Giving Yourself the Chance of Financial Freedom

Don’t give up on yourself. It sounds odd to lead an article with such a cliché statement, but when we look at so many stories of hardship, we can’t help but say it. You might feel that you’ve hit rock bottom. You might feel that there’s really no way to go but down, but the truth of the matter is that you have to have hope. You have to believe in yourself. You have to see all things as being very possible. That’s just the way it is. You can’t sit here thinking that you’re going to have problems no matter where you look.

It’s always a good thing to figure out where you really will fit your finances. You have to think about financial freedom because it really opens doors. Sure, you want a house down the road. But if you don’t have the extra money because you’re too busy fighting all of your debts, then what? What will you do when you have to think carefully about your place in the world? You need to have the right amount of confidence in yourself in order to really get the job done. From there, the world awaits!

Financial Freedom

Debt management schemes can help you reach financial freedom, but they’re not for everyone. Indeed, you have to have the right mindset about achieving financial freedom, as we’ve mentioned before so many times. If you aren’t ready to start paying things on time, you’re only going to make yourself feel tired and frustrated. That’s no way to go through life, and it’s something that you should definitely look into fixing. If you start paying your bills on time, your credit score is only going to go up from here.

Debt management schemes aren’t always accepted by creditors, but a 3rd party can negotiate for you. As long as you’re making those payments and it’s likely that everything is running smoothly, you’ll have really no problems to honestly worry about.

Keep in mind that once you have realized financial freedom from debt, you need to do everything that you can do to maintain it. It’s going to be tough to do, but it’s definitely worth doing. You just have to figure out what to start with.

Your bills can feel like they’re out of control, but it’s just money. Don’t give money power that it doesn’t deserve. Money is designed to be your servant, not the other way around. Think about putting extra money from birthday gifts and such towards your debts large and small. Once you see momentum it’ll be much easier to just stick to the program. Good luck!

The Benefit Cap is Coming – Are You Ready for It?

There is a benefit cap being established across the UK, but the test program has started already in London. The cap focuses on the amount you can actually get from the Government if you aren’t of pension age yet. This means that millions of Britons will be affected by the cap. As you might expect, there’s a great deal of outrage over this, along with a lot of shock. The program just launched in Haringey, Enfield, Croydon, and Bromley on April 5th. The new rules indicate that couples and single parents alike cannot receive more than 500 a week from the Government. Singles will be limited to 350 a week. This is being rolled out to combat complaints that there are people on the public system that are receiving a plush package without needing to work at all. This affects those that are getting Housing Benefit, but it’s still something that you should be looking into.

Even if you’re not getting Housing Benefit, it could affect you later down the road if you’re getting Universal Credit.

Let’s say that you and your spouse get 525 pounds a week right now, and 50 of that is the Housing Benefit. Since the benefit cap is 500 pounds, you receive 25 more in benefits than the cap. So the 25 would be deducted from your Housing Benefit, and that means that your new HB would be just 25 pounds.

Benefit Cap ukThere are some exemptions that are being put into place. You’re on safe ground if you get Working Tax Credit, as well as if you’ve reached the age where you can receive Pension Credit. There’s also an exemption if you have benefits for sickness or a disability. War Widows? Exempt. Widowers Pension? You’re exempt there as well.

We understand that the benefit cap may make things a bit difficult for you. If this is the case, perhaps you can look for work, or raise the hours that you’re already working. This would allow you to claim the Working Tax Credit and be exempt. If that’s not possible, then you’re stuck getting things into place as fast as possible. You might have to move to a cheaper flat, which isn’t always possible. The thing is that you have to do anything that you can to stay keeping everything together. Focus on that, give yourself enough time to look at other resources and go from there. Good luck!

A Return to Index Tracker Funds

Look, we talk a lot about active investing. However, there might be part of your portfolio that you really do want passive. That’s perfectly all right. Everyone wants to be able to just casually look at your portfolio every quarter to see where they stand…if they bother to take that much time. How can people spend so little time on their portfolio and still see their money grow modestly? Through index tracker funds, of course.

