More Than Finances

Get your finances in order!

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Knowledge is Power When it Comes to Investment

The more you know… It’s amazing how knowledge changes your behavior. Most of us are bad with money, or we were sometime in the past. We all understand that it’s important to change these kind of financially wasteful behaviors, but we just…don’t…do it. Why is that? I don’t think it has much to do with lack of self-control, though that’s the thing we tend to beat ourselves up about. It’s that we don’t know what we’re doing.

 

Ol’ Plato once said that ignorance is the only evil. Applied to personal finance, that maxim would indicate that the more we learn about money, the better our financial lives will become. That’s an interesting thought, but you might wonder if it’ll hold water in real life. I can say from personal experience that I wasn’t able to make a change in the way I used my money until I learned about money itself.

 

Financial knowledge gives you a perspective that you’d otherwise lack. You learn the value of money, and you learn why it’s important not to waste it. You also learn how your life can change for the better if you have more of it, or simply regulate it better. These are important realizations that everyone needs to have if they hope to have any future financial stability. This knowledge is also the foundation of investment. You can’t handle investment if you can’t handle your personal finances.

 

So where does one start? This can be the most discouraging part of learning about money. Not all of us have the time or resources to get a degree in finance. We just want to have more money left over after we pay our bills. I would recommend a double-tiered approach:

 

Learn about the money you have. This is the essence of budgeting. You’ll have to track all the money that you brought in during the last couple of months. Try to get your final figure down to the dollar. Then figure out how much you spent. Most people find that the second figure is higher than the first.

 

Now figure out how much money you should spend next month. When the 1st of the month rolls around, stick to this plan. MAKE it work. If you’re able to make this budget work for several months in a row, you won’t be sinking or treading water. You will have learned the basics of personal finance and you’ll be ready for something more complicated.

 

Learn about the money you want to have. Investing is about growing the money you have. A great way to learn about basic investment is CMC Markets. They have a lot of educational resources in addition to their brokerage of quite a handful of quick turnover investment forms. Because their investments can be initiated and grown to maturity in hours or days, they’re a great way for a new investor to learn investment before tackling investments which will take decades.

 

Knowledge is the foundation of investment. Without it, you won’t be able to tell where to put your money. Knowledge is the best way to allay risk in investment. So invest in learning. It has a better return than any other investment.

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3 Ways the U.S. Banking System Can Collapse

The banking system of the United States is one of largest and most active in the world, and it is often (arguably) described by Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank officials as one of the most financially solid. This does not mean, however, that it is impervious to collapse. The magnitude of the U.S. banking system can only guarantee that a potential collapse would be more spectacular and damaging than in other nations, and history has already proven this fact multiple times. Recent examples of such collapse include the Great Depression of the 1930s and later during the Great Recession and Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

Most people remember the major bank failures of 2008: Citi, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual. Those were just the largest retail banks; it is important to remember failed investment banks such as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch as well as specialty banking institutions such as Countrywide and the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From 2008 to late 2012, more than 460 banks in the U.S. failed; this required government takeover of financial institutions, and this situation was exacerbated by the massive bailout provided by the U.S. Treasury to banks such as JPMorgan Chase ($256 billion), Wells Fargo ($25 billion), Bank of America ($15 billion), and many others.

Many banking analysts are concerned that the U.S. system could once again collapse. The lessons learned from the bursting of the housing bubble mostly apply to home lending standards and securitization of mortgage debt; it is unlikely that the next collapse will happen due to that same reason. Nonetheless, there are three current situations that could bring about the next downfall of the American banking system:

Major Banks Losing Clients’ Trust

Banks are not very popular right now for more than one reason. Less than 10 years after being bailed out by the U.S. Treasury, JPMorgan Chase and Citi plead guilty to criminal charges of participating in a global conspiracy to manipulate foreign currency exchange prices along with Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The collective penalties assessed by the U.S. Department of Justice were set at more than $5 billion; despite the criminal charges, no prison sentences were imposed.

