Archive for January 2014
So maybe you did not do so well last semester on your credit report. Getting good credit is not an easy A, but if you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit. Some of the basics include pay your bills on time, pay down outstanding balances, and stay away from new debt (not to mention avoiding foreclosure and bankruptcy). For more tips on do-it-yourself credit repair (for free), visit the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov.
And if you are looking to buy a house (even if you have just lost a house to foreclosure), there are local credit counseling programs available that review the problems on your credit report and will help you make a plan to fix those issues. Visit the St. Johns County Housing and Community Services website at http://www.sjcfl.us (click on “Housing amp; Community Services”) and the St. Johns Housing Partnership website at http://sjhp.org for more information.
Happy New Year!
While women are earning bigger paychecks and many consider themselves their family#x2019;s Chief Financial Officer, nearly half fear they#x2019;ll endup broke and homeless and 54 percent feel alienated by a financial industry they say is male oriented.
The Great Recession prompted more women to get involved in financial matters, but more than 40 percent of them say they don#x2019;t feel any smarter about managing their money, according to the 2013 Allianz Women, Money amp; Power Survey by Larson Research + Strategy.
#x201c;The number of financially savvy women who feel confident about their spending, saving and investing strategies is also growing, which is wonderful news, but they still represent only 20 percent of all women,#x201d; says Certified Financial Planner Luna Jaffe (www.lunajaffe.com), citing the survey.
Jaffe, the author of #x201c;Wild Money: A Creative Journey to Financial Wisdom#x201d; and its companion workbook, #x201c;Wild Money: A Financial Field Guide and Journal,#x201d; takes a different approach to managing finances.
#x201c;While we are focused on family, career and business, often the last place we pay attention is to our own financial future,#x201d; she says. #x201c;There are many reasons for that. One is that, as the women in the survey recognized, financial advising tends to be male oriented; it#x2019;s geared toward how men think. Another is that we don#x2019;t think about our relationship with money as just that #x2014; a relationship.#x201d;
Jaffe offers five tips for women who want to feel more confident about managing their finances.
Start small. Mastering the little things can boost your confidence and give you the ability to tackle bigger issues. If you#x2019;re daunted by debt, for example, start by simply writing down where you are right now. Write down each company or person to whom you owe money and the interest rate. Numbers can be soothing (even if the story they tell is not) because they#x2019;re concrete and tangible. Once you know exactly where you stand, you can begin planning your next steps.
The day my daughter was born changed my approach to investing forever.
Watching her sleep in the crib that first night, I realized investing was no longer just about my retirement…my vacation home…my dreams. It was now about creating security for the loved ones around me. It was about building a dynasty of wealth for the next generation.
Of course, building a fortune that can last a century takes a different type of thinking. Multi-generational investing requires identifying companies with a sustainable competitive advantage that will outlast most of us alive today. Unfortunately, few businesses are built to withstand the test of time.
But this company is. In fact, the firm has dominated its industry for over a century and has paid out a dividend to shareholders every year since 1882. Im talking, of course, about ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) .
Build a family dynasty you can be proud of
ExxonMobil is one of those eternity stocks: a giant, cash-rich company with a wide competitive moat.
Every year the company generates billions of dollars in cash flow, allowing it to reward shareholders with big share buybacks and rich dividends. And because Exxon has a proven ability to hold up in good times and bad, it means we can count on this stock to generate wealth for generations.
With a $400 billion market capitalization, the company is far and away the most dominant player the industry. That gives the firm more financial resources than any other organization in the space.
Given this advantage, is there any question as to how Exxon has been able to pay an uninterpreted dividend for 131 years? Think of everything that has happened since that time: two world wars…the Great Depression…asset bubbles…financial crises.
Yet for this company it hardly mattered. Exxon has continued to send out dividend checks to shareholders without skipping a beat.
Nothing is guaranteed. But history shows that the types of firms needed for building multi-generational wealth are companies that power over their respective industries and deliver a product that will always be needed.
Earn an 18% yield from this energy giant
Multi-generational investing requires seeing the opportunity in small things. Its about building wealth over decades. But most investors want the fast return — today.
Take Eagle Rock Energy (NASDAQ: EROC) for example. This summer, the master limited partnership boasted a yield north of 8% luring in many income hungry investors. But the partnership could only fund this oversized distribution through debt, an unsustainable formula that required the firm to cut its payout 31% in October. This is hardly a formula for long-term wealth building.
Whats small about Exxon? Its dividend yield for one. At a measly 2.6%, many investors skip over it entirely.
