College Saving Calculator

Prepaid phone cards are very popular among college students, frequent travelers or simply by anyone who wants to save on their long distance and international calls. Rechargeable prepaid phone cards are especially economic because the minutes that are added after purchasing the card are often less expensive. For instance, an AT & T prepaid phone cards can be purchased at most Wal-Mart stores at a cost of approximately $.08 per minute. When recharged, the minutes average $.05 each.

There are a number of reasons why prepaid phone cards are so popular, including the need to sometimes dial into a long distance telephone number for internet connections. Rather than paying the higher charges with the phone company, the user can have their modem dial using the calling card and then connecting to the internet.

While on vacation, hotels charge significant rates for long distance calls, but prepaid phone cards allow the user to dial into a toll-free number before dialing out to a long distance line. This will save big bucks as it will eliminate any long distance charges on the hotel bill.

Some cellular phones, such as Tracfone, operate on a prepaid basis. For each local call, one minute of talk time is equal to one unit (or minute) of prepaid service. International calls, on the other hand, may be significantly more expensive. In an effort to minimize the cost, some cell phone owners opt for programming prepaid calling cards into their phone and dialing out using the toll-free number. International rates will be higher with prepaid phone cards, but will likely be less than that of a cellular or regular phone service. This process will work on either cellular phones or a regular landline connection.

Along that same line, prepaid phone cards are also helpful in sending faxes. The same rules apply with long distance fax numbers, which can be costly through local telephone companies. The use of prepaid phone cards can often reduce these costs.

Toll-free numbers are free at payphones, so if you find yourself having car trouble or needing to get in touch with someone and the only phone nearby is a payphone, dont worry about having the right amount of coins or having to call collect. If you have a prepaid phone card with you, the call will be routed through the toll-free number at no additional cost to either you or the person whom you are calling.

In addition to the aforementioned advantages, prepaid phone cards are simple to use, easy to recharge from the store of original purchase, online through the prepaid phone cards customer service or via the toll-free number listed on the back of the card.

Tax Free Retirement

Imagine two situations;

  1. Finding $1000, that is yours to keep with no strings attached and
  2. Earning $1000 through hard-work.

Im curious – is there any difference between the value of them? Do you consider one to be worth more than the other? Is there any difference in how you would spend them?

Are they different to you in some way? You can do exactly the same thing with them. I wonder if you really would. Well if you do attach a different value to them you could be missing out; read on to learn how to get more for free!

My point in all this questioning is that if we only value the things that we have to work hard for there is a danger that the things that we can have with ease just pass us by – they are unvalued and do not grab our attention. These things are not just money of course but skills, knowledge, relationships to name a few; they are all valuable assets.

The secret of success is to consider this all in two parts:

  1. The value of it - that is how well it meets your needs, not just monetary value. This applies whether it was easy to come by or not.
  2. The recognition of the achievement in attaining it. Some things can be harder to acquire than others and we should reward ourselves through recognition when we acquire such things.

You see, it is worth the same whether you had to acquire new skills or resources to get it or rely on the existing (carefully honed) ones that you take for granted.

How about if, from now on, you recognize what you have for what it is worth and separately for what it took to achieve it. Seeing it as two parts will open your awareness to the things that you can have that are already available to you without effort.

When you see yourself making these changes and getting different results be sure to thank yourself. Your mind wants to please you and likes gratitude. In return it will do it all the more for you.

Enjoy getting richer!

New York State Retirement Calculator

If youre fortunate, or depending on how you look at it, unfortunate to live in one of the twelve states that are under a non-fault auto insurance system, you can cause an accident, yet your insurance company wont pay for the other parties damages.

If you live in a No-fault state (DC, FL, HI, KS, KY, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, ND, PA, UT) that means you live in a state that both requires drivers to carry insurance for their own protection and places limitations on their ability to sue other drivers for damages. Your auto insurance company will pay for your damages (up to your policy limits), regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Any other drivers involved will be covered by their auto insurance policies. Since all are required to carry insurance, in theory, there should be no uninsured motorists in those states. Stop laughing; the term in theory was used!

