When You Need Money, Don't Become a Victim

When You Need Money, Don't Become a Victim

When a person needs money, it may be easy to fall prey to unscrupulous and dishonest people who are trying to trick him out of his money. There are hundreds of scams being perpetrated by people trying to make a dollar from cheating someone else. It is important not to allow yourself to become a victim by signing up with such individuals or groups.

The internet is a truly amazing technological miracle of the ages. Some extremely brilliant people have developed wonderful innovations which have changed the world. However, there are dishonest people who have discovered that the internet can be used to trick people into giving their money away with promises of riches.

One scam which does not seem to go away is an email system which tells people that they have been chosen as the one person in the world to be trusted with millions of dollars which was left by a person in another country who needs assistance in gaining access to the money. The person is told that a wealthy individual died leaving millions of dollars which is tied up unless the administrator is able to find a worthy and honest person to be willing to accept the money. A small portion is said to go to the administrator with the lion's share going to the person who is willing to engage in the program with them. Most people will simply delete the email without answering or investigating, but there are still others who are falling for the scam. By giving their personal information and bank account numbers presumably to receive the money, they find that their accounts have been drained of their funds. How people can sleep at night when they are cheating innocent people out of their life savings is hard to understand. Apparently, they have no scruples and are only interested in lining their own pockets.

If you need money because your income does not match with your expenses, it is best to look for legitimate sources of earning money. There are currently many "help wanted" signs in shop windows of all kinds of businesses. These are not usually the better jobs that one would desire, but they could be the means for bringing in some much needed extra income. Being willing to work at menial tasks might be necessary to offer some relief for financial concerns.

A home based business such as network marketing (MLM or multi-level marketing) which is generally a method of moving products is not a get rich quick scheme. It is possible for real go-getters to achieve success rather quickly, but this industry generally requires a huge time commitment and involvement in order to start to see an income generated from it. While it is possible to do very well in network marketing, it is not easy for most people. Yet there are miraculous success stories in this home based business opportunity.

Finding a legitimate means of bringing in money is infinitely better than trying a program which will cause one to become a victim of someone else's trickery and dishonesty.

Retirees Can Use Their Life Insurance To Replenish Lost Savings

Retirees Can Use Their Life Insurance To Replenish Lost Savings

The recession took a heavy toll on the savings of some retirees and those soon-to-be. Because they haven't the years left to rebuild what they've lost, some are looking to replenish some of their losses with their life insurance policies. Should you?

If your retirement plans have taken a hit from market downturns, you have a variety of options to help improve your circumstance. Delaying retirement will increase your Social Security benefits. This, along with contributing more to your savings while you remain working can significantly improve your eventual retirement income.

If there's more you need, you can look to the value of your life insurance policy. You can get cash from your policy several ways:

* Take a loan against your policy's death benefit

* Surrender your policy to your insurance company for its value

* Sell your policy to a third party as a life insurance settlement

If you don't or can't repay your policy loan before your die, the death benefit will be reduced by what you still owe on it. But, again, you may still have some death benefit for your offspring.

If you consider surrendering your policy, check first with your agent to establish how much you'll receive. Unfortunately, surrendering your policy for value gives you less, perhaps substantially less, than you could get by selling it - if you're the right age and the policy death benefit is substantial.

The best candidates for a life settlement are now people in their 70s or older who have a life insurance policy valued at $500,000 or more that they no longer need. And according to Russell Dorsett, co-managing director of the Select Life Settlement Corp. in Houston says that depending on age, gender and health, the average payout is slightly less than 20 percent of the policy's death benefit; but that's still three or four times more than they'd get if they simply surrendered their policies to the insurer.

If you do decide to sell, seek out a life settlement provider who must be licensed by the state. Don't be pressured, and understand the terms of the sale. Ask of your selling agent for proof of every offer made on your insurance policy and ask what his commission will be. He should represent only you and not the buyer of your policy at the same time. Some states will even allow you to void your signed agreement if you change your mind within a month of signing or 2 weeks from receiving the proceeds - whichever comes first.

*Terminally ill and need cash:

Of course, if a doctor's prognosis show that you are terminally ill and expected to die within 2 years, your policy may allow you to accelerate your policy's death benefit. You may need it to pay medical bills resulting from your illness.

All You Need To Know About Phantom Stocks

All You Need To Know About Phantom Stocks

What are Phantom Stocks?

Phantom stocks are generally known as Shadow Stocks. Most companies give these kind of stocks to its employees as a cash reward. The shadow stocks given are equivalent to the company's existing share market price at the time it is offered to the employees.

These kinds of shares are accorded to senior-most officers and loyal employees of the company.

The two types of Phantom stocks prevalent today are appreciation only and full value stocks. While the appreciation only stocks excludes the worth of the real underlying stocks, full value stocks include the worth of the underlying stock and any appreciation as well.

Rewarding employees with phantom shares

Want to reward your employees for all the hard work that they have put in all these years for the growth and development of your company? The best way to do so is to reward them with Phantom Stocks. Companies issue phantom shares to its employees as a substitute for the actual shares. In other words, the phantom shares do not require the issuance of the real shares but yet the employees will get all the benefits due to the rise in the company's stocks at the share markets. It is, therefore, the best way to reward the employees, no doubt!

Two types of phantom stocks

There are two types of Phantom Stocks that are widely prevalent these days. They are known as Appreciation Only and Full Value stocks. The Appreciation Value stocks will pay out only the company's escalated share price for a certain period of time. In case of Full Value shares, both the escalated value and the underlying stock value will be paid out to the employees. In both these cases, the employees stand the risk of forfeiture of shares once the benefit is paid to them. It is, therefore, well known that the Appreciation Value and Full Value stocks are typical nonqualified stock plans.

How are phantom shares allocated?

Phantom shares are allocated to employees who have a good track record. These shares are allocated to employees who have attained the goals or tasks set by the company for them. The document about the phantom shares will spell out if the employee will get the cash that equals the dividends and any other type of rights. To forgo paying the amount in cash, certain companies also transfer the phantom shares into actual shares. Further, there is no exercise feature in the phantom shares which means the employees are taken into the plan as per the terms and conditions and finally the cash is given to them.

Advantages and disadvantages of Phantom Shares

There are certain advantages and disadvantages in Phantom Shares. For one thing, the employers have the option of placing the shares in the employees name without actually having to transfer the ownership to them. Further, these phantom shares serve as a motivation for the employees who will put in hard work to achieve more and more. The employees will also stay on the company for longer given the fact that they hold the phantom shares which accords them a lot of advantages financially. This is generally known as the Golden Handcuff clause which binds the employees and employers together for years to come.

Employees benefit from Phantom Shares

Employees stand to benefit a lot from the Phantom Shares allocated to them by their companies. In the first place, they get to build their stock portfolio without actually having to spend anything on it. However, the large pay outs to the employees may cause a huge financial burden on the company in most cases. When there is a fluctuation in the company's stock price it can also be a drawback for the company as it will reflect on the company's balance sheet. Therefore, it is pertinent for the companies to disclose what plan it offers to its employees every year.

What are Stock Appreciation Rights?

Stock Appreciation Rights, generally known as SARs, gives the employees a right to appreciation in the stock price but this does not mean that they can claim it on the stock itself. SARs are nonqualified stocks for purposes such as taxes. However, the shareholders will have to sell the shares and from the amount derived from it they have to cover the cost of the shares granted to them originally. The SARs are offered in the form of tangible shares and the number of these shares granted is equivalent to the profits that the shareholder has made during the grant and exercise.

Taxation on SARs

Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs) are quite similar to the non-qualified stock options, known as NSOs when it comes to taxation as they don't draw tax consequences on the date they are vested or on the grant date. Generally, most of the employers will be withholding the additional federal income tax which amounts to about 20 per cent in addition to the local and state taxes, medical insurance and social security. These taxes will also be withheld as shares by most of the employers. In such cases, the employers will only give a few shares and keep the remaining to cover the taxes.

Advantages and disadvantages of SARs

Employees holding Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs) easily use their rights and evaluate the gains but they are not accorded dividends and also do not have the voting rights. Most of the employers prefer SARs due to the fact that accounting rules are very favourable to them than it was in the past. This means it will get the permanent accounting treatment and not as variable. Therefore, they are treated as the orthodox stock options. One disadvantage is that the SARs necessitate issuing of fewer shares and this will decrease the share price when compared with the orthodox stock plans. But it will certainly motivate the employees.

