Thursday, July 31, 2014

10 Wise Ways to Choose a Credit Card

Credit Cards
You are unique, so is your choice of credit card. Your financial background dictates your lifestyle and the type of card to suit your needs. However, from the stand point of a smart consumer you should wisely consider the following salient points.   
    
1.      Type of cards: If you are in college you should consider using a cash card or a debit card instead of a credit card and get the hang of a plastic card without worrying about incurring credit card debt.  If you are one of those rich and famous people you should be using a charge credit like American Express. It has no credit limit and it is only limited by your financial resources. You are not given credit and you have to pay the full amount when you receive the monthly statement. For the rest of us we can opt for a Visa or MasterCard.

2.      Free for life: Look for a card with no joining fee and no annual fee. Why pay extra when you can get a card for free?

3.      Lifestyle: Your lifestyle determines you preference for a credit card. When you are on the road a lot, a petrol credit card would be handy to control your travelling expenses. If you are a frequent flyer a flights and lodging credit card would suit your way of life. I enjoy going to the movies, so I get a GSC Hong Leong Bank Visa Card and pay less for my entertainment expenses. It is a good idea to have a shopping credit card to reduce your grocery expenses.

4.      Carry two cards: It is prudent to carry two cards; one for Visa and another one for MasterCard just in case one or the other cannot be accepted for whatever reasons.  

5.      Choose a friendly financial institution: It is good to choose a card issuer that you are familiar with. In case you need help, you get speedy and satisfactory assistance.  

6.      Benefits: Look out for benefits suitable for you. One such benefit is balance transfer. Are you carrying too many cards with huge balances? Look for one card to consolidate your debt with zero interest transfer for the longest period to ease your financial burden. Are you purchasing a big ticket item, get a card with a zero interest installment plan for the longest period.   

7.      Security: Get a card issuer usually a bank which is able to notify and alert you for unusual transactions promptly. It could be a genuine transaction, but it is reassuring to know that the bank is on top of things. 

8.      Low interest rate: Get a card with the lowest interest rate just in case in one particular month you are unable to pay the full amount you will not be impacted with high interest for the outstanding balance. I always advocate credit card is for convenient and not to obtain credit and incur debt. If one fine day you get into financial difficulties and default your repayments, your name may be black-listed in Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) or CTOS, a credit reporting agency in Malaysia or worst still you become a bankrupt.

9.      Penalty charges: Issuing of credit cards is a lucrative business for financial institutions. You are charged for joining fee , annual fee,  interest for late payment, interest for outstanding balances, cash advance, replacement of lost card, just to name a few.    Get a card with fewer penalty charges or for a smaller amount  

10.  Cash back or rewards: With a cash-back card you pay less every month. With a reward card you can accumulate points for the amount you spent and redeem for goods. The choice is yours. 


In Malaysia, go to iMoney.my to select a card to match your requirements

Monday, July 28, 2014

Protect Your Belongings with a Householder Policy

Roomz 3
A householder policy, like a houseowner policy, covers loss or damage to your contents or movable possessions caused by the following perils:

Fire, lightning and explosion caused by gas for domestic purposes
Aircraft
explosion (other than gas used for domestic purposes)
Road vehicles or animals
Bursting or overflowing of water tanks or pipes
Electrical installations
Windstorm, tempest, earthquake, volcanic eruption and flood
Theft with violent forcible entry or exit
Loss of rental
Liability to third parties for accidents in your property
Compensation for death of insured.

You may wish to cover the following perils which are excluded in a standard policy:

Subsidence and landslip
Riot, strike and malicious damage

Please ensure that the sum insured is adequate. You should decide on the basis of compensation of your householder policy, whether it is on reinstatement or replacement value. You will be compensated with the value of a brand new item under reinstatement basis but on the depreciated value of item lost under replacement basis. Do extend selected coverage to perils excluded in a standard policy.

To facilitate claim in case of a fire or other perils, keep your bills and receipts together with photographs of all household items in a safe place. I would suggest that you backup your documents in the cloud using a cloud storage provider such as Google Drive or iCloud. If you keep your documents at home and save them in your hard drive, laptop or iPad, in the event of a fire, they may be destroyed and you cannot produce documentary evidence to substantiate your claim. According to an article, Top 20 reasons your insurance claims get rejected, At claims stage, some insurers want proof of purchase, such as an invoice. Be aware that the onus is on you to prove your loss,” he says. Jooste advises that you take photographs of each item in your home and save them to a disc or external hard drive.


