Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How to Protect Your Credit Card from Cloned?

Following the recent case of an employee at a cafe in Delhi stealing money using cloned credit and debit cards, the fear of cards being cloned for financial theft has resurfaced & the focus is back on how secure your credit cards are and what you can do to ensure they don’t get misused. 

A similar incident took place last year with an employee at The Quint as well, where her ATM card was cloned and money was withdrawn. It is imperative that you never let your card out of your sight, especially at restaurants while paying the bill. If the waiter swipes it away to the billing desk, there’s a chance that it could be run through a card-cloning scanner on the way. 

Protect Your Credit Card from Cloned

One must insist on the restaurant bringing a mobile point-of-sale device to your table for the payment or walk over to the billing desk and swipe the card yourself. Most banks now issue credit cards and debit cards with chips in them that are more secure than the simple cards with a magnetic strip on the back. The chip-based cards require a personal index number or PIN to be entered on the point-of-sale (POS) terminal that makes them less likely to be cloned.

It is also important to sign on the back of the card, something most of us do not give any importance to. When you get a new credit or debit card, always remember to sign on the back of the card as this will help a seller verify that the card being used belongs to you. 

Last but certainly not least, never share your PIN number with anyone. Keep changing the number every few months to prevent any misuse. It is perfectly safe & convenient to use debit & credit cards to make payments at various point of sale terminals, if some of the aforementioned basic safety features are kept in mind.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Have you ever wondered how to go about planning a frugal road trip?

Road trips can be a fun way to travel, especially when you're in great company. 

Sharing driving costs with friends or family is definitely a huge financial advantage. Without doubt, it's cheaper than buying separate train or airline tickets to travel. 

Personally, I'm a big fan of road trips. 

First, you get to save money on travel costs. And second, you get to see so many different and interesting places before you even arrive to your destination!

road trip

However, even if road trips are considered frugal by definition, this particular way of travelling can get expensive if you're not careful.

Here's how I manage to keep costs down and plan a frugal road trip every single time. 

1. Saving money on gas

With a bit of planning, you can definitely manage to save money on gas! 

Here are 4 useful tips to lower the cost on fuel

- Fill up your tank when and where it's most convenient, before leaving. If you have certain gas stations in your area that drop prices on certain days, take advantage! 

- Check your tire pressure. Not only is this a recommended safety precaution (who wants to deal with flat tires), but it helps save on gas as well.

- Drive efficiently, and you'll lower your overall gas consumption. Keeping a constant speed while driving helps a great deal. Knowing when to change gears influences fuel consumption as well. All in all.. learn how to drive efficiently and you'll spend less money on gas!

- Pack light, so your car won't have to struggle to carry all the weight! It's true, it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since lots of stuff can fit in a car! But truth be told, the lighter you pack, the less fuel you'll consume.

- Avoid getting lost. Although driving around cluelessly can turn out to be an exciting experience, it can take a toll on your total gas consumption.

2. Packing food and drinks for the road

It's impossible not to find a fast food joint along the way. Or a restaurant. Or even a gas station that sells food!

Problem is, this is where road trips can drill a hole in your budget.

To save money, make sure to pack enough food to avoid buying any along the way.

frugal road trip

Personally, I plan ahead by doing some light shopping before the actual road trip. 

My shopping list includes ingredients for sandwiches to brown-bag, fruit that lasts in a cooler bag and salty or sweet snacks (what's more thrifty than brown bagging your snacks on a road trip?)

Don't forget to pack drinks as well. Buying them along the way is the opposite of frugal.

3. Budgeting for pit stops

As a bonus, packing your own food on a road trip saves time. Nevertheless, you might want to make a pit stop and stretch your legs or sit down while enjoying your lunch!

The great thing with frugal road trips is, you can plan ahead and include some pit stops beforehand!

To save money, search for affordable gas stations along the way. Pin them on your map to avoid paying ridiculous prices for gas elsewhere.

Stopping to visit a landmark can also turn out to be an interesting experience. Just make sure to budget properly if you're expected to pay entrance fees.

4. Planning ahead for sleeping arrangements

Have you thought about where will you spend the night?

