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Jobs to go at HBOS mortgage sector

This is a guest post.

With the mortgage drought in the UK continuing since the onset of the global credit crunch last year, it is not only consumers who are suffering. Many people that work within the mortgage industry have also suffered as a result of the turmoil in the mortgage sector, and recently HBOS has announced that there are to be job losses in its mortgage loan sector. The closure of a specialist mortgage branch by HBOS is to result in the loss of 325 jobs by the end of March next year.

The Mortgage Business, which is an arm of HBOS, will be closing to new custom later this month, and the bank will also close a mortgage processing centre. The job losses have been described as a blow by union officials, who have said that the number job losses is actually larger than the bank has cared to admit. In the first six months of the year HBOS announced that pre-tax profits fell by around 72%.

The bank said that it hoped the jobs could be cut through voluntary redundancies and turnover of staff. It added that the bank had to focus on streamlining the business. Union officials have said that the closure of the processing centre will affect jobs in Livinston, Chester, and Cardiff. One union official stated: "This is a further blow for jobs in the UK financial services sector which is being brought about by the credit crunch and the changing economic climate." 

Another union official said: "We are never happy about any reduction in roles in HBOS even if we understand the commercial logic for the changes."

The Need to Protect Your Income

The issue of income protection has been in everybody’s mind for long, especially in tough times. It is obvious that people always looking for a form of save haven for their hard-earned money.

A question that often being raised is, “if anything happened to me, will my family or others that depend on me be able to survive?”

Nobody can deny that sometimes we forget about what is best, not only for us, but also for our loved ones. Some people has a motto of ‘work hard, play hard.’ Even though everybody’s life is his/her own to decide, people often forget the priorities in life. People need to secure the fruit of their labour first, then ‘play hard’ on the remaining, later on.

Sadly, people do love tarrying – ‘I will do it tomorrow’ seems to be the norm in society. People realise their true priorities after misfortunes or unfortunate events happen – bankruptcy, downsized, disability, sickness and even death. Then, people start panicking and taking any advices they can get from, that unfortunately, not always the best advices you should receive.

Consider the following statement about protecting your income.

…a recent survey …found that 25 per cent of Americans are worried about losing their jobs within the next six to 12 months because of weakening economic conditions, while 28 per cent are concerned about losing their income because of an accident or illness that would make them unable to work. The study also revealed that 41% of employees with 401(k) or similar retirement accounts would be willing to borrow from such accounts to cover lost income.

The survey does describe the economy outlook today, and people do have all their right to be worried. A form of income protection, such as income protection insurance, is needed to minimise your worry and turn your energy to seek other income alternatives, such as starting out businesses, instead.

I would like to recommend you to start protecting your income and your asset more sooner than latter, and set a plan of action to be implemented for, at least, 6 months period. This will create a physical and psychological safety net that let you prepare for the worst.

If you looking for ways to protect your income, look to the people you trust or income protection specialists for advices. A word of advice, though – always look for a second opinion. Do your homework, and doing the right thing will eventually ‘save’ yourself and your loved ones.

Again, stop worrying and start acting today, before you regret that it is all too late.

The cost of children

The costs start before birth, in extra doctor’s visits (and anti-emetics) for the mom-to-be. They spike during the hospital stay and remain high through the diaper-and-baby-food stages, the ever-larger clothing, the field trip money, and eventually college. Kids are expensive; the cost of a child born this year and raised in the Midwest: $183,510, not including college, according to this calculator. And they give an extremely poor interest rate. Financially speaking, having children makes no sense. So why do people do it?

Common wisdom is that children make you happy. But psychological research indicates that’s not true; as described in this Newsweek article, childless couples have the same amount of emotional wellbeing as people with children and tend to be more satisfied with their marriages. Children offer companionship, but so do spouses and pets. Children, in fact, seem to come with no other rewards and some serious drawbacks: the sacrifice of time and self-identity, the additional responsibility, and especially the pricetag.

