Make the Most of Your Mortgage

Many people make the decision to purchase a home using a mortgage loan as financing. A home is a large, expensive asset, and most either do not have money on hand to pay for a home in cash. Even those who have the financial means to pay cash often choose to use a mortgage in order to keep their financial assets readily available in a savings account. A mortgage is a type of loan that is secured or collateralized by real estate, and there are many loan options available for home buyers. As a homeowner with an existing mortgage on your property, refinancing your home mortgage today may enable you to take advantage of a number of key benefits. Consider how refinancing your mortgage may help you in each of these areas.

Consolidating Debt:

Make the Most of Your Mortgage
Make the Most of Your Mortgage

If you have owned your home for at least a few years and have not refinanced your mortgage, you may have a considerable amount of equity in your property. Refinancing your home mortgage provides you with a great opportunity to pull equity out of the home and to use it in a beneficial way. The fact is that many home owners are living with high debt. Many types of debtshave high interest rates, and these accounts may include credit card accounts, car loans and more. Mortgage interest rates today are generally considerably lower than interest rates on other types of debts. By refinancing your home for the purpose of debt consolidation, you may eliminate high interest debt and save money in your monthly budget. This process can also make it easier to manage paying bills.

Making Home Improvements:


While equity can be used beneficially from your home through a mortgage refinance loan to consolidate debts, equity can also be used to make home improvements. Your home is a great asset, and you want to keep it in great condition in order to maintain its value. A home equity loan or refinance may provide you with additional funds needed to make improvements on your property which will improve its value.

Planning for an Earlier Retirement:


Many homeowners opt for a longer term when initially buying their home. A home mortgage with a 30-year term, for example, is common because it yields the lowest monthly mortgage payments. With a 30-year term, the homeowner will need to make regular mortgage payments for 30 years until the mortgage is paid in full. However, with low interest rates coupled with the reduction in your loan balance through years of regular payments, you may be able to refinance your loan with a 10 or 15-year term today. For many Australians, retirement cannot occur until the mortgage is paid in full, so refinancing to a shorter term can help you to more easily retire on schedule or even early. Some homeowners have discovered that, between the equity in their home coupled with low interest rates, they are able to refinance to a short term and still reduce their monthly mortgage payment! Australian readers can find low interest home loans at UBank.

Remember that you can make the most of your home by using it to your financial advantage. By making regular repayments on your home loan, you are making sure that your wealth is not wasted. Using the strategies mentioned above, you can stay one step ahead of the game.

3 Strategies to Maximise your Retirement Income

Saving money for retirement doesn’t have to be a complicated process. While many day-to-day sacrifices are required in order to maximise savings, the benefits of building a healthy retirement fund surely outweigh the small indulgences that are sacrificed in everyday life. One dollar saved today can turn into a hundred dollars for tomorrow.

Maximise your Retirement Income
Maximise your Retirement Income

1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS

Depending on your location, an employer may be required to make a contribution to your retirement savings. If this is the case in your area, be sure to check with both government policies and your company to educate yourself on what you should expect. In some areas, employers aren’t required to contribute to your retirement, but will voluntarily match dollar per dollar. That is, if you contribute $6,000 to your retirement, they will contribute an additional $6,000 to your retirement within the same year.

In other areas, employers are required by law to contribute a portion of your salary – out of their pocket – to your retirement. For example, some areas require an employer to contribute up to 9% of your pre-tax income to your retirement. It may be beneficial to live or work in an area with such a rule, as it offers automatic retirement savings without additional effort on your behalf.

2. MAKING SMALL SACRIFICES FOR LONG-TERM GAIN

The final ten years prior to retirement are arguably the most crucial. Ramping up your savings by rerouting a rather generous portion of your income into a retirement fund or investment account is an aggressive, but often necessary financial choice. It is also a good idea to pay off the remaining balance on your mortgage in order to drastically slash your monthly expenses in retirement. Little else provides as much peace of mind as knowing that your home is paid that you’ll be safe in times of financial hardship.

If you haven’t saved very much for retirement, yet are soon approaching retirement age, it may be beneficial to seek additional part time employment and funnel the extra income into retirement savings. While this is an extreme measure, it is an effective method to drastically boost retirement savings within a short period of time.

