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How to Save Money on Christmas Shopping

Choosing a suitable gift can be tricky if you have no idea what the other person may like, and having limited resources can make things even harder. However, this doesn’t have to be the case because regardless of the budget you may have allocated for gifts, you will always find an item to suit. What is important for you to keep in mind in this instance is that when it comes to gift giving, it’s not the cost of the gift, but the thought that goes into it that counts. Therefore, even with a small budget, you can get something that will be appreciated by that valued friend, family or spouse. Here is what you can do when you are facing the challenge of shopping for Christmas on a tight budget:

1. Make a List In Advance

Christmas is a season of giving, but this doesn’t mean that you have to overspend to join in the spirit – there are always so many cheap Christmas gifts you can pick from. Even so, before you get to the shopping part, you need to make a list of what you would like early enough so that you can look out for offers and bargains and grab them the moment they appear. This can help you get hold of some nice items at much reduced costs. Alternatively, you can just go traveling for Christmas and shirk from all this shopping altogether.

2. Stick to a Budget

When you go out shopping, you will obviously spot some beautiful items that you would readily buy if you had the money to spare. However, if you want to save while shopping for Christmas, you cannot afford to make random purchases. Once you have made your list of Christmas gift ideas for men, women and kids, and planned on how much cash to put into it, you have to work with that list no matter how enticing other things may look. Thus you are very likely to beat Christmas financial stress.

3. Go for Home Made Gifts

Even though there are many gift items stocked in different stores, you do not necessarily have to buy something to make it meaningful to the person who receives it. You can look for ways to create your own gifts, and these can be anything including cookies, cakes, framed poems and gift cards. Making the gifts by yourself can help you save money and aside from that, it can also be a fun way to spend your free time. However, if you don’t have time to make the items but still need to keep your costs low, you can look for something in stores that provide cheap Christmas gifts.

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Quick Payday Loans

What is a Quick Payday Loan?

Quick payday loans let in need borrowers have access to fast cash, in exchange for paying a high to very high interest rate. Most all of the time, the borrower has to be employed and provide proof in the form of a stub from a paycheck or a bank statement showing regular payment transfers from an employer. The lender will provide a small cash loan, to be repaid from the borrower’s next paycheck. This makes the typical term of the loan one or two weeks. On an annualized basis the interest rate (APR) can run over 100% and more. In extreme cases the APR can be over 500%.

Why are Payday Loans So Popular?

Payday loans are popular with certain parts of society. They provide people in immediate need of funds with no other means of getting cash an answer. They are also popular because people do not consider the real interest rate they are being charged, but only the rate for the one or two weeks. Some lenders do not require any more information than a current pay stub as proof of employment, making these loans easily accessible. No credit check needed. Funds can be instantly transferred into a bank account. In retail outlets for payday loans the borrower can leave with cash.

Who is the Target Market?

Payday loans are targeted towards low income people with no other means of raising cash quickly. Because of this ? and the high interest rates, they draw criticism from consumer organizations. Some entities have called the institutions which offer payday loans “predatory lenders.”

Pluses and Minuses of Payday Loans

The big attraction of payday loans are that they are easy to get if you are currently employed, and the cash is usually available immediately. They involve a minimum of paperwork and no credit check.

The negatives of payday loans are the interest rates charged, and the potential for late fees and other penalties to accumulate rapidly. People in such dire need as to take a payday loan in the first place tend to over estimate their ability to repay the loan on time. Interest and penalties/late fees can easily grow to more than the initial loan amount if payments are not made as agreed.

Should I Take a Payday Loan?

Payday loans should be taken only after examining all the alternative ways of raising short term cash. These might include selling something you own, borrowing from friends or relatives, putting off paying other bills temporarily and the like.

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What You Need to Know About the Chinese Stock Market Before Investing

China is now the second largest economy in the world and rising rapidly with a star. Predictions are that it will be the world’s biggest economy within 10 – 20 years, surpassing even the United States. How can you benefit from this amazing growth?

Invest in China

Good advice, perhaps, but not as simple as it sounds.

There are many differences, when compared to the major American and European stock markets, that you need understand if you want to participate in China’s record setting economic expansion.

