business, a financial firm can't just send its senior executives to a conference to mingle with possible recruits. With the help of well-networked financial services recruiting firm, this meet-and-greets are easier to arranged and done in the convenience of both parties. Additionally, there are independent professionals in the finance industry that are not really known within the mainstream circles but are extremely qualified to take on senior executive finance jobs. In-house recruiters may be unaware of this pool of talent but a financial services recruiting firm can tap into this well of manpower with efficiency.

Another benefit of partnering with financial services recruiters in this cutthroat hiring environment is their ability to expedite the transfer of an executive from one company to another. As you know, there are certain protocols in hiring finance executives or brokers to ensure the integrity of the profession and the industry. With a financial services recruiting firm acting as a mediator between the two firms, this process can be expedited. Why is this important? High level finance jobs directly impact the bottom-line of the company and the faster the hiring process is, the sooner these executives can help their new firms grow their revenue.

Many Financial Advisors Are Retiring Early

Aside from expediting the transfer of a financial advisor from one company to another, a reputable financial services recruiting firm can also bring manpower sustainability to a financial institution. According to a national firm of independent broker dealers, one of the things that exacerbate the hiring in the finance industry is the early retirement age among finance executives. On average, professionals in the field retire at the age of 50. This is seconded by a study commissioned by global investment firm BNY Mellon through its research arm Pershing LLC. The study encourages financial advisory companies to create a different recruitment approach that Generation Y members will find compelling. The same is true when it comes to hiring productive mid-level executives who can produce instant earnings for their respective companies. Financial advisor recruiters are up to date with these hiring trends and best practices, ensuring that their clients have a steady inflow of talented staff.

Can a Mortgage Balance Exceed a Property's Value?

Can a Mortgage Balance Exceed a Property's Value?

The fact that a mortgage balance can exceed a property's value remains confusing to many of us. You know that the lender did evaluate the property when you initially obtained a mortgage and find it hard to believe that a lender would finance your home for more than what it is worth. Unfavorable market events can influence the property's value and cause a negative impact. This scenario usually results from recent home sales in the same neighborhood, falling of home prices and unwise decisions regarding your mortgage.


Fair Market Value is an estimated value subjective to factors, such as comparable prices, market conditions and availability of finance. Lenders typically request a valuation of the home and analyses' sales for the last six months of similar homes in the same area. This information is used to determine the property's value. Foreclosures and short sales tend to have the worst impact on property values. The property's value will decrease if the value to your home is $220,000 and three comparable properties in your area sold for $150,000. If your mortgage balance is $190,000, it means that the mortgage balance exceeds the property value. If a buyer is willing to pay the asked priced, a lender will not finance the full amount.


According to some economists, home prices are expected to drop further during 2013. Falling home prices can result into a substantial negative difference between a high-value mortgage and the property price. It is important to know that fair market value, with the impact of falling prices, differs from the seller's value.


A mortgage can also exceed the property's value if a homeowner made bad financial decisions. Homeowners can obtain a second or third mortgage on their home. This is possible if home prices are high, and the current mortgage balance is relatively low. For example, if the property's value is $220,000, the mortgage balance is $120,000, and you possess affordability, you qualify for a second mortgage of approximately $100,000. What if home prices drop significantly after you obtained the second mortgage? The mortgage balance will exceed the property's value.

It is quite possible to end up in a situation where the mortgage balance exceeds the property's value. This situation of the homeowner is referred to as "underwater." The situation worsens if the homeowner has to sell. It is also possible that the mortgage installments are no longer affordable due to high medical expenses, a divorce or maybe a job loss. A homeowner is often forced to enter a short sale, which negatively impact comparable prices. This situation is to the disadvantage of other homeowners in the same neighborhood.

Basel III Mandates for 2013

Basel III Mandates for 2013

Basel III is a group of restrictions and regulations that were designed and accepted in September 2010 to help repair the banking situation for the future. While the mandates were decided in 2010, they will not be going into affect among the global banking community until 2013, at which point the measures taken in the Basel III will be applied to all of the banks that were part of the agreement.

Key Capital Ratio

One of the major changes that was instituted by the mandate is that global level banks had to change their key capital ratios. These ratios are the amount of money that the banks have to hold versus possible losses. Previously they only had to hold 2%, but as of these regulations going into effect the number has more than doubled to 4.5%. The rules also institute what's called a buffer zone, which is another 2.5% over and about the 4.5%. Banks and lending institutions that fall within the area of the buffer zone will face all kinds of restrictions on how they will be able to pay out dividends or award discretionary bonuses.