Why Phantom stock and SARs?

What is the necessity of Phantom stock and Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs)? Well, it mainly helps in retaining the employees particularly the most hardworking and dedicated ones. Yet another advantage is that the company will not have to dilute the stocks materially but at the same time provide equity-linked compensation to the workers. However, both these plans have its own advantages and disadvantages and limitations as well. If you are not sure of which of these plans would suit you, the best thing would be is to consult your financial advisor and gain insights on what each of these plans would offer.

How To Avoid Credit/Debit Card Frauds

How To Avoid Credit/Debit Card Frauds

Credit/Debit Card fraud problems began when thieves found out ways to get confidential information such as bank account details from their victims. In fact this kind of problem became an accessory to identity theft. This is possible if the thief knows all necessary information about you. They can use it to their advantage by claiming as you and using your credit card for their personal transactions. Often times such incidences are not detected immediately until the victim receives their billing statement or bank account statement and began to notice unnecessary purchases that they did not even make.

Situations such as this can always be prevented. To help you get an idea how to avoid credit card fraud, here are some lists on what you should do and don't do to make sure your card is safe.

1. Information related to your credit/debit cards is confidential. You must not divulge it to anybody. If you buy items online make sure that the company is legit. In fact research more about that company as a precaution.

2. Always treat your credit/debit cards as though they are cash. If you take extra measures to make sure that your cash is safe or to prevent yourself from getting robbed, then do the same for your cards also. Keep in mind that cards are more valuable like cash. If you lose your card, some people might take advantage of it by acquiring goods and/or services. The downside of it is if your credit limit is high, they will have a good time shopping. Compared to cash, they can only buy products that are dependent on how much cash they have stolen.

3. Make sure that your credit card has your signature on it. Use a permanent marker so that it won't erase every time you use it. The signature shown on the card will be use by the cashier as reference when you sign your receipt. If the signature does not match, the cashier will automatically tell the authorities or their superior of possible fraud activity.

4. Always keep a copy of all the receipts that you paid using your card. When your billing statement arrives, cross check it to the receipts that you have. If it doesn't add, call your credit card issuer. Also if there are transactions that are not familiar to you, tell them also.

5. Inform your bank and your credit card company that you will be having a change of address. This will make sure that your bank account statement or billing statement gets directly to you. If you do not tell them, other people might get hold of it and use it against you.

6. If you lose your credit/debit card, tell your bank and/or your credit card issuer immediately. This action will automatically hinder all transactions made once you report it to them. If there are transactions made after you report it, your bank or credit card issuer can immediately act on it.

Now that you know what you should do to avoid being a victim of credit card fraud, make sure that you always keep this in mind. Remember, becoming a victim to credit card fraud is partly your responsibility. If you are more vigilant on taking extra measures to make sure that you won't fall under this category, you wouldn't have to experience it. Therefore, always be careful in your credit/debit card transactions.

Investment Counselor Career - Why You Should Use a Financial Advisor

Investment Counselor Career - Why You Should Use a Financial Advisor Recruiter

Are you looking for a position in the financial services industry? Big corporations often don't even list the jobs they have available. As a result, your best bet is to contact a financial advisor recruiting firm, which have developed relationships with the top financial services firms. They have the best, highest paying jobs on file and are searching for the right person to fill the position.

Investment Counselor / Financial Advisor Jobs

Privately-held investment management firms manage portfolios for high net worth clients and institutions. They search for talented finance professionals to serve as Investment Counselors, who are typically assigned to specific clients. Although there are particular qualifications for each company's job opportunity, there are some areas that are pretty much the same with them all.

Responsibilities of an Investment Counselor

An investment counselor, or financial advisor, oversees high-net-worth client relationships. Their focus is on client retention. There is no prospecting, cold-calling or selling involved. Investment counselors are expected to impart current market strategy and portfolio updates to their assigned clients. They also act as the liaison between wealthy clients and the Company's investment decision-makers.

Investment counselors are also expected to take part in the firm's training and mentoring program. This helps them gain advanced finance and capital markets education.

Qualifications for a Financial Advisor

Most large corporations expect a bachelor's degree or equivalent combination of education and experience, as well as at least 3 years' experience in the investment industry or financial services. The applicant should have a strong knowledge of finance and capital markets.

In addition to education and experience, if a job applicant wants to obtain a top job in the finance industry, he or she needs to have developed certain personal skills. To succeed, they need to...

  • Be efficient
  • Have excellent time management skills
  • Be charismatic with great communication skills

How to Prepare for an Investment Counselor Career

If you've obtained your degree but don't have enough experience, you may want to investigate intern programs with investment companies. If the company you are working for is impressed with your work, you could be offered a permanent job with them. Working as an assistant to a Financial Advisor is another way to gain experience, especially if you are given the opportunity to take on more responsibility over time, working your way up to a full-fledged FA.

Your resume is incredibly important when you approach a financial advisor recruiter. There are certain things they prefer, and you'd do well to pay attention to those preferences if you don't want your resume tossed away immediately. For one, keep your resume to one page only. Don't include personal information such as your marital status, kids, hobbies and the like - your resume should only contain your education and experience. Use quality white or off-white paper if you are sending it in.

Never send off a resume until you have edited it carefully and had at least two other people review it for errors. If you are having trouble creating a good resume, it is well worth the expense to confer with a professional resume writer.

The Benefits of Payroll Debit Cards for Unbanked Employees

The Benefits of Payroll Debit Cards for Unbanked Employees

Today's tough economy has led to financial institutions raising their requirements for new clients and lowering the interest from poor credit consumers. Banks review checking and savings account applications based on credit, not just banking history. With the rising cost in bank fees, more unbanked and underbanked employees are avoiding banks and living on a cash-only basis. But how does an unbanked employee receive a paycheck?

More employers are turning to the use of payroll debit cards versus the traditional paper paycheck. Payroll debit cards are flexible, convenient, and the most cost-effective payment method in the long run for employers as well as employees.

Direct Deposit without a Bank
Unbanked employees or those who have been denied a checking account can enjoy the benefits of direct deposit while using payroll cards. Since payroll cards act like a reloadable debit card, employees can use their card to make direct purchases or withdrawals from their paycheck-without ever opening a bank account. The payroll debit card is set up through employers, which means employees do not have to worry about being denied due to poor credit.

Saving Time and Money for the Employee
Employees who do not have bank accounts spend countless hours visiting check cashing centers and waiting in line to cash their checks. Not only does this cost money by wasting time, but then the employee pays a check cashing fee anywhere from two to ten percent on the total cashed. If the employee had a bank account, he would have to worry about overdraft fees and fines associated with his bank account. Payroll debit cards, on the other hand, have no overdraft fees, no monthly fees, and no check cashing charges for the employee to worry about-which puts more money in his pocket each pay period.

Saving Time and Money for the Employer
Employers can take advantage of numerous benefits associated with payroll cards as well. One of the biggest advantages is that employers can avoid the hassles of creating and distributing traditional paper checks. Not only does this cost money in materials and resources, but it takes time to process the payroll checks. Companies looking to go green are opting for payroll debit cards versus issuing paychecks as well. Payroll debit cards are acceptable by all employees, regardless of their bank account status.

The biggest benefit of payroll debit cards is that employees have instant access to their money. They no longer have to wait the standard three to five business days for checks to clear, find a branch of a bank their employer banks with, or wait overnight for direct deposits to be processed. Instead, the money is available instantly. Employers consider this an advantage as well when it comes to balancing their ledger. Since paper checks take time to cash and display on the employer's account, his bank reconciliation can be off for days-if not weeks. With payroll cards, an employer's bank account is up-to-date and reflects the current funds for the company.

There really are no disadvantages to using a payroll debit card for employers and employees. Everyone saves time and money, and the convenience and flexibility of payroll debit cards can't be matched by the old way of paying employees.

Tired of Service Fees? - Choosing Banks That Charge Less

Tired of Service Fees? - Choosing Banks That Charge Less

Regardless of their income level, most people these days are interested in saving money. With the economy in the shape it is in, it is necessary to find every way possible to lower costs. It will be worth your while to pay close attention to the fees that banks charge for specific services, fees you have probably never thought about!

