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Check Your Bank Statements Every Month If You Don T You May Be Losing Money In Unexpected Ways

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 434)
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Awhile back I got the dreaded letter from the bank saying you are overdrawn. I couldn't believe it, I wondered what the heck did I do?

Then I opened it up and I was overdrawn by over a thousand dollars and I was real concerned.

I called the bank and they told me the $3000 dollar check that I had written was insufficient. Well I did not write a check for that amount but they assured me I did and told me where to.

I couldn't believe I could do something so foolish but I called the company that I had written the check to and they said yep, that was what I wrote it for, and I was overpaid on my account.

Then we had to start the process of me getting the money back that I had overpaid, in the meantime I needed to do a quick transfer or I would have more insufficient checks.

After I got the check covered and started the return process of getting my money back I got to thinking I couldn't have done anything that dumb.

So I called the bank and asked them if they were sure I had wrote it for that amount and she assured me they check those kinds of things, I still didn't believe her so I went down there and said I wanted a copy of the check.

Low and behold I HADN'T been stupid and wrote a 300 dollar check for 3000. The company I wrote it to had encoded it wrong and the bank didn't catch it.

So after apologies from the bank and their assurance they would fix things right up for me I called the other company back and asked them if they were sure I had made the mistake. She also assured me they always check these kinds of things. Then I said then how come I am holding the check and it is obviously written for only 300.00. She didn't have much to say then and they assured me they would fix things right up.

In talking to her she said she just assumed the fault was mine because even if they had made the mistake one of our banks would have caught it, yeah right.

So while most of you would notice a 2700 difference like I sure did, we may not notice those pennies and nickels if we don't check every month.

Because the only one looking after your account carefully will be you!!

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Saving For Your Future

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 647)
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We all know that we should save money. But something so easy to say can be quite difficult to actually do.

Saving money is the basis of building your financial future. However, many consumers are putting it off one more day. Those days turn quickly into years of lost money. Without savings, the chances of meeting long-term financial goals and achieving financial security are quite miniscule.

In order to save money, you have to control your finances. Saving has nothing to do with how much you make. It has everything to do with how you control your money. If you have lots of credit card debt and live paycheck to paycheck, you are not in control of your money. And you aren't saving for the future either.

You have to spend less and save more. The two are tied together. In order to save, you have to start spending less.

And it all really isn't that difficult if you just start doing it.

First, sit down and write down your financial goals. Just ask yourself what you want from your money. Perhaps you would like to have a downpayment for your first home. Maybe you need a new car. Make long-term goals, such as retirement, and short-term goals, such as new living room furniture.

Give each goal a dollar amount and a time frame. In order to save, you have to know what you are saving for. You have to have a reason to put your money aside.

You will need to set up a seperate savings account. You probably know that leaving the money in your checking simply won't work - you will spend it. Have a savings account that you can easily deposit or transfer money into. Many banks will set up an automatic withdrawal to your savings each month. This is a easy way to set it and forget it. It is paid just like any other bill.

Over time, you will see your money start to grow. This is rewarding and exciting. Most people become motivated to save even more. Saving and investing can become addicting in a good way.

You will find that a written budget is almost essential for saving money. You need to know where your money is going in order to make changes to the way you spend. A budget not only tells you where you are spending, but it can help you plan how you spend. Include into your budget a debt reduction plan, and your budget will make the most of your dollars. Budgeting is simple and doesn't require you to sacrifice your entire lifestyle. It is just a plan to get where you are going.

If you do have a lot of credit card debt, you should focus spending your saving money on eliminating that debt. It would be wise to put a small amount aside for emergencies, but the vast majority of the money you are saving right now needs to be going to your debt. The reason why is simple. Why pay 20% interest on a credit card debt when your savings are earning 2% to 10% in interest. You are spending more than necessary. Wipe out that credit card debt first. It will save you more in the long run.

A lot of people really boost their savings by putting their unexpected money into their savings accounts. Your bonuses, raises, tax refunds and overtime can really pump up your savings. You aren't having to spend even less or cut back more, but you are seeing your account balance rise.

There is no real secret to saving money. You simply have to start doing it. That is often the hardest thing - the first step. But once you see your finances begin to change and the interest start working for you, you will be hooked on saving for your future.