The Length of the Phasing

The process of adopting these mandates is set to start in January 2013, and it should be completed in stages by January 2019. Putting the new rules in place in this way allows banks the time to prepare for changeovers without causing any drastic changes in the day to day. Changes that happen like that can lead to problems. For instance, customer confusion and a lack of confidence are one possible occurrence. Another is the difficulty in quickly acquiring the proper ratio of funds required, considering that it's going to be doubled by the start of the mandates. When the goal is to make banks steadier and more accountable, they need to have time to make the required changes gradually.

Once 2019 has come and gone however, there will be no excuses for banks that cannot hold up to the changes. With 9 years since the decision was made, and with the conditions agreed upon by all of the banks and institutions involved, these requirements were put into play in order to help stop the economic downturns and banking bubbles that have been seen in the recent past. The goal is a safer, more responsible kind of banking that is inured to the reckless behavior of past years.

Affording University Costs - How To Get Help

Affording University Costs - How To Get Help

It is what every parent dreams about. Seeing their son/daughter off to college one day. Many parents spend their entire lives saving for their child's education. Obtaining a college degree is what many people define as success or at the very least a key ingredient to becoming a successful member of society. There is no question about the importance of a college education. Specifically, in our current economic climate. Jobs are scare and the employers are requiring more. Paying for tuition can be a nightmare for most students. There are many options to consider and even more sacrifices to be made. Investing in an education is just that, an investment. Therefore, it is imperative to invest wisely. It is important to arm yourself with as much information as possible.

Student loans and grants can be quite helpful. Every student should begin by filling out a FASFA application.

Once the FASFA is completed, you will receive an award letter which details what type of financial aid there is available to you. This award letter will also include student loan information. Student loans appear to be the answer on the surface. However, students must thoroughly understand interest rates and the long term financial strain this may bring them. The average graduate student will finish complete their degrees with $30,000- $60, 0000 in debt. That may turn out to be a huge mountain to climb. Many graduates find themselves paying back loans for up to thirty years. In some cases this debt can impede them from one day helping their own children pay for college which makes it generational debt. Interest rates may appear to be low but, they are usually variable interest rates and can add up to an insurmountable debt. Therefore, loans should never be taken lightly and should be researched thoroughly.

There are any things students and their families can consider alleviating some of the cost. Students can save money by living at home while they attend school if at all possible. Living expenses are a large part of the net cost of school so this option may be very helpful to some students. Finding a job while attending college or university can be an effective way to for the student to contribute. However, a full time student may find it difficult to work and maintain a grade point average. After all the whole point of attending college is to be successful so this may not be a feasible option for everyone. The federal work study program can offer some assistance to who qualify.

Financial aid and grants are an excellent form of assistance. However dependent students may find it difficult to acquire grants due to their parent's income. Depending on the income and size of the family some students may not meet the requirements to qualify. In California there is a board of governor grant (BOGG) that will cover registration and unit fees. In my experience this has been invaluable. A student is considered independent this may be an easier process. IN order to be considered an independent student you must have a child of your own, be married, emancipated or over the age of twenty five.

Community colleges can offer more reasonable rates than universities. A student can attend for the first two years and complete all their general requirements inexpensively. However, due to the stagnant economy many courses are being cut and enrollment has increased significantly. People who have found themselves recently unemployed are choosing to return to school to increase their skills or acquire a degree. This makes enrollment very difficult. Students may have to wait several semester s before they can actually get into the classes they need. This can be disheartening and, that is where serious problems can occur. Some students may drop out of pure frustration. A two year program can easily turn into 4 years.

Books, supplies and fees are additional expenses students should plan on. Books can be quite expensive. At a California community college, books for 4 classes cost 600.00 on average. Purchasing used books online can dramatically decrease the cost. There are several websites who now offer book rentals. Renting a book for the semester can cost as little as $20.00. Many students also find sharing books to be an efficient way to save money.

Taking the same classes as friends when possible or working with a study partner. This can be complicated but still an excellent option. Some professors may have a copy of the text book available in the school library. These books cannot usually be checked out but are available to photocopy. If you decide to purchase books you can sell them at the end of the term and use that money towards new books. Provided that the version is not outdated or that the school has not discontinued them. Some schools offer a buyback program which eliminates the hassle of selling books on your own. They typically do not pay very much but it is worth looking into.

Parking and class fees are hidden expenses you will encounter in college or university. Parking at a community college can cost up to $50.00 per semester. At my college we are required to pay for parking as early as the first week of classes. Ironically an actual parking spot is usually hard to come by. Class and lab fees are inevitable. It is crucial that you are aware of this fees and due dates. Most universities and colleges offer health insurance. Some institutions require that you purchase coverage while others leave it to your discretion. In personal experience the prices were reasonable and if you don't have healthcare this is actually an excellent benefit.

