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5 Things to Consider While Selecting a Financial Planner

Unlike someone calling himself a CPA or a physician, just about anyone can call himself a “financial planner” or a “financial advisor” regardless of their educational background and professional experience. Moreover, not all of them are unbiased in their advice and not all of them always act in their clients’ best interests.

To ensure your financial planner is well-qualified in personal finances and impartial in his advice, consider the following five things:

1. Planning Credentials: Having a highly-regarded credential in financial planning, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), confirms that the professional you intend to work with has acquired the education and experience necessary to serve as a financial planner. CFP and PFS credentials are awarded to only those individuals who have met the certification requirements of education and experience in planning for personal finances. In addition, they have to pass the certification examinations and agree adhere to the practice standards and continuing education requirements.

2. Subject Matter Expertise: Financial planners are planning professionals, not necessarily subject matter experts. For example, a financial planner will be skilled in tax analysis and planning,but unlike a Certified Public Account (CPA) or an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) he might not necessarily be a subject matter expert when it comes to tax rules Similarly,a he could be skilled in chalking out an investment plan, but unlike a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) he may not be an authority in the subject of investments. Work with a financial planner who is also a subject matter expert in those areas of personal finance that are important in achieving your financial goals.

3. Client Specialization: Not all financial planners serve all types of clients. Most specialize in serving only certain types of clients with specific profiles. For example, a personal planner may build his expertise and customize his services to serve only those individuals and families who are in certain professions, or a particular stage of life with specific financial goals and net worth. Ask whether the planner specializes in serving only certain types of clients with specific profiles to determine whether he is the right fit for your situation and financial goals.

4. Fee structure: The fee structure largely determines whose interests he serves best – his client’s or his own. A Fee-Only professional charges only fees for their advice whereas a Fee-Based professional not only charges fees but also earns commissions, referral fees and other financial incentives on the products and solutions they recommend for you. Consequently, the advice from a fee-only one is more likely to be unbiased and in your best interests than the advice from a fee-based financial planner. Work with a professional whose fee structure is conflict-free and aligned to benefit you.

5. Availability: He or she should be regularly available, attentive, and accessible to you. Ask the planner how many clients he currently serves and the maximum number of clients he is planning to serve in the future regularly. This clients-to-planner ratio is one of the …

How Much Do Builders Make on a House?

After all is said and done, how much does your builder walk away with?

Do you wonder how a builder decides what to charge for a new home? You know that you pay for the lumber, carpet, fixtures and all the details, but how is the final price determined?

Buying a home requires a lot of money. The cost is based on many different factors, including the construction, land and the marketing and administrative costs for the builder. And of course, the net profit.

Does it sound any easier to understand?

Most builders will charge in a similar way. The construction of the house will account for approximately 50{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} of the base price of the home.

There are several costs within the construction factor. There are direct costs, which are the sticks and bricks. These are all of the materials that go into the home, from the lumber to concrete and windows to carpet.

The work is usually mostly provided by subcontractors hired by the builder.

Then there are construction labor costs. These are the costs associated with work performed by the builder’s employees. These go along with the indirect costs, which are usually performed by the builder’s employees. They include the correction work that is done to fix any mistakes by subcontractors.

You will also be charged the construction interest on the home. To finance the purchase of the lot and the cost of construction before you pay the builder, the builder takes out a bank loan. The cost of the loan, including all interest and fees, will be figured into the base price you pay.

The actual cost of the lot can be between 25{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} and 40{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} of the base price. With the cost of land constantly going up, especially near metro areas, the lot portion has increased over the years. Added to your land costs are any off-site improvements, such as water and sewer lines, street developments, curbing and paving and driveways and sidewalks.

Many builders offer a discount on the base price, often by paying for points at settlement, to encourage first-time buyers. A discounted home will often have construction costs that equal 50{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc}, lot costs of 30{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc}, a discount of 3{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} and a 17{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} gross profit.

Out of the gross profit, the builder deducts administrative costs, marketing costs and taxes.

If you choose options, you could add 10{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} to 30{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} to the base price.

Surprisingly, builders walk away with less profit than you would expect. Net profits on the sale of a home often ranges from 2{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc} to 6{4917788a0bd7aa7369c2a945027b4fe6c9853cda4150a24fe1255b18ce3083dc}. In general, the larger the home, the higher the net.

