General Finances

Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013

What You Can Do to Save On Your Motorbike Insurance

There is no better feeling than hitting the open road on your motorcycle. Of course, this feels much better when you know you are covered by the proper type of insurance.

Despite the fact that some people continue to overpay for motorcycle insurance coverage, you don’t have to find yourself in the same position. Instead, there are steps you can take to save money.

While most people are familiar with the basics – such as increasing their excess – it is important to note that there are other little known ways to save on a motorcycle insurance policy.

Shopping around should be taken for granted, which is why it isn’t included in our list of three tips. In this internet age, there are many places where you can compare insurance deals to find the cheapest one for you. The search tool on Motorcycle News is a great place for start.

So, now that we’re ready to get started, here are three ideas to consider:

1. Join a motorcycle club. Did you know that members of some motorcycle clubs qualify for a discount on insurance? For example, you may want to think about joining the British Motorcyclists Federation for our UK readers or American Motorcyclist Association if you live in the USA.

Tip: before joining just any club, ask your insurer if there are some in particular that will qualify you for a discount.

2. Choose the right bike. Don’t have a motorcycle just yet? This is your chance to make a decision that will save you money now and in the future.

You don’t want your entire decision to be based on how much you will pay for insurance. That being said, it is important to note that some motorcycles cost more to insure than others. Sure, that sport bike that can hit a high speed may seem exciting now, but wait until you see how much you are going to pay for coverage.

Tip: before making a purchase, contact a motorcycle insurance company to receive a quote for several makes and models. This will give you a clear understanding of how much you will be spending on insurance upon making a purchase.

3. Full coverage is often times for fools. No matter what, you need liability coverage. This will cover any damage that you inflict on another party or their property. But do you really need collision and comprehensive coverage? Well, this all depends on the age of your bike and its value.

Tip: request a variety of quotes, each one with a different type of coverage. This will allow you to see what you can get for your budget.

With these three little known ways to save on motorcycle insurance, you are closer than ever to buying an affordable policy that will keep you protected while cruising the open road.


General Finances

Monday, 18 Mar 2013

Savings Stalled? Small Steps Today to Build Security for Tomorrow

Are you among the millions of Americas who have struggled to rebuild your savings since the recession? If so, there are simple, time-tested strategies you can use to spend less and save more.

A new survey by CNNMoney found that many Americans are not saving enough for retirement or emergencies. Only half of respondents reported good saving habits, including having a spending and/or saving plan in place,

“We know from other research that if one does not have adequate emergency savings, it’s much more difficult for people to save for other purposes, either a home or retirement,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, which conducted the survey along with the American Savings Education Council.

So how can you start building (or rebuilding) a nest egg? Start by following these steps:

  • Get Clear on the exact amount of your net income and current expenses, including the inevitable unexpected expenses such as auto and home repairs. With this information, you can begin to design a solid spending plan that makes sense based on current realities. Look at your income and expenses line by line. Where can you make adjustments? There are many software programs for doing this, but even listing your expenses and income on a legal pad works.
  • Plug Money Leaks – Many people consider only large expenditures, such as refinancing a home, when looking to save money, but finding small areas where you can save is just as important. These are usually areas of spending that are almost unconscious: the latte on the way to work each day, the extra $15 per month on cable channels you don’t watch, the additional money spent on “name brand” groceries. The first step to plugging these leaks is to identify them. Note each small spending habit and add up its annual cost. Next, ask yourself, “Do these small expenditures really make a difference to me? Do they really add to the quality of my life? Or are they just habits that could be eliminated or changed?”
  • The 10/10/10 Financial Formula – To build true financial security, consistent saving is critical. I recommend the time-tested “10/10/10 Savings Formula. It may seem like a stretch at first, but work towards setting aside 10% of your income for short-term needs, 10% for mid-term needs and potential emergencies, and 10% for long-term retirement planning. This will put you in control of your money and finances.
  • Look Beyond Traditional Saving and Investing Methods – Many people do not realize there are proven and time-tested ways to grow a substantial nest egg without the risk or volatility of stocks, mutual funds, real estate, and other investments. One asset class has increased in value during ever period of economic boom and bust for more than a century: dividend-paying whole life insurance. A dividend-paying whole life policy grows by a guaranteed and pre-set amount every year. These policies also provide peace of mind for retirement planning, because you can know the minimum guaranteed value of the policy on the day you plan to tap into it…and at every point along the way. In addition, riders can be added onto the policy that make the cash value grow significantly faster than a traditionally designed whole life policy.

