Study: Ansonians have lowest debt in state

Anson County residents are some of the most responsible in the nation when it comes to managing debt, according to a recent study.

The trend may help with shopping holidays coming up this week, including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

SmartAsset, a financial technology company, found that Anson has the lowest per capita debt in the state, and it ranks 354 nationally.

The study found that the income per capita is $17,091, while credit card debt per capita is $1,079. Auto debt per capita is $3,502 while mortgage debt per capita is $10,280.

Comparatively, Onslow County ranks number 91 in the state and 2198 nationally, with income per capita at $21,583 but credit card, auto and mortgage debt per capita at $2,903, $6,939 and $25,174, respectively.

Mortgage debt as a percentage of income is 60.1 percent, while it is 116.6 percent in Onslow.


Shopping sales may help keep that credit card debt low.

WalletHub looked at 8,000 sales from 35 of the county’s biggest retailer’s Black Friday ads and ranked the top ten biggest average discounts.

The study found that Macy’s will offer the highest overall discounts at a rate of 63.35 percent. Next up is State at 62.81 percent, followed by JCPenny with 62.79 percent offered in average discounts.

Harbor Freight, Gordmans, Kohl’s, Shopko, Fred Meyer, Craft Warehouse and Sears followed as the next best deals. Of the 35 retailers, Lowe’s ranked the lowest, offering 23.52 percent in average discounts.

“The overall average discount for Black Friday is 39 percent,” WalletHub concluded. “Consumers should aim for this discount amount or higher to avoid Black Friday traps.”

If consumers would prefer to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers than compete with crowds for the best deals, they can save their shopping for Small Business Saturday the next day.

Greg Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said that shopping at local businesses rather than big box retailers helps keep the local and state economy healthy.

“NFIB in partnership with American Express and has sponsored Small Business Saturday for about six years now,” Thompson said. “It has grown each year and in North Carolina, and nationwide, about 95 percent of businesses are considered small businesses. Look at Anson or any rural counties in North Carolina. Our counties are made up of small business owners. Those small business owners are the ones who put money back in the community. They’re the ones in high school yearbook ads, or sponsoring Little League teams or local arts program. There are numerous ways of how small business owners give back to the community they care out and live in.”

Thompson said that larger stores can also help their community, but that small businesses tend to better support their communities.

“Small business creates 67 percent of all newly-created jobs,” he said. “Small Business Saturday is a way that the NFIB tries to focus on why when Black Friday is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year, you have tons of ads coming to you, and small business owners can’t afford to put out slick ads and mail out ads and stuff. So we follow with Small Business Saturday to encourage people to go to these boutiques and specialty shops and small businesses to buy gifts they cannot find in big box retailers, and at the same time, helping their own communities. When a person buys locally in a small business, they are, in a way, giving back to their own community.

Thompson said that Christmastime can “make or break” a small business that may rely on those sales.

The federation has about 8,000 members in North Carolina, Thompson said. The businesses include a range of single proprietors up to those with about 300 or 400 employees, but most hire an average of six employees, he said. All are independent business owners.

While shoppers can carefully select where to invest their dollar, even the fiscally-minded Ansonians can also watch how much they spend.

For those who are struggling to manage their finances, SmartAsset offered some advice.

“First, only borrow what you absolutely need,” the company advised. “Second, put yourself on a budget so that you can keep up with your monthly payments. Third, pay as much as you can — don’t just stick to the minimum payment. Lenders offer minimum payments as a guideline but they’re often calibrated to be so low that they leave borrowers paying more interest for a longer period of time. A personal loan should be a short-term solution to a pressing problem, not a long-term source of financial stress. With the proper research ahead of time to compare your personal loan rates and terms, you can ensure you pick the best option for you and your financial situation.”

Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.

ACAP seeks partner to spur consumer finance business

She said that OKCASH had room to grow in lending to SMEs as banks are more cautious, and focused on sustaining their reserves in order to maintain their capital ratios, in keeping with the international regulatory framework for banks (Basel III).

SMEs have demanded increases in working capital to improve their liquidity, while we will be completing our internal restructuring begun in the middle of last year, making us ready to provide working capital to SMEs aggressively, she said.

OKCASH is targeting new loans of more than Bt2 billion this year, up from Bt350 million last year.

ACAP will issue debentures worth Bt2 billion and bills of exchange (B/Es) worth Bt1 billion as raise funds to support the lending target, she said.

