Jun 072012
 

06/07/12: Greg Powell explains why it is so critical for women to make sure they understand their financial plan. Whether they are single or married, there are some important factors that affect women and their financial plan.

Although comments on this blog have been turned off (see note below), Greg would like to have dialogue with you. Email Greg Powell here or call him at (205) 989-3498.

Note:Due to regulations, comments have been turned off.

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Oct 212011
 

10/21/11: Reasons every woman should have an insurance policy

Most young, single women don’t think about life insurance. In fact, less than 5% of all insurance policies sold in the past year have been contracts for single women. Most people in general don’t contemplate the need for life insurance until they get married, have a child, or incur a large debt. But even a single girl needs to give plenty of thought to purchasing a life insurance policy.

Quint Cook, Executive Vice President and Wealth Consultant, states that there are many reasons one should have an insurance policy. He asks clients, “Do you own your own home? Do you have unsecured debt such as student loans or credit card bills? What would happen to this debt if you were to die unexpectedly?” Chances are your estate will not be able to cover these costs in a timely manner, leaving your family to bear the financial burden. I’m sure you would agree with me when I say I never want to be a financial burden on my loved ones. With life insurance coverage, you will have peace of mind knowing your financial responsibilities and debts are covered in the event of your death.

Frequently Asked QuestionsQuint also points out that at our younger and healthier age, we have the opportunity to purchase life insurance at a reduced cost. The older you are the higher the health risks and premiums, so it’s smart to purchase life insurance now. You can easily add to your coverage when life changes occur such as marriage or having a child. Other than reduced costs, there are other benefits to purchasing life insurance at a young age. As time passes you will accumulate a cash value in your policy, which can be used to help secure loans and provide a more desirable credit profile to lenders. Building a strong financial base at an early age is always beneficial down the road.
Insurance policies are available in many formats, such as: Term Life, Whole Life, and Variable Policies. Costs vary depending on the type of coverage you elect as well as any pre-existing health conditions or risks. If you would like to know more about life insurance or any other financial topic, I recommend you call Greg Powell or Quint Cook at fi-Plan Partners today.

For more financial insights for the single woman, call me at 205.989.3498 or email me here.

Amy Marquis
Chief Operations Officer

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Oct 142011
 

10/14/11 Negotiating terms and fees with your credit card company

Whether it’s a result of trying to make ends meet during graduate school or falling victim to the lure of overpriced stilettos, most of us single girls have credit card debt. Overcoming the bad spending habits is just the first step. Paying off the debt in a timely manner is the next step. There are some quick and easy ways to negotiate the fees associated with your debt. Negotiating terms and fees with your credit card company can really save you money each month if done properly. Most of the time, everything from the annual fees to the interest rate can be lowered with some effort. You cannot expect to simply ask for a lower rate and get it without some effort on your part. Instead you will need to take a more skilled approach along the following lines listed below:

1. Request a Lower Interest Rate

Did you know 9 times out of 10 the interest rate you are paying monthly/annually is negotiable? If you have been a good customer with a solid history of on-time payments, the credit card company should find little issue in lowering your interest rate. Simply call your credit card company and request a rate that is at least 2% below the national average. Using your good payment history as leverage, you should be able to get this done without much hassle. To find acceptable rates, try searching Google or calling any friends you may have in the financial industry. The more information you have, the better.

2. Fees Are Negotiable

With most companies, credit card fees can also be negotiated. The easiest fee to get waived is the late fee, provided you paid your bill within a few days of the due date. If you have a solid credit history and are rarely late, use this as leverage on the phone. Stress the fact that you paid your bill only two or three days after the due date, and that as a reliable, on-time customer, you would like that fee waived or you will not be using their card any longer. It is important to stress the option of no longer using their card. This is a sure fire way to get their attention. Other fees, such as annual fees or cash advance fees may not be as negotiable as late fees, but it’s worth the phone call to see if you can get them reduced. Also, inquire what the annual fee covers or provides. If you can show no realized benefits, you may be able to get a credit for a prior annual fee that you have paid.

3. Request a Lower Minimum Payment

It is best to pay as much as possible each month towards your outstanding balance. If you are in a bind financially and cannot pay the higher minimum payment, ask for your minimum to be lowered. This strategy is most effective if you are behind by several months on your payments. Credit card companies would rather get some money rather than no money, so if you request a different payment plan they will likely be willing to work with you. Make sure you determine how much you can afford to pay monthly before calling so that you know your limits when the negotiations begin.

