May 30

A Guest Post today from my friend Crystal –

No-fault states often require that people purchase much more auto insurance than tort states, so it’s not a surprise that nine of the ten cities with the most expensive auto insurance rates are in two no-fault states. The following 10 cities have higher auto insurance rates than any others in the country:

• Detroit, Michigan ($4,599)
• Highland Park, Michigan ($4,214)
• Brooklyn, New York ($4,133)
• Fort Hamilton, New York ($3,947)
• Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan ($3,504)
• Bronx, New York ($3,443)
• Allison, Texas ($3,385)
• St. Albans, New York ($3,233)
• Springfield Gardens, New York ($3,213)

According to in no-fault states, it doesn’t matter who caused the collision. The at-fault person will not be required to pay the medical bills of everyone who was hurt. The insurance company that insures the vehicle in which the injured parties were riding will be required to pay the medical bills up to the limits of the PIP insurance policy.

Required Insurance Coverage in Michigan

Along with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that pays everyone’s medical bills, Michigan residents must purchase Property Protection insurance in the amount of $1 million. Even though Michigan is a no-fault state, drivers are still required to purchase bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage. Generally, people are only required to purchase bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage in other states. Therefore, the greater amount of coverage and the higher limits will naturally increase the prices for people living in Michigan.

Required Insurance Coverage in New York

New York is also a no-fault state, and a greater amount of insurance coverage is required of drivers here as well. Motorists must have a certain amount of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage, but they are also required to have PIP insurance as well as uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

Higher Rates for Everyone

In the cities mentioned above, even people in the most desired demographic who have the greatest driving records will be quoted auto insurance rates that are higher than they would receive in other cities. The reason is that insurance companies base their quotes on the zip code in which their customers live. For example, insurance companies perform research on different cities in which they sell insurance, and they often discover that more claims for auto insurance coverage come from customers from a particular zip code. Because this is the case, anyone who is driving in this zip code has a greater chance of filing a claim with the insurance company, and these drivers will be assessed higher rates.

Auto insurance companies set rates based on more than just the number of claims filed. The number of accidents and thefts and vandalism rates also play a role. Cities with a high risk for most or all of these factors are going to be the ones that have the highest auto insurance rates. Auto insurance companies charge clients who are less likely to need to use their insurance coverage lower rates, and those who live in high risk areas in no-fault states don’t fit this description.

How is your car insurance bill? Anything close to these top-ten cities?

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

May 30

A Guest Post today –

Treating your investments as anything less than a business is a mistake. Following advice of your broker isn’t always bad, but just like in business you should see a return on your investments and most brokers have interests that might not align with yours. If you have found yourself losing money, then you aren’t investing, you’re spending. Just like any business venture it’s essential to understand what brings success and success in the investing game is all about ROI.

A business cannot take major losses, and remain a business for long. Why would you be any different when investing your money? Brokers still get paid when you lose money, so excuses like “everyone’s losing money” or “it’s a bad market” are just that… excuses.

In business, having an employee consists of being able to utilize that employee in the most efficient way possible in order to maximize your return on investment. Think of your broker as an employee–can you afford him? I am sure that firing your broker isn’t what you want to do, but just like in business you can’t spend money if you aren’t making any.

Stocks are Products

Running a business comes from selling either a service or a product. In the personal investing side of things, it runs the same way. You buy and sell products (stocks) – in this case pieces of a company – in order to maximize the return on your money. Having a weak link, such as a bad broker or a computer that can’t keep up with the current trading software is costing you money, just like a bad employee would in a small business.

You Need a Plan

Every good company started with a solid business plan and every solid investment portfolio should utilize a plan as well. A business plan involves promotion, whether in the form of business cards, t-shirts or see these promotional products, a Nashville, TN company has to offer. Stock portfolios are essentially the same, only instead of promoting your business you are doing your best to promote your portfolio to hungry investors that’ll buy these stocks and make you some money in the process.

Set Goals

Another piece of the plan is goal setting. Make a list of things you want to accomplish. At what age would you like to retire? How much debt do you have and at what point does it need to be paid off? Which financial wants and needs are a priority?

