Mortgage Crimes That You Must Be Aware Of

The market is full of criminal activities in all sectors. The mortgage crimes and fraudulent activities are increasing a lot. Mortgage fraud takes place when the con artists find people struggling with their mortgage payments or are in hurry to sell their homes off. These things can only be avoided if you deal with known and reputed companies and organizations. There are other steps to deal with your mortgage payments rather than going for foreclosure. But there are certain fraud scams that take place and ruin you financially.

Mortgage Crimes

Important and devious mortgage scams to be aware of

There are many ways you can be scammed if you’re not careful. You must take careful steps or ask an expert when you’re dealing with a mortgage lender. Take a look at the mortgage crimes you must avoid:

1. Excess pricing

If you see that the purchase price of the house is too high to be bought, don’t go for it. If you ask any other lender about the price and get the minimum one, then the previous lender was trying to scam you. Before you go along with any home buying, you must consult with your agent so that he can get all the required information from the lenders about the price and other details. Always deal with experts so that you don’t fall into any sort of scams.

2. Undisclosed items

If you’re charged extra amount for the home by the seller which is not put in any documents, it’s a clear case of mortgage crime. Have everything on your purchase documents so that you know the amount of money you’re paying and the use of that money. If you strike a new deal with the home seller to give him an amount of money which is not written in the documents and even the lender doesn’t have any knowledge about, it’s one of the mortgage crimes.

3. Unknown second mortgage

Not only sellers and lenders, but also borrowers can commit mortgage fraud. If a borrower is not asked for a down payment, he can commit the crime by borrowing the down payment from the seller and in exchange giving him an unknown and silent second mortgage. This is hidden and unrecorded and the lender is unknown about the whole thing.

4. Lying on application

If you’re a buyer and want to take out a mortgage to buy the property, you need to give your details in an application form. But if you give wrong information or lie on your form, then also you’re committing a mortgage fraud. You need to write everything about your salary and other important details. If you keep things away from your lender, you’re committing mortgage fraud.

These are the 4 different types of mortgage fraud you commit if you undisclosed things from your lender. These things will help you understand how a mortgage crime takes place and prevent it. You may also get involved in mortgage crimes without any fault of yours. But if you take help of experts and disclose everything, you can easily get out of these situations.

Questions You Should Ask To Your Insurance Agent For Cheaper Insurance

Are you shopping around for affordable auto insurance? There are a few questions which you should ask to your insurance agent to have a clear view regarding the terms and conditions on your policy. Here are 4 questions which you should ask to your insurance agent before buying an auto insurance policy.

Question 1: What discounts can you qualify for?

Answer 1: While getting auto insurance quotes from an insurance agent to buy a suitable policy, you should at first enquire what discounts you qualify for. Make the appropriate searches such as "can I get a bespoke truck insurance policy?". This will help you reduce the cost of your policy. Most of the companies offer discounts such as, safe driver discount, good student discount, etc. which you may be eligible for.

auto insurance

Question 2: What does your auto insurance policy cover?

Answer 2: It is quite important to enquire the type and amount of coverage offered by the insurer. You should clearly understand this before buying a policy. It is advisable to not rely on verbal talk; always go through the terms and conditions carefully and check policy exclusions so that you’re well aware of the policy you've chosen.

Question 3: If you require new parts for your vehicle, will your insurer cover them?

Answer 3: You should enquire this when getting auto insurance quotes. There are some insurance companies which guarantee to cover OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts while others pay only for after market parts. The latter are comparatively cheaper than the parts made by your original manufacturer.

Question 4: What will happen if you cancel your policy?

Answer 4: While getting auto insurance quotes, check out the consequences you’d have to face if you need to cancel you policy. It may happen that you’re getting a better insurance policy from a different insurer and you need to cancel your existing policy. The insurance companies have different rules regarding how the unpaid premium will be refunded to you if you cancel your policy. Some of the insurance companies charge a cancellation fee while some other companies use ‘short rate’ method to calculate how much amount will be refunded to you. You must know the insurers can charge this fee even if you cancel the policy the day you buy it.

