Retirement Savings

American families are suffering unprecedented financial hardships and the trend doesnt seem to be stopping anytime soon. Many homeowners are being forced into foreclosure due to the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market and its having a ripple effect on other borrowers, who also now find themselves in dire straits or in bankruptcy court. “Although people desperately want to gain control of their finances and build wealth, there has been an overwhelming trend in the opposite direction,” says Lakeycia Jefferson, a consultant with Wealth Masters International

The numbers bear out Jeffersons assertions. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, 58 percent of families with credit cards have an average outstanding balance of $5,100. Between 2001 and 2004 (the last year for which statistics are available), household debt increased a whopping 26.3 percent. During the same time period, the median income fell almost a full percentage point, to $37,800. Furthermore, nine percent of families surveyed by the Fed reported that they had been at least 60 days late with a payment in the previous year. “Unless and until Americans adopt the practices of the wealthy, they will continue to spend more money than they earn, and have nothing to show for a lifetime of hard work,” says Jefferson.

Prior to becoming a consultant with Wealth Masters International, Jefferson was a network marketer who experienced firsthand the limitations of a traditional mindset. “I never went beyond my inner circle of family, friends, and acquaintances,” she says. “I simply didnt have access to a marketing system that would enable me to reach the numbers of people necessary to truly create wealth.” Regardless of how hard she worked, Jefferson was never able to generate the massive downline necessary to succeed with traditional network marketing paradigms which is one of the reasons that she switched to Carbon Copy Pro.

Moreover, she witnessed the mistakes of those who did experience success. “Oftentimes, people who made a considerable amount of money would simply blow through it, because the companies they were affiliated with didnt offer direction and guidance to help them achieve their long-term goals,” Jefferson says.

In contrast, she has found Wealth Masters Internationals commitment to personal and financial growth a refreshing change. “The company offers a free analysis of a members credit situation and helps them get on track to pay down their personal debt and step on the road to financial freedom,” Jefferson says. “The company has alliances with experts in everything from credit repair and financial goal-setting to investments and wealth accumulation strategies.”

Jefferson notes that the companys “Six Steps to Freedom” resources have not only assisted her in her consultancy, but have helped her develop skills that she routinely uses in her other business ventures. The six steps involve analyzing your personal finances, minimizing your tax obligations, creating a savings fund, ensuring that you are legally protected, building a legacy through wealth creation, and creating a lifestyle that achieves your personal goals. “Wealth Masters International has enabled me to create a life where I can achieve my income potential and spend more time with my family. But the most rewarding part is being able to help other people stop the downward spiral and not only live, but also thrive,” Jefferson concludes. Considering the state of our nations collective financial trouble, thats refreshing news indeed.

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Private Pension Plans

As other precious metals, gold is measured by troy weight and by grams. And when it is alloyed with supplementary metals the term carat or karat is used to specify the amount of gold present, with 24 carats being pure gold and lower ratings being proportionally less. The purity of a gold bar can also be written as a decimal figure ranging from 0 to 1, known as the millesimal fineness, such as 0.995.

Carat and gold price

Carat is a measure of the purity of gold and platinum alloys. One carat is one twenty-fourth purity by its weight. Thus 24-carat gold is pure gold (99.99%); 12-carat gold is 50% purity, et cetera. In the United States and Canada, the word karat is typically used for the measure of purity, while carat is referring to the measure of mass.

The carat system is gradually more being complemented or superseded by the millesimal fineness system where the purity of precious metals is denoted by parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy.

The most frequent carats used for gold in bullion, jewellery making and goldsmith are:

24 carat (millesimal fineness 999), 22 carat (millesimal fineness 916), 20 carat (millesimal fineness 833), 18 carat (millesimal fineness 750), 16 carat (millesimal fineness 625), 14 carat (millesimal fineness 585), 10 carat (millesimal fineness 417) and 9 carat (millesimal fineness 375).