Customers are charged fees at banks for the services that they use. Some people are interested in having more services at their disposal than others. In order to manage your finances, you need to think about which services are absolutely necessary and which ones you would rather not be charged for. This is your first line of action against preventing exorbitant fees being charged to your account.

Schedule an appointment with a bank that interests you and sit down in order to talk with a representative or manager. Be direct and open about the questions you ask in regards to fees. Find out what is charged and why. However, if you are happy with your current financial branch, book an appointment to inquire about how you can lower the amount of fees you pay. You may not even have to see an manager and be able to direct your inquiries to the tellers or the person sitting at the customer service desk.

Banks have automatic teller machines (commonly referred to as ATM's) in their businesses but also scattered throughout the city, to provide convenience to their customers. This is an excellent service that many people use on a regular basis. Nevertheless, before you rely on them too much, find out how much each transaction at the machine is costing you. Some plans allow for more ATM activity than others.

In many cases, the fee you pay for the plan you are under at your financial institution will cover all of the withdrawals you make at automated teller machines that belong to your financial firm. What you need to be careful of is using ATM's that are not affiliated with your company. Using these will result in extra fees on top of extra fees! The more you use them, the more they will cost you.

When you visit an ATM that belongs to another bank and not your own, every transaction will cost anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00. Your financial institution will go one step further and charge you another amount for using a different machine. Your account will have less and less money in it if you make a habit of doing this. It would be a good idea to take out as much cash as possible when you go to your location to avoid having to use the ATM and pay additional charges.

Easier Tax Return Filing With the Help of Income Tax Preparers

Easier Tax Return Filing With the Help of Income Tax Preparers

Every citizen of a particular country is liable to pay income tax based on their personal income. Many people may not know how to compound their accounts, and some may not have the interest in order to do so. This is where the role of an income tax preparer, who may be an individual or a group, helping other individuals or companies to prepare the returns and compensation under the existing tax laws, is highlighted.

The benefits of using qualified and reputed income tax preparers are many.

• First and foremost, you need not worry about the rule-book; your tax Preparer will do it for you. This way you always know that you are on the right side of the law and there will be no mismanagements because you "didn't know how".

• Sometimes, worrying about filing your tax returns can take you away from your original area of expertise, which may be the business that you own, or the job you hold. This can be eliminated by using the services.

• A reputed preparer takes foolproof measures to keep the financial information on the customer safe, thus the expenses incurred in taking those measures on one's own or the doubt of them falling into the wrong hands, is reduced.

• Many firms provide their services at a much lesser cost than what the taxpayers may have to keep aside if he/she decides to maintain a full time employee to take care of their tax returns. It saves a lot of time and money.

How to Effectively Choose Income Tax Preparers?

There are a lot of amateurs claiming to know their job in this field. One wrong step in choosing an experienced service will not just cause financial loss for you, but will also make you have to fight legal battles to come out of the mess you are in. Keep these points in mind before making any selections.

• A background check should be conducted before starting to use their services to know their level of expertise and dependability. This can be done by checking them up with the associations they belong and their past clients.

• Evaluate their credentials and licenses to know the legality of their services.

• Find out if they are going to be around even after the tax return is filed. This is important because in case you require their assistance afterwards, you should not feel stranded.

• Figure out what their fee structure is, before you start working with them. Avoid those, who formulate their fee on the size of your returns.

The good news is there are many qualified preparers in the field, whose services can be availed to make your return filing easier and more authentic. The rookies are also around, but adequate research can find you the tax Preparer appropriate for you.

Choosing Between Debt Consolidation Options - The Top 5 Options to
Choose From

Choosing Between Debt Consolidation Options - The Top 5 Options to Choose From

Debt consolidation is not going to make your debt go away and if handled wrong can help as much as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. So what are your options?

1) Credit Card Balance Transfer

If you've been making your payments on time and have a good credit record, you can discuss a lower rate with your credit card provider or simply shop around for a new one that will give you a better rate of interest. By rolling your high interest cards onto the new lower interest card, you can gain some additional flexibility in your finances.

It pays to shop around but watch out for cards with low teaser rates that will rocket up if you are late or miss a payment. You can forestall that by making sure you use an automated payment system so that a payment simply can't be late or missed.

But remember, by closing the higher rate credit cards accounts it will show up on your credit scores so it can have side effects on your overall financial health.

2) Borrow from your retirement account

A workable option depending on your age is taking a loan from your 401K account as long as it is repaid in five years. The drawback with this is that if you lose your job, they must be repaid in full within 60 days or face the early withdrawal penalties from the IRS.

If you're in your early 20′s to mid-30′s a loan of this type is a workable option but as you approach retirement it becomes less and less attractive as a solution.

3) Liquidate other assets or savings

If you have other investments or savings, you may gain more by using those funds to reduce your ongoing debt load. At the current average interest rate on savings of.51% (APY) you gain more from the reduction in your debt on your credit card than you do from sitting on your "nest egg."

The same applies to your CD accounts. If you can apply those funds to your outstanding debts, you gain more in financial relief, and once the burden lifts, you can reinvent the money you're not putting into credit card payments back into a CD or savings account.

4) Borrow against an insurance policy

If you are like many people who have worked at multiple jobs over the years you may have life insurance policies that are just sitting there untapped that could be sold or borrowed against to help with your current financial issues.

Again depending on your age and situation, this may not be the best option to choose. According to figures for 2011 from the Consumers Banking Association, 44% of consumers taking out home equity loans and 35% of the people tapping their home equity lines of credit did so for debt consolidation.

This according to consumer adviser Clark Howard, co-author of "Clark's Big Book of Bargains" is "playing with fire." His opinion is shared with many other consumer and financial advisers such as Ric Edelman, author of "Financial Security in Troubled Times". Edelman advises "You should not have money in assets if you also owe money in debt". He also notes three exceptions to this rule: Mortgages, car loans and student loans. That being said, we can now discuss:

5) Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit

This is the last option and the one that is the biggest potential risk to someone who isn't managing their finances properly. You have to decide if the house is less important than the previous four options given, because taking a second mortgage or line of credit if mishandled will cost you everything. If you use your house as security for a credit line and fail to make the payments, you can be foreclosed.

If you are trying to consolidate your payments to escape filing bankruptcy, once you use your house as security for the credit line, it is not protected under the bankruptcy code and you will lose it as part of the bankruptcy even in the case of a Chapter 13 filing.

Once you do take the step of using your house to pay off the old bills, you have to start breaking the habits that got you into financial trouble to start with. Most colleges and many consumer protection groups offer free courses on money management and budgeting so take advantage of them as you start back down the road to financial sanity.

The Annuity Advantage Over The CD For Seniors

The Annuity Advantage Over The CD For Seniors

A certificate of deposit (CD) is a secure investment that earns interest for you. Using a fixed annuity is sometimes compared with using a CD. Let's see how fixed annuities are different and possibly more advantageous.

A CD earns interest income for you that's taxed every year as ordinary income. And you're penalized for taking your money out before the CD's term is finished. Fixed annuities earn interest income too, but it's tax-deferred.

*Assuming you're older than 591/2, how can you can take money from a fixed annuity?:

You can choose either a deferred fixed annuity or an immediate fixed annuity for growing your savings and taking income.

In the case of a deferred annuity, you can take interest income out at any time but there's still a percentage penalty if you take out your initial deposit - like in the case of a CD. This penalty - perhaps 4 or 5% - decreases over the surrender period of your annuity. The surrender period varies but may average around 7 years.

However, some annuity contracts allow you to withdraw as much as ten percent without the penalty. Many contracts allow you to take its interest earned penalty-free each year - but taxed. That's why some people use deferred annuities just as they'd use a CD.

But no matter how much you take out of your deferred annuity, all the interest earned by it since you began the contract will be presumed to come out first. And that's taxed as ordinary income.

An immediate fixed annuity pays you a lifetime income - generally monthly. But each payment is only partially taxed - part is from earned interest of the premium money you paid for the immediate annuity and part for return of your principal - i.e. the premium, itself, you paid for the annuity. The money that remains in the contract (i.e. your immediate fixed annuity) earns interest which grows tax-deferred until you take some of that interest out.

