Category Archives: Personal Finance

How Accurate is a PPI Claim Calculator?

With a final deadline implemented recently, a fresh wave of people who have yet to claim a PPI refund has started looking into the claims process. One thing that many people want to know at the outset is how much their claim could be worth, and this may well affect how you proceed with your claim. PPI claim calculators promise an easy way to estimate the value of your refund before you speak to a single person about making a claim, but how far can you trust them to give you an accurate figure?

Estimating Your Refund With an Online Calculator

A PPI claim calculator certainly offers one advantage, in that it allows you to get an idea of the value of your claim before you take any further steps and before you speak to a human being about it. This eliminates the danger that you might feel pressured, whether the person you are speaking to intends it or not, to take your claim forward with a particular company because you have contacted them for an estimate. For many people, this alone is a good reason to use a PPI calculator as long as it is not so inaccurate as to be useless.

However, this does not actually do anything to answer the question of how accurate these calculators are. Well individual tools may vary, but on the whole they are certainly not inaccurate enough to make them useless. There is a fixed process for calculating the value of a PPI refund so, and online PPI calculators use this same formula. As long as you have accurate information to put into them, such as the value of the missold policy and relevant dates, the calculator should output a reasonably good indication of what you are due.

The Limitations of a PPI Calculator

Even so, you should certainly bear in mind that PPI Calculators do have their limitations. Some kinds of policy are more complicated to calculate than others, and to make the calculators quicker, easier, and more user-friendly there might be some level of simplification used. On top of this, PPI calculators simply lack the human touch and the expertise that is needed to consider the nuances and subtleties of many individual cases.

An online calculator can be a very useful tool and can give you a good indication of what you could be owed. At the end of the day, however, the figure should not be taken as gospel and talking to a human being will always give you a more accurate estimate. If you intend to make your claim through a PPI claims company, the next step is to select a claims handler and speak to them about the value of your refund.

How to Avoid Filing for Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is difficult and stressful. The after effects can leave you with a low credit rating, meaning it will take years to recover and start making use of credit lines and mortgages again. Before you proceed with bankruptcy, try these tactics to get your financial life in order.

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Settle or Negotiate Debts

Talk to creditors and see if they are willing to settle your debts for a fraction of the cost. This works like debt consolidation, but saves you money. If possible, get a debt consolidation loan to combine all your debts into a single manageable payment, so you can handle it budget wise.

Sell Your Assets

Your assets and valuables could be at risk in a bankruptcy claim anyway, so consider selling some things to help dig your way out of debt. Do you have a second vehicle you can part with? Do you have other valuables? Meet with an appraiser for high value items. Sell other items online or at a local flea market.

Borrow Money from Family

Though it means swallowing your pride to do it, if it will save you from filing bankruptcy, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If it means keeping your home, it is worth risking the strain on the relationship.

Sacrifice

Sit down and look at your budget. See what you’re actually spending compared to what the budget says you are. Make cuts where you can, even if it means you have to make more meals at home, or get a friend to cut your hair for you. Shop secondhand stores for clothes and shoes. Rent movies instead of seeing them in the theater. These sacrifices are short term and the savings can go a long way toward repaying your debt.

 

Credit Card Tricks that Can Save You Money

Most people think of credit cards as a financial disaster, but when used correctly, they can save you money.

Play the Statement Cycle to Your Advantage

Make a charge on your credit card the day after your statement closes. You’ll always have 20 to 25 days after the statement closes to pay off the balance without interest. But, charging the day after the statement closes will get you an additional month to pay the balance off interest free.

Use a 0% Interest Rate Balance Transfer to Save Money

Have you racked up a high balance on one of your credit cards and now you’re stuck paying a tremendous amount of interest? Look for a 0% interest rate balance transfer introductory offer. This can help you save money on the overall credit card debt, because you’ll stop paying interest.

A word of caution: If you haven’t kept the account open long, it can hurt your credit score to close it. A good bit of your score is calculated by the age of your accounts. Don’t bite if you don’t think you can pay the balance off in full before the interest rate on the new card kicks in. It will defeat the purpose; so keep a close eye on the terms and conditions of the new card before you apply.

Know Your Rewards Program

The terms and conditions of credit card rewards programs vary greatly depending on issuer. Know what purchases get you the best rewards. If you earn more rewards for gas and groceries, use that card for gas and groceries. You’re budgeting for those purchases anyway, so you can pay the balance off in full every month, and capitalize on the rewards, whether it is cash back or travel points.

Don’t have rewards program? Keep balances low while paying your bills on time and you’ll eventually reach a point where you will qualify.

Health Savings Accounts: What You Need to Know

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are like personal savings accounts, expect the money in them is meant to be used for health expenses. You control the money, and money you put into the plan is not taxed. To be eligible for this type of account, you must have a high-deductible health insurance plan.

These accounts were created to help control health care costs. The idea is people will spend healthcare money more wisely if they’re using their own money. As a bonus, health care providers will be motivated to reduce their rates in order to compete for business.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • You decide how much money to set aside for savings.
  • You can shop around to get the best deal.
  • If your employer contributes to your account, the money is yours even if you switch jobs.
  • Unused money at the end of the year rolls over for next year.
  • You don’t pay taxes on the money going into the account.
  • Since illness is unpredictable, it can be hard to budget accordingly.
  • Health care cost and quality information may be hard to find.
  • People who are older or sicker may have a harder time saving money.
  • Pressure to save money in the account may keep you from seeking medical help when you need it.
  • If HSA money is used for non-medical expenses, you will have to pay taxes on it.

Who can setup a plan?

You can set up an HSA through your employer. If your company does not offer this, you can setup one up through your own bank. You must be under age 65 and carry a high-deductible insurance plan. If you are married and your spouse uses your insurance as a secondary plan, he or she must also be enrolled in a high deductible plan. Your insurance must be your only health insurance plan, but having dental, vision, or disability insurance does not disqualify you from an HSA.

How to Avoid Running Into Credit Card Debt

Credit cards are a way to run into debt. This is because it is very easy to incur debt when there seems to be no limit for spending. To make sure that you do not go into debt, you need to take care of your credit card bills. Here are some ways to avoid a credit card debt.

CREATE AN EMERGENCY FUND

You need to create an emergency fund to avoid spending money through a credit card. Generally people only spend money from a credit card for unforeseen contingencies. Having an emergency fund prevents you from overspending using a credit card.

PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD BALANCE ON TIME

Make sure you pay your balance in time rather than carrying it over to another month. You can ensure that you do not have a big credit card debt at the end of the months that follow. Carrying over the debt and spending money you cannot afford is not a smart plan if you want to save money.

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AVOID MAKING BALANCE TRANSFERS

You should not transfer your balance to another card unless there is a rate of interest which is lower than the credit card. Too many balance transfers can result in a heavy debt.

AVOID USING CASH ADVANCES

Cash advances can be avoided rather than used. Instead, have budget so that unanticipated expenditure can be met through this. This prevents the cash advances from being used as a way to tackle expenses.

MAKE SURE YOU COMPREHEND CREDIT CARD TERMS

Understanding the rate of interest which is charged and the processing fee are very important prerequisites to avoid overspending using your credit card. Therefore, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your credit card fully.