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Credit Counseling Why It Doesn T Work For Most Debtors

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 1173)
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"Cut Your Payments in Half!" the headline screams. "Consolidate Your Bills into One Low Monthly Payment!"

When you see ads like this, they are often from Credit Counseling firms. In this article, I'll explain the principles behind the Credit Counseling approach and discuss the main problem consumers face when they join one of these programs.

First, let's get our definitions straight. The term "Credit Counseling" is actually quite misleading, since it has nothing to do with preserving or improving your credit score. In fact, Credit Counseling will often damage your credit, an unpleasant reality that is sometimes downplayed by industry representatives.

Credit Counseling is a debt management program where you make a single monthly payment to an agency. In turn, that agency distributes the money to your creditors on your behalf, ideally at lower interest rates so you can pay off the debt faster. Credit Counseling should not be confused with Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, or Debt Termination. Each of these debt programs takes a very different approach from Credit Counseling.

Of all the available debt options, Credit Counseling is by far the most popular, with millions of Americans participating. Does this mean it's the best choice for most people struggling with debt? No! There are numerous problems with this approach.

In recent years, the Credit Counseling industry has been heavily criticized by impartial consumer groups like the Consumer Federation of America. But these criticisms often miss the mark entirely. They usually focus on the aggressive companies that use their non-profit status to trick consumers into thinking they are charitable organizations, or even that their services are free of charge. In reality, these outfits charge hefty "voluntary" contributions, often adding up to hundreds of dollars, plus steep monthly fees as well.

However, I'm not talking here about the bad companies who provide little or no actual "counseling," or the ones that are only in business to make their owners rich. No, I'm talking about serious problems with the actual business model itself. So let's take a closer look at how Credit Counseling works.

Let's say you owe $25,000 on several different credit cards. Let's also assume your average interest rate before you enrolled was 20% (which is actually low these days, especially if you've missed any payments). Your minimum monthly payments are $500, which you've been struggling to keep up with. At this rate, it will take a whopping 109 months (more than 9 years) to pay off your debts, assuming you don't miss a single payment along the way.

You enroll in a Credit Counseling program that promises to get you out of debt faster. But does it? Assuming your creditors agree to participate in the program (not always the case), the real key is the concession they will grant on your interest rates. In prior years, creditors looked more favorably on Credit Counseling and they offered steep discounts off the normal interest rates. But lately they have squeezed the industry, and the concessions are not so good any more. Currently, most of the major players will reduce interest rates down to a range of 7% on the low side to 18% on the high side. We'll use 12% as the average.

So if you keep your payments at $500 per month at the new 12% rate, how long will it take? First, we need to deduct the monthly fee charged by the agency. In this example, we'll use a fee of $25 per month, so $475 of your $500 will go toward debt reduction. The good news is you'll be out of debt faster. The bad news is that it will still take 75 months (more than 6 years) to become debt-free.

But what happens if you can't keep up with that $500 per month? After all, you sought help from a credit counselor because you were struggling financially, right? Let's say you drop down to $450 per month. After deducting the $25 monthly fee, that leaves $425 toward your debt plan. Now you're looking at 90 months (7 years & 6 months), which is not much better than the 109 months you started out with.

So how can credit counselors claim to cut your payments in half? Good question. If you dropped down to $250 per month, you'll never pay off your debt! At 12% interest, the debt will climb faster than your $250 per month can reduce it. The lowest you could go would be $300 per month. However, it would now take 20 years to pay off the debt, hardly an improvement!

In order to truly cut your payments in half, down to $250 in this example, the agency would need to completely eliminate all interest! And even then, it would still take more than 9 years to pay off the balance! So the ads claiming you can cut your payments in half are simply false.

Bear in mind here that in our example, we're assuming you're working with a good company that charges low fees and actually obtains good interest rate concessions from all of your creditors. Even with the best of credit counselors, you're still looking at a 5-9 year program to pay off your debts.

That's why Credit Counseling is usually only effective for people with short-term financial problems. Consumers with long-term financial instability have trouble keeping up with the regular payment stream required to make these programs work. The result? Even the most favorable statistics show that about 3 out of 4 people drop out of Credit Counseling programs before completing them.

