01 SepAvoid dangerous or ‘predatory’ loans with these tips

Cash-Advance Loan

A cash advance loan is a small, short-term, high-interest loan that is offered in anticipation of the receipt of a future lump sum of cash or payment. Although a cash advance may be made in anticipation of future legal winnings, pensions, inheritances, insurance awards, alimony or real estate proceeds, the most common cash advance loans are payday loans and tax refund anticipation loans.

01 SepDebt Killed My Dad. Learn from His Mistakes – and Mine.

He took cash advances on one card to make payments on another. He took out a second mortgage just to make minimum payments on his credit cards, all of which had interest rates in the 20 percent to 30 percent range. He constantly worried about how he would scrape together enough money to pay his bills.

I saw the stress of his debt weighing on him. I have no doubt much of the reason he gained so much weight in the first place was because he was gravitating toward unhealthy comfort food to help him forget the stress, and the emotional drain from constantly worrying about money robbed him of the initiative to exercise.

One of my biggest regrets, which I shared in my book Soldier of Finance, is that I never had the courage to confront my dad about his debt. I think somehow I believed things would just work themselves out. They didnt.

If you know someone who is struggling with debt, there are signs that you can watch for — and things you can do. Here are three indications that they are headed for unnecessary and dangerous stress.

1. Theyre Constantly Fretting About How They Will Pay Bills

You can tell when it has become a problem for someone you know. For one thing, it creeps into their conversation. They begin making comments that allude to their desperation. Watch for other signs. I can remember walking into my dads house and seeing a list of credit card debts next to his computer. It was clearly on his mind. Worry is difficult to hide.

2. They Use Credit to Pay for Credit

If someone is using one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another, or taking out a cash advance on a card to make a payment, there are multiple problems. First, making minimum payments doesnt usually reduce the balance on a card in any significant way. The lions share goes to paying interest. By using another card to make the payment, youre only adding to your total debt, making future minimum payments even higher. Its a no-win cycle.

3. They Frequently Borrow Money — Sometimes From You

When they ask, it always sounds like an opportunity for you to help. The loan will solve their problems and take the pressure off by allowing them to consolidate their bills into one payment, which will allow them to return your money to you. The problem is that it never works out that way.

I once loaned my dad $8,000 to help him pay off some debt. Not only did he run up new debt as fast as he paid off the old, but when he realized that he couldnt pay me back, he took out a life insurance policy with me as the beneficiary. Instead of eliminating debt, he added another monthly payment.

If a close friend or relative exhibits these symptoms, there are things you can do. Here are three suggestions to get you started:

1. Gently Confront Them With Your Concerns

Do your best to keep from sounding judgmental by emphasizing that you are concerned about the stress their financial habits put on your relationship, and more importantly, the danger to their health. It wont be easy, but if you really care about them, be honest with them.

2. Stop Enabling

When my grandmother passed away, both my dad and I inherited some money. True to form, dad wanted to borrow my share to pay off his debts and planned to pay me back in monthly installments. My girlfriend — who later became my wife — confronted me the way I should have confronted my dad. It wont help him, and it wont help you, she said bluntly. She was right, and I knew it. It was the first time I ever told my dad no, and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but it had to be done, for his sake and for mine. Learn to say no. Dont even agree to co-sign a loan. Youll only add to the problem.

3. Offer Real Help (Not Loans)

This might be as involved as sitting down with them and helping organize bills, develop a plan for debt reduction and help them stick to it. But at the very least you can introduce them to a financial adviser to help them get things under control. Above all, offer your encouragement and support. Changing lifelong habits is never easy, but it can be done.

I wish I had spoken to my dad early on. I never did, but I believe I have learned from both of our mistakes. I hope you will, too. Dont wait or sit back silently, hoping something will change. Become an agent of change. When you see the warning signs, speak up.

