What a difference a decade makes! Not long ago, everyone who invested in stocks seemed to win big. Investors watched their portfolios grow exponentially, and retirement seemed secure. The economy was so strong even the country’s best financial advisers were left wondering if they’d have a job.

But alas, the economy went into recession. Those early retirement dreams became a less realistic option. These days we need to know about yields, rates of return, and, dare we say, risk!

That leaves many people feeling pressured and over their heads. This is where businesses can step in to help their employees decide how and where to invest their money.

Where Do I Start?

That depends on what you want the financial advisers to do. Do you want help with estate planning, or is it your child’s college fund? What about advice on which stocks to pick or how to withdrawal cash from retirement funds without draining your account? Determining where to start depends on your desired outcome, and the good news is financial advisers come with many specialties.

Once you decide what you need, ask people that you trust for referrals. Seek out someone you don’t mind divulging personal financial information to.

Next, find out what your potential advisor did before becoming an advisor. Was he/she a math expert who majored in statistics at college? Do they have an advanced degree in accounting or business? The answer to these types of questions can tell you a lot about the Ivory Tower experience someone may have, and whether it’s relevant enough for your trust. You want someone with good character, much like you would in choosing a good doctor or lawyer.

How Do Financial Advisers Charge?

Many people are intimidated by costs but have no idea what they are. This is normal, and there are many ways in which an advisor might charge you.

Charging you a commission on products (or stocks) bought and sold is the most typical form of remuneration. Some, however, might charge a flat fee or yearly retainer, or a combination thereof. The best advice: do some comparison-shopping just as you would for a vehicle or any other significant purchase.

State Registered Advisors Must Be Licensed

Those who give advice on how someone should invest their money should be registered with the state in which they practice. For instance, in Washington State, all financial advisors must register with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions in order to practice. Check with your state to see what the requirements are, and be sure to check for prerequisites pertaining to admission, such as testing and education.

You can also check the state records for complaints: legal judgments, bankruptcies, criminal charges, and government orders. All of this information is kept on file by the state and are available to the public.

Choosing from a pool of knowledgeable professionals can be a tricky business, but it can be simplified by following a few basic rules, and, more importantly, by using a little common sense.

Financial Service

The first step to buying a car is getting approved for an auto loan. Now, loan approval is easy for people with good credit score. But what about people with bad credit score? Do they have to suffer for making a few mistakes in the past? Are they destined to get rejected by lenders?

The answer is no. Negative credit information doesn’t remain forever on your credit report. After a set amount of time, negative credit information is removed. According to Fair Credit Reporting Act, there are different time frames for different types of credit information.


1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Information related to Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for ten years from the date you have filed for bankruptcy.

2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains for seven years from the date of filing.

Late Payments

To have a good credit score, you must pay every bill before the due date. If you have not paid your bills before the due date, it is considered as “late payment” by the lender and information related to “late payment” is visible for seven years.

Tax Liens

If you have not paid your taxes, it will show on your credit report for an indefinite amount of time. The information related to tax liens will be removed only when you pay them. After you settle the balance, the information can stay for seven years.

Other public records such as paid judgments as well as unpaid judgments can remain for seven years from the date they are filed.

Collection Account

A collection account is a loan that has been turned over to a debt collection agency. If you do not make payments to the lender, he/she may sell or transfer your loan to a third-party who now has the right to collect money from you. Such information can stay on your credit report for seven years starting from the date the account first became due.

Credit Accounts

If you have paid off the loan by making regular payments, the information will remain on your credit report for ten years from the last date of the account activity. However, if you have unpaid credit accounts, it can remain on your credit report for seven years beginning from the date the account first became due.

If you have any kind of negative information on your credit report, it will be removed in a couple of years. Once the information is deleted, your credit score will improve and lenders will offer you better interest rates.


Do you and your Insurance Company know your Liability?

Traffic signs are everywhere. They provide us with warnings, directions and information. They can be found along public roadways, private roadways and parking lots. As of June 13, 2014 all agencies with public and private roadways which are opened for public travel are required to have a traffic sign assessment and management plan in place.

I know what you are thinking, that’s great the government has more paperwork to add to their already inflated bureaucracy. Though that may be the case, if you are a commercial or industrial business, mall, shopping center, home owner’s association, convenience store, gas station, just to name a few, with a parking lot or roadways, you should be preparing for traffic sign Retroreflectivity.

