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Which Mortgage Type is Best For You?

For most people, the only way to make buying a house feasible is through a mortgage. There aren’t many that can afford just to pay for a house up front. It’s far more likely that they will need to gather a deposit together and find a lender to provide them with a mortgage.

They’re not always the easiest thing to get your head around, though. There are many different variables that can leave your head spinning. We’re here to put you straight and make understanding mortgages a little bit easier. Many people make the mistakes of focusing on the interest rates offered, but as we’ll discuss later, that’s a mistake.

There are two main types of mortgages, and both of them have their own set of pros and cons. Let’s explore them both, so you can ultimately make a decision on which one suits you best.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

This is perhaps the most common mortgage option, and the reason is obvious. People fear uncertainty. A fixed rate, for the most part, eliminates the risk of your interest fluctuating. No matter what happens in the financial market, your interest rate will remain the same for the length of the deal. There are some exceptions, though, where the fixed rate will only apply for a specified period of time.

The clear benefit of this is that you won’t be stung by a sudden surge in interest rates. You’ll know how much you’re going to be paying in addition to your loan for the length of the deal. There are, however, a couple of disadvantages. Banks knows that people are seeking fixed rate mortgages as a means of reassurance, so they jack up the prices.  So, it’s worth shopping around. Take a look at the mortgage rates at You’ll also miss out should interest rates suddenly plummet. Such is the gamble of a fixed rate.

Variable Rate Mortgage

If you like to live life on the edge, a variable rate mortgage could be for you. The interest rate could fluctuate (or, likewise, rapidly decrease) at a moment’s notice. This can make things hard to plan for. You’ll never know when you might need to dip into your savings. There, is, however, a considerable chance that your interest rates will drop, and you’ll pay less. It’s down to you to work out if that’s a risk worth taking.

One particular benefit is that there is no penalty for overpaying. With fixed rate mortgages, your bank may charge you for paying above the minimum repayment threshold. Seems silly, doesn’t it? But there’s a method behind the madness. The bank wants to prolong the length of the mortgage so that you rack up more interest. That is no longer a problem with most variable rate mortgages.

Whichever you decide works best for you and your family, there will be other variables to consider. Some banks offer discounts, offset loans and capped rate mortgages. Most of them fall under the variable rate mortgage, but could provide you with additional bonuses. Take a look at what different banks can offer you before making a decision.

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UK Economy ‘Too Reliant’ On Consumer Debt

UK growth forecasts have taken a hit due to an over-reliance on consumers spending money on credit.

According to a report in This Is Money, other factors are also at play, including a poor outlook for manufacturing and exportation. British firms are struggling to sell goods abroad due to the continual rise in the value of the pound.

But, it is the debt issue that will raise further questions about the UK government’s conviction in their policies.  Are they a safe pair of hands when it comes to the economy?

The director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce expressed concerns in his statement to This Is Money. He said that “trade performance and current account balance are impacting our overall growth,”.  He went on to state that expectations have moved from “an earlier prediction of growth in 2015 to an expected contraction.”

But what does this mean for the average UK citizen? In general terms, of course, when debt levels rise, it tends to be a good sign for the economy - from whatever side of the political fence you sit on. It’s a sign of confidence from consumers that they can afford to repay the money, and it’s a signal from the banks that they are lending again.

The problem is, economics is never quite so simple. Credit card debt is growing at the fastest rate it has for over ten years, which means a significant chunk of that money may not be as secure as is wished. And, of course, there are signs in other areas of the economy that people are using credit sources to survive, rather than a tool.

This time of year is also relevant to those figures, of course. With the average UK household spending £800 over the Christmas period, there are concerns that a lot of it will be through a credit card.

Not all debt is bad, of course. Mortgages like these help people on the housing ladder and even safe spending on credit cards has its benefits. Plus, there are services out there that can help people keep on top of their finances. According to Evolution Money debt consolidation loans can help people struggling with multiple debts. And, they will allow them to keep a better track of who they owe money to - and when they need to pay. But, if consumers are only making minimum payments each month, it’s not going to turn out well for them. 

So, things may not be going as well in the UK as some might think. And, regarding wages, there are some alarming statistics, according to Resolution Foundation. They say the average salary will reach the same levels as it was before the global financial crisis. However, this is dependent on the interest rates staying at their long-term low, so it may be even longer. At the moment, there is still a £110 per week shortfall from what they would have been if the economy remained stable. And, of course, this may be one of the reasons people are using credit.

As ever with economics, it’s all guesswork, of course. But, it appears there are genuine fears that the current low wages and high debt levels are not a good mix.