There are quite a few index tracker funds out there — the goal is to match the performance of an index, a basket of shares that represent part of the stock market as a whole.

A classic index would be the FTSE 100, which tracks progress for the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange. There are tons of tracker funds on the market, including specialist ones that let you narrow in on sectors you like — such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

Index Tracker Funds

Keep in mind that the tracker isn’t about shattering the returns that the index is putting out. It’s just there to match performance. However, this can be a bad thing — when the market dips, the tracker fund tends to take a beating. This is very much the case in bearish markets where investor sentiment is very volatile.

There are a few things that you want to look for if you’re going to take this tactic.

First and foremost, you want to make sure that you keep your fund dealing fees as low as possible. If you can, go with a fund that has no fees at all involved when you buy and sell funds within your account.

You should also be looking for a tracker with a low annual charge. This means more of your money is there to work for you, not the fund managers. You also want to look and see what options you have. Do you want to branch out into emerging markets? Do you want to stay close to home? Do you want to go international in established markets like the United States? There’s a lot of options waiting for you.

Taking to a professional before you sign up can help you clear up a lot of questions. If you’re going to go with a specific firm over another firm, make sure that you’re asking as many questions as you need answered before you commit to anything. Buyer’s remorse is just a bad idea, and it’s even worse when it comes to something as important as part of your financial future. Good luck!

Realizing Your House Dreams After Bankruptcy

Let’s be real here — bankruptcy is no laughing matter. Once you decide to declare a bankruptcy, there’s no turning back. You’re making a decision that will affect your credit for a very long time. However, don’t let this information cloud your thinking, as if you aren’t going to see sunnier skies ahead. The reality is that most of the people that declare bankruptcy really had no other option. It’s time for a fresh start. If you know that you’re ready to make changes in your financial life, then bankruptcy is a valid option. You will not be able to let your spending get out of control again. After all, you have to remember that you’re not going to be able to declare bankruptcy again. So that option will be locked away from you. If you feel that you’ve “learned your lesson”, it’s time to check out the world of credit again. We promise you that there are plenty of opportunities out there to make your dreams come true.

One of the top questions that people have after bankruptcy is about whether or not they can actually get a house. The UK housing market is actually very forgiving to those that have declared bankruptcy. If you’ve started getting new credit and taking care of it, lenders will be watching for this. Mortgage offers could come to you as early as six months after your bankruptcy has been fully discharged. This is something that can make you feel pretty good.

The truth is that lenders have all of the reason in the world to start looking at you. After all, you can’t declare bankruptcy again, and most people have realized that it’s time to make a change. This means that they’re getting a potential mortgage customer that really does understand what it’s like to be upside down deep in debt, and they don’t want to go back to that place ever again. This means that they’re getting customers that are much more likely to pay their mortgage payment on time each and every month, the way it’s supposed to be.

UK housing market You want to make sure that you are taking steps to really get in line for a good mortgage.

First and foremost, you want to get a copy of your credit file on your own. You want to check it for any errors. While it’s true that your bankruptcy will be on there, you want to make sure that everything looks proper. Are there debts that weren’t included in bankruptcy? If so, they need to show that they are being paid on time as promised. Indeed, you want to show as few late payments as possible. After bankruptcy, missed payments really do start counting hard against you. The credit system rewards you after bankruptcy very well for making good decisions, but if you don’t straighten up then you’re going to get dinged.

It’s also a good idea to discuss your report with your mortgage lender. You want to make sure that they understand that you really have changed. If you have kept the same job that you’ve had before the bankruptcy, this is a positive thing that should count very much in your favor.

Another point here is that you need to make sure that you are looking for a house that’s truly in your budget. If you get approved for 120,000 GBP home and you can find houses for 85,000 GBP or even better, then you want to go with the cheaper home. There’s always room in the future to get a home improve loan to improve upon what you have. You need to start thinking “starter house” rather than trying to expect the perfect house with all of the bells and whistles. Remember that you want to go easy when you’re trying to get your life together.

Don’t forget that you really want to make sure that you have a good savings account. You’ll need to put up a strong deposit because you do have credit problems as part of your file, and you’ll also need to handle the initial fees involved when getting a new home.