Whatever your financial circumstances, you can take steps today – even if they’re just small steps – to move toward your financial goals. As soon as you take positive action, you will reap the reward of more peace of mind.
About the Author: As a consultant to financial advisors, Pamela Yellen investigated more than 450 savings and retirement planning strategies seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments. Her research led her to a time-tested, predictable method of growing and protecting savings now used by more than 500,000 Americans. Pamela’s book, BANK ON YOURSELF: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future, is a New York Times Bestseller. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NPR and in The Huffington Post, Fortune Small Business and hundreds of other publications. Learn more at www.BankOnYourself.com.


General Finances

Friday, 15 Mar 2013

Cheap vs. Frugal: Is There a Difference

While some may view your spending as being cheap, you could just be practicing wise spending habits. In fact, the line between frugality and being cheap is far wider than many may realize. If you are a frugal consumer, it just means you are watching what is spent for the quality of the merchandise in order to find the best possible deal for what you’re getting in order to use your money more productively elsewhere. Cheap means that although they have the money to spend on whatever you wish, you would still rather not for some hording obsession.

1. Dining Out – Frugal spenders will find coupons or discounts in order to have a fine meal at a fine restaurant with a date or spouse. He or she may not necessarily have the money to do so without these discounts. They are still able to provide a fine dining experience without the worry of covering the entire dollar amount.

Cheap consumers will take a date to McDonald’s even if they do have the money for a lavish dining experience. Why waste the money on an expensive meal when one can get fed at a burger joint for less? Although it may be cute to some, this experience is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

2. Bulbs – A frugal shopper will sometimes understand the value of the LED light bulbs in terms of the future. As these bulbs provide more light while consuming less power, they will help save electricity. Bulbs powered by LEDs also tend to live far longer than standard bulbs which means less money to spend on replacements later on.

The cheap buyer will see that incandescent bulbs are one-tenth the price of LEDs. They live in the here-and-now and would rather not spend so much money on a simple light bulb regardless of what benefits can be wrought by them.

3. Birthdays – As coupons can be found for nearly any merchandise or service, planning a birthday can be cost effective while providing a gift the person wants. A frugal shopper will put consideration into the gift and try to make it as low costing as possible.

Everyone likes balloons, right? A cheap shopper will spend $1 for a bag of balloons for a birthday present although he or she may have an extra $20 in his or her pocket. As long as the present can cost as little as humanly possible, the cheap consumer is happy.

4. Clothing – Scissors and printers will produce as many coupons as possible for the frugal shopper who would like some decent clothing. Sometimes, the clearance isles can yield excellent results. Perhaps a visit to the local thrift store to find a nice suit could be beneficial for the frugal person.

Cheap buyers will haggle over the price of a $1 pair of used shoes at a yard sale. After all, that person isn’t going to use them anymore and is more likely going to throw the shoes away if they don’t sell. Why should he or she pay more than $0.10 for those pair of Nikes?

Those who are frugal have more of a meaning and purpose behind their spending. Most of the time, frugal consumers don’t have a lot of money to spend on merchandise so they find the best deal they can of the same item. A large portion of cheap consumers will have the money to spend on nearly anything they want, but feel they need to horde it for some unknown cause. Just because you purchase according to your budget so you can comfortably survive, doesn’t mean you are cheap.

Author Bio:

Ken Myers is the founder of  http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.


General Finances

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013

Are you Spending Money on the Right Sites?

Sometimes we just can’t tell if an ecommerce site is reputable unless you’ve consistently done business with one, or if they’re the bigger companies like Amazon, who specialize in ecommerce.  Luckily there are sites like Reseller Ratings who allow people to post ratings and reviews of sites that they’ve done business with. Their reviews depend mostly on whether they got what they ordered, service, and delivery speed.  However, what sets Reseller Ratings apart from other review sites is that merchants do not have control over which reviews appear on Reseller Ratings. Also, Reseller Ratings make sure that companies haven’t rated themselves.

That being said, it’s very impressive if a company can get close to a perfect 10 rating.  Take Signazon.com for example.  They have an overall ranking of 9.66, which is stellar, considering they’ve had around 600 people who were satisfied with their online purchasing experience.  Signazon.com sells all types of promotional materials from personalized calendars to window decals, and all of them can be customized to your liking.  It’s truly remarkable that they can maintain such a high rating when each customer’s specifications must be accounted for, and it’s very likely that their employees take the time to make sure everything is done right before they send the customer the final product.  To emphasize their rating of 9.66 out of 10, Amazon.com received a rating of 7.50, and they have had a strong customer-centric approach for years:

Anyways, before you buy something, see if they have a Reseller Ratings score before you purchase.  You could save loads of precious time and money, not to mention the stress!


General Finances

Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013

5 Ways To Pay for College in Tough Times

The numbers are daunting: $20, $140 and $40,993 per year. These are the average costs of college for in-state universities and private colleges, according to the College Board’s “Trends In College Pricing” for 2010-11.

