Your Money: Avoid withdrawing provident fund money to buy a house

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You would soon be able to use a major chunk of your retirement money to buy a house. The government will amend Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme to enable members of EPFO to withdraw up to 90 per cent of their fund for making down payments while buying homes.

The provisions to withdraw money from EPF account always existed but there was a restriction on the amount a person could withdraw. A subscriber can get a loan worth 24 times the wages (basic salary plus dearness allowance).

Financial advisors say that an individual should dip into the retirement corpus only if it’s a first house, and the property is not bought for investment. Breaking retirement corpus should be the last resort for any one. An individual should do it only if he can contribute that money back into the PF in due course of time, say, by increasing contribution. Therefore, only look at the PF money if you have at least 15 years of service left, that is, if you are not over 43-45 years old.

Instead of using PF money, financial advisors say that a person can pledge gold to buy a property. Using a real asset to create another one is a better option than using a financial asset.

While the modalities of the scheme are not yet out, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told Rajya Sabha that they are going to add a new paragraph 68BD. This means, most of the current provision will remain. The eligibility criteria to use your PF money to buy a home are very stringent and getting a sanction is challenging. For example, a person should be a subscriber for at least five years. The property also needs to be in the name of the applicant or jointly owned with spouse only. There’s a lot of paperwork involved, too.

The labour minister also informed that withdrawal would be permitted if the applicant is a member of a co-operative society or a housing society having at least 10 members. The subscriber can also use the money to pay off outstanding home loan.

As of today, if the individual is employed, the application needs to be made through the employer. The company processes the papers after the verification and send it to the regional EPFO office. While one can get the approval within a month, the time varies depending on the employer’s promptness and the regional EPFO offices.

Credit card is a friend in need. Don’t abuse it


The credit card can either be an easy and convenient money tool or the snake in your wallet, which could become the root of much of your money troubles. In situations where cash is difficult to be carried or used, a credit card offers the convenience of making payments and managing your cash situation. But to prevent it from doing harm to your financial situation, you need to exercise caution in the way you use and manage it.

Credit Card is a Convenience, Not a source of Income

Swiping the card for your purchases, without having to fork out cash immediately may give you the feeling that you can spend endlessly. But there is a credit card bill that will come to you at the end of the month, for which you have to find the funds to pay.

So, limit your spending to what your income can support and what you can pay off when it is due. If you spend more than you can repay, you will be charged a very high rate of interest not only on your unpaid balances but also on any additional spending you do on the card—till your entire outstanding credit card debt is cleared.

Use the credit card to manage cash flow mismatches. If your expenses have to be met before the income is actually in hand, then the credit card can step in.

There are two caveats to this. You must be sure of receiving the income within the billing cycle of the credit card, so you can pay it off when it is due. And, when the income is in your hands, your priority should be to assign the income to meeting the credit card dues, before you use it for any other expenses.

Use the credit card regularly and pay off dues in time to help build a strong credit profile.

Restricting your credit card usage to well within your credit limit, making payments on time, staying clear of paying only the minimum amount due—are all positive behaviours that will improve your credit profile and get you benefits such as lower interest rates on loans and higher loan sanction in the future.

If you don’t use your credit cards at all, then the lenders would have that much lesser information to take a call on your credit profile. That could impact how they would take decisions about things like whether to assign you higher or lower interest costs or whether the terms of the loan should be strict or lenient, so that they don’t lose money by lending to you.

While you should avoid over-using credit cards, you should use them in emergencies, when you need to urgently access funds. In such situations, the ease of access to funds can be a lifesaver. But take care to prioritize the repayment of this debt over all other expenses, as this is a high-cost debt.

The credit card can also be used as a budgeting tool, to keep track of your expenses and depending on the terms of your credit card, you can also earn points on card usage, which can be very attractive in some cases.

Risks with credit cards

The biggest risk with credit card usage is not understanding the terms on which the credit card was issued. When used as it is intended to, credit card is a cost-free, short-term loan; provided you pay the credit card balance on time. If you don’t, it becomes a high-cost debt.

