Financial News Archive 2010-2014

What does Google Finance offer?

Google finance is a big part of Google and not many people have heard about it. Stock traders as well as businessmen use Google finance. It is filled with an array of stock quotes, financial news, portfolios, and many more exciting tools that you can use. Google finance has a few tools inside of it. Google portfolio is one of these tools.

Google Finance and Google Portfolio

Google portfolio is a helpful stock portfolio tool that can be used to watch many different stocks at the same time. You basically just add stocks to the watch list and you are able to see information on all of them in a list form. This is extremely helpful for stock traders that need a portfolio so that they can stay up to date with the market. You can also put in your buys and sells to keep track of your trading.

Financial Services from Google Finance

There are also a lot of stock quotes that you can find on the website. You can look up virtually any stock and get a chart complete with recent news, prices, and statistics. This is another extremely helpful tool and is linked directly to Google portfolio. You can click your way around and look up stocks that are even off the books.

The last thing that Google provides with this great service is an up to date news page that you can personalize. There is a ton of financial news that go along with stock quotes, stock news, world news, calculators, and many more little perks. The best thing about it is that it is completely free and all you need to use it is a Google account.

Take a look at for more information about this great product offering from Google. Reminds Car Buyers About Insurance Costs Reminds Car Buyers About Insurance Costs, in a recent article about new car purchases and new car leasing pointed out some of the ways that consumers default within the first three months. The biggest reason given was miscalculating the costs of full coverage car insurance when carrying a car note. On average, new car buyers have a 600% increase in car insurance expenditures when going from a car they owned to a car they are financing.

Full Coverage Insurance Protection

There simply is no way around carrying full coverage protection on a new vehicle when financing. Even used car financing generally requires that the consumer purchase full coverage. So, with no way around it, makes the simple suggestion to budget correctly. When budgeting for the monthly car payment, only accept a financing deal that you can afford along with the new car insurance rates.

Car Insurance Discounts

Another way to keep the costs down on full coverage insurance is to take advantage of any discounts that your insurance provide may offer. Once all of the discounts have been applied, then check to see if you can afford that new car. Savings with some insurance companies with discounts can shave up to $200 off monthly premiums. Definitely something to look into.

Housing Market Home Improvement Tips to Sell Your House

Housing Market Home Improvement Tips to Sell Your House

The housing market isn’t going to drastically improve anytime soon, but there are still a few ways that you can improve your home to give it an extra edge when it comes to selling. Realtors have recently compiled a list of ten easy home improvement tips that might help you sell your house. Update your front door. If you already have a high-quality one, all that may be required is a fresh coat of paint. If you have ample attic space, consider turning it into an additional bedroom or bonus room. The more functional space for the money, the better edge you have.

Think about adding a deck onto the back of your house, or update the siding on your home. In the kitchen, make sure your appliances are up to date (if you are leaving them) and give them a good scrubbing. If you have an older home, update your windows. New double-hung styles can increase efficiency in keeping your home at the right temperature every season and can cut down on electric and heating bills as well.

Smartphones Find Niche with Penny Pinchers and Coupon Clippers

Smartphones Find Niche with Penny Pinchers and Coupon Clippers

Couponing was once labeled as something that only lower class citizens participated in, but in today’s economy it has become a trend followed by millions and has even inspired several new reality television shows. While the basis of this philosophy still requires you to dig through the coupons that come in the mail and in the Sunday newspaper, it has become even more accessible with the help of smartphones.

Smartphones and Coupons

Now, when you find yourself at the market, restaurant, or any other store and find that you forgot to print off that coupon you can still get your discount. The fine print of many e-coupons now states that all you have to do is pull the coupon up in your email or the website and show it to the cashier or server to receive whatever special offer it is. This method is not recommended for the weekly grocery trips that require you to have many different coupons, but is a great way to save a few dollars for an impromptu lunch date or stop to pick something up you forgot on your last trip out.

Issues That Can Get You Turned Down for a Mortgage

Issues That Can Get You Turned Down for a Mortgage

While we all know that a low credit rating and having a low income will sound the death knell for any hopes of obtaining a mortgage, there are other things that can shoot you out of the water just as fast.

If you are going through a divorce, it won’t be impossible to obtain a mortgage, but it could muddy the waters substantially. A bank doesn’t want to get in the middle of a fight over marital property or refinance a loan on the basis of two incomes, when in reality there will only be one.

If you are refinancing to get the other person off the loan, the other party has to be willing to sign off on the agreement. And don’t think you can hide the fact that you are in the process of a divorce. It will probably come out at some point, and when it does, you could be charged with mortgage fraud.

Changing jobs frequently is another ding. Banks like stability in employment for their mortgagees. You should plan on being with an employer at least two years before you apply for a mortgage.

If you’re being sued, a bank may be concerned with your ability to make payments should you be hit with a large settlement amount. Even if you are the complainant, you may end up with large attorney bills.

Making major repairs or renovations on your home while trying to refinance will likely get you turned down. The bank worries that these may be left unfinished, so rather than enhancing the value of your home, they would lower it.

If you’ve just bought a new car or made a big credit card purchase, you may want to wait until your debt-to-cash ratio is lower. Banks like debt payments to be at or below 43 percent of your income. Mortgage payments should be no more than 31 percent of that amount.


Debit Cards Going the Way of the Dinosaur

Debit Cards Going the Way of the Dinosaur

Slowly but surely, banks are making debit cards linked to regular checking accounts less attractive and less friendly for the average American.

Banks are ending rewards programs and some are beginning to charge fees for them. Wells Fargo is among those banks. The rewards program will be gone by October, and they will begin testing debit card fees of $3 for customers in four states beginning in October also.

The impetus for the change is the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Specifically, the Durbin Amendment in that bill which goes into effect on October 1. The Durbin Amendment caps the fee banks charge to merchants when a customer uses a debit card at 21 cents. This trend is exactly what experts predicted.

Some industry insiders believe that while the debit card may become unattractive to consumers, prepaid cards may come in to fill the gap. Prepaid cards were excluded from the Durbin Amendment because Congress didn’t want to burden the low-income, who are traditionally the market for prepaid cards because they may not have the credit rating to obtain a regular credit card.

Banks may take advantage of that loophole and offer prepaid cards with rewards programs and little to no fees. Not only will low-income consumers be targeted for pre-paid cards, but banks will also start wooing those with good credit as well.

Prepaid cards have more advantages for a bank than a debit card. These cards represent a low risk for fraudulent use, since once the balance is gone, its gone. A consumer couldn’t continue to use the card and have purchases approved.

Bernanke Offers no New Plans for Economy

Bernanke Offers no New Plans for Economy

On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke issued a warning to Congress. If they don’t want to delay the economy’s rebound, they will have to do more to stimulate hiring and growth.

Bernanke hinted that the Federal Reserve may make a move to aid in economic recovery, but did not put forth any new plans.

Investors were hopeful that Bernanke would announce the launch some new plan to energize the economy, but the only hint that something might be up was the notice that the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in September would be two days longer than anticipated. They want to be able to look deeper at the option available to the central bank.

But the overall feeling from the speech was that the Fed has done what it can and now it’s up to Congress to go to bat.

Bernanke laid the blame for the lack of business and consumer confidence squarely at the feet of the partisan bickering in Washington over the raising the debt ceiling.

There is speculation that the Fed may enact a third round of Treasury bond purchases. However, some Fed officials and also Republicans from Congress are concerned that these purchases would only raise inflation and do next to nothing to improve the economy.

The Fed has other options available, like eliminating interest payments for money that banks have deposited in the Federal Reserve. This would encourage banks to loan money rather than save it.

But many economists agree that it really isn’t high interest rates that are the economy’s biggest problem. Rather, it is the fact that spending by consumers is still weak, thus businesses have very little incentive to expand, invest and hire.

Attorneys General Quarrel Postpones Aid to Homeowners

Attorneys General Quarrel Postpones Aid to Homeowners

Victims of the crooked foreclosures are being victimized again as fighting rages among the attorneys general of the statesinvolved over whether the banks involved will be exempted from lawsuits.

Attorneys general from states like New York, Massachusetts and Delaware that have strong enforcement of fraud laws want to have the ability to file suit against the banks. Others think the deal on the table is too harsh on the banks. The banks involved are Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally Financial, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup.

On Tuesday, everything came to a head. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was kicked off an executive team by Tom Miller, attorney general of Iowa. Miller said Schneiderman was trying to derail any kind of deal between the states and the banks.

The states are trying to hammer out a deal that includes comprehensive mortgage policy and practice changes that ultimately will aid consumers, particularly homeowners who are delinquent in their payments. The banks are using the lawsuit immunity card as leverage. In other words, the banks are willing to commit to the changes if they will not be sued in the future.

Until an agreement is made, the money – reported to be $20 million – the states are to collect from the banks to modify home mortgages and provide counseling to homeowners who find themselves underwater in their mortgages is up in the air.

Right now, everyone is looking to what New York will do. If they back out, the settlement may be less.

Rates for 30-year Mortgages Dip to Near Record Lows

Rates for 30-year Mortgages Dip to Near Record Lows

Wednesday saw good news for the housing and real estate industry. Interest rates on 30-year mortgages reached near record lows after the Federal Reserve vowed to keep interest rates on short-term loans close to zero through at least the middle of 2013.

The Fed accomplished one of its goals in pledging the low rates. They wanted to kick start the depressed housing market, which has not recovered from the subprime mortgage debacle.

Their second objective was to be able to put more cash in homeowners’ hands by giving them the ability to refinance to lower-interest mortgages.

Mortgage Bankers Association

Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association, an organization that represents the real estate finance industry, stated that refinancing applications rose 30 percent last week. Interest rates have fallen during that time from 4.45 to 4.37.

If you’re looking at a shorter 15-year mortgage, the current rate stands at 3.35 percent and an “5/1″ loan – the loan has a fixed rate for five years, then becomes an adjustable tare mortgage – had a rate of 2.85 percent.

Treasury Yields

The move by the Feds also raised hopes that there would be more movement from the United States central bank to lower costs on long-term borrowing. Doing so would aid the weak housing market and the economy, which has exhibited sings of slowing down.

Treasury yields are the standard against which mortgage rates are measured. The yields were up slightly at 2.09 percent, after going just below a record low of 2.04 percent on Tuesday.

Justice Department Investigating S&P

Justice Department Investigating S&P

After downgrading the United States’ credit rating, Standard & Poor’s is being investigated by the Justice Department. In question is whether S&P rated many mortgage securities improperly during the time before the banking crisis.

US Credit Rating

Even though the investigation began before the U.S. credit rating was downgraded, the investigation will probably add to the political turmoil that the downgrade caused. The agency’s well guarded process is being questioned by some government officials, along with its integrity and the fitness of its analysts. Government officials still claim they have found an error in S&P’s calculation of the United States’ debt.

According to inside information, the Justice Department has been sniffing around, questioning times when S&P business managers may have overruled analysts who wanted to give lower ratings for mortgage bonds.

Justice Department

If the Justice Department uncovers sufficient evidence to support the case, it could damage the claim that S&P’s analysts operate separately from business concerns. It is unknown whether Moody’s and Fitch, two other major ratings agencies, are involved in this investigation.

Record profits came in to S&P, as well as the other ratings agencies, while they gave the highest ratings on groups of distressed mortgage loans. What this did was to make these mortgages seem to be less of a risk, thus more valuable. Unfortunately for S&P, they did not foresee the fall of the housing market that would demolish the United States’ financial system.

Many companies, and even some countries, pay big money to the credit ratings agencies in return for ratings. The United States does not do that. Banks would pay as much as $100,000 to get good ratings on mortgage bonds, and would actually shop around to see which credit ratings agency would work with them and give them good ratings.

Homebuyers Can Have the Same Deal as Their Parents Had

Homebuyers Can Have the Same Deal as Their Parents Had

Mortgage rates continue to fall, reaching the lowest rate since 1971. If you’re thinking about buying or refinancing, now may be the time.

The United States treasury note fell below 2 percent on Thursday. The treasury notes are the yardstick by which mortgage rates are priced. Low mortgage rates coupled with the housing slump have given a boost to prospective home buyers.

Low Rates, Interest Rates are Dropping

Unfortunately, the low rates are because of a weak economy. So, while interest rates are dropping, some people are losing their jobs.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), since July of 2010, sales of existing homes have risen 21 percent. If you look at a month-to-month analysis, home sales declined by 3.5 percent to 4.67 million homes. Junes sales were 4.84 million.

Home Buyers

Another recurring problem in the market is getting home buyers from the prospective stage to the approval stage is still difficult. Nearly 16 percent of contracts, according to NAR, are delayed due to various circumstances. Most delays involve either low appraisals or the denial of the mortgage application. The NAR blames the tighter regulations since the home mortgage crisis. Anyone who poses the slightest risk, but in the past may have been approved, is now being turned away.

But, if you are in the good graces of the credit industry and you’re in the market to buy, prices on existing homes has dropped 4.4 percent from this time last year. Houses are being let go for much less than their appraised values because they are bank-owned properties or short sales.

Another interesting tidbit – 30 percent of sales are done by investors with all cash purchases.

Company Defrauding Homeowners Shut Down

Company Defrauding Homeowners Shut Down

Another company accused of defrauding homeowners has been shut down, at least temporarily. Nassau Country Supreme Court Justice John Galasso issued an injunction against Homesafe American Inc. and United Legal Solutions.

The companies have been accused of using deceptive websites and slick salespeople to scam homeowners with loan modifications where homeowners made several thousand dollar payments upfront in return for the modifications.

According to the suit, after the companies received the money, they basically turned their backs on their customers, offering little in the way of assistance. In 2010 alone, Homesafe raked in over $2 million and had received money from nearly 1,000 lower- and middle-class homeowners.

Attorneys for the homeowners are culling through over 70,000 pieces of paper in customer files that the defendants have turned over to them. The attorneys hope to establish the true range of the operations of the companies.If the companies are found guilty, they may have to pay the homeowners up to $1.5 dollars in damages. The owners of the companies, as well as the employees, may also be banned from any businesses that are related to the mortgage industry if the homeowners’ other request is granted.

The defendants are arguing that the plaintiffs are attempting to engulf them with demands for too many documents in too short a time frame. One partner in this, Scott Schreiber, claims that the other partner, Guy Samuel, transferred $180,000 in December from Homesafe. This left the company in severe financial trouble. The company was not able to regain its financial footing. Schreiber claims he attempted to return customers their money, but in the beginning of 2011, the business’ accounts were frozen.

Buffett Says the Rich Should be Taxed

Buffett Says the Rich Should be Taxed

What person in his or her right mind wants to pay more taxes?

Enter, Warren Buffett. He wants those who make more than $1 million in taxable income to pay more. In theory, it sounds really good. However, if you look at the numbers available in 2009, Buffett’s proposal would affect only 0.2 percent of those who file tax returns, whereas President Obama’s plan, which would raise taxes on those making more tan $200,000, would affect about 3 percent.

But to Buffett’s credit, he truly believes the rich don’t pay enough taxes. Neither does he believe that asking them to pay more will dampen investments or the creation of jobs. Buffett says that while the amount he pays in taxes – over $6 million – is only about 17 percent of his taxable income. Much less than the average 36 percent that others in his office pay.

So, why are so few really affected? The problem is how many of the United States’ most wealthy taxpayers make their money. Like Buffett, much of their money comes from investment income. These are taxed at a lower rate, about 15 percent, than the majority of taxpayers.

Another tax loophole allows those who manage hedge funds to fall under that same 15 percent tax rate on the part of their pay know as carried interest.

What if the extremely wealthy were taxed? How much could that really raise? Let’s suppose that Congress added a 50 percent tax rate to only the taxable income of those who make over $1 million. It may sound like a lot, but from what has been discussed previously, in actuality it is a small amount. If Congress did that, that policy would raise $34 billion. Over ten years, that would be $340 billion.

Congress could also tax the carried interest of the hedge fund managers, which would add another $21 billion over 10 years.

If tax rates were raised to 20 percent on dividends and capital gains for those who make over $200,000, over $107 billion would be made over 10 years.

Combining these totals, over $450 billion could be brought into the Treasury in a 10 year period.


Problem Bank List – Is Your Bank on It?

Problem Bank List – Is Your Bank on It?

With another bank failing this week, bringing the total to 64 this year, you might be wondering if your bank could be next. If you want to know if your bank is in trouble, you can check on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) list of problem banks.

This list has the names of banks at risk for failure due to fragile capital positions. The list isn’t published because the FDIC fears that it may cause depositors to withdraw their funds, which may be more than the bank’s reserve of funds.

As of March 31, 2011, the number of banks on the list totaled 888, an increase of four from December 2010 total of 884, 11.7 percent of the 7,574 banks insured by the FDIC. The assets of those banks were $397 billion, also an increase from the $390 billion of the previous quarter.

The lowest the list has ever been was in 2006, with only 47 banks being on the list. The 884 total is the most since 1993, when 928 banks were listed as problem banks. The total assets of all the 7,574 banks insured are $6.4 trillion. The FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund (FDIC DIF) has a balance, as of March 31, 2011, of negative $1.0 billion.

Since the rate of bank failures has increased significantly during the past three years, the FDIC’s DIF has been depleted. During 2010, the failures cost the fund approximately $26 billion. This is what initially plunged the fund into a negative balance.

Because the fund is negative by $1 billion, regulators are reluctant to close any other insolvent banks. But the FDIC DIF does have reserves of $12.8 billion set aside to cover any future losses, along with liquid assets of $45.5 billion. However, it insures about $6.4 trillion in deposits.

While the FDIC doesn’t release the list, an unofficial list is available from cakculatedriskblog. com.

US Debt Could Have Global Ripple Effect

U.S. Debt Could Have Global Ripple Effect

John Paul Getty said, “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” The only country more worried about the United States and than the U.S. is China. China has become the world’s bank, lending money not only to the U.S., but to many European governments as well.


Over the years, China has lent nearly $2 trillion to the U.S. That amount is about 30 percent of China’s output for one year. Now experts are beginning to fear that the surplus countries, like China, who have loaned money to the U.S. and European countries are going to be affected by the economic turmoil gripping these countries.

It seems to be a lose – lose situation for China. Due to the sagging economy in both the U.S. and Europe, demand for Chinese manufactured goods will tumble, China’s actual cash-on-hand savings is weakened by the credit woes, and so a very likely response will be for the West to print more money.

Printing Money

But printing money will only keep the value of the dollar down. As the dollar weakens, so does the value of the assets held by the foreign creditors.

China could print more money also, but their inflation is already high. They could also threaten to sell off U.S. assets, but should they do that, it would probably result in the same consequences.China isn’t the only country holding the bag on the U.S debt. Japan holds approximately $1 trillion of the United States’ debt. Other creditors? Russia, Brazil and Taiwan, along with some of the large oil-exporting countries.

Your Next Landlord May be Uncle Sam

Your Next Landlord May be Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam is getting into a new enterprise – the rental business.

The government is looking for thoughts on how it can turn its inventory of foreclosed homes into properties for rent. The ideal situation would have private entities managing the properties. Another possibility would be that the properties could be sold in bulk.

What the administration hopes to accomplish is stabilizing neighborhoods where there are a lot of foreclosed homes standing empty, hurting the property values of the surrounding homes. It’s other goal is to get these properties off the government’s hands.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Major federal agencies like the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency are all asking for input regarding partnerships, sales, or other plans that would aid in unburdening the government of around 250,000 homes owned by the Federal Housing Administration, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. These homes represent about half of the foreclosed properties nationwide and are still unsold.

The houses are still being offered for individual sale while the government considers the proposals. But, since the houses are moving so slowly, the government has to find ways for the homes to be grouped together, sold or managed as rental properties.

Affordable Rental Properties

If the government has more options in unloading the properties, there will be benefits such as expanding the availability of affordable rental properties, supporting neighborhoods, promoting private investing in local real estate markets, and ultimately, housing price stability.

Rental prices have not decreased, even though home prices have been depressed since 2008. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, about 25 percent of all renters pay over half of their incomes to pay for housing – a record high.

An added benefit would be the creation of jobs to rehabilitate the properties. As of the end of June, 70,000 of the 248,000 homes owned by Freddie Mac, the F.H.A., or Fannie Mae were up for sale. The rest either hadn’t been listed or have prospective buyers.

A Plan to Reduce the Deficit?

A Plan to Reduce the Deficit?

As Washington bigwigs argue over a plan to reduce the deficit, they are going to have to come to the realization that cuts will not be enough. The average American who has any debt knows there are only two ways to reduce that debt. To live within his means, he has to either cut his spending, or he has to increase his income.

Generate Income

U.S. lawmakers will have to figure that one out soon. One way to generate more income is for Congress to reduce tax subsidies. The question is how will they do it once they decide that it must be done?

The Tax Policy Center examined the three plans that are out there that would limit the tax subsidies for households with high incomes. The three plans are the Obama plan, the Effective Minimum Tax (EMT) plan, and the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) plan. All three would work, each in a different way.

Obama Plan

The Obama plan proposes to limit the itemized deductions to a value of 28 percent. Taxes would be raised on nearly 5.4 million households, with about 95 percent of the these new taxes being paid by the richest households. This would raise an estimated $165 billion over a 10-year period.

The EMT plan would necessitate a tax hike for high income households. These households would have to pay around 20 percent of their adjusted gross income, as long as that was the higher amount after having figure their regular tax. This would affect only the top 5 percent of Americans, about 400,000 households.

The AGI plan would cap the value of credits and deductions at two percent of a household’s adjusted gross income. This would affect all taxpayers.


What you Need to Refinance your Home

What you Need to Refinance your Home

Amidst the fears of rising interest rates, many homeowners who were toying with the idea of refinancing their mortgages are now getting serious about it. Besides requiring a great credit score, the other factor lenders will look at is how much equity there is in the property.

Best Interest Rates

To get the best interest rates, you normally has to have about 20 percent in equity. If you have less than that, you will have to pay anywhere from one-eighth to one-quarter of a percentage point higher for interest. With 10 percent, you will probably still be considered for a refinance, one you go down to 5 percent though, you may be turned down, especially if your local housing market is weak.

However, don’t panic if you’re underwater. You may still be able to refinance. Programs like the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program, as well as others, have been designed just for this issue. You may be able to refinance through them with little of no equity, or even negative equity. These loans, however, are not easy to obtain. You’re more likely to be approved if you have low equity rather than negative equity.


Figuring how much equity you have is tricky, given the fact that home prices have decreased over the last five years. In order to know for certain, have your house appraised. You will need to do it anyways since your lender will require it and you have to pay for it either way.

It would be good for you to do a little investigating yourself to give you an idea of your home’s value before calling in the appraiser. Research the sale prices of homes in your neighborhood. When you do that, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. In other words, find the sale prices of houses similar in the square footage, number of levels, number of bedrooms, etc.

US Credit Rating: More Complicated Than Just the Debt

US Credit Rating: More Complicated Than Just the Debt

While President Obama was telling the country that no matter what the rating agencies say, the United States would always be an AAA country, stocks took the biggest one day tumble since December 1, 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 634.76 points by the close of the day on Monday.

Agreement on the Deficit

Government officials are desperately trying to find what they say is a $2 trillion error in S&P’s calculations, but the country’s finances were not the sole reason behind the downgrade. The bigger factor was the government’s inability to work together to form an agreement on the deficit.

Despite the president’s assurance that the debt is a problem that can be solved through spending cuts and tax reforms, there is still a concern that Congress and the president may continue to spar over the deficit in the future.

Republicans and Democrats

There is also skepticism as to whether the cuts agreed upon will actually be made. The Republicans and the Democrats are divided over how the cuts will be implemented.

Democrats are fighting to defend entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans are rejecting any attempts to add a raise in taxes to any deficit deal.

But Standard & Poor’s doesn’t necessarily have a great track record when it comes to assessing the strength of an institution. They were the ones who gave the AAA rating to some of the securities backed by mortgages. These securities soon became worthless and helped create the recession.

Since Monday, the stock market has rallied. It remains to be seen what the next step will be for the President, Congress, and the rating agencies.

The Downgrade – What it Means in Simple Language

The Downgrade – What it Means in Simple Language

Since Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+, American consumers have been wondering how the downgrade will affect them and the country.  If the country, with billions of dollars in income, can’t have an excellent credit rating during these tough times, how can the average consumer expect to keep a good score?

Of the three agencies that assign scores to the debts of governments, institutions and municipalities – Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch – only S&P lowered the country’s credit rating.  A downgrade indicates that there is a higher risk involved in holding debt created by the U.S.  Not only did S&P downgrade the rating, it also indicated that the outlook for the future is negative.

The reasoning behind lowering the rating is tied to the country’s outstanding debt, which now stands at over $14 trillion.  That amount does not take into account and future deficits.  When combined, the amount of debt was too high to get the top rating.  Another factor in the decision was the political climate.  S&P had no confidence in the government’s ability to reach a meaningful agreement in regards to lowering the country’s deficit.

Eventually, investors in the United States government debt will want higher interest rates for holding that debt since it holds an increased risk.  If and when that happens, interest rates will rise.  This would include interest rates on mortgages, corporation’s debt, and other loans.

While S&P is currently the only agency to have downgraded the credit rating, both Moody’s and Fitch have indicated that they, too, may also downgrade the country’s rating.  Moody’s already is reviewing the country’s debt to determine if a downgrade will occur.

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Mortgage Industry Graded Unfavorably

Mortgage Industry Graded Unfavorably

Homeowners that are now stuck with the unfavorable loan terms they agreed to during the housing boom are finding that it is nearly impossible to find lenders that will offer refinancing.

J.D. Power and Associates

A recent study by J.D. Power and Associates shows that American homeowners are becoming increasingly frustrated.  The study monitored customer satisfaction with mortgage services from customer service to escrow management, right down to how the website operates.  It should come as no surprise that customer satisfaction with mortgage industry declined drastically since last year.

Refinancing Frustrations

The study shows that the frustration that homeowners are experiencing in trying to refinance is that credit standards are much tougherthan when loans were originate in 2006.  Another problem that homeowners are facing is that, because of the decline in housing prices, they no longer have satisfactory equity in their home to qualify for refinancing.

On a thousand point scale, primary mortgage servicers dropped 29 points from last year to a score of 718.  Based on the responses of homeowners to questions regarding their satisfaction levels with interactions with the mortgage industry, the consensus is that BB&T is the best in satisfying customers.  This is the second year in a row that BB&T takes top billing.

Three More Banks Fail, Sixty-One for the Year

Three More Banks Fail, Sixty-One for the Year

Federal regulators had a busy week beginning on July 25. Three different banks in three different states were closed by regulators during that week. This brings the number of failed banks to 61 for 2011.
The three banks were Virginia Business Bank in Richmond, Virginia, BankMeridian in Columbia, South Carolina, and Integra Bank in Evansville, Indiana. Together, they had assets totaling $2.5 billion and cost the FDIC $253.4 million. The asset totals for all 61 banks closed in 2011 total $26.0 billion and cost the FDIC $5.1 billion.

Bank Failure

Integra Bank, a 160 year old institution, was Indiana’s first failed bank since 2009. This bank’s failure was the second largest of the year when considering asset size. The bank had 52 branches and assets of $2.2 billion. However, it owed the United States Treasury $83.6 million when it was closed by regulators. Shareholders had losses of around $600 million.

Virginia Business Bank, founded in 2006, was the smallest of the bank failures for the week. The bank held $95.8 million in assets. In 2010, the bank tried to gain capital through a stock offering. The attempt failed.

Banking Industry

Another banking industry newcomer, BankMeridian, was also founded in 2006. Its assets expanded quickly during the real estate boom. They had $239.8 million in assets when it was closed. The bank management, however, did not fully understand how bad the bank’s financial situation was. Thinking they had enough capital, they refused TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money, which was used for the bank bailouts.
The largest bank failure this year was Superior Bank in Birmingham, Alabama. That bank failed in April and had $3 billion in assets.

Will the Debt Crisis Affect You?

Will the Debt Crisis Affect You?

If you haven’t already heard, the U.S. is facing a debt crisis. Fears are growing across the country, from the disabled and elderly who rely on Social Security income to the Wall Street investors who stand to lose if the country’s credit rating falls.

But what about average Americans? Should they be worried about the fallout if the debt ceiling is not raised and the government defaults? Yes, say the experts. The average American will definitely feel some heat, if not right away, then in a few months if the battle continues on.

AAA Rating

It boils down to the credit rating. Right now, the U.S. has a AAA rating, giving it the benefits related to a low lending risk. This translates to low interest rates. It’s like consumers who have great credit scores. They can borrow money at lower interest rates than someone who has a lower credit score.

National Borrowing Rates

Since the government’s rate is the basis on which the national borrowing rates are figured, if they government’s rate goes up, so do the rates for everybody. Thus, since the banks will see higher rates, they will pass that along to consumers in the way of charging higher interest rates.

The already slumped housing market will be impacted immediately by any increase in interest rates. Interest rates for new mortgages will go higher. Not good news for sellers, buyers or bankers. Those who hold adjustable rate mortgages will also feel the effects when their loans are reset. This happens once a year, usually on the anniversary of the loan.
Interest rates will also rise on credit cards, private student loans, and car loans, adding more stress on the average American’s wallet.

Mortgage News, Number of Home Loans Down

Mortgage News, Number of Home Loans Down

The housing market is showing no signs of resurrecting from its slump any time soon.
A recent Federal Housing Authority (FHA) shows that applications for home loans dropped 30.8 percent for the last nine months. They site a decline in the value of homes and a reluctance on the part of people to buy a home as the leading causes of the downturn. The report also shows a decline in the area of mortgage refinancing, with applications down by 29.4 percent. The main causes sited are poor credit and negative equity.

Real Estate Sales

June, a traditionally strong month for real estate sales, did see an increase of 7.8 percent over May’s numbers. The FHA reported that there were nearly 88,000 traditional home loan applications, over 8,7000 reverse mortgage application, and over 35,000 refinance applications. Two-thirds of the refinance applications were for converting over from a conventional mortgage.

Foreclosed Homes

Although over 101,000 mortgages for single family homes, that barely makes a dent in the depressed home market. With the high inventory of foreclosed homes, it will take almost three years to have all those homes sold at the rate at which people are buying.

The number of delinquent mortgages rose in June for the FHA, with nearly 590,000 of those mortgages in serious delinquency – 90 days or more – at the end of June. This number was up from the previous month. That’s a rate of 8.2 percent. In the previous nine months, the FHA foreclosed on almost 69,000 homes. While the number is high, it is actually lower than the previous year.

The Incentives Behind the Subprime Lending Scandal

The Incentives Behind the Subprime Lending Scandal

Wells Fargo was recently fined $85 million by the Federal Reserve because of issues linked to its subprime loan origination. While this is not an unusual case, it is unique in some ways.

This was the first time any penalties have been imposed for subprime lending practices. The fine was also the largest fine ever imposed in regards to consumer protection. While Wells Fargo was a player in the subprime loan market, it was by far one of the smaller fish in the pond. To top it off, Wells Fargo, because of its financially sound lending practices, is considered one of the best run banks in the country.

Federal Reserve Loan Originators

So, what happened in the Wells Fargo case to merit the high fine? According to the Federal Reserve, loan originators at Wells Fargo allegedly guided home buyers into the higher-cost subprime mortgages even though they qualified for a regular low-rate mortgage. The Fed also alleges that some originators actually lied about applicants’ incomes who were not qualified for any mortgage based on their real incomes.

Subprime Mortgages

What would make loan originators engage in such fraudulent behavior? Wells Fargo’s incentive program. When you have incentives for the sale of a mortgage, you’re going to get some people who will work the system and do whatever it takes to get that incentive. Loan originators selling subprime mortgages received huge incentives.

Many loan originators are commissioned employees. Typically, an originator will charge a six percent or higher commission on a subprime mortgage. Let’s do some math. If the originator sold five $150,000 mortgages each month, that would be $9000 commission for each loan. That’s $45,000 in commission each month. The originator typically receives 50 percent of commissions generated. In this scenario, if those are the only sales the originator made for the month, he/she would have a paycheck of $22,500 for the month. That is one big incentive.

Mortgage News, Glut of Distressed Homes Make a Buyer’s Market

Glut of Distressed Homes Make a Buyer’s Market

If you’re a looking to buy a home, it’s a buyers market. The glut of foreclosures for sale is keeping home prices low.
RealtyTrak, a marketer for properties that have been foreclosed, estimates there is a three-year inventory of homes that banks have foreclosed on. In Nevada, about 53 percent of all homes are in various stages of foreclosure, while in California and Arizona, 45 percent of sales are foreclosures.

Real Estate Owned Homes

All these homes are being sold at tremendous discounts. Those that are especially under-priced are real estate owned (REO) homes, which are homes that were taken by foreclosure and are owned by banks. The average REO home is going for an average of 35 percent less than comparable properties.

In some states, it’s even more. The average discount for an REO home in New York was 55 percent during the first three months of 2011, while in Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio, the discount was near 50 percent.

Foreclosures and Short Sales

Another factor impacting home prices are the short sales. These homes are selling for around 9 percent less than comparable homes. Ohio leads all states in discounts if the REOs and short sales are combined with homes being sold at an average of discount of 41 percent.

In the first quarter of this year, home sales of foreclosure and short sale properties was less than half of what it was two years ago. If that pace continues, it will take about three years to sell off the supply of 1.9 million homes in foreclosure or distress. And that is if there are no new foreclosures during that time.

How to Avoid Added Fees on a Mortgage Loan

How to Avoid Added Fees on a Mortgage Loan

Banks just love tacking on fees to things – savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards. But they especially love mortgage fees. Signing all those papers for a mortgage is a stressful time, after all, you’re probably borrowing a heck of a lot of money. So, reading all the fine print can be tedious, if you do it at all.

The first thing you can do is shop around for your mortgage. Apply to three lenders and compare their estimates on the loans. You may have to pay an application fee, depending on the bank, so be sure to weigh that cost with your potential savings.

Once you’ve gotten your estimates, then you can start your real work. The first fee to compare is the origination fee. An origination fee is supposed to reflect the labor needed to create your mortgage loan. It may be called by different things – application fee, underwriting fee, processing fee – but no matter what it’s called, it will be on the second page of your estimate in box “A”.

Some origination fees include points. You really can’t compare an origination fee that includes points to one that does not. Either compare two loans that do/don’t include points, or subtract the points cost and compare what’s left.

One fee that is easily padded by lenders is the postage, courier and wire transfer fees. If these fees are part of the origination fee, see if you can get them waived. If they are charges from third parties, the fees should be no more than $75. If the fee is $100 or more, you may want to go elsewhere unless they can justify the fee.

Also compare fees for appraisals, title insurance, and credit reports.

Once you’ve made your decision, at least 24 hours before you’re scheduled to close, request a HUD-1 form. This form will list all the fees you will be charged. It should be fairly close to the estimate you received in the beginning.

Short Sale, What is it all About?

Short Sale, What is it all About?

When the bottom fell out of the housing market, short sales became commonplace all across the country. These short sales can help both the homeowner who is facing foreclosure and the buyer hoping to find a deal. While the idea sounds good, navigating through a short sale can be tricky.

Facing Foreclosure

First, you have to understand what a short sale is. In essence, a short sale is when the homeowner facing foreclosure and the bank or mortgage holder enter into an agreement to accept a lower price for the property than what the homeowner owes. On one hand, the homeowner will make no profit when the property is sold, but on the other hand, the homeowner will not have a foreclosure on his or her record.

Salvaging the Credit Score

That is the most attractive aspect of a short sale – salvaging the credit score. Besides avoiding the foreclosure, the homeowner also normally is forgiven for the outstanding balance of the loan. Not all banks do this, so be sure that it is written up as part of the deal. If you are a buyer, the advantage is pretty obvious – more house for a lower price. The other advantage of purchasing a short sale over a foreclosure is that the buyer probably won’t have to take legal action to have the former homeowner removed from the property.

But there could be problems. A short sale still may affect the seller’s credit score. You will need to discuss with the bank how the short sale will be reported to credit agencies. Also, just because you may want to do a short sale doesn’t mean you will be able to do so. Many banks won’t discuss the issue until the homeowner are delinquent in several payments.

A Good Credit Score Does not Guarantee a Mortgage

A Good Credit Score Doesn’t Guarantee a Mortgage

If you think you are the guaranteed your mortgage loan because you have nearly perfect credit, you could be wrong.
In 2010, the latest year for data, nearly one-quarter of mortgage loan applicants were turned down. That number is up 18 percent from 2003. The reason – the lending standards have tightened considerably.

Credit isn’t Perfect

But money is available. If you are one of those who think you don’t have a chance because your credit isn’t perfect, you may still be able to get a loan if you meet the tougher standards.
First, you have to have good credit. Most banks will consider you if you have a score of at least 620.

Second, you have to have the 20 percent down and your closing costs. In the days of the housing bubble, banks could be flexible and allow lower down payments and roll the closing costs into the loan. That’s not happening any longer.

Gross Income

Third, you have to make enough money to afford the payments. Normally, your housing costs should be no greater than 28 percent of your gross income.
If you don’t quite meet those criteria, try getting a mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Their criteria are a bit more flexible, requiring only a credit score of as low as 500 for a mortgage with a 10 percent down payment. You may also get a mortgage with 3.5 percent if your credit score is 580.

While a traditional bank may not overlook a major blemish on your credit score, such as a previous bankruptcy, even if you have good credit, the FHA may if everything else is in order.

Mortgage Interest Deduction on the Chopping Block

Mortgage Interest Deduction on the Chopping Block

Homeowners, beware! As part of the budget deal, your mortgage interest may no longer be a deduction for you to take on your 2011 tax form.

Congress and the White House

Congress and the White House are discussing putting a cap on the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and eliminating it altogether for home equity loans and second homes. A similar proposal was made last year, but the housing industry, Realtors and lenders opposed it.

The current cap for mortgage debt is $1 million, and the interest on home equity loans and second homes is also deductible. Housing industry leaders fear that lowering the cap and cutting out the second home and home equity loans will hurt the slow market even more.

Home Equity Loans

The “Gang of Six” – Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois, Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Republican Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia – have crafted a plan, but it is vague concerning MID. According to their plan, tax committees reform rather than eliminate tax expenditures for homeownership, health care and charitable giving.

Options for the MID include lowering the cap to $500,000 rather than the current cap of $1 million. Another is to turn it into a 12 percent tax credit, again capping it at $500,000 debt. This would be available only for a primary residence.
If the budget deal includes reforming the MID and they choose the percentage route, homeowners are likely to see their deduction dwindle significantly.

President Obama Seems Frazzled Over Debt Ceiling Debate

President Obama Seems Frazzled Over Debt Ceiling Debate

President Obama met with party leaders on Saturday for less than one hour to discuss the hot issue of raising the debt ceiling.

With an August 2nd deadline approaching, Congress will either need to decide to increase the potential borrowing limit of the nation or let it default on its outstanding debts.

Debt Ceiling

Republicans are steadfast in their argument that any increase in the debt ceiling must be met with equilateral cuts in spending. Stock markets in Asia open Sunday and hopes are that at least some progress can be announced regarding a structured plan before that self imposed deadline.

We Have Run Out of Time

The emergency meeting definitely gives a sense of urgency, but the President seemed frazzled in addressing the press on the issue. The President, poorly masking obvious anger said, We have run out of time and they are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default.The world awaits as the US teeters upon the brink of economic ruin or at the very least a recession.

Mortgage Help for Homeowners

Mortgage Help for Homeowners

Millions of Americans are either in default on their mortgages or totally in foreclosure. If you are one of those people, you may be able to receive some relief. The Obama Administration has a plan to aid homeowners having difficulty with mortgage payments – the Making Home Affordable (MHA) plan.

Loan Modification Program

MHA is two mortgage relief programs. One program is a loan modification program which is meant to get the monthly mortgage payment to an affordable level. The term affordable is usually defined at 31 percent of a borrower’s monthly gross income. This can be done in several ways. The loan ending can be extended, the loan principle, or the interest rate can be lowered.

To be eligible for a modification, the homeowner has to meet certain criteria. The home must be the primary residence and must be occupied and the balance of the loan cannot be more than $729,750 for a single-family dwelling. A homeowner can still qualify if foreclosure proceedings have already begun.

Refinance Program

The other program is a refinance program. The refinance program allows a homeowner who may not be able to refinance to a lower interest rate because of a decrease in value of the home. A homeowner can refinance even if the balance owed on the mortgage is up to 125 percent of the value.

To be eligible for the refinance program, a homeowner cannot have been over 30 days past due on the mortgage in the past year, and the primary loan must be held with either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

Foreclosure Delays Allow Homeowners Longer Stays in Homes

Foreclosure Delays Allow Homeowners Longer Stays in Homes

Nearly 4.3 million Americans are 30 days or more past and not in foreclosure. Over 1.9 million Americans have not made their mortgage payments for 90 days or more, yet their homes are not in foreclosure, according to data from LPS Applied Analytics. Of these, more than 40 percent have not made a payment in a year.

Failed businesses, second mortgages, and job loss are leading causes of home mortgage delinquency. Many of the homeowners want to try to work things through with the bank without losing their homes.

Foreclosure Filings

On average, the time between borrowers missing their first payment to foreclosure is 565 days. New York and Florida average 800 and 807 days, respectively. If borrowers choose to fight their evictions, they can stay in the home while their cases wind their way through the court system. When all the legal wrangling is finished, if the borrowers ultimately lose, they will have to vacate the house.

Even though foreclosure filings dropped for the first half of 2011, industry analysts say that is only because of the delays in processing. They estimate that there will be at least 1 million foreclosures in 2012 that should have been dealt with in 2011.

Banks Weighed Down with Foreclosed Properties

Part of the reason for the delays is that many banks are already weighed down with more foreclosed properties than they can handle. Combine the current housing market slump with the tighter lending rules and you get foreclosed houses that are not moving.

All this, coupled with the government’s foreclosure prevention programs, may be preventing the market from actually being able to rebound.

Homeowners Cheated by Countrywide to be Reimbursed

Homeowners Cheated by Countrywide to be Reimbursed

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over 450,000 homeowners were allegedly cheated by Countrywide Home Loans. That number is much higher than the FTC’s original estimate of 200,000 from last year.

BOA Takeover in 2008

Before being taken over by Bank of America Corp. in 2008, Countrywide allegedly overcharged the homeowners. The FTC is mailing refund checks to the affected homeowners. The agreement was reached between Bank of America and the FTC in June. Bank of America agreed to settle with the homeowners by paying a total of $108 million.


Countrywide was charged with inflating the cost for such things that related to a homeowner’s default such as title reports, property inspections and lawn mowing. There were also accusations that the amounts owed by borrowers were overstated by Countrywide at the time of a borrower’s bankruptcy. They also allege that fees or escrow charges were added to mortgage accounts for borrowers who were in Chapter 13.

Even though the amount of homeowners affected has more than doubled, the FTC maintains that there is enough money available in the settlement to allow them to reimburse all the victims fully.

Bank of America reached the agreement with the FTC to avoid going to trial over the matter, but, as part of the settlement, did not admit to any wrongdoing. They maintain that any of the over-charging happened before they obtained Countrywide Home Loans.

Refund checks that are being sent to the victims range anywhere from under $500 to several thousand dollars.

High Risk Borrowers Turn to Private Mortgage Lenders

High Risk Borrowers Turn to Private Mortgage Lenders

People with money in retirement accounts other slow-growing savings accounts are pulling money out of their accounts to invest in a side-business – mortgage lending.

These people are loaning money to people who have been turned down for mortgages by traditional banks, and they are doing it at a high interest rate. These hard moneyloans only account for about 1 percent of the estimated 5.5 million mortgages this year, but that percentage is up from years past.

High Interest Rates

However, because of the high interest rates they charge, these lenders are being compared with predatory lenders. Others see them as an answer to their problems. Since the banking crisis, lenders have tightened their rules; which means they turn away borrowers who are a high risk, leaving them out in the cold. These private lenders fill the gap.

Traditional Mortgage Lender

The lenders have to follow the same rules as a traditional mortgage lender, and they are also regulated under state law. Loan brokers normally match borrowers with lenders, with the brokers making a commission on each referral.

The loans are normally on a short-term basis, lasting anywhere from a several months to a few years. Depending on the loan, there may be small monthly payments with a balloon payment at the end of the loan. The new homeowner typically either refinances to a traditional mortgage at the end of the term, or they flip the house. While these hard money loans are meant to be short-term, if all else fails, the borrower can extend the loan.

Should You Walk Away from Your Mortgage?

Should You Walk Away from Your Mortgage?

You’re in upside down on your mortgage, so you decide to let your credit take a huge hit and walk away from your mortgage.  You know it will be hard to obtain credit again, but you believe that in the long run you’ve made the right decision.

Economic Hardship

You may be wrong.  If you have defaulted on your mortgage due to extenuating circumstances like divorce, job loss or some other economic hardship, you generally have to wait about five years before you can attempt to purchase a home.  If you just decided to walk away from your mortgage, you may have to wait double that time.



Underwriters don’t just look at your credit score and your ability to pay the mortgage.  They want to know the whysbehind the default.  A good credit score won’t wash away the fact that there were no precipitating factors in the default.A bank may be more lenient if they see the default was caused by factors beyond the borrower’s control.  A job loss may get you more consideration, while walking away may be viewed in a very negative light.

But, banks still need to make money, and a borrower making interest payments is one way.  If the borrower’s only fault is walking away from a mortgage, the bank may be willing to take a chance. If the bank does take a chance, it may require more from the borrower, such as a substantially larger down payment.  The borrower may also have to deal with higher interest rates, even higher than borrowers who have similar credit scores.

Is the Credit Score for Your Mortgage Application Accurate?

Is the Credit Score for Your Mortgage Application Accurate?

The credit score you see on the credit report you just purchased may not be the same as the credit score given to your bank for your mortgage application or to the credit card company for your new credit card application.

That’s what the new federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found in a new study released on Tuesday.  Different models and different data are used by the credit reporting agencies to come up with the credit scores for banks and other creditors.

As required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the bureau conducted various studies, one of which was comparing any difference in credit scores reported to creditors and consumers.

The study concluded that both the creditors and consumers were getting very different pictures of their credit ratings.  This leaves consumers in a bind, not really getting an accurate picture of their credit.

The problem arises because of the different models that can be used to determine a credit score.  The most common is the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score.  Those scores make up about 90 percent of the scores sold to consumers and creditors.

But there are even different formulas to come up with different FICO scores.  Not only are there FICO scores, but the credit rating agencies sell the consumer their credit scores.  These scores are basically for educational purposes for consumers and may not be their actual scores.

While the Dodd-Frank Act requires that consumers be able to obtain one copy of their credit scores for free if they are denied a loan, there is no guarantee that consumers will receive the same scores that were used to make a decision on their loan.

How the Debt Ceiling Struggle Affects You

How the Debt Ceiling Struggle Affects You

With just over two weeks left before the August 2 debt ceiling deadline, the clock is ticking. If Congress and the President don’t reach an agreement, the United States will not be able to meet its debt obligations.
No one knows exactly what will happen if the U.S. defaults on its debt. It is not known what impact it will have on foreign markets or the global economy. What is known is that the country’s credit rating will likely fall. The powers that be also know that no agreement will impact almost every American.

Higher Mortgage Rates

One thing is for sure – interest rates will rise. Higher rates on mortgages, student and auto loans, and credit cards will hit consumers right in the pocket. Business investments will slow which will translate to fewer jobs being created.
If there is no agreement, basically the government will shut down. The government will only be able to pay about 60 percent of its bills. On Wednesday, in preparation for no agreement, three Republicans introduced a bill that would prioritize debt payments and military pay. However, paychecks will not go out for most government employees, and those receiving unemployment or Social Security payments.

Economic Improvements

Another fear is that what economic improvements that have been made will be nullified as the country heads back into a recession. The financial repercussions will more than likely cause the stock market to drop considerably as investors, both national and international, lose confidence in the U.S. government.
While Washington is putting in an effort to settle this potential crisis, there is still a lot of partisan haggling. Hanging in the balance are the lives of average Americans.

New York Leads U.S. in Closing Costs on Mortgages

New York Leads U.S. in Closing Costs on Mortgages

I Love New Yorkis a great slogan, but if you are trying to purchase a home there, you may not be singing that song. Bankrate Inc. lists New York as being the most expensive state to close a mortgage. The fees rose 10 percent from 2010.

Mortgage on a Single Family Home

For a $200,000 mortgage on a single-family hone with 20 percent down, the title and origination costs average just over $6000. The average cost nationwide for the same-sized mortgage loan was about $4000, up 8.8 percent from last year.
These fees for closing cost include those from lenders, title insurance and appraisals. Not included were things like property insurance, interest and taxes.

Lending Regulations

Tightened lending regulations due to the mortgage crisis have driven the costs up for lenders. Consequently, the lenders have passed the increased costs on to the borrowers. New rules in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will tighten up any other weaknesses or loopholes in the mortgage system, which may cause the costs to rise further.
Texas gets the number two position, with a 5 percent rise from last year going from $4708 to $4944, followed by Utah with $4906. For the past five years, New York and Texas have held the top spots.

Looking for closing costs that are a little cheaper? You’ll have to look in Indiana, North Carolina and Arkansas. The fees in each are $3430, $3410 and $3378, respectively.

Refinance, Home Equity Loan or Appraisal Relies on Your Neighbors

Bad Neighbors Can Reduce the Value of Your Home

Whether you are getting ready to sell your home, refinance or obtain a home equity loan, you’ll have to have your home appraised.  You’re hoping that the market crash hasn’t turned you upside down in the home’s value, but you’ve kept it up and even improved the home since you purchased it.

But, there is another factor that can affect the value of your home.  Having a bad neighbor can reduce the value of your home by 15 percent.  We tend to think of a bad neighbor as someone who doesn’t keep up the outside of their home or who has garbage or old vehicles in the yard.  But there are other bad neighbors you may not have considered.

A nearby business can also reduce the value of your home.  A study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley determined that the values of homes within two miles of a power plant decreased anywhere from 4 to 7 percent.

With the ability to locate sex offenders online, having a registered sex offender nearby has a huge impact on a home’s value.  It can reduce the value by around 9 percent.  If you are looking to sell, homes with nearby sex offenders take on average 10 percent longer to sell.

Foreclosed homes affect the values of other nearby homes.  According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, your home, on average, will decrease in value 1 percent per foreclosed dwelling that is within 250 feet of your home.

You Say It’s Your Birthday? There’s Lots of Free Stuff for You

You Say It’s Your Birthday?  There’s Lots of Free Stuff for You

Don’t you just love it when family or friends take you out for a birthday meal, and totally sabotage your enjoyment by having the wait staff come over and sing some silly song?  Well, putting up with a little goofy stuff can actually score you lots of freebies on your big day.

Check out your local restaurants.  Some have free deals for your birthday if you sign up for them.  From burritos to seafood to ribs to pizza, you will be able to eat for free on your big day.  Some coupons are good for the entire month of your birthday and some may only be good on that one day.  Look at the expiration dates so you don’t lose out.

While free food is really common, there are other businesses that give out products or discounts.  Chicken of the Sea tuna gives out a coupon on your birthday if you sign up for their Mermaid’s Birthday Club.  CVS Pharmacy gives you ExtraBucks Rewards.  Medieval Times gives you a free feast and show.  Olan Mills Portrait Studios gives away free portraits.  The list goes on and on.

If you Google birthday freebies,you get almost 1.5 million results.  Take some time to scour sites like, and  Coupons and specials abound.  And don’t be afraid to ask the establishment or store if they have any specials for the birthday boy or girl.  Kids especially benefit from birthday clubs.  From Chuck E. Cheese and Toys R Us are just a couple of national chains with treats for the kids.

Bankruptcies Down for First Six Months of 2011

Bankruptcies Down for First Six Months of 2011

If you live in Nevada, California, Colorado or one of the other seven states with the highest per capita rate of consumer bankruptcy filings between March 2010 and March 2011, the news that the number of filings has dropped compared to last year probably means very little to you.

In the report released by the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), consumer bankruptcy filings for the first six months of 2011 dropped 8 percent from the same period last year. Filings for June 2011 were also down five percent from June 2010. However, wile the June percentage was down from a year ago, it increased four percent from May 2011 consumer bankruptcies.

Bankruptcy Rates

The falling bankruptcy rates suggest that consumer finances are getting better. According to ABI’s Executive Director Samuel Gerdano, this is an indication that American consumers are continuing to reduce their debt.

While this appears to be good news, many in the financial industry have their doubts. There are fears that the United States is headed into a recession right on the heels of the first.

Should you find yourself one of the hundreds of thousands who have to file bankruptcy, you should start planning for your life after bankruptcy before you have to file. Good planning can be the key to regaining your good credit in the years following your declaration.

Future lenders and employers are going to want to know why you filed for bankruptcy. Have an explanation and take responsibility. There is no need to be ashamed. Move on and take the necessary steps to regain your good credit.

Good Credit

Remember that the only thing your credit can do after a bankruptcy is go up. Check your credit report and make sure it is up to date. Correct any personal information that needs updating. Make sure your creditors show as being discharged in bankruptcy.

Keep track of when negative items on your credit report can be removed. Different types of accounts spend different lengths of time on your report. Some may be for only a few years or as many as seven. As each falls off, your credit score will get better. Your Retirement Planning Keeping You Awake at Night?

Is Your Retirement Planning Keeping You Awake at Night?

The specter of being old and penniless haunts many average Americans.  Have you invested in the right areas?  Have you saved enough?  What about Social Security?  Will your retirement savings be enough to support you for the rest of your life after you retire?

The retirement strategies you use, if any, in your pre-retirement years, even when you are young, will ultimately impact what you have for retirement.  One bad decision can cause your retirement years to be lean years rather than your golden years.

Retirement Plans

You first need to determine how much you need to retire.  Most people look at their expenses now and carry them forward – basically a guess.  Many forget to add in the cost of health care and even what it would cost for long-term care.

Sometimes it looks like you will have to keep working to balance out your retirement income.  But illness and layoffs can thwart that plan.  What then?  You have to have a backup plan.


Some employers match savings, but many employees don’t save enough to get the full amount of the match.  That lost money adds up over time.  Even though it may hurt in the short-term finances, don’t cut the amount you put in a matching fund account.

Many people don’t think about the tax impact when they have to take money from their retirement income.  Basically, in retirement, you shift from accumulating funds to making the funds you have less taxable.

To wend your way through this complicated path to retirement, it may be best to consult a financial advisor.

No Bargaining Power – The Tale of Workers in Today’s Economy

No Bargaining Power – The Tale of Workers in Today’s Economy

In these tough times, we can consider ourselves lucky to have jobs.  But it doesn’t do much when the prices of everyday items are increasing and our wages are not.  With many businesses having to tighten their belts, pay increases for the everyday workers are often out of the question.

When you factor in inflation, you are probably getting paid less now than you were two years ago.  Money just isn’t buying what it used to.  Since we have to spend more on the basics for living – food, clothing, housing, and transportation – we aren’t buying the extras.  And that extra buying helps the economy grow, so if we aren’t buying, it slows economic growth.

But employers know how tight the job market is.  Not that they aren’t concerned about the plight of their workers, but to stay in business and make a profit – which after all, is what a business needs to do to stay afloat – they forego raises for the workers.  If the workers aren’t happy with wages, they can go find another job.  Good luck with that one!  So, the companies are safe in knowing that not giving raises won’t cost them their workforce.

According to the Labor Department, the average work week in the private sector was about 34 hours, and the average hourly pay fell to $22.99.  While the private sector added 57,000 jobs in the month of June, local and state governments cut a total of 39,000.  That means that for the entire country, only 18,000 new jobs were added.  And more good news – the national rate of unemployment rose to 9.2 percent.

What does this say to workers?  Keep your jobs and be quiet.  You have nothing with which to bargain.

A Budget Could Be the Difference in Tough Economic Times

A Budget Could Be the Difference in Tough Economic Times

Do you find yourself going from paycheck to paycheck each month, with money rolling out as fast as it comes in?  Are you able to account for where your money goes each month, or does it kind of disappear without you knowing what you spent it on?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should seriously consider setting up and following a budget.  It could make a real difference in weathering tough times.

First, make a list of all your expenses.  Be sure to include an amount for clothing, car repairs and any other expenses that may not be monthly.  Also include a little bit for fun stuff so you can at least go to the movies once a month or do something for yourself.

There are many options for setting up and tracking your spending.  Quicken offers software that will help you keep track of your spending.  You can also use it to pay bills online and, come tax time, you can export any relevant information to your tax software.

Many banks are offering a new kind of account that is three accounts in one.  You have two savings accounts and a checking account.  Your money goes into the checking account, usually via direct deposit.  Leave whatever money is necessary to meet your monthly expenses.  In one of the savings account, you put aside the amount you want to save for long term, in the other savings account, you put money in for short-term savings.  Even if your bank doesn’t offer that type of an account, you can still set it up using three separate accounts.

Grocery Bill Going Up? Ways to Save on Some Staples

Grocery Bill Going Up? Ways to Save on Some Staples

While the price of gas has been hogging the headlines lately, the increasing prices of groceries have gone unnoticed by everyone except the consumers. According to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of food has risen 3.7 percent overall since December. Common purchases like milk, ground chuck, bacon, apples and potatoes have all increased in price since January, while shredded cheese and boneless chicken breasts are the only two food items to cost less.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, and even though the price has gone up 7.6 percent since December (a total of 11 cents) it’s still a better deal than a visit to the doctor’s office. If you want to get the most from your apple purchase, buy them by the bag rather than individually, and store them in the fridge so they will keep longer.

Bread is another food stuff that has seen a price increase. While the change hasn’t been big, you can still save buy buying the bread when your store has a buy-one-get-one or two-for-one sale. If you have room in your freezer, buy extra and freeze them for later.

Your morning glass of orange juice is costing you more, too. One way to save on the vitamin-C rich drink is to visit the frozen food aisle. It’s less expensive to buy the concentrate and it is just as good.

Potatoes have taken a big jump. They are up an average of 43 cents from December and are expected to continue to rise. The 20-pound bag of potatoes is usually your best buy. To keep the potatoes longer, store them in a cool, dry place.

Save Money, Trim Your Budget and Still Have Frills

Save Money, Trim Your Budget and Still Have Frills

In these tight financial times, many people are doing everything they can to save money.   Much of the time, the items that get bumped off the budget are the frills, like dining out or going to the movies.  Here are some things you can do that will save money and maybe allow you some of the frills you’ve had to go without.

Drink Water

If you drink a lot of soft drinks, energy drinks or even juice throughout the day, switch over to water.  Drinking water from the tap, not from the bottle, will save a substantial amount of money each week.  For example, let’s say you drink three can of pop each day.  That’s 21 cans of pop each week.  Soda can run anywhere from $2 to $3 per 12-pack.  At the $2 price, you’re spending $4 each week – $16 each month – on soft drinks.  Soda bought from a convenience store or vending machine can cost $1.50 or more for each can.  That savings would be a whopping $22.50 for five days worth of soda at work or $90 each month.


Another money saving technique is to use coupons and buy store brands.  Cut out only the coupons for things you actually use.  Many times, coupons for major brands come out at the same time as stores have sales on those same items.  You can save a lot, especially if the sale is a buy one, get one free.  But be careful!  Don’t buy a name brand, even with a coupon, if the store brand is less expensive and just as good.   Depending on the items you buy each week, you can easily save $10 each week – $40 each month.

Bad Credit Score? Here’s How You Can Make it Better

There’s nothing that can kill your dreams of home ownership faster than a poor credit score. A bad credit score can hurt your ability to make those big purchases like a home or a car, as well don’t despair. Only 1 percent of Americans have a credit score of 850.

But there’s good news; there are steps you can take to raise your score.
Part of what determines your credit score is the type of credit debt you have. There are installment accounts, like a mortgage or car loan. You pay the same amount each month until it is paid. The other type of credit debt is revolving credit. These are your credit cards. They have balances that fluctuate from month to month depending on use. Having these types of credit is essential to building up your credit score.

When you have these lines of credit, work on your payment history. This is the biggest factor in your credit history. It won’t happen over night, but if you work on making your payments on time each month, as well as working to pay off the revolving credit debt, each month will get you closer to a good score.
Having fewer inquiries on your credit record helps keep your score up. Every time you apply for a line of credit, your credit record is checked. Having too many checks, especially if you are consistently turned down, will hurt your score. That doesn’t mean you can’t apply for credit, it just means that you don’t want to apply for all those offered during the holidays.

Is the Bell Tolling on Tax-free Internet Orders?

Tax-free Internet Orders

As of July 1, the California law requiring online retailers to pay sales tax took effect.  California is the ninth state to enact such a law.  It all started back in 1992 when the Supreme Court ruled that if a retailer does not have a physical presence in a state, the states cannot make retailers collect sales taxes.


Internet sales giant Amazon is calling the law that requires them to collect sales taxes unconstitutional and has refused to pay the sales tax.  Amazon is taking the same action as they have in the other states.  Any affiliates Amazon has in those states no longer get paid.  An affiliate is a smaller site that refers its visitors to Amazon and in turn, Amazon pays them a commission. is also refusing to collect sales tax on purchases from California.

California Law

But the California law goes beyond laws that other states like Hawaii, Minnesota and Illinois have passed.  California’s law says that the state can collect sales taxes from any retailer if it develops or designs products.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s Kindle comes from a plant in California.

California plans on pursuing Amazon and any others who refuse to pay the taxes when they are due on October 30.  A spokesperson for California’s state tax collector, Anita Gore, said the department will follow the normal procedures for collecting a debt, including placing liens and levying bank accounts.

In-state retailers are hoping this law will equal the playing field between them and the online retailers.


Common Mistakes on Mortgages


You’ve searched around and found a home that meets both your space needs and your budget needs.  At last!  Now, it’s time to get your mortgage.  If you’re not careful, getting your mortgage could be a nightmare and turn the dream of owning a home into a nightmare.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you navigate your way safely through the mortgage maze.

Bad Credit

Do check your credit.  Bad credit can mean a higher interest rate or being turned down altogether.  You may have to put off your purchase for awhile to get your score up, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Do get pre-approved.  Pre-approval will allow you to know how much house you can afford, and it tells the seller that you are serious when you make an offer.

Do look at the total payment you will be making on the house.  While you may be able to afford the mortgage payment, adding in the property taxes and insurance may make the cost too much to handle.

New Lines of Credit

Don’t apply for new lines of credit.  A lot of factors go into determining your credit score.  If you begin applying for credit cards or a car loan while applying for a mortgage, you could hurt your credit enough to have your interest rate increased or for you to be turned down.

Don’t job hop.  Employment is one factor of mortgage approval.  Lending institutions want to see steady income.  If you’re continually moving between jobs, especially to a job in a field, it could be a problem.


Personal Finance What You Say on Facebook Could Hurt You

Personal Finance

Almost everyone is aware of identity theft and many have taken steps to avoid it. Some have paid for programs such as LifeLock or Identity Guard. Many shred documents that contain any personal information. People monitor their credit reports and do not give out any personal information on the phone.


But one place people don’t think about is Facebook. Putting too much information out on the social media site can provide identity thieves with just what they need to hack into your life.

For example, let’s say you update your status with Taking Spot for a walk, then going to watch Patriots game wife Sam,or  Just found steal at store! Great blue dress (my fav) for dinner with Mike.You may have unknowingly given out the answers to those security questions many sites use to verify your identity.


Then there’s the other information on your profile like your date of birth, your hometown, the name of your high school, your high school mascot. Think about it. What are some of the security questions you choose to answer to verify you are you.

What about posting comments about a trip you are taking? Have you ever thought that you are giving out information that could aid in the burglary of your own home. You are telling everybody that your house/apartment/condo will be empty.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep you and your identity safe:
– Don’t post your date of birth or where you were born
– Don’t post your phone number or address
– Don’t make your profile public
– Don’t provide up-to-the-minute details about your trip. Do it after you are home

Help for Homeowners Behind in Mortgage Payments, Fed Government Loans

Help for Homeowners Behind in Home Payments: Federal Government Loans

The federal government has help for those homeowners behind on their mortgage payments.  The Emergency Homeowners Loan Program is offering loans for up to $50,000 to homeowners who have lost their jobs and are trying to keep their homes.  The best part?  If you meet certain requirements, you won’t have to pay back the money.



Lending Bank

Here’s how it works.  The assistance period runs for two years.  During that time, payments are made to the homeowners lending bank to pay a portion of the monthly payment, past due amounts and late fees.

After the assistance period is over, 20 percent of the load is forgiven each year the homeowner stays in the home.  If the homeowner stays in the home for five years after the assistance period ends, the loan is forgiven.

Balance of the Loan

However, if the homeowner sells the house or defaults on payments again, the homeowner is responsible for the balance of the loan.  Another risk is owing more than the house is worth.  Homeowners are not required to have any equity in the home to be approved for the loan should the home be sold before the five year period.

The assistance is for those homeowners who need a boost for the short-term and will soon be back on their feet.  The program is accepting applications through July 22, 2011.  To qualify for this assistance, the homeowner must have lost his or her income through an involuntary job loss, a medical condition, or some other economic condition.  The homeowner also has to be facing foreclosure or be at risk of foreclosure. More information is available online though NeighborWorks America.


Home Prices Increase Says Report From S&P

Home Prices Increase Says Report From S&P

For the first time in eight months, home prices have shown a monthly increase, according to S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices.  Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites were up by .08 percent and .07 percent, respectively, from March to April.  Still, of the 20 cities, the numbers reached new index lows six – Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Charlotte and Detroit.  Also, both composites are down from a year ago, falling 3.1 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.

Home Owners

What does this mean to home owners?  It may be good news to those trying to sell their homes without losing their shirts.  According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P, it’s too early to tell whether the gain is due to the start of the home-buying season or if it is due to the warm weather.

However, there are other signs that point to a rebound in the housing market.  Housing starts for single-family homes increased, as did existing home sales.  Both are far below the levels of last year, and housing starts continue to hover near their 30-year low.

Housing Market

More good news for the housing market – new defaults show a slight decline since November.  That decline could have more to do with the banks tightening their lending standards, making it more difficult to obtain a mortgage.

Blitzer stated that for this to be a true recovery of the housing market, there would have to be three or more months of increased home prices to shift the annual momentum to the positive side.”


Weird Investments for Your Retirement

Investments for Retirement

With the economy outlook still dim, the debt ceiling saga looming, and the uncertainty of the ongoing financial crisis in Greece, people who are depending on their 401(k)s for their retirement income are watching their balances closely.  Some of them are not liking what they see.  Balances are shrinking or stagnant.

Smart Investors

Some investors are taking matters, as well as their money, into their own hands and seeing some big returns.  One man, Rajeev Kotyan, used his retirement funds to purchase four dressage horses.  When he sold the horses 18 months later, he got quite the return on his money – it ranged between 23 percent and 76 percent for each horse.

One man, Don Poffenroth, took his 401(k) and invested in a vodka distillery.  His initial $300,000 investment has swollen to $1.2 million  Another person invested the money he emptied from his 401(k) in a business growing sprouts.  His initial $300,000 investment is now worth $550,000.  Other weird investments – chicken poop, ostriches, dairy cows, and a habanero pepper farm.

Risk Management

An investment that isn’t so risky, but is off  the beaten track, is buying up property tax liens.  You get a relatively safe investment since it’s backed by property.  If the people pay, you get your money back plus any late fees.  If they don’t pay the taxes, you own the property.

Of course, these investments were not without risk.  As a matter of fact, they were extremely risky.  It’s not something you should rush out and invest in on a whim.  These people did their homework and took a leap of faith – and it paid off for them.


Refinancing Your Home – When is The Right Time?

If you’re a homeowner, the low mortgage rates are probably tempting you to refinance your existing home loan to one with a lower interest rate.  Of course, you want to get the best rate, so you wait – gamble really, to see if the rates will drop even lower.  But what if you are wrong?  What if the rates go up and you’ve missed your window of opportunity?

While there is no crystal ball that will tell you the exact time to jump, there are tools you can use to decide when you should refinance.

Find a refinance calculator online.  With a refinance calculator, you can play with amounts you want to refinance, should you want to refinance more money than what you owe to pay off another loan or credit line.

Do you have an adjustable rate mortgage?  You may want to jump into a lower fixed rate mortgage before the rates go back up, especially if yours has a cap.  For example, if your mortgage has a cap of 2 percent and the interest has dropped by 3 percent, locking in to a fixed rate would save you 1 percent.

There can be disadvantages to refinancing.  What will it cost to refinance?  How long will it take you to recoup those costs?  Is it worth extending your loan by another 30 years?  Will you be losing equity?  These are things to consider before you decide to refinance your home.  The low interest rates may sound great, but be sure to look at the big picture.


Another Reason for Women to Have Gray Hair – Financial Stress

In a report released by Financial Finesse Reports, women are three times as likely to face overwhelming financial stress than men.  Women are worried they are not saving enough and are investing too conservatively for their retirement savings to support them after retirement.

Women tend to invest too conservatively, putting much of their capital into low yielding money market accounts and bond funds.  To top it all off, women just are not saving as much as men, and they are living an average of five years longer than men.  It’s no wonder that 79 percent of women report money as a source of stress.

According to estimates, 60 percent of illnesses are caused by financial stress.  Women are more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress such as headaches, depression, and indigestion.  The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes financial stress as the leading cause of unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse, weight gain and smoking.  Financial stress has also been linked to metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk of stroke, Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.  Finance-related stress costs companies millions of dollars in time lost and health care costs.

The APA suggests these tips for managing stress:

– Don’t panic

– Identify your stressors and make a plan

– Recognize how you deal with finance-related stress

– Turn the challenges into opportunities for personal growth and change

– Don’t be ashamed to seek professional support



Commercial Mortgage Loans Better Than Expected

Senior Director of Fitch Ratings, Andrew Davidson, announced that last year’s performance of commercial mortgage loans was better than expected by the rating agency. About 99.6% of the mortgage loans, with life insurance companies, were on the same level as the year before. Of the loans posted, Fitch Ratings had expected losses of up to $3 billion instead of the $1.36 billion posted in 2010, still a small decline from $1.41 billion in losses from 2009.

The agency believes that there is a promising recovery in the commercial real estate market due to low mortgage rates and increased liquidity that gives business the ability to meet their payment obligations.With the low interest rates, commercial real estate investors and developers are encouraged to believe that that the economy will heal, and that there is a gradual improvement in capital markets.

Fitch Ratings believe that in 2011 the market will be on track and the level of losses due to foreclosures and delinquencies will increase to a $1.4 billion, but will not exceed the $3 billionThis should not come as a surprise since businesses are doing much better than a couple of years ago. With sales and profits on the rise there is a very good chance for economic recovery.

Credit Reporting Agency’s Study on Mortgage Skippers

Experian is a global credit information group, formerly known as CCN Systems, with corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland and operational offices in Nottingham, England and Cosa Mesa, California.Tracy Bremmer, their director of product marketing and management , shared the results of a study conducted by the company.

She said that 17 percent of the stratigic defaulters who skip mortgage payments as their home value goes down, are people who can afford to make their payments because “They are high income, they are high wealth, they own multiple homes, they have higher … (credit) scores and they are very financially savvy.”

The study found that about 3 per cent of the strategic defaulters obtained new mortgages just before they stop making payments. At this point they don’t have to worry about their credit scores.According to economist Luigi Zingal of the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, these strategic defaults account for a third of the foreclosures in the United States.

Credit reporting agencies, such as FICO and Vantage through studies conducted, are able to identify and report to the mortgage banks the borrowers who stop making affordable payments. Lenders may not want to waste their time doing mortgage modificationswith these borrowers, suggested Ms. Bremmer.New underway studies at FICO show that 18 months after foreclosure, a high percent of the strategic defaulters were having financial problems in other areas.

Mortgage Rates News – Home Sales Drop

Mortgage Rates

Recent studies of the housing market have shown that home sales in the month of May dropped 3.8% from April.  Many people believe that the main cause to this unexpected decline is a severe increase in gasoline prices.  The extreme weather and abundance of tornadoes throughout the country may also have been a contributing factor to the decline.

Summer Turnaround for Homeowners

The latter made it more difficult for potential homeowners to seek out potential dwellings by making travel to certain areas extremely difficult if possible at all.  In addition, it is possible that several dozen homes that were in the process of being purchased, or had the potential to be, were damaged during the storms, making the sales null and void.  The rise in gasoline prices also discouraged travel, making it too costly for many people.  Despite the decline, hopes remain high that this will turn around for the summer months.

How to Improve your Gas Mileage

How to Improve your Gas Mileage

When taking a trip, one of the best ways to save money on gas is to get the most per mile. Here are a few tips that have been put together by some of the best mechanics in order to help you improve your gas mileage. One of the best ways is to not put your air conditioning on full blast.

Running the air and driving fast at the same time causes your car’s engine to work harder, burning up the fuel faster. Driving at a steady speed less than 65 mph can also help you get more miles to the gallon. Keep your car in good repair; keep up with oil changes and tire rotations, and make sure you check the tire pressure before going on a long trip.

Don’t over load your car; balance the weight properly, and try not to over pack. Increased weight also causes your engine to work harder, lessening the potential mileage you can get.

Extreme Money Savers

We all know that the economy is not at its best, yet it is, slowly but surely, trying to recover. Financial advisors have provided various ways that people can save money, but some people have taken it to the extreme. Some items on the list, like taking advantage of Early Bird Specials, make a lot of sense, as does keeping an eye out for money on the ground.

Other suggestions, like making your children pay half of the entire dinner bill, seems a little extreme, especially when the youngsters are still in elementary school or even kindergarten. There were even others that suggested sleeping at the office or in your car to avoid paying rent, or stop eating dinner.

The latter of the two also may help with weight loss, but if not watched closely can lead to eating disorders. Doctors agree that starving your body of the nutrients it needs is not an effective way to lose weight.

Most Expensive Housing Market

A list has recently been compiled as to which housing markets across the United States are the most expensive to live. All of these places have a higher cost of living than others do, and many take into the surrounding landscapes. San Jose, Anaheim, San Diego and San Francisco, CA are all in the top ten, as is New York City, Boulder, CO and Bridgeport, CT.

