How First-Time Homebuyers Can Save Money

There are many reasons it would be financially advantageous to purchasing a house. You may have recently graduated from college, are a newlywed, expecting your first child, or have accepted a new high-paying job. There are long-term financial advantages and tax benefits to homeownership, but one of the largest roadblocks to purchasing a house is often the down payment. Below is a list of suggestions that you can use to save money towards a down payment on a new house.
• Create a Household Budget – Write out a list of all your monthly expenses. Go through your checkbook and receipts for the past three months and find out exactly how much you are spending per month. Create a budget that you can live with that limits your expenses. Track your spending, this will help you realize what expenses you may be able to eliminate.
• Open a Savings Account – After creating your monthly budget, devote a certain amount or percentage of your monthly income to savings. Your savings should be used only for special purchases or holiday spending to avoid using credit cards or creating new debt.
• Bank Account Fees – Check your bank statements to find out if you are paying a monthly service fee for your checking and/or savings accounts. If you are, it would benefit you to research banking options from other institutions. You may not only eliminate monthly fees, but possibly receive a bonus for opening a new account.
• Credit Cards – If you carry balances on your credit cards, you’re paying an extraordinary amount of interest. Be prudent, focus on paying your credit cards off or consolidate the debt to an installment loan with a lower interest rate.
• Shopping – When going to the store for groceries, clothing, bathroom and household necessities, always write out a list and stick to it. This will help you eliminate impulse buying. Many individuals purchase unneeded items when they shop and regret the purchase later.
• Entertainment Budget – Most people do not have a household budget, therefore they have no idea how much they actually spend in entertainment dollars. Institute a weekly or monthly entertainment budget, based on your past spending habits. Your plan should include money to continue your normal routine, such as: money for lunch, dinner, and/or going out with your friends. If you pack your lunch and eat at home a few more days per week, you will undoubtedly save money.
• Insurance and Mobile Phone – Compare the rates that you are paying for your auto insurance and cell phone to currents offers. If rates have gone down, you may be able to save on both of these expenses.
There are countless ways to eliminate expenses and save money, implementing just a few of these cost-saving measures in your monthly budget will help you save faster than you may have thought possible. There is no magic pill or instant solution to saving money; it will take a variety of changes as well as time to save the money needed for a down payment. As an alternative to saving the down payment for a house, most lenders will allow gifts from family members as well as grants from nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Check with your lender to find out if you qualify for any down payment assistance grants in your area.

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Reduce Costs, Plan Your Estate and More With a Captive Insurance

Specifically, captive insurance can help your business clients potentially greatly lower their insurance costs, have more control in managing their insurance, and obtain coverage that might otherwise be unavailable or not affordable. Some forms of captive insurance allow an insured or its assign to maintain an ownership interest in the underlying insurance company. As with any successful business, an owner of a captive can work with his or her advisers to best manage their insurance company. Another potential benefit is that of business and estate planning.
This author stresses that a captive should never be formed unless the primary reason is business purpose. Captives should never be marketed by advisers as “wealth management” or “estate planning” tools. In fact, improper marketing of an otherwise compliant captive can lead to the loss of the captive’s tax status as an insurance company, resulting in taxation and penalties of nearly one hundred percent of premiums.
Yet it is a fact that a successful captive may be useful in business and estate planning. Ownership of a captive may be facilitated by a partnership or trust which is owned, controlled by, or benefits a business owners’ descendants.
As an example, suppose that a business owner (Senior) wants to establish a captive insurance company in order to lower his insurance costs. The insurance company could be owned by a generation skipping trust currently controlled by Senior’s children. The captive’s premiums must be actually verifiable and the coverage must be wholly justifiable. The insurance sold by the captive needs to comport with all relevant statutes from both a regulatory and an IRS standpoint. If the captive’s claims are less than actually anticipated, it may have retained earnings or profits. Depending on the type of captive insurance company, the tax rate levied on underwriting profits can be as little as zero percent. Over time, the insurance company’s profits may be distributed as capital gains, dividends, or even loans to the beneficiaries of the insurance trust. The captive could even provide a funding source for future business opportunities.
The ultimate effect of a compliant and successful captive could be to transfer a portion of the pre-tax premiums from Senior’s business over to Senior’s children, grandchildren, etc., without income, gift, or estate tax. The bottom line for any accountant or wealth adviser is that captives should be looked at as a way to garner significant insurance cost savings with a possibility of secondary benefits.
Again, the author cannot overemphasize the importance that the captive must be designed to and operate as a compliant insurance company. The company must have real losses, real exposure to third party risk, and cannot be in any way an alter ego of or a savings account for the business owner.
Captives can be a tremendous tool helping businesses lower their insurance costs. This author has seen an example of businesses saving millions of dollars in a few short years by properly using captives.
Equally stunning, however, are the adverse tax consequences of an improperly marketed or managed captive. The advisory team chosen for this type work should have many years of captive insurance experience and, ideally, should be supported by a large regional or national law firm.

