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A Good Financial Education

Does receiving a formal financial education lead to more prudent financial decision? This is something that is currently being widely discussed, as fragile economies reach recovery. While many commentators believe that there is an alarming lack of financial literacy amongst adult populations in developed countries, there is still considerable doubt as to whether formalized financial literacy training has any impact on our money-related behaviors.

Those who have grown up knowing how to be sensible with money are in good stead to turn it into a career as well as living a healthy financial lifestyle. This could even take you overseas to study at the Manchester LSBF campus in England or the LSBF business school in the heart of Toronto.

We take a brief look at some of the main arguments about finance education below.

Arguments in favor of a formal financial education

A recent Cambridge University study suggests that adult money habits are set by the time children reach the age of seven. This is a startling statistic and one that has led to the introduction of financial education on the English National Curriculum. Proponents of the change in legislation argue that families cannot be relied upon to teach children how to manage money, as many struggle to do so adequately themselves. A primary school setting guarantees a captive audience, not to say an audience that is already intrinsically interested in financial matters. Indeed, research conducted by Pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) reveals that one in ten children are currently saving money for something, whether it be a car, a house or a place at university. Engaging children in financial matters when they are young can open doors for them in later life.

Arguments against receiving a formal financial education

Arguments in this category tend to focus on the fact that there is no compelling evidence to say that receiving formal financial training results in a change of financial behavior. One of the reasons for this is that the marketplace is a dynamic force that is subject to constant change. Improving people’s general financial literacy may be an important step towards better financial planning, but it does not necessarily lead to an ability to calculate, say, the total interest due on a fixed rate loan. Of greater concern, meanwhile, is the suggestion that formalized training can actually have a detrimental effect on our decision-making process, leading, in some cases, to both overconfidence and risky financial behavior. Indeed, US high school seniors who have taken financial courses scored lower in tests than those who had not.

Who to believe?

There’s a wealth of information out there, and most of it seems to suggest that having formal financial education classes is a worthwhile endeavor. Concerns centre on whether the impact of these classes is measurable. That is to say, if continuing with them represents a sensible financial decision.

How to Start Digging Yourself Out of a Debt Hole

The following is from Donna Parshall.

“Every time I sat down to pay bills, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Our debt was so overwhelming. Sometimes it felt like someone had dropped a huge rock on my chest.”

That’s how Vanessa described her state of mind before she and her husband Anthony decided to get serious about taking control of their financial future. Vanessa and Anthony (not their real names) are smart, hard-working people. They both had good jobs during the early years of their marriage, took on what they thought was a reasonable amount of debt, and made it a point to pay their bills on time.

After the economy took a nose dive, Vanessa was laid off. The couple’s monthly budget got tight. With less money coming in, they started relying on credit cards and other types of debt to keep their monthly bills current. Vanessa eventually found a new job – but even then the couple’s combined take-home pay wasn’t enough to cover monthly expenses and ballooning credit card bills. With every passing month, they found themselves sinking deeper into a hole of debt.

Sound Familiar?

Financial “holes” come in all shapes and sizes. Your situation probably isn’t identical to the one Vanessa and Anthony faced. Persistent budget shortfalls and mounting debt can be caused by a whole laundry list of factors. A family illness, student loan debt, identity theft, or long-term unemployment are just a few examples. If you’ve read this far, chances are good that you are in a debt hole and looking to find a way out. Where do you go from here?

Give yourself a break

For starters, rest assured that you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted earlier this year, 35 percent of respondents reported that their biggest concern was being able to meet essential expenses and 22 percent reported regrets about accumulating too much debt. Although the U.S. economy has been slowly crawling its way back from the financial crisis that began in 2008, many families are still struggling.

Being concerned about excessive debt is a good thing; you should be concerned! But beating yourself up over it does nothing to solve the problem. It can also cloud your judgment and make you more prone to spend more, just to (temporarily) make yourself feel better. Instead of worrying about things that happened in the past, let it go. Forgive yourself and focus all your energy on building the financial future you want.

Stop digging

Once you’ve resolved to dig your way out, don’t slow your progress by spending your way into even more debt. Stop using credit cards for impulse purchases and other things you don’t really need. If you’ve been using credit cards, back-to-back payday loans, or other forms of credit just to keep up with monthly expenses, consider consulting a reputable financial counselor (more on this later).