You can easily find out the net profits for builders that are publicly traded companies. You simply have to read their annual reports.

When you are contemplating the building of a home, sometimes you should shop around a bit. Compare the costs for similar homes offered by different builders. Ask the builder how much of the cost is construction. They may or may not tell you. …

The Lessons I Learned From ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’

If I’d never read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki, my outlook on life would be so different. I’d still believe that the job I have should go to support my lifestyle, and that any budgeting I do should be for the purchase of my next toy, like a jet-ski or a motorbike. No way, not me, not now… here’s why.

I’d never been much of a finance or business oriented person – I was always more interested in history. But what I know now wasn’t really taught in schools anyway. Schools teach kids to be workers – it’s blunt but it’s absolutely true. The school system is not designed to make us all comfortably well off. It’s designed to benefit rich industrialists. Having a job is not freedom, it’s not certainty, it most likely won’t make you wealthy, and odds are it won’t help you fulfill your dreams for the future.

These sort of ideas are promoted by Robert Kiyosaki in ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, and they really speak to me. He tells the story of having been brought up with two father figures giving him conflicting advice. The two also came from different backgrounds, and were going different places. The examples used in the book illustrate Kiyosaki’s points perfectly. It’s such a well written, well rounded text, it should be mandatory reading in all schools.

Kiyosaki turns concepts of finance and assets upside down. Let me give you an example. Kiyosaki believes- and I do too now that I’ve read his explanation – that the house you live in is not an asset, it’s a liability. The conventional thought is that your home is something that features large on the assets column, but Kiyosaki disagrees. This is because of the amount of money you pay for it.

Let’s say for example that your home is worth $300,000. Your mortgage on the home… well what you pay per week will change depending on your financial institution. But over a 30 year loan term you’ll end up paying almost $600,000 for your $300,000 home. And that doesn’t even take rates, maintenance, repairs and other ongoing costs into account.

There are legitimate ways to make that gloom and doom scenario much brighter – and they’re legal.

Similarly with the stock market: the general consensus is that you need serious cash outlay to be a big player on the stock market – well let me tell you now that’s just not true. You’re not looking in the right place, and I’m not talking hot stock tips here. There are tried and true ways of making ongoing income from the stock market that don’t involve outlaying large amounts of money.

That’s all legal too – and practically anyone can do it.

The thing that astounds me about Robert Kiyosaki’s book is that the ideas and concepts are explained so plainly, and the most complex of notions is clearly laid out for interested persons or all levels of investment knowledge to be able …

Essential Things to Change in Insurance Training

Insurance services use knowledge related to finance, regulations, analytics in general and everything else in specific. For example, take project insurance. The insurer needs to evaluate various risks associated with the project. He should be able to make use of project management documents to understand the measures being taken by managers to manage the risks identified by them. He should be able to assess loss in case of claim. He need to use the knowledge of project management techniques in project insurance.

Again, if it is agriculture insurance, an insurer has to get idea about the crop yield, soil quality, farming practices etc. to do a meaningful insurance. So, knowledge of agriculture science need to be applied. Since insurance extends its services to every possible activities in the world or even in space, it has the potential to use every kind of knowledge.

Knowledge gained by insurance professionals during training are to be used. They are not for answering few questions in examination and then forgetting them. There is no end of values that insurance service can add in risk management in any kind of activities. And that is through the use of knowledge related to risk management techniques and also the knowledge related to activities. It may not be expected that every insurance professional will gain knowledge of every activity. But, he will do better if he is able to identify what knowledge to be used from where. This where can be external too.

There can be such training courses that are related to existing practices. But these are at the most basic level. It makes sense if there is a need of organized training on existing practices. There are regular changes in standards, regulations etc. that may create need of organized training to make them known to insurance professionals in formal way.

However, since Insurance service by nature is futuristic, there has to be emphasis on such topics that empowers the professionals to understand the future in scientific way with greater nuance. Such training prepares insurance professionals to go much deep in their profession and make the profession richer.

So, one thing that definitely need to be in the insurance related training is something about the future, something latest, something new, something that make the participants come out from the routine thinking and dive deep into topics related to finance, regulations and analytics or related to the special area of insurance.…

What Does NSF Stand For? 3 Points About NSF Fees

You may have heard the term “NSF” floating around lately. If so, you likely read or heard it in the news, at work, or maybe from a friend. This is a personal finance term that has a direct impact on how much of your own money you actually get to keep at the end of the day.

