Beware of Pick-Pocketing Policies

If you live in modern society (and if you don’t…I don’t know how you’re reading this), you’re no doubt aware that it’s easier to lose money than ever before. Not only are there plenty of things to spend money on, there are lots of crafty people trying to figure out how to separate you from your hard-earned cash. The situation is like one of those tourist squares near the airport in Europe. Hang around too long without paying attention, and somebody’s gonna pick your pocket. There are so many things to be aware of if you are an adult with any money at all. I’m only going to focus on 3, but please comment and leave other strategies you may be aware of.

One of the ways people like you and me pay too much is in taxes and fees. If you use one of the big Internet Service Providers, for instance, you can likely secure a lower subscription rate, simply by calling in and asking for one. Be willing to quit your contract if you don’t get what you want (or at least say that you’re going to), and you’ll likely be able to get a lowered rate. It’s a funny thing about services like these, they’re negotiable. It’s one reason why people hate the ISPs. Often, they’re charging what they can, not what they should. And you should make sure they’re not charging you too much.

The same holds true for credit. This isn’t as much of a problem in the United States, but for British readers, PPI is probably a very familiar acronym. PPI is a kind of insurance that got pinned on to lots and lots and lots of credit plans. But the courts are determining that this was done fraudulently in many cases, and people are suing to get their money back. It’s really easy to become part of a class-action lawsuit, using the services of a law firm that specializes in these matters. You can get your payments reduced and even see significant money returned to you, usually over and above what you actually paid out.

There are plenty of places in life where you’re probably paying more than you need to be. In cities, for instance, it’s very common for municipalities to determine property taxes in very, shall we say, laid back ways. The value of homes in big areas will be averaged together, and your house might be given a tax based on the value of much more valuable homes. If this is the case, you’ll have to do a little homework, getting your home reassessed and having its real value presented to the city tax service. But if this saves you hundreds or more year, this is certainly worth your time, as this will carry over year after year. Cities don’t mind charging you a little too much for stuff like this, so do the work to make sure they’re not taking too much.

It takes a little practice to spot these kind of overpayments. But once you learn to find them, you’ll start to enjoy kicking these suckers out of your wallet.

The Best Time to Start Investing is 20 Years Ago, The Second Best Time…

Is now. This is an old saying. Actually, it’s a saying about a tree, how planting a tree is best done well in the past. But how if it hasn’t happened before, it’s best to do it now. The metaphor is apt. As Buffett said, “Time is an investor’s best friend.” Starting a simple investment now can yield enormous benefits in the future. So I guess I’m writing these posts to two different kinds of people: the young and the not young.

Young people, if you are old enough to read, try to find a way to set some money aside for index mutual funds. What are index mutual funds, you ask? An excellent question. You may have heard of the stock market. American businesses are so big (think how big the Apple company is), that they don’t have single owners. Instead, they have what is known as shareholders. “Shares” are little parts of a company. They’re cut up so small that you can even buy one if you have $50 or so. People buy shares of companies because they think the companies are going to become bigger and more valuable in the future. If that happens, the person’s share that they bought for $50 might grow to be worth $100. But imagine if they had 1000 shares. They would make a lot of money!

The problem is, it’s hard to predict what companies will grow and which will fail. In fact, most companies fail. So mutual funds take tiny little pieces of shares for every American company over a certain size, and package them together in a single “fund”, which you can buy however much of you want. As companies come and go, they’ll come and grow from the mutual fund, based on the “index” of companies which exist at that time. Funds like these grow with the American economy, which is always growing, so your portion grows along with it.

Because any profits that you make on index funds can be used to buy more fund, you can start to get a snowball effect on your investment: earning more and more as time goes along. But you’ve got to start early to see this really take off. In fact, people who start at age 18 will see a lot higher earnings over their lifetime than those who start at 28.

But that doesn’t mean that older people shouldn’t start investing now, too. There are a lot of ways to get the money you need in order to invest. An annuity sold will give you a nice lump sum to throw into mutual funds. Other people use portions of their income each month. Other people, especially young people, might be able to get their parents or relatives to give them money, as long as these older people understand what they’re using it for. The point is that getting the money and starting it to grow is the most important step. Time is your friend when it comes to investment, so if you didn’t start 20 years ago, start today.

