On Ease Of Doing Business, PM Modi’s Advice To Bureaucrats

On Ease Of Doing Business, PM Modi's Advice To Bureaucrats

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the remarks at a high-level meeting.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked bureaucrats to improve last mile delivery and focus on streamlining procedures to improve the country’s ‘ease of doing business’ rankings, his office has said.

He also said that besides improving the ease of doing business rankings, it would also increase the ‘ease of living’ for small businesses and the common man.

PM Modi said this was extremely important for India as an emerging and vibrant economy, a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The prime minister made these remarks at a high-level meeting he chaired to review progress of ‘ease of doing business’.

It was attended by senior Union ministers related to economic matters, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal and senior officials from the Centre, and Delhi and Maharashtra governments.

He was briefed on the progress being made on various parameters related to ease of doing business.

Subjects such as construction permits, enforcement of contracts, registering property, starting a business, getting electricity, getting credit, and resolving insolvency came up for discussion.

India’s rise in the World Bank ‘Doing Business’ rankings from 142 to 77, over the last four years, was taken note of, the statement said.

[“source=ndtv”]

Bridge to nowhere? Some doubts on U.S. economy justified, doom and gloom is not

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Wall Street scurrying for the exits? More and more investors apparently see the economy becoming a bridge to nowhere.

Just a few months ago, investors drove the U.S. stock market SPX, -2.33%  to an all-time high. Now they’re scurrying for the off-ramp and showing fresh doubts about economy. Have things really gone south that fast?

Not really.

The economy is forecast to grow at an above-average speed of 2.6% in the fourth quarter, for one thing. Consumer confidence is at a two-decade high. The unemployment rate remains at a 49-year low. And the holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a big one.

Still, some warning signs have emerged.

Home sales have softened after a rise in mortgage rates. Corporate investment has tapered off. Job creation slowed in November. And a festering trade dispute with China and resulting tariffs have raised costs for businesses and consumers.

“It’s becoming clearer by the day that the best days for this economic cycle are behind us,” asserted Scott Anderson, chief economist of Bank of the West.

The sudden shift in perception is forcing the Federal Reserve to reconsider how many times it will raises interest rates in the next year.

Not only does the economy seem a touch more vulnerable than it did a few months ago, a recent upturn in inflation also appears to have crested. The Fed has been gradually raising rates to head off an unwelcome increase in rates, but now the problem seems less urgent.

One sign came last week in a weaker-than-expected November employment report. The economy added just 155,000 new jobs — well below the 190,000 forecast — and the yearly increase in hourly wage growth stood pat at 3.1%.

More evidence might emerge this week. The consumer price index, which tracks the cost of living, could show a flat or even negative reading for the first time in eight months. The annual rate of inflation as measured by the CPI could drop to a nine-month low of 2.2% from 2.5%

Similarly weak readings are likely in other inflation barometers for wholesale U.S. goods and imported products.

What’s a common thread?

Falling oil prices . A surge in petroleum helped fuel an upturn in inflation earlier this year that spurred the Fed to raise U.S. interest rates three times. Now lower oil prices are acting as a brake on inflation.

Lower oil prices CLF9, +1.24%  will probably deliver seemingly disappointing retail sales in November.

Americans spent a lot less filling up at gas stations, making it look like retailers had a bad month. Economists polled by MarketWatch predict a lackluster 0.2% increase.

“Here’s a word of advice on anyone planning to use the November retail sales report as a guide to how the holiday shopping season is going: don’t,” said chief economist Richard Moody of Regions Financial.

[“source=forbes]

CAI trims cotton crop estimate for 2018-19 to 340 lakh bales

The Cotton Association of India on December 7 lowered its November estimate of the cotton crop by three lakh bales to 340.25 lakh bales for the 2018-19 season.

The decline in cotton crop estimate is mainly due to unfavourable weather conditions, CAI said in a statement.

Last month, the association had estimated cotton output at 343.25 lakh bales for the 2018-19 season, which began on October 1.

CAI reduced the crop estimate for Gujarat by three lakh bales, Maharashtra by one lakh bales and Telangana by 1.50 lakh bales.

However, it increased the crop estimate for Haryana by one lakh bales and upper Rajasthan, lower Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh by 50,000 bales each.

The association has projected total cotton supply during October and November at 95 lakh bales, which consists of the arrival of 70 lakh bales up to November 30, imports of two lakh bales and the opening stock at the beginning of the season as on October 1, that the CAI has estimated at 23 lakh bales.

Further, the association has estimated cotton consumption during October and November at 54 lakh bales, while the export shipment of cotton up to November 30, at 10 lakh bales.

The stock at the end of November 2018 is estimated at 31 lakh bales, including 27 lakh bales with textile mills and the remaining four lakh bales estimated to be held by Cotton Corporation Of India (CCI) and others (MNCs, traders, ginners among others).

The total cotton supply till end of the season is estimated at 390.25 lakh bales of 170 kg each, which includes opening stock of 23 lakh bales at the beginning of the season, cotton crop for the season at 340.25 lakh bales and imports of 27 lakh bales, which are estimated to be higher by 12 lakh bales, compared with the import figure of 15 lakh bales estimated for the 2017-18 crop year.

The CAI has estimated domestic consumption for the season at 324 lakh bales, while the exports at 53 lakh bales, which is lower by 16 lakh bales against the exports of 69 lakh bales estimated during last year.

