Mortgage Loans – 5 Tips to Future Proof Your Loan

Nothing is certain in the world of finance, but there are definitely ways we can protect ourselves and plan for the future. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, we have some handy hints for making sure your arrangement is as stable and beneficial as possible.

1. Assess your current bank and home loan

Even if you are not considering changing your home loan, it makes sense to do an annual ‘health check’ on your mortgage to make sure you’re on the right track. It may not seem like much, but small fees and differences to rates in mortgage loans can add up over time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to future proof your loan:
• What products are available on the market right now? Are there any that suit my needs better?
• How much am I paying each month for my home loan? Is it possible to get a better rate?
• Is a fixed or variable rate best?
• Is my home loan flexible? Can I make extra repayments at no additional cost?
• How much would it cost if I wanted to redraw?
• Am I satisfied with the level of service I am receiving from my bank?

Compare your current home loan to see if it’s competitive with other products on the market. If you find that there are areas that you can save on, refinancing might be a cost-effective way to put you ahead financially.

2. Refinance your home loan to suit your needs

You may have just had a little one, or perhaps you are planning a major holiday overseas. Financial needs change over time, and it pays to make sure your home loan can meet them.

• Get a better rate
The most common reason for home owners to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate. Not only can it cut down on monthly repayments, but over time it can save you thousands of dollars that you can be spending on something else.

• Additional Home Loan Features
The adage ‘more is better’ only applies in some cases when it comes to home loans. If you’re not taking advantage of a lot of the features that your home loan offers, it may be cheaper to choose to refinance to a more basic loan.

That’s not to say that more isn’t better. If you feel that your loan isn’t offering you all that you need, you may benefit from refinancing to a loan with more features. For example, BOQ’s Clear Path offers variable home loans with no application fees, 100% mortgage offset, allows free redraws, and provides flexible repayment options.

3. Simple management techniques

There are ways you can better manage your mortgage to pay it off sooner.

• Repayment Schedule
Paying fortnightly might mean you can shave time off repaying your home loan principal and save on interest, but it may also add to your financial burden. Compare fortnightly repayments with monthly ones and see which one is more beneficial to your situation.

• Extra and Lump Sum Repayments
Sometimes we have a little extra cash in our pocket, and having the option to make extra repayments with no added cost can help you pay off your mortgage faster.

• Direct Loan Repayments
Late payments can incur fees and costs. Avoid these by setting up direct payments with your bank account to ensure you make your minimum repayment by the due date each time.

4. Guard against unexpected financial shortfalls

Sometimes life throws curveballs at us. There are ways you can help to protect yourself against these unexpected financial shortfalls.

• Repayment Holiday
If you need to free up some funds for a short period, a repayment holiday can give you a small break from your loan repayments.

• Redraw Facility
Excess payments made to your home loan is often accessible to you if you need to fund things like home renovations or other large purchases.

5. Prepare for the known and the unknown

Future proofing your mortgage loan means looking ahead. Have a think about what you may need in the close and distant future. For example, are you thinking of renovating in the next five years?

Write them down in a list which will help you visualise any potential problems you may encounter. While we can’t predict all the changes in certain terms, choosing the right mortgage now may mean saving on potential costs of refinancing later.

If you’re ready to make the switch, contact a local bank such as BOQ for expert help on refinancing options.

Investing Doesn’t Take Genius Intelligence, Just Common Sense

A quote that’s attributed to Albert Einstein goes something like this; “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Going by what Mr. Einstein says, it would be easy to assume that most investors are insane because of the fact that they’re constantly trying to predict when to enter and exit specific markets, pick outperforming stocks and are always on the lookout for the next “hot” fund manager to come along.

These are the same investors that rely on top mutual fund recommendations, listen to the advice of a broker who says that they have the skills to ‘beat the market’ and over-weigh their portfolio with asset classes that don’t make sense, including gold. They also rely much too heavily on financial media for information and tips on things like market direction, interest rates and stocks.

Many of these same people are also overly obsessed with every single thing that anyone has to say about investing guru Warren Buffett. The fact is, Mr. Buffett really doesn’t have any special insight into the market but simply happens to be an astute investor who studies prolifically, makes investments for the long-term and places very little focus on current market events.