These states opted for the no fault insurance system because it guarantees every driver immediate medical treatment in the event of an accident. Further, its intended to reduce the legal and administrative fees associated with insurance claims. Again, in theory, this should equate to lower premiums. Unfortunately, often times the liability issues that still remain will actually drive premium costs up.

However, because no state is pure no fault, drivers can always be held financially responsible for the cost of injuries they cause in certain circumstances, thats the loop hole. Some states allow injured parties to sue if their injuries meet certain standard for severity, while others allow it when total costs reach a certain dollar level.

Below is a classic case of a no-fault situation. Neighbor lived in a four-plex apartment building. It had a 4-stall garage along with a 4-stall wide driveway. Because the driveway was so wide it was second nature for the tenants to pull out of their parking spots and turn around in the driveway instead of backing into the street.

One Sunday afternoon, one of the tenants decided to go visit a friend. She got into her car and began backing out of the driveway in her normal manner. When all of a sudden she felt a bump and heard a scream. At first she thought she ran over her cat who would occasionally escape. She opened her car door and found half of a body. Scared half out of her mind, she shut the car off and ran into the house and immediately called 911.

The driver was too scared to go outside at that point. As far as she knew, the half body, belonging to one of her neighbors, was still under the car and the driver was certain the injuries were serious. Her left rear wheel had crossed her body from her thigh on one side on the diagonal to above her pelvic region. The driver later learned that some strong man from across the street came over and picked up the car so she could get out from underneath.

The neighbor announced that she was feeling fine and didnt want to go to the hospital. But the police and ambulance didnt feel the same way so they took her the four blocks to the hospital. Turns out the neighbor was sunbathing behind her car and somehow the driver didnt see her when she walked to her car. She ended up with no broken bones, no internal injuries; just a tire track from her right thigh across to her left stomach.

The driver felt absolutely terrible, accepted full responsibility, wanted to do everything and more to make it up to her. The next day, the driver phoned the insurance company to explain to them what had happened. They asked her two questions. #1 Does she drive? (yes) and #2 Does she own a car? (yes). The insurance company informed the driver that due to No Fault insurance the neighbors own car insurance would have to cover the medical costs. The driver was clearly at fault, yet the drivers insurance wouldnt cover the damages even though it was her fault.

The driver went as far as to tell the neighbor to sue her since it was her fault and she felt totally responsible. The neighbor merely responded, “It was just an accident.” The lesson here – next time lay on the grass, instead of the drive way to sunbathe and risk the doggy doo.

Interesting No-Fault system, wouldnt you say?

Average Retirement Savings

It will take you on average between 25 to 30 years to pay off your credit card at the minimal amount. This will not do.

Make a list of all of your credit cards (including all consumer debt such as doctor bills, furniture stores and your home).

List the following in columns: the type of credit card, principle amount, regular payment amount, power down payment, interest rate, total number of payments left on the card, estimated payoff date. Put your list in order of how many payments are left from least to most. If you make a minimum payment of $55/month on one of your cards until it is paid off in full, you then have $55/month freed up to add to the minimum monthly payment for the next credit card. After you pay off the second card, the amount you were paying on that one can be applied toward the third card. By doing this, you will decrease the number of years required to pay off your credit cards from approximately 30 years to nine years.

Using this strategy, think about the other ways you can free up money. If you spend about $100 at Starbucks each month, think about spending that money toward your credit card payments.

Remember, money is emotional. We spend and make money based on emotional compulsion. Go back and see what you spent money on in the last week and how much you spent. Its not how much money you make that matters, but how well you manage it that counts.

Financial Retirement Advice

Bankruptcy should be seen as the last resort for people who have got themselves into too much debt. It may seem the answer to all your prayers but bankruptcy is only able to solve certain debt issues. Remember, if you have filed for bankruptcy you may find it difficult to obtain credit in the future unless your bankruptcy has been cleared, or discharged for a number of years.

