Finance

What Are the Factors to Consider When Buying Life Insurance? Financial Planning

As you are shopping around for insurance quotes and insurance companies, these are a few basic factors you need to consider before you make any decision.

1. HOW MUCH LIFE INSURANCE COVER DO YOU NEED?

Here is a quick guide if you are not doing this with a financial planning professional yet. For ease of calculation and explanation, we are not taking time value of money and inflation into consideration.

Financial Obligations

Take into account any financial obligation that needs to be paid off if premature death or unfortunate event such as total & permanent disability or critical illness should occur. Examples could be business or personal loans or debts to be repaid or mortgage loan repayments.

Financial Support

Is there anybody who is dependent on you for financial support? Maybe aged parents, spouse or children? If there is, you may want to plan for the financial support to continue should any unfortunate event happen. For example, you may be planning to provide for your aged parents or a young kid for the next 20 years with an annual sum of $20,000. You would need a sum assured of $400,000 should that sum of money be needed right now.

Financial Gift

Is there a lump sum of money you would like to provide if an unfortunate event should happen? Is there someone you would like to leave a financial gift for when you are not around anymore? Or maybe a charitable cause you would like to contribute to? If there is, be sure to take this into consideration in your calculation of how much insurance cover to buy.

Replacement of Income

This is the tricky one where you will read of many differing opinions. The reason why this question is not so straightforward to answer is that guesswork of your income growth rate is involved.

There are general (very general) rules of thumb for this though.

You need to know how many years you would like your income to be replaced for. For example, if you would like your income replacement to be for 10 years. You will need a $500,000 sum assured if you are earning $50,000 currently. That will enable you to withdraw $50,000 per year for 10 years.

Alternatively, some may suggest for you to have insurance cover of 20 times your annual income. If you have a cover of 20 times your annual income, an investment return of 5% from your insurance proceeds will be able to replace your current income perpetually.

2. HOW LONG DO YOU NEED THE INSURANCE COVER FOR?

Knowing how long you need the protection of insurance for will play a part in knowing what types of life insurance products may be suitable. Do you need the insurance cover for a specific number of years only such as for a specific loan payment period or do you prefer the insurance protection for the whole of your life?

3. WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET FOR INSURANCE PREMIUMS?

Knowing how much sum assured and how long you need the coverage for is one thing but your ability to pay the insurance premiums also need to be considered. For example, if you require a specific sum assured but your budget is limited, you may need to buy a term life insurance policy to get the required insurance cover even if you may prefer an insurance policy that can accumulate cash values.

4. WHAT TYPES OF INSURANCE POLICIES SHOULD YOU BUY?

There are different life insurance products to suit different financial needs and wants. Find one that is suitable for yours. There are mainly four types of life insurance products.

Term Insurance

For protection needs with no accumulation of cash value

Whole-Life Insurance

Mainly for protection needs with accumulation of cash value

Endowment Insurance

Mainly for savings needs with accumulation of cash value

Investment-Linked Insurance

Accumulation of cash value through investments. Whether it is for protection or investment needs depends on the specific policy.

The pointers listed above is catered to the Singapore market. They are meant for general information and discussion. It is not intended to provide any insurance or financial advice and you should always seek advice from a qualified adviser if in doubt.

Benjamin Ang has a Bachelor of Business Administration and holds the designation of Associate Financial Consultant (AFC) and Associate Estate Planning Practitioner (AEPP). He writes about wealth matters to share financial knowledge with the public and also writes regularly on living and experiencing all the wonderful things that life has to offer.

Find out more about him at http://www.benjamin-ang.com/

financial planning

BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) – Online Trading System Financial Planning

Gone are the days when you needed a broker to help you buy and sell stocks, shares and make stock market investments. Through online investment you can buy and sell shares with just a few clicks of the mouse. The economic and capital market in India cannot exist without a stock exchange; there are two main stock exchanges where transactions take place; the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). While all the major transactions take place here, there are over 20 different stock exchanges located across the country.

Online trading in India has changed the meaning of trading in the country. With no requirement for a broker, trading has become easier, faster and far more convenient than earlier days. Some of the major financial products and services offered through online trading are mutual funds, equities, general insurance, life insurance, share trading, portfolio management, commodities trading and financial planning. In online trading, the investor has to pay less brokerage as compare to offline trading. There is no need for any paperwork through online investing and the need for a middle man is eliminated. All the stock accounts are stored in a Demat account where they can be viewed.

BSE online trading was established in 1995 and is the first exchange to be set up in Asia. It has the largest number of listed companies in the world and currently has 4937 companies listed on the Exchange with over 7,700 traded instruments.

The only thing that an investor requires for online trading through BSE is an online trading account. The trading can then be done within the trading hours from any location in the world. In fact, BSE has replaced the open cry system with automated trading. Open cry system is a common method of communication between the investors at a stock exchange where they shout and use hand gestures to communicate and transfer information about buy and sell orders. It usually takes place on the ‘pit’ area of the trading floor and involves a lot of face to face interaction. However, with the use of electronic trading systems trading is easier, faster and cheaper; and is less prone to manipulation by market makers and brokers/dealers.