In fact, a quote from Buffett really underlines his opinion about listening to pundits and trying to follow current market trends; “Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time.” In other words, Warren Buffett is telling investors to ignore pundits and market trends, something the financial media emphasizes with abandon. In fact, much of the information you’ll find coming out of the mouths of financial media analysts comes from the comments of pundits about everything from market correction to the “best stocks to buy right now”.

Another quote by Mr. Buffett is definitely much more valuable for the everyday investor, and goes like this; “The know nothing investor who both diversifies and keeps his cost minimal is virtually certain to get satisfactory results.”

If you’re looking for investing advice the simple truth is that trying to “play” the markets, sniffing around for “stock tips” and listening to the excess of media outlets and their talking heads is probably the worst way to do it.

If someone “in the know” deigns to give you advice about how to pick stocks and tells you to do it the “same way Warren Buffett does it”, all you need to do is tell them that you are as you buy your stocks and bond index funds with low management fees and hold onto them for the long term.

Does Credit Debt Have a Statute of Limitations?

Most people realize that if they owe money, the company they owe money will try their best to collect it, oftentimes sending a collection agency after them, destroy their credit score and also, in some cases, take them to court. But here’s a question; how long exactly can add company keep trying to collect a debt?

The fact is, nothing in this life lasts forever. Nearly anything that a person does, even most (not all) criminal activity, has what’s called a “statute of limitations” that keeps it from going on forever. Debt is one of the things that definitely has a statute of limitations, meaning that after a certain amount of years there is no way for a company, or a debt collection agency, to continue to pursue a person who owes that particular debt.

Tread with Caution

Here’s the deal; every estate in United States has different laws when it comes to dealing with debt, and debt collecting. Also, every law has their particular statute of limitations. For example, if you live in Florida, debt collectors have four years to collect on what they call “open accounts”, which includes credit card debt. After this statute of limitations expires, they have very few, if any, legal remedies in order to force you to pay that debt. It doesn’t mean that they won’t stop trying, but it does mean that they can’t force you to pay in a court of law.

One situation you have to be careful about however is acknowledging that the debt exists, or making a payment on that debt, however small. If you do, the debt that you owe can be reinstated even if it was legally uncollectible. The fact is that even though the statute of limitations reduces the legal remedies that companies or debt collectors have to get that money from you, it doesn’t remove the fact that you have a  debt. You still owe that money, they simply can’t legally force you to pay it.

If you should happen to open the door just a crack however, you can rest assured that debt collectors will shove their foot in there and do everything in their power to get that money from you.

What about your Credit Report?

Most people don’t realize that the information on your credit report is determined by federal law, not state law. The “Big 3” credit reporting agencies, including Trans Union, Equifax and Experian, are obliged to remove negative information on your credit report after a period of 7 years. When it comes to bankruptcies, this information will stay on your report for 10 years or more.

What this means is that after the statute of limitations of either 7 or 10 years has passed, you can send a letter to all three of these credit reporting agencies asking them to remove these debts from your credit report, and legally they will be obliged to do so.

These are the Rules your Debt Collector is Hoping you Don’t Find Out

Millions of people around the country are in debt up to their eyeballs. We’re not here to sit in judgment of anyone, by any means, but instead to point out that, if that includes you, the debt collector hounding you about paying back your debt will sometimes take either unfair and even illegal advantage of you because you don’t fully know your rights.

While we won’t sit here and try to debate whether or not you should pay back any debts that you owe, we will admit that we don’t like unscrupulous debt collectors and want to help you avoid falling for their tricks and traps. The fact is, the FTC, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that they put into law, were created to protect you from debt collectors that step over the line. Below are some facts about your rights that you definitely should know in order to protect yourself. Enjoy.

Fact 1: There is no law that says that you must communicate with debt collection agencies. If you’re being hounded by a debt collection agency, and they’re tirelessly calling you, sending them a “cease and desist” letter is the best way to get them to stop. Of course you have to realize that they can and might pursue legal action if you do this, and will send you a notification of their intent via snail mail. But it will stop those harassing phone calls.