I would like to say that, where there's a will there is a way but, that that would be untrue. It is the American dream and it is for sale, to the highest bidder. The bottom line is that attending college or university takes careful planning and research. It is an investment in our future but it is slowly becoming a pipe dream for many students across the country. Many potential students will opt to work right after high school. Lacking education and experience this decision can lead to a lifetime of struggle. I would like to believe that we are all equal and can achieve anything through hard work.

Unfortunately that is not the case. They will never even have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Parents should start a college fund as soon as possible. Perhaps even before they actually have children. This is the only way to ensure your child has a chance. Researching your field of study and arming yourself with information will make the process easier. Inevitably you will incur some debt. The sooner you can start paying it off the better off you will be. Sounds simple enough but it is anything but simple. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if you can afford it, is yours for the taking.

FHA to Cut Loan Limits, Here's What You Need to Know

FHA to Cut Loan Limits, Here's What You Need to Know

Did you hear? The FHA is reducing the maximum size of the mortgages it will back, something Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already begun doing. At the beginning of 2014, FHA-insured loans in popular locations will step down to $625,500 for a single residence from $729,500 besides Hawaii, which will be from $657,800 to $721,050.

The FHA has previously insured smaller loans so first time borrowers and people with modest incomes could get mortgages. Its role changed and Congress increased the limits in 2008 during the financial crisis, when home loans not backed by the government weren't being given out.

Now, banks have started to loan out more often to credited borrowers without government support with mortgages called "jumbo" loans. Loans that fall within the FHA limits are called "conforming" loans. Carol Galante, FHA commissioner stated, "Implementing lower loan limits is an important and appropriate step as private capital returns to portions of the market," in reference to the insured loan amounts. She also said that, "enables [the FHA] to concentrate on those borrowers that are still underserved." [LA Times]

The popular locations, which these new limits will be implemented include Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Barbara county, the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. The limit for locations where housing costs are relatively low, will remain unchanged at $271,050.

Middling locations in counties like Riverside and San Bernardino will be limited to $355,350. San Diego County and Ventura County will have limits set at $546,250 and $598,000, respectively.

There is a link in the resources for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for more details on the limits in areas not located in the Los Angeles area. (Document number 13-44, on the left hand side)

Lenders like us are enthusiastic about these loan limits for the gap that is created will be filled in by us. Even banks "have been competing to make loans to the most creditworthy jumbo borrowers by offering rates that are in some cases lower than conforming-loan rates. Before the crisis, jumbo rates were at least a quarter of a percentage point above conforming loans, and until last year, jumbo loans were more than 0.5% higher." [WSJ]

This is why it seems like a small risk for the Federal Housing Financing Agency to start taking these appropriate steps now. The government wants to gradually create a system in which they can stop insuring these loans. According to Mortgage Finance, banks made $59 Billion in jumbo mortgages in the second quarter, up 20% from the previous-year period, which was also a six-year high. It seems that now there is enough liquidity in the market for us to be able to handle a drop in the conforming limit.

Money Goals Top New Years Resolutions for 2013

Money Goals Top New Years Resolutions for 2013

If you're making New Years Resolutions this year, chances are good that they'll have something to do with money!

Every December, as the New Year approaches, I search web for lists of the top New Years Resolutions.

It's probably no surprise that these lists are all pretty similar to each other. But what especially interests me is how so many of the most popular New Years Resolutions have to do with money - directly or indirectly.

Here's a compilation of the top ten New Years Resolutions I've found (in no particular order):

  1. Get organized
  2. Get out of debt
  3. Lose weight
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Quit drinking
  6. More time with friends and family
  7. Enjoy life more
  8. Learn a new skill
  9. Get a better job
  10. Save more money

Two of these top New Years Resolutions are explicitly about money: "Get out of debt" and "save more money".

These make sense because so many Americans struggle with debt. And the reason why they struggle with debt is because they don't have enough money in savings for "emergencies" or to buy big-ticket items like cars, furnishings, appliances, etc.

But "get organized" is very close because one of the biggest areas of disorganization is in finances, and more and more people are realizing the importance of being organized financially.

Really, I can make the case that nearly all of these top New Years Resolutions somehow impact or affect our finances!

Look at "lose weight" and "quit smoking and drinking," for example. Accomplishing these resolutions might actually cost you money in the short-term to get started (if you join a club or buy supplies), but will definitely save you money in the long-term, in health care costs, food, cost of cigarettes, alcohol, etc.

"Learn a new skill" or "get a job" might cost you money in some ways as you take some classes buy some books and resources, and expand your personal network, but they will hopefully lead to long-term financial benefits when you finally get paid to do the work you love.

"More time with family" and "enjoy life more" might also have some financial costs associated with them if you end up eating out more, going to movies and shows, or going on vacations, but you'll also reap some wonderful rewards and create memories that will last a lifetime.