Barnstable, MA and Boston, MA take the last two spots. So what is the number one most expensive place to live in the country? Honolulu, HI tops the list, with the average price of a home being just shy of $600,000. While the island of Oahu is often listed as one of the most beautiful places on Earth, this is not the reason that home prices are so inflated or sought after.

Much of the island is designated as preservation land. What land is available to be developed is somewhat remote, and the cost to ship building materials out there is extremely high.

Mortgage Market Less Desirable to Consumers Paying Down Debt


Any hopes of a quick snap back into a housing market recovery are being dashed by less money circulating because of unemployment and even less consumer confidence in the lending and house markets.


Any positive signs that the housing market was on the way up are now being considered wishful thinking as credit is becoming harder to attain for general mortgage consumers and most sales being investors grabbing up foreclosures.  This may be good news for those that are patient and ok with a big gamble, because with the amount of homes currently on the market, prices may continue to dip on already affordable housing solutions.

Housing Market

The gamble is when will prices stop plummeting and turn-around?  Housing prices that were considered to costly for the middle-class are now within range, but the struggling economy (upgrade slightly from chaotic mess) are keeping buyers out of the market.  Equity in most homes have tumbled to levels of the 1940’s.

Right now, it appears that the average consumer is more concerned about debt repair or payoff which will further weaken the economy.  With less consumer wages being put back into the system, the harder the hit for the economy in the short-term, but great in the long-term for those that are saving or paying down credit.


Mortgage Rates are Causing a Stir in the Banking Industry

Mortgage rates right now are at the lowest they have ever been, and while many potential homeowners are thrilled with the idea, banks are not.  In fact, many banks are worried that these rates will not rise up to their previous numbers for years to come.   While these low interest rates have created a surge in refinancing, it may not be enough to get banks out of the hole.

While refinancing has increased dramatically, the fact of the matter is that there simply are not enough homes being purchased to help offset the difference needed.  Many people are relying on the housing market and their investments to help bring them out of debt, and some companies are doing the same.  Judging how slowly things are moving right now, experts think this is a very bad idea.


Renters Insurance Purchases Spike

There are many people who rent homes or apartments but never feel the need to purchase renter’s insurance.  After several tornadoes have completely devastated homes and businesses throughout the Southeastern US and the Midwest, more people have considered purchasing renter’s insurance.

Insurance agencies say that the number of calls they receive regarding this service has nearly tripled in volume since the storms.  More and more people want to protect their belongings and livelihoods anyway they can.  Renter’s insurance is recommended for apartment owners and renters of homes, and is one less thing to worry about should disaster strike.



Summer Home Clearance Sale

Summer is one of the busiest times for home sales, while kids are out of school making the transition easier.  While mortgage rates are holding steady, housing prices are at an all time low.  Some realtors believe that they could go even lower by the end of the summer.

With so many homes on the market, this would be somewhat reminiscent of a Summer Clearance Sale like they have at car dealerships to get rid of older inventory to make room for the new.


While they don’t expect a mad rush like on Black Friday or to have everything sell realtors are optimistic that there are sure to be a number of successful sales.


Chance for Lowest Mortgage Rates

If you are looking to purchase a home and want to get the lowest mortgage rate you can, the best chance you have is to go with a small lender, researchers say.


While you may be able to get a pre-approval letter faster with a large bank or mortgage broker, smaller lenders can help you get lower rates and better deals.

The reason for this is simple; small lenders don’t have as many qualifications or people to go through to get answers.  They are all about getting your business, and will do whatever they can to make sure they do.  Larger corporations and banks would love your business, but can be pickier about their customers.


Hotter Than Georgia Asphalt, Jobless Rate Dips Below 10%

The Marietta Daily Journal Online reports that Cobb County’s jobless rates are holding at 9.1%.  Katy Ruth Camp reports that April has been the first month in two years that the overall Georgian rate of unemployment has dipped to sub 10% figures.  Job growth is expected to continue as Georgia adds over 16,000 jobs in the Atlanta metro area.

This doesn’t mean that Georgia is in the clear but it is a good sign of job growth.  The national average for unemployment is nine percent.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota are currently under five percent.  Unemployment Rates

The numbers for the country look bleak when you break them down by industry.  The manufacturing industry seems to be one of the hardest hit, but that may be because it encompasses so many sub-sectors.  Insurance Carriers appear to be stable and have an unemployment rate of 6% for May.  Some good can be found in the figures, but for now, most everyone in Georgia and the whole of the United States will continue to tough it out.



Mortgage Rates Hold Steady Despite Too Many Houses

Mortgage Rates

While the housing market is slowly starting to improve, mortgage rates aren’t really moving.  If you are shopping for a new home, you know exactly what we mean.  No matter how good your credit rating is, the best rate you can get is 4.5%.  Some banks and lenders may be able to offer you a 4.375% rating, but you will probably have to shop around to receive one of those.  This isn’t only happening in the US. Mortgage lenders in the UK like Abbey National Mortgages are cutting their rates.

Mortgage Lenders

Lenders want their buyers to know that you don’t have to stick with a large bank to finance your new home, a mortgage works regardless if you get it from a mortgage supermarket or a local lender.  Smaller lenders can often times offer better rates or deals that the larger companies can’t because they follow a different set of rules, and have to jump through fewer hoops to get answers.  These mortgage rates have held fairly steady over the past couple of years, and are at the lowest they have been right now.

If you are waiting to buy a home in hopes that rates will drop soon, it is in your best interest to find the perfect home and lowest rate you can now, as you may be waiting for quite some time only to see a minute change that wasn’t worth the wait. Many are still waiting to see what the meaning of mortgage changes will be for them and others are looking into reverse mortgage lenders while others seek house mortgage refinance. The simple math of the matter is that if you can’t afford rent, a house is not a viable options; if you are stuck in a mortgage that you can’t afford, renting may be the next step.

Too Many Houses

According to the US Census poll taken in 2010, the state with the highest vacancy rate in the country is Maine.  While many people may have thought it would be California, primarily due to its size, but that is hardly the case.  Maine and Florida have the two highest rates, and while it is not known for sure as to why Maine is so high, many people speculate that builders just aren’t building the right kind of homes, and that they aren’t affordable enough.

High Vacancy Rate

Florida’s high vacancy rate can easily be explained with its high number of winter residents, and its popularity as a vacation spot.  High mortgage rates and a poor housing market also have a lot to do with the high vacancy in many locations.  The states with the lowest vacancy rate are Connecticut, followed closely by California and Iowa.

While the housing market is slowly increasing, it will still be quite some time before we are able to see any real improvement, especially in the vacancy rate.  That can only be improved if the unemployment rate decreases dramatically.


Insurance Compare, Not Having Rental Insurance is a Ticking Time Bomb

Insurance Compare

With the amount of Americans moving over to rental properties such as apartments or rental homes, there’s a dangerous trend mounting. Renters are not carrying renter’s insurance and it may increase homeless figures over the next decade.

Quotes on Renters Insurance

Quotes on renter’s insurance generally carry very low monthly premiums, so low that it the actual risk of losing all of one’s worldly goods to an ‘act of god’ or a neighbor that is careless with leaving their bathtub running and causing a flood in the apartment downstairs actually warrants the small hit to the monthly budget.

Major insurance carriers like Nationwide and Geico offer renters insurance policies. If the price of a policy does seem to high, there are discounts that are generally available for multiple safety and security features in the rental property. Fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems in the rental property are two of the most common features that discount this type of insurance policy.

Renters Insurance

As rental properties become more attractive because of lower consumer confidence in the housing market, renters insurance is going to need more attention. An increase in renters ups the percentages of possible damages to property and possessions and being caught without insurance if the rental property is affected could quickly leave more renters homeless and without financial recourse if they don’t have renters insurance to cover those damages.

Lower Mortgage Rates Should Increase Home Buying Right?

Mortgage Rates

Even with mortgage rates hitting consistent lows for the past three weeks, the housing market isn’t seeing the traditional response; more houses being sold. That may be because the numbers being reflected now are actual and comparing them to the past few years of falsely inflated figures will continually disappoint the market.

Home Buying

Actual home buying numbers won’t see a considerable increase until the lenders, the government and realtors start working together to rebuild consumer confidence. So, regardless of how low mortgage rates go over the next few years, there simply won’t be massive activity in the buying market as many can’t afford a home purchase or simply don’t have the confidence in the market and are sticking with less risky rental properties.

Fixed Mortgage Rates

30-year fixed 4.60%
15-year fixed 3.78%
5-year adjustable 3.41%
1-year adjustable 3.11%

DIY Refinancing

DIY Refinancing

If you have thought about refinancing your house, but are weary about hidden fee and mountains of paperwork , read on.  While your monthly payment will go down, you are allowing banks to collect absurd amounts from signing a new loan, and helping their sales people earn a substantial commission.  If you have been with your bank for awhile, you may want to shop around and see what other options are available for you.

Five Year Adjustable Rate Mortgage

Mortgage Harmony Group has recently released a new product to help with balancing everyone out.  The HarmoneyLoan is based on a five-year adjustable rate mortage, and allows homeowners to reset their interest rates with the click of a button.  This stipulation is automatically included into loan agreements, but you must have been a customer of theirs for at least a year before you are eligible.

Mortgage Companies

The HarmonyLoan has already been instituted by a multitude of different banks and mortgage companies, and has allowed many smaller entities to not only stay afloat, but some are even recruiting new loan officers to help with the amount of business that has come in.  Despite this fact, this type of loan is still highly in favor of the consumer due to the mortgage rates being at record lows.

Experts still recommend taking your location and financial position into consideration before agreeing with the loan.  For instance, in areas where refinancing will always be expensive, like New York, you may want to reconsider. If you are within retirement age, you may also want to think twice to avoid passing a burden onto family members.


Mortgage Lenders in Court for Foreclosures on Active Military

The Justice Department went after Bank of America and Morgan Stanley’s Saxon Mortgage Services for inappropriately foreclosing on military family’s homes while they someone actively serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mortgage Foreclosure

The result is the largest settlement to ever come out of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for violations of the Service Members Civil Relief Act.   The settlement is an astounding $20 million dollars, and will be shared between 160 service members whose homes were foreclosed on by Bank of America between January 2006 and May 2009.

Bank of America

In addition, a separate $2.35 million settlement was agreed upon to be split between approximately 17 additional servicemembers.  Their homes were foreclosed upon during the same time period as Bank of America.  The lawsuits came about after the companies failed to consistently check the active military status of the borrowers when the foreclosures were issued in May and June of 2009. The banks claim that they had expected the servicemembers to notify the banks of their active military status, but it was clearly proven that this is the responsibility of the mortgage providers, not the individuals.

Morgan Stanley Apology

This may be the beginning of many more lawsuits and settlements against various banks, but these will likely be done on a more private level.  Representatives for Morgan Stanley have issued a public apology, but at the time of the article Bank of America had not yet been reached for comment.    The Justice Department hopes that by providing members of military families who have loved ones serving overseas the utmost customer service lessening the stress level for everyone.


A Generation of Those That Will Never Have a Mortgage


Renting seems to be the most affordable means in which to obtain housing for an entire generation of young adults. Young adults that have just completed college or are leaving home for the first time, don’t have mortgages or home ownership on their minds, perhaps because of what they have seen on the news or have witnessed what their parent’s have gone through in recent years with the home market. Before the market woes, purchasing a house was often less expensive than renting, but that has changed as many that purchased homes to flip have converted the properties into low cost rentals. Apartment construction is on the rise and even those that can afford to buy are smartly staying out of the volatile market and opting to rent.


An unfortunate aspect of the rising trend to rent is that it puts a lot of power into the hands of property leasing companies. Because demand is so high for rentals, rental prices are on the rise which is leaving less options for those just starting out. Home investment is out, for now, rental prices on the rise and many are having to stay with their parent’s for longer, paying rent and helping out with their parent’s mortgage.

Google Financial Advisor

Google Financial Advisor

Google has a multitude of products that make common tasks much easier and Google Advisor does that for your finances. If you are looking for low rates on mortgages and credit cards or higher rates of return for CDs, checking and savings account, then Google advisor may have some financial solutions for you. The entries listed in Google Advisor mostly seem to be paid sponsors and no real financial advice is given, but it is a good place to stop in to find low rates on loans and the like.

Finance Portal

This one stop finance portal can assist consumers in comparing financial services and bank products by providing rates in one easy to find location. The search tools allow the user to narrow the criteria for the products they are searching for with a comparison tool. Google Advisor is another way in which lenders can advertise other than using Google Adwords and in a more industry specific setting.


If you are interested in simply comparing loans and credit card rates the Google Advisor is a fine place to do that. If you are looking for more in-depth information or reviews on lenders, then a website like might better serve your needs.

Google Advisor is located at :https//

Mortgage Lenders Worried About New Regulations

There are a lot of rule changes coming up for the mortgage lending market and it has a few banks a little scared.  Lenders are particularly worried about five percent retention for credit risk on securitized loans.  The new regulations are being put in place to prevent further high volumes of low quality loans like those that were responsible for much of the housing market crisis.  These regulations are needed, not to repair the damage, but to close loopholes and further abuse of the system.

Many in the lending industry feel that the regulations overstep their bounds, are entirely too restrictive and could eventually lead to a drying up of mortgage credit.  Much of the resistance from banks could just be a case of sour grapes, as the new regulations would push some mortgage assets into another tax bracket thus reducing profitability.


When Destroying Your Credit is no Longer a Threat

Debt Consolidation

When I was younger and in grade school, I was a bit of a rebellious tyke, not because of a behavioral issue that required medication or because of any childhood traumas, simply because it could get a bit boring and I felt it my duty to shake things up.  Earning a despising look and several reprimands, it occurred to me one day that there’s only so much threatening that a teacher can do before the threat no longer holds meaning.

The same logic is being applied to debt by Americans all over the country.  When it comes to immense debt, such as what is owed to China, it is of course, a bit different; China has a lot of weaponry.  When it is a matter of credit card debt, defaulting on a mortgage or auto loan, then there are only so many threats one can take before it occurs to them that there isn’t much they can do about the debt if they can’t pay it.

Credit Scores

Being threatened with lower credit scores doesn’t mean much anymore.  So many have lived with debt and low credit scores for most of their existence that they have learned to live without credit altogether.  Is there a moral obligation to pay debt though?  Many don’t believe there is and see debt as a financial obligation.  While the threat of losing your home or car is significant, if you can’t pay for it then there’s not much that can be done.  Letting go of payments is becoming increasingly common and for many there’s simply no other choice; if there’s no income and nothing left to sell, then generally the only thing left to do is throw your hands up and walk away from it.

Dropping off the Radar

Dropping off the radar to keep creditors off of your back is so much harder to do nowadays.  In the past, it simply meant not forwarding your mail, paying only in cash and not putting your name on any utility bills.  That’s changed because of the internet, now anyone that wants to stay away from creditors has to basically never interact with the internet in any way that involves putting your name, rank or serial number into the system.  Anyone that is in debt knows that harassing bills from creditors doesn’t actually help in getting the debt paid off, everyone but the credit collectors seem to know that.  Being stressed out by constant harassing phone calls is a bit self defeating, what creditors need to do is call with encouraging messages that everything will get better and that they have faith in you right?


Most citizens aren’t trying to skirt their financial obligations, they were either hit by a massive event like losing a job, bad health, losing all their savings to a crooked roofing company, things like that happen and there’s not all that much that can be done when we face all of our money being wiped out.  Bankruptcy is still an option that many consider, there are a lot of naysayers about bankruptcy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable solution.

There are two individuals that are very good sources of financial advice – Clark Howard and Dave Ramsey.  If the threats of creditors don’t mean much to you anymore and you might be considering a bankruptcy of fleeing to a country with no extradition with the US then try these two guys first to see if they have an alternate solution.  Dave’s website is and Clark’s website is here


Money Saving Tips from Financial Advisors

More and more people are watching their budgets and doing what they can to save money.  While many people are choosing to clip coupons and stock up on certain items they can get for cheap or even free, there are other ways to save as well.  Financial advisors have comprised a list of items that you can do without, or substitute to save hundreds or even thousands each year.  The top of the list?  Cigarettes.  This can be a very difficult habit to quit, but it’s a very expensive one as well.  Also on the list are name brand items, lottery tickets, gourmet coffee, and eating out.


Home Mortgage Loan Refinance

Many homeowners right now are struggling to stay afloat and hold on to their homes with the struggling housing market. While the unemployment rate is rising, it is doing it at a very slow pace, and many people are having a hard time making high mortgage payments.  A number of people have found a small amount of financial relief by re-financing their homes, therefore lowering their mortgage rates.  This may be a solution for you as well.  Ask your mortgage broker about more details, and see what they can offer.  It can be very beneficial on your part to do some research of your own and see what other companies may be able to offer you.  Any money that is saved can mean the difference between keeping and losing your home.


Affordable Mortgages HomePath Properties

Finding financing that is anywhere near reasonable or affordable may be on its way, but any further potholes in this road to recovery could quickly dash those hopes.  With too many empty homes driving down property values and a lackluster showing from buyers; it is now at the point where incentives for buyers are hardly being offered because buying a home now is seemingly a potential form of financial suicide.

However, Fannie Mae has an incentive plan for those that apply for the HomePath Property loan and close on the house before June 30.  Borrowers that qualify for this program must use the property as their main residence.  The HomePath program is available on the Fannie Mae website.

Fannie Mae offers special financing for some of the HomePath® properties it offers for sale. The benefits include:

Low down payment and flexible mortgage terms (fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, or interest-only)

Availability for both owner occupiers and investors

Down payment (at least 3 percent) can be funded by the borrower’s own savings; a gift; a grant; or   a loan from a nonprofit organization, state or local government, or employer

No mortgage insurance

No appraisal fees

Eligible for HomePath Renovation Mortgage

Available from a variety of lenders – both local and national

Sprint May Have Some Money for You

Sprint is looking to expand its number of customers in an effort to compete with giants like T-Mobile and AT&T.  Their marketing strategy is simple: you switch to Sprint, and they will pay you up to $175.00.  The money they are giving to you is supposed to help defer any cancellation fees that your current carrier may impose upon you.  Those switching their business lines will get the full amount, while those that switch and get a new smartphone will receive $125.  If you choose to switch but get a lower-functioning phone, you will still get $50.  You will also have to keep the new plan(s) open for sixty-one days, and sign a two-year contract.  Sprint, while it does not carry an iPhone like the other two big companies, does have a very large selection of smartphones including the first 4g phone, the HTC Evo.


Pay Your Bills with Gift Cards

We have all received gift cards at some point or another as gifts for birthdays, holidays, or even just as a thank you. While the meaning behind the gift is always appreciated, sometimes the gift itself is just something you won’t really use.  Fortunately there are companies out there like and ChargeSmart to help with this dilemma.  These companies allow people to exchange their unwanted gift cards and convert them into something that they will use, even to pay electric bills online.  While you won’t get the full value of the card, you can get up to 92% of its value, which is still an incredible deal.  So next time you receive a gift card that you know you won’t use at its intended location, just remember where you can use it; anywhere.


Mortgage Rates and Home Values Drop

Mortgage Rates

The home mortgage industry and real estate sector just have not stabilized enough to jump back in to buying or selling a home yet. Zillow reports that in the New York metro area that the value of homes has dropped to the lowest levels in the past seven years.

Housing Prices

On average, values have continued to drop have sunk by at least 3% during the first quarter. This makes housing 30% off from numbers reported in June of 2006. Zillow is predicting that the nation’s housing market may hit bottom next year.



Unemployment figures and an unsteady market are to blame for these figures. Even though foreclosures are currently at a low, they are expected to increase as this year goes on.

Is a Mortgage Refinance for You?


Reducing your mortgage payment by hundreds of dollars a month with a mortgage refinance could save you a lot of money. If it is used correctly, your mortgage could finally be manageable again and you could get back on track to your overall debt management.


Refinancing isn’t free though, so you need to consider the costs of refinancing your mortgage and determine if it is worth the expense. A refinance will cost about 5% of the mortgage principal. While you will be reducing the payments in the short-term, longer term you will be facing more debt.

Refinancing Plan

If your financial situation is temporary and you have plans for reclaiming income or gaining income then a refinance could be a great option. If you believe that you can put the credit cards away and stick with a refinancing plan then it is definitely an option worth investigating. Home Loan Prices Lower, Defaults Increase

It’s a fact of finance, when home loan prices start dipping, it’s great news for buyers and mostly bad news for those trying to sell to get out of their mortgage.   Is it inevitable that home owners that cannot afford their mortgages be foreclosed upon so that housing reform can continue?  It would seem that way, as government programs designed to assist homeowners that have fallen behind in their mortgage cannot support the great numbers of people that need assistance.

Homeowners may need to draw upon their own resources to get out of this mess.  Will it mean bribing the mortgage lender into giving you more time, lower payments or deferral?  Not suggested, but if you feel the need to be as kind as you can be, smile as big as you can and maybe even bring some muffins and coffee then that may do the trick.  Mortgage lenders and banks are not going to make money off of your foreclosure.  That’s why you may still have a chance to turn it around.  If you are drastically behind, then you may have to ask for forgiveness on those payments until your situation turns around.  Now is a good time to discuss any options that might be available to you while housing prices are so low.

Mortgage Rates Lower in US, Higher in China

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates and housing prices are on a steady decline making home purchases more enticing. Lower monthly mortgage payments may draw renters to home buying over the later months of this year. Increasing foreclosures are one of the main reasons asking prices are being lowered by sellers. Analysts are expecting more improvement in the housing market recovery around mid 2012.


Steady drops in mortgage rates in the US could spur a turn-around in the housing market as housing becomes more affordable. With stricter mortgage qualifications, those that cannot support mortgage may not find as much success in securing home loans as they might have in the past. This should create a more sound housing market.


As expected, China’s mortgage rates are on the rise to strengthen Chinese banks. China is also building protections against what the US is currently experiencing in their housing market. Chinese banks are extending less credit which is seen as a means to tighten mortgage restrictions and increase mortgage rates.

High Gas Prices Help Car Companies

The spike in gas prices used to be bad news for car dealerships.  After all, nobody wants to buy a new car when they can barely afford the one they currently own.  This is far from the truth this time around.  Car manufacturers instead are taking advantage of people’s wants and needs for new fuel efficient cars.  Chevy and Ford have both come out on top with options for consumers.  The Chevy Cruze is great option for those who are looking for great gas mileage along with a large-car feel in a smaller compact car.  The new Ford Focus has made some great improvements from previous models, while still maintaining the fuel efficiency consumers are looking for.  Many people are turning in their SUVs for a vehicle that will get much better gas mileage while still being large enough to carry their families comfortably.



One Step Forward and Five Steps Back, Jobs and Unemployment

The economy in the United States has been struggling to regain momentum after the last couple of years, and the unemployment rate is the main focus.  While the unemployment rates continue to rise, however slowly,  the Labor Department has reported that the increase is slower than expected.

In April, nearly 250,000 new jobs were added, increasing the opportunities for employment for those who were seeking.  While many of these positions were created from private employers, government jobs were slowly gaining as well.  Also increased were the average hours in a work week, and the average hourly earnings.  While the increases in these two areas were slim, it is a sign of great hope for our economy.

The unemployment rate still shows over 13 million people out of work as of April, but analysts believe that if the job market can continue to expand, this number will decrease, although it may be very slowly.


Bad Mortgage Processing Uncovered

Questions have been raised and accusations made about possibly forged mortgage paperwork that was processed for Bank of America and Wells Fargo.  The register of deeds of Guilford County, NC accused the two lenders of forging mortgage documents submitted in 2008-10, that made it appear that properties were paid off that were not.

The paperwork may have been signed by unauthorized persons or in cases where all of the facts of the case had not been checked.  The third party mortgage paperwork processing service, Lender Processing Services handled the more than four thousand documents that the register of deeds, Jeff Thigpen has brought to light.

According to Chris Burritt and David McLaughlin of Bloomberg:

Thigpen said he will send his office’s findings to the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other federal regulators. He also plans to ask lenders including Bank of America and Wells Fargo as well as Merscorp Inc., which runs an electronic registry of mortgages, to submit documents to correct defective paperwork.





Jobs You Might Not Have Considered

When it comes to jobs, there’s a few out there that you might not have considered, but could get you through a rough patch.  There are openings for Nannies and Babysitters on the website.  This site not only connects people with Caregivers for children, but also features a number of other services such as Adult and Senior Care, Pet Care as well as Housekeepers.  There’s always a need for helping someone else out and why not get paid for it?  Check out for more information regarding jobs as well as finding someone to hire.

Send Money Online to Make Money Back

How much is a stamp nowadays?  Those of you that know the answer to that question because you pay your bills monthly through the mail have an opportunity to stop spending and make money back.  Send money to your utilities and credit cards online.  Even banks let you send money online to pay your mortgage.  Saves you a few cents on stamps surely, but you can also cut out needless drives to the bank by doing direct deposit.  One service that a lot of banks now offer probably won’t save you money; in fact, you could easily get charged a lot of fees and that service is automatic bill pay.  If you easily can cover your monthly expenses by at least four times the usual amount, then you should be ok.  However, if you are living paycheck to paycheck then don’t opt in for this service.



Pre Approved Mortgage, Good Credit and a Home Mortgage Lender

Buying your first home is an exciting, yet often time consuming process.  Shopping for just the right one can take weeks, if not months, especially if you aren’t sure exactly what you are looking for.  Great credit and a pre-approved mortgage are essential in home buying.

Pre Approved Mortgage

Before you even think about finding a lender, you need to sit down and go over your finances to see what you think you can afford.  While this information is not required to be pre-approved for a loan, it is necessary so you don’t get overwhelmed with the final costs you will be paying.

Home Mortgage

Once you have this worked out, you can start looking for the right mortgage company to go through.  If you have a good history with your bank, you may want to see what lending options they have.

Home Mortgage Lender

Shop around if you aren’t positive that’s who you want to deal with, or apply with several companies at once and let them battle it out for you.


That 8% Towards the Mortgage Closing Costs Makes a Difference

Many people are looking to buy their first home, taking advantage of the low housing market, but a large percentage of these people aren’t financially ready to make such a large purchase, which has led to even more foreclosures in an already declining market.  If you don’t want to fall into this category, make sure you plan ahead.  Realtors recommended having enough for 8% of the house’s value available for a down payment and to cover closing costs.  While many times you will pay much less than this amount, it is always good to plan on the high end of the scale rather than the low.  Worst case scenario, you have money leftover that can be spent on a celebratory dinner, or for some new furniture for the house.  It is also a good idea to have two months mortgage payment available up front.  This shows the current owners that you are serious about buying and have the finances to maintain their home.


Affordable Mortgages not a Thing of the Past

If you are looking into purchasing a new home, you will be happy to find out that many homes are more affordable now than what they have been in the past.  The primary reason for this is because the housing market is at an all-time low.  It’s bad news for those trying to sell, but great for those who want to buy.

Home Mortgage Loan

This means that you can afford more home than you originally planned, which can be a blessing in disguise.  Realtors want to remind new buyers that there are extra costs to consider in buying a home.  If you are transitioning from an apartment, there are many costs that are going to be higher than what you are used to.

Mortgage Refinancing

Heating and air conditioning are going to be used more, since there is more space to fill, which can raise electricity or gas costs.  The same goes for electricity usage in general; more rooms, more lighting.  Make sure you can afford more home monthly as well as overall.


Refinance Home Mortgage Rates

The housing market is not improving very much, and it will certainly be slow process in getting it back to where it used to be.  Another thing that is not improving very much are the mortgage rates.

Refinance Home Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates and refinance home mortgage rates are what control how much you are paying each month on your loan.  If you sit down and calculate the math, you end up paying a substantial amount more than what the home’s value is, but this is all done with the assumption, and hope, that when it comes time to sell your house, its value will be more than what you paid, and what you paid in mortgage costs.

Get a Mortgage

If you don’t really understand what all you have to pay or why, be sure to ask your mortgage broker.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking to him or her, they probably aren’t the best choice for you.  Your mortgage broker is someone you should be able to trust and talk to if you don’t understand something, just like your Realtor.


Reducing the Pinch of Gas Prices with Solid Planning

Everyone has noticed that the prices at the gas pumps have steadily increased over the past few months, and unfortunately there is no real end in sight.  Many people have already had to adjust their budgets to cover the higher cost of gasoline, and some have even postponed trips and changed vacation plans because of it.

The bad news is that summer is almost here, and many gas companies will be switching to their summer blend of fuel, which always requires a price increase.  There are a few things you can do to increase the gas mileage you have in your car, and get the most out of that tank of gas.

Plan errands in advance, and make a list of where you need to go.  By planning the shortest route and going everywhere needed at once, you can use less fuel.  If you don’t need to go somewhere, don’t.  That’s another trip saved!  Carpooling is also a great idea, even though school is almost out. By parents sharing trips among friends, you can save gas. Don’t blast your air conditioner; as tempting as it is, it can eat up fuel consumption and even that little bit of gas it uses can add up.


Finding the Right Mortgage Lender

Finding the right mortgage lender for your situation when buying a new home can be a tedious and monotonous task.  Many people make the mistake of going with whomever pre-approved them first, but they can lose quite a bit of money this way.  Shopping around is essential when it comes to finding a good mortgage rate. While it is necessary to have a pre-qualification letter to put an offer on a home, this is far from a binding contract with that lender.  You still have to go through the final approval process, and this is where all the numbers can change.  If you are unsure about how to make sure you are getting the best deal, ask your Realtor. They are there to find you the right home, and make sure that you can get the best deal possible.  They may be able to recommend someone who can offer you a better deal.  These people may not be members of a large bank, so they can make more deals that big banks can’t authorize.


Consignment Shop Inventory Take Advantage of Savings

In an effort to save money this year, many parents are turning to children’s consignment shop inventory to get the most for their money.  Kids grow out of their clothes very quickly, and many parents just can’t afford to buy them a whole new wardrobe every year.  Kid’s consignment shops give parents the opportunity to turn in their gently used kids clothing and pick out new ones in the proper size.  While it generally isn’t a problem for parents to purchase a couple of nice outfits for special occasions, few justify spending the same amount of money on play clothes.  Shoes also are one of those things kids tend to grow out of quickly.  Some parents are weary of purchasing pre-worn shoes, and opt instead to purchase them online.  This way, they can get a better price on the same items, and exchange them if they don’t fit quite right.  It is not a bad idea to get shoes slightly larger than what the child wears to get the most for your money.  As long as the child can still walk in them easily, and they don’t rub or slip, pediatricians say it is fine to get them a little big and let them grow into them.


Mortgage Loan Officers Refinancing

Mortgage Loan Officers Refinancing

One industry that has seen some major changes in salaries is the mortgage industry. This time last year, the Department of Labor shook the mortgage industry by re-classifying mortgage loan officers as hourly workers. Previously mortgage loan officers were classified as salaried and this has changed a lot of lives; some for the good and some for the not so good.

Mortgage Loan

A good thing about this change is that mortgage loan officers are no longer forced to work seventy hour work weeks without getting overtime. However, commissions, while they are still possible, have been modified and some reduced. This has reduced the amount of work getting done in offices because the mortgage loan officers, in a lot of cases, can’t be paid overtime hours because their employers can’t afford to.

Large Banks

Mortgage loan officers don’t traditionally work from a desk nor can they stick to a 9-5 schedule. They are normally in the field bringing in new business. Most of the larger banks have limited the hours their mortgage loan officers can work to forty hours, where some have changed the duties of their officers to adhere to the guides for salaried employment positions. There is currently a lawsuit in the system challenging the overtime mandate.


Slow Growth, Stronger Economy and Rising Mortgage Rates

The Federal Reserve has updated the outlook for the economy and job prospects may be on better, but economic growth predictions are down from 3.9% to roughly 3.2%.

Cost of Energy

The revision in growth predictions is related to the higher cost of energy.  The Federal Reserves estimates for unemployment have gone from 9.8% late last year to roughly 8.5%.

Mortgage Rates Low

In an attempt to keep mortgage rates low, the Fed will continue to buy Treasury debt at $17 billion a month from the proceeds of its mortgage securities portfolio.  This is a side support program, as the $600 billion Treasury bond purchase program ends in June.  Inflation is expected to rise and many believe that the Federal Reserve will raise rates mid-year.


It is thought that higher rates would lower lending and spending which in turn would keep prices lower on services and goods.  Inflation is expected to be temporary.


Attention Wal-mart Shoppers Rising Gas Prices, Decreasing Shopping

Wal-mart has been very popular with people in buying their groceries for the month in bulk, and their lowest price guarantee has played a big part in this.  Wal-mart calls these people their core customers.

They are the regulars that come in and spend hundreds of dollars during that first week of the month, and spend nearly all of their paycheck doing so.  Recently, Wal-mart has noticed a decline in the amount of money that people are able to spend on these staples.

One of the biggest reasons for this decline is the rising gas prices.  Even though many of the superstores offer discounted gasoline prices, the higher they go, the less money is left for food.  Produce prices have also risen, and while Wal-mart tries to make up for that by lowering prices on other items, like electronics, these items are not generally considered to be mandatory at the beginning of every month like fruit, meat, and vegetables.


How Getting Married can Improve your Finances

While many people follow the old adage, marry for love and not for money there are still plenty of people out there who marry just to get into someones will as the sole beneficiary.  The good news is that there are ways of improving your income and finances while still marrying for love, you just have to look at things a little differently.

While you will absorb your new partners debt, they will also take responsibility for yours.  In addition, you will also gain the benefit of their income and have someone to help pay all of the bills.  You can also improve your credit score, which can help contribute to being able to ford a better home, or even in buying your first home.  If you move into a place larger than where either of you currently live, you will be able to combine furniture as well. Even if you have two very different tastes and styles, you will probably have enough furniture to fill up the new place, and it can be fun mixing the pieces and styles around to create something uniquely yours.


FTC Secures Two Million for Victims of Loan Mod and Foreclosure Rescue Scam

Checks to the tune of over two million dollars, signed by the FTC, were mailed to victims of an allegedly fraudulent mortgage foreclosure rescue scam.  The company in question is Home Assure LLC and the FTC found that Home Assures business practices were less than ethical.  The company allegedly would charge upfront fees of up to $2500, claiming that they were affiliated with lenders and had the inside track on stopping foreclosures and working out better loan mod deals.

Home Assure has been barred from providing these supposed services by order of the settlement.  The over two million dollars in checks covers the amount owed to the people that were victims of Home Assures fraudulent claims.  Customers sought help when they were refused refunds for services that were guaranteed a refund if a positive outcome to a stop foreclosure or loan modification was not achieved.


Can You Just Stop Driving?

It is entirely feasible that major corporations that employ a lot of commuters may need to rent buses to get their employees to work.  Some companies in Atlanta are already picking up their employees by bus at centralized meeting spots and bus and all because of rising gas prices.  About the same idea as car pooling, a company that rents a bus can save their employees half the cost of gas per week without significant costs to the company.  With prices potentially heading to six dollars a gallon for gas, companies will need to adopt plans such as utilizing buses or other mass transportation or they may end up with a lot of people collecting on their sick days.

Setting up a bus program at your company may only take a matter of a couple of hours.  The potential problem is putting a strain on local bus rental companies to meet demand.  Those that act quickly in implementing this kind of plan will benefit greatly, especially with those summer gas prices just around the bend.

Bus rental companies have been popping up around the country over the past two years.  Many are serving church groups and the like, but the greatest demand has come from companies hiring seasonal employees.  These rental companies may start to expand further to serve the greater need for private mass transportation.

Home Loan Home Buyer Questions

While the housing market is still not showing too many signs of improving, this is excellent news for prospective home buyers.  There are still reports of lots of foreclosures, which means more homes available for those looking to buy.  Mortgage experts have recently composed a list of things to ask yourself before you consider buying a home.

Home Loan

First off, make sure you are ready to live in that home for five to seven years.  Any length less than that may end up costing you more than the homes value.  Secondly, make sure you are buying the best house in the neighborhood.  Not necessarily the best one for you, but quality and value wise it needs to be the best to make sure you are getting your moneys worth.

Home Loan Questions

Another thing to take into consideration that many people tend to forget is gas and oil prices.  If you only have a ten minute commute where you live now, but a forty-five minute commute at the new house, you will have to increase your gas budget.  The amount of space in the home also needs to be thought of, since you will have to heat and cool that space. Useful Information for the Top Five Loans is an organization that offers free publishings about loans for both the consumer and the lender. speculates that loans for luxuries such as boat loans will fade out as will a good amount of home loans as more people move to rentals.

Home Loans

Home loans are becoming a lot more difficult to get. It may seem that anyone can get a pre-approved mortgage amount, but realtors are finding that not many of their clients are getting approved for the mortgage.

Boat Loans

Boats are going to be outside of the budget for most Americans. Boat loans are already not that common and speculates that boat loans will become even more rare over the next two years.

Car Loans

Car loans are on the rise as the major automotive companies reduce prices and increase enticements on new vehicle purchases. Used Car loans will see a slight decrease as many consumers are being advised to select new over used for the warranty value.

Student Loans

Student loans are the most common loan in the US. is seeing a surge in loan consumers seeking information on student loan repayment as opposed to how to obtain a student loan. With a sluggish job market, students loans have already surpassed credit card debt as the number one debt held by Americans. is not a financial institution nor a lender, but a source for financial information such as articles, reports, charts and loan calculators.

Au Atomic Number 79, Gold Futures a Gold Rush to Buy

Gold futures for delivery in June continue to rise as the news of a possible downgrade of the US triple A credit rating is causing some investor concerns.  During times of economic crisis, investors have learned to invest in one of the most solid currencies.

Gold Futures

The news of the US credit rating being downgraded sounds incredibly urgent however; it could take up to two years for the rating to be decreased.  Germany and France would then have higher credit ratings than they US.  Gold may continue to rise significantly over the next two years simply based on the threat of a credit downgrade.

Gold Rush

If DC can work together and formulate a viable plan, the downgrade can be halted.  This may not be in time for 2012, but if a new administration is elected, it could possibly take up to a decade or more to regain the coveted AAA rating.

Gold, Au

The more current threat is that the government could hit its cap of 14.3 trillion next month and thus be in default near the end of the year.  With the USD already weakened, precious metals may continue to see record breaking numbers.


Mortgages for Credit Elites Only

Its becoming harder and harder for people to get approved from a lender to buy a new home and many times it may be for no reason at all.  Just because you can afford a mortgage, does not necessarily mean that you are going to be approved for the home loan that you are applying for. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the companies that back the banks, have recently increased the standards required for approval.

For instance, if you had a credit rating previously of 580, it was no problem to get approved.  Not anymore; now you need a rating of at least 620, or higher.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; not only does it potentially lower the foreclosure rate, but it also encourages people to improve their credit, and lower the amount of debt that they have.  While this is just the tip of the iceberg as to changes that have been made, it is perhaps the easiest and most important one to improve.


Mortgage Loans, Getting Finances in Order

The general population actually spends twice the amount of time doing research on a vehicle they are interested in purchasing than they do on mortgages for housing.  That is a little troubling considering the disproportionate amount of emphasis based on expenditure (unless your rolling in 100k + cars and good for you).  There are five simple tips that people should know that will help them save on mortgage shopping.

The five things are: getting finances in order, pick the correct mortgage type, take advantage of the 30 day window allowance, compare quotes, and check the reputation of the lenders and brokers. These are five easy ways to help you save money in the long run and also to help you stay out of financial trouble.

Knowing where you stand financially is very important because then you will be able to correctly assess what you can afford. You should never take on a mortgage that is more than 30 percent of your pay, this is including taxes. Also having a good credit score will help tremendously.


Filing an Extension for 2010 Taxes with IRS Approved Providers

If you need to file an extension, today being the due date on filing your taxes, you can head over to TurboTax or  Filling out the extension takes a matter of a few minutes.  If you are scurrying to find your tax information in boxes out in the garage, then it might be a good idea to send out the extension.  You may be subjected to some stiff penalties if you file late so if you think you cant make the deadline the extension is your best bet.

Anyone can e-file so if you need to take advantage of the e-file system you can find providers and more information regarding your 2010 taxes at

Remember the days of people lining up at corner mailboxes, whats a mailbox you might ask, well those days are gone.  Keep in mind that next year the filing date will return to April 15th.







Home Loans and the 755 Credit Score

Is it harder to get a home loan now?  Compared to 2007 definitely much harder, most lenders are only considering a credit score of 755 to even talk about a loan.  Not all lenders are following that 755 score, some like BOA will pre-approve a mortgage with a credit score in the high 600s if the reported income is high enough.  That doesnt mean that they will approve the final mortgage when it comes time though.

Home Loan

It can be exciting to get pre-approved, especially when the amount is so much more than you were really needed, but keep in mind that a pre-approval is not a contract, is not guaranteed and is only a guideline for you and the lender to determine houses that you might be able to get if everything checks out.


Some lenders dont even do a credit check for a pre-approval, so if you are in the fair credit score range, you should work on it until it gets better.  Clark Howard is an excellent source for information on keeping your credit in check and may have advice that could help you to get raise your credit score.


Equifax is also another good way to not only check on your credit but also to improve it.  Keeping a constant eye on your credit score will help you to develop better financial habits.  Equifax isnt cheap though, but you can find coupon codes littered across the internet or even check their site.  They sometimes offer discounts on annual service as opposed to month to month service.  If you do decide to go with Equifax and use their credit improvement suggestions, just keep in mind that if you have the account setup on reoccurring billing and no longer want the service, you have to call them to cancel.  Other than that one annoying little glitch, Equifax does have good tools to both monitor and improve credit scores.


Stockpile the Refund Money or Spend?

There’s a way that can actually make money off your refund as soon as you deposit it.  The way that you can do that is to take your refund and pay off your credit cards.  If your cards are collecting interest of 26.99% then knock em out.  The money you will save in not having to pay those interest payments will start building up.  Same goes for any debt you have out there, but clean up those high interest loans and debts first.

If you have been able to live debt free but were unable to save money last year, consider opening up a money market checking account and storing your refund there for awhile.  It’ll be there in an emergency if you need it and if you don’t it’ll collect a decent amount of interest.

There’s plenty that can be purchased if your refund was sizeable.  Decide on how you can use the money to rid your life of any unecessary stresses.  Sure, a divorce is one way, but what about a new bed or some comfortable furniture?  If you are one of thousands that will be spending your refund on a new vehicle now would be a good time for that too.  There are still some reasonable deals going on and if you can keep the payments low a decent size refund could cover a good portion upfront.

However you decide to spend your refund, try your best to focus it on making your life more peaceful.  There’s no greater gift than a year without a worry that didn’t have to be there.

Smart Money and Living Without Credit

If you are one of the thousands of Americans that have finally dug themselves out of debt, are you also someone that has sworn off credit forever?  A slow, but growing trend is living without credit.  While it may seem impossible, many are doing it every day and staying out of debt.

Credit cards, easy loans, payday loans, bad credit loans, everywhere you turn, someone is trying to give you money.  Unfortunately, that money comes with a price and that price is normally more than what anyone with an average salary can afford.  If you can find a way to live without credit, release yourself from the dependency of a fairly destructive habit and stay clean from it.  You may start to find that you make a lot more money than you thought.

Interest rates and paying the minimums on your credit cards can be a bigger financial drain than most think.  Paying $25.00 dollars a month for a flat screen television sounds like a great deal, but when it comes down to it, you may be paying $300 to $600 more than the price you paid.  The drain only gets worse when you apply the same logic to a car, boat or even a laptop computer.  Pay cash, try your hardest to avoid using credit cards and you’ll start to see where your money has been going all these years.

Securing Loans with Bad Credit

Bad credit loans, especially home loans given to those with poor credit and insufficient income to cover those loans has cause a lot of problems in our economy. Not much is changing with this as youll see loans being offered to people with the worst credit possible for purchases like cars. Its a vicious circle once you hit bottom with your credit and then lose your car. The only way to get to work, especially in an area with no community transportation, is with your car and that has forced many into a very desperate situation.

Bad Credit Loan

Getting a loan with bad credit on a car loan will most likely put you in a situation where the interest rates will far exceed what you can payback, especially if you are covering rent, food and regular living expenses. Then on top of that, youll have to get full coverage insurance. If you can avoid getting a bad credit loan do your best. If you cant, then try to consider some other options before signing.

Tough Economy

Rely on the kindness of fellow employees. Everyone knows we are in a rough economy and it may go against your nature to swallow your pride and ask for help, but this is a perfectly reasonable situation to do so. If not your co-workers, then ask a family member if you can borrow a car or get a ride to work.

Further Debt

Renting a car may be out of the picture, but paying for gas in a car pool might be your ticket to work and avoiding a bad credit loan. If you can do this for a short while, you may be able to build up enough money to buy a used car without financing and that will be a much better option that subjecting yourself to further debt.


Energy Management Ireland’s Green Awards

Ireland has recently held and announced the winners of their third annual energy management Green Awards.  The awards are given every year to those organizations and businesses that recognize the importance of protecting the environment, as well as achievements and commitments that go along with keeping the environment in good condition for the generations to come.

Microsoft Ireland, Intel and Airtricity are just a few of the winners that were honored at the awards ceremony, which was held at one of Irelands largest waste and recycling firms.


The popularity of these awards has been growing every year, and the 2011 ones were by far the most popular.  With over 300 entries in 23 categories, there were 130 finalists.  Out of those finalists, only 23 were honored at this years ceremony.   There were also several special awards given out, including the Green Leader award, the Green Corporate Citizenship award, and the Green Waste to Business Resource award.


Avoiding Mortgage Default and Foreclosure

Falling behind on payments to your home mortgage lender doesnt have to spell out the end, you can possibly prevent foreclosure with some advice from

Mortgage Repayment Plan

If you are behind on your payments because of a temporary shortage of cash then a repayment plan may be your solution.  Contact your mortgage lender and discuss this option with them.


You may also ask for forbearance, this is where your mortgage payments are either halted temporarily or the payments are reduced to an amount that you and you mortgage lender agree upon.  When the forbearance term ends, you go pack to your usual payments and pay a lump sum to cover the difference from the forbearance period.  This wont be a viable solution if you are no longer able to afford your home, only if you have been temporarily had a shortage of funds, but expect them to return.

Loan Modification

A loan modification might help those that have had their wages reduced or any other unforeseen event that has limited your income.  Loan modifications could include an extension of the loan, reduction of interest or even a portion of the mortgage being forgiven.

Chapter 13

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy could allow you to keep your home.  If none of the other options are possible and you dont want to sell your home to cover the debt, then Chapter 13 is a possibility.  It will give you a fresh start, but it will remain on your credit report for ten years.  More information on Chapter 13 can be gained here.


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Home Loans, Mortgage Modification Options

That expression, bills are piling up, thats happening in a lot of homes lately.  There are literally stacks of bills piled up on kitchen tables, in baskets in the corner of closets or in multiple shoe boxes with Bills written in permanent marker.  Theres just a point where the money doesnt equal how much is owed and at that critical breaking point the depression weighs down and people simply have to give up.

Certainly, there are family members that will throw their two-cents in, but advice is hard to take when its not followed by a check to help with some of the overdue payments.  When you are being suffocated with overwhelming debt and facing losing your home, giving up feels right, throwing your hands up and surrendering seems like the only thing that is possible, but for many, a last ditch effort might be in order.

Home Loans has a few suggestions to avoid default and foreclosure.  Contacting your home loan mortgage provider is the first step.  You could qualify for a loan modification under the Making Home Affordable Modification Program; also know as HAMP if you meet their qualifications.

Qualifying for HAMP

To qualify for HAMP, your home has to be your primary residence, owe less than $729,750 on the first mortgage which began before 01/01/2009.  Your 1st home mortgage must also be more than 31% of total gross income and you cant afford the mortgage payments because of a financial hardship.

Mortgage Lender

If you meet these qualifications, then you should speak to your mortgage lender.  You will be asked to provide documentation such as current tax returns and account information.  More information about HAMP can be obtained here.

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Home Loans and Obtaining a Home Inspection

If you have just signed on your house and are working out the mortgage arrangements with your home loan lender, then youll probably have about 2 weeks time to get a home inspector in there to examine the house you are buying.  Home inspection is one of the sure signs that you are committed to getting that house, but what should you expect from your home inspector?


The home inspector will thoroughly examine your home from foundation to the roof.  Theres very little that the home inspector want be looking at and that even includes any appliances that are in the residence.  You should receive a thorough inspection including digital photos once the inspection is complete.  The inspection should not only list what the inspector found wrong with the house, but also what was great about the house.  This information will be shared with the realtor as well as with your home loan lender.


At this point your realtor can go back to the seller and request that any problems that were discovered be fixed.  Home inspectors are often independent but are licensed through the state.  They go through an intense training program and many have backgrounds in construction and engineering.  Your realtor may be able to recommend a good home inspector.


Natural Sugar Substitutes, Artificial Sweeteners and Stevia

Trying to find ways to cut calories but not taste? New, and familiar, sugar substitutes are finding their way in to some of our favorite foods and drinks. But what exactly are they?

Natural sugar substitutes are not seen as often as the others, yet you can find them in organic foods and health food stores. Honey is probably the most well known sugar substitute that falls under the natural category. Agave nectar is gaining momentum, yet not as widely seen or used commercially.

Equal, Sweet-n-Low, and Splenda are considered artificial sweeteners. They were some of the first used, mass produced sugar substitutes to come on the market. All of these have low to no levels of sucrose and are easily found in grocery stores and diet items.

Stevia is the new kid on the block and is quickly replacing the other sugar substitutes. Hailed as a more natural alternative to the artificial sweeteners, Stevia comes from the Stevia plant. It is suitable for those who have to be cautious with their GI diet. The only drawback is that products made with Stevia may have a different feel and possibly a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Great Depression Era Ways to Stretch a Dollar

During the Great Depression, people had to get creative when it came to taking care of their families. With the way the economy is now, it’s no wonder that we are looking back at how the previous generation handled their economic crisis. While the current state of our economy is not as bad as theirs was, some of these tips may help reduce your budget and make your dollar go further.

The phrase, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a common expression during the Great Depression. Rather than throwing out clothing that has minor wear and tear, break out the sewing kit and darn the holes. Instead of frequently tossing items like jeans, or a shirt you only wore a couple of hours in cool weather, in to the laundry basket, rotate them out and wear them more often. Doing so will cut down on the wear and tear your clothing receives, as well as your water and electric bills.

Canning food was popular during the Great Depression, as was finding ways to make a meal stretch. Having a garden to grow vegetables in can allow you to can food for later, as well as give you nutritious additions to your dinner plate. Some vegetables freeze well to help them last in

Extreme Couponing Budgeting to Save Money, Common Ways to Cut Costs

With the economic downtown, more people are looking for ways to cut their costs and reduce their budget. One of the easiest ways to help save money is by using coupons at grocery and drug stores. Some people are taking the challenge of saving as much off of their bill as possible to the extreme.

Extreme Couponing is seeing a resurgence with classes being taught, books published, and even a reality TV series featuring shoppers who arrive at the check-outs with carts full of items and books loaded with coupons. Some of them admit to getting a veritable “high” off of saving money and relish the thought of walking out paying next to nothing. Many of them have goals, hoping that each trip will bring the final bill lower and lower. People standing in other lines boggle at the amount saved and alternate between awe and shock.

Though there is some backlash, empty shelves ravished by extreme couponers raise the ire of shoppers, and there is a bit of concern that some of the extreme couponers are hoarders, people are seeing the benefits of saving and using coupons. Finding the balance seems to be key. Even if most consumers don’t put in the hours and time the extreme folks do, looking for sales, taking advantage of store and manufacturers coupons, and combining them when possible is sure to shave off some of your tally.

What’s the Big Deal with Groupon?

There are a number of different sites and programs popping up all over the internet advertising half off deals on things from hotel stays to eating out. Groupon has recently become very popular for offering discounts on products and services found locally. The website services a variety of local areas across the United States and links up with businesses in the area.

What first started out as a small idea has now become a national phenomenon?  The site works by offering one deal a day for each local area it serves. The customers are attracted by high discounts, often fifty percent off or sometimes even more. At first it seems rather unlikely to be successful as the deals are somewhat random in nature. From zipline adventures to massage packages, it is a surprise what offer will be available each day. Groupon utilizes the short time span of the deal to push potential purchasers into signing up and buying the product of service. The deal is accompanied by a counter that shows how much longer the deal is available for.

The real question is, what the big deal is for the retailers offering up their products and services at such a low price. It would appear that they are getting the short end of the stick, but in reality the site provides them with a sort of insurance plan. Groupon works around the concept of Group Coupons. The coupons are only made available after a certain minimum amount of them have been purchased. This way the retailers are able to justify the large discount because of the vast number of people who have purchased the coupon. If the minimum number is not met, the coupon is made unavailable and purchasers are not charged. Groupon has developed to the point that they are able to pick and choose which deals are made available.

Online Degrees and College Courses, Trends in Education

The shift to online distance learning and online courses may be forcing traditional colleges to follow suit. One of the driving forces behind the surge in popularity of online college courses is that many students today are getting degrees to suit the jobs that they already have. The economy has caused some interesting changes in education.

Online College Courses

More students graduating from high school have to work because college funds were dried up in this economy. By taking advantage of college reimbursement programs offered by the company they are working for, they are able to get a degree and work.

Much like military programs that offer money for college, corporations that set up college reimbursement funds for their employees are creating a culture of longevity in employment as some of the requirements of these programs are that the degree or courses be related to the work that takes place at the company. Stipulations often include having to repay the money if the employee is terminated or leaves the company.

Distance Learning Courses

Not all programs are allowing distance learning courses. This is could serve as a disadvantage to the company because traditional campuses require that the student would have to take time away from work or modify schedules to fit and work in. Online courses can be taken at the students desired pace which could mean that work would not be affected. Companies that include online college degrees in their college reimbursement programs have a lot more to gain in both productivity as well as longevity of employment.

College Reimbursement

Online college courses, even without the backing of college reimbursement programs, are still offering more opportunities to students that have to work. Online colleges also offer financial aid and some have lower tuition than some traditional colleges. With this shift towards online college courses, many traditional colleges are instituting programs to earn a degree online. Those online college degrees tend to lean more towards Graduate and Masters Studies rather than Undergrad.

Undergraduate online degree programs are more difficult to find, but they definitely exist. Keep in mind that an online degree course of study is not easier than traditional colleges; only more convenient. The same amount of work has to be accomplished, the same topics of study, but the online degree programs can, in most cases, be completed faster than a traditional college because there is no limitation on pace.

Money Investing Diversity

Money only comes from hard work and dedication, and it is important to optimize the money that is earned. Through money investing, one can increase their income and make the most out of it through investments. There are many different ways for one to invest their money and it can be very profitable.

When looking into money investing, it is important to consider all of the different options that are available. While there are a variety of online sites that offer investment opportunities, it is a good idea to contact a money manager. Even if the costs to have this person manage money investing is too high, it is a good idea to get a professional opinion.

Some investment possibilities are riskier than others, however it is these investments that usually have the greatest return. It is important to create a viable investment portfolio, with a number of different options.


Picking the Right Money Investments

Many people will let their extra money sit in a checking or low yield savings account. While any type of savings account is a good idea, there is a better way to make the most of any extra income. Making money investments is a good way to make the best out of ones savings, as well as increase income.

There are many different ways to invest ones money and many banks will offer a variety of options to their customers. For the most part, bank representatives will be able to go over the different options they have and help chose one that fits. There are also a number of online programs that help with money investments.

For those who are looking to invest in the stock market, online programs such as e-trade are a low cost option. Others may want to look into finding a financial manager to help with making the choices of where and which money investments should be made. It is always a good idea to do a lot of research before making a choice.


Traveling on a Budget, Think Globally, Vacation Locally

Summer time is known for family vacations and out of town trips. However with the job market at an all-time low and the price of living on the rise it is hard for some to finance this tradition. There is an easy way to economize travel, not leave town and still get a quality vacation on a budget.

Many people do not take into account the amount of options they have in their near vicinity. Look into local parks, attractions and weekend getaways. Finding a vacationing spot that can be driven to will greatly decrease the amount of money needed to be spent.  Living in the suburbs of a large city might take away some of the excitement of visiting the sites around town, but there are a lot of events that cities produce that bring people from other parts of the nation.  Museums, antique shopping, catch a movie, these are things that you might do if you went out of town anyway.  Maybe you don’t have a beach where you live, but do you have a water park?  Vacationing locally can also be a lot more relaxing than travelling a great distance.  If you really want to get away from the house, then book a hotel and make it home base for a few days.  The change of scenery is normally what people are going for.

If it is the city that you are trying to get away from, try a more rural view in a connecting city.  If you don’t have vineyards, then look for a brewery.  One thing to consider is if you love where you live.  Do you love your city, do you love your state?  Times are hard all around, tourism is in a bit of a slump, but vacationing locally can actually help your city and state.  Putting your money back into where you live helps your neighbors, helps to pay the clerks and managers of that cafe you love and even provides for the jobs of the city workers through your taxes.

Planning a weekend local getaway will help with not having to take as many days off of work. Look online for different specials and discounts that are available and plan a vacation for that time frame. Being flexible with travel dates is another good way to save money. Instead of vacationing on July 4th, wait until after Labor Day when prices arent at their peak.


Mortgage Rates Show a Slight Rise

While the collapse in the housing market was devastating for those trying to sell their homes, for purchasers it was more beneficial. It brought along lower home prices as well as historically low mortgage rates. As the housing market improves, it is likely the interest rates for mortgages will go up and the home prices will begin to rise.

On the most part the mortgage rates have remained in a reasonably low place for the beginning of 2011. Although there was a brief period where the rates were above five percent, they quickly dropped back below that marker. In the past week they have made a slight rise closer to the 5 percent line.

This week is has been reported that the mortgage rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage is at 4.86 percent on average. In the past two weeks it has risen from 4.76 percent to 4.81 percent on average. It is clear that a steady rise is becoming the trend. While this is not good for borrowers, it shows a possibility of a stabilizing housing market. Cheap Insurance Saves Money

Saving money is not something that just happens overnight. Many people have to change the way they spend in order to save a significant amount of money. For many people finding a place to buy cheap insurance would be a good start. Insurance is one of the most necessary costs, as well as the most expensive.

Cheap insurance is not necessarily hard to find, but it is hard to find cheap insurance that has enough coverage. It is important to consider the worst case scenario when it comes to purchasing insurance. While it is tempting to purchase the lowest costing policy, in the long run it may be more detrimental.

The best way to find cheap insurance is by comparing different policies. In many cases the higher deductible means the lower monthly payment. The same holds true with the benefits included in an insurance policy. In most cases lower the benefits means cheaper insurance.



Financial Advisors for Your Money Investing

One of the easiest ways to increase the amount of money one makes is through a variety of money investing possibilities. Many people will get their paycheck and let the money sit in a checking account. While the money may build up inside of the checking account, there is not any additional money being made.

Through money investing people have the opportunity to capitalize on the money they have and increase it. There are many different options when it comes to money investing and some are safer and more conservative than others. Many banks will offer free savings accounts that return money at a low rate.

Another way to increase income through money investing is through riskier ventures such as the stock market or CD accounts. When looking into this type of money investing it is smart to talk to a professional who has knowledge on how best to accomplish it.

The key is also the same concept used for so many other businesses and that is multiple streams of income.  Putting all of your dollars in one basket is the best way to lose money and opportunities to make money.  Money investing requires several investments, some are even made to protect you should your other investments fail.  If you have decided to go it on your own and without the help of a financial advisor, you may want to reconsider.  You may be entirely competent about your investments, but a financial advisor could find you some opportunities that you have missed along the way.  Discuss your investment portfolio with an expert and you may be surprised to find some investments that you had not considered before or might not have known about.

Smart Money Investments for Financial Health and Strength

There are many different type of money investments that can help to increase a retirement fund, or possibly pay for a large project. While it is great to have money saved away in a checking account, it is not an effective way to use the extra money. Money investments provide a way to make additional profit through savings accounts and other investments.

For those who are skeptical about making any investments, it is a good idea to start with a savings account that cannot have the chance of losing money. Many banks offer accounts that will automatically transfer money and over a years time will gain a certain amount of interest.

For those interested in a more risky money investment there are other options available as well. Some of the popular investments include purchasing money market funds, as well as investing in the stock market. These are riskier ventures which should be considered thoroughly before jumping into them.

The interest being paid for savings accounts should not be relied on to fuel your retirement.  You may make more putting your money into a money market checking account.  If your company offers a 401k you should take advantage of it to the fullest.  While it may be difficult to most to select the max investment in a 401k, it is a good way to earn a lot of money and should be attempted.  This is especially true if your company is matching funds.

Delta Airlines Still Going Strong

With the number of airlines that are having to close, the options are becoming more slim. For Delta airlines however, the past year was a year of success. They became the airline with the largest amount of passengers, up over 60% from third place the year before.

Many people will contribute the rise in passengers to Delta airlines acquisition of the northwest airline. In 2010 delta had over one hundred and ten million passengers, just ahead of southwest by four million. If Delta airlines and northwest airlines had merged a year prior, the number for 2009 would have been around 108 million passengers.

Delta airlines has been a staple in the flying industry for years and continues to provide flights all over the world. It is likely that once Southwest and Airtran merge, and become solely Southwest Airlines, Delta passenger count will drop back to second place.


Caribbean Cruise and the Much Needed Vacation

If the stress of financial burdens is bringing you down, then you are not alone.  Saving money, cutting back on expenditures, its helping most of us make ends meet.  However, that stress may be doing you more harm than you may realize.

Caribbean Cruise

If you have decided to forgo your vacation this year, that may not be in your best interest.  If it is at all possible, try to set some money aside for a well deserved vacation and keep your sanity intact.

Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises

Cruises are one of the most affordable ways to travel on the cheap.  Royal Caribbean and Carnival are both holding some great price reduction events right now.  The savings make that much needed vacation an actual possibility.

Taking a break on a Caribbean cruise is a great way to celebrate any occasion. From graduation to anniversary it is a good time to build relationships and take a break from reality. Cruising the clear Caribbean waters is one of the most relaxing experiences.

Vacation with a Caribbean Cruise

The worst part of most vacations is having to travel all the way there. When it comes to a Caribbean cruise, the travel is only part of the fun. Stop at a variety of tropical locations with a large number of on shore activities. Some of the on shore activities that are offered include ATV rides, zip lining and snorkeling or scuba diving.

There are three main areas of the Caribbean that cruises will travel. Some cruises will travel both eastern and western Caribbean seas, while others will focus on a specific region. Most of the itinerary is determined by the length of the Caribbean cruise.


Home Loans Now or Never?

There is a lot changing in the world of home mortgage lending.  New laws and new ways of business are changing the very way Americans can get homes and in most cases cannot get a home.

Home Loans

In the past, mortgages were be given to people that could not afford to pay the mortgage.  It does not make a bit of sense of course, but that is slowly changing.  Lenders are being pressed to conduct business fairly and the days of a chance for a house for many may be over.

Home Buyer

One of the first steps for potential home buyers is to find a home loan, and become pre-approved for a certain amount. Home loans are offered by a variety of establishments including mortgage companies and banks. There are a couple of different factors when applying for a loan to purchase a home.

Credit History

Buyers should be aware of their credit history and report. Since the collapse of the housing market, lenders have become more wary about applications. They are looking for higher credit scores as well as larger down payments.

While experts believe the housing market will make a comeback this year, it is still clear that the interest rates are low. Home buyers should apply for a home loan sooner rather than later. It is likely that the interest rates will begin to rise above five percent by the end of the year.


2nd Mortgages, Digging Deeper or a Way Out?

A lot of people are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments, and are trying to find ways to cut back on spending. One of the ways to lower monthly mortgage payments is by applying for a second mortgage. 2nd mortgages are based off of the amount of money already paid down on a home.

There are many different factors to consider when looking into applying for a second mortgage. The first factor is how much has been paid off on the original mortgage and how long one has lived in the home. If the home has only been paid of a little amount, the positives of a second mortgage will not likely outweigh the fees associated with it.

For those who have circumstances that are in favor of 2nd mortgages, they are a great way to get extra money. They allow users to pay a significantly lower monthly payment. This frees up money for other bills or expenses such as college tuition or home improvements.

Green Energy for Cars and Homes

Going green has been behind many different popular fundraiser and awareness events across the nation. With the environment slowly depleting and environmentalists constantly talking about how we use the earths resources, green energy is becoming more and more important.

Green energy is a type of energy that does not deplete any of our earths resources. Instead it relies only on forms of power that will always remain constant no matter how much of it is used. It is also called sustainable energy.

Researchers are continually trying to find new ways to utilize renewable green energy in cars as well as homes. There are a handful of homes across the united states that rely solely on green energy to power their appliances and electricity. These homes are only so few and far between because the cost of green energy is still high because of the equipment required to make it work.


Cutting Costs, Compare Insurance Rates

Everyone is looking for ways to save money on their car insurance, whether it be discounts, or cut backs in benefits. The first step to saving money on insurance should be looking at the different companies that offer the service. There are benefits to choosing companies that offer one specific service as well as companies that offer a variety of insurance.

Compare Insurance

One should always compare insurance companies to each other in order to determine which company has the most beneficial policies. While there may be a company that will charge a lower premium, one may be cutting out very necessary services in order to lower costs.

Compare Insurance Prices

It is important to compare insurance prices as well as the benefits offered. Many comparison sites will give the prices of policies with a certain set of standards. This is a good way to check if the different policies have similar benefits to cost ratio.


Affordable Green Energy in the US Likely

As researchers start to make green energy equipment that is more affordable, it is more likely the trend will spread across the United States as well as the world. What is holding many people back from choosing to power their homes by solar panels, or windmills is the pure expense of those items.

Local Power

It is much less expensive to allow a local power company to power a home. Many people who are environmental conscious simply cannot afford to get their home running on sustainable energy only. One of the first steps being made towards green energy can be seen at colleges and private institutions.

Green Energy

Many of these colleges are implementing some form of green energy, whether it be a handful of solar panels, or a research project on other forms of renewable energy. The sooner these green energy initiatives are made affordable, the sooner they can be implemented in  more households and businesses.

Specialized Lenders for Low Loan Rates

Loans have always been a way for people to finance different projects that they wouldnt normally have the collateral to complete. There are many different places to get loans from specialized lenders to larger banks and organizations. Each of these companies will charge different interest rates on these loans dependent on their lending practices and applicant criteria.

Low Loan Lender

Most consumers will take their time to find a low loan lender that will not charge a lot of interest. For those who do not have solid credit history or a positive credit report it may be more difficult to find a low interest loan without fees.


Loans can also be used to cover cost of living or help by keeping late fees low by paying off bills on time. Finding an interest rate low loan can also help fund schooling for children, or business construction projects. Take time to research different types of loans and lending institutions to find the lowest loan.


Unemployed Losing Life Insurance Coverage

While life insurance is not a mandatory insurance, that does not make the need for it any less important. Many people consider this type of insurance to be unnecessary because it is never required by law and is viewed as an additional expense that people cannot afford.

Life Insurance

Most companies carry some kind of lie insurance policy for their employees, but with so many out of work, there are a lot of unemployed going without to save money.  Most life insurance is not incredibly expensive and compared to the benefits it may be be something to move money around to get.

Not Having Life Insurance

What people do not realize is the effect that not having life insurance could have on their families or loved ones. Life insurance works by providing a certain amount money for a person or family after one has passed away. The money can be set up to pay off the remainder of a mortgage, or to provide a wife with the same amount of income she is already used to. What it does is provide the people that one takes care of financially with a safety net to help them get by monetarily after the bread-winner in most cases, passes away.


MetLife is a life insurance provider that you could look at.  They are currently advertising life insurance policies for thirteen dollars a month.  You may not be able to get rates that low, depending on their factors, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a look.  There’s a lot of unexpected events out there waiting for us and finding coverage can alleviate some of those worries.

The MetLife policy for thirteen a month can be found here.

Orbitz Tries to Catch You a Deal

Everyone is trying to catch a deal and save money where they can. When it comes to planning and paying for a vacation, using a comparison site is always a wise idea. One of the most popular comparison sites, Orbitz, is well known for providing cheap options for travel and overnight stay. While the site focuses on hotel and airfare those are not the only options when it comes to choosing vacation destinations.

The site also offers great deals on cruises and vacation packages to locations across the globe. The site works by purchasing unsold tickets and rooms from airlines and hotels and selling them at a discounted rate. It seems that the chance to save money is what draws customers to the website and to other similar websites available online. When searching for a plane ticket it not only provides one with the cheapest option, but a variety of options which are shown in ascending order based on price.

There’s really no other faster way to find cheap prices on airfare, hotel or rental cars than by using Orbitz or other procurers of savings websites.  Trying to do it on your own, while still possible, is at best hit and miss.  If you are planning out your vacation for this year, then you may want to check into Orbitz or any of the sites that offers this kind of money savings assistance.  You may need to do it quickly though, because many of these sites are losing their discount dealing power as airlines are pulling their fare data and moving towards a more constricted use of said data.

Money Investments Risk vs Reward

While investing money does hold a possibility of risk, the possibility of gaining money is what draws people to make those money investments. It allows people to increase the worth of the money they make through a variety of investment options. One of the most popular ways to invest money is through the buying, selling and trading of stocks. This is also considered one of the most risky options in the world of money investments. Other common ways to invest money include CDs, IRAs, different types of bonds as well as money market funds. Bonds and money market funds are similar in the way they work as fixed-income securities, however bonds usually deal with long-term debt. Money market funds are considered to have high liquidity which means they can be easily sold and converted into their cash value, something that is valuable for those wary of the risk of money investments.

Home Loan, Locking in Low Rates

The fall of the housing market was devastating to those who already owned homes and saw their value quickly drop. However for those individuals who were looking to buy a house, the fall of the housing market and interest rates could be seen as beneficial for them. Interest rates on home loans hit an all-time low following the collapse and it allowed many home buyers a great rate and home price. As the housing market is expected to make a comeback over the next couple of years, the interest rates on home loans will also rise again. There has also been a lot of talk about the requirements that will be put in place when applying for a loan. Some of these requirements will include a higher down payment as well as higher interest rates on home loans. Those interested in buying a home in the near future should act soon to guarantee low rates.

2nd Mortgage is a Possible Solution

Getting a second mortgage is an option for some people who are struggling financially and are looking for a way to cut costs and increase monthly income. Many people apply for second mortgages when facing a large amount of bills or special circumstances that require a lot of cash. This could include sending a child or children to college, or some kind of medical emergency or expensive procedure. While they are a way to get a fair amount of money based on the equity that has been put into the purchase of the house, they are not always a good idea. They carry a high risk with them and it is imperative that the financial situation is sound enough to pay it back, as not paying it contains the risk of losing the home. Second mortgages also usually carry significantly higher interest rates when being compared to the first mortgage.

Money Investing is a Smart Option

While it is always a good idea to have money set aside in a savings account, the best way to secure assets is through money investing. Money investing is a smart option and can provide a secondary income when the investments are wisely made. When looking to invest money, it is important to research all of the different options. There are many different investment accounts and stock investment options when considering money investing.

If the financial world seems confusing, it is a wise idea to get in touch with a financial advisor that is knowledgeable in all of the different options available. One of the first steps in money investing is creating an investment profile.

When choosing where to invest money it is important to consider the amount of risk that is associated with the different options. Some options are riskier than others such as stock investments, as the stock market is very volatile especially in todays struggling economy.

Check out for money investing advice.

Home Equity Loans Emergency Bailout

For those who own a home and are looking to get a little extra money, or in need of cash for an emergency or home improvement project, a home equity loan may be a good option. These loans are based on the amount of money that has been paid off on a mortgage, and can be used for any necessary reason.

Many people who are having trouble keeping up with bills, and have made a large dent in their mortgage find these loans as a reliable way to get extra money. For a long time buying a home has been seen as an investment into ones future.

Home equity loans are considered a way to turn some of that investment back into cash at hand. While it is not the only way to get money on loan, it is a fairly priced option for home owners who are in need of extra money.

Trendy and Friendly Green Energy

In recent years it has become increasingly trendy to support the environment and the establishment of green energy. Companies across the nation have constantly marketed their environmentally friendly products from changes in bottled water containers to hairspray.

Green Energy

One of the most anticipated technological advances is that of green energy, which is at times also called renewable energy. It is a way of producing non-polluting sources of power and energy. One of the newest ways that has been seen on television ads and across the internet is the development of plug in, long range electric cars.

Efficient Cars

While the cars are not yet widely available on the market, they are becoming more and more reliable and are likely to make a more prevalent appearance in the car world soon. This is just one of the many ways that green energy is making its mark on the world and especially the United States.

Mortgage Marketing Spamming Your TV?

When it comes to getting a mortgage, potential home owners are constantly bombarded with advertisements both online and on television. So how much does this mortgage marketing make a difference with which lender is chosen by these borrowers?

It stands to reason that the mortgage companies that do the best marketing and advertising are likely to have the most customers. Successful mortgage marketing can help a small mortgage or lending company establish a good reputation and increase their customer base. Depending on the type of borrowers the company is going after changes what type of mortgage marketing the lender should engage in.

If the main target is bad credit mortgages, a likely internet advertising choice would be on credit score websites as well as on sites offering help to those with poor credit. For larger companies, such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo, their mortgage marketing does not have to be extensive as they already have a good reputation for other banking needs.

Consolidation Loans vs Smaller Loans

The problem of debt is one that is facing people all across the nation. From multiple credit cards to home, auto and personal loans, people are feeling burdened by the many payments that they have to make each month.

There are many programs available that work with people to consolidate loans into one easy payment. The benefits of these loans usually include lower interest rates, and more manageable payments.

Consolidation loans work by taking out a overarching loan to pay off the number of smaller loans somebody may currently have. In many cases there is some sort of collateral included in the new loan in order to make it a secured loan, rather than an unsecured loan, such as a credit card. In some cases consolidation loans are simply a number of unsecured loans merging into one unsecured loans in a hope to lower payments and make it easier to manage.