But this would be a mistake. Exxon is a great example of what decades of compound growth can do for a stocks yield. Over the past decade, the company has increased its dividend at almost a 10% annual rate. If you had bought and held the stock over that time, the yield on your original investment would be 7% today.
Take a look at the chart below to see what Im talking about. This example assumes you purchased 100 Exxon shares around $35 near the beginning for 2003.
Still reeling from the Great Recession, middle class Blacks are maintaining their status by using credit to help cover their basic living expenses, according to a report from the NAACP and public policy research organization, Demos.
In the Recession’s aftermath, 79 percent of middle class African American households carry credit card debt. And although they have less debt than before the Recession, the credit crunch continues as Black households spend an average $368 on credit to make ends meet.
“The report highlights the need to look at how much credit is serving middle class Americans and how much it’s giving a false illusion,” says Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, senior director of the NAACP Economic Department and co-author of the study. “Everybody needs credit but it should be a tool to help your economic life. Now we see it as a drain on African Americans trying to gain a middle class life.”
Released earlier this month, the report, “The Challenge of Credit Card Debt for the African American Middle Class,” is an outgrowth of a larger national study on middle class credit card debt since 2010. It found that although African Americans owe less than they did in 2008, 42 percent of households are relying on their cards for basic living expenses when their incomes and savings fall short, a trend that persists across the entire middle class. Black families are also building their futures on credit, using cards to support higher education, entrepreneurship, and medical expenses.
“Use of credit in long term investments for the future is a specific African American problem, largely because of the historical impact of racism in wealth building, and current racial bias in lending,” says Demos policy analyst, Catherine Ruethschlin, who co-authored the study. “Hypothetically, if [an African American] family was in America during the ’60s but excluded from the same wealth-building that White families had, [they] don’t have the same financial assets to fall back on.”
The seeds for economic dispartities seen today have been sown over 50 years of redlining, blockbusting, and predatory lending. Today Black Americans have $1 in assets for every $20 owned by White Americans, and, according to the study, more than half of it is tied to homeownership.
Enter the Great Recession, when the housing bubble inflated by predatory lending practices bursts, dragging the global economy and hope for long-term Black wealth down with it. Only 55 percent of the study’s Black respondents own their home, compared to the 72 percent of White respondents.
If homeownership has been considered the cornerstone of the American Dream, then education has been considered the bulldozer that clears the way. According to the report, 80 percent of Black college grads took out some amount of loans in order to attain a higher education, compared to 65 percent of Whites.
Credit debt as a result of student loans can then affect career outcomes, as credit checks are sometimes part of the hiring process. Those with poor credit are often relegated to low-paying jobs due to this dubious but legal practice.
For this and other reasons, entrepreneurship has also been considered a path to the good life. In the study, an overwhelming 99 percent of indebted moderate-income African American households who had expenses related to starting or running a business in the past three years still carry that expense on their credit card bill.
Ruethschlin explains, “If you don’t have access to small business loans because the market went dry during the Recession, those with the worst credit history are going to be the last to get back into the system. It shifts an additional financial burden. It could be those additional challenged that make it harder to run a successful business.”
Interestingly, Black and White households reported different reasons for poor credit: 44 percent of White respondents cited late mortgage payments and using all or nearly all of their credit lines while 40 percent of Black households cited late student loan payments and credit report errors.
However varied the causes, middle class credit use and debt levels are similar across race–it’s the consequences that raise eyebrows.
“I’d assume before this report that there would be greater disparities [in card use], but even the amount of debt we have is not that different,” Asante-Muhammad says. “What is different is that we have worse credit scored and receive stronger collection tactics.”
The report found that African Americans and Whites had similar rates of card default, late payments, bankruptcy, eviction, and repossession. However, 71 percent of African American households had been called by bill collectors, compared to 50 percent of White households. African Americans in the report were also more likely to report card cancellations, limit reductions, or credit rejections in the last three years (53 percent of Black respondents compared to 36 percent of Whites).
Even if credit score isn’t a problem, indebted African American households face higher interest rates, reporting an average APR of 17.7 percent on the card where they carry the greatest balance. For White households it’s 15.8 percent.
Despite this, African American respondents were less likely to moderate their card use as a result of higher rates, which suggested to the authors that Black households have less of a choice in staying afloat.
“It’s not surprising that the middle class relies on credit cards to get their expenses met,” says Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending. “When we think of the catastrophe caused by the Recession, most families didn’t have wealth resources necessary to fall back on. Our own reports show that the typical household only has about $100 left over every month after needs are met.”
