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Money Management

Another deliberate own-goal from the governor

The imagination of journalists is not what it might be when it comes to visualising the size of places and things. Large vehicles or vessels are “as heavy as ten London buses”. The asteroid that will skim the atmosphere of Earth this evening is “the size of an Olympic swimming pool”. Forest fires or floods always seem to affect an area “the size of Wales” (but never Wales itself). And Germany’s -0.6% economic contraction in the fourth quarter of 2012 was “twice the size of Britain’s”. 

Except they didn’t put it that way. Rather, they discussed the brighter outlook for Germany. They also pointed out that the gross domestic product (GDP) of Euroland’s economic locomotive had grown in calendar 2012 without mentioning that the expansion was “twice as small as a cocktail frankfurter” (0.1% to be precise; infinitely more than Britain’s 0.0%). 

The negative German GDP figure was just one of a longish list of Q4 economic shrinkages in the eurozone. It was left to the likes of Romania and Bulgaria to come up with positive numbers but their contribution was not enough to prevent the euro area as a whole from registering a quarterly contraction of -0.6%. The effect of the news was to send the euro lower, though not by much. It lost half a cent to the pound, three quarters of a US cent and one and a half yen. 

With the focus on Euroland, sterling was very much the bystander on Thursday. It was all but unchanged against the US, Canadian and Australian dollars, a touch lower against the New Zealand dollar and slightly higher against the Scandinavian crowns. 

Beyond the eurozone GDP data and Greece’s 27% unemployment rate yesterday’s only other figures were for US jobless claims, which were slightly lower than forecast. Overnight, stronger-than-expected New Zealand retail sales helped the Kiwi dollar ahead and increased Japanese industrial production had no effect on the yen. 

Having managed to stay out of the spotlight yesterday sterling will find it harder to do so today, because the UK retail sales figures for January are by far the highest profile ecostats this morning. The expectation is for positive numbers; anything with a minus in front of it would be deleterious to the pound in money transfer

Other than Spanish inflation and the Euroland balance of trade there is almost nothing from continental Europe this morning. The afternoon brings Canadian manufacturing shipments and, from the States, international investment flows, industrial production, the New York Fed’s manufacturing index and the University of Michigan’s provisional consumer confidence reading. Of these, the Michigan confidence number is the one to watch. 

Unless the retail sales data get in its way, sterling might be able to creep to the back door of the week without being picked on by the bullies. This might be a good time to use Moneycorp send money online service. 

Money Management

The Best Cash Back Credit Cards for the Holiday Shopping Season

We’re nearing the end of 2012, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already passed. Millions of people still have more holiday shopping to do, however. Most people know that they will be spending a good amount of money on their holiday gifts for friends and family, but what these people don’t realize is that they could be getting a significant amount of cash back for every purchase they make just by using the right credit cards. This article will highlight the top three cash back credit cards for the 2012 holiday season.

  1. Discover® More®– The Discover More Card is one of the best credit cards you can apply for if you plan on doing a good deal of online shopping throughout the holidays. This is because the Discover More Card offers a whopping 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spend at online retail outlets. If you do end up spending $1,500, then you stand to earn $75 cash back, and that’s just for using the Discover More Card on shopping you would already be doing. That’s just easy savings. An additional benefit is the 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 14 months you have the card. This is another great way to consolidate your debt, and save money on interest if you plan on carrying a balance.
  2. Capital One® Cash Rewards– The Capital One Cash Rewards Card is another great cash back credit card option for the holidays, as well as year-round. The Capital One Cash Rewards Card offers 1% cash back on all purchases, as well as an additional half of a percent cash bonus at the end of the year on the cash you earned throughout the year. If you do the math, this factors out to a true cash back bonus of 1.5%. The Capital One Cash Rewards card also offers a $100 cash back bonus for spending $500 during the first 3 months, and a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until November 2013.
  3. Chase Freedom® Visa – The Chase Freedom Visa Card is yet another excellent choice for a cash back credit card for the holidays and the rest of the year as well. The Chase Freedom Visa offers 1% cash back on all purchases, as well as 5% cash back on hotel and airline bookings and purchases at Best Buy and Kohl’s, which is a huge benefit for those doing a lot of holiday traveling and shopping. The Chase Freedom Visa also offers a $100 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first three months of having the card.

Don’t squander the free cash savings that are available just by applying for a cash back credit card. You’re going to be spending money on holiday traveling and shopping anyway, so why not get paid for it? You should compare the cash back credit cards above as well as additional cards in order to find one that best complements your spending habits. If you put in a little time doing the research, it will end up earning you a good deal of cash.

Logan Abbott is the editor of MyRatePlan.com, a leading resource for comparing credit cards on the web.

Money Management

How the Car Title Loans Work Actually?

