Tips for Reducing Your Household Expenses

The word “debt” usually calls to mind car loans, credit card balances, and mortgages, among other big-ticket financial burdens. Next to those issues, household debt doesn’t seem like a significant worry. The fact that it seems like a mundane concern is precisely why it’s such an insidious problem, though. You can’t get away from household debt if you’re even partly responsible for the home, since it consists of all the everyday things you need. You can soften the blow by changing your buying habits and tweaking the way you spend money.

Pay More Attention to Cost Than to Price

You know how you sometimes buy an item that you kind of need simply because the price is low enough to suggest a great deal? Personal care items, such as razors, and home care items, such as candles and air fresheners, are famous for this. Stores also catch you with BOGO, or buy-one-get-one, deals that aren’t deals at all. You don’t lose a lot of money on individual items when you fall for this tactic, but the cost adds up over time.

Anytime you’re shopping, particularly for items that fall on the expensive side, don’t pay as much attention to the price tag. Look closer. What is the cost per unit of the item you need? Are you saving if you buy more than one? Can you save more if you buy more than two? Smart shopping is all about math, even as you roll your cart along the aisles of the grocery store. The numbers will always tell you if you’re scoring a great price or wasting your precious budget.

Buy It in Bulk

Image via Flickr by kenteegardin

Contrary to the coupon shows, it doesn’t pay to buy everything in bulk. However, non-perishable items that you genuinely use and frequently buy are always worthwhile bulk purchases. It’s still wise to look at the cost per unit of each item, but at the very least, you may save more money by switching to a different brand.

Keep in mind that some bulk stores also offer better prices than others. Of course, you no longer have to spend your money on a membership to a brick-and-mortar wholesale store. Online stores such as Jet, Boxed, and Amazon make it easy to order your bulk items and have them delivered to your home, which can be much more convenient.

The secret to successful bulk buying lies in never purchasing what you don’t need. Stick to non-perishable items, but remember that includes many foods and beverages. Don’t buy anything you only think you might use. Don’t buy something you’ve never tried before, as curiosity has no place in bulk shopping. Don’t forget personal items, either. You can purchase shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, and skin care items in bulk.

Reassess Your Cell Phone Plan

A mobile phone isn’t a luxury like it once was. Now it’s a necessity. However, individual phones and plans are expensive. If there’s more than one phone in your home, the cost can affect your household debt. Is anyone in the home paying for two different cell phone plans? Research the possibility of sharing, such as with a cell phone plan from T-Mobile, which will allow everyone to choose their own phone. Because T-Mobile plans offer such benefits as unlimited data, fast streaming, and a reliable network, you can save money by going bulk on your phone plan, too.

Prune Your Entertainment Budget

Many households pay for cable or satellite TV, including premium movie channels. Yet they also have subscriptions to services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or Instant Video, and others. Do you need all of that? Go over your cable or satellite package. What are you paying for and how much of it do you actually watch? You might have a sports package that you never even use. You might find that you don’t need a package at all and that your streaming subscriptions fulfill your viewing needs.

You don’t have to sacrifice your pleasures, hobbies, or even your favorite foods to cut down on your household budget and save some money each month. You just have to spend your money more thoughtfully. What are your favorite ways to save?

Living with a Bad Credit Rating

Sometimes life throws you several curves and no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to keep your head above water. For many people, this, unfortunately, is a way of life. They live from one paycheck to the next and basically have the monies spent before they receive them. Because of this, you end up paying your bills late or even miss a few payments. As a direct result, your credit score takes a hard hit and that just makes matters worse. The good news is that there are things you can do to get off the vicious cycle and start enjoying life.

Living with bad credit

When you have a poor credit score you end up paying more than someone with a good credit score. It’s harder to acquire a mortgage, a car loan, a personal loan and credit cards. On top of all that, if they do give you the loan or the line of credit, the interest rate is very high. Unfortunately, in today’s world, your credit score affects other areas of your life as well. Many insurance companies will not take on new clients with a bad credit score and the same applies to your job prospects, many of the larger companies now view your score as a judgment of your character. So it’s more important than ever to improve your score sooner rather than later.

Where to turn for money

When you live paycheck to paycheck it’s only a matter of time before you can’t cover a bill. When this happens your car payment is late, your loans are late and your credit cards too. The problem is that once your credit score is lowered, most typical bank lenders will not grant you a loan. Luckily, there are still loans for people with poor credit available out there. Many online companies have short-term loans available with repayments from 6 months up to 2 years. This can give you the funds you need to get back on track and resume making your payments on time.