The company has to lock in low funding costs via debentures and B/Es before interest rates in the country rise again in the second half of this year, Sugunya added.

She said a major source of revenue for ACAP was Global Service Centre, another subsidiary that offers call-centre and debt-collection services.

Many companies hired Global Service Centre as an outsourcing company to service their customers, which, as a result of the great number of call-centre staff, has an advantage for ACAP in managing debt|collection. The back office of |ACAP is strong enough to deal with bad debt and the company |will aggressively chase lending, she said.

Paul Fain: Working together for financial success

As the year-end approaches, I asked my wife to join me at the kitchen table to review our money history and current financial plan. We discussed the following questions:

What is your grade for the 2015 Fain Financial Plan? (Tina): A because Ive been a very thrifty shopper I never pay full price for anything. (Paul): B because I feel that we overspent, but we did manage to save, to reduce debt, and to replace our health insurance.

What is our familys biggest financial challenge? (Tina): The cost of health care our familys out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed. Im trying to get over my anger about paying more for less. (Paul): Tightening up a spending plan that balances living life with the increased costs of health care and aiding several family members.

What is the best way to teach children financial responsibility? (Tina): Make them pay for their own crap! But seriously, they need to learn from my example. (Paul): Talk. Throughout the year, I talk to them about our familys finances, decisions and changes.

What did your parents teach you about money? (Tina): Money doesnt grow on trees. (Paul): Money doesnt grow on trees.

What is your philosophy about using and managing debt? (Tina): Debt is inevitable for the majority of Americans. You just cant allow yourself to get in a hole. The housing bubble was ridiculous. (Paul): Responsible debt can be leverage to great things such as homeownership or career education.

Do you have a budgeting Achilles heel? (Tina): I dont like to budget. (Paul): Travel. With our familys hectic calendar we struggle to schedule our travel and sometimes it disrupts our budget.

What is your investment philosophy? (Tina): Resist the urge to play big. Every now and then it is OK to take some additional risk but only with money you can afford to lose. I dont like to lose. (Paul): Patience, discipline and simplicity lead to success. Too many investors are swayed by headlines and advertisements that manipulate fear and greed.

What is your vision of retirement? (Tina): Travel. (Paul): In my 60s or 70s, I would love to gradually transition into retirement assuming that my health holds and I remain relevant as a financial adviser.

How do you feel about our estate plan? (Tina): Because my children will read this article, Im leaving everything to Mabel my dog. (Paul): My folks worked hard and saved responsibly. I hope to pass on those values.

What is the best approach for us to work together on our finances? (Tina): Have one person write down the questions and the nonfinancial planner spouse answer them. (Paul): Ha.

Financial goals for 2016? (Tina): Be healthier and assist family. (Paul): Save. Give. Live.

Debt management mistakes to avoid

Most people carry debt, whether it’s a credit card balance or the money they owe on a car loan or home mortgage. Debt is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can become a problem if it gets out of control. The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers tips on avoiding common mistakes in managing debt.

Don’t forget to pay with cash

If you have enough cash to pay for a purchase don’t put it on your credit card. Charging everything is an easy way to spend more than you intended and, in many cases, more than you can afford. Before reaching for the credit card, think about whether you’ve got the dollars you need for the purchase, either in your wallet or in your bank account. If you do, set the credit card aside and save it for bigger-ticket items.

Want to know how to collect share of Chase settlement? It’s in the mail

JPMorgan Chase Co. agreed to reform its unlawful credit card debt-collection practices through the joint state-federal settlement with Attorney General Pam Bondi, 47 other attorneys general, the District of Columbia and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Florida will receive the largest remedial payment of any state in the settlement, Bondi said. In addition to the $4.6 million going to Chase customers, $1.6 million will go to the state’s general revenue fund.

Another $15.3 million will go to 47 nonprofit organizations to be used for legal services, financial literacy, and other programs related to assisting Floridians with managing debt.

The joint state-federal agreement, through an assurance of voluntary compliance with the states and a separate order with the CFPB, follows an investigation into Chase’s past debt collection practices.

The agreement requires Chase to significantly reform its credit card debt-collection practices in areas of declarations, collections litigation, debt sales and debt buying. Debt buying involves the sale of debt by creditors or other debt owners, often for pennies on the dollar, to buyers who then attempt to collect the debt at full value or sell it.

