How Social Payments Are Transforming Financial Transactions As We Know Them

In honor of arrival of the Year of the Dog in February, I sent my nephew in China a gift of money through a chat app on my phone. He pocketed it happily, using the same app to express his appreciation, thanks and best wishes back at me for the new year.

It was another day, another dollar, as they say, or the everyday sort of transaction that people in some countries like China don’t think twice about. For people in most Western nations, though, this sort of payment system is still something of a curiosity.

That’s changing fast, though. And as the social sharing economy continues to evolve, look for such peer-to-peer transactions over people’s social feeds to become the norm. It quite possibly may disrupt the traditional banking system as we know it.

Venmo, PayPal’s free digital wallet, was an early player in Western economies, launched in 2009, but really taking off in 2014 as Android Pay and Apple Pay made their much vaunted debuts. Other entries since – Facebook Pay, Google Wallet, Square Cash – speak to a concept whose time has come. Case in point: Venmo handled $17.6 billion in transactions in 2016; that almost doubled to $34.2 billion last year.

If there’s a model for the rest of the world to follow, it’s China’s. Its system was a response in a country that had no credit card use, and whose banks were inefficient and underused. In less than 10 years, two rival payment services, Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay, have transformed China’s financial ecosystem by making mobile payments – especially social mobile payments – an easy and accessible option.

As social payments continue to catch on in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and other nations, it’s moving us ever closer to becoming cashless economies. In fact, Sweden may be an example today of how we’ll all be operating in the not-to-distant future. A mere 1 percent of the value of all payments made in Sweden are in coins or notes. Its citizens live for their bank cards, but over half Sweden’s population depends on the leading social payment smartphone app, Swish.

It’s not just the world’s more privileged societies that stand to benefit from this evolving financial ecosystem. Social payments stand to bring much needed financial services to countries with significant populations of unbanked or underbanked people. Financial inclusion, of course, is key to lifting them from poverty.

Even if traditional banking services aren’t available to such populations, mobile phones increasingly are. Their pace of adoption is on a positive trendline, at 37 percent of the populations of underdeveloped economies.

Not surprisingly, both Tencent and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial (formerly known as Alipay) see an opportunity to make inroads in countries where people may be unbanked, but not unphoned. Both are moving aggressively in Southeast Asia as part of that quest; at the end of last year, the Alipay service reportedly had 280 million users of its four local payment platforms in Thailand, India, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The sharing economy is real and expanding rapidly. By 2025, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found, spending in the five components that comprise it (travel, car sharing, staffing, streaming and, no surprise, finance) may hit $335 billion – or half of total spending in those areas.

It’s not just social payments that will help to reshape the financial sector. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will be another facet, a means for settling payments directly and without much hassle or effort.

Either way, though, if this new social order we’re developing can advance those who currently have no access to things the rest of us take for granted like financial services, then it’s all to the good.

4 Credit Mistakes You’re Making

When you have a credit card, you suddenly find yourself with access to all sorts of things you wouldn’t otherwise have without this magic tool.  It’s easy to swipe your card and make purchases. However, it’s more complicated to learn the steps that follow making charges.

Having a credit card isn’t just about running your card, but it’s also about knowing how to use credit as a tool.  Understanding how it works and how to avoid common challenges is important.  Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to credit cards and what you can do to avoid them.

Using More Than 30% Of Your Total Limit

When you look at the total amount of money that you are allowed to put on a credit card it’s important to remember that you will have to pay this back.

Maxing out your cards isn’t a smart move since it can send you under a whopping pile of debt. Rather than allowing yourself to get into this situation, experts recommend always staying under 30% of your total limit.  This won’t just ensure that you don’t find yourself in financial troubles, but it will benefit your credit score.

Paying Only The Minimum Due

When you receive your credit statement and see the minimum amount due, it’s important to remember that this is only a minimum.  Paying this minimum means that you will take much longer to get out of debt and will incur much more fees overall.

Therefore, pay as much as you can rather than just this minimum. You’ll thank yourself for it in the end and will be debt free much sooner.

Not Signing Up For Auto-Pay

It’s easy to find yourself in a situation which you forget to pay your cards.  Either your schedule is busy, you didn’t see the alert pop up on your calendar, or maybe you just plain forgot.

