Tag Archives: finance articles

Are you on top of your Finances?

An occasional late fee on your credit card or a few extra dollars each month in insurance payments may not have been such a big deal in the past, but now every dollar counts. Find out how you can get on top of your finances and keep your pockets full with these easy tips.

Save on credit card payments

This may be one of the easiest areas of your financial life to save in. The top ways to save yourself from having to pay unnecessary fees on credit cards boils down to two simple acts: pay on time and never overdraw your account. The first of these is particularly important considering that many credit card companies drastically raise your interest rate if you pay late. You could see a jump of as much as 15% in interest, all for making your payment a few days late. An easy way to stay on top of your credit card is to sign up for online banking so that you can access your account from your computer and your mobile phone.
You should also check with your bank to see if you can categorize the purchases that you make on your credit card. Many credit companies will allow you to pay toward “everyday” purchases such as gas and groceries first, so that you don’t have to pay interest on these smaller totals from month to month. Then, you can pay towards your bigger debt balance with the money that you have left.

Save on mortgage payments

Most of the saving strategies for mortgage payments are applied at the beginning of your term. If you are on the market for a new home, you should first “clean up” your credit by paying off as much of your debt as you can before applying for a loan. This will increase your appeal to your bank or any other lenders that you may choose. Next, you should focus on saving up as much money as possible for a down payment on your home. You can significantly cut your mortgage term if you pay more towards your home at the outset. This may also earn you a better interest rate with your lender. Both of these benefits add up to paying off your home years earlier than you may have expected.

Save on insurance

The need for insurance, whether it is auto insurance, home insurance, or life insurance, is simply a fact of life. However, making sure that you protect your financial well being doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Find an insurance agent that you get along with well and this could open the door to fruitful negotiations on premiums and deductibles. The best and easiest way to save on insurance is to get a bundle package; that is, buy all of your insurance policies from the same companies in order to take advantage of discounts.

When it comes to auto insurance, you can keep your payments low by driving a safe, reliable car and taking care not to sully your driving record with too many violations. You can also save when you purchase home insurance by installing safeguards such as a security system and more smoke detectors in your home. Overall, you can ask your agent for discounts on all of your policies based on any professional organizations that you belong to.

Author bio: Michael Edmondstone is a personal finance expert that specializes in advising consumers on how to keep more of their hard-earned money.

Achieving Early Retirement Through Personal Finance

forced retirement

Retirement is something that most of us dream about. The days when you no longer have to work hard to provide for yourself and your family are to be savoured and enjoyed. You’ve spent a lifetime working and looking after everybody else, now it’s your time to relax and enjoy the time that you have left.

As much as you’d love to be able to plan when you are going to retire, unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that. There can be circumstances when you have to retire long before you have planned. It could be that your health prevents you from working and you need to retire early. Whatever the reasons, there are a number of ways to prepare for your retirement; no matter how early it ends up being.

Health Insurance – Your Early Retirement Protection

If you are ever forced into early retirement because of ill health, insurance could help you to get through it. Suddenly losing your wage with no sufficient savings can really cause you to worry. Even if you have retirement funds saved up, it’s likely that they won’t last as long as you planned. This means that your level of living with be strained.

The right health insurance can really put your mind at ease. The costs of treatment these days can be quite high. Could you afford the treatments as well as the cost of general living? If not then insurance is a must. Another type of insurance that you may want to consider is life insurance.

Why Life Insurance Could Be Important

If you do become ill and it turns out to be life threatening, life insurance will help to ensure that your loved ones are protected. Often even in retirement you will have financial obligations. Perhaps you are still supporting your children or grandchildren? If you have dependents then life insurance will ensure that they are looked after once you are gone.

Whether you opt for health insurance, life insurance or both, it’s important to shop around. Compare as many different policies as you can. They are all different and some policies will be more expensive than others. By comparing your different options you’ll also get to see the different types of cover available.

Optional Early Retirement – Is It Achievable?

Through careful financial planning you could choose to take early retirement even if you’re perfectly healthy. Most people would assume that early retirement is impossible; especially after the recent financial crisis. By following the tips below you could increase the likelihood of retiring early.

