Wealth

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.


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.


What Does Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Mean For You?

What Does Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Mean For You?

Last fall when President Obama announced his plan to ease student loan burdens, it meant that student borrowers who have made their monthly student loan payments for a period of at least 20 years after leaving college may be eligible to have the remaining balance forgiven – and for those who have worked for at least ten years in public service positions, their loans may be forgiven once they reach their ten year anniversary of public service employment.

In addition, due to the fact that recent grads are not making the kind of money that was available to them several years ago, Obama’ program also calls for the capping of monthly student loan payments at ten percent of a student borrower’ take home pay.

For those who are members of the military, there is also some good news. Anyone who works for any of the five branches of the service and who also possesses a college degree may be able to also obtain forgiveness of their student loans.

Why This Is Important Today

Anyone who has ever taken on a student loan is well aware that this obligation can become a huge burden – especially for those who are not obtaining immediate employment upon graduation.

Years ago, it was easier for those who had their pick of post-graduation jobs to segue their student loan repayments into their other living expense budgets. Today, however, things have changed a great deal and even the smallest of expenses can become a big deal for those who are unemployed or even underemployed.

What Does This Mean for Student Borrowers?

In today’ economy, many people could breathe easier by saving even just a couple hundred dollars per month on expenses – and this is exactly what this program aims to do. According to the President, even though the student loan forgiveness plan doesn’t actually create jobs or even help in boosting the economy, it will make a big difference to millions of people who are having to make the decision every month regarding which bills to pay and which to hold off on.

For those who may not fall into any of the above categories, there is another possible option available in the student loan forgiveness program. This is to sign up for income based repayment loan terms.

The good news here is that this may be available not just to those with newer loans but also older loans as well. In any case, it is a good idea to compare the type of loan possessed with the best repayment and / or forgiveness option that is available to that particular borrower.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on President Obama’ plan is to help ensure that those who choose to continue their education beyond high school do not end up broke because of the financing that is required in order to obtain that education.

When it’ all been said and done, even though President Obama may be remembered for his health care reform, the Student Loan Forgiveness Program will likely have affected a far larger number of people overall.

George Gallagher is a writer and blogger for the financial sector of the web. He is also a consultant to graduates concerning their student loan consolidation needs.


New Software to Run your Finances

New Software to Run your Finances

Economy seems to have been the buzz word for the last couple of years. Everyone is paying more attention to the economy, their jobs, and especially their finances. With technology on the rise, and their prices getting more affordable, many are turning towards tech to help keep their finances in order and save as much money as possible.

The economy’s future is unknown, but your finances and budget don’t have to be. If you are also turning to your computer or smartphone to help manage your finances, then you should consider the software and apps you will need in order to stay organized. Here is some of the most popular software to keep you on top of your finances.

You Need a Budget:

YNAB is personal finance software that implores 4 rules of budgeting. Each rule is implemented in the software as well as teaches you how to look at your money differently. These rules include giving each dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, and stop living paycheck to paycheck. More than just a system for their software, these rules can be applied to everyday spending.

The software shows you how to create your budget and stick with it. You can import your bank statements to see where your money is going, where it has been, and how much you are saving. The software remembers everything from your normal bills, to the larger infrequent payments that need to be made. There is even an iPhone and Android app available for managing your budget on the go. You can try it for free, but the full version of the software is $60 and is available for Mac and Windows.

Manilla:

This is an online service that basically puts all of your bills in one place. By adding all of your accounts, Manilla will show balances due, payments that have been made and reminds you of when your payments are coming up. You can easily track all of your utilities and other bills with one password. This service is meant to help avoid late fees and overdraft charges by offering an easier way to view your monthly bills. Currently Manilla is n beta and is free to sign up.

AceMoney:

Since Microsoft Money is no longer supported or upgraded, many are looking for full featured software to replace it. AceMoney is one of those software suites. It is a cheap solution that offers downloadable transactions, budgeting, and investment tracking, plus much more. The software tracks your spending habits and shows you how to budget your money more effectively. You can view reports in AceMoney or export it to your favorite spreadsheet format.

