Monday, 27 April 2009

Saddled with debt

Been a while since I posted something worthy of note.

A few points, firstly Mr Brown our Prime Minister. Now I dont recall voting for this guy at the last election, in fact I didnt vote for this party, but thats by the by. How can we as a country be brought to our knees by the borrowing this "unelected Prime Minister" has agreed to.

So lets add everything up over the past, include both world wars and every subsequent goverment since the first world war. In one swoop, we as a country have saddled ourselves with more debt than the TOTAL of all the previous governments PUT TOGETHER. We only finished paying off the USA for the second world war debt the united kingdon borrowed from them a few years ago.

Now, onto life in the recession. I was sad to see that my old company (bank) has finally gone to the wall and been swallowed up by another happily agreed to by the government and FSA. However, not 2 years ago a few banks were stopped from doing exactly the same thing as it would affect "market competition". Uhm, so lets think about that. We cant have banks taking over each other because it affects market competition and consumer choice, however, we can "knee jerk" into agreeing bank takeovers within a few hours when the markets get difficult. Surely double standards?
Well maybe this was done to stop a run on the banks because they were over extended and didnt have enough capital reserves? Sounds plausible doesnt it? however, the Financial Services Authority is responsible for ensuring that the banks adhere to the minimum funding requirements (liquidity). And waht was the FSA doing? none of us know for sure do we. - headless chickens come to mind.
So why is this important? well the government removed this fundemental audit/check practice away from the Bank of England and gave it to the newly formed FSA. Uhm... ok, so heres my simple analogy.
Take an MOT check and station. its like saying "hey, you guys dont need to undertake an MOT on cars anymore, instead we want you to just fill up the wash bottles each time they visit, MOTs will now be undertaken by the local car wash center. Yep, the car wash knows as much about engines and car worthyness as the FSA knows about Banks and the financial instruments they use to run their business.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bailed out opportunists

Well I cant stop thinking that some people are really taking advantage of the current circumstances. Im not overly bothered at the opportunists, what Im bothered about are the people who have been bailed out still making money at the expense of the tax payer.

The Northern Rock - Taken into the government in 2008 (Nationalised), to save it going to the wall. This state owned business now has the highest repossession rate of any of the main stream banks and building societies. Brown says "we will do everything we can to help those people struggling through the current global credit crises" - yes, we will repossess your house, thats very supportive isnt it.

How do you deal with a goverment that is so blatantly untruthfull about this?

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Car finance companies needing help?

The UK car industry does not need a bail-out but the government is considering help for manufacturers' financing arms, Lord Mandelson says.

He told the BBC that the industry faced problems raising finance to help would-be buyers fund new car purchases.

Lord Mandelson said the Treasury was considering offering commercial loans or loan guarantees to help the industry "bridge a very difficult period".

Meanwhile, an industry body confirmed it was in talks with the government.

"We are in active discussion with the government to ensure that motor finance companies, along with other non-bank lenders, have access to the relevant government liquidity and guarantee schemes, so that they can get the funds they need to serve their customers in the motor and other markets," Stephen Sklaroff, Director General of the Finance and Leasing Association, told the BBC.

Lord Mandelson said the credit crunch has meant that manufacturers' car financing arms could not raise the money needed to fund new car purchases.

"No car company is asking for a bail-out, they may be asking for help in lifting their motor finance arms, needed to fund new car purchases," he told Radio 4's The World At One.

"And it may be that in one case, commercial loans or loan guarantees from the government to assist them to bridge a very difficult period (may be needed) but that is not what I would call a bail-out."

He said both he and the Treasury were in close contact with the car companies about this issue.

Nissan announced on Thursday that it would cut 1,200 jobs.

More jobs to go?

A spokesperson for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders welcomed Lord Mandelson's remarks but said that help in providing car financing was just one part of a series of measures it was seeking.

As well as easing access to finance, the SMMT is calling on the government to help companies to retain skilled employees and maintain investment in new technology and provide incentives to encourage the take up of new vehicles.

John Lewis, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental Leasing Association, welcomed any measures to improve access to credit but said they should apply to all providers of car loans not just manufacturers.

"Any help with access to finance must not be limited to car manufacturers alone. It should be used to improve access to all routes of car finance, for new and used cars," Mr Lewis said.

Lord Mandelson said that the car industry was an "essential and permanent" part of the UK's manufacturing but warned that the industry must adapt to leaner times.

While demand for cars had been hit by the recession, he said that demand may never get back to previous levels.

He did not rule out further job losses in the UK car industry but said that white-collar positions would be more likely to go than manufacturing jobs.

