Cheap Loans – Do's and Don'ts For Finding a Cheap Loan You Can Rely On

If you see an advertisement for a cheap loan which seems too good to be true, it may well be. Here are some top tips for spotting the potential pitfalls of loan offers and finding the right cheap loan for you.

DO: Compare loans

Lenders often categorize their loan offers as excellent deals, when in fact you could do a lot better if you took the time to compare loans across a range of different providers before choosing one, supposedly ‘cheap’, loan.

DON’T: Mistake ‘typical APR’ for a fixed rate or average rate

APR is an acronym for ‘annual percentage rate’, meaning the interest rate for the whole year. It’s easy to make the mistake of assuming the ‘typical APR’ is the precise interest rate you will pay on your cheap loan. In fact, this term refers to the interest rate offered to at least 66 per cent of applicants for that particular loan. Due to your own personal circumstances and credit history, you may be offered a higher rate than the ‘typical APR’, or you might not be able to take out the loan you want at all.

DON’T: Ignore the other charges

While the ‘typical APR’ is a good place to start when searching for cheap loans, there are often other charges involved when taking out a loan, and you also need to consider payment protection insurance. Take all of these things into account when you compare loans and you will get a much clearer picture of what the different lenders are offering.

DO: Check your credit card report

Take a look at your credit card report before embarking on a cheap loan agreement. Your credit card report will reveal how you will look to lenders when applying for a loan. You will also benefit by seeing if there are any errors and correcting them before you make an application. This will give you the best possible chance of being approved for a cheap loan.

DON’T: Be taken in by ‘payment holidays’

Sometimes, lenders will offer a ‘payment holiday’ which allows you to start paying off the loan later, perhaps after three months, instead of having to start making payments straight away. Unless this is really necessary, it tends to be better to turn down this offer, because future repayments will become larger to compensate for this initial holiday, and your total amount payable will also be higher.

DO: Read the small print

Before entering into a loan agreement, you need to know exactly what you are signing up for, and banks are required to tell you all the important terms and conditions. You should read through these carefully and not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need, to help you understand exactly what your ‘cheap loan’ will mean for you.

DO: Look out for ‘delivery charges’

In order to secure your business, certain lenders offer a service where they can send a cheque straight to you by courier, or transfer the loan into your account instantly or by the end of the day. However, this will often mean you have to pay an extra ‘delivery charge’, so unless you really need the loan immediately it might be better to say ‘no’ and keep your ‘cheap loan’ as cheap as possible.

ENTREPRENEURIAL CHALLENGES – The Case of Royal Bank Zimbabwe Ltd

Industry Shake-up

In December 2003 Mzwimbi went on a well deserved family vacation to the United States, satisfied with the progress and confident that his sprawling empire was on a solid footing. However a call from a business magnate in January 2004 alerted him to what was termed a looming shake- up in the financial services sector. It appears that the incoming governor had confided in a few close colleagues and acquaintances about his plans. This confirmed to Mzwimbi the fears that were arising as RBZ refused to accommodate banks which had liquidity challenges.

The last two months of 2003 saw interest rates soar close to 900% p.a., with the RBZ watching helplessly. The RBZ had the tools and capacity to control these rates but nothing was done to ease the situation. This hiking of interest rates wiped out nearly all the bank’s income made within the year. Bankers normally rely on treasury bills (TBs) since they are easily tradable. Their yield had been good until the interest rates skyrocketed. Consequently bankers were now borrowing at higher interest rates than the treasury bills could cover. Bankers were put in the uncomfortable position of borrowing expensive money and on-lending it cheaply. An example at Royal Bank was an entrepreneur who borrowed $120 million in December 2003, which by March 2004 had ballooned to $500 million due to the excessive rates. Although the cost of funds was now at 900% p.a., Royal Bank had just increased its interest rates to only 400% p.a, meaning that it was funding the client’s shortfall. However this client could not pay it and just returned the $120 million and demonstrated that he had no capacity to pay back the $400 million interest charge. Most bankers accepted this anomaly because they thought it was a temporary dysfunction perpetuated by the inability of an acting governor to make bold decisions. Bankers believed that once a substantive governor was sworn in he would control the interest rates. Much to their dismay, on assuming the governorship Dr. Gono left the rates untamed and hence the situation worsened. This scenario continued up to August 2004, causing considerable strain on entrepreneurial bankers.

On reflection, some bankers feel that the central bank deliberately hiked the interest rates, as this would allow it to restructure the financial services sector. They argue that during the cash crisis of the last half of 2003, bank CEOs would meet often with the RBZ in an effort to find solutions to the crisis. Retrospectively they claim that there is evidence indicating that the current governor though not appointed yet was already in control of the RBZ operations during that time period and was thus responsible for the untenable interest rate regime.

In January 2004, after his vacation, Mzwimbi was informed by the RBZ that Royal had been accommodated for $2 billion on the 28th of December 2003. The Central Bank wanted to know whether this accommodation should be formalized and placed into the newly created Troubled Bank Fund. However, this was expensive money both in terms of the interest rates and also in terms of the conditions and terms of the loan. At Trust Bank, access to this facility had already given the Central Bank the right to force out the top executives, restructure the Board and virtually take over the management of the bank.

Royal Bank turned down the offer and used deposits to pay off the money. However the interest rates did not come down.

During the first quarter of 2004 Trust Bank, Barbican bank and Inter-market Bank were identified as distressed and put under severe corrective orders by the Central Bank.

Royal Assault

Royal Bank remained stable until March 2004. People who had their funds locked up in Inter-market Bank withdrew huge sums of funds from Royal Bank while others were moving to foreign owned banks as the perception created by Central Bank was read by the market to mean that entrepreneurial bankers were fraudsters.

Others withdrew their money on the basis that if financial behemoths like Intermarket can sink, then it could happen to any other indigenous controlled bank. Royal Bank had an advantage that in the smaller towns it was the only bank, so people had no choice. However even in this scenario there were no stable deposits as people kept their funds moving to avoid being caught unawares. For example in one week Royal Bank had withdrawals of over $40 billion but weathered the storm without recourse to Central Bank accommodation.

At this time, newspaper reports indicating some leakage of confidential information started appearing. When confronted, one public paper reporter confided that the information was being supplied to them by the Central Bank. These reports were aimed at causing panic withdrawals and hence exposing banks to depositor flight.

Statutory Reserves

In March 2004, at the point of significant vulnerability, Royal Bank received a letter from RBZ cancelling the exemption from statutory reserve requirements. Statutory reserves are funds, (making up a certain percentage of their total deposits), banks are required to deposit with the Central Bank, at no interest.

When Royal Bank began operations, Mzwimbi applied to the Central Bank – then under Dr Tsumba, for foreign currency to pay for supplies, software and technology infrastructure. No foreign currency could be availed but instead Royal Bank was exempted from paying statutory reserves for one year, thus releasing funds which Royal could use to acquire foreign currency and purchase the needed resources. This was a normal procedure and practice of the Central Bank, which had been made available to other banking institutions as well. This would also enhance the bank’s liquidity position.

Even investors are sometimes offered tax exemptions to encourage and promote investments in any industry. This exemption was delayed due to bungling in the Banking Supervision and Surveillance Department of the RBZ and was thus only implemented a year later, consequently it would run from May 2003 until May 2004. The premature cancellation of this exemption caught Royal Bank by surprise as its cash flow projections had been based on these commencing in May 2004.

When the RBZ insisted, Royal Bank calculated the statutory reserves and noted that, due to a decline in its deposits, it was not eligible for the payment of statutory reserves at that time. When the bank submitted its returns with zero statutory reserves, the Central Bank claimed that the bank was now due for the whole statutory reserve since inception. In effect this was not being treated as a statutory reserve exemption but more as a penalty for evading statutory reserves. Royal Bank appealed. There were conflicting opinions between the Bank Supervision and Capital Markets divisions on the issue as Bank Supervision conceded to the validity of Royal’s position. However Capital Markets insisted that it had instructions from the top to recall the full amount of $23 billion. This was forced onto Royal Bank and transferred without consent to the Troubled Banks Fund at exorbitant rates of 450% p. a.

FML Saga

When FML was demutualising, the executives were concerned about the possibility of being swallowed by its huge strategic partner, Trust Holdings. FML approached Royal Bank and other banks to act as buffers. The agreement was that FML would fund the deal by placing funds with Royal Bank so that Royal would not fund it from its balance sheet.

Consequently FML would leave the deposits with Royal Bank for the tenor of the loan. The deal was consummated through Regal Asset Managers and was to mature in December 2004, at which time it was anticipated that the share price of First Mutual would have blossomed, allowing Royal Bank to harvest its investment and exit profitably. The deal resulted in Regal Asset Managers owning 57 million FML shares. Royal Bank gave FML some securities in the form of treasury bills as collateral for the deposit.

The Reserve Bank and the curator wrote off this investment because at that time FML was suspended at the ZSE. However the fact that it was suspended did not invalidate its value. Recent events have shown that this investment has generated huge capital value for Regal Asset Managers as the ZSE rebounded. Yet the curator valued this investment negatively. Around March 2004 there had been a contagion effect at FML due to the challenges at Trust Bank. This resulted in the forced departure of the FML CEO and chairman. FML was suspended from the local bourse as investigations into the financing structure of Capital Alliance’s acquisition were carried out. Because of the pressure brought to bear on FML, it wanted to withdraw the deposits held by Royal Bank, contrary to the agreement. FML could not locate and return the treasury bills that had been provided as collateral by Royal. Royal Bank suspected that these had been placed with ENG, another asset management company which collapsed in December 2003. A public row broke out. Royal Bank executives sought counsel from Renaissance Merchant Bank, which had brokered the deal, and the Chairman of the ZSE, who both agreed with Royal that the deal was legitimate and FML had to honour the agreement. At this stage FML sought court intervention in an attempt to force Royal Bank into liquidation. Even the curator contested the FML position resulting in his taking it for arbitration. Royal’s position remained that if FML fails to return the securities then it will not get the funds.

Royal bank directors claimed political interference on the issue. The Royal Bank executives believe that the governor, against his better judgment, decided to act against Royal Bank under the pretext of the political pressure. In retrospect, the political support for cracking the whip at Royal gave credence to the rumour that the governor had an underlying agenda in taking Royal and merging it into ZABG because of its strong branch network.

Royal Bank had been warned by friendly RBZ insiders that if it ever accessed the Troubled Bank Fund it would be in trouble, so it sought to avoid this at all costs.

However on 4th August 2004, Royal was served with papers that effectively placed it under the curator. Interestingly, the curator’s contract was signed two days earlier. Until this time no depositor had ever failed to withdraw his deposits from Royal Bank.

The lack of credibility of the Reserve Bank in handling this case is exposed when one considers that some banks were given more than eight months to stabilize under curators, e.g. Intermarket and CFX Banks, and were able to recover. But Royal and Trust Bank were under the curator for less than two months before being amalgamated. The press raised concerns about the curators assuming the role of undertaker rather than nurse, and hence burying these banks.This seemed to confirm the possibility of a hidden agenda on the part of the Central Bank.

Victor Chando

Chando was an excellent financial engineer who set up Victory Financial Services after a stint with MBCA. He had been the brains behind the setting up of the predecessor of Century Discount House which he later sold to Century Holdings. Royal Bank initially had an interest in discount houses and so at inception had included Victor as a significant shareholder. He later acquired Barnfords Securities which Royal intended to bring in-house.

Victory Financial Services was involved in foreign currency dealings, using offshore companies that bought free funds from Zimbabweans abroad and purchased raw materials for Zimbabwean corporations. One such deal with National Foods went sour and the MD reported it to the Central Bank. On investigations the deal was found to be clean but the RBZ went ahead to publish that he was involved in illegal foreign currency transactions and linked this to Royal Bank. However this was a transaction done by a shareholder as an account holder, in which the bank had no interest. What confused matters, was that Victory Financial Services was housed in the same building as Royal Bank.

After failing to nail Chando to any criminal charges, the Central Bank issued an order for Royal Bank to force him out as a shareholder and board member. It is ridiculous that the Central Bank would vet who is a shareholder or not in banks – particularly when the people had no criminal records.

Negotiations with OPEC were underway for it to take over Chando’s shareholding. The Reserve Bank was aware of these developments. OPEC would then help in the recapitalization as well as open up lines of credit for the bank.

The Arrest

In September 2004 the executive directors of Royal Bank, Mzwimbi and Durajadi, were arrested on five allegations of fraudulently prejudicing the bank. One of the charges was that they fraudulently used depositors’ funds to recapitalize the bank.

Three of the charges after police investigations were dropped, as they were not true. The two remaining charges were:

a) a conflict of interest on loans that were made available to the directors. The RBZ alleges that they did not disclose their interests when companies controlled by them accessed loans at concessionary rates from the bank. However the enterprising bankers dispute these charges, as they claim the Board minutes prove that this interest was disclosed. Even the annual financial statements of the bank acknowledge that they accessed loans as part of their employment contract with the bank.

b) money was owed to Finsreal Asset Management. However Mzwimbi argues that Finsreal actually owes them money and not the other way round. Royal Bank shareholders needed to inject money for recapitalization of the bank and were requested to deposit their funds with Finsreal Asset Management. Since some had not paid their portion of the recapitalization by the due date, Royal Financial Holdings, which had an account with Finsreal, paid the money on behalf of the shareholders – who were then indebted to Royal Financial Holdings. Somehow the RBZ confused this transaction as the bank’s funds and therefore accused the

shareholders of using depositors’ funds to recapitalize.

By retrospectively analyzing the court case wherein the Royal Bank executive directors are accused of defrauding the bank it appears that the RBZ created a falsehood in order to frustrate the bankers. The curator who initially refused to take a stand before the RBZ appointed Independent Appeal, has in court clearly testified that no monies were stolen from the bank by the directors and that the curator did not (contrary to RBZ assertions) recommend charges against the bankers. In January 2007 the former executive directors of Royal Bank were acquitted by the High Court on the remaining criminal charges after the prosecution failed to present a convincing argument.

Royal Bank assets were sold by the curator to ZABG barely two months after being placed under the curator, without any audited financial statements. The speed at which an agreement of sale was reached is astonishing. The owners of Royal Bank went to court and, after a protracted legal struggle, the court ruled that the assets were sold illegally and hence the sale was “illegal and of no force or effect and therefore null and void”. The court then directed that the owners should appeal to the Central Bank for a determination of the actions of the curators. The Central Bank begrudgingly set up an “independent panel” to adjudicate the case. Strangely ZABG continued to trade on the illegal assets.

The panel advised that the appeal by Royal bank be rejected as it would be difficult to disentangle it from ZABG. They also cited the fact that ZABG had some contractual obligations with third parties who may not want to do business with Royal bank. This strange ruling fails to explain why these considerations were not made when the amalgamation was done. The ruling also redefined the agreements between the curator of Royal bank and ZABG as not being an “agreement of sale” even though the parties which entered into the agreement clearly intended it to be viewed as such. This was a way of circumventing the Supreme Court ruling that the agreement of sale was null and void.

But the panel did not explain how this disposal of the assets should be considered if it was not a sale.

Consequently the major shareholders of Royal appealed to the Minister of Finance who upheld the RBZ decision. Mzwimbi and his colleagues have therefore appealed to the courts. In the meanwhile there was a failed attempt to sell the disputed assets by ZABG despite the outstanding legal challenge. Just ice delayed is justice denied.

Mzwimbi and his team have been denied access to all bank records and yet are expected to defend themselves. As he characteristically puts it, “We are going into this fight blind folded and our hands bound, while fighting someone who has armour and a sword.”

Banking Fraud – Prevention and Control

Banking Fraud is posing threat to Indian Economy. Its vibrant effect can be understood be the fact that in the year 2004 number of Cyber Crime were 347 in India which rose to 481 in 2005 showing an increase of 38.5% while I.P.C. category crime stood at 302 in 2005 including 186 cases of cyber fraud and 68 cases cyber forgery. Thus it becomes very important that occurrence of such frauds should be minimized. More upsetting is the fact that such frauds are entering in Banking Sector as well.

In the present day, Global Scenario Banking System has acquired new dimensions. Banking did spread in India. Today, the banking system has entered into competitive markets in areas covering resource mobilization, human resource development, customer services and credit management as well.

Indian’s banking system has several outstanding achievements to its credit, the most striking of which is its reach. In fact, Indian banks are now spread out into the remotest areas of our country. Indian banking, which was operating in a highly comfortable and protected environment till the beginning of 1990s, has been pushed into the choppy waters of intense competition.

A sound banking system should possess three basic characteristics to protect depositor’s interest and public faith. Theses are (i) a fraud free culture, (ii) a time tested Best Practice Code, and (iii) an in house immediate grievance remedial system. All these conditions are their missing or extremely weak in India. Section 5(b) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 defines banking… “Banking is the accepting for the purpose of lending or investment, deposits of money from the purpose of lending or investment, deposits of money from the public, repayable on demand or otherwise and withdraw able by cheque, draft, order or otherwise.” But if his money has fraudulently been drawn from the bank the latter is under strict obligation to pay the depositor. The bank therefore has to ensure at all times that the money of the depositors is not drawn fraudulently. Time has come when the security aspects of the banks have to be dealt with on priority basis.