Once you have solid goals, you can begin to calculate what needs to happen to get you there. For example, on a 7-percent annual return, do you need to invest 15-percent of your salary each year, or could you get there with 10-percent and wait to reap the rewards for another couple of years. Financial planners are great assets when trying to decide on your short and long-term goals, and they should be utilized unless you are an experienced and savvy investor.

Build a Team

Every business needs a good team to function. When investing, your team is essentially yourself, an accountant, a broker, and a financial advisor or consultant. The accountant is the easiest to justify a return on, as they keep you on track and help you navigate tricky tax codes and deal with capital gains. If you have previously experienced losses, he will help you to apply them over the next few years, thus saving you money right away. The broker isn’t going to show you a huge return (even with their “hot” tips), but they are a necessary evil unless you do 100-percent of your trading online.0

Now, the advisor or consultant is probably the easiest to calculate a return on. If you are solely relying on their advice, it’s pretty simple to calculate your annual returns, thus calculating the ROI from that team member should be a breeze.

Successful investors treat their portfolio as a business. They plan, they strive to make sound decisions and every dollar put in has to generate a return – not unlike a small business. Treat your investments as a product and get out there and start generating a return.



written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

May 27

A guest post today from Aunty –

There are several ways to invest in real estate.

Pants on fire!

The one that gets the most attention is buying low and selling higher for a profit. This is called “flipping” and this method is fast and exciting with potentially high rewards in a relatively short period of time.

There are some drawbacks to flipping, the biggest ones are not timing the market and getting too greedy. Many a successful investor prior to 2008 got caught with upside down properties that hit them hard and left them with bad credit and nothing to show for it.

For the savvy and hardworking:

There are also creative ways to get into real estate such as wholesaling, purchasing liens, tax deeds, subject to financing, etc., but Aunty has never really gotten into those – mostly because I didn’t understand them well enough, but also because I always wanted to be a landlord.

Landlord dream

This was a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl growing up in Palolo Valley clutching $100 in cash and flying through the backyards of neighbors to deliver it to our nice landlord. My mom was a hardworking single mother supporting a family of 4 kids by herself, money was tight, and $100 was a LOT of money in the 50’s. (Yep, Aunty is old.)

Homes in Hawaii cost about $30K back then, and the ROI (return on investment) for a landlord would have been 4%. Not that great a return? Maybe not, but it was solid steady income, especially for a 7 year old who couldn’t believe the abundance in her hands as she ran through shortcuts to deliver this fortune into the hands of a landlord. [*note about ROI – this formula is an annualized return of monthly rent x 12 months divided by cost.]

Appreciation and rents over 50 years

Hawaii’s real estate appreciated over the years, and 3 decades later, in the 80’s, a house in Palolo would cost $120K, rents would have gone up to $400/month, and the ROI would have been 4%, with an appreciation of the original asset at 400%.

In the late 80’s, Hawaii house prices soared and soared even more in the 1990s. It was like a huge bubble that didn’t pop. It retraced a little, but never came close to mid 80’s prices.

Today, an average house in Palolo would sell for $600K. Palolo is an interesting neighborhood of older wooden houses with a spattering of huge new houses nestled into a valley with a couple of low income housing complexes. On the other side of the mountains is Manoa Valley, a verdant valley of wealthier residents with older larger homes in the $1+ million range.

At $600K, the average Palolo house has appreciated by 20 times its original value of 60 years ago. Rents have increased to about $2000/mo. ROI based on today’s FMV (fair market value) would be 4%. ROI based on 1980’s prices would be 20%. ROI based on 1950’s prices would be 80%!

[Please forgive Aunty’s overly simplified numbers – they are not taking into account monthly expenses that would offset rental income lower, and they are based on an all cash purchase of a property.]

Adding a mortgage to the mix

However, if the property was mortgaged at 70% LTV (loan to value), then the cash down portion of the investment, which is the amount of your investment drops to 30% of the cost of the property.

