Giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s is a Christian Duty

give to caesarMany verses in the Bible are misquoted, misinterpreted, or taken out of context or their contextual meaning. Some of the worse violations in this regard involve Jesus’ statements concerning money and finances.

Among the most misquoted is “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

The quote is taken from a story that occurs in several Gospels, including Mark, specifically 12:13-18, as well as Luke. For clarity’s sake I will use Mark’s version to provide a quick summary.

In the story, Pharisees and Herodians are sent to speak to Jesus. The Pharisees were a traditional, conservative sect within Judaism at the time, and the Herodians most likely some sort of a political entity friendly to the family of Herod Antipater, who was tetrarch of Galilee at the time.

First, they flatter Jesus by calling him a man of integrity and pretending to be authentic and ingenuous about their concern for the law and following God. They then ask him whether they should pay taxes to Caesar or not.

Jesus immediately accuses them of hypocrisy and demands to see a denarius, which was a Roman coin. After they produce one, Jesus asks them whose inscription is on it. When they reply it is Caesar, Jesus answers, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”

Mark writes “they were amazed at his answer.” In Luke’s Gospel, the men were “astonished by his answer, (and) they became silent.”


It is important to contextualize the situation.

At the time of this story, Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the Passover on a donkey during the triumphant entry, which is now called Palm Sunday. The large welcoming he receives made his enemies jealous, as well as concerned he would attempt to rebel against the Roman government and bring disaster down on them.

To get rid of him, the religious and political enemies of Jesus attempt to trap him in his own words – similar to a modern day political “gotcha!” question.

One important observation to make is the intent of the men who ask the question.

Luke’s account (20:20-26) describes them as spies who hope to catch Jesus in something he said to hand him over to the government.

Thus, the question they asked him was strictly to trap him in a no-win situation.

Had Jesus answered they were not required to pay taxes to Caesar, it would have qualified as preaching rebellion against the Roman government and would have been appropriate grounds to have him arrested by the authorities. In fact, during Jesus’ eventual trial, many of the Jewish chief priests would later falsely claim to Pontius Pilate Jesus had preached this.

On the other hand, had Jesus replied they should pay taxes to Caesar, the spies would have then used his answer to stir up a mob and have him stoned or killed. Roman rule over Palestine was extremely unpopular among many Jews during the time, which is why the region suffered from so many insurrections, rebellions and revolts. Many Jews believed it was wrong to pay taxes to a pagan government and despised many of their own people for working as tax collectors, like St. Matthew, who was a tax collector before Jesus called him. Some Jews also did not consider the Romans their legitimate rulers; thus, for Jesus to say they should pay taxes would, in their mind, giving the Roman rule legitimacy and indirectly condemning Jewish nationalism.

Also, Passover was one of the most important of Jewish religious holidays, which meant the people would already be in a highly religious and patriotic mood, making it easy to manipulate them.


Additionally, if one reads the previous section before this incident, one will discover the spies were using the exact same trick question Jesus had used against them.

In both Mark and Luke’s gospels, the chief priests and elders of the law challenge Jesus’s authority to teach and preach from the Torah, since he was not a trained rabbi, and demand to know where his authority comes from. Jesus replies he would answer the question if they first answer his: Where had John the Baptist’s authority come from, men or God?

Discussing it amongst themselves, they realize they can’t answer it either way; if they say John’s authority came from God, why hadn’t they accepted his teachings of repentance? If they say his authority came from men, i.e. he made it all up, they fear being stoned by the people, who firmly believed John had been a prophet.

Thus, they aren’t able to give an answer because they lack of the courage to stand by their convictions, a fault they know very well Jesus did not suffer from himself.

So the question of paying taxes to Caesar is an attempt at revenge for humiliating them, knowing he has the bravery to say what he believes regardless of how unpopular it is.

Jesus response showcases both his brilliant wit and his divine knowledge.

In Luke’s Gospel, he immediately confronts them for their deceit, calling them hypocrites, and asks them why they intend to trap him.