The open market gold price

The gold prices is determined on the open market, but a procedure recognized as the Gold Fixing in London, originating in 1919; provide a twice-daily benchmark figure to the industry.

The historically gold price

Historically gold was used to back currency in an economic system recognized as the gold standard a certain weight of gold was given the name of a unit of currency. For a long period, the United States government set the value of the US dollar so that one troy ounce was equivalent to $20.67 ($664.56/kg), but in 1934 the dollar was revalued to $35.00 per troy ounce ($1125.27/kg). And by 1961 it was becoming harder to uphold this price, and a pool of US and European banks agreed on manipulating the market to stop further currency devaluation against increased gold demand.

On 17 March 1968, economic conditions caused the collapse of the gold pool, and a two-tiered pricing scheme was established and gold was still used to settle international accounts at the old $35.00 per troy ounce ($1.13/g) but the price of gold on the private market was allowed to rise and fall; this two-tiered pricing system was discarded in 1975 when the price of gold was left to find its free-market level. Central banks still hold historical gold reserves as a store of value even though the level has generally been declining. The biggest gold depository in the world is that of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

Ever since 1968 the price of gold on the open market has ranged widely, with a record high $850/oz ($27,300/kg) on 21 January 1980, to a low $252.90/oz ($8,131/kg) on 21 June 1999 (London Fixing). On 26 April 2006 the London gold fixing was $635.50/oz.

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Saving Early For Retirement

Fair lending is an extremely important issue in the protection of consumers and their interests. There is a variety of legislation, both state and federal, that will be in place to make sure that lenders do not take advantage of consumers when they are borrowing money. One of the most important is that they explain the terms of the loan to you properly.

The annual percentage rate, or APR of the loan, which is the total cost of loan including all extra charges and arrangement fees must be clearly disclosed to consumers. They must also tell you of all other charges, penalties and fees that may be due under the loan. They must tell you how often you must make loan repayments, for example if they are monthly, or weekly or on another timescale. They must also tell you for how long the loan will last; this is the lifetime or term of the loan. Then they must tell you how much each repayment will be.

As well as all of these vital details, the lender must also make you aware of any amount that must be paid down, at the beginning of the loan, or at the end of the loan. You must be informed of the ways in which you can repay the loan early and whether such early repayments will incur additional charges. You must also be told how to cancel the loan within a set cancellation period.

It is illegal for any lender to force or coerce you into taking a loan, and your bank, a car dealer, a home lease or any other company cannot force you to take on credit from their company if you think you can get a better deal from someone else. For example, if a car dealer offers you credit to buy a car in his lot, then you can always go to your bank or any other lender and see if you can get a better deal or more favorable terms from them.

If you are thinking of getting short-term loans such as a payday loan then you will have different rights and you should be given a leaflet or brochure explaining your rights. This is the same if you are pawning something in a pawnshop. If you are not given a list of such rights you should go online immediately and find out these rights from federal trade commission and make sure you have not been taken advantage of.

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Retirement Ideas

Gambling in an online casino can require more and better skills than when you are playing in a land based casino. This is why it is very important to pick the online casinos that are best for you. Here I have written some helpful ideas on how to find the online casino that is right for you.

Gambling in an online casino is not exactly the same as playing in a regular casino. Yes the rules are the same but the way you play may be slightly different.

One of the major differences between gambling in an online casino and a regular land based casino is the fact that you cant look into the eyes of another player. Lets say you are playing poker and you suspect the other player may be bluffing you can look at them to try to get a read on them to see if they have a tell, but in an online casino you have to be sharper then that.

In an online casino or online poker room you need to be good enough to know from the way the other players at the table are playing if they are bluffing or not, as opposed to at a regular casino or poker room where you can look into their eyes and try to get a read on them.

Other than poker most of the games are almost exactly the same as in a land based casino. If you are new to gambling online you may want to check out some online casino review sites. These sites not only offer reviews from independent reviewers, but you can also find reviews from regular everyday players like yourself and read about their experience both good and bad and make up your own mind.

