College is commonly regarded as the best years of your life, but that would mean the rest of your life will be just short of humdrum as you grow older, holding onto the memories you paid for in that relatively short span of time. In an effort to maximize your college experience and ultimately, your life, I have composed a list of five things you should and should not be spending your money on.
First, cut out spending on fast food every night or even every weekend. We all indulge on the convenience and affordability of quick meals at times, but you will pay for it later in life, with high interest, in the form of obesity and numerous health complications. Succumbing to the ease of drive-thru lunches and microwave dinners is also a bad habit to pick up so early in life, as you will only get busier after college is over.
Second, I advise all college students to forego getting a credit card. It seems like the key to life at such a young age or an essential, proactive tool in establishing credit early on, but in reality most students will accrue debt because we are vulnerable and financially uneducated. This may be the reason college students are one of the most sought after demographics among credit card companies. Remember, they are solely in the business to make money, not to cover your excessive spending habits.
My third suggestion may have you all call me crazy, but please, if you can, save yourself from the fast-paced, bill paying, stress-enduring, debt incurring lifestyle buying a car introduces you to. Payments, repairs, and upkeep on your vehicle are bills and stresses you could avoid if you go to school in an area that is small or offers public transportation. Driving also demotes adventuring and public exploration. You should embrace the area you live in and walking is not that bad.
I also advise against students spending money and more importantly their time on television. Each hour you spend watching TV shows could be replaced with actual learning. Practice another language, read books, teach yourself politics, or obtain a grasp on taxes. The possibilities of mental growth and development are endless when you curve your consumption of cable in exchange for practical knowledge.
Lastly, college students should cut down on superficial spending. I will be the first to admit, I love new clothes and nice shoes, but in hindsight, I can admit that it is stupid to buy right now. They only get old and tattered, and the fashions of freshman year rarely make it to your senior year closet. Also, to the ladies, spending money on hair extensions and nail tips should not become a monthly budget. Utilize simplicity and embrace yourself, to truly find yourself and attract those who are genuinely interested in you, for you.
Now, I want to list five ways to better spend your money.
First, in response to my number one expense I advise against, is good quality food. Do not let the extra three bucks discourage you from buying the healthier option. Buying groceries two or three times a month and cooking your own food may even end up being the same price as, if not cheaper, than four and five trips for fast food every week. Practice cooking now so you can have something tangible to offer in future relationships.
Second, open an investment account. In contrast to spending with a credit card, depositing into investment accounts lower your “burn rate” and make you more attractive for lower interest credit cards, better mortgages, and loans you may need to take out in the future. And with the economy making a gradual comeback, now is the perfect time to learn the lingo of stocks and bonds and place your money in a position to earn higher interest rates and returns with less. Just be patient and conscious to the economic surroundings as you build habits that are casually practiced by the world’s most rich and prominent people.
My third suggestion is my favorite: travel. Take trips now before you have to consider things like time away from work. Take a bus, train, or plane to a new place in the world, even if it is to the next major city outside of your own. Traveling is a great way to start conversation and building rapport with those in a position to offer you opportunities.
Also, as students, we are offered so many exclusive opportunities. West Chester Student Activities Council offer trips out of town for as low as five dollars. Airlines and hotels usually have tons of student discounts, and study abroad programs are a great way to visit other parts of the world without the hassle of building an itinerary or personally booking and budgeting for room and board, and you can get away from traditional schooling for up to a year while still obtaining those cherished credits.
My fourth suggestion is to buy gifts and give to charity. This is the best time to build lasting relationships and networks with people and institutions. Modest gifts and expressions of gratitude are always appreciated and do not have to cost you much. Send those that gave you extra help and attention a “thank you” card to their office or Christmas cards for the holidays. People really appreciate getting mail other than bills or advertisements, and charity is an important exercise to start young. It teaches fundamental giving and budgeting, as you have to sacrifice funds for something that is bigger than you.
Lastly, buy business attire. The goal of college is to graduate and transition into professionals, but this is unlikely to occur without the proper clothes. A nice blue tone and grey tone suit is essential. Also, invest in some neckties and a nice blazer that may cost you about two to three hundred dollars. It seems like a lot, but it will remain useful to you for years to come. In the world of professionalism, presentation is crucial. You do not want unflattering professional attire being a characteristic that employers and clients identify you with.
