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The World of Student Loans Explained

young student girl holding and looking toward a pink piggy-bank

There’s no such thing as a free lunch and we all want the very best for our children in terms of education. By its very essence the American Dream sees education as the road to fulfillment for any individual who wants to build a good solid future and achieve complete happiness. Unless you’re very fortunate many people can’t meet all the fees up front and so they need to get some student loans. This in itself can be a bit of a minefield as there are quite a few available. You’ll need the loan most applicable to your own situation. By the end of this article we hope to have enlightened you further and maybe even helped you choose which is best for the student in your home! But always remember the debt has to be paid back in time.

Federal Student Loans

These loans are backed as the name suggests by the Federal Government and include many benefits like fixed interest rates and income-based repayment plans. This should really be your very first option and you don’t need to get a credit check for most of these loans except for PLUS loans.

The U.S. Department of Education will give Direct PLUS Loans to eligible borrowers through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program.

federal student loans

These excellent Federal loans can also help you establish a good credit record in time. In most cases You won’t even need a co-signer and the great thing is you won’t have to start repaying your federal student loans until you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time.

It means you can get through school without too many worries and concentrate fully on your studies.There are a number of repayment plans, including an option to tie your monthly payment to your eventual income. In order to get a student loan you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM). Again there’s plenty of information available online, and you can even get professional help filling them in.

A Word on Student Loans without Co-signer

The good news is because federal student loans are not based on any form of credit, they will never need you to provide a co-signer, or submit to a credit check. So you can apply for this type of aid without a credit history, a job, references, or personal income of any kind and still qualify without any problems.

Student Loan Consolidation

making one solid block by combining 4 blocks

A Direct Consolidation Loan enables the student to combine a number of these loans into one solitary loan. This means a single monthly payment is required instead of multiple payments. Hopefully a single loan for students will suffice? But take the very best advice first!


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Loans made through what we call the Federal Perkins Loan Program, often called Perkins Loans, are low-interest (5 per cent) federal student loans for undergraduate and graduate students who are in the greatest and exceptional financial need. The idea is to give those students even from the poorest families the chance to enhance their education!

Private Student Loans

These are just like taking out a personal loan from your local bank for anything else in life and some people take out a private loan on top of the government backed scheme. The only thing is these can have variable interest rates, some even greater than 18%.

And this is where some families get themselves into trouble. A variable rate may substantially increase the total amount you repay, so you must shop around for the lowest rate. Even talk to your own bank who may be able to help more. This can save you an awful lot of money in the long term. You’ll probably need an established credit history.

The cost of this loan will depend on your credit score and other factors. You’ll also need to start re-paying when you’re still at school or college too so you’ll need to be fully prepared for this! And it’s important to point out they cannot be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan, and you’ll need a cos-signer.


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The National Student Loan Database

The National Student Loan Database is in fact a massive and impressive set of records kept by the Department of Education containing the details of virtually every federal student loan disbursed by the government. This is also to protect identity and safeguard students and their families.

So you can have the best possible peace of mind. Every time a student takes out a loan backed by the Government the details of loan and the borrower payments on it are sent to the Department of Education National Student Loan Database.

The whole idea behind this national student loan data system is students don’t have to contact their school financial aid office or loan provider as they can get all the information they need directly from the NSLD. They can deal with any problems both quickly and efficiently and of course they are vastly experienced and understanding.

Student Loan Calculator

calculator with a grey background

This is a well thought out tool for calculating the monthly payments taking into account both the interest rate and the principal loan amount for private and federal loans. These clever calculators should also be used when comparing the various private loan programs to decide on which one is best for you and there are a whole host of them on the internet.

By plugging in values like the amount of loan required, repayment time, annual interest rate, and payments per year (usually 12), you can arrive at a ball park figure close to what will be your minimum monthly payment. Planning ahead can be all important and you can be clear in your mind you won’t get into trouble in the future.


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There’s a wealth of information online regarding the full range of student loans so make sure you take plenty of time to do as much good research as possible before making a final decision. Everyone wants the best for potential students and finance shouldn’t be a barrier to enjoying a really excellent education.