Apart from above, you should also enquire about multiple policy discounts while getting auto insurance quotes. This is because often insurance companies offer discounts when you buy your home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, etc. from a single company. So, if a company is offering multi policy discounts, then you can purchase all your insurance policies from it so as to reduce the premium cost of your policies significantly. However, before doing so, check the financial strength rating of the company to make sure that you’ll be compensated when you have to make a claim.

Have you ever wondered how to go about planning a frugal road trip?

Road trips can be a fun way to travel, especially when you're in great company. 

Sharing driving costs with friends or family is definitely a huge financial advantage. Without doubt, it's cheaper than buying separate train or airline tickets to travel. 

Personally, I'm a big fan of road trips. 

First, you get to save money on travel costs. And second, you get to see so many different and interesting places before you even arrive to your destination!

road trip

However, even if road trips are considered frugal by definition, this particular way of travelling can get expensive if you're not careful.

Here's how I manage to keep costs down and plan a frugal road trip every single time. 

1. Saving money on gas

With a bit of planning, you can definitely manage to save money on gas

Here are 4 useful tips to lower the cost on fuel

- Fill up your tank when and where it's most convenient, before leaving. If you have certain gas stations in your area that drop prices on certain days, take advantage! 

- Check your tire pressure. Not only is this a recommended safety precaution (who wants to deal with flat tires), but it helps save on gas as well.

- Drive efficiently, and you'll lower your overall gas consumption. Keeping a constant speed while driving helps a great deal. Knowing when to change gears influences fuel consumption as well. All in all.. learn how to drive efficiently and you'll spend less money on gas!

- Pack light, so your car won't have to struggle to carry all the weight! It's true, it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since lots of stuff can fit in a car! But truth be told, the lighter you pack, the less fuel you'll consume.

- Avoid getting lost. Although driving around cluelessly can turn out to be an exciting experience, it can take a toll on your total gas consumption.

2. Packing food and drinks for the road

It's impossible not to find a fast food joint along the way. Or a restaurant. Or even a gas station that sells food!

Problem is, this is where road trips can drill a hole in your budget.

To save money, make sure to pack enough food to avoid buying any along the way.

Personally, I plan ahead by doing some light shopping before the actual road trip. 

My shopping list includes ingredients for sandwiches to brown-bag, fruit that lasts in a cooler bag and salty or sweet snacks (what's more thrifty than brown bagging your snacks on a road trip?)

Don't forget to pack drinks as well. Buying them along the way is the opposite of frugal.

3. Budgeting for pit stops

As a bonus, packing your own food on a road trip saves time. Nevertheless, you might want to make a pit stop and stretch your legs or sit down while enjoying your lunch!

The great thing with frugal road trips is, you can plan ahead and include some pit stops beforehand!

To save money, search for affordable gas stations along the way. Pin them on your map to avoid paying ridiculous prices for gas elsewhere.

Stopping to visit a landmark can also turn out to be an interesting experience. Just make sure to budget properly if you're expected to pay entrance fees.

4. Planning ahead for sleeping arrangements

Have you thought about where will you spend the night?

If your trip takes more than 1 day before arriving to your destination, book a room in advance! 

In certain circumstances, some might consider sleeping in the car. It's a full proof way to save money, but doesn't work every single time.

By planning ahead, you'll know for sure you'll have a place to sleep waiting and you'll lower the costs by having plenty of choices to compare ahead of time. 

I'm always excited when planning a frugal road trip and can't help but look forward to what to see and do, even on a short stay! Finding ways to save money and keep travel costs to a minimum is a perky added bonus.

How a 401(k) Differs from an IRA

Is there an advantage to a 401 (k) that you cannot find with an IRA? You can answer this question for yourself and save for your retirement accordingly by learning how a 401(k) differs from an IRA.


An Overview of a 401(k) Retirement Account

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account. People who work for companies that offer 401(k) accounts are generally eligible to participate in the retirement savings program once they meet the necessary qualifications, which may include completing a training period of 60 to 90 days or working at least 34 hours per week.