With that said, however, most people have or plan to have children, even though they can’t specifically say way. This Plain Dealer article describes the attempts of semester after semester of college students to figure out why people should want to have children. They fail. But chances are, most of them went on to have children. I plan to have children, even though I know my life would in some ways be richer (literally and metaphorically) without them. Why?

Since there’s no rational reason to have children, the answer lies in the irrational: in our biological roots. It’s likely that having children is an instinct buried so deep that we don’t recognize it as an instinct, the way we automatically look toward sharp movement or loud noises, but we obey it anyway. Part of the definition of natural selection is that traits that enhance an organism’s chance of passing on its genes tend to spread in a population. What trait would enhance those chances more than the tendency to want to have children? By definition, a species that didn’t have urges towards procreation would shortly be wiped out. Humans have spread out over the globe not just because of our tools and our intelligence, but also because of our population.

It is a fact that the best decision, financially speaking, is not to have children. But that’s not what most of us will do. And that’s a good thing. It’s healthy for us to want things other than riches, healthy to know that there are important things in life other than money.

What is Threshold of Perception for Money?

In physical terms, the threshold of perception is the limit at which you start to feel something. A change of a tenth of a degree might not make you feel warmer, but you could feel a change of a full degree. Some people are incredibly sensitive and aware to such changes, others are not.

In many ways, people have similar thresholds with regards to money. You can see it in yourself when there is a small error on your bill, or you forgot a coupon for something you wanted to buy. For some people, every single cent is important, where for others, amounts of up to a few dollars in either direction aren’t worth noticing.

If you have a high threshold of perception for money, you need to be aware that those little amounts can add up. The few dollars in bank fees each month might not seem worth your notice, but if you let it slide for a few years, it can easily eat up hundreds of dollars. Unclaimed expenses are another issue. It might not seem worthwhile to pursue claiming each insurance expense or seeking reimbursement for every work-related expense, but those costs add up over time, taking hundreds or thousands of dollars that could be put to more beneficial uses.

So, work at lowering your threshold of perception when it comes to money. It might seem silly when you look at the individual dollar amounts, but when you add them up over time you will definitely see results. Taking the time to notice the smaller amounts can be time well spent.

Cooking versus eating out

Which is cheaper, eating out or staying in? Common wisdom says eating in. Take this article, for example, in which the author conducted a fairly controlled experiment, eating out one week, cooking at home the next (with the potentially confounding factor of a wife eager to vindicate eating out). The results: the week of restaurant dinners was $257.08 and the week of (fancy) home-cooked meals was $148.14. Likewise, this post breaks down the cost of making the equivalent of a McDonald’s $1 cheeseburger–and finds that it is slightly cheaper to make your own.

On the other hand, there have been many attempts in recent years to show that eating out can be cheaper, or at least no more expensive, than eating in. For example, when you’ve got small children and go to the right restaurant, it can be a fairly economical proposition to go out instead of cooking–especially when you consider that you don’t have to do the dishes. And if you dislike cooking to the point where you feel the need to charge for your time spent cooking, then cooking is probably the more expensive option.

So which option is better? This question can’t be answered without an “it depends.” If you consider money alone, cooking at home is by far the better choice (especially if you don’t go in for things like aged parmesan cheese, or caviar, or steak three times a week). If you consider your time as too valuable to be spent cooking and charge anything over around $20 an hour–and you’re not cooking for many people–then the restaurant may be your best value. Personally, I enjoy cooking, so the time is not a factor for me; I even consider it a plus because I get to indulge in an activity that makes me happy. But if you despise cooking so much that you’d be living off of boxed kits and frozen pizzas if you ate at home, it may even be in your best interest health-wise to go out to a decent restaurant or a healthy carry-out place.

As in so many other aspects of personal finance, value is not as concrete as money, or time. The value you place on various things in your life will color your perceptions on what the best things to do with your money are. This can be important to remember when you’re considering your budget or your investment options–or your dinner choices. The frugal choice may not be the one that makes you happy; and unhappiness costs more than most of us can really afford.