If you do decide to join one of these programs in order to obtain some short-term relief, be sure to do your homework first. Here are a few tips to help in your selection:

1. Look for a company that actually provides old-fashioned budget advice and counseling. If they want to sign you up right away without first understanding your budget situation, move on!

2. Obtain copies of the contract and read it carefully before signing up. Make sure you understand all of the fees involved. Are there enrollment fees? "Voluntary" contributions? Monthly fees? Extra fees per account? These hidden fees can add up to big bucks.

3. Make sure they work with all the creditors on your list and not just some of them.

4. Don't be fooled by "non-profit" status. That doesn't guarantee you're dealing with a good company. And it certainly doesn't mean the service is free!

5. Aim to find a local company that you can visit in person. Check out your target company with the local Better Business Bureau.

6. Make sure they provide support after the sale. Try calling their customer service number to see if you can get through promptly.

Remember, you can eliminate your debts if you take a disciplined approach to your finances, make a budget and stick to it, and don't use your credit cards unless you can pay off new balances in full each month.

Good luck in your financial future!

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Realtors Save Gas While You Drive

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 555)
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We're all desperate to save money on gas these days. We shop for the lowest prices, follow the news, combine trips, walk more. But for many of us, especially Realtors, dealing with the gas crunch is unavoidable. Not every house you sell is going to be in your neighborhood, not every house a client wants to see is down the street. They want the city, they want the suburbs, they want to see that charmer in a neighboring town. So if you're a Realtor that wants to sell houses, you do what you have to do - you drive. Fortunately there are four simple ways to make your gas go farther while you motor around.

Four Simple Ways to Save Gas While you Drive

1. The single best way to save money on gas is so simple you probably haven't even considered it.

It's this: SLOW DOWN

Slowing down and (gasp) driving the speed limit is the most effective way to get maximum fuel efficiency from your traveling tin can. It simply takes more energy to travel at a higher speed. Increased wind resistance and inefficient fuel consumption are two ways that speed eats into your gas tank. The additional wear and tear on your car also eats into your pocketbook. So if you don't want your car to be an obnoxious gas guzzler, just drive the speed limit. You might get flack from drivers that want to speed like they're on the autobahn, but you'll save on gas and avoid flack from police cruisers, speed traps and your mom.

2. Keep it Steady. While you're at it, you might also try to keep going at a constant speed as much as you can. Keeping it smooth, or even better - keeping it on cruise control will save you big bucks on flat terrain. The ole "hurry up and wait" accelerate/brake combo takes a lot of energy and will cost you in the long run. Look well ahead when you're driving and prepare to slow down in advance. The gradual reduction in speed paired with a gradual increase will use less fuel. Gunning it on green lights is not fuel efficient.

3. Get a tune up and keep your tires inflated. Spark plugs that don't spark, filters that don't filter, and sensors with no sense all lower your gas mileage. Have your car tuned up regularly and check your tires while you're at it. Poorly inflated tires need more push from the engine to get where they're going. A little air goes a long way.

4. Choose the path of least resistance. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to avoid bumpy winding roads but if you can, you should. You can loose up to 30% of your gas mileage on a gravel road and even more if it's one of those beautifully scenic winding ones that require lots of turns and gas pedal/brake pedal maneuvers. Save these for vacations and take the highway.

Of course, if you're a really serious driver these days, you're probably thinking about switching to a hybrid - the next logical step for people who simply can't part with their cars. While you're shopping around for the right one, however, you might want to do it slowly.

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No Fax Payday Cash Advance Speedy Cash In Tough Times

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 274)
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Sometimes, it happens that you get in some urgent need of the cash even before you have got your salary. A financial crisis doesn't seek your appointment to arise in your life. They keep popping up like the virus alerts on your personal computers. However, arranging a small amount of quick cash for short time duration was never easier than it is with no fax payday cash advance.

These loans don't require you to mortgage your property; hence, there is no fear of losing the collateral you have mortgaged against the loan amount being credited. However, it does not mean you can be negligent towards paying the loan back.

