Know how your savings stack up with a fixed rate cash ISA

Saving for the future can be much easier if you have something in particular to save for. If you are saving for something specific, like a deposit on a house, a new car, or even your wedding or honeymoon, a fixed rate cash ISA could be just the thing to help you make your money go that little bit further.

A cash ISA is a savings account that pays you tax-free interest on your savings. So, assuming you’re a basic rate taxpayer, instead of paying 20p on every £1 you earn in interest to the taxman, you get to keep it all.  Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and may change.

Some ISAs give you a variable rate of interest, and others like the Halifax ISA Saver Fixed, give you a fixed rate of interest – so you know exactly how much interest you’ll earn over the life of the account. Which means you can better plan for whatever it is you’re saving for. You need a minimum deposit of £500 to open this account, and you can save up to the maximum cash ISA allowance of £5,640 for this tax year ending April 5 2013. Please bear in mind that there are no withdrawals or additional deposits allowed during this term, you can access your money by closing the account early, but this will result in loss of interest and you may get back less than the original amount you deposited.

When you set up a fixed rate cash ISA you need to think about how long you can leave the money untouched for – this could be anywhere from one to five years. The longer you can leave it alone, the greater the rate of interest you’ll generally receive. With this particular cash ISA, you get a fixed rate of interest, so you can work out exactly how much interest you’ll earn over the life of the account – and what you’ll have to spend once the account matures.

Our best ISA to place your money in, if you are happy to leave the cash untouched from between one to five years, is the ISA Saver Fixed account – it could be just the thing to help you reach your saving goals.


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What’s Keeping You From Mastering Your Money?

Whats probably keeping you from mastering money is that youre wasting energy wallowing in self-pity and fear, while failing to take action that just might get you moving up and out of the pit. As reader Dwayne Correa commented last week, were made of sterner stuff:

Reminds me of the many who came to this country with nothing but belief, determination and talent, and built wealth for themselves and others. How times have changed! Still the ability and willingness to adapt to changing circumstances is as key now as it ever has been.

Our ancestors had the discipline and concentration to keep their minds one-pointedly focused on their goal of making a life for their families. Yet at the same time they were patient, remaining diligent in the face of the difficulties they faced.

To put their wisdom into practice, remember the two steps to your money transformation:

  1. Attitude: Shift your limiting beliefs and fears to your New Money Paradigm.
  2. Action: Take 100 percent responsibility for your money.

Too often whats missing today is personal responsibility. Heres a quick way to discover how responsible you are about money:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, how are you doing on your homework for this series?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your present financial situation?

How similar are your scores? If they are close, they indicate how responsible youre being about money.

Whats the cost of not taking responsibility for your money?

You know the answers better than anyone.

  • How much time and energy do you spend worrying about money? What else could you be doing with your time and energy?
  • How much stress do you have about money? Has it ever led to your being sick?
  • In which area of your life has your financial situation caused the most pain? Partner? Family? Business? Appearance?

Believe me, I have compassion for you and how difficult it is, especially these days. But would it be worth digging to find your ancestral toughness in order to stop paying this price?

Whats the solution?

Begin by discovering if youre willing to accept responsibility for your money. Are you willing to let go of any sense that youre a victim of circumstances or of another person in your life? The victim mentality keeps us stuck — forever, if we let it. Its darn near impossible to get anywhere with that load on your back! Blasting through a victim mindset makes way for you to stop procrastinating and avoiding, while giving yourself the clarity to transform your own approach to money.

For example, do you blame your life or business partner for your financial situation?

  • Hes not bringing in the money he promised!
  • If I waited for her to file the taxes, wed be in jail!
  • Its a good thing I dont charge as much as he does on our card!
  • Talk about high maintenance — shes the queen!