If you're not sure what New Years Resolutions to focus on this year, consider picking one from this list that will improve at least two of these life areas: health, relationships, or finances.

This will give you a multiplier effect that will help you move farther, faster, toward success - not just in keeping your resolutions, but in bettering your life.

Basics of Applying for Student Loans - And - Why You Should Be Careful

Basics of Applying for Student Loans - And - Why You Should Be Careful

With the ever-increasing cost of college education, student loans are a common way to fund your way through your academic life. As your first encounter with credit, you may be eager to sign the documents, thinking you'll land a job right after graduation and generate enough income to pay off your debt as well as sustain yourself. The reality is often different, as this article discusses after outlining the basics of applying for a student loan.

Check Your Financial Situation

Once you've chosen your school and determined the semester fee, assess whether you have enough funds to pay for your education. Some common sources of income for youngsters are:

  • Previous savings from internships and small-time jobs.
  • Parents or educations willing to support your education.
  • Scholarships you were awarded.
  • Part time jobs you plan to get while still in college.

If you have enough saved to fund your boarding and tuition fee, thank you stars, pat yourself on the back and stop reading this article. If you face a shortfall, keep reading.

Look for Additional Funds For College

You need more money and your first choice should be to look for education grants because you do not need to pay them back. If that fails, search for interest free loans (read definition of interest-free loans) because even though you engage in a debt obligation, you're saved from the additional burden of paying back interest. There aren't many providers of such loans, so you have to do a fair bit of hunting.

Your last options should be to go for interest-based student loans because even though the interest rate is lower than that charged on consumer loans, they are difficult to pay since your future income is uncertain.

The US government offers a couple of student loans programs, which charge lower interest rates compared to such loans offered by banks and credit card companies. Here are a few features:

  • Loans for students and parents sending their kids to college.
  • Some loans are subsidized in the sense that the government partially pays your interest fee while you are studying.
  • Qualifying for these loans means you must hold a good academic record.
  • The amount of loan you receive depends on your current financial position and your tuition fee.
  • You usually have to pay back the money after you leave college, even if you are still looking for a job or failed to complete your degree.
  • Make sure you thoroughly compare each student financing deal before signing the contract and avail every opportunity of financial counseling available to you.

The bitter reality of student loans (some risks to be aware of)

With unemployment rates so high, it is possible that you will struggle to pay off your loan. By the time you graduate, you will probably owe a truckload of debt (thanks to the way compound interest works) and many students may feel over-whelmed.

Any installments missed for whatever reason, will negatively affect your credit score, and may I add that your credit score will follow you around like a shadow throughout your life. You will receive constant reminders from your lending agency to repay the sum, and sometimes students can be taken to court to recover the debt.

In some cases, your debt may be forgiven (if you are bankrupt, offer community service, developed a disability, or if your school shuts down, to name a few) but it is wise not to rely on this happening before you start college.

Many students manage to get through college without borrowing a cent, and while that is a huge struggle, it is one that is worth the effort. Once you graduate, all you need to worry about is getting a decent job.

3 Things To Take Into Consideration When Planning For Retirement

3 Things To Take Into Consideration When Planning For Retirement

Planning for retirement can be very difficult without having the proper consulting in place. Those that are going into retirement without a plan are in for a rude awakening, and may find themselves having to go through a huge change in quality of life if they did not conduct proper planning before retirement. There are a few things that need to be taken into account when planning for retirement including what your streams of income are going to be, whether or not you were going to look into financial planning services to help you through retirements, and also how you can improve your budgeting skills which are going to become infinitely more important when your streams of income are limited during retirement.

Streams Of Income

The best thing that you can do to ensure that your retirement is as comfortable as possible, is to look into how you can create additional streams of income through the investments that you make prior to retirement. Since retirement signals that your mainstream of income, the job that you had prior to retirement, is coming to an end, it is vitally important that you are able to produce other streams of income that can allow you to keep the same quality-of-life post retirement, and have a comfortable golden years. The investments that you make prior to retirement can help you to maintain comfort after retirement, and improve your overall wealth management.

Wealth Management and Financial Planning

When entering retirement, it is likely a good idea to look to Wealth Management Services and Retirement Planning services that can help you to better manage your finances when your streams of income are limited during retirement. Most individuals going to retirement with a set income, through the retirement funds that they have, Social Security, and any streams of income that are provided by investments. It is in your best interest to try to plan in-depth, and plan early, with the help of a financial planning professional, in order to ensure that you are in the best possible position come retirement.