Conclusion: 

Cover your home and its contents with a houseowner policy and householder policy respectively. Make sure the sum insured is adequate; get extension to cover perils excluded in a standard policy and include such expenses like removal of debris after a fire.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Is Your Home Adequately Insured?

White House
After taking up a houseowner policy for your house, you think you are fully covered in the event of a fire? I must say that most likely it is not. There are three aspects of a houseowner policy to consider if you want to be fully covered:

·         Sum insured
·         Additional perils
·         Other expenses

Sum insured:

You should insure your property on reinstatement basis instead of indemnity because coverage on reinstatement is the actual cost to rebuild your house after a fire. You do not want to insure the actual price you previously paid which is insufficient now due to inflation. You have to find out from a reputable building contractor the cost involved to rebuild a similar house that you are occupying excluding the cost of land. If you do not insured fully you will be compensated proportionately.
As an example, the cost to rebuild a similar house of yours is $200,000 and the sum insured of your houseowner policy is only $150,000 you are deemed to be self-insuring the difference. During a fire, say, you suffer a loss of $10,000, you will be paid:
Sum insured $150000 x Loss $10000/Rebuilding cost $200,000 =$7,500  

Additional perils

A normal houseowner policy will cover your building, including its fixtures and fittings, garages, walls, gated and fences. The main perils covered are:
·         Fire, lightning and explosion caused by gas used for domestic purposes.
·         Aircraft damage
·         Explosion (other than gas used for domestic purposes)
·         Road vehicles or animals
·         Bursting or overflowing of water tanks or pipes,
·         Electrical installations
·         Windstorm, tempest, earthquake, volcanic eruption and flood
·         Theft with violent/forcible entry or exit
·         Loss of rental
·         Liabilities to third parties for accidents in your property

You need to extend the coverage of the houseowner policy to include the following:

·         Riot, Strike & Malicious Damage

·         Subsidence and landslip

These are excluded from a normal houseowner policy, In case of damages caused by, say, riot, strike and malicious damage your houseowner policy is not enforceable.

Other expenses

After a fire you have to think of additional cost involved in removing debris. To rebuild your house it will also involve architects, surveyors and consulting engineers’ fees. These are not in your standard houseowner policy. Therefore the sun insured for your houseowner policy you have to add these expenses.  

Conclusion:

You should take up both houseowenr and householder polices to obtain a comprehensive cover for your home and its contents. However you have to make sure that the sum insured is sufficient. Find out what perils are excluded in the policy that you need to extend coverage.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

iMoney.com – The Best Financial Website in Malaysia

iMoney.my

Do you know:

Which financial institution offers the best shopping credit card?
Which bank gives you the highest interest rate for fixed deposit?  
Where to get the cheapest housing loan?

You can get the answers plus information on other financial products such as personal loans, debit cards, personal accident insurance, travel insurance, gold investment and share trading accounts from a comparison website at iMoney.my. It is a very popular website with an Alexa Traffic Rank of 54000.

From the website, I can see that

HSBC Visa Reward is the Best Shopping credit card because it earns up to 8x Reward Points from retail spending.

HSBC Amanah MPower Visa Platinum is the best Dining credit card. You earn up to 8% cashback on petrol, groceries, and dining.

Citi Bank offers the lowest interest rate for personal loan at 7.68% (effective interest rate 14%) 

Am Bank, Hong Leong Bank and Kuwait Finance House Offer the lowest interest rate at 4.2% for housing loan.

Bank Rakyat offes the highest interest rate at 3.65% for six months fixed deposit.

Etiqa motor Takaful is the best insurer for motor insurance.  Their insurance is renewable entirely online.

You can also check out the best deal about mobile date plans from Masxis, Digi, Celcom and U Mobile

Besides comparing financial products you can go to their Learning Centre and read about   informative articles and study their Infographic. Best of all, there is a free ebook, 12 Ways to Save Money in Malaysia, to download.

Interested to make some money? You can even join their affiliate program to earn extra cash by promoting their services at your website.  


Conclusion


Visit this website first when you are looking for a financial product. You will be able to get the best deal by comparing different brands of a similar product. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are You A Victim of Identity Theft?

Are You A Victim of Identity Theft?

