Minggu, 07 November 2010

(R)Evolution In Home & Personal Accounting

'Accounting for a Better Life’ is a book in which John Passmore proposes a new, simplified and fun approach, to home and personal bookkeeping and accounting.

The new methods, based on what he calls, domestic well-being accounting, enable people to gain control of their personal and domestic, financial affairs. The system provides the necessary visibility so that users will know exactly what their money is being spent on, and how well balanced their spending is, in relation to its distribution.

The balance is across basic domestic needs and responsibilities, discretionary spending on holidays, leisure and entertainment, and provision for future well-being. Knowing about the current and past spending patterns, users can determine where and by how much, changes might be needed. Budgeting and associated feedback, facilitate the monitoring of such financial planning.

The author believes the new methods have the potential to be adopted as a formal, sub-discipline of business accounting, eventually perhaps, with suitable certificates and diplomas for those who learn how to use it successfully.

With such recognition, the motivation for appropriate investment from industry and the state becomes real, so that domestic accounting, its further calibration and an associated training infrastructure, can all be further developed and refined.

He proposes that in time, such methods should become an established part of the school curriculum. Through this, youngsters will be able to achieve the best possible foundation to accept and take on the financial responsibilities that are associated with success, in modern life.

In the prevailing UK situation, of a very severe debt crisis, the new approach, almost in passing, provides the required visibility on the state of a family's financial affairs, to provide warnings of potential difficulties so that the necessary defensive actions can be taken, to prevent falling into the debt trap. For those already experiencing some debt, the new methods provide the necessary visibility on their finances to facilitate the required planning and control, required to best manage debt recovery.

If people realized the extent and value of the average, domestic, cash turnover, in the course of a lifetime, it seems amazing that serious, financial management is not already, demanded. If an equivalent, small business, with similar turnover was not effectively managed, the owners would probably have shareholders, accountants and Company House, knocking on their doors.

Accounting has traditionally been thought of as a rather boring, difficult and tedious activity by most people. It is also recognized as somewhat of a challenge, in considering the length of training required to achieve professional status, as a Chartered Accountant, or similar.

Having started to manage his own accounts at home, soon after the arrival of the PC, in the late eighties, John Passmore tried to adapt the traditional, business-oriented way of using accounts, with all the usual, end-of-period reports. He uses commonly available, general purpose software, an accounting package (Microsoft Money) and a spreadsheet package. He has adapted the maturity of double entry accounting and has also had to ensure his methods could cope with multiple currencies in use, whilst working overseas for thirty years.

Although it was basically satisfactory, in so far as it produced the overall figures on net worth, John realized two things; first, the traditional business focus and motivation on profits and shareholders’ value, understandably, had little relevance to the domestic situation, and second; there was no visibility on the nature of the bulk of the day-to-day, domestic income and expenditure. In addition, the terminology and the overall style of business accounting, he found, not at all conducive to successfully and easily running accounts, for a home environment.

Over a decade, John Passmore has gradually evolved a new approach to personal and domestic accounting. At a fundamental level, he has made everything much easier to understand and use. This was achieved by a range of simple techniques, such as rigorous naming conventions and a simplified version of the so-called, accounting equations. More importantly, he introduced a new focus for home and personal accounting, which he calls, domestic well-being. Essentially, domestic well-being, or DWB, provides a hierarchical structure for defining and recording, the increases and decreases, making up day-to-day, domestic financial activity.

At the top level, there is a 3-way split into Basics, Discretionary and a catch-all, of Others.

The Basics are sub-divided into Essentials (utilities, food and drink, clothing, health, etc.), Responsibilities (taxes, mortgage, licenses, maintenance, insurance, etc.) and Family (presents, and personal commitments, etc.). Similarly, Discretionary includes asset purchases and sales, Nice to Have (holidays, leisure, entertainment, etc.), Investment for the Future (Home improvements, pension contributions and other investments, etc.). Others are for uncontrolled changes, such as prizes, inheritance, gains and appreciation, fines, losses and depreciation, etc.