The amount of that interest is fixed by the contract. Therefore, the total earnings you'll receive from your principal (premium paid) according and up to your life expectancy at the time you started the immediate annuity is known.

*A fraction of each annuity payment is tax free:

Now each monthly payment is fixed according to the contract and so is the fraction of each payment that is tax free and the remaining fraction that is taxable. That's because, your premium you paid (i.e. the contract principal) is known and - based on your life expectancy at the start - the total amount of earnings you'll receive is known since that interest is fixed by the contract.

With these known, the fraction assigned to each payment is simply the ratio of your principal (the premium you paid) to the total amount you're supposed to receive back over your life expectancy composed of your total return of principal and all its earnings. And the fraction that will be taxed for each payment (for the year that payment was received) will be the ratio of the total earnings you'll receive over that same total return of principal and earnings.

Incidentally, after you've received all your principal back in those monthly payouts, all future payouts are fully taxed as income. But that's occurs when you live beyond what your life expectancy was when you began your annuity payouts.

*The immediate annuity advantage over the CD:

For the immediate annuity, and depending on your age, you may have about 50% or more of each payment tax free. That, along with the annuity's lifetime payout, is their advantage tax advantage over a receiving earnings income from a CD.

Contractors See Positive Outcome From Recent UK Labour Market Stats

Contractors See Positive Outcome From Recent UK Labour Market Stats

Unemployment and employment rates are a key measure in assessing the position of any economy. Statistics of this kind are passed around on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis to share good news or tales of woe. Luckily the tale of 2012 was a more positive one for any contractor limited company.

Last year there were many positive movements in the UK Labour Market with employment numbers moving in the right direction. For the typical contractor this was fantastic news, and enabled them to focus on other pertinent matters such as how to avoid IR35 concerns and Umbrella Company vs. limited company. We have looked at some published figures for the last quarter of 2012 and they make for positive reading.

According to a recent report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG, contractors are still in great demand from figures rising throughout 2012.

This rise in demand for temporary workers spanned throughout engineering, construction and IT contractors, which came third and fifth in the contractor demand league table, showing that the increase in contracts surpassed the usual business sectors.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive, Kevin Green, described the importance of such a clear rise in contracting positions. He commented, "It's another milestone for the UK labour market, which hasn't seen a full quarter of simultaneous increases in both temp. and permanent job placements since mid-2011.

"It's also further confirmation of the continued strength of our flexible labour market in keeping people in employment. The picture for 2013 is likely to be similar to 2012, and we expect the labour market to yet again outperform the sluggish economic growth in the UK."

Limited company contractors have had much attention throughout the last year with their professional tax status being the subject of media and government attention. With the clear rise in job contracts for PSC workers, an insight into the mind-set of employers is visible, with new reliance being placed in temporary workers.

"Employers are confident in their own businesses, if not the economy as a whole, and know they have to retain or recruit talent in order to have a competitive advantage."

With an influx in contractors due for 2013, the importance of contractor finance cannot be ignored, and keeping up with payments and avoiding penalties and fines becomes ever more necessary. When it comes to alternative finance and economic initiatives, contractors often do not have the luxury of specifically designed schemes, making their finances important to secure.

The recent information provided by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation highlights the fact that contracting is becoming an increasingly popular and active profession. This is obviously positive for contractor service providers, and even more so for the actual limited company professionals themselves, with a rise in contracts and an increase in jobs.

As company owners however, anyone new to contracting should be extra vigilant of the potential pitfalls that the profession can incur, and sustaining a good financial record is a way in which to maintain this vigilance.

Analysis of Tiffany and Co.

Analysis of Tiffany and Co.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the risks of exchange rate exposures that Tiffany is facing.

Tiffany & Co was an internationally renowned retailer, designer, manufacturer and distributor of luxury goods. Tiffany was acquired by Avon Products in 1979 but was then bought back by its own management in 1984. After the company became profitable again, management offered Tiffany stock to the public in 1987 and in 1989, Mitsukoshi was the largest single institutional investor in Tiffany stock. In 1993, Tiffany concluded an agreement with its Japanese distributor, Mitsukoshi to assume management responsibilities in its wholly owned subsidiary, Tiffany & Co. Japan Inc.

I. Exchange Rate Fluctuations in 1993

Tiffany restructured its Japanese operations by selling directly to the Japanese market instead of selling to Mitsukoshi and Mitsukoshi selling it to Japan. Tiffany wanted greater control over its operations in Japan even though demand for Tiffany's products in Japan declined from 23% to 15% in 1992. However, Tiffany will still be required to pay fees of 27% of net retail sales in compensation to Mitsukoshi after this restructuring.

This change in operations exposed Tiffany directly to the exchange rate fluctuations which Mitsukoshi previously bore. Previously, Mitsukoshi ensured that Tiffany never had to worry about exchange-rate fluctuations and guaranteed a certain amount of cash flows to Tiffany in their wholesale transactions. Mitsukoshi bore the risk of any exchange-rate fluctuations that took place between the time it purchased the inventory from Tiffany and when it finally made the cash settlement.

Tiffany should be worried about the exchange rate fluctuations because the yen/dollar exchange rate is very volatile. Tiffany faced an additional risk by restructuring its Japanese operations as Mitsukoshi now no longer controls Tiffany's sales in Japan.

I believe that it is very important for Tiffany to consider the exchange rate fluctuations that it will expose itself to before it decides to assume complete control of its subsidiary store in Japan.

II. Extent of Tiffany's Exposure to Foreign Exchange Risk

• Economic Exposure

Tiffany is now exposed to foreign exchange rate risk. Tiffany has to bear the risk of any exchange-rate fluctuations that will take place when it assumes the responsibility for establishing yen retail price, holding inventory in Japan for sale, managing and funding local advertising and publicity programs and controlling local Japanese management.This may or may not decrease Tiffany's sales and income from their foreign operations. Table 1 below shows Tiffany's foreign operations performance from 1992 to 1993.

Table 1: Tiffany Co Foreign Operations ($000)

1993 Net Sales= $71,838
1994 Net Sales= $52,851

1993 Income/(loss) from operations= $2,381
1994 Income/(loss) from operations = $3,888

Table 1 clearly indicates that income from Tiffany's foreign operations decreased even though net sales increased in 1993. The additional economic exposure that Tiffany is now exposed to may decrease their income even further which will impact their net sales in the long run.

• Transaction Exposure

The restructuring of Tiffany's Japanese operations requires Tiffany to repurchase its inventory which will significantly decrease its net income. As it can be seen in Table 2 below, Tiffany is said to repurchase its inventory for $115 million in 1993.

Table 2: Tiffany Co Second Quarter Income Statements ($000)

1993 Product return for Japan realignment= ($115,000)
1992 Product return for Japan realignment= 0

1993 Net Income/Loss= ($31,513)
1992 Net Income/Loss= $6,992

However, Tiffany only managed to repurchase $52.5 million of inventory in July 1993 and Mitsukoshi agreed to accept a deferred payment on $25 million of this repurchased inventory, which was to be repaid in yen on a quarterly bases with interest of 6% per annum over the next 4.5 years. The remaining $62.5 million inventory will be repurchased throughout the period ending February 28, 1998 and payment for this warehouse will be made in yen.

The exchange rate fluctuation will definitely affect Tiffany's ability to repurchase their inventory. Besides that, this transaction exposure can also lead to major losses for Tiffany. The reduction in net income in Table 2 assumes that Tiffany actually repurchased all of their inventory by July 31, 1993. However, this assumption was not accurate and Tiffany is now only able to repurchase all of their inventory by 1998 which I believe will lead to a bigger decrease in net income as they are then required to make payment in yen from 1993 to 1998.

III. Conclusion and Recommendation

I believe that Tiffany is making the right choice by restructuring its Japanese operations. Tiffany will be able to experience huge profits by gaining more control in Japan if they plan their strategy wisely. It is important for Tiffany to hedge against the volatile exchange rates between the yen and the dollar and they can always buy options and future contracts to reduce this risk. I believe that the profits that Tiffany can earn by gaining control in Japan outweighs the exchange rate risk as this risk can be offset by hedging.