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Important Factors In The Rise Of Pawn Shops

Most people will have noticed the number of pawn shops is increasing across the nation. With that in mind, we wanted to find out why that’s happening. Are there certain factors that facilitate the rise of businesses of that nature? What are they? Hopefully, you will learn everything you need to know in the next couple of minutes. We can’t tell you why every pawn shop in the US has opened its doors, but we can highlight the landscape that’s allowed that to happen. At the end of the day, most people find value in the service offered, so it’s probably a good thing.

A poor global economy

The state of the global economy during the last few years has caused many businesses to close. That means there’s room one the high street for more stores and lots of people are out of work. It’s the perfect situation for pawn shops to flourish. Many residents have valuable possessions they know can raise some extra cash. People either sell their items to the pawn shop for good, or they buy them back when their finances are sorted. When you think about it, pawn shops help people to pay their bills and keep food on the table.

Increase in bargain hunters

The increase in people who are on the lookout for a bargain is a knock-on effect caused by the global economy. When there isn’t as much cash around, residents try to make their money stretch further. That means they’ll happily spend hours browsing in a pawn shop because the products are usually cheaper. The manager of a pawn shop near MGM National Harbor told us people come from all over the country to check his stock. While some sellers decide to buy their possessions back from the pawn store, many don’t. That’s why you’ll find artwork and items of historical interest in among the other products they sell.

Mounting debts

People who find themselves in debt only have a couple of options one the table. They can either downsize their home, use their savings, or sell their valuables. The latter solution is by far the best choice in most instances. So, many folks choose to get rid of their valuables first. It’s less drastic compared to remortgaging or selling their properties, and nobody wants to lose their savings. Of course, many families get themselves into more debt by taking out loans to cover debt repayments. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that pawn shops offer a better alternative.

Now you understand the situation that has lead to the rise of pawn shops, there should be no confusion. Many of those establishments are going from strength to strength at the current time. You’ve probably seen reality TV shows dedicated to their business. The next time you pass a pawn store in town make sure you drop in and take a look. There are always bargains to be had, and you might just save some money. Will this trend continue into 2016? That depends on the state of our economy.

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Gold vs. Silver: Which is the Better Investment?

These days, when it comes to investments, it’s difficult to get better than precious metals. They are accessible, affordable, and offer great returns on investment. Investment in gold or silver is becoming hugely popular. And, if you have ambitions of investment you definitely need to consider precious metals.

However, the issue you will have is deciding which is the better choice, gold or silver. Now, this might depend on personal taste, or where you live. But, this post will look at some comparisons between the two. By the end you will hopefully know enough that you’ll be in an informed position to look at the two and decide which is a better investment opportunity.


Gold is one of the most precious and valuable metals on the planet. And it seems to be one of the few materials that tends to be unaffected by the rest of the market. While gold can be quite expensive, it does represent a safe and sound investment. In fact, if you have the money gold can prove to be very lucrative as an investment choice.

However, you are going to need quite a bit of money to make this a worthwhile pursuit. If you have the cash, then you can go for it right away. If not, you’re going to have to save up. Investing in gold is a fantastic use of your finances, but you need to be careful.

There’s no doubt that there is a huge market for the trading of gold, especially gold bars. It’s readily available, and you’re always going to find buyers for it. This makes it one of the best ways to invest your money and make a profit. But, its price means it is only a good choice for select people. Let’s have a look how it compares to silver for investment purposes.


Silver is another precious metal that you could think about investing in. It moves in the same kind of market as gold, but is often a more popular choice for investors. If you look at where to buy silver, you can make quite a bit of money from investing as long as you are sensible.

It’s important to remember that you need to look for value as well as return on investment. Silver represents much better value than gold. For instance, spending around $1,000 in a coin should get you around 40oz of silver. Whereas you’d be hard pressed to get a single ounce of gold for the same price.

You also need to look at the history of both metals. There have been a lot of restrictions put in place on gold over the years. And this somewhat limits what you are able to do in terms of buying and selling. With silver you don’t have this problem to contend with. So in many ways it’s a much simpler choice especially for those just starting out.

When it comes down to a neck and neck, there has to be a winner, and it looks like silver takes the gold! It seems like it’s much better value, and less available therefore makes for a more lucrative investment. If you want to invest in precious metals, you need to bypass gold and go straight for silver.

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Rise In Car Accidents And Insurance: The Facts

It has all over the media, and there is truth in it too - car accidents are on the rise. While this piece of news is terrifying for the average driver, it also has a financial implication. Many people now worry that the change in the stats will hit the economy fast. There is no doubt that these accidents cost the taxpayer a great deal. They also make premiums rocket. So, what should you know about this trend and what can you do?