The carry-over stock at the end of the 2018-19 season is estimated at 13.25 lakh bales.

[“source=moneycontrol].

1984 anti-Sikh riots: Supreme Court gives nod to two-member SIT to reopen 186 cases

Large-scale anti-Sikh riots had broken out in Delhi in 1984 after the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi. (File Photo: Reuters)

Large-scale anti-Sikh riots had broken out in Delhi in 1984 after the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi. (File Photo: Reuters)

The Supreme Court has modified its January 11 order and accepted the Central government’s suggestion that the two members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), supervising investigation into 186 cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots of Delhi, can continue with the probe.

The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday (December 3) that it may not be necessary to substitute Rajdeep Singh who had declined to be a part of a three-member SIT supervising further probe into 186 cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, citing personal reasons.

The other two other members – former Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra and serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular – will be continuing the probe in the cases.

The government, on Monday, had told a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that they have no objection if the other two members of the SIT continue with the work.

The bench said that, however, since the January 11 order constituting a three-member SIT was passed by a bench of three-judges, they cannot modify it while sitting in a combination of two judges.

The bench had posted the matter for hearing today.

The top court, on January 11, had constituted a three-member SIT headed by Justice (retired) Dhingra to supervise further probe into the 186 cases, in which closure reports had been filed earlier.

Large-scale riots had broken out in the national capital in the aftermath of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh security guards on the morning of October 31, 1984. The violence had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.

On February 5, the Centre had moved the court requesting it to include former DG-rank officer Navneet Rajan Wasan, who had earlier served as the Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), in the SIT to replace Singh.

Wasan, now retired, is a 1980-batch Andhra Pradesh cadre officer and had also served as Special Director General in the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

During the hearing on Monday, the ASG told the bench that they have suggested the name of former IPS officer Wasan to substitute Singh.

“You cannot choose your own judge. Give two-three names,” the bench told the ASG, who said that the apex court could appoint anybody to substitute Singh.

Senior advocates RS Suri and HS Phoolka, representing the petitioner, said appointing a third member in the SIT might delay the process and the other two members should continue with their work.

On August 16 last year, the Supreme Court had appointed a supervisory panel to examine the earlier SIT’s decision to close 241 cases.

The Centre had said that out of 250 riots cases which were probed by that SIT, closure reports were filed in 241. It said some cases were still being investigated by the SIT, and two by the CBI.

The earlier SIT was headed by Pramod Asthana, an IPS officer of 1986 batch, and had Rakesh Kapoor, a retired district and sessions judge, and Kumar Gyanesh, an additional deputy commissioner of Delhi Police, as its members.

Petitioner S Gurlad Singh Kahlon had earlier told the bench that a total of 293 riot-related cases were taken up for scrutiny by the earlier SIT which had decided to close 199 of them.

Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, had sought the court’s direction for setting up another SIT to ensure speedy justice to the riot victims.

[“source=indiatoday]

One Man’s Mission To Teach More People Of Color How To Code

Photo credit: Pexels.comPixabay

Antoine Patton is on a mission: He wants to teach more people of color to code. His goal is to help 2,020 people learn how to code by the year 2020. Patton wants to increase gender and racial diversity in the tech industry. “If more people of color had easier access to learn how to code, program, project manage…then there would be a lot more people of color in tech,” Patton asserts. “[There would be] a wider pool of people for employers to select from and hence a lot more diversity.” It’s no secret that diversity is lacking in the tech industry. When looking at the demographics, women, Blacks, and Hispanics are grossly underrepresented. One study found that 70.6% of computers programmers in the United States were White. The 2018 diversity report in major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook reflect similar findings. And while it is commonly understood that the STEM field lags behind in this area, it has been difficult for companies to make strides toward increased representation.

Antoine Patton teaching his daughter, Jay Jay, how to code.Antoine Patton

In an effort to close this gap, Patton has made it his mission to teach others how to code, offering free online classes. Patton first learned to code in 2011 while incarcerated. He found a book on JavaScript and began teaching himself. He was then mentored by another inmate who was proficient in computer programming. Patton’s mentor made him promise to pass the knowledge he shared with him onto others once he was released from prison. Patton stayed true to his word and began sharing his knowledge of coding with others. Before becoming the chief technology officer at his software consulting firm, Patton worked at three different tech companies and had over 50 freelance jobs. He teaches the coding courses through an online school he is developing called Unlock Academy. The purpose of Unlock Academy is to teach others about the tech industry and to educate people about the essentials of programming. The coding classes are taught in a live and interactive environment, that allows students to ask questions. After completing the course, the participants are connected with business owners who can provide internship opportunities. Patton is adamant about teaching kids to code at an early age. He taught his 10-year old daughter how to code and she was even able to build an app for him. “When I was released from prison, I started teaching my daughter how to code…my charity had a website but I never got around to building the mobile app. In November 2017, my daughter took the initiative to start building the app and was done building it by February 2018. It was live in the app store by April 2018.”

Research supports the benefits of teaching skills, like coding, at an early age. The Center for Childhood Creativity came out with a 2018 report on the roots of STEM success. The report indicates that an early focus on STEM learning can positively impact a child’s brain architecture and thinking skills. There are also several documented advantages to teaching coding in the classroom. Students who know how to code are better equipped for the technology revolution. In addition, teaching students how to code helps them develop and harness skills that will make them more marketable on their job search. More schools should consider making coding a regular part of the curriculum.