Importance of budgeting

While the short-term loan offers a quick-fix for your current situation, it is not the solution to your problem. The ultimate way to fix this and end the week-to-week style of living is to get on a budget and stick with it. Many people who eventually make late payments on their car, home, and credit cards, made enough money. It was the managing part of it that caused them to default.

The first thing you’ll need to do is clear off a table or desk and gather up all of your bills. Then, on a sheet of paper, list each of them. Once you have all of them listed then you need to add in regular monthly expenses like food, gas, school and essential supplies. Add all of these up and then deduct your net income after taxes. Hopefully, when you deduct your income from your expenses you make enough to cover everything. If this is the case, then your problem lies with your spending habits. If on the other hand, you don’t bring in enough to pay all of your bills, then you need to reduce your overhead or acquire a second job temporarily until you meet your obligations.

Paying off debt

With a plan in place, you can reverse your bad credit score and recover. It will take a little time, but it will happen. For now, you need to make every effort to pay your mortgage, car payment, personal loans and any other extended credit by the due date. Second, you need to start living frugally in order to get the debt paid down faster. This means that you’ll have to give up things like the morning coffee on the way to work, limit eating out to once a month and purchase only the things you need. If you do this for a few months, you’ll soon start to see that you are easily getting from one week to the next without a problem.

Living with bad credit costs you more than an embarrassing loan denial. Today, your credit score is your worth to many companies and that means it can prevent you from landing a new job, getting a cell phone or even renting an apartment. Make every effort to get back on track as soon as you can. Throw a little extra to your credit cards, focusing on the one with the highest interest rate first. Also, learn to tuck money away for a rainy day so that when something does need your attention, you’ll have the money to fix it without touching your bill money.

Mutual Fund Calculators

Technological advancements have turned the common into man an investment guru. The internet provides several resources that are useful to people interested in investing real money. It has become such a wealth of information. There are even tips and strategies on how to win the best online casino games at sites like casino aus. And some of the advice actually works.

Online calculators are the newest trend in the industry. There are calculators for everything. Some of these programs or Bots are for sale while others come free. Now there are mutual fund calculators. One would think the point of investing in a mutual fund is so that you leave the number crunching to the pro’s. But in this day and age where everyone is so greedy monitoring your mutual fund is not such a bad idea.

Difference Between A Free Mutual Funds Calculator And Premium Versions

The differences are too many to mention. But as any other industry, products from companies are different. The war for supremacy online means that developers of these systems will try to give you as much functionality as possible in the free version. However, they always make it a point to limit the instruments that actually make you money to the premium version.

It is essential that if you want to use a mutual fund calculator you invest in the premium version. That is what the professionals are using and if you are wise you will do the same. It is important for you to choose the best bot for your investment. Different bots are designed to operate differently. Find the ones optimized for your investment.

Finding the perfect product online is very difficult. This is because of the large number of con-artist on the web. These are individuals who operate sites strategically placed to swindle people of the hard earned money. A great way to find the best sites to spend your money iss to check for peer reviewed sites. These give a decent indication of what people think about the service from a company. Typing scam in front of the name of the product you want to buy will also reveal a lot about the product.

How to Go About Finding a Good Lawyer

When faced with a legal situation it’s generally preferable to have a lawyer on your side. But hiring one can be expensive and that fact sometimes shies people away from the concept. This is especially true when it’s unclear how to choose a good one. Here are some things to consider about finding a good lawyer, as well as why you should.

Do keep in mind that not hiring a lawyer can actually end up costing you more in the long run. The law is extremely complicated. The average person does not have the resources to represent themselves and function at the same level as a professional. In addition to keeping track of things like evidence and witnesses, lawyers are also knowledgeable about how and when to file paperwork. If the other party in the case has a lawyer, then you need one too.

How to Find a Lawyer

To find a family lawyer in Sydney, the first two places to check are the internet and your trusted associates. Getting personal referrals to lawyers can be incredibly helpful since you’ll hear honest assessments from people who have been through similar circumstances. Of course, that’s not always an option, but with all the review sites out there these days it’s generally easy enough to find the same type of information online.

Once you find a few lawyers that look good on paper and have good reviews from real customers, then it’s time to start making appointments and interview the potentials. Meeting with a lawyer in person can give you a lot of insight into their personality and how they work. The goal is not necessarily to find a lawyer that will be your best friend, but rather to find one that you trust and have confidence in.