Why should you be concerned or taking note of traffic sign assessment and management? Well simply put if you allow motorists to drive on your property, which would almost be impossible not to, you are entering new realm of possible liability.

You along with your Insurance Company should know what the failure to prepare and plan for traffic sign assessment and management can mean. I bet most agencies and businesses don’t even know what traffic signs are their responsibilities.

Why don’t you humor me and let me give you an example how this can affect you. When your property was built, more than likely you or the owner at the time had to obtain a driveway or highway occupancy permit to enter and exit the public roadway. More than likely your plan had a stop sign at the entrance, no big deal, right? Wrong, if a driver leaving your property pulls out into the path of an oncoming vehicle and there is an accident, one of the things that the investigating agencies will be looked at is whether the proper traffic signs are in place and in operational condition. They will look at the signs in helping to determine who is at fault. Maybe not a huge deal if it is a fender bender, but what if there are major injuries or even worse a death. Now you can be certain the insuring parties, or family of the injured or dead are going to be looking for someone to pay for the damages and pain and suffering.

Get my point! In the example above we are only talking about one sign, a stop sign. Let me ask you a few things that the investigators will probably asking.

Property owner, what was the date the stop sign was installed? Do you have records of the purchase? Did the stop sign meet the highway traffic sign standards at the time of installation? Where did you purchase the sign? Was it installed to the proper height and mounting standards as required by the highway standards? When was the sign last assessed for compliance?

Holy cow! As a property owner how would you know any of that information? Simple: a traffic sign assessment and management program.

Now many permit and civil plans for properties have more than one stop sign on them, many have multiple signs. Did you also know that some state, county and local agencies add wording to the permit plans that give responsibility for the new roadway signs added during construction to the property owner. I know, you are asking why, would they do that. Simple, alleviate or pass the responsibility to someone else. Smart on their part, but bad for you and you insurance company.

The MUTCD (Manual on Uniformed Traffic Control Devices) is about to make all of our lives a little bit more interesting. I believe the door is opening for a flood of liability claims relating to traffic signs. The MUTCD and Federal Highway Administration have stated that private roads open to public travel are required to meet provisions of the MUTCD, including the minimum retroreflectivity standards. I know some people will argue that parking lots are not included, however I believe this extends to parking lots. My logic behind this is that there are drive lanes in a parking lot and what is a drive lane other than a private road. But hey I will let the lawyers argue that point in court.

A statistic obtained from Auto Insurance quotes.com, indicated that Nationwide Insurance’s 2012 claim data showed 13 percent of all accidents occur in parking lots. During my research I have found that injuries to pedestrians are one of the fastest growing types of accidents which occur in parking lots. So my next question is are your Pedestrian crossing signs compliant?

As you can see, I am trying to make a point, if you do not have a traffic sign assessment and management plan in place or think that it can’t happen to you all I can say is good luck. But just remember an implemented plan may be the cheapest insurance you could purchase.


While it’s nice to enjoy the many comforts of life, those comforts come with risks. This is where insurance comes in. To get the most out of your car, home, and ultimately health, you will likely need to invest in protection. This provides individuals and families with peace of mind and protects you and your loved ones from unforeseen events or accidents.

Keep Your Car Covered

Most states have laws that require insurance in order for an individual to operate a vehicle. If you’re pulled over without proof of coverage or you’re involved in an accident, you can be fined or even have your licensed suspended. Not only is it beneficial for the individual to have car insurance, but it is also beneficial to other parties if an accident occurs. The insured party may have more costs or delays in car repairs or medical bill payments and the uninsured party may incur fines and out of pocket costs. This also helps in cases of accidents caused by your surroundings. For example, if your car is covered and the windshield is shattered by a rock, you can call the company and they will supplement the price of the new windshield.

Safeguard Your Home

Whether you have purchased a home or simply rent, gaining insurance is a top priority. There are many unpredictable events that put the valuables inside and outside your home at risk. First and foremost, homeowners should be aware of the potential risks. Whether it’s a natural disaster or a fire, your home is an investment you surely don’t want to watch go away with rain or fire. Keep in mind the valuables you’ve collected over the years and the feelings you have attached to them. Mitigate your stress by having a separate entity directly responsible for the financial repercussions. Accidents happen. For example, a leaky roof caused by the weather, a tree falling on the house from a storm, or the neighbor’s kid breaking a window with their rogue baseball can all wreak havoc. There are also additional special features that can be tacked on to renters and home owners insurance. If you live in a flood prone area, flood insurance can be included in the policy. Hurricane and tornado insurance can also be added for those who live in at risk areas.