To do this I recommend going to yahoo.com and type in casinos into the search engine, and if you check out the top 5 or 6 sites I guarantee you will find all the information on what sites are reliable and which ones are a rip off. Some of the sites even offer their readers weekly gambling Horoscopes, and recipes for foods perfect for the next time you invite the guys over for poker night.

Before spending any money in any of the online casinos, open a free account and try the games out for free, see if you enjoy the software and the different options. Make a list of things you liked and things you did not like and find the site that offers you more of what you want and less of what you do not want.

Make sure to read all of the rules for each online casino. They will tempt you by offering you bonuses just for signing up, but make sure you read and understand the rules for accepting the money before you accept it or spend any of the allegedly “free” money.

Many of the online casinos will offer you a tutorial explaining how to use the features and to play each game and I highly recommend that you use it, because if you make a mistake the online casinos will not give you a refund.

Other than this the only advice I can give is that the more you play the better you will get, and will therefore be able to win more money.

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Retirement Savings Calculators

Getting Out of Debt, The Smart Credit-Card Plan, the perfect paydown strategy

Behavioral economist Meir Statman, recently said getting out of debt is the financial equivalent of trying to quit smoking.” Just like any bad habit, good intentions alone will not be enough. To ensure success, we need to break our underlying patterns of behavior. How is it we live in the richest most powerful country in the world, but the average American is more than $11,000 in debt. Our European friends who live by a mainly debit card system have an average savings of $13,000. On a recent visit to Germany, I was shocked to find that less than 35% of all the shops and restaurants accepted credit cards. What would we need to do to reverse this trend and get into a (plus) situation.

Plastic Surgery

If we are serious about paying off our balances. We dont have to literally cut up our credit cards, just stop using them routinely. We should go green for our everyday spending. Try carrying around a set amount of cash to use each week. We make better purchasing decisions when we actually have to hand over the green stuff plus theres a preset spending limit. When we run out of money, we stop spending its that simple. When the only way to purchase is plastic, buying online for instance, then use your debit card. Your debit card can also be used as an emergency substitute for cash should you run out.

Leave Those Cards At Home

The best way to ensure that you enforce the cooling off period on new credit purchases is by taking the cards out of your wallet. You should store them in a place thats not easily accessible and safe. Do not let others know where you have hidden them.

Close The Accounts No Longer Needed

Having unused credit available from lenders with whom youve had a long relationship will help boost your credit score. Having too many will harm your credit score. As a rule, 3 credit cards is what works best and try to never spend more than 50% of the available credit on any of the cards. This will keep your score at its highest. You should also consider closing all your store cards, if you need to make a purchase then use your credit card and pay it off at the end of the month.

Lowering Your Interest Rates

Start by reducing what you pay in interest. We can start by calling our current credit card companies and explaining that we intend to transfer our balance to another issuer unless our interest rate is lowered. Almost all credit card companies run promotional programs with low or 0% interest. They will be willing to put you on one of those rather than risk losing your business. All you need to do is ASK.

Tackling Those Credit Card Balances

Finally we need to develop a strategy for paying off our existing credit card balances.

Gather all your credit card statements together and make a simple table listing the entire amount you owe, and the minimum payment and interest rate for each card. This will help us determine the order in which we should pay off our cards. We need to focus on the highest interest rate cards first and pay off as much as you can each month while making only the minimum payments on our other cards. When the first card is paid off, use the same strategy on the next-highest interest rate card and so on until youre debt-free.

Late Payments

Are the number one cardinal sin of debt management. You get hit with hefty late fees and very high penalty rates that can go to 30%, plus of course your credit score will take a big hit.

We all have a responsibility to improve our financial literacy and develop the required skills and practices for effective financial management. There is a real need to get away from the “Someday things will get better in my life” or the “Someday I will be able to earn enough money to stop worrying about the bills”. There is a lot more to life than that, but it has to be said and understood that the only person that can change your life is YOU. There is NO substitute for Action! With Action, you will overcome your fears and hesitations and accomplish everything you set out to do and more.

