How online gaming can help you save

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Posted by Daniel | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-10-2012

With the level of debt rising continually over the last decade it is no surprise that people are looking for ways to cut back on costs and save wherever possible. The continual challenge for consumers to make ends meet and not incur unnecessary debt have led to people looking for new ways to enjoy entertainment and save on an aspect that could be considered a luxury and not a necessity.

Keeping finances healthy is now factored into many people’s daily lives, and new ways to save are always welcomed. By trying your hand at online gaming you will discover you can save a considerable amount of money and enhance your financial situation whilst still enjoying quality recreational time.

Free games online

Part of the attraction of many online games is the fact that they can be enjoyed absolutely free. Online casinos like RiverBelle offer all their games as free versions that can be enjoyed with no obligations. Arcade style games are also often available free and favorites such as Pac man can easily be found online. Another very popular online genre are RPG and MMO games, and these games often charge players a nominal monthly fee of a few dollars to join the live servers. You can save a large amount of money by playing these free games, replacing costly entertainment options with entertainment that won’t break the bank.

Reduce expenses

Entertainment expenses are never limited to simply just enjoying a movie, or going out for a meal. Factor in the petrol that it takes for you to drive to your intended location, the parking, entrance or ticket fee, food and beverages and other sundry expenses such as renting bowling shoes or tipping waiting staff. By enjoying online games in the comfort of your own home you have eliminated all of these expenses ad still have access to top quality gaming and world class entertainment. The savings will add up incrementally and before long you will have reduced your entertainment costs by more than half.

Finally, all that is required for you to enjoy online games is a stable internet connection and PC or mobile device that allows you to access the games in compatible format. Add up how much you save on a monthly basis and compare it to how much you have spent in the past to really see results.

Don’t Fall For These Supermarket Tricks!

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Posted by Daniel | Posted in Foods & Culinary | Posted on 25-07-2012

In the battle for customers and their hard-earned money, many supermarkets employ marketing tactics in a bid to make you spend more than you had planned to. From discount offers to careful product placement, there are plenty of supermarket tricks which you should keep in mind when you shop.

BOGOF Offers and Discounts

These buy-one, get-one-free (BOGOF ) offers can be difficult to resist and often make you buy two of something when you wouldn’t have normally bought one. Sometimes the prices of these items have been inflated beforehand to cover the expense of the free item. In other cases the BOGOF offer is for perishables with a short shelf life. Unless you are certain that you will use double the amount, you should steer clear of these offers to avoid throwing food away.

The same rules apply to offers which seem to give you a better price if you buy in bulk. These ‘buy three for £10’ deals are very tempting but very often the saving is only a few pence. Check out the other similar brands and you may find that they are selling for a much lower price without being included in the store’s discounts. Again, consider if you would usually buy that item if it wasn’t at a discount. Being persuaded to buy more than you need is very common when supermarket shopping.

Sometimes the supermarket will place the discounted items next to more expensive ones which aren’t on sale at a discount. This makes it easy for the shopper to accidentally pick up the wrong item at the higher price. Always double-check that the item on the shelf is the same one advertised at a discount. The supermarket can blame other shoppers for moving things around or blame shelf stackers for items being in the wrong place and it is usually the consumer who loses out.

As with all special offers, make sure you still get the discount at the till. The supermarket may have ‘accidentally’ forgotten to change the till to account for the lower price.

Product Placement

Quite often supermarkets will place their most expensive items at eye level so that they are more likely to be seen and picked up. Check the prices of similar products placed at the top and bottom of the shelves and you may find they are much cheaper.

You will always find tempting foods near the entrance of the store. Fresh cakes or luxury items which you probably do not need will often be the first things you see when you enter to make you more likely to buy them. Many supermarkets have bakeries and the smell of fresh bread and cakes will hit you as you walk around the shop, making you feel hungry and more likely to buy.

These tricks can be avoided by shopping after you have eaten a meal. Shopping when hungry will make you buy more snacks and treats than you really need.

Supermarkets also use bland and plain packaging on their cheaper own-brand products, allowing the more expensive products with brighter packaging to catch the eye. Other tricks, such as regularly changing the layout of the store, are designed to make you walk past as many other products as possible in the hope that you make an impulsive purchase. The most well known of these supermarket tricks is putting sweets next to the checkout, so that children in the queue will harass
their parents into buying them that extra treat.

This guest post was submitted on behalf of comparison site SO Switch (Click on our money offers for a range of products) who can help you find the best deals on car insurance, credit cards and even energy bills.