01 SepSlate Rock Safety Certified as a Women-Owned Enterprise by the Women’s …

Medina, OH, August 26, 2014 –(PR.com)– Slate Rock Safety, LLC, an ecommerce retailer and distributor of safety apparel specializing in flame resistant (FR) clothing, received national certification as a Womens Business Enterprise by the Womens Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

To become certified as a woman-owned enterprise, the business must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women. WBENCs national standard of certification is a thorough process that includes an in-depth review of the business, an ownership interview, and site inspection. The certification process for Slate Rock Safety concluded this August, and the company was issued certificate number 2005125119.

According to the WBENC, including women-owned businesses among their vendors, allows corporations and government agencies to demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier/vendor diversity programs.

About Slate Rock Safety:

Led by President and CEO Kim Wilson, Slate Rock Safety is a Certified Woman-Owned Business encompassing five business divisions, including flagship FRSafety.com. Collectively, they serve the oil amp; gas, electrical utility, public safety, and industrial markets. It also maintains prime vendor contracts with several branches of the government, and has GSA Schedule 84 certification. Advanced technology, knowledgeable employees, and ambitious leadership have led to Slate Rock Safety becoming an industry leader in the safety apparel market. For more information about Slate Rock Safety, www.slaterocksafety.com

About WBENC:

The Womens Business Enterprise National Council is the nations largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC is a resource for the more than 700 US companies and government agencies that rely on WBENCs certification as an integral part of their supplier diversity programs.

01 SepZenChange Business Consulting Receives Women’s Business Enterprise …

ZenChange Business Consulting Receives Women’s Business Enterprise National Certification
ZenChange Business Consulting, a Miami based management consulting firm focused on business simplification, growth and balance, has received Womens Business Enterprise National Certfication. ZenChange works primarily with women owned and run companies to make their business all they dreamed it could be.

31 AugNeal Simon: Like a fish out of water

Media reports this weekend, including from the New York Times and The Associated Press, shine new light on Arizona’s execution of killer Joseph R. Wood III on July 23. It took Wood nearly two hours to die, long enough that attorneys for the condemned man almost convinced a federal judge to halt the execution and order Arizona to revive Wood, who was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and her father in 1989.

New details about Wood’s execution, which now has the dubious distinction of being the longest in American history, emerged from logs released by the Arizona Department of Corrections. According to state officials, Wood was given 15 times the standard dose of sedatives and painkillers during the one hour and 53 minute procedure. Witnesses recount Wood gasping more than 600 times before finally expiring. A journalist who witnessed the event likened Wood’s reaction during the execution to a fish out of water.

Why does any of this matter? Because the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the federal government from inflicting “cruel and unusual punishment.” The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment applies to the states as well. Now, I realize that there will be no groundswell of outrage over a state government violating this pesky and annoying constitutional amendment. That type of hysteria is reserved for the Second Amendment. Still, if the Constitution prohibits something, we probably shouldn’t let our public bodies do it.

Interestingly, the expanded details about the execution cut both ways, as far as trying to figure out whether Arizona violated Wood’s constitutional rights. The state has insisted since the day of the execution that Wood never felt any pain or discomfort, and now knowing the dosage of drugs that he received, it is very likely that they are correct. Arizona may not have tortured Wood. But the state has essentially admitted that Wood received “unusual” punishment. Wood was injected with 750 milligrams of Hydromorphone and 750 milligrams of Midazolam. The “usual” dosage is 50 milligrams of both. Case closed, as far as I am concerned.

Liberals may occasionally be guilty of loving government too much, but I am not feeling any love for Arizona public officials after this botched execution.

Although I appreciate effective republican government, the kind that is not a slave to its corporate benefactors, I don’t trust any government enough, state or federal, to support its power to execute people.

There are many government programs that I’m guilty of liking.

I do favor policies that promote advancement out of poverty, and initiatives that safeguard the middle class. These would include K-12 public education, student loans for college, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

A believe in a strong, effective social safety net.

Reasonable public health and safety measures that protect the environment, workers, the elderly and children seem within the scope of government responsibility.

