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Everything You Need To Know about Credit Card Balance Transfers

A credit card balance transfer is the relocation of money owed from one credit card account to another. Credit card companies offer balance transfers as a way to entice new clients. Used appropriately by consumers, balance transfers can provide a wide range of financial benefits, but unfortunately, there’s also great potential for abuse. Credit card balance transfers are for those in dire straits, they are not how to save money but they are a way to minimize a disastrous financial situation. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of credit card balance transfers.

You Must Have Good Credit

Balance transfers are often seen as a way to manage debt, which is true to a point; however, it’s important to note that the option isn’t available when there’s a debt problem. Credit card companies only extend these offers to consumers with good credit.

You Can Use New Cards to Pay off Old Ones

This is a last ditch effort to save your credit score if one card is about to put you in a crippling financial state. In fact, the credit card companies want that debt, which is the reason they made the offer. The transfer may not be the reason you opted for the new card, but if the new card has a lower rate, then it would be financially irresponsible not take advantage of it.

A Cyclical Approach Has a Negative Effect

It’s possible to use a series of balance transfer to move debt along and thus avoid interest. That plan will catch up with you, however. Each time you open and close a credit card account, it has a negative effect on your credit score. In isolation, that effect is minor, but when a pattern forms, it’ll affect the credit to the point that transfers will no longer be available.

Your aren’t Limited to Credit Card Debt

Balance transfers aren’t limited to just credit card debt. In fact, you can transfer nearly any kind of debt. Credit companies will usually include blank checks at the time of transfer, and you can use those checks to pay off bank loans and other types of outstanding financing.

Balance Transfer Fees are Likely

Acquiring fee-less balance transfers prior to the recession was relatively easy, but this isn’t the case any longer. Nearly all transfers will have some type of fee associated with them, and you need to factor in that amount when evaluating the lucrativeness of the option. If you have very good credit, the company may waive the fee as long as you meet certain conditions, such as keeping the account active for x number of years.

Transfer Rates May Not Apply Across the Board

Read the fine print. The credit rate for transfer is usually limited to the transfer amount, which means that any new balance will be calculated at the default rate for the account. In addition, the special transfer rate may be limited to certain types of transfer. In order words, your car loan may not be a valid transfer for the special rate.

Transfer Rates Do Expire

Transfer rates are not permanent and will have an expiration date. When that expiration date occurs, the remaining balance is charged at the default rate and may even be charge retroactively. Be very careful when paying off your debt that anything beyond the minimum payment is actually going toward the balance transfer first.

Conclusion

Balance transfers can be a highly effective way of simplifying and consolidating debt. If you see debt problems on the horizon, then a transfer can be an excellent preemptive strike. However, if you don’t change your spending and saving habits, the debt will eventually catch up with you.

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Posted in Debts & Mortgages |

Do Stay at Home Moms Need Life Insurance?

 

A Homemaker might not receive an income but is nearly irreplaceable. Think of all the things a Stay-at-home Mom does; you can’t even hire a nanny to work seven days a week! A Stay-at-home Mom is much more than a nanny too; she often does all of the following jobs:

  • Child caregiver
  • Driver
  • Housekeeper
  • Cook
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Psychologist and Counselor

As part of their program to celebrate moms, and their second annual “Walmart Mom of the Year Award,” Walmart Canada had Leger Marketing conduct a survey. The findings were that Canadians valued a Mom’s role at over $160,000 a year!

stay at home mom

Life Insurance for the breadwinner is a wise, and obvious, choice, but the main provider does not have the freedom to focus on work without the support of someone taking care of the household. Ensure your peace of mind by making sure you have a few things in place to protect against the unforeseen:

  • The most important thing is a Will and Testament. This makes wishes known and clear. It speeds up the process of distributing any assets and avoids Probate and Court fees.
  • Make sure you have enough coverage to at least cover childcare costs in the case that an illness or premature death occurs. Full-time daycare costs are around $15,000 per year, and even after-school care can cost over $10,000 per child, although these expenses can be subsidized by the government.
  • Funeral bills are a very unwelcome added stress which can accompany a tragedy. Having this $7,000- $10,000 bill covered is a huge comfort in a difficult time.

 

How Much Life Insurance Do Stay At Home Mom’s Require?

Adding all this up a stay at home mom’s life insurance coverage should be ($50k x the number of years remaining before the children are reasonably self-sufficient ~ 12years of age).

For example a stay at home mom with a 3 year old and 5 year old should have (12-3)x(50) = $450k coverage.

This amount is in line with Financial Guru’s Dave Ramsey’s recommendation for stay at home moms.

 

What Type of Insurance Should Stay at Home Mom’s Purchase?