The economy will not suffer

The truth of the matter is that the US car industry is booming. In recent news, the sales figures were on the rise for cars in America. That is to say that we should not worry about the great economy here. Many people have theorized that the increase in accidents will prevent drivers from buying vehicles. Nothing could be further from the truth. The industry is as stable as it ever was. In reality, there are more people buying cars every year than ever. In this country, many manufacturers and sales teams benefit. It is important to remember that.

Accidents will drive up premiums

There is no doubt about it - these accidents will drive up premiums. The average cost of car insurance is sure to be on the rise. That fact is something that every driver ought to know. While people need to get insurance, it is crucial that they shop around as much as they can. That way, they are certain to get something that suits them. If you are a safe driver, it is likely that you can earn no claims bonuses and discounts. You should keep that in mind when it comes to finding the right one for you. The car crash stats are worrying, but you need not worry about them.

Choose the right package 

When it comes down to it, it is vital that people find the right package for them. Educate yourself on different types of insurance before you do anything else. There is a wealth of information on the A Plus Insurance site that you might find useful in the long run. If you spend a little time doing your research, you should have no problem finding the right package. Remember, different drivers need various levels of coverage. When people search for the right one, they are likely to save money.

Avoid road accidents

Finally, drivers should protect themselves by avoiding all road accidents. Since the winter is upon us, safe driving is the most important thing. That means that people should do all they can to keep safe when they are on the road. If it helps, some drivers may want to learn some extra rules. If it has been a while since you took your test, you might wish to review some of the rules that you learned back then. That way, you can protect yourself and those around you. While the roads may be getting less and less safe, you have to be careful.

**image courtesy of Flickr 

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Downsizing Your Home to Manage Debt

We’re told that the economy is on the rise again, which should, in theory, mean an increase in finance for all of us. Unfortunately, though, some of us are still feeling the effects of this generation’s economic crisis. If you find yourself short of money and in need of paying off a large debt, you may have an escape clause thanks to your home.

The thought of selling your house may seem drastic, but that may be what is needed in desperate times. Downsizing can ultimately pay off a huge portion of your debt, but only if you approach the sale in the right way. Here are a few things you need to be aware of.

Getting Maximum Value

Selling your home, especially when you don’t really want to, can be a traumatic experience. Especially if you have to compromise on the price. In all likelihood, your asking price will take a dent, especially if you want to sell up quickly. House prices aren’t yet on the mend, so you will have to compromise on market value.

If you want to sell your house fast, it doesn’t necessarily mean a huge loss in value, providing you take the right steps. Do not settle for buyers that will try and tempt you by making an offer of 70% of the valuation. Trust me, they will come along, but you must stick to your guns at all costs. Even when pursuing a quick sale, you can still recoup around 94% of market value, which isn’t a great loss.

Should You Sell Independently?

There are pros and cons to chasing a sale by yourself. Recruiting the help of a real estate agent will benefit you in a few ways, but at a premium price. You have to weigh up in your mind whether it’s financially viable for you to seek assistance. But, ultimately, that is the best method for a number of reasons.

First of all, real estate brokers have significantly more reach than you do. They’ll be able to attract more potential buyers, and thus increase the likelihood of a sale getting off the ground. They’ll also have the means and resources to make sure everything is above board. It’s important that all paperwork checks out, as this minimizes the risk to yourself.

The Next Step: Buy or Rent?

Before your house is sold, you’re going to need somewhere else to live. You’ll certainly have to get this figured out before the sale goes through. But should you look at buying another property or renting for a while? My advice would be to rent elsewhere, at least until you’re back on your feet.

By the time you’ve sold off your home, and given a fraction of that to the real estate company, there may not be much left over to pay off your debts. Let alone buy a new house outright. For that reason, it’s advisable to rent for a while, but choose somewhere that allows you to live within your means.

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U.S. Treasury Securities Investing Flounders in Winter Months

U.S. Treasury Securities Investing Flounders in Winter Months

A recent study has determined that investors dealing with U.S. Treasury securities may want to check the calendar when investing.  The report notes the best time to invest in these securities is when the weather changes to springtime.

