HCSO looking for men who robbed cash advance store

by Shelton on September 30th, 2014

filed under Business Loans


The Harris County Sheriffs Office is looking for two men who robbed a cash advance store.

The incident happened around 3 pm on July 28 on the 10800 block of West FM 1960.

Authorities say the men entered the store pretending to be customers. Thats when one of the men pulled out a handgun and demanded a store employee to the floor.

I had perfect finances – until I was stuck with another’s debt

by Shelton on September 30th, 2014

filed under Finances

On Wednesday, financial watchdogs begin the process of bringing to heel around
50,000 firms that inhabit the shadowy world of credit and debt. Each firm
will be scrutinised and subject to tough new rules. Consumers will also be
protected by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

AdviceIQ: Divorce and elder-care finances

by Shelton on September 30th, 2014

filed under Finances

A confluence of circumstances can conspire against marriage among older couples: longevity, soaring elder-care costs and a lack of long-term care (LTC) insurance. Divorce, even if painful, may hurt less than living in near poverty until


finally kicks in to cover an ill spouse.

Medicare insurance only covers up to 100 days of nursing care. If you or your spouse need nursing or LTC, you either pay out of pocket until your assets fall below a low threshold or tap your LTC insurance.

LTC is not medical care, but help with personal tasks of everyday life. More than 11 million Americans need LTC now and total costs can easily hit six figures: Average need for care lasts about three years (2.2 years for men and 3.7 years for women, according the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information.

If you dont have LTC insurance, you pay out of pocket until you spend most of your assets and Medicaid (an aid-based program for low-income people) steps in as a last resort.

From my professional experience, counseling someone to consider divorce to stave off financial ruin is difficult, to say the least. A healthy spouse can feel wrong and immoral taking such advice.

My clients Debbie and Glenn (not their real names) are 72 and both on their second marriage. They married 11 years ago and purchased a home together but, importantly, each kept investment assets separate.

Three years ago, Debbie was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. Since then, Glenn hired personal caregivers to help Debbie every day and part of each night. The expenses depleted Debbies assets two years ago; Glenn now draws on his individual retirement savings to cover her care, which costs more than $3,000 a month.

Glenn engaged me to review his finances. I saw that he risked spending all his remaining investment assets within about the next three years as Debbie will soon move to an Alzheimers unit in a nursing home.

I considered a reverse mortgage to use the equity value of Glenn and Debbies residence, as well as investing some of Glenns assets in a Medicaid-compliant annuity and other measures. After consulting with elder-care and divorce attorneys, we concluded – and Im simplifying the process here – that the best move was for Glenn to divorce Debbie.

The alternative: Glenn and Debbie remain married but he keeps spending his nest egg. That means he risks winding up with little money for his own medical and living needs in the future (of particular concern, since Glenn can easily live another 25 or more years). A divorce thats primarily just on paper wont interfere with Glenns overseeing and coordinating Debbies care but will protect his assets and open the door for Medicaid.

Glenn understands the seemingly cold logic of divorcing Debbie. Yet he cant tolerate the feeling that hes betraying her; he cant decide what to do. Meanwhile, the clock ticks as he whittles down his retirement money.

Emotions and financial planning can be a bad mix at many stages of life. Without LTC insurance and in this increasingly common dilemma as more baby boomers face elder-care expenses, divorce can make financial (if not always emotional) sense.

MORE: Jeff Stimpson on planning beyond investing

MORE: David John Marotta on leaving IRA money to charity

MORE: Jared Kizer on whether bond fund prices are stale?

Eve Kaplan, CFP, is a fee-only advisor in Berkeley Heights, N.J with .Kaplan Financial Advisorsand is a member of the AdviceIQ Financial Advisors Network, which is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently ofUSA TODAY.

Cash Home Sales, While High, Are Falling

by Shelton on September 29th, 2014

filed under Business Loans

The share of homes being purchased without a mortgage remains high, historically speaking, but it is beginning to edge down.

One-third of homes sold in July were all-cash deals, according to data from CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. The all-cash share of sales tends to fall in the spring and summer, when traditional, mortgage-dependent buyers tend to account for a higher share of sales.

But even after taking those seasonal factors into account, the all-cash share of sales has normally accounted for around a quarter of all home sales. Over the past year, all-cash sales have accounted for around 37% of all sales, down from a peak of around 43% in late 2011 and early 2012, when home prices reached bottom.

Federal policy makers are concerned that mortgage lending standards have been too tight, potentially shutting qualified borrowers out of the market.

Amid a tighter lending environment, investors have accounted for a much higher share of sales. Many investors have been able to outbid mortgage-dependent buyers by offering sellers a guaranteed, quick closing.

The high share of cash buyers is a sign that “a lot of folks are avoiding the hassle of our industry,” said Matt Vernon, a top lending executive at Bank of America, at an industry conference last year.