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Using Captive Insurance Companies for Savings

Small companies have been copying a method to control insurance costs and reduce taxes that used to be the domain of large businesses: setting up their own insurance companies to provide coverage when they think that outside insurers are charging too much.
Often, they are starting what is called a “captive insurance company” – an insurer founded to write coverage for the company, companies or founders.
Here’s how captive insurers work.
The parent business (your company) creates a captive so that it has a self-funded option for buying insurance, whereby the parent provides the reserves to back the policies. The captive then either retains that risk or pays re-insures to take it. The price for coverage is set by the parent business; reinsurance costs, if any, are a factor.
In the event of a loss, the business pays claims from its captive, or the re-insurer pays the captive.
Captives are overseen by corporate boards and, to keep costs low, are often based in places where there is favorable tax treatment and less onerous regulation – such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, or U.S states like Vermont and South Carolina.
Captives have become very popular risk financing tools that provide maximum flexibility to any risk financing program. And the additional possibility of adding several types of employee benefits is of further strategic value to the owners of captives.
While the employee benefit aspects have not emerged as quickly as had been predicted, there is little doubt that widespread use of captives for employee benefits is just a matter of time. While coverage’s like long term disability and term life insurance typically require Department of Labor approval, other benefit-related coverage’s such as medical stop loss can utilize a captive without the department’s approval.
Additionally, some mid-sized corporate owners also view a captive as an integral part of their asset protection and wealth accumulation plans. The opportunities offered by a captive play a critical role in the strategic planning of many corporations.
A captive insurance company would be an insurance subsidiary that is owned by its parent business (es). There are now nearly 5,000 captive insurers worldwide. Over 80 percent of Fortune 500 Companies take advantage of some sort of captive insurance company arrangement. Now small companies can also.
By sharing a large captive, participants are insured under group policies, which provide for insurance coverage that recognizes superior claims experience in the form of experience-rated refunds of premiums, and other profit-sharing options made available to the insured.
A true captive insurance arrangement is where a parent company or some companies in the same economic family (related parties), pay a subsidiary or another member of the family, established as a licensed type of insurance company, premiums that cover the parent company.
In theory, underwriting profits from the subsidiary are retained by the parent. Single-parent captives allow an organization to cover any risk they wish to fund, and generally eliminate the commission-price component from the premiums. Jurisdictions in the U.S. and in certain parts of the world have adopted a series of laws and regulations that allow small non-life companies, taxed under IRC Section 831(b), or as 831(b) companies.
Try Sharing
There are a number of significant advantages that may be obtained through sharing a large captive with other companies. The most important is that you can significantly decrease the cost of insurance through this arrangement.
The second advantage is that sharing a captive does not require any capital commitment and has very low policy fees. The policy application process is similar to that of any commercial insurance company, is relatively straightforward, and aside from an independent actuarial and underwriting review, bears no additional charges.
By sharing a captive, you only pay a pro rate fee to cover all general and administrative expenses. The cost for administration is very low per insured (historically under 60 basis points annually). By sharing a large captive, loans to its insureds (your company) can be legally made. So you can make a tax deductible contribution, and then take back money tax free. Sharing a large captive requires little or no maintenance by the insured and can be implemented in a fraction of the time required for stand alone captives.
If done correctly, sharing a large captive can yield a small company significant tax and cost savings.
If done incorrectly, the results can be disastrous.
Buyer Beware
Stand alone captives are also likely to draw IRS attention. Another advantage of sharing a captive is that IRS problems are less likely if that path is followed, and they can be entirely eliminated as even a possibility by following the technique of renting a captive, which would involve no ownership interest in the captive on the part of the insured.

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Pay Yourself Over $10,000 a Year – 8 Tips to Build Your Foundation of Savings for Your Success

Have you saved any money for emergencies? How much have you saved in case you were laid off? Do you compile credit card debt instead of using your savings for emergencies? Do you have a problem with saving money vs. spending it? Have you tried it on your own and not been successful? Do you know there must be a better way?
Do you find it frustrating when you see other people having financial success? Wouldn’t you like to be one of those who don’t struggle and experience tremendous financial success? Don’t struggle any longer. Here are your 8 tips to build a solid foundation of savings for your future success.
Write every purchase and deposit in your check register when it occurs. Be prompt. This way your checkbook and funds available balance is always current and accurate. You cannot overspend and you are aware of your balance. You won’t ruin your budget because it is current.

Balance your checkbook weekly with your online bank register. Correct any errors in your check register such as missed entries. Add a check mark next to the balance amount on the date so you know where you were most recently accurate. Check the entries that have posted and keep this current.

Use your credit cards if you need to and only if you are able to easily pay the complete balance by the end of the month or statement due date. You won’t incur any late fees or interest fees if you completely pay the balance early and on time.

Withdraw $200 every week with an automatic transfer to a money market account – and do not use those funds unless there is an emergency. Act as though you were making a car payment and that money is gone and unavailable. Be disciplined and strong here. This is where you are paying yourself over $10,000 per year ($10,400 specifically).

You can increase this incrementally by adding as little as another $50 per transfer adding another $2,600 per year for a total annual savings of $13,000 per year. This is your gift to you. Impressive!

Next, deduct all of your regular expenses for this pay period right away in your check register and mark the actual date this will occur for each item.

You are predicting your future budget here. This will give you an accurate financial picture of your available balance for the pay period and incidental expenses. We often imagine we have more available than the reality exposes.

Watch your money market balance grow each week and enjoy the satisfaction in knowing that you are a saver – not a spender. It doesn’t take any discipline at all to spend money, and it takes a great deal of strength to save it.

Be powerful. Pay yourself first – over $10,000 per year and build your solid foundation of savings for your future success. You can do it. Be strong.

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