Increasing diversity in the STEM field goes beyond simply hiring and retaining more diverse talent. It starts at an early age. Research indicates that for the majority of scientists, their interest in science began well before middle school. Being able to spark a child’s interest in the STEM field and offer opportunities for them to grow and develop that interest, may be the missing ingredient to fostering more diversity in the tech industry. “It’s important to teach our youth how to code. They will out-consume us when it comes to mobile device usage so it’s critical we start teaching them how this technology they love so dearly is created and maintained…we want them to willingly grab the torch and lead the digital era we live in,” Patton says.

[“source=marketingweek]

9 Bookkeeping Apps Your Small Business Needs to Succeed

One of the most common causes of business failure is inadequate financing. But, let’s be honest, sending out invoices, keeping track of expenses, doing the weekly payroll and filing taxes can be incredibly challenging when your mind is on business growth.

No matter how vital these tasks, they are tedious and can consume more of your time and resources than you would like.

With the following bookkeeping apps, however, you streamline all of your finance tasks so that you can ensure that your business succeeds.

Wave

Since launching in 2010, Wave has been used by more than 2 million small business owners, consultants and freelancers to manage all of their accounting, payroll and invoicing needs. Wave also has a handy receipt scanner and is 100 percent free. And, if you do run into any serious problems, Wave can connect you to a local accountant through it’s ‘Find an Account’ feature.

With the Wave iOS app, you can easily send out an unlimited number of invoices while on the go. As for Android users, the Receipts by Wave app allows you to scan receipts and upload them to the cloud to simplify your business’s record keeping.

FreshBooks

Forbes has stated that FreshBooks is “incredibly user friendly,” and there’s a whole lot of truth to that. The FreshBooks platform gives you the power to create online invoices, capture expenses, track your times on a job, and keep a tab on your cash flow and expenses. If that isn’t enough, FreshBooks comes with award-winning customer support.

The FreshBooks app is free and handles all of the tasks that were just mentioned. One of the best features about the app is that you can work offline and all your information will be synced to the cloud once you’re back online.

Due.com

If you’re looking for a top-notch time tracking and invoicing platform for your business, then Due.com is worth checking out. You can create professional-looking invoices in a snap and manage times by either client, project, or task. What makes Due.com stand out from other time tracking and invoicing tools is it’s design. It’s well-organized and has brightly colored icons so that you can easily view the progress of your work.

The app is free for five clients per month. If you want to integrate with PayPal, set-up recurring payments, and send out unlimited invoices, pricing starts at $3 per month.

You Need a Budget

YNAB was named the 2011 Reader’s Choice Winner for Best Personal Finance Software by About.com because of how efficient it is at helping you make informed spending decisions. With YNAB you can quickly view your budget’s ‘outflow,’ schedule bills and paychecks, and split transactions. YNAB supports most currencies (Dollars, Euros, Pounds, Rupees, Reals, Rands) and has a convenient autosave.

You can download the YNAB app for iOS and Android devices for a free trial. You will have to purchase the software with a one-time payment of $60 following the free trial.

Zenpayroll

If you find payroll and taxes a bit too tedious, then Zenpayroll is one of the best solutions available. Zenpayroll will automate everything from new employee reports, calculate state and federal payroll taxes, and process payroll. You can even use Zenpayroll to track employee sick and vacation time, set up worker’s compensation, and create online payroll forms.

To access Zenpayroll on any device, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $25 plus $4 per employees.

Ebates

Keep on top of the coupons and cash back deals on the products and goods that your business commonly uses to save 3 to 10 percent utilizing the Ebates app.

If your small business or startup purchases supplies from Amazon, for example, the Ebates.com app can notify you or your buyer when discounts are available.

Expensify

As a business owner, there will be plenty of employee expenses that come across your desk. Thankfully, Expensify has developed software that will simplify how expenses are reported and approved. With Expensify, you can capture billable expenses, add cash expenses, scan receipts, and automate duplicate expenses with ease.

There’s a free mobile app for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices.

Neat

Neat is a nifty tool if you’re looking to improve your workflow. This is accomplished by letting you file receipts and invoices in seconds and create tax, spending, and expense reports. And, if you need to pull up a previous invoice or receipt, you can do so in one convenient location.

The app can be used on Android and iOS devices, but you’ll have to purchase the Neat Cloud Service. Plans range from $5.99 to $24.99 per month.

Zoho Books

What can’t Zoho do for your business? The platform can be used for sales and marketing, email collaboration with team members, recruiting, invoicing and expense reporting. Zoho also seamlessly integrates with Google Apps and is an affordable option with plans starting at $12 per user per month.

If you need to manage your business’s finances while on the go, Zoho is available for iOS and Android users. There’s even an app for the brand new Apple Watch!

Which bookkeeping apps do you frequently use to handle your finances?

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

Financial literacy is more than being able to make investment decisions

Last week one AMC approached me to conduct an Investor awareness session for some corporate employees. I love conducting such sessions so there was no point saying no to them. But before every session, I wanted to make sure the exact number of attendees and their work profile, so I requested the mutual fund house to put me in touch with the HR person who will be arranging the complete show.