Bankruptcy is very good for wiping out credit card debt. Unless you have a special secured credit card, your credit card balance is an unsecured debt. That means that the credit card company has no hold on anything that belongs to you if you do not pay back your debt. This is specifically the kind of debt that bankruptcy is designed to remove. Apart from credit card debt, you may have other unsecured debts, and bankruptcy can eradicate these as well. However, bankruptcy will not discharge your obligations to some other kinds of debts, including child support, alimony, tax debts, student loans, and any secured debts.

If you are reading this then the chances are that you are considering filing for bankruptcy. Your debts have got to the point where you cannot afford the monthly payments that your creditors are demanding. However, there are numerous bankruptcy alternatives. The most important thing is not to panic and to sit down and look at your financial situation.

If you reach the stage where you are in so much debt that you are considering bankruptcy then there are a number of measures that you can take to avoid bankruptcy. Firstly, you should cut up all of your credit cards. This may seem drastic, but it is the only way to avoid bankruptcy by guaranteeing that you do not increase your level of debt by charging more onto your credit cards.

All lenders would prefer to receive some money rather than none at all and when you file for bankruptcy a number of your creditors will receive little or none of the proceeds. This is especially the case with your unsecured loans, such as credit cards. You should contact all of the people that you owe money to and explain the situation. Most will work out a repayment schedule with you as a bankruptcy alternative, giving you longer to pay off what you owe and sometimes even freezing the interest.

Retirement Budget Worksheet

Cuts to the Medicare budget may be the most threatening surgery of all for patients in need of medical imaging services.

Congress made deep cuts earlier this year in reimbursement for many medical imaging services that Medicare patients receive in physician offices and independent imaging centers.

Experts fear these cuts will mean less access and higher costs for many patients, especially those in rural areas.

Congress, say advocates, should impose a two-year moratorium on the cuts in order to more fully understand their impact on patients.

Starting in 2007, imaging services will be reduced by Congress by some $8 billion over 10 years. Those reductions represent more than one-third of the total Medicare cuts in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act.

The payment reductions affect a wide range of medical procedures and tests provided in physician offices and imaging centers. For example, reimbursement would be cut:

35 percent for ultrasound to guide less-invasive breast biopsies;

50 percent for PET/CT scans used for diagnosing and managing tumors;

40 percent for bone density studies for diagnosing osteoporosis; and

42 percent for MR angiography that detects aneurysms in the head.

Given the size of these and similar cuts, advocates warn that many physicians will likely discontinue or cut back on the imaging they provide in independent imaging centers or their own offices. If this happens, patients will have to seek these services at hospitals, which can be much further away and often involve higher out-of-pocket costs for patients. As a result, convenient access to services that many Medicare patients rely on will no longer be available.

Its believed that patients in rural areas are likely to be the hardest hit.

Unfortunately, say advocates such as the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition, these reductions were made without public hearings, public debate or open discussion. The reductions were made without public participation, even though they will likely affect the lives of many Medicare beneficiaries.

Instead, the Coalition believes Congress should impose a two-year moratorium on imaging cuts, so the Government Accountability Office can study the issue.

Early Retirement Calculator

Flowering landscape trees are the crown jewels of the yard.

Perhaps no other plants, individually, can have as great an

impact on how a yard looks in spring. Browse the articles to

which Ive linked below for information on particular varieties

of flowering landscape trees. Pictures are included.

Crape Myrtles: Landscape Trees of the South

A popular choice in flowering landscape trees for Southerners,

crape myrtles have a long blooming period (mid-summer to

fall). The blooming clusters of these flowering landscape trees

come in pink, white, red and lavender. The clusters appear on

the tips of new wood. Northerners can sometimes get away

with treating these flowering landscape trees as perennials

that die back in winter but come back in spring.

Trees

Not all specimens with a weeping habit are flowering

landscape trees, but this article looks at several weeping

varieties that do bloom, headed by four types of cherry.

Saucer Magnolias

The size and shape of the blooms are what suggested the

common name for these flowering landscape trees. Want a

specimen with a brilliant bloom as big as a saucer? Access

information on these beauties here.

