$200 Bonus Offer from Chase Freedom

Chase is offering new clients a $200 bonus when they open a Chase Freedom account within 3 months of account opening a spend $500. Source: Chase

Offer Details

In order to earn the $200 bonus, customers need to spend $500 in their first 3 months from account opening. There is an additional $25 bonus for adding an authorized user and making a first purchase within the same 3 month period.

This credit card offers a 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spend in bonus categories each quarter. For everything else, customers can earn a 1% cash back. Best of all, Chase checking customers are eligible for a 10% annual exclusives bonus. In addition, there is no annual fee for this credit card. Another interesting feature is the 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles. However, in order to maintain account, one needs to make at least the minimum payments over that time, should they keep the balance. And of course, transfer fees could apply if transfering a balance from another card to this one.

For more information on this credit card deal, check out Chase promo page from this link.

401K Plans And Divorce | What Happens To My 401K Funds If I Get Divorced?

What happens to 401K plan in the event of a divorce? In recent years, the rate of divorce for all married couples has more than doubled. Further, more than 25% of divorcing couples are more than 50 years old. That means that there is a higher percentage of people getting divorced older. And it’s the older people that have more developed 401K plans. Of course that’s a major concern for those considering divorce: they don’t want their soon-to-be ex-spouses getting their hands of those 401K funds!

What happens to my 401K plan if I get divorced?

When a couple gets divorced; especially a couple that has accumulated significant amounts of funds in retirement accounts, investments, life insurance and more, things get very complicated. When a human union is dissolved, all assets must be considered in the final divorce settlement agreement. And in most cases, any 401K funds accumulated during the union are considered as marital property.

It also happens to be true that dividing retirement funds, like 401K plans, is a legal nightmare. The rules are many, and also complicated to understand. There are loads of potential taxation implications to consider at the same time – check out the Suncorp superannuation calculator to help plan ahead & figure out how much you will actually have when you retire. A high percentage of attorneys have no expertise in this area, and therefore are prone to making serious negotiation mistakes. With all that in mind, it makes sense to get some education about what to keep in mind concerning your 401K if you are soon divorcing.

Most courts agree that retirement funds are planned for and contributed to by both members of a married couple. It doesn’t make a lot of sense that these funds would be thought of as belonging to one or the other, but not both. After all, the concept of marriage is all about joining together – and most judges are going to see your 401K monies joined together too.

Now, here’s the better news. If you entered into the marriage with a given amount already accumulated in your 401K, then that amount will probably be considered as separate property. Further, in some jurisdictions, any appreciation on that original amount would be looked upon as joint property. When it comes down to it, each case must be considered separately, and of course the variables can be very numerous. The exact differentiation between what is marital property and what is separate property will only be decided by the court.

The bottom line about 401K plans and divorce:

If you have accumulated funds in a 401K plan during your marriage, and are now about to get divorced, then prepare to part with some of that funding. Whatever amount has accumulated since your marriage began will most likely be seen in court as marital property. Pension disbursements, social security, life insurance, annuities and your 401K will all have to be considered, along with any other assets in question. Divorce is an ugly monster at times; one that can leave you feeling mighty broke too…

$50 Sharebuilder Brokerage Bonus

Discount Broker Sharebuilder has a limited time $50 cash bonus for new customers, who open an account with the company. Check below for more details: ( Source: Sharebuilder)

New users should use Promo Code: 50TRADE

The new customer must open a new ShareBuilder Individual, Joint or Custodial account and place a trade to receive the $50 bonus offer. The account should be opened by 12/31/14. The trade should be done by February 17, 2015 using Promo Code 50TRADE.

The broker limits one promotional award per unique Customer or custodial beneficiary. Unfortunately, this offer is not valid with IRA or Education Savings Accounts. The $50 bonus will post in your newly opened account within 7 days of your first trade. The $50 bonus is not available for withdrawal for 120 days after it is awarded to your account. Capital One ShareBuilder reserves the right to terminate this offer at any time and to refuse or recover any promotion award if Capital One ShareBuilder Inc. determines that it was obtained under wrongful or fraudulent circumstances, that inaccurate or incomplete information was provided in opening the account, or that any term of ShareBuilder’s Account Agreement has been violated.

