How to Avoid Hidden Credit Card Charges

By law, credit card fees must not be hidden by credit companies from their customers. However, this does not mean that all cardholders are completely aware how they are actually charged or which cases will result in additional charges or increased credit card fees.

Oftentimes, some fees are only indicated in the cards’ terms and condition or in the account disclosure statement cardholders will receive once they open their account. This is one of the many reasons why cardholders overlook such information; this is where the term “hidden charges” came to be.

The most effective way to avoid having to pay high fees is by consistently paying your bills on time. Each year, credit card companies are raking billions of dollars in penalty fees! So save money by paying any balances when it is due to avoid penalty charges.

So how do you avoid paying high credit fees that comes with using your card? The best defense is by educating yourself. Below are some of the most common “hidden” charges that companies make customers pay:

Tip 1: Know that these days, credit card companies are now recording receipts of payments received in envelopes apart from the pre-printed envelopes five days after they receive them. So always read the card member agreement. Some card companies allow postmarked payments by the due date, but a large majority of companies require all payments to be paid before noon on the day the bill is due. In addition to strict payment rules, some credit card companies have shortened their billing periods from the traditional 30 days to 20 days.

Tip 2: Be aware that if the late fees made you exceed your credit limit, you will be charged with over-the-limit fee, which may increase interest rate for up to 24%. For this reason, make sure you also keep track of how much credit is available for you to use.

Tip 3: If you are late on paying off any of your creditors, a lender could increase the interest rate that you will pay. So basically, even if you are consistently paying your bills on time, you will still pay additional charges if you are late on making payments with one of your other lenders.

Tip 4: There are also some company that will charge fees for having cards without balances on them.

A Week Full of Fashion

Fashion week is a week-long event that is held to commemorate the fashion industry and the cogs that keep the wheel moving. Fashion designers, brands and houses display the latest and best of their collection via runway shows. Buyers and the media are prominently present during this activity and this helps the designers to showcase and sell their work. Fashion week is an important event in the lives of the fashionable since it is here which determines the trends that are in Vogue and those which are passé. The most popular and well-known fashion weeks are held in the four major fashion capitals in the world namely New York, London, Milan and Paris.

Fashion has stormed the globe in a big way and some other countries which also host other important fashion weeks in the world are; Madrid, Australia, Rome, Dubai, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Singapore, Toronto, Jakarta, India, Berlin, Barcelona, Seoul, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Fashion week is a seven day long entertainment cum business event where people from all walks of life fraternize with those from the fashion industry. This event is bi-annual in nature and is held in the major fashion capitals in the world like London, New York, Paris and Milan. Fashion weeks are held several months prior to commencement of the fashion season so that it allows the buyers and press a better chance to preview the trends and designs for that season. January to April hosts fashion shows to showcase the autumn and winter collections. On the other hand, September to November showcases the spring and summer collections. This gives ample time to the buyers, retailers and purchasers to assimilate and include the fashion designers into their stores.

Latest innovation, flamboyant designs and striking new trends are showcased during these fashion weeks and all the latest collections are compiled into a special report and covered in all the leading fashion magazines in the world as well as the websites which cater exclusively to fashion. The first ever fashion week was held in 1943 with the purpose to distract attention in World War II from French fashion when workers from the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris. It was believed that designers in America relied on the French for their inspiration and design. A fashion publicist by the name of Eleanor Lambert had organized an event called Press Week to showcase the works of American fashion designers. Magazines such as Vogue began to feature more American designers in their features and stories.

In the year 1903 a New York based shop held the country’s first ever fashion show to lure middle-call socio economic groups into the store. Close on their heels, in 1910 major department stores were holding private fashion shows of their own. Along with promoting fashion these shows had elements of entertainment and were very theatrical in nature. It was theme based and accompanied with a narrative commentary. Fashion weeks helped in integrating all aspects of the fashion industry and bringing it under one roof.