Fact 2: Just because you paid an account in full doesn’t mean it will be erased from your credit report. Even if you pay off a debt in full it can still remain on your credit report for up to 7 years. If you wish to avoid this however, you can sometimes negotiate with the collection agency to have them remove the debt from your credit report once it’s paid. If they agree to this, you have to get it in writing to make sure it happens before you pay them a single penny. If you pay and don’t have it in writing you won’t have a leg to stand on.

Fact 3: Disclosing Personal Information is not legally necessary. Many debt collectors will insist that you give them vital information like your Social Security number and your date of birth, but the fact is that there is absolutely no law that says you have to do so.

Fact 4: Until an actual judgment is made by a court of law, none of your assets can be touched and your wages cannot be garnished. There are a few instances where this doesn’t apply however. For example, if you have federal student loan debts, the federal government can garnish your wages with or without a court order. Also, if you fall behind on your mortgage the bank can foreclose on your house without a court order. The same thing goes for a car loan.

Fact 5: Although the debt collector wants to get the largest amount of money from you as possible in your initial payment, there is no law saying that you have to pay out a huge chunk of cash up front. In many cases a payment plan can be set up in order to help you pay your debt over a longer period of time with more palatable monthly payments.

Fact 6: The best time to negotiate a deal to pay off your debt is usually at the end of any month. The reason for this is that debt collectors, who work on commission and bonuses, will be more inclined to help you reach a settlement on your debt when the end of the month is near so that they can make their bonuses and get their commissions.

Fact 7: It’s not necessary to always work with the debt collector. In many cases you can work with the original creditor who might be able to give you better repayment options. On the other hand, if that creditor has already sold your account to a third-party debt collector you don’t really have any other option but to work with them.

Fact 8: Once the statute of limitations on your debt has lapsed, you don’t have to pay that debt. It doesn’t mean that debt collectors will stop trying to collect their money but, luckily for you, they can’t do anything legally in order to force you to pay.

Hopefully these 8 Facts have opened your eyes to some of the legal options that you have available when the debt collector calls. Our advice is that, once you have gotten out from under your debt and everything is paid off (no matter how it’s done), you remember how difficult it was and keep from going into debt again in the future.

Financial Support for Single Parents

If you are a single parent, you already know how difficult it can be to make ends meet with just one income coming into the home. If you are struggling financially, it is important for you to know that there is financial support available for single parents. Below is a look at various place single parents can turn for financial assistance, including child support, governmental benefits, and local organizations.

 

Household Income

There are three basic ways that you can bring income into your home if you are a single parent, including wages, child support and income support payments from Centrelink.

 

  • Employment. If you are not currently employed the government offer special workshops that are designed to help you find a job. In addition, you can use the Australian Job Search website to apply to different jobs in your specific area. You can also choose to go back to school and gain some additional skills to find a better paying job. You could qualify for Jobs, Education, and Training Child Care Fee Assistance to help pay for child care while you are looking for a job or attending training.

 

  • Child Support. If you have not already done so, it is vital that you contact the Department of Human Services to receive child support from the other parent. You will be asked to complete a child support assessment and based on that information a determination will be made about how much the other parent must pay to help cover some of the costs of raising your child.

 

  • Centrelink. If you are not working, or not making enough money, and you have a child under the age of 8 years old, you may be eligible for the Parenting Payment benefit. This benefits pays up to $713.20 per fortnight based on your specific situation. If your children are over the age of 8 years old, or once they have reached 8 years old, you will then be eligible for the Newstart Allowance benefit, until you are able to find a job. This payment is for up to $552.40 per fortnight.

 

Centrelink

In addition to income support, you may be eligible for other payments through the Centrelink office.

 

  • Family Tax Benefit. This benefit includes a Part A and a Part B. Part A is designed to help offset the cost of raising your children. Part B provides assistance to family who are facing a financial hardship due to having only one income. The amount you will receive for Part A is dependent on your income, number of children, and the age of the children. Eligibility for Part B depends on the age of your youngest child.

 

  • Rent Assistance. This benefit will help offset a portion of your monthly rent payment, so you do not have to pay as much out-of-the-pocket expense. The amount you receive will depend on your family size, income, and where you live.