This DWB structure is used as the basis for the domestic reports and for categorizing all the transactions, as they entered into the accounts, as part of bookkeeping.

A sub-title of his book 'Accounting for a Better Life', is 'Gain Control of Personal Finances'. Following an overview of control and a comparison of a number of typical control environments, the book describes how control can be applied to financial situations. The visibility now afforded by DWB means that a new set of financial reports can be defined. These replace the business style, Trading Account, Profit & Loss Account, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. The new set of statements, tailored directly for the domestic situation, include the Domestic Well-Being Statement, the Domestic Balance Sheet and the Domestic Cash Flow Statement.

Readers will be generally aware of the typical, business ratios such as Gross and Net profit margins, Return on Capital Employed, and over twenty other ratios. Although vital for management and control in business, these ratios have absolutely no bearing on domestic finances. However, with the visibility provided by DWB, a whole new group of Domestic Financial Factors suddenly become evident. John has defined five, major new factors and a host of secondary factors. For example, the Basic Cost of Living Factor (BCLF) is the ratio of Basic Domestic Decrease to Total Household Increases, whilst the Well-Being Contribution Factor (WBCF) is the proportion of Discretionary Domestic Decreases, compared to the Total Household Increases. These factors provide the yardsticks, by which various characteristics of domestic life can be both qualified and quantified.

These factors open up new areas for comparison, measurement and control of domestic, financial situations, based on family size. Their real benefit however, has to await calibration and an accumulation of data, so that a parallel can be achieved with the business concepts of comparison to industry averages, or norms. The domestic averages will have to be built-up, over time. In the future, a BCLF 3 of 0.43, for a family of three for example, could be compared with the value of the factor, found for other families of three, across regions, or internationally, across continents.

Even without this capability until later, other forms of financial control suddenly become immediately feasible, in a practical way. For a start, with the new visibility provided, balancing or redistribution of expenditure across the Basic and Discretionary categories for example, now becomes possible, with due attention always being given to Investment for the Future (IFF).

John Passmore provides the necessary background and information for anyone to get started with setting up and running their own, domestic accounting system. Because of the simplification and visibility provided, which gives relevance to the financial activities of each and every domestic environment, with its own character and content, the author believes he has developed a system which can be fun to use. Once familiar with the set-up, a couple of hours a month is all that is required to keep the bookkeeping under way; and a couple of half-days at the end of any financial year, to produce the annual reports, should be all that is required at that time.

With basic computer literacy, access to a computer with preferably, an on-line connection, and maths competence, no higher than GCSE level, John believes that benefits are potentially available for a domestic situation with a shared annual income, of around £20,000 and upwards. It will also be appropriate for accountants in their work on behalf of domestic clients.

A sense of personal responsibility towards the members of the domestic situation is paramount.

The benefits are that with the accumulation of a few months' worth of figures, a realization of the actual spread and balance of the family outgoings will become apparent. With this, decisions can be made on any changes required to the pattern of financial activity, in order to obtain a better balance. The whole purpose is to achieve an overall and improved sense of domestic well-being.

With the new-found information, family members will know in detail about what has to be done in order to achieve a better life-style. Accounting, in itself, will not achieve this. Discipline will be required to change spending patterns to obtain the desired changes. The new accounting system can help keep track of progress, using budgets and targets. In this way, users will obtain early warnings of where and when they are not keeping to target, so that concerted efforts can be directed at coming back, on track.

This authoritative book, written with rigor and thoroughness is being published by Matador, Troubador Publishing Ltd (http://www.troubador.co.uk) and further information can be found on the author's web site at http://www.dwba.co.uk

copyright © 2006 John Passmore

Sabtu, 06 November 2010

"short And Fat" Ltc Policies Beat "long And Skinny" Ones

Long term care insurance policies have an important component called a benefit period which greatly affectspremium costs. This article discusses what I call "Short and Fat vs. Long and Skinny LTC Policies".

That is right -- Short and Fat LTC policies! So what is a benefit period anyway?

The benefit period is the number of years that ONCE you go on claim (need help in bathing and dressing or have some cognitive impairment (Alzheimer's or similar ailment) that the insurance company will pay the daily or monthly benefit that you chose when you applied for the policy.