Yes, I know you have the proof, and its not fair. But, as they say, hows that working for you? What kind of strength — internal and external — would it take for you to stop criticizing and blaming someone else for your money mess? To do so is to accept responsibility, and doing so leads to prosperity and freedom.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

To demonstrate that youve accepted responsibility, get into action by taking 100 percent responsibility for your money. You know, getting on top of paying the bills, being up to date with taxes, completing all personal money issues with family and friends and, for me, it meant apologizing for the mess Id made. Everything. For you, the actions wont be the same as mine so you need to discover your own answers to the question, what do I need to do to take 100 percent responsibility for my money?

Make a list and then complete every task as quickly as possible. Dont let yourself off the hook for anything — do it all, whatever it takes. That doesnt necessarily mean, for example, that you pay off all your debts (more in a later article). But it does mean that you make an agreement with every debtor and that youre keeping that agreement. In other words, be fully responsible about money in your life.

Get started making the list as quickly as possible — pretend the Indians are on the ridge! List everything you can think of, leaving nothing out, and add others if they occur to you later.

Homework

In the next week, complete the following:

  1. Invest in your Money Paradigm by saying it to yourself at least 20 times a day.
  2. Complete your 100 Percent Responsibility list.
  3. Complete at least three items on your 100 Percent Responsibility list.

Whats Next?

Thank you for your response and your sharing to the first article in this series. Here are some honest answers to the question In what aspect of my relationship with money do I experience the most pain and suffering?

Some years ago I read a book by a wise Jewish writer called Money and the Meaning of Life. He said that money seems to permeate every aspect of life so we might as well master it.

I experience the most pain and suffering in the aspect to do with receiving money — being open to receive from many avenues, and feeling a need to be in control.

Next weeks article will be the third in the series: Awareness Brings Its Own Reward$. Heres the full list for reviewing or sharing:

  1. Moving from Pain to Prosperity
  2. Power of Your Attitude
  3. Whats Keeping You From Mastering Your Money? (this article)
  4. Awareness Brings Its Own Reward$
  5. How to Have More Money
  6. Your Money Kit

To make this journey toward sufficiency and abundance more meaningful for us all, please answer this question?

Whats the biggest challenge on my 100 Percent Money List?

Write your answers as well as your comments or questions either below on The Huffington Post or to jinny@bestyearyet.com.

For more by Jinny Ditzler, click here.
For more on mindful living, click here.
For more about Best Year Yet, click here.


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Should newlyweds share their money, assets and debts, or split?

While it’s easy to get swept up in the romance of a wedding, marriage is also a contract that comes with weighty financial decisions: will you take on each other’s debts and assets? Are you going to merge all your money or keep some separate? And how are you going to divvy up bill payments and other responsibilities?
(Michaela Rehle/REUTERS)


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Looking for a financial adviser? Here are some tips for finding one

As the economy slowly recovers, some of us are finding that there is money again to spend and save.

So now what?

Should you buy a house? Take a trip to Europe? Squirrel your money away in case the recession returns for an encore performance?

Whatever you decide, a financial adviser can help you determine what goals are realistic and help you achieve them. Advisers can help you handle expensive life events like a divorce or sending your kid to college, or they can simply help you organize your finances as you prepare for the future.

But keep in mind that youre essentially asking a stranger to help you make your financial decisions.

Here are some tips to help you make sure hiring a financial adviser doesnt cost you more than just a service fee:

Know what a financial planner does.

Financial planners are not stockbrokers, accountants or insurance agents. They take a look at your finances and help you meet a specific goal like retiring or buying a house. They dont do your taxes or give you trading advice.

Do your homework.

Anyone with a calculator can call himself or herself a financial planner. Look for someone with experience and the right education.

Certified financial planners (CFPs) are the best and safest option because they have to pass a two-day exam and meet continuing education requirements.

Other than credentials, interview them and find out who they are typically working with, said Kimberly Overman, a CFP and president of the Financial Well in Tampa. If their average client is 35 years old versus 65 years old, the mind-set is going to be different.

Background checks can be done through such groups as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Financial Planning Association. If the planner is a CFP, you can look to see if he or she has any complaints on file.

Dont entrust your money to just anyone.

