Entries Tagged as 'Finance'

:( Banks might not have gotten a Get Out Of Jail Free Card afterall :)

It looks like the first major salvo has been fired in potentially forcing the banks to accept liability in the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) fiasco that cause devastating harm to the US economy recently.

The New York Fed, BlackRock, and Pacific Investment Management Company sent letters to Bank of America alleging that its subsidiary, Countrywide, failed to perperly service loans totaling $47 billion.

While the letter itself doesn’t constitute any litigation, it does lay the groundwork for investors filing to recover investments that may have been negligently (mis)handled by banks.

This is a direct result of the “robo-signing” mess that banks have gotten themselves into; since it would be fairly easily established that the banks did not perform due diligence on loans where the documents were not properly reviewed.

I suspect this time it won’t be quite as easy for the banks to pull a rabbit out of the hat by getting the Federal government to provide them with loans — but then again, if you and I don’t make it clear to our elected officials that we’re not interested in another loan to banks, that we expect them to resolve it just like regular Americans have during this economic crisis that banks are largely responsible for.

Originally posted 2010-10-26 02:00:55.

Connect for the Cause

I’m a huge fan of credit unions; be they state or federal chartered; and I hate banks (all banks).  There’s a huge difference between what motivates a credit union and what motivates a bank, and dealing with even a bad credit union is generally much more satisfying than dealing with the best bank!

Personally I use credit unions when I can; and soak banks for their “give mes” on credit cards… I never pay a bank a penny further if they don’t pay me — I don’t make money for them, and my credit unions never charge me a penny (seems like a good arrangement to me) .

The quote below is from a web site that’s designed to keep you informed about legislation that might effect the services credit unions can provide to you; below it are two links to (California) organizations that support credit unions — while all of whats on those sites might not be important to you, certainly any of the federal changes proposed will likely effect you.

Support your credit unions in every way you can — and fight back against the greedy banks that feel you as a tax-payer (and a customer) should pay for their mistakes while they continue to pay the executive staff (who made the mistakes) huge bonuses.

Take back America… take it back from the greed that destroys the very foundation of our society!

 


As a credit union supporter, you are aware of the need for grassroots action and mobilization efforts to inform our elected officials about credit union issues. Thank you for your active support, and please visit this network frequently to stay informed about legislative issues that are important to your credit union.

Connect for the Cause

California Credit Union League

Originally posted 2009-11-28 01:00:29.

Bait and switch rates?

Yesterday (Monday 6-Jul-2010) at 4:15pm I stopped by Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union to open up an IRA Certificate of Deposit; I’d been in the process of transferring money from one institution to another (and it took much longer than it should have — but since two institutions were involved, it’s hard to know which was responsible for the delay).

Anyway, I ended up having to wait 45 minutes to be helped; that gave me plenty of time to look over the posted rate board — and I’d decided that the 2.09% for a 24-month IRA-CD looked reasonable (I’d have preferred 18 months or less, but I wanted a reasonable return rate, and I don’t really expect the economy to start to rebound for several years).

The customer service representative that helped me (the “Financial Services Representative”) ask me which CD I was interested in and I told him — the 24-month 2.09% APR; he immediately said, that the 24-month IRA-CD was 1.97%, not 2.09% — that it had changed on Friday 2-Jul-2010 and they simply hadn’t gotten around to posting it on their rate board.

WTF?

I’ve long been under the impression that financial institutions understand the importance of posting accurate rate information — and I thought most any ethical institution understands the legal (even if they don’t understand the moral) implications of posting fraudulent information.

When I got home I filed complaints with the State of Florida Attorney General’s office (in Tallahassee, FL) and the National Credit Union Administration, Region III office (in Atlanta, GA) requesting that they investigate the business practices of Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union.



Post Note: The VP of Operations contacted me this morning (7-Jul-2010) and Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union will honor the rate as posted yesterday (for me at least).

Originally posted 2010-07-07 02:00:32.

Chase Freedom Rewards Bonus

From July 1, 2008 until September 30, 2008 Chase is offering 5% cash back on eligible travel and entertainment purchases.

So beyond the 3% cash back on certain categories they always offer; and 1% on all other purchases you can now get 5% cash back for a limited time on airline, hotels, rental cars, and fine dining when you spend more than $300 per month (that should be easy to do with any of those in the mix, particularly if it’s business expenses).

You do need to opt into this program, and if you haven’t gotten a letter from Chase inviting you, I’d say just go ahead and call 800-603-2265.

If you don’t have a Chase Freedom MasterCard or VISA, then maybe you should consider taking advantage of their services and rewards.