Take time out to know details such as: how the interest payable on your balances is calculated, the conditions under which interest rates payable may go up, what types of card usages attract fees—which could include cash withdrawals. Knowing all this helps you use the card properly.

Read the statement thoroughly when you receive it. Make sure credits for payments made reflect correctly and on time. Check that the transactions are reported and charged correctly and there are no unauthorized transactions. Report disputes, if any, within the time specified. Card statements also have information about your reward points and other offers that may be useful to you. Use that information.

Avoid the Pitfalls

Paying the minimum amount due does not mean you are done with your repayment obligations. Till the dues are fully cleared, you will pay a high cost in many other ways. First, you will be charged a high rate of interest on the outstanding balance and all future purchases till you clear all the dues. You will have no free credit period anymore and every time you use the card you will be charged interest immediately.

The cash withdrawal facility offered on credit cards is also a loan, on which you are charged interest from the day you withdraw. There is no free credit period for withdrawals and apart from the interest there is also a transaction fee, which may be as high as 2.5%.

Be disciplined in the way you use and manage your credit card. It is in your interest to do so. It keeps you out of debt and you are more in control of your finances.



3 Steps to Get Out Of Credit Card Debt Faster

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One thing is typically true as credit card debt balances increase: Disrupting your spending habits and staying laser-focused on paying off debt will put you on the right financial path sooner than just dipping your toes in.

With that in mind, Motley Fool analysts Michael Douglass and Nathan Hamilton discuss in the below video three tips for people wanting to pay off credit card debt faster. So tune in to uncover a simple three-step plan anyone can implement to get on the right financial path.

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Michael Douglass: All right, Nathan. Let’s talk about credit card debt. So a lot of people find themselves in the spot where they have credit card debt, and frankly they haven’t taken the steps to meaningfully start chipping away at their high-interest debts. Let’s talk about some ways to put the odds in their favor.

Nathan Hamilton: This is a matter of not so much dipping your toes, but actually getting in and doing the work to make some progress on chipping away at your debt. And the first one (we’ll look at three steps here) but the first one is rather simple. Just request an increase in your credit limit with your credit card providers. Why this makes sense is it impacts your FICO score favorably which, down the road as you’re paying off your debt, allows you to get lower interest rates on a mortgage [or] another balance transfer credit card. It just puts you in a position to more easily pay down your debt.

Michael Douglass: Absolutely. And we’ve talked about the balance transfers before, but this can be a particularly good tactic. Essentially you’re able to transfer a balance that is charging you interest on one card to another card and you get it interest-free for six months, a year, [or] whatever the specific offer is. But that can save you quite a bit in interest.


Yes. Getting into the second step and looking at it is take that credit card out of your wallet…

Michael Douglass: Yes…


It’s a rather simple one, kind of like the first one we mentioned, but it’s just a matter of credit cards are easy to spend money on. They’re convenient. They’re super simple. You just whip it out [and] pay for it later. It’s a perfect combination until you have to pay interest on it.

Michael Douglass: Right.


So the easiest thing to do is take your high interest credit cards [as] the ones you’re trying not to spend more on and just take them out of your wallet. If it means cutting it up, do that. Whatever you can do to make it less easy to use that credit card.

Michael Douglass: Absolutely. And then third [is] balance transfers as we discussed a little bit.


Yes. Once you do the first two steps, you’ll be set up to then get possibly a better balance transfer card. You mentioned 12 months. There are some cards that go as long as 21 months.

Michael Douglass: Wow!


Some cards — 15 [to] 18 months. To get those, you do have to have at least good credit or better, so the steps you are taking [are] to get your credit score, improve it, and then apply for a balance transfer card. As you mentioned, 0% introductory APR for, say, 21 months can help you a lot, considering many people are paying 18%+ on their credit cards.

Michael Douglass: And just to give you a sense, if you have a $5,000 balance that you pay off over 18 months, and you’re paying that 18% APR, that’s $703 in interest charges.


Money out the door.

Michael Douglass: But with a balance transfer, that’s $703 you’re saving. I don’t know about you, but I could use the money.


And it makes it easier to pay down debt quicker and really if you look at our mantra, it’s “pay down debt quicker so you can invest sooner.” That’s really the goal.