Right away, he using showing them he knows their hearts and hasn’t been fooled for an instant. He also points out their hypocrisy because he knows if they were asked the same question, they wouldn’t answer it. This puts them on the defensive.

It is also significant to note whom the spies were; one group, the Pharisees, were generally opposed to the Roman government and disliked paying taxes; the other group, the Herodians, supported or at the very least were open to the Romans and most likely supported the taxation. So no matter what answer he gave, he was guaranteed to offend one of the groups.

After having chastised them, Jesus then asks them to show him a denarius. When they do, he inquires whose face is on it. When they reply it is Caesar’s, Jesus answers their question: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.


Most people only know the first part of this quote; and even those who know the other half don’t understand what Jesus meant by it.

As I see it, the point Jesus was making is that a denarius bears the image of Caesar. Therefore, if Caesar issues a tax, it should be paid.

In other words, his answer is yes, the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar if required to.

But the other half of the answer is the most insightful. He says to them “Give to God what is God’s.”

When he says this, he is referring to mankind, which bears the image and likeness of God. Therefore, men should give what God demands of them as well. And God made it clear in the Old Testament they were to love him with all their heart, soul, and strength.

This is what makes Jesus’ answer so profound. In addition to saying the Jews should submit to the Roman government, Jesus is telling them that they should be as equally concerned, if not more concerned, about submitting to what God asks of them.

He is essentially putting God’s commandments above Caesar’s decrees and laws while simultaneously telling people to obey Caesar. He is effectively disarming any qualms the Herodians may have about his answer, while making it impossible for the Pharisees to accuse him of putting obedience to Rome above obedience to God. Additionally, he is chastising them for their obsession with money rather than spirituality.

The phrase “Render unto Caesar’s that which is Caesar’s” is often used in a very pro-statism and totalitarian manner. When used, it generally means whatever the government wants of its citizens it owns or is entitled to.

Those who use only the first part of the phrase miss the entire point Jesus made; our focus should not be so much on money and the government as it is on God. This was a direct attack on the Sadducees, Herodians and other chief priests who placed their allegiance to Rome – the government – above God. It was the chief priest who would later say at Jesus’ trial “We have no king but Caesar.”

The underlying message, however, is that Christians should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” as long as it does not belong to God, and it would be foolish to think there is anything we could “render unto God” which is Caesar’s, i.e the government, because everything is created by God.

For Christians today, this means while we should be concerned about matters such as taxes and money, we shouldn’t become so obsessed with money and taxes to the point where we forget our obedience to God.

photo by tonynetone

How to Claim Money on a Personal Injury

personal injuryThere are many variables at play in claiming money for personal injury, some are fixed and others keep changing during the recovery process. Let’s examine each one. First, who you are matters. The variables here include your age, occupation, health, whether or not you are retired or stay at home, your family and your career. On the opposing side, the net worth of the defendant matters.

Who you are filing against matters. Is it an individual, corporation or insurance company? Winning cases against corporations or insurance companies can be time consuming and costly. They have experienced legal teams whose sole responsibility is to settle claims for a little as possible, as quickly as possible. If they don’t, they will stall and delay your claim, trying to bring you to your knees to settle on their terms. This is especially true if you cannot work.

Every case is unique. Most defendants will pay for medical bills and may pay as little as possible for pain and suffering. Over 50% of insurance adjusters use a computerized program called Collosus. They pump into their computers, medical expenses, lost wages, severity of the accident and a percentage for pain and suffering. The program considers the extent of injuries such as broken bones, loss of limbs, restriction of movement, radiating pain, depression, headache, dizziness and visual problems. Then they calculate the opposing attorney’s win-loss record at trial, and possible trial venue. What spews out is a settlement number. If you want to go about the process with less risk, go with no win no fee claims from first4lawyers.

