PPI CLAIMS

When receiving a large loan, it can be overwhelming to think about its repayment. One thing that is concerning is the fear of the inability to pay back the loan due to unforeseen circumstances. Payment Protection Insurance is available to ease this fear. In the UK there is a scandal that has arose from the sale of PPI (Payment Protection Insurance). It can be referred to as a scandal because PPI  policies are sometimes sold without the consumer knowing. This causes the consumers to file claims against lending companies to get back money they have paid towards the policies that they were unaware they had.

Resources

If you are reading this and are someone who has been thrown into this type of situation, there are many resources out there to help you through it.

You are not alone! Companies are out there that can be hired to help you get the money back. For example, http://www.lowfeeppiclaims.co.uk, offers a competitive fee to help file these claims which can make the task less daunting. Most claims management companies will charge fees of 25% or more, whereas they charge a fee of 12% on your PPI claim, which is one of the lowest in the UK. A claims management company has the resources that will allow you to get your refund in a hassle free and timely manner.

Calculate your Claim

There are apps out there that can help you calculate what you could potentially be owed. You will need to know the details about your policy (Loan amount, term of loan, your premium amount and interest rate, etc.)

Buyer Beware

Consumers are also being mis-sold on PPI by not fully understanding their policies. There have been reports of a lot of consumers unhappy about PPI claims being turned down because of exclusion clauses in their policy. This is a form of being mis-sold on the policy because people buy into them thinking they would be covered for a particular situation and if that situation occurs, they may be denied coverage. Another issues is the coverage may not be explained in its entirety to the consumer when purchased, and the sum of money provided at payout could only be a percentage of your salary. There are often loopholes in the contracts that people are not aware of.

Overall PPI can be a very helpful tool to keep your family safe at times of crisis. However, it is  important to know what you are signing up for and to do your research before committing to a policy.

 

Financial Priorities.

First things first, apparently I’m a little late to the game, but I made a Facebook fan page last night for Punch Debt In The Face (See the new widget in the sidebar on the right?). I don’t really get why that’s better than my Facebook profile page, but for some reason people tell me it is. I also don’t know why likes are important on a page, but again, someone told me they were. Would you take a moment to head on over to my new fan page and gimme a little Likey Likey. If you do, I will…well… do absolutely nothing for you. Sorry, just being honest.

Alright, on to the content…

Do you have an income? Do you have expenses? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you darn well better have some financial priorities in place.

While there are a million different things we could talk about in regards to financial priorities, I want to focus on just one. Which comes first: investing or paying down debt? Hey, speaking of…

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Answer: Chuck Norris.

In all seriousness, I think financial priorities are something most of us think we have figured out, but don’t always truly understand. Today I’m going to show you why investing in your 401K is often a better option than paying down high interest credit card debt.

Let’s look at an example:

Jane, makes $50,000 year. She’s 30 years old and her employer fully matches 5% of any contributions she makes to her 401K plan. Jane also has $5,000 in credit card debt, at 15%. What should Jane do, pay down the card as quick as possible, or start building up a nice little nest egg for retirement?

A 15% APR, on a $5,000 balance, means Jane will be paying about $62/month in interest. If she made nothing, but minimum payments, it would take her a little over 22 years to pay that sucker off. She’d also pay $5,729 in interest over that time resulting in a total payment just shy of $11,000. Yikes, that $5,000 original bill became a whole lot more expensive. Better pay that sucker off ASAP, right?

Now let’s examine the investing route.

Jane would be investing $208/month in her 401K if she contributed 5%. Her employer matches that and gives her another $208. If she earned a doable 6% return on this money, and never got a raise in her life, she would end up retiring at age 67 with $683,030 in her 401K. Not bad at all.

If Jane decided to postpone contributing to her 401K, she could use that $208 to make accelerated debt payments each month. But let’s not forget, that 208 number is pretax, so in reality she’d have about $175 extra to throw at her credit card. With the additional payment, Jane will now be credit card debt free in 20 months and will have only paid about $673 in interest. Sounds a heck of a lot better than the 22 years it was going to take in the first example.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Wanna know what Jane’s 401k would look like if she didn’t start investing until after she became CC debt free? She lost nearly two years of company matching and compound interest, resulting in $596,388 in her 401K. That’s $86,642 less then if she started investing at age 30.

Guys and girls, this point is SOOOO important it can not be overlooked. It is absolutely in Jane’s best interest to start investing in her companies 401K, even though she is not debt free. If she waits until she has her credit card paid off, she loses a crap load of money. I know this seems to go against the grain. Credit card debt is evil, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean it should always be at the top of our financial priorities.