In the US, as part of its rescue of the car industry in December, the government has unveiled a $6bn (£4.1bn) rescue package for GMAC - General Motors' troubled car loan arm

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Car Insurance issues

All owners are required by law to insure vehicles driven on public roads. Some provinces and territories offer public insurance while others have insurance sold privately. Here are some basic items to consider when buying vehicle insurance:

Liability insurance is mandatory, and is used as financial protection against loss or injury caused to others while operating your vehicle. The minimum amount of insurance required differs across jurisdictions but keep in mind that skimping on liability insurance may cost you in the long run. Minimum liability will not cover the cost of an accident resulting in the injury of several people, for example, particularly in circumstances where litigation is an option.

Vehicle damage insurance, unlike liability insurance, may be optional. Damage insurance, however, is still recommended for the simple reason that damages to a vehicle will quickly add up in the event of an accident where you are at fault. Not being able to recover any money will have serious ramifications on your bank account.

Some dealers or credit grantors may require that you take out other insurance such as life and/or disability insurance prior to agreeing to do business with you. Make sure that you fully read and understand any agreements that you are asked to sign and that you get a copy of the completed and signed agreement. Do not sign an agreement unless it is completed in full.
You should also do some comparison shopping on insurance prices and coverage prior to signing any agreement. Here are some items to consider in keeping your insurance rates to a minimum:

Accidents can increase your insurance costs, especially when you are at fault. Though it's easier said than done, staying out of accidents will save you money in more ways than one.

Statistics show that some vehicles are more likely than others to be involved in an accident. Insurance companies are aware of this and therefore charge more to insure high-risk vehicles. The make and model of the vehicle, its colour, and whether it's a two-door or four-door are all factors considered by your insurance company. Some cars are also more expensive to repair or are frequently pursued by thieves. Consider how important owning a high-profile vehicle is to you. Contact the Vehicle Information Centre of Canada ( to find out which vehicles will cost you more to insure.

Where you live may affect what you pay for automobile insurance. Driving to work everyday, especially if it's a long commute, does not only mean extra gas and wear and tear on your vehicle but also the possibility of a higher insurance premium. Urban residents may have higher premiums than those living in rural areas.

Insurance companies reward those who are of low risk to them. Discounts might be offered for driver education, multiple vehicles, high academic achievement, anti-theft devices or abstinence from alcohol, among others. Have your insurance broker inquire about any of these types of discounts.
Sometimes it doesn't pay to be carrying collision or comprehensive insurance on an older vehicle if the total amount you are paying for the deductible plus the monthly premium is more then the entire worth of your vehicle.

Watch those Speeding Tickets

Have you noticed more autos on the side of the road with an officer issuing the driver a speeding ticket? Have you seen more trucks surrounded by DOT transport police? I sure have. There are several reasons for this increased activity.

One is that after 9/11 many departments have increased patrols. The additional police presence is to assure the public that efforts are being taken to prevent terrorist attacks like the recent sniper killings. The other reason is that cities and states are faced with budget deficits in these tough economic times. Since traffic tickets are a politically correct form of taxation, many jurisdictions are increasing fines as a means of balancing the books.

A traffic officer will cost his department the average of $75,000 per year while he can be expected to issue between $150,000 to $200,000 in speeding ticket citations. There are few businesses that can equal that rate of return. Some towns like New Rome, Ohio and Waldo, Florida take in over 70% of their entire town budget through speeding tickets.

What does this mean to you, the safe driver who has not received a traffic citation in years? It means that you are now more likely than ever to see those dreaded blue lights flashing in your rear view. If that does happen you need to know that the true cost of a speeding ticket has changed drastically in the last few years.

Consider Mary, a successful sales representative who enjoys the perk of a company car. She travels extensively and has received four speeding tickets in the last three years. She considers herself a safe driver and in each instance was traveling with the flow of traffic on the interstate. She has 9 out of the 12 points on her driver’s license. Imagine her surprise when her company’s insurance carrier refused to allow Mary to drive a company car. The company obtained supplemental insurance but Mary had to pay the extra $1600.

Then there is Jeffrey, a CDL truck driver from Ohio who is an independent operator and owns his own truck. He drives 150,000 miles per year and has five tickets on his record, none a serious violation. He is unable to obtain insurance that he can afford. He is in the process of losing his truck to the finance company and does not know how he will support his family.

Families with teenagers may face an economic disaster if the teen driver receives a citation. One traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign could cost as much as $3000 in increased premiums over the three years it remains on their record. The insurance industry considers young adults as teenagers until the age of 23.

The purpose of relating Mary and Jeffrey’s stories is not for you to feel sorry for them. It is to impress upon you the severe consequences that may result from a traffic ticket. It is important to obey all traffic laws, not just for your physical protection but also for the health of your pocketbook. I have found that many people are more concerned about their pocketbook than their personal safety.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Repairs and caring for your wallet

Unless you're a mechanic, taking your car into the repair shop can be a scary and mysterious experience. Your car goes behind the doors and minutes later, you're presented with a list of problems, and possibly a large bill. Even if you aren't a car expert, there are things you can look out for to make sure your car repair is honest and necessary.

