Lalu and I understand each other well: Nitish Kumar

Soon after the Mahagathbandhan trounced the NDA in the elections widely described as a test of popularity between him and Narendra Modi, chief minister Nitish Kumar spoke to TOIs Sanjay Ojha. Excerpts:

You campaigned in almost every constituency and interacted directly with people. Did you ever expect this kind of a sweeping victory?

I am a man who believes in hard work and honesty. I never think of winning margins or how many seats I am going to get. This time too, I did not spend my time calculating the outcome. I just moved around explaining my dreams and ideas to the people.

Initially, trends emerging from counting centres were in favour of NDA. How did you feel during the early hours of counting?

Anyone who is familiar with the counting process and the nitty-gritty of elections will remain calm and composed. Initial results were based on postal ballots. There was nothing to worry about. Frankly speaking, some of my well-wishers were quite disturbed. But I was sure we would win.

READ ALSO: Son rise for RJD, other scions fail

What kind of a relationship will you have with Laluji?

We two share a close relationship. We understand each other well. We know how to work for the development of the state and people who have given us such a great mandate.

A few days before the elections, youd made seven promises to the people of the Bihar. Could you please tell us how youre going to fulfil them?

I have seven pledges to fulfil: 35% reservation for women; student credit cards; free wi-fi in colleges and universities; free electricity to every household; all-weather roads in every village; monthly stipends for unemployed youths; Rs 500 crore venture capital for government-supported start-ups. Its my commitment to the people, who have reposed so much faith and confidence in me, I will get them fulfilled.

READ ALSO: Top five reasons for Mahagathbandhans win

How to Pick the Best Credit Card for You: 4 Easy Steps

Finding the best credit card is part art, part science.

No single credit card is better than all others in all categories — or for all people. But by understanding your options and asking the right questions, you can find the card that’s the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.

Follow these four steps to find the best credit card for you.

1. Check your credit

Find out what credit card offers you might be eligible for by checking your credit score. The better your score, the greater your chance of being approved for cards with better perks. Many credit card issuers give their cardholders free access to their FICO credit score, and several third-party sites provide different types of credit scores. You can also buy your score directly from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

If the number isn’t what you expected, check your credit reports to see what’s causing the problem. You can then start figuring out ways to improve it, from changing your spending habits to disputing an error on your reports, if you need to. Federal law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus every 12 months. Get your free reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, a federally authorized site.

2. Identify which type of credit card you need

There are three general types of credit cards:

  1. Cards that help you improve your credit when it’s limited or damaged.
  2. Cards that save you money on interest.
  3. Cards that earn rewards.

The best card for you is one with features designed to meet your specific needs. If you don’t travel much, for example, then the best travel card in the world isn’t going to do you a lot of good.

If you want to build or rebuild credit: Student or secured credit card

Student credit cards, unsecured cards meant for college students who are new to credit, are easier to qualify for than other types of credit cards. So are secured credit cards, which generally require a security deposit of $200 or more. Your deposit is returned to you when the account is upgraded or closed in good standing.

If you want to save on interest: Low-interest, 0% APR or balance transfer card

A card with an introductory 0% APR and ongoing low interest could be a good match for you if you plan to use your credit card in case of emergencies, or if you have an irregular income and carry a balance from time to time. A balance transfer offer could help you pay off a high-interest debt interest-free. Keep in mind that these offers may be harder to find if you have average or poor credit.

MORE: Find the best low-interest or 0% APR credit card with this flowchart.

If you want to earn rewards: Rewards, travel or cash back

A rewards credit card is a good match for you if you pay off your balance in full every month and never incur interest. These cards typically have higher APRs, but offer larger sign-up bonuses and give you points, miles or cash back on every dollar you spend.

MORE: Find the best rewards credit card with this flowchart.

3. Narrow your choices by asking the right questions

Visit NerdWallet’s credit card comparison tool and search for the type of credit card you’re looking for, filtering results according to your credit score and monthly spending. As you go through the top picks, consider these questions.

For student and secured cards:

  • Will this card help me build my credit? Look for a card that reports your credit card payments to the three major credit bureaus. Many secured cards don’t do this.
  • How much does it cost to open an account, including the annual fee? The rewards on these cards generally aren’t high enough to warrant an annual fee. Unless you have very poor credit, you can likely avoid this expense. For secured cards, the lower the security deposit, the better, although your credit limit may be tied directly to how much of a deposit you make.
  • Can I graduate to a better card later on? Choose a card that will let you build your credit and upgrade to a card with more competitive terms. This makes it easier to leave your card open longer, boosting your average age of accounts in the long run.