Chinese Stock Exchanges

The two largest Chinese stock exchanges are the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Most large public Chinese companies are represented on one of these exchanges. In each case, the financial regulations require two classes of stock shares; Class A and Class B. Class A shares are priced in the local currency – the Renminbi and can only be purchased by Chinese nationals. Class B shares are designed for purchase by foreigners and are priced in US dollars.

China is not only a different country, it is a different culture. With different financial regulations and a private sector that until recently was all government owned. This impacts the way financial information is reported, the way loans are made, and the way deals among companies are done.

All of these factors in turn influence the stock price. Financial disclosure rules are not as strict as those investors have become accustomed to in more established stock markets.

It is always a good idea to have professional guidance with your investments, and even more important when investing in emerging markets like China. The best advice will likely come from an organization that has investment savvy and is familiar with the nuances of the Chinese stock market. This is an area where it pays to do your homework.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the economy of China has grown incredibly fast in the last decade, averaging 10% per year by some estimates, the Chinese stock market – like all stock markets – still goes up and down. It is very possible for the Chinese stocks you pick to go down considerably while the Chinese economy roars ahead. Another reason for professional guidance.

China is an export based economy. Its growth depends upon selling its manufactured goods to the rest of the world – mostly Europe and the United States. Last year, the European Union was China’s biggest trading partner, with the United states right behind. China has grown so rapidly by taking market share away from many other manufacturers in other countries. However, for its continued growth, it is very dependent on the state of the economies in its two largest customers. Chinese consumer demand, while growing rapidly, cannot support all of China’s growth, at least, not yet. With its rapid growth, China also faces the prospect of inflation, which will require the Chinese banks to increase interest rates on loans and can act to slow growth.

Taking into account all of the above factors, the Chinese stock market can still be an excellent investment.

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How to Get Low Cost Auto Insurance

For most drivers, getting the cheapest auto insurance is important since some policies come at really steep prices. There are plenty of low-income drivers who do not have the financial stability to get the insurance coverage policy that they need. Getting the best policy for you and your car may not be as hard as you think. There are several ways on how you can get hold of insurance quotes. Getting multiple quotes will allow you to choose the best insurance coverage for your car. You will also be making sure that the costs do not exceed the amount you are willing to spend for your car insurance.

If you do some research and check online, you will find there are plenty of websites that allow you to get car insurance quotes in a specific area. These services are easy to use. Just provide your zip code and type in some important information regarding your vehicle. To complete the process, submit the car insurance application form and then you will be getting the results in a few minutes. With this type of service, you can compare the insurance coverage policies from various insurance companies in your area. This will help you make a smart decision when getting low cost auto insurance. Using the internet to search saves you a lot of time and effort.

Another option that you have when searching for low cost car insurance is to set a meeting with insurance agents who specialize in auto insurance. There may be several agents in your area who you can easily contact. When meeting with an insurance agent, be sure to specify what type of auto insurance you want and also discuss the coverage that you need. With this information, the car insurance agent will be able to give you multiple options on the type of auto insurance available that best suits your needs. Do not hesitate to ask some questions regarding the coverage so that everything is clear to you before you make the decision on which policy to get.

Searching for the best insurance policy that has a low cost will allow you to save money. It is important to take your time in making the decision so that you can compare the offers from several companies and see the best one that is suited to your needs. Aside from saving money, you will also have the protection that you need in the event that you get into a road accident.

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Buy Foreclosed Home and Save Money

Ten years ago, home markets were in a rage, and prices were skyrocketing as buyers struggled to keep pace with the sellers market. However, now that the economy has shifted, and many people have lost their homes to foreclosure, the market has spiraled downwards into a severe buyers market. The only problem now is that though houses are easy to find, finding getting loans is becoming a problem.

The best way to be assured that you can qualify for a home loan and get through the closing process is to buy a home with plenty of equity, and if you can, pay a sizable down payment of 20% or more.

The second part I can’t help you with today, but the first, that’s where the real magic happens. Banks are having to take houses back left and right, which means they’re in over their eyeballs with property they don’t want to manage. So how do you find a good deal on a home? You buy foreclosed home and save money that way!

To buy a foreclosed home, you can check your local newspaper for a weekly list of auctions, or you can hire an agent to bird dog for you. Either way works, but you’ll have to be fast because real estate investors are aware of the same tricks, which is how they make so much money flipping homes.