The government stepped in in 2008 with the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which has helped at least a third of the African American respondents in the study pursue financial freedom. The CARD Act attempts to create a more equitable and less predatory credit climate for all Americans through billing transparency and plain-language credit terms and conditions.
“The CARD Act has been really useful and is working in the manner intended,” Bailey says. “What’s unique about the Act is that it provides transparency around credit bills without the bait-and-switch we saw before the act. Late fees have dropped more than half, and credit delinquency is the lowest it’s been since 1994.”
In its first year alone, the CARD Act halved the amount of late fees Americans paid, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Most Americans have noticed a warning on their bill about the consequences of making a late payment (77 percent of Americans), or only paying the minimum (70 percent).
Bailey believes that with support, these trends in greater credit debt management will result in restored homeownership, stronger communities, and a strong economy overall. The report makes similar assertions and offers both state and federal policy recommendations for fostering fairness in the credit industry, including an expansion of the CARD Act’s success.
“Too often people fall into the false narrative of African Americans that the wealth disparity is due to undisciplined spending habits, but if you look at the report you see that they’re using credit for basic living expenses,” Asante-Muhammad points out. “The problem isn’t around spending, the problem is income inequality, wealth inequality, and a decline in opportunity for middle class African Americans as a whole.”
SAN DIEGO, Nov. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — LoanLove.com is a borrower advice website that provides detailed insights into the mortgage industry in a fun and entertaining way. The team at LoanLove.com is devoted to help empower both first time and experienced homeowners with valuable resources, first-class knowledge and connections to top-rated industry professionals and has the mission of helping consumers and borrowers to obtain the latest information on mortgage lending trends, the real estate market and the US financial landscape in order to help them obtain a home loan that they will love. The experts at Loan Love are consistently finding new ways to aid their readers with their mortgage loan issues by providing them with helpful home loan planning tips and strategies. One of the websites most recent guides focuses on mortgage rate comparison, and with the accompanying Live Rate Quote tool, borrowers will easily be able to find the best home loan rates for their situations.
The guide starts by saying: With so many lenders offering mortgage products today, it can be difficult to know which loan is truly the best deal for you. Fortunately, there are a few relatively simple ways to compare mortgage interest rates, and taking the time to explore at least one of them could mean big savings for you over the life of the loan.
Loan Love goes on to explain how borrowers can use mortgage calculators and compare the APR (annual percentage rate) and GFE (good faith estimate) of any loan to see which one offers the highest amount of savings for the borrower.
The article states: Comparing the costs of multiple mortgages only sounds like a complicated and time-consuming task; the truth is, any of these simple comparison methods takes only a minimal investment of your time, but the results can yield huge savings for you over the lifetime of your mortgage.
Luckily, the Live Rate Quote tool that accompanies the article can help borrowers to make this comparison even easier. The format allows borrowers to enter basic information about the loan that they wish to apply for and then view dozens of loan options from the best lenders in their area. Users can sort through these loans by lender name, posted rate, APR, fees in APR, points and estimated monthly payment. With the information provided in Loan Loves guide, they can quickly determine which options are the most attractive to them, then click on the link to connect them to the lenders website so that they can learn more about each option.
If the borrower wishes to find out more about the different loan types, they can browse the Loan Love website to learn all they need to make an informed decision on their loan. The website provides guides for new home buyers, borrower advice, articles on many different loan types, and even tax and credit tips.
To read the full mortgage rate comparison guide, use the Live Rate Quote tool, and benefit from many other helpful resources, please visit LoanLove.com.
Media Contact: Kevin Blue, LoanLove.com, 949-292-8401, email@example.com
News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com
You may have conveniently forgotten about the rampant inflation of the early 1980s. But even factoring in inflation, the real return (stated return minus the inflation rate) left savers with approximately a 3 percent return during most of those years. That 3 percent is a far cry from the near zero percent real return were receiving for saving today.
Back in the day, savers were happy with government bonds paying 12 percent interest. If you had loaded up on 30-year bonds in the late 1970s and early 1980s, you wouldve doubled your money at least three times before the bonds matured in this century.
There is hope for savers, however. According to Louise Yamada of Yamada Technical Research Advisors in New York, the 222-year average interest rate is 5.81 percent, and we are currently at a generational interest rate low.
What does this mean for savers? The future looks brighter. At some time in the near future, interest rates will increase. That puts savers in a bit of a bind.
