Archives For Miscellaneous

Gambling laws

Corey —  March 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

Ever since there has been currency, people of gambled on the outcome of a sporting event or simple little wagers about people’s everyday lives. As gambling became more sophisticated, casinos and betting shop started to open many gambling laws came about. Throughout history gambling has been made completely illegal and legalised later on. With the addition of online casino slot games like flying circus and the openness of the internet, governing these gambling laws has gotten a lot harder than ever before. This is why the governments of many countries have cracked down so hard on internet casino companies, making sure that they follow the laws correctly.

In the UK your allowed to gamble as long as you are over 18, this applies to both land-based and online casinos. However these online casinos have to follow a few special rules in order to be able to advertise in the UK. Mainly the company that runs the online casino has to be either be within the UK or a white listed country such as Malta where the UK has jurisdiction. When it comes to the land-based casinos, in 2005 an act was passed so that super casinos such as those found in Vegas could be erected in the UK. However in 2007 when Manchester won a bid for one of these super casinos the House of Lords changed their minds and instead set up plans for 16 smaller casinos to be built instead around the country.

The US is similar to the UK in many ways due to people being allowed to gamble after they turn 18 according to federal law, however where US differs is that each state is allowed to decide if gambling is legal or not. This means many states across the US do not allow either online or real life gambling to take place.

If you have been injured in an accident or you have won a worker’s compensation claim or you have won a settlement for the wrongful death of a person you depended upon, then in all probability you will get the compensation you are to receive in the form of an annuity. This annuity pays out awards from any form or type of legal settlement or lottery winnings or as has been mentioned earlier, any award from worker’s compensation claim or personal injury case in the manner of a periodic inflow of cash which has a number of tax advantages added with it. This sort of annuity scheme is called a structured settlement which is the most beneficial and most advantageous way to avail money to be received in the form of settlements.

The many advantages of structured settlements

There are many benefits of structured settlements, the most noteworthy among which is the exemption from all form of taxes, be it state taxes or federal taxes or local income taxes. This means that the savings of the investor in structured settlements is much higher than the investor in any other securities. In addition to this the fact that this form of annuities does not depend at all on any economic condition and the payment can be scheduled upon your wish and desire and can be deferred or may begin immediately makes up for the icing on the cake.

What is a cash annuity and what are its variables?

If at any moment you find yourself trapped in any financial difficulties and are in dire need of cash then you may sell your annuity and upon the determination, receive a lump sum amount in lieu of your future annuity incomes. In determination of the amount one will have a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, these are as follows:

  • Interest rate – The interest rate plays a crucial factor in determining the amount one receives on sale of annuity.

  • Inflation – The ongoing rate of inflation in the economy will also affect the amount receivable on the sale of the annuity.

  • Payments- The amount of annuity that one wants to sell will also be a factor in determining the cash amount which will be received by the investor wanting to sell the annuity.

  • Demand- At last, the demand for the payments will also affect the scales when it comes to determining the amount that you are likely to receive upon sale of the annuity.

The benefits of selling structured settlement annuities

When one decides to sell off structured settlement annuities, he or she is subjected to a number of benefits. These advantages are enumerated as below:

  • Liquidity – Probably the most important factor of selling structured settlement annuities, liquidity assures you that you will not be cash strapped. This liquidity backs individuals not only financially but also mentally to go ahead with their dreams, plans and ideas. Whenever facing a financial crisis, you can encash your structured settlements and get lump sum cash.

  • Time value of money – When one sells structured settlement annuities, one can also take advantage of time value of money. Generally, it is seen that the rate of earning in case of the money in hand is much more than the amount which may be received on a future date. Inflation reduces the future value of money and hence the earning capacity is much more if the amount is given a chance to earn interest.

Slow annuities – what are they and what are their benefits

Slow annuities generally refer to normal annuities which cannot be cashed when one desires i.e. in the contract of the annuity with the company there is no clause as to sell the annuity before its maturity. These annuities are suitable for those who are assured that they will not be subjected to any financial problems. There are a number of benefits of these annuities as well such as:

  • Tax Free: Most of such annuities are freed from the burden of tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This implies that your savings will be more.

  • Not affected by the economic condition: These annuities are not at all affected by the economic situation and are hence risk free.

Why opt for selling them off rather than clinging on?

When one has to make a choice between encashing now and letting the annuities continue, one must weigh in pros and cons of both and after careful analysis it will be evident that it is far better to go for the former:

  • An investor is assured of availability of cash in his hour of need.