If you are wondering, “What does NSF stand for?,” here is a definition, along with some important points you should know about personal finance that could save you hundreds of dollars or more a year.

NSF simply means “non-sufficient funds.” Usually, the term is used to refer to the situation whereby you make a charge to your checking account – usually a debit, credit, or check charge – for an amount that exceeds the balance of your account. An NSF situation almost always results in your having to pay a fee of $30 or more to your bank each time.

Another common term for “NSF fees” is “overdraft fees.” Here are 3 points about NSF fees you should know.

1. You may be paying NSF fees to your bank each month: Most people are not aware that nowadays the majority of banks automatically enroll their new checking account customers in something called an overdraft protection program. Once enrolled, you will be liable to pay your bank big NSF (overdraft) fees every time you overdraw your account.

2. You will have to pay fees even when your bank accepts a debit transaction for an overdrawn account: Overdraft protection programs are set up in a way that allows new debit card charges to be accepted and covered by your bank – even though your account has a negative balance at the time that results in your having to pay a fee. This practice is quite sneaky on the part of banks: it means you could end up paying 1, 2, 3 or more NSF fees in a given day without even knowing it – adding up to $100 or more.

3. You can protest overdraft fees and sometimes win: If an overdraft fee has shown up on your bank statement recently, you can sometimes protest and win. However, doing so takes your valuable time, and winning is not guaranteed.

Take the time right now to go back through the past 2-3 months of bank statements and add up how much you have paid your bank in NSF fees. The number may surprise you. The good news is that some banks now offer no-overdraft-fee checking accounts, which means they will cover your overdrawn charge but still not charge you a fee – ever.…

Accounting Finance – The Heart of Any Successful Business

At the core of any successful business is a well organized management. Financial accounting is a very important tool for business. Aside from knowing strategies such as bookkeeping, marketing, advertising and production, a good and stable business must also have a competent system for accounting finance.

Whether you like it or not, accounting finance is one thing you cannot dispense with in the world of business. It is a very important tool in determining where and how exactly your money is being spent. Also, it is most important in terms of taxes and other pecuniary obligations.

Good Accounting Means Good Business

Accounting ensures you how much you have, how much you owe, and helpful in assessing the value of your business. Are you generating any profit or operating at a lost? Accounting records will answer your questions. Accounting serves as the proper recording tool of the financial status of any business. Fiscal dealings are best kept right on track with an effective accounting department.

A good accounting system within one’s business is a great help in making business decisions. This also shows how credible you are with other companies. Accounting does not only place you in a very knowledgeable stance, but it gives you that confidence by being armed with the facts and figures revolving around your business. Knowledge is power.

Professional Accountants

It is to your advantage if you are an accountant by profession. But if not, you can still do your own accounting if you are operating a small-scale business. However, if you have a big company it is advisable to hire a professional accountant especially if you do not have the time and the skill for it. You must realize that there are various strategies in keeping various kinds of accounts in a business.

It is also best to check the accounting firm’s competence, credibility and confidentiality issues. It is very important that in any business, you would be able to trust your accountant with sensitive information, including profits and sources of income your business is accumulating.

Accounting standards you should know

To the untrained and unsuspecting eye, accounting principles might seem hard, intimidating and complicated, but it is in reality very simple if you get past all those figures. All you have to know in accounting are these: Accounts are always divided into three types, namely assets, liabilities and equity. Each account is unique and simple yet forms part of the very foundation your business is operating on.

“T” accounts can be managed by drawing a T like figure with a left and right section divided by a vertical line. On the left side, you can place all your debits or the so called assets. On the other side, you can list down all your liabilities or what we call credits.

The general rule is that for every liability, there must also be a corresponding asset so that a balance will be achieved. If the credit is more than your debit then perhaps you are already …

Personal Financial Planning – Risk Management

Risk management in financial planning is the systematic approach to the discovery and treatment of risk. The objective is to minimize worry by dealing with the possible losses before they happen.

The process involves:

Step 1: Identification

Step 2: Measurement

Step 3: Method

Step 4: Administration

Risk Identification

The process begins by identifying all potential losses that can cause serious financial problems.

