Money

Debt Collectors Use Social Media

Debt Collectors Use Social Media

In today’s world, debt collection companies are riding a thin line between legitimate collection practices and predatory collection techniques. Social media has become the newest way for debt collection companies to locate and communicate with consumers. This new phenomenon has left many industry insiders unclear as to the legality of the practices. Invading people’s privacy is a very sensitive issue that could result in legal consequences from the company in question. This information reaching the public may result in a change in the way social sites and collection companies operate.

What They Can Do
Some debt collection agencies have sunk to the point of making fake profiles and becoming friends with people with the goal of retaining their information the whole time. People’s profiles who are public may risk their information being found out by clandestine collection agents posing as followers. A few states have enacted laws against online impersonation, but none of them restricts collectors from tweeting or posting on consumer’s Facebook wall to find out a debtors whereabouts. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) a debt collector that post about a consumer’s debt on social media is in violation and has compromised privacy agreements.

Collectors are allowed to use information shown on social media to contact the consumer about their debt. A little common sense made need to be used when posting information on social media. If a person knows they are in debt it may be smart not to provide location information on social media pages or settle the matter so that they can move on.

They are Watching
Be watchful of the words used when speaking of things that are paid in full with cash or assets that are earning residual income. These things could be taken into consideration if a debt collector finds them via social media and could put a halt to settlement arrangements. There is no need to brag and boast about the car just bought in cash or residual income. The information the collection agency has on file of a consumer should coincide with their social media profile. Giving into the temptation to talk about recent financial accomplishments may result in the collection agency not willing to settle for a lesser amount than was actually owed or potentially suing the debtor in court.

A person, who is dodging the collection police, might want to adjust their privacy settings on the social media site they participate in and make sure their page is private. Debt collectors are only aloud to contact a spouse or lawyer to discuss the collection of a debt. People whose family or friends are contacted by these agencies may want to file a complaint with the FDCPA, for this is a direct violation of the law.

Use your Head
People can avoid all this nonsense by simply staying out of debt and not buying things one cannot afford. That may be too much to ask of people but it is rational. For people who are in debt, make sure these companies follow the law and know your rights. Education and experience is the key to understanding finances. Do not make a decision that will cause problems in the future for short term self-appeasement. These decisions could potentially haunt a consumer till there is no end in sight and leave a stain that is hard to get out of credit ratings that will be needed in the future. People spend their entire lives cleaning up debt, are smart and save money to attain what is desired instead of using financing so often.

This article was written by Stacy Nguyen for the personal injury law firm of Bottar Leone, PLLC. At Bottar Leone, clients can find an experienced Syracuse personal injury lawyer dedicated to seeking justice.


4 Things Our Grannies Taught Us

4 Things Our Grannies Taught Us

For the forty somethings out there, you’ll probably remember (especially if you live in the UK) quite a few things which your granny or granddad taught you which you don’t have the time or inclination to do nowadays… Stay with us while we have a stroll through some of these things and discuss if what Granny taught us is worth reviving!

1). Brilliant Money Saving Granny Tips – Wine and Preserves

Nowadays, most of us get our wine and jam from the Supermarket, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll have grown up with every summer being an orgy of fruit picking, brewing and pickling, which had a two-fold benefit over the modern consumerist approach: Doing these things yourself saves heaps of money, it creates food which is much, much better for your insides and of course there is the real pleasure of creating something which tastes far better than anything you can get from a supermarket!

Of course, wine-making and the creation of preserves and pickles requires a whole heap of knowledge, but if you’re the sort of person who loves ‘getting your hands dirty’ this is one way to both save money and give real meaning to your food. There’s nothing better than having a glass of your own home-made wine with a nice crusty loaf and some of your own jam or preserves. What’s more, if you use something like elderberry or wild redcurrants then the actual fruit is available for free… you just have to track down a source!

2). Fix Your own Clothes – Darning Socks

We’ve all been there – you have socks which you wear from year to year. Eventually, with all the wearing and washing, socks have a tendency to develop holes in the toes. I can remember my granny spending hours darning socks – basically using wool and a needle to fix the holes. This meant that the socks took on a sort of life of their own, became almost organic in nature and changed over the years. Actual equipment to achieve this feat is very low tech and consists of a large needle and some appropriate thread or yarn, but the results speak for themselves with long-lasting socks which never need replacing. Perhaps not one for the fashion conscious, but for those who value their cash more than fashion a great one to remember!