 

  • School Kids Bonus. This bonus is paid out twice a year, once in January and once in July. It is to be used to offset some of the costs associated with buying school supplies. It is for a set payment of $205 twice a year per child in primary school and $410 twice a year for students in the secondary school.

 

  • Pensioner Concession Card. If you are receiving Parenting Payments or Newstart Allowance, you will be eligible for this concessions card. This card will provide a reduction in some medications and doctor visits for you and your children. Depending on your state or territory, you may also be eligible for a reduction in energy costs, water rates, public transport, property rates, and motor vehicle registration fees.

 

Non-Profit Organizations

There are also several charities throughout the country that are there to provide financial support for single parents. Below is the top three charities in the country.

 

  • The Salvation Army. This organisation is well-known throughout the world and can help with a wide array of supportive services like financial assistance, help for those facing domestic violence, housing assistance, and help finding employment.

 

  • The Smith Foundation. This program helps to ensure that all children in Australia obtain a good education. They provide special tutoring services, as well as, mentoring services to young people in the country.

 

  • St. Vincent de Paul Society. This organisation helps those in need by providing food and food vouchers, clothing, household goods, help with utility bills, back to school supplies, housing and much more.

Help with Child Care

Child care is a huge expense for all single parents who need to work outside of the home. The government does provide help to offset some of these costs.

 

  • Child Care Benefit. This benefit will pay up to $205 per week per child to help offset your childcare cost on a weekly basis. This lowers the out-of-pocket costs you need to pay.

 

  • Child Care Rebate. This benefit gives families a rebate of up to 50 per cent of the amount of money they paid for child care services during the year. This benefit has a maximum rebate amount of $7,500 per year.

How to Implement a Debt Reduction Plan

Is your unpaid debt wreaking havoc on your finances? Does the amount of debt you owe prevent you from meeting your financial goals? If you answered yes to either of these questions, it is time to take control of your debt and start the path to financial freedom. The best way to eliminate your debt problem once and for all is to create a viable debt reduction plan. If done correctly, a debt reduction plan will eliminate your debt slowly overtime and give you the freedom to start working on your own personal financial goals, like a new car, special, holiday, a new home, or your retirement.

Create a Budget

The first step to creating any type of debt reduction plan is to create a household budget. You must have a clear picture of all the income you have coming into the house and all the expenses and bills you are paying each month. If you have never had a budget before, you may want to start by tracking your spending for a few weeks by writing down everything you pay for. This will give you an idea of where your money is going and if you are overspending in a certain area, such as food or entertainment. Do your best to cut back on your spending, so you have more money available to pay off your debts.

Check Benefits

If when making your budget, you realize that your income is not enough to cover all your bills for the month, or you are not left with extra money to pay towards your debt, you should make sure you are receiving all the governmental benefits you are eligible for. These specialised benefits can help by reducing some of your monthly bills like your rent or utility bills, or it can bring additional income into the household.  Either way it will reduce the amount of out-of-pocket expenses you have to pay and will leave you more money that you can use towards paying off your debt.

Call Creditors

Once you have your household budget in place and know how much money you have available to spend towards paying off your debt, you need to call each of the creditors you owe money to. Based on the funds you have available, work with you creditors to create a payment plan that the creditor will agree to and you can afford. Most creditors will be willing to work with you if you are honest with them and have a debt reduction plan in place.

Consolidate Loans

If you credit is still good and you are eligible for a low-interest loan through a bank or credit union, consolidating all your debt into one loan could be a good alternative. It would only require you to make one monthly payment, which may be more manageable, and it may save you money by charging a lower interest rate. However, if you cannot get a loan with a low-interest rate there would be no real benefit to this plan. An alternative to a bank loan, could be a low-interest credit card that would allow you to transfer all your debt to. However, be very leery of credit card that offers a low-interest rate only for an introductory period. In this case, it may up costing you more in interest in the end if you are not careful.