Green Energy Glowing Brightly

It is important to realize that the energy people use every day likely has a negative effect on the environment. Throughout the past decade a large amount of focus has been placed on building and implementing green energy to power homes and businesses. In the past, sources of energy have come from places that cannot be renewed or replaced.

However, powering through the use of green energy means that the source is a renewable one, and will have less of an impact on the environment. In many cases this type of energy is also called sustainable or renewable energy.

An example of energy that would be considered renewable is the energy that is provided through the use of solar power. No matter how much of the suns power is harnessed by these panels, it will not affect the amount of sun the earth receives. It is a constant unwavering source of power.

Money Investing in this Economy

While it is always a good idea to have money set aside in a savings account, the best way to secure assets is through money investing. Investing money is a smart option and can provide a secondary income when the investments are wisely made. When looking to invest money, it is important to research all of the different options.

There are many different investment accounts and stock investment options when considering money investing. If the financial world seems confusing, it is a wise idea to get in touch with a financial advisor that is knowledgeable in all of the different options available. One of the first steps in money investing is creating an investment profile.

When choosing where to invest money it is important to consider the amount of risk that is associated with the different options. Some options are riskier than others such as stock investments, as the stock market is very volatile especially in todays struggling economy. Delta Air Lines Relief Donation to Japan reports that Delta Airlines has donated one million dollars to the Red Cross.  250 thousand dollars of the donation is in cash and aid and support to American Red Cross relief workers.  Delta Air Lines employs well over 1,000 in Japan and has taken up collections from both customers and employees.

Between free flights and cargo carrying for the Red Cross and other relief workers, Delta has promised to cover any remaining of the one million dollar promise in cash donations by matching employee and customer contributions.  You can donate directly to the relief efforts of the American Red Cross in Japan at their website,

This is also a good time to donate blood.  You can also read more about donating blood with the American Red Cross.

Delta is the largest American airline in Japan.  Many of their employees were affected by this tragedy as well as some of their families which reside in the U.S.

Source: Royal Caribbean Vacations that are Affordable

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines offers one of the most affordable ways to travel. Economy travel is becoming harder to plan because of recent changes with the way that airlines release their fare data to the discount travel sites. Prices for airfare are becoming inflated and pricing for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are being reduced. Royal Caribbean combines all of the great experiences of a vacation and charges much less.

Royal Caribbean

Most vacation packages that include airfare can not compete with a cruise line. It is also rare to get packages that are all inclusive like a cruise line can offer because most foreign destination hotels, car rental, restaurants will make much more in not combining. Especially popular destinations like France and Australia. You could try to wheel and deal on your own, however if you want to create a travel package that is a little more reasonable then a travel agent may be able to arrange it.

Economy Travel

Some tourist destinations are struggling this year. London has been a very popular destination for the past decade, but travel there is in a sharp decline, which is causing prices to skyrocket. Selecting a cruise line for your vacation really takes the hassle out of travel. Cruise lines always travel with near capacity ships even if it means that they have to cut prices to fill those cabins. Economy travel is possible if you keep an eye out for sales from a number of different sources.


Low Mortgage Rates Continue to Hover Around 5%

Mortgage rates are still relatively low, after reaching over 5 percent towards the end of February. They are back below 5 percent and for considering home owners, now is the time to act. These low mortgage rates are not likely to last once the economy regains stability.

The mortgage rates for this week are lower than last week with the lowest rates being a 5 to 1 adjustable mortgage. While adjustable mortgages typically carry the lowest rates, they are also the riskiest type of mortgages. This is especially true as experts believe the interest rates will start to rise over the upcoming year.

Rates for the most common type of mortgage, a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, are currently at 4.81 percent. While this is not the lowest rate that has been seen in the past couple of years, it is substantially lower than the normal rates. Some mortgage companies are even offering mortgage rates as low as 4.75 percent.


Poor Credit Mortgage High Interest American Dream

Buying a home is the American dream, and has been for decades. Unfortunately for some people with poor credit the idea of being approved for a mortgage seems far fetched. However many companies worth with these people and provide poor credit mortgages. While these mortgages normally have excessive fees and regulations, they will still get the job done.

Poor credit mortgages often have higher interest fees as well as certain stipulations. One of the common requirements is a larger down payment. In addition, many companies put a fee associated with paying the loan off early. They do this to insure they receive the most amount of money out of people who would other wise not be approved.

These mortgages targeted towards those with poor credit will still allow them to purchase a home. It is important that the proper research is done before jumping into a poor credit mortgage. Try to find a company that doesnt charge an insane amount of money or has a lot of hidden fees.


Get a Mortgage, Approved or Denied

Getting a mortgage can be a very overwhelming process. Once the fun part of finding a house that one loves is done, the tough part begins. Mortgage lenders consider a variety of factors when considering whether or not to approve a borrower.

Especially after the failure of the housing market because of many unqualified mortgages, companies have made it increasingly difficult. It is important to do the proper research before embarking on the process that is mortgage approval. Many companies will require a higher down payment, so it is important to start saving as soon as buying a house becomes a prospect.

While some mortgage companies will count gifts from family members for down payments, many of them do not count this money as part of income or assets. Knowing ones credit score is also important when trying to get a mortgage. This is a main factor in determining if and how much one is approved for.


Pre Approved Mortgage Never a Guarantee

Mortgage companies offer the chance to be pre-approved for a certain amount of money. They create the pre-approval number by asking the borrower a certain set of questions. These questions focus on job status, amount of income, amount of money saved in the bank as well as credit score an history.

While the number given in a pre-approved mortgage is generally correct, it is not a guarantee that the borrower will be accepted. Rather it is a guideline on how much the buyer is likely to be accepted for. Even though the potential homeowner answered this set of questions, if a house is chosen there will be additional paperwork required.

In order to get a more accurate pre-approved mortgage numbers make sure to supply the lender with as much financial information as possible. Do not exaggerate any information as it will only hurt one in the end when the information is verified.


Home Mortgage Rates and the Housing Market Decline

Home mortgage rates have been below average since the decline of the housing market. As the number of houses available increased and the amount of buyers decreased the interest rates also dropped in an attempt to lure in customers. While the current home mortgage rates may not be as low as a year or two ago, they are still comparatively low.

The current rates for a thirty year fixed rate mortgage are at 4.81 percent and have dropped since the past week. Many lenders will offer rates lower than this average in an attempt to win borrowers and increase their business. While the rates still remain low, experts believe the upcoming year will bring a rise in rates.

As the housing market improves and home prices begin to increase again the interest rates will also increase. It is wise for those looking to buy a home to start the process while the home mortgage rates are still low. As the year progresses they are probably going to rise.


Choose Your Bad Credit Mortgages Lender Wisely

People with bad credit may find it hard to get approved for a mortgage as credit is one of the main factors when lenders are considering approval. While those looking for a bad credit mortgage may face extra challenges and costs it is not an impossible task. However they should be prepared to pay more in interest rates as well as down payments.

There are certain lenders that are willing to work with potential home buyers that have less than perfect credit. These borrowers should be aware of the common fees associated with these types of loans to ensure that they are not being over charged.

It is always a wise idea to conduct research and talk to an expert on the matter before starting to negotiate with bad credit mortgage lenders.


Even if one currently has bad credit it is always a good idea to continually try to improve it. Credit scores are based on the amount of money on credit cards as well as payment history. Keeping credit card amounts at half of the limit or below will reflect positively on a credit score.


Refinance Mortgage Rates Pose Strong Concern

Refinancing is a good option for those looking to save money on their current mortgage payments. It is also another option for those struggling with payments and potentially facing the unfortunate possibility of foreclosure. Refinancing a mortgage allows for lower monthly payments therefore increasing the amount of cash flow home owners experience.

Current refinancing mortgage rates are very low and those considering the process should act now. It is thought that the refinancing rates are likely to rise along with mortgage rates in the upcoming year or two. Current refinancing rates are as low as 2.8 percent but average out to be around 4 to just under 5 percent.

The rate of refinance is dependent on the amount of mortgage being refinanced along with the length of the refinanced mortgage. 15 year fixed rates are currently at a 4.04 percent rate, while 30 year rates are around 4.75 percent interest rates. Adjustable refinance rates are substantially lower but also carry more risk and less stability.


Money Supermarket Car Insurance

Finding a good rate on car insurance is something that every driver looks for when searching for coverage. Many times the sites run by the insurance companies only quote what they will offer. Money Supermarket car insurance gives the consumer the chance to look at over a hundred different companies.

It only requires filling out a quote questionnaire one time that may take as little as five minutes. Many people end up saving a substantial amount of money on car and other insurance by comparing quotes this way. In addition to providing a quick quote comparison the money supermarket website offers guides and tips to car insurance.

This is a great benefit as many people are often confused and overwhelmed by purchasing car insurance, especially if it is for the first time. Money supermarket provides enough information and choices to make the process easy and simple instead of being a difficult and a troublesome process.

Mortgage Refinance in this Economy?

Even though experts believe the economy is making a bounce back homeowners have yet to experience it. Foreclosures are still affecting home owners across America. As people try desperately to make their mortgage payments they are looking for ways to make it easier.

Many of them have begun to look into mortgage refinancing. This has become a popular choice as it has the potential to lower monthly payments. Many home owners who choose this option have been able to keep their homes as well as save a good amount of money.

When a home has been substantially paid off refinancing could cut the monthly payment up to half of what the home owner is currently paying. It is not as effective if the home was recently bought as there is not enough equity put towards the house yet. It is also not as effective for houses purchased with interest rates lower than the current rates.


Re-Establishment of Solid Mortgage Backed Securities

Over the past couple of months it has been made clear that the intent of the government is to get rid of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. While some experts are sticking to this method, others believe it may lead to more harm than good. They believe that disabling the two companies would cause the interest rates to soar as well as the amount of required down payments to go up as well.

This rise in numbers would likely lead to the inability for many people to be approved for home loans as well as be able to provide the necessary down payment. While the main goal of eliminating the programs is to get the housing market back on track, it may be two steps forward and one step back. While the process may be long, it seems in the end the downfall of the mortgage giants will be a overall positive action.

It should lead to the re-establishment of solid mortgage backed securitieswhich in turn will help boost the housing market to where it used to be. As soon as the American public believes that the housing market has made a turn for the better, the thought of buying a house as an investment will return. This should increase home buying and put the economy back into the positive.


Fee Laden Mortgages for Bad Credit

While many people believe that having bad credit is a factor that will prohibit them from purchasing a home, that is not entirely true. Many mortgage companies and lenders will still allow people with lower than normal credit to be approved for home loans. However with these mortgages there are usually added stipulations.

Mortgage for Bad Credit

It is likely that the interest rates will be higher with bad credit mortgages compared to those who have fair or high credit scores. It is also likely that the amount of money required for the down payment will be higher than required for a normal mortgage. Some lenders require those applying to also apply with one or two co-signers in order to provide more security in case the loan goes unpaid.

Bad Credit

Many of these mortgages for bad credit are laden with fees that work to ensure the lender receives enough money to cover themselves in case the borrower falls behind in payments. One of the common fees associated with them are payoff penalties. This forces the borrower to continue to pay the high interest rates even if they wish to pay off the mortgage early.


Negative Equity in Dayton Affects Local Housing Market

It is increasingly common to hear of houses with underwater mortgages across the nation. In many communities it is these homes that are putting an extra strain on the rest of the local housing market. In Dayton, Ohio it is reported that nearly twenty percent of homes are underwater, also known as negative equity.

Real estate agents in the area believe that these numbers are on the low side. Many of them state that the majority of their business is coming from foreclosures or short sales. Short sales are when a home is being sold for under the amount of money that is still owed on the mortgage or mortgages.

While the home prices are still at historical lows, there is some improvement being seen. However, the slight improvements will not likely effect homeowners in negative equity situations for another three to five years. The number of homes in negative equity has consistently increased for the past 3 quarters.


Interest Rates and 2nd Mortgages

Buying a house has long been considered an investment into ones future. One of the benefits of owning a home is that the money paid towards the home, equity, provides the opportunity to use the home as collateral in additional loans. 2nd mortgages do just that; frees up needed money through the homes equity.

2nd Mortgages

2nd mortgages are based on the amount of money that has been paid towards the house compared to the amount the house is currently valued at. For example, if the house is valued at 170,000 and the home owner has paid 70,000 towards the loan, there is a substantial amount of money to be gained through another mortgage. The money received from these mortgages is used for a variety of reason such as paying for college of home improvements.

Interest Rates

The interest rates associated with 2nd mortgages are most commonly higher than those the home owner received the first time around. Another option to consider increasing money flow is refinancing. This is a good option if interest rates a substantially lower than they were with the first loan.


Housing Market Reform

It is widely believed that one of the main reasons for the housing market reform is to increase risk assessment and management. It was the quick to lend banks and lenders that handed out mortgages to those who were clearly unqualified. Now new steps in the housing market are being made to ensure another catastrophic drop in home values occurs again.

However that is not the only reason behind the housing market overhaul states Edward J. DeMarco, the Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The reform is also focused on re-establishing a sense of stability for those who would have likely bought mortgage backed securities. Through the steps being made the government hopes to ultimately dictate private demand once again for the secondary mortgage market.

The challenge will be how to establish a secondary market that has since been dominated by Fannie and Freddie. It is clear that these two establishments will come to a slow end. The way the government works to privatize the secondary mortgage market will be vital in rebooting the housing economy.


Bill Ending Mortgage Assistance Program Approved

Since the House of Representatives has overturned the democratic majority, many republicans have been looking to change some of the Obama Administrations policies. One of the recent battles has been overturning the Home Mortgage Assistance Program, commonly known as HAMP. Democrats have been strongly against cutting out this assistance program saying it is helping Americans all across the country.

This past Thursday the bill was passed to end the program by a vote of 256 to 171. Not all democrats were against the legislation with 18 of them voting to end the program, along with one republican. Even with the bill passing through the house, it is unlikely to go any further.

The next step for the bill would be to be presented to the senate, which currently holds a democratic majority. It is here the bill would likely be denied as the majority of democrats are strictly against the ending of the program. It has already been stated by the Obama administration that the President would veto the bill immediately if it ended up on his desk.



A Secondary Mortgage Market is Needed

One of the positive things that the mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie provided to banks was a secondary mortgage market. While many experts believe that the diminished capacity of the two companies is more than necessary, losing this component is a large fear for banks.  The majority of mortgages are then sold to investors as a mortgage backed security.

It was the excessive lending to non-qualified borrowers that sparked the fail of the housing market. This then had a negative effect on those who had invested in the mortgage backed securities of the failed mortgages, many of which were done through Fannie and Freddie. Experts believe that in order to make the destruction of the two companies successful, there needs to be another outlet for secondary mortgages.

Banks rely on the secondary mortgage market in order to be able to offer mortgages to their customers. This is especially true for smaller local and community banks. Government is looking to make the private mortgage market the main contender but in order to do that lenders and banks will need to step up to the plate.


Foreclosures Slowed in February

One of the actions blamed for the sharp increase in home foreclosures was the lenders and banks handling of the foreclosure process. Since the banks mistakes have been put into the public light many of them have revamped their processes and are paying closer attention to handling possible foreclosures. This is being cited as one of the reasons the amount of foreclosures has dropped in the month of February.

The amount of foreclosures and homeowners being given foreclosure notices reported in February is the lowest in the past two and a half years. In comparison to the number of notices given in January the numbers are down by 14 percent totaling around 255,000 properties. When compared to the same time a year ago the numbers are down by 27 percent.

Other factors that are being contributed to the drop in the number of foreclosures are that many banks under scrutiny are acting more cautiously. Many of them with better foreclosure processes are taking longer on each property causing a longer waiting list for foreclosures to be looked at.


What is the FHA Short Refinance Option?

One of the problems that has been caused by the downfall of the economy and housing market is homeowners being underwater on their mortgages. This has nothing to do with not paying their monthly payments, or defaulting, but rather the worth of their homes. Since the prices of homes has reached rock bottom, many homeowners owe more on their homes than they are currently worth.

The problem of owing more than a home is worth is estimated to be affecting 25 percent of all United State home owners. The FHA short Refinance Option is a program aimed at helping Americans who are currently in that position. It allows them to refinance their home loans through the FHA insured mortgage at only 97.75 percent of the current homes value.

Along with the Home Mortgage Assistance Program, many republicans are pushing for the FHA Refinance Option to be put to an end as well. Democrats are against this because they believe the program is still actively helping people deal with the added stress of the downturned economy, as well as helping them avoid more debt and foreclosure.


Underwater Mortgage, Short Sales Spur Legal Disputes

Recent numbers have shown that over 25 percent of all United States home owners are underwater with their mortgages. What this means is that the home value has dipped below what the home owners have left to pay off on their mortgages.

In some cases a home that were purchased at $200,000 are now only worth $150,000 or sometimes even less. Many home owners have been faced with the necessity to sell their homes while they still owe more than what the home is worth. This is what is called a short sale.

The problem surrounding this  type of sale is that many home owners are not aware of what tax obligations and loan deficiencies are associated with it. When this has been the case, many of the sellers are taking legal action against the real estate agents who did not properly inform them of the different requirements of short sales.


Mortgage Rates Back Below 5%

For the past year the mortgage rates have been at all-time lows, well below the 5 percent mark. Earlier in 2011 the country saw a slight rise above 5 percent and the thought was that it would continue to rise. In contradiction to that, the beginning of March saw a drop in mortgage interest rates, and they seem to be staying right around 4.8 percent.

The initial rise has been linked to the turmoil being experienced in the Middle East. Experts still predict that over the next year the rates will rise as the dependency on Fannie and Freddie is lessened by government action. Potential homebuyers should take advantage of the still low rates while they can.

The increase in interest rates will mark the improvement of the general housing market, but may deter future buyers. It is also likely that over the next year the amount of money required for a down payment will increase as new fees and costs are associated with home loans.


Mandela to Boost South African Textile Companies with Fashion

Nelson Mandela is well known for his political and philanthropically based ways, but now is reaching into the fashion industry. In a new clothing line labeled 46664 Apparel Line, Mandela is looking to boost his charitable profits. The clothing line will be manufactured in South Africa and proceeds will help sustain the Nelson Mandela foundation.

The line is also hoped to help boost the South African textile industry. The line is full of bright colors and features clothing for both women and men. It is being produced and designed by Seardel, the largest textile and clothing manufacturer in South Africa.

The name of the line is inspired by Nelson Mandelas prison inmate number from his stay at the Robben Island Prison during the South African anti-apartheid movement in the early 1960s. He is not the first to create a clothing line with philanthropic goals as u2s Bono has had great success with his Edun clothing line.


HUD sued by AARP over Reverse Mortgage Policies

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will now face a lawsuit brought on by the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP. The suit is being filed for three different home owners who are currently facing foreclosure. The reason behind their foreclosure is based on a rule change in reverse mortgages that their deceased spouses received.

The three home owners are now facing foreclosure and even eviction from their homes in a way that the association claims to be against federal rules. AARP is looking to prohibit the Housing and Urban Development department from neglecting these rules that allow foreclosure when the mortgaging spouse passes away.

The three home owners are aged between 69 and 79 with no access to large sums of money. The company claims that HUD has reneged on their responsibilities to the reverse mortgage policies and blind-sided these elderly widow and widowers by not honoring the original clauses in the agreements.


Weight Loss Diet Plans for the Super Busy

One of the common drawbacks seen in dieting is the time that needs to be spent in order to achieve goals. Many people consider their lives too hectic to add in a weekly exercise program, or to cook healthy food. In reality dieting can be made to fit into any schedule by taking small and simply steps.

A new and popular way to get exercise while doing daily activities is through the use of tone up shoes. A variety of brands now make these shoes which increase the muscle activity in the calf, thigh and buttocks areas. For a busy person these shoes can fit in a workout while running errands or at the grocery store.

Another way for busy dieters to eat right is by investing in a diet food mailing program. These programs send a certain portion of food once a week or once a month. The food includes all three meals as well as snacks that can be taken on the go. It is an easy way to count calories without taking the time to research the different foods to eat.

Fewer Loan Modifications to Avoid Foreclosure

One of the ways homeowners across the United States have been avoiding foreclosure is through loan modifications. These loans allow homeowners to pay less in monthly payments while not being punished by their lenders or banks. It became a popular option when first revealed but has since lost steam as some have been experience greater consequences when their modifications were not allowed to continue.

New numbers have been revealed that show a substantial drop in the amount of loan modification that are being applied for. In December of 2010 there were approximately 111,000 loan modification applications and acceptances. Then numbers posted for the first month of 2011 were down to 100,000 loan modifications granted by banks and lenders.

Currently the Republican party is looking to get rid of the Obama sponsored HAMP program, which is responsible for 30,000 of the loan modifications granted in January. The conservative party is also looking to get rid of the FHA Short Refinance program, a program focused on anti-foreclosure.


Auto Loans at New Low Rates

Since the drop in the economy, the auto market has seen a large reduction in new car sales. Recently people looking to purchase cars are heading back to the dealerships. Part of this is due to the extremely low interest rates available in auto loans.

Many car dealerships and companies are offering zero percent interest rates on car loans including General Motors, Nissan, Ford and Chrysler. The shift in purchasing cars and applying for financing is due to the increased financial stability of banks and their willingness to lend to people with less than perfect credit.

This does have some experts worried that a similar outcome will happen as it did with the housing market, however this view is only held by a few. In comparison to interest rates last year at this time, auto financing rates have dropped a full percentage point from four last February down to three.


Make Money While Spending Money with

Many people are looking to get the most out of their money through discounts and by spending less. Creating a budget and lowering expense is always a good way to go about this, but it is not the only way. Since saving money has gained momentum in the current economy, different online programs have been made to encourage consumers. is an example of one of the resources consumers can use to make the most out of their money. The website is a rewards based site that offers points that can be used towards gift certificates. It works in a similar way to earning rewards on a credit card, but it is a free service.

Members sign up for a membership and are awarded different amounts of points for shopping at stores through the mypoints website. The site then allows users to choose how to redeem their points when they reach a certain amount. Points can be used towards popular stores such as target and amazon.


Insurance Affected By Quake In Japan

With the looming effects of the Asian earthquake and tsunami, the insurance industry is already seeing negative effects. The stocks in insurance and reinsurance have already seen decreases in overseas trading. The likely cost of the tsunami and earthquake will be billions of dollars in losses for the insurance sector.

What was thought to just affect the Japanese coast is now likely to have negative effects on the west coast of the United States. The estimate cost of insured losses is going to be around the 10 billion dollar mark.

The number is surprisingly low and is accounted for by many people owning homes not being covered for the anticipated damage. Homes not covered will likely cause harm to the overall economy. In comparison the 1995 Kobe earthquake caused an excess of 100 billion dollars worth of economic damage for those who were not covered.


Weight Loss and Diet Programs May Help with Depression

A new study has shown that those who participate in weight loss and diet programs that focus on lifestyle changes and exercise may help with depression. The study was done on obese people who were looking to lose weight and change their life. While the link was not made directly between less depression and actual pounds shed it was the participation in a program that helped.

It is already known that depression is a common factor of obesity. The researchers made sure to make it clear that weight loss should not be considered a substitute for clinical treatment, but has shown positive effects. The most positive results came from those participating in a diet and exercise program rather than a strictly diet or strictly exercise programs.

Some experts believe that exercise programs help through self-image improvements as well as the release of endorphins. The amount of weight lost had no actual effect on the mood of participants. The social support of weight loss programs was also thought to have a large effect.


Car Insurance Quotes Comparison Tools to Save Money

Getting car insurance quotes is made easy when completed online. Almost every insurance company provides a website that allows users to type in information and receive an estimated quote. Many companies even provide instant proof of insurance after a quote is made.

These online quotes are made both through looking at the VIN number as well as additional information. The driver is required to type in the amount of miles driven as well as the cars current mileage. The model, make and safety features of the car also have an impact on the quote given.


When looking for a car insurance quote it is a good idea to go in with as much information is possible. This includes knowing the state specific requirements to operate a vehicle. Websites allow users to compare all of the major auto insurance companies at once, which makes it easy to find the best deal available.


Mortgage Lenders May Have to Pay Back Scorned Borrowers

Since the number of foreclosures has risen many banks have been targeted as the reason for unruly foreclosure processes. Banks and lenders have been accused of having untrained staff sign off on foreclosures without properly researching and determining the legitimacy of the foreclosure forms. In many cases homes that were up to date with payments were foreclosed upon.

Now these banks are being held accountable for their negligence. State attorney generals have begun to put increased pressure on these mortgage companies that violated their borrowers rights. As part of the changes to the housing markets the banks are being forced to fix their discrepancies.

Officials are determining how and what types of fees to impose on these mortgage lenders. Some believe that lenders should be required to pay down some of the balances of borrowers who owe more than their home is currently worth. The cost of this is estimated to be around twenty billion dollars.


Mortgages, Many Homes in Negative Equity

For years buying a home was considered to be one of the best investments a person could make. With every mortgage payment made the home owner was adding money to his or her equity and creating a nice padding of investment if anything went south. Since the burst of the housing market bubble that is no longer the case.

In fact,  for many homeowners across the United States the exact opposite is true. Since the drop in home prices and the fall of the economy many  people are underwater in their home investments. What this means is that they owe more towards the overall mortgage than what the house is currently worth. People have seen their home prices drop over thirty percent compared to what they purchased the home for.

What was once an investment in their future is now a large debt hanging over their head. These homeowners do not have many options when it comes to avoiding the problem of negative equity. Strategic defaulting or foreclosure is likely to hurt more than it will help with expenses. For many Americans the best option is to ride it out and home the housing market improves over the next couple of years.


Instability in Middle East leads to Lower Interest Rates

Mortgage rates are affected by a number of different factors on a day to day basis. While much of it is determined by employment rates and current economic standings, there are other outside factors that can have large influences. For example, the current political unease across the Middle East has proven to have a large affect on the economy of the United States.

The housing market has not been able to avoid the influence the instability is having across our nation. As oil and gas prices continue to rise, the housing market is seeing a dip in interest rates. Rates had recently risen above the five percent mark, but over this past week they have seen a drop.

A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now seeing a rate of around 4.625 percent with a APR of around 4.834.  Homebuyers should act quickly on these rates as experts predict they will fluctuate a lot in the coming days and weeks. Many experts expect that these rates will rise back over 5 percent by the middle of the month and then continue to rise throughout the upcoming year.


Low Mortgage Rates Improve High End Home Sales

People across the United States are hearing of the struggle of selling homes, but this is not the case for all housing markets. Many middle to low range homes are facing a lot of difficulty selling, resulting in foreclosure or bank take over. Fortunately for those home owners in the luxury housing market this may not be the case.

The past year has actually seen an increase in luxury home sales. In California houses priced over the million dollar mark increased by three thousand homes from 2009 to 2010. These numbers equate to over a twenty percent increase as reported by DataQuick Information Systems.

The increase in high end home sales is being linked to the low mortgage rates as well as the large drop in home prices. Many experts say that this jump in home sales is related to the increased investment opportunity. Many wealthy home buyers saw a chance to buy in at the lowest point in hopes of selling after the housing market has made a comeback.


Buying Kids Shoes from an Online Shoe Shop

An online shoe shop still has not quite perfected selecting shoes for kids. It can still be hit or miss on the sizes, but a lot of parents interested in saving money have found a way to get the right sizes at the right price. Parents are taking their kids to a retail shoe shop and sizing their kids feet there and then turning around and making the purchase at an online shoe shop.

Prices are just that good online and many of the shoe shops have excellent return policies just in case the sizing was a little bit off. The price differences between an online shoe shop and a retail store are significant, as many online stores offer discounts and sales that the stores cant because a lot of the sales people are set up on a commission.

An online shoe shop can offer lower prices, but keep an eye on shipping. Some of those savings you are getting might be eaten up by shipping costs making the prices comparable to those at retail locations. If you can find free shipping along with those great savings, then you can save a bundle.

Compensate for Gas Prices, Save with Car Insurance Quotes

Save Money with Car Insurance Quotes to Help with Gas Prices

This summer, you may not be able to save much money at the gas pump, however there are other areas in your finances where you can find savings to compensate. Making sure that your tires are properly inflated, rotated and balanced as well as not carrying anything additional weight in the trunk can improve your gas mileage, but you may save the most money with new car insurance quotes.

The simple math of the matter is this; you may need to find an extra 3 dollars a gallon in savings with car insurance quotes. In other words, if you are spending thirty dollars a week on ten gallons of gas, you should budget for around double that in the summer. That may be an overestimate, but it is better to plan for higher than fall short. That will be an additional 120 a month and you should budget for 3 months making your total 360. Can you really save 360 dollars in car insurance? says yes.

Finding any amount of savings not just in car insurance quotes, but anywhere else in the budget will help with these rising gas prices. Call your cable provider, your cell phone service provider and even the electric company and see if you can find a deal with them. Use coupons at the grocery store and if you are a smoker, well, now might be a good time to quit with prices rising on cigarettes also. Look into your budget this week and find where you can make some cuts to compensate for the impending outrages prices at the pump that are expected this summer.

Cosmetics, Strawberrynet Cosmetics Discounted Makeup and Fragrances

There’s a few things in life that one expects to spend a premium amount on and for many women one of those has been cosmetics.  Strawberrynet cosmetics is changing that for many with their discounted skincare, makeup and fragrances.  They claim to be the online global leader in discounted cosmetics with prices that are fifty percent lower than retail prices in over one hundred and ninety countries.

The Strawberrynet Cosmetics website lists quite a few name brand cosmetics and fragrances which also include men’s fragrances.  Strawberrynet Cosmetics also appears to be able to locate items that are not listed on their website.  Any staple product that can be found for a discounted price in today’s economy is quite a find.  ADI-News continues to look for discounted prices on clothing, shoes, cosmetics, gas and food for our readers and attempt to provide the most accurate information available.

If you would like more information about discounted cosmetics from Strawberrynet Cosmetics their website is:

Google Adwords Provides a More Effective Advertising Program

Google Adwords provides a more effective advertising program than other online advertising companies. The wide reach of Google is a large benefit to those wishing to gain exposure. Millions of internet users choose Google each day to do their searching, and emailing.

Google Adwords allows its users to place their advertisements on content relevant websites as well as RSS Feeds, and along Google search results. Google uses keywords and searching terms to generate the advertisements in venues where they will most likely be clicked, rather than having ads in irrelevant websites and blogs.

One of the best features of Google Adwords is how the user is charged. Advertisers are only charged based on the number of views and clicks their advertisement receives. If the ad receives no clicks, there will not be a high cost to the advertiser. This ensures that the advertiser is only paying for what they get, not any extraneous costs.

Mortgage Fraud Risk Report

With all collapses it is likely that fraud will become more rampant, but on a national level this has not been true with the failure of the housing market. Where the fraud can be seen is in specific areas. What this will affect is the states ranking in the Mortgage Fraud Risk Report.

Illinois has shown that they have the highest jump in mortgage fraud. This is centralized to a specific part of Chicago which mortgage fraud risk has risen by almost thirty index points. This part of Chicago has been a high risk area for over 3 quarters and has just been elevated from moderate to very high risk.

While Chicago has seen the highest jump in risk, it is Nevada that has the highest overall risk of mortgage fraud. Many experts believe this high risk is in part because of the nature of the state. With gambling usually comes fraud and debt.

Rise in Interest Rates and Housing Mortgage Loans Dwindling

Experts predict that the upcoming year will see a rise in interest rates as well as housing prices. Potential homebuyers looking to purchase homes should act quickly to insure the current low interest rates. Waiting it out may result in the new and higher fees associated with the house care reform the Obama administration is pushing.


The new housing reform will protect the nation from going through another collapse in the housing market and experts agree it is a necessary step. However the reform will also likely deter many homebuyers from purchasing a new home. The higher cost will be seen in increased interest rates as well as higher amounts of money required for down payments.

Home Loans

For homebuyers it will be wise to act and start the process as soon as possible. Many loan applicants who would have been accepted previously will no longer be eligible for government approved loans. Applicants will most likely require a much higher credit score, a better credit history and a more solid financial situation.

Government to Downsize Role in the Housing and Mortgage Markets

Since the collapse in the United States economy and housing market the industry has called for a renovation of the system. The failure in the housing market is being largely attributed to the lenders extending loans to unqualified borrowers. However many experts fear that the new system will deter many potential homebuyers.

The Obama administrations new plan has the government playing much less of a role in the housing and mortgage market. This is in part because of the anticipated slow shut down of Fannie and Freddie, the two recently rescued mortgage giants. While experts believe this is the best plan, the immediate effects may drive up house prices.

The new reform will likely mean higher interest rates and more money required for down payments. While this may deter buyers, it will at the same time insure that the nation doesnt suffer the same problems it has in recent years. In the end the reform is likely to lead to a stronger housing market, although the startup will be slow., Coupons as Part of a Personal Budgeting Plan

Here are few things for most Americans to expect in the next few months, higher prices at the gas pump and food costs skyrocketing. Even if you have your budget and finances finally under control, theres just another thing down the line to hit you up for more money. Food budgets may need to be increased by at least 30% to maintain what you and your family are accustomed to. Another way to compensate for these price increases is using coupons. is a coupon site that has just launched that has suggested that coupons use is an excellent way to re-balance those food budgets. Grocery coupons both online at sites like or even out of the Sunday paper (Yes, they still make those) are a great way to cut costs on foods and other general merchandise. also suggests shopping at multiple stores and trying to only shop once a month. Price comparison is a good way to shop for most anything, but especially groceries. If you spend enough time at the grocery store you may start to see patterns forming. One week Coca Cola products will be deeply discounted and the week following only Pepsi products will be discounted. It works very much the same with all products throughout the store and knowing these patterns can save you a lot of money also.

Mortgage Lenders Poor Customer Service

People on the brink of foreclosure find it is easy to point the finger as to why it happened. Experts will say it is because of the overreaching loans given by lenders and banks. Still others will claim that the homeowners who reached beyond their income for houses too expensive are the ones to blame.

However, many people are beginning to point the finger at the banks and mortgage lenders customer service teams. Many foreclosed families are blaming poor customer service as a reason leading to their foreclosure. They claim that they got misleading information from a number of different customer service reps.

While this may be true, it hardly matters now. The opposing side will say that these borrowers should have sought a third party to help if they felt the service wasnt adequate. However many lenders have said they have improved their training for mortgage customer service specialist.

Man Buys His Foreclosed House for Cash

Many people across the nation are foreclosing on their homes. The banks then take ownership and later sell them. A large number of them are being sold at auctions across the country, most of them for well below the home value.

This is the case for one man in Charlotte, North Carolina, but in this case, he had the chance to buy his foreclosed house back, and pay cash for it. He had lost his home in a mortgage company mix up. When his mortgage company changed his monthly payments never got processed.

For this lucky North Carolina resident the auction was his second chance at his American Dream. He had originally purchased his home for $45,000 before it was foreclosed on. By the end of this auction he bought back his home for $40,000 and paid for it in full with cash. Not only are there no more banks involved, but he has his home back.

Mortgage News, Negative Equity in Florida Housing Markets

There have been a number of widespread negative results caused by the downturn of the economy and collapse of the housing markets.  A lot of focus is put on the increased rate of foreclosure and mortgage defaults. One of the aspects that is just as widespread, but less focused on is that of negative equity.

People across the United States have seen massive drops in the values of their homes and condos. South Florida has been hit hard by this drop in real estate value with a alarming 300,000 homes being worth less than the loan was made for. That number amounts to almost half of all mortgages in the state of Florida.

Some homes are being valued at merely one third of their original value. Homeowners have little choice when it comes to dealing with negative equity, because even a short sale or foreclosure will not compensate for the money lost. These options ,may cause more harm for future investments then they would do good in the present time.

Mortgage Rates Steadily Increase on 30 Year Fixed

While mortgage rates for a 30 year fixed mortgage are steadily rising over 5%, the 15 year fixed rates are still low. While 15 year fixed mortgages are less popular because of the higher monthly payments, they may be the better option. The rates a just above 4%, and even those considering refinancing should act now.
In the end refinancing to a shorter length mortgage may save considerable amounts in interest payments. If a substantial amount of equity has been built on the house, now is the time to refinance. The rates are predicted to continue to rise of the next year.
If willing to consider an adjustable rate mortgage, the current rates are at around 3.5%. Adjustable rate mortgages should be entered into with due consideration. One should make sure the amount of times the rate is able to be raised, and if there is a limit to how high the interest rate can become.


Government Plans on Banning Mortgage Exit Fees

It has been shown, in documents from the United States Treasury that the government plans on banning mortgage exit fees, charges that are associated with leaving mortgages early. This plan would be in effect for new home loans and is looking to have it in place by the middle of the year. The hope for this action is to increase competition in the banking sector.

In addition to this the new plan hopes to urge borrowers to search for better deals by possibly switching loan types. Although there are many supposed benefits to this plan there are also some possible negative outcomes. The ban could increase initial interest rates for new home buyers.

Another one of the negative effects could be a raise in the amount of money needed for a down payment. Experts worry that this intervention by the government will also lead to move government involvement in different industries, such as oil and grocery.

Keep Your Home California, State Works with Mortgage Lenders

Foreclosure rates continue to rise all over the United States even with programs that aim at helping. The state of California has been offering struggling homeowners a way to avoid foreclosure. The Keep Your Home California program is backed by the California Housing Finance Agency and became an option earlier this year.

The program allots almost $3000 a month to help with those homeowners facing foreclosure. The program is focused on those who have become unemployed since purchasing a home, in hopes the foreclosure rates will drop. The program is federally funded and has been allotted 2 billion dollars to help these unemployed homeowners.

The problem that the program is facing however is with the larger lenders. While the state is trying to push these lenders to accept the federal payments it has not been widely accepted. Many large lenders refuse to accept checks larger than $3000. The state continues to work with lenders in hopes they will begin to fully participate in the program.

Getting a Mortgage is Now More Complex

Potential home buyers across the country will see an increase of requirements across the board when it comes to mortgage applications. Since the collapse of the housing market, the majority of mortgage lenders are being overly cautious. Nobody wants to see another instance of overextended lending.

Mortgage companies are likely to require much larger down payments on homes from here on out. On top of that the interest rates are already beginning to rise. This trend will continue throughout 2011.

Along with high down payments, the applicants are going to need to show more substantial income. If applicants do not have a high credit rating, an even high down payment will be necessary, and an additional interest rate hike is also likely. This will drive the prices of homes up, and the number of eligible applicants down. It will no longer be as easy to get access to new home purchases.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Save the Waves is Environmentally Conscious

Royal Caribbean is one of the largest cruise lines operating across the world. In addition to providing great service and high quality cruising, they are always concerned with the environment. They do not only meet the environmental requirements that are in place, but they constantly try to exceed them.

Their Save the Waves program was established in 1992 and focuses on keeping marine wildlife and the oceans clean. They do this through their waste management as well as through the day to day actions of the crew. One of the way they get cruise goers involved is by offering the option to re-use towels in an effort to save water.

Another way Royal Caribbean strives to protect the environment is by researching ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Although there is no requirement yet on these emissions, they have already tried to improve in that area. The company also plans its destinations in ways that will limit the amount of environmental impact associated with docking in ports.

Missourians Facing Foreclosure May Benefit from HUD program

It is widely known that foreclosures are running rampant across the United States. Luckily for some Missouri residents, emergency relief may be on the way. A new federal program will provide almost fifty billion dollars of relief for state residents. The program will focus on those who have experience job loss, or pay cuts that amount to more than 15% of their pervious income.

The program will also be geared towards people who have experienced medical emergencies that have inhibited them from working. The program will include bridge loans at no interest, and up to $50,000. These loans can be used to pay for insurance, taxes and up to 2 years worth of mortgage payments.

The program will assist the 32 states that were not already included in the Treasury fund for the states hit the hardest in the fall of the economy. It is being managed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program was first started by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Online Dating, Cheap and Fun Date Ideas

In this economy, people are looking for date ideas that wont cost them large amounts of money. This is a lot easier than many people think. It is as simple as getting creative, and putting a little effort into it. In the end, most women prefer a thought out date, rather than a trip to Chilis.

First, think about planning a picnic. Although this seems like an old-school idea, take a second and spice it up. Think about what the others interests are. If they are interested art, take them to a museum and then plan a picnic outside on the front steps.

Another great and inexpensive idea is to take a picnic on a road trip. Look up online different scenery, and look-out points in the area. Find one that is particularly romantic and have it be a surprise. Bring a bottle of wine and some strawberries to make it picturesque.

Obamas “Hardest Hit Fund, Housing Mortgage Market

Over a year ago President Obama and the U.S. Department of Treasury started what is called the Hardest Hit Fund. This is a fund directed at the states that have been most devastatingly affected by the economic downturn and the collapse of the housing mortgage market. The states were determined by the unemployment rate and extreme decreases in home prices.

The funding is state specific with aid ranging from 20 million to almost 2 billion dollars. Each state has a specific plan that can be found on the U.S. Treasury website. However there were only 19 states out of the 50 that were chosen to be a part of this plan.

States that were not chosen have been left to fend for themselves until a recent development by HUD has been announced. A new program run by the Housing and Urban Development program will help the remaining states with the high foreclosure rates. This program will allow state residents of the remaining 32 states access to no interest loans for emergency mortgage relief.

Foreclosure Robo-Signing Lenders to Face Supreme Court

Since the amount of foreclosures has risen, it has been found that many lenders were handling the foreclosing process incorrectly. Lenders have been accused of improperly signing off on foreclosure without first checking for accuracy. Some lenders have even had employees without the proper training going over foreclosure papers.

What people are now calling robo-signing is an activity that has cause the unnecessary foreclosure of homes across the country. Many of the homes that were improperly foreclosed on were actually up to date with their mortgage payments. New Jersey is not the only state that has taken action against large lenders.

All of the six lenders being accused of this believe the court is taking this too far. They all claim that they had already made amendments to their process before the learning about the court filing. The New Jersey court hopes to improve the process, and has threatened to suspend any foreclosing activities on companies that have not made any changes.

As Foreclosures Rise, The Foreclosure Process Slows

It has been known for a while that the rate of foreclosures across the Unites States is growing and continues to do so. What isnt talked about is how this is affecting the ability of banks to complete the foreclosure process. There are more foreclosures to process, but the same amount of workers being used to do the work.

Two years ago the banks were foreclosing on homes that were only 11 months late on payments. Recent reports have found that current foreclosures are being made on average after 17 months of neglected payments. This is consequently making the amount of money the banks are losing rise.

Another factor in the delays in foreclosure is due to the loan modification applications. These have risen in number since they have become available. In addition, many who have been denied a continued loan modification now have to deal with foreclosure. These applications are taking longer to process because especially if they are being appealed by the borrower.

Mortgage Applications Drop, Mortgage Rates Rise

Even though the interest rates on home loans are still relatively low, the amount of applications has dropped. In a survey completed by the Mortgage Bankers Association, statistics show that the applications have dropped by almost %10. Part of the reason for this is because of the interest rates breaking the 5% barrier.

New home loans were not the only type of loans affected by this drop. Refinance loans also saw a substantial drop during the second week of February. These applications dropped slightly over 11% which is the lowest they have been since July 2009.

An increase in mortgage rates is a double edged sword. While not considered a good thing by potential home buyers, they are considered a sign of economic improvement. Home prices will likely rise, which will be great for current homeowners but will make purchasing a home more difficult.

Bridge Loan, HUD Emergency Homeowners Loan Program

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is currently working on developing a plan to help homeowners in financial crisis. While the plan is not yet accepting applications, information on the program has recently been made available. The program is going to focus on states that were not assisted by the previous Hardest Hit Fund.

The responsibility of the new program will be taken partially by HUD and partially by the program Neighbor Works America. Neighbor Works America is a non-profit organization that works to improve communities across the nation. It provides third-party foreclosure counseling as well as programs that help unemployed home owners.

The new HUD program will offer what is called a bridge loan. This is a loan with deferred payments and a declining balance. The loans can be up to $50,000 and will have no interest. They can be used for a variety of issues including mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance costs.


Strategic Default on Mortgages

For many people struggling to make mortgage payments, foreclosure may seem to be the best option. Some of these people are strategically foreclosing on their homes in order to save money in the long run. Because it takes banks and lenders so long to actually seize a home, these homeowners have time to save money.

While this may be a way to get out of a home without going through the sale process, it has large negative effects. Mainly the credit of the homeowner will decline greatly. This drop in credit rating will affect future loans for vehicles, cars and even apartment rentals.

Florida has seen a large rise in strategic mortgage default and foreclosure. A survey reported that over short sales and strategic foreclosure amount to over half of the total foreclosures in the state. Short sales are when banks allow homes to be sold for under the amount that is still owed to the bank.

Web Conferencing Saves that Commute and Trips to China

Sure, travelling to China to meet with production is awesome, its all on the company dime and your lodging and food is all taken care of, but that might be ending soon. If you have a monthly trip to South America, China or even Australia these company funded expeditions may soon be cut to save money and replaced with web conferencing.

Web Conferencing

Web conferencing, while it may have been around for years already, is starting to make an emergence in business as a means to cut back on costs. Its not only for international travel though; it saves a lot on domestic as well. Instead of sending a trainer to multiple locations of months of time, that one trainer can now instruct everyone in the company at one time. Those 70% travel required jobs; they might be a thing of the past in two years also.

Go Green with Web Conferencing

Instead of a sales staff running all over the US, why not have them sitting at their desk making sales clear across the nation and then maybe cold calling the rest of the day? Web conferencing is being used by some of the top US companies as well as in China, the UK and Japan. Even companies that dont need to tighten the belt are still moving to web conferencing to be more Green and cut down on emissions from commuting employees.

Two of the top web conferencing tools that are being used outside of Cisco services are Webex and GotoMeeting. If you are trying to convince upper management to start switching over to web conferencing then show them Webex and GotoMeeting as excellent, easy to manage examples.

Fed Reserve Economist calls for Balance in Global Economy

Fed Reserve Chairman, Economist, Ben Bernanke is urging countries with trade surplus to increase the value of their currency. One of those key countries is China.


Bernanke, an American Economist, also pointed out that up-valuing currency in those countries and narrowing budget shortfalls in the US and other nations with extreme trade deficits may stall a global financial crises.

Economists Warn of Impending Global Financial Distress

Bernanke stressed that there must be a collaboration between countries to face financial threats to global finance. Bernanke is calling for a complete rebalance of the global economy through coordinated efforts. Currently the major players like the US and China are experiencing different rates of recovery. China is in a fast expansion and the US expansion is at a significantly slower rate.

Economist Warnings

Bernanke points out that there are no stabilizing systems and that in the current financial environment that demand can not be allocated optimally globally. Bernankes tone was more reserved than that used in a speech in November where he warned that China is putting the world economy at great risk by keeping currency low.

The End of Low Mortgage Rates

What happens when you take two major players in the mortgage market that make up sixty percent of the industry and phase them out? Possibly the end of mortgage rates under 5 percent. While real estate groups and consumers are mourning the impending loss of Freddie and Fannie, apartment companies are cheering simply because renting may be the only viable option for consumers shortly.

Mortgage Rates

The housing report released this month opens up options for Congress to make a faster transition to back the feds out of the mortgage market.

Changes to FHA Mortgages

Many of the transitions will require no congressional approval and could take place in only a few months. This means that if you are currently in the process of buying a home, these changes could affect your purchase.

Higher Down Payments on Mortgage

The report calls for larger required down payments and higher insurance fees on FHA mortgages. Currently a down payment of 3.5% is required but could go as high as 20%. These actions would require Congressional approval before those changes could be implemented.

The American Dream: Financial Recovery Plan & Paying Down Personal Debt

Losing a job, being hit with massive medical bills and no insurance or just getting hit with repeated late fees can ruin you financially. A lot of Americans are going through these issues right now so thinking about paying down debt is probably a far off dream.

Debt Management

Overwhelming debt has been a growing catch phrase for a few years now, but sincerely most debt is overwhelming when you consider that interest rates on many credit cards are past 26.99%. Discouraging, overwhelming, definitely, but not necessarily impossible.

Financial Recovery

When it comes to feeding your family and keeping a roof over their head or paying down your Retail Store credit card, it’s an obvious choice. With many people waiting on their tax returns there’s still some choices that can be made to knock down that debt.

Paying Down Debt

If you have lost your job then immediately check in with your credit card companies and see if you have been paying job loss insurance. This is an insurance that became popular about eight years ago. The credit card company charges a monthly fee based on the balance carried. A lot of people may have forgotten that they were covered. If you happen to be someone that was covered by this protection then immediately take advantage of it. You will most likely have to discuss your situation with the third party insurance provider and fill out their paperwork. It can take about a month to get everything situated so make sure to start quickly.

Negotiate with your creditors. Let them know that you intend to pay your debts but that you have run into some financial difficulty. Not every credit card company is run by bloodthirsty, greedy pirates, some have a heart and would rather keep a customer by making arrangements than crushing them with even more debt. Speak softly, be kind, swallow your pride and simply ask for help. If you get a no, calmly ask again. If the representative can’t help you, then kindly ask to speak to a manager. Always thank someone for their help.

The New York Times Online ran a really good article on repairing your credit score and similar topics.

Another ADI recomendation is seeking the advice of Consumer Advocate Clark Howard at his website, radio or television program.

Military Members get Mortgage Redemption

Recently, JP Chase has been accused of wrongfully foreclosing on the homes of US Military members and veterans. The company has since apologized and created amendments to the loans and interest rates they offer military members. The Service members Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, was put in place to protect actively serving military members from foreclosure.

Some of the amendments that JP Chase have made include dropping the interest rate for active service members to 4%. While in recent years rates have been low, this is substantially lower than the required rate of 6% mandated by the SCRA. The company has also promised not to foreclose on homes of service members while they are currently deployed or have just returned from deployment.

For military members who have already fallen behind, or are delinquent on their mortgage payments, there is still an option. Chase has put into place a loan modification program for those who need help getting out of mortgage debt. Customer service for military members will also be increased as new Chase financial centers will placed near many military bases including Camp Lejeune, N.C; and Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Hood, Texas; Naval Station Norfolk, Va.; Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, N.C..

Mortgage Delinquency is Down, Lenders More Restrictive

In the past couple of years the amount of late mortgage payments along with foreclosures have risen greatly. Fortunately, new reports have found that they recently have begun to drop. The rates of late mortgage payments across the US have reached the lowest point in the past three years. What constitutes a loan to be one payment past due, is if the monthly payment is over 30 days late. This has been a widespread problem.

The rate of borrowers who were at least one payment behind, or had their house repossessed, hit a low point of 13.56% as reported in late December of last year. This is the lowest rate the country has seen since the economy and housing market began to fail in 2008. Experts see this as a sign of hopeful improvement in the overall US economy.

Although this report may point to improvement in the housing market, it cannot all be attributed to an improvement in the economy. Since the collapse of the housing market many banks have become more stringent with their lending practices. Many of the unqualified loans have already been foreclosed or repossessed. The drop in the rate of late mortgage payment is likely to be a common trend as new loans are harder to get.

Home Mortgage, Pay Down Old Debt to Lower Interest Rate

If you have been pre-approved for a mortgage loan, selected a house, made an offer and are now ready to get the mortgage loan, then your lender may tell you of a good way to get a better interest rate. Pay off those credit card debts. By doing so, you can raise your credit score and be put into a different interest bracket.

If you have multiple credit cards the pay the highest interest one down first. Pay the most money to that card and less to the other cards, while still meeting the minimums. Eventually you will end up with the zero balance cards left to pay off. When you get to a zero balance on those cards to not close them. Leave them open as closing them can negatively effect your credit.

Reducing your overall credit debt and even paying off outstand debts will improve your credit score. This can help you to save a lot of money in interest for your mortgage payments.

Mortgage Refinancing: 30 Year or 15 Year

One of the most common types of home loans is the 30 year fixed rate mortgage. What this means is that the cost of the home will be divided into payments over 30 years at the same interest rates. Longer loan times usually mean lower monthly payments. Although the monthly payments are lower, there is a larger amount of interest paid back to the lender because of the longer term.

Another popular option is the 15 year home loan. This allows the borrower to pay off the loan more quickly therefore incurring fewer interest charges. While the monthly payment of these is higher, it is not as high as some people expect. In most cases the monthly payment for a 15 year loan compared to a 30 year loan is less than double. If one can afford the monthly payments on a 15 year loan, the amount of interest saved is very substantial.

Recently many people have begun choosing a mortgage refinance from a 30 year loan to a 15 year loan. There are a couple of reasons why this would be the smarter option for some. In general the current interest rates on 30 year loans are significantly larger than those of 15 year loans, saving even more cost in interest payments.

Home Loan Mortgage Approval

Getting approved for a home loan mortgage is contingent on a variety of factors. First is important to find out how much money one can be preapproved for. What this means is that a lender or a bank will punch numbers, such as income and one’s monthly cost of living, into the computer and it will produce a number of what they assume the borrower will be approved for.

A preapproval number does not guarantee the loan application will be accepted. Instead this number gives the borrower a range in which they are likely to be approved for. Another factor that is important to consider when applying for mortgage financing is the amount currently available in ones bank account as well as how much money can be used for a down payment.

Another thing to consider is one credit history and current credit score. A low credit history or credit score can lead to being denied for the loan for being required to pay a higher interest rate for additional fees. Although certain time of mortgage and home loans are available for those suffering from poor credit report credit history. These loans often carry substantially higher costs. These costs can include hitting fees higher interest rates and pay off penalties.

Health Insurance and Applying for a New Job

When applying for jobs, or determining whether or not to accept a job offer, many people take into consideration the health care plans that the company offers its employees. In the past couple of years since the economys decline many companies have had to take away the benefits of an employee health care option. This has left many employees not only without health care, but without the money to pay for a health insurance plan on their own.

Locate the Best Health Insurance Rates

For others who are self-employed or work for small companies that have never provided the option of health insurance, finding affordable health insurance has been a struggle. Although many companies advertise affordable plans, a large amount of the times those plans do not provide enough coverage to be worth the cost. As the demand for affordable health care coverage for individuals and small business rises, there are insurance companies looking to gain customers in that market.

One step that has been taken by the government to promote health insurance is the Health Reform the Obama Administration has pushed since his inauguration. This bill will require small businesses that have more than fifty employees to provide a certain caliber of health insurance to all of its employees.

Bad Credit Mortgages and Refinance Mortgages

Even people who have bad credit scores or a poor credit history should consider refinancing a loan. There are many lenders who will still consider less than perfect or high-risk borrowers when it comes to refinancing. Borrowers should carefully look at their financial situation, and if possible get the advice of a mortgage, or home loan specialist.
Bad credit mortgage loans usually carry a higher rate of interest and sometimes have additional fees associated with terminating the loan early. These are called early payoff fees and they discourage the borrower from paying off the loan quickly in an attempt to avoid interest charges. When choosing a bad credit refinancing loan, be aware that many companies charge these fees and try to avoid them by slow paying., Mortgage Rates Should Not Stop a Home Purchase

Since the collapse of the economy and the housing market many experts and news sources have been paying special attention to the current interest rates on home loans. While homeowners are hearing how low the interest rates are, and how they are slowly rising, many of them do not know how this will directly affect them. Although in general higher interest rates mean higher monthly mortgage payments, most people do not know exactly how much the rise will affect their home loan.

This is still a buyer’s market.  There are tens of thousands of sellers that can not sell their homes right now because the market is so glutted.  That puts a buyer in a very strong position.  This does not necessarily mean that the housing prices will be low, what it means is that you have more power in negotiation.  Many sellers have had their homes on the market for much longer than they have anticipated.  Some sellers may in fact, be desperate to sell, but it doesn’t mean they will just hand over the house for nothing.

Mortgage rates should not be the biggest factor in you buying a home.  The mortgage rates are important, but also consider how much you can save in negotiating a house price down.  The money you will be spending in mortgage rates can be saved by hanging in there and being tough in negotiations., Flood Insurance After Katrina

After Katrina devastated New Orleans, a lot of people without flood insurance were left with no homes, and no insurance to cover the costs of rebuilding. Since then many others have considered and purchased flood insurance. Even with hundreds of thousands of people were put in financial crisis because they did not have flood insurance many are still opting out because of price.

Some people are under the misconception that home insurance will cover them in the event of a flood, that could be seriously damaging their home or property, but that is incorrect. In the event of a flood homeowners who only have the required home insurance would be required to pay out of pocket if their property was damaged in any way.

One of the reasons many people do not purchase additional insurance in case of flooding is because it is not required to have by law, but rather is a preventative insurance much like health insurance. Each month the homeowner is required to pay a premium rate or a yearly rate in some cases, whether or not a flood ever happens in their area. For people living in towns that are below sea level, or have been known to have flooding in past years, it is a wise idea to bite the bullet and pay for the chance of a flood happening again., Mortgage Rates Up, Save on Home Insurance

Just recently the average mortgage rates being charged by major lenders has exceeded the 5 percent line. This is the first time it has been over that amount since almost a year ago. Newlyweds looking to purchase their first home should not be overly concerned with this leap in mortgage rates.

Even with the rise in mortgage rates, which will increase the monthly payment, the affordability of purchasing a home in the current economy is still reasonably low. When the current housing market costs are compared to those recorded in the past, it is clear that the overall cost of owning a home is still lower than it has been throughout history. For this reason the purchase of homes is not expected to be drastically effected by the rise in interest rates.

Home buyers are also being reminded to include costs such as home insurance and closing costs in their figures. Many new home buyers are getting pre approved mortgage loans but are then disheartened to find out that they can not afford the closing costs or home insurance.

More information about home insurance can be obtained at

Bad Credit Mortgage Companies Tighten Restrictions

Many mortgage companies are tightening restrictions and requirements for financing a home loan, causing hopeful homeowners to think purchasing a home is not possible. This is not entirely true; there is still plenty of financing available the process may just be a little more difficult. Currently only a few institutions have implemented these new restrictions, including the mortgage company pair Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

In order to compensate for the changes potential borrowers should budget in additional costs that may be incurred due to the new restrictions that may be in place. These fees could include increased closing costs, as well as other application fees. Applicants with low credit scores and a shaky credit history may also be required to pay more through higher interest rates.

Bad credit mortgages and refinancing options are always available for those in similar situations. When seeking a bad credit mortgage borrowers should be very aware of hidden costs. Many companies offering this mortgage finance option place pay-off penalties in order to decrease loans that are paid off early. This keeps the borrower from decreasing the high amount of interest they would have to pay over time if they wanted to pay off the loan early.

Continued Rise in Mortgage Rates

It was just last week, the well-known mortgage company Freddie Mac posted interest rates that exceeded 5 percent for the first time in almost a year. Despite the rise in mortgage rates, in comparison with the home loan interest rates that have been recorded in the past, the numbers are still relatively low. It is likely that for the next year rates will continue to remain just above, or under the 5 percent line.

It was originally anticipated that 2011 would bring a significant rise in home sales, however that is no longer the general thought. While home sales are predicted to improve, the improvement will most likely be less significant than originally suspected. One of the reasons experts believe it housing market will not improve much is because of the still and slowly recovering economic crisis.

Another factor that is predicted to contribute is the lack of jobs and the high unemployment numbers that the country is currently faced with. As unemployment decreases, more jobs are created and the economy continues to repair itself, it is likely the home sales market will improve. As the United States economy and housing market improves, mortgage rates are very likely to rise.

Money as a Source of Relationship Stress

Many studies have shown that issues relating to money are the most common items that spark fights and arguments between boyfriends and girlfriends and especially between married people. Although marriage legally means that everything is shared and split down the middle, when it comes to money and bank accounts it is never as easy as that.

In fact, many married people find it more stressful once bank accounts are joined, rather than less stressful. Another issue that is caused by money that greatly affects relationships is having enough money to pay all of the bills on time. A good way to handle this is by creating a budget at the beginning of each year.

Take a look at how much the bills have been over the past year and adjust the budget accordingly. It is always a good idea to overestimate the amount of money that will be needed for bills in case there are unexpected costs.

Saving Money for Mortgages and Bills

Unfortunately, everything in life costs money and most of the time it costs too much money. From eating to having a place to sleep, money is necessary to survive and live any sort of reasonably comfortable life. For many Americans the issue of money has been multiplied in the face of the current economic crisis.

With unemployment higher than it has been in almost a full century, more and more citizens are realizing just how important their incomes are as families are struggling to find money for their mortgages and monthly bills. When experiencing money problems it is always a wise idea to go back over financial aspects of ones life and re-budget monthly expenses cutting out unnecessary items.

Many families can save hundreds of dollars a month by simply opting out of perks such as cable TV and frequently eating out at restaurants and going out to the movie theater.

Florida Pest Control Exterminators Battle Boat-Eating Termites

Boats have been in storage for the winter and now that their owners are bringing them back out they are finding that their sea craft has become victim to the dreaded termite. The most common breed that Florida boat owners are calling pest control exterminators about are the Florida Drywood Termite and the Formosan.

Pest Control Exterminators

Some Florida Termites do not have a restrictive diet of wood only, some will eat and cellulose based material while others even eat away at asphalt.

Florida Termites

Once the damage has been done, calling in an exterminator can rid the boat of the infestaton, but the owner may be left with a hefty repair bill and in the worst cases may have to scrap the vessel. Termite control for boat storage is really a preventive maintenance issue. The boat should be treated before the vessel is placed into storage to avoid a termite colony from taken over.

Termite Pest Control

Termite pest control for boats has been an ongoing issue in Florida and Georgia over the past 5 years. Florida is home to one of the most destructive termites in existence, the Formosan, or Super Termite. Annual pest control inspections have risen in Florida over the past 3 decades as Formosan colonies have been an on-going pest control issue requiring steadfast maintenance.

Reduced Availability of Mortgages and Higher Mortgage Rates

Without Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the U.S. may see more expensive mortgages. There may also be less mortgages available, but the demise of Freddie and Fannie has long been in the making. The current White House administration believes that an “orderly and deliberate wind-down” should occur. This comes after both received a share of bailout money to the sound of 150 billion.

Home Mortgage

There’s not a clear plan to the deconstruction and with higher mortgage rates, it may be difficult to secure votes for this kind of action. The propsal, which was released on Friday, describes 3, not comletely fleshed-out ways on how to back the feds out of the mortgage market. The current state of the housing market may take a very large hit and homebuying may draw to a complete stop as many Americans would no longer have access to mortgages that are available now.

Mortgage Rates

If the proposal to back the feds out is part of a long-term rebuilding plan, then it may take a few more experts to explain how this may occur. The forseeable decade after the removal of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may not include the American Dream of home ownership, but it would also mean that less mortgages will be given to those that can’t truly afford it.

Health Insurance Do you Know Your PPO or HMO Plan?

When it comes to purchasing health insurance there are two main factors to consider how much coverage one needs and the amount of money that can be budgeted to monthly premium costs. There are two types of health insurance that are the most common options to choose from.

The first one is known as a PPO Plan, or Preferred Provider Organizations which is a group of health care providers available to insurance carriers at a discounted rate. The second type of insurance is known as HMO, or Health Maintenance Organization, which most commonly has fewer providers but is usually the less expensive option.

Sadly, when people are signing up for a their insurance, either at the start of a new job or during benefits change time, people don’t do the research that it takes to find the right insurance for their family.  Make certain to study all of the benefits that are being offered.  Some plan options may be better suited to your family.

US Treasury Recommends Higher Down Payment Mortgages

Although the housing market is still in a downward spiral, with foreclosures and mortgage defaults still on the rise, there are still Americans out there looking to fulfill their dream of owning a home. Although in the past week the interest rates reported by Freddie Mac have risen above 5 percent for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, the rates are still low when compared to other times in history.

Mortgage Rates

However people wishing to become homeowners should be aware that new restrictions on home loan applications and acceptance, especially for loans purchased through either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, may inhibit some Americans who a year ago would have been accepted.


The US Treasury has recommended that higher down payments and stricter loan standards should be adopted by the two mortgage giants. They are advising this in order to avoid another crash in the housing market.

Royal Caribbean on the Forefront of Cruise Luxury

Royal Caribbean recently announced that the company will be revamping its Freedom Class of ships starting with the Liberty of The Seas. Although this ship is not even 5 years old, the company is looking to keep all of their ships above and beyond what the rest of the industry offers.

The boat will go through a dry-dock period, which means it will be out of water and its exterior and interior will be repaired and renovated. The cruise ship is being dry-docked in Queens Island Bahamas. This dry-dock of the Liberty of The Seas is the start to what the CEO Adam Goldstein calls a revitalization. With their new class of ships boasting an amazing variety of features and activities, he wishes to bring all of the cruise ships to the same high standard.

Liberty of the Seas in particular will be enhanced through a partnership with DreamWorks, the popular animated film maker. The DreamWorks Experience will feature childrens favorite characters such as Shrek, Toy Story, the animals of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. This ship also offers a boxing ring, Water Park and Surf Park, personal wellness spa, as well as flat screen televisions available in every stateroom. Shoes Online, MBT

MBT, or Masai Barefoot Technology, was the first shoe company to create the now common exercise shoe with a rounded bottom. In Europe in 1996, MBT created the shoe after being inspired by the Masai people who had to walk barefoot.

The shoe was made to create a sense of instability while walking. The body recognizes the instability and requires one to walk in a different way, working and utilizing muscles that are normally not used. The design of the shoe also takes pressure caused by walking with improper posture. Shoes Online

MBT has a testing site in which over 40 different studies have been done looking to verify and optimize the effects of MBT footwear on the human body as stated by the website. Shoe Shop

Many of these studies have been written up in peer-reviewed publications and journals and accepted by many industry professionals. It was this brand that sparked brands such as Sketchers and Reebok to create similar shoes now available widely around the US.

MBT warns against buying their competitors products claiming their product is the true original, and because of the patent cannot be completely duplicated by any other company. The market for these shoes has been higher in Europe but is making its way to America.

The UFO Video Everyone is Probably Sending You the Link To

If you haven’t been on the internet recently, checked your Facebook account or opened an email, then you may have missed this UFO video that has been going around.  A number of your friends have probably already sent you an email with the subject, Is this Real??? and you may even wonder that yourself with so many other views of the supposed same event.

If you haven’s seen the video and would like to judge for yourself whether this is a real unidentified flying object or a hoax, then check it out within this article.  Please be aware that there is explicit language and parental or guardian supervision is advised:

Shoe Shop News DSW Shoe Shop for Less

DSW, or Designer Shoe Warehouse, is a nationwide shoe store offering designer names at discounted prices. It can be compared to a TJMaxx, with a sole concentration on shoes. One of the big allures of DSW, other than the low prices, is the fabulous rewards program. With two different member levels, rewards and premier, for every 1500 points you receive $10 gift card. First level membership is free, and all that is needed is email and shipping information. With 10-15 points earned per dollar it is easy for a shoe shopping enthusiast to quickly earn those gift cards. has now made it even easier to get the great prices.

The website offers free shipping as well as free returns and exchanges. This eliminates the worry that if the shoe doesnt fit, it will cost extra money. Every variety of shoes imaginable is available on the website, from mens, womens and childrens shoes to handbags and other accessories.

There is a wide selection of designer shoes to choose from as well as a section with luxury brands. The website is easy to navigate and allows the user to find exactly what they are looking for. Find quality shoes for even less in the clearance section. New Apartment Guide to Apartments Rent

Many people are turning from residential houses to apartment living again.  The trend is mostly because modern apartments make it affordable over home ownership. has released a new apartment guide that lists apartment rents, amenities as well as some helpful tips in obtaining an apartment for the lowest price. is making it easy to find apartments with a simple search online.

If you are looking into buying a city apartment then you probably realize how much of an adventure it can be.  City apartments are great because they offer some convenient and exciting opportunities.  For one, they put you closer to everything.  Lets face it, there is always more to do in the city.  There are shows, movies, restaurants and clubs that residential areas just dont offer.  Another pro to buying a city apartment is that they are cozier and they usually clean up faster.  Less space means less area that you have to clean thoroughly each week.  On top of that, it is said that smaller spaces can create momentum.  It forces you to make decisions, at home as well as in life situations.  It is a faster paced lifestyle and can be very exciting.

Apartment living can be great, and can be a good source in helping you locate an apartment.

Online Shoe Shopping is the Way to Beat High Priced Malls

Driving from store to store shopping for the right shoes has always been considered an annoying hassle. Now the savvy shoe shopper has to go no further than the living room couch to find the perfect shoe. The internet has created a whole new world of online shopping making any item readily available to consumers.

Online shops such as and offer online shoppers the chance to browse a vast index of current and older style shoes. online shoe store sells every type of shoe imaginable; from womens pumps to mens work boots it provides a place to purchase shoes for the whole family. A great perk of shopping at is the shipping and return policy. Everything purchased on is shipped for free, always, no matter what.

Even return shipping is paid for if one is not happy with the purchase made. There is also no 30 day return policy as shoes can be returned for one whole year after the purchase date. Many people are skeptical about buying shoes online because there is no way to try them on digitally. shipping and return policy eliminates this fear for consumers with the free shipping policy.

Shoe shopping in the Amazon Dot Com

Starting in 2010, has created a new way for people to search and buy both mens and womens shoes. Ever since customers have been able to browse and perform a search in a new kind of way using more detail sales at Amazon have gone up. Amazon customers can now browse by style and by looks with a few easy clicks of a button.

Shoe Shopping

Integrated in the search, customers can also look for a certain desired brand, a price range and even color. Everyone loves an easy shopping experience and with the many items that sells, this new way to shop for shoes that started in November of 2010, seems to be a hit. Shopping for shoes can be difficult when you are not able to try them on for size or see them. That is why many people would not prefer shopping for shoes online, but with such a detailed search feature, it is made simple.

Shopping for Shoes

Many shoppers are visual and need to see the item versus shopping off of a description and had made this possible. Because of this feature, online shoppers have now looked to buying their shoes from because it has been made easy. Turns out this added website search feature was worth it.

Is There a Difference with Sprint Family Plans?

Sprint Family Plans can be show significant savings for families that are trying to keep their budget in check. As cell phones have become such a big part of our lives, there is an overwhelming and obvious feeling of resentment when most people get their cell phone bills. Sprint takes the sting out of outrageous cell phone prices with their Sprint family plans.

If you dont even mind splitting the bill with a few people in the family then you can include mother-in-laws, brother-in-laws or even nieces. The most general family plans simply charge an additional line charge per month on top of the base program. So if you were to take a 1500 minute program and have four people on it, you could be looking at $69 – $99 for the plan then you add 20 each for the next three people on the plan and would be looking at around $160.

You could see some problems with this arrangement though. A for instance, what if your mother decided to get a 4g phone, well with Sprint, thats an additional 10 for premium services, then on top of that your mother would probably want the phone insurance; an additional $7. You are already nearing that $200 mark, still reasonable for four people though and if dear ole mom pays her own bill it should be just fine.

State Dinner Honoring President Hu Jintao

Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, concludes his short visit to the United States of America in Chicago on Friday and is headed back home. Since arriving on Tuesday the two presidents have been discussing world issues and seem to have come to some sort of agreement. President Jintao stated the two parties had come to agreement on important agreement on China-U.S. relations and major international and regional issues of shared interests.

President, Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, hosted a state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jinato, on Thursday, January 20, 2011 in the State Room of the White House in Washington. In attendance were a number of influential politicians, savvy businessmen and CEOS from companies as big as Disney and Microsoft.

Although theses invitees are understandable, some of the others caused people to speculate about the motives behind the invitations. Among these guests were actors James Brolin and Jackie Chan, Olympic Ice Skating Gold Medalist Michelle Kwan, and famous fashion designer Vera Wang. Although the visit ended in such a celebration, many doubt that any action of real consequence will come of the Chinese presidents visit. Until due action has been taken and changes have been made, it can be assumed that Hu Jintaos words are precisely that, just words.

Lindsay Lohan and Her Alleged $10,000 Bribe


It has been allegedly reported that Lindsay Lohan offered ex-Betty Ford employee Dawn Holland an opportunity to make some real money. It is not clear that Lohan offered this in return for dropping the alleged battery charges, or just in good faith, but reports state the deal never went through.

TMZ reported that Lohan offered Holland the opportunity to be a part of a set-up photo shoot that showed the two reconciling differences. It is assumed these photos would then be shopped to competing media outlets. The value of these photos was supposed to be around ten thousand dollars. Unfortunately for Dawn Holland, it appears the deal will no longer be taking place. It appears that somebody in Lohans camp put a stop to this proposal and the deal has been reneged. It is unclear what action, if any, Lindsays ex-accuser will take but it is reported that Holland is very unhappy.

There is a worry that she will once again pick up the charges of battery against Ms. Lohan and decide she would like to press charges. If these charges were brought, it is likely Lohan would be placed in jail since she is currently still on probation stemming from multiple drug and alcohol related offenses.

Recently Released INRIX Traffic App Crashes into the Market

INRIX Traffic is a navigation app that was has recently been released by publisher INRIX Inc. It boasts more than 1 million users that include all types of drivers ranging from commercial truck drivers to people who are just commuting to and from work or school.

What makes this app so effective is the Inrix Smart Driver Network. This is a server that anonymously receives the drivers location and speed and then uses this information to provide the users with accurate and up to the minute travel information.

This app is the highest in its category and that may be in part to the fact that it is free to install. It also has the highest accuracy and traffic coverage. Supplying drivers with over 160,000 miles of highways, freeways and 126 cities with available real time traffic flow. Another feature of this application is that it allows users to update the traffic issues that they encounter, accidents, construction, or just rubber necking. Inrix also has a predictive traffic feature that allows users to plan ahead looking an hour into what the traffic should be.

This app is great for both frequent travelers as well as the occasional road trip and is recommended for download.

Reduce Stress with Shoes, Shopping and a Little Retail Therapy

There are many things people can do in order to relive stress. Going out and having fun, taking a relaxing bath, going on vacation, the list is endless. Perhaps a great way to relieve stress, even more so for women, is with Retail Therapy. Although some may think that this is only going to cause more stress because of the spending money factor, if the shopper finds great discounts then it shouldnt be a problem.

Shoe Shop

Going shopping can reduce stress because it allows the mind to focus on something. Instead of worrying about the kids or work, the shopper focuses on matching clothing items, trying on clothes and more. Retail Therapy does not only need to involve clothes, but shopping for anything that is considered fun will do the trick. If it encourages pampering then even better!

