Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Repaying debt: what are the advantages of contacting a specialist debt company?

Struggling with debt can be stressful, and you can often feel like you've got nowhere to turn. You needn't feel that way, though, because help is available - there are all kinds of debt advisers who could provide the help you're looking for.

Debt advice from a professional debt adviser could be all you need to help you get back on top of your finances and repay your debts in an affordable manner appropriate to your current financial situation.

Depending on how much debt you're carrying (and how able you are to manage it), you might just need a little bit of budgeting advice, for example. However, if that level of advice isn't likely to be enough, you may be advised to take some time looking at specific debt solutions.

Some borrowers prefer to manage their debts on their own, and don't like getting other people involved. If you were to do this, you'd have to take care of all the administrative work yourself - including negotiating with your creditors, distributing payments and so on. If you'd rather not do this on your own, a debt professional can do it on your behalf (if you enter a debt solution). Just bear in mind that there may well be a fee for this.

So, what are the benefits of seeking professional debt advice?

Seeking advice on handling your debt has plenty of benefits. To name just a few:

  • You'll be talking to someone who helps people with their debts every day. It's a debt adviser's job to help you - and the right adviser will have the right amount of experience when it comes to offering the right advice.
  • Simply getting some debt advice could be enough to help you regain control of your finances so you can repay your debts.
  • If your debts are more serious and it doesn't look like debt advice on its own will be enough to help, a professional debt adviser should be able to assess your situation and recommend a specific debt solution for you to look into.
  • Finally, the sooner you seek advice from a professional organisation, the sooner you could start regaining control of your finances - so you can look forward to enjoying a debt-free life.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to survive on £50 a month for food

Although it may sound impossible, there are ways to shop very cheaply if your food budget is tight and it does not have to mean cutting back on meals. If you only have £50 to spend on food for a month, you will have to plan every penny very carefully, but it is possible to keep within this budget.

First things first, you need stock up on staples - those cupboard essentials that serve as the basis for any meal you prepare and give you the energy you need. These include rice, pasta, potatoes, pulses, eggs, fruit and veg. The best advice is to try and buy these staples in bulk, so they will last you the entire month and the price will invariably be cheaper. If you are on a tight budget, it is essential you shop around for the best price. Rice is expensive in the supermarkets, so the best place to buy rice and lentils in bulk is your local ethnic store, where 2kg bags sell for as little as £1.85. Here you can also pick up essential herbs and spices for a lot less too, as little as 39p a bag. For pasta and potatoes, ALDI and LIDL are your best bet, the latter of which is currently offering 2.5kg of King Edwards for just £1.

If you manage to keep your staples budget under £25, you are well on your way to frugal success. The other £25 will be earmarked for bread, dairy, meat and incidentals. For these items, the best advice is to shop for offers and discounts and sometimes the best stores for these kind of bargains are your local Tesco or Sainsbury's. With the recent recession, the discount shelves in these stores have become increasingly popular. You can buy a perfectly good loaf of bread for as little 39p (reduced from £1.40), if you are smart you will buy 3 loaves and freeze the other 2, which will give you your monthly bread supply for a little over a pound.

You will find large blocks of cheese are also often on sale. Although meat and fish won't be a daily indulgence, you will definitely find some incredible offers on the bargain shelves; bacon, sausages and chicken are often found for a fraction of the original price. Again, freezing your bargains is often the best way forward. The only items you're unlikely to find reduced are milk, butter and kitchen essentials such as olive oil - so you should factor up to £10 a month for these, depending on your needs.

Once you have managed to buy everything you need for the month, the key is to make your food last and not be wasteful. Eggs and bread are a great source of energy in the mornings and keep you full until lunch. The same goes for baked potatoes, vegetable stir-fries with rice and pasta dishes; just be mindful of saving your left over's for another snack. It is very possible to manage on a tight budget; it just takes a little more imagination!