To keep credit cards from being a temptation, some experts recommend keeping credit cards out of your reach. Techniques that have worked for some people include cutting up all but one major credit card, canceling high interest rate cards, or keeping them locked up. A word of caution: Before you do anything with your credit cards, conduct a little research on the dos and don’ts of closing credit cards.

As Jenna Lee explains in U.S. News & World Report Money blog, canceling credit card accounts has the potential to ding an individual’s credit score due to decreased overall credit capacity. On the other hand, credit scores can also be negatively impacted by the number and types of credit card accounts a person has. If you do decide to cancel some of your accounts, remember that simply cutting up a card doesn’t mean the account is closed. You still have to contact the issuer to cancel the card. Deciding which cards to keep and which to cancel should be based on your personal circumstances and the potential impact to your credit score.

How deep is it?

Taking a clear-eyed look at how much debt you have is scary if you’re already in over your head. Take a deep breath and just do it. You’ll be glad you did in the long run! Gather up your account statements, bills, and other financial documents. Request copies of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies. Federal law requires that all three agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide free annual credit reports to individuals who request them. You can request a free annual report online from all three agencies.

Once you have everything in front of you, add up your total debt. Knowing the amount you owe in aggregate is a reality check. Ideally, it will strengthen your determination and give you an idea of how long it will take to pay off. You can project a variety of payoff scenarios by using our free tools – including the repayment calculator, credit card payoff calculator, and credit card balance transfer calculator.

Make a list of your monthly expenses like rent, utilities, food, transportation, along with the minimum monthly payments for student loans, credit cards, installment loans, and other debt. Add up the total to see how much money you have to pay out each month.

Next Steps

Deciding what your next steps should be will depend on the size of your debt, your income, and other circumstances. If your monthly income is more than your total monthly debt payments, you may be able to create a budget and repayment plan on your own. If it’s obvious right away that your debt is much larger than your capacity to pay it back, your next step may be choosing a reputable credit counselor.

For Vanessa and Anthony, credit counseling was the answer. “We gathered up our pay stubs, account statements, and bills and took them to an accountant in our hometown,” Vanessa said. “He reviewed our financial situation and referred us to a professional who specializes in negotiating with creditors and helping people solve large debt problems. We still have a way to go, but now it feels manageable. My only regret is that we didn’t confront our debt problem sooner.”

Best Masters Degrees For Getting a Job

So, you’re thinking about getting a master’s degree. In an economy with unemployment at 8.2 percent and underemployment near 18 percent, putting off the grueling job search process in a weak market to pursue a graduate degree is certainly a viable option.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees with a master’s degree earned almost $12,000 more per year than employees with a bachelor’s degree.

Take the healthcare market, for example. Healthcare jobs are expected to grow faster than in any other industry. Over the next five years, more than three million new jobs are projected to be added. Getting your master’s degree in a health-related field could produce impressive results. Here are a few directions for you to consider.

Physician Assistant Studies

Employment of physician assistants is expected to grow a whopping 38 percent over the next 10 years. With the growth of an aging population, demand for healthcare services will also increase. More people means more need for healthcare specialists, and as the large baby-boom generation ages, they will require more healthcare. This, along with an increase in several chronic diseases such as diabetes, will drive the need for physician assistants to provide preventive care and treatment for those who are sick.

Physician assistants can perform many of the same services as doctors and they are expected to have a larger role in giving routine care because they provide a more cost effective option than physicians. As more physicians retire or enter specialty areas of medicine, physician assistants are expected to take on the role of primary care provider.


Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow almost 20 percent in the next ten years. If you are an RN with an associate’s degree or diploma and want to go to graduate school, an RN to Master of Science in nursing (MSN) may be a good fit. Getting your Masters in Nursing online is an efficient option.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), these highly competitive programs are increasing rapidly because of demand for healthcare services, which will increase because of the aging population. Older people typically have more medical problems than younger people. Nurses also will be needed to educate and to care for patients with various chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity.

Occupational Therapist

Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow almost 30 percent in the next ten years, as they continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb.

As with other healthcare specialities, the need for occupational therapists is expected to increase as the baby-boom generation ages and people remain active later in life. Occupational therapists can help senior citizens maintain their independence by recommending home modifications and strategies that make their daily activities easier. Therapists also play a large role in the treatment of many conditions and ailments commonly associated with aging, such as arthritis and stroke.

