5 Things to Consider While Selecting a Financial Planner

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Unlike someone calling himself a CPA or a physician, just about anyone can call himself a “financial planner” or a “financial advisor” regardless of their educational background and professional experience. Moreover, not all of them are unbiased in their advice and not all of them always act in their clients’ best interests.

To ensure your financial planner is well-qualified in personal finances and impartial in his advice, consider the following five things:

1. Planning Credentials: Having a highly-regarded credential in financial planning, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), confirms that the professional you intend to work with has acquired the education and experience necessary to serve as a financial planner. CFP and PFS credentials are awarded to only those individuals who have met the certification requirements of education and experience in planning for personal finances. In addition, they have to pass the certification examinations and agree adhere to the practice standards and continuing education requirements.

2. Subject Matter Expertise: Financial planners are planning professionals, not necessarily subject matter experts. For example, a financial planner will be skilled in tax analysis and planning,but unlike a Certified Public Account (CPA) or an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) he might not necessarily be a subject matter expert when it comes to tax rules Similarly,a he could be skilled in chalking out an investment plan, but unlike a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) he may not be an authority in the subject of investments. Work with a financial planner who is also a subject matter expert in those areas of personal finance that are important in achieving your financial goals.

3. Client Specialization: Not all financial planners serve all types of clients. Most specialize in serving only certain types of clients with specific profiles. For example, a personal planner may build his expertise and customize his services to serve only those individuals and families who are in certain professions, or a particular stage of life with specific financial goals and net worth. Ask whether the planner specializes in serving only certain types of clients with specific profiles to determine whether he is the right fit for your situation and financial goals.

4. Fee structure: The fee structure largely determines whose interests he serves best – his client’s or his own. A Fee-Only professional charges only fees for their advice whereas a Fee-Based professional not only charges fees but also earns commissions, referral fees and other financial incentives on the products and solutions they recommend for you. Consequently, the advice from a fee-only one is more likely to be unbiased and in your best interests than the advice from a fee-based financial planner. Work with a professional whose fee structure is conflict-free and aligned to benefit you.

5. Availability: He or she should be regularly available, attentive, and accessible to you. Ask the planner how many clients he currently serves and the maximum number of clients he is planning to serve in the future regularly. This clients-to-planner ratio is one of the …

Is it Better to Buy or Lease a Car After Bankruptcy?

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If you want to get approved at the best possible terms when buying a car, it’s important you know a car lender’s credit guidelines before you apply for credit…especially if you’re bankrupt.

It will save you time and frustration–but more importantly, it will help you avoid credit inquiries that may lower your FICO credit scores up to 12 points per inquiry.

Step 1 in making a lease or buy decision is to determine a lender’s credit guidelines.

You start by asking if they lend to people with a bankruptcy. If so, on what terms?

That’s right. You have to be upfront that you’ve filed bankruptcy. Don’t hide it. We have to face the fact that some dealers just won’t work with people who’ve filed bankruptcy. So our job is to find the ones that do.

Some lenders will only lease to people with a bankruptcy. Others will only offer purchase financing. Yet still others will only lend using a hybrid of the two–this is especially common in Texas.

Ask the finance director at the dealership to direct you as to what structure the manufacturer prefers.

And here’s a quick tip for you: if your bankruptcy doesn’t appear on the credit report your lender pulls–then, in the eyes of the lender, you’re not bankrupt.

The only lenders I would consider using are:

– First choice: Captive lenders (car manufacturers)

– Second choice: Banks (not finance companies)

– Third choice: Credit unions

Ninety-nine percent of the cars I’ve leased over the years have been with captive lenders. Just one was leased by a bank.

That particular deal came from a conversation I had with Amy, the finance manager at the local Land Rover dealership here in Indianapolis. I told her I was open to her financing recommendations, but I preferred financing through the car manufacturer.

I told her my current FICO scores. She immediately said that with my scores she could do better through a local bank. I signed a credit application and told her to go for it.

The next day I signed a lease agreement with that local bank. Being open to her advice literally saved me hundreds of dollars a month on that car.

So be flexible…but be careful. It seems most car dealers call all of their funding sources banks. When in reality some are banks, some are credit unions, and most are sub-prime finance companies.

Here is a list of some of the most commonly used sub-prime auto finance companies:

1. HSBC Automotive

2. Capital One

3. AmeriCredit

4. WFS Financial

You want to pass on the sub-prime finance companies–unless you have exhausted all other options. Sub-prime lenders should be your last resort.

And only use credit unions if they report to all three national credit reporting agencies. How do you find out if a credit union reports to all three credit reporting agencies?

