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Debt Consolidation Vs Payday Loans

(category: Finance, Word count: 375)
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So you are thinking what does debt consolidation and payday loans have in common? Well typically people who opt for payday loans are not very far from those who are currently considering debt consolidation as an effort to lower high interest credit card monthly payments. We live in a country where credit is relatively easy. In fact on any given day, most of you will receive a letter from a credit card company offering you the world but spelling out the harsh details in the fine print that unfortunately few ever take time to read. This article is not meant to pit debt consolidation and payday loans as good vs. evil.

It is intended to help you understand why people chose both alternatives. First of all, what exactly is debt consolidation? Debt Consolidation is the process of aggregating unsecured debt in order to lower overall interest rate and have one monthly payment. Who needs debt consolidation? If you are stuck with high interest monthly payments, especially from credit card debt, it is likely that debt consolidation would be appealing. In many cases people simply can not afford to pay what they are currently paying.

Keep this in mind. Lets transition to payday loans or cash advance. People that want a cash advance are those who are in a bind and need emergency cash. Payday loans and cash advance have high interest rates and many states prohibit them. I am not against them because I understand why people may need them as a last resort. In both insistences people are seeking debt relief; however, those solutions are not the ultimate solutions to the problems they try to solve. The true answer lies in our ability to spend vs. save.

The best debt consolidation program will get you out of debt if you finish the program; however, to fix the problem you must understand that living within your means is the true solution. A cash advance may help you pay for a bill when you come up short, but saving for a raining day is a lot cheaper than getting a payday loan. By acknowledging our own weakness, we can become stronger when we take action to improve ourselves.

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Financial Fitness Checklist

(category: Finance, Word count: 397)
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To find out just what kind of financial shape you're in, answer the questions in the following Financial Fitness Checklist.1 If you're married, print this out and take it home so that you and your spouse can work together to answer the questions. Make a note of how many questions you answer yes to.

1. Are you using more and more of your income to pay your debts?

2. Do you make only the minimum payments due on your loans and credit cards each month?

3. Are you near, at, or over the credit limit on your credit cards?

4. Are you paying your bills with money intended for other things?

5. Are you borrowing money or using credit cards to pay for things you used to buy with cash?

6. Do you often pay your bills late?

7. Are you dipping into your savings to pay current bills?

8. Do you put off visits to the doctor or dentist because you can't afford them?

9. Has a collection agency called recently about overdue bills?

10. Are you working overtime or holding a second job to make ends meet?

11. If you or your spouse lost your job, would you be in financial trouble right away?

12. Do you worry about money a lot?

If you answered "no" to all questions on the Financial Fitness Checklist, you're the picture of financial health.

One or two "yes" answers, while not necessarily a sign of impending doom, can be a warning sign of potential problems. Before things get any worse, take time now to draw up a realistic budget (including a savings plan) or to revise your spending plan. Cut back on your use of credit cards, and watch closely for other signs of financial trouble.

Three to five "yes" answers could mean that you're heading for financial trouble. It's imperative that you get your spending under control right away. If you don't have a monthly budget, draw one up and follow it. Put away your credit cards and cut out all unnecessary spending until you can answer "no" to all the questions on the Financial Fitness Checklist.

If you answered "yes" to more than five of the questions on the Financial Fitness Checklist, you may already be in serious financial trouble. But don't despair. Financial counseling can start you on the road to financial recovery.

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What Is Your Bank Charging You A Guide To Bank Charges

(category: Finance, Word count: 190)
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When you're shopping around for a bank account there are a lot of factors to consider. Many people go for up-front incentives, such as money paid into the bank account, vouchers or a gift. However, it is worth looking at bank accounts in more depth to find out what you might be paying for various transactions. Here are some of the transactions that banks might charge you for.

Authorised Overdraft

An overdraft is like a short term loan. The bank gives you permission to spend more than the funds you have in your account. This amount is usually fixed in consultation with the bank and may be reviewed at stated periods. Some banks have a free authorised overdraft up to a certain limit and charge for any balance over that limit. This is the best way to arrange an overdraft.

Unauthorised Overdraft

When customers spend more than they have in their accounts without arranging an overdraft limit, this is known as an unauthorised overdraft. Banks penalise customers heavily for this by charging an unauthorised overdraft fee of more than

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Learn About Prepaid Credit Card

(category: Finance, Word count: 361)
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Prepaid credit cards also called stored value card can be ideal for individuals who are unemployed, have bad credit or difficulty obtaining an unsecured credit card. Prepaid credit cards are also excellent for individuals who have a hard time controlling their spending and prevent the individual from overspending and getting into credit card debt. If your objective is to establish or rebuild you credit over a period of time, make sure the prepaid card issuer reports cardholder transactions to the credit bureaus namely Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.

It is very easy to obtain a prepaid credit card because there is no credit check or employment verification since the funds you will be using are yours and not that of the prepaid credit card issuer. Prepaid credit card spending limit or credit line is the amount of money you loaded to your prepaid credit card account. Prepaid credit card carries the Visa or MasterCard logo. It can be used anywhere MasterCard and visa is accepted except renting a car at certain car rental companies and setting up automatic recurring payments.