You, as Plaintiff, can accept or reject any offer. If your injuries are severe, you should hire a skilled personal injury attorney. He/she will advise you as to whether you should consider settling before arbitration or trial. He/she will also advise you concerning how much your counter offer should be. Anyone who has negotiated previously will know that both sides have an agenda. The plaintiff wants the most money possible. The defendant wants to settle for as little as possible. Let’s take an example. The defendant’s insurance company is offering a settlement of $100,000. You, as plaintiff, want $300,000. In the heat of the moment, you want to split the difference and settle for $200,000. Wrong. The only way to win is to counter offer with the smallest possible amount, say $296,000. Always use an odd number. The opposing side will always wonder why you chose that number. They will also know of your determination for getting the most money. At this point do not❠make another offer. Let the defendant make the next offer. This back and forth process may take several months. Don’t rush it. Any anxiety sensed from you will harden the opposition. When the gap between you and the defendant has narrowed to the point where you feel there is little more to give, you can decide to accept of reject the final offer.

If you need some legal guidance, you may want to check out legal zoom reviews for more info on how to protect yourself.

Remember that you have the option of going to arbitration or trial, but keep in mind that the defendant’s final offer will be used in these negotiations.

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photo by neeta_lind

9 Tips to Graduate College Without the Chains of Debt!

graduate debt freeWith the costs of college tuition and living expenses skyrocketing, I hear a lot of people, particularly teenagers in high school, talk about whether it is possible to graduate from college without incurring any debt.

The truth is, despite the rising costs recently, it is possible for someone to obtain a degree without burdening themselves with student loans.

I myself was able to pull it off due to a combination of planning, saving, and generous assistance from family and relatives.

In order for it to happen, though, someone has to make it a priority, not merely wishful thinking or an afterthought. Avoiding debt in higher education requires thoughtful consideration and strategic decision-making.

To help out, here are a few things I learned along the way which could be of use to those who either are about to embark on their college journey or have children or younger siblings who have a few more years before they have to worry about it.

1. Get a job ASAP

I got a job as a sophomore in high school working as a birthday coordinator (yes, that was the actual title) for a local recreational place near my house. I then got another job as a clerk at the local grocery store and worked continuously until the week before I left for my first day of college.

Getting a job as early as possible is important not only because it helps pay towards your college, but it also teaches you skills which you help be successful in college. For example, my senior year I ran on the cross country and track team in addition to my grocery clerk job. This meant I had to be up at around 6 a.m,. , leave home at 7 a.m. in the morning, finish cross country practice at 5:30 p.m. and not get back home until 10 p.m.

To survive, I had to be organized and efficient with my time. I had to learn how to cram in study sessions in between lunch breaks at work or before school and sports practice.

The discipline I had acquired from that really helped me my final quarter of college, when I was working as the news editor for the university student newspaper while also taking 22 credits.

2. Save, save, save

When I first saw money trickle into my bank account, there was a terrible temptation to spend some of it. Occasionally, I did. After all, it seems as though you can afford to spend small amounts, especially when the number rises into the thousands of dollars.

The problem is it’s an illusion. Although your savings may seem like a lot, remember it’s going to pay for several years of college amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. You will need every penny.

After deducting a small amount of your paycheck for tithing and expenses, tuck the rest of it away in a savings account and don’t touch it. It won’t accumulate much interest, but you will be less tempted to spend it there, especially if you love your debit card. I made the mistake of making lots of small orders on, thinking I wasn’t spending much, until I counted up the total spending and realized how much it actually turned out to be.

Don’t let spending creep up on you by avoiding unnecessary purchases.

3. Take as many Advancement Placement classes you can where you have a realistic chance of passing the test

While in high school I took three separate AP classes, all of them social studies-related. And I passed all three tests and got college credit for it.

There was a reason I didn’t bother in math or science; I was terrible at both. Today, there is a strong push, depending on your school district, to take AP classes, and even more pressure to take the test. Don’t listen to anyone except yourself on this. As Dirty Harry said, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Know yours. Take only the AP classes where you either have the time to study or the material comes easy to you and you won’t have trouble with the test.

I say this because when it comes to college, the test is all that matters. If chances are you won’t pass the test, you risk taking a class where you won’t receive any college credit, and all the hard work and studying will only take away time you could have dedicated to your other classes.