When to Turn to a Credit Reporting Agency to Find Someone

When to Turn to a Credit Reporting Agency to Find Someone

When you own a business and you have given someone credit to make purchases, you put your trust into them hoping that this decision will turn out to be a good choice and investment. When someone stops paying you want he or she owes to you and seemingly disappears, this is more than a disappointment. You are losing money and need to regain what is owed to you as quickly and legally as you can. What can you do?

This is most likely the time to turn to a credit reporting agency that offers certain methods of finding people and notifying them of what they owe to your business. Many of these companies are able to track down individuals and possessions in order to notify them of your intent to collect on a debt or for legal repossession purposes. They know just how to flush certain people out to get them out in the open and out of hiding.

People who do not want to pay back money they owe are notoriously difficult to find. They may start using untraceable cell phones. This makes it nearly impossible to reach the person, because you may be told that you are calling the wrong number, no one may answer at all, or the number may suddenly be no longer in use.

Some of these people may be living with friends or relatives with no mailing address. This is especially difficult for you to reach out to them in any way. You may find that your letters go unanswered or sent back to you. You might have no way of knowing whether you have the correct address for that individual or not. The only way to know for sure is to have a credit reporting agency investigate for you.

This type of agency can determine who the person is likely living with or frequently sees. You will be able to make contact through these people, who may be able to reach the person you really want to reach. Some people will become tired of being contacted about the individual and just let you know where the individual can be contacted.

At this point, if there is an auto repossession or judgment involved, the credit agency will usually be able to pinpoint the location of the car by finding out where the person works. By contacting the employer, you may have an easier time collecting the money or items that are owed to you. You may be surprised at how easy it is to speak to the individual you are looking for once an employer has been contacted.

It is never a good idea to go out looking for an individual on your own. You should let professionals do it who know exactly what searches to conduct without putting anyone in harm's way. People can become very violent if they feel threatened or just do not want to be bothered. When you do not know how to handle a situation correctly, you may be putting yourself or others into harm's way. You may even be breaking the law.

A professional credit reporting agency knows what the law is in your area. They will know exactly what steps to take to find the individual or possessions you are looking for. They work quickly and efficiently and are well worth the extra cost if you are in desperate need to find an individual. In the future, they can scan credit applicants for you to determine whether someone is as trustworthy as they say. Knowing a person's background can save you all of this headache and hassle in the long run.

Ways Of Eliminating Debt In Your Life

Ways Of Eliminating Debt In Your Life

They say money makes the world go round. If you look at it in a certain perspective, it does. Since this is true, what would happen if you don't have it? For some, one of the ways of keeping up with your everyday needs even if you don't have money is to ask someone or an institution to lend you some. But before you do, you need to make sure that whatever amount it is you're asking, you should have the capability to pay all of it back.

Many people are always struggling because of their debts. They just keep on borrowing and borrowing until they are not capable of paying all of it. This is usually where all the problems arise. The thing about debts is that most of them come with an interest rate especially if you're being lent by a bank or other lending institutions. If that is the scenario then your debt level won't drop but just keeps on rising. So what can you do to control all of these debts? Well read through this article and we will help you in reducing your debts or probably eliminate all of it. So let's get started.

1. Common sense is everything - First of all, one of the reasons why many people have so much debt is because of how easy it can be obtained. Many people fail to realize the amount they spent on a monthly basis using their credit cards and they sometimes do not know that they have maximized its limit. So in order to realize the money you're spending, always spend everything in cash if possible. You need to only use your credit cards in emergency situations or to buy something that you really need not want. This will surely help you gain an appreciation of your hard-earned dollar.

2. Avoid or cease impulse buying - If you see something that you like, don't just reach into your pocket immediately and buy that stuff. Take time to analyze if it's indeed worth it to buy and if it can go on a long run for you. If you fail to realize this then you might be overspending your monthly budget. It will also end up in a never ending debt until such time that you can't even afford to pay the interest that comes along with it.

3. Create a plan - Everything that we do, especially if it leads to a goal, requires a plan. This is the reason why many people fail because they forget the planning part. If you want to lead yourself towards a debt free life then start a development plan that will help you get rid of it. You need to formulate how long will it take for you to pay all of those debts and follow a strict budget plan. Be sure to always keep track of your monthly expenses to ensure that you're spending the way you should.

4. Always go for money saving options - When you're looking for a creditor, always consider the ones that have low interest rates. Don't just go grab something without taking a look around first. This is just as important as saving your money because finding the right creditor won't get you in so much trouble especially if it's time for you to get a loan or ask some credits.

5. Pay on time - The worst thing that can happen if you have borrowed money is paying late. Why? Because letting the deadline pass will require you to pay higher interest rates. Now this is something that anyone wouldn't want because interest rates are often higher than the debt itself. The downside of late payments is that you'll lose points whenever you are asking for a big loan like a mortgage or buying a new car. So always pay on time to avoid losing great deals and rates.

Choosing The Right Lending Company - Get Out Of Debt The Right Way

Choosing The Right Lending Company - Get Out Of Debt The Right Way

In today's world there is so many opportunities and things to see, that we do not always posses the needed finances to get what we always wanted or what we really need. That is why there are so many different loan and credit options to choose from. But, this not only doesn't ease up our struggle, but makes it even more difficult. Nowadays, you do not only have to commit to a lender or creditor, first of all you need to find one, which takes a lot of time and handwork, due to a very big market of such corporation and businesses.

Getting accepted by a creditor and having credit is a very powerful tool, which has to be handled accordingly. If the credit or a loan is for household needs like mortgages, buying a new car or even paying for your daughter's college education or getting medical insurance for the whole family, it is your chance to get all the necessities. And even if you are a business owner, a new credit line or a loan can help you get the needed equipment, build your work space and sometimes could also assist you and give you support in getting employees on board. But with such great opportunities come very serious obligations which each and every one who takes out a credit must fully understand. Because otherwise, there might come heavy consequences, which may not only cost you your job, but can also affect you personally in the worst ways.

If a loan or a credit that has been taken out by an individual is not being taken care of and not paid on the regular bases, you may be filed for collection. The company/corporation may have their own department dealing with debt owners directly under their own roof, or they may acquire help of a third-party organization, to help collect debt from you more efficiently. However, if you are filed for debt collection, familiarize yourself with The Federal Debt Collection Act of 1978. There may be many little details you may not be aware of, but the process of debt collection has to follow certain rules and guidelines. Otherwise, if any of the rules are neglected by the collection company, you may file a claim against them to get compensation of neglecting your rights and a debtor and any resulting damages which may have resulted as an outcome of the above neglect.

There are a few choices you would have to make when choosing the right lender. There are private investors and/or partners and there are banks. Unlike private investors, the bank may not only provide you with both short-term and long-term loans and credit lines, but you can also always get more advice on your business and the market you are in, which could be considered a great bargain, since banks do not usually charge for that kind of service. Banks do not have a tendency to interfere with your business's day to day operation, unlike private investors, which might want to be consulted with when making important business decisions.

Banks also have their own departments that are in charge of debt collection. This means that you will be contacted by a third-party debt collecting agency, if you do become a debtor. This has many priorities, since you will be dealing directly with your lender, and would not have to worry about any additional procedures to go through with a third-party services.

It is always worth the time and effort to do a lot of research to choose the right lenders. Shop around and compare all the pros and cons of different banks and organizations. It can also be very helpful to look for reviews and see what the actual people and business owners who took out mortgages and additional credit card loans thing about their company.

The best time to start your research would b a couple of month before you are planning to get an actual loan to start a business or take out a second mortgage. This process should not be rushed, because most likely if you need cash right away you will have much smaller options to choose from.

There are a few things you should pay special attention to when choosing a commercial lender. The first important thing is experience in the particular area you need a loan for. For example, if you are looking to open a local flower shop, look for companies that heavily deals with assisting local business with opening and functioning. It would even be a good idea to ask around the neighborhood you would like to establish your business in about financing ideas and advice from already existing businesses.

Another very important thing to look for is the kind of service and support the commercial lender provides during the very beginning of the development of your loan agreement. Pay attention to how the company assists you with your questions and concerns regarding the loan or any other matter related to it. You do not only want a company that will give you money to open, you want a company that will be interested and would want to help your business thrive.