How do you know that you are not a victim of identity theft? Have you checked your credit report?
In Malaysia you can get a Self Check Report from Credit Tip-Off System (CTOS), CTOS is a credit reporting agency in Malaysia established since 1990 under the ambit of the Credit Reporting Agencies Act 2010.

CTOS gathers information pertinent and relevant to their credit reporting business mainly from publications of legal proceedings in newspapers and government gazettes, the Companies Commission of Malaysia, the Insolvency Department of Malaysia and subscriber contributions. It maintains information on legal proceedings against individuals and business entities in Malaysia. If there is a bankruptcy suit against an individual or a company, CTOS will collect and register this information into their database.
You can apply for a self-check report at CTOS through registration at their office or through online registration.

In your Self Check Report It is divided into 5 sections:

Section A: Identity Verification Guide
Section B: Internal List/Group Exposure
Section C: Directorships and Business Interests 
Section D: Summons, writs, bankruptcy proceedings, foreclosure, etc
Section E: Trade References


What to watch out for:

Check Section C to see if your name is listed as a director in a company. If you do not own a business it means your identity has been stolen and used by somebody else to run a business in your name. As a director of a company you are responsible for the affairs of the company and liable for its misconduct.
When you are listed as a director in section C, your name most likely will appear in Section D as a bankrupt. The person who has stolen your identity is only interested to obtain loans form financial institutions. Once the perpetrator absconded with the money you are held responsible for his or her action. Even if your name is not listed as director, a perpetrator still can “borrow” your name to obtain personal loans or car loans.
Usually people will only discover their credit status to their surprise and horror when they apply for a loan or receive a bankruptcy proceeding against them.   

Go and obtain a copy of your credit report and straighten you record if it is inaccurate. 

Conclusion:

The credit report from CTOS is to find out if you are involved in any legal proceedings. If you are interested in your credit rating or credit worthiness you need to obtain another credit report  from the Credit Bureau of Bank Negara Malaysia. The Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS)  is the computerized database maintained at the Credit Bureau.  A CCRIS report contains factual and historical information on the loan amount, interest and charges outstanding on each loan (like housing loan, personal loan, hire purchase, credit card and overdraft). It also shows the amount of each monthly payment to be in arrears to the bank for one year (12 months). By having this CCRIS report, the financial institutions can assess your credit rating by analyzing each loan by the loan balance and payment record of the loan.

Monday, July 14, 2014

10 Benefits of a Life Insurance Policy

10 Benefits of a Life Insurance Policy

A life policy is a valuable document. It is more than an instrument to compensate the loss of life of the insured or earning power because of an accident or illness. You can wisely consider the following benefits:

1.      A form of savings and investment: You develop a regular saving habit. Wealth building starts with savings accumulated over time.   

2.      Tax deductable: Life insurance premium is usually a tax-deductable item. In Malaysia there is a personal tax relief of RM6000; however this amount is inclusive of your share of contributions to Employees provident fund.  

3.      A source of cash: As time passes by, your policy builds up a reserve of fund   and you can withdraw its cash value in case there is an urgent need for cash.

4.      A pledge for a loan: You can also pledge your policy and apply for a loan. As it is a loan you will have to pay interest for the loan amount.   

5.      A source of fund for the next-of- kin: Perhaps it is your aim to create wealth for your immediate family. A life policy is usually for this purpose.

6.      Funeral expenses: Upon the maturity of the policy or the untimely demise of the insured, part of the policy proceeds will pay for the deceased’s funeral expenses.  It is a wise move to avoid your immediate family to shoulder such cash outflow. 

7.      Settlement of outstanding debt such as mortgage or personal loan: Upon the premature death of the insured, the proceeds of the policy can be used to settle the deceased’s credit card and personal debt. A MRTA policy will be conveniently used to settle outstanding housing loan in the name of the insured.  

8.      Children’s education: It is yet another wise move to purchase a policy and save for your children‘s future education. The maturity date will coincide when your child enters university.     

9.      Retirement fund: An insurance policy is also a good source of retirement fund. You can time the maturity date of the policy to match the commencement of your retirement. 

10.  Financial support of your family: To avoid financial strain to your immediate family an insurance policy will be a source of fund when you are the only bread winner upon your untimely departure as result of an accident or terminal illnesses.   