I called up the HR Guy, and he told me that the participants would be of Senior manager profile with high-income scale and specifically said that almost all are “Financially Literate” persons, so the presentation should be of quality and useful to them.

There was not much I could do on the presentation part as it was a standard one and specifically oriented towards Investments Especially Mutual funds, but I was excited to interact with the Participants, with the kind of profile I was told by the HR person.

It was a small group of around 15 people. All of them were looking quite mature around 45+ kind of age group.

Before I start the session, once again one of them told me that they are “Financially Literate people” and have attended this kind of presentation many times before. So, I should tell something which was not new to them.

This time I told them that when they know themselves so well and even their understanding level is so high, so rather than doing any session lets answer their questions and doubts. All of them agreed.

As expected the set of questions that came out was, what are the other options to save tax besides Section 80C savings? What mutual funds and other Investment options can help them generate maximum returns? They were looking for specific product advise.

Starting with tax savings first, I enquired where they were investing currently to save taxes. To which the common reply came was through a home loan.

Every member of the group was having a home loan, some of them were having two loans. To them it was investment and tax saving both.

I Further asked how many of them feel that their Job is secure and the Income will keep growing like it was in the past. None of them showed their hands this time.

My next question to them was what plans do they have in their mind and arrangements in their finances, to take care of home loan EMIs and family expenses, in case something happens to their Job. What is the Liquidity situation in their Investments profile? How much of emergency fund they have saved? Do they have Independent health insurance cover?

All of them went quiet, but one person got up and said, after all, expenses, and EMI’s there was hardly left for them to save.

Sensing the anxiety in others’ silence, I started explaining them what exactly I wanted to convey.

Friends, financial Literacy does not mean to gain knowledge relating to investments only. Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources.

You have to understand the role of money in your life and impact of each financial decisions on other important aspects of your personal finance.

When you are not sure on your tomorrow’s income, how can you bet on long term housing loans and ensure the regular commitment of EMI payments. Tax saving is one thing but that does not call for getting into a long-term liability.

Investments should not only be looked at from returns perspective only. You need to have a proper understanding of the structure of the product and investment asset class forming the base of that product.

You have to think on all kind of “What if” scenarios and need to have answers to all of them.

When you search for high returns without understanding of your requirements and not having hold onto your cash flows, then you are exposing yourself to misselling or may be mis buying.

And I am sure these real estate investments are the result of the same. When you had bought it at the first place, you must have been pitched with high returns in this asset class, assured rental incomes, plus tax benefits on home loan. All this in combination must have looked like a mouth-watering deal to you.

And now in today’s scenario, when real estate is into a slowdown, with reduction in the tax benefits by government and increasing in family’s expenses with children going into higher classes, you have started feeling the pinch and now finding solutions in “high returns” of equity.

Friends, you should think about long term only after ensuring the short term and emergency requirements.  There is difference in making and continuing Investments. Growth in investments should be looked at along with the liquidity and safety concerns, not just tax saving.

Even if equity markets are going well these days, there’s no surety of it continue giving the same returns always. Long term equity returns are better than other investment asset classes but only if you stay invested for that long-time frame.

And all this requires understanding of your cash flow positions, your responsibilities, your goals, your risk tolerance, your taxation profile and not just your returns expectation.

Knowing all these things and the decisions you make for the betterment of life and achievement of goals will decide the wellness in your life. But when you limit your understanding to only investments than you are not doing justice to the financial Literacy levels.

So at the end, I would like to say, stop searching for best products and never invest in anything just from tax saving perspective, but strive for a good life with better suited products and keep learning to be a wise investor.

[“Source-moneycontrol”]a

The No-Fear Guide To Getting Your First Credit Card

As countless headlines will tell you, my generation is waiting longer to get credit. The debt collection industry is on our hit list of beloved Boomer relics to kill, right behind Applebee’s, sex and the Toyota Scion.

This was never the case with me. I opened a credit card at 25, after years of pining for that rite of passage, the way late bloomers yearn to hit puberty.

I know people whose parents opened credit cards in their names while they were still in middle school; their credit grew for years — gradually, safely, without their knowledge. What fun! I imagine they all hang out together now, in whatever exclusive club bounces patrons with credit scores lower than 700.

But for many, that first credit card is such a high barrier to entry; annoyingly and paradoxically, you need credit to be able to build credit. And even if you do already have a credit history, the application process itself is often maddeningly opaque.

Shutterstock

I put out the bat signal to a number of credit card experts and people my age who made it over the no-credit hump: How do you go about getting your first card? We’ve cobbled together a step-by-step guide to success. In the words of Leslie Nielsen from “Airplane!”: “Good luck. We’re all counting on you.” (You’ll do fine.)

1. What To Look For In Your First Credit Card

First of all, congratulations on this, your first foray into a complicated financial system that our parents were able to mindlessly navigate. Luckily, the first step in the process is also the most fun and least stressful: researching which credit card you want. You get to judge the credit card issuers before they judge you.

The best card for you will ultimately depend on your unique financial situation, but there are some broad-strokes principles that apply to pretty much everyone.

Here is a checklist of the non-negotiables you should look for in your first credit card:

No Annual Fees

Now is as good a time as ever to start getting indignant about paying money to spend your own money. (This rule also applies to ATMs, checking accounts and splitting meals evenly in a large group when you just had a salad on the side of your water.)