A Loving Legacy: Planning Pointers for Lowering Your Inheritance Tax Bill

Editor’s Note: This post is oriented toward UK readers, so those of us here in the US should consider our own inheritance tax issues and rules separately

Most of us want to make sure that our loved ones that we leave behind are taken care of financially if we can, yet too many leave it to chance when it comes to tax planning, which could actually leave a legacy that is within the grasp of the taxman.

When it comes to making the most of inheritance tax planning, you have to deal with these issues while you are still very much alive, so that your last wishes can be carried out in the most tax-efficient way possible.

No room for complacency

The fact that the Chancellor George Osborne has very recently announced plans to scrap inheritance tax on homes valued up to £1 million is good news for many of us if that promise to raise the threshold from April 2017 is kept.

Inheritance tax planning is about taking all of your assets into account and making sure that you have a will that directs the appointed executors of your will as to how you want your assets and cash distributed, so you cannot afford to be complacent and think that your estate won’t attract an inheritance tax bill.

Pension changes

There have been some significant changes to personal pension rules recently and from April 2015, savers who are aged 55 and over are able to gain full access to the cash in their pension pot.

Whilst you should definitely take detailed expert advice on this subject when considering your options, these changes do offer a number of tax-planning opportunities as well as some risks that you need to quantify.

In simplistic terms, the new pension rules do offer a significant chance for wealthier investors to legitimately avoid or substantially reduce their inheritance tax bill, provided they follow the professional advice and steps that you need to take in order to take advantage of this scenario.

The pension rules are still complex and your personal financial circumstances do dictate what advice is best for you but basically, the change in rules allow you greater flexibility to re-arrange your assets prioritise your spending, by putting as much money as possible inside your pension as you can, whilst you are able to do so.

Lifetime limit

The current pension rules state that your pension assets can’t exceed £1.25 million within your lifetime and this figure is going to actually drop to £1 million from April 2016.

It is a bit of a balancing act when it comes to funding your pension pot in the most tax-efficient way but the basic target is to try and minimise non-pension assets above the £650,000 current death tax threshold (for couples, and changing to £1 million as proposed by the government).

More people than ever before are using non-pension assets to generate a retirement income, which means that their pension pot could be passed on to your heirs virtually intact and potentially tax-free, if your situation allows you to do this and you take sound professional advice to achieve this goal.

As the old business adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is not something you want to do if you intend to leave a loving legacy.

Richard Hardy has held a number of senior roles in relation to tax planning. He is passionate about sharing his suggestions and tips on this subject with a wider audience online. He has already written a number of articles which have appeared on other relevant websites.

The Empty Nester’s Mini-Guide to Financial Freedom

The kids might be gone, but the bills and expenses are still there. You’ve done everything you can to make sure your children have a good life. Now it’s your turn so here are some tips to help you prepare for retirement now that the kids are gone.

Reconfigure Your Monthly Budget

It’s time to take a second look at your monthly budget. Your post-retirement expenses will probably change significantly and now’s the time to deal with it while you still have income coming in.

Develop a new budget that includes both ongoing expenses as well as “one-offs.” It’s important to manage your finances in such a way so as to minimize your discretionary spending. Right now, you’ll want to go on a spending spree. But, if you’ve been taking care of your kids for the last 18 or 20 years, what you need to do now is focus on your own future.

According to Money Looms, a 401(k) is one of the best ways to get started saving if you haven’t been doing a very good job up to this point. Most employers will give you $0.50 for every $1 that you contribute to the plan. Some companies pay less, but most match you with something.

Another thing to look at is your debts.

Pay Off All Debts

As a general rule, you should try to pay off all of your debts as quickly as you can. Do not go into retirement with a significant debt load.

Mortgages don’t necessarily have to be paid off if you plan on buying a reverse mortgage, but all other debts should be – and your mortgage should be if you don’t plan on getting a reverse mortgage.

Downsize

In fact, you should also consider downsizing if you can. Don’t wait like most people do. It’s tempting to keep the house you raised your children in. But, the truth is, it’s probably way too much house for you now.