Budgeting Skills

Because your income is going to be limited during retirement, you want to make sure that you sharpen your budgeting skills prior to retiring. It will be vitally important that you have the skills to properly manage money and not overspend, in order to ensure that your retirement funds last as long as possible, and are able to provide you with the quality of life that you are accustomed to. Budgeting skills are something that you can learn on your own, but with the help of financial and retirement planning services, you can apply the use of tools and other strategies to help you improve your budgeting skills, and ensure that the funds that you have for retirement stretch as far as possible.

There are many things that need to be taken into consideration as you plan for retirement. Hiring wealth management services to help you through this pivotal time in your life can ensure that you go into retirement with the plan, and the tools that are required to execute it effectively.

The TBTF (Too Big to Fail) Landscape

The TBTF (Too Big to Fail) Landscape

Throughout the 2008 crisis, governments around the world came to the aid of the ailing financial sector in various ways. Bottom line is that the banking industry received massive public support with some banks receiving government funding or becoming nationalized.

However, scarce capital relative to bank risk increased the depth of the financial crisis and the cost of government involvement. Hence, reforms passed under the Dodd-Frank Act are designed to reduce the probability of too-big-to-fail (TBTF) bank failure by increasing minimum capital levels. While that makes sense in theory, is this working in practice? In other words, should excessively large banks be prevented from failing for the public good?

Big Banks: Too Big?

The Dodd-Frank Act was designed to avert a repeat of the 2008 crisis and prevent governments from having to rescue big banks. However, the largest banks in the U.S. are bigger today than they were prior to the meltdown. Five banks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs) held more than $ 8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011 compared to $6 trillion in 2006.

There is a legitimate concern that Dodd-Frank Act legislation has not solved the problem of putting taxpayer money on the hook for TBTF banks.

The Dodd - Frank Act Legislation

Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act created the Orderly Liquidation Authority. Under this special process, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has the power to bail out a large financial institution under crisis.

To minimize widespread consequences, the FDIC will allocate a selected portion of the firm's asset and liabilities to a new institution, allowing some creditors to receive higher payments than under a bankruptcy or a bailout.

However, bailing out some creditors can have a negative effect that actually increases the chance of bank failure. Generally, creditors administer risk undertaken by a financial firm by cutting their exposure. A bailout will put them in a comfort zone and gives them less reason to be cautious.

Moreover, the shareholders in a failing bank, unlike creditors bailed out under Dodd-Frank, will not be protected, causing uncertainty throughout the bailout process.

The Steps Ahead

Industry experts are proposing various methods to ensure the stability of the industry and address the problem of TBTF.

Restructure big banks: According to Richard Fisher, president of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the corporate entities of large financial institutions should be reorganized to ensure a speedy bankruptcy process. Smaller banking entities that are more in line with the 99.8 percent of banks in the U.S. are easier to regulate.

Expose big bank assets: U.S. accounting principles allow banks to cover up derivatives trading: U.S. banks hide about $5 trillion in derivatives assets in their balance sheets. Industry pundits believe U.S. banks should adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) t0 reveal assets held in derivatives. Moreover, following IFRS guidelines will force banks to disclose their true book to market ratios. True book-to-market-value ratios will be less than 1.0, in a sense restructuring all big banks into small operational units.

Expose the use of special purpose entities: The special purpose entity--an accounting device engaged by Enron to hide its debts--is finding its place again. Wells Fargo's "variable interest entities" had total assets of about $1.5 trillion by the end of 2011 as cited by Forbes. Industry experts demand transparency in these activities.

Examine banks' role in the economy: The key function of banks is to increase opportunities and condense the risk for citizens and enterprises. The monetary help banks receive from the Federal Reserve has no positive impact on the economy. Banks are doing well and getting bigger, but the real economy is struggling. Efforts should be made to monitor bank activities devoted to uplifting the economy.

Expose "bad profits" practices: In their quest for profits, a few banks began practicing what is commonly known as "bad profit practice" such as rigging LIBOR rates, mistreatment of foreclosures, tax dodging activities, and money laundering. New regulations designed by the Federal Reserve and other governing bodies should make industry reporting more transparent and make it easier to keep a close eye on such practices and thus, track the impact of bank practices on the economy.

The Future

The Dodd-Frank Act includes procedures to wind down troubled institutions. But in order for Dodd-Frank to succeed, regulators must take stern steps against large, politically interconnected, and powerful companies. The Federal Reserve must encourage the financial sector to provide transparency. If banks fulfill the purpose of their existence in the economy, then profits will follow.

High Loan To Value Mortgages Remain Elusive

High Loan To Value Mortgages Remain Elusive

Over the last six years, since the beginning of the banking crisis, the number of deals offered to high value mortgage clients has decreased. As lenders have fallen by the wayside and those that remain have become more reluctant to lend, the choice of large mortgage deals of one million pounds or more has fallen sharply.