Probate advances – I want it now, please

The economy of ‘now’ is definitely the driving factor of today’s finance world.

Especially in credit card, loan and insurance business, the ‘now’ main premise is to expect you to make decision now, with certain perks and benefits of doing so.

Why?

Because people do act differently, often irrationally, when it comes to money.

According to Tim Harford, of Slate.com, the ‘now’ has a strong pull. He uses an example of a psychology of offer – Suppose you were offered $100 today, but if you wanted to wait for a day, $110 will be offered to you. The normal, rational and logical people will, of course, wait for a day to get the $10 addition to the money pot.

It turned out that, according to some researchers, most people do not actually behave that way. He then explains that almost everybody says that they are happy to wait a day at some future time, but not today. They would prefer the $100 today to $110 tomorrow.

The ‘now’ in cash advances

Cash advances services, referring to an amount of money paid before it is earned, are born on the premise of ‘now’.

The underlying idea of cash advances is to receive money now, that will be ‘earned’ when certain milestones reached.

People are willing to pay a certain amount of fee in return of receiving the money earlier to fulfill certain financial issues.

Probate advances

Cash advances exist in many form, including early inheritance distribution to heirs. The ‘now’ does have affected the inheritance and probate issues.

Probate advances is one of the cash advances that is specifically related to inheritance.

The inheritance cash advances function as heir loan – allowing heirs to receive inheritance money now in exchange for a set amount of money to be paid later at agreed deadlines.

Inheritance cash advance is not always considered as a loan. I recommend you to search for inheritance cash advances company that does not have an interest rate or a payment schedule.

Online Payment Processing – Simplicity is Key

Bryant Welch, a clinical psychologist, lawyer, professor and former executive director at the American Psychological Association, wrote that life in a globalised world is complex and uncertain, but the human brain craves simplicity and assurance.

No matter how negative the effect of simplicity (and everything instant) is, people does crave for them, due to the fact that human brain always wants to avoid misery and to pursue happiness.

Why simplicity in online payment processing is important for customers

You see, people start leaning toward online shopping for the same reason: simplicity.

You always want to shop from the comfort of your home. Their main consideration is always on order and payment processing. They want a secure, yet simple system to process their order and payment. They want quality and fast services.

Customers have to consider several things in deciding to shop online: how much they will save, how convenience the purchase will, and how peace of mind can be achieved.

Online businesses have to address those issues to win business from potential customers. To achieve this, online businesses must have an integrated and automated online payment processing system that is simple to use.

Where to look for reliable payment processing solutions

In payment processing system, simplicity is key. Setting up merchant account, processing online payment, processing orders and shipping, and so on is a complex operation, although not as complicated as the offline counterparts.

Choosing the right solution will not only helping you win customers, but also helping your back office operations.

There are simple payment processing solutions on the Net, but only a few offering you an integrated solution. My suggestion is for you to seek a company that can handle most, if not all, your payment processing needs.

Partnering with a company that offer you an all in one solution to manage financial processes, such as recurring billing, eCheck processing, online payments, credit card processing, direct debits and cash disbursement will only do good for your online business.

The best way to look for such company is through searching for testimonials and recommendations from the Internet. Reviews on financial-related blogs, forums and social media may be your best bet to find such solution.

Locus Pocus

If you have something happen to you, do you blame it on yourself, or blame it on external causes?

It’s an odd question, but an interesting one as it deals with your personal locus of control. But, that’s jumping ahead. Let’s start with defining a locus of control.

In psychology, the locus of control is a scale that defines a person’s beliefs about what causes good or bad results in their life. For example, you might know someone who always blames themselves when things go wrong, or someone who credits only good or bad luck for what happens to them. People like these define either end of the spectrum on the locus of control. People who blame themselves for everything in their lives have an internal locus. People who blame higher powers, luck, or the environment for occurrences have an external locus of control.