If your trip takes more than 1 day before arriving to your destination, book a room in advance! 

In certain circumstances, some might consider sleeping in the car. It's a full proof way to save money, but doesn't work every single time.

By planning ahead, you'll know for sure you'll have a place to sleep waiting and you'll lower the costs by having plenty of choices to compare ahead of time. 

I'm always excited when planning a frugal road trip and can't help but look forward to what to see and do, even on a short stay! Finding ways to save money and keep travel costs to a minimum is a perky added bonus.

About the author: Adriana is an experienced web content writer, passionate about everything personal finance. She blogs about the topic over at moneyjourneytoday.com, where she covers everything from saving money and frugal living tips, to real estate and investing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Personal Finance Tips During a Career Transition

If you’re considering a career transition, you have plenty of company. The majority of people consider changing careers at least once in their working lives.

Not knowing how to prepare for a career transition financially holds many people back. It requires research, planning, and lifestyle changes to do successfully.

Personal Finance Tips

If you’re serious about a career transition, following these personal finance tips will make the path to a new career go more smoothly.

Set aside savings

You might not know yet how much you need to save, but start saving now. You’ll need to set aside savings for months or possibly years before you make that big career transition.

The usual advice is to set aside at least six months of take-home pay. Up to a year of pay is better. The bigger your financial cushion is, the less stressful the transition will be.

Create a separate savings account for your career transition fund. Some online banks offer higher interest rates for savings accounts than brick-and-mortar banks do. Also, if you keep these savings at a bank other than where you usually do your banking, you’ll be less tempted to dip into the account.

You may have to make some lifestyle changes to be able to set aside a significant amount of money every month. Start tracking where your money goes.  From little things you buy to bigger expenses such as transportation and housing, you can find ways to spend less and save more.

Research the career you want

How well do you know the career that you want to change to? What are the job prospects in the field? Are typical salary levels similar to, lower, or higher than those of your current job? Will you have to start at a lower pay rate and work your way up?

If you’re going to be self-employed, what operating expenses will you have? How long will it take until you have enough clients to be profitable?

Career goals

The answers to these questions will help you plan how much to save before making the career transition.

Self-employment expenses might include a new computer and other home office equipment, self-employment tax, and health insurance.

Consider also changes in tax deductions and tax credits.

Research and plan for career transition expenses

How much will it cost to get to the starting point of your new career?

Education can be a major expense. Take into account the cost and time for any courses you need to take to become qualified for the job. If you can study part-time, start taking courses now. 

Save on costs for education wherever possible. Look for scholarships and financial aid. Claim tax breaks for your tuition.  Rent textbooks or buy used ones. Claim your education deduction on your income tax return.

Allow for moving costs if you’ll be relocating. Since they’re job-related, your moving expenses might qualify for an income tax deduction.

If you’ll be starting your own business, create a business plan and estimate your startup costs. If you’re working for a company, there’s some expenses you need to consider. Factor in other expenses your new career may entail, for example, a new wardrobe, a vehicle, or professional memberships. 

You also need to consider your time needs. You’ll need to tweak your resume, get your references in order, work on professional development, network, and manage your online reputation.

Continue working

From a financial point of view, it makes sense to stay at your current job as long as you can while preparing for your career transition. If that isn’t an option, consider a part-time job or temporary jobs while you work on making that big move. Having some income will make your savings last longer and ease the financial stress during the transitional period.

continue working

Often the bigger job sites are overcrowded and it’s hard to stand out. Search local job boards where you live instead. Often, there are more localized opportunities with smaller companies, great places to look if you’re planning on transitioning careers. 

Finding a job in your new field is ideal, but don’t worry if it isn’t. At this point, you want a part-time or short-term job to help with your finances. Side gigs can also help with the transition.

Maximize your money

You might be making more money once you’re settled in your new career. But while you’re saving for it, and during the transitional period, you’ll need to live on less money. You’ve already cut some expenses to set money aside. Good. Now you need to cut more expenses.