  • Money which is in hand at the moment, if invested will fetch a lot much more than the amount which one will receive after a decade or any time period.

  • In case of slow annuities, IRS applies penalties and a huge surrender charge also has to be paid if one withdraws fund before the completion of age of 59 and half years.

  • With the rise in inflation the actual value of money that one receives in a slow annuity is less.

So, now that you are aware of all the factors as to why encashing now scores over slow annuities, invest wisely and efficiently!

While Christianity is filled with competing voices like anything else, there are many things that I see as common sense. One of these is caring for the environment. Maybe I am naive, but I think it only makes sense that God would want everyone to care for the world that God created. Why would any creator create something and not care if anyone destroyed it? To put it simply, God DOES care whether we preserve the environment that we are responsible for.

This may sound a little idealistic to many of my readers. And in many ways, it is. It is idealistic. It is one of those “perfect world” attributes. It’s idealistic because real life is much more complicated than caring for the environment or not. Most of us probably drove to work today, emitting CO2 along the way. It’s easy for someone else to say that you need to take public transportation, live within walking distance, or bike to work, but it’s much more complicated than that, isn’t it? We obviously need to work and earn a living for our families, but at what cost to the environment. Until recently, there was no easy solution to this dilemma.

What’s changed? The introduction of the hybrid or the eco friendly car. Along with the invention of hybrid or electric cars, we have seen the fuel efficiency increased of cars and the potential for decreasing the CO2 emissions. Today, I’d like to talk about whether the hybrid is a necessity for bible-believing Christians.

Green Bible Verses

For those who don’t agree with my basic premise that environmental concern is a Christian theme, here are several passages that illustrate the green theme within the Bible.

Genesis 1:31

“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Numbers 35:33-34

“‘Do not pollute the land where you are… 34 Do not defile the landwhere you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’”

 Psalm 19:1

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”

Revelation 11:18b

…destroying those who destroy the earth. 

While I don’t have time to give the context of each of the above passages, suffice it to say that each one supports this idea of preserving God’s creation. Throughout the Bible we are told to preserve that which God has given us. Why would the earth be any different?

Why You Should Get a Hybrid

Getting a hybrid car may seem like an unnecessary expense (or too costly of an expense to justify the reward), but it is well worth it. In fact, there are a number of benefits for getting a hybrid.

  • Lower Fuel Costs - The obvious savings on gas is huge. If you look at the best green cars and see that they get 50% better MPG, that means your fuel costs are 2/3 of what they used to be.
  • Less CO2 Emissions - While this may also be obvious, people fail to realize how much lower Carbon Dioxide levels benefit them. It not only means less pollution to the earth, but also lower rates of environment-caused diseases/medical conditions.
  • Increased Focus on Hybrids by Manufacturers - Another benefit of buying a green car is that it notifies manufacturers that consumers want more fuel efficient cars. Manufacturers want to make a profit, so they will target their products appropriately. Think about how big of a change the car industry could have if consumers demanded more fuel efficient cars. It is starting to move that way now with completely electric cars, but it still has a long way to go.

While it may take a few more years for hybrid cars to become popular, it doesn’t mean that you should wait. The increased affordability and instant savings in gas should be enough. If it isn’t, consider your ethical commitments to preserve that which God created.

Is Income Protection Necessary?

Corey —  November 24, 2013 — 4 Comments

My wife and I have finally gotten to a point where we are earning a decent amount more than our expenses. We are making responsible choices by paying for life insurance, saving for retirement, giving to those in need, and much more. We finally don’t have to stress about making ends meet. It only took us a few years to get where we are at, but with each new situation in life come new decisions.

Despite our recently-found stability, I have come to an important realization: we wouldn’t last very long if one of us were unable to work. Whether it’s because of an unexpected child or serious illness, we are financially secure right now because both of us work. If something were to happen to us, we would struggle to get by. There would be no extra cushion, no nice vacations, nothing like that. If it were caused by a medical condition, which increased our expenses, we’d have to ask family for help. It would be that bad.

When is Income Protection Necessary?

My wife and I have started to talk about short-term disability and other forms of income protection (like what is offered at Life Broker). Before I paint an inaccurate picture, let me clarify that my wife and I are very much middle class. We’re living in the North East, where cost of living is very high and we are still years away from being able to afford a home of our own.

But, we can afford to own a car, have a dog as companion (it’s getting here in a couple weeks), and many other luxuries. Our expenses aren’t outrageous, but are just above either of our salaries. We cannot afford to be a single income family at this point, but maybe in the future.