The future of the student always has to be paramount here. The problem is families or individuals can still get into a lot of trouble because they’ve either taken out the wrong loan or got in above their heads in some way. Loans backed by the Government should always be looked at first before going down any other road.

After all, this is what they were devised for and you should take full advantage of them. Private loans should be taken out with caution, and there are other alternatives available, so whatever you do don’t go rushing into things. Plan everything way down the line.

Take the very best advice!

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Credit Cards in Focus

girl holding and showing credit cards in her hands
girl holding and showing credit cards in her hands

Make no mistake the credit card industry is big business in our modern world and many people rely on them greatly. We all need credit from time to time and for some people carrying physical cash about on their person apart from small change is a rarity. There seems to be credit cards for every purpose, but in selecting a card are you getting the product you really need?

More than 78 per cent of all households in the United States have at least one credit or debit card they use on a regular basis, so you can see at a glance just how important it is to get the process right! Well this article will focus briefly on some of the many cards available and how they work so hopefully you’ll be better informed and able to choose a card suiting you best avoiding any pitfalls along the way!

An Everyday Credit Card

We’ve all had numerous offers coming through our mailbox presenting a whole range of credit cards in all colours, shapes and sizes. Some are very tempting when you first see them but the trick is to pick a card either with 0 per cent interest or a card with benefits such as air miles, shopping points, travel incentives, gas incentives or even cash back.

Credit card offers are increasing by the day right across America for sure so you should read the small print thoroughly and decide what might be best in the long term! It’s important at this point to mention student credit cards can come with some very tempting offers but make sure you know what you’re signing up for and use them only when you need to!

Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Credit card for bad credit history

Such is the competition these days it’s possible you can get a credit card even when your credit history isn’t great or has faltered, though of course this isn’t guaranteed. The interest rates on these cards will be much higher of course and if used wisely your credit limit will be increased slowly.

Shop around though, and try and get the lowest rate possible. But you should also get a free copy of your FICO credit report before applying. Used wisely these can actually help repair a poor credit rating over time, and they could rescue you from the financial abyss.

What the Media are Saying

Secured Credit Cards

credit card secured with a lock and chain

With bad credit very much in mind in this faltering economy you should be aware of this product if your credit score is really poor or in fact you don’t have a credit history at all! They are a great option for establishing or rebuilding your complete credit score, if you can get accepted by a company. The fact is they are becoming very big business in themselves and some of the criteria has even been relaxed.

Once someone is approved for one of these cards they are required to make an initial deposit into a secured savings account. The amount of credit they have will usually be the same as the amount in the account. This deposit is held as long as the account is open. Many people have these credit cards in the United States, so don’t worry as some individuals simply can’t help not having a credit history for a number of very genuine reasons! There’s no need to feel any stigma may be attached to them!

Business Credit Cards

This type of innovative card can prove invaluable for small business owners and sole traders in particular, and you can get special rates from the credit card companies for working with them on a long term basis. Pay off the balance on time and they can become a vital business tool in the long run. In some cases there are no annual fees and many carry a whole host of rewards from cash back to luxury travel programmes, and a lot more. Let’s be honest, everybody likes to get something back!

Good research is the key before signing up so take a good look around the market, as there’ll be something to suit your own approach to business, and you really could benefit from this.

Best Credit Cards

Girl showing credit card with a thumbs up

It’s true to say at one time a certain type of credit card stood out against the rest. Many people believed a Visa credit card as a trusted brand was the best you could possibly get. Mind you, for a long time there weren’t many rivals.

Competition in the market has now changed all of this so even though Visa still has a terrific reputation worldwide as well as in America, there are now quite a few other cards with just as good a name. It really all boils down to what you think will suit you best, but the fact is you should always look for a card with as low an interest rate as possible.

Or a card with 0 per cent interest for a limited time period! There’s plenty of information on the internet involving most credit card companies so take some time and study them if you can. The competition is extremely fierce and as a consumer you should make full use of this!


It’s very important you understand the information contained in the video. It could make a lot of difference to you fiscally!

Credit Card Processing

This isn’t always widely understood by the general public even though they are part of the system on a daily basis without them realising. But this lucrative method of card processing is the way in which merchants are able to both accept and receive funds through their customers’ credit and debit cards.