For low-interest, 0% APR or balance transfer cards:

  • How long is the 0% APR period, and what is the ongoing interest APR? Look for a card that gives you enough time to pay off your debt interest-free. If you’re planning on carrying balances over several years, consider a credit card with a low ongoing APR.
  • What is the card’s balance transfer policy? If you’re doing a balance transfer, look up a card’s balance transfer fees. Find out what types of debt you can transfer and whether there’s a limit to how much you can move over. Note that the balance transfer APR on a card may be different from the purchase APR.
  • Does the card offer rewards? If you’re looking for only a few months of 0% APR — perhaps instead of a sign-up bonus — you may be able to find a card that doles out generous ongoing rewards as well.

For rewards, travel or cash-back cards:

  • How do I spend my money? Look for a card that delivers the highest rewards for the categories you spend the most on. If you’re a big spender, consider getting a card with an annual fee, if your rewards earnings would offset the cost. If you’re planning to use the card abroad, look for one with no foreign transaction fees and chip-and-PIN capability, rather than the chip-and-signature technology that’s standard in the US This goes for other types of cards too.
  • How complicated is this credit card? If you don’t want to contend with limited award seat availability, spending caps, rotating bonus rewards and loyalty tiers, consider a card with flat-rate cash-back rewards.
  • How quickly will I earn rewards, and how much are they worth? Read NerdWallet’s rewards valuations to find the answers to these questions.

4. Apply for the card that offers you the highest overall value

Narrowing your choices is the easy part, but deciding between two or three similar cards can be quite difficult. If you’ve already found a clear winner after Step 3, go with that one. If not, it’s time for a tiebreaker round.

Look closely for differences. All other values being equal, here are some factors that might set a card apart:

For student and secured cards:

  • Credit limit automatically increases. Certain cards let you increase your limit after a few consecutive on-time payments.
  • Interest paid on your deposit. Some secured cards place your security deposit in an interest-earning CD. This way, you can earn a small amount of money on it.

For low-interest, 0% APR or balance transfer cards:

  • Debt payoff planner. Some issuers let you create your own debt payoff plan on an online portal, a valuable tool if you’re overwhelmed with debt.
  • No late fees or penalty APR. Certain cards waive these charges. If you fall behind on payments, this could come in handy.

For rewards, travel or cash-back cards:

  • Lower required spending. The less you need to spend to qualify for a sign-up bonus, the better.
  • No expiration date on rewards. On some cards, you can use your rewards as long as you keep the card open.

When you finally pick a card, keep in mind that, on the application, you can include all income you have reasonable access to, not just your personal income. For students, that can include money from grants and scholarships, or allowances from parents. For others, it may include a partner or spouse’s income.

So you’ve found the best credit card. What’s next?

Choosing the best credit card is an important decision, but don’t stop there. Use your card the right way to get the most for your money. If you’re trying to establish credit, pay your bill in full every month and don’t use too much of your available credit. Stick to your debt payoff plan if you snagged a 0% APR deal. And if you’re trying to rack up rewards, use your card for everyday purchases and pay your bill in full every month.

The credit card you choose should help you achieve your financial goals in the most affordable, efficient way possible, whether you’re trying to build credit, borrow money or earn rewards. Don’t settle for less.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

Image via iStock.

South Africa: Pain for Consumers As SA Hikes Rates

Consumers that are accustomed to living off credit are now turning to more expensive unsecured pay day type loans to keep their families afloat, said DebtBusters Wendy Monkley.

Bond originator ooba said the rates hike would negatively impact residential housing markets.

This decision will unfortunately negatively impact many consumers who are already facing increasing financial strain through dealing with elevated levels of debt and the rising cost of living expenses, said Kay Geldenhuys, ooba manager for property finance processing.