This is why we are considering short-term disability: if I or my wife were to get injured, we’d be in a touch financial situation. We’d likely burn through our emergency fund and go backwards pretty fast. Knowing how long it has taken us to get on track, we don’t want to go backwards.

While income protection is not necessary, and likely will result in us paying money that we will never see back, it is nice to have for peace of mind purposes. Since we both have long-term disability, my wife and I will probably forego another income protection options, but it will be something we consider more urgently if we decide to have children or anything of the sort.

Steps to Get Out of Debt

Corey —  October 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

Getting out of debt is only a matter of a few steps, but that doesn’t make it easy. While those who are debt free may claim that it’s easy, you got into debt for a reason. Whether it is a justified reason or not, there is a cause for you being in debt. You may have had to take out student loans to get through college, or you may have collected consumer debt as a result of a few bad decisions.

Regardless of the reason, in order to get yourself out of debt, you need to not only make smart choices, but understand how and why you got yourself into this reason in the first place. Below are a few steps that you can follow when trying to get out of debt.

Step 1 – Evaluate Why You are In Debt (Be Honest)

The first and most important step is to be honest with yourself. Many people try to get out of debt by simply earning more money or finding a cheaper interest rate. The problem is that debt often comes from not being able to control your spending. If this applies to you, admit it and move on. Acknowledge that you made some crappy choices and that you want to do better. Similar to getting over any other addiction, you have to admit your struggle in order to get over it.

Step 2 – Control Your Spending

The next thing you need to do, before you even think about paying down your debt is to limit the damage. In other words, don’t keep digging a deeper hole. You need to limit your spending. Interest rates will make your debt bad enough – don’t compound the badness.

Step 3 – Come Up with a Plan

The next thing you need to do is to come up with a strategy and concrete plan to get out of debt. This means looking at calculators or you may even want to use a car loan repayment calculator if you have a car loan. Each plan is going to be unique to each person. You have to figure out what works for you and write down the steps that you are going to take.

Step 4 – Stick to Your Plan

The second to last step is to carry out the plan. If you plan consists of earning $50 more dollars from babysitting, and not eating out, then do that. It’s easy enough to create a plan, but it’s even harder to carry it out. It’s going to take a test of will and hard work to get through it, but if you focus on the benefit, you can do it.

Step 5 – Celebrate

The last and equally important step is to celebrate once you are out of debt. It’s doesn’t have to be anything that special, but you should do something. This is a way to positively reinforce the good behavior. Without this, you could easily slip back into debt.

Getting out of debt may seem easy on paper, but it’s much harder in real life. Find people who can hold your accountable and support you through this process. And lastly, don’t give up! You can do it!

The Costs of Having a Pet

Michelle —  October 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

Getting a new pet for your family can be expensive, and if you don’t fully plan adding this new family member, then you may be in for some surprises. Many pets can probably be had for cheaply, but if you’re thinking a dog, then make sure you fully think about this decision.

I currently have 2 dogs, one is a mutt (they say she might be a Pointer/Pit Bull mutt) and the other is a French Bulldog runt. The mutt is super healthy, but my French Bulldog – not even close. He is about 12 pounds and has already had numerous things wrong with him. And the vet has said that many more things will most like start happening as he gets older, so we do know that we need to start saving just in case something does happen.

We used to have a third dog. We sort of got her on a whim, but fell in love with her immediately. We didn’t really think about much her medication would cost and her had many medical problems. It cost around $100 per month for her medications. She ended up passing away 2 months later which was very sad.

1. Buying or “homing” the pet

There is of course the initial cost of obtaining the pet. I am 100% for pet adoption. There are so many animals out there (both puppies and adults) that need homes, and most pet shops support puppy mills. Adopting a pet may cost anywhere from free to something like $300. Usually this adoption costs includes all shots and possibly the pet being spayed or neutered.

2. Food

Food for your new pet can add up quickly also. I usually like to buy the higher quality bags of dog food. Saving a couple of bucks on dog food is most likely not worth it when it comes to your pet’s health. Dog food can range anywhere from $10 to $100 per month. We spend around $50 to $75 a month on dog food.

Food costs also depends on what type of animal and/or breed you have. Obviously my 12 pound dog eats no where near the amount of food as my 80 pound dog.