31 AugRepayments Loom on Millions of HELOCs

Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Borrowers with home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) will face a growing risk of default over the next several years, as the bills come due on millions of such loans.

The credit rating company TransUnion reports that from 10 to 17 percent of the $474 billion in currently outstanding HELOCs could be at elevated risk of default in the next few years as many of those loans enter their repayment phases. Thats the point where customers can no longer draw against the line of credit and must begin repaying what they have borrowed.

There are concerns that such a payment shock could cause these borrowers not only to miss payments and possibly default on their HELOCs, but to begin missing payments on other debts such as credit cards and automobile loans as well.

Nearly half approaching crucial date

Nearly half of all HELOCs with outstanding balances as of the end of last year were originated between 2005 and 2007, according to TransUnion, with many of them having draw periods of 10 years. That means those loans will enter their repayment phase beginning in 2015.

On top of that, TransUnion calculates that 92 percent of outstanding HELOCs were still in their draw phase as of the end of 2013. In addition, the majority of HELOCs have outstanding balances in excess of $100,000. So the potential financial impact is large.

The financial shock associated with a HELOC payment increasing to cover both — principal and interest — can cause liquidity issues for some borrowers; this dynamic is driving significant concern in the lending marketplace, said Steve Chaouki, TransUnion head of financial services. Our study indicates that up to $79 billion of those HELOC balances could be at elevated risk of default in the next few years.

16 million outstanding loans

About 16 million US consumers currently have HELOCs with outstanding balances, of whom TransUnion predicts less than 20 percent will face difficulty dealing with payment shock when the repayment phase of their loan kicks in over the next few years.

The TransUnion study suggests that credit scores are a very good indicator of whether a consumer is likely to have difficulty once the repayment phase of the loan kicks in.

While the study concluded that payment shocks for that class of borrowers did put them at greater risk of default or missing payments on other loans, it did not address the question of the impact of such defaults on the economy as a whole.

First published on MortgageLoan.com at: http://www.mortgageloan.com/repayments-loom-millions-helocs-9770

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31 AugLVR home lending down in July

Latest figures show 6.5 percent, or just over $300 million, of new lending went to those with less than a 20 percent deposit in July.

That is below the peak of 6.7 percent recorded in the previous month.

The Reserve Bank introduced the loan to value ratio (LVR) restrictions in October last year, limiting low deposit lending to no more than 10 percent of new mortgages.

The major banks have reduced their lending to people with small deposits, while at the same time expanding lending to those with larger deposits.

31 AugBirko’s Kelly Green Honored As Finalist For 2014 Outstanding Women In Business

by Birko
Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 8:45AM EDT

HENDERSON, Colo. — Birko, a leader in providing food safety solutions to the produce, meat and beverage industries, today announced that its chairman and owner, Kelly Green, was recognized as a finalist for the Outstanding Women in Business awards sponsored by the Denver Business Journal. Green was honored in the large business category.

We are enormously proud of Kelly for her continued contributions to the success of Birko, and to the safety of the food chain, said Mark Swanson, Birkos CEO. As the third-generation owner of Birko, she has continued her familys legacy of successful women in business. Kelly is well deserving of this honor.

Green is a member of the United Fresh Government Relations Council. She was named to the 2014 list of Women of Influence in the Food Industry, sponsored by The Griffin Report of Food Marketing. Green was also formerly on the board of the Colorado Womens Chamber of Commerce. She is a former member of the Womens Business Enterprise National Council-West and the North American Meat Associations board of directors. She earned a bachelors degree in communications from the University of Colorado and an Executive MBA from Colorado State University.

About Birko

Birko is a leading provider of food safety solutions to the produce, meat and beverage industries. Birko manufactures concentrated chemical formulations used in plant cleaning and sanitation, as well as antimicrobial interventions used to reduce pathogens from the manufacturing process of food. Birkos equipment division, Chad Equipment, LLC, designs and manufactures chemical dispensing systems and state-of-the-art washing systems as well as equipment used for food safety protection. Birko is a Produce Marketing Association Gold Circle Contributor and a member of United Fresh Produce Association. Founded in 1953, Birko is ISO 9001 certified. It is also a WBENC Certified Womens Business Enterprise.