If you have a business this will normally involve signing a contract with a processing company who will then put the proceeds from card sales into the merchant’s checking or savings account. The fees for this type of service are determined by a number of things, including whether the card information is swiped or keyed.

At the end of the working day, the business owner can receive the money made from credit card transactions with a simple request to the bank. This all makes the lives of merchants and customers much easier as everyone seems to benefit.


You can see there are credit cards to suit everyone from every walk of life whether you are a running business, have bad credit or simply looking for the best card for your own personal needs, or for a specific event! It’s important to read the small print from top to bottom, carry out plenty of research and shop around. Trying to get as low an interest rate as possible will make a big difference to you.

We all realize life would be very hard today without them! Credit cards can be a handy tool when used responsibly. They even come with various specialist offers, we can all benefit from. Watch the videos enclosed and take all of these things fully into account before you sign up for a card! To be honest, looking for a credit card can also be fun!

Take a look at this:

Good Luck!

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Cash for Gold – The Good And The Bad

measuring between cash and gold in a manual scale
measuring between cash and gold in a manual scale

This is a concept we’ve all seen take off in a really big way over these past few years and it shows no sign of slowing down. Add this to the bad state of the economy and the fact some people are really struggling on a day to day basis and its natural individuals will be looking at extra ways of getting cash.

We’ve all seen the advertisements screaming ‘cash for gold’ at us, and in every state people seem to be making good money from the many services available. But do we all know how this really works and why there’s been a modern return to those Yukon days when gold was so vital? Well this article will give a simplistic account of the process leaving you in a good position to make your own mind up!

Selling Gold Jewellery for Cash!

People have done this for years of course but this has seen an upsurge as part of the all round process. And why would you want to sell gold jewellery for cash? Well because it’s a great way of getting funds quickly, if you can manage to take the emotional aspect out of things.

But the very first thing you need to do is to find out how much your gold is actually worth. The best way is to go to a jeweller and let them determine your gold’s worth. Just remember the price can and does change daily as the actual spot price of gold changes all the time. When researching companies you must determine whether or not they are BBB accredited. You want a business with a BBB rating of over a B-.

gold jewellery in hand

You must always be wary of any company not accredited. The majority legitimate of gold refiners will go through the trouble of getting accredited. Just to be sure go to the company’s website and check out their buying and selling policies. Confirm what percentage they pay out and how they go about handling your gold. Oh and look up their insurance policies too, just to give yourself complete piece of mind.

The top companies will have excellent insurance to cover many different eventualities. If they don’t then the general rule of thumb is don’t touch them. After all you don’t want to put your precious gold items in the post only to lose them or indeed any compensation.

Do not accept any offer under 80% of the spot price of gold. Many gold refiners are willing to pay 90% or more for the right items so don’t be short changed!

You can take your pieces into one of the many stores across America who specialise in this. They’ll look at the item, weigh it and then offer you a price and cash there and then. You’ll see cash for gold locations both on the internet and advertised on TV. Most companies make it really easy sending you a specially padded envelope which is prepaid. You then just mail your items risk-free and the company will do the rest and send you a check.

But make sure you have a direct contact telephone number and a proper address and not a PO box or something you just don’t recognise. Check them out thoroughly before parting with anything just to be absolutely safe. Some companies will pay you for any item containing precious metal, even if it’s broken, bent, dented, scrap, or simply unwanted; your items have actual cash value, so take the best advice first!

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In fact cash for gold prices at the time of writing in the United States were at an all time high. This is because Gold’s price is not driven by industry. There are lots of industrial and high-tech uses for the metal, and the general use for gold hasn’t changed for centuries.

gold the store of value

Gold is basic terms what we call a store of value. It’s an asset that can be and often is held by many people as a store of wealth. But while gold is not money, it shares a very important characteristic with money itself, namely value. The term itself tells you everything you need to know as it’s the best value you’re after.

If you are interested in scrap gold prices there are many options online which will stream up to the minute gold prices to your browser or your iPhone, so take advantage of the technology if you can! You must ensure you’re the person in charge during any transaction so you can haggle when you know quite clearly you’re not being offered the full value for your gold items.

Gold is Still Seen Primarily as A Store of Wealth

But you must beware as there are a number of scams involving the sale of gold items it’s amazing just how many people can get stung by these scams brought about by heartless individuals just itching to profit from other people’s valuables!