Availability

These loans are widely available online and a proper online search may pay you rich dividends by getting the loan with the best terms and conditions. You can even apply to these loans online and the good thing is that the processing of the loan takes place within 24 hours of the loan application.

To avail a no fax payday cash advance you must be a salaried employee. And to confirm this, you must produce a salary slip and your salary bank account number. This is very essential because the whole loan process revolves around your salary check. No fax payday cash advance loans are secured loans in the sense that they keep your post-dated salary check as collateral. When the repayment time comes, the lender automatically withdraws the required amount from your bank account.

Only those people are applicable for no fax payday cash advance, who have a minimum monthly salary of

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The Truth About Direct Deposit Survey Uncovers Payment Myths

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 462)
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Despite 95 percent of Americans having heard or read about identity theft, a new survey reveals that many are unaware of the security differences between direct deposit and paper checks-placing them at greater risk for identity theft and fraud.

The survey, sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks, is the latest public service initiative of the Go Direct campaign. Go Direct aims to motivate people who receive Social Security by paper check to switch to the safer, easier option of direct deposit.

Despite the fact that direct deposit has been around for more than two decades, the survey found that four out of 10 Americans (40 percent) do not use it.

According to the Treasury, direct deposit is simply the best way to receive federal benefits. Direct deposit eliminates the risk of lost or stolen checks, reduces fraud, protects against identity theft and gives people more control over their money. Plus, direct deposit provides people with immediate access to their money from virtually everywhere.

In addition, the survey found many Americans don't know the facts about safeguarding their money and identity. Key myths about direct deposit and paper checks are:

(*) MYTH: Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said a paper check with your name on it can only be cashed if you sign or endorse it.

FACT: Checks can be forged-some more easily than others. Payments that come in the mail are especially vulnerable to theft and forgery.

(*) MYTH: Nearly half of those polled said direct deposit of payments such as wages, salary or government benefits go through the Internet to be deposited into your account.

FACT: Direct deposit works by transferring funds directly into your account through a highly secure electronic banking system-not the Internet. It is the same system used by the world's leading financial institutions.

(*) MYTH: Nearly 40 percent of respondents replied false to the statement, "No direct deposit has ever been lost or stolen."

FACT: The direct deposit system creates records of transactions so payments can be traced, and that means problems-although very rare-are quickly fixed. It's also a fact that you are 30 times more likely to have a problem with a check than with direct deposit. In 2004, more than 70,000 checks issued by the Treasury fell prey to endorsement forg-eries. These checks totaled more than $61 million.

These are all reasons why the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks are encouraging people who receive Social Security and other federal benefits to use direct deposit-the safest, easiest way to get payments. With direct deposit, people can be confident their payment will be in their savings or checking account on their payment day-on time, every time.

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Term Life Insurance Save Money The Smart Way

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 975)
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Term life insurance is the easiest type of life insurance to understand. To put it simply, the insured person pays a minimal premium per thousand dollars of coverage on an annual, semi annual, quarterly or monthly basis. If he or she dies within the term of the policy, the life insurance company will pay the beneficiary the face value of the policy.

Distinctive Features of Term Life Insurance

To better understand some of the distinctive features of term life insurance consider the following points:

First, term life insurance is "pure insurance" because when you purchase a term insurance policy you are only buying a "death benefit". Unlike with other types of "permanent insurance" such as whole life, universal life, and variable universal life, there is no additional cash value built up with this kind of policy. Term insurance only gives you a specific death benefit.

Second, the coverage is for a defined period of time (the "term") such as 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and so on. Once the policy is in force, it only remains in force until the end of the term - assuming you pay the premiums, of course.

Third, most term insurance policies are renewable at the end of the term. With what is known as "Level Term Life Insurance", the death benefit remains the same throughout the term of the policy, but since the insured person is getting older, the premium will gradually increase. As time goes by the cost of a level term insurance policy may become greater than you are willing to pay for a simple death benefit. An alternative is the "Decreasing Term Life Insurance" policy in which the premium remains the same, but the death benefit goes down as time goes by.