Whether young or old, insurance is a necessity of life. Paying monthly bills over the course of the year will protect you and your family from unthinkable incidents. While some see this as a waste of money, ask anyone who has faced a disaster without coverage and you will soon change your mind. Explore your options and don’t be afraid to be picky with your provider. They’re top priority should be getting you what you need.


The bank you choose to hold your money involves some exploration and consideration. Research various institutions to find the best one that fits your account and lifestyle needs. Safety and reputation are two important factors to consider when you make this decision.

Determine Your Financial Needs

Your financial needs are an important factor in the search for a bank. Opening checking and savings accounts is a common practice for many consumers. Some people prefer to bundle all their financial activities with one institution and if you also have loans such as a mortgage, car loan, home equity line of credit, and person loan, you might prefer to open checking and savings accounts within the same business.


The credentials and reputation of the institution should also factor into the decision. Larger banks are generally a reliable choice due to FDIC deposit insurance. Check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to find out if a business is insured under this coverage.

Think about Physical Convenience

Physical convenience can be a key consideration in this decision. You might opt for a location that’s convenient from your place or work or your residence. Consider extended hours offered by some institutions if you work alternative shifts and you cannot visit during regular business hours. Online services can help with many types of transactions, offering services such as bill payment, automated deposits, and access to balance information. Find out about the location of ATMs you can use for no or low fee transactions. Some banks are national companies, providing customers with access to service and accounts from virtually anywhere in the country. Other businesses are local, providing no ability to travel and visit brick-and-mortar branches.

Explore Fees and Service

Every bank has a unique structure for fees and services. You will need to contact any institution you consider to find out these important details. Ask about account fees, minimum balances, ATM fees, overdraft protection, and overdraft fees. Find out how the they handle international travel to see if you will be able to get assistance with foreign currencies. Some businesses offer more services than others, some involving additional fees and some not.

Consider Personalized Service

Choosing a national company can afford you many conveniences. However, it’s important to realize that you may sacrifice some personalized service with this decision. A variety of services from a national business may be fine for many consumers. If you prefer a more personalized touch with a hometown brick-and-mortar branch, you may be happier with a local entity. Anyone with a busy lifestyle and a variety of financial activities such as IRAs, loans, credit cards, and online bill payments may be better suited to a large, national company. People with simpler lifestyles might opt for a local business instead.

Weigh all information carefully to make the best choice for your financial needs. The one you choose should provide all of the services you want.


Don’t invalidate your fire insurance policy.

I find this a very strange case but it just shows how important it is to read the small print as if you ignore the conditions of the policy your policy could be invalidated.

In this case it was a condition of the FIRE insurance that the SECURITY Alarm was maintained and monitored. Times had been tough for the insured and he let the maintenance of the security alarm lapse and as the ARC had not been paid for 6 months they stopped monitoring the site.

Vandals broke in and set fire to the factory. It was a furniture company and they incurred losses of over £750,000.

The case went to the High Court, the judge had nothing but sympathy for the Directors of the Company and he took ‘no pleasure’ in ruling that as it was a condition of the combined insurance policy that alarm was to be monitored by an external firm, the Insurers did not have to meet the claim.

There are often conditions attached to the insurance policies we take out which relate directly to the risk. We need to make sure our cars have valid MOTs in order not to invalidate the policy. We are required to notify the insurance company if we get a speeding fine but, to my mind oddly, you do not have to tell them if you decide to do the Speed Awareness Course rather than pay the fine.

I have just come across a case, now in front of the insurance Ombudsman, where an insurance company voided the policy and returned all the premiums because the policy holder had unwittingly exceed the value of the ‘valuables’ within their contents insurance. They had insured the contents of their house for £60,000 but there was a clause stating that the value of the valuables should not exceed 66% of this.

They had to rush their daughter to hospital, and while they were out the thieves struck taking goods and damaging the property to the value of £70,000. When assessing the claim the loss adjusters calculated that the value if the valuables in the house exceeded £40,000. Normally claims would be ‘averaged’ to reflect the under insurance, but the insurance company in this case argued that the under insurance voided the policy. As I said this case is in front of the ombudsman as I write.