(1) Property Losses – The direct loss that requires replacement or repair and indirect loss that requires additional expenses as a result of the loss.

(For example, the damage of the car incurs repair cost and additional expenses to rent another car while the car is being repaired.)

(2) Liability Losses – It arises from the damage of other’ property or personal injury to others.

(For example, the damage to public property as a result of a car accident.)

(3) Personal Losses – The loss of earning power due to death, disability, sickness or unemployment and the extra expenses incurred as a result of injury or illness.

(For example, the loss of employment due to cancer and the required treatment cost in addition to normal living expenses.)

Risk Measurement

Subsequently, the maximum possible loss (i.e. the severity) associated with the event as well as the probability of occurrence (i.e. the frequency) is quantified.

(1) Property Risk – The replacement cost necessary to replace or repair the damaged asset is estimated by a comparable asset at the current price. Indirect expenses for alternative arrangements like accommodation, food, transport, etc, needs to be taken into account.

(2) Liability Risk – This is considered to be unlimited as it will depend upon the severity of the event and the amount the court awards to the aggrieved party.

(3) Personal Risk – Estimate the present value of the required living expenses and additional expenses per year and computing it over a predetermined number of years at some assumed interest rate and inflation.

Methods Of Treating Risk

A combination of all or several techniques are used together to treat the risk.

(1) Avoidance – The complete elimination of the activity.

This is the most powerful technique, but also the most difficult and may sometimes be impractical. In addition, care must be taken that avoidance of one risk does not create another.

(For example, to avoid the risk associated with flying, never take a flight on the plane.)

(2) Segregation – Separating the risk.

This is a simple technique that involves not putting all your eggs in one basket.

(For example, to avoid both parents dying in a car crash together, travel in separate vehicles.)

(3) Duplication – Have more than one.

This technique requires preparation of additional back up(s).

(For example, to avoid the loss of use of a car, have 2 or more cars.)

(4) Prevention – Forestall the risk from happening.

This technique aims to reduce the frequency of the loss occurring.

(For example, to prevent fires, keep matches away from children.)

(5) Reduction – Minimize the magnitude of loss.

This …

Merits and Demerits of Debt Finance

Debt financing means to borrow funds or to arrange for investments from external sources. Large scale businesses and organizations are not able to run all their affairs from their own capital so it is usual for them to take loans. The most prevalent example of this type of finance is the loans taken from banks. The amount of the loan is to be repaid in agreed installments along with interest at a specified rate.

Merits of Debt Finance:

Following are the merits of debt finance:

(i) Scope for Expansion: Debt financing allows business to expand its operations. New branches can be opened in other cities and countries. New lines of business can be adopted to increase revenues. The easy availability of credit encourages entrepreneur to take new risks and float new products. It also enables businessmen to increase the scale of their operations and to upgrade their products in time.

(ii) Research and Development: Debt financing allows the process of research and development. Loans taken from banks can be used to accelerate R & D activities. Earning potential of the company increases when the research hard products are floated in the market. The new innovation, besides increasing companies reputation, also reduces its cost of production.

(iii) High Profit: Due to expansion of business and use of new techniques the revenues and profits of the business also grow. Huge revenues means that there will be a room for further expansion of the business. Higher profit can also be used to repay the bank loans. Thus increasing the solvency of business.

(iv) Ease of Working Capital: Debt financing helps in maintaining adequate working capital of the business. It also provides a room for making regular payments easily.

(v) Revival of Sick Units: Debt financing may be used to give a breathe to the sick industrial units. The organization’s loans can be rescheduled and new credit can be taken for such units so that they can start their production. Besides providing finance, proper supervision and guidance should also be given. All this will rehabilitate the sick units and can help them to be successful and profitable units.

(v) Saving from Insolvency: Debt financing may be used to save the business from insolvency. In case any essential payment is to be made and there are not enough equity funds then a loan can be taken to make payments and to save the business from insolvency.

(vi) Tax Advantage: As the interest charge is subtracted from net income before applying tax rate, so this leads to lower tax liability.

Demerits of Debt Finance:

Following are the demerits of debt financing:

(i) Interest Payments: Very huge amount out of net profit of the business have to be paid on account of interest on borrowed capital.