The banking system in our country has been taking care of all segments of our socioeconomic set up. The Article contains a discussion on the rise of banking frauds and various methods that can be used to avoid such frauds. A bank fraud is a deliberate act of omission or commission by any person carried out in the course of banking transactions or in the books of accounts, resulting in wrongful gain to any person for a temporary period or otherwise, with or without any monetary loss to the bank. The relevant provisions of Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Contract Act, and Negotiable Instruments Act relating to banking frauds has been cited in the present Article.

EVOLUTION OF BANKING SYSTEM IN INDIA

Banking system occupies an important place in a nation’s economy. A banking institution is indispensable in a modern society. It plays a pivotal role in economic development of a country and forms the core of the money market in an advanced country.

Banking industry in India has traversed a long way to assume its present stature. It has undergone a major structural transformation after the nationalization of 14 major commercial banks in 1969 and 6 more on 15 April 1980. The Indian banking system is unique and perhaps has no parallels in the banking history of any country in the world.

RESERVE BANK OF INDIA-ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OBJECTIVE

The Reserve Bank of India has an important role to play in the maintenance of the exchange value of the rupee in view of the close interdependence of international trade and national economic growth and well being. This aspect is of the wider responsibly of the central bank for the maintenance of economic and financial stability. For this the bank is entrusted with the custody and the management of country’s international reserves; it acts also as the agent of the government in respect of India’s membership of the international monetary fund. With economic development the bank also performs a variety of developmental and promotional functions which in the past were registered being outside the normal purview of central banking. It also acts an important regulator.

BANK FRAUDS: CONCEPT AND DIMENSIONS

Banks are the engines that drive the operations in the financial sector, which is vital for the economy. With the nationalization of banks in 1969, they also have emerged as engines for social change. After Independence, the banks have passed through three stages. They have moved from the character based lending to ideology based lending to today competitiveness based lending in the context of India’s economic liberalization policies and the process of linking with the global economy.

While the operations of the bank have become increasingly significant banking frauds in banks are also increasing and fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated and ingenious. In a bid to keep pace with the changing times, the banking sector has diversified it business manifold. And the old philosophy of class banking has been replaced by mass banking. The challenge in management of social responsibility with economic viability has increased.

DEFINITION OF FRAUD

Fraud is defined as “any behavior by which one person intends to gain a dishonest advantage over another”. In other words , fraud is an act or omission which is intended to cause wrongful gain to one person and wrongful loss to the other, either by way of concealment of facts or otherwise.

Fraud is defined u/s 421 of the Indian Penal Code and u/s 17 of the Indian Contract Act. Thus essential elements of frauds are:

1. There must be a representation and assertion;

2. It must relate to a fact;

3. It must be with the knowledge that it is false or without belief in its truth; and

4. It must induce another to act upon the assertion in question or to do or not to do certain act.

BANK FRAUDS

Losses sustained by banks as a result of frauds exceed the losses due to robbery, dacoity, burglary and theft-all put together. Unauthorized credit facilities are extended for illegal gratification such as case credit allowed against pledge of goods, hypothecation of goods against bills or against book debts. Common modus operandi are, pledging of spurious goods, inletting the value of goods, hypothecating goods to more than one bank, fraudulent removal of goods with the knowledge and connivance of in negligence of bank staff, pledging of goods belonging to a third party. Goods hypothecated to a bank are found to contain obsolete stocks packed in between goods stocks and case of shortage in weight is not uncommon.

An analysis made of cases brings out broadly the under mentioned four major elements responsible for the commission of frauds in banks.

1. Active involvement of the staff-both supervisor and clerical either independent of external elements or in connivance with outsiders.

2. Failure on the part of the bank staff to follow meticulously laid down instructions and guidelines.

3. External elements perpetuating frauds on banks by forgeries or manipulations of cheques, drafts and other instruments.

4. There has been a growing collusion between business, top banks executives, civil servants and politicians in power to defraud the banks, by getting the rules bent, regulations flouted and banking norms thrown to the winds.

FRAUDS-PREVENTION AND DETECTION

A close study of any fraud in bank reveals many common basic features. There may have been negligence or dishonesty at some stage, on part of one or more of the bank employees. One of them may have colluded with the borrower. The bank official may have been putting up with the borrower’s sharp practices for a personal gain. The proper care which was expected of the staff, as custodians of banks interest may not have been taken. The bank’s rules and procedures laid down in the Manual instructions and the circulars may not have been observed or may have been deliberately ignored.

Bank frauds are the failure of the banker. It does not mean that the external frauds do not defraud banks. But if the banker is upright and knows his job, the task of defrauder will become extremely difficult, if not possible.

Detection of Frauds

Despite all care and vigilance there may still be some frauds, though their number, periodicity and intensity may be considerably reduced. The following procedure would be very helpful if taken into consideration:

1. All relevant data-papers, documents etc. Should be promptly collected. Original vouchers or other papers forming the basis of the investigation should be kept under lock and key.

2. All persons in the bank who may be knowing something about the time, place a modus operandi of the fraud should be examined and their statements should be recorded.

3. The probable order of events should thereafter be reconstructed by the officer, in his own mind.

4. It is advisable to keep the central office informed about the fraud and further developments in regard thereto.

Classification of Frauds and Action Required by Banks

The Reserve Bank of India had set-up a high level committee in 1992 which was headed by Mr. A… Ghosh, the then Dy. Governor Reserve Bank of India to inquire into various aspects relating to frauds malpractice in banks. The committee had noticed/observed three major causes for perpetration of fraud as given hereunder:

1. Laxity in observance of the laid down system and procedures by operational and supervising staff.

2. Over confidence reposed in the clients who indulged in breach of trust.

3. Unscrupulous clients by taking advantages of the laxity in observance of established, time tested safeguards also committed frauds.

In order to have uniformity in reporting cases of frauds, RBI considered the question of classification of bank frauds on the basis of the provisions of the IPC.
Given below are the Provisions and their Remedial measures that can be taken.

1. Cheating (Section 415, IPC)

Remedial Measures.

The preventive measures in respect of the cheating can be concentrated on cross-checking regarding identity, genuineness, verification of particulars, etc. in respect of various instruments as well as persons involved in encashment or dealing with the property of the bank.

2. Criminal misappropriation of property (Section 403 IPC).

Remedial Measure

Criminal misappropriation of property, presuppose the custody or control of funds or property, so subjected, with that of the person committing such frauds. Preventive measures, for this class of fraud should be taken at the level the custody or control of the funds or property of the bank generally vests. Such a measure should be sufficient, it is extended to these persons who are actually handling or having actual custody or control of the fund or movable properties of the bank.

3. Criminal breach of trust (Section 405, IPC)

Remedial Measure

Care should be taken from the initial step when a person comes to the bank. Care needs to be taken at the time of recruitment in bank as well.

4. Forgery (Section 463, IPC)

Remedial Measure

Both the prevention and detection of frauds through forgery are important for a bank. Forgery of signatures is the most frequent fraud in banking business. The bank should take special care when the instrument has been presented either bearer or order; in case a bank pays forged instrument he would be liable for the loss to the genuine costumer.

5. Falsification of accounts (Section 477A)

Remedial Measure

Proper diligence is required while filling of forms and accounts. The accounts should be rechecked on daily basis.

6. Theft (Section 378, IPC)

Remedial Measures

Encashment of stolen’ cheque can be prevented if the bank clearly specify the age, sex and two visible identify action marks on the body of the person traveler’s cheques on the back of the cheque leaf. This will help the paying bank to easily identify the cheque holder. Theft from lockers and safe deposit vaults are not easy to commit because the master-key remains with the banker and the individual key of the locker is handed over to the costumer with due acknowledgement.

7. Criminal conspiracy (Section 120 A, IPC)

In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. IBS Prasad Rao and Other, the accused, who were clerks in a cooperative Central Bank were all convicted of the offences of cheating under Section 420 read along with Section 120 A. all the four accused had conspired together to defraud the bank by making false demand drafts and receipt vouchers.

8. Offences relating to currency notes and banks notes (Section 489 A-489E, IPC)
These sections provide for the protection of currency-notes and bank notes from forgery. The offences under section are:

(a) Counterfeiting currency notes or banks.

(b) Selling, buying or using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes. Knowing the same to be forged or counterfeit.

(c) Possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank-notes, knowing or counterfeit and intending to use the same as genuine.

(d) Making or passing instruments or materials for forging or counterfeiting currency notes or banks.

(e) Making or using documents resembling currency-notes or bank notes.

Most of the above provisions are Cognizable Offenses under Section 2(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

FRAUD PRONE AREAS IN DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS

The following are the potential fraud prone areas in Banking Sector. In addition to those areas I have also given kinds of fraud that are common in these areas.

Savings Bank Accounts

The following are some of the examples being played in respect of savings bank accounts:

(a) Cheques bearing the forged signatures of depositors may be presented and paid.

(b) Specimen signatures of the depositors may be changed, particularly after the death of depositors,

(c) Dormant accounts may be operated by dishonest persons with or without collusion of bank employees, and

(d) Unauthorized withdrawals from customer’s accounts by employee of the bank maintaining the savings ledger and later destruction of the recent vouchers by them.

Current Account Fraud

The following types are likely to be committed in case of current accounts.

(a) Opening of frauds in the names of limited companies or firms by unauthorized persons;

(b) Presentation and payment of cheques bearing forged signatures;

(c) Breach of trust by the employees of the companies or firms possessing cheque leaves duly signed by the authorized signatures;

(d) Fraudulent alteration of the amount of the cheques and getting it paid either at the counter or though another bank.

Frauds In Case Of Advances

Following types may be committed in respect of advances:

(a) Spurious gold ornaments may be pledged.

(b) Sub-standard goods may be pledged with the bank or their value may be shown at inflated figures.
(c) Same goods may be hypothecated in favour of different banks.

LEGAL REGIME TO CONTROL BANK FRAUDS

Frauds constitute white-collar crime, committed by unscrupulous persons deftly advantage of loopholes existing in systems/procedures. The ideal situation is one there is no fraud, but taking ground realities of the nation’s environment and human nature’s fragility, an institution should always like to keep the overreach of frauds at the minimum occurrence level.

Following are the relevant sections relating to Bank Frauds

Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)

(a) Section 23 “Wrongful gain”.-

“Wrongful gain” is gain by unlawful means of property to which the person gaining is not legally entitled.

(b) “Wrongful loss”

“Wrongful loss” is the loss by unlawful means of property to which the person losing it is legally entitled.
(c) Gaining wrongfully.

Losing wrongfully-A person is said to gain wrongfully when such person retains wrongfully, as well as when such person acquires wrongfully. A person is said to lose wrongfully when such person is wrongfully kept out of any property, as well as when such person is wrongfully deprived of property.

(d) Section 24. “Dishonestly”

Whoever does anything with the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person or wrongful loss to another person, is said to do that thing “dishonestly”.

(e) Section 28. “Counterfeit”

A person is said to “counterfeit” who causes one thing to resemble another thing, intending by means of that resemblance to practice deception, or knowing it to be likely that deception will thereby be practiced.

BREACH OF TRUST

1. Section 408- Criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant.

2. Section 409- Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent.

3. Section 416- Cheating by personating

4. Section 419- Punishment for cheating by personation.

OFFENSES RELATING TO DOCUMENTS

1) Section 463-Forgery

2) Section 464 -Making a false document

3) Section 465- Punishment for forgery.

4) Section 467- Forgery of valuable security, will, etc

5) Section 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating

6) Section 469- Forgery for purpose of harming reputation

7) Section 470- Forged document.

8) Section 471- Using as genuine a forged document

9) Section 477- Fraudulent cancellation, destruction, etc., of will, authority to adopt, or valuable security.

10) Section 477A- Falsification of accounts.

THE RESERVE BANK OF INDIA ACT, 1934

Issue of demand bills and notes Section 31.

Provides that only Bank and except provided by Central Government shall be authorized to draw, accept, make or issue any bill of exchange, hundi, promissory note or engagement for the payment of money payable to bearer on demand, or borrow, owe or take up any sum or sums of money on the bills, hundis or notes payable to bearer on demand of any such person

THE NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS ACT, 1881

Holder’s right to duplicate of lost bill Section 45A.

1. The finder of lost bill or note acquires no title to it. The title remains with the true owner. He is entitled to recover from the true owner.

2. If the finder obtains payment on a lost bill or note in due course, the payee may be able to get a valid discharge for it. But the true owner can recover the money due on the instrument as damages from the finder.

Section 58

When an Instrument is obtained by unlawful means or for unlawful consideration no possessor or endorse who claims through the person who found or so obtained the instrument is entitled to receive the amount due thereon from such maker, accept or holder, or from any party prior to such holder, unless such possessor or endorse is, or some person through whom he claims was, a holder thereof in due course.

Section 85:

Cheque payable to order.

1. By this section, bankers are placed in privileged position. It provides that if an order cheque is endorsed by or on behalf of the payee, and the banker on whom it is drawn pays it in due course, the banker is discharged. He can debit his customer with the amount so paid, though the endorsement of the payee might turn out to be a forgery.

2. The claim protection under this section the banker has to prove that the payment was a payment in due course, in good faith and without negligence.

Section 87. Effect of material alteration

Under this section any alteration made without the consent of party would be void. Alteration would be valid only if is made with common intention of the party.

Section 138. Dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc., of funds in the account.

Where any cheque drawn by a person on an account maintained by him with a banker for payment of any amount of money to another person from out of that account for the discharge, in whole or in part, of any debt or other liability, is returned by the bank unpaid. either because of the amount of money standing to the credit of that account is insufficient to honor the cheque or that it exceeds the amount arranged to be paid from that account by an agreement made with that bank, such person shall be deemed to have committed an offense and shall, without prejudice.

Section 141(1) Offenses by companies.

If the person committing an offense under Section 138 is a company, every person who, at the time the offense was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offense and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

SECURITY REGIME IN BANKING SYSTEM

Security implies sense of safety and of freedom from danger or anxiety. When a banker takes a collateral security, say in the form of gold or a title deed, against the money lent by him, he has a sense of safety and of freedom from anxiety about the possible non-payment of the loan by the borrower. These should be communicated to all strata of the organization through appropriate means. Before staff managers should analyze current practices. Security procedure should be stated explicitly and agreed upon by each user in the specific environment. Such practices ensure information security and enhance availability. Bank security is essentially a defense against unforced attacks by thieves, dacoits and burglars.

PHYSICAL SECURITY MEASURES-CONCEPT

A large part of banks security depends on social security measures. Physical security measures can be defined as those specific and special protective or defensive measures adopted to deter, detect, delay, defend and defeat or to perform any one or more of these functions against culpable acts, both covert and covert and acclamation natural events. The protective or defensive, measures adopted involve construction, installation and deployment of structures, equipment and persons respectively.

The following are few guidelines to check malpractices:

1. To rotate the cash work within the staff.

2. One person should not continue on the same seat for more than two months.

3. Daybook should not be written by the Cashier where an other person is available to the job

4. No cash withdrawal should be allowed within passbook in case of withdrawal by pay order.

5. The branch manager should ensure that all staff members have recorder their presence in the attendance registrar, before starting work.

Execution of Documents

1. A bank officer must adopt a strict professional approach in the execution of documents. The ink and the pen used for the execution must be maintained uniformly.

2. Bank documents should not be typed on a typewriter for execution. These should be invariably handwritten for execution.

3. The execution should always be done in the presence of the officer responsible for obtain them,
4. The borrowers should be asked to sign in full signatures in same style throughout the documents.

5. Unless there is a specific requirement in the document, it should not be got attested or witnessed as such attestation may change the character of the instruments and the documents may subject to ad volrem stamp duty.

6. The paper on which the bank documents are made should be pilfer proof. It should be unique and available to the banks only.

7. The printing of the bank documents should have highly artistic intricate and complex graphics.

8. The documents executed between Banker and Borrowers must be kept in safe custody,

CHANGES IN LEGISLATION AFTER ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS

1. Section 91 of IPC shall be amended to include electronic documents also.

2. Section 92 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 shall be amended to include commuter based communications

3. Section 93 of Bankers Book Evidence Act, 1891 has been amended to give legal sanctity for books of account maintained in the electronic form by the banks.

4. Section 94 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1939 shall be amended to facilitate electronic fund transfers between the financial institutions and the banks. A new clause (pp) has been inserted in Section 58(2).

RECENT TRENDS OF BANKING SYSTEM IN INDIA

In the banking and financial sectors, the introduction of electronic technology for transactions, settlement of accounts, book-keeping and all other related functions is now an imperative. Increasingly, whether we like it or not, all banking transactions are going to be electronic. The thrust is on commercially important centers, which account for 65 percent of banking business in terms of value. There are now a large number of fully computerized branches across the country.