By taking AP classes, and passing the tests, I freed myself up from several requisite courses which, in addition to other decisions, enabled me to graduate two quarters early.

4. Do running start for the last two years of high school

This was one big regret of mine from high school. I never took running start, and looking back if I could have I would have done it in an instant. Aside from some extra costs, it is essentially two free years of college that also count as two years of high school. When you eventually go to the college of your choice, you will have two years already completed, freeing you up to pursue other courses. The downside to this option is that it will separate you socially from the rest of your high school peers, but if you’re participating in a sport of other extra curricular activity this won’t have as much of an impact. And frankly, sparing yourself two years financially of college is worth the juvenile social drama.

5. Be realistic about the colleges you can afford

I do say this with somewhat of a side note: this is for people who are interested mainly in obtaining a degree with incurring debt and don’t have a specific college in mind, or their financial capacity to afford it is the highest priority. If you aspire to attend a prestigious private university or Ivy League school, where the costs are substantially higher, or your career involves an extended education, i.e. doctor, lawyer, master’s degree, it becomes increasingly contingent upon your financial background and the scholarship money/financial assistance you receive if you still want to graduate debt free.

From the get-go, I selected colleges I could afford based on the amount of money I had saved, would make during the summers in-between school, and other financial assistance I received from my family. Depending on your circumstances, i.e. scholarships, financial assistance, family finances, you may have a greater range of colleges to attend than others.

For me, it was mostly confined to in-state public universities, so my options were somewhat limited. The university I ultimately chose, Eastern Washington University, had one of the lowest tuition rates in the state (tuition has spiked since, though). But I was realistic about what I could afford.

If you’re in college

6. Try to work a part time job during the school year

This is easier when you’re attending a college located within a larger city, where more jobs are available, but if you can, try to find some way to make money while you’re at school. Thanks to Craigslist, you can often find part-time or freelance work in your region, or apply for one after the school year starts. You can also apply for jobs at the university you attend. One popular job at my university for students was working in the library. Others tutored or taught music lessons.

This is beneficial because working year round, rather than merely during the summer, will help even if it’s confined to the weekends or a few hours in the afternoon each day. It can be difficult, though, for those with greater academic loads or more rigorous courses.

Additionally, if the job happens to give you career-related work experience, it’s two birds with one stone, so to speak.

7. Take classes you have to take to graduate, not ones you want to take

Most universities have a list of requisite courses you’re required to take in order to graduate. Some of them give you flexibility as to the course. Others do not. I took lots of literature courses, such as Shakespeare or Western Literature, but they all applied to my general course requirements.

What I’ve found after college, however, is that many classes I took, purely out of my interest on the subject, were a waste. With the Internet, you can not only study the subject just as thoroughly for free on many websites, but you can also check out the required reading for the course, order the books online or from a library, and then study at your leisure. This certainly isn’t the most orthodox manner in which to educate yourself, but it will certainly save you more than a buck.

8. Cut costs any way you can

I know you’re supposed to “have fun” in college, but “having fun” shouldn’t bankrupt you. This is the time to be frugal and not get harangued for it. Shop at thrift stores where you can buy second-hand items for dirt cheap. When you shop for food, buy inexpensive, but healthy products like fruits, vegetables, and pasta. And stay away from the liquor section of the grocery store.  Try to avoid things like cash loans.  Instead, work additional part time jobs!

Some universities require you to live on campus for the first year which include their meal plans; if you can, avoid it. Generally speaking, their “meal plans” are the equivalent of a coal mining company “truck system.” Since they control where you spend your meal plan dollars, they can set the prices as high as they like.

If you are required to live in the residential halls, get the cheapest meal plan you can and shop for the rest. When purchasing books for classes, there are dozens of ways to either avoid the eye-gauging prices at the university bookstore or paying for them at all. for the first two quarters my freshmen year, I had to buy only two full-priced books; the rest were either borrowed or the earlier edition, which is usually 10-20 percent of the original price.