NOTES:

  • If you want cash back, you maximize your reward by waiting until you have $200 because you get a check for $250! Other than that some of their travel and give cards are pretty good deals if they would save you money that you would have spent otherwise.
  • Discover is apparently running a promotion as well. I’m not a Discover card holder so I don’t know the specifics of it.
  • My picks for cards are: Citi Rewards Dividend (Citibank); Chase Freedom Rewards (Chase); and Citi Cash Returns (Citibank). There are also a few other cards that give good rewards provided you do a great deal of business with particular vendors.
  • I would stay away from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One — their cards generally don’t pay bonuses or use some lame bonus programs.  And while you might want a credit card from your credit union, it’s unlikely they will have a decent reward program.
  • Beyond rewards, many credit cards also provide rental car insurance, warranty extensions, lost/damage protection on items you buy, etc.  It’s always advisable to read the benefits that come with your credit card; many financial institutions off great benefits just because very few people ever bother to read the literature that comes with their cards and take advantage of the programs, so it really just makes them look good in all the comparisons and doesn’t end up costing them much at all.

As always, remember you can use credit cards to your advantage as long as you use them wisely.

Originally posted 2008-07-18 21:14:23.

MoneyDance

A little over a year ago Microsoft announced the end of Microsoft Money…

In the beginning I used a program written by a friend of mine to manage my check book (he actually marketed it), it was basic, and worked reasonably well.

Then I switch to Quicken… which never worked reasonably or well… but did the job (sort of like hammering a nail with a screwdriver rather than a hammer).  Obviously from what I’ve said I never liked it and never wanted to contemplate going back — financial management is about function, not form (or in Quicken’s case, pretty pictures, graphics, and selling as much of your information to anyone who will pay anything for it they can).

One of my friends used MoneyDance, and I’d pointed him that way when he decided gnucash just wasn’t what he wanted… so at the end of last year when I decided to make a decision to move to a financial management (tracking) software that was a little more current I paid for MoneyDance… and honestly, I’ve regretted it ever since.

The program basically works, and works on OS-X, Linux, and Windows… but one of the whole reasons to use financial management software is to be able to download transactions from your financial institutions and them just basically automatically match up with what you’ve entered and be done with balancing your records with your statement in a matter of a very few minutes…

And there in is the problem.

If you just let MoneyDance import and process those imported transactions you will have the biggest mess you’ve every seen — and the more accounts you have and the more transfers between accounts you do — well, let’s just say “exponential” growth only give you an idea of how bad it gets.

But, of course, like most “commercial” pieces of software, MoneyDance recently released a new version (I’m never in a hurry to upgrade to anything — even if I’m having minor problems I like to wait and make sure there’s no major regressions).  I did, however, install the update this weekend.

All I have to say is: are you F^(#ing kidding me… how is is possible to make an almost completely broken “feature” worse???

Now the transaction matching not only seems to do a worse job, but it’s on the side now rather than the bottom, so it obscures most of the (wrong) transaction it wants to match to so you have no idea what the F^(# it’s about to screw up…

My personal feeling is that you’re better of using crayons in a drawing book to track your financial records than wasting your time or money on MoneyDance… this has to be one of the absolute worst products I’ve ever seen, and based on the “features” that actually work you can stick with Microsoft Money, a 20 year old version of Quicken, or use a free program like gnucash… or a spreadsheet, because at the end of the day all you’re going to get with MoneyDance that works well enough to trust is a simple ledger.

Needless to say at the end of the year, I won’t be using MoneyDance, and if I can figure out how to get this years financial data out of it I will delete it (of course, this years data has very little value since to really “fix” the issues I’d have to go back and manually re-key everything).

Do before you reach for your credit card; consider saving your money and trying something else.

Originally posted 2011-08-08 02:00:00.

Microsoft Office Accounting 2008

Microsoft has been in the small business accounting for quite some time; originally they expanded Money to have capabilities they hoped would attract small business into the empire, but that didn’t really go very far.  Then they acquired two separate companies… the later of which (Great Plains) was successful before Microsoft acquired them and has continues as “Microsoft Dynamics” into the new millennium.

The Great Plains derived software was a little too serious for small businesses, so Microsoft was still left without much of an entry in that market.

So leveraging off the “Office” branding they created a line of small business software that built on existing technology.

Microsoft Office Accounting 2008 (the current version) is available in both a Professional, and an Express version.  If you’re looking to manage a really small business, don’t need multi users, don’t need your database on a separate machine… then the Express (FREE) version may well be all you need.  However at a street price of less than $80 (full version) and competitive upgrade programs available, the Professional version is attractively priced, so even if you just want to be able to store your data in a massive SQL Server running on the other side of the world, and run the client software in a virtual machine — it’s not going to break the bank.

I haven’t looked at the Professional version, but the Express version comes with some pretty low-rent templates for all your forms; the good news is you use Word to customize them, and it’s fairly straight forward if you’ve ever done mail-merge (or anything involving macros and/or fields) to reproduce the invoice from your previous accounting software (or improve on it).

Microsoft Office Accounting