So if you bought a benefit period of say 5 years, once you qualified for benefits, and satisfied the deductible (how many days of care that you need to pay out of pocket), the insurance company will pay those benefits for a maximum of 5 years in this case.

The benefit period, whether a set number of years, say 6 years for example or unlimited years are the MAXIMUM amount of time, if you used your FULL chosen daily or monthly benefit that your policy would pay on a claim.

If you had Alzheimer's for 9 years, the policy benefits would have been exhausted after those 5 years and you would be paying for the last four years from your own money.

Most insurance companies have a number of benefit periods to choose from. Typically they are 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 10 years OR an Unlimited benefit period (say you went on claim for 35 years due to being in a wheelchair or something).

Most LTC policies have at least four or five different benefits periods from the above choices which you can choose from for your policy.

The benefit period, whether a set number of years, say 4 years for example or unlimited years are the MAXIMUM amount of time, if you used your FULL chosen daily or monthly benefit that your policy would pay on a claim.

Now for the "Short and Fat" part...

Long ago there wasn't too much difference in the premium prices for a 5 year benefit period compared to an Unlimited policy. So since there wasn't much of a cost difference, many clients chose the Unlimited benefit to protect against a HUGE potential disaster of needing help in bathing/dressing, etc. for DECADES -- not just a few years.

But today, there is a much larger difference in the premium prices for unlimited. So what to do?

First of all let me say that one of the largest LTC insurance companies has statistics that show that only 11% of their claims last longer than five years. Of course this means that about 90% of the claims last shorter than five years. So the odds are very much in favor of never needing a policy that would pay unlimited years.

So compared with a policy that offers an Unlimited benefit period, you can get a much higher daily/monthly dollar benefit that you are MUCH more likely to actually use and benefit from. Any unused dollar benefits will extend the number of years of your benefit period and not be lost.

Also you are much more likely to use a higher dollar amount for 2-4 years than having to pay extra money out of your pocket during care with a benefit period that is probably never going to be reached.

But... if you are pretty young (30-55) an Unlimited policy still might be a choice to look at. Older ages will find Unlimited years of benefits very expensive and there is likely a better way to structure a policy.

So knowing the above statistics, would it make more sense to you to have a Short and Fat policy (one with a larger daily or monthly dollar benefit for a shorter period of time)verses... a smaller daily or monthly dollar benefit for a longer period of years?

I'd put my money on Short and Fat!!

So if you would normally consider a policy that pays $150 per day for 7, 10 years or an Unlimited benefit period... you MIGHT seriously consider a policy that would pay $180-$200 per day for three to five years instead.

No sense in paying money out of pocket during the 3-5 years you are most likely to remain on claim.

Keep in mind that in 20 or 30 years the compounded inflation policy rider will work in your favor by giving you much more purchasing power to pay for care by starting out with a bigger initial benefit!

The odds are pretty good that the insurance company will pay more out for your care under these conditions.

Jumat, 05 November 2010

“How To” Start Trading The Forex Market? (Part 8)

HOW TO predict the Future ?

by studying the Past (Technical Analysis):

1) The best traders don't discount one or the other but understand that having an understanding how the fundamentals influence market sentiment gives him/her an edge over those traders who don't.

2) In my opinion, TECHNICAL analysis is the easiest and most accurate way of trading the FOREX market.

3) "The number's don't lie" - all available information and its impact on the market, are already reflected in a currency's price.

4) Prices move in trends - the foreign exchange market is mostly composed of trends and therefore a place where technical analysis can be very effective.

5) History repeats itself - over time, certain chart patterns become consistent, predictable and very reliable. The question is SEEING them.


The traders who don't believe this obviously have no need to implement a trading methodology on technical analysis. But, research has shown that those who trade "with the trend", greatly improve their changes of making a profitable trade.

Finding the prevailing trend will help you become aware of the overall market direction and offer you better visibility,especially when shorter-term movements tend to clutter the picture.