Sell it, and move into a smaller place. If you’ve got a 4 bedroom home, downsizing to a 1 bedroom might seem like a huge jump. But, it’s going to save you a lot of money. Depending on how much money you have left on your current home mortgage, you might be able to cash out and buy your next home free and clear.

Monitor Your 401(k)

Keep and eye on your 401(k). Now is the time to up your savings contributions and dial back the risk. Most people do the exact opposite. But, if you lose money now due to a stock market correction, odds are you’re not going to make it back inside of 10 years, and you’ll have to delay your retirement another 5 to 10 years – probably longer.

Balanced funds, target-date funds, and a more conservative investment allocation of 60 percent bonds and 40 percent stocks will probably work out well.

However, you should contact a professional financial advisor to see what specific funds make sense, as well as the specific allocation given your age and income goals at retirement.

Consider a Second Job or Career

You don’t have to fully retire at age 65 or 70. If you want to work into your 80s, don’t be afraid to do so. Realize that you might be able to (physically) or your employer might want to push you to retire. But, there are lots of jobs out there for seniors.

Boost Your Savings

Ramp up your savings. If you’re not saving at least 25 percent of your income, now is the time to do that. It might seem like a lot, but you need it. Once you hit 25 percent of your income, try to squeeze another 25 percent out of your income for savings.

Allen Foster has been involved in financial consultancy for a number of years. He likes to offer his views and ideas on this subject to a wider audience online. His thoughts on financial matters have been published across a diverse range of sites.

3 Easy Ways to Kickstart Your HR Career

Every successful business needs well-drilled HR advisors.

Whether it’s a multinational in Malaysia, a warehouse in Wigan or a shop in Singapore, dealing with employee relations, sorting out salaries and coordinating training is just the tip of the iceberg for busy HR professionals around the globe.

Get it wrong and a company is likely to feel the retaliatory wrath of its staff, with a long line of unhappy workers making an angry beeline for the HR department, holding burning torches aloft and baying for blood.

Perhaps a tad dramatic, but you get the drift.

Get it right, however, and you’re all set to enjoy a challenging yet rewarding vocation – although there are a number of things you must take into account if you’re looking to kickstart your own career in human resources.

Here are three easy ways to get the inside track …

Gain the Relevant Skills

While many facets of modern HR are automated, HR professionals still require a solid educational background. Whether it’s a dedicated degree in human resources or a qualification in another discipline, prospective employers are keen for you to have a good grounding in academia.

After all, a university degree will provide you with the transferable skills – organisation, multitasking and communication, among others – and the confidence you need to thrive in this fast-paced industry, which should help your career flourish.

Learn to Network Effectively

If you’re anything like the rest of us, hobnobbing with individuals on the same wavelength at networking events is something you’ve considered but never followed through on. Indeed, a recent survey has found 62 per cent of British adults have never attended a networking event.

However, networking is one of the best ways to make useful contacts in the HR industry, allowing you to gain the names and numbers of people likely to help you take the next step in your human resources career.

Display Your Flexibility

Enjoying a successful career in HR requires you to be something of an organisational gymnast, offering your company a diverse range of skills in an effort to accomplish the defined objectives outlined by the business.

This often means a flexible approach to work, which may involve working from home or job sharing, depending on the needs of the company. Typically, however, this enthusiasm for bending with the business will hold you in good stead for climbing the ladder.

Now it’s over to you …

Are you involved in the HR industry? What tips would you give to someone looking to make moves? Is there anything our list has missed out? Please let us know by leaving your comments below – we’d love to read your thoughts on this subject.

The Binary Approach

Money management is a popular topic, and one that offers many different choices for people to make in terms of what vehicles to utilize. Some of these can be quite passive, and others can be more along the lines of being very active.

With respect to the former, “passive” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as what is commonly described as passive income in some personal finance circles. That might mean royalties, or simply money earned with next to no effort and really even much further investment of money or time.

In this case, when it comes to passive, let’s consider it to mean one that is more conservative. In other words: low risk. This can absolutely have its merits, and can be especially valuable in old age. After all, later in life capital preservation just might be the name of the game for many people. Some examples of this might be savings accounts, super safe government bonds, or perhaps even this very simple, no-frills approach: holding money in cash.