That being said, if you are patient enough, you should be able to get your hands on a home with at least 10-20% equity, which is perfect for getting a mortgage loan.

Since most investors won’t touch homes with less than 30-40% equity, the only real competition you’ll have is other home buyers looking to buy a foreclosed home and save money.

One precaution though, when buying a foreclosed home, is to make sure that you have a full inspection done. Even though the banks will usually only sell homes “as-is,” it’s important that you know what you’re getting into. Being armed with an inspection will help you evaluate the risk against the deal to see if it’s worth your time. Also, some FHA loans won’t be approved unless the home is in good condition, so you might have to put a bit of work into the property before the loan goes through.

Still, with a little bit of due diligence and hard work, buying a foreclosed home is a wonderful shortcut to being a new home owner.

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Home Loans for Bad Credit

Having bad credit is frustrating because you can’t repair it without getting new credit or playing the seven year waiting game so things will drop off your report, which is fine if you don’t need credit, but horrible if you need a loan to buy something, such as a house.

Though home loans for bad credit do exist, post-mortgage crisis, at least in the United States, they are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire, mostly because banks and lending institutions are still a little skittish.

The best place to start is by sitting down with your bank, in person if you can, and going over your credit report line by line. They’ll be blunt and tell you what you’ll need to do in order to have a chance at making it through the approval process. Though this can be intimidating, and even quite depressing, it’s going to help you find places where you can make a quick fix to help you better your chances.

From here, you can start your search, starting with the most familiar names, and moving into other “speciality” finance companies as prospects start to dwindle.

If you’re an armed forces veteran, then you have a bit better chance of getting a home loan, even with bad credit, as a VA loan will at least guarantee a portion of the mortgage value. However, you’ll still need decent credit to get approved.

Another way to better your chances is to save up a sizable down payment, at least 20%, which you can use to increase the amount of equity you’ll have. If you can get a good deal on a house, and walk in with at least 25-40% equity, then a bank will have a much greater chance of considering the risk and giving you a loan.

Obviously, we’re talking large amounts of money here, so this isn’t an option for everyone.

The most important thing to watch when getting home loans for bad credit is the interest rate. It’s absolutely not worth buying if you pay more than 10% interest, and to be fair, even 6% is high these days. If that’s your only option, then I recommend that you keep renting, keep working on the credit, and try again when you can get a rate below 10%. On a loan of 100k, every single percentage point makes a big difference in both monthly payment, and total loan cost.

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Auto Loans Rates

Like buying a home, auto loans rates fluctuate based on market conditions. When cars aren’t selling very well, auto loan providers will drop rates in an effort to reduce the lull. When cars are selling well, they’ll raise the rates to a point at which the market can bear .

Also, just like any other type of loan, auto loans rates are credit dependent, whereas having better credit will assure you a lower rate. If you have a credit score above 700, it’s entirely possible that you might be able to secure a loan well under the market average, and in some cases, as low as 0% when using the dealer’s finance company.

It’s not unheard of to see rates in the 2-3% range either.

On the other hand, having a credit rate below 700 will place you in the medium to high risk category, where you can expect to pay 8% at a minimum, and in some cases, as high as 15-20%. If you get a bad credit auto loan, usually necessary with credit scores in the low 600′s or below, many companies will try to kill you with interest rates. In this case, you are better off trying to get a co-signer or putting money down to lower your rates, if possible.

Most dealer finance companies, at least those of the major car manufacturers, like to see a credit score of at least 680 before offering a loan; anything less than that and you’ll be forced to procure your own financing. There are many online companies that will provide financing, but you have to read the fine print to make sure that there aren’t any pre-payment fees, which would penalize you if you sought to refinance down the road.

Still, because of the struggling economy, auto loans rates are near the lowest they’ve ever been, so there really isn’t a better time to buy than now. The best way to ensure a lower rate is by making sure you don’t have any outstanding collections, and that your credit cards and other loans are not maxed out. The lower your balances are, the better chance you have of getting approved. Even when you do get approved, you’ll be given a maximum loan value. The only way to buy a more expensive car is to put money down to cover the difference. This also includes add-ons, like warranties and sports packages.