How to Retire Debt Free

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Posted by MJTM | Posted in Business Products & Services | Posted on 23-07-2012

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The great recession of 2008 will undoubtedly become an historic moment across all generations as many hardworking families face cuts in employment and income in coordination with challenging consumer markets and the rising costs of living. Traditionally in this model of family finance, retirement provides that beautiful moment of release alongside a healthy retirement fund and pool of sustainable assets.

However with the level of family debt rising steadily over the past decade, many have been found questioning their previous financial management choices and seeking new ways to balance the books through a healthier lifestyle. Avoiding debt in retirement is entirely possible with good planning; here are five great ways to enhance your financial situation.

1.      Construct a Budget.

Prepare an annualised budget and methodological strategy based around your incomings and outgoings which should provide the estimation of disposable income and monetary investments. This can also shed light on where money could be transferred or reduced and to further identify how your cash flow changes over a significant period of time.

2.      Tax Efficiency.

Tax undoubtedly has an effect on debt levels and should be heavily monitored to make reductions. Business debt and rental property can be removed from taxable income and should be a slimmer priority for those in the higher tax bracket.  As an extra tip to help better prepare yourself for retirement, consider taking courses in a graduate tax program.

3.      Preparation.

A very good measure for savings is to budget 10% of shared gross income as this provides a great fall back for an unexpected scenario such as business failure, divorce or illness. If an unexpected situation occurs, seeking immediate financial cover is both challenging and costly in the longer term. Living within ones means also requires a contingency plan of this nature and if avoidable, provides you with a useful savings trust.

4.      Prioritizing Debt.

All debt is bad debt but there are ways to categorise the importance of each debt based on interest and deductible earnings. Paying off the smallest bill first can allow you to avoid interest on future payments so a debt reduction strategy based on this method can be successful.

5.      Prioritize Importance.

A philosophical approach for the investment of capital should be utilized after covering the necessary areas of education, food, and maintenance. Whilst there is the pressing urge to acquire that new widescreen TV, a weekend away with your partner could become a far more valuable investment for the relationship strength it provides.

 

Author Bio – James Barnett is a writer on behalf of CooperMatthews analysing contemporary wealth management for families across the UK.

Financial Things to Consider When Becoming Self Employed

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Posted by Daniel | Posted in Business Products & Services | Posted on 18-07-2012

Starting out on your own can be a great feeling – it usually means that your venture has been successful enough to support you! That is awesome. However, being self employed presents a different set of challenges compared to working for a company, especially when it comes to financial matters. Most employers provide a lot of benefits for their employees beyond a paycheck, and if you’re moving to self-employment, you’re going to have to figure these things out on your own.

Insurance

Most people get their health insurance and other insurance products through their employers. In fact, this is going to be just about mandatory once Obamacare takes effect. However, if you’re self employed or thinking about it, you’re going to need to look for private healthcare options for your insurance.

Most insurance companies offer individual and family policies that anyone can buy directly; however, they are expensive and can be confusing. Since you are buying directly, you have to make all the choices when it comes to deductible, co-payments, out of pocket maximums, and what exactly will be covered. And every choice can change the cost of the policy.

However, if you’re self employed, you may be able to get a group policy elsewhere – maybe your local chamber of commerce, or maybe there is a trade group in your sector that offers insurance. Regardless, you will still need to budget for these expenses out of pocket. And then, don’t forget to think about dental and vision coverage if you will need it. Those can be additional out of pocket expenses as well.

Finally, many people get their disability and life insurance through their employers as well. If your family or business counts on you personally for survival, you will need to make sure that they are protected should anything happen to you. Make sure that you carry enough insurance to cover thing. You don’t want to be the sole earner of your business, and then become disabled or die, and leave nobody to support your family.

Retirement

Also, most people in the United States get their retirement taken care of by their employer. Yes, there are other options, such as IRAs, but most people still depend on pensions and 401ks. If you are going to be self-employed, you need to figure out what you are going to do to save for retirement. You need to budget for it, and you need to make sure that you are actually doing it. Also, don’t forget that your employer usually matches 401k contributions, so that if you contribute the same as you used to, you will be shorting yourself.

There are many different vehicles for self-employed individuals to save for retirement, so this may also be an area where you want to get professional advice to make sure that you are maximizing your retirement benefits while at the same time minimizing any potential tax liabilities. Online Calculators as well as a professional advisor can help you plan for this appropriately.