Michael Douglass: Absolutely. So check us out at for our list of the best balance transfer credit cards and for more information about how to manage credit.


The one-card solution can swipe away credit card overload

In this Sep. 3, 2015, photo, a man pays with a credit card in a Wal-Mart Ekono supermarket in Santiago, Chile. Some people make a hobby of juggling multiple credit cards to maximize rewards; others just want simplicity. If the idea of chasing credit card rewards as a pastime doesn’t appeal to you, using just one credit card is a reasonable choice. Photo: Luis Hidalgo, AP / Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu

Credit card maximizers make carrying multiple cards their hobby, using this one for groceries and that one for travel, juggling due dates and rewards categories. But most people prefer to spend their time on other things.

If the idea of chasing credit card rewards as a pastime doesn’t appeal to you, using just one credit card is a reasonable choice. Here are the benefits of carrying only one card, and how to choose it wisely.


There are several good reasons to simplify.

—When you’re shopping: People who carry multiple credit cards have a decision to make every time they reach for their wallet. If you’re carrying only one card, that decision is a lot simpler.

—When you’re paying the bill: Paying bills takes time. Even if a credit card issuer offers automatic payments, it still takes time to set it up, time to make sure you have enough money in your account and time to check in to make sure things are running smoothly. Doing that for just one credit card account instead of several sounds downright restful.

—When you’re trying to manage spending: “If you’re somebody who’s really out of control when you have credit cards, then having many credit cards is almost like an alcoholic in bar,” said Tracy Becker, president of North Shore Advisory in Elmsford, New York, which provides credit-building and monitoring services to individuals and businesses. Using a single card helps some people monitor their spending more easily and avoid trouble, she said.

—When you’re worried about fraud: Thieves who gain access to credit card information often make small purchases at first to see whether a card gets shut down, Becker said. It’s easier to monitor fewer accounts for fraudulent charges, so using only one card makes it easier to catch fraud more quickly.


Alas, there is no “best” credit card that is right for everyone. It depends on your spending habits, whether you habitually carry a balance and what kind of rewards you find most useful.

—If you carry a balance: Credit card debt is expensive, so if you don’t always pay things off in full every month, prioritize a low interest rate above every other card feature. When you carry a balance on a rewards card, the interest eats up much, if not all, of the value of your rewards.

—If you travel frequently: Travel credit cards offer good rewards only if you travel often enough to use those rewards. If you don’t, a cash back card is the better option. Still, the extra conveniences that come with some travel cards, like free checked bags, can make these cards worthwhile even to occasional travelers.

—If you spend a lot in one or two budget areas: Some rewards credit cards offer higher returns on things like groceries, gas or restaurants. Look for a card that will reward the way you spend.

—If you just want to keep things simple: The simplest option is a card that pays the same amount — in cash, points or miles — on every purchase, with no limit on the rewards you can earn. These are sometimes called flat-rate credit cards.

—If you’re concerned about fees: An annual fee on a credit card can be worth it, as long as the rewards are high enough to outweigh the fee. Premium travel cards, in particular, have high fees but generous rewards. For a good no-fee card, your best bet is probably a cash back card.


Before you get excited and pare your credit cards down to just one, think about your credit score. Closing older accounts reduces the amount of credit you have available, and lowers the average age of your accounts. Both of those things can lower your score. Becker said having more credit cards also demonstrates to lenders that you can handle lots of credit.

“It is possible to have a very high credit score with only one card, but not as likely,” Becker said.

But that’s no reason to carry more cards than you want to. If your older accounts don’t charge annual fees, keep them open, but leave the cards at home. Becker recommends putting just one recurring bill, like a gym membership, on an older account and then setting up an automatic payment so you pay on time. If your unused cards charge annual fees, though, close them. Your credit score will recover.



BARREN COUNTY FISCAL COURT: Budgeting work continues with input from sheriff, others

Sheriff Kent Keen

GLASGOW – The most significant item Sheriff Kent Keen is eyeing for the upcoming fiscal year’s budget is a new radio system that is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $70,000.