3. SELLING ASSETS FOR A CASH WINDFALL AND SMART PROPERTY PURCHASING

Homeowners with substantial equity in their home may choose to sell large residences in favour of a smaller, more affordable property that can meet the needs of a single retiree or a retiring couple. Ideally, the proceeds of the sale will cover the full purchase of the smaller home, and the remaining funds will be transferred into retirement savings. However, trading in a large, expensive property in favour of a home with a more manageable mortgage can also be a smart move.

Business owners that aren’t ready to fully let go of their business can sell a majority share to an investor while remaining a silent partner. This option still allows for receiving monthly or quarterly profits from the business while remaining a vested partner.

Saving for retirement becomes far less of a chore when you are aware of the lifestyle you want and how much income it will take to maintain your desired way of life. Making use of the financial resources that are available to help you save for retirement, along with a firm mindset on pinching the dollars that can be squeezed can result in a sizable retirement savings. Planning and taking action are the two most important ingredients to success when saving for retirement.

Top Tips for Saving on Your Car Insurance

In this day and age, motoring is seen as a privilege as much as a necessity. The fact that fuel has risen in value massively over the past few years has given many car owners a headache they can do without, but when you add tax and insurance, they’re left to spend more than they feel is necessary on getting around. While the cost of both fuel and tax can’t be controlled, it’s possible to spend less than expected on car insurance, but how is that possible?

Car Insurance
Car Insurance

Car insurance can be bought for cheaper if you contact insurers directly. Doing so could mean you can get car insurance from 123.ie for less by making a phone call or sending them an e-mail inquiry. Meanwhile, if you’re pressed for time, a quick visit to a price comparison website may be what you need, as you can get quotes from a variety of insurers in just a few minutes. This method of trying to save money has grown in popularity over the past two or three years.

Driving carefully can reduce the cost of your monthly premium. Motorists who avoid accidents for a period of a few years are often given discounts on their insurance because they’re less likely to claim, and not claiming because you’ve not been in an accident will help you save money. Driving a smaller, more fuel-efficient car will help to save money on your policy too. Those models are less likely to be involved in accidents because they’re not as fast, plus drivers who own small eco-friendly cars are seen by many insurers as sensible.

How Home Businesses Can Save By Using Online Storage

Running a business from home has many advantages, the main one being not having to spend a single penny on office costs. Home-based businesses also save money on computing, lighting and furniture, but in terms of communication costs, further savings can still be made. With the help of online file storage from Egnyte, it’s possible to save money without compromising on the ability to store files safely and securely, but you may wonder how it’s possible.

Home Businesses
Home Businesses

How online file storage works is that any Office documents, PDFs or other files can be moved from a computer, laptop or even a smartphone to the ‘cloud’, a secure online location. From the cloud, files can be accessed, organised, amended and even shared with anyone you want to see them. Online file storage can also help to replace more traditional forms of file storage including file servers and external hard drives, which can be costly.

Servers in particular can be incredibly expensive to own and operate. As well as costing a lot of money to buy, they also use a lot of electricity as they need to be plugged in at all times. Also, they can only hold a finite amount of files, and sharing and accessing them can be difficult if you’re away from home. They can also take up a lot of room, something that may be an issue if you’re running your business from home.

Using online file storage is very easy for any company, from the smallest enterprise to the largest multinational. It enables file sharing, storing and organisation, and helps to save space as well as time, something that any home-based business will value. Aside from that, it also saves on maintenance costs, as servers often require a full-time IT technician to look after them. Cloud storage doesn’t need any of that, as it’s so easy to use.

10 Tips To Chose Right Family Insurance

Health Insurance Policy, family Insurance PolicyBuying health insurance will relieve you from bearing a heavy burden of medical expenses should any health related problems crop up all on a sudden. Considering the benefits that can be gained from an insurance scheme, it is important that you apply your acumen while choosing from a plethora of options.

HERE ARE 10 TIPS TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE OF FAMILY INSURANCE.