3). Use Every Part of the Animal

It always staggers me that supermarkets today offer such a small range of the choicest cuts of meats and tend to shy away from offering any of the less attractive parts of an animal. You’ll see meat laid out all shiny and red (mainly because these cuts of meat are sprayed or painted to make them look enticing!) but you very rarely, unless you go to a specialist butcher, see things like heart, kidneys or brain. These parts of the animal can, ironically, produce some of the tastiest food, yet because of modern culture we’re not offered these parts of the animal. Nowadays, with meat costing so much, it makes sense to use these cheaper parts of the animal – try liver and bacon casserole and tell me it isn’t delicious!

4). Learn To Knit!

Most of our grannies were all well versed at knitting, infact it was positively encouraged during the war years. It’s something which the normal person in the street wouldn’t have the first clue about now, yet this most practical of hobbies gives so much whilst allowing the creation of totally unique clothing… and of course the cost savings are enormous over actually buying knitted clothes! For the price of one knitted jumper from a high street fashion shop you can create three jumpers yourself – all that’s required is time and patience and some nice yarn, a couple of needles and a knitting pattern. Once you know the basic steps required to knit you can knit whilst watching TV, relaxing or in bed. Perfect!

Pack Lane Wool offer a large range of knitting yarns from Noro Yarns, crochet equipment and a whole host of materials for all sorts of crafts.


A look at 10 of the most beautiful coins around the world

A look at 10 of the most beautiful coins around the world

A country’s coins reflect its history and its changing images through decades, centuries and sometimes millennia. Enduring national emblems, often birds or animals, have been modified over many years to promote the ideology of various rulers.

Below, TravelSupermarket looks at 10 of the most beautiful coins from around the world:

Rupee – India

India is one country that pioneered the use of coins as money. The rupee has been in circulation in various forms since the sixth century BC. Its name derives from rupyakam, the Sanskrit word for coin. The first rupee coins were made of silver and copper.

Over the years, Indian coins have been issued by different imperial dynasties, smaller Indian kingdoms, invaders and colonial powers. The latest one-rupee coin is made of stainless steel and was introduced in 1992. A graphic rupee sign was introduced in 2010.

On its reverse, the coin carries the number “1” bordered by two wheat sheaves and crowned with the rupee sign. The emblem of India – three Indian lions resting on a circular abacus that itself rests on a flower – is on the obverse.

One Afghani – Afghanistan

The one-Afghani coin is made from copper-plated steel. The Afghan national symbol, a mosque bordered by two wheat sheaves, is on the obverse while the coin’s value in Arabic numerals is on the reverse. It was introduced in 2005 by the Taliban to standardise the national currency. Prior to 2005, the Taliban and Afghan warlords produced their own money.

500 Yen – Japan

Japan adopted silver and some gold coinage in the 19th century. The present 500-yen coin is the largest coin denomination and carries the picture of a Paulownia, or “princess tree”, on the obverse. This is a fast-growing hardwood tree that also features on the flag of the Prime Minister.

Paulownia wood is used to make surfboards and guitar bodies. A series of micro-characters are printed into the number “500” on the reverse of the coin that read “Nippon”, the word for Japan in Japanese.

100 Fils – Bahrain

Bahrain introduced its 100-fils coin in 1992. 1,000 fils are equal to one Bahraini dinar. It is bimetallic with a brass ring and a cupro-nickel centre. The obverse depicts the Bahraini coat of arms, a shield with a five-pointed crown.

One Shekel – Israel

New shekel coins were introduced in Israel in 1985. The obverse of the new one-shekel coin depicts a lily with the word “Yehud”, meaning “Kingdom of Judah”, in ancient Hebrew on its left side and the Israeli national symbol, a menorah surrounded by olive leaves, on its right. The reverse has the coin’s value and date of mintage.