If you aren’t required to live in the residential halls, be willing to settle for less than you’re accustomed to at home when it comes to your living situation. After living in my (Beta Theta Pi) fraternity house for two and a half years, I moved into a slightly renovated miner’s shack from the Great Depression after finding it on Cragislist. It was 300 square feet. No insulation between the single board walls. The temperature never got above 60 degrees even with the electric baseboard heaters on day and night. When the temperature outside dipped down to near zero degrees, I woke up in the mornings with frost on my side of the walls stuck to my blanket.

Was it a sultan’s palace? Not really. But it was cheap and a monthly lease, which is exactly what I needed. I wouldn’t recommend this for 99 percent of people, but if you can find a cheaper place with less amenities than usual, give it a thought before you turn it down.

9. Pray about your decisions before you make it, and keep praying

This is something I really didn’t do until my last year of college, and I very much regret, but before you make major decisions about what school to attend and what career to go into, the best thing you can do is to pray about it.

As a Christian, your life isn’t just about what you want, but what God wants, and often they are not the same. For example, you may wish to attend a certain college or get a certain degree, but God could have other plans for you. Or, they may be the same. The only way to find out is to pray about it.

I regret not praying over it because after I chose which university to attend I got anxious about whether or not I had made the right choice. I also know people who were dead set on graduating from a certainty university, only to find themselves, due to circumstances mostly beyond their control, end up elsewhere.

But prayer shouldn’t stop there. The desire to remain debt-free is biblical, so there is nothing wrong with asking God for help in that endeavor. Just remember to pray, not wish.

photo by smemon

Giving is Not Just About Money

givingAs Christians we often place special importance on giving money, to the Church, to other charities, to those in need who are close to us. But what if you don’t have extra money to give? Or if you’re one of the people who are in need? Should you not give?

The reality is that even if you don’t have money to give, there’s always something that you can offer to others and even to the Church in lieu of money.

Giving time and effort

In Matthew 9:37 Jesus said, âThe harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.❠Even then, while Jesus walked among us in the body, there were far too few who would step forward and give their time and effort for Kingdom work. That verse is as true now as it was then. Many times people give money to the Church in lieu of their time and effort, even though the latter is needed more than money.

All churches and charities need people to give their time and effort, even if they can’t give money. People are needed for the collection and disbursement of funds, for administrative functions and for providing goods and services to beneficiaries and others.

Time and effort isn’t less important than money either. If a church or a charity don’t have volunteers to run the organization, they might have to pay people and that will cost even more money. Your time and efforts matter!

The same is true of the people in need around you. Many of them need help, as in physical help, more than they need money. Anyone who is able bodied can provide time and effort to a person who is elderly, disabled or going through a rough time in life.

Giving material goods

Material goods can also be just as good as money. Donating old furniture or a used car to a church, charity or someone in need may enable people facing trouble to get by in life.

There are times when simply providing a home cooked meal to a struggling family can be the greatest witness of all. It says you care enough to contribute to their well being, and the message that conveys can be stronger than a cash donation. It puts a person behind a gift.

The next time you’re going to replace something in your homeâ”a lawn mower, a fan, a refrigerator or anything that still worksâ”consider donating it to a charity or give it to a person or family in need. That’ll be no less valuable than money.

Giving expertise

Every one of us have skills that we could use to help others. Sometimes you hear of a doctor or dentist who volunteer their services in a poor neighborhood one day a monthâ”we can all do the same thing.

Can you prepare income taxes? Do home repairs? Deal with creditors? Sew clothing? There are people in need who could use your services right now.

Giving compassion

In a world where disconnected people are all too common, sometimes the best gift we can give is compassion. During normal timesâ”what ever they areâ”most of us may be quite content to be separated from others. It’s become something of a cultural norm in a world of electronic entertainment and security systems. But when death, disease or some other crisis hits we suddenly need people. Being available to be a support in a crisis is another way to give, and its even more valuable than money most times.

In the middle of crisis, we all need someone to talk to, someone to offer us support or simply to listen. Most of us, most of the time, never seem to have the time to do this. Being available to someone in need is a real gift, even and often especially if the person is a complete stranger. In fact, what better Christian witness is there than giving the gift of compassion to a stranger?