Create a budget for how you’ll live between careers. Include essentials: housing, food, and transportation. Look at what you can eliminate or reduce from the non-essentials, and start eliminating and reducing now. You’ll be glad you did when your savings start to dwindle. Also, by starting this part of the process now, you’ll know that you’re capable of doing it.

Keep in mind that this lifestyle change is temporary. It’s part of the process to reach your goal. Many people never make that career change they dream of. Fear of the unknown and not knowing what steps to take may hold them back. However, you’re more likely to regret not making the transition than you are to regret going through it.

You can make the transition into a career that fulfills you, one step at a time. Starting your financial preparation is the first step. 

Susan Ranford
About the writer: Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How a 401(k) Differs from an IRA

Financial advisers like James Dondero urge people to save for their retirements at their earliest opportunity. When you are ready to start saving for your own retirement, you may wonder what kind of account to open and fund. 

Is there an advantage to a 401 (k) that you cannot find with an IRA? You can answer this question for yourself and save for your retirement accordingly by learning how a 401(k) differs from an IRA.

An Overview of a 401(k) Retirement Account

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account. People who work for companies that offer 401(k) accounts are generally eligible to participate in the retirement savings program once they meet the necessary qualifications, which may include completing a training period of 60 to 90 days or working at least 34 hours per week.

401(k)

Moreover, your employer may automatically enroll you in the company-sponsored 401(k) once you meet the qualifications without you having to ask to participate in it first. Your contributions to your account may also be deducted for you from your paycheck, saving you the effort of having to fund your account yourself.

The amount you can contribute each year can be subject to change. However, for the 2016-2017 tax year, you can contribute up to $24,000 to a 401(k) as long as you are age 50 or younger. If you are over age 50, you can contribute up to $18,000.

A 401(k) does not allow you the freedom to choose from a wide variety of stocks, bonds, and other assets to invest. You must choose from a pre-selected list chosen by your employer. 

An Overview of an IRA

An IRA, or individual retirement account, comes in two primary forms: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. No age limit exists for opening an IRA; anyone can open and fund this type of retirement account. To open and fund a traditional IRA, you must be under 70 ½ years of age and have an earned source of income. 

As with 401(k) accounts, the amount you can contribute each year may vary. You can check with a financial adviser like James Dondero to verify the amount that you can pay into your IRA. 

The 2016-2017 tax year allowed people 50 and under to pay in up to $5500 to an IRA. People over the age of 50 could pay up to $6500. When you open an IRA, you can choose from a variety of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and other investments. You can open an IRA by consulting with a financial analyst like James Dondero or at financial institutions like:
  • a bank 
  • brokerage firm
  • insurance company
  • investment firm
It is important that you allow a certified management accountant like James Dondero to guide you in funding your IRA if you are unsure of what to invest in or how much to contribute to the account. 

James Dondero Bio: Certified as both a certified management accountant and a chartered financial analyst, James Dondero serves as the president of Highland Capital Management, L.P., a Dallas financial company that he also co-founded. 

He graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. He volunteers for charities like Education is Freedom and Snowball Express in the Dallas area.School of Commerce.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Personal Loan Myths You Never Knew

Sadly, there are several half-baked theories and myths about personal loans and many people believe that a personal loan is basically a debt-trap. However, there is no reason to dread personal loans any longer as many of these common myths are busted in this article!

1.Personal loans are the most expensive loan available

This is the most common reason why people avoid applying for a personal loans. Typically, personal loan interest rates are around 12-14%, which is more expensive than a secured loan but the interest on personal loans is way lower than credit card interest rates of 22-36%. 

Personal Loan

2.No Tax Benefits

Another big myth associated with personal loans is that they do not provide any tax benefits. There are tax benefits for personal loans. You can claim income tax benefit under Section 24 on personal loan which offers an overall interest benefit of 1.5 lacs for tax exemption that can be deducted from your taxable income. 

3.Only Salaried Employees are Eligible

Self-employed individuals, businessmen and NRIs also can get personal loans. While salaried employees find it easier to get approvals but self-employed individuals can also avail of personal loans if they can provide proof of income from their business. Businessmen may need to provide the income tax returns for 3 years. 