“Perhaps one day you’ll opt for a card that offers lots of perks, points and benefits in exchange for an annual fee, but now is not that time,” said Han Zeng, cofounder of InvestmentZen, a personal finance and investment news site. “You’ll have enough on your plate as you work toward building your credit history. Don’t complicate the matter further”

A Low Interest Rate

OK, so some level-setting: If this is your first credit card ever, it is likely that you have a low credit score or no credit at all. Because of this, you can’t expect to come out of the gate with a card that has an amazing interest rate.

That said, you should still be price-shopping cards by their annual percentage rates — the interest you’ll be charged on the balance you don’t pay off each month. For one, a lower rate is a lower rate, and this will matter if you ever need to carry a balance. (The dream, of course, is that you never will — that your credit card spending will be as judicious as if potential mates were monitoring it. But life sometimes happens.)

Second, comparing APRs will weed out out the really bad actors — the companies that know you’re shopping around with your lousy credit and are hoping to take you for a ride. Beware a much higher-than-average APR.

Here’s a good thing to know: the current average credit card rate. (Just Google that phrase — you’ll be greeted with countless websites aching to tell you.) According to Bankrate, as of early March 2018, the average APR for credit cards is 16.84%. Again, your first card’s rate will probably be higher than that, depending on your credit score — mine was in the mid-20s.

No Store Cards

Speaking of astronomical interest rates, stay away from retail cards, no matter how many times they’re offered to you at checkout.

“Retail cards — such as Target, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy — are much easier to get than bank credit cards, but beware: These come with much higher interest rates,” said Holly Morphew, a certified financial health counselor and founder of Financial Impact.

Here’s something that isn’t in the big print on store card advertisements: Retail cards aren’t some magical variety of credit card — they’re just normal cards from normal banks. There is no Bank of Macy’s or Bank of Sunglass Hut.  The store partners with a financial institution you’ve probably already heard of, maybe even one that’s already turned you down; the retailer gets your business, and the bank works out the particulars, usually at a higher interest rate.

Catered Perks

Might as well try, right? The well can be fairly dry for first-time borrowers, but depending on your current credit score, you could qualify for a card that offers you cash-back, airline miles or other benefits.

And, obviously, if you’re in a position to choose among perks, you want the ones that best meet your spending profile, which you know better than anyone. Make sure you go through the fine print on a credit card’s rewards carefully, though; often, a card will offer rotating perks that change monthly or quarterly.

Incentives For Good Behavior

“Look for a card that rewards good behavior,” said Andrew Housser, a consumer finance specialist and co-CEO of Freedom Debt Relief. “Some cards offer a bonus each month when the bill is paid on time. Some offer a waived first late-payment fee, which should never have to be utilized in the first place; others offer no foreign transaction fees … which can be helpful for someone who often travels internationally.”

2. How To Apply (And Not Get Rejected)

If you’re just starting to build credit, you will probably get rejected — maybe even several times — in your quest to open a credit card. That’s fine, and it happens to many people.

Much like being bad at money in general, your temporary inability to get a credit card is not a moral failing.

That said, there are a number of things you can do to raise your chances of getting accepted — and keeping your credit score from dipping during the application process.

Check Your Credit Score Monthly

As tempting as it is to avoid the hairy truth of your financial situation, you need to know exactly what kind of credit you’re dealing with. This will help you calibrate your expectations for what tier of card you can apply for, and it’s also just a smart habit to develop; if you check your score regularly, you’ll be better positioned to triage it, if necessary. Plus, you’ll be able to spot and report any fraud as soon as it occurs.

It’s a good idea to always have a free, direct line into your credit score; you should be able to pull out your phone and check it at any time, within a month’s accuracy. And this is a pretty reasonable goal — many budgeting apps and bank accounts offer free credit score monitoring.

At the very least, pull your credit report as often as you can do it for free.

“Each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — is required to provide consumers a credit report once a year,” Housser said. That means you can pull a free report once every four months.

Important: annualcreditreport.com is the official, government-recognized website for pulling said credit reports. Almost any other site you find by Googling “free credit reports” will end up charging you money, no matter how much the word “free” is in the branding — take it from someone who once worked for one of them.

Apply For A Card That’s Within Your Credit Range

“The best tip I have to avoid getting rejected is to only apply for the cards you’re qualified for,” Lisa Rowan, a writer and savings expert at The Penny Hoarder, told me. “Generally, credit cards are designed to meet the needs of specific kinds of applicants. For example, some cards are for those who have an excellent credit score (750-plus) while others are designed for those who are still improving their credit scores.”

So, basically: Be realistic, not aspirational. Don’t get lured into applying for a preferred card with fantastic perks for which you have very little hope of getting accepted. There’s no essay portion in a credit card application — no way to demonstrate your unquantifiable value to an issuer. If your credit doesn’t qualify, it doesn’t qualify.

There are a number of good-faith, third-party review websites out there that will tell you the ideal credit score ranges for specific cards. Before you apply, look up this range — and if you don’t fall within it, keep looking.

Don’t “Spray And Pray”

“Each time you apply for a new line of credit, your credit score drops — if you have one — about 10 to 15 points for about one to two months,” Morphew said. “You can get around this by doing all your ‘shopping’ within a 30-day period. By doing this, your credit score is only impacted one time.”

