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April 13, 2017

Demolition or Renovation – Which Should You Pick?

low cost home renovationsIf you buy a prebuilt home that doesn’t have a tremendous value as it stands, you might find yourself wondering whether to rebuild it from the ground up or try to repair and remodel it as it stands. The question is one worth considering seriously because there can be major variations in the cost difference between the two options. There are many factors involved in the final decision according to sites like thepattisallgroup.com, each of which can influence it in a certain way.

Historical Value Must be Checked

People commonly want to demolish and rebuild if the home they bought is a timeworn one. In cases like this, you have to think about the significance of the house in history. Some homes are protected by the city for their historical value. These are commonly referred to as heritage homes, and you can’t just take a wrecking ball to them. You must talk to the state and federal government and get permits to break them down before doing so. In times like this, it might be more convenient just to renovate the home instead.

Consider Local Building Limitations

Some parts of a town, state or country have certain restrictions placed on how you can rebuild the home after demolishing it. These are usually regions of architectural importance, which are visited by tourists often for a look at the homes which are of a certain basic design. Demolishing an old home might not be the best idea if you are required to rebuild it in almost the exact same way that it looked before.

Saving Money on Renovation Isn’t Easy

Most legitimate home improvements are quite costly. You may be tempted to save money by cutting corners on certain aspects of the renovation. However, if you ever try to sell the house in the future and the quality of even the tiniest aspect isn’t up to par, you will have to pay a pretty hefty fine to repair the house before selling it. Because of this, your long-term costs can still be far higher than when demolishing and rebuilding the house.

You Can’t Live in the House While Renovating

Many people choose renovation because they want to move in as quickly as possible. They think that staying in the home while it is being renovated is a good idea and one that will save on rent money. The truth is, this can be quite harmful to the health of the people in your home. Renovation releases toxic chemicals, dust, and worse. All of these can be harmful, especially to pets, kids, and people with allergic conditions.

You should also consider how good you are at planning things. There are people who are great planners and others who are terrible at it. If you’re a terrible planner, renovation might not be the best idea since you won’t be able to determine how well the project goes. Hiring an architect and demolishing the old house might be the best course of action in a situation like this.

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March 26, 2017

Why Wealth People Are Buying In Citizenship By Investment Schemes

wealth investment schemesThese days, many wealthy people are buying their citizenship in locations where it is easy for them to preserve their wealth. There are actually numerous countries that allow what is called an immigrant investor program. These programs are set up by the countries’ governments in order to bring wealthy people into their ranks, and benefit from those people.

Countries with Immigrant Investor Programs

Countries like Cyprus, Spain, Malta and Australia have these programs. It is likely that in the future, more and more countries are going to begin implementing these types of programs. Especially as more countries are feeling the strain of the global financial crisis. This can help energize their economies. The most popular locations are in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean.

An example of this type of program can be found in Malta. Their program is called the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme. This program grants ‘naturalization by investment to reputable individuals and their dependents, after a rigid and thorough due diligence processes that make a significant contribution to the social and economic development of the country.’ What are the benefits? After five years of buying property in Malta, this will be tax exempt on sale. There is also no inheritance or death taxes, no estate duty, no net worth or wealth taxes and no municipal taxes, rates or real estate taxes. Dual citizenship is also available.

The examples above for Malta are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits for the wealthy related to immigrant investor programs. These programs are specifically aimed at the very wealthy. The investments required can range from $500,000 to several million dollars. For those that do make this kind of investment, this is a very small amount. In Europe, Bulgaria requires a $700,000 investment in government bonds for five years, whereas in the Caribbean, St. Kitts& Nevis requires a $400,000 investment in real estate or the sugar industry.

Why are the wealthy investing in new citizenship in this manner?

So if the investment is minor for these investors, then what makes them want to participate in this type of investing? The main reason for doing this is the tax benefits. The super rich are always looking for ways to keep their money out of the hands of their government, and hold onto as much of it as they can. In this instance, the countries offering these programs, like the ones mentioned above, offer lower income taxes, and, more importantly, inheritance taxes.