In 1987, if you could get a 70% LTV with a 10% annualized interest (loans had higher rates back then), you would have a negative ROI of on a $120K house bringing in $400/month in rental income because you would have a negative monthly cash flow of $800. Your cash basis would have been $36,000 with a -26% ROI.

Today, if you could get a 70% LTV with a 4% annualized interest, you would still have a negative ROI, and a negative monthly cash flow of $2400. Your cash basis would be $180,000 with a -16% ROI.

What does that mean?

Hawaii is not a cash flow income-generating place to invest in unless you have a huge chunk of cash to purchase and you will be satisfied with a 4% annual return on that cash, or you bought a while ago and your mortgage has been paid off.

It also means that Aunty does not invest in rental income properties in Hawaii, because these options and numbers are not good.

What to do?

If one does want to invest profitably in today’s Hawaii real estate, the modus operandi is buy and flip – but carefully, with good market research and reliable resources for rehabbing.

Or, look for better markets that have better numbers for investing. Places such as Indiana, Las Vegas, and other cities that have low property values and moderate rental incomes that give very decent cash flow and higher ROIs (10% or better!)

No more yesterday

Slowly and steadily, we are building a real estate portfolio, but not in Hawaii. Perhaps later, if and when it makes sense to do so.

Gone is the little girl who would fly on skinny legs to complete her most important task of delivering rent each month. Today’s scene includes a property manager who takes care of everything. Automatic deposits and debits in an investment business checking account replace the hand-to-hand payee/payer transaction that first sparked the aspiration, “I am going to be a landlady one day!”

Is real estate investing the best investment vehicle? I cannot say for you, but for Aunty, it fulfills her lifelong dream. Have your got your dreams, your success?

Whatever you dream of, may it be.

Note: Aunty is the gal that blogs at Honolulu Aunty where she writes on a variety of topics, money, recipes, travel, and a good half dozen more.


written by Joe \\ tags:

May 21

A guest Post from Tim Aldiss –
Financial regulations are always put in place with the intention of lending further transparency to decision making processes. However, the eventual results do not always mirror the initial vision. Although providing a new breed of qualified investment advice may help investors avoid financial pitfalls, many individuals are now distancing themselves from this prepaid and often times still confusing arena. The end result has been that markedly fewer people are seeking the services of a financial adviser; indeed, less than one-third of all adults will consult these professionals.

Although some analysts will state that a reduction in the number of professional advisers is one of the goals of many regulatory authorities, others will feel that the do-it-yourself tendency being witnessed may usher in dire consequences for those inexperienced in the financial industry. Is this a future financial debacle waiting to unfold?


Another effect that this shift has had is in the way financial companies now communicate with potential clients. Unsurprisingly, many professionals are now learning to embrace the internet as a means to drive business forward and to disseminate their services. It seems that online execution-only platforms may be the way forward. In fact, the investment giant Hargreaves Lansdown now boasts a website that attracts more visitors in the United Kingdom than The Times or the Post Office. They have also adopted an iPad version of their newsletter and cater to thousands of Twitter followers each month.

Additionally, it should come as no surprise that garnering investment advice from social media sites has also increased in popularity in recent times. Many of those who follow the do-it-yourself mentality will utilize the knowledge base of the larger, interactive populace to help shape their financial decisions. Although this methodology is still in its infancy, some feel that the purchase of equities and deciding upon the correct investment fund may be the next logical step forward in the social media arena.

It is obvious that financial companies and fund managers need to quickly adapt to a generation increasingly focused on mobile devices, business apps and real-time flexibility. No longer does this approach represent but a small portion of investors; rather this will be considered the norm in the relatively near future.

So, while the landscape of financial advice may be changing dramatically, the ability to acquire sound and secure advice is more important than ever before. While companies continue to modify their practices to accommodate this growing trend, individuals need to avoid the pitfalls often times associated with such a malleable environment.
Tim Aldiss writes on behalf of Broadgate Mainland, the financial services PR experts.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Apr 15

Today, a Guest Post from Dona Collins –

You may not believe this, but not all debts are bad. If you never take on any debt, then how can you build hope to build a positive credit history? If you want to find a place to live or a buy a car, it helps tremendously if you have already established good credit. Debt, when managed properly, can help you get the things you need in life. For that reason, and many more, personal loans are a type of debt that can be beneficial as long as you spend the money wisely.