Cash for Gold Scam?

It’s also been in the news there is a new scam sweeping across America known as the Cash for Gold Scam and consumers are being advised to beware of anyone who might approach them on the hoof!

Gold Buyers who say they are acting as Middle-Men in the gold refining Industry. Don’t be taken in as they seriously undervaluing your used gold and will only offer you a fraction of what it’s worth. Some companies offer you much less than your gold is actually worth and others claim your scrap gold is not real gold and charge you to send it back.

Even worse in some cases if you do pay some don’t actually send it back. Just like any field of finance when something is trending unscrupulous groups emerge from nowhere to try and take full advantage of people. Sadly, they normally succeed as other people suffer or lose everything!

There are many more scams out there so only use one of the top companies and even then carry out plenty of research and feel comfortable with them before parting with your gold in any form.

Gold for cash can be a wonderful way of raising cash when you badly need it but make sure you take every precaution possible and only deal with those companies who have an outstanding reputation or are accredited.

As with everything involving money you need to take plenty of time in order to carry out thorough research. This will always put you in a much stronger position in any case, and actually it can be an interesting thing to do.

Remember it’s so easy in desperation to accept the first offer you get or just take what anyone is willing to offer. And don’t forget the insurance side of things! Make it a disciplined process and you can make good money or at the very least get full value for your gold. Good luck with the sale!

Bankruptcy, Slider

Banking on Bankruptcy

Bankrupted businessman showing empty pockets
Bankrupted businessman showing empty pockets

It should be avoided if at all possible but in these fast moving modern days bankruptcy is commonplace and actually rising as the struggling economic climate continues to struggle. This is a way for people or businesses who have too many debts to handle, either to work out a plan to repay the money they owe, or to eliminate their debts entirely.

This can happen for a number of different reasons of course and some of those reasons are very genuine, though it should always be the worst case scenario it can help individuals back onto a straighter path and give them a fresh start. This article will give a brief overview of the process in very simple terms and hopefully give you some great advice along the way! Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be the end of the world but you’ll need the best possible help.


Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Under bankruptcy laws this is a well thought out plan for individuals to repay some or all of the money owed over a long period of time. In America this is the first route anyone should go down as it can give you very valuable breathing space.

The downside is this makes it very difficult for people to get any credit in the future, so you should always be very clear about this. Before anyone files for bankruptcy, and again before the Chapter 13 bankruptcy is finally discharged, you must obtain credit counselling from a non-profit credit counselling agency registered under the federal bankruptcy reform of 2005. This is to both give good advice and help you in the future.

The debtor starts the process by filing a petition with the bankruptcy court in their home district. Bankruptcy forms can be purchased at most stationery stores, or a bankruptcy attorney can help you prepare the forms. A confirmation hearing will eventually be held in court, and the bankruptcy judge will determine if the plan is feasible, and meets all Bankruptcy Code standards.

Creditors will be told of the hearing, and they may object to confirmation so be prepared to accept this as part of the ongoing scheme of things. Put yourself in their position? But get full advice from experts before even going down this road as filing bankruptcy can be a complicated affair.

Also remember the chapter numbers are different for farmers and corporations, and are taken from the sections of the Bankruptcy Code describing these procedures in much greater detail. If you fall into one of these categories you’ll need specialist advice!

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

holding number 7 in hand

If any payments cannot be paid over any length time, an individual or a corporation can file a bankruptcy under this particular chapter, where assets are liquidated and most debts are discharged. This will make it even tougher for you to get credit in the future and should only come into play when no other road is open to you.

In order to file the debtor files a petition with the bankruptcy court serving the area where the debtor lives, or where the business debtor operates the business or keeps most of their assets. Once this has taken place most legal actions are what we call “stayed”, and creditors cannot start or continue lawsuits or make telephone calls demanding payment. In other words the creditors must stop chasing the individual involved!

20 to 40 days after the petition is filed a meeting of creditor’s takes place and the debtor must attend the meeting. The creditors will ask questions regarding both the debtor’s financial affairs and property. You need to take a thoroughly professional approach in this situation and prepare well for any such meeting so you have the answers they may need to hand.