Related coverage:

US Existing-Home Sales Fall 1.8% in August

Rate of Americans Starting Own Households ‘Disturbingly Slow’

Should Mortgage Lending Standards Ease?



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Why you may need to sell out to grow up!

by Shelton on September 29th, 2014

filed under Personal Funding

Many times, savvy fleet owners know they could reach the next level of success– if they just had the financial resources. This is when it may make perfect sense to sell part of the company.

There are six really good reasons why you may need to sell out to grow up!

  1. When your company needs more cash to purchase equipment needed to win larger contracts or serve a growing market.
  2. When you need a larger team to take your services or products into another region or even nationwide.
  3. When you need to reach new markets, but lack the sales and marketing ability to expand into new markets.
  4. When your company lacks the support staff needed to reach the next level. A new owner/partner may provide: legal, finance, accounting, marketing, HR, training and other support functions that you simply do not have.
  5. When you need to diversify your product line or services to reach the next level. A new partner/owner may offer the perfect lineup that meets additional needs of your existing clients. You simply combine two successful companies into one powerhouse.
  6. When you realize you are ready for the next opportunity in your life. Many entrepreneurs are great at the startup and development of companies. However, they simply do not enjoy the day-to-day management of an established company. If you are this type, selling out is definitely the best way to grow up. It enables you to monetize your success and have solid, personal funding for your next venture.

How do you plan to take your company to the next level? Could a partial sale or a new investor do the trick?

Debt consolidation on the rise

by Shelton on September 29th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

Remortgaging, or its bigger cousin, debt consolidation, is becoming more prevalent in the UAE as regulations that protect the customer are put into place. Financial advisers have reported a dramatic increase in refinancing in the last quarter.
Sam Wani, General Manager of Mortgage Advisory at Independent Finance tells GN Focus, “Last month during Ramadan, which is traditionally a slow month, 60 per cent of our business was remortgaging. It was also the best month we have seen in the past three to four years.”
Detailed credit reports
Market watchers say debt consolidation activity, which means combining several loans into a single new loan, will be further boosted when the national credit bureau becomes functional early next month. Al Etihad Credit Bureau confirmed recently that it would begin to issue consumer credit reports to financial institutions from the beginning of September this year.
The reports will include records about consumers’ debt levels, financial obligations, credit payments, history of default payments and late payment. Marwan Ahmad Lutfi, CEO of Al Etihad Credit Bureau, says: “The issuance of credit reports to banks and financial institutions is an important step in reducing credit losses resulting from non-performing loans and will help individuals and companies have a deeper understanding of their financial obligations and debt levels.”
Checks and balances
Chris Allen, Mortgage Broker at property investment consultancy, IP Global, tells GN Focus that increased reportage is a natural part of the cycle. “The penalties for early repayment have been topped to one per cent. There are people who have taken loans when the interest rates were between 7 and 9 per cent. Now some even offer an interest rate of 3.99 per cent fixed for three years. If you were on a fixed rate of 7 to 9 per cent you would want to get better rates.”
Mortgage rules and regulations often work as checks and balances for existing market conditions. Prior to the property market crash, high early repayment costs emerged as a reaction to quick reselling or flipping by owners.
“Because there was such a huge flipping mentality they were making a new mortgage every three months. Banks had to do all that paperwork. As a result, huge penalties were imposed by lenders on people who wanted to get out too soon.
“They would charge up to 5 per cent of the total loan. But when the market went crazy, people did not demur about paying even 5 per cent,” says Allen.
Things are different now as the market matures and one sees activity, which is reflective of any market at this stage. “According to the mortgage law introduced by the Central Bank, when you move your mortgage the maximum penalty is 1 per cent or Dh10,000, whichever is lower,” says Wani.
Developing market
With these numerous developments, the refinance market is definitely increasing in size. Wani says, “In theory, the refinance industry is as big as the mortgage industry. The way it works is that the bank will give you a rate, which goes on for two or three years. Another bank offers a mortgage at a lesser percentage. Everyone who has a mortgage will want a remortgage at some stage.”
While the customer is getting a lower mortgage rate, there is a provision of the rates being locked for a fixed amount of time. Wani says, “You will see more and more banks offering deals for a mortgage rate, which is fixed for two years, at say, 2.99 per cent. The offer will only be available for three months. People will want to switch their mortgage for these sort of deals where you are locked for two or three years.”
And as property mortgages have become cheaper in recent months, there have also been instances of customers using the equity to pay off other debts. “For those who bought property earlier, they may have more equity and lesser loan. People come to us to assess their situation, evaluate their property and opt for the product that suits them,” adds Wani.
Encouraging bank loyalty
In the UAE, another factor governing the refinance segment is consumer consolidation. With loyalty and relationship-based banking on the rise, it is natural for banks to create mechanisms to ensure every consumer’s debt needs are met in one place.
Wani says, “In one instance, our client had many credit cards and loans. With the new loan products, they cleared off expensive debts, replacing them with one single low-cost debt.”
Donna Spencer, a Mortgage Consultant at IP Global says the concept of loyalty is foreign to the industry, while refinancing is second nature. Most customers need to switch banks to get the best deal. “In the UK, for instance, there are only a handful of banks that would offer their old clients what they would offer their new clients. And sometimes if you need to remortgage, your circumstances do not work with the bank’s criteria. You may not fit the bank’s own conditions.”