100 Peso – Mexico

The rarely used 100-peso coin in Mexico, whose full name is the United States of Mexico, depicts the national coat of arms on its obverse. This is a golden eagle with a snake in its beak sitting atop a prickly pear cactus. It recalls the Aztec legend about the founding of Mexico City, then called Tenochtitlan, on a spot where such an image was first observed.

The coin is bimetallic with a silver and copper centre and aluminium – bronze ring. The reverse depicts scenes from wildlife, flora and the art of Mexico’s 31 states.

20 Centavo – Honduras

The lempira, the currency of Honduras, is named after the county’s 16th-century indigenous chieftain, Chief Lempira, whose name means “gentleman of the mountain”. He led a group of warriors who resisted the Spanish conquistadores. His bust is on the obverse of the 20-centavos and 50-centavos coins.

The reverse of all coins carries a picture of the Honduran coat of arms. This is a triangular pattern of a volcano between two towers and surrounded by two filling horns and a bundle of arrows. Trees, limestone hills and mining tools are found below the triangle.

Five Zloty – Poland

Poland’s five-zloty coin, which was introduced in 1995, is bimetallic with a cupro-nickel centre and an aluminium-bronze ring. It shows the national symbol, the white eagle, on the obverse. The eagle traditionally wears a crown when Poland is independent. The crown was removed during the communist era 1945 – 1989 and returned in 1989. The reverse shows the value of the coin and its date of mintage.

One Dollar – Australia

Coins in Australia have a variety of traditional scenes on the reverse. The one-dollar coin has a picture of five kangaroos. The two-dollar coin has the Gwoya Jungarai Aboriginal elder on the obverse. The 50-cent coin has the Australian coat of arms of a kangaroo and emu on the obverse. All coins have a bust of Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse.

Two Dollar (Toonie) – Canada

Canadians call their two-dollar coin a “toonie”. It’s a bimetallic coin with a cupro-nickel centre and an aluminium-nickel ring. When the coin was first introduced in the 1960s, there were reports that the two metals would separate in Canada’s cold weather. The obverse of the two-dollar coin shows a polar bear standing on an ice flow. The reverse carries a bust of Queen Elizabeth II.


Interesting Ancient and Old Currency

Interesting Ancient and Old Currency

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the ancient barter trade of times gone by, but did you know there used to be very real old currency that was used in trades. Sure it wasn’t the paper and plastic that we have today, but then again with contemporary problems in place with the world economy we may be using barter for trading soon enough – although I hope not. The old money currency systems that used to exist seem bizarre or even alien today, but they are compelling to say the least. Let’s take a look as some of the strangest old currency exchange and values of yesteryear.

African Potato Mashers

Bafia potato mashers were used to, surprisingly, mash potatoes; they were also used as old currency. In ancient Cameroon, these heavy potato mashers weren’t in supply by the large and were therefore reserved for affluent members of the community. That is why it was perfect for trading power and currency. In fact a Bafian wife would set you back approximately 30 Bafia potato mashers; which begs the question, “Any potato mashers left for the kitchen?” In all seriousness though, the value of old currency is still quite measurable using a bit of research in anthropology. As a bonus, relatively nearby Mali used to use copper and metal snakes as old currency which I would imagine would scare any potential wife you’re in the market for away.

Asian Knife Collections

Meanwhile in Asia, if a mugger ever attempted to rob someone he would have a much harder time making a clean getaway. The first ever form of old coins and currency in China came in the form of knifes; a great defence against an impoverished mugger would be a wallet full of weapons I would imagine. One such knife looked like a barber’s razor which can only give new meaning to the phrase ‘slashing prices.’ Less dangerous was the Egyptian form of old currency exchange which was quite simply jewellery. If you wanted to buy a chariot or Nile raft, all you needed to do was produce a necklace or gold ring with which to give in exchange. Not quite old British currency, one could only imagine how many pyramids one could buy with the Crown Jewels.

A Potluck or Potlatch

Finally, North American Indians seemed to have an old currency of their own long before the first settler hit the east coast. A potlatch ceremony would be similar to a church fete in that people would bring old junk and go home with new junk. The exchange of everything from Orca teeth to hawk beaks would happen as rarer items had stronger values attached to them. One could argue this was simply bartering but there was real value attached to individual items so it was more or less systematic thereby transcending the traditional bartering. Old currency may have been more fun to exchange than paper or coins, but it would take a marketing genius to figure out any sort of Forex system attached to a single Orca tooth.