Fourth, most term policies can be converted to permanent policies within a specific number of years. If you decide it is important to retain the insurance coverage, converting may be something you should plan for. You can anticipate the accelerating cost of term insurance premiums and convert your policy before the premiums become prohibitively high. It is true that in the short term the premium will usually be higher than if you stayed with the term policy. But over the long term this difference will decrease because of the rapid acceleration of the term insurance premium as you get older. A permanent policy also accumulates cash value which increases the total death benefit paid to your beneficiary.

Popular Uses of Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is most appropriate whenever you want to protect your beneficiaries from a sudden financial burden as the result of your death. Here are some of the most common uses of term life insurance.

Personal Costs Due to Death - When a spouse or family member dies there will be immediate costs. Many people purchase a relatively small term life insurance policy to cover these costs.

Mortgage Insurance - Banks and financial institutions often insist that mortgage holders retain a term life insurance policy sufficient to pay out their mortgage. Such policies make the bank the beneficiary of the policy. If the mortgage holder should happen to die before the mortgage is paid off, the insurance policy will pay it out. This is also a great benefit to a spouse whose earning power will likely be decreased due to the death of his or her partner.

Business Partner Insurance - Term insurance is also used by business people to cover outstanding loans with their bank, or to purchase a deceased partner's shares on death, if they had an agreement to do so. Most partnerships have an agreement of this sort, and the policy premiums are paid by the business.

Key Person Insurance - When a company loses key individuals due to death, this can often result in hardship to the company. Key person insurance is purchased by the company for any individual it deems to be "key". The company itself is made the beneficiary of the policy. So when a "key" person dies, the company receives a cash injection to handle the problems associated with replacing that person.

Getting a Term Life Insurance Quote

Here are some things to look for when getting a quote for term life insurance:

1. The cheapest rate today will not be the cheapest rate tomorrow. For instance, the cheapest premium today will likely be for a Yearly Renewable Term policy. This policy is renewed every year at which time your premium is also adjusted upwards. This is fine if you intend to convert to a longer term solution (permanent insurance) in a year or two, or if you have a very short term requirement for insurance. But if you think you will need this insurance for a longer period, you would be better to commit to something like a Ten Year Term Policy. This locks your premium and death benefit in for ten years. Your rates will not increase until you renew.

2. Compare coverage and premium projections for different policies. Think about the long term and get the coverage that saves you money in the long run.

3. Make sure you completely understand the conversion options built into the different policies you are considering. Most policies will let you convert part or all of your term insurance into permanent insurance within a specific period of time, and without the need of a medical examination.

4. For some situations you should consider options such as Decreasing Term Life Insurance in which the death benefit decreases as time goes by. This makes sense if the policy is being used to cover a mortgage or business loan.

Term life insurance is not the answer to all life insurance requirements, but it should be part of a sound plan for every person's financial future.

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Cash Loans Getting Urgent Help Is Easy Now

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 237)
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Money may be procured if we are in dire need of money but the time constraint is always creating problems for us. If you are in need of money in small amounts and need it quickly too, then the best way to tackle your problems is to take up Cash Loans. With these loans, the borrowers are able to deal their cash issues well and quick.

Borrowing money for urgent needs may be more than a requisite for the person. It may be an urgent situation as some urgent situations may have to be dealt like urgent car or home expenses, credit card repayments, urgent bills etc. So to borrow these loans, the borrowers have to just fill in an application form and make sure that the following requirements are fulfilled:

* He should be over the age of 18 years and be a citizen of the UK

* He should be having a current bank account in his name and it should be at least 6months old

* His employment should be regular since the last 6months

* His place of residence should be regular since the last 3 months

The borrower's account is credited with the approved amount in less than 24 hours of application if all the conditions are fulfilled. The borrowers may use the amount depending upon their need and the amount may range between

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Don T Make These Seven Mistakes When Dealing With Debt Collectors

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 124)
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The number of complaints about debt collectors is on the rise. From 13,950 reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2000, the number has ballooned to over 66,000 in 2005. And these are just the ones reported-the greater number of complaints go unreported. But this isn't the worst; a significant number of complaints are coming from consumers who do not even owe the debt.

So what's going on here? It is apparent that debt collection agencies are becoming increasingly competitive and that they are getting more aggressive in an effort to improve their bottom line. And to do this, they have to put more pressure on the one who owes the debt

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