Shopping for Shoes, Shopping for Fun

Shopping can provide an emotional release which is required in order to not get burned out. Everyone needs some sort of break and this is proven to do the trick. Lastly, treating oneself to nice things will make anyone feel good. It is good to get out and spend a little money on something fun and desirable. Try retail Therapy and enjoy all its benefits!

Retail Therapy

Big Money, Bansky’s Identity on Ebay

Still keeping his identity a secret, Banksys name has once again tried to be auctioned off on eBay. Many sellers have tried to auction off his true identity but have failed and same goes for this time around. The last time this happened, eBay had removed the listing because the item for sale was not a tangible product that was being offered. The seller had tried auctioning off a piece of paper with the true identity of Banksy written on it, in hopes that it would qualify for eBay. The auction item however, has been removed.

Money for Bansky

The bidding has started at $3,000 and had received about 30 bids. The auction price had gone all the way up to $999,999. The seller had claimed that he had discovered Banskys identity by matching up his sold art pieces with tax records. He did not give any other details but assured he had his full name of the infamous street artist.

Bansky’s Insurance Policy

The project on eBay is now listed as removed. Banksys art work continues to grow in popularity. His signature style is well known and goes far beyond the pencil and paint. Through his career he has managed to replace hundreds of musical CDs with his own CD and has snuck in his own artwork into different art museums such as the British Museum which decided to add them into their display. We may never know who this Banksy is and we may never know if the eBay seller truly knows the artists identity.


Premium Domain Names on No Reserve Auction on Flippa has some premium domains currently on auction and some are being offered with either low reserves and some with no reserve., are two of the hot domain properties that are currently being featured.  Dot Mes have been in the news lately with the recent sale of to AOL for a whopping $35 Million.

Companies that are looking for brand identity with their website names often have to locate these domains through extensive searches, waiting and auction, however, is making it very simple to locate some of the best Dot Net, Dot Com and Dot Me domains around.

With a highly identifiable domain name, customers are more likely to visit a corporate website.  So, a domain name can be worth millions of dollars because of customer purchases through web visits.  One domain name, in comparison to conventional advertising, can bring in millions of views a month and this is why finding the right domain name has so much importance associated with it.

But there also some great DOT COM’s and Dot Net like and, CellVoip .com, and, and that are now available at  If your business is looking for some great exposure through their domain name, then place your bids a

Redbox vs. Netflix on Date Night?

Movies have long since been a great form of entertainment, and a staple in the dating world.  However, with the economy still down and theater prices being borderline ridiculous, movie watchers have had to seek out other ways to fill their Friday nights.  Netflix and Redbox have become two very popular ways to achieve this task.  But which is better?

A poll was conducted recently to try an establish a clear winner, however that seemed to be futile.  When five hundred people were asked which method they prefer, we were surprised to find that many used both services.  Netflix, they claimed, was better when there was nothing else on television, or to catch up on a tv series they were interested in.  The streaming service was very popular with stay-at-home mothers who wanted educational television to occupy their youngsters.

At the same time, they would often frequent a Redbox to catch up on the newest DVD releases, citing the $1 a day fee that just really couldnt be beat.  Many of the boxes also offered Blu-Ray discs, making the movie going experience even easier and more enjoyable at home.  Customers are very pleased with the selections that are offered, citing that there is something for everyone, and they are updated quite frequently.

Economic Downturn Makes for Creative Valentine’s Day Gifts Like Boudoir Photography

In times of economic strife and war, one thing that has always remained the same is an increase in babies being born.  This tends to generate some interesting effects for the economy in niche services like Valentine’s Day gifts, Boudoir Photography and other romantic-centric businesses.  Romantic feelings are also generally on the rise in February as chocolatiers, card makers and cardboard cupid manufacturers gear up for Valentine’s Day.  This month presents a trifecta of war, economic downturn and February right around the bend.  The aforementioned ‘trifecta’ might not sound that romantic, but historically, it happens to be the perfect equation for generating romantic feelings.

Photographer, Laura Leslie of Linden Photography is seeing an increase in Boudoir Photography clients.  An increased demand in such a service can be directly attributed to an overwhelming social need to feel more romantic, to feel more normal in this time of turmoil.  As a society feels more pressured, it often turns to diversions, entertainment and feelings of nesting and homemaking.  Boudoir Photography presents a unique way in which people can feel romantic and sexy and essentially feel more comfortable with the state of their society.

This type of photography is generally requested by women that want to feel sexier, improve their self confidence or give their partner a special gift.  Hence, Boudoir Photography is quickly becoming one of the most requested services during Valentine’s Day.  This year’s projected numbers for this niche service industry are 15% higher than five years ago.  This data can be attributed to a stronger social acceptance of this type of photography and a desire in women to feel beautiful.

“As a photographer, I see all women as beautiful in some way shape or form. The problem is that they don’t see themselves that way. So my desire, and job, is to change that focus and put them in a light that reveals just how amazing they are.” Laura Leslie of Linden Photography.

Photography services, online dating sites and wedding planning are all gearing up for this 15% increase in business this year.  This could potentially add to improved job figures as service providers will need to hire additional staff to meet the demand from new clients.

Women that are interested in a more creative Valentine’s Day Gift this year should consider the following when thinking about Boudoir Photography:

“…the thing I love most is watching that realization happen when they (women) view their pictures. There’s nothing better than seeing a woman realize just how beautiful she truly is.” Laura Leslie of Linden Photography.


Yard Sale Mobile App, iPhone & Android

Everyone likes to save money and what better way to do that then to go shopping at yard sales? Of course there is a phone application for that! The Yard Sale Mapper mobile app for iPhone and Android will not only point you in the direction of the yard sale but it includes garage sales and tag sales. It takes any postings that individuals have put on and will automatically plot them on a Google map.

This way, once you download the mobile App, you can see the yard sales closest to you. Start at one point and move along from yard sale to yard sale as you save big bucks! This phone app is also free which is even better! Not only will it bring you to the yard sale but it includes a description of what you will find there. For example, if the people are selling CDs, DVDs, toys, clothes, bake ware and whatever else, it will be listed.

This way you dont waste any time if the yard sale isnt selling something you dont want. It will also give you exact directions on how to get there. Save money and save time with the Yard Sale Mapper mobile app for iPhone and Android! You can save a lot by shopping at yard sales! iPhone Apps Assisting You in Calculus

Lets face it! Many of us do not like math. Understandably, memorizing those dreaded calculus formulas can be quite a drag. The good news from is that there is a phone app for this unpopular subject as well. Check out Coles Calculus Review.

It can help to take care of the calculus equations that one would find at both a high school level and at a college level. You know those handy references that can be found towards the back of your text book, which on occasion happens to be missing something? Think of this application as that only you dont need to carry around a heavy book that is made up of thousands of pages and everything is there. Some of the formulas include derivatives, integrals, trig formulas and other equations.

Even the best of the math lovers will forget a formula now and then. Just whip out your phone and search which formula you need. Of course, I would never recommend cheating but using this as a study tool would help greatly. Now that you have the correct formula, all you need to figure out is how to plug the numbers in and solve them! At least you have a good start with this app and!

Are Dish Network Dish Offers Really that Great?

Dish Network offers a deal in which you can get network dish service for $24.99 a month for 1 year.  That sounds like an exceptional deal considering that Dish Network normally charges 39.99 a month.  This deal is for the America’s Top 120 programming and because of the great channels that it offers Dish Network is getting a lot of response.  The one catch is that with some of the Dish Network deals, you have to sign an agreement for a 2 year contract.  So after the first year you are paying 39.99 a month or whatever they are charging at that time.

That might not sounds like a great idea, but even at the normal prices, that is still lower than most of their competitors.  So essentially, Dish Network really does have some great offers.  The other nice thing about the current promotion is 3 months of free HBO and Showtime service.  That does take the sting out of the two year contract, but it is really important to remember to ask that those additional services be cancelled after the free 3 months is up or your bill could be a bit shocking.

Overall, Dish Network is offering great deals, they are upfront with their agreements and the service is highly competitive.  If you don’t mind signing an agreement for your service then you should be just fine with Dish Network.

Saving the Small Business Money with Stays at La Quinta Inn

Small business is having a tough time right now with the way the economy continues to unfurl.  Many small business owners are looking for a way to cut costs and to keep them cut.  For business stays out of town, La Quinta Inns and La Quinta Motels have developed a program called Bright Now.

The Bright Now program for Small Businesses by La Quinta Inns & Suites gives 10% off their rates in Canada, the U.S. and even in Mexico.  Within the program there are additional ways to save money for the small business owner.  La Quinta offers free breakfast and high speed internet access.

If this deal is added to the point system that La Quinta has, which is called La Quinta Returns, you can save a lot and also pick up free nights.  The La Quinta Bright Now program is an excellent way to save money on business trips all of the U.S..

Twilight, Vampires and What’s Next?


What’s next for the world when it comes to vampires?  About every decade there is a new emergence of vampires added back into the culture.  There’s a great surge of vampire movies, vampire books, posters, t-shirts.  In more recent memory, before the Twilight Saga and some of the TV shows that followed, was Anne Rice’s Lestat books.  The movies were also popular, but the following for the books was much greater.

Vampires in Twilight

Where can the story of the vampire go?  Supposedly, the Twilight saga is completed, there may not be anymore books, then again there could be, hard to say.  What is next though?  Space vampires?  That’s been done a couple of times, maybe hip, cool vampire teenagers… never mind, that’s been run into the ground.

Twilight and Vampires

The next big thing in the world of vampires will be the vampire MMO.  These are games that you can create a personal avatar and travel throughout greatly detailed universes.  The vampire MMO will most like be dominated by White Wolf Games as they have been the goto company for vampire role playing for years.  People will involve themselves in worlds much like World of Warcraft, but geared towards the vampire culture.

Taryn Rose Shoes Looking at Record Profits in 2011

Taryn Rose Shoes may see some record profits this year by increasing their advertising presence. Taryn Rose Shoes have long been appreciated by the fashion community and are now seeing more TV time on the feet of celebrities.

A professional and comfortable feel, Taryn Rose Shoes are taking the shoe wolrd by storm with their  new lines coming out in 2011.  At the end of the year, Taryn Rose shoes should expect to see larger profits, especially with the new designs that are already starting to make their ways into stores now.

With the increased intenet marketing campaign, Taryn Rose Shoes has been able to create more and more buzz.  This has increased the amount of shoes that the company has had to produce over the past few weeks.  In anticipation for a busy summer, Taryn Rose Shoes is ready for even bigger business.

The Wonderful Styles of Taryn Rose Shoes

Lets face it, we all love shoes but may not be as aware of the styles that we should be considering in the collection we have obtained sitting in our closets. Styles of dress shoes can actually be quite confusing! With so many available it is hard to know what is what. Before you go shopping and choose your next pair of womens shoes, consider all the available of dress shoes out there. Taryn Rose Shoes for instance, make a great comfortable shoe that still looks amazingly stylish.  Comfort and style are going to become more apparent in shoe offerings from major companies like Taryn Rose Shoes.  Now, to consider the different types of shoes.

First you have the Ankle Strap which has either one or multiple straps that go around the ankle. Next, the Ballet Flat that does not have a heel (hence the flat) but can be dressy at the same time. The French Heel that have a medium or high curved shaped heel. The Kitten Heel are those shoes you see that offer a thinner heel with a base that narrows. These are the ones that get stuck as you stroll along the sidewalk. The Mary Jane style resembles childrens shoes, the ones that have a low clunky heel with a single strap across the foot. Mules are slip ons that do not have a back.  Mules are not as stylish but definitely are comfortable.  Taryn Rose Shoes probably wouldn’t have Mules in their collection.   The pump, a very popular style, surrounds the entire foot and is low cut. Now that you have some idea as to what style provides, then your next shoe shop outing will be that much more fun!

Max Studio Shoes Joins the Comfort Revolution

Shoes are going to be taking the forefront in fashion this year with some changes in the way women think about these all powerful and very important accessories.  Beauty, style and elegance is important, but the new trend adds comfort.

Max Studio Shoes are taking the shoe world by storm. By providing an elegant combination of style and elegance, these shoes come in a variety of patterns and colors perfect to match with any outift. They are available in all the latest and greatest styles, so you are sure to find a pair or three that fit your personal style.

Whether you are looking for a pair of strappy heels to go with that new little dress, or a more classic pump for everyday in the office, there are a number of different options for you. Grab a new pair of heels and turn a boring pair of jeans into a stunning new outfit. If you don’t like wearing heels, there are plenty of flats to choose from as well that still offer the same excellent style.

Taryn Rose Shoes, Beauty Without Pain

Taryn Rose shoes are developed by a former orthopedic surgeon.  She developed the shoes so that women could have great looking shoes while actually being comfortable.  The shoes first made their appearance in 1998 and since then, women have been able to walk in comfort while still looking stylish and in fashion.

Taryn Rose shoes are worth every penny because the ergonomic design of the shoe helps the wearer to keep problems like bunions, fallen arch and other foot related problems, at bay.  The savings alone in Dr.Scholls pads is worth the price of the shoe.

There are a lot of websites that carry Taryn Rose shoes, but some of the best deals can be found on Ebay.  If you are trying to save a ton of money, but still want the comfort and elegance of a Taryn Rose shoe, then keep in mind that you can find these shoes there on Ebay at almost anytime during the day.

What Can You Do with Free Web Hosting?

Most small businesses that are starting online don’t need much more than what free web hosting has to offer.  If you don’t mind sharing space with advertising, then the trade off is completely fair.  If you have a mild interest in starting a business then free web hosting would be a perfect place for you to test the waters of your interest.  If you get bored with the idea then you can walk away from it at anytime without any consequences.

Free web hosting is a great way to see how far you can take an idea.  If you end up becoming an incredibly powerful online business, then you can move to a pay host instead of your free web hosting.  There is a lot that a person with a good sense for business and imagination to match, can do with free web hosting.

Make certain that the web host that you do select has tools that you can use and easily use to get your web pages started.  If you find that the tools are too difficult, then select different web hosting. and Angry Birds Lite

If youre looking for a fun game that does not involve too much thinking but a little bit of strategy then you should give Angry Birds a shot. Never mind the fact that it is quite comical but for some reason, extremely popular and addicting. All you need to do is using a sling shot, launch birds to topple buildings which then crush pigs.

Yes, I know it seems silly but this game it not ranked number one for nothing. Each of the birds will perform different techniques and do different things. For example, a little blue bird will divide into three birds once you tap the screen post launch. The hen, post launch, will explode.

All of these different birds must be used to strategies how you are going to crush all of those annoying green pigs who stole the bird eggs (which is why the birds are so angry). It is not as easy as it seems. As you pass one level, the levels become harder and harder. Some levels will have three angry birds while some will have six or more. Sometimes the pigs are in buildings, on buildings and all sorts of places. Some levels have two pigs to crush while others will have several. A fun game that doesn’t involve much thought; be happy with Angry Birds! has reviews on the best apps out there. provides quality content for those that are interested in technology and mobile applications.

Air Conditioner Repair in the Middle of Winter?

Clothes are not the only things that you can get a good deal on out of season.  Buying a swimsuit in the winter could save you up to 70% in some stores, but another thing you can save big on is an air conditioner.  The off season, for most places that experience cold spells, brings great savings on both purchasing an air conditioner or just having your air conditioner repaired.

General home maintenance usually saves families a lot of money in repair bills.  Air conditioner maintenance is no different.  The better that you maintain your equipment, then the longer it will last.  One of the steps that should be added to your home maintenance routine is having your air conditioner inspected off season.  You can either do it yourself or hire a professional.  If you wait until the summer, when you need it the most, you may run into a huge repair bill if it turns out to be malfunctioning when you need it the most.

This is why having it inspected in the middle of winter can save you a lot of money.  Preparing for the worse in the off season is far superior to paying for an air conditioner repair call in the middle of the busiest and most expensive season of summer.

Cash Smart Marketing with Dot Me

The dot me revolution is happening now.  As companies see declining revenue, they are looking at more guerilla marketing tactics to generate interest in their services and products.  One of the new strategies that are being added to marketing campaigns is the use of the dot me domain.  This domain extension makes a product or service instantly personal for the consumer.  Dot me is doing for internet marketing what catchy jingles did for television and radio marketing.  It gets into the consumers consciousness immediately, because lets face it, shopping and being a consumer is about the most important person, .me.

Some fairly interesting websites are using the dot me domain extension to great use.  Some of those examples would be:  A site with all things Las Vegas, from hotels and casinos to Vegas shows. Is your guide to standing out from the crowd on Facebook with funny status updates, upside down statuses, cool profile pictures, Facebook hacks, applications, tag your friends pictures, crazy memes and the latest news, tips and tricks. Founder of uses this site for his personal blog, which is actually quite entertaining, informative and full of the eye candy that most have come to expect from

Travel with Less Hassles, Virgin Atlantic Airlines

Web check in, roomier cabin space and a fleece blanket sounds too good to be true for international travel, but Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airlines makes luxury affordable.  A lot of travelers are booking flights to London by the end of the year because of impending economic difficulties in the UK that will make that travel more expensive in 2011.  Prices with Virgin Atlantic Airlines on flights to London can be found online for less then $500.00.

You would have to fly out of San Francisco, Los Angeles or Orlando, but even with an extra amount of travel to those airports still makes it worth it to fly Virgin Atlantic Airlines.  London is not the only great deal that Virgin Atlantic Airlines has right now.  Prices on travel to Australia, Dubai and Africa are similarly priced to air fare to London.

When given the choice of flights to London, most people would select Virgin Atlantic Airlines over other carriers simply because of the personal entertainment system with on demand video.  Branson has changed the way people think about air travel by treating people to a first class experience.  Virgin Atlantic Airlines has hubs in Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow.  If you are looking for a great deal to London then check them out.

Last Minute Shopping Ideas, Personalized Domains

You are down to the wire on your holiday shopping.  Stores are packed, parking is non-existent and shoppers have that crazed look in their eye, especially if you just grabbed the last cashmere sweater.  Stay home.  Shop on the internet, although getting something shipped by Christmas is going to be impossible as the day goes on.  This year it is time for the procrastinator to get creative.  A personalized domain would be perfect.  They are easy to get, easy to set up and it is the gift that gives back all year long.

Depending on the name you use for your .me domain and the hosting service you select, you could spend under $100.00.  Theres other ways to lower that price, but the actual domain itself should be fairly inexpensive.  Check out some of the domain registration sites and see what prices you can get for a personalized domain.

A personalized domain is a domain name like  You could get one for your friend or family and use their actual name as the domain.  If you want to go the extra mile, then you could set up a webpage for them.  This is a great gift, because theres no wrapping involved, theres no crazed shoppers and best of all, you can stay in your pajamas and buy the gift.

Can You Use Your Home Equity Loans to Get more Secured Loans?

Using your home equity loans to get more secured loans may not really work in the way you think it might.  Home equity loans can damage your credit initially, but after a few months of being reported it can start to show some very positive marks, which will then allow you to obtain more secured loans.

The credit card companies are looking at the length in which you have had your home equity loans and the same goes for the banks and lenders.  If you have not had home equity loans on your report for at least 6 months then there is not enough data for the lenders to make a decision.  The better idea is to either try to get secured loans before applying for the home equity loans or simply wait until more data has been accumulated.

Secured loans through credit card companies aren’t that difficult to get because they are simply set up to get you to pay money so that you can use your money.  However, with recent events in the financial world, these lenders are becoming more strict because information was recently released on how one can use secured loans to manipulate a credit report positively.  This has caused some regulation agencies to take a look at how these loans are weighted on the credit reports.

Shopping Best Buy Gift Card Ideas and What Not to Buy

If you are shopping for that special someone in your life, then you already know that there are some things, while they may be needed, are not appropriate gifts.  Here are a few things that fit that list:

  1. A new iron-no matter how much complaining there is about the old one, dont buy a new one, at least not as a Christmas gift.  Best buy gift card ideas dont include things that will unwrinkled anything.
  2. Practical undergarments-lingerie is one thing, but a multi pack of briefs just isnt an appropriate gift.  Save that for another shopping trip.  Lingerie is always a welcome gift, though they may not want to open them in front of their parents.  Best buy gift card ideas dont include things that should is practical.
  3. A bowling ball or set of golf clubs; especially if they dont play the sport-not only will it really make them angry, but theres also a chance you will never see the item again.  It will most likely be returned for something they really want.  Best buy gift card ideas dont include things that are not suited to the personality of the one you are buying for.

If you follow these simple guidelines, youll be able to get the perfect present.  If you are still unsure what to get them, then ask.  Theyll tell you what they want, and be quite happy and satisfied when they see that you really listened to them.

Does Gay Marriage Lower Mortgage Rates?

In an interview conducted by Lori Hahn with M.V. Badgett, author of When Gay People Get Married, Dr. Badgett discusses how the Dr.’s homeland of the Netherlands gives 3/4 of the rights and benefits to gay couples simply if they live together.  From the article it can be construed that by including the right to marry for gays would lower the mortgage rates in the area.

By including all of the rights and benefits alloted to other citizens, mortgage rates would be lowered because of the tax benefits given to married couples, allowing for more disposable income.  That income would increase the purchases in the community and thus increase the value of the surrounding businesses.  It would also allow for health insurance to be purchased as a couple.  This would also increase the amount of income that could be put back into the community and thus reduce mortgage rates.

Of course, gay marriage is a highly controversial topic in a lot of states and there are those that would have their own arguments against it, however do those arguments hurt the country more than they help?

Diet Plans and their Use on the Rise

There are a lot of new diet plans hitting the market just in time for the holiday season.  Many of these diet plans use specific vitamin supplements and offer plans to keep food intake at a minimum.

This year and usually most years right after thanksgiving, many people start a new regimen of exerciser and healthy eating.  Diet plans that include pre-packaged foods are also a favorite amongst dieters.

Over the next few months there will be a large amount of diet plans becoming available and that will be there for purchase at any of the retail stores.  As we get closer to New Years, more people are deciding to go on diet plans to keep themselves thin and healthier during this cold spell.  Many are doing so because it is too cold to exercise.

Diet plans that will be making a new appearance range from vitamin packed to nothing packed.  When you are deciding on the right plan for you, you should consider what it is that you want to accomplish with exercise and healthy eating.

When going into the stores this December, it is important to remember that when you are selecting a plan, make sure that it has everything you need.

Online Dating as a Way to Locate Deadbeat Dads

Local police in Kennesaw, Georgia are using a new tactic in locating deadbeat dads, online dating websites.  Online dating websites offer a lot of information regarding not only the person’s desires in finding a mate, but also location, and other unique identifiers.  Police are using this information to locate men that have not paid their child support in over 6 months.  In this intensive sting operation, police are posing as potential dates and then setting up a meeting place for the date.

This tactic is already being found effective and has brought in 19 offenders.  This idea is also being considered by other police forces in 16 other states.  This pilot program in conjunction with other state agencies is slated to bring in over 200 other individuals that are evading police.

With so many new dating sites that are launching this year, police are planning to put staff on full time assignment to catch these suspects.  Deadbeat dads are responsible for a lot of the welfare issues that the nation is facing.  If more of them are captured and mad to pay, it will reduce the strain on the welfare system greatly.

Home Equity Loans as a Personal Bailout Program

Homeowners are looking to home equity loans to rebalance their books.  With the recent rise in mortgage rates, higher costs of living and other financial strife, many homeowners are using a home equity loan to recover from a difficult year.  They are also using the home equity loan to reap the tax benefits before the end of the year.

The main benefit of the home equity loan when it comes to taxes is that it is usually deductible.  The only stipulation is that the home equity loan be used for the stated purpose.  The interest rate for this type of loan does not change unless a payment is missed.  While it will increase monthly payments for homeowners, the obvious benefits of an influx of cash outweigh this fact.

As it is, the home equity loan offers a line of credit that can be borrowed against.  As the money is paid off, it can continually be borrowed against.  This is giving homeowners a lot more flexibility with their finances.  On the most part, a home equity loan dictates that only the interest be paid.  The best way to handle the payments for a home equity loan is to set up an auto pay arrangement so that there is never an issue of a late payment.

Home Mortgage Rates Expected to go Down

Home Mortgage Rates expected to go down this week in spite of its increase today. The home mortgage rates percentage for a 30-year mortgage, adjustable home mortgage and fixed home mortgage are higher than usual following the trend from last week. The rates for mortgages are supposed to decrease given that the Federal Government will be buying the treasuries which will result into plunging down the interests rates.

The average conforming home mortgages rates as of now is 4.38 % it is slightly up compared to yesterdays 30 year home mortgage at 4.26% on average. In the State of Virginia the 30 year mortgage rates is lower today at 4.36 % and in the State of North Carolina the mortgage rates on average falls at 3.78-3.77 % which remains unchanged and is still lower compared to the rates in New York s 30 year jumbo mortgage at 5.15 %. Consequently, the State of Arizona has no change pertaining to 15 year mortgage rates which average to 4.42 % and began to decrease at an average of 4.34 %.

Fed Injection Likely To Keep Mortgage Rates Low

While the hot topic this last week was the elections happening all over the nation, many people were also excited to hear about the Federal Reserve injecting over $600 billion into the economy. This news had stocks up all week and have also caused another phenomena to happen. This phenomenon was the lowering of mortgage interest rates.

While this announcement was not unexpected, it has been debated amongst several parties this week as to the long term effects that it will have on the economy. ” Bernanke is right that the things that are keeping mortgage companies alive these days are all of the mortgage refinance business they have been doing. This should continue as rates have dipped below the 4% mark this last week and should stay there until the end of the year.

Many financial experts have voiced their opinions this week about the move. While they are all excited about the lower rates, all of them have once criticism which is the difficulty that is associated with qualifying. Many experts have criticized Bernanke claiming that these low rates will only help the rich to stay richer and the poor to stay poorer. The reason for this is the stringent guidelines that must be followed and met in order to quality for today’s super low mortgage refinance rates. These rates while low, must have a credit score of above a 740, and a debt to income ratio that is 40% or below. While there are some that have no problem meeting these guidelines, the recession has not been particularly kind to the majority of America. Credit scores have been hit as the way a credit score is calculated has changed, as well as the huge job losses that have happened across the nation. While this is a great thing for people in a position to refinance their house, it does nothing to help people who already have a home stay in it if they are happening upon hard times.

While this news is not a fix all situation, it does and should keep the hope alive that the financial system will eventually recover. The low interest rates should allow American’s in the right financial position to be able to refinance their homes which will lower their payments and allow them to spend more money to help out the economy.

Now Is The Time To Refinance Your Home Mortgage Loan

Refinance Your Home Loan

Many Americans are rushing to their home loan lenders to lock in on the
historically low rates that have recently hit the market.  With the Federal
Reserve injecting over $600 billion dollars into the financial industry,
treasury bonds are going like hotcakes.  This overselling of treasury bonds
has led to record  low interest rates within the last few days which has
November looking like a fantastic month to pull the trigger on doing a home
refinance mortgage.

These low rates don’t only sound good, but the benefits of them are
extremely worth it.  For example, with a lower interest rate, the mortgage
payment that you currently have will be greatly reduced.  Not only will the
monthly payment be lower than it used to be, but the money that is paid
every month for the home goes to more of the principle balance than to
interest fees.  This means that people can get more house for the money, and
pay it off faster without having to pay for the home 3 times over after the
course of the loan has run out.

With the recent rate drop, many people are able to refinance their 30 year
mortgages to 15 year mortgages for the exact same monthly payment.
Americans that have good enough credit can benefit from this as they can own
their home free and clear in half of the time.  Refinancing is what is
keeping the mortgage lenders in business these days as Bank of America
produced $72 billion dollars in mortgages in the third quarter, but 64
percent of that was refinances.  The national average for mortgage rates
right now is 4.24 percent for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, and 3.63
percent for a 15 year mortgage refinance according to Freddie Mac this week.

While these rates do sound fantastic, you must also be able to meet the
criteria and guidelines set forth from these mortgage lenders to be able to
participate in a mortgage refinance.  Qualifying can be a bit tricky, as
most people’s credit scores have been effected by the recession.  With job
losses and higher costs of living, many people have had to rely on credit
cards and other methods to survive. This maxing out of credit limits drops
people’s scores, and the debt to income ratios are also hard to meet these
days.  For those Americans that can qualify, there has never been a better
time to refinance!  These rates are projected to go up the beginning the
next year, so the time to act is now!

Mortgage Rates Update: FHA Mortgage Applications To Purchase Home Rose, Mortgage Rates Hit New Record Lows

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)s recent Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending on October 1st, application for mortgages purchase homes rose 2.4 percent last week in comparison to the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Jay Brinkmann, MBAs chief economist, stated that the increase in purchase activity was led by a 17.2 percent increase in FHA applications, and noted that the conventional purchase mortgages saw an increase of 3.6 percent for the week. All in all, these types of mortgages rose 9.3 percent, while refinances dropped 2.5 percent.

This is the second straight weekly increase in purchase applications and the highest Purchase Index level since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit program. One possible driver of last week’s big increase in FHA applications was a desire by borrowers to get applications in before new FHA requirements took effect October 4th, which included somewhat higher credit score and down payment requirements,” Brinkmann said.

Government and private mortgage lenders have increased standards due to the tough economy. A lot of banks and financial firms are planning to reduce their risk, meaning consumers with an ability to pay their mortgages on time have higher chances to acquire a loan.

Meanwhile, the agency said the interest rates for 30-year fixed and 15-year fixed mortgages fell once again last week to new record lows. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.25 percent from 4.38 percent and the 15-year decreased to 3.73 percent from 3.77 percent.

Unemployment: US Initial Jobless Claims Fall To Lowest Level

According to the US Labor Department report, the US initial unemployment benefits dropped last week by more than j comparison to the previous week.

The report suggested that the number of people filing for jobless claims for the first time dropped for second week in a row in the week ended Oct 2.

New jobless claims dropped by 11,000 to 445,000, after claims for the previous week revised up to 456,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims was 455,750 down a decline of 3,000 claims.

The numbers of initial jobless claims beat economists expectations of a drop of 2000. Economic experts expected there to be between 450,000 and 455,000 initial jobless claims. The actual amount was lower than expected and lower than the prior week when the agency said there were 453,000 claims.

The latest Gallup poll showed that the unemployment rate of 10.1 percent in September. In August, Gallup found the unemployment rate at 9.3 percent and 8.9 percent in July. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

The increase in the unemployment rate component of Gallup’s underemployment measure is partially offset by fewer part-time workers, 8.7%, now wanting full-time work, down from 9.3% in August and 9.5% at the end of July, Galup said.

RealtyTrac: US Foreclosure Sales Decline In Second Quarter

RealtyTrac Inc., an online foreclosure marketplace, report showed that US foreclosed homes accounted for 24 percent of all residential sales in the second quarter.

The report also suggested that the average sale price of foreclosure homes in the second quarter was 26 percent lower than that for non-foreclosure properties. That discount is down slightly from 27 percent in the first quarter.

Nevertheless, James Saccacio, RealtyTrac chief executive officer, stated that while foreclosure sales increased in the first six months of the year, non-foreclosure sales increased concurrently, spurred on by the homebuyer tax credit that expired during the time.

“That had the net effect of lowering foreclosure sales as a percentage of total sales during the quarter, but that may be a temporary dip as the removal of the tax credit could drive more buyers back to discounted short sales and REOs.” Saccacio said in statement.

Top 10 states with the highest foreclosure sale rates:

  1. Nevada (56 percent)
  2. Arizona (47 percent)
  3. California (43 percent)
  4. Rhode Island (37 percent)
  5. Massachusetts (35 percent)
  6. Florida (34 percent)
  7. Michigan (33 percent)
  8. Georgia (27 percent)
  9. Idaho (27 percent)
  10. Oregon (25 percent)

Top 10 states (including Washington, D.C.) with the highest foreclosure discounts:

  1. Ohio (42.6 percent)
  2. Kentucky (40.8 percent)
  3. California (39.3 percent)
  4. Michigan (38.9 percent)
  5. Tennessee (38.3 percent)
  6. Pennsylvania (38.2 percent)
  7. Georgia (37.7 percent)
  8. Illinois (37 percent)
  9. Iowa (36.3 percent)
  10. Washington, D.C. (36 percent)

Bank of America Gives $3.7 Million In Grants To Nonprofit Lenders Small Businesses To Nonprofit For Microloans

Bank of America Corp, the largest US bank headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, has announced Wednesday that it gave 40 grants totaling more than $3.7 million to Community Development Financial Institutions and other non-profit organizations which will help them make use of federal microloan programs.

The US largest bank recently began giving $10 million in grants to not-for-profit lenders for use as loan loss reserves, which could unlock as much as $100 million in low-cost and term capital for small business microloans throughout the country over the next 12 months.

During the six weeks that the grants have been available through the Small Business Administration and the Department of Agriculture, CDFIs have utilized the funds to access approximately $27.5 million in microloan and other lending capital. Due to the new capital the CDFIs expect to issue roughly 2000 new microloans to small business and start-up companies in the initial round of grants and federal capital will help retain or create nearly 4,000 new jobs across the country.

Helping strengthen small businesses and new start-up companies stimulates job creation and is critical to our nation’s economic recovery,” Bank of America’s Global Commercial Banking President David Darnell said in a statement.

Investment Banking Firms: JPMorgan Tops Bank Of America In Investment Banking

JPMorgan Chase & Co., one of the largest financial firms in the US topped a ranking of fees from global investment banking during the first three quarters of the year, despite the fact that it lost market share and its fee revenue declined.

The New York-based bank, which substantially gained business during the financial crisis, earned fees of $3.7 billion from a wide-range of businesses globally during the period. The company had a 6.5 percent market share of investment banking year-to-date, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Additionally, the data suggested that the banks fee revenue throughout all investment banking business, which includes acquisitions, debt, equity, loans and mergers was 18 percent on the year earlier.

The banks market share also fell by 1.5%, down from 8% during 2009.

Bank of America Corp the largest US bank, land on the second position with more than $3.4 billion in fees and having 6 percent share of the market. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was third with $3 billion in fees and 5.3 percent share of the market.

US Unemployment Rate Remains Unchanged At 9.6%, Government Cuts 95000 Jobs

The US unemployment rate remained unchanged in September at 9.6 percent. According to the U.S. Labor Department statistics, the economy still lost 95,000 jobs.

The Labor Department said Friday that the government shed jobs in September for a fourth consecutive month, as government payrolls fell and private job hiring was far from experts projected , hardening expectations of further Federal Reserve action to spur the recovery. Majority of the job losses came from the government sector, half of which came as temporary census jobs ended.

The report also suggested that the job loss rates have been above 9.5 percent for the 14th straight month, the longest it has hovered above that amount since the Great Depression.

The local workforce report showed that Maryland’s jobless rate increased in August to 7.3 percent, from 7.1 percent in July. Virginia’s jobless remained at 7 percent, while the unemployment rate in the District fell to 10 percent, down from 10.3 percent in July.

The Washington region continues to be one of the states with low unemployment rates in the nation. Bethesda/Rockville/Frederick recorded a 5.7 percent unemployment rate, while the area that includes the District of Columbia, Arlington, and Alexandria had an August unemployment rate of 6.2 percent.

Bank of America To Halt All Foreclosures And Sales Of Foreclosed Properties In All 50 States

Bank of America, the largest US banks in assets, has halted all foreclosures and sales of foreclosed properties in all 50 states as part of an investigation regarding the banks regulations and policies.

Previously we reported that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank froze all pending foreclosures in 23 states, the banks said the bank will extend the review to all foreclosures nationwide.

Bank of America has extended our review of foreclosure documents to all fifty states,” the statement read. “We will stop foreclosure sales until our assessment has been satisfactorily completed, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) said in a statement. Our ongoing assessment shows the basis for foreclosure decisions is accurate. Providing solutions for distressed homeowners remains our primary focus.

Earlier this week, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc., a subsidiary of GMAC Mortgage, have already delayed some foreclosures in 23 states. JPMorgan Chase said they would halt all foreclosures on more than 56,000 homes.

Officials accused that the mortgage lenders giant is rushing their foreclosure process, with false or inaccurate documentation. Attorneys general in several states have launched investigations into homeowner complaints about the foreclosure process.

ABAs Business Solutions Helps Small Banks Issue Prepaid MasterCard Programs

Business Solutions, a subsidiary of American Bankers Association, is offering a new program that will allow small community banks offer consumers a variety of Prepaid MasterCard card products, which includes general purpose reloadable, payroll, and gift cards.

Business Solutions has coordinated with TransCard, a leader in prepaid card processing, and MasterCard Worldwide to launch the Community Bank Prepaid Program. The Prepaid Program assists community banks in dispensing Prepaid MasterCard cards to a large and untapped customer base. This is a whole new revenue stream for the community banks maximizing their competitiveness on the playing field. Additionally, customer deposits made to these prepaid cards will count in the overall deposits for the bank.

The FDIC-insured prepaid cards can be used payroll, assistance for college students or just helping young people t efficiently budget and manage their finances. Expensive check cashing services and the need to carry large amounts of cash are a thing of the past. The prepaid cards can be replaced if lost or stolen.

William Kroll, president of Business Solutions said:

This is a real opportunity for banks to expand their revenue by reaching out to members of the under-banked community, who have expressed a desire to have more control of their money. It also offers bank customers a safe way to teach their teenage and college-age children how to budget their finances.

TransCard CEO Craig Fuller added:

This program eliminates the traditional barriers of entry for banks to become prepaid issuers. TransCard will provide banks with a turn-key, bank branded, prepaid program that can expand their deposit base, create new offerings to their retail base and establish prepaid products for their treasury relationships.

nFinanSes Reloadable Prepaid Visa and Discover Debit Cards Available Now At Stripes Convenience Stores

nFinanSe Inc., financial services company and provider of stored value and prepaid card solutions, has announced the launched launch of $3 Visa and Discover releasable prepaid debit cards at Stripes LLC convenience store locations throughout the Southwestern United States. Stripes is part of Corpus Christi, Texas-based Susser Holdings that operates more than 520 convenience stores primarily New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

We believe that our industry low, customer-friendly pricing combined with the excellent everyday store traffic at Stripes locations will encourage initial trial, usage and early adoption of Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards among Stripes customers, said Jerry R. Welch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of nFinanSe.

Recently, Consumer Union, accountable for the Consumer Reports, singled out the Tampa, Florida-based nFinanSe for its low fees in its 2010 report on the industry. Out of the 19 major prepaid card issuers stated in the report, nFinanSe was noted for the lowest cards sales price of $3 along with Wal-Mart and singled out for the lowest monthly maintenance fee of $2.95 and lowest ATM withdrawal fee of $0.99.

The nFinanSes reloadable prepaid debit cards sell for just $3 at retail stores; with a very low $2.95 monthly maintenance fee for an unlimited number of purchase transactions, it also allow cardholders to load extra funds or top up for only $2.95. nFinanSe also offers free direct deposit of payroll, as well as 24/7 live agent customer support and SMS alerts with purchase and balance information.

Mortgage Rates Update: US Mortgage Rates Hits A New Historic Record Low

The US mortgage rates have again hit a historic record low. Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to the lowest level in decades for the ninth time in 12 weeks. Freddie Mac recorded the lowest rate since they started keeping statistics in 1971 and the lowest rate seen since 1950, according to National Bureau of Economic Research statistics.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 4.27 percent for the week ending Oct. 7, down from the 4.32 percent rate last week and significantly below the 4.87 percent last year, Freddie Mac said Thursday. The average fee was 0.8 points.

“The 12-month growth rate in the core price index for personal consumption, which the Federal Reserve closely tracks, has been drifting lower over the past six months ending in August and suggests inflation is running at a tepid pace at best,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, in a statement. “This allowed mortgage rates to ease to new or near record lows this week.”

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate, a popular choice for refinancing, dropped 3.72 percent, down from 3.75 percent last week. The average fee was 0.7 points. This week’s average also is the lowest on record since 1991.

Visa Launches New Website To Protect Consumers Against Credit Card Fraud And Online Identity Theft

In celebration of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Visa, global payments technology leader and worlds largest card network, has launched a new website designed to educate consumers about card fraud.

The web site,, provides cardholders and small businesses with tips and information on how to protect account information, avoid payment card scams, and resolve fraudulent charges on their cards.

Visas new web site supports English and Spanish languages. The company also participated in the National Cyber Security Alliance’s “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign to educate consumers about protecting themselves and their personal information when accessing the internet.

“While cardholders using Visa debit and credit cards are protected by Visa’s zero liability policy, many consumers believe that security is a shared responsibility and want to take an active role in managing and protecting their Visa accounts,” said Jennifer Fischer, head of U.S. Payment System Risk, Visa Inc. “Visa’s site is intended to empower cardholders with information to prevent fraud, avoid deceptive marketing practices and learn about important protections and resources available to them.” also offers numerous of educational information for consumers that include subjects such as fraud prevention, fraud news, web browsing security, and useful resources. Additionally, Visa reminds its costumers regarding their transaction alerts service, which notifies consumers of unusual activity through e-mail or SMS, and their Verified by Visa feature, an extra layer of security when using your card for online purchases.

In a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research found more than 50% of consumers believe they share the responsibility with their financial institution for protecting their accounts from fraud.

PayPals Bill Me Later Rolls Out To More eBay Shoppers In Time For The Holiday Shopping Season

PayPal, subsidiary of eBay, has made an announcement on its official blog that the company is improving user experience with an online payment option Bill Me Later, which was implemented to US consumers October 2009. Now it is easier to see which listings offer Bill Me Later on eBay. Besides, shoppers will be provided with associated offers on the View Item page. This way consumer will be able to use Bill Me Later to buy the items they want now and pay for them later.

Now, PayPal said that qualified shoppers would now see Bill Me Later offers on eBay View Item pages, “just in time for the holiday shopping season.” Bill Me Later will also appear on the Review Your Purchase page along with a direct link to Bill Me Laters easy application and checkout process. This means that consumers would know as they shop that they can use Bill Me Later to buy the items they want now and then pay for them later.

Bill Me Later is great for both buyers and sellers on eBay. With Bill Me Later as a payment option, buyers have the benefit of knowing that they can get what they want now – quickly and easily – and pay for it over time. Special offers like No Payments for 6 Months make budgeting easier than ever during the holidays or any time you shop, said Carolyn Groobey, Bill Me Laters head of consumer marketing.

The company also said that eBay sellers need not set up a new payment accounts to accept Bill Me Later – they get paid the same way they are paid through PayPal today. The amount due to the seller from the transaction will be directed to the sellers PayPal account just like the usual payment transaction.

MasterCard Ink An Agreement With US Department of Justice

MasterCard, one of the leading payment processing giant, has announced that it reached a Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice. The company said the terms of the settlement are consistent with the companys established business practices and will require MasterCard only to modify its rules to more specifically conform to its business practices.

The resolution follows a two-year investigation involving an extensive review of MasterCard’s acceptance rules and practices. The resolution follows a two-year investigation involving an extensive review of credit card companys regulations.

Noah J. Hanft, MasterCards General Counsel, said in statement:

“MasterCard’s practices are both lawful and pro-competitive and we view this settlement as a great result. We are very pleased that after a comprehensive and lengthy investigation and intensive lobbying efforts by lawyers representing retailers in a pending lawsuit, this matter has been resolved without our having to substantially change our business practices. The Consent Decree with the DOJ calls for modification of a rule to confirm that merchants may offer a discount for cash and all forms of payment, including competing brands, which is precisely what we already permit. Our discounting practices have long been more flexible than our major competitors’ and have permitted merchants to discount for cash, checks, debit cards or other payment brands.”

In addition, the Harrison, New York-based credit card company also said that 7/10 State Attorneys General who had requested information or conduct an open investigations of MasterCard’s merchant acceptance business practices have signed onto the DOJ Consent Decree and all ten have closed their investigations of MasterCard.

Fannie Mae Offers Mortgage Forbearance To Help Military Families To Prevent Foreclosure

National Fannie Mae and the U.S. Army have announced a new program to support borrowers in the service or military families who are having trouble managing or paying their mortgage.

The collaborative project of Fannie Mae and the US Army is designed to aid military families facing mortgage problems after the injury or death of a soldier. Under the Fannie Maes Unique Hardships guidelines, military personnel and its family can request a delay in mortgage payment up to six months.

Jeff Hayward, senior vice President of Fannie Maes Servicing Organization, said:

“The men and women of our Armed Forces have shown extraordinary commitment to our country while facing unique challenges as a result of their service. No family impacted by a death or injury in the line of duty should have to face the additional burden of foreclosure as a result of the hardship. We want to do all that we can to provide support to these families at a time of need as we honor their sacrifices and service to our country.

American Express To Fight US Justice Department Antitrust Suit, Visa and MasterCard Close Settlement

The US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against American Express, who ranked as the J.D. Power and Associates primary credit card choice for 4 straight years, alleging that the company has been engaging in anti-competitive practices.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department said in a statement on Monday that it has settled with Visa and MasterCard, worlds largest credit card network, regarding an antitrust suit the department filed against the two credit card companies two years ago. Now, both credit card companies will no longer bar merchants from steering customers to alternative forms of payment, which includes providing credit card discounts.

AmEx, based in New York, will keep its rules in place as it challenges the Justice Departments antitrust lawsuit regarding interchange fees charged to merchants.

The credit card company claims the Justice Department’s approach would reduce competition and choice for consumers. AmEx said one of its key points is that it cannot oblige card merchants to agree to its pricing and products.

American Express said in a statement Monday that it has no intention of settling. The claim “represents an extraordinary retreat by the antitrust division,” said Amex CEO Kenneth I. Chenault. “Instead of promoting competition, it now seeks to promote regulation that would ultimately limit competition.”

To date, American Express Co. dropped 2 percent in New York trading, adding to yesterdays 6.5 percent drop, after the company decided to the US antitrust complaint.

Western Union Money Transfer Service Hits 20,000 Agent Locations In Africa Market

The global leader of money transfer market Western Union Company has announced another milestone. The company said that its coverage in Africa now exceeds 20,000 agent locations in more than 49 countries. These landmarks further reinforce its position as the continent’s largest financial services network.

Western Union started to operate in Africa 15 years ago, in 1995 in Ghana. Within the first year, the company expanded its services to reach 10 countries. Recently, a 25 percent expansion rate over the 2Q last year has seen the financial network grow from 15,000 to 20,000 Agent locations within a year.

According to a 2009 report published by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approximately are remitted US$40 billion to Africa every year. The reported amount surpasses the official development assistance and, in the case of many countries, foreign direct investment as well.

“While this milestone is a great achievement that reflects on the ongoing global demand for Western Union services, we recognize that a large number of Africans still remain without access to financial services,” said Khalid Fellahi, senior vice president for Africa. “In particular, there is a real opportunity to empower more people by offering money-transfer services through different classes of trade such as retailers and microfinance institutions.”

Since its inception, the company network growth has been driven by a focus on consolidating long term business relationships with existing agents, extending Pan-African group level agreements. Also Western Union offers new innovative and reliable services such as Mobile money transfers in Kenya and South Africa, which meet users needs.

US Credit Card Charge-Offs Rose In August, Moody Says

The rate of credit card charge offs in Unites States rose in August to 10.03 percent from 9.45 percent, according to report Wednesday from Moody’s Investors Service Credit Card Indices Report, which is issued monthly. But the agency attributed the increase to seasonal factors and projects to experience more improvement in credit card performance as delinquencies fall.

“The relative improvement in card charge offs is due to credit tightening, including lower credit limits and stricter underwriting standards,” says Moody’s Analyst, Jeffrey Hibbs. “Charge offs are expected to decline even further given the improvement in delinquency rates, which are often a harbinger of the future charge-off rate trend.”

In August, the delinquency rate fell to 4.7 percent from 4.93 percent, marking a two-year low and the 10th month in a row of improvement. The rate measures the percentage of balances that are more than 30 days past due.

These declines could be the result of numerous American consumers having made a more intensive effort to cut down their total credit card debt in previous months. However, a lot financial experts believe that the drops in consumer credit are due to the number of card charge offs, which is still quite elevated.

Shares of Visa Inc. increased by $1.10 to $74.37 and MasterCard Incorporated slipped 10 cents to $222.90.

FDIC Planning To Sell $1.1 Billion Worth Seized Residential And Property Loans

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) is planning to sell its $1.2 billion commercial and residential real estate loans as part of the government agencys sale of assets seized from failed banks.

According to data a cumulated by Bloomberg before the release of the official statement, the scheduled sales are composed of $351 million worth of commercial property loans and $773 million related to residential home debts.

The scheduled sales are composed of about $773 million in residential acquisition, development and construction loans and $351 million of debt related to commercial properties, according to preliminary announcements dated yesterday and obtained by Bloomberg News. Cushman & Wakefield Inc. and UniCorp Services Inc. are the marketing agents for the sealed-bid auctions.

The amount of debt held by the government agency is partly down to the failure of roughly 130 banks in Unites States in 2010, many of which were pushed to the wall by bad loans impairing their capital levels.

Bids for the seized lots are due on November 16th 2010 and potential property buyers must meet certain qualification requirements, which include the payment of a $250,000 due-diligence deposit.

Credit Card Giant MasterCArd, Visa To Allow Merchants To Promote Credit Card Discounts

According to the Wall Street journal report, Visa and MasterCard settled US Justice Department antitrust investigation over their credit-card acceptance rules. Such a deal could potentially provide merchants more flexibility to steer customers to cheaper forms of credit cards, WSJ cited people familiar with the negotiations. The settlement will allow merchants to promote discounts, providing information about the fees and their effect on sales prices.

While Visa and MasterCard is settling an antitrust suit deal, which was first laid by the Justice Department against the credit card companies two years ago, which merchants’ ability to offer discounts to consumers, American Express vowed to fight a government antitrust lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New York.

Restrictive rules prevent price competition among credit card networks, which means merchants face increased business costs and consumers pay higher prices,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder said at a news conference. “With today’s lawsuit, we are sending a clear message: We will not tolerate anti-competitive practices. We want to put more money in consumers’ pockets, and by eliminating credit card companies’ anti-competitive rules, we will accomplish that.”

The Mastercard and Visa settlement comes as a long waited solution for merchants who have complained about the numerous fees that they pay annually to accept and process new and existing credit cards. Currently, the credit card companies are charging merchants processing fees when card holders utilize different cards. Credit cards that offer rewards such as airline miles cost merchants more, and merchants who agree to accept a company’s cards must accept all of them.

California AG Jerry Brown Demands JPMorgan Chase To Show Foreclosures In Compliance With Law

JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest bank and third of the biggest U.S. mortgage servicer, must show foreclosures complying with law, and if it cant, must stop the practice, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said.

California is not one of the 23 states Ally Financial Inc.s GMAC Mortgage units, and JPMorgan Chase suspended pending foreclosure cases. On Sept. 24 Brown investigates ordered Ally Financial to suspend foreclosures in his state.

Additionally, Illinois AG Lisa Madigan has demanded to set a meeting with JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial. Arizona congresswoman has called for a 90-day moratorium. The Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal has gone a step further and demanded a 60-day foreclosure moratorium for all servicers. Both Illinois and Connecticut were included in the initial 23.

“I’m taking this action to further protect California homeowners on the brink of foreclosure. JP Morgan Chase, like GMAC/Ally Financial, has admitted that its review of key foreclosure documents was a ruse. I’m directing Chase to prove it is following the law before it continues foreclosures in California,” Brown said.

The California law prohibits lenders from recording notices of default on mortgages made between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2007, unless, subject to limited exceptions, the lender contacts borrower for a possible loan modification.

The 23 that was included in the original suspensions are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont , and Wisconsin.

MasterCard Partnered With Cardtronics To Offer Surcharge-Free ATM Access For Prepaid Cards

MasterCard announced an integral business partnership with the largest non-bank owner and operator of ATMs Cardtronics to provide expansion opportunity to Prepaid MasterCard issuers and program managers on their ATM footprints through Cardtronics Allpoint Network, largest surcharge-free ATM Network.

The agreement provides Prepaid MasterCard issuers with the tools to effectively compete and obtain new business and participants with surcharge-free access to more than 32,000 ATMs dotted throughout US within retail locations such as 7-Eleven, Costco, CVS/pharmacy, Kroger, Target, and Walgreens.

Harrison, New York-based credit card company MasterCard is dedicated to delivering strategic market solutions to standout the companys prepaid offerings, enhanced its programs, and provide benefits to card issuers, program managers, and specially to customers.

“Providing an extensive surcharge-free ATM network is increasingly important to winning new business across consumer, commercial and public sector segments, Neil Dugan, MasterCard Worldwide, Vice President of U.S. Markets, said in a statement. By partnering with Cardtronics’ Allpoint Network, we can help our prepaid partners to cost-effectively expand their ATM footprints, strengthening their prepaid offerings, and enhancing the cardholder experience.”

Allpoint has already established its presence in all 50 states, with one out of 12 ATMs in the US participating in its network.

Ben Psillas, President of Allpoint Network, said that MasterCard Prepaid program, which is powered by Allpoint, will provide capability to MasterCard issuers to meet and surpass the compulsory levels of surcharge-free access on many payroll, tax, and government programs.

“The scope of surcharge-free access coupled with top retail locations is a critical component to winning new business and increasing cardholder satisfaction. With Allpoint, Prepaid MasterCard cardholders will have access to the nation’s largest surcharge-free ATM network,” Psillas said in statement.

Bank Of America, JPMorgan, And GMAC Unit Delaying All Foreclosures Cases In 23 States

Bank of America, the largest bank in America, will delay foreclosures on properties in 23 states due to possible problems with paperwork, to determine whether lenders may have submitted defective documents when repossessing homes. BofA is the largest U.S. bank and at least the third in recent weeks to suspend foreclosures.

“We have been assessing our existing processes. To be certain affidavits have followed the correct procedures, Bank of America will delay the process in order to amend all affidavits in foreclosure cases that have not yet gone to judgment in the 23 states where courts have jurisdiction over foreclosures,” BofA spokesman Dan Frahm said in a statement. He didn’t elaborate how many properties would be affected.

Previously, two other major services, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial subsidiary GMAC Mortgage, have either delayed or halted foreclosures in 23 states. Those actions were immediately implemented after depositions taken in lawsuits by numerous homeowners turned up officials who said they signed documents without further reviewing them or having a notary present.

The 23 states where lender giants Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, and GMAC Mortgage unit have taken action to suspend or review foreclosure paperwork include: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont , and Wisconsin.

US GDP Slightly Rose To 1.7% In Q2, Department of Commerce Says

The US economic growth rose slightly in the second quarter of 2010, the Department of Commerce said yesterday, confirming that the pace of the economic recovery had slowed. The nations economy grew at a 3.7 percent rate in first-quarter 2010, 5 percent in fourth-quarter 2009 and 1.6 percent in third-quarters 2009.

The gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the goods and services in the country, rose at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter, up from its earlier 1.6% estimate.

The government attributed the deceleration in second-quarter GDP performance from the third quarter to “a sharp acceleration in imports and a sharp deceleration in private inventory investment.” However, the increase to a 1.7 percent growth rate for the final phase of the second quarter estimate stemmed from upward revisions to inventory investment and consumer spending.

Although the nations economy has grown continuously in the past four quarters, the current growth rate is not strong enough to cut down the current 9.6 percent unemployment rate, analysts said.

In the meantime, the United States initial jobless claims decrease by 16,000 to 453,000 in the week ended Sept. 25, according to the Labor Departments weekly report.

Zillow Mortgage Marketplace: Low Credit Score Meaning No Mortgage

According to a recent report from Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, approximately one-third of Americans could not get a mortgage due to their credit scores.

Zillow Mortgage Marketplace Analysis utilized the of more than 25,000 loan quotes and purchase requests from the first half the September.

The new report suggested that people with a credit score of 620 or less were unlikely to get even one loan offer, even one with a ridiculously high interest rate.

Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, acknowledged that while it isn’t a shock that, as a group, we’re having trouble getting a mortgage.

“We are in an era of historically low mortgage rates, reaching levels not seen in decades. Coupled with four years of home value declines, homes are more affordable than we’ve seen for years. But the irony here is that so many Americans can’t qualify for these low rates, or can’t qualify for a mortgage at all. Four years ago, in the era of easy-to-get subprime loans, many borrowers with low scores did buy homes, which in turn helped contribute to a housing bubble. Today’s tighter credit is a predictable response by banks after the foreclosure crisis, but also keeps a cap on housing demand, which is important for the greater housing market recovery.”

Due to the recent recession that almost crippled the US economy, lenders started to impose stringent requirements for all types of loan products, which include mortgages and credit cards. The primary reason for these was to alleviate risks through eliminating consumers who has no capability to handle their finances.

US Weekly Jobless Claims Decrease 16,000 to 453,000, Labor Department Says

The United States initial jobless claims decrease by 16,000 to 453,000 in the week ended Sept. 25, according to the Labor Departments weekly report.

The revised figure for the previous week ending Sept. 18 was 469,000 from 465,000. Economic experts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had projected that new claims would fall by only 5,000.

An analyst form Econoday projected claims to fall to 459,000 from the prior week with a ranges of estimates between 452,000 to 465,000, while survey expected last week’s figure to hit 450,000.

The Labor Department said the four-week moving average, a clearer measure of unemployment trends, fell by 6,250 to 458,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 464,250.

“We’re still at the very early stages of gradual improvement,” David Semmens, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York told Bloomberg News before the report. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be picking up any momentum.”

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Sept. 18 was 3.5%, a 0.1 percentage point decrease from the prior week’s revised rate of 3.6%.

Western Union Offers Mobile Money Transfer To State Bank of India Costumers

Western Union, leader in global payment services provider, has cemented an integral business partnership State Bank of India (SBI), the largest Indian commercial bank, to allow SBI account holders to receive cross-border money transfers in their bank accounts through their mobile phones, as well as allow costumers to send money from one of Western Unions 380,000 Agent locations around the world to an SBI account.

Earlier this year the company made an announcement about the introduction of the Account-Based Money Transfer (ABMT) service, which is scheduled to roll out in early 2011.The ABMT will allow SBI account holders to pull a Western Union Money TransferTM directly into their accounts through Internet or ATM utilization.

The new Western Union mobile money transfer will provide SBI customers with an additional and safe money transfer alternative to direct a Western Union Money Transfer into their accounts whenever the customer wanted.

Anil Kapur, Western Union’s Senior Vice President, South and Southeast Asia, said:

“India is a key market for Western Union. It is the world’s No. 1 remittance recipient country and received US$52 billion in 2009, according to the World Bank. Western Union has more than 61,000 Agent locations in India. As we continue to expand our network, this collaboration with SBI realizes our commitment to provide our consumers with the greater convenience of accessing money sent by their families and loved ones from overseas.

On the other hand, Western Union is also offering the Mobile Money Transfer service in the Philippines, Kenya, Malaysia, and South Africa. The company recently announced that they will launch the system in Canada and in Libya. Additionally, Western Union previously announced that the system will also be roll out in Africa.

PayPal Strengthened Seller and Consumer Protections in Time for Christmas Shopping Season

PayPal, the largest online payment service provider, is expanding its protections for sellers and shoppers in time for the Christmas shopping season. Starting November 1, 2010, shoppers worldwide will be given expanded protection when they make purchases at the millions of retailers that accept PayPal transactions.

The expanded consumer protections will cover shoppers who dont receive an item they purchased, if they receive broken or significantly different than described by the merchant. PayPal will roll out the new additional benefits to shoppers in nearly all of the 190 countries.

Katherine Hutchison, senior director for global risk management at PayPal, said:

PayPal is committed to giving customers a safer online experience through privacy, prevention and protection. When you use PayPal this holiday shopping season and beyond, you can have peace of mind knowing that were offering even more protection if something goes wrong.

PayPal provides protections for both buyers and sellers in addition to the safeguards that are built into the PayPal system:

  • Because PayPal never shares a buyers financial information with sellers, privacy is built into the service.
  • PayPal provides zero liability for eligible unauthorized transactions on PayPal accounts.
  • PayPal has one of the most sophisticated anti-fraud models in the payments industry, which gets smarter and stronger with every transaction that goes through our system – and PayPal has processed billions of transactions in the past 11 years. With this technology, PayPal often detects and stops fraudulent activity the moment it occurs and before it ever reaches our customers.

Mortgage Rates Update: 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Falls to New Record Low, Zillow Says

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace is currently 4.19 percent, down six basis points from 4.25 percent at this same time last week, real-estate website said.

The average interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages were 4.19 percent Tuesday afternoon, down from 4.25 percent from last week rate. Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.

The recorded rate was the lowest rate ever reported since Zillow Mortgage Marketplace started in April 2008.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate surged to 4.26 percent on Friday and remained at 4.24 percent for the rest of the week before falling to the current rate, Zillow said.

The 15-year fixed mortgage rates were 3.74 percent, up from 3.73 percent last week. Rates for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) set at a fixed rate for five years and adjustable each following year, were 3.10 percent, down from 3.13 percent the prior week.

Zillows real-time mortgage rates are based on thousands of custom mortgage quotes submitted daily to anonymous borrowers through the site, and reflect the most recent changes in the market. These are not marketing rates, or a weekly survey.

US Home Prices Rose 0.6% in July, S&P/Case-Shiller Says

According to the new Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Composite Price Index released today, the average price of a single-family home rose better than expected up 0.6% in July from a month earlier.

Data that was released form the ratings agency showed prices increased in 12 of the 20 largest metropolitan areas in July from June on the basis of the seasonally adjusted data.

The 20-city composite home price index for July gained 3.2 percent form a year earlier, while the 10-city composite is 4.1% higher than the year ago and up 0.8 percent from June. Nationally, prices of home are 3.6 percent above their year-earlier levels in the first six months.

The 20-city composite index for July is up 3.2% from a year earlier, while the 10-city composite is 4.1% higher than the year ago and up 0.8% from June.

“Home prices crept forward in July. Ten of the 20 cities saw year-over-year gains and only one — Las Vegas [down 4.9% compared to July 2009 ] — made a new bottom, as the impact of the first time home buyer program continued to fade away,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Standard & Poors index committee. “The year-over-year growth rates for 16 of the cities and both Composites weakened in July compared to June. While we could still see some residual support from the home buyers’ tax credit, which covers purchases closing through September 30th, anyone looking for home prices to return to the lofty 2005-2006 might be disappointed. Judging from the recent behavior of the housing market, stable prices seem more likely.”

Prices of homes in San Diego have risen steadily for 15 months. In the meantime, prices of home in Las Vegas slid another 0.6 percent in July from the month earlier to yet another low and have fallen in 44 of the past 46 months, according to Standard & Poor’s, which bases the indices on closed sales contracts.

Government Agency Freddie Mac’s Mortgage Portfolio Declined In August

Last Friday, the government controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said that its mortgage portfolio declined at an annualized rate of 5.28 percent last month after a nearly 4.0 percent drop in June, according to Reuters report.

Freddie Macs total debt outstanding plunged to $762.2 billion from $773.3 billion in July and a peak this year of $831.4 billion in March. The companys portfolio hasnt been experienced an increase since April.

The agencys single-family delinquency rate fell for the fifth time in six months to 3.83 percent from 3.89 from in July. It stabilized above the 3.24 percent rate in August 2009. The multi-family or 90 day fixed-rate mortgages delinquency rate remained at 0.31 percent in August. It increased 1 basis point on adjustable-rate mortgages to 1.25 percent.

Freddie Macs mortgage purchases and issuance rose by $29.1 billion last month from $28.4 billion in July and down 39 percent from last year.

The government-sponsored enterprise mortgage asset holdings were $755.3 billion at the year-end and $779.4 billion in August last year.

JPMorgan To Acquire Additional Part of RBS Sempra, Financial Times Says

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is currently in negotiation to acquire a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Sempra Commodities LLP  North American gas and power trading book, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

In addition, the proposal involves the acquisition of the groups North American gas and power trading book.

Earlier this year, JP Morgan bought the majority of the business — oils, metals, coal and European power part — for $1.6 billion. Frances financial services provider Societe Generale may be considering buying the remaining stake in RBS Sempra infrastructure, the newspaper said. JPMorgan and SocGen declined to comment, the FT said.

RBS recently announced the sale of Sempra Commodities business to Noble Americas Gas and Power Corporation for an estimated $317 million.

The company agreement also involved the acquisition of $265 million worth of debt as part of the transaction.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. traded down 1.69 percent during mid-day trading on Monday.

Consumers Expected To Spend Huge Amount Of Money On Kids Halloween Costumes And Candies

A new survey suggested that American consumers are planning to spend a hugh amount of money for this year Trick or Treat than they did last Halloween.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, Americans are projected to spend an average of f $66.28 for this years candyfest on costume, candy, and decorations, up significantly from last year’s $56.31 and nearly on par with the $66.54 average spent in 2008.

Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $5.8 billion. The survey also stated that there are approximately 150 million Americans are expected to celebrate Halloween this year.

The survey elaborated that consumers are expected to spend the most on costumes ($23.37), then candy ($20.29), decorations ($18.66), and lastly on greeting cards ($3.95).

Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, said: “This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday.”

MasterCard Planning To Take Visa Debit Card Market Share

According to Reuters, MasterCard, the second-largest credit and debit card network, is planning to take hold of the debit processing business of its rival Visa during the next year or two due to the recently passed Dodd-Frank Act or Credit CARD Law.

Master Card will begin taking market share in the US debit processing business away from Visa in the “second half of next year, into 2012,” Tim Murphy, MasterCard’s chief product officer, said in an interview.

All four major credit and debit card network are still awaiting final rules from the Federal Reserve about the implementation process of the Dodd-Frank act. Meanwhile, financial firms are expected to wait until the Federal Reserve Board officially release final phase of network rules in July next year before signing new contracts with processing networks.

The Dodd-Frank act is expected to widely restrict the profits that banks and networks receive to process numerous debit card transactions. Both Visa and MasterCard shares have plunged more than 20% since the measure was passed in May.

Ajay Banga, MasterCard chief executive, already predicted that the Credit CARD Act will help MasterCard increase its share of the U.S. debit card market due to the fact that the new law prohibits exclusive debit processing contracts, this means that banks that have exclusive contracts with Visa or other network will have to start doing business with other networks.

President Obama Signs Small Business Bill Into Law To Aid Small Businesses

US President Barack Obama Monday announced a good news while signing the long-debated Small Business Jobs Bill into law.

The Obama administration says the bill will extend lending to small business owners and provide new tax cuts.

“Now this is important because small businesses produce most of the new jobs in this country. They are the anchors of our main streets. They are part of the promise of America. The idea that if you’ve got a dream and you’re willing to work hard you can succeed,” said Obama.

The president hopes that the bill would produce positive result and cut down the nations 9.6% unemployment rate.

Small businesses produce most of the new jobs in this country, the US president stated, as he signed the bill in the East Room of the White House. This bill includes eight business-oriented tax cuts which can speed up pay-outs on existing loan programs.

However, the president admitted that bill would not do much for the economys current state and he even stated that the bill would not end the economic slow-down. He said, Weve still got a long way to go.

But he feels that the legislation will help, he said.

“This law will do two big things: It’s going to cut taxes, and it’s going to make more loans available for small business. It’s a great victory for America’s entrepreneurs,” Obama said, adding that it was the result of “a long and tough fight.”

Central Bank of Norway Sues Citigroup Over $835 Million In Losses on Shares and Bonds

Norways central bank is suing Citigroup for alleged misstatements over the companys financial condition before the financial crisis, which it claims caused huge losses to the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund.

Citigroup is accused of making repeated material untrue statements and non-disclosure of material information to investors between January 2007 and January 2009, allegedly causing Norges Bank to purchase securities at inflated prices, the central bank said in the Sept. 17 lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Manhattan.

Citis near-demise had its genesis in the companys increasing willingness to take on risk for the sake of profit, without regard for — and without disclosing — the magnitude of the downside exposure it faced if those risks materialized, the bank said in the complaint.

The suit says When the market slowly learned the truth of Citis financial condition, Citi came close to insolvency, and Plaintiff lost a substantial amount of its investment. Citis near-demise had its genesis in the Companys increasing willingness to take on risks for the sake of profit, without regard for – and without disclosing – the magnitude of the downside exposure it faced if those risks materialized.

Norges Bank is seeking to recuperate $335 million on Citigroup common shares and in excess of $100 million on bonds and preferred shares.

We believe the suit has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously, Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero- Apsilos said in a statement.

Bank of America May Test New Tiered Fee Structure For Its Customers, Financial Times Says

Bank of America, the largest financial firm in US, may introduce a tiered fee structure modeled on mobile phone service contracts in an attempt to generate additional profit to off-set lost revenue due to restrictions on debit and credit card fees, the Financial Times reports.

Under the proposal, the bank will grant rewards to customers who manage to maintain at least minimum current account balances, utilize their credit cads a certain number of times each month, as well s those customers who do online banking , The Financial Times reported. Customers that have a higher carrying cost are expected to be charged more.

Were not guaranteeing that we will recover all of the revenue lost as a result of the new regulations, but over several years we think well get back a good share, said Bank of America consumer bank head Joe Price to the Financial Times.

Recently, CEO Brian Moynihan said at a conference that the bank will attempt to recuperate much of the lost profitability, saying that Over the next 12 months, we will reset the entire product line.

The Charlotte-based bank will initiate the testing of different price structures this year.

US Auto Loan Defaults On The Rise, Experian and Standard & Poor Says

A collaborative report from Standard & Poor and Experian suggested that that the number of auto loan defaults in the US continues to increase. In August, auto loan increased for the second straight month from 1.9 percent to 2.05 percent.

On the other hand, the report also show that the monthly default rates declined for second mortgages to 2.4 percent after last months rise to 2.8 percent and first mortgage and bank card defaults fell from July to 3.2 percent and 7.9 percent respectively.

David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of S&P’s Index Committee, said:

“Except for auto loans, the consumer credit default indices show declining default rates. First and second mortgages show downward trends dating from May, 2009 while bank cards have seen diminishing default rates since April, 2010. In contrast, auto loan default rates have now risen for two months in a row but remain below the levels seen at the start of the year. The improvements seen in most consumer credit categories echo other consumer credit trends which show declines in consumer debt levels following the 2007-2009 financial crisis for most types of loans.”

Consumer credit defaults vary across major cities and regions of the U.S. The Los Angeles had the largest decrease in defaults in the last month by 11.8 percent, closely followed by New York which fell by 9.01 percent. Miami continues to witnessed a decline by 35.59 percent in the last 12 months.

Senate Democrats Delay Vote On Extending Bush Tax-Cuts

The Senate will not vote in the extension of Bush-era tax cuts until after the November election, a spokesman for the Majority leader said on Thursday, as Democrats face internal divisions and potential Republican obstacles.

“Democrats believe we must permanently extend tax cuts for the middle-class before they expire at the end of the year, and we will,” Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an e-mail, according to Reuters report. “Unfortunately, to this point we have received no cooperation from Republicans to do so.”

The Senate will address the tax issue after its recess for the November elections, Manley said.

President Barack Obama and most Democrats want to extend the tax cuts for the first $200,000 of personal income and $250,000 of household income, while Republicans and some Democrats want the tax cuts extended for all.

US President Barack Obama and majority of the Democrats wanted to extend low tax rates for the first $200,000 of a person’s income and first $250,000 of household income, while most Republicans and some Dumpcarts want the tax cut extended all Americans regardless of income.

“We are so tightly wound up in this campaign that it’s impossible to see a bipartisan answer to the challenge we face. That’s the reality, before the election,” Richard Durbin, the Senate’s assistant majority leader, said earlier.

US New Homes Sales In August Remain Unchanged

US new home sales remained unchanged in August, with the seasonally adjusted rate unchanged from July, according Commerce Department estimates.

Last month sales of national new home were at an annual rate of 288,000 units, unchanged from Julys rate, in comparison with the last years rate, the august new home sales are down nearly 29 percent. In addition, the agency also reported that the accumulated august new home sales rate reflects an annual decline of 28.9 percent from the August 2009 rate of 405,000 units.

The median new home sales price was $204,700 down from $205,900 in July and was the record low since December 2003. The highest price ever reported in the survey was $262,600 in March 2007.

The report comes a day after the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes throughout the country rose 7.6 percent. The July decline in new home sales, according to Commerce Department figures, was a more modest 8 percent.

In the southern part of the region, which stretches from Delaware to Florida, the new home sales were down 10.8 percent. The largest month-over-month gain was recorded in the western region, where new-home sales were up 54.3 percent from July.

Currently, there are 207,000 new homes for sale on the market and it represents a 10.3 month supply at current sales levels. Of those, 81,000 are completed homes with 96,000 under construction and 30,000 not yet started, according to the Commerce Department estimation.

US House Of Representatives Approves Small Business Loans Bill To Strengthen US Economy

The US House of Representatives rendered its approval for the Small Business Jobs Act Thursday afternoon; the legislation is now cleared for President Barack Obama signature.

The measure, which was voted on a majority partisan 237-187, will provide up to $30 billion in cheap capital for community banks to ensure economic growth and to create 500,000 new jobs by encouraging the development of American small businesses. It is also designed to expand the U.S. Small Business Administration loan programs and provides $12 billion in targeted tax breaks to small businesses. The Small Business Jobs Act will also offer eight new tax incentives to companies, so that they may expand, hire, and strengthen the almost crippled economy.

Small businesses are the single greatest job generators in our economy, said Eighth District Congressman Jim Oberstar. Not only do they employ the vast majority of the people in our workforce, they represent the innovation and creativity that has made America the greatest nation on earth. Our small businesses dont need a handout right now; they need access to capital and tax cuts that will allow them to grow and thrive, and this bill delivers in those two key areas.

The Independent Community Bankers of America thanked the House of Representative for passing the bill.

Larry Nannis, chairman of the National Small Business Association, said the legislation offers a broad array of initiatives that will help Americas small businesses. And it comes not a moment too soon.

Mortgage Rates Update: MBA 30-Year Mortgage Rate at 4.44%, Mortgage application Down

According to the Mortgage Bankers Associations Weekly Mortgage Surrey, the US mortgage 30-year fixed mortgage rates and fixed 15 year fixed mortgage rates were lower.