Be intentional and realistic. You’ve done your research on the credit cards you want and you know roughly what you qualify for; time to pick your best bet. Don’t apply for more than one card at a time; wait till you get rejected to apply to your second choice.

Try Your Luck With Legacy Connections

Consider looking at a financial institution that already has some of your business — you could be grandfathered into a credit card account, based on how reliable a customer you’ve been for them.

“Start by going to where you bank to apply for your first credit card,” Morphew said. “Since you have no credit history, they can evaluate your ‘risk’ by looking at your bank accounts. How long you have had your account open, history of overdrafts and average balance will be factored into their decision to give you a line of credit.”

Do this in person — an online application might not give you the opportunity to note that you’re already a customer — and don’t pin all your hopes on this. In my experience, banks and credit unions will indeed take sides against the family if your credit is that bad.

List Multiple Sources of Income

Credit card issuers like to see that you make a steady stream of income — and, unfortunately, size matters. This means freelancers and lower-income applicants will have a tougher time getting approved, especially if they don’t have credit.

There’s no way around this, but you should make sure that you’re reporting all applicable sources of income — you’re allowed to calculate more than just your base salary into the final amount you put down.

“State your income accurately,” Housser said. “Along with reporting salary/employment income, applicants over 21 generally can also list non-employment sources such as investments, spousal and child support, retirement benefits and government benefits.”

Additionally, as of 2013, a married person can also include a spouse’s income — as long as there is a reasonable expectation of access to it. (Thank our beleaguered brothers at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for that one.)

3. What To Do If You Get Rejected

Chin up. Remind yourself of your good qualities outside of your creditworthiness.

But also: You now basically have two viable options for moving forward.

Wait And Build Credit Another Way

Option one: You are free to diminish, and go into the West, and work on building your credit through other methods. Then, in a year or so, you’ll apply again with a better chance of getting accepted. Think of this as your gap year.

There are several ways you can build credit without ever going near a credit card application:

  • Are you the person who got stuck paying the utilities in your house or apartment? You might be able to get credit for that. Make sure they’re in your name and that you’re paying them on time. (That second part is just garden-variety good advice, if only to avoid getting disgruntled calls from your power company.)
  • Consider opening a credit builder loan.
  • Do you have auto, personal or student loans? Those all count toward a history of repayment.
  • Can your parents add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards? This is probably the easiest way to get a good credit score without doing a single thing. Side note: It doesn’t benefit your parents at all, and only opens them up to risk, so: Tell them to form an orderly queue.

Get A Secured Card

If you don’t want to wait a year or so before your second attempt, great news: There is a type of card for which everyone is qualified, regardless of credit history. It’s called a secured card, and it comes with one catch.

“You give the credit card company a certain amount of money — say $300,” Morphew explained. “In exchange, they give you a $300 credit card which is secured with your $300, which they have put in an account to hold for you until you have established you are a responsible card holder — meaning, you pay on time each month. After a period of time, usually 12 months, your bank will give you back the original $300 and you now have a line of credit.”

If you’ve exhausted all other avenues, a secured card is the way to go. You’ll have a card immediately that will effectively function like a checking account, you’ll get to build credit for a year and your bank will, at some point, transfer you to a non-secured credit line, elevating you to the ranks of cardholders everywhere.

4. How To Use Your First Credit Card To Build Credit

Once your application for a credit card is, at long last, accepted, it’s time for your “Pretty Woman” moment. Those other issuers that didn’t want to give your cruddy credit a chance? Big mistake. Huge. You’re going shopping now.

Actually, you’re just going to be putting one or two monthly bills on your card and setting up automatic payments to clear the balance every month. The best revenge is an ascendant credit score.

It’s not hard to build credit once you have a card; most of being good at credit is biding your time, paying bills relatively promptly and keeping your debt down.

To get more technical, FICO scores — which are the industry standard for lenders — use five factors to calculate your credit; your job for the life of this credit card is to do your best to stay on top of them.

Here they are, in order of priority:

  • Payment history (35%): On-time payments make up more than a third of your credit score, which means missing even one can put you in a deep hole. At the very least, make minimum payments each month. If your checking account is replenished often, set up an automatic payment schedule. The more mindless it is for you to stay on top of this bill, the better.
  • Amounts owed (30%): This factor largely has to do with your credit utilization ratio, which is how much of your credit limit you’ve used up and not paid off. The easiest way to get full marks in this category is to pay off your balance every month; if you can’t do that, try not spend more than 30% of your available credit.
  • Length of credit history (15%): To be honest, there’s nothing you can do about this except wait patiently. FICO scores are weighted toward people who have been using credit longer, and you just got your first credit line. Let the inexorable passage of time do its work.
  • Credit mix (10%): This is one example where you might know what’s better for you than a credit scoring conglomerate. FICO privileges people with different types of credit — both revolving (that would be this credit card) and installment (auto loans, student loans, mortgages, etc.). If all you have or need right now is a credit card, that’s fine; there is no universe where you should take on debt just to raise your credit score.
  • New credit (10%): FICO keeps a tab on how many new accounts you open, as well as hard inquiries. Keep it simple: Stick with the one credit card for now.

Building credit is mostly about forming good money habits: Don’t spend more than you can pay off, keep credit available for emergencies and circle payment due dates on your calendar. The rest should, hopefully, take care of itself.

Follow me on Twitter for money tips and personal financial mishaps that I’m passing off as teachable moments. You can also find more writing at my site, On We Blindly Stumble.

