Showing posts with label personal finance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal finance. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Payment Wallet Companies See Red in New Game Plans


Some Payment Wallet Firm – Locked out of e-commerce Segment

Some of the payment wallet firm are of the opinion that they get locked out of the successful e-commerce segment since companies running marketplaces tend to prefer their own subsidiaries or are determined in ensuring that customers spend any cash-back money on their own sites.

Oxigen for instance has said that it is no longer available on one of the biggest shopping sites of India. According to CEO of Oxigen, Ankur Saxena has stated that they are presently on Snapdeal prior to acquiring Freecharge and have decided to take them down.

He further stated that at one point of time they accepted wallets but now they want to come up with their own wallets. Freecharge seems to be the only wallet option on Snapdeal that has also launched cash-back options which tends to direct consumers to the unit’s offerings. Freecharge was acquired by Snapdeal in April this year, for almost 2,400 crore.

Snapdeal had refrained from responding to queries and Flipkart informed that it would not comment on its wallet practices. Saxena had mentioned that the trend would hurt Oxigen and that there would be an impact on the business if the customers are unable to use the wallet on a particular site, they would be compelled to utilise another mechanism to process the payment.

Paytm – Its Own e-Commerce Platform

According to managing partner, Ashvin Parekh of Ashvin Parekh Advisory Services, stated that striking boundaries on the e-commerce evolution could be envisaged as a restrictive exercise and that they have still not achieved anything with regards to permeation of e-commerce.

Market leaderPaytm, though does not seem to be too worried. Vice President Products, Paytm, Nitin Misra had commented that they have better acceptability and more consumers. Why would customer put money in a wallet which can be used only on that particular site and the cash back too cannot be utilised elsewhere?According to him the consumers is not dumb and if someone does not intent to permit them as a payment option on their site it is entirely their choice.

Paytm has expanded to begin its own e-commerce platform and the government as well as the Reserve Bank of India have made financial presence significant, making for an ecosystem wherein payment wallets would play a role together with various other elements. However, what is serious for such companies is having a large subscriber base.

Several Banks Launched Own Wallets

Towards the last week of October, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm had received a message from State Bank of India which was not good news. The message stated that the nation’s largest lender together with its associate banks would not permit their customers to load money onto the Paytm wallet from their accounts.

The reason provided to their query was that the net banking services were only for shopping and not for uploading wallets according to Sharma. After independent wallet companies have started operating in India and gained reputation, several of the banks launched their own wallets.

SBI in fact according to reports by The Economic Times, recently, even planned to launch a wallet for feature phone users known as Batua, by next month. Chairman of Payments Council of India and the managing director of ItzCash, Naveen Surya, had stated that some players would always think that they are big enough and that they have adequate customers. However as one tends to go deeper and begin running independently the payment business, when it is separated from the core business, one would realize that it is difficult to create scale.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Latest in the Battle to Own Your Digital Wallet


Digital Wallet – Now Standard Features on Smartphones

The fight to own digital wallet is on and 2016 is foreseen as a vital year for mobile payments and according to eMarketer, its total transaction values reaching 210%. Mobile wallets such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay as well as MCX would now be standard features on smartphones with more merchants adopting point-of-sale systems which would be accepting mobile payments.

Recently in a keynote, JPMorgan Chase had unveiled a payment service together with retail partners comprising of Wal-Mart, Shell and Target. Chase would be needing help and skipping into mobile payments would means competing with companies like Apple, Google, PayPal and Samsung.

Chase Pay seems to be the outcome of a new partnership with JPMorgan Chase and MCX, a multinational of major retailers which has so far been unsuccessful in gaining much transaction in digital payments. The app is said to be made available by mid-2016 and could be utilised for in-store, online and in-app purchases and would be available to all with a Chase credit, debit or a prepaid card account.

Chase Pay to Solve – Pain Points for Consumers

With this kind of scale it could be advantageous and according to CEO of consumer and community banking at JPMorgan Chase, Gordon Smith states that `Chase Pay tend to solve a number of pain points for consumers as well as merchants and will improve the customer experience driving down the cost of payments’. Besides scale, consumer trust could also help chase initiate adoption.

According to latest Phoenix study reported at Money20/20, it was observed that banks and card issuers, followed by PayPal did enjoy a trust benefit against other digital payment players. The research also found that 64% of smartphone payment app users or those preferring to try it would contemplate downloading a bank’s payment app.

Around half the number stated that they would ponder on trying Apple Pay or Android Pay.Google is keen on changing that relative level of comfort and Sridhar Ramaswamy, the company’s senior vice president of ads and commerce would be delivering a keynote wherein he would lay out a vision to drive mobile commerce adoption with Android Pay which is the newly re-launched Google Wallet.

Brought Together NFC/Tokenization/Biometrics

Google had partnered with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa in order to assist them in integrating Android Pay in the U.S. and is also working with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in training sales representative to get consumers in setting up with Apple Pay prior to leaving the store with a new device.

Apple however not officially represented at the event was also the focus of many surveys and panels.Brendan Miller, Forrester Research analyst praised Apple for kick-starting the mobile wallet fight with the launch of Apple Pay, believing that it is best positioned to win stating that they have the consumer base and they have the users.

He further added that they had brought together NFC technology, bringing together tokenization as well as biometrics and combining those three things in creating a frictionless consumer experience at the point of sale. PayPal, according to Miller has been at this longer than anyone else and they have more mobile users than any of these competitors Anu Nayar, senior director of communications and customer engagement comments that `as we move to a mobile first world, digital wallets would be moving from a nice have, to a must have, as people tend to tap rather than type for their purchases and PayPal innovations like One Touch could make it easier to buy from mobile.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Perks That Might Be Hiding in Your Credit Cards

Credit cards tend to have its advantage as well as disadvantage if not used rightly. At times even the most responsible people could meet up with problems if they are faced with a dismissalor in a situation of an expensive treatment. If all tends to go well and the user is well aware of what they are doing, credit cards could save them with a lot of money. One need to know their credit card well because if not, they may be unaware of the various perks which some of the credit cards tend to offer and hence will not be able to take advantage of them resulting in losing money. The fine prints should be checked since there are some of the hidden perks, which an individual may be entitled to, while utilising the credit card

Rental insurance 

Spokesman for Clear Point Credit Counselling solutions, Thomas Nitzsche, headquartered in Atlanta, had been faced with a problem when on renting a car to drive from Missouri to Georgia had to street-park it for three days while staying in Atlanta. He had noticed that it had been hit on the rear bumper and the cost to fix it amounted to $800. Though he had not bought the expensive rental insurance, the rental company offered help.Nitzsche’s credit card, VISA Signature comprised of rental insurance and the entire bill was paid after he had submitted the paperwork with proof that the car had been rented by him and was being asked to pay a claim.He informed that Visa was capable of reducing the $800 by around $50 and they probably had some negotiating power.