Tip #1: Cut Back Now

In order to save for an early retirement, you’ll need to cut back on various expenses now. Do you spend a lot of money going out and enjoying life? For most people they work to live and meals out, trips to the cinema and holidays a couple of times a year are how they get through the slog of everyday life.

However, if you constantly spend most of the money that you earn then how can you expect to retire early? In fact, how could you expect to retire at all if you have no real savings? If you want to be able to enjoy early retirement then now is the time to cut back.

Start by eliminating the larger things. If you eat out once a week then change it to once a fortnight and put the money you would have spent into savings. Once you start getting into a routine of saving money, it will become easier and you can start to cut back on little things. Cutting back doesn’t have to mean that you can’t enjoy life. Just start saving more than you currently do and that is a great start to early retirement.

Tip #2: Understand the Kind of Lifestyle You Want

When you retire what can you see yourself doing? Are you planning on becoming lazy? Would you prefer to stay as active as possible? What standard of living are you expecting? These are just some of the questions that you need to answer. Understanding what type of retirement you want will help you to see exactly how much money you would realistically need.

It may be that you need to become a little more realistic. Sure everybody would love to go on endless holidays and be waited on hand and foot for the rest of their days, but is it realistic? By being a little more honest about what you can realistically afford, it will help you to enjoy early retirement a little more.

The basic things that you need to account for in your retirement include:

  • Clothes
  • Food
  • Heating/Utility Bills
  • Accommodation (Rent, Mortgage, Care Home)

As long as you leave enough money to take care of the above, anything else that you earn is a bonus. Many people don’t bother to plan their retirement. This means that they have no idea what they have to save towards. By being prepared it will help you to enjoy life a lot more once your retirement days arrive.

Tip #3: Pay Off Debts and Avoid Further Debt

These days it’s so easy to get into debt. Most families have at least one debt that they haven’t paid off. If you are struggling with debts then now is the time to start paying them off. The last thing you need is to start your retirement in debt. You have no real income and it will just eat away at your retirement savings.

Always pay off more than the minimum monthly repayments when you can. The more that you pay off, the less time you’ll be in debt.

These are just three tips to help you to plan for early retirement. It may not be as far away as you imagine. Providing you save as much as you can and cut back, you should be able to save up a nice little amount. Follow this advice and set up a savings account today to plan for your future.

This article was written by Timothy Ng.

Get a Act of God Plan

lightning

In light of recent natural disasters around the globe-earthquakes, floods, fires-it seems only to right to recommend having an Act of God Plan, especially if you live in a disaster prone area. Ensuring you have a safety net set up should you get into strife through no fault of your own is paramount to survival, and easy to arrange.

1. Have a Cash Stash

Always have a little amount of cash hidden in your house should you find yourself in a situation where you have no access to money. Flooding will easily cause shortages to cash machine dispensers, and often in a crisis situation many staff will not be working as they’ll be sorting out their own affairs. The only problem with having a wad of cash in the house is the associated temptation. To avoid dipping into the stash when you’re a bit short of money, keep it in a locked up section of your emergency grab bag, and if you’ve already been involved in a natural disaster you won’t need reminding of why it’s important to keep your mitts off.

2. Carry a Credit Card

Even if you don’t normally carry a credit card, it’s a good idea to have one should you find yourself in a sticky situation. Whether you’ve lost your wallet or need to pay for accommodation, clothes or food, having a credit card can make things a little easier in dreadful circumstances. One advantage of having a credit card is their emergency assistance feature-emergency funds can be wired to wherever you are, should you have that function set up on your card.

3. Invest in Insurance

While most of us hate giving money to the insurance companies, it is worth it when you run into problems, be it travel, home or content insurance. The golden key is to read and double read the terms and conditions. Yes, they’re ludicrously boring and often hard to understand, but it will make all the difference when you come to making a claim. Also, talk to someone to clarify their terms if you need to. However, sometimes things happen that you’re just not prepared for so wouldn’t know to ask about, or check. In the Brisbane floods, in early 2011, a number of people who took out flood insurance in good faith were told that their claims would not be awarded because their houses were insured against flooding, not inundation from the river!