That rough estimate would be for everything from the radios themselves to a new repeater and every part of the system in between, he said. The purchase would be significant not only fiscally, but also in terms of physical safety improvements, because it’s not uncommon that Barren County Sheriff’s Office personnel cannot be clearly heard on their radios.

Keen was one of a few department heads to meet with three members of Barren County Fiscal Court on Wednesday to discuss his wants and needs for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The meeting was supposed to be with the budget committee, but only one of its members, District 7 Magistrate Billy Houchens, was in attendance, while John Benningfield and Trent Riddle, the magistrates for districts 1 and 2, respectively, were absent. Any other magistrate is welcome to attend the meetings, as is anyone from the public, and District 4 Magistrate Jack London and District 6 Magistrate Charles Allen were present, along with Judge-Executive Micheal Hale.

Ron Lafferty, director of the Barren River Drug Task Force; Tracy Shirley, director of Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management; and Solid Waste Coordinator John Stephens also had turns at speaking and answering questions.

Keen said one of the issues with the existing radio system is that it’s “old and dying,” but even without that problem, emergency agencies are being required to switch to digital systems that meet certain standards. He said one possibility for paying for the radio system would be to get it on a lease-to-own basis.

Sherri Hammer, the bookkeeper for the sheriff’s office, spoke about how her heart “drops” sometimes as she hears radio traffic that leaves it unclear as to whether a deputy is safe, and she called the need for the radio system “absolute.”

“They need radios that work no matter where they are,” Hammer said.

Keen’s other main item, financially, is a vehicle. He has four right now with mileages between 107,000 and 180,000, all of which were purchased the year just before he became sheriff.

He said he likes to have one in the budget each year to keep them going in and out on a rotational basis rather than getting in a situation where so many have to be purchased at once.

The department also has resumed use of a K-9 unit, the sheriff said, so some funds will be needed for that line item to cover the dog’s basic needs, and he’s working on getting more body cameras and rifle-repellant body armor. Raises are always desirable, Keen said, as they didn’t get one last year but employees’ share of insurance premiums rose.

This led to a discussion among the fiscal court members of the best way for raises to be handled, e.g. across the board or based on merit and evaluations.

“I don’t have any gripes or groans about my employees,” Keen said, adding that he also keeps in mind each has his or her specific strengths.

Hale said the estimate for anticipated insurance rate hikes this year is approximately 5 percent, but he is talking with the Kentucky Association of Counties and with individuals from other counties to see what they are doing to try to save and the workers compensation insurance is being evaluated.

“We are exploring all avenues,” the judge-executive said.

Highlights from the other department heads’ discussions include:

Lafferty said he believes more federal funding may be available in the next fiscal year for drug-related enforcement, so he’s asking for more, but the county’s contribution is not expected to change. Lafferty has an office, the secretary is in a reception area, and all the deputies share one larger room in which there is not enough space for all to have a desk.

“We are cramped,” he said.

So he’s asking that some of the storage space currently occupied by materials from the county clerk’s office be freed up for his staff.

Shirley said he has no significant changes for the 2017-18 budget, but the following year, he plans to ask for a building with a paved area around it, all surrounded by fencing, on the Road Department property. Currently, the department leases a warehouse space for $700 per month, but it is insufficient for everything they have.

Stephens, an emergency management deputy director in addition to being solid waste coordinator, said he uses some of that area currently rented by EM for solid waste, and others use it as well, so he also advocated for the idea of that building and lot.

He said he doesn’t want and isn’t necessarily asking for a new vehicle for his duties, but he wants fiscal court to keep in mind that his truck has 190,000 miles on it.

“I think it will be fine, but anything could happen,” Stephens said.

He added that he has begun researching other counties’ approaches and getting additional information toward the possibility of having mandatory trash pickup in the county and/or beginning a curbside recycling program in the county.



HDFC Bank Says Personal Loan Portfolio Clipping At 30%

HDFC Bank Says Personal Loan Portfolio Clipping At 30%

Mumbai: HDFC Bank’s personal loans are growing by 30 per cent, courtesy a quick disbursement product launched recently, and delinquencies are also trending down, a senior official said on Wednesday.