Moreover, your employer may automatically enroll you in the company-sponsored 401(k) once you meet the qualifications without you having to ask to participate in it first. Your contributions to your account may also be deducted for you from your paycheck, saving you the effort of having to fund your account yourself.

The amount you can contribute each year can be subject to change. However, for the 2016-2017 tax year, you can contribute up to $24,000 to a 401(k) as long as you are age 50 or younger. If you are over age 50, you can contribute up to $18,000.

A 401(k) does not allow you the freedom to choose from a wide variety of stocks, bonds, and other assets to invest. You must choose from a pre-selected list chosen by your employer. 

An Overview of an IRA

An IRA, or individual retirement account, comes in two primary forms: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. No age limit exists for opening an IRA; anyone can open and fund this type of retirement account. To open and fund a traditional IRA, you must be under 70 ½ years of age and have an earned source of income. 

As with 401(k) accounts, the amount you can contribute each year may vary. You can check with a financial adviser like James Dondero to verify the amount that you can pay into your IRA. 

The 2016-2017 tax year allowed people 50 and under to pay in up to $5500 to an IRA. People over the age of 50 could pay up to $6500. When you open an IRA, you can choose from a variety of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and other investments. You can open an IRA by consulting with a financial analyst like James Dondero or at financial institutions like:

  • A bank 
  • Brokerage firm
  • Insurance company
  • Investment firm

It is important that you allow a certified management accountant like James Dondero to guide you in funding your IRA if you are unsure of what to invest in or how much to contribute to the account. 

Top Personal Finance Tips

Money is a difficult subject and keeping track of your finances can be hard. Especially when lavish lifestyles seem so effortless online, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overspending. You might need to utilise other forms of finance when you’re faced with an emergency too. Some people have used a short term loan when they didn’t have funds readily available for a crisis, but you might want to get your finances secure for the future so you don’t need to outsource each time. Here are some top tips to help you get your personal finances in a better place. 

Personal Finance Tips

Create A Realistic Budget

The first step to getting your finances in order is to create a budget. Don’t go crazy and limit yourself to barely any money each week, otherwise, you’ll end up splurging eventually and spending more than you would have normally. Make sure your budget is realistic and considers your outgoings and lifestyle. There are lots of ways to make little cuts here and there, but don’t go overboard and make it difficult to stick to. 

Make Small Savings Little And Often

Saving doesn’t have to be putting hundreds away each month that you only end up dipping back into anyway. Instead, try putting smaller amounts away more often. For example, if you buy coffee 5 times a week on your way to work, why not cut it down to 2 times a week. Once on a Monday to get you ready for the week, and once on a Friday as a little treat. Then pop the money that you would have spent on the other 3 days into your savings. It might not seem like much at the time, but after a couple of weeks, it really adds up. 

Use A Calendar

You’ve probably got a fair few outgoings each month, and special occasions like birthdays and trips away, so why not add them all onto the same calendar. Having your month marked out clearly will allow you to see what you need to spend in advance, and you’ll easily know if you need to save a little more for something that’s coming up in the next few months. 

Restrict Impulsive Buying

We’re all guilty of splurging on an expensive treat for ourselves after having a bad day, and that’s fine once in a while. It’s when impulsive buying becomes a habit that it’s a problem for your finances. Do your best to resist the urge to buy a new pair of shoes when you only recently bought a pair. When buying, there’s a difference between needing and wanting, and most of the time we merely want the products so try not to spend unnecessarily. 

Reduce Your Outgoings

Take a look at all of your outgoings and see if any of them can be reduced. For instance, are you paying out a lot for streaming services? If so, try and cancel your subscriptions for the ones you don’t actually use. You could also look at paying off more of your debts. This way, in the long run, you’ll have more money each month as you won’t still be paying them off. 

Have An Emergency Fund

Being hit with an emergency that you can’t afford can be scary. To eliminate the horror of receiving an unexpected bill through the door, try and build up some emergency funding. Keep it separate from your savings account and it’s money that you don’t touch unless you’re in a genuine crisis. 