A switchover from cash-based transactions to paper-based transactions is being accelerated. Magnetic Ink character recognition clearing of cheques is now operational in many cities, beside the four metro cities. In India, the design, management and regulation of electronically-based payments system are becoming the focus of policy deliberations. The imperatives of developing an effective, efficient and speedy payment and settlement systems are getting sharper with introduction of new instruments such as credit cards, telebanking, ATMs, retail Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and Electronic Clearing Services (ECS). We are moving towards smart cards, credit and financial Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for straight through processing.

Financial Fraud (Investigation, Prosecution, Recovery and Restoration of property) Bill, 2001

Further the Financial Fraud (Investigation, Prosecution, Recovery and Restoration of property) Bill, 2001 was introduced in Parliament to curb the menace of Bank Fraud. The Act was to prohibit, control, investigate financial frauds; recover and restore properties subject to such fraud; prosecute for causing financial fraud and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Under the said act the term Financial Fraud has been defined as under:

Section 512 – Financial Fraud

Financial frauds means and includes any of the following acts committed by a person or with his connivance, or by his agent, in his dealings with any bank or financial institution or any other entity holding public funds;

1. The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who does not believe it to be true;

2. The active concealment of a fact by one having knowledge or belief of the fact;

3. A promise made with out any intention of performing it;

4. Any other act fitted to deceive;

5. Any such act or omission as the law specially declares to be fraudulent.
Provided that whoever acquires, possesses or transfers any proceeds of financial fraud or enters into any transaction which is related to proceeds of fraud either directly or indirectly or conceals or aids in the concealment of the proceeds of financial fraud, commits financial fraud.

513(a) – Punishment for Financial Fraud

Whoever commits financial fraud shall be: (a) Punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term, which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

(b)Whoever commits serious financial fraud shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than five years and shall also be liable for fine up to double the amount involved in such fraud.

Provided that in both (a) and (b) all funds, bank accounts and properties acquired using such funds subjected to the financial fraud as may reasonably be attributed by the investigating agency shall be recovered and restored to the rightful owner according to the procedure established by law.

CONCLUSION

The Indian Banking Industry has undergone tremendous growth since nationalization of 14 banks in the year 1969. There has an almost eight times increase in the bank branches from about 8000 during 1969 to mote than 60,000 belonging to 289 commercial banks, of which 66 banks are in private sector.

It was the result of two successive Committees on Computerization (Rangarajan Committee) that set the tone for computerization in India. While the first committee drew the blue print in 1983-84 for the mechanization and computerization in banking industry, the second committee set up in 1989 paved the way for integrated use of telecommunications and computers for applying technogical breakthroughs in banking sector.

However, with the spread of banking and banks, frauds have been on a constant increase. It could be a natural corollary to increase in the number of customers who are using banks these days. In the year 2000 alone we have lost Rs 673 crores in as many as 3,072 number of fraud cases. These are only reported figures. Though, this is 0.075% of Rs 8,96,696 crores of total deposits and 0.15% of Rs 4,44,125 crores of loans & advances, there are any numbers of cases that are not reported. There were nearly 65,800 bank branches of a total of 295 commercial banks in India as on June 30, 2001 reporting a total of nearly 3,072 bank fraud cases. This makes nearly 10.4 frauds per bank and roughly 0.47 frauds per branch.

An Expert Committee on Bank Frauds (Chairman: Dr.N.L.Mitra) submitted its Report to RBI in September 2001. The Committee examined and suggested both the preventive and curative aspects of bank frauds.

The important recommendations of the Committee include:

o A need for including financial fraud as a criminal offense;

o Amendments to the IPC by including a new chapter on financial fraud;

o Amendments to the Evidence Act to shift the burden of proof on the accused person;

o Special provision in the Cr. PC for properties involved in the Financial Fraud.

o Confiscating unlawful gains; and preventive measures including the development of Best Code Procedures by banks and financial institutions.

Thus it can be concluded that following measures should necessarily be adopted by the Ministry of Finance in order to reduce cases of Fraud.

o There must be a Special Court to try financial fraud cases of serious nature.

o The law should provide separate structural and recovery procedure. Every bank must have a domestic inquiry officer to enquirer about the civil dimension of fraud.

o A fraud involving an amount of ten crore of rupees and above may be considered serious and be tried in the Special Court.

The Twenty-ninth Report of the Law Commission had dealt some categories of crimes one of which is “offenses calculated to prevent and obstruct the economic development of the country and endanger its economic health.” Offenses relating to Banking Fraud will fall under this category. The most important feature of such offenses is that ordinarily they do not involve an individual direct victim. They are punishable because they harm the whole society. It is clear that money involved in Bank belongs to public. They deposit there whole life’ security in Banks and in case of Dacoity or Robbery in banks the public will be al lost. Thus it is important that sufficient efforts should be taken in this regard.

There exists a new kind of threat in cyber world. Writers are referring it as “Salami Attack” under this a special software is used for transferring the amount from the account of the individual. Hence the culprits of such crimes should be found quickly and should be given strict punishment. Moreover there is requirement of more number of IT professionals who will help in finding a solution against all these security threats.

Offshore Online Banking Guide – Critical Information You Must Know

There are several legal and regulatory compliance implications with offshore banking that I’d like to cover in this article. However, please don’t construe information on this site as legal guidance. I am providing this information for free based on my own experiences. Please consult your professional attorney or CPA (accountant) before you get involved with offshore internet banking.

What is an Offshore Bank

To be over simplistic, an offshore bank is a financial institution outside the shores of your country. If you are in Australia, a bank in the United States is an offshore bank to you. If you are in the United States, a bank in Singapore is an offshore bank to you. Therefore, the idea of offshore banking is relative.

A business or an individual, in this case you, may select an offshore bank account in a jurisdiction that is typically favorable in terms of taxes (often referred to as a tax haven by media), as well as in terms of legalities. In addition to choosing a jurisdiction with no to little income tax, for many, privacy and “secrecy” of banking activities are two of the bigger key considerations.

It goes without saying that access to your funds is important, as well as protection from corruption and stability in terms of certainty.

List of Common Offshore Online Banking Services

This is a brief list of services offered by offshore banks. This list is by no means a full comprehensive list of an offshore bank’s offerings, but rather a list of some of the most common offshore online banking services that businesses and individuals are offered:

  • Remote Deposits of funds
  • Direct Deposits of funds
  • ACH / Wire Transfers / EFT – Electronic Fund Transfers
  • Consumer and Commercial Lending
  • All Basic Credit Activities
  • Access to Capital – Offshore Debit Cards
  • Forex – Currency Exchange
  • Wealth Management
  • Offshore Trading Account
  • Offshore Brokerage Account
  • Administrative Services
  • Trustee Services

Note: Offshore banks typically tend to focus on either consumer or commercial banking. Within consumer, banks differentiate between retail consumer (the average individual) or private banking (meant for high net worth individuals).

Because each concentration involves a different cost structure from the bank’s perspective, when selecting an offshore bank for yourself, be clear on what type of consumer you are and what offshore online banking services you need. Gaining this clarity will ensure you are not disappointed in your choice.

List of Common Offshore Banks

No doubt the two most common names in offshore online banking are Switzerland and Cayman Islands. Just pick up any business journal or pop in a business based Hollywood flick. There is likely a mention of a Swiss bank account somewhere.

This is because as of at least 2012, these two jurisdictions held the most number of total deposits amongst all offshore online banks. Some other jurisdictions that offer offshore online banking are the following:

  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Panama
  • Cook Islands
  • Dominica
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Antigua
  • Malaysia
  • Anguilla
  • New Zealand
  • Luxembourg
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cyprus
  • Cook Islands
  • Channel Islands
  • Monaco
  • Mauritius
  • Hong Kong
  • Malta
  • Macau
  • Regulating Offshore Online Banking

With complexity comes increasing regulation. The regulation around offshore online banking activities has steadily increased over the years, but according to many of its supporters it is still not enough. This means much more is in the pipelines. Regulation has particularly increased significantly after the significant events of September 11, 2011.

Regulatory guidance is issued and monitored by global bodies such as the International Monetary Fund or the IMF, who require financial institutions worldwide to maintain a certain level of operating or performance standard, specifically in terms of capital adequacy and liquidity. These key performance indicators are to be reported by banks on a quarterly basis to its designated regulator (such as the Fed or the FDIC in the United States).

The list of regulations is endless and quite comprehensive to say the least. Some notables are the Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulation and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). These acts require banks and financial institutions to immediately report suspicious activity resembling money laundering to local government authorities despite stepping out of the BSA jurisdiction.

Another example is the information sharing requirements between a certain group of countries with regards to capital flow and taxation which was initiated by members of the European Union. On the other side of the pond, the taxing body of the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires financial institutions to report to it names of businesses and individuals who benefited from interest income resulting from deposits in US based institutions.

The most notable in my opinion of recently enacted regulations is the US Patriot Act, which permits the US Government to seize all assets of a financial institution if it suspects that the institution holds assets that belong to a potential criminal. Several other countries have since followed suit.

I personally feel these regulations strengthen the global banking infrastructure. But then again I am just one person. There are others who feel in all sorts of ways about offshore online banking.

Interesting Fact: Did you know that just until the 1990s, individuals were allowed to create their very own offshore banks. This practice was stopped and now only large institutions are allowed to do so.

Connotations and Implications of Offshore Online Banking

It is not illegal to conduct offshore online banking, but such activities tend to carry with them a certain set of connotations and legal implications that you must be aware of and comply with. There can be severe fines, penalties and legal repercussions if you fail to comply with the legal and regulatory requirements.

Why you must be thinking? Because offshore banking historically has been used and abused by those who intended to evade taxes, as well as those that used funds for illegal causes. For example, organized crime networks heavily use offshore online banking to launder money.

But like I said, conducting offshore online banking isn’t an illegal activity. All persons conducting offshore online banking are required by most countries (depending on their residency) to disclose the activities and the outcomes, such as interest income for example.

Specifically in the United States for example, a US resident’s income is taxed on a global basis. This means that even interest earned overseas is subject to taxation by US authorities. Now although financial institutions are not required to disclose this information to countries of interest due the bank secrecy guidelines, individuals are required to disclose this information.

Similarly, one can legally avoid taxes in certain situations. For example, a resident of Country X living and working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may not have to pay taxes if Country X does not tax the individual’s global income.

Because there is no taxation on income earned in many Arab nations, interest income earned from deposits in a UAE bank account is not subject to tax. Further, the income is also not taxed in Country X. This is a common reason why so many affluent folks change residency and citizenship status, one that resonates most with their financial goals and objectives.

It’s a very interesting dynamic and there is a ton of opportunity for strategics as you can imagine.

Dollar Concentration in Offshore Online Banking

Although offshore online banking is not a subject delved into by the average individual, the numbers involved (concentration of wealth and financial activity) are quite significant. You may find a lot of these simply fascinating.

For example, specialized banking economists and analysts indicate that half of the global capital (money) flows through one of the many offshore banks out there. The so called Tax Havens (think Switzerland) have over a quarter of the global wealth (think high net worth individuals and big companies). These Havens also hold over 30% of profits generated by companies based in the United States.

And that’s not it. Over 6 trillion US dollars owned by high net worth individuals are also reported to be held in offshore bank accounts in one shape or another.

Illegal Monies in Offshore Bank Accounts

Opportunists have identified weaknesses in the offshore banking system and thus have taken advantage of the systems to launder monies generated through illegal means and used for illegal purposes. According to the IMF, this amount is as large as 1.5 trillion US dollars on an annual basis. To put things in perspective for you, this is roughly 5% of the world’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In addition to illegal monies, there are also monies that have evaded taxation as well as monies that were generated through fraud, graft and corruption. All in all, the amounts are super significant. And as I stated above, the two jurisdictions with the biggest concentration of these amounts are the Cayman Islands and Switzerland (as of 2012).

Offshore Internet Banking for Corporations of All Sizes

I have already stated this earlier, but offshore online banking is not only for large companies, but companies of all sizes as well as individuals. There are a certain set of requirements that any institution, an individual or a company have to meet in order to open and maintain an offshore bank account.

In fact, it is easier for individuals to open and maintain an offshore bank account before companies are required to complete additional forms in a specific manner when establishing an offshore internet bank account.

Corporations typically engage in offshore online banking when they contemplate one or any mix of the following purposes.

  • Cost containment (bank fees and charges)
  • Paying and receiving payments from vendors and customers in local jurisdictions
  • Asset protection strategies
  • International acquisitions and investments
  • Compensating local employees in an offshore jurisdiction
  • Political reasons – Stability and predictability
  • Establishing a local business presence
  • Again, this is not a comprehensive list of why companies engage in offshore online banking. There are several other reasons why a company may decide to establish an offshore bank account. The only true way to find out the best offshore bank for you, and whether your objectives will be met through offshore internet banking is by speaking to a professional who can walk you through the entire process.

Concluding Thoughts on Offshore Internet Banking

I gave you a ton of information to read and digest in this article. As you have read, offshore internet banking is used by several different constituencies for several different purposes with several different intentions.

There are some significant advantages that can be derived from opening an offshore bank account such as entering new global markets and some serious offshore tax planning. I obviously recommend opening an offshore bank account for the right reasons, with full compliance with laws and regulations. For those contemplating abusing the system, understand that bank secrecy is a weakening concept, and one that will continue to weaken over the years.

Countries are increasingly sharing information, some voluntarily and some while succumbing to pressure by more powerful nations such as the United States.

Fast Money Recap – An Overview

One of the keys to becoming successful in the stock market is by getting access into the inside stories, trends and updates regarding the country’s economy. One of the show’s in America that has all these information is Fast Money Recap. If you are serious about making tremendous amounts of money, then you can get insights from this show.

Undeniably, Fast Money Recap is one of the most watched American programs when it comes to money matters. This stock trading talk show will show you everything from financial trends, investment techniques and stock predictions. If you miss an episode you can always watch it again through this program, even get updates via your mobile phone and make use of their widgets if you are into affiliate marketing.

All you need to know about stock trading is in this program. Well-known experts in this field talk about the trends and how to invest well in the trade. They also divulge secrets on who to make it well in Wall Street. Produced by CNBC, it deals with topics like technical analysis on the stock market movements, commodities, stock exchange options, and the basics of investing.

Providing information for six years now, fast money has all the details that will arm you for success. In any other venture it is important to have an in-depth knowledge in what you are getting yourself into. This program caters to various third-party companies like the NASDAQ, American Stock Exchange (AMEX), Reuters and the New York Stock Exchange. With these date collated from these companies you will get an overall picture on how the economy works.

So why watch Fast Money Recap? As shown via live telecast from NASDAQ Market Site, New York City, the program brings you the latest and most credible information about the stock market. They have blogs to keep you in the know, and have updates from their show. For sure these programs will not only educate you into the financial trends and how to invest well but it will also inculcate passion and motivation in making money.

In the fast paced internet age getting updates and latest news for your line of business and information from the stock market is important so that you can make accurate predictions and investments. Fast Money Recap has everything that a trader needs to know, and to always keep in touch with financial news it is advised to register and stay informed.

Income Tax Preparation

Income tax preparation is an important aspect of everybody’s life. Each April 15th, United States citizens scramble to get their tax return preparation completed in time for the deadline. In order to make income tax preparation easier, there are many tools available to help make the process smoother. Free income tax preparation and online income tax preparation are methods that are readily available to help make tax season a bit easier.

Free income tax preparation is often available as an incentive for refund anticipation loans. A tax specialist will analyze your finances and prepare your taxes. If it is determine you are entitled to a refund, they take a percentage of that refund.Consequently, the tax preparation service makes money, but not until your refund comes through. There is no out-of pocket expense to you, plus you get the added assurance that your tax preparation is done thoroughly and accurately.

Online income tax preparation is available at many locations to assist you with your filing. The income tax preparation software usually consists of an easy-to-use interface which asks a series of questions. You will answer each question then move to the next screen. Some questions will not be applicable to your particular situation so you will choose the “not applicable” option and continue. The professional income tax preparation software thinks of everything for you. You do not have to be familiar with tax laws or the complexities of tax preparation. Instead, the software will cue you to the possible deductions you may be allowed to take.

Simply answer all the questions on the tax preparation software as completely as you can and your tax refund or payment will be automatically calculated for you. You will then have the option to print out the forms for your signature and submission. If you choose this option, print all the necessary forms that the tax preparation software informs you that you will need. Sign all the forms where appropriate, and attach any supporting documentation. Most income tax preparation software will generate a checklist that you can use to ensure all supporting documentation and forms are properly enclosed.

Many online income tax preparation software systems have electronic submission capabilities. This way, you can file all the necessary tax paperwork without having to go to the post office to wait in long lines. This is especially useful when it gets closer to the tax deadline and many people are rushing to get their taxes posted. The lines can be outrageous and being able to file your return from the comfort of your own home is much more convenient.

Tax preparation help can be found on numerous websites and at the Internal Revenue Service website. If you have a question about the proper way to complete your tax preparation or what forms to file, the Internal Revenue Service website is a great place to look for tax preparation help. Income tax preparation software also often has available tax help files and links for resources.

