Introduction to Investment Funds – Financing University Costs

In December 2011 MPs permitted Universities to raise undergraduate fees from £3,350 to £6,000, and up to £9,000 in “exceptional circumstances” such as Oxford and Cambridge. Financing a child’s higher education pathway has therefore potentially become significantly more difficult for a large percentage of those entering University this year and beyond.

This report investigates ways in which the burden of financing a child’s University costs can be alleviated via sound financial planning and a solid investment strategy.

Junior ISAs

Junior Individual Savings Accounts (JISAs) were introduced in November 2011 as a means to establish an investment portfolio for young children in order to give them as secure a financial start in life as possible.

Junior ISAs can hold cash like normal savings accounts, or they can take the form of Stocks & Shares investments, but all benefit from having a yearly tax-free allowance.

Depending on the type of ISA chosen, they can either provide instant access funds or a longer term investment fund helping to offer and secure a child’s financial future, whilst promoting the concept of structured saving to the next generation of investors.

Investment Trusts

It is calculated that three years of University schooling plus living expenses will run up to about £50,000 in the current environment. This cost is projected to increase steadily throughout the coming decade.

As a result, investment trusts can be one of the most effective ways of accumulating funds in time for a child’s higher education.

Investment trusts consist of diversified portfolios that are professionally managed. Because the portfolio contents are pre-selected by experts, opening an investment trust can be one of the simplest methods of establishing a successful long-term investment strategy.

Trusts exist with a variety of risk levels which allow investors to select on the basis of financial risk exposure versus return potential.

The level of risk accepted by an investor should depend upon factors such as the value of the initial investment, the length of time available before the child begins University and the investment growth requirement.

As independent journalist Malcolm Anderson states for example;

A trust might hold 30% of assets as cash, 30% as reliable bonds and 40% in diverse equities guaranteeing a stable return that is not overly subject to the volatility of the stock market.

However, a portfolio of up to 80% diverse equities may make better financial sense as the opportunity to earn greater dividends is increased but if the stock market takes a downturn the investor will still have cash on hand to recoup losses.

If the investment trust can be structured for the long-term – 10 years+ – even greater financial risks can potentially be taken which will yield the greatest returns in stable or positive conditions. Successful investments can be exploited for longer and there is also time to regain losses should stock markets suffer a fall. The fact that the natural short-term volatility of stock markets is balanced out over time means that investment trusts can be considered to be solid options for long-term financial growth.

Grant &Scholarship Applications

Children from a range of backgrounds are entitled to having some, or even all, of their University expenses covered with a grant or scholarship if in need of financial assistance. For example, government-funded maintenance grants are available for full-time students from families earning less than £42,600 as their annual income. Grants and scholarships are also available from the Government, the Universities themselves, and even private parties for students who have specific career aspirations or extra-curricular interests, as well as those from certain family backgrounds with academic, artistic or sporting merit.

Flexible Payment Options

University fees have traditionally been paid per term. However, due to the aforementioned increase in University costs, many higher education institutions now offer monthly payment plans through third parties in order to reduce the financial burden. Banks facilitating these plans can charge a certain small percentage for providing the service but other private loan options are available and so, with professional advice, a sound plan can be implemented.

Many Universities are also offering monthly payment schemes in order to increase the range of options available.

Conclusion

The demands of financing higher education are challenging in the current financial and political climate. However there are a range of investment fund options and products and services in existence that help to relieve the financial burden. Scholarships, grants and flexible payment plans as well as investment in ISAs and investment trusts are each designed to offer solutions to suit a range of requirements and objectives.

Please do remember, the eligibility to invest in an ISA or similar will depend on your individual circumstances, and all tax rules may change in the future.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested.

4 Tips to Increase Your Credit Fast

If it’s time for you to think about buying a new or used car, then you also need to start thinking about getting your credit score up. The higher the credit score, the lower the interest rate you will be able to get, in most cases.