What to Consider in a Lawyer

There are a variety of questions to consider asking during a meeting with a lawyer. These might include details about the types of law they’re familiar with, and their track record for wins. You might ask how long they’ve been in practice, and how often they like to communicate with their clients. Always inquire about fees and costs might come up along the way.

After meeting with a lawyer that you like consider a background check. This can be a great way to quell any fears that you might have about the process. There are directories online that will show whether a lawyer is in good standing with the bar or how they’ve performed ethically in the past. You always want to feel good about your choice so it’s not a process that should be rushed if at all possible.

Finding a good lawyer can seem like a daunting task but it’s well worth it. Many lawyers are incredibly knowledgeable and experienced so there’s nothing that they haven’t seen before. It can be stressful and feel vulnerable to hire a stranger for something so personal as a legal matter, but their guidance will ultimately help make the experience run more smoothly.

5 Things to Know About Refinancing a Reverse Mortgage

Reverse mortgages, it’s hard not to hear about them these days.  After all, millions of Americans are nearing retirement age and the for many, their most valuable asset is their home.  As such, it makes sense that today’s seniors would want to look at options to tap into the equity they have built up in their home’s over the years.  Even if you already have a reverse mortgage, did you know it’s even possible to refinance in the future? That’s right, and here are five things to know about refinancing a reverse mortgage.

  • Reasons to Refinance

One of the biggest reasons would be time.  If your reverse mortgage is more than 10-years-old, then you might be time to freshen up the agreement.  For example, while interest rates were low 10 years ago, they are even lower today and if the Fed keeps raising rates, then this year might be the last year of ultra-low rates.  As such, there is no better time than now to take advantage of low rates before they end.

In addition, the housing market in your area might be on the upswing.  This means that your home might be worth more today than when you originally signed your reverse mortgage.   Or maybe your spouse was under the age of 62 at the time you closed your reserve mortgage.  If this is the case, then a refinance is a good way to get a spouse’s name on the loan as well.

  • How Will I Benefit

As most reverse mortgages are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), then one thing you will need to undergo before closing your loan is counseling.  While this counseling is not always free, it will help to walk you through every aspect of your reverse mortgage to make sure it is in your best interests.

In addition, you will have to pay additional closing costs if you decide to refinance your reverse mortgage.  As such, you want to look at the costs and see if the benefits will work in your favor.  Also, keep in mind that your homeowner’s insurance premium might increase as the value of your home will have probably increased in value since your first mortgage.

  • The Application Process

Like every mortgage, the process begins with an application.  The difference is that this application will be for a new reverse mortgage.  As mentioned, this will also mean that you will need to schedule a new counseling session to review the terms of your mortgage.

While this is an added step, it is also a safety net to make sure that your refinanced reverse mortgage makes sense for you.  This is a good move as there are no shortage of people looking to take advantage of seniors.  If anything, it just gives you some extra time to think through the decision.

Once your counseling session is complete, you will receive an approval notice and then you can schedule your closing.  As this is a refinance, one part of the closing will be to pay off the balance due on your original reverse mortgage.

Depending on the terms of your new reverse mortgage, you will either receive a check for the additional cash from the new reverse mortgage; or the new amount available will be set aside in a checking account which you can use later.

  • Closing Costs

While more and more lenders are offering low or no-cost reverse mortgages, most will require you to pay closing costs.  This will include the appropriate searches, origination fees, legal fees, and even counseling costs.

As such, you need to ask your lender what the costs will be.  This way you can make sure there are no last-minute surprises.  If there are, then don’t be afraid to walk away from the closing table, or you can use your three-day right of rescission to void the mortgage if you change your mind.

  • Can Heirs Refinance

Unless your heirs are over the age of 62 and are listed on the mortgage note, then they cannot refinance the reverse mortgage.  Remember, these loans become due when the borrowers no longer live in the house.  So, the only way an ‘heir’ can refinance a reverse mortgage is if they are named on the loan in the first place.  Barring that, your heirs will need to pay off the loan if they seek to keep the property in the family.

Chatbots for Trading and Investment: A Good Idea?

The notion of artificial intelligence is no longer a fictional concept. From user-friendly programs such as Siri to the complex algorithms included in Google Cloud Prediction, the software is becoming an important part of our daily lives.