Selecting Rules for Investing and Trading

There are three important differences between investing and trading. Overlooking them can lead to confusion. A beginning trader, for example, may use the terms interchangeably and misapply their rules with mixed and unrepeatable results. Investing and trading becomes more effective when their differences are clearly recognized. An investor's goal is to take long term ownership of an instrument with a high level of confidence that it will continuously increase in value. A trader buys and sells to capitalize on short term relative changes in value with a somewhat lower level of confidence. Goals, time frame and levels of confidence can be used to outline two completely different sets of rules. This will not be an exhaustive discussion of those rules but is intended to highlight some important practical implications of their differences. Long term investing is discussed first followed by short term trading.

My mentor, Dr. Stephen Cooper, defines long term investing as buying and holding an instrument for 5 years or more. The reason for this seemingly narrow definition is that when one invests long term, the idea is to "buy and hold" or "buy and forget." In order to do this, it is necessary to take the emotions of greed and fear out of the equation. Mutual funds are favored because of they are professionally managed and they naturally diversify your investment over dozens or even hundreds of stocks. This does not mean just any mutual fund and it does not mean that one has to stay with the same mutual fund for the entire time. But it does implicate that one stays within the investment class.

First, the fund in question should have at least a 5 or 10 year track record of proven annual gains. You should feel confident that the investment is reasonably safe. You are not continuously watching the markets to take advantage of or to avoid short term ups and downs. You have a plan.

Second, performance of the instrument in question should be measured in terms of a well defined benchmark. One such benchmark is the S & P 500 Index that is an average of the performance of 500 of the largest and best performing stocks in the US markets. Looking back as far as the 1930's, over any 5 year period the S & P 500 Index has gained in price about 96% of the time. This is quite remarkable. If one widens the window to 10 years, he finds that over any 10 year period the Index has earned in price 100% of the time. The S & P500 Index has earned an average of 10.9% a year for the past 10 years. So the S & P500 Index is the benchmark.

If one just invests in the S & P500 index, he can expect to earn, on average, about 10.9% a year. There are many ways to enter this kind of investment. One way is to buy the trading symbol SPY, which is an Exchange Traded Fund that tracks the S & P500 and trades just like a stock. Or, one can buy a mutual fund that tracks the S & P500, such as the Vanguard S & P 500 Index Fund with a trading symbol VFINX. There are others, as well. Yahoo.com has a mutual fund screener that lists scores of mutual funds having annualized returns in excess of 20% over the past 5 years. However, one should try to find a screener that gives performance for the past 10 years or more, if possible. To put this into perspective, 90% of the 10,000 or so mutual funds that exist do not perform as well as the S & P500 each year.

The fact that 10.9% is average market performance for the past 10 years is all the more remarkable when one considers that the average bank deposit yield is less than 2%, 10 year Treasury yields are about 4.2% and 30 year Treasury yields are only 4.8 %. Corporate bond yields approximate those of the S & P500. There is a reason for this disparity, though. Treasuries are considered the safest of all paper investments, being backed by the United States Government. FDIC regulated savings accounts are probably the next safest while stocks and corporate bonds are considered a bit more risky. Savings accounts are possibly the most liquid, followed by stocks and bonds.

To help you calibrate the safety and liquidity question, the long bond holders are comparing bond yields they now receive with next year's anticipated stock yields. Consider that next year's anticipated S & P500 yield is around 4.7% based on the reciprocal of its average price to earnings ratio (P / E) of 21.2. Yet the 10 year annualized return of the index has been 10.9%. Bond holders are prepared to accept half the historical yield of stocks for added safety and stability. In any given year, stocks may go either up or down. Bond yields are not expected to fluctuate broadly from one year to the next, although they have been know to do so. It is as if bond holders want to be free to invest short term, as well as, long term. Many bond holders are thereby traders and not investors and accept a lower yield for this flexibility. But if one has decided once and for all that an investment is for the long term, high yield stock mutual funds or the S & P500 Index, itself, seem the best way to go. Using the simple compound interest formula, $ 10,000 invested in the S & P500 index at 10.9% a year becomes $ 132,827.70 after25 years. At 21%, the amount after 25 years is more than $ 1 million. If in addition to averaging 21%, one adds just $ 100 a month, the total amount after 25 years exceeded $ 1.8 million. Dr. C. honestly believes that 90% of one's capital should be allocated over a certain such investments.