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How Much Should Save For Retirement

The threat of repossession is a real one to many people. When the economy is good, mortgage lenders are willing to lend many times your salary at low interest rates. If interest rates rise, however, or your experience job loss, sickness, divorce or other circumstances that reduce your income, you could find yourself in mortgage trouble.

Once your mortgage company has started repossession proceedings, its easy to give in and let the court process take its course, but there are ways that you can slow down and even stop the repossession process:

  1. Talk to your mortgage company

    Even at the last minute, its possible to work out a deal with your mortgage company. Whether its raising additional money to clear your debts, or just agreeing a new payment plan, your mortgage company should be willing to come to an agreement with you. Dont think that because you have been given a date for the courts to consider a repossession order that you dont have time to sort things out.

  2. Be prepared

    If you do have to go to court, make sure you are fully prepared. Keep copies of all the letters and other correspondence you have had with the mortgage company, work out a detailed daily expenditure that shows where you can save money so that you can begin paying your debts and be ready to explain to the court why you are in payment difficulties in the first place. The court may grant an adjournment or delay the repossession order if you can show that you are prepared to take your financial responsibilities seriously.

  3. Seek advice

    If you are in danger of losing your home to the mortgage company, then take legal and financial advice to ensure that you are doing everything possible to avoid repossession. A good legal adviser will make sure that the mortgage company is following due process and not making it unreasonably difficult for you to make payments and clear your debts. They can also help you if you need to go to court, explaining the process and making sure that you have all the supporting documentation you need.

A specialist financial adviser can arrange short-notice loans, which can help you to get out of trouble. With just a few days notice and with access to dedicated lenders, they can arrange a loan that allows you to pay off your debts and start afresh. They can also arrange a quick house sale, without the need for estate agents fees or a lengthy sales procedure, which means that you raise the money you need with the minimum hassle.

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Retirement Consultant

Many bankruptcy filers are wondering whether they are entitled to keep one or several credit cards for emergencies backup. In general, you may not because your credit cards will be cancelled regardless, since you file the bankruptcy. The credit card issuers tend to punish their card holders for filling any kind of bankruptcy; in most cases, the credit cards of bankruptcy filers will be terminated once they file for a bankruptcy. But there are some exemptions where terms and conditions will be applied to enable the bankruptcy filers to continue holding their credit cards.

There are some exceptions applicable only to chapter 7 bankruptcy filers. Some credit cards issuers will allow you to keep your credit card but with a sized down credit limit, and in return you need to repay them for some of your debts. In fact, some companies will automatically send you or your attorney a proposed reaffirmation agreement, a contract between you and your creditor that you will pay all or a portion of the money owed, despite the bankruptcy filing, in exchange for a minimal amount of new credit.

Beside the sized down credit limit, a chapter 7 bankruptcy filers may allow to keep their credit cards by some of their card issuers but the interest rate will be revised to a higher than the normal interest rate. But, if you can always pay your credit balance in full each month, you will never incur a finance charge, and the high interest rate wont hurt you.

Other than chapter 7 bankruptcy filers, all credit cards must be given up at the filling of bankruptcy. However, there are credit card holders who have maintained their credit cards at zero balance for a long period of time do not report their credit cards during the filing. This action can be considered illegal since in effect your preference on one creditor (your credit card issuer) over other creditors, because repayment ordination is a trustee job.

If you are not eligible to file under chapter 7 or even you are filling under chapter 7 but you didnt manage to get approval from your credit card issuers to keep your credit cards, the best thing is report all your credit cards and give them up. In most cases, your need to wait until the bankruptcy filing has cleared and then work with a debt management consultant to rebuilt your credit step by step. Of course, in the months and years after the bankruptcy filling, you may not be eligible for top-tier or even middle-tier credit cards.

But with some efforts and fiscal strategy such pay your monthly credit balance in full and on schedule will help you to rebuilt your good credit record and you can begin to erase the stigma of the bankruptcy; and eventually put you back in the realm of good to high credit score.