  • Permanent Life Insurance: Whole Life Insurance, Term to 100 Life Insurance, and Universal Life Insurance all fall under this category:

I. Whole Life Insurance is an entire life insurance policy. It has the benefit of tax-savings and no future medical exams. It remains constant for your whole life, both the premiums and death benefit, but those payments are essentially more now and less later. This permanent policy can be used as an investment, although the return is low in comparison with other investment options. It can be borrowed against and has a cash payout when you cancel it.

II. Term to 100 Life Insurance is like Whole Life Insurance but with no cash value, so the premiums are lower.

III. Universal Life Insurance is half insurance policy and half investment. Premiums paid above the insurance cost go into an investment account. The investment portion is not guaranteed.

  • Term Life Insurance: Term Life Insurance covers you for only a period, or “term,” of your life. This can definitely apply to the time a mom dedicates to working at home (but not from home). You can get different terms: 5, 10, 20, 30 years… It is a cheaper option, but no money is paid out if the policy holder is still alive when the policy expires. There is also the possibility that when you go to renew you will then be uninsurable, due to a medical condition or what have you. Also, when you renew, the premium goes up. You can get Convertible Term Life Insurance, which gives you the option to convert your policy to a permanent policy without a medical exam.

For most stay at home mom’s the temporary nature 1-20 years of staying at home with the potential to be picking up part time work etc means that term policies will usually be the best insurance. Here are the 5 most common questions people have when getting life insurance quotes - http://ourinsurancecanada.com/life-insurance-quotes/

This post is written by Jon Haver who recently became a new father and is working to help other fellow Canadians make sense of the often confusing insurance landscape.

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Posted in Concerns and Priorities |

Conducting a Midyear Financial Review

With the Summer in full swing and the midpoint of the calendar right behind us, you should have ideally completed your personal finance review already (or at least be giving it some thought).

The hour or two it takes to get a handle on your finances is more than worth it, so without further ado, here are the key areas you should address when conducting your midyear financial review.

Everyday Outgoings

since you’ll inevitably forget something like recurring gym membership or AAA Payday Loan repayments. Sit down with a few month’s worth of bank statements and pay close attention to all outgoings. If you come across one-off payments that you don’t think are likely to recur, don’t ignore them – add them to all together, and take note of how much you need to roughly budget for such occasional outgoings as a whole.

With everything noted down, you can begin to trim the fat from your monthly expenses. Are over the contract period for any particular service and able to cancel it? Could you negotiate a cheaper Internet or cell phone package, and switch provider if not? Are you able to switch to a provider with an introductory offer?

In addition, if you have an iOS device consider using BillGuard. It’s a neat little free app which picks up on ‘grey charges’ – things which you’re being unnecessarily billed small amounts for but you’ve forgotten about.

Jiggle Your Credit Debt Around

If you’ve got credit card debt, which you’re currently paying off incrementally, you may benefit from a balance transfer. Plenty of credit cards offer balances which are free of interest, so signing up for one and moving over any debt that is currently incurring interest charges is a winning move. The only danger to be wary of is the temptation to take out more credit than you need to make the transfer and spending that.

Adjusting Income

A midyear finance review isn’t just about trimming outgoings. It’s also a time to assess how much is coming in. It may seem like an unchangeable factor in your finances, but there are some very easy ways to increase your income.

The first of which is simply to ask. Although requesting a pay rise can be daunting, if you haven’t had one in a while it’s worth a shot. The very worst outcome will be that you’re no better off than you were before asking, and at least you’ll know where you stand. If you do get a rejection, it might be a good time to assess whether you’re services will be valued higher elsewhere.

If your finances are really under the gun, perhaps consider whether it’ll be worth picking up more hours at your existing workplace, or picking up a second job. Just don’t make yourself miserable working 60+ hours a week in the search for financial security.

Retirement and Healthcare

Your golden years will, hopefully, be very long indeed. They’ll feel even longer if you don’t have anything to fall back on once you wave the day job goodbye.

As with negotiating your income at work, don’t be afraid to ask what retirement plans your employer may have in place. Quite often people are surprised to find out that their employer is more than happy to match your 401(k) contributions, so find out what you might be missing out on as soon as possible.

Healthcare is another big expense for most working Americans and is vitally important both now and after retirement. Make sure your policy offers the best possible value for money – it will take some time to research all the options, but the time spent now will pay dividends.

Balancing Your Portfolio

If you’re investing, keeping a close eye on your portfolio is something you should be doing more regularly than twice a year anyway, but this is a great time to really drill down into the details. Make sure what you had in mind when you picked a particular investment is still holding true, and that your portfolio as a whole is well spread and within your risk tolerance.

 

Note that pens don’t actually work on iPads.