“Personal loans are growing at 30 per cent and there is a downward trend in delinquencies,” its head for unsecured loans Arvind Kapil told reporters, after launching an online loans against securities product.

He said the 10-second personal loan product launched last year is growing fast and now constitutes a fourth of the incremental demand or Rs. 500 crore per month.

Introduction of credit information companies which help banks during the time of disbursements has also helped in growing the portfolios, he said.

He attributed the improving credit quality to the reliance on the salaried class, which uses personal loans as a ‘working capital’ to bridge temporary cash requirements for “consumerism”.

Its outstanding personal loans had increased to Rs. 46,454 crore as of December 2016 from Rs. 35,071 crore a year ago and Rs. 44,706 crore in September.

Since the numbers for the January-March period are yet to come out, Kapil did not specify the time period for the loan growth.

Loans against property (LAP), another segment where analysts have expressed concerns, is growing at 18 per cent for the bank, Kapil said, stressing that there are no troubles faced by the bank in this regard.

He said the bank does not go high on the loan to value ratio and looks at a borrower’s cash flows before arriving at a lending decision and this has helped it and other banks.

Meanwhile, the bank has partnered with securities depository NSDL to launch an online loans against shares (LAS) product and Kapil said it is targeting to get half of its new acquisitions through this medium next fiscal.

It is targeting to maintain its LAS portfolio growth at up to 40 per cent, he said, explaining that this category will grow in tandem with the deepening of the equities market.

The bank has created a list of over 400 scrips which are credible and least volatile, against which the lending will be done.

The fully online facility will reduce the turnover time to a few minutes from the present 2-4 days, he said, saying this is probably a global first.

A borrower can get a loan of up to 50 per cent of the value of the pledged portfolio and the interest rate on the loan will be the same at 10.5 per cent, he said.




After-hours buzz: CWH, RATE, ELF & more

Pedestrians walk along Wall Street across from the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares of Camping World fell 4 percent in extended trading Wednesday after the company reported revenue below analyst expectations. The recreational vehicle company reported revenue of $670 million in its fourth quarter, lower than the $679 million expected, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates. The company posted earnings of 14 cents a share, topping expectations for 9 cents a share.

Bankrate shares plummeted over 8 percent after the company missed earnings expectations on both the bottom and top line. The financial services company reported earnings of 16 cents per share, versus 19 cents per share that was expected by analysts according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates. Revenue for the company came in at $114 million versus $120 million projected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.

Shares of E.L.F. Beauty skyrocketed 13 percent after the company topped analyst estimates and gave optimistic guidance. The cosmetics company reported earnings of 19 cents per share on revenue of $76 million. Wall Street projections for the fourth-quarter were 14 cents per share on revenue of $75 million, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates. E.L.F Beauty gave full-year revenue guidance in the range of between $285 million and 295 million versus a $281 million estimate. The company also projected earnings per share of between 40 cents a share and 43 cents per share versus a 37 cent per share expectation.

United Natural Foods shares edged up 1 percent after the company reported fiscal year guidance slightly above estimates. The natural and organic food distributor projected adjusted earnings per share of between $2.53 a share and $2.58 a share, the Street’s estimate was at $2.54, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates. The company also met earnings per share estimates in its second-quarter, at 50 cents per share. Revenue came in lower-than-expected at $2.29 billion versus $2.33 billion expected.



BlackRock to give UK politician $800,000 for just 48 days work

The former U.K. chancellor George Osborne is set to earn £650,000 ($791,000) for just 48 days of work from investment management firm BlackRock.

The serving politician, according to the Register of Member’s Financial Interests expects to receive £162,500 each quarter for 12 days work. That equates to roughly £13,500 a day.

British Finance Minister George Osborne at an event in Manchester, Northern England, on December 8, 2014.

Oli Scarff | AFP | Getty Images
British Finance Minister George Osborne at an event in Manchester, Northern England, on December 8, 2014.

Sitting members of parliament are required to publish details of earnings. In the latest update revealed Wednesday, Osborne said of his BlackRock role:

“I expect to be paid 162,500 pounds a quarter in return for a quarterly commitment of 12 days. I also expect to receive registrable equity in BlackRock in the future.”