It sounds like a very challenging process, and it can most certainly be that way. However, there’s nothing that says that you have to skip over getting a home for you and your family. You just need to make sure that you’re thinking about all of the little details that go along with this new goal of yours. Good luck!

Could We Ever Live Without Money

With so much financial turmoil lately being represented in the news, some people in the personal finance world are asking whether or not we could actually live without money. This is a radical prospect to some, but not all. The truth is that our society runs on money, and if you have it — you’re in the clear. However, if you struggle to even keep the lights on, you might find that the pursuit of money is something that’s difficult. It can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The reality is that humans are unlikely to just stop getting into money. They’re going to go from one currency to another. Bartering is something that’s likely to keep happening. Money is simply a universal way of bartering. It’s something everybody wants and has deemed to be valuable.

However, there are little ways that you can start pulling back from money.

Growing your own food can be compared to printing your own money. The amount of money that you will save on feeding yourself with your own hands is incredibly. Granted, you might not be able to grow just about everything and anything that you can think of, and it might take you some time to get started. Nevertheless, there are plenty of gardening clubs in your area that would be more than happy to help. And if there’s not a formal group, why not start one? You might be surprised to find how many people share your view of the world.

Live Without MoneyYou also want to see what you can do about getting your clothes secondhand. No matter where you live, there’s probably somebody throwing things out. Why not just get the clothes that they no longer want? Why not make sure that you can get the things that everyone else has forgotten about? That’s really the ticket to getting things done, you know.

You can also trade services for other services. For example, you might make some really awesome cakes — that means that you can offer your services to the guy next door in order for him to hang your Christmas lights. It’s little things like that which can truly change the way we all live and work together.

Of course, the money that you save from all of this should go into a savings account. Yes, we’re nagging you to save money again but it’s worth it, isn’t it? You have to make sure that you’re getting all of your needs met from start to finish. It’s really the best way to get everything you want done. Good luck!

Reviewing Your Financial Situation After a Divorce

Getting yourself back to ether after a divorce can be one of the hardest things around. After all, you’re trying to pick up the pieces from a situation that you never thought would happen to you. Even though the rising divorce rate brings people pause, we still walk down the aisle. We still believe in the best that people have to offer. We believe in love conquering everything…until it doesn’t. We’re not trying to sound bitter, or even to throw your marriage in your face. All you can do is try to pick up the pieces. One area that gets neglected far too often would have to be the financial. Indeed, without having your money in order you can’t really move on. Just about everything that you really need to focus on is going to cost you money. There’s no getting around it, and you can’t hide from it. You’re going to be tempted to ignore all of the bills, but this isn’t the way to go either.

First and foremost, you need to sit down and gain some clarity about your situation. Just how much money is in the bank? How much money did you get entitled to? Do you have maintenance coming in? Child support? Do you get to take the investment account that you started with? What about any gains? Were those equally split down the middle? If you’re in the middle of negotiating these things, Don’t just let your partner have everything. You might feel tired and sick, but the reality is that you need to fight for a way to start over. That’s all it’s about at the end of the day. Divorce hurts, but being able to start over is really going to give you a chance to feel better over time. It’s going to hurt for a long time, but you have to make sure that you can give yourself a chance for a better life than what you had. You just can’t do that if you give your partner everything. A lot of people do this in order to feel extra sympathy from family and friends. Sympathy just isn’t going to pay our bills, and it’s certainly not going to take care of your when you’re old. Sure, the government will be there to do a few things but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to do everything. Being aware of what’s around the corner is a very good thing no matter if you’re a man or a woman.

The budget will probably have to be different when you’re going from two incomes to one. If you can help it, it’s time to cut out all of the things that you used to spend money on. A lot of people hate doing this, but it’s really the best thing that you can do for yourself. You really don’t want to find that you can’t move on because you’re too busy racking up debt. If you’re used to going out to eat, you might want to stay at home. Dining out is expensive and it cuts into the other plans that you have for your life. This is the same with buying clothes. There’s nothing wrong with going to a secondhand shop to check out some cheap items. You might not wear designer clothing, but you’ll have a bank account that’s full of emergency cash.