Buxfer:

This software does it all. It allows you to upload reports from your accounts, track payments, and even set spending limits. If there is more than one in the family with access to your accounts, you can even track shared expenses and spending. For those who want to keep an eye on your budget while on the go, there is an iPhone app available to see where your finances stand no matter where you are.

Either the economy needs to improve or we need to improve our budgeting. If your finances are on your mind, look to technology and the many different software suites available for managing your personal budget and spending. Take the small amount of time it takes to enter your account information and yield the rewards of a better financial future.

Author Thomas Hathaway is a finance consultant and contributor for payday loans uk, a site that provides more information and cash advances when you need an advance on your regular paycheck.


The Unexpected Costs of Living

The Unexpected Costs of Living

Life is full of mysterious setbacks and hiccups. Especially when it comes to finances, nothing is for certain and nothing should be taken for granted. A healthy financial plan should take unexpected costs into consideration, because so many times in life we find ourselves paying money for things we didn’t expect. These are called contingencies and a fraction of your Visa debit card balance should be set aside to pay for them. The following is a short list of unexpected but common occurences that you could find yourself subsidizing and what to do should they happen:

Car accident. One of the great risk/reward, promise/peril dichotomies of modern living is driving an automobile. Its usefulness to business, commerce, and personal convenience is widely established, yet within a period of just a few seconds, you can find yourself in the hole for thousands of dollars because of a single errant turn of the steering wheel. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and also one of the leading costs of insurance. If you get into a car accident, immediately contact your car insurance company. If you can afford it, increase your deductibles in order to reduce your premium. Also, drop unnecessary coverage features.

Personal injury. A broken leg, deep cut, or surgery can cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills. Ideally, you’ll have health care insurance to balance out these costs. If not, you could find yourself in debt for years, possibly decades. Even with health care, the deductibles for some plans are up to $500 or more and that’s not counting the added costs of physical therapy, additional surgeries, and the time you may need to take off from work in order to recuperate. Our bodies are fragile and a major injury could happen any day. You don’t need to be paranoid, just financially prepared. It may be worth hiring a personl injury attorney. Often times you can be awarded significant amounts of medical subsidies from the courts. At the very least, contact your health care insurer and find out what procedures will and won’t be covered.

The vagaries of Wall Street. For anyone who invested significant amounts of money in stocks in the past decade, the fluctuations of the market are no surprise. Many people lost thousands of dollars, even their entire retirement plans when the economy crashed. Hopefully, this served as a lesson learned in the fragility of man-made systems. But for people who are persistent and keep investing in risky stocks, it’s good to be sure you’re not using money you can’t afford to lose. Investing in the stock market is no get-rich-quick scheme. Be patient and smart and look for promising penny stocks and stocks that pay healthy dividends.

We all know the normal costs of living. What can pass under the radar are the unexpected costs of living—freak accidents, injuries, market crashes and other anomalies that while unusual are somehow par for the course. Be smart and set aside a fund to help pay for these costs so they don’t liquidate your bank account.


Money Management is Important When Saving Money

Money Management is Important When Saving Money

It’s is important to save money by managing money so that we can enjoy financial freedom in the future. Perhaps, you are just realizing how imperative it is to manage money wisely. If you’re a beginner, then are few simple tips that are easy to implement and will lead on the fast track to saving money.

Money Management List

Put together a list of your goals and of the reasons why you want to manage your money better. In order to gain motivation, you need to know why you’re doing this. Know that this is positive step forward and being able to manage money is a very valuable skill.

Take Inventory

Next, gather all your bills and receipts and spread them out. Take note of where your money is going. If you notice that too much of money is being wasted on trivial purchases, then change the way that you spend. Incorporate a budget. Make sure that your checkbook register is up to date. If you prefer not to use checks, then there are some great financial journals out there. Financial journals are also perfect for helping you budget and organize your bills. Calendars are a fantastic alternative to registers because you can see where your money is going day by day. Plus, you can keep it posted up as a reminder to stay on track.

Get Your Credit Report

Your credit report is essentially how you manage your money on paper. Get a copy of this to further understand what steps you need to take. You can request a free report every year from annualcreditreport.com.