Garry Hudson writes for Baines and Ernst -

Best Debt Consolidation

Many people who have lots of debts see debt consolidation as a good solution. Debt consolidation is not the best thing for everyone but it could be a good answer for some people. If you are struggling to pay the minimum payments on your debts each month then you will probably be looking for a solution that can help you cope.

One way of doing this is to consolidate credit cards and your debt as well. There are many different ways of doing this, one of which is credit card consolidation. This involves paying off all your debts with a credit card and then having just one payment to make. This could be a ways of reducing your monthly payment.

If you can find a zero interest credit card then this can be a great way to start to tackle paying back some of the debt. While you will not have interest to pay, you can be using that money to pay off some of the debt. You do need to be strict with yourself though because the interest free period will not last for long and you need to take advantage of it. Once it is up you will be moved on to the standard variable rate and that is likely to be quite high. It is therefore a good idea to have the minimum debt possible by then so that you can pay the minimum interest possible.

You may even be able to transfer to another free interest credit card once the term is up on your current one. It is important to make sure that you check how much the costs are of the credit card. Even though it is interest free for a time, you may find that there are other charges that you will need to pay and these may end up making it dearer than using one with interest.

As with any financial product you should look very carefully in to it before going ahead. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions, how much money you will have to pay and whether you are tied in or not. You should be able to find several similar credit cards and so you will be able to compare them to find that one that will give you the right deal. Take some time making this decision, make sure that you are confident about your choice and you understand everything about the product and how it will change your finances. Unless you are completely confident then it may be wise not to go with the product though.

If you want to find out how to make sure that you are making the right decision about coping with your debts then it is a good idea to get help. You may find it difficult to even admit to yourself that you have made a financial mistake, but it is really valuable being able to talk to someone else about it. None of us is perfect and it is very easy to get in to debt these days, with everyone trying to get us to spend money and the bank’s lending so easily. Many of us had no financial education as we were growing up and so it is not surprising that many of us have got ourselves in to problems.

Do not feel bad about your situation; feel proud that you want to do something about it. Many people just bury their heads in the sand and ignore things until it is too late. By understanding you have a problem and deciding to do something about it, you have made a very brave step. There are many people out there who are capable of helping you and they will all be sympathetic. No one wants to be nasty about your problem but they want to be able to help you.

Go to a professional, who knows what the best thing to do is and you will find that you will soon learn how to get yourself back on your feet again. Even if you have done a lot of research yourself, you may need to check that it is still the right decision for you. Getting professional help is the best way to make sure that you are doing the right thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Is Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella insurance is an additional liability policy that can be purchased to enhance your insurance coverage. It provides extra protection in the event that you are sued for an amount above and beyond what your other insurance policies cover. Umbrella insurance, also known as "personal liability insurance," is a good investment in today's day and age where people are more likely to sue one another for just about anything. This type of insurance is named "umbrella" because it sits on top of your other insurance policies like a guardian, protecting you in the event they are maxed out.

Who Needs Umbrella Insurance?

It used to be that only wealthy people needed this type of insurance because they were more likely to be sued. It isn't that way anymore. Now nearly anyone and everyone should have this insurance. Umbrella insurance protects your home, automobiles, boats, and other large assets. It kicks in when your other insurance policies have run dry.

If you caused a bad car accident and several people were injured, your insurance company could easily be sued for well over a million dollars. In a case where you were liable, your insurance company would need to cover all medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs for the injured parties. This expense could easily eat up all of your insurance benefits leaving all of your personal assets at risk.

If you didn’t have an umbrella policy, the representatives of the injured persons could go after your home, cars, boats, jewelry, or even your salary. You could end up paying a portion of every paycheck out for many years, or even for the rest of your life depending on how large of an amount the claimants were awarded by a judge.

It’s not a bad idea for everyone to look into umbrella insurance. In most cases it doesn't cost much and it could save you a lot of money if something unfortunate were to happen. The peace of mind, knowing that you are fully protected, is worth the extra money.