Set Up Debt Reduction Plan

There are several different methods you can use to set up a debt reduction plan. The first method requires you to pay the minimum balance required on all of your debts, and pay any extra funds you have available on your debt with the highest interest rate. You need to keep paying the extra on the debt with the highest interest until it paid in full. Then you can start paying off the debt with the next highest interest rate. This plan continues until all of your debt is paid off. Another plan is very similar, but instead of paying the debt with the highest interest first, you pay off the smallest debt first until they are all paid off.

It does not matter which plan you use, the most important thing is to create a debt reduction plan that you will be able to stick with. It is advisable to always seek the advice of a financial counsellor who can help you determine what type of debt reduction plan is right for you. Over time, you will be able to pay off all your debt and find the financial freedom you want. Then you can start setting long-term financial goals to help you get the things you really want.

Affordable or free conveyancing help and advice – is it out there?!

Affordable conveyancing fees, even free help and advice is out there but you need to choose with care; knowing where the pitfalls may lie will help you determine if the ‘bargain prices’ and the ‘slashed fees’ are what they say they are…

Search the internet and you will find a whole heap of useful (and not so useful) information on conveyancing – the legal process involved in buying a house or any kind of property. At one time, you used a solicitors practice, usually found on the high street local to you. You could ring and ask for quotes from each practice and, with some help from word of mouth, make your choice as to which one would be the right firm for you.

We live in a digital age and it seems that so many professions and services can now be done via the internet and email. Conveyancing is no different and across the UK, you will find a whole host of online conveyancers, offering their services in a variety of ways – including online  www.onlineconveyancingquote.co.uk - from outright gimmicks to those with a more ‘professional’ feel, not that bargain priced conveyancing is not a real bargain…

Unsure what conveyancing is all about? Check this out https://bdaily.co.uk/advice/09-07-2014/the-complete-guide-to-conveyancing-a-guide-for-first-time-buyers/

Exercising caution

As we know, the Internet is a fabulous place, full of ideas and information that within a few hours of searching, you can be an expert on just about anything… providing the information you read is correct, of course!

And this is just one danger point of online conveyancing; trusting the information you read but when it comes to house buying there is an additional pull factor that can affect how consumers choose which service from which online conveyancing company: money and the lure of the ‘too-good-to-be-true’ scenario.

There is no doubt that buying a property is an expensive time, but you need to avoid the pitfall of cheap online conveyancing that can actually cost you thousands of pounds in the end. So how do you find affordable or free conveyancing help?

What to look for

If an online conveyancing company are offering a ‘cheap’ or bargain deal, you will need to look carefully at what is included in this price, and what is not – it is the ‘extra’ or additional fees that they add on later that can turn this dream affordable conveyancing help into the stuff of nightmares.

Watch out for legal fees being topped up with:

  • Administration fees or costs
  • Expedition fees
  • Postage
  • And finally, check for file storage fees too.

Buying or selling – watch out!

Whether you are buying or selling, affordable or free conveyancing help is much-needed but you will need to ensure that any disbursements – third party costs that your conveyancing solicitor will pay on your behalf – are included in the price too.

If you are BUYING, keep an eye out for the inclusion of:

  • Land registry charges
  • The local authority search
  • Water and drainage searches
  • The environmental check
  • Identity checks
  • Other checks they deem necessary

And when you SELL, keep an eye out for these charges being added to your conveyancing bill:

  • The formal copy of the lease if the property is leasehold
  • An official copy of the land register

Not all online conveyancing firms will call these disbursements the same thing; if in doubt, ask as all these checks are needed in the vast majority of purchases and sales of properties.

“You get what you pay for”… or do you?

We all need to save money and none of us want to spend more money than we have to; we certainly don’t want to feel that we waste money either. But, the saying that you do get what you pay for is true when it comes to conveyancing. You need a reputable conveyancing company that will deliver a top-notch, timely service for the right price – the good news is, they do exist!

And here’s how to find affordable conveyancing fees from a reputable and professional online company:

  1. Get a COMPREHENSIVE QUOTE – in other words, see past the £99 deals and get a complete breakdown of what the company is offering at what price. Make sure all the necessary checks and searches are included in the price. If you think something is costing more than you think it should, ask them why!
  2. ONLINE REVIEWS – and forums too can offer a great place to assess whether the company acts and performs as they say they do… you are looking for positive qualities such as regular updates, timely communications, not nagged into getting on with the work and delivering for a reasonable price.
  3. CONTACT – as the client or customer, you have instructed the company to work on your behalf and you need to know what is happening and when; make sure you get regular progress updates.