When this happens you don’t just find yourself with a fee, but a red flag pops up on your credit report which will remain there for years.  

The way to avoid this is to sign up for autopay so that your payments go through with your having to remember or even lift a finger.

Continuing To Charge Your Cards

Many people find themselves in debt, however, continue to run their cards and make purchases.  This only sends them further into debt and it’s more difficult to get out of.

Make a commitment to pay off your cards and then stop charging them.  This is the fastest way to get out of debt much sooner. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in an endless cycle of never being able to get out of debt.

Top 5 Ways to Get Credit Cards for Bad Credit

A good credit score helps you in getting a loan with lesser interest rates, a credit card with a higher credit limit and many similar financial options. That doesn’t mean there are no options for people with a bad credit score. If you have a poor credit due to some unfortunate financial crisis in your life, you don’t need to worry and sink in the pressure of financial burden. In this article, we will guide on how to come out of a financial crunch by describing top five ways to get credit cards for bad credit. So without further delay, here are top five ways to get credit cards for bad credit.

1. Decide your credit limit

The first thing you need to plan is your credit limit on your credit card. If you already have a bad credit, getting a credit card with a high credit limit becomes more difficult. That said it is not impossible to get a card with higher limits but you will have to bear a very high interest and the card fee is also high in most cases. Hence it’s always a good idea to decide a credit limit which is according to your need. Meanwhile, you can work on improving your credit score on old cards and continue using it later. Once your credit score is fine, your old cards should be good enough to provide you with a high credit limit. It’s always considered better not to close the cards. Have patience and till then pursue a card based on your need.

2. Search for credit card companies that require no credit check

Yes. You have read it correctly. There are many credit card companies these days who offer you a credit card even when you don’t have a decent credit score. For them, all that matters is your earning capability and an approximate estimation of your expenditures. Based on this calculation, companies are willing to give credit cards to people with bad credit. In turn, they get a little higher but yet a reasonable interest rate and an annual fee too.

3. Enquire and know about the approval chances

While there are many credit card companies promising nominal interest rates, their approval chances are not always guaranteed. So if you are in search of a credit card with immediate approval, search for the ones with guaranteed approvals and no credit check. You have an option to have both unsecured as well as a secured credit card. Though, for getting credit cards for bad credit a secured credit card is considered to be a good option. In such scenario, you need to deposit a fixed sum and that will be the credit amount available to you from the card company.

4. Compare cards on below vectors

Once you have done research finding of various credit card companies giving a credit card with a bad credit, next step would be to compare the various features offered by the very cards. Such features can be APR rates, annual fees, the credibility of the credit card company, reward programs offered by the credit card company and the ease of approval. Based on above features you can make your best choice.

5. Do the paperwork

After finalizing the credit card company, make an appointment with the agent or at the office and start the paperwork. If it’s online you can save yourself some travel. Make sure you read each and every line carefully. Sometimes there are hidden charges which are important to know beforehand.

In the end, above five points are very crucial and a step by step guide for people with a bad credit. Make sure to do a good research before you sign the contract with any credit card company.

5 Easy Ways to Find Personal Loans for Fair Credit

Personal loans have become the most common form of loan these days. There are many reasons behind the success of personal loans. The prime reason is the fact that it is more tailor-based for a borrower. The loan amount and rates of interests are not any different from other loan options and in some cases are even lesser. Especially for people with a bad credit history, a personal loan is the best choice. However, it doesn’t mean that the personal loan is not for someone with a fair credit history. There are many options available for people with a fair credit and personal loan is also among one of such option. So in this article, we will tell about the five easy ways to find personal loans for a fair credit.

1. Make a list of Loan giving companies

Finding personal loan with a fair credit is not a gigantic target. Anyone would like to prefer a borrower with a good credit over other applicants. So the first thing you need to do is to make a list of all loan giving companies. This will help you to compare various features and differences between the deals they give.

2. Reduce the number of loans

Sometimes a debt reconsolidation loan helps to reduce the number of loans you have. With a single loan, it is easier for you to get another loan. With more number of open loans on your name, the lender would feel under a cloud. However, the fact that you have maintained a good credit will help your case.