Financial advisers are paid either with a base fee, a commission or some combination of the two. Make sure you ask them how they get paid, Overman said. And not only should you find a price that works for you (this is about handling your money responsibly, after all), understand that a commission could mean your adviser may be tempted to take more risks with your money to generate more earnings.

As you research financial advisers, make sure you review the code of ethics they follow.

Not only are CFPs regulated, they must pass an ethics review and pledge to abide by the CFP Boards Financial Planning Practice Standards and Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

Understand that you still have to manage your own personal finances.

Nobody likes balancing the checkbook, but hiring a financial adviser is not an excuse to completely hand over all of your monetary transactions.

The Financial Planning Association website lists all of the records and documents you should take to meetings with your financial adviser, including pay stubs, expense reports, tax returns and insurance policies.

So keep up that filing system!


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It’s Your Money: After life-changing event, recognize ‘new normal’

EDITORS NOTE: This marks the launch of Its Your Money, a personal finance column that will run Sundays in the print edition of The Gazette. The writing duties will be shared by Linda Leitz and Jane Young, who are Certified Financial Planners and co-owners of Pinnacle Financial Concepts Inc. in Colorado Springs.

Most of us hope for the best, but plan for the worst. And when the worst happens, getting through the bad event be it a disaster such as the recent Waldo Canyon fire, a divorce or the death of a loved one is different from moving forward after the bad event. There isnt a magic formula, but there are some things to do and some not to do in order to make the financial piece of a transition as smooth as possible and potentially less costly.

bull; Address the stress.

Trauma brings about stress. It may manifest in something relatively minor like a few sleepless nights or it may be bigger, leaving you unable to function effectively. Draw on the resources you have, including loved ones and professional therapists, to work through what is troubling you. When we make financial decisions in the midst of fear, anger, sorrow, or paralyzing uncertainty, those decisions often overcompensate for the powerful emotions being felt.

Further down the road, our decisions might feel ineffective and short-sighted. In fact, these decisions made in extreme emotional distress often dont even help with the same type of event in the future.

bull; Acknowledge the new normal.

Things wont be the same as they were before. So decisions need to take your new situation into account and many of the elements of your new circumstances might not all be in place yet. For instance, if youre going through a divorce, you need to start making decisions like youre in control of your own finances, not like you did as a couple.

While you wont want to repeat the difficult transition, it will provide some opportunities you didnt have before. Be willing to see those and pursue them.

bull; Take some time.

There are some immediate decisions to be made when a trauma occurs. That may be final arrangements for a loved one who has passed on finding a place to stay if you evacuated from a fire. Those decisions necessarily need to be made quickly. But bigger decisions like whether to rebuild a home lost in a fire deserve time to evolve. Your immediate response might not be as comfortable for you six months or a year from now.

bull; Seek out available resources.

You can make a good decision on your own. But theres a difference between being on your own and being alone. There are public services and entire industries and professions built around providing people in transition the help and advice they need. Get as much information as you can, then make an informed decision that works for you.

bull; Learn.

When you go through a difficult time in your life, you hope you wont have to do it again. But you can always learn from the experience. What are the things you did well and were glad youd planned for? What would you to do differently in the future? Are there ideas youd like to share with others going through the same situation? Wisdom is something you can gain from a difficult experience that cant be taken from you.

Leitz can be reached and welcomes questions at gazette@itsnotjustmoney.com.


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In Job Hunting, the Pas de Deux of Seeker and Offerer



I HAVE a friend who, like many people, has been looking for a job for over a year. He’s had dozens of interviews and been called back multiple times for positions that, in the end, he never received.

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Robert Neubecker

This friend, who asked not to be named because he was still looking for a job, summed up the whole process this way: “I liken it to playing chess on a board I can’t see against people I don’t know.”

A lot of other people who have been job hunting in the last few years feel the same way. You don’t want to present yourself as over- or underqualified. You don’t want to ask for too much or too little. But all too often, it can feel as if you’re driving in a strange place without a GPS or even a road map.