Airline incidentals 

Matthew Coan running the financial comparison website, informed that he was overwhelmed with a recent perk provided by the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, a $100 annual credit for covering airline incidental fees. According to him, these fees comprised of checked bags, flight refreshments, airport lounge passes and much more. A few things need to be kept in mind in order to utilise the perk wherein for the reimbursement of any of these fees, the same has to be paid separately from the airline ticket and can only obtain the fees reversed for one airline for the calendar year.

Dispute resolution 

If the individual feels that they have been overcharged for something, they could contact their credit card and get help. If the dispute resolution service is offered with the card, you stand a chance of getting the charge reduced.

Trip cancellation insurance 

According to Jared Blank, chief marketing officer of the retail website, states that with Chase Ink Plus card, they offer this facility of trip cancellation insurance. He narrates that his parents had booked a cruise and a non-refundable flight for a holiday and had paid with the Chase Ink Plus card. His mother had been ill and the trip had to be cancelled. The airfare and the cruise cancellation fee were reimbursed by Chase that was done without any difficulty.

Extended warranties 

At the time of purchase of a computer or any expensive product, one would often be asked if they would prefer purchasing an extended warranty. They would then get engaged with their associate on, whether the offer would be worthwhile. Four of the major credit card networks, namely MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover tend to offer extended warranties on several, though not all of their credit cards.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

7 Common Money Traps Even Smart People Fall Into


Important Aspect - Cash Flow Management

Handling cash flow is very important aspect since all work hard for money and tends to make the most of our income. In order to avoid spending mistakes and help to stretch the cash for a longer time the following tips could be helpful –

1. Buying things on sale

Buying things on sale tends to be a mistake and can actually be a huge money waster. Whatever the price or bargain may be, if one purchases something which would not be used, it would be like throwing away your money. Before indulging in the sale purchase, one need to ask oneself whether the said product would had been purchased if not put up for sale and will be used after purchase. One should indulge in sensible
purchase and not go on a shopping spree for anything on sale.

2. Buying stupid products

Sometimes one tends to indulge in purchasing useless things and then repent for having done so. Prior to purchasing any of these unwanted commodities, one could hold onto to purchases for a later date if essential. It is best to limit them by having certain standards for the purchases especially big purchases.

3. Spending money on problems one cannot solve with money

Stop to think if by going shopping or indulging in some purchases, would help in resolving certain issues in life. There could be other options which could be more beneficial than in shopping and wasting money.

4. Refraining from spending when one has the opportunity

Your hard earned money needs to be spent on what could add great value to your life. It would be pointless if one cannot spend the money earned on important things in life and miss out on opportunities that come your way.

5. Not maximizing rewards and points 

Reward credit cards are of various shapes and sizes enabling the user to collect points on purchases like merchandise, gift cards, airline miles or cash back which could be utilised at the appropriate time when needed. One could opt for a card which offers points while shopping for basic like the grocery which when accumulated could be used for gas fuel or if travelling, an airline miles reward card which could be beneficial in the long run and take advantage of the points or cash back.

6. Not setting up automatic savings outside your 401(k) 

One should discipline oneself in setting up an automatic investment plan to come up after the pay check comes to your bank account every month. We often tend to pay the bills and other non-essential things leaving our savings till the last, if there is anything left after all. This needs to be avoided if keen on a good future.

As the saying goes -Money Saved is Money Earned. You could check with an investment company to set it up which would be very beneficial over a period of time. Automate your savings and investing inside as well as outside of your 401 (k) and set a direct deposit from pay check to bank account and monthly automatic transfer to your investment account.

7. Not spending enough

Sometimes we tend to compromise on our purchases by not buying the essentials when the need arises. We look out for other options which at times could be dissatisfying on purchasing. If one can afford it, go in for the best quality which will satisfy your requirements even if you have to delay the purchase.

Monday, October 19, 2015

8 Bad Money Habits and How to Break Them

bad money habits

Handling Finances – Money Habits

Managing your funds is often related to the habit one may cultivate and money habits could decide how a person handles their finances. The following could help in comprehending some of the money habits which one may not be aware of, but which would be draining away your finances

1. Spending more than the earnings

This is could be the most awful habit which could hurt the well-being of your finances when one tends to continuously spend beyond their means and when the expenses exceeds the income coming in, towards the end of the month one realises that they have overspent. The remedy is that one should monitor the spending habits and keep a tab on overspending.

This could be done by checking on the expenses and segregating them into `need base’ and `want base’ opting on what is essential and refraining from unwanted purchases. A budget could be prepared to keep the spending activity under control. If the need base on essentials tend to make you spend more than the earnings, one would need to focus on increasing their income either through loans or credit card debt. However this too should be taken into consideration with regards to repayment.

2. Postponing financial decisions for tomorrow which may never come

Often we tend to put off investment plans for a later date which never turns up or it tends to get pushed off every month since no savings have been done. And postponing financial decisions is worse than making bad choices. Since the earnings saved tend to generate additional income by way of interest earned, the sooner the investment is made, better are the chances of increasing your savings. The right opportunity of investing should be done when one tends to have the funds. Delaying in investments could lower your ultimate corpus.

3. Falling into debts for wants instead of needs

We live in a competitive world and very often we tend to get carried away with lifestyle based purchases and indulge in purchases which may not be needed, leading us into unnecessary debt. If the much needed purchases tend to constantly run you into debts, it is a habit which needs to be kept under control to save from future distress. Debt is for the vital and planned purchases which could be indulging in manageable debt for the purchase of a home or a child’s education though it would not be appropriate to fund for luxury items.

4.Gambling instead of investing

Several people indulge in experimenting in the stock market without really comprehending its concept which could be dangerous and as the saying goes `little knowledge could be dangerous’, this could be applied here. Often a person may get a tip on some particular stock which may be a good bet or someone may inform that Options are a good way of making money.

If one intends putting saving into investments without any knowledge about it or the risk involved and just speculating, it could be one form of gambling and not investing. Several people have been indulging in this unknowledgeable move and have repented in doing so. The best remedy is to place your investments on your goals. Ensure to refrain from investment option which may seem too good to be true. There are no shortcuts to investment and prudent disciplined investment tends to work in growing wealth.

5. Refraining from saving regularly

Most of the people do not save regularly which is common while indulging in spend first and save later. Organising your expenses before saving makes your saving an unreliable matter. Hence adopt a habit on how much one can save regularly keeping aside the saving as soon as the income comes in. This would be helpful in saving habit instead of spending.

6. Being risk averse

One may consider not taking risks could be good and would make you cautious of bad investments. But if risk aversion prevents you from investing in some risky though essential investments it could be nothing a bad habit. Risk aversion seems natural though it should not hold anyone back. Not taking risk is not like understanding risk and several investors understand risk instead of avoiding it. If one intends to beat inflation and increase wealth, then risk taking seems to be essential. Here again what matters is the risk profile of investment goals instead of your own risk profile wherein one could invest in safe options such as Bank FD though could expect lower than inflation returns.