Savers dont want to buy a long-term bond or CD, only to watch interest rates trend upward. If you buy a five-year CD today, you might be lucky enough to earn a 2 percent annual return. How would you feel if you tied up your money at 2 percent for five years only to see market rates move up to 4 percent in the second year? There is a solution for savers: floating-rate notes.
Just like the US governments ingenious inflation savings bonds, or I-Bonds, which protect the savers principal from inflation, these new government floating-rate notes promise to rise along with increases in interest rates. No more worries about tying up your money. When interest rates rise, so will your returns. Here are three things to know about floating-rate notes:
How do floating-rate notes work and where do I get them? Floating-rate notes have an interest payment that fluctuates with changes in market interest rates. The rate is pegged to the interest rate on the 13-week Treasury bill rate. When interest rates go up, so does the return on the floating-rate note. Conversely, when interest rates fall, so will the notes return. Interest is paid and reset quarterly.
Floating-rate notes offer tax advantages as well. Similar to I-Bonds and the Treasurys inflation-protected securities, the interest is exempt from local and state taxes.
Investors can buy floating-rate notes for as little as $100 and up to $5 million. At maturity, the floating-rate note can be redeemed for face value. Floating-rate notes may be purchased from treasurydirect.gov beginning in January 2014. These investments may also be purchased through a bank or investment broker. To be eligible to purchase floating-rate notes through treasurydirect.gov, the consumer can set up an account. This account also enables the owner to buy other government securities such as I-Bonds, TIPS, Treasury bills, notes and bonds.
What are the current interest rates for floating-rate notes? Since the first auction isnt live until next year, you wont receive any returns right now. But its easy to predict the approximate level of interest rates by looking at the 13-week Treasury bill yield. As one would imagine, the recent return on 13-week Treasury bills issued on Dec. 19, 2013, was 0.066 percent. This is not a particularly exciting rate, but with the Federal Reserve poised to stop quantitative easing, its massive bond-buying program, interest rates will eventually rise. In fact, rates are already inching up. Buy the floating-rate notes now, and you dont need to worry about missing out on higher returns when interest rates finally rise.
Why havent you heard of floating-rate notes? Financial advisors who are compensated by commission arent quick to inform their customers about these investments. The government doesnt pay a commission to investment advisors. Thus, you wont hear about floating-rate notes from most financial salespeople.
If you cant wait until January, consider buying an I-Bond from treasurydirect.gov. These investments are pegged to inflation and protect your purchasing from the ravages of inflation.
Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a portfolio manager, consultant, website CEO and author of How to Get Rich; Wealth Building Guide for the Financially Illiterate. Learn more about investing at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.
Urban fashion label links up with online cash payment provider Ukash to make it easier for customers to shop online
London, November 2013 – Major urban fashion retailer, Blue Inc, has linked up with online cash payment provider, Ukash, to give its customers the ability to pay by cash when shopping on its website – www.blueinc.co.uk. The exciting initiative comes as new research* reveals the growing frustration online shoppers experience when it comes to paying for goods online.
Nearly half (46%) of online shoppers feel frustrated by security questions asked when making purchases on the internet, and 39% have given up before completing an online transaction because they thought they were being asked too much personal information. Blue Inc’s decision to provide customers with a simple, risk-free, solution to shopping online eliminates that fear – and makes the shopping experience quicker too.
Blue Inc, which also owns The Officer’s Club and is chaired by Sir Stuart Rose, offers the latest fashion trends, particularly catering for style-conscious men, women and under 14s. According to the Ukash research, 18-24 year olds are the biggest fans of using cash online, favoured by over half.
With Ukash, online shoppers can convert their cash into a unique 19 digit code at thousands of convenience stores around the UK. They can then use the code to pay directly for the latest fashion items on the Blue Inc website, giving them a convenient and secure way to shop online without having to give any personal financial information.
“Ukash research shows that younger consumers enjoy the convenience of spending online with cash, as well as benefitting from the fact that they don’t have to provide personal details online” explained Ajay Nassa, Head of Ecommerce of Blue Inc. “That’s why we believe Ukash is an important addition to the payment choices on our website.”
“Ukash ensures that Blue Inc can offer real choice to the thousands of customers who prefer to shop online rather than go to the high street”, added Miranda McLean, Marketing Director, Ukash. “It’s easy to access, easy to use, and helps with personal budgeting too.”