Save Money Booking a Flight

Save Money Booking a Flight

Save money alwaysSome of us can remember the times when we would go to the travel agent up the street  if we wanted to fly somewhere. It was quite simple. The only real decision you had to make was which travel agency to use if there were more than the one in the same area. On most occasions you didn’t even have to make that decision as travel agencies were well scattered around the suburbs and major country towns. It was only in the cities where any real competition occurred. The way of purchasing airline tickets was soon to change.

For example, loyalty was more common in the past. When you went for a drink in the bar of a hotel you would usually be confronted with a large picture of an aeroplane, or an airline hostess inside a large frame, telling you the phone number of your favourite carrier. You would never make enquiries about the prices charged by any other airlines. You only travelled on the one carrier and that was that. It was a time proven system and the airlines themselves were never challenged, they advertised on their safety record on not the prices they charged.

Things all changed when the internet came along. All of a sudden the airlines had to compete against one another on prices. Passengers threw loyalty out the window and flying suddenly became less expensive. Former competitors merged with each other and previously unknown airlines from foreign countries began flying in looking for customers. The internet shopper became very sophisticated and when armed with a credit card, he or she found they could snap up a bargain on the spot. The airline didn’t matter all that much, it was the seat price that your decision was based on.

However, the major carriers were not to be beaten. They went about reviving the long held tradition of loyalty and introduced loyalty rewards programs. The more you travelled with the one specific airline, or one of its partners, the more rewards points you earned and these points could be cashed in at a later date for cheaper travel. If you flew frequently you could even grab a freebie every so often. Rewards points became so popular that you could even earn them while doing your grocery shopping in supermarkets.

How to Save Money When Booking a Flight

Once in the market the internet was too big to be dominated by any one airline company and it still remains the one true vehicle for finding the cheapest airline tickets, no matter what the different airlines tell us in their glossy advertising brochures. When it all comes down to dollars and cents nothing can beat the ability of an airline customer sitting down in an airport lounge comparing prices. This is particularly valuable if the airline is soon to leave and it still has many seats to fill. If you are not a naturally stressful person and your itinerary is flexible you can save quite a lot of money by being a last minute traveller.

There are many sites on the internet that specialise in cheap airline tickets. These sites keep an up to the minute eye on ticket price movements and can be quite a valuable tool in your armoury when seeking the cheapest flights. For instance, in spite of the advice that the cheapest flights can sometimes be arranged in airport lounges at the last minute, it is not an appropriate way to take your family around the world, especially during the holiday season when most flights are fully booked out well before departure time. It is therefore much safer to have your passage fully arranged as early as possible.

The best and safest approach is to book your seats at least three months out. This will give you plenty of time to look around to make sure you get the best deal possible. When you are sure you will be travelling and what routes you will be taking, start looking around for the cheapest flights. When you book early many airlines will allow you a refund if you have paid any extra fees. Other airlines will give you an option of being able to reuse the tickets on a later date as a part of their standard fare. Whatever you do make certain you understand what the ticket covers, especially in the event of something occurring that you had not planned for. Reserving your seats early can often save you a lot of money in that the airlines generally increase their prices 21 days out, then 14 days, seven days and even as close as three days. If you are flying internationally it is advisable to book as early as six months out to get the best deals.

The biggest advantage you have by being able to use the internet is that you have the ability to shop around from the comfort of your home. You no longer have to walk around the various travel agencies, nor do you have to spend hours on the phone waiting for someone in a call centre to finally get to talking to you. However you must never book the first offer you come across. There are many cheap airline ticket agencies online. Check them all out. While doing so you will be gathering information about the flight you are after, such as which airlines dominate each specific route, what the average fare is and if someone is offering any specials. If it all seems a bit dear, don’t panic, leave it for a few days and look around again. If one of the airlines feel the seats are filling too slowly they might drop their price a little and this could start a rush with the others doing likewise.