Bandits Steal Berlin IPhone Cash, Showing Payment Hurdle

by Shelton on September 28th, 2014

filed under Business Loans

If bandits rob banks because that’s where the money is, then it makes sense to hold up an Apple Store in Germany on the day after a new iPhone is released — because that’s where the cash is.

Late Saturday afternoon, with would-be iPhone buyers still queuing in front of Apple Inc.’s marble-and-glass emporium on Berlin’s Kurfuerstendamm, three masked gunmen stormed a security company’s van that was hauling away the pile of euros the store had taken in over the weekend.

One reason the outlet had so much cash on hand: Germans are famously behind much of the developed world in credit- and debit-card payments, with cash still used in more than half of money spent in stores. The iPhone 6, released Sept. 19, presents an opportunity for Germans to move toward a cashless future.

Whereas Americans, Scandinavians, French and Italians can buy a cup of coffee or a pack of gum with a card, it’s rare for Germans to use plastic for such payments, and it can be hard to find a cafe or restaurant in Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt that will accept credit cards.

Just 15 percent of retail payments in Germany are made by credit or debit card, the lowest among seven countries studied by the European Central Bank in a paper released in June. In the US, by contrast, 45 percent of payments are made by card.

Photographer: Jörg Carstensen/dpa/AP Photo

Memories of Johnny Cash

by Shelton on September 28th, 2014

filed under Business Loans

DYESS — If anyone else had grown up there, the small wood-frame house wouldn’t garner a second look. Standing alone off a gravel road among acres of farmland without anything else nearby, the house seems lonesome at 4791 W. County Road 924, about 50 miles southeast of Jonesboro.

But company’s coming. And lots of it, writes Linda Haymes in Tuesday’s Style section.

This 1,120-square-foot white clapboard house with forest green shutters and window boxes, be it ever so humble, is where country music legend Johnny Cash spent his formative years. Those involved in the project say the Historic Dyess Colony restoration and Johnny Cash Boyhood Home museum hope to draw about 50,000 visitors annually, bringing nearly $10 million in tourism-related income to the region.

Read Tuesdays Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Student Debt and Consolidation

by Shelton on September 27th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

Dave Ramsey says: Time shares can limit travel flexibility

by Shelton on September 27th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

Dear Dave,

Some friends recently offered me a time share. Its an older place on the beach, and theyve had it for about 20 years. Id have to pay a transfer fee of $100, plus a yearly association fee of $500. I know youre not a big fan of time shares, but does this deal sound okay?


Dear Jill,

In essence, youre looking at $500 a week. I know the $500 is technically an annual association fee, but youre basically paying $500 for your week at the time share. And in the future, say five years from now, the association fee could increase. You might be paying $1,000 a year at that point again, for your week.

In actuality, the numbers youre talking about right now arent completely terrible. Still, its not a huge blessing. In my mind its kind of like, How would you like a kick in the knee thats not too hard?

If it were me, Id much rather spend my $500 a year on travel and be able to go and stay wherever I wanted. Not only does this free you up it that area, but youd only spend the money when and if you did it. With a time share, you get charged whether you show up or not.

This ones not as bad as if youd have to pay $8,000 for the opportunity. But if these were my friends making the offer, Id have to say no thanks.


Dear Dave,

Im 38, single and I have three kids. I make $65,000 a year and have $34,000 in debt. Im about to get remarried, and my new husband will make about $100,000 a year. Should I take the $34,000 and put it on my mortgage to consolidate it?


Dear Leslie,

Please dont consolidate this debt. If you guys are about to get married, you need to learn, as a couple, to make debt a thing of the past and live on a written, monthly budget. Think about it. Once youre married, your family will have a great income. You could really push and attack that debt and have it paid off in no time.

As a new couple, you need to learn to set goals and work on things as a team. Budgeting is a great exercise for any marriage, but its an especially good thing for newly married couples to learn to do. A budget isnt just controlling your money. Its two people sitting down together and sharing their hopes and dreams for the future. Not just that, its the process of making an actual, workable, written plan that will help make these dreams become reality.

Dont do a debt consolidation, Leslie. Debt consolidation is nothing more than a con because you think youve done something about the debt problem. But the truth is the debt is still there, as are the habits that caused it. All you did was move it around.

You cant borrow your way out of debt, just like you cant get out of a hole by digging out the bottom.


Follow Dave Ramsey on Twitter at DaveRamsey and on the Web at daveramsey.com.