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Facts about four kinds of debt

December 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many financial experts advice certain debt to be paid off now before others while other types of debt can wait a little longer. Here we are attempting to reason out what to do with four type debt; mortgage, credit card debt, student loans, and car loans.

Your mortgage: Pay off later instead of now. This is the largest debt many of us carry and the largest investment we make. It still provides you with a tax advantage due to deductibility of interest. When it comes to paying off your mortgage and saving for retirement, the latter should be considered over pay off of your mortgage. However, if you inherit large sum of money or win a lottery, paying off the mortgage is not a bad idea to reduce all debt.

Credit card and other revolving debt: Pay off now. They come with higher interest rates, no tax advantage, and paying off of it now may get you out of a vicious circle of debt.

Student loans: Since you can’t wipeout a student loan even in a bankruptcy, pay it off later. You may be able to get a tax advantage on the interest you pay on the loan.

Car loan: Pay it off sooner since there are no other advantages for keeping it longer.

Why my credit score is so low?

November 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you seen your credit score lately? If so, you may be wondering why your score is low and didn’t go up with all your recent efforts to stay current. You paid your bills on time lately and still your score has not gone up. This doesn’t make sense at all. Understanding what goes into your credit score can explain what made your latest credit score or FICO Score, as we call it.

Your credit score is a combined result of your payment history (35%), use of debt (30%), age of your credit accounts (15%), recent inquiries for new credit lines (10%), and the makeup of your credit accounts (10%). Each part is responsible for a certain percentage of your credit score and the total is the resulting FICO score. You have to score on all aspects not just one in order to get a higher credit score. Higher the credit score is you are bound to get new credit lines approved at lower interest rates. You can check your credit information free of charge at least once a year from one of the credit bureaus. Rotate your report among them in order to stay on top of your credit game and take immediate action to correct any inaccuracies in your credit report.

Don’t leave your 401(k) with your old employer

October 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many companies provide tax beneficial 401(k) retirement plans for their employees. Established under Section 401(k) of the Tax Code, it is one of the best tax advantaged vehicles to save for retirement. Some employers offer matching 401(k) contributions to enhance the appeal of the program for its employees.

What happen to your 401(k) fund if you leave your employer? Since there is not going to be any new money added to the 401(k), administrative and other hidden fees associated with the plan is going to eat into earnings or in the case of a down market, will cut into your principal. So, what is the solution? Many suggest rolling the 401(k) into an IRA. Most IRAs do not carry administrative fees. An IRA can also provide wider range of investment options compared to many 401(k) plan investment option offerings. Some 401(k) plans are actively managed and charge a hefty fee for doing just that. Level of active management varies but there are no true actively managed funds, according to financial experts. Converting a 401(k) plan with an old employer into an IRA can also provide you with the peace of mind and takes away the management aspect from you.

Proven strategy to payoff credit card debt

September 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many of us are inundated with credit card debt and it even impacts our health worrying about it. Many wish that they shouldn’t have used those cards when it comes to payment time. It’s a dilemma that many of us dwell each month.

Let’s say your family credit card debt is approximately $100,000. Seems like a huge amount depending on your monthly income. If your family earns six figure incomes a month, this is still substantial but employing a proven strategy may help to get out of this debt in short period of time.

Start recording all your family income and expenses. Cut down any credit cards that have no balances and the family can live without them. This includes department store credit cards. Keep in mind that cancelling an open revolving account may impact your FICO Score. Call remaining credit card companies with a balance and work with them to drop your credit limit. This will help you to stop charging more. Now using your income and expense records see which expenses you can cut down and use the saving to pay off your credit card debt. Depending on your total credit card balance, you could be free of credit card debt in few short years.

Unpaid taxes could ruin your financial health

August 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Unpaid taxes can get you in financial trouble in many ways. The IRS is relentless when it comes to collecting taxes and it has many powers that it can use causing you a financial ruin. Not just the past due taxes, the IRS will add penalties and interest too. Some say these two together can exceed the interest rate charged on your credit card balance.

Pay your taxes in full and on time to avoid penalties and interest. If you are unable to pay your taxes due in full, still file on time and choose a payment plan to pay the balance. You may still be subject to interest payments but not penalties.

Refusing to file a return may ruin your financial health. Any action taken by the IRS may result in refusal of your loan applications, levy your wages, and even file a tax lien.

In order to avoid tax time surprises, make sure your employer deduct adequate taxes from your salary. Do not claim more exemptions than what you think is adequate to cover your tax bill. If your employer is not deducting taxes from your compensation, make sure to set aside enough funds to cover yearly tax bill. That goes for Federal, state as well as local taxes.

How you can tackle large credit card debt

July 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We rack up credit card bills for many reasons. For some, charging purchases to credit cards comes as a habit and for many others going on a shopping spree once awhile cures innermost desires. If you have huge credit card debt, you can learn from others who were in your shoes before.