7. Paying dues after the due date

If one tends to constantly make late payments against credit card bills or utility bill you would be incurring additional expenses by way of interest which could probably lead you to being broke paying up the hefty interest rates charged against late payment. Payment of bills needs to be made on time to avoid late payment charges.

8. Indulging in habits which are financially taxing

Smoking, dining out too often or drinking spree could lead to a substantial financial burden and though these habits could be considered as small expenses but over a period of time could add up to weighty amounts. This needs to be stopped to avoid further tension on health and money.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Save tax by investing in Mutual Funds


Mutual Fund – Substantial Returns

A collective investment in the form of mutual fund is professionally handled fund and investing in it could maximise the savings as well as receive substantial returns. As an investor, one needs to identify the needs and goal for the investment which could be in funding for a child’s education or retirement or a secondary income. In identifying the goal one could opt for the most appropriate investment options and reap the benefits. Tax savings mutual funds are known as Equity Linked Saving Schemes – ELSS wherein the main objective of these funds tends to provide a tax rebate of the Income Tax Act under section 80C and are also exempted from taxes for long term capital gains. Tax rebate from one lakh INR to 1.5 lakhs in 2015 had been increased by the Government of India. For ELSS, the minimum investment tenure is 3 years and if the fund tends to do well it could offer benefits of around INR 1 lakh. ELSS funds are offered 13% to 22% returns annually averaging to around 17.5%. Due to these reasons ELSS seems to be one of the topmost tax saving mutual funds of 2015. Besides this, other popular tax saving investment comprise of –

  • Tax Saving Fixed Deposit wherein one could benefit up to 1 lakh INR though the interest which is earned from fixed deposits tend to be taxable 
  • National Savings Certificate – NSC – which enables investments as low as INR 100 with a rate of interest of 8.5% for a period of 5 years and 8.8% for 10 years wherein one could save around INR 1 lakh with this scheme. 
  • Home Loan Principal – under section 80C, principal amount on home loan qualifies for a maximum deduction of INR 1.5 lakh. However the same is not applicable for properties under construction as well as commercial properties. 
  • Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme – RGESS is a good choice for first time investors since it tends to offer tax savings of around 50% on the invested amount for the first year. Maximum deduction is INR 50,000 which can only be claimed by those whose annual incomes falls below INR 10 lakhs.

ELSS – Long Term Investment

ELSS seems to be a better investment plan due to its comparatively minimal lock in period of 3 years over Public Provident Fund – PPF which tends to be locked in for a period of 15 years. National Savings Certificate – NSC on the other hand is locked in for a period of 6 years and fixed deposits are locked in for 5 years. Moreover, ELSS could offer enhanced returns over the long term since it is an investment in equity markets. Prior to investments one needs to be well informed on the risks and expenditures associated with mutual funds. Some insight could be beneficial to the investors such as –

  • Considering the prevailing financial situation of the market intending to invest in 
  • Select an experience fund manager who is well versed in delivering good results, one who will keep you informed on the anticipated trends as well as prospects of the fund in the market 
  • The prevailing performance of the mutual fund need to be investigated to lessen probable risks and look out for premium, mutual fund rates as well as consistency of the fund in the market 
  • Match the returns of the fund with the other tax saving investments 
  • Discover hidden expenses like the fund manager’s commission, marketing expenses and the other expenses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Easy Ways to Simplify Your Finances


Trim Spending If Possible

In the present scenario, prices on commodities have been escalating and at times one may find it difficult to cope up with the expenses wherein it tends to get more than the income. No matter how hard one may try to simplify life there seems to be no way to mentally track every financial deal in the current busy world.

Keeping track on the budget of what comes in and goes out, is very much essential which could help in understanding where one tends to spend more and where you spend it, so that you could trim spending wherever possible. The aim is to understand and trim the budget categories which would otherwise lead to stress and several sleepless nights or probably financial adversity. Creating a personal budget could be helpful since it provides a deep vision on the finances, on its expenses and savings. It is essential to first list out –
  •  Fixed expenses which are those that do not tend to change for instance the homeowner insurance, mortgage etc. 
  •  Variable expenses are those expenses which may differ monthly such as the electric bill, water bill, grocery bill etc. 
  •  Check which major categories each bills may fall in, such as home expenses, phone expenses, car expenses, utility expenses etc. 
  •  List out each major category, detail each expense under the categories and sum up each category which will then indicate on the accurate expenses incurred in each category. The individual will get a better insight on the expenses done and where one could draw the line in curtailing the expenses.

Personal Budget

You could follow the steps by starting on making a list of necessities which needs to be paideach month by creating a personal budget. These could be the expenses which cannot be avoided and is incurred every month as mentioned earlier like the groceries and all the payments of utilities.

Then we have the personal expense ladder which may include things which provide security and peace of mind like health insurance, life insurance etc. If the expenses tend to exceed the income slab, one may need to reconsider on the expenses involved which could be the internet usage, cable or satellite television, phone etc. and find out means of curbing on the expenses which would not be much of a strain at the time of making payment.

The amazing thing about personal budget is that it is an eye openeron where you can cut down in some areas to save on some cash.

IRA – Individual Retirement Account

Individuals could evaluate their net income or loss by considering the income and subtracting the expenses and you tend to meet up with a positive number. Then there seems to be a balance left after meeting all the expenses.

The extra money could be then put into a IRA which is an individual retirement account, offering a valuable future tax break, a tax-free income during retirement. The benefit of a Roth IRA is based on the beholder’s tax bracket, both now and when they tend to retire.

 IRA is an ideal saving for young lower income workers, who will not miss the upfront tax deduction and will benefit for years of tax free compounded growth. Cutting down on unwanted expense could also help while making purchases which could benefit tremendously in managing the income within its limits and be able to cut back for some free cash.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Asset Allocation - Don't Put All Eggs in One Basket


Asset Allocation – Portfolio Distribution of Various Investments

Asset allocation is a term on how the portfolio is distributed with the various investments. As such there does not seem to be any simple formula which could define the right asset allocation for a single investor. It is one of the most major decisions which investor could make, according to a certified financial planner and the founder of the Delancey Wealth Management, Ivory Johnson.

A simple expanded portfolio could comprise of many investment classifications like stocks, cash and bond and the allocation to each of these groups should be based on the investment goals, risk tolerance as well as the time horizon needed for the utilisation of the funds.

However the agreement among several financial professions is that asset allocation seems to be one of the most major decisions which investors should make. Selection of individual securities is secondary to the way one allocate the investments in stocks, bonds and cash as well as equivalents which would be the main factors of one’s investment consequences.

Extension of Financial Plan

In brief, asset allocation should be an extension of a financial plan. Three main sections of asset being equities, fixed income and cash and equivalents, tend to have various levels of risk and return. Hence each will behave differently over a period of time. The benefits of using an expanded asset allocation are that the combination of several various investments could have varied patterns of returns according to Johnson. He adds that this would mean that the goal of portfolio variation would be to generate the maximum possible return for a specified level of risk.