Bankruptcy chapter 7 will conclude with the debtor being discharged. They are no longer liable for discharged debts, and creditors are prevented from taking any action against them. Again take the best possible advice before embarking on this road. A good bankruptcy lawyer will help!

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

This all important bankruptcy Code is frequently referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy. Another technical term for a fresh start if you like! A person cannot file under this chapter or any other chapter if, during the preceding 180 days, a prior bankruptcy petition was dismissed.

This could be due to the debtor’s failure to appear before the court or comply with orders of the court. It could also be down to the debtor being voluntarily dismissed after creditors sought relief from the bankruptcy court to recover property. Hopeful you won’t ever find yourself in this position.

A relevant case begins with the filing of a petition with the bankruptcy court serving the area where the debtor resides. A disclosure statement or document containing information concerning the assets, liabilities, and business affairs of the debtor will be produced.

Let’s Be Clear About This!

 girl indicating towards her right

Unless the court orders otherwise, the debtor must file with the court:

  • Schedules of assets and liabilities;
  • A schedule of current income and expenditures;
  • A schedule of executory contracts and unexpired leases;
  • A statement of financial affairs.

This will be sufficient to enable a creditor to make an informed judgment about the debtor’s plan of reorganization and then act on this. A debtor will remain a debtor in possession until the debtor’s plan of reorganization is formally confirmed and rubber stamped.

The same applies until the debtor’s case is dismissed or converted to another chapter or a chapter 11 trustee is appointed. Bankruptcy lawyers should really be consulted as again, this can get extremely complicated depending on each individual’s circumstances and you can easily get bogged down in the scheme of things!

The experts will be able to hone in on your situation extremely quickly and come up with the best form of action. The truth is it will also make you feel a little better knowing you’re taking direct action and attempting to do something about the situation.


You must be aware this is a very complicated area and each case will vary, but there are many experts out there to help you. It’s understandable to feel confused, lost or even overwhelmed at times when financial burdens become too great to bear. The system is there to help people out of trouble and try to satisfy everyone involved, though of course it’s sometimes not possible to fully satisfy all the parties.

In a great many cases it’s really all about reaching a compromise. There’s a wealth of specialist reading on the subject across the internet so even though it may take a little while, become fully informed and up to date with the process. This is a form of action you simply can’t afford to rush as it has long standing consequences for everyone involved.

If you know you’re getting into trouble take advice as quickly as possible and even though the temptation may be there don’t bury your head in the sand. Remember, a problem is just an opportunity turned around and it doesn’t have to be a sad end. Some great success stories have come from bankruptcy! good luck!

Saving and Borrowing, Slider

How Can I Save in Retirement?

savings for retirement in a jar

It would be understandable for many people to ask why they should save in retirement? After all, once they’ve saved for these years surely they should be enjoying the benefits.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Well it’s a fair point, but of course each situation is different. We also need to ensure those savings last us for the rest of our lives. With this in mind there are many things we can do to save money in retirement. We can advise you on two or three of the most important things to do!

Where You Live Can Help You!

Everyone dreams of moving away to spend their retirement in a wonderful setting. Their own piece of paradise with the Beach Boys playing in the background! If you do plan on moving then it must be somewhere you can comfortably afford, and where the tax on property is much cheaper. If you can make a profit from the house you live in now then this will be of great benefit. There is a lot of information out there for retirees who have this in mind so take a closer look. Things vary across the United States so good research is vital!

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What the Press are Saying:

Huffington Post.: (Click article for full size)

You Might Plan of Doing Some Travelling?

Travel certainly broadens the mind but it can also be quite expensive in the long run. That said, there are many companies who cater for people of a certain age. Travelling with these companies can save you a lot of money, and you can often find the best places to eat or stay. You may even know people who have done the same thing so talk to them for advice! It really is possible to do lots of travelling quite cheaply so look around and again. Carry out lots of research!

choosing a red apple among the greens

Take Up the Many Offers Out There!

You can get a senior discount on many things – sometimes going up to ten per cent or more. So many retailers now have special deals for people in this bracket, especially those on a budget. Make sure you take advantage of this as it can save you a pile in the long run!

What About Your Home?