HOW does technical analysis help to determine what the trend is and HOW to trade with then trend versus against it?

Even though, you learn you how to use and read various technical indicators to identify a long- term trend, spot predictable chart patters and use certain rules to enter and exit a high-probability trade, and even though a ll this involves sound logic, parameters, methods, formulas, data, and research, these technical indicators, by themselves, are not the Holy Grail of FOREX trading.

It takes discipline and emotional control to stick with trading following through the inevitable market ups and downs. Keep in mind, good technical traders expect ups and downs.

Which technical indicators are the BEST?

NONE - technical indicators should simply be components of your overall customized, personalized trading system, and not a stand alone system.
The objectives as a FOREX Technical Trader are:

1) To figure out the price action of the currency pair. Price is the main concern. If the EUR/USD is at 1.2224 and goes to 1.2020, 1.1980, 1.1940- the market is in a down trend.

Despite what every technical indicator might predict, if the trend is down, stay with the trend. Indicators showing where price will go next or what it should be doing are useless.

A trader should only be concerned with what the market is doing, not what the market might do. The price tells you what the market is doing.

2) Always remember that technical indicators are only giving you confirmations based on what the market is telling you. So listen to the market and let it tell you which method, strategy or techniques you should use.

Kamis, 04 November 2010

"A Sucker Born Every Minute": Avoid These Debt Consolidation Scams

The web communications revolution has provided many unprecedented opportunities for commerce – and unfortunately, quite a few opportunities for swindlers to prey on the gullible. This is just as true for debt consolidation as for anything else. Here are some debt consolidation scams to stay away from:

1. “Free Debt Consolidation Services”

Why are these guys doing it for free? How are they making money? Do be aware, though, that cheap debt consolidation services are not always a rip-off, although it would be a good idea to take a second look at anything that sounds too good to be true.

2. Consolidate Your Debts Using Free Government Grants

Yeah, right. The woods are thick with companies that offer information about “free government grants”. Haven’t you heard? Uncle Sam is giving away money like candy (which explains our high taxes!). And you can use this money any way you like – for example, to consolidate your debts. It’s true that the government gives loads of grant money, but I have yet to hear of a Citizen Lifestyle Enhancement Fund. It’s not easy to qualify for government grants, you have to spend the money for a particular purpose, and using it to consolidate your bills might just win you a free bonus – a five-year vacation at the Club Fed.

3. “No Repayment Necessary”

I don’t quite know quite why I included this one, except for entertainment value – if you can read then you’re probably too smart to fall for it. Anyway, here goes: Did you know that banking laws prohibit the charging of interest, and that the Supreme Court has backed this up with several decisions? You can borrow money, fail to pay it back, and then retain a smooth attorney to get you out of paying it back – after all, they had no legal right to lend you the money. Would you like to know how? Well, for the low, low price of $69.95…

If you fall for this one then I’ve got some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you sight unseen. Oh, and by the way, even if banking law DID prohibit the charging of interest, you’d still have to pay back the principal.

Most debt consolidation swindles are see-through because they aim to take advantage of somebody in financial and emotional distress. As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

Rabu, 03 November 2010

$82,000 Penalty Tag For Bad Credit Mortgage

It is natural for people to ask for help when they are in trouble and it is within our nature to offer a hand when we can. What throws this natural human relationship off its kilter is our ego that impacts our decision as to when we ask for help and when to extend a hand.

We often wait until we are in serious trouble before we ask for help and by that time the kind of help we receive is very very expensive and sometimes too late. On the other hand when we offer a hand too soon, we come across as interfering busy bodies who do not know the first thing about free will. Parents know what this is like when they talk to their children. But we leave the eagerness to help alone for now and concentrate on asking for help too late.

Let’s take the term "bad credit loan" for instance. According to a segment of Yahoo that keeps track of what people search for, in December of 2006 over 100,000 people searched for bad credit loan. On the other hand a little shy of 5,000 people looked for the term "bad credit repair."

When I added all the people that were looking for various loans related to bad credit, the number was over 500,000. But the number of individuals who looked for bad credit repair still remained under 5,000.