Simple–you ask. Ask the branch manager at the credit union if they report. And after you get the loan, check all three of …

The Target Capital Structure

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Firms can choose whatever mix of debt and equity they desire to finance their assets, subject to the willingness of investors to provide such funds. And, as we shall see, there exist many different mixes of debt and equity, or capital structures – in some firms, such as Chrysler Corporation, debt accounts for more than 70 percent of the financing, while other firms, such as Microsoft, have little or no debt.

In the next few sections, we discuss factors that affect a firm’s capital structure, and we conclude a firm should attempt to determine what its optimal, or best, mix of financing should be. But, you will find that determining the exact optimal capital structure is not a science, so after analyzing a number of factors, a firm establishes a target capital structure it believes is optimal, which is then used as a guide for raising funds in the future. This target might change over time as conditions vary, but at any given moment the firm’s management has a specific capital structure in mind, and individual financing decisions should be consistent with this target. If the actual proportion of debt is below the target level, new funds will probably be raised by issuing debt, whereas if the proportion of debt is above the target, stock will probably be sold to bring the firm back in line with the target debt/assets ratio.

Capital structure policy involves a trade-off between risk and return. Using more debt raises the riskiness of the firm’s earnings stream, but a higher propor- tion of debt generally leads to a higher expected rate of return; and, we know that the higher risk associated with greater debt tends to lower the stock’s price. At the same time, however, the higher expected rate of return makes the stock more attractive to investors, which, in turn, ultimately increases the stock’s price. Therefore, the optimal capital structure is the one that strikes a balance between risk and return to achieve our ultimate goal of maximizing the price of the stock.

Four primary factors influence capital structure decisions:

1. The first is the firm’s business risk, or the riskiness that would be inherent in the firm’s operations if it used no debt. The greater the firm’s business risk, the lower the amount of debt that is optimal.

2. The second key factor is the firm’s tax position. A major reason for using debt is that interest is tax deductible, which lowers the effective cost of debt. However, if much of a firm’s income is already sheltered from taxes by accelerated depreciation or tax loss carryforwards, its tax rate will be low, and debt will not be as advantageous as it would be to a firm with a higher effective tax rate.

3. The third important consideration is financial flexibility, or the ability to raise capital on reasonable terms under adverse conditions. Corporate treasurers know that a steady supply of capital is necessary for stable operations, which, in turn, are vital for long-run …

Accounting Finance – The Heart of Any Successful Business

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At the core of any successful business is a well organized management. Financial accounting is a very important tool for business. Aside from knowing strategies such as bookkeeping, marketing, advertising and production, a good and stable business must also have a competent system for accounting finance.

Whether you like it or not, accounting finance is one thing you cannot dispense with in the world of business. It is a very important tool in determining where and how exactly your money is being spent. Also, it is most important in terms of taxes and other pecuniary obligations.

Good Accounting Means Good Business

Accounting ensures you how much you have, how much you owe, and helpful in assessing the value of your business. Are you generating any profit or operating at a lost? Accounting records will answer your questions. Accounting serves as the proper recording tool of the financial status of any business. Fiscal dealings are best kept right on track with an effective accounting department.

A good accounting system within one’s business is a great help in making business decisions. This also shows how credible you are with other companies. Accounting does not only place you in a very knowledgeable stance, but it gives you that confidence by being armed with the facts and figures revolving around your business. Knowledge is power.

Professional Accountants

It is to your advantage if you are an accountant by profession. But if not, you can still do your own accounting if you are operating a small-scale business. However, if you have a big company it is advisable to hire a professional accountant especially if you do not have the time and the skill for it. You must realize that there are various strategies in keeping various kinds of accounts in a business.

It is also best to check the accounting firm’s competence, credibility and confidentiality issues. It is very important that in any business, you would be able to trust your accountant with sensitive information, including profits and sources of income your business is accumulating.

Accounting standards you should know

To the untrained and unsuspecting eye, accounting principles might seem hard, intimidating and complicated, but it is in reality very simple if you get past all those figures. All you have to know in accounting are these: Accounts are always divided into three types, namely assets, liabilities and equity. Each account is unique and simple yet forms part of the very foundation your business is operating on.

“T” accounts can be managed by drawing a T like figure with a left and right section divided by a vertical line. On the left side, you can place all your debits or the so called assets. On the other side, you can list down all your liabilities or what we call credits.