The goal of pursuing a master’s degree is to eventually get hired after putting in all the hard work, so consider the healthcare industry, where several occupations are projected to explode over the next 10 years.

What Can People Find out about My Company Using a Public Search?

If someone wanted to find out more information about your business, just how much could they learn using a public search? Public business records about your company filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) provide a wide range of information that is publicly accessible. All someone needs is the Australian Business Number (ABN) Australian Company Number (ACN) for your business and they can use online databases to gather information about your company, its directors, and even the nature of your company’s relationships to other businesses.

Using an ASIC search to look for a basic snapshot of a business is called a Current Company Extract. The extract will provide basic information about the company such as current office addresses and the address registered as the principal place of business. The amount of information available depends upon the type of organisation, but in many cases the extract will list the executives of the company, including the administrators, secretaries, and company directors. It will also list any company liquidators on file. A Current Company Extract will include all current shareholders and the details of those holdings, unless the company is public, of course.

A Historical Company Extract can be pulled to find all of the above information as well as and relevant details regarding the company’s history. Annual returns filed before July 2003 will be available, too. (Annual returns after this date will not be available, as they have since been banned.)

People looking for information about your company’s relationship to other companies could request a Relational Company Extract. This report will list other companies in which your company is among the top 20 members or is the ultimate holding company. This extract will also list corporations directed by the subject as well as foreign companies that the subject is acting as a local director. Information on managed investment schemes and licenses held by the company will also be provided.

One can also find information on specific people associated with companies registered with the ASIC. Using a Personal Name search, people can uncover details such as the individual’s birth data, residential address, and the dates of the beginning and the end of the person’s relationship to the organisation.

Performing a Banned and Disqualified Register Search can reveal details about people who have certain restrictions placed upon them under the Corporations Act. The extract for this type of search will contain the address of the individual, the effective dates of the ban, as well as if the ban is under appeal. People can search for banned futures representatives, banned securities representatives, and disqualified directors using this search.

Additional information about an individual can also be obtained by searching the professional register. Searching this database will provide the person’s current company as well as other companies in which they have a role. Information on futures brokers and dealers, registered auditors, official liquidators, and investment advisers can be found using this search.


Cheap Date Ideas

Dating, or courting as they say, is how we get to know someone who may become our significant other or partner. However, dating takes time, and also money.   It can be costly to wine and dine and get to know someone. Naturally, thinking about money and love at the same time isn’t exactly romantic, but you may find yourself looking for a short-term loan from someone like the UK payday lender eCashWindow.

The first thing to think about if dating is who is going to pay for the date?

The old fashioned way is whomever is asking for the date, usually pays. You ask someone out, you pay.

A more modern approach has been to split the costs, or if you are the one being asked out, to offer to contribute a portion of the expenses.

Vouchers: I am an advocate for the use of coupons and vouchers, and this can be an especially good way to save money on going out. Many cinemas and restaurants offer early bird discounts, or discounts on set menus. Some mobile phone carriers have partnered with cinemas to offer discounts on a particular day of the week. The Orange Mobile network was having Orange Wednesdays where you got cheap film tickets if you were an Orange customer.

Vouchers through Groupon, Vouchercodes, or other web sites are another way to save as well.

Tesco’s Club Card has a “boost” scheme where you can increase your quarterly vouchers by 4 times their value if you redeem them at restaurants Tesco has partnered with. £10 worth of vouchers can be redeemed for £40 of food. That’s a great deal!

Coffee: Meeting someone for a cup of coffee is not only inexpensive, it also allows you time together to speak and get to know one another. Isn’t that is what dating is about anyway, getting to know each other and spend time together.

Starbucks and Costa Coffee shops are very inviting and relaxing places to visit and get to know someone. Many also have WiFi, which isn’t good for conversing, but good if sharing things off the Internet.

Let’s Do Lunch: A lunch or even meeting in the morning for breakfast as a date is less expensive than a full meal out. There are cafes everywhere, and their prices are usually very reasonable. This can be awkward as for a first date you may not want to meet someone for scrambled eggs and toast.

A Table For Two: Staying in and cooking for someone is a great way to save money, have conversation, and get to know each other. They can also see how tidy you are as well.