If all this is greek to you, now might be the right time to get into investing. The biggest reason people don’t is because they believe they don’t have enough money, but as this beginner’s video proves, you can probably get started right away with next to no spare capital.

Plan for the Biggies

People rarely include things like Christmas or their next vacation into their monthly budget, but since they can be the most expensive single events on the calendar, be sure to make provisions for them right now.

The same goes for any particular months with a lot of birthdays (we all have one month in which so many people line up for presents).

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Posted in Debts & Mortgages |

What Should Your Retirement Plan Look Like?

We enjoy bringing you all sorts of retirement tools, tips, and ideas. We know that you’re working diligently and preparing so that you can enjoy your retirement years without stressing about the bills. You worked hard your whole life. You deserve to retire in peace.

Let’s talk about a superannuation fund. What is this? I did some research and found the following response:

Superannuation, sometimes called ‘super’, is a special way of saving to provide yourself with an income
when you retire. While there are other ways of saving for retirement, superannuation saving is different because it is linked with your employment.

The Suncorp Superannuation fund allows you to play with the numbers and to simulate a possible retirement. Following the link will show you how much you should be contributing right now to take care of your retirement.

The beauty of this plan is that you can have numbers to know how much money you need in your golden years. The whole goal of retirement is to have somewhat of a similar income to when you were working, except without the work aspect. You want to maintain your lifestyle, but you don’t want to have to think about waking up to rush to work. You want to live life on your terms and do whatever you want.

Now we know what you might be thinking…

What if you want to run the numbers?

Some of us would prefer to see what sort of numbers and targets we should aim for to have a decent retirement. Some calculators exist around the Web. Suncorp Superannuation Calculator is one among others, but that will paint a more realistic picture of the moves that you need to make right now to have the ideal lifestyle in your golden years. We want you to see for yourself how the fund actually compares to other options that you have been considering.

If you want to know more, please keep on reading…

How does the superannuation fund compare?

With your superannuation fund you’ll receive money once you retire.

The question is: can you wait that long?

Some of you might be bigger fans of real estate as a retirement tool for the simple fact that you can sell this property for profit when you’re still working. You don’t have to wait until retirement to see the money. With real estate, you can also control your rates and how many properties you buy. So what we’re getting at is the idea that there’s no one-size-fits-all retirement plan that you’re supposed to blindly accept.

What’s in your retirement plan? We recommend that you check out these links to see what your options are.

It’s important that you take advantage of plans offered by your employer because you can’t just rely on one source of retirement income. It helps to have a few sources under your belt. You never know what could go wrong with real estate or the stock market. That’s why you should explore a few retirement income plans.

What does your retirement plan look like?

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Posted in Concerns and Priorities |

The Importance of Insurance on Your Retirement

What are you thoughts on insurance and insurance coverage? Have you factored insurance into your retirement planning?

Some of my friends don’t care to fork over the dollars for insurance. A lot of folks don’t even think about the role of insurance on their retirement situation. We only think about our savings and our pension when it comes to income in our golden years. We need to consider the role of insurance.

Why do you need insurance if you want to be comfortable in your golden years?

It’s pretty simple — you don’t want to be out of luck stuck trying to figure out how you’ll cover your expenses. Things happen in life that we don’t expect. Everything doesn’t always go as planned. If you don’t have insurance as a backup plan, you’ll be totally stressed when you realize that you have expenses to pay for that you can’t afford.

Depending on the type of insurance that you get, it will bail you out when it comes to emergency situations.

Without insurance, there’s no backup plan and no peace of mind. The majority of us want to retire stress-free. We worked hard for so many years. Why stress now that we’re done with work?

What sort of insurance should you have for retirement planning?

Life insurance.

Nobody wants to think about dying but life insurance is important when it comes to covering expenses in the event that you do pass away. How will your family cover the funeral expenses? Where will they get the money for.

There are different types of life insurance that we will cover another day. For today, we just need to consider the importance of having money available in case we pass or someone in our family passes away early. You don’t want to use retirement savings to pay for an unforeseen circumstance. Once again, it’s not pleasant to think about, but is very important.

Disability insurance.

You might be strong and healthy now, but anything can happen. All it takes is one bad accident at work or a car accident on your way home one day. Imagine being in an accident before you retire? You now have to figure out a way to pay your mortgage. This could eat into your retirement or just totally throw it off.

I hope that you never have to use disability experience. It’s horrible to even think about. However, the peace of mind will be worth it. You want to be covered if something were to happen to you. You want to know that your mortgage will be covered and that you won’t have to stress about selling your home.

We have covered insurance in great detail in the past. This post is just about the importance of insurance on your retirement planning. Please conduct your own research as every single insurance package is unique.

How’s your insurance coverage right now?

You can check out La Capitale for your insurance needs.

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