The data showed that October was the best month where monthly returns peaked on the securities and dropped by as much as 80 basis points over the winter months leading up to the lowest point in April.  The cause of the drop is suggested to be what researchers describe as seasonal depression or better know as SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

“Maybe it seems like a small number, but in the world of Treasuries, that kind of a systematic difference is huge,”  study co-author Lisa Kramer, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga was quoted as saying in a press statement.    She continues, “Maybe they’re not clinically-depressed and feeling the impulse to crawl back into bed but my own research suggests that they’re not as buoyant during some seasons of the year and it might not be very noticeable to an individual, but there do seem to be really broad effects.”

Kramer penned the research study on SAD along with Professor Mark Kamstra who is with York University’s Schulich School of Business.  Also part of the research was Professor Maurice Levi of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.   Kramer had previously penned a 2011 paper titled “This Is Your Portfolio On Winter” describing the risks to those suffering from the SAD depression.



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Gilbane Building Company Settles False Claim Allegations

Gilbane Building Company Settles False Claim Allegations

Gilbane Building Company has agreed to pay the sum of $1.1 million to satisfy claims of false claims for a company it merged with in 2010.  In November, 2010, W.G. Mills Inc and Gilbane Building company merged but had created a front company in order to gain a coveted contract with the Coast Guard.  W.G. Mills had setup a company known as Veterans Constructors Incorporated (VCI) to gain a contract specifically awarded to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs).

The idea of a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) is that it is operated and managed by service-disabled United states veterans along with not being affiliated with a larger entity.  The case brought against W.G. Mills was that the company setup what appeared to be a SDVOSB but was actually just a front for the larger company.

In a press statement, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III said, “Those who apply for federal contracts must be honest and forthright in their dealings, especially when seeking contracts set aside for service-disabled veterans.  Working jointly with DOJ and our agency partners has allowed us to make substantial recoveries in these types of cases in recent months.  Our office remains committed to pursuing these matters vigorously.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Florida and is captioned United States ex rel. Michael Jeske and Samuel McIntosh v. Gilbane Building Company, W.G. Mills, Inc., and Veterans Constructors Inc., Case No. 8:11-cv-1205 (M.D. Fla.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

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New Study Shows Renters Lost Wealth During Great Recession

New Study Shows Renters Lost Wealth During Great Recession

A new report issued by the Center for Social Development (CSD) in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis shows that American homeowners kept most of their wealth during the Great Recession.  Those that rented on the other hand, suffered great losses during the period.

“The proportion of homeowners who lost net worth was larger than the proportion of renters who did so; however, renters were more likely than owners to lose at least 25 percent of their net worth during this time,” said lead author Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD.  The study, Homeownership, the Great Recession, and Wealth: Evidence From the Survey of Consumer Finances,” appears in the journal Housing Policy Debate.

SOme interesting observations resulted from the report.  While many of the homeowners did lose net wealth during the time period as compared to renters, the report found that renters lost more wealth overall, up to 25%.  The findings showed a difference in each household depending on if it was owned or rented.

Ethnic groups were also scrutinized during the study which showed similar losses of net worth across groups.  Hispanics were reported to have a 32% loss in net worth while African-Americans just slightly below at 31%.  White Americans were the lowest in net worth loss at just 15% drop as found in the study.

According to Grinstein-Weiss, “About a third of black households lost at least half of their 2007 net worth, and almost half lost at least 25 percent of their 2007 net worth.  The proportions with such losses were substantially higher among black homeowners than among those in the other groups.”

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Will Consumers Shell Out for a $17,000 Apple Watch?

Will Consumers Shell Out for a $17,000 Apple Watch?

Apple announced three models of the new Apple Watch which brought some experts to wonder if the company had made a mistake in its announcement.  The basic Apple Watch, known as the Sport version, will be available to consumers for just $349.  But those looking for the 18-karat gold premium edition will be forced to pay another $16651 for the top of the line model.

The only reported difference between the top model and the entry level is the material the device is made out of.  The Apple Watch Sport model is made from aluminum while the premium model is 18 karat gold.  But the hidden item from the announcement is that Apple has now entered the luxury watch market with the release.

“Apple Watch is the most advanced timepiece ever created,” Tm Cook, Apple CEO stated in the Apple Watch announcement held in California. “It’s a revolutionary new way to connect with others and a comprehensive health and fitness companion.”

The new device has long been rumored for Apple and several features were announced during the press event this week in San Francisco.  The Apple Watch will have multiple types of bands and colors along with case material made from stainless steel.  Sensors included in the device are for heart rate and accelerometer.  The watch is compatible with the iPhone models 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus.  The face of the device is to be made of a very hard material known as sapphire crystal which Apple says is the second hardest material on earth with diamond being the first.

Availability is set for April 24 with pre-orders slated for April 10.


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