Multiply that figure by four and then multiply that number again by the number of kids you have. A family with just two college-bound kids is looking at a college bill between $161,120 and $327,944. The figures are outrageous and getting worse. Many families are faced with two options:

  1. Give up. Just throw in the towel. Send your child to community college or simply avoid college altogether.
  2. Dig deeper into every source imaginable to figure out how to get your children to their dream college – a school that will give them an enormous advantage the rest of their lives.

The large majority of parents I’ve spoken with over the years have chosen option 2. They’ve been digging deeper and deeper into every college funding source possible. But there are many things you can do to lower the overall cost of college. Here are the five best strategies to help pay for college during these challenging times:

College Financing Strategy 1: Need-based & Merit-Based Financial Aid

What better way than to have someone else foot the bill, or at least part of the bill? The best way to do that is to put yourself in the absolute best position to maximize the two major sources of free money for college.

For need-based financial aid, you must position your financial assets and income in the best light. Certain asset classes are not included in the financial aid formula. Complete the appropriate Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms on time and correctly. Identify and apply to the college with track records of paying out the best financial aid packages.

For merit-based financial aid, it’s important to search for and find the right school – the one school your child may be viewed as a star, whether it is in academics, athletics, music, etc. It’s also important for your child get the best grade possible on the SAT/ACT. Encourage your student to take practice tests as often as possible, and to take the SAT or ACT at the beginning of junior year. This gives the student the previous summer to study and practice at a leisurely pace without it interfering with school work. Acing the test essentially becomes a summer job. The student can then spend junior year focusing on making the best grades in school.

College Financing Strategy #2: Select the Right College

Choosing the right school for your child is a matter of finding the college where your student can shine, be it in academics, athletics or the arts. This is perhaps the trickiest one on the list. There are literally thousands of colleges to choose from. And the financial and merit-based aid for each school is not readily available for parents. It can be found, but it does require some knowledge and experience on where to look. Finding this information is critical. It is absolutely necessary to know what percentage of need met a college typically pays out if you want to maximize the free money your child can get for college.

You’ll also want to find out what percentage of gift aid each college typically gives in free money, and what percentage is in loans and work-study. Some schools will cover a high percentage of need met, but only a small percentage of the need is filled with free money, with the rest in loans and work-study. This is not a great deal. The goal is find the colleges that not only cover a high percentage of need met, but also give a high percentage in free money.

College Financing Strategy #3: Explore Work-Study Opportunities

Both kids and parents share in the cost of college. There is no doubt that you’re going to put some of your monthly income and current savings towards college costs. So why shouldn’t you have your child do the same? There are many additional benefits to having your child work and pay for college, such as learning life skills in budgeting and time management, avoiding the wrong major or career, building a resume and better grades. In fact, a US Department of Labor study concluded that college students who work 20 hours or less get better grades (and also have a higher chance of graduating).

You may also choose to have your child take out loans for college. Student loans often have better terms than parent loans. And you, the parent, can always help your kids pay those loans back down the road.

College Financing Strategy #4: File Financial Aid Award Appeal

Most parents assume that the initial financial package a college offers them is final. Please don’t make this mistake. Colleges are a business. They need students to the make the business work. And often times they will work with a family on getting a better financial and merit award package. But there is a right and wrong way to go about the appeal process.

Step one is to determine if you received a fair offer. You can do this by comparing your initial offer with what the school’s past track record is for financial aid.

Step two: Write a financial aid appeal letter. A step-by-step guide to writing an appeal letter is available on our website at http://www.collegemadesimple.com/how-to-write-the-financial-aid-appeal-letter

Step three: Use a better offer from a competing college to help improve the initial award package. Don’t be afraid to appeal or negotiate with a college. This is a proven strategy that a lot of parents overlook.

College Financing Strategy #5: Reduce Non-tuition Expenses

Consider having your child live off-campus (or live at home if possible). Each of these can provide a huge savings on room and board. You can buy college books for less by using sites such as bookrenter.com, chegg.com, or half.com. Each of these sites offers textbooks for a fraction of their retail cost. Select a meal plan that allows more flexibility by covering meals for the semester, rather than a weekly allotment.

Here is one last strategy, and it is possibly the most important one: Make a plan and take action on it. These strategies won’t work if you don’t put them into play. If you’re strapped for time or unsure of the best way to take advantage of each of these cost slashing methods, get help from a qualified professional. They could potentially save you a lot of time, headaches, and money.