3. Medical

Medical for your pet can add up quickly. It will need all of its shots and you will want to keep them current on these shots. You might also want to get them spayed/neutered as well. The Humane Society near my house will spay/neuter your dog for around $40, whereas if you go to your local vet, it is usually around $200 to $300, but I have heard of higher cost of living places with it being around $800.

Also, if anything happens to your pet, will you be able to take them to the doctor? What if your dog gets a really bad rash, a tumor, breaks a leg, has a bad reaction to something or anything else? The cost can be as small as $75, and maybe up to a couple of thousand dollars.

4. Treats, Toys and a Bed

I really like to spoil my dogs, so I tend to spend a lot of treats and toys. Bones can be expensive, and my dog can eat a $20 4 foot long bone in a couple of hours. I don’t give her one of those often, but it does add up!

Beds can also be quite expensive as well. A crate (depending on the size) can be $100, and the bedding can be an extra $25 – $50 to go inside of it. I don’t keep my dogs in their crates ever, but it is said that dogs usually like a place with walls that makes them feel safe. My dogs willingly go in their crates and sleep in there (with the crate door open).

5. Groomers

Taking your pet to the groomers can also add up very quickly as well. My bigger dog cost around $50 each time, and my smaller dog i still expensive at $40. Usually I clean and wash them myself, but every now and then they do need to go.

Did you think about the costs before you added a pet to your family?

One might not think that the two would go hand-in-hand—in fact, one might think that danger and life insurance would be akin to oil and water—but believe it, or not, there are options out there for those employed in our nation’s dare-devil occupations.

Are they affordable options? Well, no, not so much, but it’s important to keep in mind that a life insurance company is still a business and all businesses need to turn profits in order to even be classified as such. With the fatality rates of these occupations—ranked out below—one can’t really blame the old insurance company for hedging their bets. Find a life insurance option with Suncorp that can easily meet your specific needs by visiting their website today.

Bottom line—if you work in one of the following occupations, you’re just happy that anyone will insure you at any price. Does that mean that you shouldn’t still locate your friendly, neighborhood, insurance professional—one who specializes in high-risk occupations and works for the industry as a whole, as opposed to just one company? No, it does not. You should definitely do that and get yourself the best of the most expensive.

Top 5 Most Dangerous Jobs (as Ranked by the U.S. Department of Labor)

1. FISHERMEN

Occupational Risks:If you’ve ever watched “Deadliest Catch”, no further explanation is needed. If you haven’t, well… imagine being surrounded 24/7 by nature’s wrath and malfunctioning equipment, all while on a boat surrounded by nothing but water and various aquatic animals that may or may not eat you.

Fact:The fishing industry has held the number “1” position on this list since 1992.

Fatality Rate:127.3 per 100,000 fishermen

Median Annual Salary: $25,590

2. LOGGERS 

Occupational Risks: All day, every day, spent outdoors; loggers brave not only the logs, but all manner of inclement weather, machinery that weighs more than your house, and sometimes they even have to brave high altitudes. Trees like mountains, after all, and mountains have cliffs.

Fact: From 2010 to 2011, logging fatalities in the United States leaped from 59 to 65.

Fatality Rate:104 per 100,000 loggers

Median Annual Salary: $32,870

3. AIRCRAFT PILOTS & ENGINEERS 

Occupational Risks: How does 35,000 feet up in a piece of man-made machinery sound?

Fact: Pilots are paid extremely well to compensate for the dangerous lives they lead, in order to get us to point A to point B while we complain about a window seat, a pillow, or the fact that the in-flight movie is about Katy Perry.

Fatality Rate: 56.1 per 100,000 pilots

Median Annual Salary: $118,070

4. TRASH & RECYCLABLE MATERIAL COLLECTORS 

Occupational Risk: How many times have you almost hit a garbage man with your car? Oh, come on now, be honest. Other than dealing with dangerous machinery, just being out there on the roads with the over-caffeinated, text-obsessed, drivers of today is enough to warrant a significant amount of fatalities.

Fact: You probably never considered this a dangerous occupation.

Fatality Rate: 36.4 per 100,000 collectors

Median Annual Salary: $35,230

5. ROOFERS

Occupational Risks: Let me ask you this? What’s your least favorite part about getting up on your roof? Falling right? That’s the leading cause of fatalities in this industry; it’s good to trust your gut!

Fact: A significant amount of you read “ROOFERS” and immediately thought of hammered fingers first as an occupational risk.

Fatality Rate:  34.1 per 100,000 roofers

Median Annual Salary:$34,220