Finance Home Improvements


Investing in your home is rarely a bad idea. If you have a project in mind that will add value to your home, a personal loan can be a great way to finance it without tapping into your equity. Some websites like or offer loan rates under 7%, if you qualify, so you can afford to borrow the money for your project without racking up high-interest credit card debt. The right home improvements can provide a great return on your investment.

Improve Your Credit

When the credit bureaus calculate your credit scores, they look for a mixture of revolving credit lines like credit cards and installment loans. Taking out a small personal loan and paying it off on time will help boost your scores. You have to establish a payment history though; you cannot just borrow the money and then pay it right back. Make monthly payments for at least six months to a year before you fully repay the loan.

Create an Emergency Fund

In some cases, it actually does make sense to borrow money just to have it for a rainy day. It is good to have a sizeable lump sum of cash you can access when you need to. Instead of waiting until an emergency expense smacks you in the face and you are desperate, considering getting a personal loan that you can pay back over time to establish your savings. You can get a better deal if you take time to shop around beforehand, rather than wait until you are pressed for time.

Pay Less Interest

Personal loans are unsecured, so they do come with a higher interest rate than a secured loan, but the rates are still lower than most credit cards. If you have high credit card balances, taking out a personal loan to pay them off will save you money. You may even want to consider getting a specific debt consolidation loan or lower interest personal loan. This does require that you have to stop using your credit cards if you want to keep your debts low.

Start a Side Hustle

While the term might remind you of playing pool, a side hustle is simply another term for starting a part-time business from home. Many people take their favorite hobbies and turn them into a side business that helps bring in some extra income. After you receive the loan funds, take the additional income from your new business and use it to pay off the loan faster so that you can enjoy 100% of your profits.

Buy a Used Car

Usually car loans are a better way to buy a vehicle. However, lenders tend to be more reluctant to loan money for used cars than they are for new cars. Additionally, if you already have an existing car loan then you might not be able to qualify for a second one. Whether you are purchasing a vehicle for yourself, or helping someone else buy one, a personal loan is an alternative worth contemplating if you cannot qualify for a good car loan.

Medical Expenses

Putting off medical procedures because you cannot afford them is never a good idea. There are many expenses that traditional health insurance does not cover like dental problems that can create major health complications if you do not get treatment. It does not matter if you apply for a loan online or go to a traditional bank like Wells Fargo, it is better to borrow the money you need than put your health at risk.

Start an Investment

If want to try buying stocks or start a Roth IRA for your retirement, a personal loan can be a good way to jump-start your plans. In order to get the best value for your loan dollars, you should pay your loan off before you start investing. Otherwise, the interest you will pay on the loan will offset your gains. If you are planning to use the money to start a retirement fund, keep in mind that you will not be able to access those funds early without paying penalties.

Purchase a Computer

These days, for many people, a computer is not a frivolous purchase. An increasing number of companies are increasing telecommuting opportunities for their employees. You also may be one of the many people who brings work home with you too. Investing in a faster computer will make your life easier and help you be more productive. A personal loan when you do not have the cash is a much less expensive way to buy a computer than in-store financing.

Buffer Your Checking Account

Unfortunately, many people cut their checking accounts too close and end up paying fees for not maintaining the minimum balance requirement, or even worse, get hit with overdraft fees. As long as you can work the loan payment into your budget, a personal loan can be a great way to add some extra money to your account so you avoid bank fees. However, this only works as long as you leave the money in the account.

It a good idea to avoid getting a personal loan for thing you do not really need like vacations or unnecessary purchases. That being said, there are times where getting a personal loan is a wise decision. Before you borrow money, consider your motivations and make certain that you will be able to repay your loan on time. If you can make your payments without fail, a personal loan can be a quick, efficient solution to some of your problems.

About the Author: Dona Collins is a personal finance specialist who loves to help others find creative ways to manage their finances, eliminate debt, and live healthy financial lives.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,