No matter what your credit score currently is, or what marks you have on your credit history, here are some tips that will help you increase your credit score fast.

Pay Off All Credit Cards

Pay off your credit cards about 6 weeks before you go in to a lender to ask for a loan. When a lender pulls up your credit report, the lender will be able to see exactly how much money you owe on your credit cards. This amount of money will help the lender to determine whether or not he or she wishes to assume a risk by offering you a loan. Therefore, if you have a large balance on your credit cards, a lender may be reluctant to offer you a loan. However, if you can show a zero balance, you may be more appealing to a lender.

Close Unused Credit Cards

Many people have taken out credit cards that they no longer use. For example, if you have ever taken out a credit card for a store, such as a clothing store, and are not using it, then the inactive card will show up on your credit history. It’s best to have as few open accounts as possible, especially if they are inactive, but open, accounts.

Use Credit Cards

By using credit cards, lenders will be able to see that you have a credit history. Of course, it’s best if you can pay these credit cards off on a regular basis so that you do not have an outstanding credit balance.

Always Pay Back Loans on Time

There will be a record of loans that you have taken out on your credit history. Therefore, always pay back your loans on time in order to ensure that you do not get a black mark on your record for failure to repay loans. Paying back loans will prove to lenders that you have a history of financial reliability.

No matter what you need to have good credit for, it’s always a good idea to pay back loans, use credit cards, and pay off all debts in a timely manner. Having good credit can mean the difference in several hundred to several thousand dollars when it comes time to purchase a new or used car.

Private Education Loan Consolidation – 3 Tips

Whether you attended a public or a private college or university, you probably owe tens of thousands of dollars or more in student loan debt. If you are like millions of other graduates, you chose to fund your education with private student loans.

Private student loans differ from federal loans in that the private loans are issued by private banks and other lending institutions. Private loans may be offered at variable or fixed rates and come with a range of possible repayment periods (terms) like 5, 10 or more years.

If you have multiple private loans, you may be interested in consolidating your loans into a single private consolidation loan.

Advantages To Loan Consolidation

The main benefit of consolidation is that it gives you the opportunity in most cases to reduce your monthly payment obligations. Being able to save money each month on student loans offers a huge benefit to graduates who hold a lot of debt. Most graduates – especially those in their 20s and early 30s – are busy trying to pay their monthly expenses while building a small nest egg. High loan payments but a serious damper on that goal.

Another benefit of consolidation is the opportunity to simplify one’s financial life. Having to make multiple payments to different banks each month – which are due on different dates and in different amounts – is no piece of cake to manage.

Comparing Private And Federal Consolidation Options

Note that if your current student loans are federal loans, you should opt for federal consolidation. Otherwise, private consolidation is the way to go.

3 Tips For Private Education Loan Consolidation

If you are considering consolidation, here are 3 tips for you to consider:

1. Shop The Best Bank Rate: Just shaving a point or two off of your interest rate can save you a lot of money in your future consolidation loan payments. It is always worth it to spend a bit more time now shopping the rates from multiple lenders before settling upon one.

2. Check Each Company Out: Do research on each lender to make sure they are viable and represent a company you would want to do business with. For example, ask these questions: Do they have the ability to service your loans? Do they allow for easy online application? Are their repayment plans simple and easy to understand? Do they offer any benefits to borrowers who pay on time? Keep meticulous notes about each lender you evaluate.

3. Get The Payment Terms You Want: Before contacting lenders, make sure you know what your idea payment terms are. Remember: a longer term of, say 20 or 30 years means lower monthly payments now but much more paid over the life of the loan in interest costs. Tip: choose the shortest term possible while still leaving you with a monthly payment you can afford now.

Follow these 3 tips to a more successful loan consolidation.

Keeping Bandages Dry When Showering

 Whenever you try to shower while wearing a dressing it’s quite a challenge. You already know it will be necessary to substitute it with a clean dry one later. How are you supposed to keep clean if the doctor has told you to keep the bandage dry? Avoid annoying soggy surgical dressings and think about using some of these methods of keeping bandages dry when you are in the shower.  