  • You can always invest in a family insurance policy even at a tender age. According to general rule, there is an inverse relation between age of the insurance holder and the volume of premium. As a young individual, you are unlikely to have developed some important pre-existing conditions. These conditions will be excluded from insurance coverage. The old persons too can go for family insurance as there are always some benefits to reap at any point in life.
  • Not having enough of coverage for your family is worse than having no insurance at all. Note that as it is not an individual insurance, so you need to consider what will work right for the entire family. Does the policy include accident coverage or just the health related issues are addressed? More the coverage, higher will be premium payment. But then you will always have a peace of mind that there is something to take care of your high medical bills in the event of serious illness or accidents.
  • You are required to provide the correct information in your insurance form. Health record of the entire family must be up-to-date, otherwise your form may be cancelled or you may end up paying high for insurance premium.
  • Go for a policy provider who can offer you a lot of options to choose from. A wide breadth of options help you get the best workable family insurance plan.
  • Never sign up the dotted line before you understand every point of the insurance terms and conditions. Also do some research about the available schemes especially those are offered by the reputed insurance companies. It will help you compare the plus points including the coverage and cost factor. If you are to take experts’ advice, then get at least three policy quotes to make a more educated choice.
  • Insurance premium is what you have to pay after regular interval. If you want to keep it low, then consider about paying a higher excess fee.
  • Seek advice from an independent consultant if needed. Forward your queries because you need something that is worth your investment.
  • How much can you afford? If you are a person with low income ceiling, then it will not be right to choose a costly policy. Find the equilibrium point where you will get maximum insurance benefits for your family subject to your pre-estimated budget.
  • Make sure that you lead a healthy lifestyle because it will cut down the chance of some serious health hazards like heart attack, high blood pressure etc. This way you can avail a low premium health insurance policy. Also give up bad habits like smoking, drinking because these add to the risk of heart attack, cancer, kidney failure etc. Watch your weight and keep it in control.

Never feel frustrated if you have a low budget. There is always something for everybody. It will take time to find out a low-priced yet good insurance plan, but then you will surely stumble over one that serves your purpose in the best way possible

Advice on Looking For a Mortgage

Buying a home and choosing a mortgage is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. It’s important that you choose wisely and don’t make any decisions that you’ll regret. If you’re buying your first home, remortgaging or moving house, what should you be looking for?

BEFORE YOU APPLY

Advice on Looking For a Mortgage
Advice on Looking For a Mortgage

If you’re looking to remortgage then have an idea of how much your house is currently worth and the loan-to-value percentage. If you have a good loan-to-value then you’ll be offered a better rate. Before you apply for a new mortgage you should save the largest deposit you can. The best rates are reserved for those with good deposits, so it’ll save you money in the long run.

Before you approach a lender make sure you check your credit file for any problems before they carry out a search. If there are any discrepancies you’ll still have time to sort them out or speak to an IVA expert before they cause any problems.

Once you’re ready to apply for a mortgage have a good look around and see what’s on offer. You should research all the major lenders and use comparison sites to see how much you can borrow and at what rates. This way you’ll be more aware of the different products that are available and be able to choose the best deal for your circumstances.

FINDING THE BEST DEAL

Many buyers shy away from fixed rates, as the monthly payments are generally higher then with tracker products. The base rate has been low for a considerable amount of time, but that’s no guarantee that it will remain so. If you want to ensure that your payments stay the same, then you should opt for a fixed rate. If you are considering a tracker mortgage, make sure that you could afford the extra if rates were to increase.

WHEN YOU APPLY

When you’ve chosen your preferred lender don’t be tempted to go with what they say. If you’re remortgaging or moving house, you may be offered the option to extend the term of your loan by starting the 25 year period again. This may seem tempting as you’ll save on your monthly payments. However, you need to consider how much extra you’ll be paying by increasing the length of the loan.

Similarly, if you’re switching to a better rate you may have lower repayments. If possible you should continue to pay the same amount as before, as you’ll pay less overall and repay the loan sooner. You should check with your lender if this is possible, but many mortgage deals allow you to overpay a certain percentage.

Many applicants forget to take into account the fees that lenders levy on mortgage products. Usually the cheaper the deal, the more the fees will be and you should consider how much these will cost in interest over the period of the loan.

We may still be in the middle of an economic downturn, but there are good mortgage deals out there. However, you need to shop around, have a decent deposit and a good loan-to-value percentage. When you’re researching deals, don’t be tempted by the headline rates. Make sure you delve into the hidden costs and charges and know exactly what you’ll be paying.

Protecting Your Workforce From the Dangers of Fire

Last month was National Fire safety month and it saw businesses up and down the country placing extra emphasis on their fire safety practices and into making their staff aware of the dangers of fire.

While it goes without saying that any kind of fire is a risk to life, it is often not widely known that fires can lead to job losses. An alarming number of places of business are never re-built after they have burnt down.