For instance, if a portfolio of a small company stocks could cause greater returns than an exp
anded portfolio of stock then it is unlikely to achieve that result without considerable more risk or volatility. The outcome would be that in the process of determining an appropriate asset allocation, the combination of assets to hold in your portfolio would be a very personal one. Asset allocation which would work best at any given point of time would depend mainly on the time horizon as well as the ability to handle the risk factor.

Life-Cycle/Target-Date Funds

Known as life-cycle, or target-date funds, asset allocation mutual funds are an effort in providing investors with a portfolio structures which would address an investor’s age, risk factor as well as investment objectives with an adequate allotment of asset classes.Nevertheless, critics of this approach indicate that coming to a standardized explanation for allocating portfolio assets, can be challenging due to individual investors would need individual solutions.

By including asset groups with one’s investment returns which tend to move up and down under various conditions in the market within a portfolio, investor get the opportunity of protecting themselves from substantial losses. Generally, the returns of the three main asset groups have not moved up and down at the same time and the market condition which tends to cause one asset group to do well often causes another asset group to have an average or poor returns.

The investor here on investing in more than one asset category tends to reduce the risk of losing money and his portfolio’s overall investment returns will not suffer losses. Should one asset group’s investment return tend to fall; the investor would be in a position to counteract the losses in that particular group with a better option in investment returns in another asset group.

Monday, June 22, 2015

How Much Cash is Too Much for Your Portfolio?

Cash Position – 6% - 30% Based on Age/Risk Appetite

As per Charles Schwab Corpn’s – SCHW robo-advisor, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, the cash position of an investor should be between 6 and 30 percent based on age and risk appetite. If one would be looking for a precise percentage, advice from financial experts will inform the individual to focus on capital allocation of 60 percent stock, 30 percent bonds and 10 percent in cash.

Investors though who are more likely to take risk are the younger generations who don’t necessarily need a stable income and could have more capital allocated to stocks. Cash is king as well as trash and nowhere is cash said to be more controversial than using it by way of investment, where too much of it is considered to be a risk but how much could be `too much’?

The debate came up when Charles Schwab had launched Intelligent Portfolios which is an algorithm based platform that automatically builds and rebalances portfolios like the asset-management services of robo-advisors and his treatment of cash in platform had many eyebrows raised, leading to criticism of allocation to cash, depending on the investor’s risk profile.

How Much Cash an Investor Should Hold …?

Charles Schwab replied that there seems to be no right or wrong answer as to how much cash an investor should be holding as an investment and that it is a strategic decision. He further added saying that it is easy to question cash in the 6th year of a bull market and when the Federal Reserve is artificially suppressing interest rates, but they did not invest based on the last six years.

Investment was based on what can be expected in the future. Bull market end and interest rates increase and when they do, a little cash will feel pretty good’.The question raised was, how much should one hold in their brokerage account to which both sides seemed to agree and there was not a single answer that fits all circumstance. When people tend to discuss their investing portfolios they usually refer to the stocks, commodities, bonds and real estate that they own. Regarding cash and how much to hold in a portfolio is based on who you are and how you are investing as well as your investment perspective.

Cash Not As Asset Class – Call Option Which Can Be Priced

When Warren Edward Buffett an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist and the most successful investor of the 20th century had patiently held around $20 billion in cash, he thought of cash not as an asset class which is returning next to nothing but as `a call option which can be priced, relative to ability of cash to buy assets.’ He put in good use at the time of the financial crisis gathering deeply discounted bargains. Most of the investors, lack the discipline of Buffet.

When the market is rallying, cash in the portfolio tends to drag on performance, returning to around zero. The debate for cash in the portfolio is that it does not go down at the time of market crashes but enables the purchases of cheap assets like Buffett, at smart prices. However, investors rarely tend to buy when markets are crashing and are simple apprehensive, to take the plunge. Those who avoided the 2008 crash were stuck with too much cash in their portfolios as the markets recovered.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

New Pensions Crisis as Thousands Can’t Get At Their Own Money

Pension Crisis – Problems at Financial Firm

Problems at the financial firms have left people intending in getting access to their retirement cash under new rules which has become effective in April, blocked by companies’ lack of readiness for the this change. Investigation published in recent Daily Mail conveyed that people have been charged for withdrawals or for changing to rival companies.

To add further to the problem they are also made to wait longer for their pay-outs, in some cases to around three months. Some others state that they have been forced to pay for financial advice up to £1,000 if they say they want their own money. Pension companies in the first month of the alterations, had to handle unprecedented 1.13 million phone calls from individuals intending to take advantage of the new freedom which was an 80% increase in the usual activity leaving several with the inability in coping with the demand.

Besides this, many were caught by the speed of the introduction of the improved rules together with the uncertainties on various aspects of the freedoms leaving them unprepared in dealing with the requests.

New Rule – Individuals Aged 55 Onwards – Distinct Contribution Pension Withdrawal

The head of pension research at Hargreaves, Lansdown, Tom McPhail commented that `given the speed with which the reforms were introduced, it was always likely that some companies would struggle to be ready in time. Investors with these companies should be given the freedom to transfer their money elsewhere without having unnecessary barriers put in their way’.

He further stated that it would be unacceptable for some of the firms in charging people or put barriers to stop them in making use of the new freedoms. He said, `insisting that investors pay hefty exit penalties, use a financial adviser that some may not need or jump through bureaucratic hoops is simply not reasonable or fair’.

The new rule enables individuals aged 55 and above, with a distinct contribution pension for withdrawal if they intend to, though there are massive tax implication if they intend taking it in one go, in other words it is wise for people to get advice before rushing to get hold of their cash. FCA spokeswoman informed that they were monitoring how the firms would be implementing the changes and how it would impact consumers.

Reform Purpose – More Control on Money

Most of the people have been capable of taking advantage of the new rules without much problem thought they were talking to those firms where the problems have come up as the reforms bed in. It is in the interest of everyone to make a note that consumers utilise the new options available to them with confidence. Recently David Cameron indicated that he would be keeping a `careful eye’, on the treatment of companies to pension savers, on receiving rising complaints that the customers have been denied the new freedoms.

He informed that the purpose of the reforms was to give people more control on their money and not to have a new way to charge them and that the need for great transparency in pensions industry is essential. Pensions giant Friends Life, which is now part of Aviva, was forced to apologise recently, to around 1,300 savers who had asked to withdraw an amount of their cash and had informed them that it could not offer them this choice. On the contrary, the savers were told that they could cash in the whole amount which would leave them with a huge tax bill and use the fund to buy an annuity or transfer their money to another company. Friends Life had stated that they would be offering partial withdrawals in due time

Friday, May 29, 2015

When is the Best Time to Buy Foreign Currency

Being Smart Essential – Buy Foreign Currency

Bob Atkinson of TravelSupermarket advises that one could save a tenner for every £100 one tends to spend abroad, by being smart. He states a traveller should `plan what one is going to do and how they are going to spend overseas though not any plastic. Look for credit and debit card which are designed for usage overseas.