Get Rid of Debt

After that, take a look at all your debt. If you have credit cards, stop using them unless you are able to pay off the entire balance each month. Locate the debt that has the highest balance, interest charges, annual fees and pay extra on it while paying the minimum on all your other accounts. The longer you carry a balance, the more interest you’ll be charged. As a result you will save money by paying off the account quicker. Once this debt is paid off, contribute the spare to the next biggest debt. Repeat the process until all your debt is paid off. This process can reduce and completely eliminate your debt within a few years.

Save The Rest!

A portion of what you have left over after paying all the bills needs to go into a savings account. If you don’t already have one, make sure you find one that pays you the highest interest and doesn’t charge you any monthly fees. It’s necessary to build a solid nest egg so you and your family will be taken care of in the future. Don’t blow any extra money you receive. Tax return money and that end of the year bonus needs to be put in a savings account. Money management takes self-control.

Since you’ve made the decision to manage your money wisely, pass down that information to your kids. Teach them from an early age so that they don’t fall into some of the same traps. Learning how money works will make our children more successful once they enter the real world.

Getting rich is simple if you watch what you spend. Many people waste money on non essential items when they could have been saving money and becoming financially secure!


Financial planning now and for the future – online?

Financial planning now and for the future – online?

Tablet computers are hot, but when you have got the best that money can buy, don’t forget to use it for a less glamorous purpose – planning your finances for the week, month, and year and for the future. What would happen to your family if you died today – would they be ok?

Will Writing

As long as you have a few assets, you should go ahead and get your will written. If you own a home or have children you should make plans to have your will completed by later today – just in case. If you don’t have a will, the law dictates who will get what and when. With so many families having second marriages and children from different fathers, the need for a will to have a first say over the law without a will is essential; even more important than checking out those 0% credit cards

There are two ways you can tackle this task. You can use your lawyer or try an online service via your nice new tablet. It’s easy to know which will be best for you.

Online or offline?

If your situation is relatively easy to explain, then you may be able to use an online service. By having all the relevant information to hand – names, addresses, relationships, lists of assets and liabilities – you should be able to complete the assignment in less than an hour.

Check out the online will writing companies and compare their fees and see how you feel about the ease of use of their website. It’s a good idea to check reviews of the websites that come top of your list as some that were looking good two years have disappeared today. Finding a safe and secure website is essential as the information you will be providing will be close to your heart, as well as your bank balance.

Your online cost will be well under $100, sometimes much less. In contrast, if you need to go to a lawyer because your will writing process is more complicated, that $100 will be gone by the time you walk though their door. Don’t cheap out though; in the long term, it might be better to spend $400-$950 to ensure that your will is written correctly as this may save you or your family many thousands later on in life.

Making your decision

Estate taxes on your assets are triggered at around the five million dollar mark. Below that level you should be able to write your will online. Over that figure and you’ll need a lawyer’s advice to choose the best way to structure your finances now and after you die.

An online will works by asking you lots of questions. How you answer often dictates the next question. The idea is that you form the best will specifically for you this way, but it won’t help you answer questions that a live person could ask through their years of experience.

If you do it online, you must check that the will is right for your state as states have different laws and regulations.

Personal decisions

You will need to make a number of very personal decisions when you write your will, whether that be online or in a lawyer’s office. You should note that spouses make separate wills and they can be different in content.

If you have jointly owned assets (your home, perhaps a bank account) they will automatically go to the joint owner on your death unless you have already completed paperwork treating the assets as two separate halves so you can distribute your half how you want to.

You will need to consider alternative people to receive assets from you if your first choice dies before you.

Children

Even if you don’t have enough money to last beyond the next month, if you have children you need to write a will to dictate who will look after your children if both parents should die together. This also applies if you are a single parent, perhaps widowed, with no set home for your child if you should pass away.

In your will you can name who will become the guardian of your child. This person would be given the task of bringing up your child as if they were their own, but with instructions from you as to your wishes for education, religion and finances.

And that’s not all. Whether you use your flashy new tablet or go to a lawyer, your will must be correctly printed, signed and witnessed to be valid.