Getting a Deal on Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance policies are thought to be one of the best deals in the insurance industry. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't shop around when seeking out coverage. The same type of policy could cost you much more through one insurer than it would if you bought from another. Take time to compare prices and coverage levels before purchasing a policy. It is the only way to make sure you get a good deal and reliable coverage.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about insurance and other topics for the Home Insurance Blog.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Will My Online Earnings Be Taxed? - Important News

More and more people are drawn to the thought of running an internet business through the perception that whatever income attained on the internet will be exempt from taxation. This regrettably is a prevalent disbelief in view that those who own internet businesses are still required to pay their tax dues.

In reality there's been considerable controversy behind internet businesses and taxation leaving many of the entrepreneurs who begun their online businesses with this false perception wishing they had done their due diligence before starting out.

"But I Am Working At Home"

And Other Pointless Excuses Not To Pay Taxes

With an influx of individuals now working in the comfort of home and receiving earnings from their online endeavors the obvious pretext is that given that they acquired the income at home they don't have to pay taxes. These people fail to realize that taxes are actually centered on the sources and quantity of the income in addition to the kinds of products and services sold; not on the location of the business.

With that in mind you should fully grasp that you are certainly required to pay your tax dues even when you earned it online.

Internet Tax is paid in the same manner every other business pays tax. As a matter of fact the government does not collect income taxes based on how a business works but rather it concentrates on the type of business.

If your business is based on the Internet you still have to register for GST and PST (if appropriate) the same as any other business. Based on the framework of the enterprise, sole proprietorship or incorporated, you'll still need to fill out the required documents so that your online business could be deemed as legal and so that you can pay the proper taxes regularly.

There is really no big difference between the tax responsibility of an online business and any other business.

Online Businesses And Federal Taxes

Even when you operate an online business you are still required to pay federal taxes. It may seem unfair to you but it is crucial that you understand this upfront rather than find out at a later point that you owe money to the IRS. The federal taxes that you need to pay will vary according to your business framework.

If your business is set up as a sole proprietor for an online business any revenue you earn through your online business is going to be taxed as income on your PTR or personal tax return.

Aside from that you will need to pay for your part of social security and medicare taxes using schedule SE.

On the other hand in case you have incorporated your business the tax schedule will be very distinct from a sole proprietor of an online business.

At times, the tax you have to pay as an incorporated online business will also depend on the kind of business. You'll either pay tax at a corporate level or it will be handed down to you as an income.

Mastering taxes as it applies to your online business can be quite perplexing but it is critical to get a picture of what is needed that allows you to minimize complications down the line. You might want to seek professional advice from a lawyer or public accountant if you're not 100 % certain what taxes are required for your online business.

Obtain free access to a List of Business Tax Deductions and get answers to pressing questions concerning business tax filing

Thursday, January 27, 2011

5 Ways to Prepare and Organize Yourself for the Dreaded Tax Season

You've probably heard the saying, "The best defense is a good offense." This is a relevant saying when it comes to preparing for the dreaded tax season. For those who lose sleep as the April 15th tax filing deadline looms, it's especially important to do a bit of homework throughout the year to save you from months of anxiety leading up to April 15th.

Here are five ways to prepare and organize yourself for the dreaded tax season.

1. Divide and conquer.

Fortune 500 companies are obligated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to submit quarterly financial reports to keep shareholders and other relevant players abreast of their performance throughout the year. Take a cue from these successful companies and divide your year into seasons (instead of financial quarters) to keep better track of your finances throughout the year.

In summer, organize your records. Make sure your filing system is up to snuff and is complete with updated records.

In autumn, estimate what your annual income will look like at the end of the year, as well as your taxable income. You should be able to estimate your taxable income, so you know if you're behind on tax payments.

In winter, prepare to file your tax return. Make sure needed records are complete and readily available. Also, gather any tax forms you'll need. Separate pertinent receipts from those you won't need.