With this in mind, we have put together a few brief tips that will help kick-start any company’s fire safety campaign and training to save some extra bucks.

fire alarms

Possibly the best place to start when it comes to fire prevention is to make a good housekeeping a priority and something all staff members should be aware of. Clutter and debris easily become fuel for any fire and in worst-case scenarios it can become an obstacle to staff when they are trying to escape from a burning building.

In some worst-case scenarios, it can even prevent people from escaping at all.

Also, any business that involves using machinery should be thoroughly assessed for any potential fire risks that they may pose.

 If a machine has a large amount of mechanical parts, or used for a long period of time in a manufacturing process, residual heat can build up. This is where housekeeping comes in again, if the machines are allowed to get dirty and bits of materials aren’t cleaned out from its internal workings the residual heat can cause the debris to ignite.

One final point about machinery, it should always have good access at all sides along with clear access to any electrical control panels so it can be easily isolated in an emergency. It is also wise to fit smoke alarms near these machines to detect any fires before they are fully established.The danger of this kind of risk is that it can happen long after the machine is turned off and the work force has gone home.

A business also needs to have a clear and concise evacuation plan that all staff are familiar with.

The evacuation plan should document the responsibilities of each staff member, whether it is to man an emergency exit or clear members of the public from the premises, someone should also be responsible for a roll-call when all staff members reach the emergency meeting point. These processes should be tested with regular fire drills.

Contents Insurance: Keep your presents under wraps this Christmas

At this point of time, contents insurance is essential if you want to cover all of your costly presents from thieves. No matter how good you’ve been, if you’re not insured, you – or worse, your kids – could end up with nothing.

You can protect your home from intruders/thieves, just follow the handy tips:

#1:  DON’T ADVERTISE TO THIEVES

Contents Insurance
Contents Insurance

Generally the presents you got for Christmas often came in a fancy covering and the big thing is that what you are going to do with that once the big day is over!!! Leaving it out side to be collected by the bin man may be the easy, but this could be a big mistake.

The covers advertises to the thieves just what is there up inside your house to steal – and could push them to break in. So it is advised, you to take those packets to be recycled or drop them off at the tip. 

# 2:  MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR BURGLARS

Many people often leave their door keys in obvious hiding places like underneath the mat, under plant pots – thieves know where to look into. Be cleaver to hide your keys in a location that a burglar would never think to check, so you’re not giving the burglar a helping hand. Make sure to lock away garden furniture/tools that could help a person break in.

Placing a brightly-coloured burglar alarm near your basement window or high on the side of your house-where is clearly visible advertising that your house is protected by an alarm system and act as a deterrent to anyone thinking of robbing your home. There’s a great possibility you might even cut your contents insurance premiums.

  • Use locks that are recommended by security experts.
  •  Never keep all of your presents in one place.
  • Using Store suitcases in your loft makes the thieves’ job difficult. 

# 3: GET COVERED

Unfortunately, often the best effort to protect your home against burglary does not work. So make sure you’re covered by up to date contents insurance.

You can check out Halifax, they offer great value contents insurance. Then just enjoy all that Christmas brought you.

Junior ISAs get off to a good start, says the AIC

Junior individual savings accounts (JISAs) have been reported to have had a slow take-up, possibly reflecting the lack of government contributions and difficult and unstable economic environment.

The Association of Investment Companies (AIC) states that according to investment company managers, investment company JISAs have had a good first year on November 1st.

A breakdown of popular funds shows that investment company JSAs are holding up quite well.

According to JP Morgan Asset Management, seven out of the ten most well-known JISAs on its online platform, WealthManager+ (which also includes third party funds) are investment companies. 

Alliance Trust Savings’ platform also has 46 per cent of all JISAs (excluding cash) in investment companies.

Junior ISAsOver the last unpredictable year to September 30th, equities have withstood the tougher moments and held up relatively well, with investment companies reporting positive gains of six per cent on average.

A £3,600 investment 18 years ago to September 30th, 2012 in a typical investment company would have risen to £13,012.

Yearly investments of £3,600 in the same period would have grown to £144,508.

Communications director at the AIC, Annabel Brodie Smith explained that it is “encouraging” to see investment company JISAs holding their own platforms.