The market-leading deals like the Halifax Clarity credit card and Norwich & Peterborough debit card, have no hidden currency loading fees or transaction fees. If one tends to spent for instance 600 euros on one of these cards they tend to actually spend about £470 based on the prevailing rates.

On comparing it to the worst option which is to rock up at an airport and actually buy euros without pre-ordering, they endup spending about £515 on the present day’s rate at some place like Heathrow’. He further adds `that’s a difference of around 10% which means it’s effectively like throwing away £10 for every £100 spent on holiday’.While purchasing holiday cash, most of the people leave it till the last moment and tend to completely ignore it at times till they arrive at the airport.

Commodity loaded with Poor Exchange Rate/High Transaction Fees

Several travellers generally pay more than the going rate for their holiday cash hence some advance planning could help them in avoiding poor exchange rates or exorbitant transaction fees. Most of them tend to leave this job at the last minute resulting in paying extra pounds or more.

Just as one would check for the best deals on hotels and flights, they should also do the same when it comes to purchasing foreign currency which is a commodity that is often loaded with poor exchange rate combined with high transaction fees. Individuals should avoid buying the holiday cash at the airport since it is the most expensive place to purchase the spending money and the rates are extremely bad since the providers have a captive audience.

The main issue is `time’ and one should be wise in thinking about currency much in advance prior to leaving for the holiday. The first step to be taken is to look at the exchange rates which would help in maximising how much local currency one would get from the exchange.

Euro, the single currency, till recently has maintained its strength and customers are recommended to purchase their euros when the pound could make gains against the single currency. In the meantime, sterling has performed more positively against the single currency and holidaymakers need not rush and buy euros now.

Knowledge on Value of Currencies

On the contrary, if one is heading out to the United States, one could be wise in purchasing dollars sooner instead of later since at the moment the pound tends to perform well against the dollar though the same is not expected to last. Gaining knowledge on the value of currencies one could be looking to purchase, could save them of money in the long run.

The only way to know if one is getting the best exchange rate is to be knowledgeable on what the currency rate is. Prior to the trip, one needs to check on currency converter to have an idea of what exchange rate to expect. If undertaking a prolonged trip, check on the rate periodically to remain updated of any major changes.

According to Alistair Cotton, corporate dealer at states that `now is a very good time to be buying US dollars. We are still on multi-year highs and businesses and people travelling abroad this year should be taking advantage at these levels’.

Fastest/Simplest Method - Online

Lucy Lillicrap of AFEX comments `current levels provide an excellent opportunity to buy the dollar at rates rarely seen since before the financial crisis’. Jeremy Cook, chief economist at on the other hand states that he `thinks that the US dollar will progress through the year as one of the best performing currencies in the G10 space as the economy continues to rebound.

The Federal Reserve is much like the Bank of England, trying to remain vague on when interest rate rises will come but a stronger economy, fuelled by strong domestic industry and receding fiscal drag will increase the pressure on Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to normalise policy sooner rather than later’.

According to Josh Ferry Woodard of TorFX, he states that `in the light of Fed chair Janet Yellen’s suggestion earlier that the interest rates could be raised in the USA by April next year, it is possible that the US dollar is the one currency that the pound may struggle to stay afloat against.

For this reason, it is a very good time to buy US dollars; the pound-to-dollar exchange rate may not reach levels this high for a long time’. The fastest and the simplest method to buy currency is online, on the internet where it would be easy to compare rates and one could also get a much better deal.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Maximize Credit Card Rewards


Credit Card Rewards – Perks of Rewards Program

According to a 2011 research from Colloquy and Swift Exchange, the average household active in rewards program do not redeem a third of the rewards they tend to earn every year which could include credit card rewards. John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at Smart comments that `there are a slew of people out there that has cards with points on all of them and they don’t even realize it’.

 The idea of receiving rewards credit card is to give the person the perks of the rewards program and the best way to ensure that one gets the most out of the rewards credit card is to use the right one and make sure it is paid off each month.

It could be used to the greatest advantage while also being aware of the possible pitfalls like leaving points on the table. The first problem is to ensure that the credit card and rewards program chosen matches the individual’s financial lifestyle.

 If the person travels a lot during free time, then a hotel or airline card could suit the individual while a gas credit card could be best for a road warrior. Those who would prefer an uncomplicated reward system could opt for cash-back credit cards, according to vice-president, Amy Lenander, of rewards programs at Capital One.

Cash Rewards Easy & Straightforward

She states that `cash rewards tend to be easy and straightforward as rewards can develop. Customers who prefer miles and points could save up for a big reward and dream up the possibility, whereas the cash-back customers tend to be more practical’.

Besides this, several cash back cards are provided with various ways of redeeming rewards like in the form of cheques, statement credits, charity donation or gift cards while others tend to automatically deposit the rewards directly in the bank account. It is essential to read the terms and conditions since not all cards are created equal even if they offer a similar form of reward program.

There are various forms of credit cards wherein some may require spending threshold prior to earning rewards while others cap the amount of rewards that is earned. Users should also be aware of blackout dates in redeeming travel rewards or the expiration date on points. Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at watchdog group Consumer Action also informs that these rewards programs are subject to change at any point of time.

Some Advanced Planning

Cash back cards could also involve some advanced planning and while most cards provide one percent to two percent cash back there could also be certain restrictions or requirements. These could include caps on spending in various categories or more rewards on purchases on gas, groceries or dining. Other cash back rewards programs could be even more difficult, with rotating categories needing quarterly registrations.

According to Bill McCracken, CEO of Synergistics Research in Atlanta, states that in some cases, consumers tend to pick the spending category and receive the rewards or the rewards are given to the highest spending category. This could mean more observing by the consumer in taking full advantage of their credit card.

Consumers should be alert for opportunities to double or triple their reward earning power. Lisa Hronek, senior analyst at Mintel Comperemedia informs that several issuers tend to offer an increased cash back return rate each quarter for certain categories usually the ones that go according to the season.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Equity Systematic Investment Plan - SIP

Stocks with good fundamentals are known to be some of the best ways of investment plans and investment in equity stocks has reaped phenomenal returns amongst various other assets if the same has been done in an organized manner with long time horizon. It is very important to select stocks and the right decision of the right price to enter in equity investment where most of the investors often tend to commit errors.

Equity Systematic Investment Plan or SIP is an instrument that tends to help an individual in avoiding the risk of timing the markets and enable wealth development in an organised or disciplined manner by averaging the cost of investments. Saving which tend to be small could create the big corpus in the long run. SIP enables the individual in building a portfolio on a longer time basis with small investment that are done at regular intervals thus reducing the danger of market volatility.

Individuals have the option of choosing between Quantity based and Amount based SIPs, in Mutual Funds, Stocks, ETFs as well as Gold. Quantity based SIP is a type where a fixed amount of quantity of shares of a desired company is purchased at a predefined frequency while Amount based SIP is a fixed amount which can be decided by the individual intending to invest in selected share at predefined frequency.