Financial Situation After a DivorceYou have to get better and better at anticipating emergencies. That’s really the best way to go when you’re trying to start over. Emergencies can be prevented when you have savings, but you have to make sure that you start saving. A lot of people brush this advice off, then cry themselves to sleep at night wishing that they had followed these simple words. Saving money isn’t the end of the world. Although it might feel like you’re depriving yourself, you are actually giving yourself the chance at a real future. What could be better than that?

There’s no way around the emotional heartache, but you don’t have to let your finances go crazy. If you were awarded the house, you need to make sure that you can take care of the maintenance. If you were awarded a car, then you need to make sure that the car is kept up properly. If you can put bills on autopay so you don’t have to think about them, this might be a good idea.

Speaking of emotional heartache, one of the worst things that you can do is try to get back at your new ex. You don’t want to focus on them. Don’t call them up, don’t scream at them and don’t make your mutual friends have to pick sides. This is just uncomfortable for all parties involved. Once the anger clears, you will hate having acted in such a tacky and childish manner.

Credit cards will need to be paid for. If you can’t make payments, don’t try to wait till the last minute. Trust us — credit card companies have heard just about everything that you can possibly think of. They’re used to it. So there’s no need to hide until the final moments — you can let them know ahead of time that you’re having problems. If you were a great customer before, you’re still going to be a good customer in their eyes. It’s just a matter of moving things around a little bit. Continue reading

What Single Men Need to Know About Personal Finance

The rules for dating pool-ready men are changing, especially when it comes to the financial side of life. Gone are the days where you should feel expected to provide for a woman that you’re not even dating. Paying for dinner and drinks? That’s not necessarily the case anymore. The troubled economy is making a lot of men take stock in their financial lives, trying to figure out if there’s ever going to be a happy ending. While you might want to rise higher in your career, you also need to think about the type of future that you want. For most men, the dream is a house and a family — including a beautiful wife that will become the mother of their children. In order to get this life, you have to look at your financial life a bit differently than in the past.

The need for a financial blueprint is strong. You can’t say that you have your finances in check when you don’t know the numbers. It’s tempting to believe that you really have everything covered, but is that really the case? You could find that you’re just not handling things as well as you used to. This means that you’re going to need to really make sure that you can definitely take care of everything that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, you’ll get caught behind.

Personal FinanceWhen it comes to dating, you need to make sure that you let a woman know where you stand. If you’re trying to pick up the pieces after a divorce that has left you without a lot of money, you need to be honest. If a woman can’t handle that type of answer, she’s probably not going to be the right person for you. You have to make sure that you’re getting with someone that understands your needs, and is willing to compromise. Someone that lives only for flowers and candy isn’t going to be a good long term partner anyway. After all, what are they going to do when things get rough? What are they going to do when there are challenges ahead? What are they going to do when they need to support you more than ever before? You can’t just assume that everything will be fine. There will always be challenges along the way. It’s how we address those challenges that really makes a difference.

Even though it might be painful, you need to start by looking at your budget right now. Are you spending within your means, or do you constantly play catch up? Do you stress about your bills? Have you been putting off asking for that raise or promotion because you’re scared that you’ll be rejected? These are all things that can make or break your financial blueprint. You have to make sure that you’re looking through just about every scenario when it comes to your good name — at least in the financial world.

Credit has a role, but you don’t want to overdo it. If you do find someone serious to marry, you have to think about how much money you’ll actually spend on the wedding. It’s something that really can make a difference in your finances as well. Hopefully by the time you’re thinking about getting married to someone, you’ll be in a better financial state. You also want to have a serious talk about finances with your partner. That’s the only way that you’re honestly going to be able to get things taken care of the right way. Talking about money is never easy for people — men included — but it’s something that has to be done.

It’s all about fulfilling your own dreams and making your own choices. The more that you can do that, the more likely it is that you’ll have everything else covered. After all, you only get one life to live — you might as well make it a good one.