The BSE provides an efficient and transparent market for trading in debt instruments, equity and derivatives. This is performed through a system known as BOLT – BSE’s Online Trading System.

In the stock exchange, a key index is used to keep track of the important or the most traded stocks in the exchange. The indice used at the BSE while trading is the SENSEX and is displayed in all major portals, newspapers and magazines. It is India’s first stock market index that enjoys an iconic stature and is tracked worldwide. It is conducted on a free-float methodology and is sensitive to market sentiments and realities.

There are also indices such as BSE small cap, BSE mid cap and BSE500 to take care of medium and small companies. Furthermore, India index services and Products Limited has indices such as CNX Nifty Junior, S&P CNX Nifty, CNX 100, S&P CNX 500 and CNX Mid cap. The BSE offers 22 indices to suit a multiplicity of needs, inclusive of 12 sectorial indices. For example, the BSE PSU Index tracks the performance of the listed PSY companies and also helps the Central Government to monitor its wealth on the bourses.

The BSE has become a completely ‘corporatised and demutualized stock exchange’ through the use of online exchanges. With partners such as Deutsche Borse (DB) and Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) it has a global competitive force. BSE has strategic relationships in almost every part of the world- Europe (DB)), Hong Kong (ETF) and Asia (SGX), prominent public sector undertakings such as State Bank of India, Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India and Central Bank of India.

Benefits of BSE trading system in India for share brokers or newbies

There are a number of attractive services to empower investors and facilitate smooth transactions. Some of these include:

1) Investor Services: A range of services are offered to investors. Being the first exchange in the country to provide an amount of INR 1 million towards the investor protection fund, the BSE had launched a nationwide investor awareness program; ‘Safe Investing in the Stock Market’ under which there were 264 programmes which were conducted in over 359 cities in India.

2) BSE has an Online trading BOLT system: the online-Trading system (BOLT) facilitates on-line screen based trading in securities. Currently it operates 25,000 Trader Workstations which are located across 359 cities in the country.

3) The BSE has the world’s first centralized exchange-based Internet trading system – BSEWEBX.com. This system helps the investors anywhere in the world to trade on the BSE platform.

4) The BSE has an online Surveillance system (BOSS) which monitors on a REAL-TIME basis the price movements, the volume positions and members’ positions as well as real time measurement of default risk, generation of cross market alerts and market reconstruction.

5) The BSE has a training institute – known as the Bombay Stock Exchange Training Institute (popularly known as the acronym BTI).The BTI imparts capital market training and certification; in collaboration with a number of reputed management institutes and universities. There are over 40 courses to choose from on different aspects of the capital market and the financial Bombay Stock Exchange market.

financial planning

Personal Budget – 7 Guidelines That Will Help You Plan a Working Budget Financial Planning

Setting up your personal budget requires a hands-on approach. The following guidelines will help you plan a working budget to undertake this journey.

1. Gather all your financial details. That will include all of your bank accounts, credit cards and insurances papers – anything to do with your personal finances. These details will be needed to start your budget.

2. List all sources of income. This includes salary, rental income and regular dividends and interest.

3. Categorise your expenses starting with your commitments – list each item under headings such as:

  • Home: mortgage or rent.
  • Association and professional fees.
  • Insurance: health, motor vehicle, home, contents and life
  • Education costs
  • Day care and child care
  • Loans: car loan, student loan, bank fees and interest
  • Land tax or rates.
  • Other payments required as a commitment: motor vehicle licensing.
  • Investment – yes commit to your future and pay yourself!

4. List necessities – again list each item under headings:

  • Food, groceries, gas (petrol), home maintenance, security.
  • Utilities: gas, water, electricity, rubbish disposal, phone costs
  • School lunches, household supplies, car maintenance, internet service, dry cleaning, monthly parking.

5. Other expenses. Personal everyday expenses covering: lunch at work, snacks, coffee, drinks, newspapers, magazines, batteries, postage. Family and personal allowances: parties, entertainment, weekend outings, movies, concerts, other entertainment and events, home improvements and decorating, magazine and other subscriptions, dining out and fast food. Also include: clothing, hobbies, personal recreation, books, CD’s, manicures, hair care, alterations, shoe repair, personal and family gifts, gardening, film processing, video rentals, sports and gym, donations, computer software and other related items.

6. Once you have all your expenses listed add the total expenses and deduct these from your income. You will need to convert everything to monthly or weekly. This means that bills that are paid once a year must be divided by 12 to get the monthly figure. Convert quarterly payments to an annual figure then convert this to monthly. It is important that you include bills that are paid other than monthly to ensure that the money is available when the bill is due. Place the money in an interest bearing account.