Disciplined & Long Term Time Horizon

The formula for calculating Quantity is SIP Amount/Market price of the said share. Fractional value is ignored and the order is placed for the remaining quantity. In the case of Quantity based SIP the quantity which is to be purchased is specified by the individual and is fixed at the time of placement of order according to the desired frequency.

The order value is then calculated depending on the usual market price of the scrip while execution of the order. In order to have a long term wealth development through the equity market, it is essential to have a disciplined and long term time horizon that have integral features of SIP. The following features would make an appropriate choice for equity market –
  • Disciplined and simple approach to investment
  • Based on concept of Rupee Cost Averaging
  • Investment possible with small sum of money invested recurrently to mount up wealth
  • Flexible intervals like Daily/Weekly/Fortnightly/Monthly basis
  • Flexibility with regards to Amount or Quantity based SIP
Avoid Majorly in Aggressive Funds

While investing in equity funds through SIP, though one will gain the rupee cost averaging benefits at the time of the volatile market phase, one should also avoid investing majorly in aggressive funds such as sector, thematic and mid-cap funds. One cannot guarantee better returns in excessive aggression.

On the contrary it could make your portfolio risky and probably disrupting the life stage with regards to investment goals. However, with mid-caps as a section of the portfolio, majority of it could comprise on large cap funds. Individuals often tend to start SIPs without a second thought on the amount they intend to invest comfortably. Often they try to make up for the lost time and then find it difficult to continue with their SIPs after a period of time.

This results in a stop of their investment and their long term life stage goals. Hence with systematic investment plans one should start conventionally and increase their investment amount gradually over a period of time ensuring stability.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Credit Cards

Credit Card – A form of Borrowing

Credit card is one form of borrowing which involves some charges and its terms and condition could affect the overall cost. It is advisable to do some research on the terms and the fees before any agreement to open a credit or a charge card account.

 Being unaware of the terms and their charges could leave the user disappointed when faced with the overall cost they may encounter. At times shopping with the credit card could save you money on interest and fees. Issuers of credit card tend to have wide scope in charging interest though they should brief the customers on the interest rate. It is also essential for the customer to read the fine print in the original credit card agreement as well as in any supplemental copy.

As per the federal law, interest rate tends to increase on existing balances under some conditions like when a promotional rate may end and there is a variable rate or when the cardholder tends to make a late payment. The interest rate on new transaction may also increase but after the first year. If the customer is faced with an issue regarding the credit card, they should first try resolving the same directly with store or the credit card company or the financial institution.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

If the matter is not resolved, they could file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – CFPB which presently accepts complaints with regards to credit card issues and take them up either through phone or through their site at For any guidance regarding credit card debt, fees and high interest rates, customers could contact a credit counselling service or debt Management Company who can render the necessary guidance and support. They could also provide practical as well as legal financial advice with regards to the use of credit. Beside this, they could also make attempts on renegotiate the terms of the credit agreements and make arrangement to pay off the debts. One needs to check on the debt management company though all arenot the legitimate ones.
    Credit Card Eligibility Calculator

    Some of the following credit card eligibility calculator could be helpful to individuals such as:

  • Bad Credit – For bad credit scorers- Those who apply for credit card and have been rejected need not go in for the same. They should check on cards that would fit their profile and try to rebuild credit rating by using the top `bad credit’ credit card and ensure to pay in a timely manner
  • Interest free spending- 0% Spending – If the need to borrow for a purchase arises, the right choice needs to be taken, credit cards are far cheaper than loans though if misused it could add debts which may be difficult to pay off
  • Balance transfers – Cut existing debt costs – Shifting the prevailing credit card or store card debts to new balance transfer card could save much wherein the balance transfers when a credit card could pay off debts on other credit or store cards. Thus one owes the new card though at a lower rate which means they can be debt free much quicker.
  • Travel Money – Several cards add 3% cost than the banks to the exchange rates which can be avoided by a specialist card that does not add this percentage and you get a good exchange rate. This could be used for overseas spending though one should bear in mind to repay in full to avoid the additional burden of interest.
  • Balance transfers and spending – All-rounders - Most of the banks offer introduction deals to attract new customers with cards that could be either good balance transfer deals or low rates on new spending. All-rounder cards offer cheap intro rates for balance transfers as well as purchases and if a person needs to move debts from an existing expensive card as well as need to use a card for purchase, they could be checked since they cannot damage the credit score with additional applications.
  • Cash back – pays when spend – The cash-back credit card tends to pay you each time you make a purchase where top cards tend to pay around 5% introductory cash-back while other offer 3% on fuel and transport spending. Besides these, there is also other good fee free; cash reward cards which are like cash-back cards offered.
  • 0% Cash in Bank account – Money Transfer – The money transfer credit card enables the customer to pay money from their new credit card in the current account with a small fee wherein they get a long interest free period in repaying the debt. Should the customer fail to repay the same within the given time period, they are charged with a high interest rate.
  • Get Air miles while spending – Airline credit cards are an addition of regular flyer programs and one could earn points or miles on spending as well as earn bonus for signing up. The miles earned from spending could be added with those earned from flying or by other credit card reward schemes like converting Tesco Clubcard points.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bitcoin: Government to Regulate Crypto Currency to Avoid Money Laundering

Bitcoin – Issue of Money Laundering 

Bitcoin can be useful in purchasing thing electronically and its like conventional dollars, yen or euros which are traded digitally and its most important characteristic which makes it different to conventional money is that it is decentralized. There is no single institution that controls the bitcoin network and this puts some of them at ease since it means that a large bank in unable to control their money.

However, money laundering has become a major issue which the British government has been facing and most of the people in the government are of the belief that bitcoin and similar crypto-currencies are used by some to launder money and there is a need to regulate bitcoin exchanges. This kind of measures taken could stop their use as money laundering hubs. The Treasury is of the opinion that bitcoin has capabilities of being used for money laundering and in order to curb the issue, it wants to regulate digital currency exchanges for the very first time, though this would not mean that the government is not in favour of innovation in the nascent technology but the prevention of criminal use of the digital currency.

Anti-Money Laundering Regulation – Digital Currency Exchanges 

The UK government released a document with the combination with the announcement of UK’s 2015 budget stating its intention to apply anti-money laundering regulation to the digital currency exchanges in UK. As per the document it would be creating the right environment for legitimate players in the space to flourish though it would also ensure that a hostile environment for illicit users of digital currencies is developed to discourage the users. As per the Treasury it is reported that the Government will be regulating bitcoin exchange in order to stop its use as money laundering hubs. A report published with George Osborne’s annual budget, the Treasury has informed that the new regulation would be supporting innovation to prevent criminal acts of digital currencies and the proposals would be consulted in the next parliament session. It is said that the government would be working with the British Standards Association – BSI for the development of a set of standards which would be helpful in protecting the consumers.