Obviously, in a perfect world you will have enough discretionary income that you can not only contribute to your retirement, but also pay down your debt quickly. I always have been, and always will be a DEBT PUNCHER, but only when it is in your best interest.

Does your employer offer a 401K match? (I’d like as many people as possible to answer this question since I’ve heard a lot of the retirement benefits in the private sector have been getting cut left and right). Are you taking full advantage of that match? If not, you’re stupid. I’m sorry, you just are. You are literally giving up FREE money. In Jane’s situation would you go the way of Dave Ramsey and still pay down your credit card first, or would you let number’s guide you and start contributing to your retirement?

p.s. Like me on Facebook, I’m desperate 🙂

Tips To Start Your Small Business

Many individuals have a dream of starting their own business. I wanted to put together a list of tips for those of you who want to pursue this route to success. I am not an expert by any means but I do own my own small business so I have learned a few things along the way that could help guide you.

Set up

To start a business you first need to file the proper paperwork. You will need to register a Business name. In addition, there are various paperwork requirements depending on the legal structure you chose to operate as (i.e. partnership, LLC, corporation, etc.). A tax ID number will need to be obtained as well.

Structure

To be clear on your goals and how your business will operate, it is important to set up and create a business plan and brand. By coming up with this, it is a clear path for which you want your business to take. It is easier to be successful when you have a roadmap for which you are to follow. It helps you make business decisions along the way.

It is also important to come up with processes and procedures on how you want things done. The key to a successful business is organization and efficiency.

Staff

I can not stress enough how important it is to have the proper staff for your business. You can not do this alone. Your business will fail if you do not have the right people. From the start, it is important to look at your business as a whole and realize the parts and responsibilities that you can not handle and need help with. Every person who starts a business is good at one thing but can not be good at everything. A person who is good with computers and wants to start up a computer repair business may not be a good salesperson. A contractor who is good at building may not be a good accountant. There are various parts of a business that need to be covered so it is key to outsource!

Support

It is comforting to know that you are not alone. There are many small businesses out there and a lot of people willing to mentor and help.

There is a lot of help out there, including free resources to help you run your small business. These include Government websites , advice sites such as Startups.co.uk and Entrepreneur.com to name a few; and then there are people such as Trevor McClintock who writes great blog posts that offer people in the workplace environment some guidance. Blogs like this provide you with key advice on such topics as how to manage your employees and how to be an excellent leader.

Hopefully these quick tips encourage you to begin the process of taking the leap to starting your own small business.

How to Prepare Your House for the Renting Market

With the opportunity of becoming a landlord just a click away, it seems that most home owners find a rather consistent revenue stream in the renting market. We already have successful business models such as AirBnB which work great with short-term rentals, and that’s not all. We all thought young families and couples, singles and millennials prefer to rent rather than to own a place. However, real estate trends in 2016 showed that rents were stagnating in less popular cities, while going up in startup-nest cities such as San Francisco, where a two-bedroom apartment would go up to $5000/month. This had a double impact: on one hand, it made buying houses more attractive to the young generation in the big cities; on the other hand, it really reminded millennials that they aren’t limited to a certain location and can very well move to places where payment is high and rent is low. This motivated the young landlords to rent their homes at an affordable price, enough to cover the mortgage costs. Below is a series of factors that motivated people to buy a house in 2016, top 3 being credit history improvement, promotion/raise and saving for a down payment.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Property

Stella Settlements, an Australian leader in real estate settlements proposes 13 steps into buying a new property:

  • Offer and Acceptance;
  • Deposits;
  • Appointment to Act;
  • Financial approval;
  • Signing of Mortgage papers;
  • Transfer of Land;
  • Stamps (Stamp duty in some cases);
  • Special Conditions (to be met);
  • Insurance;
  • Financial Inspection;
  • Arranging Settlement;
  • Effective of Settlement;
  • Keys (access) to the new property.

Once all the steps are completed and the new landlord acquires ownership of the new home, they can proceed with the legal documentation to rent short-term or long-term.

Preparing Your House for Renting

Just like with every new acquisition, a house needs improvement and is considered a lifelong investment. Every new buyer wants to add a touch of their personality and preferences in terms of interior and exterior design. Home owners usually do not make improvements if the house is either a historical heritage property or the landlord never plans on living there, so renovation costs aren’t fully justified. The downside of not investing any money in your purchased property is you could never ask for a fair rent price. The more benefits and home improvements a house has, the better for nailing down a decent price on the renting market.

