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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dealing With Income or Job Loss

By Doug West

Multiple Income Streams Are More Important Than Ever

The latest economy reports show more and more folks ending up on the unemployed rolls. The real statistics are most often worse than what is reported.

My guess is that the situation will get Much worse before we see any improvement in the job numbers.

I have always been a big fan of multiple income streams (even before that became a catch-phrase), and I think they are more important now than ever.

When I was laid off my nearly 10 year job with AT&T back in 1992, I saw first hand how important multiple income streams were. At the time, I had a part time mail order biz (and had been tinkering with that since I was a kid). I looked at the lay off as a good opportunity to get more serious about my business. I also had been doing some investing (my best-ever stock play helped BIG back in those days), and had a little network marketing income.

Many of my AT&T coworkers had no other source of income, and I clearly remember a few grown men in tears when they walked us all out the door that morning!

I would MUCH rather have five sources of income that pay me $200 a week, than to have a J.O.B. that pays me a grand a week! If you still have a job, you need to take this info seriously - NOW! If you are one of the millions of folks that recently lost a job or your only income stream, you need to take steps NOW to correct that (you still have time - perhaps a severance package and/or unemployment insurance checks to get you by - but please don't wait till they run out to get going).

How do you start to create multiple income streams? Here are a few areas that are available to most people:

* Online Income - Many things fall into this category, affiliate plans, blogging income, Adsense dollars, online jobs, marketing your own products and/or services, eBay and other auctions, & more.

* Investment Income - OK, this one may be tougher than ever, and if you barely have money to live on, how do you start to invest! I am partial to index trading, and that does not require a lot of money to get started, but to be really good at it, you need other income streams too.

* Network Marketing Income - Don't turn up your nose at this one. I have companies sending me checks that I have not worked in years. While it is true that network marketers often talk about the top guy who is making $500,000 a month, but there are a TON of folks who make a few hundred a month. Not life changing in and of itself, but as part of your multiple income stream strategy, not bad either.

* Cash Back Debit & Credit Cards - You won't get rich with this alone either, but the old saying is really true "If you watch the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves". Pay Pal offers cash back on a debit card (which in my opinion is better than a credit card - you won't have the temptation to carry over a balance, which would cause interest charges and defeat the purpose of cash back)

* Interest Savings on Loans & Credit Cards - OK, this is not technically income, but if you save money off what you are currently spending, it comes out the same in the end - more money in your pocket and budget.

* Food Bill Savings - This is like the Cash Back cards, not really income but can be very important - especially if you just lost your job or sole income (like many folks who used to live on their stock market income). Try clipping coupons or join a coupon club. Eat at home more and quickly find more money left in the budget at the end of the month.

* Turn Hobbies Into Income - Like to go to garage sales? Turn that hobby into eBay income. Like to work on small engines or have some other hobby that can be turned into an income source? Don't sell yourself short here. Maybe you love flea markets? What if you could get an extra $200 or more a week by setting up a booth one day a week? Not enough to live on for most folks, but not bad as part of your multiple income strategy. You might even consider creating a booklet, ebook, book, or other info product on your hobby. If you are good at it, you ARE and Expert (you don't have to be the best to be considered an expert - there are folks out there who will pay you for what you know).

We have had affiliates of our Index Trading course earn up to $100,000 in a year. We've had many more earn from $5,000 to $30,000 in a year. What if you had 5 affiliate plans you liked (loved would be better - you'd be more passionate about them), that averaged about $5,000 each per year. You might be able to live on that. Add some other sources like the ones mentioned above and you might live very well!

You should always be looking for ways to add additional income streams. Remember, the more you have the better! If one dries up, you are not devastated.

The time to set up multiple income streams is before you need them, but no matter what your situation is, there is no time like NOW to get started.

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Your Credit Score - What Is A Good Number?

By Christine A. Mathews

If you're thinking about applying for credit, it's always a good idea to find out what your current credit score is ahead of time. It will be one of the first things your lender looks at when reviewing your application. And it could well be a determining factor in how quickly your loan is approved. Knowing what your credit score is before you apply will help eliminate any surprises along the way.

So what is a credit score -- and why is it important?