The good news is that these job discussions are taking place. That’s a change from the previous few years, when no one was hiring, or even looking. So the negotiations can be seen as a positive sign. But that doesn’t necessarily make them any easier.

Take the matter of salary for starters. It is not uncommon for a candidate to be asked back for numerous interviews before the subject of money is even raised. Do you continue going to yet another round of interviews hoping that you’ll not only get the job but also get the compensation you’re hoping for?

Bill Humbert of RecruiterGuy.com said that “generally, what happens is that the person representing the company is going to ask how much you’re making now.”

“The way to handle that is to say, ‘What I’m making now is not necessarily germane,’ ” Mr. Humbert said. “ ‘Every company does things differently. Let me ask what the range is for the company.’ Generally, the person on the other end doesn’t want to waste time and will tell you.”

Mr. Humbert acknowledged that while such an answer might work with the human resources department, a recruiter hired by the company to fill the job is much more likely to push for an answer. And you’ll have to give it.

My friend agreed. “I try to say I would expect a fair salary, and that many things go into job satisfaction, and then I try to get them to name a number,” he said. “Recruiters won’t let me get away with that. They know the game.”

It’s difficult to avoid acknowledging what you make now, or, if you’re unemployed, what you earned at your last job. But everyone I talked to warned against saying how much you hope to make in the position you’re interviewing for.

“In negotiations, you’d rather have them name the dollar,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consulting firm. “If you name your price too early, and it’s too low, you’ve left money on the table and maybe undersold your candidacy. If it’s too high, the company may think it can’t afford you.”

“A good answer to the question ‘What kind of money are you thinking about?’ ” he said, “is ‘I’m really open.’ ”

As my unemployed friend said, “I try not to get eliminated and try to keep the conversation going.”

While going through the interview dance with numerous members of the same company with nary a mention of pay may be frustrating, Mr. Challenger said, each time you go in to talk, you’re seen in a different (and, hopefully, increasingly positive) light. And the company is more invested in you.

“If you look at it from the standpoint that you’re selling yourself, you want to give the company more and more reasons to hire you,” Mr. Challenger said. “Be patient.”

Lee E. Miller, an executive coach and author of “Get More Money On Your Next Job … in Any Economy,” (McGraw-Hill, 2009) agreed. “If they decide you’re the candidate and you’ve sold them on what you can do — and assuming you have a pretty good idea of your market worth — you’re in pretty good shape to convince them they should pay at or near what you want.”

After all, while it may feel as if the job seeker is doing all the work, “a lot of mental energy goes into making the decision that this is the candidate I want,” Mr. Miller said. Once that decision is made, companies don’t want to go back to Square 1.

I know someone who was in the fortunate position of being offered two jobs. When he told his contact at Company B that he was choosing Company A, he was immediately offered $10,000 more.

“It will cost me that much to start the whole hiring process again,” he was told.

If the company is sending you signals and you have a feeling that an offer is going to come in way below what you have in mind, “you might choose to broach the subject,” Mr. Challenger said. “But generally, my advice is that if you’re raising the issue, you’ve taken on the wrong role of interviewer rather than interviewee.”

Of course, those seeking a job should try and go into an interview having a fairly good idea of the salary for the position they want. Web sites like Glassdoor.com, Salary.com and PayScale.com list salary ranges within industries, companies and geographical locations. But, as Mr. Challenger said, “even in the same jobs, companies are all over the map.”

And if you’re more than $10,000 apart, Mr. Miller said, than the job is probably not worth what you think it is. What you can do then, he said, is “focus on redefining the job to use the full extent of your skill set.”

“Often, it’s not that hard to redefine a job,” he said. But there is one roadblock that is impossible to overcome — if you’re asking for more than your prospective boss is currently making. A recruiter or human resources person might tell you that during the interview process.

While salary, of course, is important, people tend to overemphasize it. There are lots of other tangibles that one can try to negotiate — vacation time, signing bonuses or extra money for relocation, for example.