The general rule is that for every liability, there must also be a corresponding asset so that a balance will be achieved. If the credit is more than your debit then perhaps you are already …

Rich Dad Mentality Vs Poor Dad Mentality

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This is the second in a series of articles based on the groundbreaking best-seller “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” written by Robert Kiyosaki. As stated in the first article, the book compares the mindset of Kiyosaki’s father-who held several degrees and an important position in the government, but struggled financially–, with the mindset of his best friend’s father-who never even finished high school but left his son a financial empire. In his book, Kiyosaki explains that the mindset held by each of these two men, his “poor dad” and his “rich dad”, was largely responsible for each man’s financial destiny.

The following quote by T. Harv Eker, author of “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, refers to the concept of a rich person’s mindset: “Rich people have a way of thinking that is different from poor and middle class people. They think differently about money, wealth, themselves, other people, and life.” Kiyosaki expounds this same principle in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.

Below you will find seven mayor differences between the “poor dad” and the “rich dad” mentality:

1. The “poor dad” mentality states that your wealth depends on your family of origin. That is, to be rich you have to be born rich. “Rich dad” espoused the view that being rich or poor is something that you learn. You can learn to think in ways that will support you, and you can raise your financial IQ by reading books on finance, talking to financially successful people, and attending seminars and lectures. When you have the right belief system and the necessary knowledge on how to create, build, and protect wealth, you will become rich even if you were not born into a wealthy family.

2. “Rich dad” taught Kiyosaki that he should get a job to learn and to acquire the necessary skills so that he could go on to start his own business. “Poor dad” saw his job as his source of income for life. While “rich dad” taught Kiyosaki to strive to become financially independent, “poor dad” taught him to depend on his employer for his financial well being.

3. When faced with an opportunity, “rich dad” would ask himself: “How can I afford this?” This forced his mind to think and to come up with creative solutions to be able to take advantage of the opportunity that had presented itself. Instead, when presented with an opportunity, “poor dad” would dismiss it by saying: “It’s too bad I can’t afford this.”

4. While “poor dad” stressed scholastic education, “rich dad” always stressed financial education.

5. For “rich dad” the main cause of poverty or financial struggle was self-inflicted fear and ignorance. “Poor dad” blamed the economy and the job market. That is, “rich dad” always took responsibility for himself and felt that he created his circumstances, while “poor dad” often felt like a victim of the outside world.

6. As for risk taking, “rich dad” taught Kiyosaki to learn to manage risk. “Poor dad” taught him that when it came …

Causes and Effects of Deficit Financing

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As we know, the major sources of public revenue are taxes, fees, prices, special assessments, rates, gifts etc., etc. If during a given period of time, the government expenditure exceeds government revenue and the deficit is met by borrowing, it is called deficit financing or income creating finance. In order to have a significant expansion effects therefore, a program of public investment should be financed by borrowing rather than by taxation. This kind of borrowing or loan expenditure is popularly called deficit financing.

Deficit financing is said to have been practiced if state adopts any one or all the methods mentioned below:

(a) The government draws upon the cash balances of the past.

(b) The government borrows from the central bank against government securities.

(c) The government creates money by printing of paper currency and thus meets the expenditure over receipts.

(d) The government borrows externally.

Deficit financing was considered to be a very dangerous weapon by the classical economists. The modern economists are, however, leaning towards it and recommend it to be used for accelerating economic development and achieving high level employment in the country.

The problem to be solved here is:

(i) Whether income creating finance should be adopted for increasing total effective demand.

(ii) If deficit financing is desirable for ensuring high level of employment, then to what extent should it be carried out.

(iii) What are its good and bad effects?

Deficit financing is being practiced by advanced as well as underdeveloped countries. The advanced countries use it as an instrument of increasing effective demand whereas the underdeveloped countries employ it for increasing the rate of capital formation.

The scope of deficit financing for accelerating economic growth in backward economy is very bright as they are caught in a vicious circle of underdevelopment. They use funds for investment when the resources of the country are not adequate to initiate the processes of take off. So arises the need for deficit financing.

The underdeveloped countries are confronted with the following problems:

(i) The rate of growth of population is faster than the rate of economic development.

(ii) The state revenue received through taxes, fees, etc., is not sufficient to provide full employment to the labor force.

(iii) The per capita income is extremely low and so is the capacity to save.

(iv) Foreign loans for development purposes are not without strings and are also not available in desired quantity.

(v) There is a dearth of stock of capital in the country.

(vi) People lack initiative and entrepreneurial ability.

(vii) People are mostly extravagant and there is less voluntary savings.

(viii) A greater portion of the population lives in villages and are contended with their lot.