3. Go beyond traditional loan options

These days you don’t have to rely on the loan companies near your area. There are many companies who have an online presence and have a reputed record. There are online lenders who can give you lower interest rates than the rates a typical credit card companies have to offer. There are options for online installment loans which can fulfill your need as well. Further, if you see the application process for an online company giving personal loans, you will find that the credit scores matter lesser to them as compared to other loan providers. Hence to get personal loans for fair credit, online lenders are always an available option.

4. Secured loans

In case you are opting for a secured loan, the chance of approval gets quite higher. With a good credit score, you can also expect a lower APR rate. However, it is advisable to go for a secured loan only when the loan tenure, amount and acceptable rates of interest are not offered by any other lender. There are many lending companies who give more attention to people with a fair credit

5. References

Sometimes the companies giving personal loan might ask for a reference signature or guarantor. The guarantor is the person who can be accountable for the referral of the loan applicant. If you bring someone with a strong credit score and better financial condition as your guarantor, the chances of approval become very easy.

Conclusion

Most importantly, as a borrower, your focus should be on the companies who deposits the credit amount quickly to your account. While your good credit score should act as a positive point in the application process, it is also important to understand that some companies don’t bother too much about the past credit. Hence if you are getting a good deal without having to look back at your credit background, you should accept the deal. If any company offers a reduced rate of interest owing to your fair credit, you should definitely prefer that over any other option.

How To Repair Your Credit Score All On Your Own

With the downturn of the economy, many individuals have found themselves falling on hard times, which hasn’t done their credit any favors. Even if you have kept up with all your payments and ensured that everything was paid on time it is possible for some of your lenders to make errors. Whatever the situation is, both of these circumstances can have huge negative effects on your credit score. This is why it is imperative that you are constantly monitoring your credit and making sure that everything is as accurate as it should be. So, what are you supposed to do if something is wrong or mistakes were made? Below, you will learn some tips and tricks for repairing your credit score all on your own without having to spend tons of money of a professional.

Taking Advantage Of Your Free Credit Report

Many individuals avoid getting a credit report in the first place because they are under the impression that they have to pay for it. Well, you might actually be surprised to learn that you are entitled to one free credit report a year. In fact, you can get a report from several different credit bureaus. You can either get in touch with Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. It really doesn’t matter which one you take advantage of as long as you are getting a credit report from one of them.

Auditing Your Credit Reports

Keep in mind that depending on where you got your credit report from some of the information might be presented in a different manner. However, everything should still be accurate and correct. When auditing your credit report, your main concern should be to make sure that all the information is entered accurately and correctly. Some of the key areas that you want to keep an eye on are missed payments, depth of credit, your accounts, recent activity on your accounts, and amount of credit that you have.

  • Missed Payments – Missed payments are one of the most important sections because it makes up the largest portion of your credit score. If you do in depth research on how to remove bad credit quickly, any expert will tell you that missed or late payments will without a doubt greatly hinder your report. If any information in this section is incorrect, you want to start disputing them right away.
  • Depth Of Credit – Just because you have debt on your credit report this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as long as you are making payments on time when you are supposed to this can actually make your credit look good. So, make sure you greatly weight the pros and cons before completely closing out any account, because making payments shows lenders that you are capable of handling obligations.

Properly Disputing Error And Mistakes

If you do find any incorrect or wrong information on your report it is important to report it right away. The major thing that you need to know is that disputing mistakes and errors will not cost you a dime. You can use a variety of different credit bureaus to help you dispute these mistakes, but usually only one will suffice. If the lender does discover that the mistake was made on their end they are required by law to contact the credit bureau and report the corrected information.

Just keep in mind that mistakes and error can greatly hurt your credit score, disputing credit errors does not cost anything, and disputes are not reported on your credit report, so it can hurt you to dispute anything that you think is wrong. If you cannot get the information corrected, but still feel like you are right, you can add a “Statement Of Dispute” to your credit report, which will show other lenders where mistakes were made on your report.

4 Tips For Using Your First Credit Card

Getting your first credit card can be extremely exciting.  It means that you have finally taken a huge step in establishing yourself in society.  Without a strong credit score, it can be difficult to do many things.  From renting an apartment to getting approved for contracts, credit can be a huge factor in your future.