One easy way to get started (and doesn’t cost a thing) is to use our Free College Funding Analysis. Follow this link to learn more: http://analysis.myonlineworkshop.com/8F8F0B9A63D47945040D0333F15A8366

—————————————————————————————————————————————

About the Author: Scott Weingold, co-founder of College Planning Network LLC and publisher of CollegeMadeSimple.com, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on college financial planning. He was ranked the #1 ‘College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About’ in the country by CollegeStats.org and is co-author of The Real Secret To Paying For College. As a sought after speaker, Scott contributes his expertise to CNN Money, Smart Money, and Reuters, and gives insider tips to parents directly through his e-letter College Funding Made Simple. For more information and resources, visit http://www.CollegeMadeSimple.com and http://www.CollegePlanningNet.com. Contact Scott at info@collegeplanningnet.com.


General Finances

Monday, 21 Jan 2013

New Year, New You!

If we break an appliance, we could try fixing it ourselves if the right step-by-step manual is on hand. If no manual is available, we simply may guess and hope for the best. The other option: Find an expert to fix the problem efficiently. The same applies for our finances. When we find ourselves in financial woes, we have similar options. And don’t you sometimes wish there were a manual, written by an expert, to walk us through just “fixing it?”  The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has created workbooks to get folks on the right track towards some of the most common financial goals. Whether you are buying your first house or looking for ways to ensure your fortunes grow, there is a workbook that’ll guide you through it.  Want to see digital previews of the workbooks?  Keys to Homeownership,” “Better Fortunes”“More Than One Way Out” and Live a Richer Life,” are workbooks filled with tips, advice and strategies straight from the experts! You can also purchase the workbooks for a low cost by visiting http://www.nfcc.org/publications, where you’ll find brief summaries as well. And while you’re there, you can even pick up a free DVD!


General Finances

Friday, 18 Jan 2013

MyMoneyCheckup

Millions of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions to put together a smart plan for their financial future. “Where do I even begin?” and “How do I get my head above water with so much college debt?” are typical questions young people ask themselves when committing to putting their finances in order. The good news is there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  An  innovative, self-help tool has launched just in time to get your finances ready for the new year!

MyMoneyCheckUp™ is a completely FREE online tool available on the NFCC website, www.DebtAdvice.org, or at www.MyMoneyCheckUp.org, and is designed to provide an assessment of a consumer’s overall financial health and behavior in four designated areas of personal finance including:

  • Budgeting and credit management;
  • Saving and investing;
  • Planning for retirement;  and
  • Managing home equity.

This new tool was created to align with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Education Core Competencies, and is an example of a successful collaboration between community-based nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and the public and private sectors.

The Only Comprehensive Web-based Financial Self-Assessment Tool Available

  • Provides individual evaluations for each financial management track: Budgeting, Borrowing, Saving, Housing, and Retirement.
  • Allows for easy online access and availability. The tool can be utilized by the same user multiple times to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the counseling and education provided.

The NFCC invites you to test MyMoneyCheckUp for yourself!


General Finances

Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012

The Benefits of Using an Online Trading Platform

If you are new to forex trading and the wider financial markets, then it may seem as though you have entered into a bold and intimidating world. Fortunately modern traders have been able to benefit from considerable advances in technology, which have afforded them access to evolved operational tools and more in-depth technical analysis. Contemporary software can provide online Forex trading via your home internet connection, without compromising the quality of financial transactions.

Why you Should Use an Online Trading Platform to Trade Currency Pairs

With this in mind, what are the fundamental benefits of using a sophisticated, online trading platform? Consider the following: –

Instant Access to Technical Indicators: Your ability to react to market shifts and movements is critical, especially in a volatile environment such as the forex market. One of the key benefits of online trading platforms is that they provide you with instant access to a whole host of technical indicators, which deliver market analysis on your behalf and help to inspire informed decision making. This cannot be underestimated, particularly for young or inexperienced traders.

The Delivery of Live and Real Time Market Prices: Another distinguishing factor of the forex market is that it is prone to sudden and significant price movements, and the failure to keep pace with these changes can severely undermine your chances of achieving profitability. Both cloud based and mobile trading software negates this issue, however, by providing traders with live and real time market prices throughout the duration of the day.

The Capacity to View Historical Trade Information: As any experience or well traveled trader can testify, the financial markets often display clear trends and behavioral patterns. This is true during both prosperous and depressed economic times, and the ability to understand the market and forecast trends is key to determining profitability. Online trading applications tend to feature historical trade information as standard, which means that you can review selected data and execute orders in line with your findings.

While all aspiring investors should look to optimize their transactions with the tools that are integrated into most online forex trading platforms, it is also important not to underestimate the importance of a core knowledge base. Without this, it is impossible to get the most out of the technology that is now readily available, particularly with regards to interpreting technical analysis and understanding market trends. With this in mind, it is important to develop an in-depth understanding of forex trading prior to entering the financial marketplace.