A credit score is simply a number calculated by the three major credit bureaus that indicates how well you handle credit. This is done by reviewing your past credit history and looking at how you are doing with any current debts as well.

The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. Each one has it's own method of deciding what your credit score is. Then they use a scoring system to show how good you are at handling credit and paying your bills on time. They all use the same scoring system - FICO - which is an acronym for Fair Isaac Corporation. That's why many people will use the terms "credit score" and "FICO score" interchangeably.

The truth is, lenders won't always ask for credit reports or credit scores from all three credit bureaus when you apply for a loan. Fortunately, since the "big three" all use the same FICO system, a score of 680 from one is thought to be the same as a score of 680 from the other two credit bureaus. Even so, it's a good idea to review your credit report from each one, as sometimes mistakes are made. When that happens, you should contact the credit bureau to have them corrected.

Where Do You Fall - What Is A Good Credit Score?

FICO scores range from 375 to 900 points. A higher score is typically considered a better risk. So the higher your credit score is, the easier it will be for you to get credit and the better the terms will be.

You should understand that each lender will have their own underwriting guidelines and cutoff points they have to follow. But here is a general guideline you can use to see where your credit score falls overall.

If you have a credit score of 650 and above, you probably have a very good credit history. Because you've been responsible in the past, you will probably find the approval process is quick, easy and painless. An added bonus is that your loan terms and interest rate will probably be very good.

Scores between 620 and 650 are considered average. This means your credit is basically good. If you fall into this range, lenders will tend to look for any possible credit risks before approving a high credit limit or large loan amount. You may find you have to provide additional documentation and explanations when applying.

You may also find that your loan will take longer to finalize. Even so, chances are good that you are able to get approval at a good credit rate.

A score below 620 doesn't automatically mean you won't get credit. But you may need to shop around a bit to find the right lender. You should also understand that the interest rates and terms of your loans won't be as desirable.

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How to Dispute Equifax

By Justin Hutto

A dispute can be filed with Equifax by creating a dispute letter and mailing it to them. In your letter you will need to include a reason as to why the listing is inaccurate.

There are two options to do this; you can do it yourself or hire a credit repair service to do it on your behalf. However be aware if you do it yourself that you must send a letter to each credit bureau.

This means that if you send a letter to Equifax and they remove the mark you will also need to send a letter to Transunion or Experian. There is no communication between the three bureaus regarding disputes.

Common reasons to dispute a bad credit item include; information is wrong, item is out of date, account paid in full and more. The Fair Credit Reporting Act passed by congress gives you the right to dispute any item on your credit report.

In addition the act says the bureaus must remove an item if it is not verified by the creator. This act is what the dispute process is based upon.

When your dispute is filled the bureau will conduct an investigation. They will contact the creator of the negative mark and ask them to verify the debt, the amounts and the dates.

If this item is not verified by the creator then the bureaus must remove it from your credit report. Often investigations will result in the removal of an item from your report. This is because many businesses are not willing to spend the resources to verify disputed debts.

Before the bureaus will investigate your dispute they must deem it valid. There is no clear definition of what a valid dispute is.

It is common for bureaus to respond to a dispute letter with another letter that requests more information about the dispute. This is said to be a stall tactic the bureaus use to avoid conducing and investigation.

This is because it will only cost the bureaus money to investigate disputes. The bureaus customers are businesses and only because of government law is there a dispute process.

I suggest hiring a service if you have considerable damage to your credit. However if you only have minor damage such as one or two negative listings then you can dispute your report yourself. If you do it yourself just be patient and persistent.

In sum you do not have to wait seven years for a bad credit item to be removed from your credit. You can dispute the listing and have it removed immediately.

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Affordable Housing found in Non Standard Construction Properties

By Phillip Evans

In these tough economic times where it difficult to get on the housing ladder or awkward to find a property bargain non standard construction properties could offer a viable solution.

Prefabricated reinforced or concrete Non standard build properties where originally designed as accommodation as a temporary solution to a housing shortage after the 2nd World War.