Close Brothers Group plc Stock Rating Reaffirmed by Numis Securities Ltd (CBG)

Other analysts have also issued reports about the stock. Barclays downgraded shares of Close Brothers Group plc to an equal weight rating and set a GBX 1,500 ($22.82) target price on the stock. in a report on Wednesday, October 7th. RBC Capital restated a sector perform rating and set a GBX 1,600 ($24.34) price target on shares of Close Brothers Group plc in a report on Thursday. Liberum Capital reiterated a buy rating and issued a GBX 1,728 ($26.29) price objective on shares of Close Brothers Group plc in a research note on Thursday. Keefe, Bruyette Woods reissued a market perform rating and issued a GBX 1,460 ($22.21) target price on shares of Close Brothers Group plc in a research report on Monday, September 14th. Finally, Charles Stanley reaffirmed an accumulate rating on shares of Close Brothers Group plc in a report on Friday, September 25th. Seven investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and six have issued a buy rating to the companys stock. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of GBX 1,663.18 ($25.30).

In other news, insider Prebensen,Preben sold 82,599 shares of the businesss stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, October 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of GBX 1,547 ($23.53), for a total value of £1,277,806.53 ($1,943,727.61). Also, insider Lee,Elizabeth sold 20,000 shares of the businesss stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of GBX 1,529 ($23.26), for a total transaction of £305,800 ($465,165.80).

Close Brothers Group plc (LON:CBG) is a United Kingdom-based merchant banking group providing lending, deposit taking, wealth management services and securities trading. The company operates through three divisions: Banking division, providing lending actions including asset finance, aviation marine, brokerage finance, insurance premium finance, leasing, professional services finance, asset-based lending, brewery leases, commercial vehicle rentals, invoice finance, motor finance and property finance; Securities division, providing trading services through Winterflood Securities, Winterflood Business Services, Winterflood Investment Trusts and Close Brothers Seydler Bank AG, and Asset Management office providing a variety of fiscal guidance, investment management and online investing services like Bespoke Investment Management, Financial Advice and Preparation, Services for Professional Advisers, Employee Benefits Alternatives and Self Directed Service.

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Professionals Finance broker receives national recognition

Mr De Buelle was acknowledged for his success over the last year as a property finance specialist. However, as he points out, recognition is only a small part of what makes him and his team tick.

“Obviously it’s great to be nominated as a reflection of the hard work myself and the team have put in this year,” he said. “But we actually get more satisfaction from the customers who tell us we’ve helped them, or changed their lives. That’s the real motivation and keeps all of us striving to go that extra mile.”

Professionals Finance are busy establishing ‘the next generation finance specialist’ – brokers who bring a range of skills to the modern world they do business in.

Scott McTeare, general manager of sales and distribution at Professionals Finance, is continuing to drive this nationwide effort, and said there is plenty of new business coming in the door.

“The likes of Josh are a great example of how we truly take care of our customers and not just say we will,” Mr McTeare said. “And probably just as importantly, it signals our processes with Professionals members really work and brokers have a lot of opportunities to succeed.”

He added: “I think that’s why we’re already punching well above our weight in the market.”

[Related article: Young Broker of the Year revealed]

So… which type of property investor are you?

 

When speaking to property investors they all tell me much the same thing… they bought their properties because they want to develop a degree of financial freedom.

Some are looking to quit their jobs, others just want to have the choice of whether they work or not.

Some are trying to save for their retirement while others want to leave something for their children.

Despite the great Australian dream of financial independence being alive and well, the problem is… most property investors never achieve the financial independence they strive for.

With around 1.8 million property investors in Australia less than 1% of them own more than six properties.

And you cant really become financially independent just owning one or two properties.

On the other hand a small group of investors manage to build substantial property portfolios – interestingly we tend to see a disproportionate number of these are clients of Metropole.

Over the years Ive found that investors tend to fall into one of three main categories, which led me to try and see if one style of investing was more successful than others.

As you read on see if you can work out which category you fall into.

1. Firstly there is the Passive Investor who tends to spend little time looking for a property.

They are not really interested in understanding all of the ins and outs that go along with creating a property portfolio such as finance, tax laws, compounding and so forth.

Rather than conducting any due diligence or consulting industry professionals for advice, theyre more likely to buy one of the first properties they come across.

2. The more Active Investor puts in some degree of work in order to find a good investment prospect.

They gain a basic understanding of the principles involved in property, finance and taxation.

They also tend to seek professional advice with regards to the structuring of their portfolio and conduct some due diligence in the hope that they can increase the likelihood of making a viable investment purchase.

3. Finally theres the Analytical Investor who tends to run around for months, sometimes even years, examining every nook and cranny of our property markets, endlessly comparing values and sales, reading reams of material regarding real estate dos and donts and seeking advice from as many experts as possible before committing to anything.

They like to conduct as much due diligence as possible and look for the ultimate investment property.

