Financial plans on track? Residents, see how you compare

“Financial stressors occur early and often during residency,” wrote Denise S. Friday, vice president of AMA Insurance, a subsidiary of the AMA. “From staggering debt loads to low salaries and long hours, residents face a complex personal financial situation now and into the near future. This is especially true of the nearly half of residents who are already married and a quarter who have already started their families.”

Despite their own perceptions of not being financially prepared, 73 percent of respondents said they were not using a professional financial advisor. More than one-third said this was due to lack of time. Nearly a quarter said the service was too costly, 15 percent said they hadn’t found a trustworthy professional, 14 percent would rather take the do-it-yourself approach and the remainder offered other reasons.

5 moves to make now

Residents shouldn’t “try to take on a whole personal financial checklist at once,” said Allan Phillips, financial advisor with Taylor Wealth Solutions. “Instead, strive to make sound decisions in a few key areas.”

Taylor Wealth Solutions is a member of the AMA Insurance Physicians Financial Partners program, launched in 2011 to give doctors access to a nationwide network of independent, local and experienced professionals who have undergone a comprehensive due-diligence process by AMA Insurance.

Phillips recommended making these your first steps:

Secure the most important kinds of insurance. These include disability, life and umbrella liability insurance. For example, employers might provide a good base amount of disability income insurance, but if you were to become disabled now with only that policy, you may be frozen at, say, 60 percent of a resident’s salary instead of a practicing physician’s salary.

Evaluate debt in context. Despite being a top concern, paying off medical school loans as quickly as possible should not necessarily be the top priority. Instead, Phillips suggests saving 15 percent of one’s income in an emergency fund, prioritizing paying down the debt with the highest interest rates, including mortgages, car loans and consumer debt.

Establish a realistic budget. Once you have insurance and an emergency fund in place, Phillips recommends striving to save 15 to 20 percent of your gross income for long-term wealth building. He also suggests limiting mortgage payments to 15 percent of your gross income, taking full advantage of employers’ 401(k) or 403(b) matched retirement contributions, and considering funding a Roth IRA, which is a post-tax retirement account that allows for more flexible access to funds before retirement.

Find a professional financial advisor. This can help you with budgeting, managing debt, securing the right kinds of insurance and establishing savings. You also will learn how to establish strong financial habits early on and come to understand what a realistic lifestyle will look like.

Get support with employment contracts. The cardinal rule is to not sign a contract you do not understand. The AMA provides a library of resources to help residents with employment contracts. In addition, your state medical society may be able to refer you to a trusted attorney, and physician mentors may have insights about issues they encountered with their contracts.

Budget, budget, budget

The report also features practical and philosophical advice from established physicians on saving, spending and work-life balance. In addition, it features numerous links to additional resources tailored to residents, including expert advice on managing medical school loans, refinancing student loans and developing repayment strategies.

The AMA’s Career Planning Resource provides guidance on a variety of resident-life topics, such as understanding disability insurance and evaluating policies, building short-term savings and buying versus renting a home.

Editor’s note: AMA Insurance does not provide financial planning or investment advisory services, and Taylor Wealth Solutions is not affiliated with the AMA. Taylor Wealth Solutions offers insurance products through Taylor Financial Corp. Securities offered through Taylor Securities Inc. (member FINRA/SIPC).

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Australians lacking in financial education, survey finds

ASIC’s MoneySmart site offers free information and financial advice for Australians across a range of fields: credit, borrowing, superannuation, retirement, investing and even potential scams.

The corporate regulator aims to improve the money knowledge of all Australians and empower their decision making, according to Laura Higgins, ASIC’s senior manager, financial capability.

“Knowing how to manage your money and make financially sound decisions is one of the most important skills in everyday life,” Ms Higgins said.

“Financial capabilities impact the daily decisions Australians make including balancing a budget, buying a home, funding their children’s education and ensuring an income at retirement.”

Ms Higgins said changes to technology and the financial landscape can make it hard for Australians to keep on top of the latest financial information, while factors such as life stage, gender, household composition, income and attitudes towards money can also play a role in people’s outcomes.

“It’s important that Australians are well informed to ensure they have the financial skills and knowledge to understand budgeting, saving and managing debt,” Ms Higgins said.