Rose of Sharon

Although some people think of it as a landscape “tree”

(because it gets tall and can be pruned so as to have a single

trunk), rose of sharon is, in fact, a flowering shrub. The fact

that it blooms relatively late — and for a long time — makes it

a valuable plant for those looking to distribute their yards

color display throughout the growing season.

Top 10 List of Flowering Landscape Trees and Shrubs for

Spring

This article features information on ten flowering landscape

trees and shrubs that brighten our spring seasons. Included

are redbud, callery pear and crabapple.

Hawthorn: Late-Blooming Landscape Trees

This article offers information on Washington hawthorn trees,

which are perhaps most valued for the time at which they

bloom (late spring to early summer). Many of the popular

flowering specimens bloom earlier in the spring, and while

their blossoms are pleasant sights for eyes sore from winters

barrenness, they desert us too quickly!

Personal Finance Retirement

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your assets if you were sued, in a car accident and it was your fault or if you became disabled or even died? Most people consider this question but do very little about taking the necessary steps to protect their assets.

The first thing to do is to have a plan in place before anything bad happens to you. Even if you are one of the luck ones and nothing ever bad happens, eventually as a fact, everyone dies.

When you die, your bank accounts are frozen, and an executor is appointed to wrap up your estate. This means finding everyone you owed money to, and settling the debts. If you have a family, and all your assets are in your own name, your spouse could be unable to access your funds for up to 2 years.

There are three major concerns when it comes to protecting your assets: estate duties, income taxes, and lawsuits.

Estate duties

When you die, the government claims a percentage of the value of your estate. This amount varies from country to country, and it could be anything from 20% to as much as 55%.

The solution to the estate duty problem is to ensure that your estate is worth as little as possible when you die. Moving your assets into a living trust could be a good solution, as the trust is not taxed upon your death.

Income tax

How do you legally reduce your tax liability? One way is to decrease your income to an absolute minimum. Anything you need could be paid for by a business. For instance, if you need a new laptop, it could be paid for by your corporation or living trust. It is a legitimate business expense, as long as you use it for generating income, and not just for playing games.

The expenses of a business are deducted from its income before taxes are calculated. For individuals working for an employer, taxes are deducted before you even get your paycheck. That means that your personal expenses are paid for with after-tax income. If a separate legal entity can pay some of these expenses, it reduces the amount of money you need to earn, and the amount of tax you need to pay.

Lawsuits

The first thing that happens when someone wants to sue you is that his or her lawyer will try to find out what you are worth.

It is not difficult to find out someones net worth by examining public records. These days, on the internet, it is even easier. What you need to do is look like a poor target. This could mean transferring as many assets as possible into a separate legal entity, which you do not own, but do control. This could be a living trust, or a corporation.

It might also mean that you ensure that properties in your own name are mortgaged to the hilt, so that your net asset value (the difference between what you own and what you owe) is as low as possible. Ideally, you want your assets and your income to be as small as possible, so that you are not worth suing.

In conclusion

Everyone has different financial needs. Laws are different from country to country, and from state to state. It is essential that you get professional advice from a competent financial adviser before doing anything.

If you are in financial trouble, it is already too late. If you transfer assets in order to put them out of reach of your creditors, it may be seen as fraudulent and illegal. You need to have a plan in place before you are sued, and before anyone tries to take your assets away.

You may think that you are too young to worry about asset protection, but it is not too early to get a plan in place. It is a cliche, but still true: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Retirement Tips

You have always been interested in investing in a business, however you always hold back because you are scared of making a bad choice and losing your investment. However, there are some ways to evaluate businesses to reduce the risk you are taking when you invest. Of course, risk is never eliminated, but when you properly evaluate what makes a business worth investing in then you will more than likely have your answer whether the company will be a success or failure before you invest your dollars. The following tips will help you make the right investment.

    Investment Tip #1 Management

    When deciding whether a business is worth investing in or not you need to evaluate the management because a business really is only as successful as its management. Because of this you want to evaluate if the management is knowledgeable, rational, and able to make the right choices to make the company money and prevent it from losing money. Of course, this is an easy question although the answer is a little more difficult.