Tax preparation services are another useful option for tax preparation. Tax preparation services can often be found in kiosks in shopping centers or malls as well as in stand-alone offices. Tax preparation services work for a fee, but they hire highly skilled accountants and tax specialists who will know exactly how to most effectively prepare your taxes to get the maximum amount of deductions. The person who prepares your taxes will walk you through a series of questions and will possibly ask to see certain types of documentation. This process will assist them in developing the most thorough and accurate tax return possible.

Federal and state income tax preparation can often seem like a daunting task. Free tax preparation is available for those who are concerned about their budget. Any fees that are applicable are generally deducted from your refund so there are no up-front costs. Online income tax preparation is available for those who want the convenience of preparing and filing taxes online. You can avoid the long lines and hassle of the post office by choosing this option and you can generally get your refund, if there is one, directly deposited into your checking account. Income tax preparation services are also available at a fee, and are generally used for more complex tax returns. All options are readily available and easy to use. Any of these options will make your tax preparation much easier and less stressful.

Top 10 Myths For Payday Loans

1. Payday loans trap consumers in “cycle of debt”
Although the phrase “cycle of debt” is a favorite among industry critics, it is not based on the truth. Researchers and American state regulators consistently report that 70-80% of customers use payday cash advances between once a year and once a month.

It is important to understand that a payday advance is not meant to be a long term loan. What a payday loan has done is assist millions of families with emergency needs. This means that a payday advance is given only under the agreement that it will be paid off on the applicant’s next payday (hence the term, payday advance). Short-term loan providers also operate a rollover service to help keep the payday advance applicant from being stuck in a long term, high interest rate loan.

2. All operate as loan sharks
A payday loan provided by a reputable payday loan or cash advance company does not take advantage of people. It is meant to be used only for a short term emergency situation by employed persons who need a little bit of help between paydays for emergencies. This is a very common occurrence when most families live pay check to pay check and may not be financially prepared for emergency repairs, travel or medical expenses. In reality, quick payday loans fill a necessary component in the economic world.

3. Rude employees
Payday loan companies do not compete on the price of their loan, therefore it is important for them to compete on other aspects of the service to create a competitive advantage. One of these ways is through customer service and to ensure all employees are financially knowledgeable and are fully qualified for the job to certify their customers are given an excellent customer service. This is further enhanced through the recording and monitoring of telephone calls in and out of the company.

4. Target vulnerable people, the poor etc
Payday advances are marketed toward subprime clients without a distinction in employment or culture. In fact, payday loans are marketed toward those people earning between £10 000 and £25 000 per year. Most payday advance members are under 45 years old and all applicants are currently employed with a steady income and have an active checking account. In reality, payday advances are meant for working adults with an immediate emergency need that cannot be satisfied through bank and union loans.

5. Hide fees and have high interest rates
The payday cash loan facility is required by law to disclose any application fees, interest rates and other fees. In accordance with OFT guidelines, it is a legal requirement that all fees and rates must be clearly outlined and disclosed to the customer.

A payday loan does have high interest rates. This is not because the lender is trying to take advantage of emergencies, but because they are a short term lender. The payday loans are meant to be short term loans, not long term loans that are constantly refinanced with monthly statements. This means that the payday loan company assumes greater risk at the same profit level as other financial institutions.

6. Threaten customers with coercive collection practices
Short-term loan providers are committed to collecting past due accounts in a professional, fair and lawful manner involving no criminal actions. In accordance with BBCA’s guidelines, companies in the UK may not pursue criminal actions against a customer as a result of the customer not repaying their loan. If absolutely necessary and after all other approaches have been tried, the lender may turn the issue over to a collection agency.

7. Operate outside the OFT guidelines
All short-term loan lenders should follow OFT guidelines and are dedicated to practicing all practices and collections in the best way possible. The company strives to educate the consumer and to make sure that our borrowers clearly understand the payday loan process. This is in accordance within the customer selection criteria in a Responsible Lending policy.

8. Unethical
Many posts have been written on consumer forums about how payday loan lenders are unethical and immoral for taking money from people who need it the most. This is not the objective of payday advances; these short-term loans are meant to tie over consumers until payday and be paid back on time. One loan provider operate a ‘Responsible Lending’ policy, listed in this policy are guidelines stating that the company’s charges are transparent and only lend to customers who can pay the loan back. The company also offers a payment plan option if customers are unable to pay back the loan on time; this allows them to pay back a small amount per week which the customer can afford.

Short-term loan lenders who offer payday advances have also been seen to partner with a charity to match customer donations made through the website. For example, one lender has partnered with Starlight Children’s Foundation to match the 50p donation, customers can choose to make on their interest payment.

9. Adds unauthorized charges to accounts
Payday loan providers only charge customers what they owe, and do not want to charge customers more for their loan. All companies ethical practices and responsible lending policy ensures customers only pay back the interest payments and charges which are relevant to their account.

10. Employees are trained to set hooks
Employees from payday loan providers are trained purely for business purposes, and to help customers as much as they can. Employees from short-term loan providers pride themselves on excellent customer service and helping customers out. To employees from this short-term loan lender happy customers mean increase commission.

Payday Loans

Paysaver Payday Loans makes Internet Lending “Easy”

Paysaver Payday Loans offers payday loan, cash advance loans and fast cash services for whatever you need.

At PaySaver Payday Loans we promote honesty and integrity and we were proud to have been named as “The Australian Payday Loans Specialists” by our peers. We were given this title because we were one of the first to perfect the payday loans business in Australia.

We recognised the need for people to have a safe, secure, simple & fast way of obtaining payday loans of small amounts of money without the hassles, delays and costs associated with formal bank applications.
We then developed a unique system of lending exclusively via the Internet and Fax which has proven to be the most cost effective, efficient and fastest way of obtaining payday loans to date.

Our slogan is “Your personal ATM on the net” because you now have the convenience of applying for payday loans from the safety, privacy and comfort of your computer.

Simply send us your payday loans application and 30 minutes later, upon approval, your money is sent directly to your account!

Can Paysaver Payday Loans it get any better than that? – Yes it can!

After your first loan is successfully repaid your payday loans you are promoted to PaySaver Express where your approval time is reduced to only 15 minutes.

PS. We have kept our payday loans prices the same since we started trading back in early 2004 and that is why we have the lowest payday loan fees in Australia!

Paysaver Payday Loans gets you the funds you need ASAP. Why wait for your cash advance when you can get it overnight? Our loans are 100% safe, fast and completely online – so think of us for your payday loan fast cash needs.

It keeps getting better! We’ve made it incredibly easy to qualify for payday loans by offering our industry-leading application process to you at no additional expense to you.

There are no credit bureau reports on your payday loans, never an application fee, and of course, no credit checks. If you are at least 18 years of age, receive a regular source of income, and have direct deposit enabled on your bank account, you’re practically approved for Paysaver Payday Loans – don’t wait any longer apply for payday loans as you can apply for these unsecured payday loans today!

We specialize in providing overnight payday loans for individuals who are in need. We strive to bring people of all types pay day loans that are reasonably priced, quickly deposited, and managed by a professional lending team – why settle for less when you get an advance on your payday loans today!
Need short term payday loans cash advance to take care of that emergency, that unforeseen bill or just to reward yourself? Paysaver Payday Loans is a fast and secure way to get payday loans from the privacy of your own home!

Applying and qualifying for a payday loans advance loan is quick and easy, and confidential and requires minimal faxing.

Once you’re approved for our payday loans cash advance, we will electronically deposit the money directly into your checking or savings account. We offer flexible payment options and a discrete service that gets you the cash you need right now.

It’s that easy, why not apply and make Paysaver Payday Loans your loyal partner today.
Ever run a little short of cash before your next payday?

It happens to most of us at some stage. A night out with friends, registering your car or maybe just paying a couple of bills? Nothing a few hundred dollar payday loans won’t fix.

However, it can be frustrating if the cash is days away and you need it earlier. whatever the reason a Paysaver Payday loans is always there.

It’s even harder if you’ve had a minor, bad credit mishap, are too busy to get away from work or don’t want to commit to paying off a large, long term loan or credit card then try a Paysaver Payday Loans.
Paysaver Payday Loans has helped thousands of Australians in your situation with a convenient, clear and secure alternative. Quick turnaround times mean that you can be paid in as little as 20 minutes.

Home Loans to Get the Best of Your Property

At least once in life everyone thinks about moving. Either to a bigger home if the family is growing; or to a smaller one, if the kids are leaving and the actual home is going to be too big for you. Whatever your reason may be, selling a house is always an opportunity.

Home loans, if well used may help you to make a good deal from your property’s sell. There are many suitable options, depending on your situation and what you are looking for. Even with bad credit, and also if you are still repaying your home mortgage.

Types Of Home Loans

There are many options to be evaluated within home loans, you should start evaluating first what is that you want to do. If you want to switch to a bigger home, to a smaller one, and how would you like to invest the extra benefit obtained from the selling, if any.

There are two important home loan categories that you should look at when thinking about moving. Those are, home purchasing loans and home improvement loans.

Home improvement loans point to, as their name says, improve your current home. Either if there are any reparations to be done, or if you would like to make your home look better before selling it, these kinds of loans may be a good help. If you do the right modifications, your home value could be increased by the time you find a buyer. Financial companies will also approve loans for landscape improvements, such as constructing a swimming pool, if that is favorable to increase the property’s value.

Home purchasing loans, in the other hand, are meant to help you on your new home’s purchasing.

Different Options

You will find a wide range of loans within both, home improvement and home purchasing loans.

Home purchasing loans will vary according to what do you intend to do. In example, if you had purchased your actual home whit a home loan which you are still repaying, and the home you are willing to move to will also need extra finance, you could get a home conversion loan. These kinds of loans, place your actual loan into the new home, including the extra amount you need. If you do not have any previous home loan, you can have a mortgage loan or a home equity loan, just over the extra amount you need to buy your new home.

You will also find many options on home improvement loans, the most common are unsecured personal loans for home improvements, home mortgage refinancing, first mortgage loans and second loans.

Unsecured personal loans may be a little more expensive than secured loans since they represent more risk for the lender, but you will not need to have equity in your property or any other collateral to apply. Credit score may be a limitation for the borrowed amount, but you are still eligible even if you have bad credit.

Home mortgage refinancing and first mortgage loans, are good options to evaluate if you have purchased your home with a mortgage loan. First mortgage loans are offered by your current lender, to finance your home improvements over your existent mortgage. With home mortgage refinancing your actual mortgage loan will be refinanced. You will not be borrowing more money, but refinancing will lower your home mortgage monthly payments leaving you extra money to invest on improving your home.

Second loans are suitable if you have an equity in your property to justify the loan.

All these options, if well used may help you to obtain the best of your property’s sell. Try to search and compare as many lenders as you can before you decide to apply for any loan.

Options For Getting Your Taxes Prepared

When tax season rolls around each year the are a number of individuals who need to decide how their tax returns will be prepared and filed. Each taxpayer has a number of tax preparation options. These tax preparation options can include self preparation or hiring the services of a tax professional.

Individuals who makes the decision to hire the help of a tax professional are likely to hire an accountant or professional tax preparer. The majority of professional tax preparers are employed by a large company that specializes in tax preparation. Taxpayers are often required to take the necessary documents to a tax preparation office. Popular professional tax preparation companies include H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. There are likely to be other smaller or locally owned tax preparation companies located in cities or towns throughout the United States.

Taxpayers also have the option of hiring an accountant to prepare and file their taxes. Many individuals who have complicated financial records are likely to hire the services of an accountant because accountants are not only trained in tax preparation, but bookkeeping as well. When choosing a tax accountant to do business with taxpayers are encouraged to ask an accountant about their qualifications or relevant business experience. There are two main types of accountants. One is a person that may just have previous accounting experience and then there are certified public accountants (CPAs). Certified public accountants (CPAs) are required to take a set number of college credits and pass a CPA exam before becoming certified. Certified public accountants are likely to charge their clients more money; however, they tend to offer better results due to their large amounts of training and experience.

The only downside to hiring a professional tax preparer or an accountant to do your taxes is that they are likely to cost a large amount of money. The majority of accountants and other professional tax preparers charge their clients based on the number of state and federal forms that need to be filled out and how complicated they all are. It is not uncommon for an individual to pay over one hundred dollars to have their taxes professionally prepared. For this reason there are many individuals who decide to prepare their own taxes.

When an individual decides to prepare their own taxes they have a number of different tax preparation options. Until recently the majority of taxpayers who prepared their own taxes relied on paper tax forms to file their taxes. Paper forms are not as popular as they used to be; however, there are still many individuals who use them. The majority of taxpayers have federal and state tax return forms mailed to their residence. This is a convenient option that is given to all previous taxpayers. Other taxpayers can obtain federal and state tax forms and their instruction booklets by visiting their local library, post office, or bank.

The reason why paper forms are not as popular as they used to be is because of the development of tax software programs. Tax software programs are available for purchase online or in most retail stores. They are designed to allow individuals to prepare and file their taxes accurately and quickly. There are many tax software programs that transfer a taxpayers information from one form to the next. All tax software programs have a mathematical checker that prevents a number of errors from being reported on a tax return. Tax preparation software programs often come in a standard, deluxe, or premium version. The deluxe and premium versions are likely to include both federal and state tax return forms while the majority of standard versions only include federal tax return forms.

Once a taxpayers make the decision to have their taxes professional prepared or self prepared there are still more decisions that need to be made. Individuals are encouraged to examine their situation and decide whether they should hire an accountant, take their takes to a tax preparation office, file paper tax returns, or use a tax preparation software program. Each taxpayer is likely to make a different selection based on different circumstances. What are yours?

The PayDay Loan Web – Don't Be a Needy Fly That Gets Caught in This Web

my personal payday loan story that can help you

the term payday loan starts with the letter “p” which is the same letter that starts off the words pain, penalty, poor and poverty. Both the internet and the physical world are full of places where you can get a loan with bad credit, no credit check, and no employment verification but what these modern day loan sharks don’t tell you is that their interest rates are so high that one day you may end up with the payday loan mafia coming after you!

Sure, these loans look very attractive to those in financial need that are unable to get a loan by conventional means but when the facts are presented what you have to pay back just isn’t worth it. This fictional character that we all refer to as “guido” which is the person that comes to break your arms and legs when you don’t pay a loan shark back is in existence in a different way when it comes to payday loans. Instead of your arms and legs the payday loan guido comes after your heart, soul and peace of mind.

Payday loan places make their offerings look so attractive but it is all an illusion because who can really see when they are desperate? What you don’t want to happen is for what appears to be a temporary solution to become a long term problem and many times that is exactly what happens.

I’ve been caught in the payday loan otherwise known as payday advance web many times. Sometimes life’s circumstances leave us very few choices and we decide to do what we feel like we have to do to buy gas and put food on the table. Like I said, I’ve been there before and as a survivor of payday loan debt I have knowledge that can help you.

I want you to ask yourself a question which is, “if you don’t have enough money to get by what makes you think you can payoff a loan with 300%- 700% interest?” You might as well sell your first born child. Payday loans may seem good in the short run and you may get instant gratification and even a rush when you hold that cash in your hands or see it in your bank account but in the long run it is a race that many can’t win.

My story, like many, was that I obtained payday loans to cover immediate expenses I needed cash for but didn’t have money to pay the loans back so I got extension after extension paying out ungodly amounts of money. Before long I was getting new payday loans just to pay the other payday loans I had received. I was trapped in a vicious cycle with no way out and a ton of stress upon me. I became a needy fly caught in the payday loan web, especially since most of my loans were online loans; I was literally in a virtual web. The payday loan spider sucked the life blood out of my bank accounts and I didn’t know what to do.

Please understand that you can’t solve a problem with a problem and you can’t come out debt by creating more debt. The solution to your debt starts with gaining additional income sources and paying off existing debt little by little so you can be free. In my own personal payday loan crisis I got up to almost $7, 000 worth of payday loans and when renewal payment time came my entire paycheck was gone. This is a miserable experience that I pray you can avoid. You might already be at this state but even if you are I have some suggestions for you that will offer hope.

The first thing you have to do is to make a conscious decision to get out of this situation. Decide to change and become a butterfly rather than a fly caught up in the payday loan web. When a caterpillar is going through the metamorphosis in the cocoon in order to become a butterfly there is a struggle. The struggle is in fact what makes the butterfly great because the struggle to get out of the cocoon transformed actually pushes fluid from the butterfly’s body into its wings so that it can emerge in beautiful flight. This process may be a little painful but it will help you fly and be what you were made to be.

One thing that I did was to become an affiliate for payday loan companies so that I could get paid from other people acquiring payday loans. Some people are just going to get them so there is no reason why you shouldn’t get paid from the process that made you pay so much. The second thing I did is what really helped me which was to get a payday loan consolidation company to take on my debt at a reduced amount and pay the payday loans back for me on my behalf. It was one of the best choices I ever made and it was a way out of the payday loan web.

You can do a Google search to find companies that will represent you in this way but do your research and make sure that the company you choose is credible. I used pdl assistance, inc. They require an upfront fee to take your case but they will work with you on paying it and it is around $200. Next you set up a plan to pay them a monthly amount on your payday loan debt and they pay your debtors directly. They will give you different term options to pay the debt off and they will deal with the payday loan companies for you. Doing this took a huge weight off of me. I got a 12 month term to repay my payday loan debt at 35% of what I owed the payday loan companies. The $400 a month I was paying on this plan was much better than the $700 plus every two weeks I was paying for all the loans I had.