Giving non-monetarily shouldn’t be a substitute if you DO have money

So far, I’ve discussed giving in lieu of money, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give money if you’re in a position to do soâ”and most of us are.

Giving money might be more about us than it is about the people or organizations we give our gifts to. It’s an indication of the state of our hearts. As believers, we must be willing to let go of what we have, especially money. When we do, we’re making a statement about our own faithâ”not for others to see, but for God. We’re telling Him that we trust Him enough to let go of our money.

Most of us are in a position to give generously, whether it’s time and effort, material goods, expertise, compassionâ”or money. The next time you think you have no money to give, think a little harder about ALL that you have, and you’ll find plenty that you can give.

Have you ever failed to give because of a lack of money?

photo by krislitman

Managing your Car Expense

car expenseCar insurance is a major expense that can drain your precious funding for other important aspects in your life. Especially if you have had a few car accidents or have been pulled over for speeding before, this can raise the bill of your car insurance making it more expensive, and sometimes it can even make your vehicle hard to afford. However, despite the expense of car insurance, it is irreplaceable if you suddenly get into a car accident. There are benefits that almost make it a must.

These benefits will depend on the type of car insurance policy that you purchase; however, these are some of the benefits that will come with the purchase of car insurance.

Covered if you are injured in a car accident

If you are injured in a car accident and you do not have medical insurance, then you will be covered up. This is tremendously beneficial when you would otherwise have an expensive bill to pay.

Damage to car in an accident is covered

Damage to a car in an accident can sometimes be expensive. Without the coverage of car insurance, you might find yourself without a vehicle to get to work. This can be devastating and can also cause a lot of stress.

Peace of mind

Simply knowing that you will not be devastated if your car is in an accident is a great feeling. It will provide you with a peace of mind that is priceless. There is nothing like having peace of mind, and car insurance is one of those things that can provide you with it as you drive.

Are you looking for a place to purchase auto insurance? Try looking on the internet! There are auto insurance quote providers who will make finding an insurance rate painless and fast. The best part is that you will find that some of these providers will give you a quote that can potentially save you up to $200.00. In a world where car insurance is pretty expensive, it would be useful to all of us if it were more affordable, and online quotes are one way to make it more affordable.

photo by josephdepalma

Angie’s and Craig’s List: Consumer’s Best Friends

craig's listIn today’s US market, convenience and cheap prices are the primary goal for many companies. The majority of corporations were able to accomplish these goals, but sacrificed the quality of their products or services. Labor is inexpensive overseas, so many companies outsourced their factories, leaving plenty of American citizens unemployed, mostly factory workers and call center representatives.

Some economists would say that there is nothing wrong with the financial stability of today’s market; others would say that we need to bring the jobs back into our country. Regardless, change wasn’t being made quick enough, so the American people took things into their own hands.

Craig’s list and Angie’s list were made to bring products and services back into America. On Craig’s list, you can find products that your neighbors are selling. You can also find job postings in your area. Rather than going to the local supermarket for an item, many people are checking Craig’s list to see if anyone is selling that same item cheaper than retail value.

On Angie’s list, people are finding services that are backed by quality reviews. Therefore, they know the company they hire would do a good job. This not only helps the local business owners become more profitable, it helps the consumer feel safe knowing they are hiring a company that other people trust.

What are the true benefits of these two services?

Craig’s list allows consumer to consumer selling. It also helps local business owners market their business when they may have a strict budget that won’t allow premium advertising. Craig’s list helps keep money circulating through America, rather than pay for the outsourced companies to produce more products.

Angie’s list, much like Craig’s list, helps local service members market their company, be it electricians, landscaping, plumbing or any other type of service imaginable. Moreover, the website encourages previous clients to share their experiences about various companies, allowing potential clients to make an informed decision on whether they should hire that company or not.