This seems to mean only 1 out of every 100 person look to cure the problem and the rest look to cure the symptom.

Wouldn't you think that the "bad credit" problem arises much before the need to get a "bad credit loan?" If this was the case, more people should have been searching for ways to repair their credit than those who seek to remedy the bad credit problem with a loan.

We as a society seem to seek remedy more than prevention. We live the dream of buy now and pay later and it is costing us dearly. Let’s look at two other examples of “bad credit mortgage” and “bad credit home loan.” 79,000 individuals looked for these services in December of 2006.

According to Fair Isaac Corporation as of January 11, 2006 and on a national basis, a person with a poor credit score of 500 – 579 is expected to pay $819 for a $100,000 thirty year fixed bad credit mortgage loan. For the same loan amount a person with an excellent credit score of 760-850 expects to pay $589 per month. That is $230 per month difference. This difference amounts to an $82,000 penalty tag for a bad credit mortgage loan.

The amazing part is that there is help in form of books, tapes, ebooks, firms and so on and it costs much much less. But when you look at the numbers most people chafe at $30, $50 or $100 one time fee but they flock to get solutions that cost them hundreds of dollars per month for a very long time.

You have these numbers, you know your situations, likes and dislikes better than any one else. I hope that you are reading this article and do not have to deal with bad credit. But if you are, consider placing some of your attention on bad credit repair and don’t let obtaining a bad credit mortgage loan consume all your attention.

William F. Halsey once said, “All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them, but confront them.

© Vishy Dadsetan

* DISCLAIMER: Vishy Dadsetan, http://MyPersonalFinance.com or My Favorite Shop, Inc. do not endorse any product or company. This article and website do not provide legal, insurance, or other professional services. If expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Although Vishy Dadsetan has made every effort to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this site, he assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies.

Selasa, 02 November 2010

Bigger Fund Managers Are Not Necessarily Better

When it comes to selecting top-performing investment funds and unit trusts the bigger brand is not necessarily better. Choosing the wrong fund by investing with big brand fund managers could cost investors dearly.

Many investors are deluded into thinking that buying from a big brand fund manager will in some way protect them against selecting a poorly performing fund. The big brand managers offer many great funds, but they're also marketing plenty of duds. Just because one fund is a top performer, doesn't mean it applies across that fund manager's range. Investors need to look beyond the brand and more closely at the underlying fund.

Over recent years, the UK market has seen a rise in popularity for boutique investment houses, and, given their track record of consistent positive performance, it's hardly surprising. There are many ways to classify a boutique, but generally speaking, boutique fund managers are independently-owned or employee-owned, and relatively small in size. They often invest in specialist areas of expertise, rather than attempt to be all things to all men and run funds across each and every sector.

Recently, boutiques have even been stepping on large firms' toes when it comes to servicing retail clients. Last year boutiques outshone their larger counterparts in the UK, taking the top four places in the ‘best overall fund manager rankings'. Big brands such as UBS and Standard Life slipped down the rankings, while boutiques Rathbone, Neptune, Dalton and Artemis took the top spots.

The last quarter of 2006 was hair-raising for investors, as millions were wiped off share prices and markets. However, the boutique fund management houses continued to outperform their larger rivals.

The disappointing reality for most private investors is that neither they, nor in some cases their financial advisers, would have heard of some of these relatively unknown smaller investment houses, and are therefore missing out on great investment opportunities.

The same caution applied to big brands should also be applied to big names - or the so called ‘star fund managers'. Is it wise to stake your money on the reputation of an individual big-name fund manager when there's no guarantee they will stick around?

Research shows that just 15% of managers have run the same fund for over six years, 43% for four to six years, and 39% for two to four years. Similarly, 80% of fund managers at the top 50 UK fund providers have left their funds in the last three years. Around 60% of managers move because of offers from competitors.

In investment terms, familiarity doesn't always necessarily breed content. Investors should monitor their investments very closely and ensure that they have the tools to hand to spot strong investment opportunities that would otherwise pass them by.

Senin, 01 November 2010


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