Brakes are a common area where repair estimates can be inflated. Calipers are the devices that push the brake pads against the disc. They can last up to 100,000 miles; so if the mechanic says they need replacing, ask if you can see how they aren't working properly or where the brake pads are wearing.

An oil change is a fairly simple task, but it can sometimes end up costing you more than you intended. This is because there can be hidden fees, such as disposal fees, extra services included, or extra parts, such as new air filters or wiper blades, added on. Make sure you know what's included in the price of your oil change. Mechanics typically recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles, but many car manufacturers recommend only twice a year or every 7,000 miles. Somewhere in the middle may work for you.

Surprisingly, if your battery is weak or dead, it may not be the battery. Instead of automatically purchasing a new battery, it may be cheaper in the long run to have a reputable mechanic run an alternator and voltage regulator test. This will tell if your car's electrical charge system is working. If there's a problem, it may cost a few hundred dollars to fix, but it will save you hundreds in constantly buying new batteries while the problem goes unchecked.

When you go in for a new muffler, you may also be told you need new exhaust pipes, tail pipes, even a new catalytic converter. Make sure the mechanic shows you the damages on your pipes before paying out. Federal law requires cars built before 1995 to have catalytic converter warranties of five years or 50,000 miles. Cars built after 1995 have warranties of eight years or 80,000. If you're satisfied the work needs to be done, get the estimate and shop around for the best price.

The old standby, the tune-up, is an old-fashioned term these days. Yesterday's tune-ups included carburetor and ignition system adjustments. Today's computerized systems take car of that for you. All you may really need checked are the spark plugs, which should last about 30,000 and cost around £20 to replace. If your car is running rough and you've noticed your fuel efficiency is down, explain the specific problem to your mechanic rather than just asking for a "tune-up."

Getting bodywork done can be extremely expensive - especially if the repair shop puts on used parts and charges you for new. You could also be charged for replacement parts when your old parts were simply repaired. If you suspect this might be done, tell the mechanic you'd like to see your old parts and the packaging and documentation that comes with new parts.

The most important thing to remember is to find a reputable mechanic that you can trust and don't be afraid to ask questions. It's your car and your checkbook, and you have a right to protect them both.

An easy routine for car maintenance

Autumn is already here and in a short time, winter will be upon us. As you gear up for the colder temperatures, now is a good time to take preventive measures to care for your vehicle.

Maintain Your Car's Value and Appearance

Regular professional washing and waxing will help maintain your car's appearance as well as its value.

Most car owners understand the value of changing motor oil regularly to protect the engine. But if they forget and instead choose to replace the engine, the car could still be as good as new. However, a car with oxidized paint and a rusted-out body can never be economically restored. The best prevention is regular washing and waxing at a professional car wash.

With more than 22,000 professional car washes around the world offering a wide range of services to protect a car's finish from detoriating rusting, there's no excuse not to keep your vehicle in great shape. Car washes offer basic to extensive operations to suit all your car care needs.

For starters, try an exterior tunnel wash to automatically provide protective waxes and undercarriage treatment. Also, consider detailing or custom polishing for more extensive protection. By applying and buffing a premium polish, you can restore the shine of your car. On the detail side, you can vacuum everything from the rugs in the trunk to the air conditioner vents.

A Quick Fix

If you are running short on time but need your car professionally cleaned, try a self-service car wash that provides a variety of effective, self-cleaning services to choose from. For best results, follow the step-by-step instructions posted in the self-serve bay that call for starting with a pre-soak to loosen road grime. Next comes the high-pressure soap wash. For gentle scrubbing, use the foaming brush next, followed by the fresh water rinse. Also, remember to take advantage of special tire and wheel cleaners. For maximum protection and shine, the wax application is a must. Finally, many self-serve washes offer a spot-free rinse. All the solutions are specially formulated to clean tough road dirt and protect you car's shine.

Protect Your Car from Winter's Hazards

To get a jumpstart on protecting your car from winter's effects, remember that the most damaging thing you can do to your car during this time is nothing! Don't worry about your car freezing -- washing salt, slush and mud off your car in cold weather is vital.

The best thing you can do this winter is to wash your vehicle frequently at a professional car wash, even every few days if the temperature rises and falls from freezing and you've been driving on salted roads. Washing also should include an undercarriage rinse (available at most professional car washes) to remove salt from hard-to-reach areas that are likely to rust, such as the bumpers and in the wheel wells.

Now is the time to get your car in gear for the winter season with the preventive maintenance measure of having your car professionally washed -- you and your wallet will be glad you did.