One important thing to know when you start a payday loan consolidation program is that the payday loan companies are going to call you to collect. When they call just give them the information for the company that is representing you and let them know that the debt is going to be repaid to them as part of a loan/debt consolidation program you have initiated. I obtained the fax numbers to my payday loan companies and sent them notification on who to contact regarding the repayment of my loans. If you do this make sure to include your account number and social security number so they can properly locate your account.

Some companies will continue to try and collect from you in spite of this so I have another suggestion if this happens. If you get numerous collection calls after you have informed them about your debt consolidation you need to fax and/or send them a cease and desist letter. You can get a template off the internet and submitting this letter will stop the collection calls while your debt consolidation program is in the works.

Another tip is to close the bank account you have the loan fees being deducted from if possible. You will want to start a new account before you close your existing account and under no circumstances get payday loans under the new account. You have to treat the payday loan habit like an addiction. If you are going to stop it then stop it because replicating the mistake will only make things worse for you.

If you need money then get bad credit credit cards and pay them on time to build your credit. Pay more than the minimum payment and use them to pay bills so you can pay what you need to pay while building your credit. No debt consolidation company can legally advise you to close your account but sometimes it is the only way to keep the payments from being processed and causing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in overdraft fees. For me this was the easiest way because I had so many loans and it would have cost me a $25 fee for every stop payment processed plus the bank could have missed some.

I also want you to know that the cease and desist letter can be used for any type of debt collection and not just payday loans. It is important to know your rights and you can find them out online at the federal trade commission’s website where you can learn about the fair debt collection act. You will learn what creditors can and cannot do regarding the collection of your debts and how to stop inconvenient and harassing behavior.

I do not encourage anyone to get a payday loan because it can get out of control so easily. If you must get a payday loan be sure to get one with low fees well below the normal $30 per $100 borrowed.

Cheap Loans – How To Reduce What They Cost You

With the rising commodity prices throughout the globe, everyone needs some kind of legal financing when they purchase something big like a home or a car. There are all kinds of financing options available in the UK. Only getting a loan that helps you meet your financial needs is not enough. You also need to save considerable amount of money on your loans so that you can repay them in simple affordable monthly payments. Getting a cheap and affordable loan in accordance with your financial affordability is not as simple as it may seem. Have a look at the ways in which you can easily secure loans at a cheap rate.

  • Make a comprehensive market research: Comparison shopping is the most important step that can help you save a lump sum amount of money. If you’re in the market for credit of any kind, stay sure that there will be hundreds of companies that are waiting for selling their financial products to you. Therefore, you need to take a step after considering the rates and charges offered by all lending companies. If you’re taking out a home loan or a debt consolidation loan, you need to make sure that you compare the services offered by various companies.
  • Check your credit rating: Today’s lending industry is entirely based on your credit score. As your credit report reflects your financial history, the lenders always check the score before lending you a new line of credit. A person with a good credits core will certainly secure a better rate than a person who has a poor credit score. Therefore, if you want to obtain loans at a cheap rate, make sure you repair your credit before applying for a loan. Order a free copy of your credit report and dispute all errors and negative listings so that you can boost your credit score.
  • Take the loan out for a short term: When taking a loan out it is important that you first calculate the monthly amount that you can afford to repay each month.  If you are armed with this information you are then able to reduce the term of the loan until the repayments meet what you can afford. Taking a loan out for a shorter term will make quite a big difference in the amount of interest that you are charged.
  • Look for bad credit lenders: If you have exhausted all the above mentioned options and have no other option left to secure a cheap loan for yourself, you can look for a bad credit lender. Bad credit lenders usually lend loans to people with bad credit and therefore they will give you a loan at a low rate. If you want to get a cheap loan, go and apply to a bad credit lender.

The entire process of getting cheap loans will become fuss-free if you follow the points mentioned above. Gain peace of mind while getting your loan so that you need not worry about the monthly loan obligations and lead a life free of financial burden.

The Critical Stage of CNBC Fast Money

This is a critical time for CNBC Fast Money with initial tests being conducted. It was noted that the CNBC rating has plummeted in the past years as cynical stock traders tried to escape the slowly crumbling industry. However, CNBC executives believe that the market is reviving to its old glory, even with the verge of new competition. How can we say that this US financial investing TV programis profitable?

Even though CNBC ratings might have been suffering from negatives, the network is still in high-revenue tier. Take note of its pretax income of about $ 270 million. With the US reserves and economic monitoring will continue to be the meat of financial talk shows, which is really the nature of the network’s plan to entice its viewers. However, this financial TV program is seen to be more appealing to a more natural type of consumerists or those traders who doesn’t give so much fuss about the weak points but just want to try venturing out with stocks and try to be rich. Is stock-picking important to CNBC?

The answer is yes. The kind of stock-picking in CNBC Fast Money is quite sensitive. In the past trading years in 1990s, CNBC received criticisms for including too many members in the panel who sometimes crazily peddling on stocks even without careful analysis. But CNBC defended that they had found a way to offer new responsible programs. However, the primary idea of the show will still revolve around turning money in the shortest period of time. What are expected changes in CNBC Fast Money?

Since news and analysis on financial trends have turned into measly commodity of the financial world, the network has to consider presenting news and financial information in the most innovative way without compromising responsible programming. The executive producers also want to include cultural relevancy on the program by providing access to the viewers and teaching them how to use such information for their stock trading. How could this happen?

Perhaps the secret of CNBC Fast Money is to widen its appeal without compromising its reputation among its advertisers. The network targets Class A and B market to maintain its standing as a major player in the business world. Fast Money TV program is indeed a primary network asset of CNBC. However, programming is in constant change with new ideas cropping up to develop the program and to implement changes. Talk shows and late night shows could be a challenge yet Fast Money is still a major TV phenomenon.

Tips of Avoiding a Devious Tax Preparer

There are many taxpayers who have found themselves on the wrong side of the IRS because they used the services of unscrupulous tax preparers. There are also others who have had their refunds embezzled by preparers. It is therefore, important that you research a tax preparer before signing up for his or her services. Below are some tips that will help you spot a crooked preparer:

  • Rate Depends on Amount of Refund – Avoid preparers who base their consultation fees based on the amount of a tax refund that they are able to get you. This is because such preparers use dubious ways of increasing your refund, such as inflate figures or including non-existing dependents. Such deceptive ways of increasing your tax refund can easily lead to both civil and criminal charges and therefore, it is important that you avoid such people.
  • Preparers Who Promise Large Refund – Another red flag for dubious preparers is ones who promise to get you a very large refund check as a way of enticing you to hire his or her services. Once again, such preparers may use illegal ways of raising your refund amount and this may easily get you into trouble with the tax authorities.
  • PTIN Qualifications – When searching for a preparer to hire his or her services, it is important that you ensure that the preparer has a Preparer Tax Identity Number (PTIN). As from a policy started in 2012, the IRS is requiring all preparers to apply for the PTIN after meeting certain meticulous qualifications. Once the IRS authenticates the credibility of the preparer, they issue the preparer with the PTIN. Therefore, confirming that your preparer has a PTIN is an important precaution to avoiding shady tax preparers. Besides having the PTIN, the preparer also ought to sign the tax return form before submitting.
  • Deposit Refunds to Preparer Account – Tax preparers who request you to indicate their address for the tax refunds or deposit tax refunds into their bank account are another red flag sign. A tax preparer should always indicate the taxpayers account for the tax refund.
  • Signing Blank Form – Tax preparers that prepare tax returns and submit without you going through the returns is yet another red flag. Some tax preparers will request you to sign a blank tax return form. They will then tell you that they will prepare and submit the return on your behalf and you do not need to confirm the details. Such an arrangement can lead to the preparer giving false information for selfish gain. Even when a taxpayer uses the services of a preparer, he or she is still held responsible for all the information provided on the return. Therefore, ensure that you verify the information indicated on the return before signing the tax return form.
  • Building Your Own Talent Pool: 8 Challenges and 8 Possible Solutions for the Banking Industry

    Banks manage financial assets and the success of that management is dependent on the capabilities of the persons who manage those assets.

    Therefore growth in this sector is dependent on effective management and leadership capacity and dominance in retail services is directly related to the expansion of the branch network through which the bank’s retail products and services are distributed.

    The central departments or bank headquarters form the nerve center of the bank by providing direction, developing new products and services, handling high value investments, treasury management and credit activities. However, it is through the network of bank branches that the retail services developed by the central marketing function are distributed. The network of branches acts like the five senses as well as the arms and the legs of the body by sending critical information from the field to the central departments and executing the corporate strategy by successfully linking the needs of the public to the products and services developed to meet those needs.

    The quality and the quantity of that exchange between the branches and the central departments have a great impact on the ability of the bank to leverage its products and services in the market. Simply put, the branches are the points of sales for all the retail products and services developed by the bank. Even though sophisticated, high-value products and services are facilitated by the central departments concerned, the ‘retail services’ are the ‘Cash Cow’. A bank’s ability to expand its branch network through which its products and services are distributed is therefore critical to its growth and profitability.

    The question arises – “What is that growth dependent on? And the answer is – “It is dependent on the human capabilities available in the form of individuals who have the skills, the knowledge, the experience and the personality to successfully manage newly established branches. Herein lies one of the major challenges faced by many banks: Their need and their readiness to open new branches both in the home country and abroad is frustrated by the scarcity of individuals who are genuinely capable of successfully launching a new branch or ‘turning-around’ an existing branch.

    The purpose of this article is to explore some of the reasons for the scarcity and to suggest some things that can be done about it the in the short term and in the longer term.

    8 Challenges and 8 Possible Solutions

    Challenge 1: There is no training and development program designed specifically to prepare individuals to move from ‘competent employee’ to ‘competent branch manager’ with the requisite leadership skills.

    Solution: Identify individuals with leadership potential as early as possible in their careers through various activities and through multiple sources and methods. For example, if ‘leadership’ is identified as one of the core competencies of the bank and it is fully integrated into the appraisal system at all levels, there will be regular feedback through the performance appraisal system. This feedback can be further validated through regular Assessment and Development Centers designed to identify talent in various areas. Once identified, a clear career path should be presented to these individuals and a systematic development program applied to ensure that we not only identify capable individuals but that we retain them. A clear career path with well defined requirements for moving from one position to another contributes very strongly towards the retention of ambitions and talented leaders. When linked to ‘Succession Planning’ there will also be a timeline that ensures adequate preparation for successors and minimal disruption of work due to sudden departures.

    Challenge 2: The competition for talented individuals who have the potential to lead is very high because the demand far exceeds the supply. This increases cost because salary levels have to be raised in order to attract and hopefully keep the best talent.

    Solution: Recognize that intelligent and talented individuals are looking for something more than just the salary. So make your bank one that attracts the kind of people you want. Intelligent individuals with leadership capability are looking for a credible organization where they can grow and where they are given the opportunity to contribute as well as enjoy the fun and challenge of working in that place.

    Challenge 3: The type of person who is good at managing the branch operations and attending to all the administrative details may not necessarily be good at leading and managing a bank branch from a commercial perspective. Therefore the assumption that it is possible to promote the operations manager to branch manager and then bring someone up from the ranks to handle operations is simply not valid.

    Solution: Recognize that ‘Work Preferences’ are an even more powerful predictor of job satisfaction and productivity than academic qualifications and experience. ‘Work Preferences’ must be measured, understood and built into career management and staff retention programs. A person who is good at one thing may not necessarily be good at another. The ‘Work Preferences’ that make a good operations manager are the exact opposite of those that make a good branch manager. When Operations Manager and Branch Manager positions are filled with individuals whose ‘Work Preferences’ are congruent with their skills and their roles it leads to complementary. This increases to a high degree the potential for a great performance. Therefore ‘Work Preferences’ should be factored into the recruitment, selection, career planning, talent management, and succession planning and retention programs of the bank.

    Challenge 4: The ‘Critical Success Factors’ for the position of Branch Managers need to be redefined so they reflect current market realities. The branch manager certainly needs to have a solid foundation in the banking know-how that brings the highest revenues to the bank – Credit and Trade Finance. There are far too many branch managers that are not really able to discuss business affairs with their more sophisticated clients in a satisfactory manner. Moreover, many are also unable to adequately coach their staff on the effective preparation of credit files or trade finance documentation and credit.

    Solution: Develop a rigorous testing and evaluation system in these areas and use it as a pre-requisite for promotion to the position of Branch Manager. In other words, if candidates for promotion to the position of Branch Manager are unable to pass a knowledge test and a practical skills assessment, they will have to develop their abilities and pass the tests and assessments in these areas before their promotion can go through.

    This will contribute to building a sense of professionalism in the sector.

    Challenge 5: There is little or no emphasis on the essential ‘soft skills’ for branch management. This includes the effective management of people – inspiring, motivating, developing and challenging them to get the best results. The soft skills are underrated in comparison with banking techniques, whereas they are equally important. Here there are a wide range of skills that are vital to success; the least of which are customer relationship management that goes beyond dinners and lunches or funerals and weddings. Business Ethics is another critical area that must receive attention in light of the recent global economic crisis.

    Solution: Develop a set of corporate values and a clear set of interpersonal and managerial competencies that are ingrained into the psyche of every employee through an ongoing coaching and mentoring program. Train and develop your managers so that coaching and mentoring is part and parcel of their daily routine. As they communicate these values and build the competencies into daily behavior, they will contribute to the creation of a new corporate culture where those who do not fit will move out and those who do will move up. This will increase the supply of better qualified candidates for leadership and managerial positions.

    Challenge 6: Many think of the Branch Manager as a Public Relations Officer or a Liaison Officer facilitating the exchange of documents and information between the central departments and the branch. In fact many banks have designed the job of the branch manager so that he or she is no more than an informed ‘button clicker’ authorizing transactions through the bank’s operating system. Certainly the ‘control’ function is a very important one and one that cannot be relinquished. However, it has to be considered in light of the role of the branch manager and the optimal utilization of capacity.

    Solution: Answer the question of what exactly is the role of the branch manager and what is the most valuable contribution that such a manager should be making. Unless this question is discussed in depth and in light of the future strategy of the bank the role of the branch manager will remain vague and will by necessity be defined by the personal preferences of the individual occupying that position. Those who like dealing with people will become Public Relations Officers, those who like dealing with things and with numbers will become Controllers, those who like ‘challenges’ will become Demanding Bosses. Each role has its merit but the bank needs to decide which role it wants to emphasize and to select its managers accordingly. The important thing is that the decision must be aligned with the banks corporate strategy for growth and expansion.

    Challenge 7: From the branch manager’s perspective the question always arises: “Do I have any real power or authority within this centrally controlled structure?” There is no doubt that there are those who will take charge and confidently communicate with the central departments and get the support they need and there will be those who perceive themselves as waiting for orders and are therefore not really responsible in the final reckoning.

    Solution: This relationship needs to be considered and clearly defined including the identification of the inevitable ‘grey areas’. Some individuals will be able to rise to the occasion but are waiting to be invited or to be told that they do have permission of the ‘powers that be’ to interact assertively and openly with the Central Departments. They are on the same side.

    Challenge 8: Branch Managers also ask: “Where do I go from here? What is my future? Do I remain a Branch Manager for the rest of my life?”

    Solution: The answers to these questions are critical to attracting suitable candidates for the position. This is also linked to the role we want our branch managers to play. Are we looking for ambitious entrepreneurs with a solid ethical grounding who are prepared to go after promising opportunities? Or are we looking for ‘button clickers’ who will scrutinize the details, follow the rules and religiously adhere to procedures? Or are we looking for someone who enjoys being a Public Relations officer and gets along really well with people but lacks the solid banking knowledge that will yield high returns from these customer relationships?

    This is an important decision as it will determine who you get to fill the position. If you don’t want to settle for taking the first ‘okay’ candidate, a decision must be taken.

    Looking at these Human Capital challenges and solutions leads us to propose two main courses of action. One is to make the most of the current situation and the other is to be better prepared for the future. Below are the details on both approaches.

    Short Term Human Capital Investment:Take advantage of the current crisis to recruit the talent you really want and to build a pool from which to choose in the future. In the Harvard Business Review you will find steps of consideration to ensure that when you do hire, you hire the right person, at the right time, with the right skills to ensure that when you need specific outcomes, your people are able to deliver.

    Hiring Top Executives: A Comprehensive End-to-End Process

    1. Anticipate the Need

    • Conducting ongoing, proactive analysis of future needs.
    • Continually evaluating the pool of potential talent.
    • Developing rigorous periodic forecasts of the company’s talent needs.

     

    2. Specify the Job

     

    • Defining the specific demands of the job.
    • Specifying which skills and experience are relevant.
    • Identifying the team the candidate will need to work with or recruit.