Mortgage rates decreased in the latest mortgage survey released this morning. Fixed 30 year mortgage rates and fixed 15 year fixed mortgage rates were lower. 1 year adjustable mortgage rates bucked the downtrend and headed higher in the Mortgage Bankers Associations (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Survey.

The average interest rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages decreased to 4.44 percent from 4.47 percent, with points decreasing to 0.81 down from last weeks average of 1.08 points (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans.

Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed rate mortgages interest rate averaged inchng to a record low of 3.88 percent down from 3.96 percent, with pints decreasing to 0.86 points, down from the previous weeks average of 1.03 points.

The average interest rate for 1-year ARMs increased to 6.96 percent from f 6.89 percent last week, with discount points decreasing to 0.21 from 0.23 points.

The MBAs loan application index fell 1.4 percent in the week ended Sept. 17 to the lowest level in six weeks, as well as purchase applications decreased 3.3 percent, while refinancing declined 0.9 percent.

MBA: Weekly Home Mortgage Applications Volume Decreases 1.4%

According to Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Sept 17, the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage home loan application volume, declined 1.4 percent on a seasonally on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Compared to a week earlier, the Index increased 22.9 percent on an unadjusted basis which included the Labor Day holiday.

The Refinance Index, measure of loans to refinance a home, dropped 0.9% from the previous week, which is the third straight weekly decrease. The applications for seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, loans to purchase a home, dropped 3.3% from one week earlier, the MBA said.

The four week moving average for all mortgage loan applications is down 2.3%. Additionally, the four week moving average is up 1.0% for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is down 3.0% for the home refinance.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 81.1% of total applications from 80.5% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 5.9% from 6.2% of total applications from the previous week.

US Unemployment Rates Edge Up Last Month In 27 States, Nevadas Jobless Rates Hit New Record High

The US unemployment rate edged up in 27 states last month — the largest number in six months — while falling in 13 others and remaining the same in 10 more states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday. In July, the unemployment rate surged in only 14 states and fell in 18. It’s also the most states to see an unemployment increase since February.

The greatest job losses occurred in Nevada, a new record high and reported the nations highest unemployment rate for the fourth consecutive month, at 14.4% — up fro 14.3% in July, followed by Michigan at 13.1%, the same last month, and California at 12.4%, up from 12.3% last month.

On the other hand, North Dakota posted the lowest jobless rate at 3.7% — up from 3.6% last month — followed by South Dakota at 4.5%, up from 4.4 percent last month, and Nebraska at 4.6%, down from 4.7% last month.

Much of the decline was due to the ending of 114,000 temporary census jobs nationwide. All in all, the economy lost a net total of 54,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.6% from 9.5%. The private sector added a net total of only 67,000 jobs.

AIG Insurance Company May Sell Japanese Business Units To Prudential Financial

The struggling US insurer American International Group, one of the worlds largest insurer, has announced it will sell two Japanese life insurance business units to Prudential Financial Inc.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, American International Group will sell two of its Japanese life insurance companies, the AIG Star Life Insurance Co. and AIG Edison Life Insurance Co., for $4 billion to $5 billion to the New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc. The report said that this move is likely to help the firm in repaying the more than $90 billion it owes to taxpayers.

Prudential Financial Inc., which is not related to Britain’s Prudential PLC, is close to a deal to buy the two Japanese life insurance companies.

Prudential CEO John Strangfeld said the company is a buyer. The company, according to its annual submitted report, may add to businesses in the international market.

Bank of America Donates $10 Million to Boston Museum Of Fine Arts

Bank of America made an announcement on Monday that t would be giving $10 million to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, a contribution split evenly between cash and art, including a prized painting by contemporary artist Ellsworth Kelly. After a $5 million contribution from Bank of America as part of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts capital campaign and this latest contribution, the largest bank in the America is also largest Boston MFAs contributor.

In recognition of the huge contribution, Boston MFAs Hunting Avenue Entrance Plaza will be called the Bank of America Plaza on the Avenue of the Arts, the name is carved into the granite plinths on the building, said MFA Director Malcolm Rogers.

Bank of America Massachusetts President Robert Gallery said that the contribution would help make the museum more accessible, highlighting sponsorships of free admission programs for its account holders. In addition, the bank also financially supported the recent renovation of the buildings Huntington Avenue entrance.

So for the museum to choose to recognize us there, were quite honored. To me, it symbolizes opening those doors for the community at large, Gallery commented to the Boston MFA.

In 2007, State Street Corp. announced a $10 million contribution, which was largest single contribution by a corporation at the time. In return, the MFA named its Fenway entrance after the bank. Additionally, the museum also receives $1 million or more worth of contribution from Citizens Bank, Liberty Mutual, and Merrill Lynch.

Citigroup And Other Major Financial Firm Credit Card Charge-Offs Surge In August

Citigroup, world largest financial service network, credit card charge-offs or loans the bank considers uncollectable during the month of August rose to 11.8% from 9.75 in a month before.

The bank, headquartered in New York City, made a statement that its charge-off rate rose to 11.18% during the month, up from 9.75% during the month of July. The substantial credit card charge-off increase was a combination of the bank misstating its amount for charge offs – accounts three months or more behind, and deemed uncollectable – for the last several months, and consumers being less able to settle their credit card debt.

Other major credit card companies experienced and increased in credit card charge-offs and delinquency rates, Capital One., Discover Financial, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase, suggesting that overall charge-off rates increased from the month of July after seeing a few months of improvement. But American Express managed to keep its charge-offs rate steady in August.

All in all, the average credit card charge-offs rate in the second quarter of the year at 10.66%, well above the average charge-off rate in comparison with the rate before the great recession that crippled the entire economy.

Citigroup also said that the rate of account payments which were 30 days late or more was 4.95% during the month of August, down from 5.3% during the month of July.

Western Union and DHL To Expand Business Partnership Into Europe, Offering International Money Transfer Services

The Western Union Co. and DHL Express are planning to expand their cooperation to introduce money-transfer services as well as strengthen business operation to European customers.

Douglas County-based Western Union, a leader in global payment services, said that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between it and DHL, the world’s leading international express services company, calls for expanding the two company’s existing agreement, under which Western Union Money Transfer service is offered through DHL in Latin America and the Caribbean, to some 5,000 DHL owned and franchise locations in Europe. These locations include DHL’s own locations and those owned by franchisees.

“This MOU with Western Union strengthens our partnership, which started in Latin America over 18 years ago. I am sure that our 5,000 retail or retail partner outlets in prime locations in Europe will offer Western Union cash transaction customers an excellent network throughout Europe,” said Ken Allen, Chief Executive Officer, DHL Express. “At the same time, our own customers will enjoy additional financial services in our locations. I am confident that the synergies between DHL and Western Union will continue to introduce new benefits for our customers in the long run.”

The two companies also “are in discussions to expand this collaboration by introducing business services to DHL customers,” Western Union said in a statement.

In addition, the company said that the Custom House unit, which Western Union acquired in 2009, offers cross-border payment services to small and medium-sized businesses.

“Globalization is changing the way businesses operate,” said Hikmet Ersek, Western Union Chief Executive Officer. “More and more businesses are making payments across borders, and this phenomenon is only expected to grow. DHL has an established base of business customers who have a need for these types of services. By working together, we can introduce a convenient tool to support these businesses as they grow.”

Western Union and DHL have been partnering in Latin America for more than 17 years.

More Than 75% Of Consumers Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees, ABA Says

According to the latest survey from the American Bankers Association, there are approximately 77% of bank customers did not pay any debit card overdraft fees during the 12 months through mid-August, while 21% said they paid one or more.

Of the 21% who said they did pay an overdraft fee in the previous twelve months, most said they paid only one or two.

“The majority of consumers continue to avoid paying overdraft fees despite current economic conditions,” said Nessa Feddis, ABA senior federal counsel and retail banking expert. “This is good news and a sign that most consumers are managing their personal finances well.”

In addition, a large number of consumers who did pay an overdraft fee in the previous 12 months said they were glad the payment was covered (69%). Twenty-nine percent said they wished the bank had refused the payment.

Feddis said that consumers can avoid overdraft fees through effective financial management, which includes monitoring their balances, keeping extra money in their account as a pad, or by linking checking accounts to savings accounts, credit cards, or overdraft lines of credit.

ABA provided helpful tips to avoid paying overdraft fees:

  • Use direct deposit for your paycheck. You will have access to your paycheck immediately.
  • Keep track of your balance and transactions and don’t forget about automatic payments. Track balances and transactions online, by phone, or at an ATM. Keep in mind that your balance may not reflect transactions you authorized that haven’t reached or been processed by your bank.
  • Keep a “pad” or cushion of money in your checking account just to be safe.
  • Link your checking account to a savings account or credit card. These are usually less expensive alternatives, but remember: credit cards have to be paid back on time and money is not automatically put back into your savings account when you deposit more money into your checking account.
  • Ask your bank for an overdraft line of credit that will cover you if you overdraw your account. Just be sure to pay it back as soon as you get the bill.
  • Sign up for automatic notification when your balance drops below a certain level. You may be able to get notified by text message or email.
  • Shop around. If your bank doesn’t offer the services you would like, or charges too much for overdrafts, change banks. Thousands of banks are competing for your business.

MoneyGram Partnered With BillingTree To Offer PaynCash Cash Payment Solution

MoneyGram International, one of the worlds leading payment services industries, made an announcement about the companys partnership with lending on-demand payment processor company, BillingTree.

In compliance with the partnership, will provide same-day, cash payment services through about 35,000 locations of MoneyGram in the U.S. and enhance its payment service solutions under the brand name BillingTree PaynCash.

MoneyGram cash payment solution will compliment BillingTree payment system, which provides access to various billing organization, healthcare providers and financial lenders through a variety of payment alternatives such as ACH and credit card via online, IVR/VRU, MOTO and more.

“In today’s economic climate, companies need to provide consumers with fast and flexible payment options,” said Greg Waltz, vice president and general manager of Payment Products at MoneyGram. “With our ExpressPayment(R) service, MoneyGram can equip BillingTree’s clientele with a convenient payment alternative as more consumers seek to pay bills quickly and use cash.”

BillingTree’s new business partnership with MoneyGram enables its billers to collect cash payments through MoneyGram’s vast network of retail locations found in national grocery, pharmacy and convenience store chains, which includes Albertsons LLC, CVS/pharmacy and Walmart. The guaranteed cash payments are reported to the biller in real-time via MoneyGram’s proprietary payment tracking technology.

US Foreclosure Rate and Bank Repossessions Climb Again In August

Realtytrac, online foreclosure website, reported that the nation saw a 4% jump in foreclosure filings in August after the similar increase the month of July. All in all, one in every 381 US housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.

The agencys US Foreclosure Market Report for August that includes default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions was reported on 338,836 properties in August.

“The trend lines of decreasing default notices and increasing bank repossessions converged in August, with virtually the same number of new default notices and bank repossessions for the month – a clear indication that the clogged foreclosure pipeline is being carefully managed on both ends by lenders and servicers,” said James Saccacio, CEO of the company.

A surged in the number of bank repossession and foreclosure filings shows them US housing industry continues to be strained as a lot of consumers struggle to pay their home loans. However, American consumers who are planning to buy a property may greatly benefited by increased selection and lower prices.

Consumers who wanted to minimize their monthly expenses as well as void foreclosure may consider the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program. There are also private lenders who instituted their own prevention programs to help borrowers.

TransUnion: Credit Card Debt Drop, Consumers Swiping Credit Card Wisely

TransUnion, one of the three biggest credit bureaus, reported that the average debt on all bank-issued credit cards continued to plunge for the fifth straight quarter. In the second quarter of this year, the debt tumbled more than 13% in comparison to the second quarter of 2009, from $5,719 to an average $4,951. This marked the first time credit card debt was below the $5,000 average since early 2002, the Great Recession. The report suggested that American consumers are becoming more prudent and wise in utilizing plastics.

TransUnion reported that the national credit card delinquency rate for the second quarter of this year plummeted 17% than the previous quarter, and noting that a number of consumers continue to pay down their credit cards in response to poor economic status and high unemployment increase.

The report also showed that the number of new credit cards opened declined by at least 6.5% for the year. It is unclear whether the decrease is a sign that consumers are adopting an increasingly conservative approach in utilizing credit card or it is a result of the card issuers stringent requirements in dispensing credit cards, or most likely, a combination of both.

The Federal Reserve data seems like in accordance with the TransUnions reports. Central bank said that the month of July was the 23rd month in a row that witnessed the withdrawing of the consumer debt.

However, on the other hand, Odysseas Papadimitriou, Chief Executive and Founder of said, “Let’s get the message straight that we are still heading in the wrong direction”.

Barclaycard Research: Credit Card and Debit Card Usage Rises In August

According to Barclaycard data report, spending on credit card and debit card in August increased by 9.9% compared with the same month in 2009. The data shows that consumers in UK arent discouraged by the large cuts in public spending and taxes.

In addition, the report suggested that end of season sales and back-to-school shopping has played an integral role in the surge in card use, as well as higher prices due to the rising cost of both wheat, cotton, and other raw materials.

The data that was presented by Barclaycard was based in 85,000 businesses in the UK, which represents approximately 30% of the total debit and credit card market.

“With leading retailers warning that the Government austerity drive will keep the economy in the doldrums and hit consumer confidence hard, it is good to see a fourth month of increased spending,”said Stuart Neal, head of Barclaycard UK Payment Acceptance. “Confidence remains relatively high, but it will be important to see how spending fares when public spending cutbacks begin to hit people’s pockets, and not just the headlines.”

With the increasing credit card and debit card usage in almost daily necessities, individual retailers and small business are also experiencing better sales figures. For instance, John Lewis, often used as a benchmark for High Street sales, also recently announced a 28 per cent surge in pre-tax profits in the six months to July this year.

Citigroup Markets Part of $600 Collateralized Loan Obligation

Citigroup, Inc., a global diversified financial services holding company, is currently marketing a chunk of a $600 million collateralized loan obligation (CLO) under the management of Guggenheim Investment Management LLC, according to Bloomberg News report.

The report suggested that bank, headquartered in New York, New York, is selling a $300 million piece of the CLO, which received AAA rating from Standard & Poors. The remainder of the portfolio is expected to include some rated BBB loans and some equity, which will be held by Guggenheim and affiliates.

Todd Boehly, Guggenheim managing partner, told Bloomberg that the final amounts of those CLO havent been set yet. Bu the fund is expected to include at least 85% first-lien senior secured loans and the deals will close next month.

The CLOs are sort of collateralized debt obligation (CDO) which amalgamates high-yield and high-risk and divide them into securities of different risks and returns.

Citigroup To Sell Student Loan Corp To Discover Financial Services and Sallie Mae

Citigroup Inc., one of the largest financial services network, said it would sell its student loan business, StudentLoan Corp, to Sallie Mae and Discover Financial Services.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Student Loan Corp., which is 80 percent owned by Citigroup, said in a statement that it would be purchased by Discover for $600 million, $30.00 per share, or about 40% higher than the closing price on Thursday in the New York Stock Exchange.

The private student loan business is an important part of Discovers direct banking strategy, and this acquisition will enhance our competitive position in private student loan originations, said David Nelms, CEO of Discover in a statement. The transaction is expected to be immediately profitable for our shareholders.

Just before the transaction closes, Sallie Mae will purchase $28 billion of federal student loans and related assets from Student Loan Corp.

“We are one of four companies selected to service federal student loans on behalf of the federal government, and this transaction adds to that servicing business. We purchased assets that satisfy our target for asset quality and return on investments, and that would increase our customer base”, posted Sallie Mae Spokeswoman Martha Holler.

Discover said that the action will boost the banks per share earnings by $0.09 next year. Citigroup will acquire approximately $8.7 billion in federal and private student loans from Student Loan Corp.

Bank of America August Credit Card Write-Offs Surge

Bank of America, the largest bank in America, made a statement on Wednesday that the amount of its credit cards increased during the month of August.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said in a regulatory filing that its charge-off rate rose to 11.72% of balances, up from 11.39% during the month of July. The banks charge-off rate peaked in December last year at 13.53.

Over the last two years, Bank of America and other banks have written off record amounts of credit card debt as consumers unable to settle their debts and make payments during a period of high unemployment. Various credit card companies as well as Bank of America typically write off a loan after its late more than 180 days of past due.

According to the Federal Reserve, the overall charge-off rate in the second quarter rose to 10.66% while charge-offs typically hovered between 3 and 4%.

Bank of America said in its report that charge-off rates may not indicate a broader trend. The company said that the rate of payments which were 30 days or more late continued to fall during the month of August, to 5.68%, down from 5.92% in July.

The bank said that charge-off rates may not indicate a broader trend. According to its report the rate payments which were 30 days or more past due continued to fall during the month of August, to 5.68% from 5.92% in July.

43.6 Million In US Living In Poverty Line, Census Bureau Says

US Census Bureau said that the number of poor in the US jumped to 14.3% in 2009 to 43.6 million Americans, its highest level since 1994.

The dramatic jump on income, poverty, and health insurance was not unexpected. The U.S. economy struggles last year, and in 2008, 13.2% – or 39.8 million people – were living below the poverty line, the government said Thursday.

A lot of Americans lost their jobs during last year. The US jobless rate jumped from 7.7% in the first quarter of the year to 10.1% by October, before hitting the 10% rate for the rest of the year.

“The Census Bureau released data that illustrates just how tough 2009 was, President Obama said in a statement. “Even before the recession hit, middle class incomes had been stagnant and the number of people living in poverty in America was unacceptably high, and today’s numbers make it clear that our work is just beginning.”

Due to the continuously growing unemployment last year, number of American without health insurance rose 16.7% in 2009 from 15.4% in 2008. Averagely, 50.7% Americans living without insurance in 2009.

The government analyzed the Americans earnings, unemployment insurance, Social Security, veteran’s payments, pensions, interest and dividends, and other source of income to determine the US poverty status.

Mortgage Rates Update: US Mortgage Rates Remained Near Record Low, Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey suggested that US mortgage rate remained flat this week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate rose and the 15-year fixed-rate dipped slightly, while the shorter-term rates fell.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.37% and 0.7 points, up from last week averaged 4.35%. Last year, the 30-tear FRM averaged 5.04%.

In the meantime, the 15-year FRM this averaged a record low of 3.82% and 0.6 point, down slightly from last week when it averaged 3.83% and last year 15-year FRM averaged 4.47%.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.55% and 0.6 point this week, down from last week when it averaged 3.56% and last year averaged 4.51%.

Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac said, “Interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages have remained below 5 percent for the last 19 weeks giving people ample opportunity to refinance their existing mortgage debt. As a result, homeowners reduced their financial obligations relative to disposable personal income during the second quarter of 2010 to the lowest share in almost eight years, according to the Federal Reserve. Currently, four out of five mortgage applications are for refinancing existing mortgage debt, based on figures by the Mortgage Bankers Association.”

This week low mortgage rate only means that financing for a home would cost less than paying off a mortgage with a high mortgage rate.

MBA Requested To Strengthen The FHA and Ginnie Mae Operations By Granting More Resources and Manpower

According to the report of Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the Federal Housing Authority and Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) should be granted more manpower, technology resources, and authority to effectively manage the agency through the current housing market crisis and to allow the agency to continue to thrive when the market recovers.

“FHA and Ginnie Mae are cornerstones of the U.S. housing market as they provide access to mortgage loans for millions of first-time, and low- and moderate-income homebuyers. MBA members support both of these institutions,” said MBA Chairman Robert E. Story Jr., CMB. “MBA has long advocated for changes that will help guarantee a strong FHA and Ginnie Mae.”

The MBA council strategically provided 12 recommendations to strengthen the FHA and Ginnie Mae operation. Organized in November 2009, the MBA council consists of senior executives from 27 companies that represents both large national lenders and small independent mortgage bankers.

For FHA, the report recommends that:

  • Congress give FHA and Ginnie Mae appropriations to hire and train new staff.
  • Congress provide FHA with appropriations to develop and implement modern information technology (IT) systems and processes, including anti-fraud tools. FHA should also refine its TOTAL Scorecard.
  • FHA’s mission be updated and redefined, including a re-examination of the current FHA loan limits.
  • FHA strengthen its reverse mortgage product (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)).
  • Congress provide FHA with the expanded authority to increase premiums.
  • Congress give the FHA Commissioner the authority, with the concurrence of the HUD Secretary, General Counsel and Ginnie Mae president, to temporarily suspend problem lenders.
  • FHA balance its proposed multifamily risk management protocol against the backdrop of rising affordable housing needs, declining incomes and the ongoing credit crisis.
  • FHA should examine the existing Homeownership Center and Hub structure.

The paper also recommends that Ginnie Mae:

  • Examine appropriate staff levels.
  • Maintain its exemption from the Credit Reform Act of 1990.
  • Modify its policy regarding advance funding facilities.
  • Clarify its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage MBS issuer criteria.

The full 40-page report, “The Future of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae),” also offers observations on the recent past and future of FHA (including the HECM and multifamily programs) and Ginnie Mae products and programs.

Visit for further information.

Costs of Health Care Plans Expected To Rise in 2011Due To Obama Healthcare Reform

Health care insurers predicts US health care costs will increase between 10.5% and 11%, and the Obama health care reform law also projected to add at least 2% and 5% over the next three years, consulting firm Aon said in a report released Wednesday. In addition, providers subject to reductions in Medicare reimbursement may try to shift costs to the employer-based system.

“As employers start to fully understand the long-term cost impact of health reform, many are looking to redesign their health plans,” said John Zern, Aon Consulting’s U.S. Health & Benefits practice director. “Strong employee wellness and prevention programs, along with institutionalized best practices in care delivery, are key components to a successful redesign.”

According to the survey, HMO, POS, and PPO costs are projected to increase by 10.5%, 10.6% and 10.7% respectively over the next 12 months. These findings are bit higher a year earlier, 10.4% 10.4%, and 10.7%.

Prescription drug costs are expected to rise by 8.4%, while expenses related to specialty pharmacy products will surge 14%. Medicae supplement plans for seniors are expected to rise by 7.5% for Medicare supplement plans and 6.7% for Medicare Advantage plans, up from 6.6% and down from 7.3%, respectively, in the year before. Allows American Express Card Holders To Pay With Credit Card Reward Points

Amazon and American Express have teamed up and announced a new service that allows Amex card holders to use reward points to pay for all or part of their purchases.

“Starting today, Cardmembers can use the billions of points they have accrued toward millions of items at,” said Lynne Biggar, senior vice president and general manager, Membership Rewards, American Express. “This is a major step forward in the evolution of the Membership Rewards program, which began as a travel-focused program and has since expanded to include dining, entertainment, retail and many more redemption options. Through the launch of this new benefit, we are now giving Cardmembers the added choice and flexibility to directly use rewards points to purchase anything from Kindles and books to electronics and sporting goods.”

All American Express cardholders who are enrolled in the cards Membership Rewards program can accumulate points from purchases on their AmEx cards. These points can then be used toward millions of items on ( across categories such as Books; Kindle; Movies, Music & Games; Computers & Office; Electronics; Home, Garden, & Pets; Grocery, Health & Beauty; Toys, Kids & Baby; Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry; Sports & Outdoors; Tools & Home Improvement; and Auto & Industrial.

To take part in program, all AmEx members have to do is link their credit card and Amazon accounts. Additionally, points earned have no expiry dates and there is also no limit to how much points one can accumulate.

Capital One Bank Officially Takeover and Rebranded and Chevy Chase Bank

Last Monday, Capital One Financial Corp. officially takeover and rebrand the Chevy Chase Bank branches. The McLean, Virginia-based Capital One acquired Chevy Chase Bank in September 2009 and by next month the Chase Bank will be completely rebranded and will be outfitted with Capital One signage.

Earlier, the campaign ran that customers of Chevy Chase will be seamlessly migrated to Capital One membership.

The complete renaming and migration of the Chase Bank consumed a huge amount of time, it actually takes a years worth of hard work and big spending.

The financial firm had spent extra money and extra effort on Chase Bank due to the banks large number of locations is in Capital Ones home region as well as the holdings of the bank. The complete migration and advertising operation is expected to roll out in next few weeks, which includes placing large banners in the Washington, D.C. as well as in various public transportation system, locally targeted online advertising, and television commercials featuring star athletes.

Chase Online Banking Website Currently Down

Approximately 16 million customers of the mega-bank Chase are currently experiencing a hard time in conducting online banking transaction due to unspecified technical problem in the banks internet-based banking. However all Chase ATMs are said to be working fine.

The situation surfaced as the customers were greeted with the message on the chase website, Our website is temporarily unavailable. Were working quickly to restore access. Please log on later.

As of now, there have not been many specific details about the online banking website issue, but a representative from the bank has affirmed that the customer banking website is currently experiencing technical issues.

A lot of speculations emerged that the Chase web site outage may have been a security breach, but that does not seem to be the case at all.

Christine Holevas, a spokeswoman for the company, made a statement and assured all banks customer that the company is configuring the issues to restore access as soon as possible.

Chase, the commercial banking division of JPMorgan, which is the second largest bank in the United States and renowned for quality and integrity of its products, are currently facing great embarrassing situation and damage to goodwill.

First American Title Insurance Announces The Companys New Mortgage Services Division

First American Title Insurance Company announce the launching of the companys new Mortgage Services division, which is especially designed to provide resolution o various loan and personal finance issues, such as title, settlement, and valuation needs of residential originators with national retail platforms.

First American Title’s Mortgage Services division will replace two legacy divisions of the company: National Lenders Advantage and Equity Loan Services, both of which have been collectively serving the residential lending market in closing mortgages since 1983.

“First American understands that mortgage originators need more than a central point of contact to be competitive in a volatile market. We’ve listened closely to our clients and invested in the technology, personnel and infrastructure that our organization needs to support complex relationships with top national lenders. Our newly formed division better represents us as an innovative company with the capacity and experience to successfully deploy cost- and risk-reduction solutions for the mortgage industry,” said the division manager, Pat McLaughlin.

The Santa Ana, California-based First American Title Insurance Company is the largest subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation, one of the largest title insurers in the nation that offers title services through its direct operations and an extensive network of agents throughout the United States and abroad.

Financial Analyst Advised Students To Spend Student Loans Responsibly To Graduate College Debt-Free

Experts suggested student to assess the institution firs when they are planning to borrow money because there are so many other choices of lenders. Additionally, experts said that it students must analyze and compare the payment scheme of the loan because it will help they avoid tight situations in the future.

American student loan has significantly rose from $605 billion in 2009 to nearly $829 billion this month, this only means that more and more American students borrowing money from lending system to pay for their tuition, books, and other expenses that are pertinent in acquiring tertiary education. Even though the financial aid may help students pay for higher education, it can come back to haunt students who make a few key financial mistakes that add onto their debt upon graduation.

San Francisco Chronicles reported that the there are a lot of borrowers often apply for more money than they need. Most student borrows money to support the things they want, as opposed to things they need, are more likely to have trouble repaying their debt. The Chronicles also noted that students who spend most of the money they receive are also more like to find difficulty repaying the money in the future.

On the other hand, last June, reported that the total student loan debt surpassed total credit card debt for the first time in financial history.

Mortgage rates Update: Freddie Mac Says 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Edges Up

The Freddie Mac, the government controlled mortgage buyer, announced the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate home mortgage and the 5-year adjustable rate rose slightly, and the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage remained flat or fell lower.

The rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35% for the week ended Sept. 9 with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.32%. It is the first time the mortgage rate has recovered since the week ended June 17.

In the meantime, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged a record low of 3.83%, remaining at its record low, with an average 0.6 point. Last year, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.50%.

The rate on a 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.56% this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.54 percent. The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 3.46 percent this week from 3.5% last week and 4.64% last year.

While overall employment was down in August, private non-farm payrolls rose more than the market consensus forecast, and the prior two months’ employment figures were revised up,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “This somewhat sanguine report had a mixed effect on mortgage rates this week, with the 30-year fixed rate nudged up but the 15-year fixed rate unchanged. Pending sales of existing homes rebounded in July, a hopeful sign that existing home sales picked up toward the end of summer.

Google Android Smartphone Users May Experience Google Instant Search Later This Fall

Searching the web through your mobile will be about to get a lot faster especially on Android smartphones, as the Google Instant Search is set to streamline the Android OS later this year.

The Internet search made an announcement and confirmed that the recently launched Google Instant will be available to Android OS later this fall. Google Instant Search is designed to make conducting searches faster by displaying results as you type, rather than you having to enter the full search query. The company announcement follows the general of Google Instant to all registered PC/Mac Google users in the US and Europe.

Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions – yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful, said Marissa Mayer, Googles Vice President of Search Products and User Experience.

Google Instant is especially suited to smartphones, since the company promises to dramatically cut the number of keystrokes required for a single search. As of now, the company hasnt announced the exact release date or compatible handsets, but well definitely keep you posted!

Majority Of The Drivers Satisfied With Auto Insurance With Claim Results, Says Consumer Reports

According to the latest poll from Consumer Report, approximately 86 percent of respondents who filed auto insurance claim fo4rm January 2006 to June 2009 were highly satisfied with the service that they received form insurance providers. All in all, 22 different providers received high ratings from the survey.

“All 22 rated companies scored well with an 81 or higher, but some did better than others,” Consumer Reports said.

However, the survey also noted that not all auto insurance claims run smoothly. There are at least 25 percent of claims made during the roughly three-year period took longer than the standard claim procedures, at least two weeks to be paid out.

While the organization presented the results of their survey, they also provided numerous of brilliant money saving ideas and options for consumers who were looking to minimize the amount they spend to insure their vehicles. Consumer Reports said choosing the type of car may save consumers a lot o money because insurance premiums will vary by auto model., as well as having higher deductibles or driving fewer miles may help cut back on costs.

Meanwhile, experts suggested that consumers must do some research before buying an insurance policy because buying an auto insurance policy can make you spend more than what you need to if you do not have enough knowledge about it.

The complete report can be found on

MasterCard Launches New Mobile Payment System MoneySend App For Research in Motions BlackBerry

MasterCard has launched a new mobile payment system app for Research in Motions BlackBerry. MasterCard MoneySend is a convenient and safe way to transfer money in the United States from person-to-person.

MasterCard MoneySend, which is available for download on BlackBerry App World, works similarly the same like many online payment services; as consumers can send money, pay someone else for a product or service, and request funds money via their Black Berry through participating banks and credit unions or when they create a virtual prepaid account through Bancorp Bank. The bank spokesman said it can be used for everything from IOUs to payments to a roommate, babysitter, or housekeeper.

MasterCard MoneySend allows users to Send, Pay or Request Funds for a wide range of reasons including the everyday IOU, informal services purchased from friends and family, or payments to a personal trainer, roommate, babysitter, gardener, housekeeper or repairman, said Andrew Ong, group head, P2P, MasterCard Worldwide, in a statement.

Bank officials said that users can then link their existing debit or credit cards or bank checking account to the new virtual prepaid account and begin sending money via their Smartphone.

Bank officials also said that the designated account funds the MoneySend transaction, and users can manage and trigger the exchanges through the application. The BlackBerry will not store any personal and financial information.

MasterCard officials stated that registered MoneySend users have the ability to accept credit or debit card payments; send money to family members; pay for informal goods and services; and request money from people who owe money. The Request Funds feature helps will simplify the money collection processes. BlackBerry users can view MoneySend transaction history and invite other users to use MoneySend via email as a function within the application.

Experts believe that this new payment system is set to compete to established payment services such as eBays PayPal.

Wells Fargo And Wachovia To Lower Fees On Gift Cards and Adjusts Funds Expiration

Wells Fargo & Co. made an announcement that the company has modified its Visa gift cards and has eliminated monthly service fees and the expiration of funds loaded on Wells and Wachovia Visa gift cards.

Previously, the Wells Fargo charged consumers a $2.50 monthly fee service which was deducted from the funds that remained on the card 12 months after activation. Wells Fargo and Wachovia are also increasing the gift cards’ expiration date to seven years, from five, from the date of creation.

Wells Fargo said in a statement: Wells Fargo and Wachovia Visa Gift Cards are $3.95 and are available in whole dollar amounts (up to $500 for Wells Fargo Visa Gift Cards/up to $600 for Wachovia Visa Gift Cards). Customers can specify if they want the card mailed to them or to the gift recipient. However, cards ordered online over $100 MUST be shipped to the purchaser. The gift card is not re-loadable and cannot be used for cash advances or withdrawals.

Most of the changes in the banks gift cards are in compliance with the new Federal Reserve regulations under the Credit CARD Act. However the Wells Fargo made the additional enhancements to improve the overall gift giving experience for our customers.

Wells Fargo Visa Gift Cards and Wachovia Visa Gift Cards are enormously popular with our customers because they offer an easy, convenient and flexible option when purchasing gifts, said Kathy Yee, head of Wells Fargo Prepaid Cards. Our customers told us their biggest sticking points were the monthly service fees and the expiration of funds, and we listened.

Visa And Wells Fargo Teaming Up To Allow Consumers To Use Their Smartphone To Make Purchases

Previously, we reported about the collaboration of Bank of America and Visa in testing the use o smartphones to make payments. Now, Visa is teaming up with Wells Fargo for another testing that will allow consumers to pay for purchases with their smartphones at contactless payment terminals.

Reuters reported that Wells Fargo trial is part of a major push by Visa, the largest transaction processing network in the world, to have a commercially-viable product ready for launch in 2011.

Bill Gadja, Visa’s head of global mobile, told Reuters that the company want to be commercially ready early in 2011″ to let consumers use their cellphones to make purchases in stores.

“Wells Fargo is proud to be participating in Visa’s microSDpayment pilot with DeviceFidelity’s In2Pay technology,” Wells Fargo said in a statement. “We are committed to helping our customers succeed financially through innovation. We look forward to sharing our pilot details in the near future.”

Visa will utilize DeviceFidelity’s In2Pay Micro-SD chips that can be inserted into smartphones’ memory card slots and it will automatically convert the smartphone into contactless payment device.

Visa is also planning to introduce the smartphone payment system in Europe with Turkey’s Akbank, according to Finextra.

Visa is leading the way in efforts for turning smartphones into digital wallets, with the help of the well-established banks in the U.S, such as wells Fargo, US Bancorp, and Bank of America. While this program is new to the U.S., the Asian leading technology maker, Japan, has been using their mobile telephones to pay for purchases for several years.

American Consumers Prefer To Use Debit Card Instead Of Credit, Credit Card Usage Hits All-Time Low

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, consumers in the US prefer to use their debit card instead of the traditional credit card to avoid building up more credit debt. In addition, US Federal Reserve announced that credit card use by most American consumers dropped for the sixth consecutive month in July, with average consumer debt falling by $3.6 billion or 1.75%.

Both kinds of “plastic” allow users to make purchases safely and conveniently without having to carry cash. However, the main difference is that spending using a credit card is a form borrowing while with a debit card you are spending your own funds that you deposited to your card’s account.

At Visa, the world’s leader payment network, the total payment volume for debit cards surged by 7.9% in 2009 to $883 billion as credit-card volume dropped by 7.3% to $764 billion. Volume for debit cards at No. 2 MasterCard rose by 5.8% and 2.8% at No. 4, Discover Financial Services, according to Bloomberg.

James Van Dyke, President and Founder of Javelin Strategy & Research, said:

Consumers are turning from one form of plastic to another. Credit cards are falling out of favor as cardholders become more cautious and look for more conservative payment methods.

Key Findings of the Javelin Strategy & Research Report titled Payment Card Issuer Strategies 2010: The Rise of the Cautious Consumer are the following:

  • Among the 11% of consumers who claim they have an increased ability to put funds into savings, 46% have decreased the use of their credit cards, and 51% have decreased their spending on discretionary goods, such as entertainment, travel, luxury items and cars.
  • Credit card use among consumers decreased 31% between 2007 and 2009 (87% in 2007 down to 56% in 2009); if this rate of decline continues through year end, credit card use will fall below 50%.
  • The top two most populous states, California and Texas — representing almost 20% of the U.S. population — are among those in which credit card use has declined as the collapse of the housing market and rising unemployment rates have contributed to increasingly cautious consumer behavior.
  • Fee sensitivity is paramount in the selection of a new card issuer, as 80% of consumers cited no annual fee as the most important criterion when choosing a new credit card.

Beth Robertson, Javelin Strategy & Research Director of Payments Research, said the recent passage of widespread financial reform targeting payment cards is not just impacting the way consumers behave, but is transforming the entire payments landscape.

In addition to reassessing their entire debit and credit card portfolios and opportunities for prepaid adoption, the industry now has an imperative to innovate, finding new payments options or structural alternatives that will drive revenue, Robertson added.

Secured Credit Card for People With Bad Credit Ratings, Helps To Fix Bad Credit History

The full implementation of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act that took at least two years to completely go into effect provide additional retractions and limits to credit card issuers, as well as make it more difficult fro people who suffer from bad credit to qualify or a credit card. However, there are still avenues for those people who struggle financially.

The new Applied Bank Secured Visa credit card is especially designed to aid people who suffer from bad credit, as well as those people with no or poor credit. If the customer used their credit card responsibly and settle their payments on-time they will be given an opportunity to improve and establish a good credit score.

Applied Bank Secured Visa has an annual fee of $50 for the first year followed by a monthly processing fee of $9.95 from the second year. Fact that this is a secured card, card holder must maintain at least between $200 and $500 and the fixed annual percentage rate (APR) is a low 12.99%. The bank said that this rate will n change even the card holder get late on payment.

The Wilmington, Delaware-based Applied Bank is the only bank in Delaware rated A+ for Excellent. The card being offered by the bank is a real credit card, not just an average debt or pre-paid card. Card holders payments will directly reported to the credit bureaus. Meaning if customers make on-time, their credit score will reflect it.

Visit the bank website for further details.

SUNY Colleges Agrees To Cuomos Student Protection Against Deceptive and Unfair Credit Card Marketing

All 64 campuses within the State University of New York agreed to a code of conduct developed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo which is designed to protect students from troubling credit card marketing practices or what he calls deceptive and unfair credit card marketing in numerous colleges.

According to Bloomberg News, the code, Student Credit Card Reforms for Colleges and Universities, outline steps schools should take to monitor and limit marketing to college students. In addition, the code also requires colleges and universities to offer financial literacy programs and not share personal and banking information with credit card companies without permission.

The code also bans agreements in which the school earns a percentage of finance charges imposed on students. Colleges will also be required to select credit cards based on students best interests and needs if they enter an exclusive agreement with credit card company. Colleges must also monitor all credit card offers being marketed to students.

I commend SUNY for being at the vanguard of reform and I urge other colleges and universities to follow their lead, Cuomo said.

Senator Schumer Asks Federal Reserve Board To Add More Protection To Consumer Against Business Card Marketing Scheme

Senator Charles Schumer submitted a letter to letter to the Federal Reserve Board to scrutinize issuers offering credit card to people who dont manage a business or those people who used to have a business.

Business credit cards do not fall under the new Credit CARD protection law and most issuers talking advantage of it. A lot of credit card issues maximized the corporate credit card mailing offers by 256% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with a year earlier, the democrat senator said in a statement.

“Credit card companies seem to be purposely hawking corporate cards to consumers who don’t own a business and may even be retired. This is more than deceptive marketing; it is a dirty trick meant to get around the new credit card law. We need to put an immediate stop to this scheme, but in the meantime, consumers should be sure to read the fine print of the offers they are getting in the mail. This is the latest, most brazen attempt yet by the credit card industry to get around the law,” Schumer said in a statement.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act took two years to completely go into effect and it limits the ability of credit card issuers to increase interest rates and markets towards students or younger consumers. The new law also capped on fees associated with issues such as late payments. However, the new restrictions do not apply to corporate cards or business credit cards, which are designed for use by small business owners.

US Imposed New Tourist Tax On Travelers From Visa-Waiver Countries

Starting today, Sept. 8, travelers flying to the US which do not requires visas will be required to pay a $14 “operational and travel promotion.”

According to US Customs and Border Protection website, people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries must pay when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

The new tourist tax that was implemented today received criticism from European Union as “inconsistent with the commitment of the U.S. to facilitate transatlantic mobility.” The tourist fee affects air and sea travelers from VWP countries such as Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

“The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be $14,” the website said. The breakdown includes $US10 tax and $US4 to recover the cost of the ESTA system.

The New York Times said: ESTA approval, which went into effect in early 2009, allows travelers to enter the United States without a full travel visa, which can cost over $100. The ESTA authorization lasts for two years (or until the individuals passport expires), and is valid for multiple entries.

SmartyPig Online Savings Cuts Interest Rates To 1.75% From 2.10%

SmartyPig, a firm that offers goal-based online savings accounts, announced on its blog that the yield will fall from 2.10% APY to 1.75% APY for customers with balances up to more than $50,000 on Tuesday, September 7th.

Based on the companys FAQ, the APY is determined by BBVA Compass, the companys bank partner. As of now, BVA Compass has low rates on most of its deposit products.

As you may know, interest rates on deposit accounts at many banks have been declining over the past several months due to poor market conditions. Likewise, the rate on your SmartyPig savings account is being reduced as a result of these same economic conditions. Effective Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010, the interest rate paid on SmartyPig savings accounts with $50,000 or less in aggregate balances will decrease to 1.75% APY (balances of more than $50,000 will remain at .50% APY), SmartyPig said on its official blog.

SmartyPig stated they are still offering the best interest rate compare to its competitors and with the companys cash back offerings of up to 14% with top merchants.

Interest rates on SmartyPig savings accounts will continue to be among the best in the market. And with our cash back offering of up to 14% with top merchants customers will have the opportunity to get the most for your money when you use SmartyPig.

We understand that a rate reduction can be unpopular. But we also understand that with many banks introducing creative new fees, low-to-no interest rates on savings, high interest rates on credit card debt and scant rewards for your spending dollars, the SmartyPig savings account beats them all hands down. We all have to tighten our belts during these difficult financial times, SmartyPig said.

NYC Banking Startup BankSimple Raises $3.1 million, Announces Its Plan To Launch Its First Card

New York City banking startup BankSimple has closed on a first venture funding in a round hat includes First Round Capital, IA Ventures and Village Ventures, along with seed funding from Jerry Neumann, Nauiokas Park, and SV Angel.

According to TechCrunch, BankSimple raises $2.9 million round and additional $190,000 rose last year from angel investors in a seed round.

BankSimple posted on its official blog that the bank is currently working o its first partner financial institution and they will announce it once the negotiation is done. /the bank is also planning to launch its first card under Visa and MasterCard.

“Assuming we can get our cards issued before this blackout period, we’d like to do a “friends and family” test later this year. That test will help us iron out any technical issues with our partner integrations and provide us with essential feedback,” the said on uts blog. Once were satisfied that our initial service is stable and secure, well begin bringing on customers who signed up for an invitation (in order of invite request date, of course). To encourage people to flex our systems early on, well be rewarding active customers with additional invites.

The service is likely to remain invitation-only ad once the bank ensure that they can provide the best possible experience to everyone they will drop the invitation requirement.

NY AG Cuomo Investigating Credit Card Companies Marketing To New York College Students

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo facilitated a statewide investigation of credit-card companies marketing to college students through their schools.

According to Bloomberg, Cuomo mailed letters to colleges and universities across the state, requesting them to submit any exclusive contracts they have with credit card and debit card companies.

Todays students are facing a growing mountain of debt that can burden them long after graduation, Cuomo said. As the new school year begins, we want to make sure that colleges and universities are doing all that they can to help students avoid financial dangers.

The new Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act that went into full effect on August 22 put new stringent restrictions on young adults looking to apply for credit. Under the recently implemented regulations, individuals ages 21 and below must have an adult co-signer or the financial means to repay the debt in order to obtain a card under the new legislation.

Bloomberg also noted that prior the full implementation of the CARD Act, most credit card issuers had been heavily criticized by the authority and industry expects for targeting students and persuading them to apply with giveaways.

Mobile Union Launches UK To Nepal Online Money Transfer

Mobile Union, one of the biggest remittance company in UK, successfully launched a UK-to-Nepal mobile money service called mtxpress Nepal. Mobile Union rolled out this service in collaboration with Laxmi Bank, one of the leading banks in Nepal, and United Remit, a business unit of the Chaudhary Group and retail remittance operator in Nepal.

Through mtxpress service people are now allowed to send money safely and securely without the need to visit a retail location. All they need to do is register online and they can send money securely using their debit card and recipients will receive a SMS message that their cash is ready for collection at any of Lamix Bank’s or United Remits which is located throughout Nepal.

Mobile Union mtxpress CEO Randall Harper Randall Harper said that the new company service is perfect for non-resident Nepalese living in the UK especially for those sending smaller sums.

With our global technology platform, and working in tandem with Laxmi Bank and United Remit, this means that money is available in seconds at the heart of rural communities across Nepal. With Transaction Fees starting at GBP2 to send as little as GBP20, our objective is to establish mtxpress as the provider of choice for people to send money home to Nepal.”

CareerBuilder Job Search Engine: 80 Percent Of Consumers Living Paycheck To Paycheck

CareerBuilder, online Job search website, surveyed more than 4,400 consumers or workers across the nation and found that nearly eight out of ten workers said they are living paycheck to paycheck.

According to the results, nearly 80% of workers indicated that they are currently living from paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. The survey also showed that 22% of Americans dont have sufficient funds to pay some of their bills in the past year. The 80% number is an extremely large jump from last years survey.

Additionally, 1/2 of respondents said that theyve had to cut back on spending, particularly on leisure activities, shopping, and extras such as cable television in order to make ends meet. Most of the respondents said that they are driving less and taking more public transport to save gas money.

Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder vice president of humanresources, said:

“The last 18 months have required some workers to tighten their day-to-day spending and make some adjustments to their financial futures. Our survey found that six-in-ten workers say that the recession has made them more fiscally responsible. Maintaining a budget is not only important now, but will better position workers – both personally and professionally – for the long run.”

Most of the workers are making ends meet by dipping into their long-term savings. There are more than 20% workers say they have reduced their 401(k) contributions or personal savings in the last year to get by.

TD Bank Launches New Mobile App For iPhone and Android Smartphones

TD Bank, one of the top 15 US banks with TD Bank approximately $160 billion in assets, made an announcement about its free app available for iPhone and Android smartphone. Users can now download the free and secure app at iTunes App Store and Android Market. The Canadians RIMSs Blackberry app is set to launch this year.

TD’s mobile banking app includes is designed to help customers to efficiently the nearest TD Bank or ATMs, check deposit, loan, and credit card balances, and view pending transactions and account history. The new app also allows funds transfer and has a capability to make bill payments.

Our mobile banking app is all about giving our customers pocket-sized convenience and real-time access that is free, easy, and secure, said Suzanne Poole, executive vice president, retail sales strategy and distribution, TD Bank. This is just the first in a series of releases for mobile banking. There will be exciting new additions to our app features over the coming months including a BlackBerry® app.

As of now, TD Bank Online Banking customers can download the app and get banking. TD Bank strongly encourages customers to enroll in TD Bank Online Banking so that they can use all the banking functions of the app.

Visits to find out more about TD Banks new mobile banking app.

Wachovia Implemented Fee Increase But Online Banking Not Affected

Wachovia Online Banking, one of the reliable and established banking systems in the US, made a statement that there will be several fee changes to the companys banking system, the same Bank of America does recently. The bank underlined that that none of the changes will have any effect on its internet-based or online banking.

  • A $2 fee will be implemented for any customers receiving paper statements in the mail with images of canceled checks; Customers can avoid these additional fees by requesting that no images be attacked to their statements, or simply using Wachovias online banking portal to view the checks
  • No More waived fees for customers who use other banks ATM machines. In the past Wachovia had waived any fees, some which can be as high as $3 per transaction, when customers used ATM machines not operated by Wachovia

With more than 12,000 combined ATMs around the country, including about 200 in Charlotte, Wachovia believes customers can find a machine to meet their needs, Wachovia spokesman John Dunn stated.

These changes are definitely designed to get more customers to use Wachovia Online Banking, and because of these, users can save time, money, and the environment.

Mortgage Rates Update: Home Refinance Rise As Mortgage Interest Rate Fall

US mortgage applications increased last week as homeowners took advantage of historically low interest rates, industry data showed Wednesday. The US Home loan refinance demand rose for a fifth week in a row.

According the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) survey for the week ended August 27 showed average mortgage rate increased 2.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.

Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, said:

“Despite the slight increase in purchase activity in the past week, the continued low level of purchase applications indicates we are unlikely to see an increase in new home sales reported for August or existing home sales reported for September.

The MBAs Refinance Index increased 2.8% from the previous week and is at its highest level since May 2009. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 1.8 percent from one week earlier.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.43% during the final full week of August, down from the 4.55% seen during the prior seven-day period. The 15-year fixed mortgages rate also dropped to 3.88% to 3.91%, a record low. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgage or ARM, dropped to 6.95%t from 6.84%.

“Refinancing activity picked up again last week, reaching new 15-month highs, as borrowers took advantage of even lower mortgage rates. The drop in mortgage rates was in line with Treasury rates as the latest data continue to show weak economic growth and an exceptionally weak housing market,” Fratantoni said.

TransUnion: Florida Auto Loan Delinquencies Continue To Fall

According to the new report, delinquency rate of auto loan has fallen in the past year. TransUnion, national credit bureau, quarterly analysis of trends in the auto industry indicates that Florida has the 11th-highest auto loan delinquency rate in the nation. In the second quarter, the rate was approximately 0.67%, a 27.2 decrease from this time one year ago. TransUnion said that this is the 19th best improvement across the country.

Peter Turek, automotive vice president in TransUnion’s financial services group, in a news release:

“The national trend we are seeing continues to point to a clear improvement in payment behavior. Although part of the reason for the turnaround in delinquency rates is the influx of new, lower risk loans as we have noted before, consumers do not see a quick fix to the short-term economic and employment situation and are focusing their attention instead on savings and lower consumption of discretionary goods.

CredAbility, a non-profit credit counseling group, ranked the state of Florida as third in its recent survey of most financially struggling states throughout the nation.

The recent auto-loan delinquency data provide “some indication, though very small, that the consumer-debt crisis seems to lessening,” said Richard Schram, a senior executive of CredAbility’s Central Florida unit. “But it is hard to tell that to the person out there who is about to lose their home or has been unemployed for more than a year.”

Student Loan Debt Clock Ticking Fast for both Federal and Private Student Loans in US

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, a college financial aid information, has posted a new “Student Loan Debt Clock” ( that tallies an estimate of current outstanding U.S. federal and private student loans being amassed by college students and their parents.

Last June,, also published by Kantrowitz, reported that the total student loan debt surpassed total credit card debt for the first time in financial history.

According to Kantrowitz analysis that was posted at

Student loan debt outstanding totaled at least $830 billion as of June 2010, with roughly $665 billion in federal education loans and $168 billion in private student loans. The President’s FY2011 budget reports actual federal education loans totaling $605.648 billion as of FY2009. The first nine months of FY2010 involved approximately $59 billion in additional federal student loan debt.

Jennifer Saranow Schultz of New York Times elaborated on Kantrowitz student loan debt calculating process:

He started with the government figure for total federal and direct loans outstanding at the end of fiscal year 2009 of $605 billion. Then he estimated how much private loan debt was outstanding as of June 2010, and added an increment to account for the growth in federal loan debt from September 2009 to June 2010.

He came up with a starting figure of $830 billion in private and federal loans outstanding as of June 2010, which he further estimated was growing by about $2,854 a second.

However, stated that the debt clock is intended for entertainment purposes only and the actual total outstanding student loan debt are more volatility at the beginning of each semester.

Wells Fargo Temporarily Fixed Tax-Withholding Glitch

Wells Fargo, headquartered in San Fransisco, California and fourth largest U.S. bank by assets, has rolled out a temporary fix to resolve a tax-withholding glitch that had caused financial advisers up in arms in January this year.

The approximately 11,000 Wachovia Securities advisers in Wachovia’s traditional brokerage channel were moved into Wells Fargo’s payroll system in January this year. The system automatically withholds at least 25 percent of commissions for taxes, regardless of their bracket, making a problem for people who fall into higher or lower income tax rate brackets.

Starting this month, Wells Fargo implemented necessary changes to allow advisers to opt in to a new tax-withholding system which allows them to set an appropriate level. They will continue to be paid in two monthly installments. A least 45% of the brokers average monthly payout from the past three months will be included in the first payment and the second will include the rest of that months payout. Wells Fargo Advisors representative said that the new permanent system will be implemented next year.

A lot of brokers with $500,000 or less in annual production faced lower take-home payment due to the flat-rate withholding. Wells Fargo offered a one year loan with 3% interest to provide cash flow assistance to affected advisers, but the solution offered by the financial firm left many advisers unsatisfied. Brokers who produced at least $1 million in production have been withholding too little, which can cause problems with the government come tax return time.

IBC Bank Online Banking Website is Down or Under DDoS Attack?

There has been a lot of online banking website or internet-based banking experiencing a downtime for various reason these past few weeks. Last week we reported that the Bank of America website crashes down for at least 4 hours and now the IBC bank. Both the IBC Bank website ( and the IBC Bank Online login site ( are down currently.

There are some group tests the website but the website doesnt even seem to return a ping result and what they got is Could not find host This cases usually happen because of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack or may be the server overload.

DDoS attack is one in which a multitude of compromised systems attack a single target, thereby causing denial of service for users who wanted to access the website.

As of now, there has been no word yet IBC Bank about the downtime.

Citigroup Planning to Expand Its Operation In China and Boost China Workforce

Stephen Bird, Citigroup’s co-chief executive officer for the Asia-Pacific, told Bloomberg: told Bloomberg that the Company is contemplating to hire up to 7,500 people in the coming three years to increase its workforce in China by three-folds.

“China is one of the most attractive and profitable countries in the world to be operating a bank,” Bird said.

Bird also said hat the company were planning to triple their workforce in China, and he added that the company sees China as one of its priority markets and has “aggressive banking expansion plans”.

“We … want to open branches as fast as regulators in China will let us,” Mr Bird said.

As of now, Citibank has 29 branches in the nation, with a further ten to be added before the end of 2010. Because of the workforce increase, Citibank would maximize its presence in the Chinese banking industry would help it stand against its top competitors such as HSBC Holdings PLC and Standard Chartered PLC.

On the other hand, Vikram Pandit, Citigroup chief executive, told the Financial Times that the company is also planning to expand its operations across the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Fraudulent Payday Loan Deb Collector Threatening Suit on Illinois Consumers

Walletpop reported that Illinois consumers were being harassed by con artists posing as payday loan debt collectors and emptying bank accounts. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has issued a consumer alert warning against these fraudulent collection calls after receiving numerous complains.

Most consumers who received calls from fake debt collectors claim that they’ve done business with online payday loan lenders but have paid off the debt. Consumers say that the con artists know their personal information as well as their social security numbers and bank account numbers.

“In almost every case, the bogus collector threatens the victim with legal action, including a lawsuit or arrest, if they don’t make a payment right away,” Madigan said. “The scammers attempt to force victims into an immediate payment and ask them to authorize a direct withdrawal from their checking account.”

Madigan says that these fraudsters have been using fictitious company names and even law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Morgan & Associates, DNR Recovery, DNI Recovery, DNI Recovery, Legal Accounts Association, CashNet USA, America Legal Services, Quick Cash, and ACS.

She reminds consumers that they cannot go to jail for debt and to not offer any personal information over the telephone, specially social security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers.

Illinois consumers who’ve received calls from fraudulent debt collectors can file complaints at or call Consumer Fraud Hotline at: Chicago 1-800-386-5438, Springfield 1-800-243-0618, and Carbondale 1-800-243-0607.

New Credit Card Offers Skyrocket Despite of New Credit CARD Law

According to Synovate Mail Monitor, a market research company, mailed credit-card offers from April to June increased for the third consecutive quarter. This means that U.S households received nearly 640 million offers in their mailbox, a surge of 83% from 349.1 million offers during the same period last year.

The Street reported that Chase quadrupled their mailings and Citi nearly tripled their solicitations. The street also reported that credit card issuers have mailed 1.12 billion credit card offers during the first six months of 2010. In 2009, there were 1.39 billion offers for the entire year.

Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc frequently tracks and analyzes card data.

“We are being repeatedly reminded that anybody betting against the US consumer ends up on the losing side. American consumer spending accounts for approximately 70% of the USs GDP, and a robust spend of over $1,600 suggests that the Dr. Dooms of the world may be underestimating this economys recovery,” said Anuj Shahani, director of Competitive Tracking Services for Synovates Financial Services group.

Last August 22, the Credit CARD law went into full effect and as a result of these new restrictions, a lot of financial firms and lenders developed a new marketing tactics to attract more applicants to ensure its profitability.

Despite the uncertainty introduced by the CARD Act, Fin Reg, and other such legislative changes, we are seeing the credit card issuers get back to market, trying to entice consumers once again, Shahani said.

Bank of America Launches New Credit Card with Zero Transfer Fee

Bank of America successfully launched a new MBNA credit card system that will allow card holders to compare their savings through its online banking service. The new credit card has an introductory rate of 1.9 per cent for the first 12 months with no handling fees fee on money and balance transfers made within the first tree months of the product being taken out.

The internet-only credit card has a standard annual percentage rate of 16.9% variable interest. This package could attract lot consumers who are seeking to minimize the amount of money they spend from their current account in the aftermath of the global economic recession.

Will Curley, product executive for Bank of America Europe card services, said
that the new credit card is intended to appeal their customers and countless people looking to “pay down their debts over a short period with lower fees”.

Visit the company’s website at or Bank of America’s website at f you want to know more about the new credit card.

Mortgage Rates Update: Refinance Home Mortgage Rates Fall To Historic Record Low

Todays mortgage rates are the lowest recorded since Freddie Mac, a government-controlled firm, started monitoring mortgage rate back in 1971. The average 30-year fixed mortgage is around 4.375% today, with an APR of 4.559%, down from Fridays average of 4.36% and and 5.14 percent from last year.

Freddie Mac also reported that the 15-year fixed mortgage rate record lows today at 3.75%, down much lower than this time last year when the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was averaging 4.58%. The 15-year fixed mortgage has become a popular choice for people looking to shorten their loans with minimal increase in price.

Michael Fratantoni, Vice President of Research and Economics of Mortgage Bankers Association, said: The volume of refi applications last week was up 26% over their level four weeks ago. Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level in the survey, going back to 1990, as incoming data continue to indicate that economic growth has slowed.

On the other hand, due to historically low mortgage interest rates there are lot of homeowners refinancing their mortgage over the last few weeks. However, most lenders adjusted their requirements and in order to qualify starters must have excellent credit score and low debt.

BBB Warns Public about Payday Loans Online

Payday loans served as an avenue for a lot of unfortunate and bad credit borrowers to gain access to cash money advance options. However, most borrowers arent aware about the risk of this type of loan especially if they are dealing with online payday loan lender for their needs.

The Better Business Bureau received more than 20 reports of unauthorized charges coming directly linked to credit service and payday loan lender called Select Platinum Credit. The victims allege that their bank statements have a charge of $49.99 on them after applying for an online payday loan. Because of this incident, BBB released a notification to borrowers about the dangers of disclosing their personal and bank account information to payday lenders who do business through the internet. Additionally, on August 25 the authority issued a cease and desist order for internet based payday loan lenders, however, more companies are still operating.

Most people arent aware about the legality of these types of loans. In fact, these types of loans that allows borrowers to get their pay check in advance with a charge of 15 to 35 dollars for every 100 dollars borrowed, are illegal in 15 states, such s Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia.

In addition, North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has shut down all known payday lenders that operate in the state and it is also illegal to charge an advance fee for promising to arrange a loan or credit card.

When looking for a payday loan online BBB recommends the following:

  • Consider all of your options. Payday loans can be extremely expensive if you are unable to pay the loan off quickly. The Federal Trade Commission recommends looking into a short term loan from your bank, contacting your current creditors quickly to explore payment options, working with a credit counseling center or at the very least, shopping around for the best interest rate and terms. Because of concerns with online lenders, try to find a brick and mortar location before settling on a lender.
  • Look for the red flags. Unscrupulous online lenders often wave the same red flags including not being forthcoming about their location or contact information. Also be cautious of any lender that doesnt ask you for any background information outside of your bank account number.
  • Research the lender with BBB. Always check an online payday lenders reliability report online before you hand over any bank account information. BBB Reliability Reports are available for free online and will tell you how many complaints BBB has received, how the company responded to complaints and BBBs overall letter-grade rating.

Intuit and Mophie will launch an All-in-One Credit Card Solution Payment System for iPhone

Intuit, a software company, and mobile phone developer, mophie, joined forces to develop and implement a new complete Credit Card Solution, an all-in-one product that enables small businesses to process credit card payments via the Apple iPhone.

Chris Hylen, general manager of Intuit’s Payment Solutions division said:

“We designed this to meet the needs of small businesses who want a complete credit card solution that works with their iPhone. Now we have a best-in-class solution from Intuit and mophie to meet that need. This means that a business owner only needs to buy one package to get set up with everything they need to start taking mobile payments even before they leave the store.”

The new Credit Card Solution will allow iPhone users to swipe their cards to make purchases online. Compared to other plans unveiled by mobile service providers, this program comes with the attachment, merchant account and payment application. All consumers need for their shopping needs with this device is their iPhone 3G or 3GS.

Shawn Dougherty, COO of mophie, said:

“mophie designs products that enable consumers to do more with their Apple devices and that deliver additional convenience and freedom for all types of mobile activity. This integrated hardware and software mobile payment solution enables immediate and secure financial transactions on the go for a vast audience of small business owners and their employees.”

Economic experts who analyzed the new credit card service featured on most smartphones said that these type of programs may help consumers to efficiently manage their accounts, as well as help card holders reduce debt in the long run.

New Morgan Stanley Financial Research App For iPhone and iPad

Morgan Stanley, leading global financial services firm that provides various investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services, successfully launched a new Research App for Apple’s suite of products that will allow institutional clients worldwide to view the reports of its global research team on more than 2,600 stocks, including currencies, fixed income markets, and economics through their mobile device. Through utilizing Morgan Stanley Research App institutional clients can efficiently filter research reports based on their investment profiles.

Barry Hurewitz, Chief Operating Officer of Investment Research at Morgan Stanley, said:

“This pioneering app provides instant access to Morgan Stanley’s unique research platform anytime, anywhere on the mobile Internet. It’s a powerful tool for instantly delivering the Risk-Reward Essentials for which Morgan Stanley Research is known: market intelligence to identify the investor debates driving a stock; scenarios accounting for a full range of plausible outcomes; and evidence-based research that helps investors maximize the returns for the risks they choose to take.”

In addition, the application offers Morgan Stanley publications including Global Executive Brief, Global Debates Playbook, Best Ideas, Investment Perspectives and FX Pulse. The app features also include risk-reward analysis, essential market debates, value drivers, pending catalysts and analysis of ‘what’s in the price’.

The app is available for free on the Aplles App Store.

UK Credit Mortgage Approval Decline In July

British Banker’s Association (BBA) reported that the number of mortgages approved for home purchases dropped by 877 in July as compared to the previous month and fell at 33,698. This was the second consecutive monthly fall in the figures and was in its highest point of 45,415 in December last year.

According BBAs submitted report, the UK average credits and personal loans also experienced a fall in the year 2010. UK gross mortgage lending was also steady, growing by £8.4 billion in July compared with an £8.6 billion increase in June. Most of the buyers are willing to repay their mortgage despite of the low interest rates. The remortgaging rose up with a very small margin in July to 22,790 but it has gone up from a very low base.

David Dooks, BBA statistics director, said:

“Gross mortgage lending remains stable, although demand for mortgages continues to be subdued. The greater availability of properties for sale and slowing house price growth have not yet fed through to increased house purchase approvals.”

BBA data dictates that the average value of house purchase approvals fell slightly to £148,500 in July, but was still some 4.6% higher than a year ago.

U.S. Bank Launches Credit Wellness Center Website To Help Consumers Manage Credit Score

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank, a subsidiary of US Bancorp, has launched a new interactive website Credit Wellness feature which is specially designed to provide support and education to consumers to efficiently manage their credit score, as well as provide solutions to various issues related to credit and how to improve credit score.

U.S. Bank said that consumers can take part in a number of credit education activities, take an online credit examination to analyze their credit knowledge, and use the banks credit score simulator to know the impact of financial decisions through the interactive website. Cliff Cook, U.S. Bank Retail Payment Solutions chief marketing officer, said that the bank is committed to helping consumers understand how to use credit wisely, and why establishing a positive credit history is so important for their financial health.

“The U.S. Bank Credit Wellness Center reinforces our commitment by offering consumers an easy-to-use, one-stop credit education resource,” Cook said.

The company has a solid record of proving credit education as well as supporting communities throughout the country. U.S. Bank worked collaboratively with both American Bankers Association Education Foundation and Visa conduct financial education seminars to help customers to fully understand credit and proper utilization of credit.

Visit for further details.

Federal Mortgage Agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lose Billion

According to the report of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), who held responsible for regulating the government-controlled mortgage investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, shows that the two bankrupt financial institutions have lost more than $226 billion capital since 2007.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac utilized $148 billion in Treasury Department aid to make up that shortfall, the FHFA said in a report and added that most of the capital reduction was associated with non-traditional and higher-risk loans originated in 2006 and 2007. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lost $166 billion on guarantees of single-family homes loans.

Because of this huge loss, as part of the plan of the government to overhaul the entire U.S. housing finance system, the Obama administration and Congress are thinking whether it should continue with its support to save the trouble mortgage firms.

The House Financial Services Committee are planning to coordinate a hearings on housing finance starting next month and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has promised to deliver a comprehensive overhaul proposal by early next year.

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Edge Up 4.9% On Low Rates, Mortgage Bankers Association Said

According to Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)s Weekly Mortgage Application Survey, the mortgage application rose 4.9% last week as more borrowers refinanced at the lowest rates in decades.

Last Wednesday, MBA said the increase was triggered by a 5.7 percent increase in refinancing applications. The total number of loans taken out to purchase homes increased by less than 1%. The numbers are adjusted for seasonal factors.

The volume of refi applications last week was up 26% over their level four weeks ago. Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level in the survey, going back to 1990, as incoming data continue to indicate that economic growth has slowed, Michael Fratantoni, MBAs Vice President of Research and Economics, said. We are at a new 15 month high for the Refinance index. With rates this low, many borrowers who refinanced in the past two years may well have an incentive to refinance again, and this is likely increasing refi application activity.

While refinancing is at its premier level since May 2009, low mortgage rates have done little to boost home sales, which have been hurt by the collapse of economic market, which includes high unemployment, slow job growth, and stringent credit standards. The U.S. home purchase activity is currently at 41.5% lower to its level at the end of April, when two federal tax credits for homebuyers expired.

Rates have fallen since spring as investors sought the safety of Treasury bonds, lowering their yield. Mortgage rates tend to track those yields.

The average interest rates are at their lowest level, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell 4.55% from 4.5% last week and 3.91% for 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is a prime mortgage choice for refinancing.

Bank of America Trades Hits Another New 52 Week Low

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, the largest bank holding company by assets and one of the big four banks in United States, continues to dive lower today, setting a fresh 52-week low in the process. The bank stock traded as low as $12.42 this morning, but has since recovered to trade at $12.59 during mid-day trading.

There are approximately 150.7 million shares were traded yesterday, up slightly from its 30-day moving average of volume of 147.5 million shares. Bank of America stock closed at $12.64 on Wednesday, approximately 12.3% below from its 50-day moving average of $14.41, acording to data from the New York Stock Exchange.

Bank of America experience a bit plunge on their shares, by 1.42% hitting $12.46 during mid-day trading on Wednesday.

Federal Student Loan or Private Student Loan, Best Student Loan Lender To Finance Your Education

Students struggling to finance their education can ask help for both federal and private student loan lender. The student loan sponsored b the government or federal loan is the primary choice of most students and their parents. However, due to its stringent policies not all students qualify for a federal student loan. If this is the case, most students are looking for other alternative student loan or private student loan in order to finance their education.

A lot o f lenders offer private student loans and the rate of interest vary greatly. And because of this, according to financial aid program tracker, the number of private student loans taken out has doubles over the last 12 months. Due to the fact that most private student loan lenders offered a hard to resist rates compared to the traditional government loans.

Last year, a program called IHELP was successfully launched and it is specially designed to encourage private student lending and borrowing. Additionally, there are lots of U.S. banks are starting to utilize the program to offer a competitive student loan rates. But despite the tight competition, federal student loan dominates the student loan industry, majority of student loan rates and conditions remain favorable with government.

Aside from the continues increase of private bank involvements to help student and parents in their financial needs there are more than 65 Credit unions have also entered the market through regulator and student loan processor Credit Union Student Choice (CUSC), as well as 55 more have entered through Fynanz, a firm specializing in this service.

According to some economic experts, students and their parents applying for a private student loan should study the offers first at their local financial institutions and compare this search with the offers made by the online student loan companies. In doing this, parents and students will be able to know the best loan tailored for them.

July Existing Home Sales Fell 27.7% According to National Association of Realtors

The national sales of previously occupied homes fell 27.2%, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday, the lowest level since the industry group started its tally in 1999.

Sales of single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums dropped to a seasonally adjusted 3.83 million units from a revised 5.26 million units in June, said the National Association of Realtors.

The big drop, which was worse than what most economic experts had expected, sent stock markets falling yesterday as investors feared a double dip in the housing market.

“You are seeing the sales drop off a cliff again, and that is really starting to scare people,” C.J. Jones, head of institutional trading at Nollenberger Capital Markets said. “Are we going to have a double dip? Nobody knows.”

The July rates dropped was the third consecutive monthly decline following the April 30 expiration of the tax credit, which offered up to $8,000 for certain buyers. The credit already got extended and expanded by Congress in 2009 to provide support to the housing market.

Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak & Co., said in a statement:

“From our vantage point, the first-time homebuyers credit pulled forward demand – by definition, this is what stimulus measures achieve – however, the issue this time is that there was so little demand to be pulled forward, the credit has left no demand for the summer. “The result is exactly what we’re seeing: a near, if not outright, collapse in housing.”

The average housing inventory surged 2.5% at the end of July to 3.98 million homes available for sale, representing a 12.5-month supply at the current pace, up from an 8.9-month supply in June. Raw unsold inventory is still 12.9 percent below the 4.58 million in July 2008.

Critics Requested Lawmakers To Regulate Wyoming Payday Loan Lenders

Payday loan critics in Wyoming requested lawmakers to conduct an immediate action and regulate the industry.

In Wyoming alone, according to Wyoming Department of Audit, the amount of money lent by payday lenders reached $92 million in 2009

Payday lenders are taking advantage of low-income people who have no capacity to settle their bills, Marc Homer, Director of Wyoming Children’s Action Alliance and Kids Count, said.

As times are getting tougher, you see people seeking out more desperate means, Homer said to the reporter.

Local lawmakers should regulate interest rates at 36%, Homer said, and limit the number of loans a borrower can receive annually.

However, Kevin Williams, owner of Advance Cash Services in Cheyenne, said the payday lending business grew growing because the company is providing a service that customers can’t get anywhere else. Advance Cash Services lends $100 for a $15 fee, which is less than the fee for overdrawing an account at a bank, Williams said.

“We service a segment of the community that is ignored by the standard banking and credit card industries,” he said.

Williams also said the he ensure that the company informed its customers in how the loan will work and no one forces anybody into doing anything.

“Before we make any loan, we make sure that people understand what they’re getting into and how to use a loan like this to their benefit and not get into a jam,” he said. “We don’t want them to get into trouble; that just gets us into trouble financially.”

Mortgage Rates Update: 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Rose To 4.29%

According to mortgage rate website, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate (FRM) throughout the country increased slightly this week from a week earlier; at fixed-rate mortgage was 4.29 percent, up from 4.28 percent a week ago.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rates vary depending on the states, but the majority of states experienced price increased. Mortgage rates surged in within New York from 4.25% to 4.31%, Pennsylvania from 4.32% to 4.37%, and Texas from 4.19% to 4.28%. Same thing happened in Massachusetts, rates increased from 4.25% to 4.27% and New Jersey from 4.26% to 4.27%.

However, in western part of the country, the mortgage rates declined. In California the current rate of 4.3% is down from 4.33% last week, Colorado current rate of 4.17% is down from 4.19%, Washington current rate of 4.29% is down from 4.33%, Illinois current rate of 4.24% is down from 4.3%, and Florida current rate of 4.2% is down from 4.21%.

The national average 15-year fixed home loans rate, according to, decreased at 3.85% and the rate for a 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is 3.26%.

Visit for the complete mortgage rates.

Mortgage Calculator Offered By Government and Mortgage Lenders May Help Struggling Homeowners

Struggling homeowners may utilize mortgage calculators to efficiently determine how much they can afford as well as they need to put down to borrow on a piece of real estate. Mortgage calculator is specially designed to help borrowers estimate or modify their existing mortgages.

The Obama administrations Loan Modification Program or Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) advises on the best way to modify homeowners home borrowings, and if it is the best option in the first place. There are also calculators that help homeowners to determine if they would be better off refinancing or not and for figuring out how much their adjustable rate payments would be.

Struggling homeowners may find a relief in government mortgage calculator and home loan modification. Home owners can also visit other mortgage lenders site that feature mortgage calculators. Though, mortgage calculator enables users to have a basic understanding of their mortgage, it does not give a precise amount of monthly installment.

Visa Teamed Up With Bank of America To Test Mobile Payments

Visa and Bank of America made an announcement that they will work hand in hand to develop and test a mobile payment system or digital wallet, just weeks after rumors surfaced that a number of smartphone carriers will work with Discover Financial Services to test a competing system.

Bank of America Corp will initiate the testing of its pilot program within the New York City area in September, which will allow smartphone users in the metropolitan area to make payments with their device to replace traditional credit cards. The entire testing process is expected to run ill the end of the year. Additionally, Visa also said that they will test a similar program with U.S. Bancorp in October, according to Reuters report.

“We see this as a critical capability given the increasing acceptance and adoption of bank services on the phone,” Laurie Readhead, Bank of America Corp head of electronic commerce, said.