Osborne was chancellor for six years before he lost his job following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June last year.

The role , announced in January, will see Osborne provide advice on European politics, the Chinese economy and pensions.

“George has a unique and invaluable perspective on the issues that are shaping our world today,” Larry Fink, chairman and chief executive of BlackRock, said at the time of the appointment.

Other senior British politicians have recently gone on to high-profile roles at financial firms.

Former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair advise PIMCO and JP Morgan respectively while former U.K. foreign minister William Hague advises Citigroup.

CNBC contacted BlackRock for comment but at the time of publication had received no response.

We need regulation, but ‘layering on’ has ‘really impeded our ability to loan,’ bank CEO says

Banking regulations are hurting community banks and the small businesses they support, Sound Community Bank and Sound Financial Bancorp CEO Laurie Stewart told CNBC on Thursday.However, she’s optimistic President Donald Trump and his team will work toward easing some of those restrictions.

“The most important thing that could happen for community bankers is not to abandon current regulations. We all believe that we should be regulated,” Stewart said in an interview with “Closing Bell.”

“But the layering on and the amount of regulation has really impeded our ability to loan.”

Stewart was among those community bankers who met with Trump on Thursday.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 9, 2017, during a meeting with leaders from small community banks.

Evan Vucci | AP
President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 9, 2017, during a meeting with leaders from small community banks.

She said the president was “very interested” in listening to issues that are impeding banks and their ability to lend.

“We are the primary funders for small business,” Stewart said. “That ability to fund small business, provide the capital or the financing that they need, is really the backbone of our economy.”

Trump has said he wants changes to the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which were enacted following the 2008 financial crisis. In February, he signed an executive order that directed the Treasury secretary to submit a report on recommended changes in 120 days.

The Independent Community Bankers of America has advocated for a tiered system of regulations that treat smaller banks differently than global financial behemoths, tailoring regulations to a bank’s size, business model, complexity and risk.

Stewart is hopeful the administration understands those differences and will work toward a better solution.

“These are smart people. They understand the differences in the various business models and we can work together find the right capital levels, the right regulatory levels that address the business level.”


iPhone 8 to Ditch Home Button for ‘Function Area’, Cost Over $1,000: KGI Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo

iPhone 8 to Ditch Home Button for 'Function Area', Cost Over $1,000: KGI Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo

KGI analyst Ming Chi Kuo in a new note to his clients has predicted a few more things about the iPhone 8. In his note, Kuo reiterates that the iPhone 8 will ditch the home button for a full-screen design. This additional real estate will used to have a function area towards the bottom of the display that will bring virtual ‘always-on’ buttons to the iPhone.

AppleInsider got hold of this note, in which Kuo explains in detail that the extra real estate at the bottom of the iPhone 8 will be used for system functions with dedicated buttons for each function. There’s not much clarity on what the ‘function area’ will bring, but Kuo suggests that Apple could introduce an always-on display with static system controls. The note suggest that this iPhone 8 static display could also have the capability to switch to active display when watching videos or playing game. However, this is all just speculation at this point.

Furthermore, Kuo states that the iPhone 8 will sport a 5.8-inch OLED screen, but will sport the form factor of the 4.7-inch iPhone 7. This is possible because the top and bottom bezels will now be gone, giving more real estate space to the iPhone 8.

Kuo also reiterates that iPhone 8 will ditch the dedicated Touch ID sensor, and Kuo believes that the iPhone 8 ‘will incorporate new bio-recognition assets to take over device security and Apple Pay authentication duties.’ This is in line with previous reports that claim Apple will introduce a new 3D sensing technology, which will be embedded in the display and be capable of reading fingerprints directly. A patent was also published about the same recently, further cementing the rumours that the iPhone 8 will introduce this feature. Even though a dedicated Touch ID sensor will disappear, the new and improved tech will retain the Touch ID branding.

Reiterating previous claims, says that the OLED variants of the iPhone 8 will be priced north of $1,000 because of 50 to 60 percent rise in production cost. The LCD variants will be priced cheaper.