For more information on this brokerage bonus deal, check out Sharebuilder website from this link.

$200 Cash Bonus from Chase Checking

Chase is offering a $200 Cash Bonus to new customers who open a Chase Checking account by August 15, 2013. Check offer information below for more detail: (Source: Chase)

Offer Details

– Print this page and take it to your local Chase Branch or apply online using the coupon code below.
– Open a Chase Total CheckingSM account and set up direct deposit.
– Get $200 into your new Chase checking account within 10 business days after your first direct deposit is made.

For bank bonus deals, it is also very important to read the fine print.

Readers should understand that his offer is not available to existing Chase checking customers, or those who have had their Chase accounts closed within the past 90 days.

In order to receive the bonus you have to follow these three detailed steps:
1) Open a new Chase Total CheckingSM account, which is subject to approval;
2) Deposit $100 or more within 10 business days of account opening; AND
3) Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. The fine print specifies that a qualified direct deposit is one that comes from your paycheck, as well as pension or government benefits.

Once all the requirements are met, the cash bonus will be deposited within 10 business days.

However, it is also important to avoid paying fees. In order to avoid a $12 monthly service fee, customers need to do one of the following: ( the fee is $10 for CA, OR and WA)

Option #1: Have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account; OR,
Option #2: Keep the daily balance in your checking account at or above $1,500; OR,
Option #3: Keep an average daily balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances.

For more information on this bank bonus deal, check out Chase promo page from this link.

How to Manage Your Finances as a Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, I have many responsibilities. The main ones are obviously managing the business, and making sure that customers are taken care of. Customer satisfaction is important, because it can result in repeat business and word of mouth advertising. In addition, by taking good care of customers, and ensuring customer satisfaction, I am differentiating myself from the competition. If I can offer quality to my customers, I know they will stick by me, and not worry too much if my prices are slightly higher than the competition. I also want to make sure I can compete well, by maintaining an open mind and continuing my professional education.

The items I do not want to worry are my business finances. As a small business owner, I want to avoid paying too much for basic financial services. Luckily, free business banking is available for owners just like me. This allows me to avoid spending time looking for hidden fees, and focus instead of my company. The earnings I use from meeting my client’s needs are accumulated in my business savings account, until I find a project worthy of investment. This account is a central repository for all my business needs, and is the financial center of my small company. It is important to work with a financial institution you trust, which understands small entrepreneurs along the way. By building a strong relationship with your trusted bank, you would be able to leverage their product offerings to your advantage, and growing your business along the way. It is also important to keep the cash in your accounts under the limits insured by the state. In the US, accounts are insured up to $250,000.

From my business savings account I then place the money in my retirement accounts. It is important to take care of yourself as a small business owner. If you do not pay yourself a salary when you own a business, but instead choose to reinvest it back to grow your enterprise, you are not doing the best for yourself.

To summarize, it is important for small business owners to take care of themselves, by ensuring a sound financial footing. By managing their finances through reputable financial institutions, and building strong relationships with their bankers, they can manage to not only worry less about finances, but would also have a trusted advisor who can provide them with more options should the need arise.

How To Identify The Best Deals In Today’s Housing Market

The US housing recovery is opening the door for homebuyers to find affordable property across the country. There are some states that reported a more prominent turn around than others, and some Americans are in the market for more than one property, depending on the region of the country. In some cases, people are even looking outside the US for a getaway home in another nation, particularly a cottage in neighboring Canada.

You may be wondering how to find markets where housing is affordable, and how to secure a home loan in the post-recessionary world. While access to credit is definitely tighter in today’s market than access four years ago, you can still effectively find ways to secure an affordable mortgage.

Homebuyers in the south and the Midwest will on average, find better opportunities to buy than in other markets. States such as Nevada and Arizona were some of the hardest hit markets during the housing crash, which resulted in the value of properties plummeting. However, with the housing rebound fully underway, homes in these very states are now more affordable than other regions across the country.

Due to the diversity of the housing recovery, thousands of Americans are using the internet to compare mortgage lenders by state. Online comparison websites proved particularly popular for personal shopping over the years, and the same online comparison process now includes personal financial products and services such as mortgages. In only a few minutes of browsing the web, you can compare the best advertised mortgage rates from various providers to get the best deal.