4.Always Apply for an Amount More Than Your Actual Requirement

This is a misconception among Indians - that applying for more than what you need currently would help ensure that you get approved for the amount that you actually need. Ultimately, your loan eligibility is determined by your credit rating and ability to repay the loan. Applying for a bigger loan will unnecessarily create a financial burden and a poor credit score if you are unable to repay it on time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

8 Most Frequently Asked Questions About CCTV

There are many things about closed circuit Television, or CCTV as it is known, that most people are unaware of, and aside from the fact that it transmits live images of any given location, the average homeowner has little or no knowledge about the inner workings of the system. If you fall into that category, here are the top ten questions people ask about CCTV.

1.What is CCTV? – It is a closed circuit that transmits from a series of cameras back to a central location, where there would be a hard drive that is used to store the data, and a monitor and player in order to monitor the perimeters at all times.

CCTV

2.What are its capabilities? – Modern CCTV systems have full pan facilities, and with a high range zoom, one can manipulate the camera to view any given point, even at night, as infrared allows for acceptable night vision. If, for example, a small business owner wanted CCTV in Perth, there are online companies that specialise in protecting commercial premises at an affordable cost.

3.Is CCTV Really a Deterrent? – The short answer is yes. Criminals are all too aware that CCTV footage is acceptable as evidence in a court of law, and one still image is all it takes to identify someone. If a burglar comes across CCTV cameras, they will look for an easier target, which is one of the reasons to have the cameras in prominent locations.

4.Can CCTV Offer Other Benefits? – CCTV systems can prevent wrongful accusations and if your workforce is always monitored, and incidents can quickly be verified and the truth established.

5.Do I Need a Battery Back Up? – If you want to be sure to have coverage 24/7, the answer is yes. If there is ever a power outage, the battery will automatically kick in and provide adequate power until the electrical supply returns.

6.Do I need Infrared Cameras? – That depends on the type and location of the area you wish to monitor. If there are no lights on at night, and you want surveillance, then infrared is the best option, however if the area is always illuminated, there is no need to spend the extra money.

7.How Many Cameras Will I need? – This very much depends on the size of the area and also how much coverage you want. If your business premises has a car park or loading area, then these locations should also be covered. If you were looking for CCTV a simple online search would give you more information and put you in touch with someone who could tell you how many cameras are ideal for your requirements.

8.What Is Remote Viewing? – Using an Internet connection, it is possible to access the system from any location. If a person is on the other side of the world on a long holiday, they can log into the system and even remotely control the cameras to view any area in detail.

CCTV is the perfect security solution for small businesses, and with online solutions, it is very easy to source the right company.

Friday, April 7, 2017

70Trades – Your ultimate recipe for profit in the present trading scenario

The meaning of the word ‘recipe’ in the world of online trading isn’t in any way related to any kind of rules. A trading based recipe should always be dynamic, something that is versatile and that can change according to the situation of the market. When 70Trades entered the online trading scenario, their foremost goal as a brokerage firm was to simplify trading for the newbies and the inexperienced traders. This is a Vanuatu-based company which researched to find out that it takes a trader around a maximum of 70 trades to register his profit. Since then they didn’t only adopt the name but also became a loyal partner for traders who wished to diminish market risk while making their initial 70 trades.

trading tips

The name and philosophy behind 70Trades

70Trades is named in this manner due to the fact that its creators realized that investors take at least 70 trades in order to become an experienced trader. They do everything within their reach in order to assist new traders while they face this kind of experience. 70Trades believes that there are higher chances of losing money when a new user depends only on the trial and error method. So, if you’ve been thinking whether or not they’re duping you, you should know that 70Trades is not scam; rather they work to alleviate the stress of trading by novices.

Their plans for different levels of experience

70Trades is a company which wishes to get the business of all the new traders and they have the ultimate objective of turning such traders into experts. This is why they offer various plans like Entry Level, Advanced and Pro. Each of the plans has programs which are aimed to their respective traders and their personal level of experience. There have been numerous investors who have tried various similar companies but at the end of the day, they found 70Trades tips to be the best among the lot. 