The “too big to jail” preferential treatment given to bankers is only helping to undermine the trust that the American public is losing in the banking system. Although these scandals have not resulted in immediate bank runs, they have planted a seed of mistrust that could lead customers to consider alternative options such as bitcoin, gold, and peer-to-peer (p2p) lending.
Risky Profit-Seeking Methods

There is no question that banks have gotten way too large over the last few years. Stanford economics Professor Anat Admati recently pointed out that the average size of banks has risen to $1.36 trillion. Normally, this should not be a concern; however, the amount of money that banks invest in risky financial products such as derivatives is definitely a reason to worry.

Derivatives are financial instruments that can be very lucrative; nonetheless, they are so risky that even some day traders choose to avoid them. There is little transparency in the derivatives market, and the instruments that banks trade in this market are essentially bets on whether certain investments will fail. In essence, derivatives are complex casino plays that are not in character with the nature and purpose of banks to safeguard the deposits of their account holders.

The Potential Weakening of the U.S. Dollar

The sheer strength of the U.S. dollar in the global currency exchange is a major reason the American banking system is so massive and well capitalized. That strength owes more to the political power of the U.S. in the global stage than to the health of its economy. Now that the American economic empire has been tested, geopolitical analysts believe that rival powers such as Russia and China could curtail their respective Central Bank holdings in dollars just to make a political point. This situation could really test the strength of the U.S. banking system, and many analysts believe that it may not be able to withstand such a drastic geopolitical change.

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Be careful when choosing a real estate agent

Today with all online applications it has become very easy to stay informed and to be a wise consumer when you need to buy or sell a house. However the importance of a good real estate agent should not be underestimated. You can find a house of your dream with a help of a right agent or just lose your time and money for unnecessary variants with a bad one.
Despite making a serious purchase many people do not pay much attention to choosing appropriate real estate agent. However it is very important to find a person who can understand your desires, who can be like a friend to you in order to find really good house and make a sound deal.

You should spend some time to find the right person. You can discuss this question with your friends and neighbors, they may recommend someone. Also you can find a special agency online and interview the persons you like. Do not forget to read online reviews; however do not completely trust them. To make a good choice you should make a list of questions and get all necessary information. And do not be ashamed to ask, it is their work and they will be glad to describe it and their achievements. Some agents may demand prepay, in such case you can use cash advance online in order not to hurt your planned budget.

Here we tried to sum up some mistakes that people do during choosing an agent:

  1. The agent may set too high price for your house. Of course you want to get as much money as possible. However do not be so confident that a higher price will help you. Listen to different agents and understand the real price of houses in your area. Setting the appropriate price will help you to sell it quicker and with no hassle.
  2. The agent works just part-time. It is not a good variant. You should look for a person who devotes all working time to this sphere. He or she needs to know the tendencies in the market and follow all news related to the real estate. And this obviously takes time.
  3. The agent is your relative. It seems to be nice and comfortable to deal with a close person. However after some time you will understand that he or she is just fulfilling their own dreams and looking for a house that will be appropriate to him or her. In such case you may fail in finding a house and also quarrel with your relative.
  4. The agent does not specializes on your area. It is really very important to find a person who knows your location. He or she will understand the market better, know the prices or might know some sellers in this region.
  5. The agent’s name is on the top. It is good and remarkable, but you should not pay much attention to this, because it is just advertising. He or she might have paid for this position. So you should contact this agent at first, and then make your own opinion.
  6. The agent is not specialized in your type of property. Make sure that a person you choose really deals with a type of property you have. It will help you to avoid unnecessary difficulties and misunderstandings; also it will help you to save your time.
  7. The agent does not work with your price category. The agent can be the best expert in your area and know the market; however he or she can specializes in very expensive luxury houses or in cheap accommodation, so it will not be an appropriate variant for you.