Five Things You Didn’t Realise You Could Claim Compensation For

Five Things You Didn’t Realise You Could Claim Compensation For

Claiming compensation is a tricky social issue. Some people feel that anyone can claim compensation for any piece of bad luck these days. But the fact remains that negligence is everywhere and if you are seriously injured, you deserve to be adequately compensated. So here are five things that (in the UK) you can expect recompense for that you may not have known:

Accidents Caused By Uninsured / Untraced Drivers

Being in an accident involving a vehicle is sufficiently traumatic. But when you’re involved in an accident with someone too cowardly to own up to causing the accident, or someone sufficiently stupid enough to be driving without insurance, things will seem excessively horrible. Where is the money going to come from? Well, in the UK at least, the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB. Nothing to do with aliens, unfortunately) has you covered. However, it does come with a hefty excess of £350 plus legal fees.

Bus and Taxi Crashes

Whilst we all typically expect compensation in accidents in public places, accidents related to public transport often slip by us less because we don’t know that we can claim, but because we’re afraid to claim, or convinced that it is impossible to claim. To be sure, getting witness statements to back up your claim can be difficult (unless you’re on a service you take daily with the same group of people). But considering the standing state of my passengers and the severity of injuries that can result in a crash or emergency stop situation, bus companies do come under intense scrutiny from the police and from passengers alike if there is an accident, and witnesses are more willing to come forward than you’d think.

The British High Speed Rail 2 Link

A passionate point of debate in the UK at the moment is the forthcoming High Speed Rail 2 link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Intended to improve international links to the midlands and northern England, concerns have been aired about the noise, pollution and the basic need for such a project. Of course, people living in the path of the route will be hit by compulsory purchase orders and forced to relocate, with compensation.

But what about those who are stuck next to the construction work and the noise, smell and danger of a high speed train? Well compensation will be offered through the government’s Exceptional Hardship Scheme. However, this will only be offered to those who have to move urgently at a time when the price of their houses has been dramatically reduced (for reasons including divorce, unemployment or serious illness). There is also some ambiguity over the precise route, until early April 2012.

Vibration White Finger / Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Despite being a rather descriptive malady, knowledge about, Vibration White Finger (VWF) or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) isn’t exactly mainstream. Yet, around 1 in 10 people who use vibrating power tools will suffer from this industrial disease. VWF is caused by restricted blood supply in your extremities whilst using vibrating power tools, as well as working in extreme cold temperature. The intensity and duration of work with vibrating equipment matters: even a small vibration over an extended period can be as damaging as using an intense tool for a short amount of time.

You may be entitled to compensation if you were a) improperly trained, b) forced to use poorly maintained, poorly designed, high intensity equipment. In the UK, tools have an exposure limit value (ELV) which you should not be forced to exceed.

Military Accidents

The Ministry of Defence has a duty to its employees, just as any other employee does, but people are still often surprised to hear that an occupation where danger is certain is involved in the whole compensation game. In the UK at least, compensation for injuries at work came about because of the high numbers wishing to claim over the use of asbestos in dockyards, among other situations in which injuries were the result of MoD negligence rather than enemy action.

The same array of possible negligence claims exist in a military context, and it shouldn’t be unusual that a soldier is able to claim for injuries in a car accident, for injuries caused by repetitive action, inadequate training and so forth. And actually, since 2005 claims for injuries sustained in combat may be made via the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). Those who are medically discharged from the military are automatically compensated via the scheme.


Five Gadgets That Reduce Your Household Bills

Five Gadgets That Reduce Your Household Bills

One of the biggest drains on our personal finances, our household incurs numerous upkeep costs. As economic conditions have worsened, the vast majority of Brits have been left facing a crippling amount of monthly bills with very little income.

This has made budgeting and financial control far more important for the average household and finding ways to reduce these bills is now a priority. Luckily, recent advances in technology have developed a number of fantastic gadgets offering consumers many ways to reduce their household bills.

1. Smart Plugs

According to figures from the BBC, un-plugging chargers when they are no longer in use would save enough electricity to power 115,000 homes each year. This makes latent energy consumption one of the main causes of large household bills.

To address this problem there are many things which consumers can do. Alongside adapting how you charge and use your appliances you could also invest in Smart Plugs. These operate by cutting the flow of electricity to devices or appliances when they are not in use, preventing you from wasting energy and money.