In Summary

In most cases, bankruptcy filers need to give up their credit cards. But, there are exceptions for bankruptcy filers in chapter 7, the debtors who file their bankruptcy under chapter 7 may allow to keep their credit cards with some terms and conditions.

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Savings And Retirement

The good thing about bad credit is that you can fix it. If you start now, over time, your bad credit can turn into good credit, and you could qualify for the loans you want at the rates you want. The most important aspect of rebuilding your credit after it has been damaged is showing lenders and creditors that you are serious about repaying your debt and that you can be a reliable borrower over a significant period of time.

Negative account histories remain on your credit report for up to 7 to 10 years, depending on the type of action. Bankruptcy can stay on your report for up to 10 years, and collections drop off after 7 years.

Advice varies widely as to the best methods to rebuild your credit. Some points most experts agree on include:

  1. Starting small – Dont be intimidated by large debt amounts. Even small payments, made on a regular basis, will improve your payment history and, eventually, your credit score.
  2. Spending less than you earn – Borrowing money to finance a lifestyle that is beyond your means will only land you deeper in debt.
  3. Paying your bills on time – Building credibility as a borrower involves meeting your commitments to pay, early if possible.
  4. Keeping your balances low – When using your healthier or newer accounts, keep the balance that you owe between 25% and 50% of your line of credit. An average of 30% is suggested.

Other tips might not seem related to your credit score. Staying at least two years on the same job demonstrates steady employment, and you appear more stable to lenders. You can also open an emergency savings account. Contribute to the account a little at a time on a regular basis. This will not only appear as positive activity to lenders, but also will serve as reserve money to keep you from charging unexpected expenses. Finally, stop borrowing for a while. Certainly avoid borrowing more money from home equity or other lines of credit to pay off credit card debt. Shuffling the debt does not make it disappear.

When establishing new credit, it may be necessary at some point to open a new account once you have paid down your existing ones. Credit unions usually offer the best deals to people with damaged credit. If you are unable to qualify for a credit card, try a smaller company, such as a department store or gas station that might offer you a line of credit.

You may want to look into getting a secured credit card. Offered by several banks and credit unions, secured credit cards are a positive way to show lenders that you can pay bills on time and be trusted with credit. To use a secured credit card, you will deposit a sum of money into a savings account and pay a small yearly fee to the institution offering the card. If you deposit $500, you will have a line of credit up to $500. Using your card on a regular basis and paying it off monthly in full could lead to a traditional line of credit. Once the bank or credit union sees that you are capable of maintaining your secured account, they may extend an offer to you with a fair interest rate.

Another option is to have a friend or relative co-sign for a line of credit with you. This step is risky because you are not only gambling with your loved ones good credit, but also with their good faith.

After a few months of good behavior, order copies of your credit report from all three credit agencies and check for improvements or errors. Be sure that negative information that you have remedied has been removed. File any complaints in writing and check your report again in a few months to ensure that the changes have been made.

Repairing damaged credit is time-consuming but well worth it, both to your peace of mind and to your pocketbook.

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Medical Retirement

If you are involved with a legal decision, financial claim or insurance arrangement, the financing process to settle and resolve the claim can often take two forms. Either a one-time lump sum payment, or a long-term periodic series of deferred structured settlement payments. But which is best for your situation?

A structured settlement involves a financial or insurance arrangement which includes a periodic stream of payments, that a claimant or plaintiff accepts in order to resolve a personal injury claim or other legal case. They were first utilized in Canada and the United States during the 1970s as an alternative to lump sum payments and are now part of the statutory tort law of several common law countries.

A structured settlement is a deferred payment method for compensating injury victims, and is a voluntary agreement between the injury victim ( plaintiff ) and the defendant. The plaintiff will receive the monetary payout over the course of a number of years through this deferred payment agreement. Under a structured settlement, an injury victim does not receive compensation for their injuries in one lump sum, but rather, they will receive a stream of tax free payments designed to meet future expenses and living needs. This type of compensation method is becoming more popular in a wide variety of legal cases.