There are other incentives as well. These include:

• Access to better education
• A desire to escape political instability or disagreement
• Better passport or visa-free travel to more countries, especially those in Europe as part of the European Union
• Higher standards of living
• Tax advantages

There are even some of the very rich who try to avoid taxes altogether by bouncing between countries around the globe with different citizenships and residence permits.

Who are these extremely wealthy people making this type of investment?

Those who are gaining citizenship through investment are from all over the world. Generally, many of these wealthy are from the Middle East, India, South Africa and China.

So how can the not-so-wealthy take advantage of these programs?

There are a few countries that do not require as large of an investment, like Bulgaria, in order to invest in citizenship, but gain all of the benefits. Dominica, for example, is the most inexpensive deal. With only an investment of $100,000 plus some fees, citizenship can be bought. Even St. Kitts and Nevis has a cheaper program than the $400,000 mentioned above. For only $25000, you can make a non-refundable donation to the St. Kitts & Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation to get access to citizenship.

There are also many countries that offer citizenship for an investment below one million US dollars. These include Malta, Portugal, and other EU countries where you can also gain all the benefits of the EU. Of late, citizenship by investment in Malta is gaining popularity due to various benefits. Moving and living in Malta has become so popular also due to the economic boom there is on the island

The least expensive of them all may be Latvia, where with a five-year residency costs merely $96,000. The benefits associated with this program include a common visa policy shared by twenty six European countries, but there is no telling how long this deal will last.

More countries are now offering this type of Immigrant Investor Program to help their economies bring the wealthy, and not so super wealthy, into their citizenship.

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January 1, 2017

7 Tips for Families to Become Debt Free

debt attackMost families have accumulated a significant amount of debt due to auto loans or credit cards that have been used over the years. Acquiring debt can make it easy to feel limited with your finances, which can make it difficult to make ends meet. To become debt-free and obtain financial freedom, there are a few important steps to take.

1. Create a Budget

Creating a budget will allow you to determine how much money you can afford to put towards your debt each month. Calculate your household income and write down your expenses, which will allow you to get an idea of how much debt you will pay off with each paycheck.

2. Establish Goals

Establishing goals to pay off your debt in a specific time frame will make it easier to stay on track and avoid losing focus with paying off the debt in full.

3. Cut Coupons

You can save more money each month to put towards your debt by cutting coupons in the newspaper for food and household items that you already purchase. Combine manufacturer coupons and store coupons to double your savings.

4. Pay Off Lowest Balances First

Paying off the accounts that have the lowest balance first, which will allow you to stay motivated and will reduce the amount of money that you pay in interest each month. There are some credit repair companies that can help you consolidate and repay your loans.

5. Avoid Eating Out

Reduce the money that you spend each month by making your meals at home and avoid dining out when you’re on the go. Prepare meals and have easy snacks on hand to take to work and stay within your food budget.

6. Shop at Secondhand Stores

Shopping for clothing or goods at secondhand stores can allow you to avoid paying full price for products that your family may need when it comes to purchasing school clothes or work attire.

7. Use the Envelope System

Convert your paycheck into cash and transfer it into different envelopes to avoid overspending and track how much you have left to spend. This will allow you to become more conscious of how much money you spend without relying on a credit or debit card.

Although it can be challenging to pay off debt as a family, there are several lifestyle changes that can be made to make progress with the money that you owe. By establishing rules with your finances and making goals, you can track the money that you pay off to ensure that you obtain freedom in a realistic time frame.

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November 26, 2016

How to Improve Your Credit Ratings

improving creditLow credit ratings often increase the interest rates on various financial products, such as home loans or credit cards. Borrowers with higher credit scores are able to save significant amounts on their loans when compared to individuals with lower credit scores.There are several ways that help people to improve their credit scores given by credit rating agencies like Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL). The agencies do not treat all types of debts in the same way while calculating the credit score. The ratings are affected negatively if the outstanding balance on the card increases.

Here are five ways that help improve credit scores.

1. Lower the Credit Card Balance

The best way to improve credit rating is to lower the outstanding balance on the card. The rating agencies make a downward revision to the score if the credit utilization ratio exceeds a certain percentage. This ratio is the amount used by the cardholders as a percent of the overall credit limit. Reducing card balance may seem to be a difficult task but is achievable with the help of discipline. Users must adhere to stringent limits to reduce the balance and improve the credit score. If possible, individuals may ask the issuing company to increase the limit on their cards. This may also help improve the credit score provided the users do not increase their spending because of the higher limit.