Originally published as Aussies behind on financial knowledge

EMIR Exemptions for Central Banks in Six Countries

The European Commission published a report on the international treatment of Central Banks and public entities managing public debt with regard to OTC derivatives transactions. The European Market Infrastructure Regulation imposes clearing, reporting and risk mitigation obligations for derivatives. EU central banks and EU public bodies managing public debt are exempt from EMIR. The European Commission may exempt central banks and public bodies managing public debt from other countries following analysis of the international treatment of the relevant entities in a particular country. In the first of these reviews conducted in 2013, the Commission added central banks and public bodies responsible for the management of debt in the United States and Japan to the list of exempted bodies through a Commission Delegated Regulation.

The Commission has concluded in its second report that central banks and public bodies managing debt in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore and Switzerland should also be exempt from certain parts of EMIR. These new exemptions will come into effect once the new Commission Delegated Regulation is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Commission will continue to monitor the progress of other countries in implementing similar requirements for OTC derivatives.

View the Commissions report.

Study: Hattiesburg residents best at managing debt

A recent financial study shows Hattiesburg residents are the best in Mississippi at keeping their debt in check.

The study, conducted by SmartAsset — a New York financial tech company — shows Hattiesburg has the highest debt-savvy index in the state at 37.64. The Hub City is followed in the study by Columbus (37.61), Biloxi (33.99), Meridian (24.78), Jackson (10.59) and Greenwood (9.27).

SmartAsset is a financial tech company, offering automated advice on a range of big personal finance decisions from home buying to retirement, said Steve Sabato, senior public relations associate at SmartAsset. We aim to provide the best financial advice on the web through data and technology.

Albany Realtors to collect Toys for Tots

Miliner graduated magna cum laude from VSU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Representing Valdosta, she was crowned Miss Georgia in 2006 and went on to place as second runner-up in the 2007 Miss America pageant. She was named Miss Georgia USA later that year, making her the first Georgian to hold both the Miss America and Miss USA state titles.

Miliner currently works as an instructional coach at Miller Elementary School in Warner Robins.

“Amanda is an exemplary teacher and role model for thousands of students,” said Dr. Brian L. Gerber, VSU’s interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “We are proud to welcome her back to her alma mater. We know that she will be an inspiration to our graduates. Clearly, she is an example of why VSU is the right choice for those seeking to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of others.”

Approximately 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students will be recognized during Valdosta State’s 222nd commencement ceremonies on Dec. 9 and 10.

Attorney General offers app to help avoid scams

ATLANTA – Attorney General Chris Carr has announced the release of Basic Training, a free mobile app designed to help Georgia-based military service members, veterans and their families be more informed consumers and avoid scams and predatory business techniques.

“Unscrupulous businesses consistently use deceptive practices to take advantage of military service members, veterans and their families,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “That is something the Georgia Attorney General’s Office will not tolerate. As a proactive measure through our Consumer Protection Unit, we are very pleased to offer the Basic Training app, which aims to support Georgia’s military community and equip them with the educational tools they need to be safe and smart with their personal information.”

The Basic Training app guides users through key consumer and financial issues, including buying a car; creating a budget and saving for a goal; recognizing and avoiding scams, fraud and deceptive practices; lowering the risk of identity theft and knowing what to do if your identity is stolen; understanding credit reports, credit scores and how to use credit cards wisely; understanding your protections under the Military Lending Act; understanding the true cost of payday loans and title pawns; improving credit and managing debt, and knowing what debt collectors can and cannot do under the law.

Basic Training was created through the efforts of the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit and Georgia Watch. It is available in the app stores now and can also be downloaded directly by visiting www.consumer.ga.gov/app.

Driver Services gets grant funding for upgrades

ATLANTA — Georgia Department of Driver Services was recently awarded grant funding totalling $376,961 from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for ongoing support of the State of Georgia Electronic Conviction Processing System. GECPS provides a secure, electronic transmission of conviction data from Georgia courts to meet a federally mandated timeframe for posting convictions to individual driving records within 10 days of adjudication.

“This continued funding from GOHS allows us to maintain DDS’ Court Outreach efforts,” said Commissioner Bert Brantley. “The training and support DDS provides to nearly 900 courts statewide is crucial to ensuing the timeliness and accuracy of conviction data being posted to a driver’s driving record,” said Commissioner Brantley.