Plethora of trading tools offered by 70Trades

They offer the traders with several interesting trading tools which assist traders of all experience levels. One of their most sought-after tools is Portfolio Builder. This brokerage firm gives its users the opportunity to create a portfolio under guidance, by giving answers to specific questions on their personal financial situation and other trading goals. In short, 70Trades allows the users to streamline and fine-tune their trading portfolio. Their Assets Graphing is one of the best visualization tools.

Educating traders – How they handle it

One of the biggest positives about 70Trades is the way they tackle educating the novice traders. They have adequate educational materials and various courses for gold, commodities and oil traders. In fact, their clients claim that they have few of the most in-depth educational materials which can be offered by a broker.

To be unbiased in our opinion, 70Trades is undoubtedly the best choice for novices. They simplify the process of trading for all kinds of commodities and shares. To know more on them, you can even check out other reviews on this company before taking the plunge.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Stay cool when your car breaks down. Insurance to the rescue!

Imagine yourself in the middle of nowhere, with no one around, in a far off road, facing a heavy downpour and your car just won’t start. Sounds like a situation best avoided at any cost? If yes, you are not alone since a car breakdown is something that every driver, though skilled with car repair, certainly dreads. As with many situations, prevention is better than cure approach works best here too. That said, it is also essential that you know what to do when your car breaks down especially if you are alone. Let us take a look at some of the solutions.

Don’t Panic

When your car breaks down, the first and foremost thing to do is to ensure that you don’t panic. It is important that you take stock of the situation with a cool head. This will help you identify the cause of a breakdown and determine a possible solution quickly. 

car insurance

Get your car off the road

This is very important, especially if you are on a highway. If need be, call for help. Once the car is sidelined, put on the emergency brake and turn the steering wheel away from the road. 

Ensure you are safe from being hit

Once the car is in a safe spot, either put a white paper or a piece of cloth on the window frame and roll it up. This will alert the drivers passing you by. Another thing you can do is putting the blinkers on. If it is night time, you should put the reflective markers or warning lights six feet away from the back of your car to alert and divert the incoming traffic. You can also turn on the interior light by keeping the door that’s away from the traffic open.  
   
Examine the tyres

Before checking any other parts, check the tyres. It is one of the most common and apparent cause to look out for. A punctured or a damaged tyre can be caused due to reasons such as improper tyre pressure or driving over sharp debris like a nail or broken glass. In this case, inspect the tyre and replace it with a spare one.  If you don’t have a spare, ask a local for the nearby tyre shop.  

Check the battery

Another common reason for a car breakdown, you should get the battery checked for low power or malfunction. In the case of a weak battery, you can easily get the car jump started with a pair of jumper cables. If you have one, you can seek the help of a car passing by the road. If not, try to find a garage nearby. 

Call Road-Side Assistance

When all the above solutions don’t work, road-side assistance is the Good Samaritan you need. Generally speaking, this feature is something that you get along with your car policy. Make sure you have the helpline number at hand. You are entitled to a host of benefits such as on-call assistance, towing, spare key support, flat tyre repair, arranging a mechanic and so on. Some companies even offer accommodation service. With great discounts on offer, online vehicle insurance is the way to go. Check out Reliance Car Insurance to buy car insurance online and get the benefit of over 3800 network garages. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

How Does Stock Prices Affect the Economy of the Country

Changes in the equity markets affect the population as well as the economy. A huge collapse in the markets may have disastrous results as seen during the crash of 1929 in the USA leading to the Great Depression. However, daily changes in the stock market do not have such significant impacts.

Here are the five effects of stock price movements to the economy of a country –

1.Effect on Wealth

When share prices drop, investors see their wealth fall. In the case of a significant decline, they may hesitate to spend money, which reduces the consumer spending. However, investors must not give this too much importance because they are often willing to accept losing money, especially in the shorter period.

Stock trading

2.Investments

In a situation where the share prices are declining, companies may find it difficult to raise money through the equity markets. Often, organizations issue more shares when they want to raise money for expansion because it is a low-cost method to avail funds. However, with falling prices, raising money through this route may become difficult.