Together, both of these sites are doing a great job at helping the local business owner grow their business. As more people realize that the key to economic growth is helping the local business owners, sites like Craig’s list and Angie’s list will be even more important.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, people rarely refer to the Yellow Pages and White Pages when they need to find a company. Instead, they go to Google to find local businesses, and then they may refer to Angie’s list to see what other people think. If they are searching for something very specific, they may visit Craig’s list to see if they can find what they are looking for. Craig’s list allows people to advertise services and products that may be hard to find with a Google search.

photo by merfam

Is 2012 the Time to Buy to Let Mortgages?

For many, homeownership has become impossible. People are leaving their homes in record numbers and this means that rental properties are in demand. As investors consider whether or not to take on a buy to let mortgage, they are shopping around for the right property as well as the right interest rate.

So how do today’s rates stack up to the rates of the past? Is this the year to take on that investment project and purchase rental property?

Lower Rates

When compared to the buy to let mortgages of the past, today’s rates have decreased somewhat, making it a great time to take the risk. While these rates are typically more than a traditional mortgage, the rates often follow the same pattern. Any change in interest rates means paying less for the property in the long run. There are benefits to taking advantage of these low rates.

In the future, as the financial situation gets better, there is a chance that the rates will once again increase. However, the interest rate is not the only thing to consider when determining whether or not 2012 is the year to venture into the buy to let industry.

Financing Difficulties

While the rates may be low, it does not mean that everyone can pick up rental property. The amount of money needed as a down payment has increased significantly. An individual looking to become a rental property owner needs to come up with much more capital down if they want to take on the venture.

In the past, lenders required around 15% of the property’s value to be put down. Now, the down payments often start around 25% and increase from there. If someone has the money to invest, they can pick up a great deal.

More Opportunities

With homeowners vacating their properties because of finances, there is a demand for rental property. People need a place to live and they are looking to rental companies and individuals to offer housing at an affordable price. For some, this means that a buy to let purchase is less of a risk.

They feel fairly confident in the fact that they will be able to find someone to rent the property. If they can find a tenant that pays on time, it can be a positive investment with long-term benefits.

If you are looking into a buy to let mortgage, be sure to shop around for the best deal or even consider Melbourne Mortgage for your needs. While you need to keep an eye on the interest rate, you also need to pay attention to the amount you need to put down as well as any fees or penalties that you will need to take care of.

How to Buy on Craigslist and Score Great Deals

craigslistCraigslist is the mecca for buying used items from your neighbors for a fraction of the cost you would pay at a retail store. Craigslist isn’t just filled with junk, as some may have you believe, high-end items can be found from top of the line Bugaboo strollers to Pottery Barn furniture, used cars sold by owner, and gardening supplies.

Craigslist is like an online garage sale, with the convenience of shopping from your own home.

After many years of selling and purchasing items off Craigslist, I’ve narrowed down a few key tips about how to buy on Craigslist and score great deals.

Narrow your search

Most people looking to buy on Craigslist are looking for a specific item. You can search on Craigslist through the search bar at the top and you can type in a few keywords for your item.

For example, if you’re looking for a mirror for your hallway, you can type in â˜mirror.’ However, you most likely have a more specific idea in mind. You may want a brown mirror. And you might want it to be round rather than square. Typing in â˜brown round mirror’ will help narrow your search to the items that will fit the description you’re looking for.

Email with specifics

Once you decide you’re interested in an item, email the poster with specifics rather than an evasive question like Is this item still available?❠Chances are if the post is still up, the item is still available, since posters have the ability to remove a posting once it’s been sold.

A good email example is Hi I’m interested in your item. I am available to view it on (these days) and at (these times). What works best for you? Would you take (this amount) for it?â

Which leads me to my next pointâ¦.

Always Haggle

On most pieces, people are pretty desperate to get rid of an item and they will most likely settle on a lower offer. Unless the writer says they are firm on price, you should always offer less on the itemâ”especially if it’s not a highly sought-after item. It may be harder to haggle on certain electronics, but a good price can definitely be found on furniture and baby supplies.