Don’t Spend Just Because

If you receive a nice bonus at work or you get an increase in your yearly salary, don’t let it immediately affect your lifestyle. Just because you have more money coming in each month, doesn’t mean you have to spend more. If you do come into more money, try living on your previous budget and putting the extra into your savings account. After a few months, if you realise you could spare a little more towards your budget, then do so. But don’t spend more money for the sake of it. 

Keeping your finances in check doesn’t have to feel impossible. Making small changes to your spending and the way you save can make a massive difference. Even though you might cut down on your spending, it doesn’t mean you have to go without. You can still enjoy some of life’s little luxuries without breaking the bank. Try forming a healthy budget and putting some money away each month and you’ll soon notice your finances improving. 

Binary Options in Australia: what to know

Binary options is a trading method in which you speculate on the rise or decline of an asset. An option is a contract representing a right to buy or sell stock at a specific price within a certain time frame. You can think of binary options as bets whose value will fluctuate. The price for this bet may be fixed ahead of time, or it can move based on market conditions.

Binary Options are a more straightforward financial tool than most and can take many forms, from high-low trades to forex trading and commodities trading. They have no complicated graphs and charts, but if uneducated about them, they can prove to be even riskier than standard futures trading due to higher early withdrawal fees and stricter regulations.

Regulation of Binary Options In Australia

When trading binary options in Australia, it is crucial to be aware of the regulations that are in place. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the regulatory body that oversees all financial products and services in Australia, including binary options, is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Binary options fall under 'derivatives', which derive their value from an underlying asset.

Binary Options in Australia

Firms offering binary options trading in Australia are not required to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence. Due to the lack of regulation, many binary options trading companies pop up under the impression they do not need to adhere to regulations or protect their client's funds.

The ASIC does, however, make the distinction that binary options are 'financial products' if they offer leverage and derivatives. Due to this, many Australian brokers operate outside the law with no protection for you as a trader.

Binary Options Platform Types

Before starting work on your Binary Options portal, you should research platforms available on the market since there are a few different types.

Whichever platform you decide to go with, make sure you test it on a demo account before trading with real money.

How to Trade Binary Options

There are two ways to trade binary options, High/Low and One-Touch trades. The most popular of these is the High/Low trade which involves betting that the price of an asset will fall between a fixed range at a particular time.

An example of this might be: Say you believe that the Australian dollar (AUD) will close below .72 against the US dollar (USD), so you buy an AUD/USD binary option with a strike price of .72 and an expiry time of 30 minutes. If, at any point during those 30 minutes, the AUD/USD rate falls below .72, then your bet wins, and you receive double your original investment as profit. You can think of this as buying one AUD/USD currency pair for $0.72 and selling it back at $0.76, making a profit of $0.04 per pip.

If, however, the AUD/USD rate finishes the 30 minutes at .7275 or higher, then your binary option will expire out of the money, and you will lose your initial investment.

One-Touch options are similar to High/Low trades but with one key difference - the trader is betting that the asset's price will touch a certain target level before the expiration time, rather than finishing within a set range.

It could be something like betting that Google stock will close at or above $1100 by the end of the day. If it does, you would have made a successful One-Touch trade and received a payout of upwards of 200% on your investment.

Risk Management

No matter which type of binary options trade you are making, it is always important to remember to use risk management techniques. It means ensuring that you never risk more than you can afford to lose and setting stop losses on your trades to protect yourself from significant losses if the market moves against you.

Choosing a Broker

When choosing a broker, it is vital to research who you are entrusting your money with thoroughly. Reputable Binary Options brokers will have a licence from an external regulator.

Australian investors looking at either High/Low or One-Touch trades should consider whether the broker offers expiry times beyond 60 seconds since these are often provided on some more popular platforms.

Finally, you should always check whether your broker offers the option to receive payouts in cash or if they require you to trade out first before any money is paid. Here is another fantastic article about technical oscillators