Adding a Pool to Your Yard

Everybody loves being near water. Even when it’s not possible to have a nearby lake or small spring, if you are lucky enough to get a house with a generous yard, the best immediate addition would be an outdoor pool. This can raise the rent prices by a few thousand USD per year with just a one-time investment. Riverina Pools presents an impressive portfolio of pool projects with carbon fiber, using the latest technologies, as well as measurements in size, length, width and depth. You can play with light effects for a quiet evening experience or for pool parties. Outdoor pools usually have water filtering systems that make it easy to clean the water or keep the pool covered during cold season.

Indoor Functionality: Elevators and Residential Lifts

People need to simplify their lives as much as possible, because the stress of everyday life will eventually weigh down on them. In this regard, architects have found the answer. Bringing technology into homes, will not only increase the value of the interior, but also bring more comfort. Experts at Grant Elevators believe that residential lifts are the future of mobility and space-saving. People want to have their most dependable belongings close to their hearts, and this might even include cars. We know that it might sound a little outrageous, but in the next few years, cars will also become an essential part of home design. And not only cars: imagine keeping your lovely motorcycle in the living room – a prized possession that friends dropping by will constantly admire. And why not go further by clicking a button and in a couple of seconds, the lift brings your motorcycle from the living room to the front porch of your building? Take it for a ride, go to the office or just take it for a spin. With everything within reach, the modern man will no longer have to worry about house chores or exhausting earthly tasks.

Architects anticipate an alleviation of menial problems which will lead to a better concentration on career and a more relaxed lifestyle.

Luxury Sells… and Rents Easily

If your aim is not long-term, but rather short-term rentals, think big. We already see offers to rent homes for the holidays, so there is an active market. Nomads are looking to get a mix of comfort and unique in terms of rent experiences. The best way to justify higher prices is either to provide a genuine local experience or a deep-dive into luxury for the time being. Pools and residential lifts can add to the luxury experience, as well as garden and interior designs. For inspiration on how to design your property and rent it as a luxury holiday home, you can check out Private Properties’s Instagram or Facebook feeds. They offer luxury short-stay rentals in Australia, but their tips and designs can be adapted to every house independent of location.

With these aspects in mind, what are your plans for financial prosperity in the housing market? Will you buy a house in 2017 and keep it or rent it?

 

When to Hold ‘Em, When to Fold ‘Em: Practical Investing Tips from a Poker Champion

While competitive poker and investing might be completely different worlds at first glance, one woman is on a mission to bridge the gap between the blinding lights of casino fervor and financial viability.

Annie Duke, a former professional poker player and one-time World Series of Poker champion, frequently shares the strategic and psychological parallels between winning poker players and successful investors at industry events for financial planners and advisors.  If her resumé as a master of the felt-topped table is not convincing enough for such a role, rest assured that Duke is no one trick pony.  She also spent time as a Ph.D. student in psychology at the esteemed University of Pennsylvania.

According to Duke, both poker and sound investing require the participant to make present-day decisions in anticipation of future outcomes.  Although the exact market dynamics and returns of years to come are always an unknown, developing a poker player mentality by learning common moves and patterns of play can be a great benefit to the investor.

Fortunately, it is easy to find help when staking out your financial future.  Professional financial advisors have local offices just a phone call or short drive away.  There are also a wealth of financial tools available online, ranging from monthly budget calculators to electronic stock trading platforms.

Not every poker hand is a winner, and neither is every investment.  Duke cites a concept in the poker world known as “tilt”-the tendency of a player to become frustrated and overly reactive when using a less than optimal strategy-as a condition for savvy investors to avoid.

Too often, investors develop emotional connections to an investment and unnecessarily cling to losing positions, or they fear reversing course on a previously made decision.  It is typically in investors’ best interest to cut their losses and regroup when an investment goes south without a clear path to recovery.

A professional financial advisor should be your first line of defense to identify and fix any underperforming investments in your portfolio.

Displaying the type of gutsy determination that made her a pioneer in women’s poker, a game that has seen a surge of resources encouraging female participation, Duke encourages investors to take calculated risks that maximize the value of their positions.

While some degree of risk is inherent in every investment, people tend to manage volatility by gunning for only small wins, and conversely, limit themselves to only small losses.  The psychology behind this method instills a false sense of success in the investor by shifting the focus from financial gains to mere “win” collecting.  Duke points out that optimizing returns on investments needs be the goal of investors, and a sensible, ironclad strategy should follow.