(ix) The government cannot incur the displeasure of the people by enhancing the tax rates beyond a certain limit. It cannot also impose additional taxes for the same reason.

(x) Thus there is too much evasion of taxes.

Under the conditions stated above, the reader can easily visualize the state of affairs …

Importance of Financial Stability Ratios

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Common ratios to judge the financial stability of a business concern are gearing ratio, current ratio and liquid ratio. Gearing ratio shows the extent of a firm’s reliance on debt to fund its activities. As the proportion of debt climbs (especially if it exceeds 65 percent of total funds for most businesses), the greater the risk of financial distress. This is the downside of financial leverage – It increases the financial risk.

Current ratio measures the number of times the current assets of a firm cover its current liabilities. This is a measure of solvency: the capacity of a firm to pay its debts through the normal cash cycle, selling inventory on credit, collecting debts and paying creditors. This ratio must normally exceed 1:1 and should be closer to 2:1. It should also be noted that an excess of current assets will result in poor asset utilization.

Liquid or quick ratio is a more tighter measure of short term financial stability. It measures the firms ability to pay its current liabilities from its liquid assets. Liquid assets are cash or near cash resources. In practice liquid assets include cash, bank, short term securities and accounts receivable, the assets that be readily converted into cash to meet immediate calls for payment from lenders and suppliers.

Accounts receivables are normally included in liquid assets, as they may be sold to a finance company at a discount for later collection from debtors. This is called debt factoring. Debt factoring is not common in all the countries. Debt factoring is used as a means of managing the cash flow from operations, rather than trying entity’s funds up in accounts receivable. In arriving at liquid assets, the principle exclusion from current assets is inventory. As this may take some months to sell – and then often to credit customers – it can be many months before cash is collected from inventory. Among the current liabilities may be some debts that may not be due for many months. These may be excluded in calculating the liquid ratio. Examples include tax payable and a current portion of long term debt, both of which may not be due for some months. However, such adjustments should only be made if the repayment dates are known and are over six months later than balance sheet date.

One common (but risky) adjustment in calculating the liquid ratio is to exclude bank overdraft from current liabilities. This is not recommended. When a liquid ratio declines towards (or below) the 1:1 level (including overdraft), this is most likely time that the bank will require repayment – on demand. Hence, an overdraft should only be left out of this calculation when the firm is perfectly liquid – When it does not matter anyway!

As these ratios are based on the statement of financial position, they represent only a ‘snapshot’ of the financial stability of the business, taken at one point in time. These ratios can be manipulated by referring payments or delaying purchases until …

Global Financing – Hard and Soft Currency

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Global financing and exchange rates are major topics when considering a venturing business abroad. In the proceeding I will explain in detail what hard and soft currencies are. I will then go into detail explaining the reasoning for the fluctuating currencies. Finally I will explain hard and soft currencies importance in managing risks.

Hard currency

Hard currency is usually from a highly industrialized country that is widely accepted around the world as a form of payment for goods and services. A hard currency is expected to remain relatively stable through a short period of time, and to be highly liquid in the forex market. Another criterion for a hard currency is that the currency must come from a politically and economically stable country. The U.S. dollar and the British pound are good examples of hard currencies (Investopedia,2008). Hard currency basically means that the currency is strong. The terms strong and weak, rising and falling, strengthening and weakening are relative terms in the world of foreign exchange (sometimes referred to as “forex”). Rising and falling, strengthening and weakening all indicate a relative change in position from a previous level. When the dollar is “strengthening,” its value is rising in relation to one or more other currencies. A strong dollar will buy more units of a foreign currency than previously. One result of a stronger dollar is that the prices of foreign goods and services drop for U.S. consumers. This may allow Americans to take the long-postponed vacation to another country, or buy a foreign car that used to be too expensive. U.S. consumers’ benefit from a strong dollar, but U.S. exporters is hurt. A strong dollar means that it takes more of a foreign currency to buy U.S. dollars. U.S. goods and services become more expensive for foreign consumers who, as a result, tend to buy fewer U.S. products. Because it takes more of a foreign currency to purchase strong dollars, products priced in dollars are more expensive when sold overseas (chicagofed,2008).