If you are planning to relocate to a different state, online mortgage shopping is even more invaluable. You can view the best deals in the region you are relocating to without having to set time aside to physically travel there for a negotiation. Instead, the application can be done within your own home, saving you the hassle of back and forth discussions.

You may even be in the market for a second home, or looking for a location that serves as a vacation getaway. For example, many Americans choose to get a cottage in Canada, as the Canadian wilderness and national parks are internationally acclaimed for their rich heritage and beauty. The same online mortgage comparison can be completed using a Canadian affiliate website, which means you can save yourself the trip across the border and put in an offer on a getaway property without leaving your own city.

The housing market went on a traumatic rollercoaster ride over the last few years, and even with the recovery fully underway, people understand that the market will never be the same again. But you can still find the best opportunities to buy at the most affordable options with a little help from the web. The internet is a valuable tool for anyone who knows how to use it to their advantage, which is all the more rewarding when the tool helps you buy your dream home.

$50 Sharebuilder IRA Bonus

Brokerage Sharebuilder is offering a $50 bonus to new clients who open an IRA by April 30, 2013. Check offer below for more details: (source: Sharebuilder)

Offer Details:

1) Open a new ShareBuilder Individual Retirement Account (IRA) using promotion code SBFEB50IRA by 4/30/13.
2) Deposit $5,000 by 5/31/13. Subject to restrictions listed below, ShareBuilder will add the $50 bonus to your IRA within 60 days of the qualifying deposit(s).
3) The assets in the IRA must stay there for at least 9 months

For more information on this brokerage deal, check out Sharebuilder promo page from this link.

What is FDIC insurance?

FDIC or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is created by the US Congress to insure the safety of deposits in participating members’ banks up to $250,000 per depositor per bank. Also, accounts in different ownerships (such as beneficial ownership, trusts, and joint accounts) are considered separately for the $250,000 insurance limit. Under the Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Act of 2005, Individual Retirement Accounts are insured to $250,000.

The FDIC was started after the Great Depression as several thousand banks failed after major runs on the banks. Many depositors lost large chunks on their principal. In order to prevent people from withdrawing their savings from banks which are deemed unstable by the general public, the FDIC started guarantying the principal which the depositor has at each individual bank up to a certain limit. The FDIC limits have been raised from the $10,000 in 1933 to $250,000 in 2008.

To receive this benefit, member banks must follow certain liquidity and reserve requirements. Banks are classified in five groups according to their risk-based capital ratio:

  • Well capitalized: 10% or higher
  • Adequately capitalized: 8% or higher
  • Undercapitalized: less than 8%
  • Significantly undercapitalized: less than 6%
  • Critically undercapitalized: less than 2%

When a bank becomes undercapitalized the FDIC issues a warning to the bank. When the number drops below 6% the FDIC can change management and force the bank to take other corrective action. When the bank becomes critically undercapitalized the FDIC declares the bank insolvent and can take over management of the bank. The FDIC insurance only covers deposits in US banks only. If you hold dollars in a foreign bank, your deposit is subject to the laws and regulations of the country. You need to do a very thorough forex analysis of the country’s currency, before you move your money there, in order to prevent the risk of it being translated in the local currency, should the country face an economic emergency. This happened in Mexico in the 1980’s, when dollar deposits were converted to peso’s at the official market rate. At the same time however, the “black market” or actual rate was much higher, leading to steep losses for savers.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) ensures that depositors recover 100% of their principal plus any interest rate accumulated in arrears before the collapse of the bank. This guarantee makes the banking system more stable and less prone on runs on the banks spurred by rumors.

The products covered by the FDIC limits of $250,000 include savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposits, Outstanding Cashier’s Checks, Interest Checks, and other negotiable instruments.