However, research has found one area which has benefited over that time. High deposit mortgages, for people looking to borrow less than 60 per cent of their home's value, have increased significantly as lenders compete for this low-risk business.

Research from financial analysts Moneyfacts has discovered that the number of mortgage products in the 60 per cent 'loan to value' bracket has rocketed in recent years. Prior to the banking crisis high 'loan to value' mortgages of 90 per cent or more were the norm, as were high income multiples but such mortgage deals are now almost non-existent. Now that 60 per cent 'loan to value' mortgages are the norm the first time buyer market has stagnated but banks and other lenders remain keen to secure high deposit mortgage business.

While mortgage deals for first time buyers and at higher loan to values are still hard to come by, there are plenty of deals if you have a large depositof 40 per cent or more. The low risk nature of this type of borrowing has led many lenders to offer superb rates in order to attract good quality large mortgage business.

As well as high deposit mortgage deals from mainstream lenders, there are also countless more products available through private banks in the UK and overseas. High value mortgage clients who need over £500,000 at a low loan to value have a superb choice of deals right now. The Government's Funding for Lending scheme has been a contributing factor to the increased choice of deals.

However, some experts believe the government initiative is not targeting the right type of borrower; those looking for a 90 per cent loan to value, which the initiative was designed to help. The scheme effectively has just widened the choice of deals for those who already had a choice.

If you're struggling to agree a home loan, you're not alone. Banks and other lending institutions are focusing more than ever on profitable clients only and even some higher net-worth clients are feeling the effects. And, it's not just the large high street banks and building societies that are limiting the deals available. Privatebanks, which have traditionally prided themselves on establishing personal relationships with their customers, have begun to weed out the less profitable clients.

High 'loan to value' mortgages for high net worth finance clients arealso harder to obtain as some smaller banks are ceasing lending for such home loans. Fortunately, there are still some private banks with an appetite to lend to large mortgage clients and a number of London mortgage brokers have developed relationships with private banks in the UK and overseas who are still keen to lend to high net worth individuals, oftenwith extremely competitive pricing.

Situations When A Financial Advisor Will Help With Retirement Savings

Situations When A Financial Advisor Will Help With Retirement Savings

Nearly 6 million people contribute to a retirement savings plan each year. This is only 24 percent of the eligible population of the country. The average contribution towards retirement savings is less than 4 percent of the disposable income of a household. This is placing many people in a position where it will be necessary to work beyond the traditional retirement age in order pay bills. One solution is to hire a financial advisor to help create a more structured and realistic plan for retirement. There are several reasons to hire an advisor.

No Financial Experience

Even the most well-educated professionals often have a limited amount of knowledge about the financial markets. Understanding the constantly changing world of finance is something that is best left to individuals who have dedicated years to education and learning within the industry. It is always a good choice to turn to a financial planner when personal knowledge of the markets, economics and finance is limited. Making the wrong decisions could have devastating repercussions a decade or more in the future when it is too late to consult an advisor.

Late Start

Many people have trouble starting to save as early as most experts suggest. Some individuals go through long periods of underemployment that make it impossible to save for retirement. Starting to save late in life is a very good reason to contact a financial advisor. The advisor will look at the reality of the situation and establish realistic goals that will allow a comfortable retirement later. The advisor might also suggest using more aggressive investment options that have the potential to erase some of the years without savings.

Complex Assets

Some individuals who are planning for retirement have a very complex collection of assets. This could mean stock options with several employers combined with retirement accounts and tax-deferred investment vehicles. Some people might have to deal with large estates or commitments to businesses established by family members. A financial planner will take the time to sort through complex financial situations and discover exactly how the assets will affect retirement. A planner also has the knowledge to prevent different types of investments and vehicles from becoming a tax burden because of conflicts and missed opportunities.

Previous Mistakes

Financial mistakes do occur on a regular basis. Many people attempt to manage savings for retirement personally at some point. A financial advisor should be hired if a large financial mistake has occurred. The mistake might involve moving accounts and losing money to taxes, losing money because of a poorly balanced portfolio or making poor savings choices that have minimized returns. These mistakes can derail retirement plans. An advisor will have the skill to navigate out of bad investments and could potentially restore the savings over time.

Life Changes

Dramatic changes happen to everyone at some point during life. This could mean a divorce, a death or a bankruptcy. It can be difficult to recover after a life-changing event. Allowing retirement savings to lapse or go unmanaged for a long period after an event can affect returns. A financial advisor will have the objectivity and time to sort through retirement plans and protect the money that is already saved.