Numerous lending options is a critical characteristic of the lending company. Look for a bank that will give you many options which will suit your unique situation. Do not just settle for the one that does not get you variety. The lending bank should be interested in getting the consumer the correct loan as much as the costumer is interested to get it, and even more. Also, inquire about the bank's standard operating procedures. This might be a very important step in the process of getting your loan. The faster the company can process you requests or accept documents the faster the consumer could get the needed finances for their thriving business or their child's college education. If the bank's processing time is two days or less, that means that you can meet your deadlines with no problem, and it is a very good sign, which shows that the bank is organized and can help you achieve the needed support and get the results you are looking for.

When trying to choose the right lender, do not just talk over the phone or make email inquiries. You should always, if possible make an appointment and meet with the company's representative in person, to assure the understanding of all the necessary steps you would need to take to start the process, learn all of the available options and get a sense of the bank's policies and requirements.

When trying to choose the right lending company, you can always contact the Better Business Bureau, often referred to as BBB, which accredits different companies, or the local Chamber of Commerce. For a company, being a member of those two organizations means that they are great corporate lenders, who many other people trusted and you can do the same. With the help of these agencies, your list of choices will be significantly narrowed down an you can always get a lot of good advice from the representatives of those two corporations.

Always think ahead before purchasing a loan. If you are getting it to take another mortgage on the house, buy a new car or start your own business, do not forget that you are not only getting that brand new Lexus GS you always wanted, but also purchasing a much more expensive product, the loan itself, which you might be paying off anywhere from five to thirty years of your life!

Pay attention if the lending company's offer sounds too easy and simple. A good company that you can trust is not always very complex, but complex enough, to assure that you, as a costumer, are getting the proper service you need to be provided with. Avoid companies that try to make a lot of promises but which give you very little facts and direct numbers. Do not ever pay any down payments upfront, since many companies may offer you big and quick deals, where you would have to give them a very unreasonable amount of money, and only after that will you be able to get cash withdrawn.

There is a belief, that good lending companies do not have low rates, and that you have to pay a lot to get any loan from a trusted company. This statement is completely false. Good companies should always have both kind of rates, expensive and inexpensive, since that is what any lending company's business revolves around. 85 percent of the whole company's incomes comes from interest rates, and the more loans the company sells the more money eventually they would get. So it would make sense for them to make interests vary so almost every possible client could find an appropriate service they are looking for.

Another very important aspect is not to sign any documents without reading and fully understanding the meaning of them. A good lending company should even let you take home all of the contracts and paper work to review once again. All of the needed information should be clearly written in the contract, without anything missing.

If you have already settled on a lending company and chose what kind of loan you would like to take out, the important matter is not to take out more than you might need. Always re-check how much exactly you are looking to borrow, since the interest rate is directly proportional to the amount you would like to take out. Once you have taken out a loan or a credit card line you are not eligible to return it back.

Therefore, try to get all the needed information and do proper research before taking out a loan, because the more information you have regarding your lender, the more it is going to pay off in the future!

Issues You Should Know About Taxes on Gains and Losses

Issues You Should Know About Taxes on Gains and Losses

If you sell any of the assets that you own or give away any of your assets, you will normally be receiving a profit from that transaction, though you may occur a loss on such transactions on occasions. If you have profited from the transaction, you are liable to pay tax to the government of the United Kingdom. However, the tax amount is usually computed on the gain that you have made and not on the total value of the transaction. The following transactions are liable for tax, when you dispose of any asset or assets that you own.

Transactions Liable for Tax

• When you sell an asset
• When you give it away to someone as a gift but any gift to your spouse or your civil partner is exempted from tax computation
• When you transfer an asset to another person
• When you exchange an asset for another asset
• When you obtain compensation for an asset, such as an insurance claim received for destruction of an asset

Exemptions from Tax

However, the tax laws exempt gains from your car, your main home, your individual savings account (ISA), your personal equity plan (PEP), UK government bonds that you own, your personal belongings if they are worth £6,000 or lesser than that amount at the time of sale or disposal or your winnings from pools, lottery and betting.

An Example of How Taxes Are Applicable and Computed

You had bought shares worth £5,000 and later sold them for £15,000. The gains made by you in this transaction are £10,000, i.e., £15,000 less £5,000. You will be liable to pay tax on £10,000, the actual gain and not on £15,000, the value of the transaction. Even if you gave away the shares to one of your friends and if the shares were worth £15,000 at the time of giving away the shares, then the tax would still be applicable for £10,000 as your gain.

The Current Tax Rate on Gains in the United Kingdom

• 18% minimum and 28% maximum for individuals, depending on their total taxable income
• 28% for trustees or other personal representatives of a deceased person
• 10% gains that quality under 'Entrepreneurs' Relief'

You are also eligible for annual tax-free allowance, which varies for individuals and trustees from year to year. You should approach an experienced tax consultant for exact information on all your tax issues on gains and losses.

Tips on How to Start a Business That Works: Tapping YouTube

Tips on How to Start a Business That Works: Tapping YouTube

Learning how to start a business isn't easy, but once the entrepreneur has finally gotten it up and running, it's crucial that he constructs an advertising campaign that'll help his establishment make money in consistent fashion.

Promotional strategies should be diverse to reach all targeted markets. Today, the internet has made it possible for small to big-time entrepreneurs to promote their brand, products and services in an effective, cost-efficient manner.

Amongst the various platforms available to an individual's disposal, YouTube has excellent potential to reach out to thousands of consumers everywhere. If seemingly talentless people are capable of making viral videos that are viewed by thousands, then it goes without saying the organized businessmen can do something more or less similar.

Of course, the purpose of an entrepreneur is not to become a YouTube star and make money directly from the website, but to extend a message to targeted viewers saying something like: "my company, products and services are exactly what you're looking for."

These clips allow potential and current customers to get an idea about what a certain establishment is all about, the quality of products offered, and the services rendered. Videos also allow businessmen to establish more empathy with his clients far better than any regular company advertisements in newspapers or on posters can.

While YouTube does have the potential to become an extremely effective marketing platform, there are several key points people need to remember, of which the first is the quality of their video.

If the clip denotes fake acting, which was recorded using a cellphone's VGA camera, then it's likely viewers will associate its poor quality with the business itself. To ensure an excellent video is created, availing the services of social media experts may be necessary.

Nonetheless, creating a great video is only half the battle, as it'd easily count for nothing if only ten to twenty non-consumers saw it. The services of a SEO expert who can drive tons of traffic to the video by improving its rankings in YouTube - as well as spreading it across major media platforms - would definitely come in handy.

Incorporating the use of this website in any marketing campaign is important for newbies learning how to start a business for the first time. It has excellent potential to gain massive exposure for any business, allow for the establishment of a solid customer base, and more importantly, make money in large amounts consistently.

Financial Planning - Have An Insight To It!

Financial Planning - Have An Insight To It!

'Finance' symbolizes money and when it comes to management of money or funds, then it is known as financial planning. It can be in various sectors like public finance, personal finance and corporate finance. Management is very essential so as to keep everything going in a smooth and slimy manner. Financial planning is not just restricted to a firm or person, it is a wide aspect and therefore, financial plans are also presented in a country. A budget is proposed in which all the things are considered that are required for proper functioning. Financial plan is a financial goal of a country that accounts for various purposes like eradication of poverty, enhancing the level of weaker sections of society and various others.

Small savings can create big differences in the future. From starting, if you are focused and followed specific savings plan then, at the peak time you'll have enough amount to enjoy. If you are cutting down your expenses and saving the amount in bank accounts, then it is also a form of financial planning. In broader terms, financial plan can also be referred as an investment plan. This was the description based on personal level of finance. If we make a move towards business firms, then their financial planning has many aspects. A firm is made by number of employees, all working for the betterment and goodwill of the company. A bit of fluctuation in the income statement or cash flow statement can shatter the firm in no time. Hence, all the business companies try to maintain a plan for retaining a good financial status. Every firm presents an annual income sheet, revealing the achievements and downfall throughout the year. This detailed account of financial losses and gain help the firm owner to make an estimation regarding the need of funds. The experts of the firm by issuing shares of the company try to raise the funds and make the situation stable.