*Ukash Online Payments Survey- 2013- 1022 respondents
Find us on:
For further press information or interviews please contact the Ukash Press Office at HSL: Wendy Harrison, Jenny Thorneywork, Clare Watson, Nakhalar Sterling or Ed McCambridge. +44(0)208 977 9132. firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
Ukash is the global online cash payment provider and internationally recognised e-commerce cash payment method that enables consumers around the world to use cash to shop, pay and play online safely, securely and conveniently. This secure payment method was developed to protect personal identity and financial information when making online transactions, reducing the threat of credit and debit card fraud for consumers and repudiations and charge-backs for retailers. Ukash has no age limit, so consumers of all ages can make the most of safe payment online.
Ukash codes are purchased with cash in retail outlets such as shops, petrol stations and kiosks, and issued online from the company’s website. The unique 19 digit codes can then be used to pay directly on any of the thousands of websites that accept Ukash transactions worldwide, or loaded onto prepaid cards and e-wallets.
Established in 2001 under the holding company Smart Voucher Ltd, Ukash® has grown to more than 460,000 physical points of purchase, and is available in over 50 countries around the world in 6 continents.
Ukash is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Ukash is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The maximum single value allowed is £200/EUR250 and the maximum amount that can be held by an individual customer is £1,000/EUR1,250 – equivalent values in other currencies apply to both sums.
This press release was distributed by SourceWire News Distribution on behalf of Harrison Sadler in the following categories:
Retail Fashion, Mens Interest, Womens Interest.
For more information visit http://www.sourcewire.com/about
COLUMBIA About 33,000 South Carolinians have enrolled as of Friday afternoon in the state#x92;s new identity theft protection service but some who want the service may just now be learning they are ineligible.
The protection, which costs affected taxpayers nothing, is only open this year to the pool of taxpayers officials have determined had their data exposed by last year#x92;s hacking of the state Revenue Department #x97; taxpayers who filed electronically between the years of 1998 and 2012.
Dr. Jonathan Pinner of Travelers Rest told The Greenville News he tried enrolling with the state#x92;s new service provider, CS Identity Corp., only to be rejected because he did not file electronically. He said an agent told him he also had to file electronically last year.
Pinner, who enrolled he and his family in Experian after the company provided its credit-monitoring service to taxpayers last year, said that all taxpayers should have been notified in advance that only those who filed electronically are covered.
He said he is #x93;very disappointed in the leadership and the leaderships obscuring of the facts.#x94;
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley, said anyone who filed electronically between the years of 1998 and 2012 is eligible with CSID. He said that is the group whose data was hacked.
When officials signed a contract with Experian last year to provide credit monitoring, the investigation of the data breach was still ongoing and Experian did not screen out all those who filed paper returns.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue said Experian#x92;s enrollment requirements were the same as those for CSID.
Officials have said that it was only those who filed electronic returns that are vulnerable because it was their data that was exposed in the breach.
#x93;The people who are eligible are those who were possibly exposed when the hack occurred,#x94; Mayer said.
The number thus far enrolled by CSID totals about 2 percent of the number that ultimately enrolled after four months with Experian. Experian#x92;s contract was signed by Haley as news surfaced about the data breach that exposed 3.8 million Social Security numbers, 3.3 million bank account numbers, and data for nearly 700,000 businesses.
Experian had signed up about 418,000 last year after about five days of enrollment.
#x93;I think it#x92;s been a year and people have sort of forgotten about the data breach,#x94; said House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, who chaired a committee investigating the breach. #x93;They#x92;re not as mad or concerned that their information was leaked. So it#x92;s not a surprise that we#x92;re having less response than we had originally.#x94;
In fact, Bannister said, experts told his committee that any stolen data becomes more valuable with age because people tend to forget about the hacking and let their guard down.
Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, who co-chaired a Senate committee looking into the breach, also said he wasn#x92;t surprised the numbers are so low right now.
#x93;I#x92;m just not running into any constituents that are talking about it,#x94; he said. #x93;Folks are busy. Football and fall weather and school and work. We need to get the word out to folks to sign up.#x94;
Mayer said, however, that the numbers thus far are a good start.
It is a very positive sign that over 20,000 individuals signed up with CSID on the first day of enrollment, he said. The governor encourages all individuals, families, and businesses to continue taking advantage of this state-provided credit and identity protection.
About 1.5 million South Carolinians have enrolled in Experian, the credit-monitoring service hired by Haley last year.
CSID won the new contract and will be paid a maximum of $8.5 million by the state, though what they are paid depends on the numbers they sign up.
CSID plans to mail letters to out-of-state taxpayers beginning next month, the company said.
Those interested in CSIDs protection plan, which is free to affected taxpayers, can visit their website at www.scidprotection.com or call 855-880-2743. Enrollment will remain open until October 1, 2014.