The mobile payment testing will use NFC circuits built into MicroSD cards that can be slotted into the smartphone a specially-equipped iPhone case to provide secure storage and radio communications without being dependent on the network operator or the phone’s manufacturer.

Credit Card Interest Rates Rose to 14.7% Due To New Credit CARD Act

Recently, Wall Street Journal reported that the average credit card interest rate rose 14.7% from 13.1% in the second quarter, which is the highest level since 2001. The gap between credit card rates and the prime rate is the biggest it’s been in at least 22 years.

The financial firms explains the high credit-card rates by citing the newly developed and implemented Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (Credit CARD) that cap them from charging penalty fees t their consumes, and restrict the firm from adjusting rates. Another factor is the act that most credit-card borrowers are failing to repay their debt, in return, leads to higher rates.

Carolyn Maloney, the Congresswoman who sponsored the law and created the new rules, said that despite the rising rates, the law benefits consumers because it eliminates unwelcome surprises and provides them with a clear picture of the costs they will face.

“Better that consumers should know up-front what the interest rate is, even if it’s higher, than to be soaked on the back-end by tricks and hidden fees,” Maloney said.

401(k) Loans Hardship Withdrawals Surge, Unemployment Remained Unchanged

According to the 401(k) withdrawal statistics for the 2Q of 2010, the 401(k) retirement saving plans hardship withdrawal drastically high compared to last year recorded percentage.

The unemployment rate throughout the country remained unchanged in July at 9.5% an in the past year, the states unemployment rate has risen by at least 0.5%, up from 11.8% in July 2009.

The amount of people who withdraw from 401(k) accounts in the 2Q of 2009 was moderately high at 45,000. However this year, that number drastically rose to 38% to 62,000.

Experts speculated that unemployment is the primary reason of such a large increase in only 1 year. When people lose their jobs, they are forced to dig into their retirement funds such as their 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs, IRAs, and anything else that they invested while employed.

Fidelity Investment, one of the largest mutual fund groups in the world, made a statement that withdrawals made by people younger than 59-and-a-half years old are taxed and are subject to a 10% penalty. The age of people making withdrawals ranged from 35 to 55.

In addition, David Wray, president of the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America, said that people making hardship withdrawals could pay a penalty of up to 40%, once state and federal taxes are added to the 10% penalty.

U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Continue To Increase Due To Household debt and Unemployment

Despite the fat that filing bankruptcy will negatively impact on consumers credit score, and thus their ability to secure loans, however, a lot of consumers filing bankruptcy.

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) report, the total number of bankruptcies filed during the first six months of 2010 in Massachusetts increased by approximately 19% over the same six-month period in 2009, driven by sharp increases in consumers seeking relief from debt.

The American Bankruptcy Institute noted that the first half of 2010 posted the highest number of filings recorded since the institution of new regulations in 2005.

Bankruptcy continues to be the last resort for many Americans seeking financial relief from household debt, unemployment and the economic downturn, Samuel J. Gerdano, executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, said in a statement. The first half 2010 filings show that bankruptcies are on pace to surpass 1.6 million by year end.

Consumers having a hard time in managing their credit card and home loan debt may consider filing for bankruptcy as a last resort. However, in doing this, they might lower their credit score and make it hard for them to get a line of credit or mortgage in the future.

More Consumers Use Private Label Credit Cards To Boost Credit Score

The private-label corner of the tough U.S. credit cards market are experiencing resurgence due to the fact that a lot of consumers prefer to use a private label cards to shop for their various needs.

Consumers confidence in the U.S. banking industry and the economy as a whole continues to shrink, steering Americans away from credit despite the newly implemented Credit CARD act or Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act. However, store cards are typically more risky compared to the branded one, most low-income families with poor credit scores choose to use retail credit cards.

According to Wall Street Journal, private label cards often have higher interest rates as well as offer lower lines of credit, posing a greater chance of debt than general-purpose cards. However, majority of consumers are signing up for store-cards in hopes of not only increasing their credit scores, but adopting better spending habits as well.

“Issuers have flushed through a lot of the bad debt, and we see yields increasing,” credit consulting firm owner Robert Hammer told the Journal. “It’s a win-win for private-label card issuers.”

For-Profit-College Graduates Struggles to Repay Student Loan Debt


Last week, U.S. Department of Education released its statistics and showed that for-profit colleges or privately-operated colleges have declining numbers of college graduates who have been able to repay their student loan debt. This is the reason why so many financial firms are considering implementing new regulations in favor of punishing schools for their lack of responsibility.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, for-profit-schools with highest repayment rates are Universal Technical Institute Inc., Grand Canyon Education Inc., American Public Education Inc. and Bridgepoint Education Inc., and for-profit-schools with the lowest repayment rates are Corinthian Colleges Inc., Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan and ITT Educational Services Inc.

Late last month, the department proposed regulations requiring for-profit career colleges to better prepare students for gainful employment or risk losing access to federal student aid.

“While career colleges play a vital role in training our work force to be globally competitive, some of them are saddling students with debt they cannot afford in exchange for degrees and certificates they cannot use,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “These schools — and their investors — benefit from billions of dollars in subsidies from taxpayers and, in return, taxpayers have a right to know that these programs are providing solid preparation for a job.

If these new rules are implemented, for-profit schools will be penalized if their graduates do not land steady jobs with incomes that give them the ability to pay off student loan debt.

Federal Reserve Implemented New Credit Card Laws Capping Credit Card Fees and Interest Rates

Federal Reserved released a new set of rules begin today for credit card companies to follow. These new rules were put in place from the 2009 CARD act that was designed to cap predator lending practices.

One of the new changes aim to put a cap on credit card companies penalty charges. Credit card companies will be limited on the amount they can charge for a late fee to no more than $25 and which can rise to $35 only if the customer repeats the violation within a six month time frame. Additionally, there is a limit of one penalty fee per billing cycle, meaning credit card companies cannot charge multiple late fees for each day that consumers are late. The credit card company cannot charge an inactivity fee. If the credit card company is going to raise the consumers interest rate the company must explain to consumer the reason why they are doing this. The newly implemented rules will also remove the inactivity fees associated with any credit card, and any annual fees which are waved for customers being active, are also no longer permitted starting today.

All these new changes are aiming to provide additional support and protection to consumers against predatory lending practices that have been hurting Americans. And with all these changes taking effect, experts say it’s important to read the fine print. “This will be the credit card company’s defense in making significant changes to the terms. It will be, ‘well, we told you about it in the letter,’ said Indiana University’s Todd Robertson.

“You should opt out of every add-on because they always come with some sort of fee.” said Robertson.

Struggling Homeowners Drop Out of Federal Home Prevention Program

Despite the fact that the U.S. government lend its hand to provide support to American homeowners to prevent a possible foreclosure and minimize their monthly expenses, a lot of people loved the concept, but there are some people hated it. Reportedly approximately 50% of American homeowners who are enrolled in Government Home Loan Motivation Program have had to drop out.

U.S. Treasury Department made an announcement that estimately 650,000 of the 1.3 million enrolled homeowners dropped out in the government program.

Additionally, according to the report, a small number of homeowner or mo than 35,000 had their monthly mortgage payments lowered through the $75-billion Home Affordable Modification Program in the month of July. By far, this is the lowest recorded amount since December of 2099.

American homeowners already foresee the continued fall in real estate prices throughout the country, if foreclosures start to pick up once again. If this is the case, we could see a cycle begin to form, where more homeowners decide to foreclose on their homes because of falling prices.

California Unemployment Rate Remained Unchanged at 12.2%

The California states Employment Development Department unveiled a data showing that the state experienced a net loss of 9,400 non-farms jobs in July. The Golden States unemployment rates remained stable at 12.3%, with more than 2.2 million Californians out of work, but remained stubbornly higher than the national average.

The entire countrys unemployment rate also held firm in July at 9.5% an in the past year, the state’s unemployment rate has risen by at least 0.5%, up from 11.8% in July 2009. All in all there are more than 100,000 more unemployed residents now compared to this time last year.

With the intertwining downtrend of the Census and federal stimulus, the private-companies are said to have employed more staffs. However, it seems like the private sector employers look uninterested as far as hiring is concerned.

Anil Puri, Dean of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at Cal State Fullerton, said:

“Businesses have all of a sudden become cautious because they see the news is not good. What we’re seeing right now is a halt in growth”.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement in response to the California Employment Development Department employment report in which he challenged state representatives to recharge the economy by reforming the budget:

In order for California to experience a full recovery, there must be robust hiring in the private sector. That is why I have been so adamant in my opposition to tax increases – both because additional burdens on employers will stymie growth and because we shouldnt penalize private sector employment in order to subsidize public sector wages and retirement benefits.

New Rules and Changes Implemented to Student Loans and Financial Aid

The continuous tuition increase, higher borrowing limits on government loans, and low income pushed students to borrow more to finance their education. Because of these most students ended up in deep dept. More and more college graduates are trying to figure out how to settle their student loan debt.

Due to alarming increase of student who suffers from debts, the Obama administration stepped in and implemented new rules to make college financing a bit easier. The newly implemented college financing legislation has removed the middle man for parents and students and this will provide them more refinancing alternatives and reducing the risk of falling deep in debt.

One of the major developments under the new legislation is designed for federal loans. Now, students will only make payments to the government and the new legislation will also allow them to repay their debt in base on their monthly salary.

“The biggest change is the switch to the Direct Loan program. Students who were used to going through private lenders to get federal loans will now go to the government,” Ashley Buchanan, associate director of admissions and financial aid for Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA., tells

As of July 1, origination fees on federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans were reduced to 1% with a 0.5% fee rebate available after the loan is disbursed. also made a report that interest rates on loans are expected to continue to drop for both parents and graduates., a student loan comparison site based in Boston, co-founder and CEO Kevin Walker said:

“Because of the credit crisis, the government created a special provision earlier this year called ECASLA (Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act), which created more liquidity for banks. Those loans will likely be taken on by a different servicer. Students who are juniors or seniors could have a federal loan they got through a private lender, a loan through the ECASLA program and a new one this year through the federal government. They’d have to pay three different places.”

Study: Professional Women Deep In Debt And More Mature Women Seeking Debt Relief Assistance

A research conducted by CareOne Debt Relief Services shoes that of women with more than $50,000 of debt jumped by 8% in the past three years. The percentage of women seeking debt relief assistance with more than $50,000 of debt, jumped from 33% to 45% from October 2007 to March 2010. Most of these women are either divorced or widows and coming from high income households.

“The recent recession has impacted almost every family in the country, placing a particular burden on women who traditionally manage a family’s savings” said Jenny Realo, executive vice president of CareOne Services. “As a result, we have seen a drastic shift in the kinds of people reaching out for help in managing their debt.”

Additionally, the research documented that women in Maryland, Oregon, Washington, and Pennsylvania had the highest rates of women with debt of more than $50,000. The research also found that middle class women or women with an annual household income of $60,000 or greater increased by 38%. Majority of these people who are seeking financial advice are women entering retirement.

Citibank Reports Drop In Charge Off Rate as Consumers Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Citibank made an announcement that their volume of uncollectable credit card debt and late payments remained high fir the month July and the bank also reported that these numbers did slightly improve over the month of June.

In a regulatory filing on Monday, Citibank, headquartered in New York, declared that the banks write-off rate dropped from 10.72 percent within the month of June to 9.10 percent during the month of July. The bank also said they just recently found a flaw in their net losses calculation procedures, which had caused some accounts to be counted twice. As a result, Citibank restated its losses back to the first of the year. Last month the bank reported a June rate of 11.46%, much higher than the 10.72% it reported correctly in June. Citibank saw its write-off rate peak during the month of March at around 11%.

The trend places the bank among other major credit card issuers who dominate the banking industry, which reported Monday that consumers capability in repaying their credit card debt seemed to be improving.

In previous year, a lot of financial forms have written off record levels of credit card balances as customers struggle to make payments. By the first quarter of 2010, the charge off rate was just 10 percent of balances, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Before the financial crisis in 2007, the charge-off rate was just 3.8 percent.

The bank also said that fewer customers were falling behind their payments. For July, payments past due by 30 days or more reached 8.32 percent, down from 8.58 percent in June.

American Express Tops The List of Best Credit Card Issuers

American Express or most known as AmEx ranked as the primary credit card choice in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row.

Based on a 1,000-point scale, the American leading credit card company received a staggering 769 customer satisfaction rate, which was 55 points higher than the industry average, according to a survey that was conducted in the month of March and April by information services provider J.D. Power and Associates.

They have a strong awareness among customers of the benefits and rewards of having that card,” said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power. While other issuers might offer similar rewards, AmEx utilized its aggressive marketing techniques and outstanding communication to get the message across, he said.

Discover Card was the second highest rated issuer, with a score of 757. HSBC was the lowest ranked issuer this year HSBC, with 686 points, followed by Citi Cards and Capital One, with scores of 692 and 699 respectively.

The New York-based financial services firm has a major customer call center located in Greensboro, which has about 2,000 employees. The credit card company also announced this spring plans to build a $600 million data center, spanning two phases, in eastern Guilford County.

“There has been higher satisfaction with credit card terms, a reduction in complaints about payment or billing problems, and issuers seem to be doing a better job interacting with customers,” said Beird.

MBA Reports Growth in U.S. Home Refinance Activity While Mortgage Rate Hit New Lows

As U.S. mortgage rates continue to declined and inching to record-lows, home refinancing increased throughout the country as homeowners looking for possible and most convenient ways to minimize their monthly expenditures.

Mortgage Bankers Association reported that home buyers took advantage of some of the lowest mortgage rates ever recorded, prompting mortgage-holders to refinance—an increase of 17.1% and the highest its been in 15 months.

According to the Washington DC-based association, home refinancing constitutes approximately 81.4% of all mortgage finance activity, thats up from the 78.1% seen during the previous week.

Refinancing will help free up cash for homeowners that would have otherwise been tied into their home and this cash could help support consumer spending, and therefore GDP, albeit only modestly, Michelle Meyer, a senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Reuters.

30-year fixed mortgage loan seen a bit increased to 4.6%. That rise was from the 4.57% seen the week prior, which was the lowest level reported in the history of the MBAs home loan application survey. Additionally, the 15-year fixed-rate loan increased to 3.99% from 3.95%. The rate on a one-year adjustable loan decreased to 6.9% from 7%. MBA also reported that home purchase activity declined 3.4%.

Mortgage Rates Update: 30-Fixed Mortgage Rates Drop to Historic-Low 4.42%

The U.S. average mortgage rates continue to decline with the average rate on long-term fixed-rate mortgages inching to all-time lows, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates.

Freddie Mac released its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) and the government controlled company recorded that the average 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped to another record low of 4.42%. This rate is another small decline from the last week recorded rate which is 4.44% and far from the last years 5.12%. The firm also said that the average 15-year fixed rate mortgage for the week ended today slightly ticked up to 3.9% compare to last week’s 3.92%, but last year’s 15-year fixed rate mortgage average was 4.56%.

U.S mortgage rates have been declining falling since spring as investors put their funds to the safety of Treasury bonds, which lowers their yield. Mortgages rate usually coincide with the movement in Treasury bond yields.

Amy Crews Cutts, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist, said:

“Investors in long-term bonds appear very confident that inflation will remain in check, and as a result long-term fixed mortgage rates have continued to fall. The 12-month growth in the core consumer price index has held at only 0.9 percent for four straight months ending in July. The last time price growth was this low was the year ending January 1966.”

Cutts also mentioned the single-family homes construction dropped for the third-consecutive month in July to 432,000 homes, which is the lowest since May 2009.

On the other hand, large banks and thrifts survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rate climbing to 4.63% from 4.57% a week ago. The firms data pegged the 15-year fixed rate at 4.11% up 5 bps from the prior week, and the average five-year adjustable-rate mortgage of 3.95% was up 3 bps from 3.92% last week.

Large Banks Slightly Eased Lending Standards on Commercial and Industrial Loans

According to U.S. Federal Reserve survey that was released today, the demand for loans at the majority of lenders in the U.S. failed to rise last quarter even banks have eased their lending standards for the small business groups for the first time in almost after four years.

Federal Reserve Board survey showed that small firms or companies with less than $50 million in annual sales are receiving the most relief. The Federal Reserve survey was compiled from responses from various banks and financial firms, including 57 domestic banks and 23 U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks.

Additionally, domestic banks reported that they had stopped reducing the size of their current credit lines for commercial and industrial firms on net. Federal Reserved unveiled that the banks have started to ease credits for the smaller companies for the first time.

The survey has also found smaller restrictive credit condition for almost every type of industrial and commercial loans. On the survey, the Federal Reserve found that the larger banks were interested to provide home loans to their customers.

On the other hand, the standards for commercial real estate loan remains tight. Most firms predicated in the survey reported that there are changes in their bank’s standards for CRE loans approval.

Mortgage Fraud: Chicago City Officials Warns Residents Against Loan Modification Scams

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley joined forces with city officials and community partners to remind people about the dangers of loan modification scams on a press conference held at the Neighborhood Housing Services Office.

Loan modification scammers are targeting desperate homeowners claiming to help them save their homes or modify their loans at no charge.

Getting help to stay out of foreclosure and keeping your home doesnt mean paying a fee. Advice and assistance are available from trusted non-profit organizations working in partnership with the City of Chicago, at no cost to the homeowner, the Mayor said.

In addition, city officials will organize a free to the public Fix Your Mortgage event to help people who are having trouble paying their mortgage

Mayor Daley also warns homeowners to avoid any firm that guarantees it will stop a foreclosure or tells people to pay them instead of their mortgage.

We must work together to keep families in their homes and create solutions that will protect our neighborhoods, said Daley.

Struggling homeowners can call 311 or visits to learn more about loan modification scams.

Citi Introduced MasterCard inControl Spend Management Service To Its Customers

Citi are set to be the first bank in U.S. banking industry that will implement MasterCard’s inControl service to customers, adding new features and functionality for customers by the end of this year. The new Citi bank service will provide will allow cardholders to organize spending limitations, coordinate budgets and rules in using the card, as well as the new service will has a capability to send a real-time SMS and email alerts to customers based on their expenditures activity.

Based to the research conducted by MasterCard shows that consumers are looking for this type of budgeting tool and consumers feel more secure using their cards with the real-time account activity alerts.

Michael Fiore, MasterCard Group Head, Emerging Payments, said:

“There’s been a lot of demand for budgeting and security. What we found is that there’s really a desire that cardholders would use this if they had it,” and added: “The idea is that they would stop using alternative forms of payment and use their cards more if they have this.”

Customers can set up the service through the banks website or by calling the bank’s customer service.

“They have the ability to completely customize it based on what they want,” Fiore said.

On the other hand, Barclaycard, the first credit card introduced in UK, also planning to implement MasterCards inControl service in UK this year.

Mortgage Rates Update: 30-Year Mortgage Rates Returns To Record Low

Todays mortgage rate, according to Zillow, on a national basis the 30-year fixed-mortgage rate (FRM) dropped slightly week earlier and returned to the record low average level of 4.28%. This digit is down 0.02% rate from last week.

When it comes to regional basis, the 30-year rates are differs in most states, but most of the states experience a sight decreased. Majority of the states are experiencing a decline in rates: California’s current rate of 4.33% is down from 4.34% last week; New Jersey’s 4.26% is down from 4.28%; Pennsylvania’s rate 4.32% is down from 4.33%; Illinois’ rate 4.3% is down from 4.34%, and Florida’s rate 4.21% is down from 4.24%.

New York mortgage rates significantly declined to 4.25% from 4.41% as well as Texas rates to 4.19% from 4.29%. However, Massachusetts rates increased to 4.22% from 4.28%.

Zillow, online real estate database, released a report that the national average rate for 15-year fixed home loans remained stable at 3.86% and the rate for a 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is 3.23%.

On the other hand, Wells Fargo mortgage rates remained to its current rate according to their website. Wells Fargos 30-year fixed rate is advertised at 4.5% with an APR of 4.686.

New Federal Rules Aim to Prevent Financial Firms from Unfairly Profiting from Mortgage Loans

Federal Reserved Board (FRB) recently issued its final rules regarding home loans and origination fees, as the central bank works to protect consumers.

The FRB said that starting April 1st 2011, the federal will not allowed loan originators in accepting compensation based on the interest rate of a home loan.

The new Federal was created because a lot of loan originators managed to get consumers to accept terms on a mortgage that may have exceeded what was required by their lender, which led to much higher monthly payments.

“This will prevent loan originators from increasing their own compensation by raising the consumers loan costs, such as by increasing the interest rate or points,” the Federal said.

The new Federal rule would also caps loan originators from accepting compensation from lenders if a consumer has already agreed to pay the former. Otherwise, people looking for home loans might spend more due to the fact that they will pay twice through higher interest rates.

The Obama administration are currently strategizing a new rules and development for the entire home loan industry that is expected to be delivered to the senate by early next year.

American Consumers Should Hurry to Acquire Flood Insurance for 2010 Hurricane Season

As the 2010 hurricane season is about to start, a lot of American homeowners should consider to acquire a home insurance that covers hurricane-related damages to protect their properties. However, according to Insurance Information Institute, Americans consumers seeking for flood insurance must hurry because the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Authority, will lose its authorization in providing the kind of insurance on September 30, 2010. The organization also added that there is no guarantee that Congress will extend it immediately.

The NFIP flood insurance covers direct physical losses by flood and losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by heavy or prolonged rain, snow melt, blocked storm drainage systems, levee dam failure, coastal storm surge, or other similar causes. Waters must cover at least two acres or affect at least two properties to be considered a flood. This kind of insurance is vitally important especially during hurricane season.

In the past year, the National Flood Insurance Programs ability to sell new policies, and renew existing ones, has been interrupted numerous times because Congress has not reauthorized the NFIP in a timely manner, said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations at the I.I.I. The program was allowed to lapse for weeks starting on June 1 of this year, the official start of the hurricane season, and the NFIP could very well meet the same fate again this fall.

On the other hand, there are lots of problems directly linked to previous ends of the NFIP that include making it difficult for consumers to secure the insurance required to settle a home loan. This is especially an issue in areas that are prone to floods, such as areas along Mississippi, such as Louisiana and Arkansas and other near states.

New Credit Card and Debit Card Overdraft Fee Protection Opt-In Rules Comes Into Effect

Started last week, August 15 to be exact, the new rules from the Federal Reserve Board was fully implemented and effective regarding the opt in to participate in the overdraft program for consumers that had existing accounts with the bank.

Prior the implementation of the new rule banks would automatically enroll consumers into the overdraft program and if their checking account would run out of funds they still approve payment. However, bank will charge fee for the service. The fee could come as high as high as $35.

If banking customers do not opt in to the overdraft protection program offered by a company their debit card transaction could be declined if they dont have enough funds to cover the payment. Consumers may have a numerous payment alternatives if they do opt in. however, there is a good thing about having an overdraft fee protection. For example, if a consumer wants to ensure if their bills are paid on time and they also need the bank to approve the payment. In this case, it is beneficial to participate in the overdraft protection program.

On the other hand, the government saw a surge and almost doubled the amount of overdrafts from year 2008 to 2009. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) wants consumers to be wiser in managing their own finances.

Best Business Credit Cards for Small Business: Chase offers Ink Cashâ„  Business Card

There are numerous of people choose not to use credit cards for so many personal reason. A lot of people say that plastics are good for nothing and the continuous usage of plastics will only resulted in financial debt. This is very likely to happen, however if used wisely, consumers can benefit though utilizing credit cards especially business owners.

Chase, a consumer and commercial banking division of JPMorgan Chase, offer a new development to its new line of credit cards. With the new Ink Cashâ„  Business Card from Chase plastic users will earn 3% cash rebate on all fuel, home improvement, office supplies, and dining purchases. It will also give users 1% cash rebate on all other purchases.

Good thing about business cards is the cards will help businesses to efficiently track and organize their purchases and keep those purchases separate from other personal expenses. This feature is very helpful especially during tax season.

There is no limitation on the number of points that consumers will earn while they are using Ink card. Users will received 10 points for every dollar spent and they can also can do online shopping through the Chase Rewards Plus website.

Additionally, Ink Cashâ„  Business Card has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for six months and owning the card costs nothing, as the card carries no annual fee. Besides some tax advantages, users may find lower interest rates. The Ink card has an 11.24 percent variable rate.

Lastly, adding additional cardholders is a snap because again, Chase charges no fee. And when it comes to credit card rewards, intro offer and overall quality, the Ink Cashâ„  Business Card is an all around solid offer.

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Will Help People with Bad Credit

The Obama administration led the implementation of Dodd & Frank Wall Street Reform as well as the Consumer Protection Act on the 21st of July 2010, and the laws are designed to overhaul and strengthen the financial regulatory system and provide additional protection to consumers from what they called predatory financial lenders who offer loans for people with bad credit.

Why throw more regulations at us, we were not part of the subprime mortgage meltdown, Kalamazoo County State Bank CEO Jim MacPhee said.

These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history — in history. President Obama added.

One provision of the newly signed law that will have large impact to millions of people is the creation of new agency, which is designed to provide protections to consumers against predatory and abusive financial products called the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

The news agency, administered by the Federal Reserve Bank, will implement a new rules and financial regulations overseeing a push of various financial products which includes credit cards, payday loans, bank fees, mortgages, traditional loans, and loans for people with bad credit. The agencys primary mission is to prevent consumers from getting bigger loans that they cannot afford to finance.

Consumers Advocate Urging Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sign Low Cost Auto Insurance Extension to Provide Cheap Car Insurance Policy to Low-Income Motorists

Last Wednesday a group California lawmakers rendered its final approval to legislation aiming to intensify and extend the innovative “Low Cost Auto Insurance Program” that is designed to provide an affordable car insurance policy to low-income motorists with no taxpayer cost. According to nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, policyholders pay more or less $400 annually in order to get coverage. Additionally, the nonprofit consumer advocates are urging Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the AB 1597 (Jones) bill in order to keep this program available.

“The low cost auto insurance program is a win-win solution offering real help to low-income Californians without costing the public a dime,” said Consumer Watchdog executive director Douglas Heller. “By signing this bill, Governor Schwarzenegger will allow those who are struggling in this brutal economy to afford car insurance and keep the roads safer.”

In order to qualify for the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program, motorists may not have more than one point on their driving record, at least 19 and have at least three years of driving experience.

Citizen of California who is not in the part of the lower-income bracket may still find some savings on their auto insurance by participating in the states pay-as-you-go program, which tracks the actual number of miles they drive and sets rates based on that.

RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report: Foreclosure Homes Surge in July

RealtyTrac (, leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released a report today stating that number of foreclosed home loans increased in July.

July foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – increased by approximately 4% compared to levels seen from the previous month.

All in all, RealtyTrac reported that 325,229 properties saw this type of difficulty, which is 10% lower than during the same time last year.

“July marked the 17th consecutive month with a foreclosure activity total exceeding 300,000,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Declines in new default notices, which were down on a year-over-year basis for the sixth straight month in July, have been offset by near-record levels of bank repossessions, which increased on a year-over-year basis for the eighth straight month.”

Facts that a single increase in home foreclosures could affect a lot of consumers as well as the entire neighborhoods, as this could drive property values down in general. This may cause owners to see the mortgage go underwater, as they end up owing more than their home is actually worth. and mot of this homeowners decided to walk away from their homes rather than finance their mortgages, which has led to more foreclosures.

On the other hand, consumers’ interest in acquiring a new mortgage with a lower rate slightly increased last week. Mortgage Bankers Association announced that home refinances increased just 0.6% despite APRs holding steady at record lows.

Compare Secured and Unsecured Loans to Counter Predatory Lending Practices

A lot of economic expert suggested that it is vitally important to compare unsecured loans to analyze the advantages and disadvantages before finalizing the loan agreement. In doing this, consumers will be ensure that they are not dealing with predatory financial lenders.

Upon the creation and implementation of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by Obama, which is geared to overhaul and strengthen the financial system within the entire country and to provide additional protection to consumers from what they called predatory financial lenders a lot of consumer advocates are rendering advise to consumers to be more cautious when choosing unsecured or secured loans.

PNC financial services and U.S. Bank announced that they are offering affordable unsecured and secure loans. On the other hand, Citi Financial also provides affordable debt consolidation loans for both renters and homeowners. And the top banks within the country still offer both secured and unsecured loans namely, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and Citi bank.

However, a number of economic experts warned borrowers to analyze the integrity of various financial services especially those who do business through Internet. It is a must for consumers to conduct initial research and compare unsecured loans benefit, as well as assess the lending agency if theyre in compliance with the federal and estate laws prior transacting any business.

Generation Y Having a Hard Time in Managing Personal Finance

The entire financial industry as affected by the global economic crisis. A recent study shows that there are number of people who are under the category of the term Generation Y are having a hard time to bolster their savings account.

There are approximately 30% of people age between 18 to 34 are having trouble to properly manage their own expenditures, and additional 20% are seeking loans from colleagues and relatives, according to the report of Western Union.

Due to tight financial market, almost half of this age group said that they are experiencing financial stress in the first six months of the year. Additionally, this age group also said they are having a hard time in acquiring credits and loans, and 27% said that there application was denied by the bank and lenders.

But according to Western Union senior vice president David Shapiro the Gen Y people are more focus on financial habits that could put them in better shape or financially stable in the future. Shapiro also said their savvyness for technology could help them to effectively manage their personal budgets and credit.

“Factor in their high comfort level with web-based programs and budgeting tools, and Gen Y has a solid foundation for getting their finances back on track,” Shapiro said.

Fact that the economy survived the last recession, but there are still a lot of consumers having a hard time to get an access to credit, such as credit cards and home loans, as lenders applied stringent regulations.

Citibank Sells $3.5 Billion Multifamily and Commercial Real-Estate Property Loans to JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase, one of the oldest financial services firms in the banking history, made a statement that the bank acquired a $3.5 billion portfolio of multifamily and commercial real estate loans from Citibank. The portfolio includes approximately 3,800 loans, most of which are multi-family real-estate and commercial real-estate loans for properties in three states, such as New York, California, and Illinois.

JPMorgan said that the loan portfolio is made entirely up of performing loans which have had solid credit performance. The business is part of Chase Commercial Banking, which strategically created to provide loans for moderately priced apartment buildings.

The Citigroup portfolio sale is part of the banks ongoing operation to divest itself of holdings which it considers to be non-core inside of its Citi Holdings division. The deal will reduce the units assets by $3.5 billion at Citi Holdings.

Company profile according to Reuters:

Citigroup Inc. (Citigroup) is a global diversified financial services holding company. The Company provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a range of financial products and services. As of December 31, 2009, Citigroup had approximately 200 million customer accounts and did business in more than 140 countries.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMorgan Chase) is a financial holding company. JPMorgan Chases principal bank subsidiaries are JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association (JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.), a national banking association with United States branches in 23 states, and Chase Bank USA, National Association (Chase Bank USA, N.A.), a national banking association that is the Firms credit card-issuing bank.

FDIC Board of Director OKs Safe Accounts Pilot Program, Savings Account will be FDIC Insured

The FDIC Board of Directors today approved a pilot program to evaluate the feasibility of insured depository institutions offering safe, low-cost transactional and savings accounts. Under the pilot, participating institutions will offer electronic deposit accounts with product features identified in the FDIC Model Safe Accounts Template.

Facts that there are a lot of consumers today are trying to step away to savings accounts because of some of the fees and directly linked to the consumers account.

But recently, the Board of Directors of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) made a statement that it is starting a pilot program that may create less-cost transactional options for consumers. The U.S. government corporation is accepting applications from banks to participate in its Model Safe Accounts Template.

Accounts offered by pilot institutions will be FDIC-insured. The primary goal of the program is to provide savings accounts that have fees deemed reasonable by the FDIC. In addition, the saving accounts cannot come with fees for non-sufficient funds or overdrafts.

FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair proclaimed that there are a lot of financial firms have already offered low-cost accounts that are designed for people who may be new to banking.

Access to mainstream financial services at a federally insured institution provides consumers with a safe place to keep their money and conduct basic financial transactions affordably. Such access can also help consumers build a credit history, access credit on favorable terms, and work toward financial security,” Bair said and added: “We’ve seen banks that have already been successful in providing safe, low-cost accounts, particularly designed for consumers new to the financial system. The FDIC Model Safe Accounts Pilot is intended to increase these account offerings by providing a voluntary roadmap for others.”

Based on FDIC survey, estimately 7.7% of American households are unbanked. This means that there are approximately 17 million adults choose not to use banks or who do not have some form of traditional bank account with a financial institution.

Homeowners Taking Advantage of Record-Low Mortgage Rates and Short-Term Loans, Freddie Mac Said

More refinancing borrowers in quest to shorten their mortgage length are taking advantage of the lowest fixed-mortgage rates in the past 50 years, according to recently released quarterly Product Transition R Government-controlled mortgage buyer report of Freddie Mac. The Government-controlled mortgage buyer report shows 95% of refinance loans completed in 2Q of 2010 were processed with a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM).

“The ability to lock in a principal and interest payment at below 5% for 30 years is rare enough,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie’s vice president and chief economist. “The share of borrowers shortening their amortization terms is at its highest level in six years.”

The McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae reported that huge number of refinancing borrowers dominantly chose a 30- or 15-year FRM regardless of whether their previous loan was an FRM or adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Additionally, the company report said approximately 30% of borrowers who originally held a 30-year FRM refinanced into a 15- or a 20-year one.

“If the borrower had a 30-year fixed-rate loan at a 6.5% interest rate and a $200,000 principal balance, they could refinance and cut their payment by about $250 a month with a new 30-year fixed-rate loan or for about the same monthly payment as their old loan they could save some $70,000 in interest over the life of the loan with the shorter 20-year term loan,” Nothaft said.

Freddie Mac Product Transition Report estimation is based on a sample of properties on which the GSE has funded at least two successive loans.

Starting September 7th the government will offer homeowners who owe more than their home is worth a new refinancing option or short refinance opportunity.

HUD Neighborhood Networks Week Not Only Promotes Low Income Housing But Also Self-Sufficiency for Low-Income Individuals

This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is celebrating Neighborhood Networks Week 2010, which is an positive effort to raise public awareness regarding Neighborhood Networks, as well as to educate and empower people who live in HUD-assisted housing.

A Successful Past, A Promising Future is the theme of the HUD program that aim to motivate people and enhance the understanding of various technology-based initiatives designed to improve the lives of residents.

Carol Galante, FHA deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Multifamily Housing, said that the Neighborhood Networks program has been assisting and providing various support to individuals for almost 15 years.

We hope every Neighborhood Networks center across the country will take some time during this week to recognize the vital role they play in the lives of so many residents living in their community, Glante said.

As the HUD celebrates its week for motivating and empowering people lives, the department also got a boost from U.S administration recently. The HUDs multifamily insurance programs will receive an additional $5 billion funds, according to Mortgage Bankers Association report. This hug e funds could provide financial and housing support to countless struggling Americans by developing and implementing more housing programs for individuals who has no capacity to finance or built their own home.

Banks Manage to Offer Cheap Unsecured Loans for People with Bad Credit Despite Obamas Wall Street Reform New Restriction

The new financial reform implemented new and stringent restriction within the financial industry, but despite this facts there are still a lot of banks and insurers manage to distribute cheap unsecured loans.

The U.S. bank PNC Financial Service Inc. with $269.9 billion in assets publicized that the bank still provide cheap unsecured loans as well as secured loans to their patrons. The firm claimed that they offer unsecured loans that varies from $1K to $25K and secured loans from $1K to $100K.

A lot of big banks that dominates almost the entire American banking industry, such as Capital One, Wells Fargo, Citi bank, also offers secured and unsecured loans. There are also a lot of banks said that they still offer unsecured loans without annual fee and generous credit limits and the interest rate will be base to consumers credit score. There are approximately 70 million citizens are suffering with bad credit problems in U.S., according to analysis.

It is the money credit service providers who make the things worse in the United States. They pretend to be helping the people-e out there to get the money they want to maintain their financial condition. analyst Amjad Khan said and added: The hidden terms and conditions of the credits make the process of repaying the credit a never ending thing.

President Obama already approved the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which includes establishing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The law aimed to serve and provide additional financial protection to by capping bank and non-bank financial institutions that provide various services and products to American consumers.

Citibank Sells $3.5 Billion Multifamily and Commercial Real-Estate Loans to JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase, one of the oldest financial services firms in the banking history, made a statement that the bank acquired a $3.5 billion portfolio of multifamily and commercial real estate loans from Citibank. The portfolio includes approximately 3,800 loans, most of which are multi-family real-estate and commercial real-estate loans for properties in three states, such as New York, California, and Illinois.

JPMorgan said that the loan portfolio is made entirely up of performing loans which have had solid credit performance. The business is part of Chase Commercial Banking, which strategically created to provide loans for moderately priced apartment buildings.

The Citigroup portfolio sale is part of the banks ongoing operation to divest itself of holdings which it considers to be non-core inside of its Citi Holdings division. The deal will reduce the units assets by $3.5 billion at Citi Holdings.

Company profile according to Reuters:

Citigroup Inc. (Citigroup) is a global diversified financial services holding company. The Company provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a range of financial products and services. As of December 31, 2009, Citigroup had approximately 200 million customer accounts and did business in more than 140 countries.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMorgan Chase) is a financial holding company. JPMorgan Chases principal bank subsidiaries are JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association (JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.), a national banking association with United States branches in 23 states, and Chase Bank USA, National Association (Chase Bank USA, N.A.), a national banking association that is the Firms credit card-issuing bank.

Freddie Mac and Bankrate Current Mortgage Interest Rate: Recorded Lowest Mortgage Rates in History

Freddie Mac and Bankrate recent survey shows U.S. mortgage rates jumped down to lowest level in decades.

The government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Macs weekly report indicated that the 30-year fixed rate fell to 4.44 percent for the week ended Thursday, which is the lowest the recorded rate ever since the firm started monitoring rate in 1971. Last week’s rates quietly recovered at 4.49 percent but year ago it was at 5.29 percent.

Also the rate for 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.92 percent this week, and it is the lowest ever recorded since Freddie Mac monitored 15-year fixed mortgage in 1991, down from 3.95 percent last week and from 4.68 percent a year ago.

There are also rate decrease recorded in adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM), the 5-year rate fell to 3.56 percent this week and it is also the lowest rate recorded since 2005., a mortgage tracker and personal finance website based in North Palm Beach, Florida, who conducted survey to various large lenders thought the country, reported that the average 30-year fixed loan submerged to a record low for the four week continuously, dropped to 4.57 percent from 4.66 percent the previous week.

The rate for 15-year fixed mortgage, which is a top choice of borrowers who want to refinance their mortgage, also dropped to the lowest level in the history of Bankrate’s 25-year old survey, fell to 4.06 percent, from 4.11 percent the week before.

Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said, “low rates are helping to heal many battered local housing markets by increasing home-purchase activity.

Goldman Sachs Could Be Unaffected by Financial Reform Bill, May Still Gain Profit Despite New Restrictions

President Obama already inked 2,300-page financial reform bill into law last month, but despite of the new financial regulation, Goldman Sachs has still a capacity make risky trades and generate gigantic profitability. This means that the new financial reform law doesnt affect the investment banking firm, according to Los Angeles Times report.

A week ago, according to the CNBC report the Goldman Sachs was conceptualizing a plan to spin off its proprietary trading desk, a division that conducts trades for the banks own account. On the hood f the new Dodd-Frank bill, Wall Streets banks will be given four years to blend in to the so-called Volcker Rule.

When the legislation obtained its approval in July, economic exerts initially predicted that as much as 10% of Goldman Sachs earnings could disappear given the laws new restrictions. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, senior Goldman executives recently rendered its advice to its analysts behind closed doors that the bank did not expect the new legislation to cost it any revenue.

The statement was perhaps surprising in its level of conviction, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Guy Moszkowski wrote in a note to clients, but weve learned to take such judgments from G.S. very seriously.

Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove, who is totally against to the new the financial reform bill, said:

I thought this company was going to be really harmed by this bill; now Ive figured out that its not going to happen. They should win big here.

CARD Act New Rules for Gift Cards and Prepaid Credit Cards Benefit Card Users

Last day the Federal Reserve Board issued declared their approval of the final rule that postpones certain aspects of the gift card and gift certificates rules required under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) act to take effect on Aug. 22, 2010 except for cards produced before April 1, 2010 which will be effective on 31st of January 31 next year as long as they have met certain provisions.

The new CARD rule for the gift cards, gift certificates, prepaid credit cards, or store issued gift cards are that they can’t expire in less than 60 months since the last load of funds. For instance, an inactivity fee cannot be charged unless the card hasn’t been used at least in a year. The cards expiration date, fees, and a toll-free number to get information have to be disclosed on the card itself.

These new restrictions in gift card and prepaid credit card will probably help consumers to save money because of excessive fees and loss of funds due to card expiration.

“If somebody buys a card right now in the store that was produced before April 1, the card won’t expire for five years, there will be no service fees until a year after inactivity,” says Crystal Wright, a spokeswoman for the NBPCA.

BB&T Insurance Lunches Online Auto Insurance Operation: Get Online Auto Insurance Quotes in Minute

BB&T Corporation and BB&T Insurance Services successfully launched an Internet based auto insurance service for their customers, because of this innovation customer can now easily get an auto insurance and acquire auto insurance through BB&T.

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina BB&T Corporation is one of the largest American banks that primarily operate within the Southeast region with approximately $165.3 billion assets and more than 1,850 financial centers throughout the country. The bank specialized in commercial and retail banking services along with other financial services like insurance, investments, retail brokerage, mortgage, corporate finance, consumer finance, payment services, international banking, leasing, and trust.

According to BB&T Insurance spokesperson, the recently launched online auto insurance quote service will allow customers to obtain insurance policies in minutes from various top carriers in the country.

The Hartford, Safeco, and Travelers are the official carriers of the BB&T Corporation, according to spokesperson of the firm.

She also detailed that the company is currently under negotiation with various top insurers within the industry to ensure that their customers will get a quality quotes, as well as to ensure utmost customer satisfaction.

Currently, BB&T online auto insurance quote services is available in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Homeowners with Lower Rates Experience a Quite High Mortgage Refinancing

Homeowners with lower rate currently experiencing a bit higher mortgage refinancing as the rate rose last month. The Bond Prepayment data shows that the primary reasons that deprive homeowners from taking advantage of record-low rates are reduced home prices and tighter credit standards.

JPMorgan Chase, one of the oldest financial services firms in the world and has operation within 60 countries, recently released a mortgage percentage information that indicates Fannie Mae 30-year fixed-rates constant prepayments with 5% coupons that are backed by loans having 5.5% on the average rose up to 20% from 16.5. The CPR, or the share of debt retiring annually having bonds of 6.5 coupons fell from 23.4 down to 21.7 for the loan rates of 7%.

Based on the comprehensive data compiled by various sources and economist shows that mortgage bonds that are supported by loans having higher rates fell today on reports that the Obama administration is developing on new programs for mortgage aiding.

Andrew Williams, spokesman of the Treasury Department said the administration is not considering a change in policy in this area and he also stated that President Obama is not considering a program that will allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-controlled mortgage-finance companies, to forgive debts that exceeds the current market value of a property.

The Virginia-based Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, said that an 30-year mortgages average rate dropped to 4.49%, from high percentage of 5.21% last April.

Obama Administration Provides $3 Billion to Stem Foreclosures by Jobless Homeowners

The Obama administration allocated additional $3 billion in its Foreclosure Prevention Programs to support unemployed homeowner facing foreclosure in the toughest job markets.

An additional $2 billion will be added to the so-called Hardest Hit Fund in 17 states and the District of Columbia. It is the second expansion of the program, announced by President Obama in February.

The American government declared the allocation of $2 billion additional financial support for its two ongoing home foreclosure prevention initiative – Housing Finance Agency (HFA) Innovation Fund and Hardest Hit Fund. The HFA programs will help make mortgage payments for those homeowners that have become unemployed or have no capability to make their payments. The new allocated HFA funds will be added to the so-called Hard Hit Fund in 17 states as well as District of Columbia.

Additionally, a new $1 billion initiative directed by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will give financial support for up to 24 months to those homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition. Homeowner must show a record of on time payments prior to the job loss, as well as homeowners must also need to live in the property that they are seeking assistance with this government loan program. Homeowners that will get qualified will receive interest-free loans for as much as $50,000 for up to two years.

Below is a list of States that will receive the $2 Billion financial support from the government:

  • Alabama – $60,672,471
  • California – $476,257,070
  • Florida – $238,864,755
  • Georgia – $126,650,987
  • Illinois – $166,352,726
  • Indiana – $82,762,859
  • Kentucky – $55,588,050
  • Michigan – $128,461,559
  • Mississippi – $38,036,950
  • Nevada – $34,056,581
  • New Jersey – $112,200,638
  • North Carolina – $120,874,221
  • Ohio – $148,728,864
  • Oregon – $49,294,215
  • Rhode Island – $13,570,770
  • South Carolina – $58,772,347
  • Tennessee – $81,128,260
  • Washington, DC – $7,726,678

MBA Recoded Lowest Mortgage Rate Ever

People who always analyze and compare current mortgage rates might see some of the lowest numbers in mortgage history, the lowest in 20 years of record keeping by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

In the past weeks on August 6, the 30-year fixed home loan average interest rate dropped from 4.6% the week before to 4.57%. Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) proclaimed that the current mortgage rate is the lowest level ever recorded in its Mortgage Application Survey.

But still, most American homebuyers are not tanking advantage on the rare low rates. Both purchase applications and mortgage refinancing recorded a very minimal development or increase in activity. The previous 0.3% increase, while the latter saw a 0.6% climb.

Patrick Lashinsky, president and chief executive of real estate brokerage ZipRealty headquartered in Emeryville, California said:

“Consumers don’t have a sense of urgency right now. They think that interest rates seem to be continuing to go down, they don’t expect home prices to go up, so instead of moving into home buying they’re saving money for a downpayment, they’re trying to improve their credit.

It is proven that lower mortgage rates are very helpful especially for those individuals in quest to refinance the home loan out from under terms that have seen them face bills they are having trouble financing.

U.S. Unemployment Rate Remains Stabled 9.5%, But Jobs Declined by 131,000

To determine the economic status of a country, a primary indicator is to have a have a huge number of citizens employed. Unfortunately, based on the most recent report form U.S. Bureau Labor Report Statistics indicated that U.S. unemployment rate held firm at 9.5% in July. Even though private sector positively contributed with approximately 71,000 to payrolls in July, the numbers of jobs were continuously falling. As of now the economy lost 131,000 on the whole. In addition, there are 14.6 million people struggling to land a job.

“While this private sector job growth is encouraging, the large number of Americans without a job reminds us we need to continue working to create jobs and grow the economy,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said.

While the unemployment rate remained stagnant, yet critical, jobless Americans looking for work are getting fewer. However, jobless American that still hunting for work may see a sudden influx of competition if others who have given up suddenly change their minds. It will also result in employers will have to choose from numerous applicants, meaning that the quality of a resume and interview style of a prospective employee will play an integral role for them to get the job.

Bart van Ark, chief economist of The Conference Board, a New York City-based nonprofit firm, commented in the jobless issue and said that the recent U.S. employment figures confirm that the economic recovery will be sluggish.

Its going to be a long haul to rev up the jobs machine, Ark said in a statement. The current pace of employment is too slow to replace the more than 8 million jobs lost in the recession — not in the next year or two, perhaps even not in the next five years.

FHA Offers Short Refinance Program to Underwater Borrowers‎

Starting September 7th the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer homeowners who owe more than their home is worth a new refinancing option or short refinance opportunity.

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages may by having a lower rate and having their principal reduced through the FHA Short Refinance initiative.

Deutsche Bank said that there may be as many as 20 million U.S. underwater homeowners by the end of 2011. Underwater homeowners are at much greater risk of foreclosure, of either the strategic or traditional variety.

“This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product,” FHA Commissioner David Stevens said.

In order to qualify for the FHA short refinance initiative, homeowner must be current on the existing mortgage to be refinanced and owing more on it than the property is worth. Additionally, consumers must meet FHA loan standards and their lender has to agree to write off 10% of their balance, as well as refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 97.75 percent.

The Obama administration implemented numerous programs to help troubled consumers keep their houses that include the popular Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which is designed to assist homeowners through minimizing how much they have to pay on their mortgage.

Blair County Might Use Credit Card as Payment Alternative

Blair County, Pennsylvania is planning to utilize an Internet company that will take online credit card payments for both traffic and non-traffic summary offenses. Currently, these payments are accepted only in the form of cash, check, and money order either in person or at the district judges’ offices.

Last Tuesdsy, commissioners Terry Tomassetti and Diane Meling said that they just recently learned this new alternative, which is available at nCourt – nCourt, a private company established in 2002, currently processes credit card payments toward court-related fines levied in Lehigh, Schuylkill, Dauphin, Monroe, Lawrence, and Allegheny counties.

Once the agreement is ready, commissioners will analyze and decide in next week’s meeting to start using the option.

Commissioner Tomassetti said that he is in favor with the idea and he expected that the new system will encourage good payments.

The commissioner also said that when he visited the site, he noticed a $7 payment automatically added after clicking to indicate a $100 fee would be made. He said that there is no information on the website about the 7% fee. The commissioner collaborated with Court Administrator Janice Meadows to speak with companys management team about incorporating that important information to the site.

The nCourt implementation will be the first time Blair County credit card permitted payments. Previously the county declined credit card payments due to 3% charge on every transaction.

Federal and Private Student Loans Exceeded Total Credit Card Debts

The newly conducted research shows that the Americans student loans debt was more than credit card debt in the United States.

According to the latest Federal Reserve Board report, Americans owed $826.5 billion on their credit cards in June. And according to Mark Kantrowitz of, Americans currently owe $829.8 billion in student loan debt. Most of this staggering amount, approximately $600 billion, is for federal student loans, and an enormous $300 billion of that has been taken on in only the past four years.

Both federal and private loans are included in the American student loan debt. Student loans are being used to pay for college tuition and miscellaneous fees. One problem is tuition fees at both public and private universities and colleges have also climbed up. When students arent capable to pay back the student loan after the school year is over it is very hard to file bankruptcy for this type of financing. However there are still a lot of ways to minimize the monthly payments if you in deep financial problem, but no matter what borrowers will still have to pay back the loans that they spent in their college days.

Most college graduates find that they have numerous outstanding loans with various federal and private lenders, and because of this, a lot of college graduates ended up with credit card debt. Some borrowers consider the student loan consolidation or debt consolidation loan alternatives to settle or refinance to one lower monthly payment. Various economic experts suggested that borrowers must consider all possible alternatives before making any decisions as there are some benefits to federal student loans.

New York Attorney General Cuomo Expands Health – Care Credit Investigation

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo strengthened and expanded his health-care credit card investigation by issuing subpoenas to health care clinics and credit card companies, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co.s Chase Health Advance, Citigroup, Inc.s Citi Health, as well as CareCredit a division of General Electric Co.

Cuomo said that is looking into a health care credit card scheme who targets seniors and vulnerable patients who are misled about terms for health-care credit cards.

Our ongoing investigation has uncovered conflicts of interest and predatory practices in the health care industry that are hurting New Yorkers and patients across the country, Cuomo said in a statement and added: Patients are being misled into paying for services they never received by the people they should be able to trust the most – their doctors. Doctors are supposed to represent patients, not credit card companies, no matter what kind of kickbacks they are offered.”

Cuomo also issued subpoenas to American Laser Centers, Laser Cosmetica, Bernie Fialkoff DDS, Judd Lesser, Gentle Dentistry, Allcare Dental Management, Toothsavers, Concerned Dental Care of Westchester P.C., East Syracuse Family Dental Arts, Sunshine Dental, S & Y Diamond Dental P.C., Aspen Dental Management, Northern Lights Chiropractic, and Lifestyle Lift.

Cuomo’s subpoenas asked for marketing materials, contracts and rebate agreements, applications, terms of credit, policies and procedures, and consumer complaints, as well as and regulatory inquiries. He also asked numerous countrywide and state-based medical associations about their involvement with CareCredit endorsement and whether or not they received compensation for what they did.

Credit Card Companies Continuously Gaining Profit Despite New Rules

Despite the fact that the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure or CARD Act will took its place this August, and provide additional protections to consumers, most credit card company still have a capacity to blindside customers with hidden and unexpected card fees. Additionally, economists believe that due to the new regulation most card issuers might change up some of their marketing strategies to hook up customers to ensure its profitability.

The CARD Act rules will requires credit card companies to give customers at least 21 days to pay their bills and settle various minimal credit card issues. The new regulations oblige credit card companies to provide a 45-day notice of major changes.

“The Card Act has provided a lot of relief and stopped some of the very worst practices,” said Gerri Detweiler, personal finance advisor at “But there are still going to be a lot of people out there thinking that the rules didn’t help them at all.”

In various locations, there are some plastic users experiencing credit card rates increase in the months leading up to the effective date of the new rules. Credit companies strategically planned and implemented this tactics to counteract the potential profit losses they might experience from the new regulation.

With the new credit card restrictions, that include restraining card issuers ability to raise rates – some car holders felt that credit companies might revive old fee structures, such as annual charges tied to accounts.

According to the recent study conducted by Mintel Comperemedia found that that the percentage of credit card offers with annual fees actually declined during the second quarter of this year when compared to the same time last year.

Additionally, the volume of plastics being offered to consumers dramatically increased from
419 million to 1.1 billion when comparing the two quarters. This digit only indicates that credit card companies and various financial institutions are feeling a bit more comfortable in todays economic status.

Wells Fargo Sees $500 Million New Overdraft Reform

Wells Fargo — second largest bank in deposits, home mortgage servicing, and debit card — reiterated Monday that new federal regulation to limit overdraft fees will cut down its 2010 revenue by approximately $500 million from losses during the second half of this year.

November last year the Federal Reserve moved to ban overdraft fees on ATM and debit-card transactions unless consumers had actively solicited an overdraft protection service. On July 21st, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act became law. The Dodd-Frank Act aimed to develop and streamlined the management and regulation of the financial services industry.

We currently estimate that the combination of these changes will reduce our 2010 fee revenue by approximately $225 million (after tax) in third quarter 2010 and $275 million in fourth quarter 2010, Wells Fargo said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

The San Francisco-based bank said that although the Dodd-Frank Act become generally effective in July, many of its provisions have extended implementation periods and will require extensive rulemaking by regulatory authorities.

The ultimate impact of the Dodd-Frank Act cannot be determined, the bank said.

Obama Planning to Increase College Graduation Rates by Making College Affordable

President Obama visited University of Texas, Austin Monday, and he reiterated a goal he made in his February 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress to put the U.S. on course to once again become the world leader in producing college graduates.

Obama promised that funds that were saved through streamlining the federal student loan program will be the key to support another eight million Americans graduate college in the near future. Additionally, the president outlined his strategic plans to regain the top spot, which includes tackling education affordability especially in tertiary level.

Obama proudly mentioned the re-modification of the federal student loan program passed earlier this year. Which will be under the control of Department of Education, eliminated the banks and financial institutions as middlemen, a move Obama said will projected to save more than $60 billion over ten years. The savings will be reinvested into student loans to support the upcoming graduating students.

Obama administration is currently planning to boost the middle-class tax credit for college tuition from $2,500 for two years to $10,000 for four years of college. Also, Obama said that his key component to achieve his strategy is to overhaul community colleges. The aim is to balance “the skills taught in our classrooms to the needs of local businesses.”

American Consumers Opening Fewer Credit Cards: New Yorkers have the most Open Plastics

A recent study that was printed by Experian credit bureau shows that in the last three years consumers throughout the country opened 26% fewer new credit card accounts. The study found that most Americans consumers have become more budget and credit-conscious.

The credit monitoring bureau reported that the published information is taken from consumer credit reporting data rather than from consumer surveys.

“As expected with the current financial environment, we can see that the average person has fewer cards in their wallet and is using credit differently than in the past,” said Michele Raneri, Experian’s senior director of analytics.

The city with the smallest number of accounts per person was Phoenix, where residents carried just 2.78 cards each – lowest in the country – and $6,058 in debt (ninth-lowest). Those in Atlanta, though, have just the 15th-most cards – 3.06 – but by far the most debt ($6,753).

The city with the largest number of accounts per person was New York City, where residents carried just 3.77 cards per consumers. Additionally, consumers in Phoenix, Arizona, have an average of 2.78 accounts per consumer, which is the lowest in the country.

Bank of America Mortgage Repurchase Requests Total $11.1B

Bank of America, biggest U.S. lending company by assets, announced that they are facing a very limited number of requests to repurchase soured mortgages out of securities which lacked government-support guarantees.

Bank of America, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, claimed that unsettled mortgage repurchase requests form investors and insurers totaled approximately $11B on June 30th in a filing on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The bank reported amount includes a $33M in private-label mortgage-backed securities transactions and $5.6B from government sponsored enterprises, as well as that the government-controlled Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The total also included $4B from bond insurers and $1.4B from other shareholders.

The corporation and its legacy companies have very limited experience with private label MBS repurchases as the number of repurchase requests received has been very limited, the bank management said.

On December 31st, the charlotte-based bank has average unsettled repurchase requests of $7.6B that includes $3.3B from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as another $1.4B from other investors and $30M from private-label mortgage bond transactions.

Government Said Get Your Free Free Annual Credit Report  at

There are countless of business who right now who offers FREE annual credit report in the web despite the fact that the government already passed a law that allows consumers to receive a free annual credit report to federal office.

FTC strictly implemented the resolution that there is only one place that citizens can go to get the free annual credit report that is offered by the government. That website is According to the new law, any website or businesses who offer FREE credit reports or credit in their websites name must reference the official government site on their website.

For instance, the site is currently under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and has been required to pay a significant penalty. However, they apparently have been allowed to keep operating.

Because there are lots of people looking the free annual credit report many businesses are taking advantage to obtain easy money. A lot of people ended up on a site where they paid for what they could have received for free on the governments official site. However, the doesnt provide any information regarding the persons credit score. The website are only capable to provide credit report to review, but many people anted to know their credit score.

The government said that the only way to get your free annual credit report is by going through

President Obama Revamped Student Loan Consolidation

President Obama facilitated the expansion and development of the student loan consolidation through the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which includes Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act that was signed into a law by the U.S President on March 30, 2010.

Because of the certain changes in the new student loan reform bill, the Department of Education will held full responsibility to the student loans and the firm is accountable for the Pell grant scholarship award increased from $5,550 in 2010 up to $5,975 by 2017.

Starting 2014 qualified borrowers will be allowed to restrict their monthly loan payment to about 10% of their income. The Department of Education estimated that there will be approximately 30 million students who will qualify for the student loan consolidation starting 2014 up to 2020.

Today is a historic day for Americans who are pursuing a college education. We are one step closer to achieving the Presidents goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said and added: These changes will expand educational opportunities for millions of students and families and will make it easier for them to pay for college.

Additionally, both currently enrolled college students as well as out of school students will benefit from the reformed law.

Some Americans Choose Cheap Car Insurance to Save Money

Due to economic recession that resulted in bad credit, deep debt, and poor market, most Americans are in quest to find any possible way to save their hard earned money. American consumers found that through cheap car insurance consumers will get a cheap but quality auto insurance to protect themselves against losses as a result of car accidents and at the same time while they will save a significant amount of money compared with other insurance being advertised today.

Fact that vehicular accidents resulted to countless of deaths and injuries every year according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As of now, the agency said that there are approximately 2.6 million injuries and 42,642 deaths reported each year directly linked to car accident.

The U.S. government strictly implemented and required car insurance that covers property damage done to victims and accountability for injuries, but there are some areas do not oblige drivers to have liability insurance. In California and New Jersey they imposed a Personal Responsibility Acts that requires the drivers to obtain liability insurance.

Despite the fact that most people are looking for an effective way to save money, it still very important that you are fully aware on what your cheaper care insurance really covers. Insurance experts recommended that the motorists should conduct a research and look for a coverage that will fully protect them.

Consumer Credit in U.S. Dropped $1.3 Billion in June

U.S. consumer credit declined in June for the fifth consecutive months. The U.S. credit decreased $1.3 billion, less than economic expert projected, following a revised $5.3 billion drop in May, the Federal Reserve announced Friday in Washington.

The revised $5.3 billion drop in May drop was smaller compared to the initial $9.2 billion decrease.

Credit card debt dropped in June to its lowest level since 2005. This means that American consumers spent less in the past months. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the American economy.

Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc. in New York said:

The consumer has some tough sledding ahead. Without any job growth, its going to be difficult to generate the kind of income growth we need to generate consumer spending growth.

The Federals credit report also includes auto loans and credit card debt, as well as other revolving debt not secured by real estate. However, the report doesn’t feature mortgages or home equity lines of credit.

American consumers minimize their purchase using credit card. Plastic usage has declined for 21 consecutive months. Also, auto loans have increased by 2.4 percent in June after a 1.4 percent increase in May.

American consumer expenditures in the first six months of the years rose at a 1.6 percent annual rate, quite slower compared to the 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year.

Refinance Mortgage Rate Still at Record Low

Home loan refinancing dropped again this week. As of now, the 30-year fixed mortgage is 4.5344%. Additionally, the refinance mortgage rates have descend only 3 basis points and over the past 4 weeks the rate has dropped by at least 17 basis points.

Bank of America maintained their current refinance rates at 4.906%. BofA lowered their rate by 3 basis points over the past weeks and the past month the bank dropped 10 points.

Last Friday Chase bank dropped their refinance mortgage rate 9 basis points to 4.596%. Over the week they have lowered their rate one point.

When it comes to 15-year fixed rate, the average rate for refinance mortgage dropped approximately 3 basis points to 3.9644% and over the week the rate dropped at least 5 basis points, and 10 basis points dropped in the past month.

Chase bank advertised their 15-year fixed refinance rate at 4.254%, which is 2 basis points lower compare to the last week rates.

The average refinance 5-year adjustable rate mortgage (5/1 ARM) was held firm at 3.3992%. The ARM rate rose by 2 basis points since Thursday.

The BofA lowered their rate 2 basis points to 3.353%. The rate has dropped nearly 20 basis points for the month. And Chase dropped their ARM rate 3 basis points to 3.339%.

MasterCard and Discover Offers Cash Rebate for Daily Spending

A group of independent researcher coordinated an in-depth analysis and survey and found that people who choose to use cash-back credit cards save allot of money compare to people use cash. However, not all rewards and cash-back cards have the same features. There are some credit card companies who offer airline miles and some offer cash discounts and rebates if you use their card.

Discover Open Road Card currently offering 2% cash rebate to their customers who use their card in all gas station and restaurant purchases. Also, there is a 1% cash rebate bonus on all other purchases, as well as up to 20% cash rebate on certain purchased through internet. The credit card company also offers zero percent APR introductory and zero percent rate on all balance transfers for the entire year.

Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards also offers the same features to their customers. The company offering 2% cash rebate on all grocery and gas purchases, a well as 1% on all other purchases.

Unlike other card, there is no limit on the amount that Capital One users can earn and the bonuses never expire. Cad holders can redeem their rewards in the form of cash, check or gift card.

U.S. Unemployment rate Stable at 9.5% in July

The U.S. unemployment rate held firm at 9.5% as various companies and employers remained nervous to hire new staff and the U.S. economy shed approximately 131,000 jobs. Additionally, the state and local governments laid off countless workers due to major budget deficit.

Last Friday the U.S. Labor Department said that the U.S. economy obtained 71,000 private-sector jobs but, unfortunately, cut down 143,000 temporary government jobs as the U.S. Census Bureau winds down jobs linked to the 2010 Census. All in all, the government shed 202,000 workers in July alone.

However, the Labor Department conducted an immediate revision with their June employment report. The updated version indicates that 221,000 jobs were lost in June, huge difference compare with the previous estimate of 125,000. Also, in the previous estimate showed that 83,000 private sector jobs were created, however in the recent estimate says that just 31,000 private positions were filled.

A month ago, the manufacturing industry added 36,000 jobs, healthcare added 27,000 jobs, and mining companies added another 7,000, as well as the transportation and warehousing industry added 12,000 jobs. The finance industry lost 17,000 jobs and the sector defined as professional and business services lost 13,000.

Christine Owens, National Employment Law Project executive director said:

“The pain continues for American’s workers … despite soaring corporate profits, record corporate assets and ongoing gross domestic product growth, she said and added: Today’s data show how important it was for Congress to restore the extension of jobless benefits and job-saving aid to the states.”

Most economic experts were fairly confident that despite the slow growth of the nations economy the country wouldn’t fall into another devastating recession.

“Slower growth looks certain, but it’s not a double dip,” said Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said. He also cited that jobs will gain at 87,000 per month for the rest of 2010. Economic experts Dean Maki and Jim O’Sullivan say that jobs gains will pick up to 170,000 a month by the fourth quarter.

State of Florida Warned to Avoid Health Insurance Scams

Citizen of Florida were given warning about unauthorized health insurance plans that is being sold by the Association of Independent Managers (AIM), who have already sold 1,800 unauthorized policies in Florida that “could leave Floridians who buy the coverage without insurance when they need medical care”. The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) worked collaboratively and warned Floridians of the solicitation of such plans.

Recently, OIR issued a cease and desist order that bans the company from selling the illegitimate insurance plans, which have been marketed under various names such as AIM Guaranteed Health Insurance and AIM Health Solutions. The DFS has received complaints to more than 100 consumers involving 49 agents that sell health insurance products including:

  • AIM Health Plan
  • AIM Health Solutions
  • AIM Guaranteed Health Insurance
  • CEO Club Benefits
  • CEO Health Club Benefits
  • Chief Executive Officers Club
  • CEO Health Select
  • National Association of Business Leaders (NABL)
  • Worldwide Family Benefit Association?
  • Insurance Resource Group (IRG)
  • Insurance Marketing (IIM)
  • Phoenix Insurance / Star, U.K. / Star Group, U.K.
  • Viking Administrators and Commerce Benefits Group Agency

Last August 3, Florida CFO Alex Sink commented against the health insurance scam and said:

Bogus health insurance scams rob consumers of their hard-earned money and also leave them uncovered in the event that medical care is needed. … My Department is working together with OIR to actively seek out and hold accountable any agents involved in unauthorized insurance transactions.

DFS advised those people who have recently bought the unauthorized policy to immediately close their bank account or cancel their credit card from which premiums are paid so no unauthorized transactions can occur and then buying a policy from an authorized insurer.

U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Surge 19,000 to 479,000

Last Thursday the U.S Labor Department reported that the initial unemployment claims surged above expected by 19,000 last week, which is the highest level in four months.

According to the weekly report the state unemployment benefits initial claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 479,000 in the week ended July 31, which is the highest recorded claims since mid April. However, various economic experts had analyzed and expected a bit drop in jobless claims.

“There really is no upside momentum in the labor market, and that’s a critical long-term determinant of where the economy is going,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York. “People just aren’t getting jobs.”

In the latest data provided by the Labor Department indicates a total of 4.54 million people were continuously receiving unemployment benefits after an initial week of aid, down 34,000 from the previous week.

And on the other that was presented on Thursday showed numerous American retailers posted July sales a bit low compared to experts analysis in the most current sign that skittishness about high unemployment and the economy are causing consumers to minimize their daily expenditure.

The U.S Department of Labor’s report comes after the ADP National Employment Report said the good news, which said that employment rate in private agencies increased by at least 42,000 from June to July.

Social Security Trust Fund to be Exhausted by 2037

Social Security Administration recently announced their year end report of the Social Security trust funds status. The report claimed that the Social Security trust funds are expected to be exhausted in 2037, the same date as in last years report.

The Social Security report noted that achieving the health care savings in order to expand the Medicare trust fund life may prove difficult and will probably require that payment and health care delivery systems be made more efficient than they are currently. Trustees also mentioned that their analysis should be interpreted cautiously.

In 2037, the Social Security trust funds will be liquidated and according to the Social Security report that they are expecting at least 78% pay out of benefits will be generated from tax revenue.

On the other hand, in the past 25 years Social Security trust funds have successfully built up a $2.5 trillion surplus. However, the federal government borrowed the funds over the years to support and finance other programs. And in order to repay Social Security the government must now start borrowing money from public debt markets.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue provided a well-detailed explanation that the shortfall this year shouldnt cause panic, but the commissioner also mentioned, that its time for us to make the tough choices that we know we need to make.

President Barack Obama conducted an immediate action and created Deficit Commission to administer and address the shortages that the Social Security Trust Fund might encounter in the near future.

NY Fed May Tell Banks to Buy Back Bad Mortgages

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York may tell some banks to repurchase past-due home loans that back some of the securities it holds.

This aid action would boost the value of the institution’s combined Maiden Lane portfolio which an average $67.4 billion in assets in the week ending July 28, according to Reuters reported.

“Through our ongoing management of the Maiden Lane portfolios we are involved in multiple efforts related to exercising our rights as investors in non-agency RMBS or CDO securities including those that require originators to repurchase ineligible loans,” Jack Gutt, a New York Fed spokesman, said in an e-mail message to Reuters.

This effort of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is just one of the numerous attempts by investors to hold lenders accountable for irresponsible lending.

Investors are getting organized to top the 25% threshold that will provide them voting rights to force trustees to repurchase.

The president of Greenwich Financial Bill Frey claimed:

“Investors have been getting organized, and soon there will be a very large effort to resolve this mortgage problem.

The government-sponsored enterprise, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are also been insistently pushing repurchase requests. In the first quarter of the year, Freddie Mac obliged loan lenders to repurchase $1.3 billion of loans, and had had approximately $5 billion in outstanding demands.

Car Loan for People with Bad Credit

Based on the recent research study conducted by independent research firm shows that more than 90% of people who buy a new or even used car is paying through loan. It is pretty uncommon to happen, and since car loan lender have a stringent policy in lending loans, only people with good credit history meet the qualification to obtain a loan. People with bad credit history definitely facing a hard time when in dealing with something like that, due to the fact that bad credit people have a very slim chance to qualify for the loan. However, it is very important to have an adequate transportation. If adequate transportation isnt present people might end up relying with public transportation, and thats the last thing that people wanted to do.

But this is not the case now, because people who suffer from bad credit can now apply for a car loan, of course, its not in your bank or through credit union. With the help of online car quotes shopping for a new car along with financing will be much easier.

Fact that bad credit can be resolve and there are lots of agencies out there willing to help you out. There are countless organizations that will help you figure out what needs to be done and what necessary files and information that you need to provide to get you qualified for a loan that you can afford. There are numerous alternatives to help you regardless of what your credit score you have.

Naomi Campbell Testifies in War Criminals Trial

Former supermodel Naomi Campbell sat on the witness chair today as a crucial witness against former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor in his war crimes trial at the International Criminal Court. Campbell admitted that Taylor gave her blood diamonds.

I just took it (blood diamonds) and I said thank you and I shut door. Campbell said while on the witness stand.

Campbell describes the diamonds as dirty little stones. She further said that she had no intention of keeping them and wanted to dispose them immediately. In her testimony, the supermodel said she gave the diamonds to a trusted colleague and directed him to give the precious stones to a charity.

Taylor took control of Liberia by supplying various armed groups with weapons and other war machines, which he purchased through blood diamonds. He is believed to be the founder or one of the founding members of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and is also accused of forming an alliance with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Taylor is suspected of being behind the thousands of atrocities in his country, including murder, rape and sexual slavery, and the use of children as soldiers. Numerous reports have pointed that Taylor is responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent civilians, most of whom are either hacked or burned to death.

Taylor met Campbell in 1997 in a gala banquet hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa.  The said diamond was delivered to Campbells room after the party by a number of men, who said that the present was from Mr. Taylor.

Campbell initially did not want to be part in the trial for fear for her safety and her loved ones as well. Prior to the trial, Campbell refused to provide evidence, implying she fears Taylor.

This is someone who, I read on the internet, has killed thousands of people. I dont want my family endangered in any way.

US Government Lends $250 Million To Aid Ford Motors Recovery

As part of President Obamas economy recovery program, Ford Motors will get $250 million in financial aid from the US Import Export Bank to fund the manufacturing and selling of over 200,000 Ford cars primarily to Canada and Mexico. The said step is just the first of the Obama Administrations long term recovery process of the automobile industry.

Ford Motors aims to export 200,000 different models before the year ends, including the new Explorer, F-150 pickup, Focus, Escape, Expedition, E-Series Van, Taurus, and Lincoln MKS and Navigator. These units will be manufactured in the major car plants of the company – Chicago, Illinois.; Dearborn and Wayne Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Avon Lake, Ohio.

The funding is just a part of the $3.1 billion financial aid scheme designed by the Obama Administration specifically to aid the American motor industry. Ford, Chevrolet, and General Motors took big hits when the US economy crashed in 2008, forcing the giant companies to lay down thousands of employees and close several factories across the United States.

The planned investment in the Chicago plant has opened 1,200 jobs. The manufacturing will start later this year. US Pres. Obama has stated that his hopes are high that US will double its exports within the next five years.

Home Loan Purchase Applications Rise in Third Consecutive Week

The Mortgage Bankers Association said last Wednesday that the demand for mortgage applications in purchasing homes increased last week for a third consecutive week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association claimed that the volume of applications that was submitted for purchase mortgages up by at least 1.5 percent after the previous week’s 2 percent growth. And this third week increased was driven by continues increase of mortgage interest insured by the government (through FHA and VA). Additionally, the government-insured mortgages increased applications increased by 3.4%. When it comes with conventional purchase mortgages the application rates remain stable.

The total amount of applications that was submitted for refinance gained up 1.3 percent after declining at least 5.9 percent a week ago and the refinance share of mortgage application activity stabilized at 78 percent, same level with last week application rate.

According to the MAX index, weekly mortgage application index compiled by Mortgage Maxx that is related to the MBA Mortgage Application Index, indicates that household application activity continued to fall, slipping 2.9 percent after declining 0.9 percent last week.

Obama Administration OKs $600 Million in Foreclosure Prevention Aid for Five States

The Obama administration provided its go signal to release a $600 million of foreclosure-prevention aid to help unemployed homeowners to avoid foreclosures in five states.