In spring, file your taxes! If you've followed the guidelines above, this should be a breeze.

2. Keep good records.

This may seem redundant, but it can't be emphasized enough. If you keep good records throughout the year, you'll have an easier time come tax season. Additionally, keep certain types of documents secure: birth certificates, wills, deeds, and bond or stock certificates.

3. Adjust your W4 to reflect appropriate withholding.

There's a school of thought that believes that if you're paying too much taxes throughout the year (even if you get a large refund at the end of the year) you're actually giving the government a free loan! This is because you could be saving the difference each month to put into a savings account that's earning you interest instead. However, if you lack self-discipline, you might want to think of receiving a tax refund as a forced savings plan. Whether you'd rather adjust your W4 to get a refund or pay as little as possible toward taxes each month to maximize your income and minimize the taxes paid is up to you.

4. Keep receipts.

Keeping receipts will give you ammunition if you get audited. Pertinent receipts include paycheck stubs, 1099 or W2 forms, receipts for deductible items, records of charitable donations, and medical and insurance documents, among others.

You can also use software like NeatDesk to electronically keep track of your receipts, too.

5. Pay your taxes before April 15th.

The IRS charges penalties if you don't pay estimated taxes throughout the year. Therefore, adjust your W4 withholding amount appropriately during the year to keep the IRS at bay. If you're unsure how much to withhold, use turbo tax coupons to get affordable help with your taxes.

With a little forethought and basic record-keeping skills, you'll feel prepared to file your taxes come April 15th.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are Reverse Mortgages a Viable Option for Older Americans?

Reverse mortgages are special types of home loans that enables the borrower to convert a portion of his home’s equity into cash. Unlike traditional home equity loans, repayment is not required until the borrower moves or dies. Reverse mortgages are garnered by the FHA through its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program.

Qualifications for these reverse mortgages include: the homeowner needs to own the home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off with the proceeds from the loan, the homeowner must be at least 62 years of age, and the home must be the primary residence of the homeowner. HECM counseling is also a requirement of the financing process to make sure the homeowner understands the process, is really in need of the reverse mortgage, and can afford to stay in the home even after loan approval.

There has been a change to the HECM rules, though. There are a couple of options that are now available. One is the HECM Standard option and the other is HECM Saver option. The saver option can cut the initial insurance premium, which is one of the biggest costs associated with these types of loans, from 2% of a home’s value, which is the current HECM Standard option, to 0.01% of the home’s value.

In addition to the new HECM option, many lenders are also cutting deals on fees. Fees can potentially add up quickly. For example, origination fees can be as much as $6,000 and closing costs are also required, which includes appraisal and title insurance fees. These potentially high upfront fees have previously stymied interest in these types of loans. Lenders, though, are now more than likely to pay at least half of the initial premium and waive origination fees.

The choice between the types of loans can be complicated, though. Monthly payment options are available as well as getting a lump sum, at a variable or fixed rate. Another option is a variable rate credit line. The new HECM Saver constitutes another hurdle in which the amount that can be borrowed normally is lower than with an HECM Standard loan. For example, a 65 year old in a paid off $300,000 home could net only $146,000 with an HECM Saver but can net about $182,000 with a traditional loan or an HECM Standard loan. Of course, these numbers are relative to the area lived in as well.

Further, if the option of receiving payments is chosen, the process can become even more complicated because there are currently five options available. These are Tenure, Term, Line of Credit, Modified Tenure, and Modified Term. The Tenure option is set as equal monthly payments as long as the borrower continues to live on the property for as long as the borrower lives. The Term option is basically equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months. A Line of Credit is just that, unscheduled payments in the amounts chosen by borrowers until the line of credit is exhausted. Modified Tenure includes a line of credit along with fixed monthly payments. Modified Term is a line of credit with monthly payments for a fixed period.

Susan Redfield - Real Estate Broker at