Performance bonuses are often thrown into the mix, too, though it can be tough to get an employer to promise a specific amount in writing.

“We’re such a litigious society now, that a company is going to be very cautious about promising performance bonuses,” Mr. Humbert said.

And of course, people need to take into account the intangibles when seeking a job as well.

“I’ve had people take 20 percent cuts in income, because they’re on call seven days a week and they’re tired of that kind of life,” he said.

Consider the commute, the opportunity for advancement, the type of people you’ll be working with and for, the complexity of the work and the autonomy you’ll have, Mr. Challenger said.

But all that must come at the end of the interview process, when the company has offered you a position, he said. “I’ve seen people who’ve not had an offer already negotiating and begin asking about vacation. You haven’t done enough work yet to convince them that you’re the right person.”

Perhaps it’s best to consider job hunting as a lot like dating. Both parties are trying to figure each other out, sometimes with scanty information. You rarely know who the competition is. You don’t want to talk about heavy things too early, though you should be ready when they arise. And when an opportunity comes along — tempting as it might be — don’t commit to something that’s wrong for you.

E-mail: shortcuts@nytimes.com


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Octomom Wants Your Money

After making her porn debut, scoring a stripping gig, recording a dance song, and slapping her name on a sketchy cash-lending site (no joke, it is actually called Octoloan.com), Octomom (aka Nadya Suleman) has managed to get herself off welfare. So, what’s the plan now? Begging.

Octomom has set up a page on GoFundMe.com, where she is soliciting donations from fans in order to reach her goal of $150,000, which she will use to buy expensive haircuts and gym memberships a house for her children.

Wait, ‘fans’? Octomom has fans now? Since when?

Anyway, the mother of 14 is looking to augment her stripper money with donations so she can get more plastic surgery replace the home that was recently foreclosed upon. She has two weeks to move out of the old digs, and is struggling to come up with the cash for a down payment on a new one.

Yes, the woman who recently declared bankruptcy is apparently looking at homes for which a down payment of at least $150,000 is required. There is no way this could end badly.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my page,” reads her donation page. “I am having to move out of my home soon and im[sic] very close to being able to buy a home for my kids. Your support is appreciated.”

“Thank you again, Nadya Suleman”

So far, she has received five donations, totaling $100.


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Your money or life: fraudsters claim to be hitmen

Someone you call a friend wants you dead.

Its the ominous message some shocked Windsorites have been receiving from a mysterious hitman offering to spare their lives, for a steep price.

But have no fear – Windsor police say its the latest in an endless line of scams dreamed up by devious fraudsters trying to rip people off.

“As I am writing to you now my men are monitoring you and they are telling me everything about you, where you are and when you come and go,” states the letter received by one Windsor resident. “Now, do you want to LIVE OR DIE?”

Det. Glenn Gervais, with the Windsor police fraud squad, said it seems the extortion scheme first appeared in Australia around 2007. It surfaced in the Oakville area a few years ago. Now its in Windsor. The FBI has also issued a warning about the scam.

Several individuals, and some businesses, have received the spam email in Windsor. Gervais said police are not aware of anyone who has fallen for it here.

Windsor police say you dont need to call them if you receive the email. Just delete it and dont respond.

There are many variations on the scam, with some demanding up to $80,000 to call off the hit. But the general idea is always the same.

The intended victim receives an email from someone claiming to be a hitman. The so-called killer claims that a person close to the victim has taken out a hit on him or her. The killer usually tells the victim he has been paid, but for a price, he wont go through with it.

Theres always a warning not to call police.

Also like other scams, the fraudsters send out thousands of emails hoping there will be a few dupes among the bunch. Gervais said the elderly, and those with skeletons in their closets, are among those who might be most vulnerable.

“This particular one because its talking about killing people, some people get it, especially elderly people, and it scares the hell out of then,” he said.

“Imagine if it goes to a person who has a concern or is having issues with somebody. They start thinking, theyre really going to do it.”