3.Consumer Confidence

Declining stock prices may reflect the economic environment, such as a global slowdown or recession. As a result, there may a decrease in the consumer confidence. The reduced share prices may prevent people from spending, which may further be a discouraging factor.

4.Bond Markets

Generally, other financial instruments may become more attractive when the stock markets’ decline. Investors may shift their investments from shares to other products, such as gold or government bonds. Such instruments are expected to deliver better returns during uncertain periods.

Individuals who do not invest in shares may not be affected by decreasing stock markets in the short term. However, regular workers may still be affected by such situations. Nonetheless, corporates rely on financial funding for their requirements, which is why the equity markets have a limited role in the determination of employment and investment in the economy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How Digital Money Transfer Impacts the SME Banking in India

Demonetization of high-value currency notes came as a huge surprise for individuals all over India. This move was an initiative adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curtail corruption and black money in the economy.

Digital Money Transfer

Demonetization has impacted money supply in two ways. Firstly, individuals who have unexplained cash holdings will be unable to deposit their money in the banks. This amount would be completely extinguished from the economy as it is irreplaceable. Secondly, the government may only release a part of the deposited currency as cash back into the system. The remaining component would in a digital form. This may result in India transitioning from a cash-based economy to a digital economy. Both these possibilities will impact the country differently in the short, medium, and long term.

Here are four implications of demonetization on the Indian economy:

1. Liquidity crunch

The demonetization announcement removed almost 86% of the currency from circulation. This has severely restricted the supply of cash in the economy resulting in tight liquidity for most Indians. As cash balances are eroded, several transactions may be eliminated because of inadequate liquidity.

2. Demand for loans

Several Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would drive the demand for loans. This increase in demand for loans would primarily bridge the gap created by demonetization and ensure the smooth functioning of the SMEs. As a result, the SME banking sector is expected to get a boost in its business.

3. Disapproval of loans

With most of the cash being eliminated from the system, businesses that are cash-dependent will face difficulties in receiving approval on their loan applications. Most lenders would perceive such companies as high-risk and may disapprove loans to prevent the creation of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs).

4. Higher cost of loans

SMEs that are able to raise loans through other lenders like non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) may incur higher costs to avail of these funds.

Digital money defined as the transition from cash and cheques to instruments like debit and credit cards, non-paper based products, and stored value instruments is becoming important. Advanced payment solutions and methods are being used to overcome the liquidity crunch post-demonetization.

SME in India has emerged a highly dynamic and vibrant sector in the last five decades. These businesses provide employment to a large number of people at lower costs and also increase industrialization in the rural areas. This sector comprises nearly 36 million ventures and employs more than 80 million people across the country.

Knowing that the growth of this sector is important, let us understand what is an SME. As per the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006, a manufacturing company investing between INR 25 lakh and INR 5 crores in plant and machinery is defined as a small enterprise. When this investment ranges from INR 5 crores up to INR 10 crores, it is classified as a medium enterprise. Moreover, when a service provider’s investment in equipment is between INR 10 lakh and INR 2 crores it is defined as a small enterprise. However, when the same investment is between INR 2 crores and INR 5 crores, the service provider is classified as a medium enterprise.

Digitalization in the SME banking system 

Several financial institutions have been providing SME banking services to benefit from the growing importance of this sector. Unfortunately, cash is still important among the SMEs especially in developing countries like India. However, relying on cash is not only more expensive but also risky.

An increasing number of financial institutions and companies are offering integrated payment solutions to the SME sector. Innovative solutions like enabling the businesses to collect revenues through mobile devices are being offered. Until now, such initiatives lacked large acceptance because of the greater reliance on cash. However, with demonetization, there is a surge in the acceptance of digital payments by SMEs.

Newer solutions to overcome the challenges faced by SMEs in collections are expected to continue being developed. The primary drivers for this growth include predictability, transparency, and flexibility, which are important factors for the growth of the SMEs.

Increasing digitalization and use of technologically advanced solutions would greatly benefit the SME sector in the wake of demonetization. Simpler procedures, reliable ecosystems, and more transparency through digitalization would benefit the growth of this sector.