2. Draught excluders

One fifth of all energy lost in a home occurs through poor ventilation and draughts so these simple products are an easy way to keep your home warm and energy efficient. Draught excluders are available in numerous forms, ranging from the humble curtain to a letterbox cover.

3. Rechargeable batteries

A product which has been around for years, rechargeable batteries are now more popular than ever. Traditional cylindrical cell batteries (such as AA and AAA) can be purchased in this form and whilst the initial cost may be higher than standard batteries you should save money in the long run. Lithium-ion batteries used in cameras, laptops and mobile phones are also a type of rechargeable battery.

4. New condensing boiler

Boilers generate more than just hot water and are responsible for 60% of our annual energy bill. Making sure they are running efficiently is the easiest way to drastically reduce your bills and modern condensing boilers are the best option.

These have a 90% efficiency rating and equate to an average saving of £150 a year for a typical semi-detached home. Protecting piping with a water cylinder jacket can also save you £20 a year after costing just £12 to purchase paying for itself in just over six months.

5. Energy control app

There are numerous apps available to help lower your bills, covering everything from energy price comparison to energy monitoring. According to The Daily Telegraph using energy monitoring devices can reduce bills by as much as 5% – which is great considering many of these apps are free.

Julia Stevenson is a mother of two and a regular blogger. In charge of her household’s budget, Julia offers advice on how to lower bills by changing daily habits and conducting an energy price comparison. She regularly hunts for the latest low-cost items to help make her home more efficient.


8 Great Apps for Managing Personal Finances

8 Great Apps for Managing Personal Finances

Spending money is easy. Keeping track of the money in our accounts is the hard part. In today’s digital world, much banking is done online. Many people take advantage of banking technology by having their paychecks automatically deposited into their accounts each month. Others sign up for automatic bill pay for all of their monthly bills. These modern conveniences make it easy to keep up with our finances. However, if we don’t always see the cold, hard cash leave our wallets, it can be too easy to overspend or not be aware of all our purchases. With tax season approaching, many people are flailing to gather receipts and account for yearly spending. Get your finances in order with the help of one of these apps for your smartphone.

Mint

This free app for Android, iPhone and iPad devices lets you keep track of your entire financial life in one spot. Receive alerts when bills are due, track your monthly budget, or create savings goals. Easily access your financial information in graph form.

Pageonce

Pageonce is a versatile app, available for all smartphones including Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. View your finances on user-friendly graphs and charts, receive alerts when bills are due, or program the app to warn you when you are about to overspend.

EasyMoney

EasyMoney is an app for Android users only. It features a wide range of tools to keep your entire financial life in order. You can track all of your spending by category. It has the ability to photograph receipts or check registers, allowing you to keep them organized with the rest of your finances. You can try it free for 30 days.

Pocket Money

Pocket Money works with iPhones and iPads. This thorough app leaves no financial stone unturned. Enter every amount spent, or you can set it up to track those monthly expenses that never change. Purchase the Photo Receipts plug-in to easily input your miscellaneous spending. Desktop versions are also available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

MoneyStrands

This app for the iPhone allows you to set up a budget and helps you stick to it. You can view all of your accounts in one place and set it up to receive alerts when bills are due.

Gift List Budget Shopper

This iPhone app is for those who love to shop. The app will help you budget for gifts you intend to purchase, plan shopping trips, and help you search for products via the Internet. There is even a feature for tracking greeting cards.

CheckPlease Lite

CheckPlease Lite is a simplistic app for iPhones. The app can divide the guest check evenly when you are dining out with friends and calculate the tip. It is available in four languages and currencies.

BillMinder

This app organizes all of your monthly bills in calendar format so you can easily see what’s due, how much and when. Use BillMinder for iPhone or iPad to always be on the same financial page as your spouse or other household members. The app will sync with multiple devices, so you can all access the same up-to-date information.

Smartphones open up all sorts of new possibilities for managing and handling your personal finances. Take advantage of these to stay organized and save money. Visit billeater.com four more helpful Money-saving tips.