The online world offers us a myriad of companies and expertise that we need at some point in lives, with buying and selling a property one of those time. Online affordable and free conveyancing help and advice is out there – look hard and you will find it!

Top ways to eliminate personal debt

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With a steady rise in the rate of interest, mortgages, credit card repayments and individuals being made redundant, it is becoming very difficult for many to meet with their repayments, something which was not a problem in better times. If you face a similar problem, you will also be aware that defaulting on loan repayments incurs hefty fines as well as leading to a drop in credit ratings. This leads to the lower probability of being able to borrow from banks and other financial institutions which approve loans on the basis of an individual’s credit score.

There’s more to debt than just debt

Stress, insomnia, relationship difficulties – all come from the effects of mounting debt (Read more about the emotional effects of debt here.)  Getting in control and stopping the debt taking over your life as early as you can is vital for your personal wellbeing, and that of your family.

The main cause of an increase in debt

To begin with, one of the primary reasons for an increase in debts is inflation, which has resulted in a higher cost of living. It is becoming increasingly difficult for individuals to balance their monthly budgets with the spiralling costs of living that need very careful budgeting. Balancing the budget at the end of the month is increasingly becoming more challenging for most individuals, especially when debt levels are increasing and salaries are not. This is evident in all age groups, as seen from statistics provided by a payday lending brand Wonga. In a recent study they discovered that borrowers come in a range of age groups, with 30% of people as young as 18 borrowing loans, and 15% of over 45s seeking short term financial solutions. Customers also borrow as much as £178 in their first loan, usually to cover short term financial needs like a sudden bill, car or medical expense. In such an unpleasant situation how do you manage to get out of this financial bog?

A possible solution – Debt Consolidation

One possible way out is opting for a Debt Consolidation Loan, generally termed as a Secured Personal Loan. This can help to get you out of a debt crisis but should only be opted for as a last resort. Going for a secured personal loan can help you to reduce your monthly debt to quite an extent, but you will have to pay more interest in the long term. These are generally offered to individuals who have low credit scores and involve putting up collateral (in most cases a home) which lower risk levels for the lender, but raise the margin for the borrower in the event they default on payments.

Other credit options to be explored 

☑     Balance Transfers: Most of the top credit card companies offer 0% interest rates on balance transfers for new cards, for a specific period of time. It could range from six months to a year and if applied correctly, it offers a great way to reduce debt. The only limitation is that you must be able to clear the remaining sum prior to the 0% offer expiry.

 

☑     Use savings to clear debts: Rather than retain the hassle of debts and to save on interest repayments, a more feasible option is to pay them off using any savings you might have. After all the interest on savings is going to be less than that incurred on loans. It is not very practical to have savings and on the other hand have debts. It is far more prudent to use the money saved to pay off your debts, so that you could start afresh with a clean slate. The only exception is when your savings and debts are about the same and you do not have job security to support you in the future.

 

☑     Go for a remortgage: The principle of remortgaging also commonly known as refinancing, is when you swap your existing mortgage to a new lender, to get a lower rate of interest. The thing to look out for here is to see if there are any charges applicable. Although it is not the most suitable idea when it comes to paying off your debt, since the primary purpose of opting for it is to reduce your interest rates and mortgage expenses.

 

☑     Try to renegotiate: There is no harm in attempting to renegotiate, especially when it comes to debt. The main concern for any lender is bad debts i.e. where the capital amount is not recovered.  You might be able to strike a deal with the lender, if you negotiate the payment term, penalties and even interest rates. There is no dishonour in trying, as long as it benefits you in the long term!   

Resolving a debt situation is of utmost importance to your economic well being. It is left to your discretion as to what method would suit you best of the mentioned steps, to resolve any niggling debt issues you might have. Debt is not a problem, but rather a consequence of overspending or lack of planning. The best way to remain debt and stress free is to adopt a personal finance management method to ensure you have a secure future for your family and you.