GECPS requires each court to submit convictions in a standard format, and then correct and resubmit any convictions containing errors. To date 887 courts (up from 869 when the project began earlier this year) have adopted the GECPS process, which is a cost-saving application for the State and DDS customers.

This grant will allow DDS to ensure that these courts have an understanding of the functionality of GECPS and help the remaining courts who file paper citations convert over to the electronic system.

For complete driver services information, including the option to view personal driving history and check for points, visit the DDS website at www.dds.ga.gov.

Should I go for a home loan or wait for rates to come down?

The best time for taking a home loan is when you have already shortlisted a house you want to buy. Waiting for interest rates to come down is an exercise in futility because your home loan is for a long period and rates are bound to fluctuate. A smart borrower will troll the market for the best deal.

There are many home loan plans available in the market. Different banks offervariouskinds of home loan options. Currently, all the banks across India are offering home loans at the rate of 10.15% to 10.5%per annumin all range of loan amounts.

People equipped with relevant information about home loans, banks, interest options and EMIs are the ones to make best choices while selecting a loan. Let’s look at a broad guideline for a buyer going for home loan:

What is the best time to take a home loan?

Predicting the rise or fall of interest rate is difficult, therefore, the time to take home loan should instead depend on nature of the loan. As a customer, one needs to understand that there are two types of loans- fixed and floating. However, majority of the people opt for floating rates in case of home loans. The reason being, a home loan is generally taken for a period of 15-20 years. Since, timing the market for 20 years to get the best rate is impossible, it is advisable to go for floating rates as they ensure that a borrower gets the advantage of interest rates coming down in near future. Also, rates in next 20 years will change and thus boarding rate at floating rates doesn’t matter.

So what does matter?

Taking loans at the lowest interest rate is what matters at the end. A buyer needs to be extra cautious while selecting the type of loan and the bank. He has to be updated with the rise and fall of the interest rates, so that he is not charged at higher rates even when there is a cut in the interest rates. Primarily, you should have clarity on two basic things: a) Is your Bank or Housing Finance Company giving you best deal in terms of rates currently? b) Do you have the options to move to another lender if your existing Bank is charging higher?

In case both the terms are satisfactory, one should go for lowest rate bank and whenever another bank is giving 0.5% lesser rate, should shift to that bank. However, do not forget to check the processing charges while shifting banks. Likewise, you should try to fetch loans from the lowest rate bank and should be ready to shift your Home loan, as there are no prepayment charges.

What is fixed rate schemes?

The interest rates have sharply moved from 7.75% to 14% in last 15-20 years. As the name suggests, fixed interest rate home loans allow the repayment in fixed equal monthly installments over the entire period of the loan. The interest rate in such a case is fixed and doesnt change with market fluctuations. As they offer a fixed interest rate, they prove to be beneficial in cases where market pressures push the interest rates to high levels. In such a scenario, the borrower pays a fixed Equated Monthly Installment (EMI). Therefore, giving a sense of certainty and security.

However, the major drawback in fixed loan is that it is usually 1%-2.5% more than the floating rate home loan. Also, fixed loans becomes costly in times when there is a cut in the interest rates in the market. Therefore, fixed rates are advisable only in situation where the economic future hints at rise in interest rates.

How to manage your home loan amount?

Taking a home loan not only saves tax but also creates asset. While applying for this loan you should ensure that, the EMI is less than 30% of your total income. This will help you in long run of managing debt life. Buying an expensive house/property that takes away 50-60% of the income in EMI is not desirable and should be avoided. Always go for a property within your budget. Home loan rates can’t be timed but least rate from all options is doable. Get the loan that fits your budget and whenever fixed rates loans are available for more than 10 years for 9%, opt them.

Home loan is a long-term commitment and options should ideally be vetted, explored and then zeroed down on. If you follow these advice then are sure to get the best deal in home buying.

The author Rishi Mehra is Founder ofDeal4loans.com

Fedeli bill introduces mandatory financial…

NIPISSING Vic Fedeli believes the province needs to do a better job teaching its students how to manage finances.

The Nipissing MPP introduced the Financial Literacy Act, a private members bill that would make a Grade 10 financial literacy course mandatory in all high schools throughout the province.

Financial literacy is an important life skill. As students start their first jobs, use their first credit cards and begin planning for their future, it is important they learn how to save and spend responsibly, said Fedeli.

