Thursday, July 12, 2012

Avoiding Identity Theft

As identity thieves become more of a threat to individuals and businesses, many people wish they had someone-or something-to watch over and guard their valuable financial information.

While most consumers can't afford a financial bodyguard, many are taking advantage of a real-time identity management service that can potentially avert identity crimes.

I consider one service, Identity Sweep, developed with MyPublic Info ( and Affinion Group (www.affiniongroup .com), a leader in credit monitoring and identity theft, to be more proactive than any other. It may be the consumer's best chance at avoiding identity-related criminal abuse. Identity Sweep protects consumer identities in three ways:

1. It includes a leading-edge identity fraud detection technology that scans billions of public records for suspicious activity associated with identity fraud, including attempts to create a synthetic identity. The service analyzes the suspicious activity to provide a risk score.

2. It searches Internet newsgroups, search engines, blogs and hundreds of thousands of chat rooms and Web sites looking for personal and financial information. It instantly notifies consumers by e-mail of any suspicious activity related to their personal information before the customer is victimized. This technology works faster than credit card and credit bureau monitoring services.

3. It scans online directories that list a consumer's information and requests removal of that information to prevent abuse by telemarketers and identity thieves.

Mney Saving Exercise

There is a simple money saving exercise that everyone should do at least once in their lives. It is ultimately one of the best ways to save money, because it is not about pinching pennies, but about discovering what you really want and getting it. It is so simple you may hesitate to try it. Just try it. Here it is:

List everything that you have spent money on, are currently spending money on, or might spend money on.

Don't just read this and think of a few things. Take the time to actually write it all down. Review your bank statements if you have to, in order to remember and include everything.

Now go through the list, and carefully consider each item. Take the most time on the big items - past, present and future possibilities. If your timeshare on the beach is worth half what you paid, costs $1,000 per year in expenses, and is rarely used, you need to learn from that - not to punish yourself, but to have a richer life.

If you think honestly about the number of times you will use that Recreational Vehicle, and the cost, it may be $250 for each day of use. That's okay if that is worth it to you, but maybe you really would enjoy $100 hotels more. Or maybe you can rent an RV for less overall cost, thus freeing up money for other important goals.

You see, saving money isn't about sacrifice. We all are aware of the scrooges in life that pinch their pennies, bank the savings, and then do nothing with it. The point should be to save money in one area of life so you can use it in ways that make your whole life richer.

Suppose you notice you're spending $8 per month on subscriptions to magazine you don't read, or on insurance for a motorcycle you almost never ride? Cancel the subscriptions or sell the
motorcycle, and what have you lost? Is it a big deal? What will that $8 get you instead?

- Bank it for ten years, and use the $1200 to take a second honeymoon.

- Use it to pay for a day off work once a year, to spend with the kids.

- Invest it, to have an extra $50 per month during your retirement years.

- Buy six good books a year, to learn something new.

- Make banana splits for the family once a month.

- Give $100 per year to a worthy cause.

$8 per month can do a lot if used wisely. Imagine what you could do if you stopped wasting $200 per month. That's why it is so important to discover what you really want - and what you don't want. This is one of the most intelligent ways to save money.

Guide to Accounting Software

Computer software that helps in processing various financial transactions, recording them, and presenting them in the form of a report is know as accounting software. There are several functional modules in accounting software.

Organizations operating on a large scale prefer to develop such software within their organizations so that it suits their needs. However, there is no need to worry for the small-scale or middle-level entrepreneur who cannot afford to develop in-house software. There is no dearth of accounting software on the market. The price range is wide, and most of the good accounting software is easily affordable for even a sole proprietor. They are easy to operate and one does not need to be a computer genius. This software generally comes with “how to" information. They are quite user friendly. In fact, you might not feel the need to keep paying your part-time accountant once you start using accounting software.

There is also complex accounting software that is generally used by the government and large organizations. Such complex software can be operated by trained professionals only. One of the major benefits of accounting software is that it can not only help the organizations in computing their income, revenues, profits, or losses over a period of time, but they can also help the individuals in computing their tax liabilities. This is especially true if they have multiple sources of income.

A number of firms also provide accounting software online. You can easily download it by paying a nominal fee. Some websites also offer such software for free. It is advisable that once you have decided to use accounting software, the first thing you should do is to use it on a trial basis and check for loopholes or any problems that might be there.

College Student and Money

Financial success may come in different forms. Financial success does not only mean that you are financially independent, or you have been able to make thousands of dollars off the stock market. To be financially successful, may mean making sure by the time you graduate from college, you are not in debt or worse off than you started.

As essential as it is to secure a part-time job to support your personal wants, you must be aware of the “hidden regressors” that come uninvited. Your first check in the mail, brings you to some degree, some feeling of accomplishment. Your adult life is just beginning, where you see the value of getting paid for work done. It goes without say that it’s at that time where you start to take on additional responsibilities. The importance of communication and being able to be reached wherever and whenever, prompts you to procure a wireless. The apparent need of getting to and from your job incurs the cost of driving insurance, gas and all other related transportation expenses. Indubitably, acquiring a job doesn’t always mean money inflow; it creates a path for money outflow. One needs to be prepared for the unexpected and the ability to be financially successful.