It is important, however, to remember that it is not something that you should take for granted. Credit is something that shouldn’t be seen as free money.  It is a luxury and responsibility which should be taken seriously at all times in order to ensure the best possible future for yourself. Otherwise you run the risk of having to pay off large amounts of debt.  Here are the best tips for ensuring that you use your first credit card wisely.

Build Your Credit

credit cardIt is important to use your first credit card as a tool to build your credit.  Building your credit means establishing yourself as a credit card holder ensuring that you have the maximum score possible.

Scores range up to a score of 850 and when you reach this amount you can be sure that you qualify in an excellent range.  Having an excellent score means that you can qualify much easier for further lines of credit, and will have no problem being approved for loans should you ever want to apply for one.

Never Max Out Your Limits

It is crucial to never go to the maximum amount of your credit limits on your card.  This is because a huge factor on your score is credit utilization.  Meaning that the ratio between credit owed vs credit available must be balanced.

Most experts advise staying within 30% maximum of your total credit limit.  This way, you can still keep your credit utilization amount low on your credit score, which plays a large factor in your overall credit report.

Check Your Credit Score Regularly

It is extremely important to keep a close watch on your credit score so that you can know exactly what is happening.  By knowing what is going on you can monitor any changes that occur in your credit report.

Sometimes your score may go up or down depending on what comes up.  Sometimes you may get derogatory marks on your score.  These may be because of something that you have failed to pay or sometimes it is an error.

In order to correct these errors, it is essential to keep an eye on your credit report so that you are aware when they come up.

Always Pay On Time

It is crucial to always pay your debts on time otherwise you run the risk of getting late payments on your credit score which will take points off of your overall score.

Should parents hand over credit cards to their kids?

There are numerous stories about heinous teen spending all over the media. Judging by the recent article in the New York Post, teens have been whipping out their plastics in and around New York City. A 14 year old girl, Rebecca swipes her Chase Visa card twice in a single day to pay for taxi fares and also adds a 20% tip. When she accompanies her friends for dinner at costly restaurants, they split the bill and each of them throws in their credit cards while making payments. Parents, instead of encouraging such financial behavior should limit them in order to help them avoid a financial doom. This gives rise to the question about how wise and intelligent parents should let their kids handle credit cards.

Things to consider before handing over credit cards to your children

As soon as children hit their teens, they soon want to taste financial freedom. From credit cards to trending smartphones, there’s a huge list of things they’ll immediately start wanting. As parents, what kind of responsibility should you show? Let’s find out.

Comprehend the power of your child: Before you give in to the demands of your children and hand over their first credit card, know whether or not your child can get a grip on the complex financial issues related to a credit card. Ensure he’s capable of paying back the balance amount with the pocket money or allowance that he is offered. You as a parent may even boost your child to take on some offbeat passive jobs to earn money for repaying the debt amount.

Find out the actual reason behind his demand: In case you find your child repeatedly demanding a credit card, don’t hand it over without asking him anything. The foremost thing to enquire is the purpose he is going to use it for. Is the demand simply due to peer pressure or for other credible reasons? It’s your responsibility to propagate the basic knowledge with regards to your credit card. If you think he has enough handy money, ask him not to use his card.

Keep a close watch on his activities: Even though you hand over the credit card to your child, keep a close eye on his activities. Try to know the ways in which he is using his card. Keep a record of his credit card statement, advise him to keep all the receipts of the purchases just to recheck it with the statement, ask him to spend an amount which doesn’t exceed his pocket money and restrict him from granting his credit card access to someone else.

Don’t hesitate to share your mistakes: There are many who hesitate to share their mistakes with a fear that they may get a bigger chance to reinstate their own. But this is the wrong approach! You should show them the right path by telling them not to repeat the same mistakes committed by you. If only you share your mistakes with your children will they think hundred times before repeating the same.

If your kid starts incurring debt even after following your advice, you should teach them not to procrastinate and seek immediate debt help from professional companies. Debt when left unattended can soar up to an unmanageable level. Hence, take prompt decisions about getting rid of high interest debt.

Norma Walton: How Much is Enough?