I hope you consider utilizing these spending tips to have a great college experience while creating a solid foundation for an even greater life once college is long over.
Shawn K. Trawick is a third-year student majoring in communication studies and political science. He can be reached at ST819517@wcupa.edu.
What: DishLATINO is partnering with Julie Stav, a financial expert in the Hispanic community, to provide financial advice to its customers.
Why it matters: A first of its kind effort, the campaign offers financial resources and guidance through commercials, vignettes and online resources to broaden understanding of credit, budgets in all aspects of customers’ lives.
DishLATINO will offer its subscribers financial advice and guidance from Julie Stav through a new educational campaign. Stav, a financial expert in the Hispanic community, will be featured in a series of public service announcement ads created by DishLATINO, part of DISH Network LLC., a wholly owned subsidiary of DISH Network Corp. specifically for its customers.
The campaign, a first of its kind for DishLATINO, aims to increase awareness among its Hispanic customers about personal financial management, highlighting the important role that credit plays in “opening doors” of opportunity in the United States.Stav is the go-to financial consultant for millions of Hispanics, author of best-selling books, and former host on the popular Univision news program, “Tu Dinero con Julie Stav.” In a series of educational TV spots available only to DishLATINO subscribers, Stav will offer her expert advice on a range of topics related to personal finance. In addition to providing general guidance on establishing credit, the ads notify customers of payment options available to help them meet their obligations, such as changing their billing date or transitioning to a more affordable package.
This isn’t just about paying bills on time or balancing a checkbook, rather it’s about practical money tips for families of all incomes to help plan for the future
“Many Hispanics who are new to the United States are unaware of the cultural nuances related to financial management and credit. This isn’t just about paying bills on time or balancing a checkbook, rather it’s about practical money tips for families of all incomes to help plan for the future. Empowering Hispanic consumers with information about their options makes them feel more confident about their financial management skills and opens up new possibilities,” Stav said.
“With Julie Stav at the forefront, our educational campaign will provide a wealth of financial tips that DishLATINO customers can apply to many aspects of their lives,” said Alfredo Rodriguez, vice president of DishLATINO
October 30th, 2014 in
| tags: establishing credit
Non-banking financial services player Bajaj Finance, which is gearing to launch a dedicated housing finance subsidiary next fiscal, aims to disburse up to Rs 2,000 crore in home loans to the affluent class in FY16, a top official said.
We expect to start operations for the housing finance company in the first quarter of FY16 and will look at disbursements of Rs 1,800-2,000 crore by March 2016, Bajaj Finance Chief Executive Rajiv Jain told PTI.
He said that the company will be target the affluent and super affluent sections of society for its home loans business and focus on the self-employed category.
A typical loan to the self-employed would be between Rs 1.2 crore and Rs 1.3 crore, while a loan to a salaried person would be between Rs 75 lakh and Rs 80 lakh, Jain said.
Last week, the Pune-headquartered company announced its plans to spin off a separate subsidiary for its home finance business, to take advantage of certain benefits which accrue to a dedicated housing finance company.
After putting in seed capital worth Rs 10 crore, it would apply to the housing finance sector regulator National Housing Bank (NHB) to start its operations.
Bajaj Finance already has a mortgage book and such loans constitute around 40% of its book at present.
October 28th, 2014 in
Personal Finance Topics
| tags: home finance
By Matt Hussey
The app economy has turned the humble phone into a personal travel advisor, DJ, photo editor, news reader, stock trader and movie maker. The announcement that Apple will at last fit its smartphones with NFC, and therefore allow the iPhone to be used as a means to pay for goods and services, will mean our phones are likely to become our financial advisor as well.
Juniper research has predicted that in little over three years, $180 billion worth of goods and services will be paid for using NFC, which means managing our finances will become more vital than ever. Thankfully, developers from the fintech world have been building apps that can restrict spending, save money, or allow you to keep abreast of multiple accounts with minimum fuss.