    3. Develop the Pool

    • Developing a large pool.
    • Including insiders, outsiders, inside­rs, outsiders, and outside-insiders.
    • Considering people on the periphery of the organization (employees in remote offices, consultants, suppliers, customers).
    • Tapping your networks and involving the right external partners.
    • Asking candidates’ peers for nominations.

    4. Assess the Candidates

    • Using a small number of high-caliber, well-trained, properly motivated interviewers.
    • Employing rigorous behavioral event interviews.
    • Conducting detailed reference checks.
    • Including top stakeholders in candidate assessment.

    5. Close the Deal

    • Demonstrating active support for the candidate’s interests.
    • Describing the job realistically.
    • Involving the hiring manager personally, not just HR, in closing the deal.
    • Ensuring that compensation is fair to other employees.
    • Involving C-level for top positions.

    6. Integrate the Newcomer

    • Using veteran top performers as mentors.
    • Making sure the newcomer checks in regularly with boss, mentor, and HR even when no problems have arisen.

    7. Audit and Review

    • Removing bad hires within the first year.
    • Regularly reviewing recruiting practices.
    • Identifying and rewarding excellent interviewers.
    • Holding all assessors accountable for the quality of their evaluations.

    Source: Fernandez-Araoz, C, Groysberg, B and Nohria, N 2009, ‘The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad’, Business Harvard Review, vol. 87, no. 5, pp.79.

    Long Term Human Capital Investment:

    Identify, develop and retain top talent by using a number of structured and unstructured innovations in ‘Talent Management.’

    Build Your Own Talent Pool

    Forward-looking Banks today realize that what limits their ability to expand and develop retail operations is the availability of qualified managers to head new branches. The absence of an effective second or third line management layer within a bank means that the bank will face a succession crisis if there isn’t a swift and effective response to this reality.

    The challenge is how to make sure that the right persons have been selected and that the path of their development and training will be one that properly prepares them to carry the bank into the 21st century. More importantly, will these individuals be ready to respond to the impact of the political, legal / regulatory, environmental and social changes in the world and in the region? Will they be prepared to handle the reality of borderless financial markets and the ever-increasing pace of technology driven change?

    There is no doubt that banks already have or are actively recruiting high potential individuals to lead their banks into the future. The problem, however, is how to accurately identify and accelerate the development of these high potential people so that they can get to where you need them to be in 1 or 2 years instead of five or ten. The second challenge is how to retain them.

    These are the challenges that this Bank Branch Manager Accreditation program addresses.

    CRITICAL PROGRAM SUCCESS FACTORS

    This is an ambitious program and dictates that we proceed with full awareness of the necessary conditions to ensure success.

    1. Full support and or commitment from top management.
    2. Selection on merit and competence so that the investment is made in the right people and the program is perceived as credible.
    3. Selection on merit and competence so that the investment is made in the right people and the program is perceived as credible.
    4. Address the expectations of all stakeholders to prevent misconceptions regarding the outcomes of the program.
    5. Develop a supportive succession and retention plan for those in the program and those directly impacted by them.
    6. Set a realistic budget for this project and demonstrate the high return on investment.
    7. Give the program the optimal time for successful implementation.

    OBJECTIVES

    The main purpose of this program is to prepare successful individuals to fit smoothly into the role of future Branch Manager of fast-growing banks that have a regional and or international client base. This will involve a number of subordinate objectives:

    1. Train and develop future Bank Branch Managers quickly, effectively and economically.
    2. Use techniques that will bring out the best in your staff and help you decide, without a doubt, where each one will perform best.
    3. Ensure that the development program is totally targeted to your bank’s culture and business strategy.
    4. Identify those who can deal with high change and high stress business environments.
    5. Differentiate the true team players from those who do better alone.
    6. Change your corporate culture to reflect the values and competencies that are vital to the future success and sustainability of your business.
    7. Provide real management experience at low risk to you and your staff.
    8. Involve more than one group in the change process to ensure maximum ‘buy-in’ or ownership of the development process.
    9. Increase the supply of qualified candidates and so reduce the risk of poaching by competitors.

    The more we know of human nature and the workings of the human brain, the more we realize that the story of our lives is written in every cell of our body and shaped by every significant relationship. The importance of getting the right people in the right place and the right group of people working together cannot be overestimated. The right outcomes will seem to come as if by magic.

    Payday loan: A Complete overview

    From different surveys, it is seen that the number of customers taking payday loan as well as payday lending companies are increasing frequently. If you are a person taking the payday loan for the first time or want to gather information regarding payday loan, then this article will be of great help to you.

    Definition of payday loan:-

    Payday loan is a very short term loan. Usually the term is 1-2 weeks. There are other names of payday loan like – “Cash Advance”, “Paycheck loan”, “Check loans”, and “Payroll advance loans”. After you get your paycheck, the loan is to be repaid. If you can not repay the loan amount plus lender’s charges for payday loan on your payday, you can rollover the loan amount by paying extra fees to the lender plus you have to pay the interest along with for the rollover period. So, payday loan can be termed a “Loan Sharking”.

    Necessity of payday loan:-

    By the end of the month, you may face some problems in maintaining some urgent family expenses like paying off your Medical Bills, Phone Bills, and Electric Bills, House Rent or some other utility bills. These things usually happen when you fail to maintain a proper budget at the time of getting your paychecks or not keeping your expenses up to your income limit. Hence in order to meet such urgent expenses you need a payday loan.

    Payday loan companies:-

    There are so many companies who are promoting check cashing facilities online. Besides some banks and other financial institutions also provides you with a payday loan. You can apply online for a payday loan or you can visit physically to an institution to avail a payday loan.

    Conditions to be satisfied to get an instant payday loan:-

    The criteria of different payday loan companies are-

    1. You must have a job or there should be a regular source of income.

    2. You should have a Checking A/c in a bank.

    3. You should be an US citizen.

    4. You should be at least 18 years of age.

    5. Your monthly income should be at least $1000 Per Month.

    Best application time of payday loan:-
    If you apply for the loan from Monday to Thursday, you will get the loan on the next working day, i.e. Tuesday to Friday. If you apply for the loan on Friday, then you will get the loan on the next Monday, and if you apply on Saturday or Sunday, you will get the loan on Tuesday.
    So the best time to apply for the loan is Monday to Thursday.

    When will you get the money?
    As the process is very simple to get the loan amount, in general you will get your loan amount within 24 hours of application. Company will check your documents and verify your data with an automated system named as VPN Based software, and then approve your loan. The entire process of verification of your identity and depositing the money to your Checking A/c takes 24 hours of time. There are some companies who will deposit the loan amount in less than 24 hours.

    Costs of payday loan:-
    Usually a payday loan company charges 15 to 30 USD per $100 borrowed. So, if you borrow $100, you will have to pay 115 to 130 USD on the very next payday. The APR of payday loan cash advance interest boosts up to 391%.

    Maximum limit of payday loan:-
    If you are taking a payday loan for the first time, you may get up to $500 for the first time. After you repay back your first loan amount in time, you can avail more than $500 when you revisit the company for another payday loan.

    Think before taking a payday loan:-
    1. You should keep in mind the APR factor of the loan before taking it. You should find the company which is charging a lower APR than its competitors.
    2. You should take care about the privacy of your document and information. So, if the tendency of the company is to process applicant’s information in an encrypted page, you should think that your information will not be licked out, and then you can proceed on.
    3. You should read the company policy and legal matters complied with before submitting an application form to them.

    Repayment of payday loan:-
    The lender company will take the money off from your checking A/c on the date of your payday. You should be ready and aware about your payday and the amount to be repaid. If you fail to repay the loan on the scheduled date then you may have to ask the lender to rollover your loan amount.

    Alternatives to payday loan:-
    1. In order to avoid taking such high interest loan like payday loan cash advance, you should make an appropriate budget which is according to your income.
    2. You may also save certain amount of money from your paycheck every time you get it.
    3. Before taking a payday loan cash advance, you should be looking for a loan from a friend or relative as they will not take any interest for lending the money to you. Another thing is also involved here that if you not be able to repay the money in future, you may not have to run away from your creditors.

    How a Home Equity Loan Refinance Can Save You Money – Should You Refinance Your Texas Home Loan?

    In Texas you can refinance your home as well as your investment property. And with today’s low mortgage rates, lots of people are doing just that using home equity loans

    Plus some are doing the two-birds-one-refinance-approach: Refinance the home and pull cash out.

    When it comes to refinancing, you have two options. A “rate and term” refinance or a Texas home equity loan “cash out” refinance.

    With a home equity loan you pull equity out of your home or investment property.

    Most people refinance to get a lower rate; this is called a “rate and term” refinance. One is keeping the same loan amount, they are just lowering or changing the rate or term of the mortgage.

    Maybe they are moving out of a 30 year note to a 15 year note. This is called a rate and term refi because they are just changing the rate or the term of the original loan.

    Lower mortgage rates do mean lower payments. But some clients choose a “cash out” refinance (Home Equity loan)- which means they pull equity (cash) out of their homes or investment properties for other purposes …like paying off debt or buying additional property.

    For example, let’s say a family has a $450 car payment where they owe $15000. If they have enough equity in their home, it’s common for a family to refinance the home and pull enough cash out of their home to pay off other costly debt; like credit cards, cars, etc. The house payment might go up $50 but the car payment is eliminated. So a family has $400 more each month.

    Some suggest against home equity loans to pay off debt stating it’s not wise to take a 3-5 year debt and spread it across 15-30 years. And these people are right. However, when I help a client save $400-500, sometimes $1000/month now these families can afford to pay extra on their 30 year mortgage and pay it off in 12-15 years.

    In fact, most of the time a family will pay their home off earlier-after a home equity loan-than they would have before.

    You can always call us to see if Texas home equity loan cash out refinance makes sense for you.

    Home Equity Rules

    Home equity loans have slightly higher rates than traditional rate and term refinances because one is raising the original loan amount. Plus when one pulls cash out of a home or investment property this is a higher risk loan. Higher risk = slightly higher rate.

    And in Texas you are limited to 80% of your home’s value. Meaning if your home is worth $200,000, the most your new loan could be is $160,000. If you owe 100K, you could take out 60K or up to 80%

    Then there’s the 3% home equity rule: This means the total fees associated can’t exceed 3% of the loan amount. This mostly effects those with smaller home loan balances. For example, if your home is only worth 75,000 and we are limited to 80%-your loan could only be 60K. 3% of 60k is $1800. So if your title company charges $700 for the title policy and your appraiser charges $325 and the bank charges $500 to underwrite your loan it’s not hard to be over 3%. This would mean the mortgage company could only charge $275 to be under the 3% rule.

    12 day Home Equity Rule, 3 day wait-until-we-fund rule:

    In Texas we have to wait at least 12 days from mortgage application to close. I even have to get a special 12 day letter signed. Then once we close, we then can’t fund the home loan for 3 days. Texas has weird home equity refinance rules so you want to work with an experienced mortgage company who does a lot of these type of loans. If you have additional questions, please call us at 512-996-8194, we help people all over Texas.

    For many people home equity refinances can be a great way to jump start a new financial plan. I offer them to my clients to help them: Get out of debt, pay off bills, have more money to save and invest. My clients have saved hundreds each month by paying off high interest credit cards. My personal record is saving a family $1000/month using a home equity loan.

    Once they save this money they plan to pay extra on their mortgage so they pay a 30 year note in 15 years. So used correctly, a home equity mortgage is a great way to move forward financially.

    After 5 years in the mortgage business I’ve come up with my personal lending philosophy. Because anyone can do a home loan. However, my business is helping move people forward financially-starting on the mortgage level; the biggest expense for a family.

    Most of my clients know my personal philosophy with mortgage lending. There are lots of mortgage people out there who promise “the lowest 30 year mortgage rate or the “best Texas 15 year mtg rate”-but this isn’t really my approach. I tend to favor what is best for the client’s short and long term. If one needs a 15 year mortgage with low closing costs, let’s use this program. Need to consolidate debt, let’s use a home equity loan.

    I just don’t believe in one-size fits all mortgage plans. As soon as my clients all look the same, have the same income/debt, goals, then I’ll become a one-size fits all mortgage guy. But for now, I work with low income people, millionaires, investors, first time home buyers, second home mortgages, etc.

    One’s mortgage can be either a debt instrument or a better financial tool, it’s really up to you and your mortgage professional. And in today’s economy where the realities of $5 gas aren’t really unreasonable you should work with a professional who will take the time to listen and bring the right mortgage plan to the table. Because once a mortgage is in place you must live with it.

    Some questions you should ask yourself when buying or refinancing a home or investment property:

    1) How much debt do I currently have? How much debt am I currently servicing each month?

    2) How much in liquid savings do I currently have? Could I choose a mortgage that will help (a) lower my bills and (b) help me to save more money each month? Rate is important but now the only thing to consider. Who cares if the 15 year mortgage rate is the best rate, if it’s not affordable to you-it’s not the wise loan. Go with the 30 year rate.

    3) How long do I plan to keep this home? Is this home appreciating?

    4) What is my long term financial plan, and how does this new mortgage help me accomplish this plan?

    #4 is where the rubber meets the road. And this is where I spend the most time with my clients; constructing the long term plan and then customizing the mortgage to fit this plan. Most people chase the lowest rate when getting into homes however without a mid-long range goal they usually end up paying more in the long-term.

    Take the sub-prime meltdown. There’s nothing wrong with sub-prime loans. Sometimes things happen that cause people’s credit to go in the trash. Divorces do happen and sometimes medical bills come out of no where and people have a lot of collections. Jobs are sometimes lost and savings are use up before they were originally intended. The problem with sub-prime loans is not that they are bad, but that they need to be on Fixed rates. Not adjustable. This country has lost billions of dollars during the sub-prime meltdown for one reason: People chased the lowest rate when they bought the home and ARMs have lower rates than FIXED rates. And since ARMs had lower rates people chose ARMs over Fixed rates.

    So thousands of people with bad credit bought homes on ARMs and today we have a major problem: Because people chased the lowest rate.

    Having a long term financial plan. Example, let’s say you’re self employed and don’t have a company retirement plan-401k-to rely on. One approach in solving the “no 401K/IRA” problem is to own real estate. The goal is to own a few choice properties so when you do retire you will have these properties paid off and creating passive retirement income. Imagine if your mortgage broker took the time to understand your long-term goals and structured the new loan around these goals. Funny thing, most people are 15-30 years from retirement and the typical home loan is paid off in 15-30 years. Bottom line: The home you buy today could help you retire tomorrow-and you need the right home loan to go along with it.

    Remember, most mortgages are based on a 15 or 30 year basis, why not structure your first home to help you retire in 30 years. I know this seems unrealistic because most people don’t keep homes that long, but going into a mortgage with a plan is better than just going into a mortgage.

    Most people don’t want to take the time to think about money-but in the end-the lack of money causes a lot of other challenges in life.

    This is how I’m different from the other Texas Mortgage Loan people. I believe I can either help people move forward financially or I can just get them into debt. Sure it’s easier to “sell low rates” but not at the expense of helping a client in the long term.

    PMI (just so no-or at least try to get out of it.)

    My clients avoid PMI when possible. But to do an 80/15 or 80/10 or an 80/10/10 one’s mortgage rate is slightly higher but the benefit is avoid pointless PMI and having lower closing costs. This is another example of why “chasing the lowest rate” isn’t always the best. Loans with PMI are better than loans without. But the benefit of not have PMI is huge. Not only will you pay less when your home loan doesn’t have PMI but your closing costs are less too.

    Right now I want to touch briefly on these 3 issues and why one should be thinking of them when you buy or refinance a home. Actually, your mortgage person should customize your loan around these three points for you. If they don’t-run. If all they sell is a mortgage rate did they really serve you?

    Mortgage brokers and banks love to advertise low mortgage rates. “We have the lowest rates in Texas!” But let’s think about the loan like this: “How much did it cost you to get this rate.” Because low mtg rates are one thing, but how much did it cost to get the rate?

    Let’s look at one of Today’s Mortgage ads. (April 17) They are advertising a 4.87% rate.

    Funny. The real 30 year rate is around 6% but they know people want “low rates” so they advertise a great rate. But when you look at the points it will take to get this rate, you’ll see there’s more to getting a mortgage than just rate. Closing costs.

    For example, if you’re buying a $200K home should you really “buy the rate down” with points to get a good rate? To buy this low, low rate, it will cost $6,000 just for discount points. And yet people do this all the time. Mortgage people advertise low rate because people want low rates.

    Sorta reminds me of when I bought my Toyota Tundra. I wanted to save a nickel so I went for the 2×4 instead of the 4×4 all-wheel drive. I was so proud of getting the “lowest price in town” but when it snowed or iced I had to ask my wife to drive her front-wheeled drive Honda Accord.

    This is one reason why I suggest working with a mortgage broker (like me) who approaches mortgage lending from a total financial planning perspective. Because if I notice a client has a ton of credit cards and misc. debt-this 6K should not go towards a new (tax deductible) debt but towards paying off old, high interest debt that’s not tax-deductible.

    Or to use real numbers, if you have the $6000 to pay towards debt, retire 15% interest debt that’s costing you $500/month instead of trying to save $200 on your mortgage. Then pay $100 extra and you’re still saving $300. Use this $300 for savings, investing or having fun.