 

So which is better?

 

If property investment was like many other things in life, then the more effort and energy you sink into property investing, the greater your rewards are likely to be.

In other words, the passive investor would enjoy smaller gains than the active investor, while the analytical investor would come out on top as they were willing to do the hard yards.

Yet, in relation to property investing this is only partially true!

Many passive investors purchase their investment properties the way they would buy their home – emotionally.

They tend to buy their investments near where they live, or near to where they work or close to where they want to retire or holiday – all emotional reasons.

Some live to regret their investment decisions and have difficulty holding on to their investments.

In fact, many beginning investors sell their properties after a few years – stats show that around 50% of those who buy an investment property sell up in within five years.

Those that can hold on usually do well, but more of that later.

The active investor usually does well if he seeks advice from a team of consultants.

What about the analytical investor?

Let me share a story with you…

Last year I attended a property expo where I ran into Leonard – a successful IT engineer.

He has subscribed to my newsletter for over five years and when I first met him about three years earlier he said he was going to invest in property.

When I asked him how his investments were going, he explained that he had still not made a move.

Instead, he continued to research the market.

Leonard is very intelligent and has a tendency to over-analyse things, hence he is still waiting for the perfect property, the perfect time or the perfect set of circumstances in which to buy.

What he doesnt realise is that this will never happen.

If he had invested in a good suburb in his hometown of Melbourne three or four years ago, his property would have significantly increased in value – possibly by up to 50% if hed chosen the right place in the right suburb.

He most likely would have done even better if hed invested in a good property in the Sydney property market.

Instead he told me he has $500,000 sitting in the bank waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

On the other hand, lets look at an example of a passive investor…

Lets call him Mark – who was so naïve that he bought the first property that he could get his hands on twenty years ago for $75,000.

At the time, his friends and family told Mark he was crazy.

He paid way too much for the house, it was a bad time to buy and it was a foolish thing to do.

Although he may not have done all of his homework, Mark still bought in a popular inner Melbourne suburb and guess what?

The value of that home is now in the order of $600,000, and if he was half as smart, Mark would have borrowed against its increasing equity to allow him to buy more properties.

The lesson from all this is…

It really doesnt matter too much if youre a passive, active or analytical investor.

As long as you are taking action and are in the market.

It doesnt really matter if youre not into running around examining every aspect of the property market.

Or maybe you are and thats not such a bad thing – as long as you dont get so absorbed by the process of learning about property that you forget to actually use that knowledge and buy something!

In other words, if you have been thinking about investing in property,  now may be the right time for you to act!

Despite the mixed messages out there, there are still great opportunities in selected capital city property markets around Australia.

But you cant just buy any property like Mark did.

Of course, you should still put some thought into what you buy.

 

You can either buy right or buy well

 

Often investors who take far too long researching the market and never make a move are looking to buy well.

They want to pay under market value for their investment and this becomes their sole focus.

Buying right on the other hand, is not really influenced by price and value, rather the focus is on the quality of the property you end up with.

Here you need to do a little bit of research to understand which markets generally offer the best opportunities for capital growth.

I dont find this hard – I can always beat the averages.

To ensure I buy a property that will outperform the market averages I use a five-stranded strategic approach. 

  1.  I would buy a property that would appeal to owner/occupiers. Not that I plan to sell my property, but because owner/occupiers will buy similar properties pushing up local real estate values. This will be particularly important in 2015 when the percentage of investors in the market is likely to diminish
  2. I would buy a property below its intrinsic value – that’s why I avoid new and off-the -plan properties which come at a premium price.
  3. In an area that has a long history of strong capital growth and that will continue to outperform the averages because of the demographics in the area. This will be an area where more owner occupiers will want to live because of lifestyle choices and one where the locals will be prepared to, and can afford to, pay a premium price to live because they have higher disposable incomes. In general these are the more affluent inner and middle ring suburbs of our big capital cities
  4. I would look for a property with a twist  – something unique, or special, different or scarce about the property
  5. I would buy a property where I can manufacture capital growth through refurbishment, renovations or redevelopment rather than waiting for the market to deliver me capital growth

By following my five-stranded strategic approach, I minimise my risks and maximise my upside.

Each strand represents a way of making money from property and combining all four is a powerful way of putting the odds in my favour. If one strand lets me down, I have two or three others supporting my property’s performance.

And I definitely do not look for the next speculative hotspot – Im an investor not a speculator.