Credit cards: a friend or a foe? When the due date for bills draw nigh, and the checks are not coming in as often as you would have expected, many students feel pressured to use credit cards as a means of a short-term loan. This method where you plan on immediate repayment is not harmful; however, many students misconstrue that credit cards are an invention to make college life luxurious and comfortable. Wrong!

Saving is sometimes barely doable for some students, since they end up owing money to all these credit card companies. Our system is designed so that without good credit, one is limited from doing a lot of things. It is thus sagacious if we use our credit cards wisely. Use credit cards for things you know will definitely bring you a return. For example, use your credit cards to buy gas to take you to work. When you decide to use your credit cards to buy all the possible clothes on sale; and the purchase is backed by the conviction of repayment after you graduate, put the credit card back in your book bag.

Credit cards can either make you or unmake you; this is because if you use them wisely, once you graduate, it will be easier to get a loan for a new car or a lower security deposit on that new apartment. For the college students that work, there is always a possibility of saving your money, even if you can’t save a lot; you can still save a little. Try to research online, for banks that offer high interest rates on their savings account. The proliferation of online savings accounts has undeniably increased the interest rates, and thus the potential to earn more on your savings.

To be financially successful means to be free from debt, in the college perspective it is to try to avoid a post-graduation debt. The “broke college student” has the ability to be financially successful, if means are taking to save more and use credit wisely.

What's a Personal Loan??

Sometimes you need extra money for unexpected expenses like car repairs, unexpected bills, health expenses, school expenses, or a myriad of other reasons.  Where do you go to get money for these unplanned expenses?  Personal loans are available from many different companies and lenders for consumers today whether you have good or bad credit.

Your first place to try to get a personal loan is from a bank or credit union.  Many times, they can offer you a loan based on your credit record.  Personal loans from a bank or credit union usually do not have collateral attached to them and they are loans based on your name and credit record.  Banks and credit unions are a great place to go for a personal loan if you have comparatively good credit.

Another place that you can get a personal loan is from a personal loan company.  There are many of these places that will give you a loan.  They usually need you to list some sort of collateral, but if you have a job and a consistent home, then they will normally approve you.  This is a good option if you cannot get a loan at a bank or credit union but you need to be a smart consumer and ask questions before signing any loan papers.  You need to know the interest rate, the length of the loan, and the monthly or weekly payment amount.  Make sure that you can meet the requirements of the loan or you will end up in a worsened financial situation.

There are other options available if the above two choice do not work out.  You can take items from your home to a pawnshop to get a loan.  This will be a higher interest rate, but if you do not have any other options, this is a good choice.  A car title loan is an option, but you need to keep in mind that you will lose your car if you do not make timely payments.  A payday loan company is also an option but you need to be sure that you understand the terms of the loan.  You need to understand the terms of any loan that you take out to make sure that you can make the payments and pay the loan off.  Some of these options are a last resort, but if you need the money for a necessity, it may be your only choice.  Just be sure that you go into the loan process knowledgeable about the details of the loan.

There are times in your life that you will need extra money for unexpected or unplanned expenses.  It is always best to plan ahead and have a savings account for these expenses, but sometimes it is just not possible.  If you do not have any other options, then you may have to take out a loan to cover these expenses.  Getting a personal loan can be stressful and difficult at times, but if you do your research and know what you are getting into, then you are sure to be satisfied with the result!

What's a 401k?

What's a 401k??? You're a computer engineer, or a nurse, or a graphic designer. Just keeping current in your own specialty is an effort. So what happens to your 401(k) retirement plan while you're off doing what you do? Does it just languish, forgotten, in some dusty corner of your mind? Are you, among millions of others, crossing your fingers and hoping your portfolio will provide? Thanks to changes in the industry, investors now can get more help managing their 401(k) accounts. In the past, to prevent conflicts of interest, defined contribution plan providers could make only general asset class recommendations. But regulations now allow financial service companies to hire independent, third-party financial advisers like Ibbotson Associates to manage individual investors' 401(k) accounts. Those who choose professional help will find that the money in their portfolio will be allocated appropriately to funds in their existing plan, rebalanced regularly and adjusted over time to meet changing life circumstances. And these programs are catching on. Ibbotson is the independent third-party advisor for 401(k) managed account programs run by AIG VALIC, Fidelity, Great-West Retirement Services, Merrill Lynch, the Principal Financial Group and TIAA-CREF. Although 401(k) managed accounts are only two years old, participation in such programs is increasing rapidly. Currently there is over $10 billion in 401(k) managed account programs, and that number is expected to reach $300 billion in 2010, according to industry research firm TowerGroup. A major reason for the growth is that many employees don't know how to manage their retirement plans. Human resources firm Hewitt Associates found that only 16 percent of 401(k) plan participants made any changes to their accounts in 2004. The study also found that, while some employees were not aggressive enough with their investments, others took on too much risk. For example, participants concentrated about 27 percent of their 401(k) assets in their company stock.