[“Source-forbes”]

Rockefeller Jewelry Collection to Lead Christie’s June Sale

Rockefeller Jewelry Collection to Lead Christie's June Sale

The Berlin Ruby Ring, a Burmese Ruby and Diamond Ring by Tiffany & Co., of approximately 4.59 carats, Estimate: $400,000 -600,000
(Courtesy: Christie’s)

On June 12, Christie’s New York auction house will sell a collection of jewelry belonging to Peggy and David Rockefeller. The money raised in the auction, “Magnificent Jewels,” will benefit the charities the Rockefeller’s regularly supported.

The auction house said that the top lots of the sale include a Cushion-Cut Diamond weighing 20.47 carats that is D color, Flawless clarity (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000), and a Magnificent Diamond Fringe Necklace set with large colorless pear shaped diamonds ranging from D to F color and Internally Flawless to VS2 clarity (estimate: $1,500,000-2,000,000). The highlight of the auction is a notable selection of diamonds, colored diamonds, and gemstones, along with important signed pieces by Bulgari, Cartier, David Webb, Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co., Raymond Yard, and Van Cleef & Arpels. The sale will offer 189 lots, with estimates ranging from $3,000 to $3,500,000.

According to auction house, “the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller have some unique signed jewels for the collectors. The proceeds of the sale will benefit the philanthropies that Peggy and David Rockefeller supported throughout their lifetime. The most important pieces are from Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., Raymond Yard and Van Cleef & Arpels, incorporating gemstones of the highest quality as well as great design.”

Apart from the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection, additional private collections consisting of many pieces new to the market, will also be put for auction. These pieces are the Property from the Collection of Steve and Peggy Fossett, the Estate of Ruth S. Stanton, and Property Formerly from the collection of Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The auction will also have a selection of Art Nouveau jewelry led by several rare pieces by Rene Lalique, as well as The Berlin Ruby Ring, a Burmese Ruby and Diamond Ring by Tiffany & Co., of approximately 4.59 carats, given by the American composer and lyricist, Irving Berlin, to his wife Ellin in 1966 upon their 40th wedding anniversary.

[“Source-blouinartinfo”]

Jewelry We Hope to See at the Royal Wedding — Straight From Queen Elizabeth’s Collection

<p>After receiving an aquamarine necklace and pair of earrings from the president and people of Brazil in honor of her coronation, the Queen had Garrard amp Co., the former Crown Jeweler of the United Kingdom, make this matching tiara in 1957. She’s continued to update it through her reign, adding even more aquamarines and diamonds to the (already stacked) piece.</p>

After receiving an aquamarine necklace and pair of earrings from the president and people of Brazil in honor of her coronation, the Queen had Garrard amp Co., the former Crown Jeweler of the United Kingdom, make this matching tiara in 1957. She’s continued to update it through her reign, adding even more aquamarines and diamonds to the (already stacked) piece.

<p>Weighing nearly 19 carts, this diamond is shaped like a heart and is surrounded by a platinum web that ends in a border of pavé diamonds. It was originally part of a stomacher designed for Queen Mary in 1911.</p>

Weighing nearly 19 carts, this diamond is shaped like a heart and is surrounded by a platinum web that ends in a border of pavé diamonds. It was originally part of a stomacher designed for Queen Mary in 1911.

<p>The Delhi Durbar was India’s answer to a coronation, a massive gathering to celebrate the succession of a new Emperor or Empress of India. And just like at a coronation, there are jewels aplenty – including this diamond-and-emerald necklace made for Queen Mary for the event.</p>

The Delhi Durbar was India’s answer to a coronation, a massive gathering to celebrate the succession of a new Emperor or Empress of India. And just like at a coronation, there are jewels aplenty – including this diamond-and-emerald necklace made for Queen Mary for the event.

<p>This item is a sentimental one for the Queen – she wore it at her 1947 wedding to Prince Philip. And it’s as fragile as it appears: On the Queen’s wedding day, it broke before the ceremony and had to be quickly repaired for wear.</p>

This item is a sentimental one for the Queen – she wore it at her 1947 wedding to Prince Philip. And it’s as fragile as it appears: On the Queen’s wedding day, it broke before the ceremony and had to be quickly repaired for wear.

<p>This brooch features diamonds, rubies and sapphire “flowers” and was a gift to the Queen from her parents following the birth of Prince Charles in November 1948.</p>

This brooch features diamonds, rubies and sapphire “flowers” and was a gift to the Queen from her parents following the birth of Prince Charles in November 1948.

<p>Originally purchased for the future Queen Mary by a committee of girls from Great Britain and Ireland to celebrate her 1893 wedding, this tiara is now a staple in Queen Elizabeth’s rotation – many even say it’s her favorite. It’s been through many changes in its life: There were originally pearls on top of the points, which now are a part of the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, and it can be worn both with or without a base. The Queen received the tiara as a wedding gift from her grandmother in 1947.</p>

Originally purchased for the future Queen Mary by a committee of girls from Great Britain and Ireland to celebrate her 1893 wedding, this tiara is now a staple in Queen Elizabeth’s rotation – many even say it’s her favorite. It’s been through many changes in its life: There were originally pearls on top of the points, which now are a part of the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, and it can be worn both with or without a base. The Queen received the tiara as a wedding gift from her grandmother in 1947.