Soft currency

Soft currency is another name for “weak currency”. The values of soft currencies fluctuate often, and other countries do not want to hold these currencies due to political or economic uncertainty within the country with the soft currency. Currencies from most developing countries are considered to be soft currencies. Often, governments from these developing countries will set unrealistically high exchange rates, pegging their currency to a currency such as the U.S. dollar (invest words,2008). Soft currency breaks down to the currency being very weak, an example of this would be the Mexican peso. A weak dollar also hurts some people and benefits others. When the value of the dollar falls or weakens in relation to another currency, prices of goods and services from that country rise for U.S. consumers. It takes more dollars to purchase the same amount of foreign currency to buy goods and services. That means U.S. consumers and U.S. companies that import products have reduced purchasing power. At the same time, a weak dollar …

Knowing How To Get Approved For Your Tractor Loan

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There are some people that have an acreage having a few acres of land or a large yard and have nothing to do with it. It is best that you farm on it so that the land becomes productive. You can after all take advantage of farm equipment loans so that you can get started on your new venture. You’ll surely need a tractor to help you maintain your land however the problem of most people is that they don’t have cash to buy one. Good thing there are actually several ways that you can finance a tractor for your farming. Be sure to follow the steps below because these ways require planning and advice.

To get started, you need to know the exact size of your land. This will also help you enable to find out how many tractors you will need. This is not enough however, of course you will need to find out how much you can exactly afford. Depending on the terrain of your land, you might need one or several types of tractors. A farm equipment loan can definitely cover this for you. Tractors come in an array of sizes and horsepower or engine sizes. You need to be sure that the workload you will subject your tractor to is only that it can carry. Other options for tractors also vary which includes but is not limited to wheel configuration. Again this depends on the terrain of your land and the type of soil that you will toil. There is an online tractor data guide for your information that you can visit to help you determine the type of tractor that you need when you apply for your loan.

Bear in mind that when you shop, shop only for tractors that fit the horsepower that you need, nothing more and nothing less. Also, be sure that you consider your repayment ability. You wouldn’t want to buy something that you really cannot afford. You can look into the classified ads, local sales lots, or again try to go online to look for good deals. The latter option usually can get you hundreds of results within just a matter of minutes so it’s very convenient.

To have a better chance of getting approved for your tractor loan, it is best that you put together an impressive business plan that shows the reason why you need a tractor, how much it costs, and how profitable your upcoming business venture would be because this will determine that method of repayment that you’ll have to pay off the loan.

You can also ask dealerships if they have financing deals to take less stress off of your budget. Most of them do offer financing deals. Be sure that you bring with you your business plan and know the type and model of tractor that you’ll need. Prepare well to show them that you have the ability to pay off everything in due time. In no time, you can bet that you …

How To Get Approved For A High Risk Motorcycle Loan And Financing

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Are you in the market for a motorcycle, but have bad credit and need a high risk motorcycle loan? Well don’t worry the goal of this article is provide you everything you need to know about getting approved for a high risk motorcycle loan.

First you must understand how motorcycle lenders go about classifying you as high risk. On the average, when a motorcycle lender is looking to approve any motorcycle financing they have a much higher cut off in the credit score range than an auto lender. This exists whether you have good or bad credit.

So with that said an auto lender may approve a FICO credit score of 610 as not a high risk, but a motorcycle lender would most likely classify a FICO credit score of 610 as a high risk motorcycle loan and may not offer an approval on it.

There are two reasons for this:

1. Motorcycles are much harder to repossess in good condition than an automobile. As a result of this simple fact, if you default on your motorcycle loan it is a higher risk to the motorcycle lender than an automobile lender because it is much harder to repossess a motorcycle in good condition than a car.

With all the new motorcycle riders entering the industry there is a high incident of some form of minor or major damage on many motorcycles, which translates in to a lower amount per unit a lender gets when they repossess a motorcycle for a customer that chooses to get bad credit over paying for their motorcycle loan. The damage could be from the repossession agency or the actual owner but the simple fact is motorcycle fetch much less at repossession auctions than automobiles.

This simple fact is one reason good and poor credit motorcycle loans are offered at much higher interest rates than a car and has an overall lower approval percentages when compared with cars.

2. The average motorcycle tends to depreciate very fast. Since motorcycles have higher accident rates and there are many people who once they crash do not pay off their loan, this results in higher defaults for motorcycle lenders. This is another reason motorcycle loan rates are higher and motorcycles are hard to get approved for.

Ok, now that you have a background in how a motorcycle lender views a motorcycle loan, let’s look at how you can get approved for a high risk motorcycle loan.

Step one is to really understand your credit report and credit score. Sure if you are looking for high risk motorcycle financing, you probably have had some credit issues in the past. But you never know how those credit issues played out on your credit report until you get a copy of it.

Take a look and make sure everything reported on your credit report is actually true. See every year 1000s of people just like you find creditors made errors on their credit report, which negativity impacted their credit score. If your …