Back to case in hand where a fire insurance claim was dismissed as a security alarm and monitoring were allowed to lapse. Clients of ours run a hotel and there is someone on reception all the time so if the fire alarm is activated there was always someone on duty to respond. We came round to the time when the annual contract with the ARC [monitoring station] needed to be renewed. The Hotel Manger wanted to cancel it as it was considered an unnecessary expense. I said I agreed but asked him to check with his insurers to make sure they had no objections. The Insurers confirmed; monitoring was a condition of the policy.

Often with in the insurance policy there is a clause that the fire alarm is maintained in accordance with British Standards. It would be interesting to know whether a similar claim has been dismissed as the Fire Alarm has not been adequately maintained.


There is a type of financing arrangement that is extended to people who have multiple debts, allowing them to consolidate (or combine) all of their debts into “one” new loan. The loan can be used to consolidate various types of personal debts; however, the most common debt people experience is credit card debt. These people also hold multiple credit cards and they struggle with making their minimum monthly payments.

How does the Loan Work?

Essentially, when you take out a loan to consolidate your debt:

>> You are paying off your credit card debts; and

>> The new loan is established in place of your credit cards.

So, instead of paying several minimum monthly payments on a number of credit cards, you will only have to pay one monthly repayment on your new loan.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Out a Loan to Consolidate your Debt?

The benefits of the loan can be worthwhile for people with heavy debt that is dispersed amongst a multiple of credit cards. So, for these people taking out a loan to consolidate their debt is beneficial in the following ways:

>> Lower their monthly repayments;

>> Lower their interest rates;

>> Help them to get out of their debts faster; and

>> Protect their credit rating.

What should be your Debt Repayment Plan?

Start by tallying up your current debts. Don’t ignore your debts and pretend that they will just go away. Instead:

>> Pull out all of your most recent account statements; and

>> Create a list to help you tally up your debts.

Remember, if you have not received your latest credit card account statement from a certain creditor, call them up and ask for your most recent statement or balance.

How to Get Your Budget Back on Track?

Give yourself a good chance to get your budget back on track by doing following things:

>> Eliminating your credit card spending for at least three months (i.e. this will enable you to shift your focus to cash-based spending); and

>> Stabilising your spending and avoiding accumulation of more debt (i.e. this will make it much easier to stick with a debt repayment plan that actually works).

It is important that you take steps to improve your financial situation. If you keep your budget on track and make timely payments on the new loan, you will be able to avoid a similar debt situation in the future.


Some individuals are spending hours on the telephone daily, speaking to creditors and lawyers and even more lenders, all in an attempt to break clear of those bad credit score chains that bind us up while keeping us from enjoying life. Bad credit can weigh on the shoulders until it’s looked after, so let’s go ahead and take steps to mend that score completely. Look into government backed loans should you not hold the credit that is required to look the regular route by way of a bank or credit union. They can be a major aid in house owners that are searching for an additional chance when they had trouble by using a previous mortgage or loan. Have a copy of your credit score at regular intervals, and maintain a careful look for agencies to report your repair efforts. If you are clearing negative issues on your credit history, monitoring your report allows you to verify that agencies are correctly administering facts about your status and this additional negative reports will not be being made.

Make your visa or MasterCard balances low. Possessing a high credit limit on the card can appear like you’ve won the lottery, but using that entire limit will reduce your score. Keep balances with a 50% maximum. 30% is a lot more of a prime target. And you don’t need every dollar that has been extended to you, in this way you happen to be showing that you could handle your credit well. When attempting to repair your credit, will not be enticed by the scams that explain to you they will enable you to produce a new credit file. Developing a new credit file is actually fraud if you opt to follow through. Should you create a new credit file, because it is fraud, you are able to face legal repercussions. By maintaining a favorable credit ranking, you might be able to reduce interest levels. This helps decrease your monthly payments, and help you pay them off quicker. Asking for a much better deal through your debtors may help you get out of debt and to achieving an improved credit score.

Be suspicious of collection agencies that try and talk over you together with is not going to answer the questions you have. Agencies that happen to be scams will try to keep you off balance by continuously talking without providing you with any facts. Should they aren’t answering your concerns and are threatening you, let them know to get hold of you merely in writing. Find a very good quality help guide use and it will be possible to correct your credit all by yourself.