New Research Initiative on Digital Currency Technology

It was also informed by the Treasury that a new research initiative on digital currency technology would be coming up, which would inject an additional 10 million pounds in the area. According to a board member of the UK Digital Currency Association, Tom Robinson, who has been involved in the Treasury’s consulation procedure that `the announcement is significant, which bring bitcoin and other block chain technologies closer to mainstream adoption’.

In the discussion published in February, Bank of England informed that the digital currencies like bitcoin portrayed considerable promise and it showed that it was possible to transfer value securely without the need of a trusted third party. Other queries were also raised by the bank on whether central banks should issue digital currencies themselves. In several developed countries, bitcoin has been regulated by existing money laundering or terrorist financing laws. Traditional financial sector regulation is not applicable to bitcoin according to European Central Bank since it does not involve traditional financial players while other the EU state that existing rules could be extended to include bitcoin as well as bitcoin companies.

Three Ways To Optimize Your Personal Finance In 2015

These days, more and more people are interested in getting their personal finances in order so that they can lead lives of economic freedom. If this is your agenda, you should note that there are numerous techniques you can implement to accomplish your objective of attaining financial freedom. Here are three simple ways to get started immediately:

1. Learn More About Trading. 

One of the great ways to optimize your personal finances in 2015 is to learn more about trading. As many financial experts know, trading is an incredibly effective way to build some substantive wealth. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated by the thought of trading because they don't have any substantive experience in this sector. If this is a challenge for you, you should note that organizations like the Online Trading Academy can help. This organization was specifically designed to provide education and assistance that will help traders obtain tangible results and improve their skill set within this sector.

2. Develop (And Stick To) A Budget.

Another strategy you should definitely consider implementing in order to optimize your personal finance in 2015 is to develop and stick to a budget. Budgets are critically important because they give you the opportunity to see how much money you're earning as well as how much you're spending on things like bills, clothes, entertainment, food, etc. Unfortunately, many people overlook the importance of developing a budget and therefore have only a vague understanding of what they're making and spending. Don't make this mistake. Instead, sit down and devise a budget that will provide you with a clear understanding of your current financial state. You can then use this information as a springboard to cultivate the type of strong financial future you desire.

3. Eat Out Less. 

As many financial experts know, many people tend to spend a substantive amount of money on eating out. If you're interested in cutting back a bit to really strengthen your personal finances in 2015, it's a good idea to consider eating out less. Instead of going out to expensive restaurants, consider the value of learning how to prepare your favorite meals for yourself. If you enjoy eating out for the social experience, be sure to invite friends over to partake in your great meals!


If you're looking forward to optimizing your personal finances in 2015, you can get started right now. By using some or all of the financial tips and tricks discussed here, you will likely find yourself attaining the level of economic stability and freedom you've always wanted. Good luck!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit

DCPCU – Protect Security of Card Payment

The function of UK Cards Association is to protect the security of card payments system with focus on tackling organised criminal activity. In order to accomplish this, the UK Cards Association, funds a specialist policing team known as the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit – DCPCU to identify organised payments fraud. The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, a special police unit comprises of police officers who have been appointed from the City of London Police as well as the Metropolitan Police Services who operate together with industry fraud investigators.

Their focus lies in identifying and targeting the organised criminal gangs which are responsible in attacking the payment industry. The Unit was established in April 2002 and is fully sponsored by the card and retail banking industries which was created due to the rising growth in payment card crime during 1999 and 2001. From the time of its establishment, the banking industry has been put in an investment of around £4 million per year for the operation of the Unit.

Experts have attributed to the growing incidents of organised crime in the area and the lack of dedicated police investigatory. The main purpose of the DCPCU is to identify, check and seek appropriate prosecution of offenders who have been responsible for organised cheque and payment card crimes.

Organised Criminal Gangs - Targeted

It is headed by a Detective Chief Inspector who brings together the officers as well as civilian staff from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police forces. Moreover, expertise and payments industry knowledge is also given by industry secondees. Though it is a London based unit, investigations are nationwidewhere the organised criminal gangs responsible for payment related fraud are targeted. Some of its achievement since its formation is –

  • Achievement of £450 million in the form of saving from reduce fraud activity equating to £800,000 weekly
  • Recovery of around 700,000 counterfeit card
  • Recovery of 346,000 compromised card numbers
  • Secured 346 convictions on matters related to fraud, which is an average of more than one successful prosecution per fortnight over the past decade.
Areas of Priority 

The impact on a wider perspective is the link to organised and serious crimes. The Unit’s investigation has established that a significant proportion of fraud has been committed by these criminal gangs, having strong links to other kinds of serious crimes, which also includes people, drugs, and trafficking as well as violent crimes. The Unit has also been responsible in providing key fraud prevention messages to the people such as with the help of television and radio work as well as through direct meeting with groups that represent consumers who could be at high risk. The Unit’s priority areas are:

  • Project Sandpiper – The Unit secured European Commission funding in 2013 which was funded by UK Cards Association and PFF in order to finance the project focused in tackling Romanian criminality that affected the UK payment industry. This involved connecting with the UK payments industry as well as law enforcement individuals in Romania in tackling its organised criminal groups.
  • Staff Insider – Work with banks that sponsored to reduce harm caused by dishonest staff and targeting organised criminal groups.
  • Social Engineering – Telephone – To locate criminal groups responsible in fast rising fraud cases who are aiming vulnerable individuals as well as businesses causing great harm to the UK payment industry.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Right of Rescission/Right to Cancel

Image credit:Homeowner
Right to Rescission – A Known Power/Law

A person has the privilege by law, with the right to cancel a mortgage refinance or home equity loan if they tend to act quickly and adhere to the rules. A known power or the law known as the `right to rescission provides the borrower with the ability in some situations, the right to cancel their loan deals within a period of three days with no questions asked and be free.

 In other words it could mean as another way of saying `right to rescind’ or `cancel’a given contract without losing any money. Within a period of 20 days, the lender then has to give up its claim to the property as collateral and should refund the fees which may have been paid by the borrower. According to Margot Saunders, counsel or the National Consumer Law Centre, states that it has been designed with a view to provide lenders with accurate disclosures and that consumers do not sign up for loans which are different than what could have been described to them.

This right is intended to safeguard the consumer from the risk of using family home or the equity in order to secure a loan and is not applicable in situations where the mortgage is made to buy the house itself. Nessa Feddis, Vice President and Senior Counsel to American Bankers Association, states that it is not to protect the (home) purchaser but to protect the person having equity in the home.

Covers Mortgages – Companies/Banks Etc.

Categories where the right of rescission are applicable are – home equity loan which is often known as second mortgage, mortgage refinance – if the new loan does not come from the same lender which had financed the original home purchase loan, home equity line of credit, cash-out refinance – irrespective of whether it is a new loan that comes from the same lender who had made the original home purchase loan though only the new money is covered by the right of rescission. According to Saunders, it does not matter what kind of lenders the money is borrowed from and the right of rescission covers loans from mortgage companies, banks as well as other lenders.