The Finances of Shopping for a Car

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Posted by Daniel | Posted in Auto & Motor | Posted on 16-07-2012

Buying a car is usually a difficult experience. From haggling on price, to making sure that it’s not a lemon, there are so many different factors to consider. But then, once all the basics are covered, you have to figure out the finances of it. Are you going to buy or lease? If you buy, are you going to pay cash or look for car loans? Then what about after you own it? There are so many factors to consider, so here is a breakdown to give you some food for thought.

Buy or Lease?

The first question is should you buy or lease the car? Buying is usually the better option, especially if you are going to own the car for a long period of time (5 years or more). Leasing can sometimes be a good option if you don’t plan on keeping the car, but you need to be careful about fees, such as excess mileage. These fees can unexpectedly make leasing a much worse deal than buying.

If you buy you have to decide if you are going to pay cash or get a car loan. Most people do get a car loan, but you should really think about the cost of getting one. Many dealers try to sell you loans based on monthly payments, but what they don’t tell you is that the loan period could be for 5 years or longer, and you could end up paying a lot more interest than you intended. Make sure you read and fully understand any financing you get for your vehicle.

Insurance

The next thing to consider is insurance. If you get a car loan, or have a lease, you will most likely be required to maintain a basic level of insurance. Also, in most states, you are required to maintain a basic level of insurance as well.

When getting insurance, you have a few basic options, including basic liability, collision, and comprehensive. You should take into consideration the value of the car whenever you are looking at insurance, and don’t over-insure your vehicle.

Also, if you have a loan or a lease, you may want to consider gap insurance, which can cover any difference in cost between the value of your car and what you owe on your loan or lease, should the car become totaled in an accident.

Maintenance Plans

Finally, every car dealer tries to sell some type of maintenance or care plan with each car they sell. These plans are usually not worth what you pay up front, but they can provide peace of mind.

These plans usually offer maintenance or repairs. The maintenance plans will cover basic maintenance up to a certain mileage, such as oil changes and tire rotations. The repair plans will cover a myriad of repairs for covered parts up to a certain mileage or year as well. Just make sure that you read through the plans and see what is included before you assume anything.

Why You Should Consider All Business Insurance Options

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Posted by MJTM | Posted in Business Products & Services | Posted on 05-07-2012

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Depending on the nature of your business, you may need any number of different business insurance policies.  The main three types of business insurance policies that many small business owners and start-ups opt for are public liability insurance, employers’ liability insurance (with minimum cover of £5m) and professional indemnity insurance.   But of these three, many small businesses and start-ups only need public liability insurance if they neither have any employees nor offer professional advice and services.

There are several other types of business insurance policies available, though, and you should consider each in turn to decide whether or not your particular business requires them.  These include:

  • Business property insurance (to cover your business premises and equipment against fire, flood, theft etc.);
  • Tools and plant cover;
  • Revenue protection (through key person cover if your business relies on one or two peoples’ expertise or knowledge to exist, or business interruption service in case something happens that means you can’t trade for a limited period, e.g. after a fire).

Business insurance is ultimately very flexible in that you can pick and choose what types of cover you need and don’t have to pay for cover that isn’t necessary for your business.  Some insurers offer a combined policy for different types of cover, meaning you only have to pay one excess even if you have to claim against several elements of the policy.

For example, if your business premises set on fire and damaged a neighbour’s property, you may need to claim under your business property insurance (to effect the necessary repairs to your premises), business interruption insurance (to pay your outgoings whilst you are unable to use your premises) and public liability insurance (to pay for the repairs to the neighbour’s property).

Of all the types of business insurance policies available to all businesses, perhaps the most crucial is public liability insurance.  That’s because ultimately if your business suffers through theft, fire, flood or the death or illness of a key person, it is ‘only’ your business that will suffer – no-one is going to sue you for it, so you can contain your losses to your business.  That is easy to say, of course, and most small business owners will have invested considerably in setting up, and if you have adequate insurance in place you won’t have to worry at all.  But if you didn’t have adequate insurance and injured someone or caused damage to their property, they would sue you and you may end up losing more than your business – you could lose your home and any savings too.

Public liability cover is designed to cover levels of claim that you couldn’t possibly hope to pay for yourself.  If, for example, a customer caught their coat on a nail sticking out of your wall, you could no doubt afford to pay for the coat to be repaired or replaced without needing to go through your insurance.   Public liability insurance covers up to at least £1million but sometimes you may need a higher level of cover (particularly if your customers demand it).