(ii) Depression: If a business comes under depression and losses occur, then the payments of interest could become a great problem due to inadequacy of funds.

(iii) Suit Against Business: Creditor can file suits against business if business fails to make …

Manage Debts the Smarter Way!

Spiraling debts can be a cause of concern for any borrower. They can create an adverse effect on the financial status of the borrower. Wondering how to deal with the troublesome situation? If you are facing financial hardship due to them, it is time to seek help. Debt management might be the solution to all your problems! Read on and find out how…

Know why should you seek this kind of service?

o One affordable monthly payment

o Reduced credit repayments

o The guide to a debt free future

The truth is that credit card debts are usually an outcome of unplanned spending and late repayments. They are the worst debts you would have encountered! You have a number of options to get rid of such problems.

When you opt for solutions with a team of financial experts, the professionals will assess your current financial situation and help you choose options on a spending plan. You can seek help from such experts. They will negotiate terms of your debts with creditors as well! In simple words, they will take care of all kinds of debt problems on your behalf.

There are several ways of managing this kind of problem. To start with, you could avoid credit card usage as much as possible or opt for consolidation finance as a part of the solution. You must begin by trying not to spend too much over your usual balance. This will help you ease your debt worries. Doing so, will ensure that you are on the road to a debt-free life sooner than you had imagined!

Managing payment of credit card bills can be one of the major contributing factors of managing such kind of problem. It saves a large chunk of your money with one single payment every month, well within your reach! It is much simpler to pay just one bill every month. Hence, if you are burdened by this kind of problem, you need not put yourself through any more stress! By following this kind of advice, you can manage your financial problems easily. You can also reach out to financial experts who can take care of your financial predicament.

You must consider these kinds of solutions only after a careful analysis of your personal circumstances and constraints! Make sure you make the company aware of your problems. This will only help arrive at a suitable solution.…

"Right of Offset" – Protect Your Money and Assets

What is the “Right of Offset”?

The “Right of Offset” gives a lending institution (i.e. Bank or Credit Union) a legal right to seize funds that a debtor may have in a deposit or asset account at that particular banking or financial institution, to cover a loan in default. It is also known as the “Right of Set-Off”.

What are the dangers of the “Right of Offset”?

If an individual, couple, or other entity has a checking, savings, or other form of deposit account at the same financial institution where they have a credit card, auto loan, mortgage, other debt account, that individual or entity has what can be considered a “banking conflict”. In other words, anytime an asset account is kept at the same banking institution as a liability account, a potential “banking conflict” occurs due to that banking institutions “Right of Offset”. What this means is, if an individual for whatever reason fails to make payments on a liability account, the financial institution has the legal right to not only freeze that individuals asset/deposit account, but to also seize any funds available to offset the debt due to that financial institution.

What types of liability accounts or debts does the “Right to Offset” pertain too?

A financial institutions freedom to utilize the “Right of Offset” is determined primarily by how they are chartered.

State chartered and regulated credit unions and banks, along with federal credit unions chartered and regulated by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) have the freedom and authority to exercise their “Right of Offset” on both secured accounts or asset backed (i.e. mortgage loan, auto loan), and unsecured accounts (not backed by collateral) or open-ended revolving accounts (i.e. certain credit cards and credit extensions).

Federally chartered and regulated banks (i.e. Bank of America, Wachovia Bank, Wells Fargo) have the freedom and authority to exercise their “Right of Offset” on secured, but not unsecured accounts. A bank/financial institutions rights and authority as it pertains to its use of “Right to Offset” may vary between institutions. To find the specifics of a particular institution research the following areas:

  • The institutions regulatory authority.
  • The institutions member agreement received when establishing an account.
  • The institutions loan/debt documents or agreements received when establishing a loan.

Who regulates state chartered and federally chartered banks and/or financial institutions?

State chartered banks and financial institutions are regulated by the particular state Department of Banking, Department of Financial Institutions, or Department of Finance from which the bank or financial institution conducts business.

Federal credit unions are regulated by The National Credit Union Association (NCUA).

Federally chartered National banks are regulated by The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

How can I protect my assets?

Never assume that it will not happen to you. The present difficulties present in the current economy have created unexpected lay-offs and job losses. Expensive medical emergencies happen every day. Take the following steps to protect …