One particularly interesting scenario can be seen in the rise of the “chatbot”. Through a series of complex computations, these systems are meant to supply human-like responses to their living counterparts. It can be argued that the most well-known online chatbot is a program known as Cleverbot. So, this naturally leads to the question as to whether or not these silicon-based algorithms are wise enough to be used within the world of complex, yet sensitive, user query led interactions.

The Ultimate Intention of a Chatbot

We should first be clear to note that a Chatbot cannot (presently) offer the same level of insightful interaction as demonstrated by HAL 9000 in the film 2001. They are intended to provide a user with answers to very specific questions. Product information is a common example. Having said this, the use of artificial intelligence will help the bot to appear more “human” as levels of interaction increase. In other words, these algorithms learn by experience. So can intelligent programs like this ever be employed within the world of online trading? Financial Times author, Kevin Rose wrote an article back in 2014 about retail trader, CMC Markets, who already use price pattern recognition which identifies up to 40,000 technical trade set-ups each month, impossible to do for a human – This begs the question how far are we from chatbots relaying highly sensitive bits of information?

The Current State of Play

You may be surprised to learn that there are already a number of trading-related chatbots in existence. AJ Bell youInvest and a Chinese firm known as Xiaoi are two notable examples. These and others such as PollyChat utilise Facebook Messenger to “speak” with the user, so there is already a heightened sense of familiarity. After a series of macro questions, a personalised profile will be created. It is therefore much easier to access the most relevant news and information based off of one’s trading preferences. Having said this, these bots are far less intuitive. They are primarily designed to help the trader make his or her own decisions as opposed to automatically generating investment calls to action.

Potential Implications

What types of conversations the traders could potentially encounter when using a chatbot? Current technology limits these exchanges to be somewhat rudimentary. Examples here may include:

  • What types of stocks would you like to see?
  • How can I help you formulate an investment plan?
  • Are there any sectors that interest you?

Besides these general queries, many conversations will revolve around the bot trying to understand the strategies of the user. This can again be accomplished through a question-and-answer session:

  • Do you think the United States will soon raise its interest rates?
  • Is the outlook for the euro bullish, bearish or neutral?

The answers to these and other questions will help the bot formulate appropriate recommendations.

A Wise Decision?

Are chatbots a good idea for traders? Yes and no. They can be a highly intuitive user interface for those who may be new to the industry. However, any discrete recommendations in the future will likely be based off of algorithms alone. This could lead to potentially erroneous trades and until technology advances, it is wise to employ chatbots as a supplement to any strategy as opposed to a strategy in and of itself.

Money-Saving Tips for Booking Your Next Holiday

Booking a holiday doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank. It’s impossible to enjoy a relaxing break away when you’re worrying about money every time you pay for a meal or buy a souvenir.  So, here are some money-saving tips to help put your mind at ease when spending money on your next holiday.

DIY Holidays

Is it cheaper to book a package holiday or to arrange the flights and the hotel separately? Research is the only way to find the best deal for your holiday.

Travel agents claim that their buying power brings down the cost of a holiday, but many websites are now specifically aimed at finding good deals on flights and accommodation. Sites such as Skyscanner and Air BnB have grown in popularity, so consumers may find that it’s cheaper to book separately when planning your trip abroad.

When to Book

In order to find the lowest possible fare for your holiday, you can plan the best time for you to book. Here are a few tips for finding the best prices:

  • For short-haul flights, you should book around seven weeks in advance and for long-haul, book around 18 weeks in advance.
  • Try to avoid the school holidays and book flights on quieter days and times – Tuesdays are often a cheaper day to fly.
  • If you don’t like flying, you could find a great deal on a last-minute cruise. Keep an eye on cruise holiday websites, such as Bolsover Cruise Club.

Planning in Advance

When you’ve chosen your destination, try to book activities in advance. Avoid turning up and trying to find the best spots in your guidebook once you’re there and do some research before you go. If you buy tickets for museums, shows, tours and activities online, you may be able to avoid lengthy queues and save some money at the same time.

Spending Abroad

When you’re thinking about changing your money to the local currency, don’t wait until you get to the airport to do it – it’ll be significantly more expensive than other payment methods. Money Saving Expert advises that the cheapest way to get travel money is by using a specialist credit card and repaying it in full. The second most cost-effective way is to use a travel money comparison tool to find the best rate, which is especially useful if you want to stick to a budget on your holiday.

Find the best deal when booking your next holiday by following our top tips for cost-effective travel – you can enjoy a relaxing, stress-free holiday, without worrying about money.