The difference between a prepaid credit card and a debit card is that the spending transactions are deducted from the amount of money you loaded to your account unlike a debit card where the money spent is subtracted from your checking account and could cause Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) charges. The NSF charges are due to a customer drawing funds from an ATM or making purchases that exceeds the balance in their checking account. With a prepaid card this will never happen since the prepaid card holder is not borrowing any money and can only spend the amount of money loaded to their prepaid account.

With prepaid credit card there are no interest charges because you are using your own money. To obtain a prepaid credit card requires paying a setup or application fee and may charge a fee each time you load more money to your account. Some of the ways prepaid credit card can be funded is with a wire transfer and a cash deposit at certain locations approved by the issuer.

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Is Fsbo For You

(category: Finance, Word count: 456)
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Selling your home yourself can save you thousands of dollars in commissions. However, that doesn't mean you should necessarily do it for the following reasons:

Demanding Work

Selling your home yourself is demanding. What if you spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and concentration in your business or profession? What if you have to travel a lot? Entertain a lot? Invest long hours? Do a great deal of study reading just to stay as good at your work tomorrow as you were today? People whose work life includes those sorts of demands probably don't need another project that requires time and attention.

My suggestion is that if your work is exhilarating, challenging, and consumes large amounts of time, you will probably be better off working with a Realtor. Take the time when you first put your home on the market to interview an agent or two. Ask how they market their listings. Ask if they keep their clients informed about the status of their property's marketing. Ask for references. When you find one you feel can and will do a good job for you, sign a listing agreement. A good agent can give you sound advice and save you a ton of time.


You are probably a good candidate for working with an agent if you have never bought or sold a home before. The same thing is true if it has been a number of years since the last time you bought or sold. Ditto if you have not bought or sold a home in this part of the county before. People who work for settlement agents, lenders, and the like are probably exceptions to these general ideas about who shouldn't go FSBO. You can get experience if you work in the industry without actually buying or selling your own home frequently.

Older people are usually better off working with an agent. A typical situation is that they have owned their home for a number of years. The home has appreciated - often more than the owner realizes. The owner now wants to buy something all on one level in a community in which the exterior and grounds maintenance chores are handled by an association. They need to sell one home and buy another. It's often also desirable if they can add to their savings from the sale, and have the operating expenses of the new home be lower than the old. The idea of making a big change and the multiplicity of accompanying concerns is daunting. A good agent can make a world of difference.

If either of these situations describe you or your situation, going FSBO is probably not for you.

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Home Loan Education Is Essential Before Taking Out A Mortgage

(category: Finance, Word count: 472)
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Taking out a new home loan can be a very daunting process. Large financial purchases are of course more technical relative to everyday transactions, because there is more at stake. As with anything in life, you need to do your homework before you go into the test (the lender's office). Lenders are not out to trick you, they just want to be re-payed by you, and make some interest on their money. However, if you don't have an accurate understanding of your current financial situation, and an understanding of how a lender will interpret this standing, then of course you are going to be at a disadvantage when taking out a loan.

Every lending institution flashes rates around all over the place, because that is the first thing most people ask about when they want a loan. But, there is more cost associated with a mortgage than just the interest rate. The most common costs are the closing costs. And, right after you fill out a mortgage application, you should receive paperwork from your lender that provides you with an accurate estimate of your closing costs. You should also receive information about your home loan rates and the specific terms of your particular mortgage.

One of the most interesting aspects of mortgages is the ability to bargain with a mortgage lender by paying them money to reduce your interest rate. Basically, the money you pay them to do this is known as points. The more points (money you pay), the more your interest is reduced. However, this transaction should obviously not be viewed as a simple, I pay you money to reduce my interest rate and I win. Rest assured that lending institutions fully understand and have evaluated how paying points affects their profits. So, as usual, do your homework to make sure you know if you are coming out ahead in your unique situation.

As in any industry there are competent professionals, and there are some individuals who may be new, or not up to date on all their technical homework. Brokers are human, and they do make mistakes. But the stakes are a bit higher when taking out a mortgage as compared to someone screwing up your dinner order. That is why you need to educate yourself as much as possible before you go into the loan process. Everything that you can legally photocopy must be copied. Make sure your broker has locked in your loan as soon as possible, and ask for documentation. If your broker seems uneducated when you ask them tons of questions, kindly ask if you can talk to another broker in the institution. Don't be afraid to hurt someone's feelings when hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake.

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Helping Your Money Last After Your Last Paycheck

(category: Finance, Word count: 619)
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A look at different ways to afford retirement

Today's seniors can expect a longer retirement than their parents. That means more years to finally do what you want to do, including travel and hobbies (not to mention spoiling the grandkids). But a longer retirement also means more years of money going out and no paycheck (or only a small one) coming in. That's why seniors need to be smart about how they pay for their retirement years.

"You really need to have a strategy to make sure your savings last," said Lee Bowman, National Coordinator of Community Affairs at the FDIC.