Some people in the past have gone so far as to bury money in the back yard, though I think that brings about some real risk :)

The, there are more “active” approaches to allocating your money, which involve more risk but potentially some more return. One example, which just might be the one that comes to mind for a lot of folks, would be stocks. Yes, equities are traded around the world and at a staggering volume each trading day. Here in the U.S., just think about how much money is put into equities by 401(k) participants on a regular basis!

There some other choices people can make as well. Another example is investing in a small venture through crowdfunding. Yet another example could be online trading of options. One in particular is binary options. With these, the “binary” term reminds one of the 1’s and 0’s that come to mind when thinking of math or even coding. In this case, the idea is that there is either a nice return or the alternative of no return. Like many other things, where there is some risk there can potentially be some real rewards too.

Little-Known Ways to Save Money While Traveling

There are plenty of places to find out ways to save money during a vacation. The problem is most of these methods are things that you already know. They are the same tips being rehashed again and again. If you want to find some new information on this subject, it can often be very difficult to obtain. That having been said, there are quite a few money saving tips that do not get a great deal of publicity, for whatever reason. However, just because these tips do not get talked about a lot, it does not make them any less effective. Cancun travel tips can be easily acquired on a wide variety of websites. Here are some of the best little-known ways to save money while you travel.
1. Book your airport parking in advance
Many things in the travel industry require advance booking in order for people to receive a big discount. While most people are aware that booking your plane tickets and hotel room in advance will result is some nice savings, it may surprise many travelers to learn that you can also do the same thing for parking at the airport. If you are going to need to park your car at the airport during the entire length of your vacation, you should book your parking space as far in advance as possible. The savings you receive for doing this can be quite significant.
2. Consider the airport you are using
Most people simply use the airport that is closest to where they live. This is because they would never suspect that the price of airfare could be impacted by the airport that you choose to fly out of. However, this is the case. It may be significantly cheaper for you to fly out from an airport that is further away from your home. Even if you include the added cost of gas for your car, or fare for a bus or taxi, the overall cost of using a different airport could be worth the slight inconvenience of having to travel longer to get there. You can research the cost of using various airports by looking online. Then you can determine if the money you can save is worth the added effort to get to the other airport.
3. Do not stay in the city you are visiting
Millions of people make the mistake of booking a hotel in their destination city. This is a mistake that causes lots of perfectly good money to be flushed down the toilet. This is especially true if your destination is a city that is known for being expensive. For example, if you are going to be visiting New York City, the worst thing you can do it is book a room in a Manhattan hotel. The price you will pay will be outrageous compared to the prices you can get elsewhere for similar rooms. All you need to do is go across the river to New Jersey. You will find that the hotel prices will drop dramatically once you leave New York City. You will still be close enough to the city so that getting there will not require a lot of time and money in transportation fees. This is just an example, but it applies to many cities around the world.
This post was provided by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a travel website that helps you to locate the best deals on transportation, accommodations, and more.

Why Students Prefer Writing Services

Students who are looking for effective ways to create 100% unique and plagiarism free assignments must hire writing services. There is an abundance of custom college essay writing services over the internet. Students just need to browse through the internet and they will come across a large number of writing services, which will provide unique, enticing and genuine articles. There are several reasons for taking the help of these professional writing services. First and foremost, they have a team of professional individuals who are experienced in writing papers on different topics.

Where you might take several hours to finish a simple assignment of 1000 words, they will do it in an hour. Students are not confident if they will be able to do the task in a proper manner or not, as they haven’t done anything like that before. The assignments given to the students are of huge significance, as their scores are included in the final academic scores. So, if any mistake is found in these assignments, then it is going to dent the score of the student. A professional writing service knows how to start and finish the article.

Reasons to prefer a professional and reputed company

They will perform their tasks in the best possible way. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about deadlines because your work would be in at the right time. It is true that there are several companies available on the web, which make use of the unethical ways to write papers. It is vital to check the reputation and experience of the company before handing over the task to them. If you get a paper, which is re-written or reproduced will easily be pointed out by the concerned authorities and then, it will be you who will have to face the music, not the writing service.

Therefore, it is better to hire a professional company who also has a good reputation over the internet. You can check benefits of Writing-Expert.com writing services, as it is one of the leading writing services in the world. If you really want to improve your academic performance, then you have to take these papers very seriously, as these will pave the way towards the successful academic record. Any mistake would lead to forgettable blunders.