<p>This diamond-and-pearl tiara is a relic of a lost monarchy: It originally belonged to Grand Duchess Vladimir, the aunt of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia. She was temporarily separated from the tiara after fleeing St. Petersburg during the Russian Revolution, but was reunited with the piece a few years later when a British Secret Intelligence Service member rescued her jewels from Russia. After all that, she gave the tiara to her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, who sold it to Queen Mary after her mother’s passing. When Mary died, the Queen inherited it – and still wears it today.</p>

This diamond-and-pearl tiara is a relic of a lost monarchy: It originally belonged to Grand Duchess Vladimir, the aunt of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia. She was temporarily separated from the tiara after fleeing St. Petersburg during the Russian Revolution, but was reunited with the piece a few years later when a British Secret Intelligence Service member rescued her jewels from Russia. After all that, she gave the tiara to her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, who sold it to Queen Mary after her mother’s passing. When Mary died, the Queen inherited it – and still wears it today.

<p>Also known as the Cullinan III and Cullinan IV, these two stones weigh a massive 94.4 and 63.6 carats respectively, and held together, they make a brooch. Since they were frequently worn by Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother, they earned the nickname Granny’s Chips.</p>

<p>This piece was created way back in 1820 for the coronation of King George IV. Now, people may recognize it from the State Opening of Parliament – Queen Elizabeth wears it in the procession to the event every year.</p>
This piece was created way back in 1820 for the coronation of King George IV. Now, people may recognize it from the State Opening of Parliament – Queen Elizabeth wears it in the procession to the event every year.
<p>A tiara was commissioned by the Queen herself to go with this set of earrings, pendant and necklace given to her by her father as a wedding present. The original suite was created in 1850, but the tiara – and a matching bracelet – were not added to the set until 1963.</p>
A tiara was commissioned by the Queen herself to go with this set of earrings, pendant and necklace given to her by her father as a wedding present. The original suite was created in 1850, but the tiara – and a matching bracelet – were not added to the set until 1963.
<p>This diamond-and-ruby necklace with floral detailing was another wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth from her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (and all your parents got you was a blender). It was frequently worn by the Queen in her younger years.</p>
This diamond-and-ruby necklace with floral detailing was another wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth from her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (and all your parents got you was a blender). It was frequently worn by the Queen in her younger years.
<p>This oversized brooch features diamonds set in silver and gold, formed in a bow shape, and is another piece from Queen Mary’s collection that Queen Elizabeth inherited after her death in 1953.</p>
This oversized brooch features diamonds set in silver and gold, formed in a bow shape, and is another piece from Queen Mary’s collection that Queen Elizabeth inherited after her death in 1953.
<p>This Cartier-crafted piece was given to Queen Elizabeth, again as a wedding present, by a dignitary. It was most recently seen on Princess Kate during an event at the National Portrait Gallery in London.</p>
This Cartier-crafted piece was given to Queen Elizabeth, again as a wedding present, by a dignitary. It was most recently seen on Princess Kate during an event at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
<p>This piece is a stomacher – best described as an enlarged brooch worn on the front of a dress. Queen Mary handed it down to her granddaughter, then-Princess Elizabeth, as a wedding present back in 1947, although due to changing fashions, the entire stomacher is rarely worn nowadays.</p>
This piece is a stomacher – best described as an enlarged brooch worn on the front of a dress. Queen Mary handed it down to her granddaughter, then-Princess Elizabeth, as a wedding present back in 1947, although due to changing fashions, the entire stomacher is rarely worn nowadays.
<p>This three-carat diamond solitaire ring may be impressive for an engagement ring, but for the Queen it’s pretty small compared to the other gems in her collection. However, it has impressive origins: The diamonds in the ring were taken from a tiara owned by Philip’s mother, Princess Alice.</p>
This three-carat diamond solitaire ring may be impressive for an engagement ring, but for the Queen it’s pretty small compared to the other gems in her collection. However, it has impressive origins: The diamonds in the ring were taken from a tiara owned by Philip’s mother, Princess Alice.
<p>This star-like diamond with strings of diamonds attached was made for Queen Victoria in 1856 by Garrard amp Co. from diamonds she had been given by the Sultan of Turkey. The brooch has been worn by every Queen that has followed her, including the Queen Mother and of course, Queen Elizabeth.</p>
This star-like diamond with strings of diamonds attached was made for Queen Victoria in 1856 by Garrard amp Co. from diamonds she had been given by the Sultan of Turkey. The brooch has been worn by every Queen that has followed her, including the Queen Mother and of course, Queen Elizabeth.
<p>At the center of this floral brooch is the Williamson Diamond – one of the most precious pink diamonds in the world. This, like many other pieces in her collection, was a wedding present for Queen Elizabeth, given to her by the man who discovered it, Dr. John Thoburn Williamson. It wasn’t for another six years, however, that it was placed in the brooch – and before it was, many guessed it would be mounted for the Queen’s coronation.</p>
At the center of this floral brooch is the Williamson Diamond – one of the most precious pink diamonds in the world. This, like many other pieces in her collection, was a wedding present for Queen Elizabeth, given to her by the man who discovered it, Dr. John Thoburn Williamson. It wasn’t for another six years, however, that it was placed in the brooch – and before it was, many guessed it would be mounted for the Queen’s coronation.
[“Source-people”]