The properties where built by the Local Councils and formed part of the housing stock, when the Right To Buy legislation was enacted by Margaret Thatchers conservative party in the 1980's these houses slowly where sold into private hands as "Right To Buy" exploed in popularity

RICS Valuation Firms have typically valued these properties far below their traditionally built counterparts, as mortgage lenders shy away from lending on Non standard construction or prefabricated reinforced concrete houses as they are still classed temporary, despite them still being perfectly habitable in the 21st century.

It's estimated that there were about 1.25 million (one million two hundred and fifty thousand) of these types of properties built after the war. Which I'm sure you will agree offers a great affordable housing stock.

Enable Finance Ltd provide non standard construction mortgages even if these non standard properties do not have a PRC certificate or have not had remedial works carried out. The more popular non traditional housing is Reema Hollow Panel, Woolawy Bungalow, Wimpey No Fines and waites construction and if not always tend to be ex local authority flats or houses.

PRC or non traditionally built properties could answer some very simple affordable housing solutions for the UK home mover or professional buy to let investor. If you are an investor you will no doubt have come up against problems when your rental yields do not stack up as property prices have soared over the past few years, make sure you speak with Enable Finance today.

With the Chancellor of the Exchequer increasing the stamp duty threshold to 175,000, most home movers buying non standard construction properties will not pay stamp duty as prices tend to be low. Non Traditional property could offer a real cost saving and affordable housing solution.

For a FREE no obligation quote on a mortgage for non standard construction property please visit Enable Finance Ltd online. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Ask for a personalised illustration. There will be a fee for arranging mortgages, normally 1% of the advance, subject to a minimum of 1950 and a maximum of 2450. The fee can usually be added to the mortgage amount.

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Is the crunch putting the brakes on credit cards?

By Mark Wright

The current credit quagmire is a different animal to previous slowdowns, economic downturns or financial crises. Firstly it has a catchy, media-friendly name ('Credit Crunch'). Secondly and most importantly it's hit consumers harder and much earlier than previous 'economic readjustments'. The catchy title isn't to be underestimated - the media's love of the term has raised awareness amongst the general public that there is a major problem with the financial system. It's also brought home the fact that much of what is happening now is a direct consequence of the 10 years of good times had by all in the credit bonanza of the late 1990's and early 2000's. A survey by financial information analysts Moneyfacts has found that at least 10% of credit cards have raised their interest rates as a direct response to the current crisis.

A knock-on effect of the credit crunch has been the average interest rate on credit cards rising from 16.8% to 17.2% since the start of August 2008. This trend upwards is in direct opposition to the Bank of England's policy of cutting base interest rates to stave off the chances of runaway inflation. The credit crunch is biting, and biting hard. As banks and lenders realise that the money pot in the City is nearly empty, they know that this time consumers are feeling the squeeze as well. In the lenders' eyes that means a greater risk of customers defaulting on payments, so the interest rate rise on credit cards is seen as a financial cushion against defaults and bad debt. The lenders are shoring up their financial positions and doing their utmost to reduce their exposure to bad debt.

As the financial institutions lost faith with each other, they tightened up on lending criteria across the board. This was primarily to stabilise an already shaky marketplace and stop everyone running the risk of 'bad debt', both lenders and borrowers alike. The lenders need money to continue trading and as borrowing from other banks and financial institutions has practically stopped, the only way for them to get the money they need to continue in business is to increase interest charges on credit agreements, loans, credit cards and mortgages. This signifies an end to the 'live now, pay later' lifestyle that the First World industrial countries have enjoyed for so many years.

From 1997 until 2007, the lenders were having a boom time in the UK. But the credit crunch wasn't the only thing that seemed to stop the good times in their tracks. An increasingly competitive marketplace, the emergence of economic superpowers like China and India, increasing bad debts and government legislation all contributed to the lenders reassessing their financial positions. Some companies responded by 'dumping' thousands of customers who were seen as non-profit clients - the people who paid off their balance in full each month and incurred minimal interest charges. All lenders have tightened up their criteria for lending, including restricting credit limits, imposing higher fees on balance transfers and limiting access to cash withdrawals. Although this may seem like a further indication that things are getting worse, it could actually be the right move - stabilising the credit market and reducing the possibility of credit card customers borrowing more than they can afford to pay back. The credit card lenders may actually lead the way in market recovery by this simple readjustment of open lending policy.