Consequences of submitting poorly written papers

Students who submit poorly written papers get penalized because of bad writing skills, even if they have done well in the class. This is a kind of hurdle which can only be crossed by doing smart work instead of hard work. If you are not a writer, then don’t try to be one because in such a short time span as it is not possible for you to learn all the concepts of writing and create a paper as well. The best way to make the best use of the moment is by hiring a professional writing service and let them handle the writing task. The website that I have mentioned above is a pioneer in writing sensational write-ups, so you should prefer hiring this company for your papers.

Injuries and Accidents: Top Tips for Dealing With Insurance Adjusters

A lot of people hate insurance adjusters, believing that they are what is standing between you and a pile full of cash. But, do you know what an insurance adjuster does? Most people don’t. Here’s what they do, and how to handle them when they are working on your claim.

First, Understand What They Do

An insurance adjuster works either as an independent agent or directly for the insurance company. The adjuster’s job is to investigate claims made by individuals and assess damages or losses incurred that are payable under the insurance policy.

Most property and casualty insurance policies list perils for which a policyholder can file a claim against. When the named peril occurs, and a policyholder suffers a loss, an insurance adjuster analyzes the situation and tries to determine the best possible course of action which will result in a fair payment to the policyholder.

Some people believe that adjusters serve as gatekeepers for insurance companies, helping them keep more of policyholders’ money, shuttling legitimate claims, and denying payments.

While there are likely some adjusters out there who do this, a dishonest adjuster becomes a liability for the insurance company, which can be sued by policyholders for non-payment of a valid claim.

Because the insurer has a responsibility to all policyholders to pay valid claims, the insurer must make fiscally sound decisions about how much to pay for each loss. Sometimes, a policyholder won’t agree with an adjuster, and this is where the negative perception of the adjuster comes in.

The Claims Process

The claims process is fairly straightforward. First, the policyholder calls the insurance company, notifying them of a loss they believe is covered under their insurance policy. Next, an insurance adjuster visits the individual to assess the nature of the loss and tries to estimate the damages to the policyholder.

Finally, the adjuster makes an offer to settle the claim. This settlement offer is supposed to be for an amount which will pay for all of the damage to the insured’s property. Depending on the policy, however, it may not be enough to replace the loss of the item.

Some policies only cover the cash value of the item in question.

When “cash value” replacement is elected at policy issue, an insurance company is only responsible for the full market value at the time of the loss. In other words, the policyholder will have to accept that he or she will not get the full replacement value of the loss due to depreciation of the item.

For example, if a policyholder has the contents of his home insured under a “cash value” type policy, then he will only get the market value of those items at the time of the loss. If the policyholder has old items which have depreciated in value, they may not be worth much, so the claim amount will be rather small.

Contrast this to “full replacement value.” This is a method of adjusting where the insurance adjuster can offer the full replacement value for all items covered under the policy. So, continuing with the same example, if the policyholder suffered a loss of the contents in the home, he or she would be entitled to an amount of money which would be sufficient to buy new items of the same or similar quality.

Obviously, this results in much more money being paid out.

Protecting Yourself From A Stingy Adjuster

Some insurance adjusters just want to successfully resolve a claim in a fair and equitable manner. But, some are out to minimize the amount of the payout. And, they must get an approval from their supervisor to pay out more than their authorization limit.

In other words, while adjusters may not necessarily be out to get you, some of them aren’t exactly on your side, either. A good Personal Injury Lawyer can help you by being the counterbalance to the opinion of the adjuster, assessing whether you’re being treated fairly during the claims process.

Sample Questions You Might Be Asked

You should hire a lawyer if you meet with an adjuster personally, or if you don’t understand the claims process. An adjuster is trained to ask you for information like your name, the date and time of the incident, pictures of the accident and damage, a copy of the police report, copies of medical bills and documentation from your medical care provider to prove injury, and the costs of your initial hospital stay, if there was one.

Your answers to these questions influence how much money is paid out to you.

Peter Ticktin is an insurance claims associate. He likes sharing his insights online. His articles can be found on many legal and insurance websites.