There are various issues which can be resolved easily by adopting financial plan. If your expenses are restricted, then you can give a bright future to your children. Acquiring good education is not an easy thing, it costs high. Through effective savings and good investment plan, you can lend higher education to your children. If you are a parent of young child, it becomes your responsibility to flow in the direction of time and start saving from now onwards. Try to tackle well with your financial problems otherwise you'll have no alternative left to retain a peaceful life. Finance management is applicable everywhere whether it is personal savings, company's financial goals or any other place. You need to take a mature step so that things can come up bright. Time and again I have been mentioning this thing that try to manage your finances and be a part of financially stable and balanced society.

In a nutshell, financial planning is necessary for achieving favorable goals. The above description will surely motivate you to manage your finances for an illuminated future. There's a die hard need for financial plan in the current inflated phase of the world.

Why Referenda Are a BAD IDEA

Why Referenda Are a BAD IDEA

It may not seem like an obvious question to pose but just occasionally the actions of our political leaders do lead me to ask exactly who won the civil war. Was it parliament - who had the organisation and the strong views, or was it the King who had popular support, emotion and divine right on his side. Conventionally we pretend that Parliament won and that representative democracy is the result. Those who did not believe we had gone far enough had round two in 1776 and split the nation into a Republic on one side of the Atlantic and a Kingdom on the other - but both maintained the principle of representative government.

It was this principle that the civil war (and indeed the American Revolution) were fought on. Sometimes expressed as 'no taxation without representation' and interpreted in slightly different ways on each side of the Atlantic, but for nearly 400 years the intellectual case for representative government has been unchallenged. Perhaps it is the long period of democracy which makes us so careless today but we should make no mistake - referenda are the antithesis of representative government and they threaten the foundations of our society.

The reason they do so is that there is a profound difference between majoritarianism, where the view of the majority is imposed on the minority, and representative democracy, where we select from amongst us individuals to sit in parliament (or Congress) to deliberate on matters of state and decide, in the full knowledge of the background and possible consequences (we hope), what the best course of action is. Not the most popular, not even that which was in their manifesto, but that which seems right at the time. As Churchill pointed out, this is a terrible way of governing ourselves - but every other way tried by mankind is worse.

In particular referenda are the weapons of choice for demagogues, despots and dictators. There are several ways in which this can be illustrated, but the underlying reasons are that if you choose the question carefully and select the right electorate at the right time you can probably get the result you want. Perhaps the best practitioner of the loaded question in recent times was Charles de Gaulle who used referenda to impose his vision of effective government on France. Wonderfully successfully - partly because if the French got the answer wrong he would first ask them again, pointing out that he was all that stood between them and chaos ("apr├Ęs moi, le deluge"). You could argue that in one sense De Gaulle was actually the embodiment of representative democracy - it was just he was the sole representative. But the same power was used by Hitler to take total control, and even occasionally by Stalin to give a veneer of democracy to his totalitarian regime.

The reason majoritarianism, or rule by popular prejudice, is always dangerous is perhaps best summed up in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words "then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me." We are all minorities and a demagogue can always find a majority who will oppress a minority. All too often with a referendum he can define the terms and conditions so that a minority decides the fate of the majority.

A small minority of Scots are likely to decide on Scotland's independence - as they did on devolution in both Wales and Scotland. It is perhaps worth noting that part of De Gaulle's legacy is that half a million French in London get to vote - but not a single one of the millions of Scots outside Scotland will be given a voice. But the reason that the referendum is so useful as a tool for dictators is that not only is the electorate probably fixed but the question can be altered to give a positive message and deliver the desired result. The Scottish referendum will ask "do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? ". This has been carefully chosen to contain a positive message. Independence is a positive word and no-one has ever proposed that Scotland should not be a separate country with its own legal and religious establishment under its own (but shared with several other counties) monarch. If the question were "Do you agree we should break up the United Kingdom, stop having British passports and replace the Queen by Gordon Brown or another old politician? " the message would be rather less positive even though the net effect is identical.

Even in Cambridge you can see the corrosive effects of referenda at work - millions of pounds is being taken from city businesses as a result of a recent local referendum. Look at just how outrageous this result is: 33% of those eligible voted - of these 60% were in favour - so about one in five 'businesses' impose their will on the rest. If you look at prominent supporters you will find the majority will not even pay full rates or are taxpayer supported. If we assume that these again were 60% of those who voted in favour and on average they pay 50% of full rates then less than 10% of those who will pay for nearly £1m of administrators to organise others spending £2m to improve the city centre over the next 5 years in order to increase our pride and make us more welcoming as a City. A small minority were able to impose their will 'democratically' on those who will pay 90% of the cost. Such is the power of referenda!

It is perhaps divisive to point out that for most of this country's history you would have found a majority in favour of witches being killed in horrific ways (as our transatlantic cousins were prone to do particularly in areas where "town meetings" had real power ). We would still have hanging, immigrants and other minorities of all kinds might have been persecuted and, of course, we would have banned imports from abroad. It is this last prejudice in favour of protectionism which will be exploited if we have a plebiscite on European Union, probably to the detriment of all of us and our fellow Europeans.

It is clear that Monet and Adenaur were doing ridiculously unpopular things when immediately after the second world war they started to try to reconcile the French and German peoples who had been at the middle of three cataclysmic wars within living memory. The popular vote will always be in favour of war; jingoism and nationalist fervour are easy to stoke up, difficult to quell. But the beauty of representative government is that by and large our representatives have managed to look beyond tomorrow when making decisions whether to remove restrictions on homosexuality or reducing tariffs on imports. Whilst most of us are quite cynical, and with reason, as to the judgement and motives of many of our political leaders we should all reflect long and hard before we put decision making directly in the hands of a population which has at best no competence or experience on most questions of economics or international relations and at worst is prone to wild emotional swings and subject to irrational prejudices which if allowed full rein would impoverish us all and lead us backwards to the instabilities of the last century. The only referendum we should favour is one to ban referenda forever from our country.

Stock Market Charts Used By Investors

Stock Market Charts Used By Investors

Understanding the stock market is like trying to figure out astrophysics for many. We hear of the impact on the economy when stocks go low and wonder what it means for us. A basic understanding is, therefore, important before we list the different stock charts used by investors.

At its basic level, stocks are shares or a unit of ownership of a company. There are different types of shares too and each has different attributes. When a company offers an IPO or initial public offering, it invites individuals to buy units of ownership. This entitles the share holders to receive profits if the company does well. If it plunges, that share's value depreciates.

A stock chart helps traders and investors find accurate information about stocks. This gives them a clue of how to make income, which company to invest in, which is likely to fall in the coming months and so on. Most charts are difficult to understand initially and they take time to master. Below is a list of five main types of stock market charts.

Point and figure

The point and figure chart was once commonly used but has been replaced by others. A set of X's and O's define price rise and fall respectively. Numbers and letters indicate time, i.e., month and date.

Point and figure charts remove insignificant price movements so that users are not distracted by 'noise'. However, many details deemed significant by some investors are not present which is why other types of charts are preferred.


Line charts are one of the most basic types, representing only closing prices. There is no information on opening, high and low prices. Despite this lack of detail, line charts are nevertheless very useful because closing prices are considered more important than opening prices, highs and lows.


A bar chart is similar to a line chart but contains more details. Vertical lines represent data points showing the highs and lows in a trading period. Opening and closing prices are indicated by small dashes between the vertical lines with the dash for the opening price on the left and the closing price on the right of the lines.

The chart will also contain other data points like the color red to indicate stocks that have fallen in value for that period and black for those that have risen.


Candlestick charts look like bar charts but display more information. Colored vertical lines are still used but the addition of bars on the lines show the difference between opening and closing prices.

Candlestick charts are more difficult to understand only because there is no standard configuration. Websites may use data points to indicate other information which is why investors prefer line and bar charts which are standard.


Mountain charts are like line charts - indicating only closing prices for a set period - but are colored rather than black and white.

Stock charts present investors and traders with a tool to study the market. While they influence the decision to buy or sell, they can only do so far in helping people trade with complete certainty. Stock markets fluctuate every day and thoroughly understanding them to make wise trades takes years to learn. Therefore, beginners shouldn't rely solely on charts but take the time to study the stock market.

Where Is Our Trust When It Comes To Money?

Where Is Our Trust When It Comes To Money?

There was so much deception and mistrust going on within Jacob's family. The unfortunate thing is that it is not unfamiliar to the majority of us.