It only takes a few people to fall for the scam to make it worth while, he said.

“You can send out 10,000 of these with the click of a mouse,” said Gervais. “If one person wires you back $10,000 every day, youre doing pretty good. You can hit them all over the world.”

In one letter forwarded to Windsor police, the hitman claims he has the victims name, address, place of work and a photo.

“It is a pity that your life is going to end if you dont comply,” the letter states.

“My duty as I am mailing you now is just to (KILL YOU). Someone you call a friend wants you dead, and they have spent a lot of money on this.”

“I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for me to find you.”

The killer claims he has learned the planned victim is “innocent,” and is giving the person a chance to save his or her life. The victim has 24 hours to respond.

“Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your life, $9,000 is all you need to spend.”

The required first payment is $5,000. For that, he promises to send conversations he recorded with the person who supposedly hired him.

“As soon as you get the tape, you will pay the remaining $4,000. If you do not do this, then I will carry on with my job straight-up.”

The writer also includes a lengthy warning, in capital letters, not to tell anyone or call police.

“Remember, someone who knows you very well wants you dead! I will extend it to your family, if I notice something funny.”


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Probate Problems Mean Your Money May Not Go Where You Want

Probate Problems Mean Your Money May Not Go Where You Want

Jacqueline Almond, Monday, 30th July 2012

Not having a proper will can cause all sorts of problems after you die. You may not care, but your dependents will, says Jacqueline Almond of IBB Solicitors

Statistics produced by the Ministry of Justice show that over the past five years there has been a doubling in the number of probate disputes being dealt with by the High Court. There are likely to be a number of reasons for this but high profile cases such as those involving the RSPCA and the estate of Sir Jimmy Savile, to name just two, provide clues for the increase.

Over many years, family arrangements have become more complex. Figures produced by the Office for National Statistics in 2011 show that the number of children born to unmarried parents was almost half the number of births. Added to that over many years, the divorce rate has increased and so too has the number of second families.

During this time, the intestacy rules have not changed in respect of the beneficiaries who are provided for. lsquo;Common law spouses are not recognised in law and therefore on the death of one partner, the assets (unless held jointly) may pass to children or other family and not to the survivor.

While the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (as amended) creates a category for couples who have lived together as husband and wife, there has been no such provision under the intestacy rules. Instead, those who are not provided for are left to make a claim if agreement cannot be reached (by way of a deed of variation) and so risk the costs and distress of litigation.

On the other hand, there should be a degree of responsibility in planning for these more complex family arrangements. A well drafted will is a good basis for avoiding some of these issues (in particular the effects of the intestacy rules) and yet Law Society figures indicate that still some two-thirds of the population does not have a will. Money spent on a professionally drawn will at an early stage is likely to be repaid many times over, in avoiding a claim.

However, it is important that wills are kept up to date. Most people are unaware that marriage or remarriage revokes a will. Equally a change in circumstances may necessitate a change. The increase in wealth, despite the recent economic turmoil, is likely to be one reason why disappointed beneficiaries consider that it is worth making a claim. On the other hand, a sudden decrease in the value of assets may leave some beneficiaries disappointed depending upon the wording of the will.

Added to this is the increase in life expectancy and dementia. Many cases are brought on the basis that the deceased lacked capacity or where there are concerns that a family member or carer has exerted undue influence in the making of a will. Again, in cases such as these, it is important for the individual to have the benefit of professional advice which can, in some cases, head off a claim at an early stage.

Children often consider that they have an automatic entitlement to a parents estate, particularly if both parents are dead or if there has been a subsequent remarriage. Parents may not feel the same. They may consider that they have already made provision for their children or that their children are better off than they are.

There may have been a period of estrangement or one child may have provided more care and support. Legislation cannot provide solutions to these and many other factors so as wealth increases and our lives become more complicated, it is likely that the number of cases involving challenges to wills or applications for financial provision will continue to rise.

Jacqueline Almond is partner and head of Wills, Trusts amp; Probate at IBB Solicitors


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