Author Bio: The writer has worked as a personal debt advisor, with a national debt advice organisation and takes a keen interest in helping individuals to resolve their monetary liabilities. 

What is the Volcker Rule?

The Volcker Rule is a federal regulation, forming part of the Dodd Frank financial reform – originally passed back in 2010. The Rule aims to reduce the ability and will of banks and their affiliates to invest in hedge funds and private equity, as well as banning proprietary trading. In particular, the rule strives to stop the speculative investments that were so common in the pre-financial crisis environment, and which many believe was a strong root cause of the 2008 crisis. Whilst this is much debated amongst financial experts, the former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who the rule was name after, stressed that:

“Many factors were involved [in causing the crisis]. However, losses within large trading positions were in fact a contributing factor for some of our most systemically important institutions, and proprietary trading is not an essential commercial bank service that justifies taxpayer support.”

The complexity of the terminology in use, and the ruling itself, means that it was only recently fully implemented on 1st April 2014 – 3 years after the initial passing of the Dodd Frank Act. It was finally approved by the five federal agencies – with a huge 71 pages of regulation and more than 900 pages of commentary. Compliance must be achieved by the end of July 2015.

Overview

Generally speaking, the regulation focuses on:

-          Prohibiting banking entities from engaging in short term proprietary trading of securities, derivatives, commodity futures and options on these instruments for their own account.

-          Prevent the same institutions from owning, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with hedge funds or private equity funds (also known as ‘covered funds’).

Exceptions to the rule are included via some asset classes, and the Rule also excludes U.S. Treasury and municipal securities.

Effects

The Rule’s implementation has led to many top proprietary traders leaving large banks to form their own hedge funds – a drain of top talent that has come as a direct result. However, since the passing of the bill itself, most banks and firms have suggested that the Volcker Rule is not expected to affect their profits or workings significantly.

Is waiting to get your Social Security payments a good idea?

Understanding the basics of Social Security, even if your retirement is still decades away, is extremely vital. You simply must have a good understanding of not just when you can take out your funds but, more importantly, when you should.  If you’re already in the process of planning for retirement (and you should be, no matter how old you are) knowing this information can help you to determine how much money you actually need to  save.

In its simplest terms, during your working years you paid into Social Security through taxes, and built up benefits that you will receive once you reach retirement. While this may seem simple, effective that retirement age varies based on a number of things, including your birthday. Also, the amount of benefits that you get either increases or decreases based on when you actually start receiving them.

Specifically, each month past the specific retirement date that is assigned to you based on your birthday, the funds in your Social Security will grow, until you reach the age of 70.

Calculating your lifetime earnings

When Social Security is determining how much your monthly benefit checks will be, the first thing they consider is what they call your “lifetime earnings”. They also take into account your average life expectancy and the actual date that you begin to collect. Even though how long you live affects the best time for you to start collecting, since it can’t be predicted with certainty it’s very difficult to say.

Keep in mind is that, for every year that you wait until you reach the age of 70, your retirement monies from Social Security will increase by 8%.

What are the tax implications?

Another reason to delay getting your Social Security benefits is to avoid taxation. Some people that withdraw Social Security right away also withdraw money from their IRAs, 401(k)s and 403(b)s in order to have enough to cover their monthly expenses. These withdrawals however can actually push you into a higher tax bracket and cause more of your Social Security benefits to be taxed.

What are the drawbacks of waiting?

If you have a family history of early death, or perhaps are suffering from a disease process that may end your life sooner, then there’s really more of an incentive to take out your Social Security as fast as you can. You may also need the money to pay for basic needs like housing and food, in which case taking it out only makes sense.

The fact is that the decision rests on your shoulders as to when is the best time to start taking your Social Security payments but, whenever possible, it’s best to leave them alone as long as possible in order to build your funds higher.

Of course one of the smartest things that you can do is talk to a financial expert who has your best interests in mind and find out what their opinion happens to be. Everyone has different situations and circumstances and these will definitely play a role in whether to take your Social Security funds out quickly or leave them in longer.

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