As Jacob and his family get ready to go back to Jacob's hometown in Genesis 31:19, Rachel decides to pack one more thing - her father's household gods. Rachel's theft goes beyond grabbing a childhood memory for the road. Let's consider the impact this theft may have.

Rachel stole

The bottom line in this whole scenario is the fact that Rachel stole something. First and foremost, this violates the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:15 tells us, "You shall not steal." (NIV)

(While Rachel's mishap occurred before the Ten Commandments were given, we actually can't use that as an excuse.)

Rachel stole from her father

Another important point to consider is the victim of Rachel's crime. She stole from her father. Although we will never know what was going through Rachel's mind at the time, we may wonder why she felt the need to steal anything from her dad. Couldn't she just ask him? Would he have denied her?

While we may experience some challenges with our natural parents, we do have a supernatural father who will provide us with everything that we need. Psalm 34:10 tells us, "The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing." (NIV) We don't have to steal anything from God.

Rachel stole her father's household gods

Then, we need to think about the items that Rachel stole from her father. In looking at Psalm 34:10, we may be led to believe that the reason Rachel felt the need to steal was because she knew it was something that she shouldn't have.

While Laban may not have denied his daughter's request, we know that Jacob would have. Jacob's God was not one of Laban's gods. Jacob had clearly been a leader in his home with respect to honoring and serving God. He had discussed God with his wives, and had likely taught their children, as well.

Jacob would know that God is a jealous God, and he would not have allowed Rachel to bring idols on the trip.

Why the gods?

It would be interesting to ask Rachel why she felt she needed the gods. Granted, she has watched her husband struggle while working with her father for years. But, at the same time, she has also seen God showed favor to Jacob time and time again. Jacob remained successful regardless of what Laban did to counteract that. So, why would Rachel turn to other gods after seeing what Jacob's God was able to do?

Are we like Rachel? Do we keep turning away from God and toward something else when life gets hard? Do we acknowledge what God has done in our lives, yet keep some other idol on the back burner, just in case?

Or is Rachel trying to hold on to an unnecessary piece of her past? Sometimes, we find it hard to let go of bad habits that are comfortable so that we can move on to bigger and better things.

Whether our bad habit is something that may appear small (such as premium coffee or eating out) or something that is much bigger (such as taking expensive vacations or getting a new car every two or three years), we have to be ready to acknowledge it as a problem. It's time to let it go. If we don't take control now, we will not be able to move forward to the greater things God has in store for us.

Online Financial Modeling Courses Vs. Live Courses

Online Financial Modeling Courses Vs. Live Courses

Even in an age of advanced technology, tablets, apps and iPhones, a strong case can still be made for 'live' training as the most effective type of learning. Most would argue that nothing can replace the learning experience that a 'real' classroom provides. Whether elementary school arithmetic, MBA studies or advanced financial training for executives, in-person teaching (for most) is still the most effective and efficient way to learn, practice, then master a given subject matter.

Meanwhile, many financial institutions have developed virtual classrooms and/or e-learning platforms to train their employees. The best learning management systems (LMS) strive to be interactive and hands-on. And some of them succeed in ways that would not have been possible five years ago. Video conferencing, live webinars and self-study programs are making a strong play to compete with in-person training, especially to accommodate the Distance Learner. Organizations recognize (and have capitalized on) the convenience and cost effectiveness of e-learning platforms. Getting team members from every corner of the globe to learn the same required skills and best practices of any industry at the same time, provides consistency and standardization in real time for a fraction of the cost of in-person meetings.

Both learning methods are continually compared and contrasted, and both have their fervent-supporter camps. So one has to be better than the other, right?? Not exactly.

Like in-person meetings and conversations online, there is a time, place and budget for both. And yes, both have their advantages.

Most of us would prefer to have a face-to-face conversation with a business partner over a cup of coffee or lunch. If not feasible (see: time, distance, travel expenses), we don't just quit on the idea. Instead, we teleconference. We use GoToMeeting. We Skype. It's the next best thing to a cup of coffee, and sometimes the next best thing isn't so bad. If a conversation is required, most of us would take an electronic chat over no chat at all -- as long as that medium is an effective one -- good connection, good A/V, etc. It might even require a shower and shave if video conferencing... but we do it because it beats no conference at all.

The comparison to live vs. online financial modeling training is the same. Nothing compares to the human connection that is made between an engaging teacher and an ambitious student. Skills are imparted, lessons taught, and mistakes made and corrected. Healthy interaction between the instructor and his/her class is paramount to the quality of the course and overall experience. As the old college saying goes, "don't take the class, take the professor". We all knew who the best professors were in school and we did our damndest to get into their classes. The nuances of a teaching style highlight the instructor's knowledge while some of the most vital lessons learned during a live course may occur over a lunch break; that's the beauty of learning in-person.

For professionals who want to take their financial modeling skills to the next level, live training provides an opportunity to ask questions and challenge an instructor's theories on-the-spot (not to mention fellow attendees'). The networking opportunities are also a bonus -- the chance to interact with industry counterparts, pick their brains, and compare successes and failures, is forever an enlightening activity. This is why we all still attend live conferences instead just logging onto webinars from our desks.

But when training and conferences don't 'come to us', or time and travel constraints get in the way, online alternatives do become the next best thing. If attending a live financial modeling training program in New York or London is not feasible or cost-effective, good e-learning programs provide an excellent alternative. And some learners simply prefer self-study from the comfort of their home or office. Knowledge-building and new skill sets are crucial to career advancement, and an effective financial modeling e-course can impart skills that the self-taught Excel user can't learn on his/her own.

Random Excel tips, tricks and shortcuts alone won't get you there either. A good online financial modeling e-course must be useful, practical and comprehensive. In order for the learner to fully benefit from an online financial modeling course, the program should include the following features:

  • Video tutorials by an expert financial modeler who is also an engaging teacher
  • Moduler format that builds on lessons previously taught
  • 'Hands-on' learning methodology while you study at your own pace
  • Real-world scenarios and case studies
  • Worksheets and homework to help hone your skills
  • In-course and post-course online support
  • Unlimited access to online tutorials to review at your convenience

Today, the 13-yr old kid who picks up a guitar for the first time might go directly to YouTube for instructional videos or his parents might hire a local guitar teacher. But most likely, he will do both.

Campus Debit Cards Benefit Both Schools and Students

Campus Debit Cards Benefit Both Schools and Students

Campus debit cards are changing the way higher education institutions do business--from student loan payments to on- and off-campus spending to account reconciliation. Used as a dual debit card and identification card, campus cards continue to grow in popularity with colleges, students, and their parents because of their versatility, ease of use, savings, and security benefits.

Since campus debit cards can be loaded with funds--and not linked with a bank account--students have a fast and simple way to buy virtually everything they need, and higher education institutions make more money in the process.

Benefits of Campus Debit Cards for Students
These cards are great alternatives to cash. They provide students with a way to track and view their spending--something they can't easily do with cash. They can also avoid last minute, costly trips to the ATM since they have their money already loaded on their card.

Campus debit cards are convenient for parents to add funds and, if the card is ever lost or stolen, it can be easily replaced and the money is protected-something cash can't offer either. Benefits for students include:
• Accessibility - Students can use it just like a regular debit card anywhere they shop.
• Convenience - Students can buy what they need without using cash.
• Availability - Money is available right away and students don't have to worry about going to the bank or ATM fees.
• Money management - Parents and students can easily monitor spending and make sure they're staying on budget.

Instead of dealing with paper paychecks or waiting for deposits to clear at the bank, campus debit cards also enable student payroll and financial aid payments to be automatically loaded and the money is available immediately.

Benefits to Higher Education Institutions
Campus debit cards offer many advantages to higher education institutions as well, including:
• Reducing costs - Schools can eliminate the costs associated with paper checks, and streamline and lower the costs of reconciliation.
• Increasing sales - They make it easier and more convenient for students to buy everything they need on campus so they are more likely to keep their money close to home.
• Improving security - Their cards can double as student ID cards required to access secure campus facilities.
• Simplifying financial aid - They are also fully integrated with the Department of Education's Title IV for financial aid disbursement requirements.

Campus debit cards make buying, spending, and receiving payments easier, safer, and more cost-effective for everyone. With unmatched convenience and flexibility, they are the best all-in-one solution for higher education institutions, students, and parents alike.

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