What Single Ladies Really Need to Know About Their Finances

Women, rise up — this is your year! Unfortunately, a lot of women have honestly given up any thought of having a better financial life. While we want to wait for Prince Charming to sweep us off our feet, the reality is that we might have to wait for a while. Even though it’s shown that couples tend to pull better financially than singles, the truth of the matter is that there’s still room to grow.

There are still opportunities for women to do better than ever before. Why settle for less when you can definitely have more than you ever imagined before? It’s better to make sure that you get things lined up than feel like you just can’t get ahead? That would be bad on a wide number of levels. You’re going to need to think about the time that you have left to really get things done, and then go from there.

Age definitely plays into a single woman’s financial blueprint. If you’re starting young…congrats, you’re in a great financial position to make change. You need to be increasing the amount of savings that you make right now. The time value of money concept means that the longer you have to invest, the more your money will actually grow. Getting your money invested can be challenging, especially when there are so many people trying to tell you what to do.

The basics are simple: you need to think short term, emergency, and long term. Emergency accounts help you take care of life’s little unexpected problems, short term money lets you indulge yourself once in a while, and long term money is what you hope to have both for buying a home and also retiring someday. You can get multiple accounts that reflect these plans.

Emergency accountsWomen have to make sure that they can contribute more to retirement than men, since they still statistically live a lot longer. You might hope to get married to a man that can support you, but what happens when you are left a widow? Could you really take care of yourself? Rising costs of everything mean that your savings have to outpace inflation, something that can steal away quite a bit of your money.

You also have to consider the type of lifestyle that you have now. Are you really living beyond your means? Are you living on credit? If you’re living on credit, now is definitely the time to stop. It just ends up costing you a lot more money than if you had saved the money and invested it into something that really pays off. The more work that you can put into the financial side of your life, the more likely that you’re going to come up a winner. You’re going to need to make sure that you are focusing carefully on the road ahead of you at all costs.

The time is right to make sure that you have everything carefully addressed. If you need help, there are plenty of groups that focus on personal finance for women. If you’re online all the time anyway, shouldn’t you take the time to learn more about your finances, and not less? That’s the idea today. You have to take advantage of any and all resources available to you. Cutting things out of your budget and changing your habits might be hard, but it’s definitely worth doing. Good luck!

Recovering Financially After a Major Emergency

If you’re trying to recover financially after a major emergency, you might feel isolated, lost, scared, and very alone. Here’s a little something to cheer you up: you’re not as alone as you think you are. Even though it’s not discussed, the recession is something that has really affected a lot of young people. They don’t have as much experience as other people, which means that they are always getting left behind. They want to get more involved in local politics and other issues, but they find that they can’t seem to focus on anything except the monumental amount of debt in front of them.

First and foremost, you need to step back and see what type of debt you’re working with. If you are dealing mostly with medical bills, you might be able to have part of or all of the costs waived because of your low income status. If someone tells you that it can’t be done, find someone at the hospital that says that you can. It’s quite possible to push forward instead of thinking that there are no solutions. You will get a lot of people that will say no when the reality is that it is quite possible to get things done. You just need to figure out what you’re trying to do and go from there rather than just assuming that there’s just no way that anything can connect together.

Recovering FinanciallyIt’s something that you have to think carefully about, but the reality here is that you have all of the power in the world to change your life. It starts with changing your mindset as much as possible. Even though this can be hard to do, it’s always worth doing when you really think about it. You just need to have a little faith in yourself.

Start small — the debts aren’t going to go away quickly. You will need to remember to still set something aside for the future while you’re paying bills. You still have other things that need to be done, and that means that you need to have some type of focus. You have to realize that now is the best time to take action. You have to realize that the more action that you take, the more outrageous your results will be. While most would expect you to lie in bed and feel sorry for yourself, you need to go above that by revising your plan.

Can you work with a nonprofit credit counseling education? That would actually help you get things done because then you have a third party on your side. They can negotiate with creditors on your behalf as well. Let’s face it — how many among us have excellent negotiation skills at the age of 21? That’s a hard thing to consider.