The benefits of a structured settlement over a lump-sum payment include the security of a guaranteed long-term income with deferred payments that are exempt from income taxes. The federal government encourages the use of structured settlements in personal injury cases. Structured settlements also attract support from plaintiff attorneys, state attorneys general, legislators, consumer and disability advocates.

Structured settlements can be ideally suited for cases with:

  1. Persons with disabilities
  2. Guardianship cases that may involve minors
  3. Workers compensation cases
  4. Wrongful death cases
  5. Severe injury case

Want to Sell Your Structured Settlement?

Not everyone benefits from a long-term payment situation and some may want or need a lump sum instead. The owner of a structured settlement, such as lottery winners, medical, insurance, accident and lawsuit settlement owners, can often sell their rights to the deferred payment stream, in exchange for a one time lump sum payment from a variety of financial institutions. All situations are different, and as with any financial or legal issue, you should always consult your accountant and attorney.

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Saving For Retirement At 25

Things are so expensive these days. We seem to be hearing, and saying, that a lot lately at the gas pump, in the grocery store and especially when paying bills. But there are simple ways to help save money without making sacrifices in your lifestyle. Small savings can turn into large rewards for little effort.

Start with the small things. Eat out less, stay home more often. Invite your friends over for a potluck supper and rent a movie. You are still able to enjoy entertainment at half the cost of going out to eat and then to the movie theater. My friends and I rotate whose house we will go to every weekend. Giving the house a thorough company-coming-over cleaning is then limited to once a month.

There are many, many ways to save money when shopping for your children. Their clothing can be purchased at a consignment or thrift store for half of the original cost. Many clothing items may even still have their tags, especially baby clothes. Set up a clothing swap with your friends who also have children. You may find that they can hand down clothes to your child that will be eventually handed down to their even younger child.

All children like to draw; the evidence is displayed on refrigerators across the land. Have you noticed that your office paper has been quickly disappearing? This phenomenon of missing printer paper can become expensive. Recycle your office paper for artwork. Or even re-use the paper grocery bags, theyre free!

Babysitting costs can add up. But you have to get away every once in a while. Try rotating sitting with your friends. We keep the kids on Friday night while our friends go out. They keep our kids on Saturday night while we go out. It reduces the cost of our night out on the town.

Speaking of those weekend trips out, dont go crazy! It can be so very easy to spend a lot of money on the weekends. Youve worked hard all week, and now you deserve to have fun. While that may be all so true, you might not be thinking about your overall budget. Plan activities that dont cost anything. For example, instead of spending the weekend at the local amusement park, go to a new park and ride bikes through the trails. Picnics, hikes and scavenger hunts cost very little, while they create wonderful memories for your family.

When it comes time to purchase new appliances, look for the energy saving appliances. When you have to run several loads of laundry a week, you want to use as little electricity as possible. On nice days, hang your wash outside instead of using the dryer. Not only will you save money, but it can be a nice escape from your daily routine. Look at all of your appliances, and see how you can save money by using them smartly. You can turn your refrigerator down in the cooler months. Insist that no one is to stand in front of the fridge with the door open for more than fifteen seconds. Electric bills can add up quickly, so eliminate the waste of electricity by turning off lights when you leave the room.

One of the biggest ways that money is lost is through mismanagement. Credit cards may help you make ends meet, but if you cant pay the entire balance at the end of the month they will cost you money. Interest charges and minimum payments can stretch out a small amount of money into a long payment period. Every month, you are losing money to interest. Over-drafting your bank account is another example of lost money. Even though you have overdraft protection, it will cost you in the long run. If you are charged $25 every time you overdraft, and you overdraft four times a month, you have lost $1200 a year to fees. What could have been purchased with that money? What would that money be in twenty years if you had invested it wisely?

There are ways to save money. It may seem as though a little bit here and there isnt worth the effort, but believe me – pennies can turn into mountains.

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