Last Wednesday Treasury Department assistant secretary for financial stability Herb Allison said that the five states who submitted mortgage-assistance proposals already received the government approval. The five states, such as North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, estimate their efforts could help up to 50,000 homeowners. State Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) may start to use and distribute the funds today.

Obamas administration is planning to direct a $2.1 billion from its existing $75 billion mortgage assistance program, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, to a total of 10 states. All of these states have already designed their own plan. The Treasury Department approved money in June for Nevada, Michigan, California, and Arizona.

The State of Ohio will be granted a $172 million in funding for foreclosure-prevention assistance from the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest Hit Housing Markets (Hardest Hit Fund). This amount could support approximately 15,000 homeowners by helping borrowers pay their mortgage for up to a year while they are in quest to land a job.

The other four states, North Carolina will receive $159 million and South Carolina are about to receive $138 million. Oregon will receive $88 million and Rhode Island with $43 million.

“These states have designed targeted programs with the potential to make a real difference in the lives of homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments because of unemployment,” Allison said in a statement.

Mortgage Foreclosures Reduce Home Values by 27%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University economic experts said that foreclosed homes had a reduced home sale price by at least 27%. Additionally, near by houses, living within 250 feet of the foreclosed home, might also lose value on their home sale prices with decreases in home sale prices of 1%. American Economic Review journal will print this analysis on home foreclosure pricing in their upcoming issue.

Economists came up with these figures after their in-depth and meticulous analysis into the 1.83 million Massachusetts home sales from 1987 to 2009. They also found out that if a home was sold after the owner died the house price declined by at least 5 to 7% on average, as well as if a homeowner declared bankruptcy the house sale price declined by 3% on average.

The U.S. government is trying to control and stabilize the housing market and slow down the amount of housing foreclosures by implementing the government home loan modification program called Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP). Eligible homeowners can now apply to participate in the free home loan modification program. Homeowner will be scheduled to work collaboratively with their existing lender in refinancing their mortgage interest rate, forgive loan principal, and extending the repayment terms to lower their monthly mortgage payments. One of the HAMP mission is to get the home loan mortgage payment by at least under 31% of homeowners monthly income.

Visit the to know more about the HAMP program.

Discover Student Loans Celebrates its 3rd Year Anniversary and Reduced Interest Rate to 3.75%

Discover Student Loans are currently celebrating its third year anniversary in financing college tuition and fees. The company decided to celebrates its anniversary by reducing its lowest eligible interest rate to 3.75% to aid families pay for the increased college education costs.

“We are committed to providing students and families with a simple and affordable solution to help them pay for school,” says PK Parekh, director and general manager of Discover Student Loans. “We believe in responsible lending and encourage students and their families to first consider free financial aid, family assistance and personal savings, and then federal loans before turning to private loans.”

According to College Board, the published tuition and fees have increased on average 13.5% at public four-year colleges and universities since 2007, and 10.8% increase in private universities and colleges. A lot of states, charities, and colleges already cut or planning to cut their scholarships budgets for 2010 said the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Since Discover Student Loans entered the market in July 2007, the company served and assisted more than 200,000 students with $3 billion in loans.

Interested students and parents may visit the Discover Student Loans website to find out more about their student loan –

Insurance Companies Facing Large Increased of Questionable Claims

Americans seeking for insurance might experience a bit of hard time in claming insurance because most insurers might be more stringent when scrutinizing customer’s claims. Recent released date from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in its report on questionable claims (QC) during the first six months of the year, found that QCs have significantly increased in the past two years within the section of property, commercial, casualty, workers compensation, vehicle, and miscellaneous.

All in all, the bureau analyzed and reported that the QC increased by at least 14% in four of the six categories in 2010 when compared to the first half of 2009. The increases are claims that NICB member insurance companies refer to bureau for closer review and investigation based on one or more indicators of possible fraud.

The Illinois-based nonprofit organization meticulously analyzed the 107% QC increase in hail damage, as well as the 527% QC increase in auto glass so far this year when compared to the first half of 2009.

The release affected the finding that was published previously in a NICB ForeCAST report of hail loss claims. Hail loss claims and QCs are generally concentrated in the central section of the U.S.,” the report said. “However, seven of the top 10 states with the highest hail loss QC-to-claim ratio are not in the central section. This suggests that fraudulent hail losses can occur in any part of the country.

Joe Wehrle, NICBs president and CEO said:

While there have been modest declines within a few categories of referrals, the 14% increase in the overall number of questionable claims for 2010 raises concerns. Weve been actively involved with our members and law enforcement in pursuing suspected unscrupulous roofing companies that take advantage of storms to fake or deliberately cause damage to roofs in an effort to get insurers to pay for a replacement roof that wasnt damaged by a storm. And weve had tremendous success in putting pressure on staged accident rings by working with our law enforcement partners in regions like Tampa where this has become a major problem.”

Former Fugee Frontman Wyclef Jean Targets Haiti Presidency

Port-Au- Prince – Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean has recently announced his intentions to venture into politics. Recent rumors said that the Haitian-American Jean aims to run for the presidency of Haiti in his first attempt as a politician.

Former legislator Pierre Eric Jean-Jacques has said to the Associated Press that he will join Wyclefs Together We Are Strong coalition, further fueling the rumors of the former Fugees front mans political ambition.

While the decision to run for president is not final, many political insiders have said that Jean is working towards that direction as his lawyers are grinding to have his paper work ready. Jean is also slated to appear in the Larry King Live to reveal his political plans.

Several Haiti residents have expressed hopes and support for the musician should Wyclef run. Others are also wary if Wyclef is eligible to run for such high position and whether he is true in his efforts in helping the Western Hemisphere’s most beleaguered nation.

“Wyclef has many people following him, and this could be a great opportunity for Haiti,” declared Kevin Luma, 19, a student. “Maybe because he loves Haitians so much, he loves Haiti so much, things can change — even if not 100 percent.”

Georges Sassine, a Haitian businessman and president of the Haitian Industrialists Association, said that aside from Wyclefs youth and success as a musician, Wyclefs upbringing as an American and his first-hand experience on seeing how things work will definitely factor out for him.

One of the major issued that Wyclef has to deal with if he plans to enter Haiti politics is his citizenship. Wyclef must satisfy Haitis constitutional policies regarding eligibility and one of which is that no person with a dual citizenship status shall be allowed to run for any political position.

Wyclefs family is no alien to politics. His uncle, Raymond Joseph, was a former Ambassador to the United States. Wyclef himself is also one of Haitis leading humanitarians who have helped Haiti especially in the field of education and infrastructure through the Yele Haiti Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded and headed by Wyclef.

U.S Treasury Department Pledges Quick Action on Obamas New Financial Reform Bill

Last Monday U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration is gearing for an immediate clarification of its new financial rules outlined in a law that was passed by the senate last month.

“We will move as quickly as possible to bring clarity to the new rules of finance,” Geithner said and added: “The rule-writing process traditionally has moved at a frustrating, glacial pace. We must change that.”

Under the influence of President Barack Obama, the house of representatives passed the sweeping financial regulation laws on July 15 aiming to prevent firms from engaging in the kind of excessive risk-taking blamed for a near- collapse of Wall Street in 2008.

The law will serve ass primary weapon against future recessions, the US government will have a full capacity to control, seize, and even liquidate failing financial institutions before their collapse.

The new regulations on Wall Street-type financial firms will not only help prevent another financial meltdown, but also establish the strongest consumer financial protections in history. It creates a council of regulators that will be responsible in monitoring systemic risks as well as new consumer protection agency to prevent firms from offering misleading financial products.

Citigroup and Goldman planning to sell a Multi-million Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities

Both Citigroup and Goldman Sachs will sell a $788.5 million commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS), which is the largest agreement of its kind since financial crisis commence.

The said agreement was publicized when a term sheet was sent to investors detailing the deal that Reuters obtained. The issue would be the sixth since the market for commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) restarted in December last year and the fourth pf 2010. The deal is expected to be priced shortly.

Various analysts and economic foresee multi-borrower CMBS issues as important to the $700 billion market, that is currently battling with substantial shortfall of available credit. There are approximately $1.2 trillion worth of mortgages on commercial property loans will mature in the near future and as of know there are no assurance how many of those can be refinanced using CMBS since many of those properties lack enough equity of revenue now required by under writing standards.

Based on Credit Suisse information, in 2007, there are approximately $190 billion worth of multi-borrower issues. Currently, there has only been about $1 billion in multi-borrower issues and there were none in 2009.

The new commercial mortgage backed securities are planning to be marketed with an average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 53.7 percent. A on the other hand, the debt service coverage ratio will be 1.88, mush safer ratio compared to previous ratios.

Paul Norris, head of structured products and a senior portfolio manager at Dwight Asset Management in Burlington, Vermont, told the news provider: The deal looks like it’s going to come pretty tight, but that looks well-deserved. Norris added that the lack of a new issuance and demand for yield by investors has created a supply-demand imbalance.

Fannie Mae Mortgage Launched New Website to Help Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosure

Fannie Mae successfully created and launched a new website aims to provide support to struggling homeowners by providing vital information that might be the key to solve various housing and mortgage problems. The new Fannie Mae website supported both English and Spanish languages, as well as provided an efficient ways to contact their mortgage company and to work with them. Fannie Mae website is specially design to help the homeowners find possible solutions and alternatives to foreclosures.

The website opens with a well-detailed video that explains other alternatives to home foreclosure. One popular alternative is the Obamas Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which offers home loan modifications to qualified homeowners. There are lot of issues being discussed on this website, including mortgage refinance, forbearance agreements, repayment plans, and Deed-for-Leaseâ„¢. The site also has information about short sales and deeds-in-lieu.

People who struggled and cant quite qualify for the government HAMP, might still be able to save their home from foreclosure and this website walks through many alternatives.

Additionally, is equipped with calculators, informative videos, financial checklists, and helpful forms.

Low Income Consumers Prefer to Use MasterCard Debit Cards

A lot of information show up that suggests credit unions that lower income members may take a deeper hit from the upcoming restrictions on debit card interchange than credit unions with fewer lower income members.

MasterCard Worldwide released a publication that indicates that low income cardholders and people with low credit score use their debit cards more often than higher income cardholders or those with good credit scores.

Consumers with subprime credit scores (below 650) use debit an average of 28 times per month for a total spend of $860. These numbers fall to 11 uses and total spend of $324 per month for consumers with superprime credit scores (above 720), the New York-based multinational credit card company said, quoting a 2009 report from an independent research firm.

The share of total card spend is interconnected similarly; debit makes up 73% of total card spend for subprime users, but only 28% for superprime, the card company said and added: This is not surprising, given the greater difficulty consumers with lower credit ratings have gaining access to credit, MasterCard added.

This speculation comes by another research paper that suggests that consumers that use cash and debit cards subsidize other consumers’ credit card use.

Credit Unions Loans and Credit Quality Slightly Increased, CUNA Said

According to Credit Union National Associations survey out of 400 credit unions the outstanding loans rate slightly increased in the month of June, savings balances declined and share accounts slightly grows and developed.

Outstanding loans slightly rose from 0.2 percent in May u to 0.3 in June. However, there were $582 billion in loans made in June, compared with $585.9 billion in June 2010.

Based on the accumulated data by CUNA on its recent research and analysis, the largest ever recorded loan growth was in the areas of adjustable rate mortgages, which increased by 1.2 percent, unsecured personal loans increased by 1 percent, and used car loans increased by .8 percent, as well as credit card loans rose by .3 percent. Additionally, the fixed-rate mortgages and new car loans rose by at least .2 percent and 1.4 percent.

The firm found out that the savings balances fell by .3 percent in June, compared with a .1 percent decline in the first quarter of the year.

Also, regular shares rose by .5 percent and money market accounts rose by .4 percent a well as one-year certificates by .2 percent.

Chase, Capital One, Discover, and Citigroup Boost Profit from Declining U.S Credit Card Delinquencies

Fitch Ratings reported last Thursday that five top banks, Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, and Discover, benefited lower credit card delinquency rates during the second quarter of the year.

According to Fitch Ratings report, credit card payments which were 60 days or more late dropped in to 3.86% in the month of June, down from 4.01% during the month of May. Fitch said that June was the sixth consecutive month that it saw an improvement in late-stage delinquencies and was the first month during the last year and a half which saw the rate fall below 4%.

The international rating agency said that there was a substantial development in early stage delinquencies, or payments which are 30 days late or more. The agency claims that rate dropped to 5.13%, down from 5.27% in May.

Michael Dean, Fitch Managing Director, said to Bloomberg Businessweek that he believes consumer credit quality remains under pressure because of weak labor market conditions, but that overall economic declines are slowing, resulting in improvement credit quality. While the improvements are a welcome sign, we still have a ways to go before we are out of the woods, Dean said.

Citigroup to Invest $100 Million into NYC Affordable Housing Fund

Citigroup, Inc. is planning to invest $100 million fund in low and moderate income housing projects within the city of New York, the bank said Wednesday.

The fund, which will be handled by L&M Development, is geared to provide support in preserving and rehabilitating affordable housing in New York City and the outer area by helping developers in obtaining financing, WYNC reported. The bank also claimed that they would make debt financing available on projects in which the fund was investing.

The launch of this $100 million fund further illustrates Citis commitment to the principles of responsible finance. We have pledged that we will do our part to fuel the economic recovery and lend a hand to those in need, Citigroups chief executive, Vikram Pandit, said in a statement.

The bank received $45 billion in government aid during the last economic recession of which it has repaid $20 billion, while the Treasury Department is continuing to unwind the remaining $25 billion stake.

Affordable housing groups are cautiously optimistic about the fund. The Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development has long criticized private equity firms and other private investors for paying too much for buildings in poor neighborhoods, creating pressure to raise rents, which drives out lower-paying tenants. Many of these buildings also end up in foreclosure, WTNC reported.

Personal Loans Being Offered By Various Banks

Despite of weak economic and poor money market some banks are still capable to offer personal loans to their patrons. These are loans that are unsecured and for a term longer than one month.

The Citibank offers loans from $300 up to $15,000 for unexpected expenses, a vacation and debt consolidation. Compare to same day payday loans, the citi personal loans requires a credit check, but the interest rate is much lower.

Also, Wells Fargo offers personal loans and personal lines of credit. Wells Fargo said that applicants can easily get a little as $3,000 within the day, but they usually fund the next business day. The bank wanted also advertised about their easy and hassle-free application process. The terms on a Wells Fargo personal loan will not change. Customers will get the money for a specific period of time at a specific rate and payment schedule.

There is a quite difference between Wels Fargo personal loan and line of credit, the personal loan will get easily approve within hours but line of credit will be approved within one to two days. They are ideal for people with fluctuations in their income.

Lastly, Chase and Bank of America also offers personal loans for people who wanted to purchase a car and school payments, as well as business loans. However, both Chase and Bank of America do not offer unsecured personal loans similar to Citi and Wells Fargo.

Top Mortgage Lenders, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, Gains Profit as Mortgage Rates Drop

Two of the nations mortgage lenders giant, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, are gaining some profit increase within the NYSE as Bank of America was up 2.92% and Wells Fargo was up 2.96%. Both mortgage lenders obviously figured out that the most effective way to improve the profitability is to take advantage in mortgage interest rates that is currently at around 4.4% for 30-year conventional fixed rates. Because most American homebuyers are also taking advantage of the low interest mortgage, either purchase a home or refinance their current home loan.

Couple of weeks ago the 30 year fixed mortgage rates are being advertised at or below 4.5% on a national average. Because of these rare low digits most mortgage lenders and banks are developing an effective marketing plan to acquire new and more customers to ensure business profitability.

Facts that Wells Fargo and Bank of America are two of the biggest mortgage lenders in the entire nation but customers must be aware that it is very important for them to seek for other alternatives and try to research a bit further. There are a lot of banks who offers good quotes as well.

Wells Fargo Eradicate Penalty Interest Rates for Late Payers

The Wells Fargo management team, headquartered in San Francisco, California, publicized that the bank will eliminate the penalty interest rates on credit cards which are imposed when customers are 2 months or more late on their payments, according to Associated Press reports.

The bank will be notify their customers regarding the change in their August statements, previously imposed a 27% interest rate to customers that were 60 days past due on their payments. The bank proclaimed that they will no longer automatically raise interest rates, however he bank said that they might cut borrowers credit limit or even close their account if they are chronically late. Thy also sad that they are still capable to raise rates credit card interest rates on all accounts as long as the bank notify their customers ahead of time, at least 45 day before due.

Although Wells Fargo will not charge penalty interest rates, the bank will still charge the lesser of $25.00 or the minimum payment due as a late payment. And if a second late payment occurred during the six months following the first late payment, the lesser of $35.00 or the minimum payment due will be charged as a late payment. The bank recently lowered its penalty fees in compliance with the new federal requirements. Previously Wells Fargo was charging late payment fees of $39.00 per incident.

Other new federal credit card regulations which have effected Wells Fargo and the rest of the banking world this year is that banks are not allowed to trigger penalty rates on existing balance unless the payments are at least sixty days late. After the borrower returns to making regular payments for six consecutive months, the original interest rate must be restored.

Mortgage Rate Update: A New Record Low

As of today, August 2nd, 2010, the mortgage interest rates are practically quite maintaining its previous rate last week. The fact that a lot of mortgage lenders reported that rates hit all time lows it is now the case that the bulk of mortgage applications happen to be refinance applications.

Currently, a 30-year fixed conventional mortgage is being offered with a 4.31% rate. A 15-year fixed conventional mortgage has a 3.89% mortgage rate.

Chairman Ben Bernanke of Federal Reserve Bank make it clear that interest rates will stay in its current status, ultra low, for an extended period of time a lot of homeowners may look to clean up their credit score before attempting to lock in to the lowest possible mortgage interest rate for their current situation. A credit score of 740 or higher is needed to lock in to rates under 5% in the current lending environment. With rates that being advertised as lowest in decades, make sure you find the mortgage rate that is right for you.

Capital One and Chase Offers Credit Card Rewards

The banks competition is getting more intense within the rewards and cash-back credit card business. Some banks and cards offers airline miles while others provide gas and groceries rebates.

The Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card pays customers who owned and used their in buying merchandise or in other daily necessities. The credit card company will grant two 2 airline miles per dollar on every customer purchase. Additionally, company will give10,000 bonus miles to new customers when they spend at least $1,000 in their first three months upon signing. Unfortunately, borrowers with bad credit history are not permitted to use Capital One card.

On the other hand, the Chase FreedomSM Visa will give $100 Bonus Cash Back for theis customers and company also offer 5% cash back on gas, home improvement, and department store purchases. And other card purchases are eligible for one percent cash back.

The Chase card as an incentive offers a $100 Bonus Cash-Back after you make $799 in purchases in your first three months. And as an added bonus Chase cardholders who uses their card online with certain merchants will receive 20 percent cash back.

Bank said that consumers dont need excellent credit to get this card. All they need is good credit to qualify. There is no annual fee and the interest rate is only 12.99 percent (APR).

Private Mortgage Insurers Should Assumed More Rules to Prevent Foreclosure Prevention

Just last Thursday Paul Kanjorski (D, Pa.), in opening words to the House panel hearing in regards with the Future of Housing Finance: The Role of Private Mortgage Insurance, announced that privately owned mortgage insurers should held responsible to carry the cost of efforts by homeowners to avoid foreclosure.

Mortgage insurers exist to provide a first level of protection against losses and should not evade their responsibilities by contractual technicalities.

In the discussion whether the industry should bear more risk from failing loans, Kanjorski noted mortgage policies in the US normally guarantee at least 20 up to 30% of the loan amount. However in Australia, things are amore different because the mortgage insurance policies there carries 100% coverage of the loan.

Kanjoski, who also served as chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets , Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises said that the organization and private insurers must work hard on the future of housing finance.

The landmark Wall Street reform law has laid the foundation for reforming our housing finance system by altering securitization rules, protecting against inflated appraisals, and holding rating agencies accountable. The Capital Markets Subcommittee has already convened several hearings about the future of housing finance, and in September we will examine taxpayer protection issues in greater depth. In particular, we intend to explore the Federal Housing Finance Agencys recent efforts to recoup funds from the issuers of the underwater securities purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We also will examine the present policies related to calculating guarantee fees, including whether these charges are appropriately priced to cover risks and provide a reasonable return. Moreover, as our housing markets begin to stabilize, we will begin to consider innovative ideas for recovering the costs resulting from the decision to place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship. Twenty years ago, we found a way for industry to pay back the sizable U.S. Treasury payments for resolving the savings-and-loan crisis. We can do it again.

A series of hearings into the restructuring of the private mortgage market is scheduled to begin September.

California and Memphis Homeowners Sues Wells Fargo for Refinance and Loan Modification

Everyone are fully aware that Wells Fargo is one of the nations top mortgage lenders and the company now are very much informed what it means to be a big financial player quickly. Before the credit crisis occur, numerous Wells Fargo staffs told customers that the bank is fully capable in refinancing an adjustable rate mortgage before the high interest rate reset in three or five years. Unfortunately, these bank staffs did not see the credit crisis coming. As results, in California where the bank headquartered, a lot of homeowners are conducting a legal action and filing lawsuits against the bank because they could not properly get into a loan modification or refinance their home loan.

Also, numerous homeowners residing I the city of Memphis were filing a lawsuit against the major mortgage lender. Steve Cohen, US Representative of Tennessee stated that:

Evidence suggests that some lenders took advantage of honest borrowers who lacked the financial knowledge to ask skeptical questions and be wary of such products.

With the current status of housing and mortgage industry almost everyone were thinking that that Wells Fargo will reign the entire mortgage world. However, because of what happened in California, Memphis, and other part of America this only shows that the bank are still fighting the battle that began way back in 2006 and 2007 when mortgages were being offered to anyone.

FTC Warned Website who Offers ‘FREE’ Credit Reports

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) send out warning letters to 18 websites that offers free credit reports that they must clearly disclose that a free report is available under federal law. The FTCs recently revised and strengthened Free Credit Reports Rule, effective since April 2, 2010, requires certain disclosures to help consumers to easily distinguish the difference between credit report advertisements for free credit reports that often require customer to buy credit monitoring or other services, and the federally mandated no-strings-attached credit reports available at For instance, websites that offers a free credit reports must have a disclosure, with links to and,that located at the top of each page that mentions free credit reports. Website that violates the FTC rules are subject to legal action that, might lead to penalties of up to $3,500 for every infringement. The Commission vote to publicly disclose the warning letters was 5-0.

Warning letters are being sent to the following:

Amanda Raab (, Amie Nguyen (, ConsumerTrack, Inc. (,,, ConsumerDirect, Inc. (,, ConsumerDirect, Inc. (,, Mighty Net, Inc. (, National Credit Report.Com LLC (, MyCreditCenter.Com, Inc.(,,, Quinstreet, Inc. (, Vertrue, Inc. (,,,,

Credit report are very important to every individuals who are seeking to get a loan and credit reports may affect whether consumers can get a loan or a job. This is the reason why FTC initiated an immediate action to stop the new marketing ploy, because it is very important for consumers to check their reports and correct any inaccurate information. FTC advised the public that they have the right to get a free credit report under federal law at

FTC Unleashed Law that Bans Advance Fees From Some Debt Relief Companies

Last Thursday the Federal Trade Commission unleashed a new rule that bans certain fees that for-profit debt-relief companies charged to their consumers, as agency effort to put an end on abusive business practices.

The new regulation, will be effective this September, would bar companies to transact and sell debt relief services through telephone from charging up-front fees. Under the regulation companies would also require to make specific disclosures to consumers, including how much the services will cost.

“Too many of these companies pick the last dollar out of consumers pockets – and far from leaving them better off, push them deeper into debt, even bankruptcy, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a prepared statement.

Leibowitz also said that the new regulation is geared to prevent companies from taking money from clients and never fulfilling a promise to reduce the clients’ debt by half or more.

“These new reforms will go a long way towards cracking down on debt settlement scams, but we must go even further,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) in a statement.

Senator Schumer has introduced legislation that would put end the up-front fees that these companies charge. The new FTC rule is only implemented to businesses that sell debt-relief services over the phone.

Home Foreclosures Filings Increased by 75% Due to High Unemployment Rates

The Internet and mainstream media are filled with reports stating that foreclosure filing have tremendously surged during the first half of the year. This is a results of the continues increase of high unemployment rates that caused foreclosure filings to jumped up to 75% in the first six months of 2010. Bad loans and bad credits is not an issue anymore, it is the fact that there are thousand or million of Americans can not find a job which led to foreclosures.

There has been quite uproar by those who have expired their unemployment insurance benefits. These 99ers or other unemployed Americans are having a hard time to make ends meet as the unemployment rate remains above 9% average within the entire country. The unemployment rates in some areas the hit above 10%. But in Nevada the unemployment rate is currently at 14.2%.

With these digits on the table it is not surprising to see struggling Americans not being able to make their mortgage payments Also, it is expected that foreclosure filings occur as many Americans do not have the financial capability to settle their mortgage payments in 2010.

On the other news, theres a huge possibility that that home prices could drop significantly in some states, including Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and California, as foreclosures are increasing each and every day.

Bluepoint Launched Mobile RDC, Mobile Banking

Bluepoint Solutions developed and offered a mobile remote deposit capture (RDC) solution that allows camera-equipped smartphones to be used in depositing deposit checks.

The California-based company and provider of document management and Check 21 solutions to approximately 1,000 credit unions said it is utilizing technology from Mitek Systems to power the service that they called QwikDeposit To Go.

The new innovation will allows account holders to initiate mobile-banking transactions, key in their deposit amount and snap photos of both the front and back of the check. The software will do the entire job; captures the check, formats, and correct and adjust the image resolution to meet mobile-image quality standards and then securely transmits it, the company said.

To ensure security, the entire banking transactions will be transmitted with multiple layers of security and, if necessary, can be traced back and located to registered smart phones, marked with time and location, in order to eliminate fraud, the company said.

The dramatic increase in the use of smartphones, combined with consumer demand for mobile banking applications has created a perfect storm for mobile capture, said company founder Hal Tilbury.

Small Business Loan Application for the Flood Victims is Now Open

Flood victims in West Virginia and Ohio can now apply for accepting disaster loan applications under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The agency in now accepting applications for homeowners, renters, business, ad private organizations of any size from a disaster declaration such as severe storms, flooding, mudslides, and landslides from June 12 through June 29, in West Virginia. August 23 is the deadline for the physical application and March 24, 2011.

Federal Emergency Management Agency/SBA disaster recovery centers are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays in these selected locations:

  • Wyoming County, Hanover Head Start Center, 5594 Interstate Hwy (Old Route 52 S), Hanover WV 24839
  • Logan County, Logan High School, One Wildcat Way, Logan WV 25601
  • McDowell County, 600 Stewart St. (State Hwy 16), Welch WV 2480

SBA also accepts applications for economic injury disaster loans for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and moist private nonprofit organizations from severe storms and flooding starting April 30 in Lawrence, Adams and Scioto counties in Ohio and adjacent counties in Kentucky. Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA by March 1, 2011.

Interested individuals may call SBA Disaster Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or 800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired. Customer service specialists are available during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

$10 Million Small Business Grant Program Being Offered by Bank of America

The Bank of America, the largest bank holding company in the United States, by assets, and the second largest bank by market capitalization, recently implemented a new $10 million grant program to support nonprofit lenders aid small and rural businesses.

The program was formally announced yesterday, the grants would be used to render support to various community development financial institutions and other nonprofit lenders meet necessary reserve levels and thereby access millions of dollars in new low-cost capital, according to Bank of America.

The BofA grants are available to 501(c)3 nonprofits enrolled in the SBAs 7(a) and micro loan programs as well as the USDAs upcoming micro loan program. Unfortunately, since credit unions are 501(c)1 and 501(c)14 nonprofits, they are not qualify for this grants.

BofA new small business grant program involves leveraging funds from the SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nonprofit lenders participating in these federal loan programs must save loan loss reserves up to 15% of the capital provided by the agencies. However, because of the economic recession, a lot of lenders did not meet the allotted reserve requirements, limiting their access to loan capital at a time when small businesses most need this support, the bank said.

The new grant program is intended to give these financial intermediaries the ability to increase their lending capacity by drawing down on their SBA and USDA loan facilities, Jefferson George, a Bank of America spokesman, said.

Zero-interest Start-up Business and Business Loan for Veterans

A reorganized and overhauled state program is providing a zero-interests loans of up to $20 thousand to recently retired military officials whose planning to manage a new business and to reorganize small businesses that suffered due to the loss of essential employees who served in U.S. military, said state Senator Claire Robling and R-Jordan, about a law approved during the 2010 lawmaking session.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), primary mission is to support the economic success of individuals, businesses, and communities by improving opportunities for growth, directed the Minnesota Reservist and Veteran Business Loan Program. Both business and start-up business loans are one-time and zero-interest $5,000 to $20,000 loans. Loan terms are for 4½ years and without repayment for the first 1½ years and equal monthly payments for the rest of the term.

The start-up business loans are strictly available only to businesses that are owed and managed by a newly retired veteran or a reservist recently on active military duty. In order to qualify for this loan program, a service member must have been on active military duty before or after September 11, 2001. Interested veteran must be separated from service under honorable conditions after having been on active duty for at least 181 consecutive days or the full active duty period or as well as after disability incurred while on active military operation.

Interested veterans can visit and to apply and to know more about the loan.

Government Home Loan Modification Program will be Advertise on National TV

The fact that government home loan modification program helped more than one million struggling homeowners in the United States by lowering their monthly mortgage payments, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working to advertise their new program on the national television, mainstream media, and other outlets to reach out to more that may need help with their mortgage loan before they lose it to foreclosure.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ad campaign will be distributed to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide and will be feature on television, radio, papers, and out of home, as well as online advertising. The ad campaign will focus on Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP) which started in February of 2009. The PSAs will air on television by donated time slots by the media.

The government-controlled mortgage modification program will be given free to struggling and qualified American homeowners. The lenders will coordinate with the homeowner in refinancing the home loan by either lowering the allotted interest rate, extending payment term, and lowering the amount that has to be re-paid with principal forgiveness. The main objective is to get the homeowner to have a mortgage payment that is under 31 percent of there total monthly income.

Interested individuals and homeowners may visit to learn more about the HAMP government home loan modification program.

Independent Consultants to Review Credit Union Sector

The Central Bank and Financial Regulator have already announced its plans for an independent review of the Irelands 419 credit unions.

The Financial Regulator has appointed consultants Grant Thornton to carry out the review.

The review was requested by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. The first phase will look at the financial position of credit unions, root-and-branch examination of how the sector is regulated, and what type of risks they are exposed to.

The bank ad regulator released a statement stated that the rules for supervising credit unions had to be adapted to guarantee that they remained viable in a new financial environment.

Grant Thornton will serve as primary consultant of credit unions who will held responsible for carrying out surveys, coordinating interviews, and site reviews to gather appropriate information.

The independent review will determine how the bank manage and operate their daily business operation and whether the rules and legislation governing them are appropriate.

Bush Tax Cuts Extension wont Create Jobs and Rebuild the Economy

Alan Blinder, professor and co-director of Princeton Universitys Center for Economic Policy Studies, recently stated that the extension of Bush tax cuts will not produce jobs as it will increase the gap of the people class, the poor and the rich.

The 63-year-old economist posted a statement on Huffington Post website:

Some have a lot of bang for the buck, and some have very little. The GDP increase per dollar of budgetary cost is in the range of 1.6, 1.7 for things like food stamps and unemployment benefits, and in the range of .35 for extending the Bush tax cuts. We could get some substantial job creation by simply reprogramming the $75 billion that would be saved over the next two years by not extending the upper-bracket Bush tax cuts and spending it instead on unemployment benefits, food stamps, and the like.

Blinders economic advice is in favor of supports with Obamas administration and the Democrats tax policy, who wanted to keep tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, while letting the cuts for those with incomes above $250,000 expire. Allowing the tax cuts lapse is expected to trim more or less $675 billion from the deficit over 10 years, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

After the U.S. survived the global economic recession, Blinder said, the senate should then immediately and prioritize to start to dig the country out of debt.

What we really need in terms of fiscal policy is one step to the left and then multiple steps to the right. I think theres a strong case for some fiscal stimulus, and the extension of unemployment benefits is just a perfect piece of that broader policy. But a commitment to deficit reduction down the line would be just what the doctor ordered.

Housing and Urban Development and Department of Treasury Create National PSA for Home Affordable Modification Program

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in collaboration with the Department of Treasury declared today the national public service announcement (PSA) campaign to increase the raise awareness of the Making Home Affordable Loan Modification Program (HAMP).

We are proud to partner with the Treasury and HUD on this critical campaign to educate Americans about free resources available to help them prevent foreclosures, said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO, the Ad Council. We hope Americans who are struggling will be empowered by these compelling PSAs and take simple actions to help them stay in their homes.

This new program under the U.S government has linked to various different tags since its creation in March of 2009. Some of the mortgage popular names are Obama Refinance Plan, Government Mortgage Plan, Home Loan Modification Program, Obama Mortgage Help Plan, and Government Mortgage Assistance Plan. But whatever the name is, the department of housing and urban development is geared to encourage struggling homeowners to modify their home loan to avoid possible home foreclosure.

Since its implementation more than one million Americans homeowners already received mortgage assistance from this plan. However, there are still more people who are currently on the cliff of foreclosure that needed assistance.

Even though the economy is getting stronger, many Americans are still facing the fear and uncertainty of losing their home to foreclosure, said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The Administrations loan modification programs have given more than a million responsible homeowners a chance to stay in their homes, and we want to do all we can to help make sure that struggling homeowners know about these free resources for help.

The PSAs advised homeowners to visit or they can call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) to know more about the program.

Mortgage Rate Update: Another Low for 30-Year Rates

Daily mortgage interest rates dropped to the lowest level on record, todays rate have been around 4.54% for the 30-year fixed for the the whole week, making homebuying and refinancing the most attractive in decades for those who can get loans. As of now, we are witnessing a drop to new July lows even though the 10 year treasury rate yield has found integral support at its 20 day moving average. Daily mortgage interest rates today for July 29 based by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac analysis:

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.54 percent in the week ended today from 4.56 percent last week and the average 15-year rate was 4 percent, also a record in the data going back to 1971.

Falling mortgage rates rendered a bit contribution to boosts demand that plunged after a federal homebuyer tax credit of as much as $8,000 expired April 30. The Mortgage Bankers Associations data of home-loan applications dropped 4.4% in the week ended July 23, approaching the 13-year low touched earlier this month, the Washington-based group said.

July homebuilder sentiment fell to its lowest level since the first quarter of 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

At the current rate of 30-year fixed mortgage, monthly payments for a $100 thousand loan would be about $509, down $43 from a year ago.

Mobile Banking Modernize Banking Transaction in India

The face of banking changed after smartphones invaded the banking arena. Mobile banking is having a transformative effect in both established and emerging economies, according to Richard Johnson, group strategy director of payments service provider, Monitise plc.

Johnson is calling all banks, payments networks, and mobile network operators to work collaboratively for modernization of banking processes worldwide.

Whether it is a consumer with multiple bank accounts who needs to stay in constant touch with their balance, or a mobile phone user who has never been in a bank or has no previous financial relationship, it is clear that India, steered by the progressive approach of the Reserve Bank, can lead the way in providing mobile financial access, said by Johnson.

Monitise, one of the world’s leading providers of mobile banking and payments services, recently launched an Indian joint venture with Visa aimed to accelerate the implementation mobile financial services in the country, and is also working along the same lines with Standard Chartered.

In addition, a comprehensive research by ABI Research suggests that five years from now around 407 million people worldwide use their mobile devices in their financial and banking transactions.

Must Have 500 Credit Score to Obtain FHA Home Loan

In the second quarter this year the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recommended some new proposal guidelines to be able to be qualify for HUD government assistance. A very controversial topic over the last several years has been the minimum credit score to get qualify for the FHA loan. In the FHA proposal, the housing department is planning to implement a minimum credit score of 500 for any loan with FHA financing.

Additionally, the FHA has also handed a proposal that a 90% loan to value be required for borrowers who have a good credit history or at least have credit score between 500 and 579. And those who surpassed the allotted 580 credit score or have a higher score would adhere to the rules of the 96.5 loan to value (LTV) ratio for purchase transactions and 97.5 LTV for refinance transactions.

The mortgage rates of FHA have been always a very hot topic especially to those who borrowers who wanted to refinance to lower levels. If the FHA continues to adjust its rules and enforced its new regulations it may prove to be the case that those who have made very strong financial decisions in the past will stand to benefit the most. This situation is mainly happens in most parts of the mortgage industry in the second half of 2010 fiscal year.

City Tax Rolls Ensures Property Tax Revenue Reduction

Last Thursday the final property tax rolls were officially released. The Colony efficiently produced $2.1 billion in property taxes. Though there was new construction in town last year with a taxable value of approximately $53 million, existing values decreased by about $105 million, resulting in a net reduction of $51.9 million, Finance Director Rebecca Lai said.

We have been working to reduce the budget so as to bring everything to a balanced budget, Lai said. However the city reduction resulted in the termination of 14 staff positions which includes all line-items throughout the entire city departments.

Lai said no more personnel layoffs are planned, and because the city departments held responsible fir the cuts, residents should not notice a difference in terms of services.

The little bits that we have to change are coming out of departments line-items without affecting personnel or services. We are trying to maintain the same level of services. Its difficult but we are working on it, she said. No program has been cut.

Once the city council provides its approval, the city budget will be officially adopted on September 21. City officials are expected to provide a formal presentation of the proposed budget, which includes a .25-cent reduction to the tax rate.

Bank of America Increases Loans to Support Small and Medium-Business and Boosts Job Creation in 2010

Bank of America announced that it loaned $45.4 billion in small and medium-sized business loans in the first half of 2010 to boost the job creation thus year. This amount represents an increase in lending of nearly $9 billion over the same period last year.

Small and medium-sized businesses are central to the nations economy and will be a critical part of the recovery – both as an economic engine for production and growth and as a source of good jobs, said David Darnell, president of Global Commercial Banking for Bank of America. In large measure, these businesses have weathered enormously difficult conditions. During that time, they have very clearly told us that while getting loans is important, what they continue to need most is more demand for their goods and services. We are working to help business owners in many different ways.

At the end of 2009, the Bank of America pledged to increase small business lending by $5 billion in 2010. The bank already backed up this promise in the first half of the year if they can consistently meet their business goals for the second half of 2010. While this is not a guarantee of job creation, still, it is a very good start.

Aside from lending huge amount to small businesses, the Charlotte-based bank is also planning to increase its expenditure when it comes to this small to medium sized businesses within the entire country. Bank of America plans to spend at least $10 billion in services from small and medium sized businesses over the next 5 years.

Other processes to help small businesses include recent improvements to the bank’s two million small business credit card accounts – such as no rate increases on existing balances – and enhancements to the Advisor Alliance retirement plan platform, which serves more than 900,000 people from more than 40,000 businesses.

Mortgage Rate Update: 30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Moves a Bit Higher

Since last week the 10 year treasury rate yield has continued to go strong and moves higher making most of those in the mortgage market realize that 30 year fixed mortgage rates would soon follow its path as well. Currently, the 10 year yield was on its four day winning streak (or stable) but earlier today it seems as if the 10 year yield is down to by at least .25%. And because of this slight rate movement the daily mortgage interest rates today for July 28 moves slight higher. As of now, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 4.44% and the 15-year fixed mortgage rate is 3.94%.

If the 10 year yield continues to pull back slightly today it should not make a huge difference as a slight pull back is already expected after a four day streak of winning. The 30 year fixed mortgage rate will likely stay close around where it standing until the 10 year yield makes a very strong movement to gain a strong foothold position in the market.

On the other hand, according to the website of Reuters, Standard & Poor’s said that the home prices rose for a second straight month in May, but housing might bounce along the bottom for the foreseeable future before sustaining improvement that will filter through the rest of the economy.

“We are going to see a fairly long period where mortgage demand remains weak, based on a view that unemployment is going to remain very high, income growth is going to be pretty subdued and confidence is going to remain quite low,” said Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

West Virginia Launched a New 3.5% Mortgage Program

West Virginians homebuyers are expected to take advantage on the once in a lifetime and unusually low mortgage rates under a new state program.

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund is currently offering a30-year fixed-rate loans at 3.5% interest to low- and middle-income homebuyers who will be qualify to obtain the program. A $35 million bond issue will pay for the program. These million o dollars are expected to make about 280 loans available at the low interest rate.

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin announced the new state mortgage program in a press conference Tuesday:

“There’s no place else in this country that has ever done this before. This is going to make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

The 3.5% rate will be offered to homebuyers on a first-come, first-served basis, said Joe Hatfield, director of the Housing Development Fund.

Currently, area mortgage rates through banks and mortgage brokers were running at 4.5% for 30-year fixed-rate loans this week. According to Hatfield homebuyers who will qualify for the 3.5% loan under the State Housing Development Fund program would save at least $125 a month in mortgage payments.

The new mortgage program also offers a zero-percent interest loans to pay for closing costs and down payments. The low interest rates will only apply to new construction, existing houses, and modular homes. Income and home price limits may vary by locations.

First Time Home Buyers and Home Loan Financing Percentage Changed Since 2005

There was some noticeable changes to how much financing and how much of a down payment homeowners put in purchasing their first time home as well as if they were buying a new home again. According to the website home financing developed in different directions when comparing home loan financing 2005 percentages against the last year statistics.

National Association of Realtors found that in 2005 the average repeat home buyer had financed 79% of the value of the home that they already purchased. But in 2009, the repeat buyer financed a quite larger percentage of 85% of the amount of the home. When it comes to the first time home buyers, in 2005 new buyers financed 98% of the vale of the home. But in 2009 the first time purchaser financed only financed 96% of the home value and put a larger down payment.

When compared to all of the home buyers home loans were 91 percent of the home value from the year 2006 up to 2008. In 2009 the overall home buyer financed 92% of the home value.

Credit Cards Transfer Wealth from Poor to Rich Consumers

Credit card fees and rewards programs aggravate income inequality by acting as a transfer of money from poor and give it those who have the most, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study released Monday. The three researchers, Scott Schuh, Oz Shy, and Joana Stavins, argue that reducing card rewards and merchant fees would likely increase consumer welfare.

The typical consumer is largely unaware of the full ramifications of paying for goods and services by credit card, and is unaware how the fees merchants pay to offer payment by credit affects the setting of overall prices, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston paper said.

Most business usually doesnt charge different prices for card users to recover the costs of fees and rewards, but instead, what they do is to mark up most of the prices for all consumers.

As a result, consumers who pay cash for their purchase – and who are more likely to be lower income – ended up financing those who pay through plastic card.

American consumer finance data indicates that typical consumers who received minimum or low income are less likely to have a credit card, and those who do spend at least less a month on average compare to higher earners. High wager or wealthy consumers are also 20 percentage points more likely to receive credit card rewards – be they frequent flier miles, cash back or other enticements.

What most consumers do not know is that their decision to pay by credit card involves merchant fees, retail price increases, a nontrivial transfer of income from cash to card payers, and consequently a transfer from low-income to high-income consumers, Scott Schuh, Oz Shy and Joanna Stavins wrote.

The three discovered that at least 83 per cent of banks revenue from credit card fees is generated from cash payers and disproportionately from low-income cash payers or poor people.

Citibank Warns Customers of iPhone Banking Apps Security Flaw

Citigroup warned the public especially its customers today noting that there were some security loopholes in its mobile banking iPhone apps, and also released an update that patches the hole.

Citigroup proclaimed that the smartphone application has a capability to save personal information about its users, which includes security codes, account information, and transaction details, to a remote file on the iPhone’s internal memory. That confidential data could then have been accessed by any third party that had access to the phone.

That Citigroup’s customer information was also transferred to the user’s PC every time the iPhone was synced up. However, even though personal information was flowing through areas other than the application and Citi’s servers, “We have no reason to believe that our customers’ personal information has been accessed or used inappropriately by anyone,” said the financial group in a statement.

Citigroup immediately informed its customers right after they found out the flaw of the application which was discovered in a “routine” security check but somehow managed to slip through the cracks during the development and testing phases of the application. The application flaw was quite alarming due to the fact that Citi mobile banking application is currently the 11th most popular download on the App Store.

Home Loans Low Interests Rates Resulted in 30% increased in Refinance Mortgage Applications

The recent mortgage data indicates that the refinance mortgage applications increased by at least 30% over the past four weeks due to the fact that the latest interest rates are very low for home loans. According to 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 4.37% in various areas. However, Mortgage Bankers Association reported 30 year fixed rates at 4.59% last week which was down from 4.69% from the previous week. It is important to note that the two organizations not report the same digits and rates and there will likely not be a drop all the way to 4.37% in the MBA data released later this week.

Because of the ultra low levels of mortgage interests mortgage applications are continue to increase. Just last week alone, refinance application increased by 9% and refinancings account for almost 80% of all mortgage applications which is the largest accumulated percentage ever reported since April of 2009.

Additionally, because of the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit at the end of April 2010 it is no surprise to see home purchase applications continue to struggle.

General Motor Acquire AmeriCredit: Subprime or Bad Credit Loan will be a Problem for the GM?

Everyone within the entire subprime loan industry is fully aware about the plans of the General Motors in purchasing AmeriCredit. AmeriCredit is insurance company that was recognized for offering car and vehicle loans to those who have bad credit or subprime. This is the same GM that filed bankruptcy recently and spun off Ally Bank (formerly GMAC) in 2006.

The ongoing negotiation between AmeriCredit and GM is for 3.5 billion dollars in cash and is schedule to be settled within the fourth quarter of 2010. The Michigan-based automaker company proclaimed that it has lost sales due to the fact that they do not have a finance unit that can provide quality and special assistance to those who have bad or subprime credit. Approximately 40 percent of the companys buyers are subprime and bad credit clients.

Once AmeriCredit and GM inked their long-term business partnership GM will start to phase out its business relations with Ally Bank which could cause problems for the financial institution which sees many of its customers are coming from GM. In the near future it is expected that Ally Bank will start to work and build a secure partnerships with other major companies to regain its financial backbone in order to survive within the tough business market.

Property and Casualty Insurance Market Still in Jeopardy

Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS) conducted a survey that focuses on analyzing the current insurance market. The survey shows that the soft property and casualty insurance market continued through the second quarter of the year.

The “RIMS Benchmark Survey,” coordinated by New York-based consultant Advisen Ltd., exemplifies that average renewal premium dropped between 2.5 percent and 3.8 percent for genera liability, property, directors, and officers liability and workers compensation insurance.

The survey, based on diverse information handed by various risk managers, founded that workers compensation experienced the greatest turn down in the second quarter of the year, at 3.8 percent, while property and D&O dropped by 3.5%. However, general liability recorded the lowest decrease, at 2.5 percent.

The soft market is still going strong, David K. Bradford, Advisen executive VP and editor-in-chief of the survey, said in a statement accompanying the results. Insurance capacity remains abundant in almost every line and, as a result of the recession, demand for that capacity has fallen. Unless something happens to wipe out the excess capacity, premiums should continue to drop this year.

A RIMS board member warned in the statement that continued soft conditions are not guaranteed.

Risk managers continue to benefit from lower premiums, but a big storm could cause the market to turn at any time, said Robert Cartwright, loss prevention manager for Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. in Exton, Pa., and RIMS’ director of member and chapter services. Forecasts for the 2010 hurricane season are ominous, and a Gulf Coast hurricane could be especially disastrous because of the oil spill. If catastrophe losses soak up enough capacity, prices could increase for all lines, not just property insurance.

Obamas Financial Reform Law Could Help American Insurers and Reinsurers

Based on the comprehensive analysis conducted by the Standard & Poor’s Corporation, a US-based financial services company that specialized in financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds, that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act could provide a integral support to all American insurers and reinsurers to maintain their competitive positions in the global marketplace.

Standard & Poor’s Corporation mentioned the creation of a Federal Insurance Office within the Treasury Department as an example. The agency notes that the insurance office will served as United States representatives in the International Associations of Insurance Supervisors and aid in international agreements negotiations.

This could constructively address a concern that some regulatory parties within the international community raised as they evaluate the level of supervisory equivalency to be placed on the U.S. system of national insurance regulation, Standard & Poor said.

Standard & Poor said this would be of value to U.S. reinsurers that would be particularly vulnerable to higher operational costs and lower profit margins if the U.S. regulatory system failed to gain full equivalency recognition.

The rating agency proclaimed that they are not expecting the law, which President Barack Obama signed Wednesday, to have an immediate credit impact on U.S. insurers and reinsurers ratings.

Daily Mortgage Rate Update: 30 and 15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

Nothing much changed n todays report of mortgage interest rate a there has been inadequate amount of financial data released to adjust mortgage interest rates drastically. With that being the case people who follows daily mortgage rate sees no difference when it comes to these mornings interest rates report and the mortgage rates we are currently seeing quoted. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 4.4% and the 15-year fixed mortgage rate is 3.91%.

There are no changes for the day when it comes to 10 year treasury rate and it should also come as no surprise to see little to or absolutely no development in the 30 year fixed mortgage. Within this week we can expect more financial data that will be release that could adjust the 10 year yields but on July 26th we have seen absolutely no volatility as interest rates across the board are bit stagnant.

Tomorrow a lot of us were expecting a bit of entertainment but as of now we have very little information to report when it comes to mortgage interest rates.

Credit Card Debt Continuously Escalating

Credit card seems to be the most efficient way to buy goods and other products instantly, no worries nor hassles about carrying cash. And this is the primary reason why most people use their plastic cards even in their daily purchases. Unfortunately, this is a bad habit and a poor way of using credit cards, not to mention the added debts it could incur to the cardholder.

Based on the recent study and analysis conducted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) it was indicates that approximately 79% of Latinos nurturing credit card debt while 54% of White Americans households carrying credit card debt. It is also the case that most Latinos have a much higher interest rate on the credit cards the possess. Since the global economic recession Americans and other nations seen a huge number of bankruptcies increase.

This in-depth study only shows that no matter what is your background it seems that most American citizen were dependent on credit card. The accumulated information shows that more than $90 billion has been cut from credit card debt from 2008 to 2009 fiscal year but most citizens are still relying on their credit card when they are purchasing pricey an large items.

When asked what Latinos are using credit cards for many report that they are buying the daily necessities such as foods, toiletries, paper towels, and even family emergencies. Credit accounts and the corresponding slices of glossy plastic are really helpful when used properly, but if not, they can be the source of trouble you wish you had never heard of. Avoid being drowned in debts and start spending wisely!

Capital One Setting Aside Less Money to Cover Bad Loans

Capital One Financial Corporation, American bank holding company which specialized in credit cards, home loans, auto loans, banking, and savings products, recently announced that they were setting aside less money for bad credit loans, which includes ad credit unsecured personal loans, as customers are trying their best to clean up their personal finances. However, the bank also reported that customers are still not borrowing as much as they were in the past.

Last Thursday Capital One Financial reported the companys profitability in the second quarter mostly due to the fact that they did not have to set aside as much money for loan defaults. During the financial recession and much of the recovery a lot of banks were saving millions and even billions of dollars to cover bad credit loan defaults.

During the trading on Friday, Capital One was down almost 3% as the company is still in adjusting progress to the new credit card regulations. The recent Credit Card Act will restrict the ability of credit card companies in charging excess fees and increasing interest rates whenever they want.

Capital One Financial saved $723 million funds for credit card and bad credit unsecured personal loan charge-offs. These amounts were 23% less compare to the $934 million that was set aside in the second quarter last year. With borrowers still struggling to pay off loans it means that they are even less likely to borrow more money in the near future.

Six South Flordians Arrested for Mortgage Fraud Scam

Six men residing in South Florida were arrested by the South Flordians Police in conspiring with a $2 million mortgage fraud scheme that allegedly included recruiting “straw buyers” who allowed their names to be used on applying loans for properties that would be bought by others, state insurance fraud investigators said.

Investigators alleged that Sean McCarthy, 28 and Brett Lewin, 27, both of Plantation; Corey Lewin, 30, of Davie; Daniel Scala, 28, of Miami; Alan Weitz, 58, of Fort Lauderdale; and Weitz’s son Brandon Weitz 28, of Miami Beach. The Weitzes worked through a company called Bal Bay Properties.

Officers in charged said that all of the homes purchased through the scheme went into foreclosure, as no buyers could be found for them. Investigators uncovered led to the mortgage fraud through the seizure of a $3 million Golden Beach home being utilized by non-citizens who were importing and distributing illegal and fake merchandise.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Fell to All-Time-Low Since 1971

As everyone expected, mortgage rates fell this week to all-time record low for the fourth consecutive times in five weeks. The 30-year average fixed-rate loan was 4.56%, down from 4.57% last week, according to Freddie Mac mortgage company last Thursday.

The accumulated record was the lowest rate since the company started monitoring mortgage rates in late 1971.In the case of 15-year fixed loan, the rate dropped this week to 4.03%, down from 4.06% last week and the lowest on records since 1991. A five-year adjustable-rate mortgage was 3.79%, down from 3.85% a week earlier. One-year adjustable rate mortgage fell to an average of 3.7% from its previous record of 3.74%.

These rates dos not include add-on charges A.K.A points. The pointing system is, 1 point is equivalent to 1% of the total loan amount. The countrywide fee according to Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 a point for 30-, 15- and one-year loans and the average fee for five-year loans was 0.6 of a point.

“It’s a small decrease in interest rates, so it might attract a few more homebuyers, but more importantly it opens the window of refinancing opportunities for people with fixed-rate mortgages,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, a publisher of consumer loan information, in Pompton Plains, N.J.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s estimate of refinancing increased 8.6% in the week ended July 16 to the highest level since May 2009, the association said Wednesday. The purchase index rose 3.4% from a 13-year low.

Sovereign Bank Joined Forces with Liberty Mutual to Provide Best Insurance to its Customers

Sovereign Bank and Liberty Mutual Insurance have announced its business partnerships to provide Sovereign customers with Liberty Mutual’s personal insurance products.

Liberty Mutual, Boston-based insurance company, is allocating more than 200 Sovereign mortgage development officers to exclusively manage the sales of the companys auto, home, renters, and personal liability policies throughout 721 Sovereign branches within eight states, which includes Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, Liberty Mutual and Sovereign said.

Also, the bank said that all Sovereign customers could save on Liberty Mutual insurance by calling the hotline number: (888) 470-2147 or by visiting Aside from providing competitive rates, Liberty Mutual will support Sovereign customers with after-hours service, 24-hours claims assistance, and discounts for multiple policies.

Nuno Matos, Head of Retail Business at Sovereign Bank said:

“Home insurance, automobile insurance and personal liability insurance are vital for the protection of our customers’ assets. Sovereign’s alliance with Liberty Mutual strengthens our commitment to all of our customers, by increasing the convenience of giving them quality insurance products from their bank.”

Then, Robert Maloney, Senior Vice President of Liberty Mutual Affinity Marketing said:

“Our customers enjoy doing business with us the way they choose — whether in person, by phone or online, and this is yet another innovative way to bring insurance products to consumers in a convenient fashion. We are pleased to be adding this relationship with Sovereign Bank, a highly respected banking brand that espouses the same values of customer service and personal responsibility.”

Sovereign Bank is an integral member of the Santander Group, a retail and commercial bank located in Spain.

Bank of America and Chase Current Refinance Mortgage Rates

This week mortgage refinance rates are quite moving higher. Last Friday average mortgage refinance rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.7351%. Compare that to 4.6128% last Friday. The average mortgage rate refinance for the week was 4.641%.

Bank of America (BofA) is charging 5.157% in home refinance and 4.933% for a new purchase loan. The average 15-year refinance mortgage rate was 4.1018% on Friday and the average for the week was 3.923% because of a dip in rates on Wednesday. The average rate last Friday was 4.0380%.

The 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) average rate was 3.460% Friday. Compare that to 3.5192 percent last Friday. The ARM rate increase 3 points from Thursday but is still down 6 basis points from last Friday. BofA publicized a rate of 3.554% on Friday. That is quite stable from the Friday before but is one basis point higher from Thursday.

On the other hand, Chase had a 30-year refinance rate of 4.826%. The bank also advertised the 15-year refinance rate of 4.329%. The companys 7/1 ARM was 3.669% and their 5/1 ARM was 3.485%.

FICO Report Indicates Americans Credit Scores Drops Below 600

The Fair Isaac Corporation or most known as FICO credit scores, which are sold directly to consumers using Equifax and Transunion, are dropping each and every month. The figures provided by FICO Inc. indicates that 25.5% of consumers, or nearly 43.4 million people, now have a credit score of 599 or below, marking them as poor risks for lenders. It’s unlikely they will be able to get credit cards, auto loans or mortgages under the tighter lending standards banks now use. So with a credit score of 650 or below being considered subprime or bad credit this is very bad news for the strength of the overall economy.

“I don’t get paid for loan applications, I get paid for closings,” said Ritch Workman, a Melbourne, Florida, mortgage broker. “I have plenty of business, but I’m struggling to stay open.”

In the past, more than 15%or approximately 20 million Americans have FICO credit score below 600. Currently, the United States seeing 43.4 million people with a sub-par FICO credit score. Due to 600 below credit score, American borrowers will have a hard time likely to gain access to low interest rates on loans and mortgages.

Obamas Wall Street Regulation Bill will Help American Businesses and Consumers

U.S President Barack Obama had a very busy schedule today. He started his day at ABC’s Good Morning America today to showcase the recently passed Wall Street regulation bill, as well as to repulse on claims he against business.

“In a lot of cases, we’re getting input from people in the markets to figure out how do we make these regulations work in a way that doesn’t squeeze on businesses too hard, but make sure that taxpayers are protected,” Obama said.

Additionally, the president said that America really needed a new regulation because “reckless behavior on Wall Street” was resulted in the loss of 8 million jobs and “trillions of dollars of wealth.”

“I don’t think any ordinary American would say … that it doesn’t make sense for us to make sure that we’re monitoring this stuff more carefully, that we are rewarding good behavior, that we are punishing folks who are gaming the system,” he told ABC.

The president retorted at one of his most prominent business critics, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying it opposed regulations throughout the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations as well.

“If you look at their complaints from 20 years ago or 10 years ago or five years ago, they’re pretty similar to the complaints that they have now,” Obama said.

American Express Net Nearly Triples Profit By Denying Bad Credit

Last Thursday American Express Co. reported second-quarter earnings that tripled from its previous profit gained. The New York-based credit card company and payment network reported net income of $1.02 billion, or 84 cents per share which was ahead of analysts expectations of 78 cents a share. This is a huge profit development compared to the companys year-earlier profit of $337 million, or 9 cents per share.

While the economic environment remains uneven, our net income and billed business are back at or near their pre-recession levels, American Express Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault said.

American Express strong profitability only indicates that the credit card company has greatly benefited from denying numerous credit cards and loans wit bad credit history that have caused other financial groups to struggle. Having a bad credit history, especially with cases of evasion, would definitely slim down borrowers chances to obtain AMEX card approval.

Unlike other banks and other lending institutions, American Express has implemented a diligent rules and only allows the best borrowers with good credit scores to gain access to their credit cards and loans.

We remain focused on charge – or pay-in-full – products, fee-based revenues, and on expanding our high quality cardmember base. In all, these factors have helped to improve our risk profile during the past year, Chenault said.

Nonprofit Insurers Hoarding Cash While Raising Premiums

An independent study conducted by Consumers Union revealed that numerous health insurers are hoarding billions of dollars but continuously raising premiums amount by double digits annually.

Consumers Union focused their close-investigation mainly to the well-known Blue Cross Blue Shield non-profit insurers, who cover approximately one in three Americans with a private insurance plan. While the law varies from state to determine how much money an insurer must set aside to maintain minimal solvency, seven out of 10 nonprofit Blues plans held at least three times the amount that regulators require, according to a report from Consumers Union.

Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona raised premium rates for individual policyholders between 14% and 19% in 2007; 13% and 15% in 2008; and between 8% and 18% last year. While Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona was one of the more egregious offenders, other insurers carried similar amounts of cash reserves and rate increases.

While insurers were quick to defend their reserves as necessary, Consumers Union believes that the lawmakers should require a maximum minimal insolvency amount in addition to the minimum. Considering the strength of the insurers current financial situations, Consumers Union suggested to provide a refund to consumers.

Bank of America is Planning to Sell Insurance Unit Acquired with Countrywide Financial Corp.

Brian Moynihan, Bank of America CEO, has made it apparent that BoA is planning to sell the insurance unit that was purchased with Countrywide Financial, Balboa. The 50-years old American businessman believes that Bank of America should sell Balboa because its not a core activity of making mortgages and were continuing to fine-tune the franchise.

Countrywide Mortgage had a very low liquidation rate on home loans that have fallen delinquent. Roughly 3 percent of home loans serviced by Countrywide Financial that are at least 90 days delinquent were turned into seized property or foreclosure within the month of April. This volume is very low if compared against Wells Fargo who saw 10% of delinquent home loans addressed.

So now that Bank of America is planning to sell off the insurance unit Balboa there is a huge possibility that home loan liquidations will increase. The main issue right now is that any process involving millions and possibly billions of dollars will take time. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is in no doubt the deal will be completed.

NACA Home Loan Modification Program in Washington D.C

Hundreds of homeowners packed downtown Washington before dawn Friday hoping to acquire a excellent terms on their home loans with help of the housing advocacy group Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, according to CNBC reports. NACA are rendering professional advice and counseling to borrowers regarding their home loan modification.

The home loan modification program of NACA is designed to help support to thousands of homeowners lock in to a lower mortgage payment on their current home loan. The huge NACA success rate has allowed countless of homeowners the opportunity to modify to a lower payment even if the Making Home Affordable plan has not worked for them. There is very little argument to be made that the Making Home Affordable plan has guidelines, many of which had to be adjusted to get more homeowners into permanent modifications.

So below is some vital information about NACA from their website:

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) is a non-profit, community advocacy and homeownership organization. NACAs primary goal is to build strong, healthy neighborhoods in urban and rural areas nationwide through affordable homeownership. NACA has made the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of working people by counseling them honestly and effectively, enabling even those with poor credit to purchase a home or refinance a predatory loan with far better terms than those provided even in the prime market.

Jobless and Unemployment Claims Rise to 464,000 Surpassing Estimates of 459,000

The ratio of jobless Americans applying for the first ever unemployment benefits surged to 464,000 last week, according to U.S Labor Department report Thursday. That was higher than a consensus of economists expected and slightly above the average for the year. This is also quite a jump from the 429,000 from last week. The data from the previous week included the July 4th holiday which could have provided a backlog in processing applications.

“Initial unemployment claims hovering near the 450K mark have historically been consistent with weak labor market conditions characterized by 100K or greater declines in nonfarm payrolls,” says Joshua Shapiro, an economist with New York economic consulting firm MFR, in a written analysis.

On the other hand, the United States stock market futures are heading towards a high open. However, the weekly initial jobless and unemployment claims data has had a very strong correlation with the overall direction of the stock market.

As expected, a lot of commodities are set to be higher within this week as well with the US Dollar down just over .5 percent. With a triple digit gain possible to start the trading day we will keep a close eye on the data that is released.

Same Day Payday Loans – A Quick and Easy Money Option

Same day payday loans are instant solution to those people trying to configure their financial difficulties till the arrival of the next pay check. If you are looking for a small loan, you can go for same day payday loans. Borrower can obtained their loan through same day payday and loan can be utilized for immediate necessities such as bank overdraft charges, bills, medical expenses, tuition fees, car repair, ad other kind of expenditures.

Same day payday loans served as an avenue for a lot of unfortunate and bad credit borrowers to gain access to cash money advance options. However, it is important to remember that these types of loan must be settled in full with the borrowers next pay check. If the loan is not paid in full it will be the case that the fees reset.

The charges for a bad credit payday loan are in between 15 to 35 dollars for every 100 dollars borrowed. Although this may not sound like a large amount of money it can add up very quickly if several hundred dollars is borrowed and the fees are settled consistently.

If paying this loan type off with the next paycheck is not going to be possible then it would be wise to consider other loan options such as a bad credit unsecured personal loan. In personal loan, borrowers can pay in monthly installments rather than having to pay the entire loan back in full.

Debt-Relief Scams On The Rise

The Federal Reserve proclaimed that American owes at least 2.5 trillion dollars in consumer debt. Because of this huge figure, thousands of debt-settlement companies have sprung up promising to cut down the amounts people owe in exchange for a fee. However, Authorities warn that most of those companies are scams, taking advantage to rip off customers.

A widespread abuse, countless fraud, and deception among for-profit debt-settlement firms were reported to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). In response to the issue, the state of Arkansas and Wyoming banned numerous for-profit debt-settlement firms, and the Federal Trade Commission is weighing new regulations.

Its a terrible scam, says Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, who has filed seven lawsuits and initiated state legislation to monitor debt-settlement agencies. All they do is collect high fees without talking to your creditors, helping you save money, or getting you on a budget. One New York couple ended up paying 140% of the amount they originally owed.

However, industry experts insisted that not all for-profit debt businesses are scams.

They can be a good option for consumers who have some income and want to avoid bankruptcy, says John Ansbach of the United States Organization for Bankruptcy Alternatives, a group of 200 debt-settlement companies. Theres an important role for ethical providers.

Mortgage Loan and Refinance Application Increased According to MBA

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) implemented and conducted a Weekly Mortgage Application Survey and the results shows that people that are applying for a mortgage loan has increased 7.6% (seasonally adjusted) from the previous week. The unadjusted calculation was nearly 20% increase seen in the amount of home loan application processed from the previous week.

In addition, home loan refinance application also increased this past week by 8.6% and was the highest recoded rate since May 15th, 2009. The mortgage loan refinance increased within the conventional refinance programs with 10.7% increase compared to 4.2% decrease seen with the refinance programs sponsored by the government.

Currently, theres much changes in mortgage loan rates, it still at all-time historical lows and the survey documented the lowest levels on the 30 and 15 year fixed terms this past week. The average mortgage interest rate for a 15 year fixed rate home loan was 4.05% which was a decrease from 4.12% previously. According to the survey result, the current mortgage interest rate for a 15 year fixed rate home loan was the lowest mortgage interest rate that they ever recorded. Interest rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage loan was averaging 4.59% which was lowered from the previous interest rate of 4.69%.

Car Loans For Those Who Suffer From Bad Credit

Of course, if you have a bad credit score it is likely more difficult to grab a cheaper car loan, but with the help of todays bad credit car financing online can help you find the best deal for buying your new car. Car financing websites will probably help you to shop for a new car by searching for the affordable new car pricing and by getting several new car quotes from various car dealerships.

With the help of online car quotes shopping for a new car along with financing will be much easier. Consumers can buy a new car online and can also get an online car loan at the same time. It is beneficial for those who suffer from bad credit to shop around for a bad credit auto loan because interest rates may vary in different occasions.

When people are buying a new car they shop around for the price. Experts said that people should do the same in their car loan quote, look around first. Consumers should do their homework and research online to save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.

However, there is a long-lasting solution is to improve your credit score rating so that you can get a car loan with the lowest interest rates and financing offers. Many times dealerships offer 0 percent financing if you have good credit score.

Historic Wall Street Reform Bill Signed into Law by Obama

President Barack Obama inked the historical Restoring Financial Stability Act into law on Wednesday, Jul 21.

“Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said at a signing ceremony. “There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period.”

The recently signed law is aimed to create a new regulatory council that supervises the financial institutions in order to prevent various companies from becoming ‘too big to fail.’

The law will also provides power to Federal Reserve, central banking system of the United States, to administer the largest financial companies and report to the government any risks the firms may pose to the economy at large.

Prior signing the Obama told that the new regulations on Wall Street-type financial firms will not only help prevent another financial meltdown, but also establish the strongest consumer financial protections in history.

Financial reform is not just good for consumers; it is good for the economy, Obama said.

According to the new law as primary weapon against future recessions, the US government will have a full capacity to control, seize, an even liquidate failing financial institutions before their collapse.

The newly passed law was considered as Obamas second major legislative victory after the health reforms. The bill was passed despite Republicans objections complaining that the law did not tackle the origin of the problems that caused the meltdown.

“Passing this bill was no easy task. To get there, we had to overcome the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change,” Obama said.

IMF wants a Trillion Dollars to Prevent Crises

The International Monetary Fund progressively boosting its lending resources from US$750 billion to US$1 trillion to efficiently manage possible financial crises in the near future, according to the report yesterday. The Financial Times, quoted IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said that the huge funds will be used in preventing future crises.

Even when not in a time of crisis, a big fund, likely to intervene massively, is something that can help prevent crises, Strauss-Kahn said and followed: Just because the financing role decreases, doesnt mean we dont need to have huge firepower … a US$1,000 billion fund is a correct forecast.

The newspaper said the IMF wanted to authorize financing deals in advance that will be specially designed to individual countries, rather than respond to crises with conditional loan packages.

The primary purpose of IFM is to calm down the market nervousness over any nation facing an upcoming liquidity crunch, Financial Times said.

The IMF managing director was in South Korea — which chairs the G20 this year — last week to participate on a conference.

The presidential panel of South Korea for the Group of 20 leading economies, confirmed that they were coordinating with the IMF to ensure a better safety net.

So far the lending facilities of the IMF have been focused on crisis resolution more than crisis prevention, said Jie-Ae Sohn, spokesperson of the Presidential Committee for the G20 Seoul Summit and continued with: But South Korea, as this years president of the Group of 20 leading economies, is discussing with the IMF packages that would compliment and upgrade crisis prevention mechanisms.

However, the spokesperson refuses to provide further details on how much the IMF would increase its lending resources.

Todays Mortgage Rate Still at Record Low

Those people interested in the current mortgage rates and financial situation of the nation are fully aware on the current status of these issues. With mortgage refinance rate moving slowly towards all time lows its no surprise to see a lot of American homeowners comparing mortgage interest rates on daily basis. With home loan rates for Federal Housing Administration (FHA), VA, and ARM mortgages very low at the present time there are ways to save money by refinancing.

Before conducting any final assessment on refinancing it is very important to remember that there are closing charges involved in this specific refinancing process. The general rule of thumb is that borrowers must save at least a full percentage point to benefit by refinancing in this moment of time.

There are lots of mortgage lenders, including the huge one, reporting that the FHA mortgage rates and conventional mortgage rates are coming in very close. As of now we are seeing 30 year fixed conventional mortgage rates around 4.5% for buyers with good credit score, at least 740 with a low debt to income ratio.

So if you are in deep debt it will likely be the case that it is very difficult to get low mortgage interest rates today. Some people with bad credit history are having difficulties in obtaining a mortgage rate below 5%.

New Affordable Health Insurance Plans Packed with Lots of Restrictions

The national healthcare law will provide optimum assistance to numerous uninsured or under insured individuals. The new health insurance plans that are being adopted by most of major insurance companies within the U.S. are coming with cheaper premiums but a lot of restriction. In these new plans patients will be restricted to choose their own doctors and hospitals.

On the other hand, the higher premium health plans will reintroduce the right to choose a personal provider that fits the specific emotional and medical needs of a patient. It is also anticipated that, generally, the lower premium plans offered will appeal mostly to small businesses; however, the recent studies indicates that there are larger businesses have shown interest in these plans.

There are rumors spreading that individual who choose to keep their current health plan may experience premium increases, probably around15%, if their health plan falls outside of the new networks.

Currently, the new plans are being beta tested in different states and cities, which include San Diego, New York and Chicago. If all things work smoothly in these localized test areas, the entire country may experience a bit change in their health insurance.

This is all part of the new health care plan that was developed and implemented by President Barack Obama and his administration. The good news out of all of this is the fact that users will soon be able to pay less than they are normally paying.

Obama Credit Card Reform Bill and Programs – FTC Aids Americans to Reach Financial Freedom

A lot of Americans are suffering financially right now due to global recession thats why most of Americans are in quest for President Barack Obamas financial reform, as well as credit card debt relief services, plans, and programs. In this critical stage, it is very important to understand that there is no debt settlement plans been approved by the Obamas Administration. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers a lot of valuable resources to aid Americans protect themselves when it comes to credit card debt relief.

On FTC main website Americans can find various information and resources in creating a budget which in turn could them to save much more than they spent on a regular basis. By saving much more than spending, American with bad credit will eventually be able to pay down credit card debt which in turn will help Americans reach financial freedom sooner.

Debtors should know that its very important to remember that credit card debt is very difficult to get out of especially when there are high interest rates involved. As of now we are in one of the lowest interest rate environments in the history of the United States. It might be smart to contact your credit card company and see if there are possibilities of lower interest rates.

Financial calculators flooded the web right now to help you better understand just how much money you could save by locking into a lower overall interest rate. It may be the case that if you make a large payment on your credit card balance you could get lower interest rates.

U.S 15-Year Mortgage Rates Drops to 4%

Wells Fargo & Co. refinance mortgage rates have been very attractive to borrowers for almost 2 years as 30 year home loans hit 5% or even lower. Home loans for July 16 are very almost land at 4% when it comes to 15 year fixed rates. The historical mortgage rates chart indicates that this percentage is close to an all-time low.

Even though mortgage rates are being advertised at all-time low levels it does not mean that all American homeowners are capable to refinance the low rates. Only the qualified and best borrowers, those with a credit score over 740, will be given the opportunity to refinance in the current economic environment.

So because of this it is always important to ensure that your credit report is completely accurate. Through accessing credit report you will be able to better understand if there are errors or mistakes on your credit report they could be hurting your overall interest rates.

As of now, Wells Fargo, fourth-largest US bank by assets, is one bank who has a proven capability to lend money to qualified borrowers, but theyre not the only biggest mortgage lenders in the country. Economic experts advised said that through internet research you will likely find that there are a great number of lenders all over the country that can help you lock into low mortgage interest rates today.

Peer-to-peer Lending Provides Help with Debt Consolidation

Due to global recession and continues jobless rate increase, a lot of banks are being much more careful about lending money to their patrons.

As a result of these huge banking and finance changes, some individuals may find it difficult to acquire loans for things like debt consolidation from these traditional sources. However, the latest CBS News report cited there may be another avenue consumers could travel down: peer-to-peer lending.