There are many types of life policies:

Term life Insurance: When the policy expires it has no cash value, but it offers maximum protection with minimum cost for a stated period. A death benefit will be paid when the insured dies or suffers total and permanent disability while the policy is still active.  This type of policy is to replace your earning power and create a source of fund for yourself or your immediate family    

Whole Life Policy: This form of policy is to create wealth for your next-of-kin because you are paying premium for your whole life until you pass way or are permanently disabled.

Endowment policy: The policy offers protection as well as savings for a specific period and for a specific purpose. The fund may be needed for your marriage or a down-payment for you house.

Investment-linked insurance: It offers protection and a chance to invest by participating in units in a fund managed by the life insurance company. The value of your fund goes up or down subject to market force.

Child education policy: As the name implies it is a policy to cater for your child’s education.  

Medical and health: It has no cash value, but it is an essential expense item.  Medical and health insurance is designed to cover the cost of private medical treatment, which can be very costly, especially with hospitalization and surgery. MHI also ensures that you won't have to worry about the cost of seeking treatment during emergencies. In addition, MHI also provides you with an income stream while you undergo treatment.

Retirement Annuity: It is to ensure that you can depend upon a steady source of income during you retirement. Bear in mind that the income payments you receive will depend on the amount you pay to purchase the annuity, your age when you purchase the annuity and your gender.

Mortgage reducing term assurance: It is a policy to cover the repayment of an outstanding property loan to the financial institution in the event of untimely death, disability or critical illness of the borrower.

Conclusion:

You will consider and purchase suitable policies to suit your requirements.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Can You Afford to Buy a Car?

Car

According to a news item,  Driven to bankruptcy, it is reported that Those who defaulted on car loans continue to top the list of bankrupts, and their numbers are increasing every year. Easy-to-get car loans have driven more Malaysians into bankruptcy, with the numbers soaring, especially in the last six years.
Of the more than 100,000 people declared bankrupt between 2005 and September this year (2011), 25 per cent comprised those who had defaulted on their car loans.


When you decide to buy a car, consider the following:

1.      Down payment: Do not settle for the minimum amount because the more you make the initial payment the smaller will be the loan amount and the less interest you will pay. Save more for a bigger down payment.  

2.      Monthly installment: Have you factored in the monthly installment payment into your monthly budget? It is going to be featured in your cash outflow for a couple of years. Your take home pay must be able to accommodate this amount apart from the usual household and other expenses.  

3.      Toll charges, parking and petrol: These items will be additional expenses and you also need to allocate a fixed amount in your monthly budget.  

4.      Insurance premium and road tax: It happens once a year but you need to save an amount every month so that when it is due in a year’s time you will have enough money to cover these mandatory expenses. 

5.      Regular maintenance: You car needs to maintain regularly like changing engine oil and oil filter and not to mention other replaceable parts. Again it is prudent to save an amount on a monthly basis to meet such expenses.

6.      Wear and tear: Items like tires and battery may last longer but these major items will need to be replaced one fine day. Can you afford not to save a sum of money to cover such expenditures?

7.      Preserving the value of your car: You car needs your attention. You need to tidy the interior and wash the body regular to preserve the shine and glitter. Is your car going to be left outdoor under the scotching sun and the acidic rain? The value of your car will depreciate faster without proper care. You have to drive with care and avoid accident and getting dented or scratched here and there.   

Do your homework:
Just fill in the chart to see if you have excess of income over expenses or there is a shortfall of income in meeting your monthly expenses:   

MONTHLY BUDGET


$
INCOME



TAKE HOME PAY

OTHER INCOME



TOTAL (A)



EXPENSES




CHILD ALLOWANCE

INSURANCE

MORTGAGE

ENTERTAINMENT

CAR LOAN

PETROL, PARKING & TOLL

MOTOR VEHICLE RELATED EXPENSES


UTILITY BILLS


OTHER EXPENSES

TOTAL (B)



EXCESS/SHORTFALL OF INCOME OVER EXPENSES (A-B)


Remark:
Motor vehicle related expenses is an amount to save every month to cover road tax, insurance, maintenance expenses and other major replacement items       

If your total cash outflow is more than your income, you can forget about getting a car.


Conclusion


A car offers great convenience going places. To maintain a car is a different story. Consider all expenses involved before driving away a  car from the showroom. Your excitement can be short lived and what you actually get is financial burden and misery   
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