The car title loans are similar as it sounds. In this loan, you allow your car’s title as collateral for the loan from a creditor. For example, a traditional lending company, such as bank or other financial institutions may acquire your title as their collateral security. Some specific loans like the car title loans San Jose California are also available for providing you fast cash. Now, let us discuss how it works actually.

Purpose of Using the Loan: There can be various purposes for which you may use this type of loan. There can be instances where you want to use your car titles for the specific purposes. For example, there may be various outstanding bills piled up. You may need some additional cash to pay off within the next payment date, or you may have some emergencies to meet. In all the cases, you can use your assets for obtaining cash when you require.

Procedure of Obtaining the Loan: When you need money immediately, the car title loans can provide you with some fast cash with the minimum income verification with no check of the credit background. When you take jewelry or some other valuables in the pawn shop, the employee present in the counter will evaluate your items and will provide you loan accordingly. In this particular case, the pawn shop will lend you money and will also charge interest. If you cannot pay back the money within the specific time frame, they will definitely acquire your items.

In the car title loans, the lending company will evaluate the price of the car depending on the wholesale values and then will lend money according to the car’s worth. The company will hold the title of the car until you can pay back the amount. It is a short term loan with huge interest rates.  If you cannot pay back the money within the time frame, it means you have actually sold out the car to the lending company automatically.

Qualifiers: As this type of loan depends on the equity, first of all you are required to own a car. If your car loan is ongoing and not fully paid, you are not the actual owner of the car. Therefore in this case, you cannot use your car for the collateral purpose. You will require an age proof, your income proof and your residential address proof for obtaining this particular loan.

Fine Prints and Instructions: The procedure may seem very simple while obtaining the loan. But you should carefully read all the fine prints and instructions before legally committing into a loan. You should fully go through the contract and look out for the following points:

  • What are the penalties for the late payments? Are they going to take away your car if a single late payment occurs? If you are paying late, will the interest remain same or additional fees will be there?
  • How the interest rates are calculated and for which time period?
  • Are there any mitigation rules?  Do you require a third party or you can directly file lawsuit against the lending company if it is required in the future?

When you need fast money, then the car title loans can be very useful. If you possess a bad credit score, but have a clear car title in your possession, you can definitely go for this particular car title loan. As this is a short term loan of small amount, it is also easier to pay back.

Author Bio:  George Russels is a well known debt analyst working in a lending company. In this article he describes the procedure of the car title loans San Jose California and explains how you can qualify for this loan.

Money Management

3 Money Saving Tips for 2011

Your money and your time are your greatest financial assets; when you waste either unnecessarily you’ve placed yourself into a no-win situation. You, your family members, and your colleagues deserve the best in life, and that just doesn’t happen when your fritter away your money and time on things that just don’t support your success. By applying the following tips, you can make a big difference between going broke and saving plenty of money in the year 2011.

Take a good hard look at the number of monthly contracts to which you’ve committed your personal or business finances

Seriously think about the number of contracts you commit to each month. Are they all necessary? Do you really need that $80 membership at the gym, subscriptions to catalogues and a premium television package? If the answer is no, cut them and don’t think about re-opening them until your economic state is in slightly better shape.

There are some contracts that you simply cannot avoid paying, however, which is fine. But there are some contracts that you can easily expunge from your life without removing the commodity that comes with it. For example, do you really need to pay for your cell phone on a yearly contract? Or could you downsize the calling plan and get a pay-as-you go contract that allows you to regularly re-evaluate how much money you really need to budget for your cell phone service?

Sometimes contracts are the best option, but have you really thought about the amount you’re paying for the contract? For example, think about your heating company. Are there other companies that offer the same thing at a lower price? Consider searching for different companies using price comparison websites.

Accept that you can look fashionable without robbing your piggy bank

According to research, 80 percent of generic products are just as good as the branded ones. Dress your kids better with affordable and stylish clothes. A $100 sweater may look nice, but so can a $30 sweater on sale.

Start reducing your monthly shopping expenses by taking better advantage of available rebates and coupons

Coupons are a great way to budget and cut back on expenses. Taking the time to clip those coupons for your clothing and grocery transactions is an awesome way for you to save money and cut your monthly household costs.

This is a guest post by Stephanie Mojica. She is a writer for Quizzle.com, where she specializes in helping consumers with money management and money saving tips. She’s also a business success and prosperity coach and author of “How One Writer Shifted from Settling for $12 an Hour to Prospering at Over $90 an Hour.”

Money Management

Five Money Saving Tips for the 21st Century

We’ve all heard how important it is to build up personal savings, but so few people actually have any type of substantial savings.  If saving money is as easy as most financial experts purport it be, why aren’t more people successful at doing so?  Quite simply, it’s because saving money requires personal discipline.  Practicing personal discipline in the 21st century is incredibly difficult due to our commercialized culture.