You might be feeling a little fragile after a major life change, and that’s understandable. Don’t try to rush yourself by saying that your feelings are invalid. You have to think about everything that you want to achieve and just go out and do it. Why wouldn’t you want to start right away? Once you see yourself improving over time, you’ll truly be glad that you took action now rather than waiting for things to happen.

Is 2013 The Right Time to Buy a Home

No matter where you live, one thing that might be on your mind right now would have to be homeownership. There’s something powerful about owning a home. When you’re paying rent on a flat or a duplex, you’re going to find that you are just flushing payments down the drain. Even if you stay for years and years, you’re not doing anything towards the actual cost of buying a home. If you were to suddenly have to move, you’re going to deal with having to start all over in a new place with no equity to speak of.

Homeownership gives you equity that will be useful later down the road. You can turn your equity into cash through a wide variety of different schemes. In short, equity brings you power. In order to get that power you need to make sure that you are staking steps to decide whether or not now is the right time to get a home.

homeownershipIn 2013, the economy on a global scale is still not as good as one would want it to be to feel comfortable about getting a house. You just need to make sure that you’re thinking always about getting a good home that you’re going to enjoy for a very long time to come. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like you’re going to get something better than what you have now. If anything, real estate should definitely be an investment that makes you think. It’s a lot of debt going towards the purchase of something that you’re going to enjoy for a very long time to come.

You will need to think about a few particular considerations before you’re actually ready to follow through with a home purchase

The Deposit

Whether you call it a deposit or a down payment, the reality is that you’re going to have to come to the table with quite a bit of cash in order to get into your home. Think about it from the perspective of the lender. If you were trying to go for a no money down type deal, you have nothing invested in the home itself. You will have all of the incentive to leave when times are tough because there’s been nothing actually invested into the home. This is not something that tends to make people feel like you’re likely to stick around.

Now consider the scenario where you actually have a sizable deposit on the home. That’s a sign that you really will try to stick it out as much as possible, even when things take a turn for the worse. You don’t want to lose all of the money that you have invested into the house. You are a lot better make sure that you are definitely trying to get things done on your side by saving up as much money as possible. If you are a first time home buyer, you’ll actually have some different options that you can look into. It’s all about checking into what is offered to first time home buyers. You might be able to qualify for programs that let you buy your first home with a lower deposit than someone who has already owned several homes in the past.

You will need to make sure that you go beyond the deposit — you need to make sure that you have enough money for all of the fees involved with a mortgage. Your mortgage officer can definitely offer you some different options rather than just expecting you to know what’s out there. Ask and make sure that you get a full fee schedule. There’s no reason to not know exactly how much money you’re going to need to spend. Getting a home inspection before you move in will be just one of the types of fees that you are going to have on your mind when it comes to the upcoming purchase of your home.

Another point that you really want to make sure that you take into consideration very seriously even — would have to be looking around at the full selection that you have in your local market. A lot of people have a tendency to just stop at the first home that looks good. This is not a good thing at all. You are a lot better off looking at a wide range of houses in your area because you just never know when you’re going to find the house that matches as many of your preferences as possible.

Notice that we’re saying that it’s about finding the one that matches as many preferences ion your list as possible. You have to realize that you aren’t going to find everything that you want in your first home. Even if you do find a house that has absolutely everything that you want in it, you will probably pay a lot more for the house than what you expect. It’s a matter of really making sure that you think this over. If you have a spouse, the worst thing that you can do is try to make these decisions on your own. Include them in the process, because they’re going to be responsible for the home as well. There’s no reason to believe that you are going to have to wait too terribly long to find the home of your dreams.

You can definitely get what you’re going for with enough patience. Is 2013 really the right time for you to get the home that you’ve always wanted? Perhaps. However, instead of just jumping into buying your home, you need to calculate in the other costs of being a homeowner.

For example, you will need to remember that all of the repairs to the home are going to be coming out of your own pocket. So if you aren’t prepared for that…you might be in for some surprises. You also need to think about your budget at all times. Not thinking about this type of stuff tends to get people pushed out of their homes very quickly, and that’s just not something that anyone wants to experience.

Keep these tips in mind, and you should have no problem at all keeping your home for the long run. Good luck!