The Best Investments You Wish You’d Spotted

The Best Investments You Wish You’d Spotted

The best investments you wish you’d spotted may have got away from you because you didn’t realise how the world would change over time.

With hindsight, shares in Ford, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Disney and Tesco would have been good buys, if a little left field, in their early days.

Technology is the Golden Goose

Technology stocks are perceived as big money earners. Facebook’s 2012 flotation may be a ticket to fortune, but some pundits believe it’s past its prime, as is the way with technology: things move fast.

Microsoft was one some didn’t believe would last. $21 shares in March 1986 would be worth around $8000 today. Although it has been higher, a $10,000 stake then is worth about $3 million today.

Apple is even more impressive. If instead of buying an iPod when they were released in October 2001 you’d invested the $400 in Apple stock, today you would be holding an investment return of over $16,000, almost 4000%.

The same test with other Apple products produces stunning results. The iMac G5, cost $1300 in August 04 (that would be now worth $27,000); the MacMini, 2005, $500 now worth $5500; and the iPhone in June 07 at $400 on a 2 year contract, now worth over $1100 (193% return).

Even the $500 for the 2010 iPad would have increased share value to $750 (50% and rising). If you had spotted the brilliance of James Dyson’s bagless vacuum cleaner in the early 1970s, you’d be worth millions. He himself is worth over £2 billion according to Forbes.

Fine Living

Gold (£200 per oz in 2003, now around £1100), rare stamps (1856 British Guyana 1 cent black on red, last auctioned in 1980 for almost $1m) and wine (1787 bottle of Bordeaux Chateau Lafite, last sold 1985 for £105,000 now almost beyond price as collectible, not drink) are among luxuries you wish you’d spotted.

If you know what you like in art – Paul Cezanne’s 1892 Card Players, worth a few pounds originally, sold in 2011 for $250 million. To buy a Lucien Freud or a David Hockney today is beyond the pockets of many investors. The trick is to spot emerging artists before others do, while they’re still relatively cheap.

You might even wish you’d invested in a lottery ticket. The highest win on a single ticket was $177 million in Feb 2006 on the US Powerball game, claimed by a syndicate of eight. The largest UK winner for a £1 ticket was an anonymous person in EuroMillions, October 10, with £113 million.


What is a short sale?

What is a short sale?

In this volatile economy, foreclosure rates are sky rocketing. For a home owner, their last chance at avoiding a foreclosure is a short sale. For the buyer, that can be tough situation to move into. The decision to put an offer on a home that is being sold as a short sale can be confusing. Researching a short sale before making an offer is a wise decision.

A short sale simply means that the home will be sold at a price that is short the amount of the current mortgage note. Typically this occurs when the home owner falls behind in their payments and they are trying to sell the house before a foreclosure takes place.

How Does a Short Sale Work?

Typically the owner is selling their home with a real estate agent at a price lower than the cost of the current mortgage. When an offer is entered in for the purchase of the home, it must be presented to the bank for approval. The bank will then decide if the price is acceptable or if they will counter at a high rate.

The bank will be losing money by not getting the full price of the loan but in the current market, a short sale is preferred over a foreclosure where the home sits empty for months.

What can you expect?

If you are interested in purchasing a home through a short sale and choose to make an offer on that home, be expected to wait on the process to proceed. An approval from the bank can take 1-3 months, sometimes longer. That is not an easy time to sit in limbo when you are hoping to buy a home. Proceed with caution and with the assistance of a real estate agent when you are considering a short sale home.

As the owner, expect to produce a number of documents as to why the a short sale is to everyone’s benefit. Your lending institution will request copies of bank statements, a list of assets and liabilities, a letter about your situation and why you can no longer afford to pay for your home and more.

Depending on the state you live in, as the home owner, a short sale could increase your tax liability. Since the enactment of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, the debt that is canceled my your lender can become taxable income. That is to say that if your loan is for $200,000 and the sale of your home goes through at $150,000, your taxable income could increase by the $50,000 difference due to your short sale. (For more information on the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 visit the IRS website.)

A short sale can be a relief to the homeowner that is hoping to avoid a foreclosure and move forward during what is most likely a difficult time. And for the buyer who is willing to wait out the process, it can mean an opportunity to get a great home at a reduced price.


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