The bill would amend the Education Act to require school boards to ensure a comprehensive course on financial literacy is taught to Grade 10 students across the province. The amendment would also make the new course a prerequisite to graduation.

The province currently includes aspects of financial literacy in subjects across the curriculum from Grade 4 to 12. Students are given opportunities to learn about saving, spending and investing money, as well as how to be responsible consumers.

The government is also supporting additional learning in regards to post-secondary education and career planning as part of the mandatory Grade 10 career studies course.

Preparing students to be financially literate is essential to students success and a strong economy. By learning about financial literacy, students will have the skills they need to thrive now and throughout the rest of their lives, said Education Minister Mitzie Hunter when discussing the topic at the beginning of November, which the province recognized as Financial Literacy Month.

While the province has invested more than $3 million into financial literacy resources and learning opportunities since 2011, Fedeli believes it needs to do more.

The Wynne governments plan on financial literacy is insufficient. Under their plan, financial literacy is not a mandated course, it is not permanent under the Education Act, and is not a prerequisite for completing high school, said Fedeli.

David Thompson, chair of the Near North District School Board, likes the idea of bringing structured financial courses to Grade 10 students in the province. While schools in the Near North District currently teach some aspects of financial management across different courses, their currently isnt one course devoted to the subject.

Financial literacy is very important for our students. In hearing from alumni and graduates some wish they had more of a financial background before they moved on from high school, said Thompson. Certainly educating students about money management is always a good thing.

The absence of financial literacy is being felt across the province, according to the Financial Composer Agency of Canada. A recent survey revealed 60 per cent of adults rate their financial knowledge as fair or poor and 80 per cent of young Canadians are not confident in their financial knowledge.

A firm grasp of personal finance is essential for making independent decisions, managing debt, and leading a secure and fulfilling life. The Financial Literacy for Students Act would equip students in Ontario with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make the right financial decisions in their own lives and for Ontarios economy, said Fedeli.

OECD economist says China’s economic reforms effective on several fronts

Intelligent robot AELOS stands with one leg at an incubator in Shenzhen, south Chinas Guangdong Province, Oct. 12, 2016. Shenzhen is an attractive destination for start-ups around the world with a total of 1,421 incubators. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)

PARIS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Chinas economic reforms are effective on several fronts as the reduction of cost of business and the modification of fiscal system, an economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said.

OECDs indicator shows that in the past three years, the cost of starting a business has been reduced substantially in China, while the administrative procedures that the firms have to go through when registered have been eased a lot in the country, the head of China Desk of Economics Department of the OECD Margit Molnar said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Newly registered enterprises have been soaring these years in China, more and more people decided to set up a firm and to become entrepreneurs, she noted.

Chinas official statistics published in July this year show that about 2.62 millions of firms have been newly registered during the first six months this year in China, with a rise of 28.6 percent compared to the same period of 2015.

On the fiscal front, Chinas fiscal reform has been very successful, Margit said, adding that China has changed its budget law in 2014, which came into effect in 2015, to allow Chinese local governments to issue bonds.

I think thats a crucial improvement in the managing of responsibilities between the central and local government as well as managing debt and making debt more transparent, so on the fiscal front we have seen very substantial changes and improvements, Margit qualified.

On the question of opening of China, Margit said that if you just look at the initiatives China has adopted in the past year or two, you can say that China is opening, for instance the Belt and Road initiative announced in 2013, that is something that goes well beyond expectation.

It was not just a trade and investment type of integration that people have thought in the beginning, but it really goes into areas like intellectual property rights or environment or climate change, or collaboration in areas that people never thought such an initiative could cover, said Margit.

So if you look at these initiatives or the AIIB or other initiatives, you would say that these are definitely signs of further opening to reap the benefits of increased integration, she said.

Margit also said that there was still room for further reforms in China, for example, on the reduction of cost of business, the so called one-stop shop, or single window where at a single place one can achieve all the documents, is needed for registering a company.

So far, weve seen a unification of three or four license, or five … but this is not all, we would like to see unification for all licenses, she said.

China should also be alert to the risk of cooperate debt which is not only high but also not coming down in the past two years, Margit said, noting that the implicit guarantees enjoyed by state-owned enterprises should be removed.