Finally, if you take out public liability insurance, check the terms and conditions before you buy to make sure that no exclusions apply that would effectively mean that you could never claim.  For example, you may find a relatively cheap quote but discover that it wouldn’t cover you if you were working at height at the time of any incident – not much use if you’re a commercial window cleaner.

 

How the Japanese Economy is Picking Up

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Posted by MJTM | Posted in Financial | Posted on 17-06-2012

The Japanese economy has been picking up steam through 2012, shrugging off the aftermath of the Japanese Earthquake that struck over a year ago.  However, there are still problems that need to be addressed, especially political ones, that could hamper the growing recovery.  Here are some signs that the Japanese economy is recovering, especially as you compare economic analysis from the UK and the US.

 

Recent Financial Results

 

So far this year, consumer spending in Japan is in a recovery phase.  After the earthquake last March, consumer spending tanked, bringing down the economy with it. However, domestic spending is on the rise, and new car sales rose a whopping 31.9% last month, which is its sixth straight month of growth.

 

Department store sales have also been increasing, especially on the luxury end.  And finally, passenger traffic on Japanese airlines rose over 17%, which is a huge increase in travel traffic.  All of these signals point towards improving financial conditions.

 

 

Earthquake Recovery Bump

 

The recovery from the earthquake is also having positives effects on the economy.  It was unknown how long the added construction and rebuilding jobs would last, but it appears that the growth in these jobs and markets should remain strong for the next several years, as the country recovers from the earthquake.  So far, the government is estimated to spend a total of 18 trillion yen ($200 US Dollars), and that number is sure to rise as more areas are recovered.

 

The boost in earthquake recovery spending should have broad implications across various sectors, but especially industrial production and construction.  Both rose over the past 6 months, which is a good sign.

 

 

Exports Will Rebound

 

Finally, as the economy improves in the United States, more Japanese exports will be sold, thus boosting the economy.  Combined with the lowest yen levels in months, this is a welcome boost for the nation’s exporters, who should see a boost in overseas profits due to the exchange rate.

 

All of these signals bode well for a continued recovery in Japan.

How Savings Accounts Can Help You

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Posted by MJTM | Posted in Personal Finance | Posted on 14-06-2012

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A savings account isn’t just a place to park your money, but it is also a tool that can help you meet your money needs.  Whether you need to put your money into a savings account for the short term, or if it is an integral part of your retirement plan, a savings account can help you manage and plan for your money needs.

 

 

Easy Access

 

The first thing that is great about a savings account is access.  20 years ago, having a savings account meant that you had to go to the bank to transfer or withdraw your funds.  It was harder to use than a checking account (where you could just write a check), but it was safe and obviously cheaper than a www.paydayloansonline.com.  However, now with online banking, you can access your savings anywhere, and transfer funds as needed.  This gives you the benefits of a savings account (earning interest), while still maintaining easy access.

 

 

Safety and Security

 

Savings accounts also provide safety and security for your money.  When you apply for a savings account, you do so at a bank or credit union, which is FDIC insured.  This means that as long as your balance is under the FDIC minimum, you will never lose money by keeping your account at the bank.

 

Keeping your money at a bank is also infinitely more secure than storing large sums of money at your home.

 

 

Budgeting

 

Finally, a savings account can help you budget.  Many people use a savings account as a place to store their emergency funds, which is their savings in case something unexpected comes up.  A savings account is a great tool for that, since the money is safe, and it earns interest over time.  Also, since it is separate from your checking account, there is less incentive to spend the money.

 

Many people also open multiple savings accounts for multiple goals.  For example, there could be a college savings account, a vacation savings account, and more.  This allows you to set aside specific amounts for specific goals, all while having the safety, security, and access of a savings account.

Post by Robert

5 Reasons a Lender May Reject Your Mortgage Application

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Posted by MJTM | Posted in Home Products & Services, Real Estate | Posted on 18-05-2012

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The necessary paperwork that is mandatory to complete for a mortgage application can often be a difficult task to undertake. After finding your dream home, the last thing you want is to then find yourself receiving a call from the lender stating that they have declined the loan. You may even ask yourself what could have caused this to happen. Mortgage applications haven’t changed over the years but the current lending requirements have.

Today’s financial institutions have strict guidelines in place making it difficult for consumers to obtain a loan. The following are five factors that could have an impact on whether a financial institution will lend money for a mortgage.  