Top 3 Reasons Why Virtual Accounting Is The Way To Go

Top 3 Reasons Why Virtual Accounting Is The Way To Go

This day and age we are living in a technology society. Everything is online - banking, photos, shopping, music, TV shows and even movies. Yet at the same time, I am amazed at how many people don't want to do things online. Are they going to stay in the paper age forever?

Even with accounting. People will put all of their business online but not their accounting records. They will share picture of kids, post check-in's all over town and tell the whole world everything they did and ate for the day. Yet they won't use online banking or a cloud based software - systems that are way more protected than these social media accounts. And why is that? It's fear of the unknown and trust me I get it. But if you find a reputable company that has all the proper security controls in place, as most companies do, you should have nothing to worry about. Just make sure the company has an emergency plan. This is a plan that will keep your data safe and accessible in the event of an emergency. Often times there is a backup of all the data on a completely different server in a completely different city and state.

Here are three more reasons why you should give virtual accounting a try.

1. Accessible from anywhere. Virtual accounting gives you the ability to access your files from anywhere, whether you're at home, work or on travel. It will save you time and money. It also allows your accountant or CPA to access your files remotely. This helps cut don't travel expenses that you would typically pay as part of your fee. You can also use scan, mail or use cloud services to store and send documents that your accountant.

2. Immediate software updates. Using a virtual system that hosts your main software package, will save you money. You don't have to pay the premium cost of purchasing the software up front. And as a result you never have to worry about software updates. The hosting company will take care of that for you.

3. Safe and secure. Despite what you hear or read in the media, offsite servers and cloud services are safe and secure. Most companies that I have been in contact with use a 256 bit encryption, which is the same security used by bankers. They also provide automatic dual site back-ups that provide that extra security in knowing you can sill access your data in the event of an emergency event.

PDQ Machines Use in Retailing

PDQ Machines Use in Retailing

PDQ machines are used to process card payment transactions at the point of sale. The name is an acronym for the ability to Process Data Quickly. For a number of different reasons PDQ machines have become extremely popular in the last few years, and they are probably the most common device used for processing card payments in the retail environment.

Before the Chip & Pin system was introduced, PDQ machines were used to read data that was embedded in the magnetic strip on the back of the payment cards when they were swiped through the card-reader. The POS included connection to the cash registers, where the items and total transactions values were input. The system also includes the option for manual input of the transaction value. The PDQ machines were then involved with the verification and authorization process, and, in the case of credit card payment transactions, purchasers were asked to sign slips in order to match signatures on the back of the credit cards.

The recently introduced Chip & Pin system was developed to reduce the occurrences of payment card frauds that according to recent reports, total billions annually. Each payment card is assigned a 4 digit PIN which should be entered into the machines as another layer of verification. The cards now include embedded computer chips, that are replacing the magnetic strips on the backs of the cards. The cards are inserted into the machine, and are read in almost the same manner that the magnetic strips were read, but the data storage is now in a different form of integrated circuits and contact with the reader is needed.

Signatures are no longer needed for authorization, as the transactions are completed by the PDQ machines. There may no longer be any input required from the retailer, and the machines are now being used in self-serve units.

It is also possible to use the machines without the card-holder being physically present during the transaction. Retailers or merchants still have the option of manually entering card information such as the card number, during telephone sales, but in place of the assigned PIN, alternative information such addresses or personal security codes, may be requested. The duration of the process may increase slightly when compared to the input of Personal Identification Number.

Retailers are required to pay some fees that are associated with the use of PDQ machines. Processing fees are included with all credit card transactions, and these fees are usually higher than those of other payment cards. However there continues to be dramatic increases in both the volumes and the number of electronic payments, and it is hoped that economies of scale, with much higher volumes, can contribute to lower processing costs.

The machines are available in both the wireless and wired versions. The wireless version is most suitable for mobile commerce, when payments can be processed, anywhere, and at any time, while retailer stores continue to use the wired version.

For the merchant or the retail outlet, not having a method to process credit card payments will result in lost sales as most consumers may often wish to avail themselves of the opportunities and conveniences to pay with payment cards.

The Use of Forex Trading Indicators

The Use of Forex Trading Indicators

Forex trading Indicators, are an important part of technical analysis, in this article we will introduce tools which when applied properly can liberate us from having to constantly observe currency rate fluctuations.

Momentum Indicators or Trend Following

Overall, there are two types of indicators. First there are the so-called indicators of "momentum" or "trend following."These indicators are rather unique as they give you delayed signals. More clearly, the exchange rate will begin its movement and then the indicator will give you the signal. On the other hand, indicators called "oscillators", provide you with signals in advance, meaning before rates begin their movement.

Why are there indicators giving delayed signals, while others giving in advance?