North American society promotes the concept that having money creates happiness.  Certainly having enough wealth to cover your basic needs is important – a roof above your head, sufficient money for food, a clean supply of water, basic clothing and a healthy environment.  A lack of those essentials will create misery.

money happiness

Once you achieve the above, there is value in considering how much more money you need.  Beyond covering your basic needs, below are some reasonable objectives that you may want to consider when you decide how much money you require:

  1. A reasonable spending plan: Charles Dickens proposed the theory that if your income is $100 per day and you’re spending $99, you will be happy.  If your income is $100 per day and you’re spending $101, you will be miserable.  That is wise advice.  If your expenses exceed your income, you will be constantly scrambling to cover your bills and will head into debt, which is stressful.  Focusing on reducing your expenses or increasing your income so that your income is greater than your expenses is time well spent.
  2. A plan to pay off existing debt: My grandparents’ generation saved their money before they would buy a car.  They saved their money to fund their vacation.  They paid off their mortgage as soon as they reasonably could and would have considered it baffling to refinance to pull out wealth from their house.  Debt often causes stress and tension in your life.  Debt sometimes makes you feel out of control of your financial situation.  Hence a focus on paying off debt will permit you to enjoy your money more as you pay the debt down.

    3d people - human character person carrying word "debt" on his back. Debt concept. 3d render
    3d people – human character person carrying word “debt” on his back. Debt concept. 3d render
  3. An emergency fund or line of credit: If you were to lose your job, do you have enough money to survive until you find a new one?  For some this amount will be one year’s worth of income savings; for others this amount will be a month or two.  It is prudent to have some money available if something happens that impacts your ability to earn an income for a period of time.
  4. A retirement fund: The Canadian banks focus on retirement planning.  They sit down with their customers to discuss how much you would need to save to fund a comfortable retirement.  They create charts and objectives for savings to try to get people thinking about where they want to be when they are ready to retire.  This is a good exercise for most people and helps people set goals for savings and calibrates their financial expectations for when they finish working.
  5. An insurance policy to provide for your dependants: If you were hit by a bus today, who would be in trouble without you around?  Think about the financial needs of your dependants and ensure that you have term life insurance in a sufficient amount to cover those needs.  Once you no longer have dependants who need your income to survive, you can reduce or eliminate that insurance.

piggy bank

Once you turn your mind to how much money is enough for you, you can review the above items and create a plan to ensure you have what you need.

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How to Budget

“Lay all your desires out before each other —where do you want to end up?  Set goals and be willing to compromise at times.  Be honest even when it hurts —that’s how you learn to trust each other.  Budget.  Regularly save, no matter how little…”
– Kate Bryant from the Marriage Partnership Magazine article, ‘Holy Matri-Money’

 

Written by Steve Nyvik, BBA, MBA, CIM, CFP, R.F.P.
Financial Planner and Portfolio Manager, Lycos Asset Management Inc.

Statistics Canada no longer collects data on divorce rates.  The 2011 survey concluded that 43.1% of all marriages are expected to end in divorce before a couple reaches their 50th anniversary.  As to reasons why people divorce, depending on the survey you look at, you’ll typically find money issues amongst the top three reasons.

Many arguments over money are related to misunderstandings or miscommunications on spending priorities.  Where two people who love and respect each other sit down and look together over their financial situation and come to an agreement on their spending priorities, many issues can be resolved.  And once these priorities are established, it’s fairly easy to establish a workable money management system.

Should spending later get off-course, it’s then easy to identify what threw things off, confirm or update the budget and spending and saving priorities, and come to an agreement on future spending.

Spenders, Savers and Budgets

I remember when I was an 11 year old boy receiving $1.00 for cutting the front lawn.  That dollar bill burned a hole in my pocket until I had it spent.  My dad would tell me to put away half of it so that I’d have some money to spend some other time.  But within a short time of receiving that dollar it would be spent.  Then when I wanted something special, I never had the money.

Eventually, I took my dad’s advice and developed the habit of saving and I began to appreciate having cash in the bank.  I was able to look at my spending as a decision on how I could get the greatest satisfaction from my money through time.  I learned to think about what I really needed (‘the necessities’) and what things I could live without.  And I learned to spend on things that would last (and hopefully go up in value) versus instant gratification.