Investment companies are well-suited to saving for children due to the long-term growth potential of the stock market while offering ample time to ride out the highs and lows.

They are worth considering also because they have the capability to gear in order to enhance returns, have a close ended structure to allow managers to take a long-term view and have an independent board to represent shareholder interests, stated Ms Brodie-Smith.

 Garry Mcluckie, marketing director of Alliance Trust Savings says that the take-up of JISAs had exceeded expectations during the last 12 months and it is anticipated that this will continue in future as parents and grandparents seek to secure their children’s futures.

46 per cent of all assets (excluding cash) held in JISAs on the Alliance Trust Savings Platform are held in investment trusts, signifying a genuine understanding from customers of the value of longer-term investing in lower cost assets.

Mr Mcluckie believes the Government could do more to support the take up of JISAs. He urges it to revisit the regulations around Child Trust Funds and permit these investments to be moved across to JISAs.

This would “ensure a generation of children are not locked into defunct products that no provider is prepared to invest in, bringing about the very real prospect that these investments are left to wither on the vine and leave investors seriously disadvantaged,” said the managing director.

Head of manager selection at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, James Bateman mentions the types of funds parents could consider.

The manager points out JISAs are intended to be very long-term investments and because of this they are “great”, however parents might like to consider higher risk funds, specifically equities over fixed income.

James Saunders Watson, head of marketing in Investment Trusts at JP Morgan Asset Management, explained that families have realised that longer-term investments for younger children means the possibility to take more risk than they normally would.

Is Debt Consolidation Right For You?

People who are in debt have several options open to them if they want to clear their debts. No option is particularly easy, but it depends on how much is owed and individual circumstances as to what the best solution might be.

The best way to deal with debt of a manageable level is to pay it off as and when you can. Putting aside any available income to clear a backlog of debt is not easy, but if you keep your spending to a minimum, you should be able to gradually get on top of any unpaid bills and overstretched credit cards. It may take a long time, but if you persevere you will gradually get ahead.

However, some people will be out of their depth in debt, and feel that they have lost control of the situation. In this case, it may be best to take advice from a debt management company. Although you will have to pay for their services, it can take a lot of the mental stress and pressure out of the situation.

Debt consolidation - Debt adviceA debt management company will assess your debts versus the available income that you have. The advisor may suggest setting up a debt management plan. Usually this is where the debt management company contacts all of your creditors and works out a repayment plan. Instead of paying each creditor what you owe, you pay the debt management company a monthly payment, which it then redistributes among your creditors. In some cases the debt management company may be able to negotiate an interest freeze while you pay the outstanding debts back. Creditors are usually willing to negotiate with debt management companies more than they might with individuals as it means they have a better chance of recouping their money.

If your debt level is extreme, then the debt management company might suggest a debt consolidation loan. This is where you take out a new loan to pay all the outstanding debt that you have. This will remove the pressure of having to manage a series of debts with different creditors. However, it doesn’t mean that the debt has disappeared. You’ve just put it into one basket and you will still have to make a regular payment to pay it off. On the plus side, the debt consolidation loan will offer more favourable interest rates and a longer repayment period than the average creditor.

The main danger with debt consolidation is a psychological one. Having all your debts effectively wiped clean with a new loan may give you a false sense of security. You may begin to think it’s ok to start spending on credit and store cards again as your outstanding debts no longer exist. However, the new loan still requires paying off and you shouldn’t be tempted to start spending again before you have cleared the debt consolidation loan.

The pros and cons of debt consolidation

Debt consolidation gives you clarity. It’s far easier to keep track of your income and expenditure with only one monthly payment to keep up with.

If you find meeting the various repayments every month a struggle, then debt consolidation can help lower the amount you need to find each month, as the loan will run over a longer period than your current debts.

However, if you go down the debt consolidation route, your credit report could include a record that you did not keep up with original credit agreements, making borrowing money in the future more complicated or problematic.

With debt consolidation, you stand to remain in debt for a longer period and you will end up paying more interest overall.

Is debt consolidation the right choice?

Deciding whether debt consolidation is the right choice is down to each individual’s own circumstances, the amount they owe and whether there is an alternative like borrowing from a relative. Always seek independent financial advice before taking out a debt consolidation loan.

Bio: Susan managed to clear her $50,000 of consumer debt over a five year period. She now assists other people to achieve similar goals through helping them structure debt repayment plans on a voluntary basis.