But how do you sift through the 27 million results that appear on Google when you go looking for the right one? Below are the only ten apps that you will ever need to manage your money from your mobile.
For the business traveler
Keeping track of business expenses on top of personal finances is a tall order, especially when youre working on the go and keeping track of multiple bank accounts. Expensifys free app eliminates a lot of that pain by letting you track what you spend in real time.
Whenever you buy something online or in a physical store, Expensify can input that data for you.
The app uses eReceipts to mine your connected credit card, automatically drag out anything it thinks is an expense and generate an a digital receipt that it will then log inside the app. These eReceipts are even acceptable to use for your tax return. If youre in store and receive a paper receipt, simply take a photo and SmartScan will drag out merchant name, transaction date and amount and keep it on file. Its pretty accurate with some receipts, although you may struggle with ones that have been stuffed in your wallet and have lost some of the ink.
You only get ten free scanned receipts each month before you need to upgrade, but the time saved from logging your travel expenses by sifting through piles of paper receipts yourself, or dumping them on your personal assistants desk, makes it worthwhile. Expensify can be exported to and integrate with QuickBooks, Xero, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and FinancialForce. The app, available on iOs and Android worldwide, also allows you to keep a tab on more intangible expenses like petrol by keeping track of your mileage, and it will convert any transactions you make while abroad into your domestic currency. There are corporate packages for small businesses if you dont want to stump up the cost for making the accounts department easier.
Expensify is a big beast of an app that can overwhelm those who are new to submitting expenses and tax returns without the aid of an accountant. Budgt on the other hand (available on iOS only for $1.99), presents itself as a simpler, easier way to stay on top of your cash flow.
The app focuses on providing a budget on your expenses on a day-to-day basis, rather than a retrospective look at what you may have spent over the course of a month or more. Input is all done manually: you put in how much money you have, be it an expense account or personal, and then Budgt will calculate how much you are able spend. As you make purchases you have to add them to the app so it can monitor your bank balance, but the calendar feature allows you to go back and add costs when its slipped your mind.
With each expense you add, this minimal app lets you you tag it with a category of your choosing, or one from a standard list like food, bills, etc. This tagging system creates a more detailed, visual breakdown of where your money is going via a series of color coded charts. This way, its easy to distinguish between your personal and professional spending habits.
For the budgeter
3. Level Money
If youre looking to roll back your wayward spending, Level Moneys award winning app can help you keep track of your daily cash flow. It acts like a GPS of your spending. The free app (currently only available in the US) works out how much you can save based on your spending history as a percentage.
The app works by dividing your finances into just four main categories: income, bills, save, and spendable, which each category displayed in a series comprehensible graphics. It also makes projections on your spending based upon how you currently spend.
So, on the first day of each month, Level Money fills up with your estimated income and subtracts your recurring bills and a savings rate. The app is connected to all of your credit, debit and banking accounts, so every time you make a transaction it adjusts the money meter accordingly. Any remaining money is what you have to spend.
The majority of US banks have all jumped on board, but those deals arent available to Android or iOS users in Europe or elsewhere. What we wanted wasnt a budget, but the digital equivalent of opening up your wallet and seeing how much you have left, Jake Fuentes, 27, Levels co-founder told the New York Times. While the app doesnt allow you to tap in cash transactions, its one of the least labour intensive apps to make staying in the black, easier.
The likes of Wired, CNET and Digital Trends have all voted Mint as one of the best financial management apps out today, perhaps because the developers have made it free to download on both iOS and Android worldwide.
Setup is incredibly easy. Within two minutes of adding a bank account, the app will have cached a months worth of your recent transactions and recommend features to best manage your cash. Theres a desktop version that has more features available, but the smartphone app offers more than enough to keep a tighter grip on your spending.
Mint opens to its dashboard (called Overview), where it displays every element of the app without the need to scroll. While its probably the most basic looking of the apps on this list, its features certainly make up for it: it lets you create an emergency fund, save for a vacation, put away money for a down payment on a house and much more. Each of these extra features comes with a built-in calculator to help establish a plan to reach your personal goals. It can also give you access to your credit score, along with advice on how to improve it.
While it probably wont win any awards for design, Mints beauty comes with its utility and the 89,000 glowing reviews for the app on Google Play.