1. Consider putting on a plastic bag. By placing your dressing or plaster cast into a plastic bag, you can avoid it getting wet. Be sure there are no holes in the plastic, then put arm or leg through the opening. Use strong adhesive tape such as duct tape to secure the top portion and prevent any leaks. If you need to keep a bandaged hand dry in the shower, protect it with a rubber glove secured with waterproof tape to avoid leaks.  

2. Try plastic wrap. If the placement of the dressing means a bag is no use, try plastic wrap. You should ask a friend to help you with wrapping up your dressing with plastic wrap and in taping around the edges. You must be certain to wrap a place bigger than the bandage.  

3. A condom is an imaginative way to protect! When you need to keep a dressing on your finger or your toe, put a condom over the bandage and use waterproof tape to seal up the ends. (Make sure, though, that your rubber isn’t lubricated!)  

4. Buy a proper covering for the dressing. A shower bandage cover is a good investment if you are expecting to wear large ones for an extensive period of time. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to keep your dressing completely dry in the shower you can use the ‘Shower Sleeve’, which works well and is under ten dollars. The packages include all that is needed to keep your injury dry while it gets better.  

5. Think about a sponge bath. If you actually think it is too hard to keep dry bandages while you take a shower, maybe you should think about trying another method to clean yourself. If the position of the bandage allows, you can sit in your bathtub without inserting the injured part of your body. Equally, possibly all you need to do is have one leg out of the shower cubicle as you speedily wash the rest of yourself. All you then have to do is wipe off your leg with a cloth. While somewhat uncomfortable, it will enable you to keep the dressing dry while you get clean.

Things You Should Never Do When Applying For Auto Loans With Bad Credit

When applying for auto loans with bad credit there are many things you can do to increase your chances for approval, but there are also a few things that will automatically get you turned down. Here is a list of things you should never do.

1) Do Not Over Estimate Your Income- Sub prime lenders have very strict “debt to income” guidelines that they have to follow. If you over estimate your income your loan will get declined in the verifications process. All sub prime lenders at some point will request a recent pay stub and will verify your job by phone with your employer. If your not sure what your gross monthly income is always estimate low on your application, if it turns out to be more during the verifications process that’s all the better.

2) Do Not Over Estimate Your Residence Time- Most lenders will want a 5 year residence history. Stability is very important to a lender when deciding whether or not to approve a loan. When you indicate to a lender how long you have resided somewhere they need to know that you truly do live there or have lived there. Most lenders will require you to produce some type of proof of residence; examples of this would be a recent phone bill, utility bill, or even a copy of your lease. Sometimes people make the mistake of listing a long residence time because they have lived in the same area for a long length of time. Again this will come out in the verifications process. Always be accurate about your residence time regardless of how short it is. The lender would rather have your residence history be accurate and documented than have it be inaccurate.

3) Do Not Over Estimate Your Job Time- Most sub prime lenders will request at least a 5 year job history. Again it is important to be accurate about your current and previous employment time. Do not make the mistake of listing a long job time on your application just because you have worked in the same industry for many years. Give the lender an accurate list of all the employers you have worked for to cover the 5 year history. Names and phone numbers will help speed up the process. They will be verifying the information your give them.

4) Do Not Pick Out The Most Expensive Vehicle You Can Find- When you are applying for auto loans with bad credit it is important to remember that you are in a rebuilding mode. This is not the time to go pick out the car of your dreams. Sub prime lenders are only going to approve you for a loan that fits within your budget. After you submit your application they will calculate your debt ratios to determine a payment that they feel is affordable to you given your current financial situation. It is important to stay within the parameters they are willing to approve otherwise you will be turned down. Once you start making payments on a timely basis and your credit score starts to move up maybe then you can shop for the car of your dreams.