Among other reforms, the agreement requires new safeguards to help ensure debt information is accurate and inaccurate data is corrected, provides additional information to consumers who owe debts, and bars Chase’s debt buyers from reselling consumer debts to other purchasers.

Previously, initial buyers of Chase’s consumer credit card debt could resell the debt, the subsequent buyer could flip the debt to another buyer, and the process could repeat itself many times over.

For collections litigation that was pending between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2014, Chase is also ceasing collection activity on judgments held by Chase and seeking to withdraw, dismiss or terminate any pending litigation matters and will request that credit reporting agencies not report these judgments against borrowers. Chase is required to send notice to affected borrowers that it is ceasing these collection efforts.

Are You Too Broke to Ask for Financial Advice?

Nobody cares about your money as much as you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t receive help managing it. Whether it’s how much money you’re currently spending or how much you’ll need for the future, we all have biases that work against our best interests. A financial advisor can provide a much-needed perspective. The trick is believing you have enough money to seek advice.

Nearly have of Americans think they need a significant nest egg to justify working with a financial advisor. According to a new survey from TIAA-CREF, 45% of respondents say they need at least $50,000 in savings to merit that meeting. Of those who have never received professional financial advice, 63% list “I don’t have enough money to invest” as a reason. Contrary to the adage of men not stopping to ask for directions, men are more likely to ask for financial advice and less likely to say they don’t have enough money to do so.

“Everyone can benefit from financial advice because we all have something we’re working toward — paying off student loans, purchasing a new home, or making sure our loved ones are taken care of when we’re gone,” said Kathie Andrade, EVP and President, Individual Advisory Services at TIAA-CREF, in a press release. “No matter where you are in your savings journey, you don’t have to go it alone. The sooner you engage an advisor, the more likely you are to meet your goals. And an advisor can help you stay on track and adjust when needed. Plan for the future you want.”

Receiving advice from a qualified, trusted financial advisor has several benefits. The survey also finds respondents who meet with an advisor are more confident in their retirement savings plan than those who have not (78% vs 43%). More importantly, they take action to better secure their financial future. In fact, 37% say they changed their asset allocation, 36% increased their savings amount, 32% monitored their savings more frequently, 29% decreased their spending, and 28% established a plan for paying off loans or managing debt.

“Getting financial advice often leads to positive actions — increasing the amount of retirement savings, establishing an emergency fund or developing a plan for paying off debt,” Andrade said. “It’s never too early — or too late, for that matter — to consult with an advisor and put a financial plan in place.”

While respondents indicate life events like receiving an inheritance, selling a home, losing household income or a loved one, or divorce may prompt them to seek financial advice, reaching an arbitrary nest-egg amount of $50,000 should not be included. A separate survey from GOBankingRates finds 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, with people age 35 to 54 the most likely to have a savings balance of $0. If you wait until you reach $50,000 or some other ill-conceived milestone, you could miss out on years and even decades of valuable financial advice.

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Sherrards Solicitors Wins the Double

Sherrards Litigation Department has been awarded Client Choice Litigation Law Firm of the Year by Corporate INTL magazine.

London (PRWEB UK) 4 January 2016

This award follows hot on the heels of success earlier in the year, with the department also winning Most Trusted Litigation Law Firm of the Year in the ACQ Global Awards 2015, capping another successful double, having won both awards last year.

Managing Partner, Alasdair McMillin, comments, Its a great accolade for the firm and, in particular, for the Litigation Department. As a commercial property lawyer, I normally run a mile from litigation, but it is a huge source of comfort to know that, when our clients are in any difficulty, there is no better group of people that I would want protecting them. To see their professionalism and ability recognised like this is thrilling – even if they are litigators!

Paul Marmor, Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution at Sherrards, comments, Its the breadth of experience and calibre of talent that we have that really makes the difference at those key moments – like a tennis match between two top Grand Slam winners, its those few extra percentage points that lead to success. We also place great emphasis on the fact that we are a team, the core of which has been together for over ten years, so we can either operate as lone-wolves, in small groups or in a pack.

Sherrards Litigation team provides a wide range of services. From international disputes, insolvency-related litigation and debt recovery to boardroom disputes and the world of property. More recently, the firm introduced a white-collar crime defence and advisory unit. Our cross-border work includes specialist operations in the USA, Russia, Europe and China, where the firm has cemented its connections with the recruitment of Xueying (Laurel) Zhang to head-up the firms China Desk.