1. Changing Employment

Switching jobs may not have an impact on a person’s ability to qualify for a mortgage, but you may be at a disadvantage if you have recently changed companies. If you make a move within the company to a position with the same or greater pay scale, you shouldn’t need to worry.  People who are dependent on commissions or bonuses may suffer a greater risk of getting rejected by the lender. Financial institutions find applicants who have been with the company for two or more years more favourable when lending money. Those with the greatest disadvantage are people who leave a salaried position and start a business venture on their own. Lenders like to see stability and records from a two year period, so they can plan future income appropriately. Furthermore, an applicant that is self-employed could have more expenses to write off, and their income taxes reflect the minimal net income that is reported.

2. Changes in your Credit that have an Impact on Your Credit Score

Equifax, Experian or Transunion are a few of the companies that the lender may use to check the applicants credit history. It can take anywhere from one to three months for a home loan to go through, and the lender may do a final credit check before fully committing to a loan. It’s important to not do anything that could have a negative impact on your credit score during this time. The activities that could prevent your loan from going through include making a late payment, or applying for another type of loan or credit card. It’s in the consumer’s best interest to obtain a copy of their credit report and correct any items that are wrong.  

3. Failing to make your Current Mortgage or other Payments

People who fail to make their monthly mortgage payments or cannot pay their other bills are showing the lender that they are a poor credit risk. If an applicant is having a hard time paying their current mortgage, they should consult with the mortgage holder and see if there are any other options in place, so they can meet the repayment terms on their loan.

4. Too Much Credit Card Debt and Numerous Outstanding Loans

Lenders will take into account an individual’s consumer debt and the mortgage payment, and see how it correlates with their income. The basic rule most lenders follow is approximately 33 percent of an applicant’s gross income with an added five percent for consumer debt. The lender will also look into the available credit a borrower has to utilize, so you may want to think about closing a credit card account or reducing the maximum limit that is allowed.

5. Failure to Complete the Basics

Some financial institutions make it easy and are able to complete the loan application process over the phone. However, many institutions require the individual to physically fill out the form. It’s simple to make mistakes or leave items blank when an applicant rushes through the process and hasn’t filled out the necessary paperwork properly. A lending institution can refuse an application based on these mistakes, so you need to make sure to take the time and go over everything thoroughly. It’s also possible to hire a mortgage broker, attorney or financial adviser to help with the application process and have it all checked before presenting everything to the lender.  These are the primary reasons a lender may refuse an applicant’s mortgage. To make sure this doesn’t happen, an individual should maintain good credit and keep their debt ratio as low as possible. This will have a positive impact on whether their home mortgage is approved.

Bio

Andrew Potter is a finance and property expert and writes for www.myonlineestateagent.com. My Online Estate Agent provides a new alternative to your standard high-street estate agent.

How to Protect Your Business from Merchant Account Fraud

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Posted by Daniel | Posted in Business Products & Services | Posted on 21-03-2012

In order to protect your business from high risk merchant account fraud, you will find yourself in the position of having to be as smart and as clever as the crooks themselves. In a way, this amounts to a technological dance, with fraud detection solutions evolving in response to the latest schemes fraudsters devise to acquire and to use purloined credit card account information.

There are many transaction management utilities available that will give you access to the level of extensive reporting and data comparison necessary to monitor your transactions. The system itself is configured to alert you to suspicious activity, against which you can then take action. Normally when you apply for a merchant account, fraud detection systems will be recommended to you. In order to use these systems to their best advantage, it’s important to understand three core principles that define what you are trying to accomplish in detecting and responding to suspicious activity. These principles hold true regardless of the management utility you use.

First, establish thresholds for the processing of each order. These can range in complexity and be applied in any sequence that best suits your business. A threshold may be a dollar limit on an order, or even a total for a day, week, or other appropriate period. (Similarly you can set a limit for orders or sales in a given time period.) This level of sophistication is especially important in combating high risk merchant account fraud related to online payment processing.

Thresholds can be tied to specific IP addresses so only a given dollar or order amount can originate from that computer according to the parameters you establish. This prevents criminals who have acquired multiple stolen cards to test them all from one computer to see if they can accomplish an approved purchase. This kind of threshold monitoring is then tied to more specific bans directed at particular users. You can exclude an IP address, a given credit card number, a bank bin number, or even geographic regions that seem to be the source of the potentially fraudulent activity.

It is just as important, however, for any fraud protection system to also give you the flexibility to establish exclusions or overrides. This will ensure that your legitimate and honest customers are not penalized by the bans and limits put in place to shut down the crooks. Always remember when you are evaluating a fraud detection and prevention system that you are both trying to stop the crooks and protect your legitimate customers without compromising the ease with which they can use their cards to make a purchase from you.