Both Tesco and Marks and Spencers offer “dine in” meals for two for around £10, which includes a bottle of wine. You get a starter, main course, dessert, and wine for £10.

Museums: Many local art galleries and museums such as the Tate, or British Museum have free exhibits. What a great way to take in some culture, spend time together, and possibly discuss why Van Gogh cut off part of his ear. OK, maybe not the Van Gogh part.

So be creative and think of ways to spend quality time together, and not spend lots of money.

Does Private Health Insurance Cover me as soon as I buy the Policy?

Since the Affordable Care Act came into being not having private health insurance can lead to a fine if you don’t qualify for public healthcare. But when you purchase a health insurance policy how soon does coverage commence?

It’s understandable that you’ll want to be covered by your health insurance as soon as possible in case you should suffer any health problems. Health care can be extremely costly so you want to get the benefit of your premiums straight away. Find out more about specific coverage times on HBF’s health insurance policies by following this link, you can learn more about peace of mind for you & your family.

So if I buy a policy when does it start?

The health insurance market place was set up to give people a way of purchasing health insurance. It is open for a period each year to allow for purchase of health insurance for that year. For 2014 the open enrollment period for the market place ended on March 31 2014. The proposed open enrollment period for 2015 is November 15 2014–February 15 2015.

If you enroll in a health insurance policy during the open enrollment periods it commences according to the date on which you enroll. If you enroll between the first day of enrollment period and the third week in December your coverage begins on the first day of the new year. After that point if you enroll between the 1st and the 15th day of the month, and you pay your premium on time, coverage starts on the first day of the following month. If you enroll between the 16th and last day of the month your coverage begins on the first day of the month after the following month.

What happens outside of the open enrollment period?

People can enroll for health insurance during a special enrollment period. This is a period of 60 days following the loss of current health insurance or a specific life event. The same rules of entitlement apply as for the open enrollment period.

Of course you can enroll for health insurance outside of the market place altogether, although from 2015 your policy will need to meet the same essential health benefits as those offered in the marketplace. You will need to check with the insurance provider when the policy will become effective, with many policies coverage starts from the month after you take the policy out. Once you start paying for your insurance you will receive a proof of insurance which you will need to prove coverage to medical providers.

What happens if I’m covered but my claim is refused?

The most important thing to find out is why the claim was denied; there can be a lot of reasons for this happening. There could be a perceived lack of medical necessity for the claim, or maybe the claim was made outside of prescribed time limits. Once you know the reason for the refusal you have the right to appeal if you feel you have been treated unjustly. There are two ways the decision can be looked at; an internal appeal which is considered by your insurance provider, and an external review where your case is referred to a third party.

What to do When You Need Cash Now but Have No Job

When you lose a job and the cash runs out, it is hard to figure out which direction to turn in. Getting a loan is not an option since you have no way of repaying it. Borrowing from friends or family may also not be an option due to their own financial status. Even getting a credit card is impossible with no income. There are a few options to consider when you need cash now to purchase groceries, pay rent/mortgage and keep the utilities on.

Obtain a Loan from a Pawn Shop

If you have items of value, this is one way to get a loan. Pawn shops do make loans that are generally required to be repaid within 90 – 120 days. The amount of the loan is based upon the value of the item or items you take in. Some will loan money on vehicles, so if you have a second vehicle, consider getting a loan on one of them but make sure it can be paid back or it will be lost. This temporary funding may not be the entire amount that you need, but it is a good start.

Advertise Services in Online Forums

Consider placing ads on online forums, on social media and in local classifieds advertising your special skills. This may bring a few jobs your way that will pay cash. These funds can be used for anything that you need whether it’s for survival or a vehicle repair. If you are not having any luck obtaining jobs, ask family if there is anything that you can do for them for pay such as yard work or a home repair. Some family members may be more willing to assist if you are actually working for the money.

Sell Items that are Unnecessary

Put items up for sale in local classifieds and price them to sell. Start a little high and be willing to negotiate. Items can be replaced, so anything that has been sitting around or is rarely used would be ideal. This includes electronics, collectibles and tools as the most popular items to sell quickly.

The options above will help you to get quick cash, especially when you are unemployed. Even if you receive unemployment compensation, it is rarely enough to make ends meet. The funds received from sales, pawn shops or side jobs should be enough to get you through until you find new employment.