    But what about all the interest I’ll save by having a low rate? Shouldn’t I try to get the best rate so I can have lower monthly bills? Yes. Once you’re out of consumer debt-and you no longer have to pay $500 out, begin to apply $100-$200 extra on your mortgage payment. This will take years off your mortgage, usually taking a 30 year mortgage to a 12-15 year. This will save you tons in interest and give you lower payments.

    When you buy or refinance any property take the time to look at the bigger picture because a mortgage or refinance can either help move you forward financially or just get you into debt.

    FHA Manufactured Home Loan – The Best Way to Finance Manufactured Homes!

    There are many types of FHA Home Loans and you can get many types of homes with them. Getting a home loan can come about for many reasons. Most of the reasons to get a home loan, or even a FHA Home Loan include one or more of the following. Often if you are a first time home-buyer you may need a mortgage loan. But if you are looking to buy a manufactured home you will have a hard time finding a loan program to finance it. There is a good loan program for financing the purchase of manufactured homes and it is the FHA Manufactured Home Loan.

    If you do not have a lot of money to put down on a manufactured home, you can often qualify for a FHA Manufactured Home Loan. The current FHA down payment amount is just 3.5% of the purchase price. While down payment for mortgage loans is 20% or more.

    It is very difficult to find a lender that will do a traditional conventional loan on a manufactured home. One of the reasons is that it much easier to move a manufactured home. This type of home will have a steel beam down the middle of the home making it easier to relocate. This increases the risk for the lender.

    If you are a new home buyer and you are looking at a manufactured home, you will want to keep your monthly payments as low as possible. This is the reason manufactured homes are popular, they are less expensive to buy. Now you have to find a loan program to finance the purchase. You may want to apply for a FHA Manufactured Mortgage Loan.

    If you do not have the best or perfect credit, or are worried about even qualifying for a mortgage, chances are now you can qualify for a FHA Manufactured Home Loan now. With the economy as it is now, although it is improving, some new home owners and buyers may often worry about what will happen to them or their homes if they fall behind on their payments on their homes.

    With a FHA Manufactured Home Loan many of the worries about falling behind on their payments, qualifying for a loan if they do not have the best credit, or any of the usual concerns for first time home buyers are gone. More and more people qualify for FHA Home Loans each day. Getting a mortgage for home is much easier, faster, and often you qualify much easier and faster with more protection than with other home loans.

    You will find that with FHA Home Loans there are lower rates. If you have less than perfect credit you can also still get a FHA loan. There are much more protections for your home with an FHA Manufactured Home Loan than you will find with other home loans.

    There are also many types of FHA Home Loans as well. You can get a fixed rate loan, adjustable rate home loans, and you can even get a FHA Loan to purchase a rehab home. This means that you have found a house you like, but it needs fixing up or repairs. There are even special FHA Loans for these types of homes as well.

    With lower down payment and lower credit requirements, the FHA Manufactured Loan is not only the best loan program but it may be your only choice to finance your home purchase. It is great loan program and you should contact a FHA lender now to get more information.

    Offshore Internet Banking Advantages and Disadvantages

    The topic of offshore internet banking is a hot one and one that is increasingly growing in popularity not only within the consumer banking community, but also the business or corporate banking sector.

    The beauty of offshore online banking is that in addition to enabling you to conduct banking activities allowed by traditional and local brick and mortar businesses, it allows you more variety and flexibility in terms of your banking needs. For example, if you travel often, offshore online banking gives you the flexibility to conduct business on to go from anywhere, while ensuring that you have access to the type of currency if you need at a time you need it.

    Having said that, not all banks offer online or internet banking services as this service costs the banks a significant amount of money. Programming sophisticated and secure systems require the effort of several full time computer engineers, full security and compliance departments, as well as heavy overhead to support the service on an ongoing basis.

    Because there are so many variables involved in offering this service, offshore internet banking services vary from one financial institution to another. Some have better systems while others have work to do. A lot of this is predicated on the resources the bank has dedicated to this initiative, both in terms of quantity and quality.

    Opening an Offshore Bank Account

    Before diving further into this topic, I want to clarify that engaging in offshore internet banking is not about evading taxes. It is about mitigating risk of capital loss due to no fault of your own. So when considering a foreign jurisdiction in which to establish an offshore bank account, consider one that is politically stable and financially strong. In addition, it helps to select a jurisdiction that pays an attractive interest rate and has low to no income tax. Some of the most preferred jurisdictions over the years have been Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Opening a personal bank account is usually a very personal activity. With offshore internet banking however, there are ways you can get started remotely without having to show up to the bank’s local office, saving a ton of time, money and mainly frustration.

    One such way is by visiting a local bank’s branch in your domicile state, or home country. Many big banks that offer internet banking have a multi-national presence. Chances are good that your selected bank has a local branch near where you live, despite being headquartered in another offshore jurisdiction.

    In other cases, there are international banks that may not have local branches near where you live, but are willing and able to establish an offshore bank account for you through email, snail mail, fax and telephone. There are usually a set of documents required by banks in order to execute this process. Therefore you can still open a foreign bank account with an offshore bank without having to leave your country, but it may come with a little more effort, and sometimes the struggle involved in communicating with someone overseas.

    The Advantages of Offshore Internet Banking

    Here are some advantages of offshore internet banking that you should know about.

    Protection from sovereign risk – as mention already above, parking funds in foreign bank accounts mitigates the risk of loss of capital resulting from freeze or confiscation of funds by Governments without any fault of your own. This risk is less of a concern in a developed economy with a solid banking infrastructure such as the United States, but it is nonetheless an inherent risk that exists.

    Tax benefits – many offshore jurisdictions have low to no income tax implications on interest income, or income from business activities.

    Higher Interest Rates – because many offshore banks operate with low costs, they can afford to offer higher interest rates compared to larger multi-national names. In fact, in developed economies like in Europe and North America, regulatory compliance requirements is seen by many as form of taxation on banks, thereby increasing overhead costs and lowering interest rates.

    On Demand Access to Statements – offshore internet banking gives you instant access to your statements where you can view your activities on a real time basis. This includes past and pending deposits and withdrawals. You can therefore access your account balance at anytime.

    Money Management – with offshore internet banking you can transfer funds between accounts across the globe instantly. Offshore banks have inventories of various currencies and can help you fulfill banking transactions in multiple countries. You can schedule automatic payments to vendors to release automatically.

    There are several other advantages to offshore internet banking. You can open offshore trading accounts and establish offshore brokerage accounts to conduct trading and investment activity (there can be tax advantages to this). Conducting transactions online is not only mostly free, but also very efficient. Transaction time online is simply much less. You can also have streams of income potentially directly deposited straight into your offshore online bank account.

    From a personal finance perspective, downloading banking activity from your offshore online bank account is easy and can be done instantly. Most online banking platforms are designed to feed information into financial or personal accounting software or to spreadsheets like Excel. Individuals can save a significant amount on accountant fees just by utilizing this feature. Not to mention more intimate knowledge and management of their own finances.

    For those looking for anonymity, offshore online bank accounts also allow you to conduct banking anonymously as per bank secrecy guidelines.

    The Disadvantages of Offshore Internet Banking

    Merely establishing an offshore bank account can be a reason for the Government to put more focus on your activities. After all, many use offshore internet banking as a mechanism to conduct illegal activity and evade taxes. Some specific disadvantages of offshore internet banking as a result of conducting business through foreign bank accounts are the following:

    Knowledge of Internet – There is a certain level of internet savvy required to be able to navigate your way through offshore internet banking platforms to ensure you are getting exactly what you want. This is a big reason why some elderly shy away from conducting banking online.

    Deposit Timeline – Because many banks do not have the technology to be able to collect deposits remotely, you may have difficulty depositing all your proceeds. While many banks have developed electronic scanning technology, others have yet to catch up. There is no consistency to say the least.

    Security / Fraud Implications – because banking is conducted online, offshore internet banking exposes you to the risk of network intrusion or breach. Because information is transferred electronically and stored in various databases, breaches can cause private and sensitive information to leak out into the wrong hands. But then again, this is no different than losing your check book if compared to traditional brick and mortar banking.

    Spam Mail – offshore online banking also means that you will receive emails from the foreign bank you have your offshore bank accounts with. Internet predators recognize this as an opportunity for phishing, or fish for private and sensitive information. Many times you may see an email in your inbox from what seems like your foreign banking institution. However it is not. These are phishing emails hoping for you to login and enter your personal information such as login and password.

    TIPS: Here are a few tips to avoid falling for phishing scams. First, when you receive an email from your bank, call them to verify that they sent the email. Second, instead of opening the email they sent you, visit the bank’s website directly and see if you can conduct what’s asked of you on their site by you logging in directly rather than clicking a login link in an email message.

    Third, if you were to open the email and click on any link in it for whatever reason, once the link takes you to a website where you are required to enter personal information, look for security symbols such as an https URL address or a padlock on the lower right hand side corner of the web browser. There are other security measures as well that can be visible spotted. Read online for more on this topic.

    Financial Security – some offshore bank locations are not very financially secure or stable. For example, during the global economic crisis of 2008, many savers lost money parked in offshore bank accounts in some destinations such as Iceland. I don’t mean to scare you by any means as this situation is rare, and in most cases those who suffer losses are compensated in some way over time. However, know that this inherent risk exists. Always look for deposit insurance. The bigger the allowance the better.

    Credibility by Association – as I’ve already mentioned, offshore internet banking has negative connotations attached to it, often associated with money laundering, use of illegal monies, in-taxed monies and support of illegal causes. Offshore bank accounts at times are tied to crime rings and terrorists. What does this mean for you? Although you may engage in offshore banking legally and legitimately, understand that there will be closer scrutiny over you by the Governments.

    Access Restrictions – offshore banks are in destinations far away from you, therefore more difficult and expensive to access. In many countries, communication in person is preferred to communicating over phone, email and snail mail, therefore internet banking can get a bit difficult and frustrating. I see this trend slowly changing with banks understanding the need to communicate at all levels and mediums to satisfy a global audience.

    Expensive – offshore internet banking is usually more expensive to set up and administer and thus more accessible and feasible for those more affluent or high income earners. It’s not so much that it is expensive to open a foreign bank account. It is not. However, many times you will need to go through a firm that specializes in helping expatriates establish and manage foreign bank accounts. All these activities cost money.

    VA Home Loan Program Or FHA Home Loan Program – Which is the Best For You?

    The United States government provides many benefits to the members that are now serving or have serve in the past in the US military. Active and former members of the United States military can take advantages of benefits ranging from education incentives to compensation for disability occurred while in the military to even life insurance programs. One of the most used and most important is the Veteran Home Loan Program that provides assistance in financing a home loan.

    There are currently over 23 millions living veterans and just little less than 10% of these veterans have taking advantage of this great benefit. But there is also another government backed home mortgage loan that veterans may want to consider also. This government backed loan is the FHA Home Loan Program.

    So if you are an active member of the military, a veteran, or even a surviving or current spouse of a veteran you may want to compare the advantages and disadvantages of both the VA Home Loan Program and the FHA Home Loan Program.

    You need to be fully informed before you buy a home because it is a huge decision and making the wrong decision can cost you thousands of dollars in the future.

    VA Home Loan Program VS FHA Home Loan Program

    VA home mortgage loans are similar to many conventional home mortgage loans but they do have many great benefits that are not found in conventional loans such as: you do not need a down payment, your credit scores can be lower than what is required for conventional loans, and you can “rolled” the closing and loan fees back into the mortgage thus making it a 100% financing loan.

    The FHA Home Mortgage Loan Program is the most popular of mortgage loan programs for non-veterans and is growing in popularity because of the tight mortgage market today.

    They have some of the same advantages of the VA home mortgage loans such as: they are easier to refinance, more lenient on the credit scores to qualify, and certainly lower down payment than conventional loans. The FHA home mortgage loan down payment is currently 3.5 of the purchase price of the home.

    VA Home Mortgage Loan Eligibility Requirements

    A veteran will have to get a Certificate of Eligibility that is issued to by the military to qualified veterans. The Certificate of Eligibility will also include the entitlement amount, which is the portion of the mortgage loan that the VA will guarantee. You can get the Certificate of Eligibility from the VA or you can have your mortgage lender get it for you on the Internet.

    One big difference from a VA mortgage loan and a FHA mortgage loan is almost anyone can get a FHA mortgage loan, only people that are or have been in the military can be a VA mortgage loan.

    There are no income limits for FHA loans, but there are limits on how much a person can borrow and it varies from each county in the country. You can find out from your mortgage lender what the limit is in your area.

    VA home mortgage loans do have limits on how much you can borrow but the limits can currently go up to $729,000 in some parts of the country.

    Another difference from FHA loans and VA loans is VA does not require a mortgage insurance premium called a PMI. FHA loans do require mortgage insurance (MIP). By getting a VA home mortgage loan you will save this expense which can be quite costly over the years.

    VA home loan makes sense if you are a qualifying member or veteran of the military and they will allow you to take advantage of today’s very low interest rate plus you can buy a home with 100% financing.

    If you don’t want to tackle the slight hassle of dealing with the VA or you do not have available VA entitlement then a FHA home loan will make the most sense.

    Whether you choose the Veteran Home Loan Program or the FHA Home Loan Program you will need to work with an approved mortgage lender who will help you through the mortgage and closing process.

    Owning a home is still the American dream and the government has two great programs to help you to achieve that dream, so get more information on the Veteran Home Loan Program and the FHA Home Loan Program and make that American dream happen for you!

    Prominent Architects in Phoenix

    Working with outstanding Phoenix real estate agents is one of the best ways to find the perfect Phoenix homes that will best meet you and your family’s needs. Once a Phoenix realtor understands the type of property you wish to purchase, he or she will apply that criteria when searching every Phoenix real estate listing until the best property matches are found, thus saving you time and money. As you begin settling in, you will have ample opportunities to explore this beautiful city. Phoenix is home to several prominent architects whose talent is on display in remarkable buildings in Phoenix that they have designed.

    Phoenix-based Gould Evans Associates, LC + Wendell Burnett Architects were honored with the 2007 American Institute Honor Awards for Architecture for their design of the Palo Verde Library/Maryvale Community Center owned by the City of Phoenix. The connection of the mind and body was used as a design theme that features two equally sized “volumes,” which are lit at the bottom and top, so you can see the activity going on inside from the outside. The library is housed in one side, and the gymnasium in the other. Care was taken to incorporate “green” building products, including floor tile made from recycled tires and cork, while walls were made from oriented strand board made from recycled wood. Formaldehyde-free insulation was also used.

    The award-winning Phoenix architectural firm of richard + bauer Architecture was the design organization that created the Meinel Optical Science Research Building for the University of Arizona in Tucson. Principals James Richard, Kelly Bauer, and Stephen Kennedy’s building features a concrete wall that is covered with red-bronze copper treatment to relate in tone to bricks used on the campus. To give the feeling of a darkroom, openings allow light into the building, and the light plays off the rooms within. For their work on this important building, richard + bauer Architecture were also awarded the 2007 American Institute of Architects Honor Award.

    There still occasionally come on the Phoenix market vintage homes designed by Ralph Haver. Haver was a prominent Phoenix architect in the 1950s who made his mark in contemporary-styled single-family homes. His designs often feature window walls, clerestories, beam ceilings, carports rather than garages and a low pitch to the front facing gable roof style.

    Probably the most famous architect in American history has his foundation in Scottsdale, and that is Frank Lloyd Wright. Known for organic architecture that allows the building to fit into the context that the land itself provides, Taliesin West in Scottsdale is where Wright had his home, his studio, and was the site of his architectural school. Archives of Wright’s work are housed at the Foundation as well.

    Choosing Right Home Furniture

    A house without furniture often sounds like a flower without fragrance. Furniture takes away the emptiness of a home, and makes it attractive and functional. For those reasons, it’s important to choose the right furniture items that function, add to the appeal, reflect your taste, and provide a great value for the price. It turns out not too many shoppers exhibit satisfaction when they are exploring choices for quality home furniture. One of the major reasons for this dissatisfaction is the lack of priorities that a shopper must set to determine what exactly to look for. Also is there a group of buyers who finds it a nerve-wracking task to select right furniture for their homes out of the multiple choices being offered by internet today.

    If you have happened to be facing any of the afore-identified situations, you should seek some guidelines for a better understanding of finding and buying good-value furniture and accessories. Below is brief list of points-to-note to be kept in mind and considered before going on a shopping spree:

    Room and requirements: Every house comprises different rooms; the main being living room, drawing room, dining room, guest room, and TV lounge. Each room requires different furniture items for its distinctive classification. For instance, a dining room requires to be filled with a dining table set instead of sofa set whereas a bed room needs to be graced with a dressing-table set instead of a utensil storage cabinet. It is important to determine what room requires what kind of furniture.

    Similarly, if you intend to buy a sofa or a cabinet, create an appropriate place for it in your home. A sofa fits well in a living room or a drawing room whereas cabinet should find its way to a bedroom or kitchen depending upon its use.