Source: Birko

30 AugZeroing in – exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts

Emotions around zero hours contracts have run high over the last year.

For businesses, zero hours contracts are a valuable tool in the current market. While their flexibility also suits some individuals, it leaves others open to exploitation.

To understand the issues associated with zero hours contracts, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, launched a formal consultation on 19 December 2013. The consultation focused on:

  • exclusivity clauses; and
  • the lack of transparency on the terms, conditions and consequences of zero hours contracts.

The consultation closed on 13 March 2014 with a record 36,000 responses.


On 25 June 2014, the Government announced its response to the consultation process: to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts; to take steps to address their lack of transparency, and to consult further on how to prevent rogue employers evading the exclusivity ban.

The changes will be introduced through the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-15, which includes a new legal definition of a zero hours contract (being broadly an agreement to work if required but withno certaintyof work).

Will these proposals achieve the Governments crackdown on zero hours contract abusers? Unlikely. The proposals address limited issues – express exclusivity clauses and transparency – and do not tackle the wider concerns associated with zero hours contracts. However, they are a good first step.


Exclusivity clauses tie a worker to one employer without guaranteeing hours. 83% of the consultation responses said that exclusivity clauses should be banned as they undermined workers choice and flexibility. However, according to the Office of National Statistics, only 125,000 out of an estimated 1.4 million zero hours workers have express exclusivity clauses in their contracts. So, while laudable, the ban will benefit only a limited number of workers.

According to ACAS, exclusivity clauses are not the real concern for zero hours workers. The more pressing issue for them is effective exclusivity where workers feel they cannot turn down work or look for other work for fear that their hours will be zeroed down or withdrawn altogether. This anxiety appears to stem from an imbalance of power between the zero hours worker and his employer created by an absence of guaranteed hours and uncertainty over the workers status (employee, self-employed or worker) and rights. Banning express exclusivity clauses will do little to remedy this.

The Bill allows for further regulations to be issued to ensure zero hours workers are not restricted from working for other employers. These may include provisions for financial penalties, employment rights and the requirement for employers to pay compensation. These regulations are likely to be influenced by the future consultation on how to prevent rogue employers circumventing the exclusivity ban.

If the regulations include a broad protection for zero hours workers against detriment or dismissal for exercising their rights to work for others, this should help tackle effective exclusivity. However, as matters stand, the Bill is no real deterrent.


One of the major concerns with zero hours contracts is the lack of understanding from both workers and employers around their rights and obligations. Many workers dont realise that they could potentially be offered no work or zero hours.

The Government will work with business representatives and unions to develop a code of practice on the fair use of zero hours contracts and to improve the information available to all parties using these contracts.

Increased clarity around zero hours contracts, associated rights and how workers calculate their entitlements including pay, hours, holiday, other statutory leave and redundancy payments – is to be welcomed (as would a clear statement of the risks for workers).

However, the ability of non-binding guidance or a code of practice to prevent the abuse of zero hours contracts is questionable. Nor will such guidance, unless accompanied by a significant publicity campaign, necessarily be accessible to workers when most needed ie at the start of the relationship when negotiating terms.

So, does the Governments response go far enough? The proposals certainly fall short of many union and campaign groups calls for a total ban on these contracts, or Labours proposals for zero hours workers to have the right to request minimum hours after 6 months and an automatic right to fixed hours after 12 months. However, the Governments response does keep the issue of monitoring misuse of zero hours contracts firmly on the political agenda.

In the current market, the ability to rely on a bank of workers who can be called on to work as required will remain popular. Regulation akin to the protection offered to fixed term workers (including the right to be offered permanent work and protection from detriment/unfair dismissal) is needed if there is a genuine desire to tackle the abuse of vulnerable zero hours workers.

This article was published in New Law Journal in July 2014.