For the online spender
Slices sole purpose is to help those who spend the bulk of their cash online keep track of it. Available for free on iOS, Android and even Windows, Slices magic relies in mining your email inbox for received receipts and shipment details. If your online vendor sends a confirmation email for every purchase along with a shipment tracking, Slice is highly likely to find that information and extract it into the app automatically.
Once it has pulled in data from your online orders, the app will visually display updates on a map so youre always queued in to the status of your shipment, no matter where you are. It also sends you push notifications when your packages are being shipped, and has built-in price tracking software that will notify you when an item has been reduced in price. It even allows you to claim price adjustments directly from within the app, working like an one-stop online spending guru.
Once Slice – which works with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, iCloud and other mailboxes – has been its been up and running for a while, it begins to offer insights into what you buy, where you buy it and for how much. Business Insider described it as one of the top ten productivity apps you shouldnt be without. With the recent addition of the Slice Dice feature that gives you an overview of what youre buying and from where, perhaps youll agree too.
Most of us tend to buy things across multiple platforms and devices, which is where MoneyWiz comes in to save the day. it will soothe your financial headaches by organizing your fragmented spending information in one place.
The app can be installed on across Apple devices and on Android, and all versions of MoneyWiz sync with each other using the aptly named Sync Everything feature. Once youve added your data, the Reports screen allows you to view your transaction history or data, including net worth, average spending, projected income and more. MoneyWiz supports importing files in either the OFX or QIF formats, which are used in accounting applications such as Quicken, so you dont have to start from scratch if youve already been using money management software elsewhere.
MoneyWiz also supports auto-pay for scheduled transactions, so you never have to worry about entering that information in manually. At $4.99 its the most expensive app in this list. But what you get for your money is 24/7 customer support, more than 300 features and, as Macworld says, the top choice in the Mac personal finance field.For the social spender
7. Square Cash
Square, the company famous for creating a minimalist payment system for small businesses, has branched out into friendship groups. The peer-to-peer payment service lets you utilize your email account and contact book to seamlessly send money to one another.
You can send up to $2,500 a week in several transactions or all at once. Afterwards, you can confirm or reject the required transfer, and move the cash from your inbox to you bank account within one or two business days. Square Cash can let you request money from up to 25 different people. So if youve had a big night out and picked up the tab for a lot of people, you no longer need to mentally keep tabs on who has paid and when. Currently a US-only service for cards carrying the Visa or MasterCard logo, it wont let you purchase things from merchants offline or on but will let you make settling bills between friends a lot simpler.
Square doesnt charge for transfers, which some analysts are saying is costing the company 25 cents for every transaction. But thats no concern of yours. Walt Mossberg called the app the quickest, simplest method [hes] seen for sending money from one person to another.
Last month, the team added extra functionality that allows users to send cash via text messages, so its clear the company isnt done finding ways to make small financial transactions more convenient.
While Square Cash targets the US market, Payfriendz, launched by a term split between London and Berlin, wants to create a fast way for paying friends across Europe. The free iOS and Android app lets you send money to friends via their mobile phone number. You simply give it access to your contacts book, add credit from your account to the app and away you go!
How does it set itself apart? Payfriendz wants to make financial transactions social by including a messaging feature as a key part of the user experience. With a design falling somewhere between Whatsapp and iOS messenger, its a familiar interface often becomes the focus point for discussions about the night before (Did you Payfriendz me for that Uber last night?)
Like Square Cash, PayFriendz doesnt charge a transaction fee to send money. Perhaps its killer feature is it allows you to send foreign currency too, saving you a headache in trying to convert how much you owe someone in euros, pounds or dollars. Theres a minuscule 1 per cent fee for cross-currency transactions, which is tiny when compared to how much a high street bank would charge to move cash between two accounts in different countries.
For the saver
Saving money is easier if youre unaware youre doing it, which is the premise behind SavedPlus app. The company believes that this savings approach works because it capitalizes on a psychological phenomenon called the endowment effect, in which you place greater value on something you already own than you would be willing to pay for it.