But I do look for suburbs going through gentrification (improving in value as young people and developers move in and replace the old houses with refurbished homes or new developments.)

I also look for suburbs that will benefit from the ripple effect as strong growth in neighbouring suburbs trickles through.

So… what type of investor are you?

Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author, one of Australia’s leading experts in wealth creation through property and writes the Property Update blog. 

 

 

Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author, one of Australia’s leading experts in wealth creation through property and writes the Property Update blog.

 

An Open Letter To Chairwoman Yellen From the Savers of America

Dear Chairwoman Janet Yellen:

We are a group of humble savers in traditional bank savings and money market accounts who are frustrated because, like millions of other Americans over the past six years, we are getting near zero interest. We want to know why the Federal Reserve, funded and heavily run by the banks, is keeping interest rates so low that we receive virtually no income for our hard-earned savings while the Fed lets the big banks borrow money for virtually no interest. It doesnt seem fair to put the burden of your Federal Reserves monetary policies on the backs of those Americans who are the least positioned to demand fair play.

We follow the reporting on your tediously over-dramatic indecision as to when interest rates will be raised – and no one thinks that when you do, it will be any more than one quarter of one percent. We hear the Federal Reserves Board of Governors and the various regional board presidents regularly present their views of the proper inflation and unemployment rate, and on stock market expectations that influence their calculations for keeping interest rates near-zero. But we never hear any mention of us – the savers of trillions of dollars who have been forced to make do with having the banks and mutual funds essentially provide a lock-box for our money while they use it to make a profit for their firms and, in the case of the giant banks and large mutual funds, pay their executives exorbitant salaries..

We are tired of this melodrama that exploits so many people who used to rely on interest income to pay some of their essential bills. Think about the elderly among us who need to supplement their social security checks every month.

On October 27, the Wall Street Journal headlined the latest rumors of twists and turns inside the secretive Federal Reserve: Fed Strives For Clear Signal on Rate Move: As 2016 approaches, the central bank hopes to better manage market expectations.

What about the expectations of millions of American savers? It is unfortunately true that we are not organized; if we were, we would give you and the Congress the proper signals!

Please, dont lecture us about the Fed not being political. When you are the captives of the financial industry, led by the too-big-to-fail banks, you are generically political. So political in fact that you have brazenly interpreted your legal authority as to become the de facto regulator of our economy, the de facto printer of money on a huge scale (quantitative easing is the euphemism for artificially boosting the stock market) and the leader of the Washington bailout machine crony capitalism when big business, especially a shaky Wall Street firm, indulges in manipulative, avaricious, speculative binges with our money.

When it comes to the Fed, Congress is mired in hypocrisy. The anti-regulation, de-regulation crowd on Capitol Hill shuts its mouth when it comes to the most powerful regulators of all – you and the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, Congress goes along with the out-of-control, private government of the Fed–unaccountable to the national legislature. Moreover, your massive monetary injections scarcely led to any jobs on the ground, other than stock and bond processors.

So what do you advise us to do? Shop around? Forget it. The difference between banks, credit unions and mutual funds may be one-twentieth or one-tenth of one percent! That is, unless you want to tie up money, that you need regularly, in a longer term CD or Treasury. Even then interest rates are far less than they were ten years ago.

Maybe youre saying that we should try the stock market to get higher returns. Some of us have been impelled to do that, but too many have lost their peace of mind and much money in the market.

The Feds near-zero interest rate policy isnt helping younger people with student loans (now over 1.3 trillion dollars), whose interest rate ranges from six to nine percent. It doesnt help millions of pay-day loan borrowers or victims of installment loan rackets – mostly the poor – whose interest rates, rolled over, can reach over 400 percent!

Chairwoman Yellen, I think you should sit down with your Nobel Prize winning husband, economist George Akerlof, who is known to be consumer-sensitive. Together, figure out what to do for tens of millions of Americans who, with more interest income, could stimulate the economy by spending toward the necessities of life.

For heavens sake, youre a liberal from Berkeley! That is supposed to mean something other than to be indentured by the culture and jargon of the Federal Reserve. If you need further nudging on monetary and regulatory policies of the Fed, other than interest rate decisions, why not invite Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, one of your long-time friends and admirers, to lunch on your next trip home?

Start imagining what we, the savers, have to endure because of plutocratic, crony capitalism for which the Federal Reserve has long been a leading Tribune.

Can we expect your response?

Sincerely yours,
Savers of America