7. Do you need to tweak your budget? When you deducted the expenses from your income was there any money left or did you find your expenses were more than your income? If your situation is the latter you will need to do some tweaking. The commitments cannot change. As for necessities you may be able to cut down on food expenses and find cheaper providers of utilities or try to save costs by being conscious of switching off lights etc. But it is the other expenses category that has the most capacity for tweaking as many of them are not needed and can be reduced or cut out. Review your budget regularly to make sure it is still working for you.

The time to start a personal budget is now and these guidelines are designed to make sure that your budget is truly a working budget — one that works for you!

financial planning

Loan Modification Process – Details of Waterfall Method and How It Applies to Your Loan Financial Planning

The loan modification process involves a standard method of modifying loans into new affordable monthly payment terms. This is called the Waterfall Method and it is mandated for use under the Treasury Department’s loan workout plan. This plan is called HAMP – for Home Affordable Modification Program. When your lender reviews your application, part of the process will be to determine if your loan and financial circumstances will fit within this method of modification.

The loan modification process begins with a borrower contacting their lender and requesting consideration for HAMP. It is important to specifically ask for this plan because lenders are required to review each and every homeowner who asks for help under this plan. While your file is being reviewed for eligibility, the lender is not allowed to move your home forward to foreclosure sale. So this gives you some time and a second chance to save your home with a loan workout.

Once you complete your loan modification application and send it in along with your income documentation, your entire package will be reviewed for eligibility and acceptability. Here is the basic loan modification process:

  1. Homeowners request consideration for HAMP
  2. Borrower completes the application package and provides proof of income
  3. Lender reviews the information provided by homeowner for eligibility
  4. Waterfall Method of Modification is attempted and acceptability is determined
  5. If the loan can be modified using the standard terms, then the homeowner may be approved for a loan modification
  6. Homeowner enters 3 month trial modification period, after which mod is made permanent

How exactly does the Waterfall Method of modification work? This standard formula uses several criteria to determine which loans and borrowers will be eligible. Remember that the homeowner is providing their financial information – monthly income, monthly expenses, cash in the bank, etc. – on their application form and this is the information that is used when determining if the homeowner will qualify. The lender will use standard methods of reducing the current mortgage in order to meet a new target mortgage payment. This new payment will equal 31% of the borrowers reported gross monthly income and it includes principal, interest, taxes, insurance and any HOA dues.

The first Waterfall method step to reach the target payment is to reduce the interest rate, and the rate can go down as low as 2%. If more changes are needed to reach the goal, then the loan term may be extended to 40 years. The final step is to forgive or defer some principal balance to reach the new desired target payment. This is called a Waterfall Method because they lender must follow these steps in order, as they are needed. However, if the borrowers income is too low or too high, or if the loan balance is so high that a large principal reduction would be needed, the loan modification may be denied.

Homeowners who hope to be approved need to understand how the loan modification process works and most importantly how they should complete their financial statement so that it will be acceptable. If you know ahead of time how much income you need to prove to qualify, then you will be able to make the necessary adjustments and submit an acceptable application. If you knew that just by cutting a couple of hundred dollars a month in expenses, you would fit the guidelines, then you would certainly do that, right? This is confusing for borrowers, but you can use a loan mod software program that will actually show you just how much income you need and where you may need to fine tune your figures to fit into the standard HAMP guidelines.

financial planning

Why Is Budgeting Important for the Entrepreneur? Financial Planning

I’ve had many to inquire of why budgeting is so important for the entrepreneur? I’ve especially seen these inquiries from solopreneurs or small businesses of one or two people. Let me just say first that having a budget is one of the key components to a successful business no matter the size. How do you know where you’re going, if you don’t have a plan for getting there? How do you know how well your business is progressing or not, if you don’t have something to measure your performance against? Simply put, a budget is a financial plan and helps you to manage the future income and expenses of your business. It reflects the goals & objectives of your business combined with how you believe your resources will be used. However, it doesn’t stop there, a budget serves as the roadmap for your business. It aids in providing a compass for making important business decisions in a more efficient manner to ensure that your business is heading in the right direction. A budget also empowers you to think more about the future and anticipate what could possibly happen in your business, which in turn makes for effective management.

Here are other reasons why I believe budgeting is important to the success of any business:

1.) Provides insight into your business and sheds light on if your business is financially on the right path.

2.) Creates a performance measurement mechanism in which you are able to understand what your business is doing compared to what you thought or planned.

3.) A budget shows that you are a serious entrepreneur which makes your business attractive to potential investors and is a critical component in getting funding from a bank.

4.) Acts as a management tool for running your business on a daily basis.

5.) You are able to make adjustments early once you realize that your business may not be reaching its planned goals.

6.) Due to a budget being a forward thinking document, it serves as a planning tool for future growth.

7.) Produces discipline in that as an entrepreneur you are more aware of your expenditures and more careful to manage costs in order to ensure that you reach your established goals.

financial planning