Critical Illness Cover – A Lifesaving Investment

Critical Illness Cover – A Lifesaving Investment

Most people who have traditional health insurance feel good about the coverage their policies provide. Unfortunately, many of these policyholders fail to realize that if they were to fall critically ill their policies may not be there for them when they need coverage the most.

Traditional health insurance policies usually have a payment amount cutoff and a limited number of days you may stay in a hospital during your policy term. This could prove detrimental to you if your doctor diagnoses you with an unexpected critical illness. That’s why adding a supplemental policy to your health insurance that has critical illness cover is so important – it may just save your life. Critical illness cover will not only cover your hospital costs, it will also pay out regular income to you when you are out of work due to your illness.

Critical Illness Cover: The Basics

Critical illness cover will not insure you for minor injuries. You will not be able to use it for emergencies such as broken bones. However, your plan will definitely cover you if you have a serious, life-threatening medical condition – the type of condition that could cause you to lose your job because it renders you too weak to work.

Illnesses that are generally covered include:
• Cancer
• Heart Attack
• Organ Transplant
• Stroke
• Alzheimer’s
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Severe Burns
• Blindness/Deafness

If you need to verify whether any of these critical illnesses are covered under your plan, check with your insurer. A complete list of serious conditions that are covered is typically included in your policy documentation. As with most health insurance policies, when applying for critical illness cover, you will be subject to a risk assessment. Your age, gender, current health, smoking, family history, and past medical history are all factors your insurance provider will consider when you apply, and the results of the assessment may affect the price of the premiums you will pay.

With critical illness coverage, there is an emphasis placed on family history, smoking, and body mass index because these are all major risk factors for a future serious illness. These factors may raise the costs of insurance, and you may also be excluded from coverage for certain serious illnesses due to your perceived risk.

This is precisely why you must read the fine print of each policy you consider. Make yourself fully aware of every clause in each policy so you’ll know what’s covered – and what’s not. Seek out the most comprehensive coverage you can find for your money and assess the restrictions that apply to each policy. Additionally, it’s a good idea to look for life insurance companies that are liberal on their risk assessment.

If you are young and healthy, it’s best to enroll in a critical illness cover plan now. Your premiums will be cheaper the younger you are. As you age, your risk for certain life-threatening conditions dramatically increases, and your premiums will rise in tandem.

The Importance of Critical Illness Coverage

Insurance companies provide critical illness cover with the intent of providing financial stability to people who have been diagnosed with a serious condition. The benefits of purchasing this type of policy are coverage for hospital costs incurred during your treatment, physical therapy after any operations, home healthcare assistance and hospice, and help for any lost income you may have suffered due to your illness.

Your medical costs may not be all your plan covers. Your insurance could also pay for your mortgage if you contract a serious illness or die. With critical illness cover, you may have the ability to manipulate your plan to pay a portion of your mortgage or pay your mortgage in full. Check with your provider to find out if this is a benefit of your plan.

Other Alternatives

Most critical illness cover plans are designed to pay you a lump sum of cash if you are diagnosed with a serious illness that is covered in your policy. Treatment for serious illnesses gets very expensive very quickly, and an alternative policy option may be direct payment to the hospital on your behalf for any costs that you incur during treatment. This helps you skip the long, frustrating process of reimbursement for payments you make, and depending on your plan, it may eliminate out of pocket expenses altogether.
Another alternative is to receive care from highly specialized hospitals located outside of the country. This type of coverage will pay for all travel expenses and accommodations for you and a companion, and will even provide translators if necessary. This is a highly specialized plan, so shop around for providers before deciding which company is for you.


Buried Treasure: A guide on how to reclaim forgotten accounts

Buried Treasure: A guide on how to reclaim forgotten accounts

We’ve all experienced the joy of finding cash down the back of the sofa or in an old coat pocket. Now multiply that feeling and imagine the loose change as lost bank accounts worth a substantial amount of money.

For many it would seem inconceivable that bank accounts could be lost or forgotten about, but it happens more frequently than we imagine; moving address and a change in personal circumstances such as getting married, divorced or widowed are main factors.

It is estimated that up to £1 billion is sitting dormant in accounts in the UK in the form current and savings accounts, premium bonds, pension schemes and insurance policies. Banks do try and trace the owners of accounts which is usually prompted by returned letters and statements and accounts with long periods of inactivity.