Whenever you spend money on one of your registered cards, it triggers an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account. Each transfer to your savings is set as a specified percentage of each given payment, deciding upon in advance by you. So if you buy an item for $20 and set your saving percentage at 5 per cent, the app will automatically move $1 to your savings account.
While the app is free in the US on iOS and Android (which gives you get 90 days of free use once youve added your first account), 5 percent of what you save (up to $5) is automatically deducted from your savings by SavedPlus after your 90-day trial. Dont let that scare you off: according to the app makers, their user base on average saves $350 per month, which rounds up to $4,200 a year. Alternatively, the percentage saving can be used to donate to charity directly from within the app.
Dollarbird, a smart calendar app for its finances, is exactly what it says it is: Eencased in a colorful, calendar-based design, the app allows you to track your expenses and income akin to other apps. However, where the free app on iOS and Android pulls away from others out there is by offering recurring transactions, and a five-year projection of where your saving will take you.
To use you have to manually input what you buy, but because it doesnt connect with your accounts, it has an added element of privacy that other apps dont have. Upon launch, youll be asked to enter your opening balance – for example, how much you have in your current/checking account – which is the figure that all future transactions will be subtracted from or added to.
To add transactions you swipe down in the main calendar view and youll be presented with a standard row of categories – Groceries, Household, Travel, Household and more. The app keeps a rolling number at the bottom of a monthly calendar view that allows you to see how much cash you have left. It also breaks things down to a daily level so youre not having to make additional calculations of your daily spend. The Pro Version, available for $4.99, unlocks multiple calendars so you can keep credit card, cash and savings accounts separate. Plus, it can be synced between an unlimited amount of devices and people, so its a great way of monitoring a friend or member of the familys spending habits.
Forget the life hacks and advice columns, put our money on one (or two) of these apps for an organized, easy way to keep track of your finances. Which app will you try first?
October 27th, 2014 in
Personal Finance Topics
| tags: personal finance
A recent note put out by analysts at FBR, once again calls into question the sustainability of dividend payouts within the offshore drilling sector. In particular, analysts called into question the sustainability of dividend payouts at Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc (NYSE:DO) and Transocean LTD (NYSE:RIG). The reason cited for this concern was the soaring cost of credit protection, or credit default swaps. With CDS prices rising, investors are being asked to pay a higher premium for default protection — a sign of a weakening balance sheet — as the outlook for drillers deteriorates and the future becomes uncertain.
Specifically, the note reports that:
hellip;CDS spreads have surged over recent weeks, approaching heights last hit in the wake of the Macondo catastrophe and, in our judgment, chiefly expressing rising expectations of dividend cuts and/or credit rating downgrades. Notably, spreads for Diamond Offshore and Transocean closed yesterday at 148.5 and 290.2, respectively, up 175% and 97% year over year and just 28% and 22% below their global recession highs. By leveraging its balance sheet, Diamond Offshore has managed to, and may for a bit longer, defend its total dividend payout. But, we have held and maintain that, at some point in this downturn, it will slash the recurring special dividendhellip;
Not the whole story
However, while widening CDS spreads are concerning, it cannot be said that this is the whole story. Transocean for example, is able to use its master limited partnership, Transocean Partners LLC (NYSE:RIGP) to drop down units and free up cash, for either dividend payouts or debt repayment.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley highlighted the benefits of this structure last month:
hellip;RIG now has the ability to tap on RIGP as an additional source of funding at a lower cost of capital. We believe that accelerated dropdowns could unlock shareholder value for RIG via dividend support, the funding of outsized buybacks, and multiple expansionhellip; overlooked element of value in RIG is the embedded MLP worth of its fleethellip;accelerating the monetization of 6G+ units with sufficient contract coverage while divesting the rest of its lower-spec fleethellip;RIG has the ability to purchase up to ~20% of its market cap with the dropdown proceedshellip;this figure could be scaled up to ~40% if RIG chooses to suspend its dividend as wellhellip;
Whats more, the company has an untapped $3 billion revolver to make use of. So, Transocean at least is not going to run out of options anytime soon and drawing conclusions from an expanding credit spread does not give the whole picture.