Time for the Carnivals:
Carnival of Wealth, Sequestration Edition

Chase $125 Offer

Chase is offering a $125 cash bonus offer to new clients, who open a checking account by April 6, 2013. Check offer below for more details: (Source: Chase)

Offer Details

In order to receive the cash bonus:

1) Open a new Chase Total CheckingSM account by April 6, 2013 either at Chase branches or online
2) Deposit $100 or more within 10 business days of account opening;
3) Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Your direct deposit needs to be an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or the government.
4) The bonus amount is taxable, and a 1099 will be sent early in 2014 if cash offer is earned
5) In order to avoid paying monthly fees for this checking account, savers need to

A) Have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account; OR,
B) Option #2: Keep the daily balance in your checking account at or above $1,500; OR,
C) Option #3: Keep an average daily balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances.

For more information on this bank promo deal, check out Chase bonus page from this link.

Top tips for first home buyers

By Betsy Fallwell

When people talk about the most exciting times of their lives, they’re quick to mention graduations, weddings, the births of their children. I’d add one more milestone to that list: the purchase of your first home.
For me, buying our first place was an emotional experience. The first time my husband and I pulled into the driveway of what would ultimately become our new home for a showing with our real estate agent, I burst into tears. They were not unlike the tears I shed when I tried on the dress that would be my wedding gown for the first time; they were tears that fate had brought me to the perfect place at the perfect time, and that I had found something that was meant specifically for me.

But for many first home buyers, finding the right place is an emotionally taxing experience. By arming yourself with as much information as possible before signing on the dotted line, you’ll ensure for yourself a smooth process.

Educate Yourself

Back when we bought our home in 2006, banks were basically giving away mortgages. Not anymore. Thanks to the mortgage meltdown, home loans are more difficult to come by than ever these days. That’s why you need to equip yourself with the right information from the right sources.

Many institutions offer free seminars and classes designed to educate first home buyers about the process. Real estate agents will often hold educational programs on weekends or in the evenings, as will some banks, lenders, and mortgage brokers. Not only can these free programs help you learn more about the housing industry, but they can also put you in touch with professionals who can help you navigate it.

Work with the Pros

Just like you shop around for your first home, you’ll also want to shop around for the right team: that means a mortgage broker and a real estate agent. Because a home buyer is not responsible for paying these professionals their commissions, there’s no reason first home buyers have to go it alone.

A mortgage broker introduces borrowers to a variety of home loan products from a variety of lenders. Unlike the bank’s mortgage office, an independent broker can show you home loans from multiple companies, saving you time and – eventually – money. Your broker may also show you home loans that are specifically designed for first home buyers, like the FHA program. Their commission is paid by the lender whose mortgage you ultimately choose.

A real estate agent helps you navigate the housing market, taking stock of your needs and wants, as well as your budget. Some are called Realtors, because they are part of a specific trade organization, but don’t be fooled; most real estate agents have the same education, experience, and certifications as a Realtor. These pros receive their commission – usually 3% of the purchase price – from the property’s seller.

Set the Groundwork for Your Loan

Before you start shopping for your first home, spend some time with your mortgage broker going over your finances. Your broker will determine how much you’ll qualify for, using something called a debt-to-income ratio. This is a basic comparison of your debts to your income, and determines whether you’re a strong candidate for a loan. Once you’re pre-approved for a loan, you’ll be ready to start shopping, all while knowing how much you can spend.

But remember that knowing how much the lender says you can spend it not the same as setting your own budget. A lender may approve you for a $250,000 mortgage, but you may be more comfortable with monthly payments on a $200,000 home loan.

Separating Needs vs. Wants

This is one of the toughest parts for first home buyers. When they start out, they’ve got dreams of grandeur: massive homes on manicured lots, tons of room inside, plus lots of upgraded features. But the fact is, if you’re coming into the buying process with a small budget, you might have to give up on some of those added features.

This is where differentiating between a “need” and a “want” comes into play. A need is something you can’t change about the property (at least not without a major overhaul). They include things like:

  • The property’s location
  • The size of the lot
  • The topography of the lot
  • The aesthetics of the neighboring houses (which can have an impact on your property value)
  • The basic footprint of the house (ie, you can’t make a 2-story a ranch)
  • The basic floor plan (yes, this can be changed, but usually costs tens of thousands of dollars)

Then there are wants. These are things you can more easily change if they don’t live up to your preferences, like:

  • Type of flooring
  • Paint color
  • Countertop material

Focus on the needs, and consider any wants a bonus.