2. Convert Card Debt to Personal Loan

With some diligent planning, card users may be able to improve their credit ratings even before paying off the debt. They are advised to consider converting the card debt to a personal loan. Higher outstanding balance on card reduces the credit score much more than personal loans. Loans with fixed installments are not considered by the agencies while calculating the credit ratings. Therefore, availing a personal loan instead of maintaining a high balance on the credit card is advisable. In addition, to improve credit score, such conversion is beneficial in reducing the cash outflows. The interest rates on personal loans are often lower than the card interest rates. It is important that the cardholders discontinue the use of their credit cards after such conversion to ensure the ratings are not affected.

3. Selective Accelerated Debt Payments

Repaying loans in a timely manner has several benefits. However, individuals who want to improve their credit scores must consider postponing such pre-payments. The money should instead be used to pay off the card outstanding because this kind of debt affects the scores more than loans.

4. Keep Regular Checks on Credit Report

Research shows that a significant percent of individuals have errors on their credit reports. It is possible that errors have severe results on the credit scores. This further impacts their borrowing capability and rate of interest that is levied on their loans. It is recommended that borrowers check their credit report prior to applying for any kind of loan. If any errors are found, they must immediately contact the rating agency and seek rectifications. This would help improve their credit score and enable them to borrow at a lower rate of interest.

5. Make Timely Repayments

Credit scores are significantly affected due to delayed payments. Lenders report delays to the agencies after 30 days from the payment due date. Such late payment reports are reflected in the credit score for many years, which impacts the individuals negatively. To avoid this, making timely payments is recommended.

Unfortunately, several people in India are not aware of the importance of good credit ratings. They fail to understand that even a slight improvement in their credit score may help them save huge amounts and get a lower interest rate on their borrowings.

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October 19, 2016

Four Quick Tips About Budgeting

entire budgetingBudgeting doesn’t need to be hard. It can be as simple as you want to make it. However, there are a few things that you can do to make sure you have a positive experience with your budget. Here are four tips to make sure you have a great experience and start to feel the “magic” of budgeting.

Tip #1 – Write it Down

Budgets can come in many shapes and sizes. They can be created for individuals, families, and households. You can even create them to help you find the funds to go on a service mission, have a wedding, or have another specific event. The biggest issue, however, is not that people don’t want to do a budget…it’s that they never write it down. Writing it down brings a level of commitment. Putting it out on paper or a spreadsheet, or even using an app of software allows you to see it and commit to it. So take a second and write your budget down, if you haven’t already!

Tip #2 – Create a Savings Plan

Along with a budget, consider having a separate document that goes along with your budget that will work hand in hand. That document is a savings plan. Creating a specific savings plan will enable you to keep your mind on the long game… that is saving for the future and for future emergencies. It doesn’t need to be hard. Just specify how much you want to save and then make specific, action goals so that you can make sure and accomplish what you are striving for.

Tip #3 – Make Goals

Speaking of goals…while you are writing down your budget and savings plan, make sure that you make S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time oriented. Setting goals allows you to look into the future and make plans. It will also become a benchmark and allow you to feel successful when you hit those goals. Look at the next six months or a year and make some goals and then do everything that you can to strive to hit them!

Tip #4 – Keep the Long Term in Mind

We all have times when we have an emergency or situation in which we need to spend money to survive. Whether it’s medical bills, or the car breaks down, we all have times when this happens. Don’t let it bother you. Pay what you need to pay, and then get back up and keep striving to hit your goals. If you can keep the long term in mind, then you will forever be able to accomplish your goals (even if it takes a bit longer than you thought).

If you can keep these four tips in mind, then you will have a positive budgeting experience. Put it out on paper, create a savings plan that compliments your budget, and make specific goals to help you get where you want to go. If something happens in the middle of your plans, keep the long term in mind. Following these four tips will increase your level of financial confidence and ultimately help you find financial peace in the months and years to come.

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