Nevertheless, Diamond is in a slightly more precarious position. Indeed, unlike Transocean the company has not made use of an MLP structure to provide fleet flexibility and financing options. Then theres the companys older-than-average fleet of drilling units, as well as its special dividend payout. The special payout seems to be unwarranted as the companys future becomes ever more uncertain — in my personal opinion, it would be better to preserve cash.
Still, a quick look over Diamonds balance sheet and its easy to see that the company is not in trouble just yet. At the end of the second quarter the company had cash and short term investments of $1.3 billion and total debt of $2.5 billion giving a net debt figure of $1.2 billion; net debt to equity of 27%. Looking at the companys cash flow, its easy to see that dividend payouts, normal and special are costing the group around $500 million per annum, which implies that the company has enough cash to cover payouts for in excess of two years — the length of time many analysts believe that the drilling industry will be in the doldrums for.
Diamond, like Transocean has flexibility, while many analysts and investors would like the two companies to cut dividends to save cash, theres no immediate need. Both Transocean and Diamond have balance sheet flexibility, at least for the time being anyway and dividend payouts should be safe in the near-term.
October 26th, 2014 in
| tags: credit protection
Right now, shares trade around $32, down over 35% for the year to date compared with the Samp;P 500, which is up nearly 6%. Despite what the share pricemay reflect, Transocean still has a dominant position in the ultra-deepwater float industry. The company is slowly getting its operations back in order, including its fleet of rigs, which has been a source of concern.
In the meantime, there are headwinds. Besides the overall market conditions,Transocean pays one of the highest yields in the industry at 9.41%, and FBR analysts Thomas Curran and Daniel Martins dont think that can last.
As with its competitors,offshore drillers Diamond Offshore
(ESV) , the rising cost of credit protection in the form of credit-default swapswill make it tough for companies such asTransocean to maintain yields.
While at or very near oversold levels,the [industry] stocksshould next spend a lengthy period range-bound, not sustainably reverse course. That, as well as the potential for a game of chicken over older rig withdrawals… and, as suggested by soaring CDS spreads, dividend decreases, keep us on the sidelines, according to the analysts.
A company representative was unavailable at press time to comment on whether the dividend will be affected.
Still, for those with a long-term outlook, it is tough to overlook thatTransoceansstock istrading at just six times trailing earnings, which is less than half the industry average, according to Yahoo! Finance. Also,Transoceans price-to-earnings ratiois 14 points lower than the average P/E of companies in the Samp;P 500.
Must Read:Drop in Oil Prices Spells Nothing but Opportunity for Investors
Transocean is the worlds second-largest offshore driller behind Seadrill
(SDRL) . Itowns 29 high-specification floater drills for ultra-deep water. What these drills bring up account for close to 75% of the companys total revenue. Only Seadrillcomes close with 21 of these high-spec float drills.
October 26th, 2014 in
| tags: credit protection
Since reaching a high in June of $40.44, SeaDrill has lost almost 40% of its value, and the shares are off 39.6% year to date, compared with a 6.3% gain for the Samp;P 500
Investors want to know if it is time to buy back in, especially becauseSeadrill pays a strong yield of 16.1%, according to Yahoo! Finance.
But that yield may no longer be sustainable, according to FBRanalystsThomas Curran and Daniel Martins.
As is the case with other offshore drillers Diamond Offshore
(RIG) , Seadrills soaring cost of credit protection, in the form of credit-default swaps, puts its dividend at risk, the analysts contend.
This is the case even though Seadrills management recently affirmed that the company will maintain its dividend paymentsthrough 2016.
In a report, the analysts wrote: While at or very near oversold levels, the stocksshould next spend a lengthy period range-bound, not sustainably reverse course. That, as well as the potential for a game of chicken over older rig withdrawals… and, as suggested by soaring CDS spreads, dividend decreases, keep us on the sidelines.
In other words, the analysts think thatinvestors should wait before buying these shares. This strategy, however, contradicts their suggestion that the stock is oversold. But assuming that drilling demandimproves only moderately, Seadrill shares should command a fair market value of $32 in the next 12 to 18 months, a 30% premium.
Must Read: Seadrill Bulls Look for a Bounce in the Offshore Driller
October 25th, 2014 in
| tags: credit protection