Everyone likes to own their own home as they can make all the decisions associated with this. Depending on the property size, this can become expensive as the home also has to be maintained. Insurance, utilities and maintenance costs generally can take a good chunk of your budget. And of course there’s the hassle these things can produce. For some people, moving into an adult community or complex can take all of these worries away.

They may have to pay monthly insurance fees or other smaller associated costs, but it does help them big time. Suddenly, a bit of a weight is off your shoulders! You can purchase smaller homes in a real estate community for older people. It all depends on your situation and the future plans you have, but you can certainly save a lot of money this way!

But There’s One Other Thing You Can Do!

So many people have clutter at home – things they really don’t need. You’d be surprised just how much in some cases! You may be able to sell older furniture, cars and even clothes to raise extra capital. It can also be about putting something back. You may even get a great vacation out of it, so look at all the options.

making the retirement way easy

And the Upshot of This All?

The truth is no matter how old you are, saving money will always bring big advantages to the individual. People can sometimes tread a fine line in later years.

You must ensure you can make your money last in retirement but quality of life is important as well. You must enjoy your retirement and take advantage of all the opportunities coming your way!

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Home Equity Loans for Debt Consolidation – Is This a Good Move?

comparing a house and money on a seesaw scale

Unless you’re particularly fortunate we all get financial problems from time to time. And through various reasons falling into the debt trap can happen to the best of us.

When this happens there are a number of solutions to the problem – debt consolidation is one of them.

So What is This Debt Consolidation?

 girl fed up with multiple billings and pulling her hair

If you owe money to various companies then it’s easy to lose track of what payments are going where. Debt consolidation simply means getting a loan to sort all of these creditors out. This means you end up with one monthly payment instead of several.

It doesn’t work for everyone of course, but used correctly it can provide a great solution to your problem. The fact is, you know what’s going out of your checking account and when!

If you owe money to various companies then it’s easy to lose track of what payments are going where. Debt consolidation simply means getting a loan to sort all of these creditors out.

This means you end up with one monthly payment instead of several. It doesn’t work for everyone of course, but used correctly it can provide a great solution to your problem. The fact is, you know what’s going out of your checking account and when!

Ok But is a Home Equity Loan the Answer?

First of all of course, you must be in the fortunate position of having your own property. If you do, then a home equity loan can solve your problems. As a homeowner you know you have cash in the property which could possibly be accessed at a fairly low rate of interest. Because of the low interest rate you can certainly benefit in terms of consolidating your debts.

Ok But is a Home Equity Loan the Answer?

mascot offering 5% interest rate

Well let’s just say you have a debt on a credit card which carries an interest rate of 15 per cent. You might also have an auto loan standing at six per cent. The total balance of both loans comes to $20,000. If the interest rate average is 10.5 per cent, this would mean you’d be paying $2,000 in interest payments alone every year.

It’s very possible to get a home equity loan for lower than 5 per cent, but only if you have a good credit score. In this case the interest payments on the two loans combined, would go down to less than $1,000 per month. That can make a big difference in anyone’s language. It’s safe to say then; a home equity loan can become a great source of debt relief.

But There’s A Catch!

‘Should you de-fault on the home equity loan or the line of credit provided you could possibly lose your home outright? You must be certain the risks are very limited, and you can manage to make the payments before even considering such a loan.’

What if I Have Bad Credit?

There are some lenders out there who are willing to help individuals with poor credit – the downside is these interest rates will be quite high making debt consolidation a poor move in certain cases. It all depends on the level of debt!

Remember this all boils down to the interest rates involved but in if you plan ahead you could improve your credit score by paying one of the debts off before taking out a home equity loan.

mascot confused where to go

Any Advice?

It’s always possible to lower the amount you owe by negotiating with companies instead of taking out any form of debt consolidation loan. On the other hand you could employ the services of a debt management company who can act positively on your behalf. You might even be able to slash the level of debt by up to a half. Then you could be able to manage the payments much better.

And the Upshot?

The upshot is a home equity loan provides you with an excellent option if you’re looking to consolidate debt. Should you a have a near perfect credit score then you will almost be guaranteed to save money in this way. If you have a poor credit score you’ll probably be unable to find a deal that is beneficial to debt consolidation.