In many respects, a ‘saver’ is basically someone who has learned to budget for their needs through time and routinely sets aside a portion of their earnings for savings.  The routine eventually becomes a habit.  And the money one took from the paycheque isn’t even felt as missed spending.

When I think of a ‘spender’ I think of the character of “Carrie Bradshaw” on the television show, “Sex and the City”.  She’d get such gratification on buying a pair of Manolo shoes even though she had a closet full.  But when it came to something important, like buying her apartment, she didn’t have any cash in her bank account nor could she qualify for a loan.

I think had Carrie examined the big picture of her life and the importance of owning your own home, she might have been able to set aside money for a down payment instead of putting it toward shoes that she didn’t need.  In other words, I think many spenders can become savers.

The union of two people to become one family should by definition include a union of spending and saving goals.  To begin the process, a budget is a helpful tool (see template below) to see where the family money goes and what’s leftover.  Then over a few glasses of wine, the couple can think of their future and decide together on goals and then how to fund them.  Included within the budget should be some “mad money” for some fun.  If the budget is too tight, it is more likely than not that the budget will get broken.

My wife can tell you that she detests the idea of having a budget, but you know, once you have separated out the budget necessaries and savings from the “mad money”, it becomes relatively easy to manage.  And where a spender knows how much they have to spend for fun and non-necessities and that’s all for the month, the system can work out.  But the spender has to know that a credit card shouldn’t be used if there is no money in the “mad money bank account”.

Should a person consider ‘violating’ the budget, ideally that person has first talked with their spouse to agree on such spending to avoid conflict.  A slip can happen, but if it is more than occasional, you then don’t have a workable budget.  Alternatively, the slipper might not be in agreement with the budget, the goals, or maybe the slipper might need to get away from credit cards and just spend cash for awhile and learn to live at the living standard.

 

BUDGET CASHFLOW
NAME:
DATE:
    AMOUNT / MONTH TOTAL
INCOME SOURCE HUSBAND WIFE / MONTH
Employment Income
Company Dividends
Company Shareholder Loan Draws
Company After-Tax Retained Funds
Allowance to Non-Working Spouse
  TOTAL >>>      
    AMOUNT / MONTH TOTAL
EXPENSE ALLOCATION HUSBAND WIFE / MONTH
LIVING EXPENSES:
    Groceries
    Eating Out
    Clothing
    Beauty (Cosmetics, Haircuts, etc.)
    Medical (treatments)
    Prescriptions
    Dental
    Fitness
    Help (lawn service, gardener, housekeeper)
    Senior’s Care
    Miscellaneous (Dry cleaning, gifts, etc.)
HOUSING EXPENSES:
    Rent / Mortgage Payments (Principal & Interest)
    Property Taxes
    Property Insurance
    Gas, Hydro, Water & Sewage
    Phone, Cable, Internet
    Maintenance & Repairs / Strata
    Major Appliances / Furniture
    Home Renovation
LEISURE EXPENSES:
    Vacations (incl. Travel Insurance)
    Health Club Memberships
    Golf, Boat, Other
    Recreational Property:
        Property Insurace
        Property Tax
        Maintenance & Repairs
        Major Appliances / Furniture
    Other: ___________________________
TRANSPORTATION:
    Auto Insurance
    Gas & Oil
    Maintenance & Repair
    Parking
    Replacement Fund
    Other (taxi, bus, plane, trains, boats)
PAYROLL
    Income Tax withholdings
    CPP
    EI
    MSP
    Extended Healthcare & Dental
    Short Term Disability
    Long Term Disability Insurance
    Dental
    Other: ___________________________
BUSINESS / PROFESSIONAL
    Professional Liability Insurance
    Professional / Union Dues
    Convention
MISCELLANEOUS:
    Income Tax Instalments
    Accountant Fees (eg. Tax Preparation)
    Bank Service Charges
    Support (Alimony, Child Support, Parental Assistance)
    Private Insurance (Life, Disability Critical Illness, Long Term Care)
    Children College Education / Assistance
    Grandchildren College Education / Assistance
    Donations
TOTAL EXPENSES  
SAVINGS:
    Company Savings
    RRSP Contributions
    TFSA Contributions
    Pension Plan Contributions
    Company After-Tax Retained Funds
    Unallocated Savings
  TOTAL >>>