The credit card industry has been hit twice. The loss of the overall market share several years before resulted in a clamour for customers, with 0% balance transfers acting as financial carrots to customers wanting to reduce their interest payments on outstanding balances. Cards are now shifting towards a policy of charging up to 3% balance transfer fees to try to pull back some of the lost profit that the 0% offers cost them. The second blow was the Office of Fair Trading's decision in 2006 to cap penalty charges to 12. Now cards are lining up for another bureaucratic blow as the Complaint's Commission takes a closer look at the personal protection insurance schemes that often accompany credit card deals.

Unemployment is the next potential credit problem as the economic downturn starts to impact on jobs over the next 12 months. If things do get worse credit card customers can expect interest rates on their cards to go up not down, as lenders try to cushion themselves against the impact bad debt exposure could have on their business. There are still plenty of good credit card deals available. But lenders are a little more careful about whom they lend to, so the best thing to do to ensure that the credit crunch doesn't scupper your chances of getting a good deal is to check your credit rating measures up before you apply.

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Home Business Loans

By Jimmy Johnson

Many people are captivated by the idea of working from home. It allows them the opportunity to make sure that they can find their own profession no matter what they are and the ability to choose one's own hours, including nights, weekends and holidays, should the individual want to work during these times periods. It is also possible for these people to not work on those days or times either. They get to make their own schedule and decide which hours they will and will not work, all throughout the year.

Sounds good doesn't it? So what is holding you back? Money right! It can cost a lot to get started by converting your garage, building a workshop or converting a den to an office. Home business loans are loans specifically aimed at this kind of investment. There are two types of loan, secured and unsecured.

What's the difference between secured loans and unsecured loans? Well this is probably not a question that will have you gripping the arms of your chair in breathless anticipation of the answer. But actually it should, because the difference between secured loans and unsecured loans can cost you thousands of pounds in unnecessary overpayment of interest. So if you are at all interested in how to get your home business going then loan conversion from one type to the other may be just the thing you need.

A source of funding like a Home business loan is valuable as it is available and can be relied upon for starting off costs to help you feel secure and enable you to make necessary investments.

These establishments get the money that is accrued in the form of interest on the loans. In the end, everyone is able to benefit from home business loans, as long as the individual that takes out the loan is able to pay back the loan.

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Making Cents From Theta Decay You Can Do It Too

By Walter Fox

For many market traders, looking for a trend or some other market anomaly in order to consistently make money is the financial holy grail. Though there are a number of market systems that claim to be consistent enough to make you money, the reality is that most strategies aren't as trustworthy as they could be, which can cause you to lose your hard earned capital.

Theta decay is one much-hailed example of such systems. The name itself is surely impressive. The fact is, though, that theta decay rests on a very fundamental concept in option trading the fact that options expire on a set date.

One result of this is that option values change over time. In particular, they change significantly when their expiration dates are drawing near. For example, options traders have learned that option values tend to drop as the strike date approaches.

The specific expiration date of options is that gives theta decay its edge. Unlike stocks, the options market has a constant and, to some, dizzying flow of information. For traders who are able to keep up with that flow, big gains await.

But how does one put theta decay to play in stock options trading? It's not as difficult as you might think. The key insight is that the time value of money changes faster as the expiration date approaches. Studies have found that an option's time value falls according to a linear pattern before reaching the last thirty or so trading days before its expiration date.

Those last thirty days are where this set of option trading strategies comes into full effect. As the issue gets closer within that thirty day period, the time value of the option starts to decline at an accelerated rate. As a result, if you hold certain positions, you can profit from this loss.

By holding a short position in an option that is close to expiration while selling an inverse call option, you can capitalize on the vale loss in a couple of ways. You can make money by selling the call at a premium to what the actual value is, and can make money on the short position so long as the option fails to finish in the money on the positive side.

As you can see, by tracking expiration dates and perfecting your timing, you can make theta decay a profitable technique. It is true, as with any system, that improper application of the strategy could lose you principal. But for those who have a good feel for the market and the ability to track option market information, theta decay remains a potentially lucrative and non-commonplace device worthy of being added to your market toolkit.

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