The Difference Between Oscillators and Trending Indicators

With experience you quickly realize that oscillators give many false signals. However, when the signal is correct, you the chances of generate substantial gains are very high. Contrary to this the trend following indicators will give fewer false signals; however the gains will be smaller, since the current trend has already announced before the onset of the signal. Let us look at these different types of indicators in detail.

The Oscillators

We must first understand what these indicators actually want to show us. You should know that through the incoherent movements exposed by graphics, there are two types of configurations that should interest us. The first is the trend, i.e. the exchange rate is clearly moving in one direction, for this reason we employ trend following indicators. The second is the one that could be described as cyclical, i.e. that prices move broadly in ranks without a clear trend. In this situation the oscillators will give optimal signals.

The basic principle of oscillators is that they consider that the exchange rates have a point of balance. When the exchange rate is too far away from that point they trace it to return to this balance.

Trending Indicators Contrary to the oscillators, these indicators are used during clear trend phases. It is not helpful to rely on such indicators in market range conditions. Indeed we must first understand what the purpose of these indicators is. They are typically used to filter out the movements and locate s trend. It is common practice to utilize them together with another filter to a obtain an entry point.

The best known of indicators to monitor trends continues to be the moving average (also called rolling average in statistics). This indicator is applied directly to the exchange rate depending on the time and allows to know the basic movement of the market.

In conclusion, we need to stress the fact that that there are really no type of indicator which is better than the other. Oscillators are very different to trend following indicators and they definitely each have their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, we can compare oscillators between them, but it is useless to compare them with momentum indicators, it would be like comparing chart patterns with the Fibonacci retracement.

Reasons Why Risk Control And Cutting Losses Are Important To Market
Trend Investors

Reasons Why Risk Control And Cutting Losses Are Important To Market Trend Investors

It is truly surprising how stocks can move so fast. Before a person has time to think, a stock can change substantially. This is in large part a factor as to why complaints surrounding the viability of stock investing is usually related to the heavy losses that can be suffered in the span of a singe day. For this reason, one of the most important things a trader can learn early is risk management and the science of learning how to cut losses. This should be a part of all investing strategies, but these are a few specific reasons why risk control and cutting losses are important to a market trend investor.

Market Trends Investors Trade According to Market Trends

As straightforward as that can appear, really consider that. Because the philosophy of this investing plan is based around using indicators to show the direction of stocks, a market investor should avoid trading against the market trend at all costs. However staying in a bad trade despite all the signs is doing exactly that. Sometimes information is missed, sometimes indicators can give false signs. Depending on your position the rise or fall of a stock can result in losses initially. There are times where this is okay but if the gap gets to be too much, just cut losses before it becomes impossible to make up the difference.

Stop-losses were invented specifically to safeguard against traders losing too much money. What type of stop-loss to use depends entirely on the trade you're taking part in. But the basics are that the guaranteed stop-loss will place an absolute hold on the losses you are able to sustain. The trailing stop-loss will assure you of your profits while protecting from loss as it moves up or down according to your profits. Some brokers charge extra for the use of certain stop-losses so make sure that you read up on what your broker does before trying to use one.

Market Trend Investors Cannot Trade Without Limits

When success and trading are discussed, it is often about the trades that make overnight millionaires. What many do not talk about is the discipline that traders need in order to be successful every year. Letting profitable transactions serve their purpose takes as much discipline as does cutting losses when investments are going bad. The amount of losses that you can afford will depend on how much you have to start. Set your absolute limit there or at whatever amount you can't afford to lose. Being aware of where your limit is can make it easier to quit a trade when it gets out of hand. You will have to resist the temptation to hold on. Trading is about doing transactions that profit you.

Market Trend Investor Cannot Linger

When a transaction is not going anywhere good and every sign and indicator is telling you that there is no change coming, don't wait until you're facing ruin to get out. In heeding to the natural human desire to believe in one's own abilities, a trader can lose a lot of money fighting losing battles. A market trend investor needs to be flexible and to not take individual trades personally. Market trends move with too much speed for traders to stick to one trade at the expense of all others. Should the stock begin showing itself alive, it is possible to get back into trades.

People can and sometimes do make incredible sums on the stock market. Because of this it is easy to get lured into the trap of trying to complete the most profitable trades. The reality for most successful traders is that several profitable trades in a day are more valuable than one massive victory. Trend investors do not have the resources or time to stay fixated on a stock that is costing the more money. A home run trade means nothing when the deficits are too much to make the difference.

Nobody wants to be seen as someone who lost everything on the stock market. For this reason very few people are willing to talk about why risk control and cutting losses are important to a market trend investor. The thing is, regardless of what people want to think they do need to trade with trends, abide by self-imposed guidelines, and never linger over a stock to their own detriment. Those who want to trade successfully will need to know how to cut losses quickly in order to make more money on the stock market.

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