With peer-to-peer lending, out-of-the-box lending, consumers loan money to each other to help pay off debt on credit cards or fund home improvement. While approval rates are higher, people will still need to have a decent credit history.

“Another big benefit is that the interest rates will be lower than you’d pay on a bank loans – and of course, the better your credit, the better the interest rate you’ll receive,” CBS News said.

Debt consolidation is a good option being provided by consumer credit counseling services. However, when it comes in paying off credit cards in this way, consumers could find they end up reducing how much they end up spending on interest rates on plastic.

Aside from making loans harder to get, a lot of banks increased their interest rates on credit cards in an effort to hold back losses tied to new federal rules.

Mortgage Rates Still at Lowest Level

Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) shows s average 30 year fixed rate mortgages fall to 4.57 % with 0.7 points. This is the same percentage as last week’s 4.57% and well below this time last year when average for a 30 year fixed rate mortgages were 5.14%. The 15 year fixed-rate mortgage average ticked up a little to 4.06% with 0.7 points, down modestly from last week’s 4.07%. Last year’s 15 year fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 4.63%.

The significant record low mortgage rate did not attract possible home buyers to purchase a home. Even refinancing efforts is up only moderately. Since the end of the tax credit, home sales have dropped significantly with many economists saying that jobs need to grow stronger before home sales regain its integrity. The bad job market resulted in bad credit. In today economic situation getting a mortgage with bad credit could prove next to impossible due to extremely tight lending market.

While a lot of mainstream media reports claim banks are not lending money, but there are some banks that is willing to lend some money. A lot of banks have enough funds to lend to qualify applicant. All interested individuals can check their local credit union for their mortgage loan. They will receive a personal service and very competitive rates.

Debt Consolidation Loans for Customers with Bad Credit History

As some banks shutdown some of its branches the debt consolidation loans may be quite difficult to acquire. Because of bank mergers, Wells Fargo and other banks closed some of their branches and consolidated their departments.

However, there are various available alternatives to both homeowners and people who do not own a home. The government also provides an assistance which includes food stamps, financial support, and other grants.

As f now, the average American household has more than $14,000 in debt. The latest credit card bill has pushed interest rates higher and has made it more difficult to establish credit.

The site published a blog post this week suggested that there are numerous have misconceptions about debt consolidation. Borrowers are under the state of mind that if they could consolidate their credit card debt into a single loan, their troubles will be resolved. It isnt that easy. Keeping away from debt will be a long run, but consolidating debt into a low interest loan helps.

These processes may start with a personal debt consolidation loan. There are some companies offering a one-stop shopping solution for this specific loan. You fill out one form and the company will allocate it to various reputable lenders.

The loan repayment terms may be variable. Several lenders may compete for your business and offer free no-obligation quotes. This may be preferable to consolidating credit card debt into another credit card.

California Initiates Health Insurance Pool for People with Pre-Existing Condition

People of California with pre-existing condition that have formerly been denied health insurance coverage can now breathe a little easier because Governor Schwarzenegger has signed two bills in order to allow the state to create an insurance pool for those that are categorized as high risk by the insurance industry. The 761 million dollars will be collected from the federal government to create this pool. Part of that money will aid a lot of insurance companies subsidize the cost of taking on more expensive customers.

This pool provides hope to approximately 30,000 individuals living in California to purchase a health insurance. But this pool doesnt cover the estimated quarter of a million Californians who have been previously denied coverage due to severe cases such as people with cancer, asthma, diabetes, and other medical conditions. However, this is only temporary because in 2014 insurers will no long be able to deny coverage to adults for having those conditions. The signed bill is designed to bridge that gap until this ban takes place. So starting September children with pre-existing conditions will be covered under the national health care reform. The pool will be an improvement from the current program available which only assists about 7,000 Californians and has a waiting list.

The second bill, SB227 or a companion bill, signed by the governor will allow the state to administer the program and provide coverage through creating contracts with private insurance companies. Efforts to generate funds for the program may be available as early as July.

Government Loan Modification Program Keep Homeowners in their Home

A lot of American homeowners who received hard blows by the recession are having a hard time to acquire a refinance loan. The Obama loan modification program may help to needy homeowners.

Some states received harder blows compare to others that is why more assistance is being given in some areas. Whether you are residing in one of these states or not, you may be qualify for the loan modification program. The good thing is that it is free to the homeowner.

Banks dont want to take back the homeowners property. In some areas the number of days a homeowner can stay in their home has increased to over one year. Because of the backlog of cases, it may take more than 1 year and a month to evict a delinquent homeowner.

Some of the subprime loans have modified higher leaving the borrower in a bind. Numerous homeowners were expected to refinance before the adjustment. So rather than apply for personal or other lending loans in order to survive, American homeowners can analyze if they qualify for Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

The primary goal of the loan modification program is to develop the existing mortgage into a low interest loan. Homeowners are suggested to work only with a government-approved consultant on the refinance loan.

Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan, warned by Obama Administration.

High-Risk Insurance Application Starts Now and Open to Everyone

The application for the latest federal high-risk health insurance enrollment process already started and it may end just as quickly for many individuals. Where this insurance pool is concerned it is a case of first come/first served basis. Since last week, the entire nation opened the high-risk insurance pool application process to everyone, as well as those individuals who had formerly been denied due to sever health problems that were classified as pre-existing medical condition.

However, the primary issue regarding with this latest insurance application process is the volume of people that can be approved will be limited due to the amount of federal money each state has available. Although all states will be receiving millions of dollars from the coffers of the federal government that were earmarked to balance the cost of this type of insurance these dollars are being eaten up by the estimated costs of the new high risk health and hospitalizations at a pace that is threatening to strip the funding bare. In some areas like in South Dakota the state government had an allotment of $11 million but they now announce that for this pool of high risk applicants there is only enough money for 300 individuals to be granted health insurance coverage.

The state and federal officials proclaimed that the premiums that individuals will have to pay for this coverage will be monthly amounts that are classified as affordable. However, some experts said that those applying for high risk insurance coverage will be responsible for premiums that range from $150-$900 per month.

All in all, the high risk coverage was specially designed to be a temporary option for needy individuals who had been denied to obtain insurance for the past. The full health care coverage laws will take effect in 2014, but with high rates such as these that high risk coverage may still be out of reach for many.

Health Insurance for Georgians with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Good news to all Georgians especially those with pre-exiting medical condition because the implementation of an important reform of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, effectively July 1, will allow Georgians who have been without health coverage for at least six months and who have been denied coverage because of their pre-existing medical conditions will be given a full access to affordable yet quality coverage under the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP).

Last June, Families USA and Georgians for a Healthy Future worked collaboratively in providing a well-detailed report regarding the volume of Georgians with pre-existing conditions. The report shows that 1,850,000 Georgians under the age of 65 have a diagnosed pre-existing condition that could lead to insurance coverage denial.

In Georgia, the PCIP will be available to U.S. citizens and U.S. legal residents with a pre-existing condition, and if you have been denied coverage—both completely or just for the pre-existing condition—from a private health insurance Georgia carrier. A lot of PCIP plans will cover major medical services as well as prescribed medications. The PCIP is a different program from existing high-risk pools that is being offer in various U.S. states.

Cindy Zeldin, executive director of the consumer health advocacy organization Georgians for a Healthy Future said:

Starting July 1st, Georgians with pre-existing health conditions who have been denied health insurance in the individual market will have a meaningful option for health coverage through the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. As a result, these Georgia health care consumers who might have otherwise foregone needed care or incurred high levels of medical debt will now have the opportunity to purchase health insurance that facilitates access to care and that provides protection against the high financial burden associated with treating and managing health conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

Home Mortgage Refinance Rates at Historic Low

As of now, home mortgage rates are at historic record low, local mortgage experts foresee an increased interest in refinancing or buying property. But on the other hand, the high unemployment rate, global economic recession, and tight credit, a lot of possible clients arent taking advantage on these rare historic rates.

Barry Kirkland, home mortgage consultant for Wells Fargo said:

I would like to see more people taking advantage of the inventory on the market. Refinancing, as far as applications, were rocking and rolling.

Freddie Mac, a home mortgage finance company, reported last week that the average for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped to 4.57%, which is the lowest in the history of the 39-year survey.

Scott Blake, mortgage loan specialist for Aliant Mortgage, proclaimed that he has seen a major increase in refinancing. Hes noticed people get rates as low as 4 and 4.325%.

Refinancing is probably 50 to 60% of business, because people are taking advantage of lower rates, he said.

Nevertheless, Blake said some people have not been able to purchase new property or even refinance because of the very stringent guidelines or because they already have an abode that they are unable to sell.

Its a different market than what weve ever been in before, he said. Underwriting is stricter. Guidelines are much more demanding.

But according to Kirkland despite of the strict underwriting processes there are still available possible alternative.

Most people can qualify that think they cant, Kirkland said.

The two specialists, Kirkland and Blake, provided advice to property owners to coordinate with a mortgage specialist to determine if they can benefit from refinancing their home.

The rule of thumb used to be 2%, but thats out the door now, Blake said. Each individual case is so different.

Rates are assessed by a persons credit score, loan amount and the loan-to-value ratio, which varies widely with each situation. Of course, property owners should take advantage of obviously good deals, Blake said.

If you have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and youre in the first four or five years and you can save one percent, then, yeah, go ahead and do it, he said.

Low Mortgage Rates Attracts American Homebuyers Back into the Market Last Week

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) the mortgage applications rate rose by 7% last week over the prior week’s application rate as American homebuyers moved back into the housing market because of the record low mortgage rates.

Mortgage refinance applications also increased since last week, up 9% over the prior week, which instantly resulted to highest level since May of last year. However the spike was offset by a 2% fall down in new home mortgage applications.

MBA stated that for the past eight of nine consecutive weeks the new home mortgage applications have been declining rapidly. The drop in new home loan applications was directly attached to the Obama administration’s tax credit program which ended on April 30, 2010.

Currently, home mortgage applications stand at 35% below year-ago levels. As well as the recent refinance applications accounted for 79% of the total mortgage applications applied for last week, the group stated.

The 30-year fixed-rate loans on July 2, 2010 were 4.67%, compared to 4.68% during the week ending June 28, 2010. Also the 15-year mortgage rates during the same period dropped sharply, down 0.05% at 4.06%. Lastly, the one-year ARM rates were 7.05%, compared to 7.20% in the prior week.

Angel Investors Tax Deduction Scheme Successfully Launched by SPRING Singapore

In Asia-Pacific, SPRING Singapore launched an Angel Investors Tax Deduction Scheme to provide support and ensure the growth of innovative start-up businesses. It expects to pay out more than S$60 million in tax benefits over five years. Incentives could financially aid some 800 companies.

Under the new scheme, angel investors who invested at least S$100,000 within a year will enjoy 50 per cent tax deduction after two years. The investments made from 1 March 2010 to 31 March 2015 will be valid. SPRING Singapore is positively hoping that the incentives can strengthen early-stage financing from angel investors to help start-ups.

However the worldwide economic recession has also seen venture capitalists moving from financing early-stage companies to later-stage growth companies. Various companies cited that there are approximately 50 angel investors currently.

But funding aside, new businesses can also request for the expertise and networks of the angel investors. Leslie Loh, private equity investor, Extreme Ventures, said:

“To them a couple of S$100,000 per investment is not a big thing and failing which, they feel that they can write that off and they actually get some tax benefit. So hopefully I think it will draw out particularly the professionals to actually become angel investors.”

SPRING Singapore added that to benefit from the scheme, an angel investor must possess an ability to nurture the start-up, through its entrepreneurial or business expertise.

Student Loan Program Affects Rates, Repayment Options, and Tips

Students were about to start school or have a plan to continue their education, students dont have to be hindered by the fear of expenses as there are so many practical ways to lighten the financial burden. Instead of having to put off the education because of money relates issues, it would be wiser to apply for student loans in order to fund the education goals whether for high school or college.

Now, the recently implemented rules are going to make it easier to apply and obtain student loans for numerous qualified students. Experts rendered advised to students and parents to apply for federal student loans first, because they are at a fixed rate. Also, the Stafford loan interest rate will drop to 4.5 percent by next school year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, federal loans will also offer more efficient repayment options, and in some cases depending on the after-college job, loans can be forgiven. Students who are planning to apply must have good credit to qualify for the best loans.

Current Home Mortgage Refinancing Interest Rates Ultra Low this Week

Reported earlier this week, the average mortgage refinancing rates dropped incredibly low. The 30-year stabled rate mortgage for refinancing dropped in 2 basis points Friday compared to Thursday.

The standard 30-year fixed mortgage refinance rate was 4.76 Friday, as well as the average for the past week was 4.73 percent. The Bank of America is offering a rate of 5.018 percent Friday. The average rate last Friday was 4.998 percent. The average rate for a Rank of America loan was 5.013 percent.

Also, last Friday the average 15-year fixed refinance rate was 4.22 percent. This loan is 8 basis points higher compared to the day before and 16 basis points higher since Monday.

However, the average 5/1 adjustable refinance rate was 10 basis points higher Friday in comparison to the day before. Since Monday the rate has climbed one basis point to 3.48 on Friday.

The Bank of America had a mortgage rate of 3.654 percent on the 5/1 adjustable refinance rate. This was unchanged since Thursday but was 3 basis points higher compare to Monday rate record.

Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows but still Homeowners not taking Advantage of Rates

The latest mortgage rates have reached a new record low this week. In the past 90 days, mortgage rates have dropped from the low 5s, to high 4s, and now as low as 4 percent for a 30-year fixed loan.

According to experts there are lots of home-owners and buyers aren’t taking advantage of the pre-1970’s rates, but lenders said in Sacramento thats not necessarily true.

The President of Neighbors Financial Corporation, Kenneth Clark, is busy in directing and helping home-owners looking to refinance.

Id say its probably about a 30 percent increase. Im busy. Im very, very busy.
So busy, he’s expanding his company. Clark added, This is good. The rates as low as they you are going to see them.

Matt Kay is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Sacramento and also one of Clarks recent clients.

I was definitely watching it, and when it broke under five, from a refinance perspective, it was a no brainer, Kay said. It was a great deal.

Matt Kays hoping the same rates that are saving him money, could provide him money as well.

Kays client, Kevin Hoganson, is looking to take advantage of the low rates and immediately purchased his first abode.

It was a lot of long talks with my girlfriend, and we decided with the interest rates being what they are, and where we are at in our life, it was the best time to do something like this, Hoganson said.

As of now, Kay said people like Hoganson are pretty rare and low rates may not be enough to attract new home buyers. A huge number of potential buyers acted early in the year to take advantage of temporary tax credits.

So now, for the rest of the year, I would probably anticipate it being slower than usual, Kay said. We haven’t seen a huge pickup in phone calls. Clark said people with 5.25 rates or higher will save by refinancing.

He also mentioned that people who wanted to purchase a house should act immediately because it is currently cheaper to buy than rent.

Foreclosed Homes Keep on Rising in Phoenix

The recent study shows that foreclosure rates in Phoenix increased by 33 percent from May to June.

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University released two months of positive housing market news, but the wind blow change its direction in their latest Realty Studies report.

The report shows foreclosures accounted for 36 percent of the existing-home market activity last month.

Associate Professor of Real Estate Jay Butler authored the new report.

“Many homeowners and potential sellers are watching their limited equity erode as prices decline to — and even below — existing debt level,” said Butler. “Low value can be an issue in some of the mortgage modification programs and the stimulus for strategic defaults, people deciding to walk away from their homes.”

Previously foreclosed-on homes also accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Phoenix-area homes resold during June.

With the medium single-family home price escalating by more or less $10,000 in the past year, home re-sales decreased from 7,700 to 6,900 this June, an increase from 6,400 in May.

Professor Butler cautioned against this in his old earlier report, saying late payments and defaults were still at record levels and could be a precursor to more foreclosures. He continued and says that that although current interest rates and home prices are very appealing, the owner-occupant seems to lack the motivation to satisfy any pent-up demand.

“This lack of motivation can be attributed to several factors, including anemic economic and job recovery, low consumer confidence and stricter underwriting guidelines,” he said. “Further, many households may be satisfied in their current homes and see no reason to move up.”

There were approximately 585 townhouse/condominium foreclosures in June as well with the median price being $94,600, way down from $107,000 last year.

Visit ASU’s School of Business website for Butler’s full report and further information regarding the subject.

Another Tax Relief for Retailers and Consumers

Retailers and consumers must get ready because the state of Massachusetts is just a step closer to getting a sales tax holiday next month. Numerous businesses win the state foresee huge revenue during a sales tax holiday weekend.

Gloria Easton, the owner of Andys Oak Shoppe, said:

“We basically do about a month’s worth of business in a weekend. Last year, without sales tax weekend, there was a noticeable difference in overall revenue.

Some says that the sales tax holiday is a blessing and burden at the same time. James Bertier, a salesman for Manny’s TV and Appliance, said:

There’s no business leading up to the sales tax [weekend] and then we have delivery issues after the sales-tax weekend.

However, the sales tax weekend will provide them a much-needed boost, and businesses hope to attract customers that weekend to generate profitability. Consumer wise, shoppers can save 6.25 percent on certain purchases, but some shoppers say they’re not going to buy anything, unless they need it.

“I don’t think the sales tax holiday will really affect me. If I happen to be out and buying something it will be great. I don’t think it’ll make a difference, one way or another, said Jeannie Robertson of Ashfield.

But many can’t wait to take advantage of the savings.

“If its 50 dollars, its 50 dollars. We might go out on that day and buy whatever we’re looking for that’s expensive,” said Leslie Wilda of Gill.

If the sales tax holiday is converted into law, retailers will waive the sales tax on items under $2,500, including home appliances and computers. But of course some merchandise will still be taxed, such as meals, motorboats, and tobacco.

The state senate still needs to provide its approval for this holiday and then the governor needs to sign it into law.

Tax Amnesty Program in Philadelphia Exceeds $60M

The eight-week tax-amnesty program in Philadelphia incredibly surpassed its goals, raising more than $40 million for the city budget and $20 million for the school district.

As a result, the city acquired $10 million more than the city expected to collect at the outset of the program in early May. But however, Mayor Nutter said that the financial aspects of the city are still suffering through the deep national recession. The mayor cautioned against treating the money as a windfall.

“I think it’s pretty clear that none of us are over the economic hump,” Nutter said at a news conference. “We’re still in the midst of a recession. . . . This is nothing extra. We still need every possible dime.”

Nutter and city Revenue Commissioner Keith J. Richardson described a comprehensive program to go after city tax delinquents who havent succeeded to take advantage of the amnesty effort, which waived penalties and half the accrued interest for those who were willing to pay their bills.

The new enforcement efforts will include:

  • Criminal referrals to the District Attorney’s Office for people who have collected wage, liquor or parking taxes and failed to turn the proceeds over to the city. State law permits criminal prosecution of business owners who fail to remit these taxes, the mayor said, but they’ve rarely been prosecuted
  • Tripling the number of properties that are put up for sheriff sales for unpaid taxes, from 200 to 600 per month
  • Revoking the business licenses of those who fail to file tax returns and meet their tax obligations

“We’re now moving into a new phase – PAY UP,” the mayor said. “We want our damn money.”

The final amount from the amnesty program are still being and analyzed and organized as the Revenue Department continues to work on applications, Richardson said, so the final figures may be slightly higher than the $60 million collected so far.

Those figures are clear of roughly $6 million in collection costs and advertising fees connected to the amnesty program, Richardson said.

Wells Fargo Closes its Vital Units, 3,800 Laid Off

The fourth-largest US bank by assets, Wells Fargo & Co, declared on Wednesday it would lay off 3800 jobs (1.4 percents of its workforce) and close 638 stores. The major company cuts are a result of the company closing Wells Fargo Financial, the company’s consumer finance division that made “non-prime” home loans.

Approximately 2,800 of the job cuts will happen in the next two months, and the remaining 1,000 positions will be eliminated over the next 12 months.

David Kvamme, president of Wells Fargo Financial, released a statement saying:

“The economics of a separate Wells Fargo Financial channel are no longer viable.”

The company will take a charge of $185M, with $137M (or 2 cents a share) in the second quarter, according to a statement from the company.

We have a store network, and that is closing, Kvamme said and followed. Some of the businesses have been branded Wells Fargo Financial and we will rebrand them over time.

Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia in December 2008 for $12.7BN, is in progress of developing and strengthening its business operations as it merges the two franchises. The 6600 retail branches and the 2200 mortgage offices in different areas will continue to make credit card, auto, and home loans, the company added.

Tax Relief for Tennessee Flood Victims

The recent legislation was approved by the General Assembly and it is expected to grant Tennessee sales tax relief for qualified Tennesseans affected by the recent natural disaster who must replace destroyed or damaged items. Eligible items such as major appliances and residential furniture with a purchase price of $3,200 or less per item used in the individuals primary residence, and construction supplies and materials used to restore and fix the individuals primary residence with a purchase price of $500.00 or less per item.

Tennesseanss receiving FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) disaster assistance due to severe storms and flooding that occurred in Tennessee between May 1st and May 8th, 2010, may submit a refund request of Tennessee sales tax paid on eligible items purchased between May 1st and September 30th, 2010. The maximum refund amount available to any residence is $2,500. The last day of filing with the Department of Revenue is till November 30th, 2010.

Expected eligible items for refund must be directly purchased by the individual receiving FEMA assistance and items that are purchased by contractor to repair individuals home are not qualified. Individuals must provide documentation to verify the assistance they received from FEMA.

The Department of Revenue is supportive of this new legislation, said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. We are pleased that we can play a small role in responding to the needs of Tennesseans and the damages that occurred due to this tragedy.

The Department of Revenue will strictly enforce a civil penalty up to $25,000 against any person that knowingly files a false or fraudulent claim for refund.

Please visit the for detailed information.

Tax Relief Bill Submitted by U.S. Senators for Gulf Coast

Bipartisan lawmakers on Friday are seeking tax breaks for mostly small businesses to help cushion the economic blow from oil still gushing from BP Plc’s deep sea well in the intoxicated Gulf of Mexico.

American senators Mississippi, Florida, and other states affected by the oil spill demanded the leaders of the Senate’s tax-writing finance committee to back tax relief that is intended to boost the economies in states with numerous of workers displaced in the repercussion of the sea tragedy.

The plan is to allow small businesses defer taxes on payments received from BP Plc. Additionally, it would also allow losses associated to the spill of any tourism and fishing-related business to apply to five years of prior income – these action would provide an immediate cash and funds.

“The long-term challenges posted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are difficult to overstate,” the group senators wrote in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and ranking Republican Charles Grassley. “Tax incentives … are part of the answer.”

The applications would need counterparts in the U.S. House of Representatives to be converted into law.

The lawmakers, Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, and Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, also seeking or a tax credit of 40 percent for up to $6,000 of first-year wages for companies hiring employees and a tax holiday for visitors to Gulf Coast hotels.

So far, the cost of the plan has no forma estimation yet, but an aide said the price could up to $2 billion over 10 years.

Mortgage Fraud Scheme Busted by FDLE

FDLE arrested ten South Floridians for their alleged role in an $8 million mortgage fraud and identity theft plan. The crooks scheme is to rip-off banks and steal people’s identities so alleged they could get mortgages and buy properties.

Recent investigation shows that there are 14 properties in Broward and Miami-Dade were given mortgages under this scheme, and most of the properties now in foreclosure because the bank holding the mortgage was not paid.

According to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the group is accused of defrauding banks by using stolen identities and providing false information to easily get home loans and purchase properties.

Arrests announced Friday includes: Michelle Mediavilla-Camacho, 40, of Hollywood; Donald Lee, 55, of Deerfield Beach; Lise Bessette, 57, of Deerfield Beach; Brandi Brown, 26, of Miramar; Wesley Grant, 46, of Miramar; Wonder Ragin Knowles, 52, of Coconut Creek; Magaly Rosa, 43, of Miami; Judith Clemow, 48, of Miami; Stephnine Jean, 28, of Hialeah and Ofelia Torres, 51, of Hialeah Gardens.

Investigators said that each person faces charges of racketeering, grand theft, title insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

The arrests are part of a four-year close-investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the Miami area, and FDLE said that there are more arrests to come.

Dental Insurance plans for people of Massachusetts

People of Massachusetts who have MassHealth or Commonwealth Care insurance will be excluded from certain dental coverage benefits due to a $30 million cut in the states budget. These include various dental cares, such as crowns, root canals, as well as services for gum disease and prosthetics, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Local dentists and health professionals were alarmed regarding the issue; they predicted that without this coverage, more people will be going to emergency rooms to seek treatment for dental discomfort.

The Massachusetts state representative facilitated the development and implementation of Health Safety Net, which would be a cheaper plan that would cover dental expenses for these patients.

If patients do not receive these treatments, they can suffer from further health complications. For example, approximately 8.52 percent of all adults in the U.S. aged 20 to 64 years have been diagnosed with gum disease.

According to, if patients do not receive dental treatments, they can suffer from further health complications. Approximately, 8.52 percent of all adults in the U.S. aged 20 to 64 years have been diagnosed with gum disease.

Those people who were affected by state-wide budgets cuts may research for affordable dental plans on the web. These programs will help patients with little or no dental care insurance pay for treatments, and protect themselves against future dental complications.

Car Insurance Rates Affordable in Hew Hampshire

A well-respected industry group says that New Hampshire has the second most reasonable price auto insurance costs within the entire country.

InsWeb, an online insurance comparison provider based in Sacramento, Calif., facilitated the analysis and comparison of the median household car insurance rate and median household income of each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., to ascertain what it calls an affordability factor, with a low factor indicating that a single family will spend less of its budget on car insurance.

The affordability factor of New Hampshire was 2.23 percent, jus a bit higher compare to the top-ranked Massachusetts, which had an affordability factor of 1.84 percent. Vermont took the third place and just behind the Granite State at 2.39 percent. Lousiana had the nations highest affordability factor, 6.93 percent.

Brad Cooper, senior vice president of product, site and marketing at InsWebsaid:

“Comparing median car insurance rates by state gives us a good sense of where drivers are paying higher and lower premiums, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us where states rank in terms of affordability.” He added. “To really get a sense of where car insurance is the most and least affordable, you have to consider how much of a typical family’s income goes towards premiums, and that’s what our affordability factor measures.”

InsWeb were utilizing a proprietary system that accurately tracks the exact rating algorithms of multiple insurance carriers in every state. Insurance rates are based on actual customer profiles that can include numerous drivers, multiple vehicles, and other variables. provided the income data. Affordability factors are calculated as of May 31.

Tesla Motors Electric Vehicles Raises $226 Million in IPO debut

Tesla Motors, the small US electric car innovator made a grand entrance with its TSLA symbol IPO betting on the flight of the electric car market. Tesla has generated $13.3 million shares on the market totaling $226 million by Tuesday in its first public stock offering as investors bid up the price.

Share price ranged reached up to 19 dollars as the market opened, far above the initial expectation range of the company of $14-16. Price had settled back down to about 17 dollars by midday.

The company released the offering late Monday night, putting 11.9 million shares up for sale an Teslas existing shareholders are offers another 1.4 million shares.

Tesla, which has yet to turn a profit, has established its name for their high-performance $100,000 environment-friendly electric sports car called ‘Roadster’. The car run up to 100 kph in just 3.9 seconds, and its maximum range is about 400 kilometers.

Tesla also provides batteries for Daimler’s electric model of the Smart car. Alongside with Tesla, Toyota is also planning to design its own electric cars, with an initial deal of $50 million.

The primary investor remains Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who must maintain at least 65 per cent ownership in order to ensure and hold on to a $465 million loan from the US government.

As of now, Tesla has sold an estimated 1,100 electric sport cars.

U.S. Financial Reform Bill provides protection to consumers

A group of American Lawmakers have been working hard for the creation and implementation of the new financial reform bill and on Friday finished crafting their joint version. If ever the bill passed, President Obama is schedule to sign the law on July 4th (its still not certain the bill will pass, as the death of Senator Byrd puts the majority vote in question.)

The financial reform bill is good news for consumers. The bill is containing numerous provisions aimed directly to protect consumers, which includes the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau whose primary function is to create laws to prevent imbalance practices in consumer loans and credit cards. Another important feature of the law is a ban on no-income mortgage loans; the lenders are required to perform an initial verification on borrowers income before approving the loan. The law would also minimize the debit card swipe fees.

Another important feature of the financial reform bill is a new low-interest loan for unemployed homeowners with no history of bad credit, using funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Fund Program (TARP). The additional provisions of the bill that is directly pertaining to mortgages, which includes limiting mortgage origination fees and prepayment penalties as well as a prohibition on bonuses lenders earn, based on what type of loan they sell.

Obama’s Foreclosure and Mortgage Refinance for bad credit Americans

As a results of nations economic recession, according to the Center for Responsible Lending there are about 2.5 million American homes fell into foreclosure within the entire nation. In essence, the bursting of the housing bubble as well as increasing unemployment rate created consequences which led to foreclosures.

President Obamas stimulus bill, well known as Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, provides an opportunity for the mortgage loans refinancing to those in cliff of foreclosure, which would allow hundreds of Americans to keep their homes. One way homeowners took advantage of the $787 billion stimulus bill is refinancing through the Making Home Affordable Program, or the HAMP.

The problem there are countless homeowners in a financial pickle have found out the grim reality that the value of their home is now, in the current housing market, worth less than their total mortgage. As home prices jumped down and jobless people are still rising.

At the moment, American homeowners can submit their application for mortgage refinance, which would provide qualified homeowners lower mortgage rates and, perhaps, adapt an adjustable-rate mortgage into the preferred 30-year fixed mortgage.

However, the foreclosure refinancing program is available only to qualified borrowers who meet the eligibility requirements. So, in order to qualify for assistance it is vital for consumers to conduct a research and do their due diligence before sorting through refinancing options, as the program will expire in 2012.

SunTrust Online Banking made more secure and efficient

Everyone knows that banking is the most profitable and speedy growing business. SunTrust bank, one of the biggest financial services holding companies of America with the $171.8 billion assets, gained respect within the finance and banking industry worldwide. The bank established positive business relationships with corporate and institutional clients. Also, the banks had tremendous experience in all aspects of banking operations such as deposits, credit, mortgage banking, leasing and investment services, and among others. They are known in providing services with all the technological advancement. Online banking, mobile banking and 24 hours customer service centers are their specialty.

December 2009, SunTrust Banks, Inc., in support of its Live Solid initiative, directed the launching of Daily Dollar, a Facebook application which is intended to bring to life the notion that small lifestyle changes can add up to big savings. Daily Dollar allows users to forge paths toward savings even without providing any personal financial information. According to the company, the application provides a different touch on the commonly use budgeting tool by providing effective consultation regarding money-savings with actual dollar amounts that add up to a desired goal.

Chief Marketing Officer for SunTrust Bank, Inc., Rilla Delorir said,

“We are excited to offer this unique application on Facebook” an untapped resource for helpful budgeting tools.” Followed with: “Daily Dollar is a great example of how saving money doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking ” small changes in our daily spending can really add up to make a difference.”

Last November, SunTrust Banks chose Moneta Corp.s online payment service to provide their clients a state-of-the-art payment option while theyre shopping in selected online retailers. The service is currently being available free but just in selected SunTrust clients as an initial pilot program.

So now, users are capable to securely pay leading Internet merchants online from their bank account, offering more online secrecy, privacy protection, and banking security. In addition, many participating retailers are offering unique incentives and discounts for shoppers paying via Moneta, say the companies.

“In today’s economy, consumers are looking more closely at how they pay for purchases,” said Hugh Gallagher, SunTrust’s SVP for deposit product management, in a documented report. He added: “More consumers are going to online shopping sites for everyday needs as well as special occasion purchases. Moneta’s payment service provides a secure and convenient payment method, enabling users to pay directly from a bank account for Internet purchases while protecting their financial information. The Moneta payment service dovetails nicely with our commitment to help SunTrust clients ‘live solid’ by practicing responsible financial management.”

Wells Fargo launched its new ATM e-receipt service for online customers

Wells Fargo announced Tuesday that the new ATM e-receipts is now available to all its online banking customers.

This new service, which was first introduced in the Bay Area earlier this year, provides customers to have ATM receipts go electronically into their online banking inbox or to a designated personal e-mail account rather than grabbing a receipt at the machine.

This service is available to Wachovia customers when they convert to Wells Fargo. The conversion of Wachovia locations to Wells Fargo is planned to take place through 2011.

The ATM e-receipt option is available Wachovia clients when they convert to Wells Fargo. The conversion of Wachovia locations to Wells Fargo is planned to take place through 2011.

Jonathan Velline, head of Wells Fargo ATM banking and store strategy, said:

“By offering our customers this e-receipt option, it gives them another opportunity to cut down on paper use and provide further convenience; the customer decides how, when and where they receive their receipt. E-receipts are an important tool for customers to help keep track of their transactions and manage their accounts.” Velline added: Since many of our customers manage their finances online, these e-receipts will help them keep tabs on their day-to-day financial activities in one spot.

According to Veline, the San Francisco bank has more freedom to innovate because so many of its ATM, online banking and other technology offerings are developed in-house.

Wells Fargo is the first and only bank to launch the kind of service.

Wachovia Online Banking Revolutionize your Banking Experience

Wachovia Online Banking

Wachovia Online Banking in partnership with BillPay introduced new Online Banking systems which revolutionized the traditional banking transactions. The new system became the prime choice of millions of bank customers in order to save time.

The latest alternative was put into motion after Wells Fargo bought Wachovia in 2008. When out and about, and using an ATM, receipts can be annoying, yet necessary.

Most of the times, clients wanted to be reminded regarding the amount theyve taken out from their bank account, and others preferred to a have a hard copy or other bank related documentations. The new banking transactions development will allow clients to opt in to have all ATM transaction receipts organized electronically. Since Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia, anticipation of all accounts converted to Wells Fargo has been set by the next year.

Another advantage of Wachovia Online Banking is that it is cost-effective and fast and high quality customer service. The bank can accommodate thousands of customers at once. Additionally, Wachovia Online Banking offered absolutely free of charge. The new banking features mаkеѕ it easy for customers to do thеіr transaction without causing any trouble. As far as customers are concerned, the bank clients information is readily available 24/7, regardless of clients location. They can even electronically transfer money from their bank accounts or receive money in their bank accounts with a snap.

So even though Wachovia Online Banking customers are transacting with a web site access to a human being is never more than a click away. The applications that are very efficient to use are one of the key reason that this has acquired a good foothold.

Euro, Yen Rise Against Dollar

The euro appreciated against the dollar, wiping out its previous losses. The Swiss franc rose against 13 of its important counterparts. The currencies of commodity exporting countries- Australia, Norway and New Zealand-also climbed.

Similarly, yen climbed against the dollar fueled by speculations that Group of 20 would not be successful in reaching a consensus on ways to deal with European debt crisis. Less than expected growth of the U.S. economy in the first quarter also accounted for the dollars weakening against the yen.

The euro, erasing its loss for the week, appreciated by 0.4 percent to $1.2383 in New York on Friday. The yen closed at 110.56 per euro after declining by 0.3 percent and rising as much as 0.8 percent. It went up by 0.4 percent against the dollar to 89.29 yen, taking its total gains against the dollar 1.6 percent during the week.

In its efforts to speed up the economic recovery, the Federal Reserve continued to keep the target interest rate for interbank overnight lending at a record low level of zero to 0.25 percent. The recovery is likely to be moderate for a time, it said in a statement recently, while noting that financial climate is less supportive of economic growth. The yens rise was spurred by investors aversion towards riskier assets. It is expected to rise further versus the dollar as Japanese investors shy away from foreign bond purchases, according to Deutsche Bank AG.

G-20 leaders are meeting in Toronto to discuss Europes debt crisis. While Germany is focusing on debt reduction, the U.S. is favoring stimulus. The meeting will also discuss overhauling of financial regulation.

$1.5 Billion Mortgage Assistance to 5 States

The Treasury Department on Wednesday approved $1.5 billion for Arizona, Nevada, California, Michigan and Florida to help people from losing their homes due to the mortgage crisis. The money will primarily be utilized to subsidize monthly mortgage payments of distressed homeowners. These states have designed an assortment of novel programs to help homeowners facing foreclosure, according to assistant Treasury secretary Herbert Allison.

The programs would be implemented from coming months, State officials informed. Housing finance agencies will administer these programs, which are expected to benefit 75,000 households. The state programs have invited mixed reactions from analysts. Some consumer advocates said that homeowners in crisis must be given financial help to pay off their mortgage loans. Others feel that this would do more harm than good as people would be dissuaded from looking for work.

Even as lenders are not willing to write off mortgage loans, many states plans count on matching funds from the lenders. Some states are talking with the lenders to put this arrangement in place. Arizona, for example, is ready to pay as much as $50,000 of the loan balance of a homeowner provided the servicer matches this amount.

Similarly, Florida proposes to take care of a homeowners monthly mortgage payments for nine months, if the servicers match this subsidy. It has not yet been able to sign up any servicer for this plan. Florida will kick off this program in Lee County in August. The Grand Canyon State is yet to chalk out details of the plan with the lenders.

The Federal Government is expected to approve $2.1 billion for 10 more states, which includes Oregon, Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Rhode Island.

Obama budget director Peter Orszag is leaving the White House

President Baracks Obamas budget chief Peter Orszag plans to leave his position as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in July, an Obama administration official said Monday evening.

Orszag, 41, played a very important role within the Obama’s economic team, serving in his role as director of the OMB during the passage of the $862 billion stimulus bill and health care reform legislation. As OMB director, he is accountable for creating and implementing policy and budget strategies, but also served as principal negotiator and liaisons with congressional Republicans.

Orszag effectively directed the entire Congressional Budget Office for almost two years before Obama asked him to be the White House budget director right after the 2008 presidential election.

He also worked with President Bill Clinton at the White House as special assistant to the president at the National Economic Council and served on the Council of Economic Advisors.

Orszag gained a public spotlight after he dumped his pregnant girlfriend for stunning ABC newscaster Bianna Golodryga after they met at last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

The news of Orszag’s departure came as the White House dismissed as nonsensical reports Monday that Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, were also planning to leave his position in the near future.

Loans Not Easy To Come For Entrepreneurs

Even as the economic outlook is beginning to look up, small businesses are finding to it difficult to get loans. Only 50 percent of businesses that moved loan applications to banks last year actually got the amount they applied for, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey. This figure pales in comparison to 90 percent who got all the money they needed in 2000.

The poor flow of credit to entrepreneurs persists despite President Obamas advice to banks to evaluate their loan applications as positively as possible. Administrations various programs geared towards providing credit to small businesses seem to have little impact.

One of the important reasons for less than expected impact of these programs is that government has focused its efforts on Small Business Administration loans, which account for only 10 percent or less of small business lending.

Banks perceive small business lending a risky proposition during current scenario of uncertainty. They are cautious about lending small businesses despite Federal regulators insistence to evaluate their needs prudently. There is a lot of blame game with some banks maintaining that credit offtake is low as demand is low. Small businesses were not interested for credit due to economic uncertainty, they said. Some other bankers blame regulators of putting pressure on them to control lending.

Many entrepreneurs lost their existing credit lines during recession, with little chance of finding other sources. At present when economy is showing signs of recovery, they still find it hard to fund their plans. This has forced them to further postpone expansion and hiring. The may result in slowing down the recovery and keeping unemployment levels high.

Drop-outs Hit Obamas Mortgage Modification Program

All is not well for the U.S. administrations $ 75 billion mortgage modification program. Total 436,000 of 1.24 million borrowers enrolled have subsequently been disqualified or have opted out of it. The program was launched in March 2009 with an objective to help homeowners with mortgage loans to save their homes. A staggering 155,000 borrowers dropped out in the last month itself.

Number is borrowers who dropped out after receiving permanent mortgage modification is 6,400. While some of them either sold the property or refinanced it, a majority missed out on their revised payment. This number will grow, said analysts.

Obama administrations flagship program has, however, helped 340,000 borrowers, who received permanent mortgage modifications and are paying on time. Administrations insistence on banks at the beginning of the program to enroll borrowers without verifying their income proofs is said to be the main reason behind such a high drop out. When banks later collected the income documents, they found many dont qualify for the program.

While some borrowers alleged that banks lost their papers, banks insist that many borrowers were not sending across the documents. Some borrowers were kicked out after they missed one or more payments.

At present, banks are required to collect two recent pay slips from the borrowers at the time they enter the program. Remarkably, the program evinced lackluster response after this requirement was imposed. Only 30,000 homeowners enrolled in the program in May, in comparison to 100,000 who were signing up every month at its launch.

Obama administration officials insist that borrowers who dropped out still got help from the program. Most of them received alternative mortgage modification from their lender, they said on the basis of a statistics.

Money Fund Assets Fall

Mutual fund assets in money market slid from $3.151 trillion to $2.806 trillion for the week, according to data released by the Investment Company Limited recently. Retail money market assets of the nation jumped to $993.38 billion in the past week, a rise of $180 million. Retail assets of taxable money market funds were $780.27 billion, $20 million up from last week, whereas assets of tax exempt money market funds in retail category climbed by $160 million to $213.12 billion.

Both taxable and tax exempt money market fund assets in the institutional category declined during last week. While the former dropped by $33.93 billion to $1.674 trillion, the latter declined by $760 million to $138.28 billion. As a whole, institutional money market assets went down by $34.69 billion to $1.813 trillion.

The 30-day average yield on money market mutual funds remained constant at 0.03 percent last week, as per information provided by Money Fund Report, a Westboro, Mass based service of iMoneyNet Inc. In contrast, the seven-day average yield declined from 0.04 percent to 0.03 percent in the corresponding period.

According to Money Fund Report, the seven-day compounded yield also declined from 0.04 percent to 0.03 percent, while 30-day compounded yield remained unchanged at 0.03 percent. Money funds held the portfolios for 38 days on an average, a fall of one day, it said.

A survey of 100 top commercial banks, savings banks and savings and loan associations in countrys 10 largest markets by showed that the annual percentage yield on money market accounts remained constant at its previous weeks level of 0.22 percent. The annual percentage yield on interest-bearing checking accounts also remained constant at 0.13 percent, it said.

SBA Loan: Lifeline For Small Businesses

Small Business Administration makes available loan to small business at a time when lenders are skeptical about providing them business loans due to recession. President Obama has recently asked Congress to equip the SBA with additional funding, even as the government is encouraging an increasing number of small businesses to avail this facility.

The 504 loan program of the SBA allows business owners to avail fixed-rate loan for various purposes, including, facility expansion, buying property or refinancing existing mortgages. The borrowers contribution is typically as low as 10 percent.

With many small businesses in trouble due to recession, takers for this program have been declining in the recent years. Last year, an amount of $3.8 billion was approved by the SBA. This was down from $5.3 billion and $6.3 billion approved in 2008 and 2007 respectively. The SBA is trying to entice small business with deals like fee waiver and lower interest rates. The strategy has been successful as demand for 504 loan is gaining momentum again.

Certified Development Corporation (CDC) is the authorized government partner, which can advise potential borrowers about lenders offering loan under 504 program, Grady Hedgespeth, director, the SBA’s Office of Financial Assistance informed. The SBA’s website,, also provides this information.

One of the drawbacks of 504 program is the delay in loan disbursal after it has been approved. Small business owners, who opted for this loan, experienced 60-90 day delay. For construction projects, the delay may extend up to one year. Most borrowers need a gap financing to deal with the delay, which may mean pledging additional assets over and above 10 percent.

Cheap Mortgage Loan Drives Refinancing

The average rate for 30 year old mortgage loan continued to be at one of its lowest, even as it marginally rose to 4.75 percent last weekend compared to the previous weeks level of 4.72 percent, according to Mortgage Finance giant Freddie Mac. Incidentally, the mortgage rate had hit a record low of 4.71 percent last December, the lowest ever since Freddie Mac started keeping track of rates.

The average rate on a 15 year old mortgage rose up to 4.2 percent from its record low of 4.17 percent last week.

With mortgage rates hitting historic lows, the existing home-owners are trying to work out new refinance deals which suit them better. Mr. Ja’anini, an East Ridge homeowner, replaced his 30 year old mortgage with a 15 year loan at a healthy 3.99%. This new arrangement allows him to save $57000 in total. He will be paying $60 more in a month to pay the loan in half time of its original tenure.

The low rates on mortgage loans have been acting as catalyst in instigating homeowners to capitalize on the lower interest rates to refinance their homes. However, this activity is not as extensive as the movement of home refinancing activity way back in 1997 or 2003, when rates had dropped. It has been observed that a majority of loan applicants are refinancing existing mortgages, and not buying new homes.

Mr. Minhas, vice-president of development with the Chattanooga Housing Authority made an interesting observation that since the home values are down; these lower attractive mortgage rates have acted as a good market for investment properties. With the anticipation of higher inflation and interest rates, the home owners are moving to cash in todays attractive rates

U.S. Prices Down In May

The Labor Department on Wednesday said that wholesale prices declined by 0.3 percent in May, even as consumer prices are expected to fall by 0.2 percent. The slide was due to fall in global prices for oil and other commodities, caused by shaking confidence of investors on steady global recovery on account of debt crisis in Europe.

The price of oil was $77.67 on Wednesday down from a high of $86.84 in April. Oil prices apart, slowdown of European economy coupled with high unemployment and low industrial capacity utilization has resulted in extremely low inflation. The producer price index registered an increase of 1.1 percent in May from last year, while consumer price index is expected to rise by 0.9 percent. The figures are below Federal Reserve target for annual inflation.

Despite very low inflation, analysts do not expect deflation to set in. But in the instance of European crisis deepening, they do not rule it out. The risk could become more real in case the recovery, which has been slow but steady so far, falls off track. However, with industrial production rising by 1.2 percent in May, this seems a remote possibility. The rise in industrial production is above expectation and 10th consecutive in 11 months.

While the manufacturing sector is performing well, there is a weak job growth in private sector and a drop in retail sails.

The problems-possible fallouts of European debt crisis and high unemployment-are likely to be main agenda of discussion when Fed think-tanks meet next week.

AMA Pushes For Higher Accuracy In Insurance Claims Processing

At least 20 percent of medical claims are processed inaccurately by nations commercial health insurers, resulting in delayed payments to the doctors, the American Medical Association observed in its third annual report card on insurers.

An expenditure of $210 billion is incurred annually just to process the claims, it said, while estimating that 100 percent accuracy would save doctors and consumers $15.5 billion annually. One of the key objectives of the report card is to bring down the costs doctors have to bear in claims processing.

The report card rated Coventry Health Care Inc. the highest among seven commercial insurance companies with an accuracy rate of 88 percent. Anthem Blue Cross, with an accuracy rate of 74 percent, finished at the bottom of the table. Other companies which were rated include Health Care Service Corp., Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Humana Inc.

The AMA arrived at the conclusion after analyzing a random sample of about 2 million electronic claims. There has been marked improvement in accuracy and timeliness of claims procession over the previous years, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, past president of the AMA said. However, there is huge scope to do more, she added.

Responding to the report card, Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans said that doctors share as much responsibility for accurate processing of claims as insurer. Some delays occur as doctors fail to furnish claims electronically in time, he explained, adding that proportion of premium allocated for meeting administrative costs has come down for sixth consecutive year.

Fed Wary Of Growth Risks

Even as Fed Chairman Bernanke has ruled as any possibility of double-dip recession, stock market decline, high unemployment and European debt crisis have left the officials worried about the likely impact these may have on U.S. economy. When the Fed officials meet to take stock of the economy next week, discussion may take place on measures to be taken if the recovery falls off-track.

If the crisis in Europe worsens enough to affect global stock markets, problems for the U.S. economy could be accentuated, said Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans last week. Brian Sack, the New York Fed’s markets group chief also talked about two-sided risks to the economy-low growth and low inflation. The European debt crisis is serious and it is not known how it would unfold, said St. Louis Fed president James Bullard.

High unemployment is another cause of concern. Minneapolis Fed president Narayana Kocherlakota recently stated that unemployment rate would continue at 9 percent or above till the year end and it is not likely to fall below 8 percent by the end of next year.

Despite the concerns, central bank is hoping for a steady recovery. The forthcoming meeting of Fed officials is not likely to result in any decision specifically directed to these risks. Short-term interest rates are expected to be continued near zero.

As per Fed estimates, countrys gross domestic product in 2010 will grow by 3.2 to 3.7 percent. Similarly, it projects inflation of less than 1.5 percent.

Cablevision Systems To Buy Bresnan

Cablevision Systems Corp. will reportedly buy Bresnan Communications Co. at a price of $1.36 billion. The arrangement is expected to be formally announced this week, a source in know of the deal said. Cablevision Systems Corp. is the fifth largest cable operator in the U.S., while Bresnan Communications is owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity fund.

Bresnan, Cablevision and Providence declined to comment or could not be reached.

Bresnan, established in 1984, provides communication related services like broadband Internet, video on demand, high-definition television and digital telephone to commercial as well as residential customers. Its services are subscribed by 320,000 customers in Montana, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. William Bresnan, the companys founder, passed away last year.

Providence acquired majority stake in Bresnan in 2003. It began considering selling off the company in March. Other minority stakeholders in the company are Quadrangle Group and Comcast Corp. Besides Cablevision, there were five other bidders for the company including TPG Capital, Ascent Media Corp., Partners Ltd. and Suddenlink Communications.

Acquisition of Bresnan would give Cablevision a stronger presence in the growing market for communication services. It will also enable Cablevision, which currently operates in New York City region, to expand its services into the west. Further, it will substantially add to the subscriber base of Cablevision, which presently stands at nearly 3 million. Bresnan is a well run company with modern equipment and competent to provide advanced services, according to ABI Research.

Providence is also planning to sell Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the Los Angeles-based film studio, reports said.

Fraud Slur On Investment Adviser Gets Murkier

A federal grand jury in New York on Thursday indicted Kenneth Ira Starr, the New York investment adviser of embezzling at least $59 million from 11 clients. An earlier criminal complaint by federal prosecutors on May 27 charged him of stealing at least $30 million from seven victims. Clients of Starr included actors Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone.

The new indictment charges him with 20 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and securities fraud. If charges are prove, he may be sentenced 20 years in prison. Starr, 66, was arrested on May 27 and has since been held in jail.

The investigation has gained momentum within couple of weeks of Starrs arrest, said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney, adding that the scope of the fraud committed by him has now almost been doubled.

At one point of time Starr was managing $700 million. His company performs accounting, bookkeeping and tax return preparation services for about 40 clients, Aurora Cassirer, temporary receiver for Starr Investment Advisors and Starr & Co. informed a judge. It collects the clients money and deposits them in their bank account, besides arranging for rent and mortgage payments, she stated. His victims include the heiress Bunny Mellon, who was defrauded $7.5 million in a scheme to buy a Manhattan apartment.

Bank accounts of Starr have been frozen. His plea for bail has been rejected before as the government argued that he may go absconding. However, he may again request for bail.

Fed Officials Strike Conflicting Chords on Rates

The U.S. economy is emerging out of recession slowly but steadily, said Thomas Hoenig, President of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in his keynote address at the Kansas City Fed’s 2010 Regional Symposium on “Farming, Finance and the Global Marketplace” on Tuesday. Financial institutions are showing signs of stabilization, even though they are still not out of the problems yet, he said.

Improvement in consumption, manufacturing and housing are definite signs of recovery, he explained, while advocating the need the step away from the current highly accommodative interest rate regimen. Federal Funds target rate currently hover in the range of 0 to 0.25 percent.

Time has come to revise it upwards by 1 percent, he prescribed, adding that it would still be highly accommodative at that level. Rates at the current level would contribute to a credit-oriented economy, erode savings and fan speculation in the marketplace, argued Hoenig, a known critic of the policy.

Striking a different chord, Charles Evans, President of Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said in another forum that the benchmark rates need to be kept at its current level in view of low inflation and high unemployment. Rejecting the notion that European debt crisis would adversely impact U.S. economy, Evans said that Europe accounts for only 15 percent of the countrys exports.

While the statements of the two top officials on interest rates indicate split within the Federal Reserve Bank, it is also likely to send confusing signals to already vulnerable financial markets.

Tucker To Be New Pru Chief?

Mark Tucker, former chief executive officer of Prudential, is tipped to take over as the chairman or chief executive of the UK insurance giant. Harvey McGrath, Chairman of Prudential, and Tidjane Thiam, Chief Executive, have come in for severe criticism from the investors following the companys botched up and expensive bid for AIGs Asian assets. Prudentials U.S. operations are carried out through Jackson National Life Insurance Co.

Some have suggested Mr. Tucker as chairman and Michael McLintock, chief executive of M&G, as chief executive. Mr. Tucker has so far declined to comment on this.

Mr. Tucker, an unexpected candidate for the posts, is reportedly backed by some high value shareholders of the company. However, many shareholders may not support the proposal as the change is likely to cause further uncertainty and instability. Some others may not support him as he is believed to push for the groups break-up.

Some key investors see Mr. Tucker as the real man behind Prudentials success in Asia, UK and US. They feel that if he is brought back, Mr. Thiam and Mr. McGrath would go in the course of time.

Prudentials bid for AIA Group Limited, AIGs Asian assets, fell apart last week following differences with investors, AIG and the UK regulators. The company lost $652 million in fees for the aborted transaction. Prudential shares declined by 6.1 percent in the stock markets. Mr. Thiam is generally held responsible for this disastrous adventure and he has already apologized to shareholders for this.

Mr. Thiam, who took over as chief executive of Prudential in October, spearheaded the proposed AIA deal. The acquisition would speed up the companys plans of growth in the region, he said then. The success of the deal would have made Prudential the biggest insurer in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

An executive of Schroders Plc, one of the top 10 shareholders of Prudential, insists on fixing accountability for this loss. In a public appeal on Friday, he even demanded Mr. Thiams resignation. Similarly, Neptune Investment Management Ltd., another stakeholder in Prudential, is favoring exit of Mr. Thiam.

Meanwhile, Mr. Thiam ruled out revival of the bid. However, the focus will be on Aisa, he said and explained that more agents would be hired to sell policies in the region. The strategy of diverting cash from policies that mature from U.K. to the growing Asian market would continue. Design to expand in Asia is not just my brainchild, he elaborated, adding that it dated back to his joining as the chief executive. The company is working on it since 2008, he said.

Mr. McGrath claimed support of the board for the management. A vast majority of shareholders dont support change and instability at the top level, he said. Management has the support of the non-executive directors, said a spokesman. Thiam declared that he would go if shareholders so desired but added that the desire has not been expressed yet.

Lend Small Firms to Rein Unemployment-Bernanke

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke advised the bankers to ease the tight grip on credit for small firms and automotive suppliers. Outlook of the economy is positive enough for this, he asserted at a meeting with small business owners and bankers at the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

High unemployment is tasking U.S. economy and credit flow to small businesses would allow them to expand their payrolls, he prescribed, adding that this will ensure fast recovery of the economy. Bernanke was obviously concerned about rising unemployment, which is at the highest level in 26 years.

Bernankes visit and the meeting was a part of the series Federal Reserve is organizing across the country to deliberate on small business lending. Last week, he toured and took stock of a snack-cake factory and Philadelphia shipyard. His program includes visit to a community college in Richmond, Virginia next week.

There is a tendency to exclude small businesses from the credit pie pushing them to a distress area, Fed Chief observed, while advocating prudent evaluation of every borrowers creditworthiness. He informed that in case of small businesses outstanding loans have come down to $660 billion in the first quarter of 2010 from about $700 billion in the second quarter of 2008. Pointing to the improving outlook, he said, production of automakers have doubled, and even tripled in some cases, from the previous years level.

Bernanke heard the problems faced by owners of small businesses in accessing credit. Donald Snider, CEO of Walden Foods, recounted his experience on how a banker didnt deem assets of his restaurant as sufficient collateral and demanded a lien on his personal trust. Similarly, David Andrea, Senior VP of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association highlighted instances when certain auto suppliers were denied loan after their equipments were assessed at dismally low rate by banks while evaluating credit proposals.

Many sectors of the auto industry are still under shadow of uncertainty, commented Mike Dolson, senior VP of Charter One Bank. In this light, banks have no option but to be conservative in making lending decision, he defended.

Credits to small manufacturers and business had been restricted by most of the bankers since the onset of recession. Federal Reserves move to push bankers to maintain higher capital reserves and dispose risky loans made the matters worse. However, since December 2008 Federal Reserve has pegged the main interest rate near to zero to provide impetus to employment. The Federal Open Market Committee in a statement issued in April reiterated that tight credit is the main restraint for consumer spending.

Meanwhile, in a separate forum, Dennis Lockhart, Atlanta Fed President said that the central bank may be constrained to revise the main interest rate upwards, high unemployment rate notwithstanding. This may have to be done to check inflation from rising, he explained.

Bernanke didnt say much on the monetary policy or the economic outlook. Next meeting of the Federal Reserve policy makers is scheduled in Washington on June 22-23.

Now Get Quality Help For Best Remortgage Deals

London, United Kingdom – Remortgage is a financial option that people have to pay off their loans by taking another mortgage. This option helps them get better interest rates and much better installment options making it easier for them to pay off the loans. Remortgage is a viable option only if customers get good remortgage deals that will make it easier for them to repay loans or else there is no point in taking a remortgage on the house. Some of the reasons why people take a remortgage on their house are to reduce the size of payments, to pay off an earlier mortgage, to raise capital or to pay off other debts. Good remortgage deals are a very good option to raise capital; people can use the equity on their homes to raise money quickly for their needs.

There is plenty of information available online for people who are looking for remortgaging solutions. One site is; it is an entity of Green Money Limited. The main aim of the company is to help people to consolidate and review their financial problems so that they can come up with a better remortgage deals that will help reduce outgoings and raise cash for various needs of their customers.

By talking to one of the representatives at, people can get a lot of help to get better deals. They can get a very honest remortgage quote and also have the opportunity to discuss some of the financial solution that are available to get refinance on their homes. Their staff endeavors to provide their customers with some of the best financial options and good remortgage deals. considers it their responsibility to provide their customers with some of the most realistic options and help them out whenever they are ready to make the move. does not only provide remortgage quotes and help customers get good remortgage deals. They also understand the need to educate their customers on some of the facts of remortgaging. They know that the process of remortgaging can be very confusing and hence they have put up certain select articles on remortgaging that will help customers understand the process of remortgaging better. This section of the site is very helpful since it helps alleviate some of the worries that customer have regarding remortgaging. By taking time to educate themselves on the loan flow and getting tips on how to expedite the remortgage process, customers have better chances of striking some good remortgage deals.

Debt Collection Agencies Going after Consumers who opt Out of Free Trial Offers

Better Business Bureau has noticed a recent uptick in complaints filed by consumers who complain they were contacted by collection agencies after opting out of trial offers that were supposed to be free.

Many of the complaints involve health products the consumers ordered on line, such as acai berry supplements or teeth whitening products.

Some of the complainants paid disputed bills simply to avoid the possibility of having their credit rating hurt.

Connecticut BBB wants consumers to know that just because they receive a bill from a collection agency doesnt mean the bill or even the collector itself is legitimate.

Consumers who feel they are being unfairly targeted by a debt collection company is advised to:

•Check the companys Reliability Report with the Better Business Bureau

•Keep in mind that within five days after first contact, the collector must send a written notice stating the amount of money owed, the name of the creditor and what action to take if the claim is in dispute.

•If a consumer sends a letter within 30 days disputing the claim, the debt collector cannot make further collection efforts after receipt of proof of the debt. If a consumer is unable to obtain the collection agencys address, it may indicate the collection effort is a scam.

Consumers are advised to file a complaint with Better Business Bureau at or their state’s Attorney Generals office.

Now PayDay Loans Are Also Available Online

The traditional bank loan is a difficult process to undergo. Many people actually find themselves bogged down under hours of paperwork only to find out a few weeks later that their hoped for loan has been denied for any number of reasons.

Aurora Lillo Editor of the “Best Payday Loan Lenders” website — — pointed out;

…These reasons include, a secondary credit check after the fact, a document that went unsigned amidst all of the reams of paper they had signed, or even a sudden policy change by the bank. Even if a bank loan does go through some of the larger banks might takes weeks if not months to actually lend the money they have agreed upon due to applicants ahead of you in line…

For individuals that need money immediately for any given purpose there is a far easier method of obtaining it. This method is known as a payday loan. A payday loan is basically a very short term loan that takes place during a time between pay periods. Depending on how the loan lender operates the money will be deposited into almost any applicants account within a few hours or as long as two days.

…As long as the short submission forms are filled out appropriately and the borrower meets the minimum requirements they are guaranteed a loan. These requirements are easy to meet. The borrower must have a source of income and a bank account in good standing that can accept monetary transfers. There is no credit check, no queue, and the entire process can be done in five minutes online… added A. Lillo.

Best Way To Know What You are Getting:Free Samples

It is almost impossible or would be classified as odd to find a company that is not willing to offer free samples these days. Whether they are offering free foods samples, free beauty samples, free pet supply samples, free gift cards, many of them are trying to get their share of loyal clients with the hope that they will in turn tell friends and family about the free samples that they received. Not only has this hope proven to yield amazing results, thousands of clients will confess that they have a certain brand loyalty based on the free samples that they received from the company they are now dedicated to.

The days of getting a product delivered to your house and keeping your fingers crossed that you will like it are OVER. With your right as a former or potential client you can ask for free samples to ensure that the product is exactly what you are looking for without having to buy a large quantity at a more expensive cost. Whether beauty lover, animal lover, food lover, DVD lover, magazine lover or someone that goes with the flow with just about anything just about everyone can get free samples.

It does not matter the gender or age, both women and men can get free samples of products that they are interested in. Even babies are part of the market that large companies have targeted by offering free diapers, free baby food and lots of free baby stuff for mothers to try on their baby before they actually buy in larger quantities. Free samples are great for the little ones, because they give parents the opportunity to highlight the products that work the best with their little bundle of joy and the ones that are not effective.

Even weight watchers can get their free sample of excellent products. The Free Protein Bar from Shape Works is a perfect example of having your cake and eating it at the same time. By ordering free samples it will be possible to see how the product works on your body while you are building lean muscles. Other free samples for weight watchers are: Free South Beach Fiber Fit S’mores Bar from Kraft, Free Mariani Dried Plums from, Quaker True Delights from Quaker and Special K protein bars and Shakes.

People with diabetes can also receive their free agendas to monitor their sugar levels, free meters and free samples of diabetic energy drinks. There are also free recipes that are offered online to help people who are just learning to cope with their new condition deal with life better and healthier.

There are also free things being offered in the digital world. With just a few minutes of your time it is possible to win an Ipod, Laptops and free Wii Remote Jackets. Apple, Dell and Nintendo are among the top brands that offer free digital products to people that what to keep up-to-date with the latest digital releases.

Unsecured Loans Are Catching the Attention of Masses

There is a lot happening inside the financial world of UK and as an organisation goes out to survey the market, it usually gets to know that every second individual here is standing with different opinion.

Today, many individuals are banking upon the facility of secured credit but, if one ask the other side of regular earners, they are still bullish over the unsecured loans which are not easily offered by the lenders as no collateral is involved in this process.

However, as per the opinions of the regular earning individuals, the unsecured loans are having some other benefits which cannot be availed with any other facility. First of all, the unsecured credit comes with the option of huge amount of loan disbursed without any collateral which usually lures a lot of individuals.

If one goes for a secured credit, he always stands with the risk of losing some precious asset but, in unsecured loans, there is not much to lose.

Further, many people thinks that similar to the secured loan lenders, the lenders offering unsecured credit also consider the time factor at higher level and tries to transfer the loan amount within 24 hours of putting an application.

Hence, with so many advantages involved, the unsecured loans are still catching some popularity among the masses.

For future information on up and coming event please visit
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Student Education Loans without Cosigner

If a university student does not have any cosigner security or perhaps bad credit standing, they will have a lot of issues getting a student loan. Normally the loan companies will probably deny the application and it is really not favorable by any means. One means to get out of this situation is to go for a federal consolidation student loan.

Visit for the best student loans no cosigner online.

This way, you can consolidate all your bad student loans into a whole new college student debt consolidation loan as well as a new rate of interest.

To avoid all that, it is advisable to be aware to the advice below due to the fact that it may aid you to have the essential sum you require for your undergraduate loan.

You’ll find some lenders out there that despite these conditions will offer undergraduate loans without needing a cosigner. In other words the students are now able to receive the loans plus complete their four years of higher education without worrying about the guarantees.

Presently, all you have to accomplish is go on the web and submit your application to the very best company you could get offering bad credit undergraduate loans no cosigner. Prior to doing that it shall be preferred that you commence an evaluation concerning all offered estimates, rates stipulations suggested by the most important providers.

The end result will need to be the perfect one for you due to the fact that it will affect your monetary future once you complete your studies.

Visit for the best student loans no cosigner online.

Using college student loans without cosigner, you’ve the means to complete your studies today. If your request is approved, in just a few hours the cash would be transferred directly into your savings account.

If you ever do not wish to live with tension and stress sticking to you everywhere, it shall be ideal to pick a free student loan that will never bring about any financial concerns.

A private college student loan with no cosigner will help you a lot monetarily speaking and when you could get the correct option for you personally, then you may consider yourself a winner.

At the time of fathers Day Just – Paris Insights

This travel feature story offering may be freely used with a short attribution to Tom Reeves and a link to the Paris Insights Web site—permission granted! Interviews with Tom in Paris can also be arranged, and are welcome!

If you would like to see and possibly review a print copy of Paris Insights – An Anthology, send us an email and provide us with your best street mail address. We will send your review copy right away.

Just in Time for Fathers Day: Paris Insights – An Anthology on Kindle!

Discover Paris! is pleased to announce that Paris Insights – An Anthology is now available on Kindle! This version of the book is priced at a fraction of the cost of our Premium edition ($9.95 versus $39.95 plus shipping). It contains everything in the Premium and Travelers editions, including over 100 photos for your enjoyment. Perhaps best of all, it is instantly accessible thanks to Amazons Whispernet technology, eliminating shipping fees and delivery delays.

Men are more frequent users of e-books than women, which makes these books a natural gift for Fathers Day. Is your favorite man traveling to Paris this summer? He will appreciate receiving the Kindle edition of Paris Insights – An Anthology to take with him! Chapter entries such as Paris-by-the-Beach, Summer Strawberries, Wining and Dining with Juan Sánchez, and A Taste of Honey provide new ideas for places to visit and people to meet. Thanks to the fresh perspectives and little-known details revealed in these and other articles in the book, he will feel more in tune with the local scene, and enjoy insider experiences that will help make his trip to Paris like no other that he has taken there before!

Your dad, husband, or other special man will value the many benefits of reading Paris Insights – An Anthology on Kindle, including changeable font size for easy visualization of text, ergonomic design for comfort, and readability on all of his portable devices – including the new iPad (which men buy three times more often than women). Whats more, the book is Read-to-Me enabled in the event that he likes to listen to books while driving, or is visually impaired. And thanks to Amazons Kindle 2.5 software update (scheduled for release later this month), he will soon be able to send book passages from Paris Insights – An Anthology directly to his Facebook and Twitter friends from his device!

For more information, visit

…this book is the antidote to typical tourism hyperbole. It literally points you in the right directions – telling you who to see, when to see them, and what to ask for. It’s a true insiders guide to one of my most favorite cities in the world, written by someone who has lived the special experiences you’ll never find in a guide book.
– Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor, CBS News

About the Author

Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975 to learn the language, see the country and pursue studies in French literature and civilization. A native of northern California and long time resident of Oakland, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris! (, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. He has written a monthly newsletter called Paris Insights since 2000, and has expanded his writings to include a blog and weekly reviews of Paris restaurants of the same name (

What People Are Saying

Five-star reviews from
…despite my years and years of wandering the streets of Paris and discovering previously unknown places to savor, I found several I had not known about, described here with panache, depth and humor, and accompanied by photos that made me want to crawl through the pages.
– Michele Kurlander, Amazon reviewer

Written in conversational style, yet with a flair for dignity, Reeves shares the cultural riches of Paris, allowing the reader to not only ‘visit’ the special places in the city with him, but also providing the depth of history that has placed the inimitable patina on what we too often simply take for granted as the special aura of being Parisian. Less a guide book than a diary, Reeves joins us in excursions through the Jardin des Plantes, Saint-Sulpice church, the church of Val-de-Grace hidden away in the faubourg Saint-Jacques, pauses to explain the culture of dogs in Paris, the tradition of the macaron, and hard to find eating spots that not only carry a long history of fine wines but also some commentary about the past…easy to read, a resource of invaluable insights, and a perfect way to begin to plan that next escape to the City of Light!
– Grady Harp, Top Ten reviewer, December ’09

…articles on the hidden sides of Paris that you’d have to comb magazine articles or quirky television travelogues to even get a hint about. There are interesting photos; this is like someone’s secret guide to Paris.

My opinion? This is the only way to visit Paris–pick something of interest to you and seek out the hidden and the “real”–so if you are planning a trip and want to do anything more than just seeing the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower, I’d advise you to read “Paris Insights” first.
– Joanna Daneman, Top Ten reviewer

Reviews from back cover of print editions:
If you were to look up some old friends in Paris and ask them what to see and do, this is what you’d get — a witty, incisive and always informative compilation of sights, sounds and good advice about enjoying the City of Light from an insider’s vantage point (I knew they were on the right track when the described their favorite chocolate shop in Paris and it was NOT Angelina!!!). It’s a wonderful valentine to Paris, unlike anything you’re likely to find in a standard guidebook. Buy it before your next trip!!!
– Jim Calio, travel editor/writer; contributor to Modern Luxury Magazines, CNN Traveller, Bon Appetit, The New Yorker

Paris Insights – An Anthology is at once witty, original, absorbing and a swift read. It offers precisely the kind of insider’s view of the French capital – and the people who live there – that first or even second time visitors pine for. It offers the tips and historical details that can help them transform a Paris stay from a mundane tourist excursion into an extraordinary experience. The essays give fresh perspectives on Notre-Dame, Les Champs-Elysées and other Paris classics. At the same time, they offer up-to-date information about the hipper, newer cafes and other venues and trends taking hold in this ever-changing European urban stronghold. And for those who just want to know where to get the best hot chocolate, coffee and croissant in the city, it’s got lots of answers, too. Forget the standard guidebooks. This is a Paris Traveler’s must-read.
– Gary Lee, travel writer, author and longtime Paris homeowner

Media: If you get to Paris, special media tours available on request. Feature story inquiries and special travel writing assignments are welcome and appreciated. Interviews arranged upon request. Visit our Media Café at for high-resolution color or black and white photographs, story ideas, and more!

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Discover Paris! published Paris Insights – An Anthology: a collection of lively anecdotes that is the written culmination of one Americans passion for Paris. It also publishes the Paris Insights newsletter and the Paris Insights restaurant review.

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Premiums reduced by 20% On Life insurance

Asteron issued the first life insurance policy in Australia in 1833 (formerly Australian Assurance), and has now come out with another industry first, launching a new policy benefit called the Healthy Plus Option which rewards healthy Australians by reducing their life insurance premiums by 20%.

The 20% discount applies immediately after policy acceptance, and is lowered by 1% each year, to a minimum of 10% over the life of the policy.

However the client is also given the choice of refreshing their policy discount by completing their qualification tests again to re-qualify for the full 20% discount.

The discount is available on Asterons Lifeguard Life Cover policy under a stepped premium arrangement upon meeting certain health and other risk criteria.

To qualify for the discount, questions will include your:
• age, which must be between 30 and 50 years;
• smoking status, you have not smoked for at least 5 years;
• medical history such as your weight, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol;
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• driving record.

Asteron has also stated that by combining this option with their bundling discounts, customers can save up to 35% on their life insurance premiums.

Russell Cain, Director of xLife commented on the launch: We will certainly be keeping an eye on how people take to the 20% discount, and if any other life insurance companies decide to launch their own innovative product changes.

Life insurance companies are finally focusing on delivering real benefits to Aussies, and its about time too. stated Mr Cain.

The Healthy Plus Option builds on the Asteron Life! customer health and wellbeing program announced last year and is an additional benefit to the Asteron Lifeguard product suite.

Kristy Kay Redefines Pop Royalty

Girls of all ages have been talking about Kristy Kays new single, American Princess, since clips of the song started to appear online earlier this year. From Twitter to Facebook, American Princess and Kristy Kay have been the subjects of countless online discussions regarding actual release dates and anticipation.

Well the wait is over and the excitement is electric. Pops newest sensation has arrived and shes already in demand as American Princess became available today on iTunes and all music outlets. Simultaneously, the American Princess single is featured on The Radio Express POP Disc this week with Rhianna, Timbaland, Mary J. Blige, Michael Bublé, and Adam Lambert Just to name a few. American Princess is number 4 on the disc and is already a fan-buzz favorite.

Aside from the power of Kristy Kays vocals and hit single, what truly sets Pops newest princess apart from the rest is the fact that she demanded that a percentage of all proceeds generated from the sale of the American Princess single will be donated to her favorite charity, Ronald McDonald House. Kristy will be doing a great deal more giving back and to learn more about her and her upcoming Princess For A Day contest, visit

Free Government Grant For Debt Relief Applications

Government grants for debt relief have become rather popular most recently due to the current economic crisis in the United States.

Aurora Lillo Editor of the “Government Grants For Debt Relief” website — — pointed out;

…Consolidation loans do not provide the relief that people are looking for because you will still have debt after the old debts are paid with the current loan, so you have in effect traded one debt for another even if it is at a more reasonable rate of interest. What grants for debt relief do is eliminate the debt completely without the obligation to repay the money used for this purpose…

Government grant applications are available for free in any local government office or on the Internet at the governments website. You are not required to pay any type of fees to fill out and turn in the grant application. So long as you are eligible to receive the funds due to economic hardship factors such as having low-income, valid outstanding debts that cant be paid with your current income, and you are at least 18 years old you may be eligible to receive a grant from the Federal government.

…The application must be filled out completely and accurately with all questions answered as fully and as honestly as possible, along with any documentation that the application calls for such as proof of income and debts. You must also write a grant proposal stating what you plan on doing with the grant funds if awarded. With this information your eligibility will be determined and you should receive a letter either approving the grant or denying it… added A. Lillo.