Duke may offer a number of tips and tricks on how to succeed in poker and investing, but she cannot account for every possible scenario.  No one can.  Great investors are those who understand probability, and who make timely, corrective adjustments when the markets behave unexpectedly.  Just beneath the surface of every stock plunge, market mishap, or untimely sell-off lies lessons learned and improvement opportunities for the investor who dares to seek.

As Duke’s brother, also a professional poker star, once advised her: “winners are comfortable admitting to themselves what they do not know.”

Budgeting Advice: Ways to Keep your Finances in Check

There’s the old saying that ‘money makes the world go around’, but in reality, it should be ‘money makes your world go around’ as ultimately this resource is what makes our existence more enjoyable. For many of us it’s also something that can be quite scarce or not as plentiful as we’d like and as such it means we need to manage our money as best we can.

Trying to fit this around your day-to-day schedule can be a challenge though, but fortunately for you there are some simple steps you can take to get your finances in order. What follows are a number of approaches for you to consider:

Review your Expenditure

The first thing you can do is review your expenditure and create a chart or list of everything you need to pay for each month. Use estimations on things like utilities and your food bills and see how much this costs against your typical income on a monthly basis.

Implement Cost-Cutting Strategies

With this list of expenses, you can then look at areas where you could cut costs and make savings. Whether this is through being more efficient with your energy and installing a Smart meter to monitor this, or simply cutting down on how much you spend on groceries and treats, you could hopefully start to see an improvement in your finances.

Budget for Different Things

That’s not to say you shouldn’t cut down on everything enjoyable in your life. Make sure you can still budget for social and leisure time, as you should still treat yourself when you can. Just factor this into your budgeting each month and spend money if you feel there are special purchases you can afford.

Seek Professional Advice

There’s also nothing to stop you from looking to external support with your money. If you feel you’ve already tried a number of approaches to save but they aren’t working, then you could turn to wealth management companies such as Sanlam. These firms can assess your situation and help you create strategies and plans to safeguard the future of your finances.

While not all the above will apply to you and your money, the wise move is to start putting at least a few of these approaches into place now to help improve your situation. Eventually, you should start to see a healthier bank balance at the end of each month and hopefully a happier existence for you and any loved ones.

Easy to Follow Tips to Manage Your Debts

Being free from debts lets you live your life without any worries. You can make your savings grow and allocate the budget you need for the things you want to have, a new house, car, and travel opportunities. Freeing yourself from your debts all comes down to good management. Here are some debt management tips that can help you out:

1. List down your expenses.
Knowing how much you owe is not enough; you have to watch how much you are spending. Keeping track of your expenses lets you know whether you are making progress in reducing your debt or not. If reducing your primary expenses is not feasible, try focusing on your small expenses and see how much they add up to your overall expenses. In most cases, you will find that these expenses are not that important, which make it hard for you to pay up your debts.

2. Avoid impulse buying.
You can be susceptible to impulse buying. A simple visit to your favorite store may end up with an unnecessary expensive purchase. Hence, avoid temptation in the first place. Avoid places where you would usually feel that unreasonable urge to buy something. It can be an electronics store where you would be tempted to buy the latest cool gadgets you probably don’t need or that fashion store that has all the accessories that go with the current trends.

3. Choose a debt payment plan that suits you.
This can help you organize your payments. Some suggest paying off debts with the highest interest since it can help take off the mental pressure while others suggest settling smaller balances mainly for motivation. The choice is yours.

4. Be a bargain hunter.
While paying off your debts, it would help you if you would shop for bargains. It lets you get the items you need at a cheaper price. Also, be on the lookout for discount coupons; establishments usually offer them during peak season. Even though buying foods in bulk helps get discounts, it won’t help you save up money. Since buying in bulk means getting things that you won’t be eating for several days and even a few weeks. Stick to buying food items that you will be eating for the next few days.

5. Prioritize your savings.
It is recommended that you take at least six percent of your income and put it in your savings. Putting your money in your savings account not only prepares you for emergency expenses but also lets you earn money in savings interest. This may seem like a simple tip but only a few people actually do this.

6. Choose cash over the debit card.
Most people prefer to pay with their debit cards simply because you won’t have to go to the bank to withdraw money you will need or write checks. However, paying with debit cards (and also credit cards) make it hard for you to limit your purchase. Imagine yourself enjoying playing online slots and putting all your money in without you being aware of it. Paying with cash, on the other hand, lets you see, first hand, how much money you are letting go. This makes it easy to do some cash limiting and increase your savings.

Keep these tips in mind when managing your debts and expenses. You might want to refer to this guide every now and then to make sure you don’t miss anything. Following these tips will help boost your savings and make it easy for you to gradually get rid of your debts.