These are typically available all over the net along with the information that these particular provide plus a copy of your credit score, you will probably be capable of repair your credit. Now you know a thing or two on how to repair that bad credit score, it’s time for you to put the tips into action and begin living a poor-credit-free life. Make sure to invest some time and also to examine each of the angles. You must keep plugging away at it until it’s resolved, though not all word of advice you read relevant to credit will instantly do the job.


Definition: Operating Lease is one which has a fair market value buyout at the end of the term with the option to pay it or return the asset; an FMV buyout can be 15%-20% of the original cost. Finance wisdom has dictated if something becomes obsolete quickly you should get an operating lease so you can return it at the end of the term and get the newer model. That’s solid advice but there are many other good reasons to get an operating lease even for equipment that remains useful for many years. The necessity for companies to become creative in order to stay competitive is making this type of lease very popular again.

Why an Operating Lease could work for you:

1) One of the best known benefits is this lease is accounted for like a “rental” and can be expensed and doesn’t show up as debt on your balance sheet. This is critical if you’re going to make a major acquisition in the near future and need your financial statements to look healthy and not loaded with debt.

2) If your company is in a rapid growth stage, like many newer technology companies, you want to keep your monthly expenses as low as possible while matching expenses with revenues. Operating leases have the lowest monthly payments of any type due to the fair market value buyout at the end so this can be the perfect finance for companies with growing requirements they need to meet.

3) Some clients don’t like the idea of a Fair Market Value buyout at the end of the term, even when the lender offers a guideline of what it will be; budgeting for a sizeable payoff can be a little scary. Many owners say when they make the last payment, they want to know the machine is 100% theirs. But what many forget or don’t know is that you can refinance that FMV payoff; as long as your company is healthy, you can get a 2-5 year extension term on the buyout so you never have to come up with a lump of cash.

4) Since an Operating Lease is technically a rental, many equipment vendors will include service and maintenance during the finance period. It’s the vendor’s best interest to keep the system in top shape in case you return it back to them. The service and maintenance applies to only certain types of equipment but can be another nice benefit to consider with this type of finance.

Traditionally, operating leases were exclusively for companies buying trucks, computer networks and electronic diagnostic equipment – all these assets lose their value and become obsolete quickly so returning it for the next best model seemed like a good idea. But there are many other strategies that would make an operating lease the perfect fit; mainly companies which are growing quickly, looking to expand and control their costs each step of the way. Numerous high technology companies are in this mode now and would benefit greatly with this type of lease structure.


If you are of the opinion that paying your bills late won’t have an impact on your credit score, think again. The late payment of bills under any circumstances can tarnish your credit history. Initially (for the first 180 days),the longer the debt goes unpaid, the more it will affect your credit score. In case the unpaid credit card debt reaches a point where the lender thinks that it will be irretrievable, it will be known as a “charge off”.

A charge off enables creditors to write off the debt and claim a tax exemption. Typically, an unpaid amount is recorded as a charge off when you don’t pay the bill for at least six months. However, the tenure varies from lender to lender.

Why Avoid Charge Offs?

A charge off means that you have been delinquent in making payment on the debts that you owe. After a debt is charged off, it is no longer considered as a revolving debt. It becomes a balance that is due to be paid. If possible, it is always advisable to avoid a charge off. This is because when your account is revolving, you still have the chances to pay off the debt and bring your credit score to a good position.

Even if you pay the due amount in full, a charge off will stay on your credit report for the next seven years. This is because your past record for payments is considered as an indicator of your future behavior. In case you settle the charge off by paying an amount that is less than what you owe, both the transactions will reflect on your credit report.

Myths About Charge Offs

A myth that most people may have heard is that charge offs can be removed from your credit report. You may find it surprising to learn that your responsibility to pay off the debt does not end when it has been charged off. When your debt has been transferred to a collection agency, the contract that you signed to repay debt will stay in effect until you settle the account. An important point that you should remember when your debt is charged off, is that you may not be able to settle the payment with the original creditor, but with the company that is responsible for collection.

The Impact on Your Credit Score

Charge offs can hurt your credit score to a great extent. Whether you owe $100 or $1,000, charge offs can pose a big threat to your future investment plans. A charge off can make your credit score plunge dramatically. Like some of the other flaws in your credit report, a charge off can be a major setback in the case that you are making an effort to improve your credit score.

Credit Card