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Health Insurance Programs for Retirees

Everyone should take care of personal health but when you reach the retirement age the issue of health maintenance comes to the fore. The government provided its citizens with the opportunity to use a variety of customized health insurance plans. With that purpose Affordable Care Act was issued but it doesn’t mean that Medicare ceased to exist. Though the act doesn’t determine health insurance programs for retirees it determines changes in plans which occur after retirement.

You have several healthcare options after your retirement and you are free to choose the most appropriate one. If you were covered by an employer, through a self-funded program you may leave that Medicare plan as basic but there are different additional available plans that may complement your primary health coverage or even substitute it. You may choose the simplest and the most inexpensive plan if you feel that you can do well without doctors. There are many people who take care of their health since youth and they don’t need to waste money neither on expensive health insurance nor on visiting doctors. And in emergency cases they always can use cash loans and still it will be much cheaper than having an advanced health insurance.

And here is some information about different health insurance plans for people at the retirement.

Basic healthcare for retirees
Government provides and finances Medicare program which covers people after retirement and some invalid people. It covers fundamental health care costs which are common for people from these groups. Medicare doesn’t cover the full cost of medication and there are some conditions which determine who and how much coverage will get. There are three different directions of costs which are covered by Medicare.
1. The first plan covers traditional hospitals and specializing hospitals stays. It is called the primary hospitalization plan.
2. The second plan is the main health coverage and it includes medical advisers, ambulant clinics, laboratory studies, and so on.
3. And the last plan covers medicines costs.
You can have one of these plans in your health insurance program or all three at once if it is needed. You will not have to pay any money for the first plan if you have stayed with Medicare and Social Security for 10 employable years. For the second part consumers have to pay from $105 to $150 depending on your annual income. And the last part may be acquired through private insurers and its price varies depending on the provider.

Advantage Plans
Such health insurance comes from Medicare but it is provided by private insurers. Some people find that it is more beneficial to use Medicare Advantage rather than the conjunction of three previous plans. Different providers of Medicare Advantage Plans suggest various prices which depend on the state rules where the consumer lives as well as it depends on services which are included in the plan. That is why it is better to visit several providers and to choose the most appropriate one.

Supplemental Insurance
Consumers may also purchase “Medigap” – a Medicare Supplemental Insurance provided by private insurers which covers costs that are not included into the first and second plans. Medigap doesn’t provide long-term insurance that is why it should be purchased separately.

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Tips For Purchasing Your First Home

Buying your first home is a huge milestone that can be a very exciting experience in your life. This does not mean that it doesn’t require a lot of hard work and due diligence. Whether you are months out from looking or you are already in the process, it is never too early to start preparing for the big purchase. By following some of the tips below you will be well on your way to purchase the home of your dreams.

Know what you can afford.  The Internet proves to be a great place to start when it comes to pricing out your home and what exactly you can afford. There are several online calculators that are very detailed in the process they take to calculate the amount of house you can afford. Such considerations in these calculations are property taxes, homeowners insurance, escrows, etc. This exercise helps you prepare by allowing you to create a budget which is crucial when you own a house.

Research for a reputable lender or mortgage broker. Being able to work with a mortgage broker on your first mortgage is well worth the legwork that is required to find one. Securing a good lender will hopefully pay you back tenfold in that they usually know of incentives or ways to save time and money in the home buying process. Do not automatically go with the least expensive banker. Make sure that you have done thorough research before committing to working with someone. With the amount of time that you will spend working with this person, you will want to make sure that they are someone you can get along with easily.

Save up on a down payment. Despite the fact that you may not need a large down payment on a home, it is not to say that you should not save for one. The more that you are able to pay down on a house, the better the rates you will be able to secure. Depending on your particular situation you most likely will want to put down at least 20 percent of the purchase price. This not only allows you to pass on paying mortgage insurance, but you will also be able to take advantage of lower interest rates.

By following these simple tips, you are well on your way to owning your first home. The journey is a long and sometimes trying one but in the end your new home will be well worth it.