Legislation set in 2009 now means if an account remains dormant for over 15 years it automatically gets transferred to the government fund and invested into public and social programmes. This however does not affect your right to money which is rightfully yours and you are entitled to reclaim in at any time.

Tracing lost bank accounts
Recent figures suggest that there are around 150 million bank accounts in the UK and around half a million ‘lost’ which can easily be recovered. If you know the provider your account is with, begin by contacting them with as many of the account details as possible such as account name and number. Remember to search accounts that may have been set up in a maiden name. The bank has up to three months to respond and decide on the validity of a claim. If it refuses you can complain to the internal complaints department and if this is unsuccessful you can contact the financial ombudsman service. There are also special websites which offer a free tracing service such as the NS&I’s My Lost Account. It’s worth a go as lost accounts can sometimes build up to a substantial amount due to interest accrued over the years.

Tracing Lost Pensions
On average we change careers five to seven times in our life so its unsurprising that keeping track of all pension paperwork might be difficult. It’s also difficult to keep abreast of insurance mergers over a lifetime as companies dissolve and merge into one another. Those most likely to be affected are those who may have been starting their career amidst the boom of company pension policies in the 80s. Until 1988 it was compulsory to pay into a company pension scheme if there was one in place and if you worked there for a couple of years it’s likely your pension may have been preserved. Recent pension legislation changes have also allowed small personal pension pots of up to £2,000 to be accessed as a lump sum rather than a paltry annuity amount.

Firstly, contact the Pensions Tracing Service, part of the Department for Work and Pensions, who keep the details of up to 200,000 pension providers and their latest contact details. Details of both company pension schemes and personal pension schemes are kept. Try to remember important details: where was the policy run from, did the employer trade under a different name for instance, what type of business was it and when did you belong to the scheme? It’s up to you to contact them and its important to check whether you are entitled to any pension. You may also be able to claim the pensions of relatives that may have passed away.

After being reunited with a potentially substantial amount of money, it’s always a good option to enlist the help of an independent financial advisor and re-invest. For your savings a high yielding savings accounts such as a savings bonds or an ISA will find the best interest rates. Similarly, make the most out of lost pensions by exploring your options regarding annuities.

This post was written by John Hughes who is the resident blogger at Independent Financial Advisor , a UK based site that provides access to financial advisors as well as to debt advice charities for those struggling with their debts.


4 Reasons Why Your Friends Can Make You Wealthy

4 Reasons Why Your Friends Can Make You Wealthy

They say that you should choose your friends wisely. I firmly believe in this advice and try to follow it as best as I can. You may not be able to choose the people you meet or your circumstances but you can choose your friends. If you want to become wealthy then you should be mindful with who you hang out with. Here are 4 reasons why your friends can make you wealthy.

Network. Your network is equivalent to your net worth. You may be good in what you do but in order to succeed you will need certain people to help you get there. A powerful set of friends will speed up the process. Why do you think organizations exist? It is so that like minded people can gather together and help each other. But in order to receive, you have to giving. Receiving without giving back will result in bad karma. An open hand can receive more blessings compared to a clenched fist.

Mindset. If you want to be a millionaire hang out with millionaires. These people think and act differently from “normal people.” When you look at rich people and poor people you will see that they are not much different from each other. They are basically the same when it comes to looks, talent or skill. The only real difference between rich and poor people is mindset. Wealthy people have a powerful mindset. When they want something they don’t look at the barriers along the way. They focus on the goal. Friends are a powerful influence. Hanging out with successful people will equip you with the mindset you need to become a success.

Resources. Your friends can be your resource. Where do you turn to when you have problems? Aside from this, your friends can become your business partners. You can use each others expertise to mutually benefit each other.

Moral support. The road to wealth is fraught with trials and hardships. But you need not do it alone. Having the support of your good friends can go a long way towards driving you on to continue the journey.

Good friends are like diamonds. They are rare and difficult to find. So treasure the friends you have and look after them.

Chris Zuckerman is the President at his b deck and steel deck fabrication facility located in Atlanta GA. He loves to play golf and travel around the world with his wife and 3 kids.


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