To help you set or adjust your own plans for affording retirement, FDIC Consumer News offers this look at some different sources of money, including some potential pitfalls to avoid. But first, remember that this is general guidance only. Your own need for retirement money will depend on factors such as your health-care costs or whether you plan to earn part-time income. As with any major financial decision, be sure to consult with financial advisors and loved ones to decide what strategies are best for you.

Social Security and Pension Benefits: Your first order of business: Determine when the best time is to start tapping this money. For example, if you start receiving your Social Security benefits before your "full" retirement age (which could be anywhere from 65 to 67 under current laws), your benefits will be reduced permanently, and perhaps significantly, from what they would be at your full retirement age. And if you receive Social Security benefits early, but you continue to work and your earnings exceed certain limits, your benefits will be reduced even more until you reach full retirement age. On the other hand, if you delay collecting Social Security until after your full retirement age, you can continue to work and still get your full retirement benefits, or even higher benefits, no matter how much you earn.

Here's basic guidance from the Social Security Administration (SSA): "As a general rule, early retirement will give you about the same total Social Security benefits over your lifetime, but in smaller amounts to take into account the longer period you will receive them. There are advantages and disadvantages to taking your benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is your benefit is permanently reduced."

Employer pension plans usually have options somewhat similar to those of Social Security. Contact your employer's personnel department for guidance.

No matter when you decide to start receiving your benefits, remember that it could take several weeks to receive your first payment. Also consider having your payments deposited directly into your bank account so you don't have to worry about a check getting lost or stolen in the mail.

IRAs, 401(k)s and Other Retirement Savings Plans: As with your Social Security and pension benefits, you may want to delay tapping into your retirement accounts as long as possible so they can continue to grow to cover unexpected medical costs in the future or to protect the inheritance for your heirs. However, if you need to supplement your income, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and other retirement savings can be a good source.

Before you start withdrawing money from your retirement accounts, most financial planners suggest setting a target annual withdrawal rate. Make it low enough to avoid depleting these funds too quickly. You can fine tune your withdrawal strategy each year, preferably with the guidance of your financial or tax advisor. For example, if your personal situation changes, you can adjust how much you should withdraw.

Also review your retirement portfolio

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Money Is Emotional

(category: Finance, Word count: 258)
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Pathfinder operates on 10 principles originating from books "Money Mastery" by Alan Williams and Peter Jeppson and "The Richest man of Babylon" by George Clason as well as information I've learned over the years.

Principle No. 1: money is emotional. When we make and spend money, it's an emotional event. When we get a raise, we celebrate. When we get laid off, our routine and activities are often derailed because of it. Most of our spending patterns are emotional. For example, we don't plan ahead of time to buy a car. Daily, we're barraged with ads and commercials that tug at our emotions. Even if you deserve the new item and you've been working hard, you still bought the item emotionally.

The point: If we can acknowledge money is emotional, we can then plan and master its power over us. We'll never change the fact that money is emotional, but we can change our spending behavior.

Student testimonials say tracking their spending helps them realize how much they actually spend. Tips from those who have curbed their spending are helpful:

>Paying with cash helps some people spend less (compared to paying with credit cards or by check)

>Shop with a plan or list and stick to it

> Get an accountability partner, someone who you can share what you purchased during the week.

>Instead of ordering two full meals when they go out to dinner with someone (taking home leftovers), split a meal and order an appetizer or dessert instead.

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Oil Production May Be At Its Peak Experts Say

(category: Finance, Word count: 373)
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Anyone who has recently visited a gas station has felt the pinch of the impending oil crisis by having to pay more than $3 per gallon for gas.

While most people understand that we are facing a worldwide shortage of one of our most precious commodities, the reasons behind the deficiency remain somewhat vague.

According to Mammoth Resource Partners, Inc., a Kentucky-based oil and gas exploration company, major media coverage has largely ignored the underlying reasons for the relentless march toward ever-higher oil and natural gas prices. Experts report that the reasons are rooted not only in Middle East chaos and Asia's booming economies, but they also predict that it's in the possibility that the world's oil production may be peaking.

By definition, peak oil is the name geologists have given to a proven fact of oil exploration and development: When half of an oil field's reserves have been extracted, the field will begin to progressively yield less oil with every passing year until it yields zero.

"As peak is approached, what is left in the major fields is becoming harder to extract, reducing the growth of oil supply, thus increasing its price," said Dr. Roger L. Cory, President of Mammoth Resource Partners, Inc.

In short, the world has been consuming more oil while it has been drilling and extracting about the same amount of oil. These two trends cannot continue without some long-lasting effects.

"The supply and demand lines are crossing, leading to huge increases in the price of oil and oil-related petroleum products," Cory predicts.

Cory said there will always be oil in the ground, but the questions that producers need to ask themselves are, how hard will it be to get out, and thus how much will it cost? And how high will the going rate per barrel have to be to make it worth my while?

"We have recently seen crude sold for more than $70 per barrel. Is this a temporary price spike, or part of a major, permanent upward price trend?" Cory said. "It's anyone's guess how high the price of crude will go, but triple digits per barrel certainly do not seem out of the question."

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