Laurel Zhang: As a Chinese specialist lawyer, I had a choice of firms at which to house my practice, but I chose Sherrards because the combination of their hands-on approach and international capability – be it in real estate, corporate transactions or litigation – made them a perfect fit.

Facts about Litigation in the UK

  • Over half of all matters heard in the Commercial Court of the High Court of Justice involves an overseas party, which is reflected in Sherrards experience.
  • The UK is seen by the international business community as one of the leading jurisdictions of choice for determining disputes, given the strength of the judiciary, the common-lawsystem and the calibre of the legal profession.
  • The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) is one of the worlds leading centres of excellence for arbitration.
  • Sherrards Steven Loble is one of a handful of lawyers mentioned twice in one of the most prestigious legal directories, Chambers Global
  • Sherrards Barney Laurence has been cited in Chambers for the second year running as a lawyer to watch and Paul Marmor is a leading practitioner. Other Litigation partners, Karen Dobson and Rachael McConaghie, have also been cited recently in the Legal 500, alongside Paul and Barney.
  • Sherrards Litigation team contributed to the World Banks Doing Business Report, which grades every country in the world for the ease of doing business – the UK is ranked at number 6 in the world, with Singapore and New Zealand ranked at 1 and 2 respectively. Hannah Jones is accredited by the World Bank for her work.
  • Paul Marmor is the co-chair of the International Bar Association Law Firm Management Committee Business Development Working Group, and is the chair of Legal Recruitment for the Alliott Group.
  • Gemma Newings posts on the Sherrards website on debt recovery and managing debt are among the firms most popular.
  • Sherrards White Collar Crime Unit was established in early 2015, assisting on the pursuit and defence of fraud-related matters and providing corporate Bribery Act advisory services under Simon Morgan, who came from a boutique firm with over 20 years experience.

For more information on the Litigation Services available at Sherrards, please contact Paul Marmor at pdm(at)sherrards(dot)com or by telephone on +44 (0)1727 832830.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

Those New Year’s Resolutions: Home Buying & A College Education

#8 Buy a home

This is the American Dream. Owning your home. Before making a purchase, make sure you carefully consider all the factors surrounding your decision. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate how much you can comfortably afford. Figuring out how owning a home fits into your budget can help you avoid pitfalls.

Fidelity’s Resources:

  • Learn: “How much house can you afford?” and Buy a home or rent?”
  • Figure it out: Calculate how much house you can afford.

#9 Save for your Kid’s College Education

A college education is still a good deal. College graduates earn higher salaries and experience lower levels of unemployment. But it comes with a very high price tag. Start saving while the kid is still in diapers!

Make the most of tax-advantaged accounts, like 529 plans, which let your money grow tax free. It makes a bigger difference than you might think. 529 college savings plan assets are considered parental assets. Because of this they have a low impact on financial aid.

Fidelity Resources:

  • Learn: “Are you saving enough for college?”
  • Figure it out: Decide which college savings option is right for you.
  • Stay on top of it: Set up automatic contributions to a 529 college savings account.

#10 Learn More about Finances

This really should be #1. It’s that important. Listening to us every day helps but you will need to do more on your own.

Getting in good financial shape can pay off. Spending wisely, saving what you can, managing debt, paying bills on time, investing, and having some money tucked away can make you feel good.

And knowing where your money is going may mean more money for you to enjoy the things that are really important to you. You want to feel good about your money no matter where you are in life–whether you are saving for your first home, sending your firstborn to college, or planning for longer-term goals, like retirement.

Fidelity’s Resources:

  • Learn: Sign up for Viewpoints weekly email.
  • Figure it out: Review your spending/saving with our Simple Budget Checkup.
  • Stay on top of it: Manage your finances in one place with Full View

IMF Chief Calls on Nigeria to Raise VAT as Budget Strained

Nigerian authorities should consider raising value-added taxes and removing fuel subsidies to boost revenue and compensate for a plunge in oil prices, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

“Hard decisions will need to be taken on revenue, expenditure, debt and investment going forward,” she said in a speech to lawmakers in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday. The government must “act with resolve by stepping up revenue mobilization,” she said, and possibly raise the VAT rate from 5 percent, which is among the lowest in the world.

The slide in oil prices means the government of Africa’s largest crude producer needs a “fundamental change” in the way it operates and can’t rely on its oil wealth to deliver services, she said. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will need to focus on managing debt, curbing recurrent costs and eliminating fuel subsidies, she said.