Don’t try to pay off your credit card balances with money you don’t have. Instead come up with a reasonable time line that you can pay off your balances given your monthly income and expenses. It could be a year, two years or longer. First, call your credit card companies and ask whether they are willing to work with you by lowering your interest rate. Second, try to raise additional funds by selling unnecessary things lying around your home and use any money raised to pay your credit card debt and not used for anything else. Scale back on your luxury life style and if you can be without Netflix, TV and others, do so. Used the money you save to pay off your credit cards and do not use for any other purposes. Start paying more on the highest interest rate card while paying the minimum on others each month. Soon you will be credit card debt free.

It’s time to review your important documents

June 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We should review our financial documents regularly, at least once year or when changes occur, in order to prevent many financial and other mishaps. One of the biggest drawbacks of not reviewing your documents especially your will and financial documents may result in unintended consequences. It could prevent your loved ones inheriting your fortune. So what can you do?

  • At least once a year update your financial documents including your will, beneficiary designations and others. Make sure to compare documents for any conflicts. If necessary make changes and complete the update process.
  • When completing documents to replace existing documents, make sure to fill the entire form. If you are using any legal terms to designate entire group of people, your children for example, make sure the proper meaning reflects your wishes.
  • Sometimes changes beyond your control such as your bank merging with another bank needs to be reflected on your documents.
  • Replace all your hard copies with new documents. If necessary, file copies of new documents with appropriate agencies.
  • Sometimes you may require an attorney or an estate planner to help your documents. Do not hesitate to seek additional help from appropriate professionals to update your important documents.

The Yahoo Acquisition of Tumblr

May 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

When Yahoo announced it would buy Tumblr in 2013, the tech world collectively gasped. The Tumblr platform has become ubiquitous around the Web, building a following through simple features and sharable posts. Yahoo, in the eyes of many in the tech press, was set to ruin all of that as they had already done with Flickr and GeoCities.

But Yahoo has stunned non-believers with actual growth. Tumblr’s audience has grown by 22% since the acquisition, and the company has doubled its staff under the guidance of Marissa Meyer’s Yahoo. Tumblr is visually compelling, and makes it easy for users to post short text blurbs, images and rich media. It’s managed to hold up against competition from the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

The CEO of the company, David Karp, admits he did have fears that Yahoo would fundamentally alter the culture he had worked to cultivate. In fact, Yahoo has let Tumblr largely run its own show. The company plays an advisory role to the young enterprise, which can no longer bill itself as a startup. Tumblr still doesn’t generate enough revenue to be a major player yet, though.

Some question whether or not the Yahoo acquisition was a good idea.

Tumblr lost many of its early employees during the acquisition, which led to some internal turmoil. However, the size of Yahoo has given Tumblr some much needed life (and time). Tumblr is currently testing promoted posts, and a private-label blogging service for large advertisers in an attempt to monetize the service.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website

What Makes Apple Ads So Effective

May 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Phineas Upham

Apple was, and continues to be one of the most effective marketers in recent history. From the grand presentations by Steve Jobs to the brightly colored ads for the iPhone and iPod. The company uses simplicity to great effect, employing contrasting colors and sleek design to sell its products. Apple marketing is defined by three primary points of thinking, which are detailed below.


Apple strives to understand its customers more than any other company on the market. It does extensive testing internally for its products, testing for every day use cases and looking for ways to streamline their product design. Their products are generally thin, light and powerful.


Apple has a very limited number of tasks it focuses on in order to deliver amazing products. It largely lets application developers do most of the heavy lifting on the iPhone, but it takes great care in crafting its operating systems. Even programs like Pages are made with the user firmly in mind, streamlining methods to work and save one’s progress.


Apple products are perceived to be amazing. For a long time, “it just works” was a phrase that was thrown around to describe how people felt about them. They were viewed as devices that made computer usage fun and easy, elegant even. That perception is part of what cements the Apple brand into popular landscape. Apple works hard at cultivating the idea that PCs are complicated, and Apple computers are simple. Even though that is not always the case, Apple proves every day that perception is crucial to success.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.

Cash transactions are slowly going away

April 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

More and more Americans are paying for their retail purchases with credit and debit cards. Use of credit and debit cards to pay for retail purchases accounted for more than 30 percent of all retail transactions in 2013 according to Barron’s Magazine. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing issued more than 8.4 billion notes including three billion worth of one hundred dollar notes in 2011. Still the use of cash in retail transactions is in decline. In 2002, just over 35 percent of retail transactions were in cash and by 2020 it is expected to drop below 25 percent. Using cash for retail transactions among wealthy Americans are almost non-existent and those who are earning more than $60,000 a year use it for about two percent of retail transactions. Debit card payments accounted for closer to 15 percent of all retail purchases in 2002 in the U.S. and by 2020 it is expected to lead the retail transactions accounting for more than 35 percent of all retail purchases.

The rapid rise of Internet sales is one reason why cash transactions are dwindling. Credit cards are dominating the Internet purchases. Cash will be the preferred method of payment for those without bank accounts and those who earn closer to $35,000 a year.

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