No exclamation is essential in the case of cancellation of the transaction within a three days’ time, as per Carole Reynolds, Senior Attorney with the Federal Trade Commission and the fact that the said loan is not needed is sufficient enough for an exclamation.

The Truth in Lending Act

The law - `The Truth in Lending Act’ was for the purpose of shielding borrowers from unscrupulous lenders with the right of rescission and was intended to oppose smooth talking lenders intending to fleece borrowers out of their money and their homes. Some of the borrowers may be under the wrong impression that there is a right of rescission with all types of mortgages which is not so.

Since state and local statutes differ, the federal right of rescission is specific which is mentioned in the Truth in Lending Act. Saunders state that there is no right of rescission for the purchase money mortgages and some of these categories with regards to the right of rescission which is not applicable are –loans made to purchase a house, any loans either 1st or 2nd mortgages, refinancing mortgages, etc., which involve properties which are not the primary residence and business loans.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Save Hundreds of Dollars with Tax Credits

Tax Credits
Awareness of Tax Credit

Being unaware of tax credit is like losing on a pay check and sad to say, several individuals are not aware of it. Each dollar of credit is equal to a dollar in tax savings, for instance in a federal income tax bracket of 28% and getting a buck’s worth of additional write-off could save one with 28 cents. Individuals tend to miss out on tax credits mainly due to the fact that they seem to be in a hurry when the dreaded tax filing deadline is near. Credits tend to fall through these cracks since they panic resulting in making complicated calculation or filling out additional forms. Setting aside more time on your return could help you to net several hundred dollars or could be more. For example –

Foreign Tax Credit - If a person has worked in a foreign country or would be having substantial income outside U.S, they must be well aware about the foreign tax credit which is intended to save you from being taxed by the two different countries on the same income. If the person tends to invest in some international mutual funds they could collect credit due to the fact that it is likely you paid foreign taxes the previous year – knowingly or not. A closer look at the statement on the fund summary of the previous year will provide you with some calculations in order to know the exact amount of foreign taxes which should show up on Forms 1099-DIV and 1099-INT. Presuming that the foreign taxes are from these sources totalling to or less than $300, one can claim the credit on Form 1040, Line 48 and have around $600 of foreign taxes and continue to follow the easy procedure if filed jointly. In other cases, one could file Form 1116 to claim your credit, though it could be a bit nasty.

Dependent Care Credit - When a person is paid to take care of an under-age child of 13 while the parents are out at work, one could be eligible for the dependent care credit where the credit percentage could range from 20% to 35% based on qualifying expenses and depending on adjusted gross income – AGI. Maximum credit possible for a child could range from $600 to $1,050 and for two or more the range would be $1,200 to $2,100. One should also be eligible if expenses were incurred in taking care of any other dependent that could be physically or mentally incapable of taking care of themselves, a disabled person. For high income taxpayers, the credits have not been phased out though lower dollar limits mentioned could be applicable. Form 2441 – Child and Dependent Care Expenses could be filled and credits claimed on Form 1040, Line 49 on furnishing the name as well as the Social Security number of the care provider failing which the IRS would disallow the credit with recomputed tax and would either reduce the claimed refund or sent a bill for the difference.

Moreover the Form 2441 also informs the IRS if one owes the Nanny Tax if they have an in-home care provider. One needs to be careful in taking credit if they have also contributed to a pre-tax dependent care flexible spending account – FSA the previous year through their employer. The pre-tax FSA is usually a process since it could reduce the taxable salary cutting federal as well as state income taxes together with Social Security and Medicare taxes as well. The tax saving rate could exceed the 20% effective tax savings rate which could apply to several people claiming the dependent care credit.

Elderly/disabled Credit – is applicable to individuals who have reached the age of 65 at the end of a particular year or one who has retired on permanent and total disability. Strict income limits are applicable and the credit is not available to most of them. Credits could be claimed on Form 1040, Line 54.

Adoption Credit - is when an underage of 18 years in adopted, you could qualify for a 2014 tax credit up to $13,190 for the adoption expenses and if married, a joint return to qualify could be filed. Phase-out rule, for 2014 could cause the credit to vaporize between AGI of $197,880 and $237,880. On qualifying for the same, credit could be claimed by furnishing details on Form 8839 – Qualified Adoption Expenses, with one’s 1040 with the credit amount on Line 54.

Credit for Overpaid Social Security Taxes – is where there has been more than one employer in 2014 and the earnings have crossed over $117,000 with combined salary, one has withheld too much Social Security tax. Recovery of the excess can be done by reporting the overpaid amount on Form 1040 Line 72 which is treated as a tax repayment and the effect on the tax bill is that of a credit.

Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Find the Best Prepaid Debit Cards

Prepaid debit cards were introduced to provide a medium of quick and handy payment transaction to the consumers. They were relatively fast than the traditional cheques in the business operations. Prepaid debit cards very soon made their in the modern banking solutions mainstream than expected.

Statics projects that almost more than $200 billion dollars are loaded on it in each fiscal year. These cards also give additional advantages to the consumers like mobile check deposits, direct deposit and check writing. Most of these prepaid cards costs very little in using and adds no more than few dollars a month.

Ranking of Different Prepaid Debit Cards

Ranking the prepaid cards is a challenging work. The fees attracted by the bank on the prepaid card essentially depend upon its usage. Same kind of card could a particular almost nothing while another person who suffers from frequent cash loads and out-of-network ATM withdrawals would end paying much more amount. Consumers taking advantage of the direct deposit or those who loads certain amount of their card each month as well as who utilizes for limited number of transaction would end up in attracting significantly lower fees.

The Best Prepaid Debit Cards For The Consumers

After carefully analysing the fees charged by the different banks on their specific kinds of pre paid debit cards, this list has been compiled which gives the best options available for the consumers.

American Express

American Express leads the chart with its two cost effective prepaid cards which are tentatively named as the Bluebird and Serve. In reality the Bluebirds could be better described as a checking account rather than a genuine prepaid card. Both of these pre-paid comes with additional features which are appreciated by it consumers. These additional features are checking writing, money management tools and online bill pay. Both of these cards attract extremely low fees than other cards available in the market.


Kaiku is prepaid Visa card which offers low and quite simplified fees which costs just $3 per month covering all the services. The services provided by this are mobile check deposits, direct deposit, a intuitive & secure mobile application as well as a ‘Funds-Ometer’ which tracks how the money is being spent by the cards in an efficient manner.

Walmart MoneyCard

Walmart offer its prepaid debit card with both Visa and Mastercard. Like other it also comes with low fees, a dedicated mobile app as well as free cash reloads at the Walmart stores with the preferred version of the card.

Mango Money

This is a prepaid MasterCard which attracts low fees which is just $3 per month. It also gives a saving account option to its consumers and pays 6.00% APY in return which is beneficial in its own unique way.

Prepaid debit cards acts as an alternative for the consumers who have trouble in establishing or improving their credit record. However it would wise for the customers to become aware of the various additional benefits and different kind of fees charged by the banks before opting for a specific debit card.