4. Emergency Contact Numbers

Pretty much everyone owns a mobile phone these days, and rarely lets it out of their sight. However, when you’re caught in a freak flood and all you think about is hanging on to your nearest and dearest, your phone no longer seems so important. Having a few numbers memorized is a good idea. And while it seems obvious, because most phones are set up to show names not numbers there is little opportunity, or need, to remember other people’s numbers. Just one or two contacts are all you need to let people know you’re safe. They can then contact others on your behalf.

5. Safe Place to Stay

If you’re unfortunate to be caught in a natural disaster, but lucky to be near your family, go stay with them until things start to return to normal. If you live in an area prone to bush fires it’s important to have a substitute home organised prior to fires breaking out, that way you know exactly where to head without having to think about it in an adrenaline fuelled situation. Sometimes things happen that you just can’t plan for, so if you’re travelling in an unfamiliar city and don’t know anyone in the immediate vicinity, head over to any of the disaster relief centres where you’ll be offered a place to stay and support during what could potentially be a terrifying and lonely time.

This article was written by William from Life Insurance Finder. Visit Life Insurance Finder to compare Income Protection Insurance

Features to Keep Your Mortgage Flexible

first home

Many people do not have a complete understanding of how different features work that are in place to help them pay off their home loans quicker than the standard 30 year term. Learn what you can do to help you manage your mortgage with some handy home loan features you may not be aware of.

Thankfully, most mortgages for home owners today have quite a few features for the loan that are made to help them pay it all off and manage the home loan successfully and positively. Unfortunately, too many homeowners have little to no knowledge of these features, or the ones they might benefit quite a bit from and which ones to choose.

Discovering Mortgage Features for You

Many people find that the best way to find out how you can benefit from home loan features is to talk with your mortgage broker. These professionals are going to be able to help you sort through all of your available options, features and loan products as part of their professional assessment service to you. Any excellent mortgage broker should be able to help you understand at least the most popular features, a few of which are explained below:

Valuable Mortgage Features

Extra Repayments

Having the option to make extra repayments on your home loan in addition to the minimum loan repayment amount. Paying amounts that are beyond the minimum of what you are required to pay to keep your loan status in good standing is what qualifies as extra payments. You can make extra repayments regularly by changing the amount that the bank withdraws from your account, or you can make them intermittently whenever you have money available to do so.

Redraw

One of the nicest benefits about this feature is that you are able to access these additional payments when you need them. Many people find security in making extra repayments because they have funds on standby available to save for any reason that may arise in the future. You might be charged for that withdraw, so be sure that you are aware of all of the terms and conditions that apply to your home loan.

Professional Package Discounts

A professional discount package is when a home owner receives discounts on a variety of products and services from the home loan lender by paying a single annual fee. These might include things like waived valuation fees, interest rate discounts, discounted insurance products, waived monthly and application fees and many others as well.

Interest Only Periods

With interest only periods, homeowners just pay the interest on the home loan that is due each month and not the principal itself. The benefit is that repayments are kept to an absolute minimum, but there is no possible way to pay off the loan unless extra payments are made. These interest only periods may be 5 years, 10 years or even 15.

Loan Portability

This mortgage feature will allow you to move your home loan onto another property. Normally this is given to people when they sell their home and buy a new one. Usually, in most cases for this home loan feature to be executable, the settlements have to happen within the same day, which would all let home owners avoid having to re-apply for a new home loan when they move to a different house!

Repayment Holiday

This is a valuable feature that can be used when a home owner’s financial circumstances change. Normally this would be due to the arrival of a new baby, a lay-off from a job or any other circumstance that results in a decrease in income for the family. Usually this home loan feature will let home owners reduce or eliminate the amount of payments that are made for up to six months, which does add interest to the loan.

This article was written by William from homeloanfinder.com.au. Visit the HomeLoanFinder website to compare variable home loans and home loan interest rates today.