Now, it’s worthwhile repeating that this is a scale, not an either-or proposition. People can display different characteristics of either locus for different issues. The big question we’ll ask here though is: What is your locus of control with money?

When you can’t run out of cash, is it because you had bad luck and needed to spend more than you had thought? Or is it because you forgot to plan ahead and have an emergency fund? Knowing your locus of control with regard to money can help you to plan in ways that work with your financial psychology as opposed to against it. And a plan that you can work with is a plan you’re more likely to follow.

Don’t let your psychological beliefs get in the way of you being financially successful. A good financial plan can help to protect you against both internally and externally caused problems.

Bargains and behavior

A recent post on Get Rich Slowly is ostensibly about how J.D. and his wife cleaned up his mom’s house and found that she was a packrat; but it’s really about how buying and hoarding “bargains” can be a trap. The house contained many unopened bulk packages of food that were long past their best-by date, newspapers from ten years ago, presents bought for five-year-old grandchildren who are now nine. As J.D. pointed out, a bargain isn’t a bargain if what you buy is wasted.

This post strikes home with me because my husband and I are working on the same issue. “My favorite chips are on sale!” I’ll say. “Let’s buy four!” We do, and instead of stockpiling them as I meant to, they’re gone within three weeks because I like those chips so much. “The bigger bag of ham is cheaper per ounce, let’s get that,” my husband says, but then half the bag goes bad before he eats it. We’re dealing with slightly different aspects of the same problem: we’re buying more than we normally would in the expectation that our future behavior will justify the purchase, but we don’t adjust our behavior accordingly. If there’s a tasty snack around, I’m inclined to eat it, not save it, even when I know I’ve had some recently. If my husband isn’t reminded that there’s food in the fridge, he tends to forget about it and eats other things that are more visible.

The key here is that it’s not our purchasing behavior that’s bad; it’s our behavior after the purchase that’s the problem. There are two solutions here: don’t buy the “bargains” when we know they won’t, in the end, be true bargains; or adjust our behavior to take full advantage of our purchases. I could put extra snacks in the rear of the pantry that’s harder to get to, to remind me that they’re meant to be rationed. My husband could freeze half his bags of lunchmeat, or I could remind him that he still has ham left. Behavior can be hard to change; whether or not a bargain at the store is worth it depends entirely on the person faced with the purchase. Is it worth it for you?

Decoy marketing

This intriguing article discusses decoy marketing, a tactic marketers use to make their products look better by comparing them to inferior ones offered for a similar price. The author, Roger Dooley, discusses falling prey to this when shopping for shaving cream. First he stares at the shelf, trying to decide between dizzying numbers of options; then he sees that one variety has in its midst taller cans of the same product, but with 20% more for the same price. Instantly he buys, not one, but two of the bigger can, and goes on his way.

What happened? Essentially, his brain was tricked into redefining the situation. Instead of comparing several different products, his mind zeroed in on the very simple decision between products A and B, where they were identical except for the amount of product. This made the decision quick and easy: “B is the much better value!” and once the decision had been made, the other competitors had been eliminated without really considering their merits.

The key element here is that products A and B–the “real” product and the decoy–are almost identical except for the key difference that clinches the sale, in this case amount of product. Gentner and Markman (2006, Psychological Science) explain this forced easy decision this way:

[Comparing items] involves an alignment of structured representations yielding commonalities, differences related to the commonalities, and differences unrelated to the commonalities. One counterintuitive prediction of this view is that it should be easier to find the differences between pairs of similar items than to find the differences between pairs of dissimilar items. This prediction is particularly strong for differences that are related to the commonalities.

In other words, if two items are identical except for a couple of key points, it’s much easier to compare them (and thereby pick the non-decoy). And our brains are lazy. This laziness–among other things–is ripe for marketers to exploit to get us to buy their product. Decoy marketing works by exploiting one of the many shortcuts our brains like to take.