    Furniture replacements: If you decide to redecorate your old home by replacing its furniture with a new line, do it systematically. Choose the living room to begin with, for being the most occupied place of your home. This is where your family members or friends sit, relax, chat and enjoy. Make sure you find and buy living room furniture items in colors and designs that match with the colors of walls and/or floor of your room or house. Once done with your living room, go with the redecoration of a guest room, drawing room, dining room, so on and so forth.

    Furniture size: Consider room space before settling on any furniture item. If your room is too large, choose mirrored furniture which will make your room look small.

    Wholesale living room furniture: Go for online stores of wholesale furniture where you’ll have more chances to get your favorite furniture pieces at the most competitive prices and get discount deals on your purchases.

    A common misconception attributed to cheap furniture is that it is neither durable nor reliable. If truth be written, cheap furniture is the line of furniture that is offered at a cheap price. Quality remains the same though. Hope, you are pretty sure how to choose and buy right furniture for your home now!

    Why Travel Solo – My Reasons For Travelling Solo

    Many of you reading this article are thinking to yourselves ‘why travel solo… are you crazy’, while others are reading this in total agreement. Like for all travel needs, individual tastes, interests and goals will be the concern for any person traveling.

    For me personally I prefer to travel solo myself but It all boils down to the type of trip you’re taking and what you plan on doing… obviously there are times where group or couple travel is inescapable and is of course still going to be a great experience… all travel is. These times could be team getaways, events such as weddings or corporate and clearly for a romantic getaway or honeymoon where I’ll assume that you would prefer not to travel solo.

    Maybe you don’t have a partner or perhaps you didn’t know anyone else you wanted to travel with you… but you know with all your heart you want to go, have to go. Are the people who said no going to stop your travel? If so, why? Is it safety concerns, is It the unknown? Those questions might be on your mind, but think about it this way… doesn’t it make it more exciting? Wouldn’t you feel more accomplished if you did it by yourself?

    Let me explain why I travel solo and the reasons why.

    Avoid The Drama Of Others

    Drama is often inescapable as all people including myself has some sort of drama in their lives. However in my experience below

    A few years back I backpacked Europe and after about a week or so met up with a group of friends for roughly a month. In this time the couple traveling with us had a bad break up, which in turn almost severed another relationship. That night while this couple was fighting, bags were snatched, wallets stolen and because of the public outburst questioned by the police… and this was just the beginning of the drama, we still Christmas to get through after this. When the whole group of my friends had left I felt relief and like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

    You may not want to travel solo but if you’re single then my recommendation is that you at least don’t travel with a couple, not without at least some other single people there.

    Indifference Of Ideas

    All travelers have their own ideas of what they want out of their travel and so they should. Compromise can be much easier in a couple and certainly traveling solo but in a group it can be a nightmare. You may want to go to a museum you’ve always wanted to see where as the others in your group want to just hit the pub.

    Whoever has the numbers or the dominance will most likely win which puts you in an awkward situation. Yes, you could leave and go the museum by yourself but then what do you friends think of you and say about you later on. You may also not be contactable by phone, being in another country without a sim card which makes it much harder to meet up and find out when others will be back etc.

    I remember road trip we took just 2 hours away from home with six guys and we had one of the worst weekends away possible. Some of us wanted to go prawning, others wanted to go somewhere else for fishing and some of us just wanted to hang out at the hotel by the beach and drink. The problem was we were all stubborn and because we only had the one car and two sets of keys it caused arguments left, right and centre.

    Living In Close Quarters

    When traveling with others, particularly for long periods of time you need to ensure that your travel buddy is someone you could live with in close quarters for however long it is you are traveling. We all have friends that we know that are good friends but you could never live with them, maybe they are messy, maybe they are snappy and the list goes on. If you can’t live with them… what makes you think you can travel with them?

    Be Who You Want

    A bonus to traveling solo as well is that others you meet along the way and you get to be the person you’ve always wanted to be or at least be able to interact differently with others. I truly believe you meet a lot more people when traveling solo as you have more reason to talk to others and you will meet more like-minded people to you as there are no indifference to ideas of what to do.

    These are four of the main reasons why I travel solo but there are many more personal reasons like independence my goal when backpacking Europe was to get out there in the world and do it all myself. Escapism is another big reason for me sometimes with work and the same old routine you just need to escape the daily grind and get in some alone time.

    Traveling solo isn’t for everyone and isn’t for all kinds of travel but if you’re after a fulfilling holiday and experiences then there really is nothing like traveling solo. You will not only meet more like-minded people, get to be who you want, gain independence and a sense of fulfillment as well avoid an indifference of ideas, living in close quarters and avoid anyone else drama while you enjoy what you want to do on your dream holiday. This is why I travel solo.

    School Bus Safety Tips For Drivers and Their Children

    Imagine: millions of students nationwide start their day by getting on and off the school bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that year after year, pedestrians who are usually below the age of 19 have died in school bus-related crashes. More school-age pedestrians have been killed between the hours of 3 and 4 p.m. than any other time of day. The NHTSA has even formulated several safety tips for both drivers and children:

    Take note of the crosswalk/school zone sign.

     

    • Drivers: This means that during mornings and afternoons, these areas are likely to be crowded with children — some even on their bicycles or in-line skates. All of them are no match to a bus, so extra care in part of the driver is needed.
    • Children: Do what you learned in pre-school: look left, then right to see if vehicles or people are going to pass before crossing the street. If you could, go along with other children/people using the crosswalk.

    Learn the “Flashing Signal Light System”that school buses use.

    • Drivers: Alert motorists if you are preparing to/stopping the school bus using the yellow/red light.
    • Children:Just because they are in a stop position does not mean there is no more danger. Take note of the danger zones around a stopped school bus, namely, the front and back (which are the most dangerous zones) and the driver’s side of the bus.

    Slow down.

    • Drivers: Be alert around school zones. Young people may be rushing about on their way to class or to meet a parent.
    • Children: No need to rush when getting on or off. Wait until the bus hits a full stop, with the doors wide open before getting in. Use the handrails to avoid falls.

    Visibility.

    • Drivers: For a vehicle such as a school bus, you really can’t see what’s directly below you. Be careful before speeding on.
    • Children: When crossing in front of a bus, put a safe distance (say, 10 feet) between the bus and where you plan to cross. Use sidewalks and walkways where you’re sure the driver sees you.

    Backing up.

    • Drivers: Be aware if children/bicycles are crossing behind you.
    • Children: Never be the children/children-in-bicycles who cross behind buses.

    To enforce traffic safety, the state of Florida has enforced tougher penalties for passing a stopped school bus while loading or unloading children. Previously the fine was $65.00, however now they are required to attend a 4-hour basic driver improvement course. This course explains Florida traffic laws and provides a refresher on defensive driving techniques.

    So, for all drivers before you rush to pass a stopped school bus remember that the school bus uses the red flashing lights for a reason. And for pedestrians and children always but safety first and proceed with caution when exiting or entering the bus or in school zones.

    Tips When Buying Home Furniture

    When buying for home furniture, there are a lot of tips that you need to be aware of in order to get the best out of the quality and from the price. There are numerous stores that sell furniture for the home and you may get confused on which place is the best for you. It is never recommended to buy the first furniture that you like. Always look for more items and selections first so that you can make sure that what you are buying is the best in the market.

    The bedroom is one place in your home that you may want to redecorate. When choosing home bedroom furniture the best tip to follow is finding the best and the most comfortable. The bedroom is your private sanctuary and it is very important that your bedroom furniture is comfortable. For instance, when you are buying a bed for your room, choose the one that you find at ease with. Do not be afraid to test out the bed, its foam and how it feels once you lay on it. Also do not forget to measure the size of the bed that it can fit perfectly in your room. For the home bathroom furniture, choose the ones that can fit into the space of your bathroom. Keep it elegant and simple.

    For the furniture in your home, the trick is finding the perfect design and color that can match your place. One home furniture store can carry countless furniture that have different color, designs and materials to suit your home. Some of them may have offers of making made to order furniture if you cannot find the design and the color that you want. These made to order furniture may cost more than the regular ones in the store, but if you have the budget and you are willing to wait, this could ensure that you will get the furniture that you want. When shopping for home furniture, it is important that you are getting items that are of good quality. You may want your furniture to last for years. Paying for cheap but low quality furniture will only cost you more in the long run because you will need to repair or buy new furniture from time to time.

    When choosing the sofas or armchair of your living room, the rule is like that of the bedroom, choose the sofa or armchair that can give you comfort. Your guests or family will be sitting in these sofas when you get together or watch television, a comfortable sofa means a lot. Also make sure that the sofa can match your room color. It does not have to be the same color, but something that can compliment your home. There is also other home décor furniture that you may want to add like coffee tables, side tables or a small chair or tea table. These are good furniture to add to your room if you have enough space. Overcrowding a room with furniture is never a good idea. It will only make your home look smaller and disorganized.

    Travel Pre And Post Internet

    Travel Pre Internet:

    I’ve been traveling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

    My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

    ‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I traveled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

    I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

    My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

    Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

    We tend to forget that the real cost of traveling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots license in the 1970’s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travelers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

    Travel Post-Internet:

    In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

    The Internet now gives travelers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

    Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveler. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

    Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travelers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

    And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travelers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travelers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

    The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

    I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travelers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

    I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travelers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

    This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travelers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travelers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

    The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators on-board. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

    The way I have traveled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.

    To find out more about the new way of cost offsets for travel please go to The Top Travel Club and my apologies for some of the spelling (traveler / traveler) but that is what I was taught. As long as we all understand the meaning, vive le difference!

    The Health, Medicinal Benefits of Garlic – Part 1 Getting Heart Healthy!

    Part 1: Health, Medicinal Benefits of Garlic:

    There are many reasons that adding raw garlic to your diet will increase your health. In part 1 of this article you will learn 10 facts about how garlic affects your health.

    1. Garlic supports a healthy heart. It can help you lower your bad cholesterol levels, and prevent hardening of the arteries, among many other benefits for your heart.

    2. Organic garlic has a higher amount of sulphur in it, and the higher this amount the more health benefits there are.

    3. Garlic that has been aged has more antioxidants than garlic that is not aged.

    4. Garlic can be used in diabetics to lower blood sugar, or continue to keep it low.

    5. Too much garlic can cause irritation to your bowels.

    6. One of the compounds of Garlic can be used as an anti-fugal.

    7. Microwaving garlic will completely kill the antibiotic and anti-fungal properties of it.

    8. By crushing fresh organic garlic you will get the most medicinal use out of it.

    9. The fresher the garlic and the freshest chopped or crushed the more taste you will get out of it.

    10. Garlic has been used for over 5,000 years for medicinal purposes, starting in India.

    From reading this you can conclude that by buying raw organic garlic bulbs and only opening them right before you crush or chop them for immediate use, you will get the most medicinal purposes out of your garlic. The smaller the garlic pieces when you are done chopping, mincing or crushing the more of the healing components you will get out of it, these components are activated when you cut the garlic, as time goes by the benefits will diminish, that is why it is very important to only get the garlic ready just before using it. You may also want to note that by using garlic this way you will get more taste out of it, so you can actually use less.

    Benefits of Collaboration in the Luxury Travel World

    The luxury travel industry has been the core of my business world for many years. In my role as marketing consultant have seen travel companies grow and fall as the trends for vacations and short breaks changed in line with needs for the industry’s most important component – the customer.

    From just one holiday or vacation a year, the trend has grown to a pattern of two maybe even three vacations. For those with more disposable income, a sprinkling of short breaks throughout the year has become a typical indulgence… until now.

    With the onset of the financial recession from 2008 onwards large families and travelers in their 40-50s were hardest hit in terms of the number and quality of holidays taken. Excited at the opportunities afforded by budget flights and exciting destinations many families looked forward to a few weeks in the sun with cheap food and drink plus the opportunity to pick up some duty free luxuries and a tan.

    But the fall out from flight route closures on the cheaper airlines, the rising costs of hold baggage and the affects of currency fluctuations have made larger numbers of potential holiday makers taking the cheaper option and staying at home.

    The younger singles market still managed the short luxury breaks to European cities such as Prague and Barcelona and the island retreats of Ibiza and Mallorca. But even this market is being eroded as salaries dip in line with recession. Currency fluctuation and exchange rates have hit the cost of bed and board rises dramatically in the once celebrated destinations. Add in the effect of ‘global warming’ on the conscience of the younger travelers and its easy to see why so many of the budget holiday companies are falling on difficult times.

    And what about the luxury end of the market? Believe it or now but some of the top end companies are having a very profitable time. How? They have talked to each other, joined forces and shared resources to help bring their marketing costs down and in many cases their market coverage up.

    I have seen groups of top Scottish Hotels who might have been fighting for a customers attention, become a collaborative marketing group whose aim is to sell the destination first and then divide up the spoils among their spa resorts, golf complexes, boutique hotel partners and city centre apartments.

    I have also seen small specialist travel agents collaborate by forming a collaborative venture specializing in high end luxury travel destinations – each member having a unique destination or service. With one innovative marketing message they have a louder voice than they might have as individual travel operators.

    On the customer side collaboration is also proving very beneficial. Instead of taking lots of individual holidays there is a growing trend for groups who might have booked separate hotels and a similar destination to team up and book a large villa or apartment. Combining their entrepreneurial skills, purchasing skills and cooking skills they are able to eat well, organize great activities while staying at some of the most exclusive holiday destinations.

    The Basic Elements of Style

    Wearing the latest in fashion is what every one of us likes to do. But it is very important to carry the clothes in style. Having a great wardrobe is definitely essential but some basics of style should also be adhered to in order to make a striking fashion statement. There are lots of online wholesale apparel shops that cater to the fashion conscious generation. But apart from stocking up a fantastic collection, there are a few other issues that need to be paid attention to.

    • A well groomed appearance is very essential in order to carry any ensemble with style. Nobody looks good with straggly, greasy hair, chewed up fingernails, gross skin, unplucked eyebrows, and leg stubble.

    • Taking good care of your clothes is also very important. Well maintained clothes are the basic requirement of carrying off any stylish look with elan.

    • Over usage of accessories can kill any fashionable ensemble. It is always best to make minimum use of accessories so that they can act as a compliment to the basic outfit and add some style.

    • Try to choose outfits based on which colors and styles look nice on you. It is a good idea to match what you are wearing with your own personality. This helps in bringing out your true colors and helps you look and feel great.

    Each year new fashion trends are born and it is time for the old ones to retire. Though it is definitely a great idea to go with what is in vogue, but at the same time you should keep an eye out for the comfort factor as well. Comfort and style goes hand in hand and choosing apparel based on how comfortable you feel wearing them is the smartest decision. Fashion trends appear unexpectedly and fade away even quicker than they appeared.

    There is no limit to the permutations one can think of in terms of mixing and matching clothes and creating a style that is comfortable yet elegant. If you want to achieve a great look, be in line with new fashion styles that are influenced by different seasons. In recent we have seen the rise of new brands as well as the comeback of some old fashion trends. To wear something different and with style is to create fashion and with a bit of creativity you can come up with unique combinations that can become a personal fashion statement.

    Looking Effortlessly Stylish and Creating Your Own Unique Fashion Style

    There’s a famous saying that goes, ‘the clothes make the man (or the woman).’ This simply means that what one wears can say a lot about him; some actually judge people on the kind of clothes they wear. Ever since that time when man decided to put on something to cover his naked body, he has always been paying attention to what he wears not only in terms of how it protects his body, but also on how he’s going to be perceived by other people. Today, fashion trends come and go as fleeting as the latest smartphones.

    If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily keep up with the latest trends in fashion but don’t want to look old-fashioned either, you can follow these tips on how to dress up in style without necessarily spending a fortune or without looking like you’re trying to follow the trend:

    Choose clothes that complement your skin color, height and size – Some people make the mistake of putting on something that they’ve seen their favorite celebrities wear that may not necessarily be ideal for them. Always go for outfits that will highlight your good features and downplay the not-too-good ones.

    Don’t go for too much: It’s okay to make a statement with what you wear, but you don’t necessarily have to go over the top for it. You can be bold sometimes, but don’t make yourself appear like a human placard.

    Have a few pairs of jeans: Jeans always work with almost anything and are never out of style. Jeans can also be used to neutralize your overall look in case your top looks too formal or too elegant if you’re only attending a small soiree. However, you should still stay within the bounds of good taste and decency by not going too low waist-ed with them. Tattered jeans are fine, too, but overdoing it may just result to a fashion disaster.

    Know how to mix and match: When shopping, look for clothes with neutral colors and plain prints so you can match them with anything in your closet. But this is not to limit your shopping range. Of course, you can always go for shirts that have different colors and exciting prints, but nothing too outrageous.

    Create your own style – There’s nothing wrong with looking like your favorite celebrity, but wearing exactly the same shirt, pants, shoes, and accessories he or she has worn in a picture you’ve seen in a magazine makes you look like a copycat. Some people would even think it’s creepy. Experiment with different combinations and create a style all your own.

    Looking stylish with the clothes you wear is certainly not rocket science. Just know who you are and what looks good on you and you can strut your stuff with panache wherever you go.