Everywhere you look there is an invitation to spend money.  Turn on the television and what do you see?  Commercials galore.  Go to a movie and before the previews start there are commercials.  Some restaurants have even started selling advertising space in their menus.  Our current multimedia and digital age gives the average advertiser far more exposure to the consumer than in decades past.  As consumers we are flooded with marketing, selling us the idea that we need extra things to make us happy – even if we cannot truly afford such things.

The following are five tips that can help anyone break the cycle of spending and begin the habit of saving.

1. Pay yourself first

If you’ve heard this tip before but ignored it, it’s time to start paying attention.  We’ve all seen what happens on payday.  When payday rolls around the first thing most people do is immediately spend.

Bills need to be paid, grocery shopping needs to be done, and recreation needs to be had.  When the paycheck is almost all used up, whatever pathetic amount is left over is sometimes allocated towards savings but there are no guarantees.  More often than not some other unforeseen expense creeps up and drains the leftovers.

It’s time to face an important reality: If you don’t pay yourself first, chances are you won’t do it later.

 

It’s recommended that you put away ten percent of every paycheck.  That might sound like a lot at first but the sooner you start doing it the less impact your budget will feel.  Look for places in your monthly budget/expenses where you can trim some fat to make up the difference of what you’ll lose by allocating ten percent to savings.

If ten percent sounds like a wildly unreasonable amount, start with five percent and work your way up to ten.  If you want to walk on the wild side, try 15 or 20 percent!

2. Put your savings out of sight

Ever heard the saying “Out of sight, out of mind?”  Well that rings especially true with money.  A $20 bill sitting on the kitchen table isn’t going to last very long in any house.  Twenty dollars sitting in an interest bearing savings account could likely survive a whole year if you forgot about it.

One of the tricks to saving money is to stash your savings in a place that makes it difficult to make a withdrawal.  Here are a few ideas for making your savings more elusive:

  • Don’t use your regular bank for a savings account.  If at all possible, use another bank – one out of the way, or even out of state.
  • Set up reoccurring automatic withdrawals from your regular checking account into your savings account.  For example, ask your bank to withdrawal $25 every Friday and deposit it into your savings account.
  • Check with your employer to see if they will allow you to split your direct deposit.  Many employers can take a percentage of your paycheck and deposit it into a different account than your normal checking account.
  • Don’t use a checking account.  You want to make it difficult for yourself to make withdrawals from your savings so it’s important not to have a debit card or paper checks connected to the account.

3. Use less plastic and more paper

Debit and credit cards are ultra convenient.  They make transactions so much easier.  However, sometimes they can cause us to lose track of how much we’ve been spending.  In this era it’s pretty difficult to not use any type of debit or credit card, but there are some expenses where it’s not necessary.

As an experiment, try putting yourself on a cash budget for certain line items in your budget where you’d like to cut back.  One example is food.  It’s very easy to spend a lot of money eating out or grocery shopping.  Set your monthly food budget and at the beginning of the month withdrawal the full amount in cash.

Put the cash in an envelope and put it in a safe place in your house.  For the entire month, only use money from the envelope for food-related purchases.  When the money runs out, that’s it.  No pulling money from elsewhere.  You’ll be amazed at how clever you can be when you absolutely must stick to a budget.

4. Keep the change

Have you ever gone on a change hunt in your home?  Change is lurking in all sorts of interesting places.  That change may seem insignificant, but it quickly adds up.  Make it a practice to regularly spend an hour or so gathering the spare change around the house.  Check under sofa cushions, in the laundry room, in pants pockets and all around.

There are many services that will cash in your change for dollar bills.  Coinstar.com is one of them.  Coinstar has kiosks in many grocery stores where you can simply dump all your change while the machine counts it and spits out a receipt you then redeem at the checkout stand for cash.  Doesn’t get much easier than that.  Take that cash and immediately deposit it into your savings account!

Another tip for saving change is to establish a change/money jar somewhere in your home.  Every time you find spare change or dollar bills, drop them in the jar.  Empty your pockets at the end of every day.  Whatever you do, don’t take money out of the jar and spend it!

5. Ignore unexpected income

We’ve all been blessed with some unexpected income.  It might be some birthday money.  It might be a bonus from work.  It might be a lonely $100 bill you found on your morning jog.  The reality is our first inclination when we come across extra money is to spend it.

Start a new habit and put any new and unexpected income directly into savings.  If you really think about it, it’s money you didn’t expect in the first place so you’ll never miss it when it’s gone!

These are just a few easy (and not so easy) tips to get you started down the path of true financial freedom.  Stop living paycheck to paycheck and embrace the lifestyle of saving.  The peace of mind you get by stacking up savings is worth the temporary sacrifice.

What ways do you use to save money?

photo credit: paul (dex)