4. Ask To Speak With the Supervisor

Often times we feel we are getting the runaround when we speak to a call center representative. It is best to ask for a supervisor if you feel you are getting nowhere with the person on the other end of the phone. You don’t have to be rude, just simply say it seems you can’t help me, so I would very much like to speak with your supervisor please. Frequently, the supervisors have more authority and are the real decision makers on the floor anyway, and you have a better chance of getting somewhere with them. They are more concerned with retaining your business, even if that means meeting you halfway on a request they wouldn’t normally grant. It never hurts to ask!

5. Get Your New Terms in Writing

If you are successful in renegotiating your credit debt, request that the company mail you a brief statement of the new terms in writing. This provides you with proof of your new terms and conditions, so that if your next statement comes unchanged, you have something on paper to point to. Without it you will be forced to call the credit card company and play the “he said, she said” game as you go through the pains of renegotiating the same terms.

Credit card debt can loom over you like a rain cloud and any relief is always a plus. I hope you find these tips helpful if you are in a position to renegotiate your debt. Just remember, if you have any questions feel free to call me at 205.989.3498 or email me here.

 

Amy Marquis
Chief Operations Officer

 

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Oct 122011
 

10/12/11 Determining your “needs” from your “wants”

As a single girl, your household is managed on one salary. Often times, a woman’s income is less than a man’s within the same industry or field. In addition, women tend to have a more expensive lifestyle at an earlier age than men. This situation creates a justified reason for all single women to live by a monthly budget.

As a single girl, your budget likely doesn’t include diapers, food for an entire family, or childcare costs. Despite the absence of these normal household expenditures, temptation to buy that gorgeous handbag or expensive pair of shoes is very real. Balancing these wants while managing to stash away savings can be challenging. Here are a few key items that will help ease the stress when creating a budget.

1. OUTLINE YOUR BUDGET: You don’t have to invest in expensive software to create and manage your budget. Simply grab a piece of paper, calculator and pencil. Start by listing how much you bring home each month. Next, list how much you spend on necessary items such as bills, mortgage/rent, and other mandatory expenses. Once you have subtracted these items, you have your extra cash available. This is the area that needs the most attention when sticking to a budget. It is this area that often includes frivolous purchases that lead to overspending and debt. (If you would like my free Monthly Budget Spreadsheet that will quickly add up your budget for you, just email me here and I will send it to you.)

2. EXAMINE YOUR DAILY SPENDING FIRST: Review your last few monthly bank statements. Determine where the majority of your daily spending occurs and focus in on those areas especially when trying to cut expenses. The best way to cut expenses is to categorize purchases by “needs” or “wants”. You can usually wipe out most of your “want” spending when needed. This is also a good way to really look at where you are spending the majority of your extra cash.

3. PRIORITIZE: Once you have determined your needs vs. wants categories, don’t sacrifice…prioritize! If you really enjoy that monthly pedicure and it makes you feel good, don’t forgo the treat… just find another area to cut that isn’t as important – like not ordering in lunch when you could bring something from home. Since you are working with a set amount each month, find ways to borrow from certain areas in order to splurge a little on the items that make a bigger difference and are rewarding.

4. SHOP WISELY: Another great way to budget and save money is to shop wisely. Shopping wisely can include the use of coupons, buying bulk and splitting with friends, waiting for sales before making a purchase, or buying generic items instead of name brand when available. Food makes up a large portion of every budget; you will be surprised how much you can save on groceries by employing these tactics.

5. BE HONEST: Don’t be afraid to admit when you can’t afford to do something. If a friend invites you to an expensive restaurant for dinner and drinks, be honest and say you really can’t spend the money right now. Most often they will understand or suggest a pizza and movie at home instead. Face it; everybody has lived on a budget at least once in their life. Being upfront and honest will always pay off.

Following the above steps and tailoring a budget to fit your specific income, lifestyle and needs will help ensure you don’t over spend. It will also decrease stress and uncertainty regarding finances. In the end, you will know exactly what your limits are and will feel more confident when spending.

If you have any questions feel free to call me at 205.989.3498 or email me here.

 

Amy Marquis
Chief Operations Officer

 

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