    Investment Tip #2 Business Plan

    A business plan that is well laid out and shows positives, negatives, and how the company and management will handle problems within the business is very important. A good business plan shows that management knows where the company is, where it wants to go, and what it needs to do to get there. Be sure you take a look at a companys business plan before you invest.

    Investment Tip #3 Return on Investment

    The ROE, or return on investment, is also crucial when you are considering making an investment in a company. Of course, the ratio of equity to debt can be confusing, but if you evaluate the ROE and other economic factors you should be able to tell if the company is bringing money in or losing it.

    Investment Tip #4 Room for Growth

    Making sure the business has room for growth in its market is also important. A company that has little competition is preferable, but a company with a moderate amount of competition and a plan to be number one is ok as well. Just do your research.

When you are interested in investing in a company you need to take your time and evaluate the company, look over financial statements, talk to management and have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction. After all, it is your money and you arent going to give your money to just any company. So, be sure and confident in the company and have that backed up with proof and you will decrease your risk investing in a company.

Retirement Financial Planner

Is it more traumatic to be told no by a date or a bank? Actually, Im not sure but I can tell you Ive gotten a lot of nos from one of them. Im not saying which. For many investors the no from the banks can be a serious problem. How can one possibly do real estate investing without a lender or a large amount of money in the bank?

There is another way to do it. It is referred to by many as private money or a silent partner. It simply means that someone other than a bank or a business that does lending is willing to loan you the funds to do what you want to do. When I first heard of it I thought that there cant be very many people out there willing to do that.

As I have used private money myself, I have realized that there are definitely enough people out there that are willing to do it. There can be a wide variety of reasons as to why they would want to, but it comes down to this; they want to make money and believe that you can do it for them.

A typical situation would look like this: someone out there has a significant amount of capital (money) that they want to be working for them. For whatever reason, they dont have the time to do all the work of real estate investing themselves, or maybe they dont even want to do it.

The other side of the transaction is the investor who is either new or just stretched out with all available capital currently in properties already. When the two parties come together, we have profitable activity.

Lets take a look at why each side may want to pursue this. As stated earlier, the investor who is looking for the capital may be stretched out so that banks will not lend any more money. He or she may also have a poor credit history or maybe even just not like banks. I attended one seminar where the speaker had worked for a bank and been ruined by them. He stated that he did his first 26 deals without any assistance from banks.

The person with the capital is simply looking for the highest return on their investment. Many investments are performing so poorly in the last several years that there are very few places to get a high return on money without substantial risk. Real estate provides a relatively safe high yield, provided that the person supplying the capital does some due diligence to make sure the person they are funding has the ability to complete the deal.

At a minimum, here is what should be disclosed on any private money transaction: The financial situation of the property should be fully known, how much is either owed on it or how much is it going to be purchased for, what is the market value once it is either fixed, rented, or resold?, how much is it going to cost to fix, hold or resell? What other sources of money is the property purchaser going to use?

Notice that the focus so far has been on the property. The property is very crucial to a successful investment. The other piece is the purchaser. The lender has to have some idea of the competency of the purchaser. The best proof is a portfolio of previously successful real estate deals. Absent that, the investor has to rely on a judgment of the character and competence of the property purchaser.

Where does one go about finding either side of the transaction? Probably the best places would be investment clubs or groups. Do a web search on real estate investment club with your local area and you may be surprised at how many there are. Another source is on various classifieds in print or online. Many property purchasers advertise looking for investors. It is less common for investors to advertise for property purchasers, because they would be overwhelmed.

Completing the transaction is the easy part. Most commonly, a Deed of Trust and Promissory Note are used. The property owner completes both and gets the deed notarized and recorded. This way the party supplying the capital for the real estate investment has the property as collateral and can be certain the person they are supplying the money to is not just going to run off with it.

The terms of repayment can be whatever the two parties agree to. I am not an attorney, so if there are some terms that would be prohibited in your area, I wouldnt know. For any transaction involving real estate investment and lots of money you should seek professional counsel.

There is a certain good feeling being able to do real estate investing without the need of a bank. I highly recommend it.