Now that you've allocated 90% of your funds to long term investing, that leaves you about 10% for trading. Short to intermediate term trading is an area that most of us are more familiar with, probably due to its popularity. Yet it is more specifically complex and only about 12% of traders are successful. The time frame for trading is less than 5 years and is more typically from a couple of minutes to a couple of years. The typical probability of being right on the direction of a trade approaches an average high of about 70% when an appropriate trading system is used to less than about 30% without a trading system.

Even at the low end of the spectrum, you can avoid getting wiped out by managing the size of your trades to less than about 4% of your trading portfolio and limiting each loss to no more than 25% of any given trade while giving your winners run until they decrease by no more than 25% from their peak. These percentages can be increased after there is evidence that the probability of choosing the correct direction of a trade has improved.

Intermediate term trading is based more on fundamental analysis which attempts to assign a value to a company's stock based on its history of earnings, assets, cash flow, sales and any number of objective measures in relation to its current stock price. It may also include projections of future earnings based on news of business agreements and changing market conditions. Some refer to this as value investing. In any case, the objective is to buy a company's stock at bargain prices and wait for the market to realize its value and bid up the price before selling. When the stock is fairly priced, the instrument is sold without one sees continuing growth in the value of the stock, in which case he moves it into the investment category.

Since trading depends on the changing perceived value of a stock, your trading time frame should be chosen based on how well you are able to detach yourself from the emotions of greed and fear. The better one can remove emotions from trading, the shorter time frame he can successfully trade. On the other hand, when you feel surges of emotion before, during or immediately after a trade, it's time to step back and considering choosing your trades more carefully and trading less frequently. One's ability to remove emotions from trading takes a great deal of practice.

This is not just a moral statement. An infinite universe of what's called technical analysis is based on the aggregate ethical behavior of traders and forms the basis of short term trading. Technical analysis is a study of price and volume patterns of a stock over time. Pure technicians, as they are called, claim that all pertinent news and valuations are imbedded into a stock's technical behavior. A long list of technical indicators has evolved to describe the emotional behavior of the stock market. Most technical indicators are based on moving rates over a predefined time period. Indicator time periods should be adjusted to fit the trading time frame. The subject is far too large to do it justice in less than several volumes of print. The lower level of confidence involved in trading is the reason for the large number of indicators used.

While long term investors may use only a single long term moving average with confidence to track steadily increasing value, traders use multiple indicators to deal with shorter time frames of oscillating value and higher risk. To improve your results and make them more repeatable, consider your expectations of changing value, your time frame and your level of confidence in predicting the outcome. Then you will know which set of rules to apply.

Term Life Insurance – The Different Kinds

It has always been known that there are actually two different kinds of life insurance programs -term life and whole life.

It probably sounds, but with term life, a person is normally just insured for a specific time period – ten, fifteen, twenty, or 30 years. Not many people know this, but there are actually different types of term life insurance programs.

Level Term

This is easily the most popular term life program. With this, you typically pay the same premium throughout the term. It may not accumulate any cash value, however, this remains to be popular because it is cheap.

The prices for term life have even gone down more because of the Internet – people can readily access life insurance quotes and compare prices; sometimes, in a little as under two minutes.

Many people get surprised over the fact that they can be covered for a huge amount of money for as little as $ 20 month, even when they're already in their 40's (provided that they're in good health).

Annual Renewable Term

If you go for this type of insurance, you are only covered for one year. You will have to renew your policy at the end of the year. Expect increases in your premium as you renew your policy from year to year.

No-Exam Term Life

If you find the requisite medical exams in life insurance programs too much of a hassle, there are other, albeit more expensive, life insurance programs on the market that do not require any exam. With a no-exam term life insurance, you are only required to fill out a questionnaire. (It does not pay to lie on the questionnaire because it can have your policy revoked.)

A no-exam policy usually has a ceiling of $ 250,000, but your policy can be issued in days or even hours, unlike in other insurance programs where the issue of a policy can take weeks or months.

ROP Term Life

If you go for this time of term life insurance, you will normally have to pay more, but at the end of the term, all the premiums you paid will be returned to you. That is, if you are still alive at the end of the term.