People who often state that items are part of a moving sale are more willing to let their pieces go for lower prices. Watch our for those key words to determine what you should offer. If I know it’s not a highly sought after item, or if the market is inundated, I usually offer at least 25% less. I fell in love with a dining table that was listed for $500 and completely out of our price range. I offered $200 knowing it was a completely lowball offer, but that was exactly what we had hoped to spend. We ended up settling on $250 and I was so happy.

If you also see that the item has been listed several times, there is a good chance the poster would be willing to sell it for less.

Always remember safety

Always try and meet in a public setting. For big ticket purchases, always bring someone else with you and remember to always let someone know the address of where you’ll be and the time you expect to be done.

Pay in cash and never let the other person know any of your personal information.

Craigslist is perfect for scoring great deals on used items and when you learn how to buy on Craigslist the right way, you’ll be scoring your own deals in no time.

photo by raucousrage


Options Express Review, Get $100 with a New Account!

optionsexpressOptionsXpress is no newcomer to the game. This company has been around since 2001 and recently became a subsidiary of the Charles Schwab Corporation. They offer friendly, knowledgeable customer service and no hidden fees. They also give you a variety of tradable assets to choose from and you can trade them all in one account. It is possible that this will eliminate the need for multiple brokers. They are SIPC insured and a member of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange.

OptionsXpress Trader Tools

Streaming Quotes, Xtend Platform, Webinars, Virtual Trading

OptionsXpress is a discount broker that offers several tools for traders. One of the main features is the Xtend platform. It is for active traders and offers one click trading and streaming quotes. You can trade options, stocks and futures in the one interface. It also offers a virtual trade mode so you can plan and test out trades.

There are also webinars and educational material offered free to customers. The Xpress Method is their proprietary trading education plan that will allow you to learn options trading, futures trading, and stock, mutual fund and ETF trading. There are tutorials, webinars and workshops. There is a free glossary if you have the need to look up certain trading terms that you are not familiar with. In addition, there is a personal coaching program if you want to take things to the next level.

When you first open an OptionsXpress account, you will probably want to start trading right away, but it makes sense to test out the features of the account before you put real money on the line. You want to be familiar with how the trade execution process works and experience it first hand. There is a virtual trading platform so you can do just that. You will get a 25,000 virtual trading account so you can test out trades and become familiar with the OptionsXpress screens.

What Can I Trade in my OptionsXpress Account?

Stocks, Options, Futures, ETFs

OptionsXpress gives you a wide range of choices when deciding what to trade in your account. You can trade stocks, mutual funds, forex, bonds, ETFs, futures and of course options. Each asset class requires a different set of skills so make sure you are familiar with how to trade before you get started.

Login to OptionsXpress Mobile

Another pretty cool feature is the ability to trade on the go with the OptionsXpress mobile app. There are several platforms that you can use to mobile trade.

  • Browser
  • Software (Xtend)
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Windows Phone
  • Palm WebOS

No Hidden Fees and Free Account Transfers

There are no account minimums or platform fees with OptionsXpress. If you need a broker assisted trade, there is no fee for that either. Option trades are only 1.25 a contract for active traders or 1.50 a contract for standard traders.

Open an OptionsXpress Account and Get Transfer Fee Reimbursed

Open an account with optionsXpress.
Log In, then fill out and print an Account Transfer Form.
Mail the signed and completed form along with a copy of your most recent account statement to optionsXpress.
Fax a copy of your final statement showing the transfer fee to OptionsXpress at (312) 629-5256 , and they will credit your account.

Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. In addition, electronic trading poses unique risk to investors. optionsXpress, Inc. makes no investment recommendations and does not provide financial, tax or legal advice. System response and access times may vary due to market conditions, system performance and other factors.


Is OptionsHouse the Best Option Broker?

options house reviewOptionsHouse is a brokerage that has been around for a while. It was founded in 2005 by PEAK6 Investments, LP and it has the advantage of the PEAK6 professional trading platform technology. PEAK6 has been around even longer and was named one of Chicago’s 101 best and brightest companies to work for. Even though the software is advanced, the beginner option trader can use the trading platform because it is relatively easy to learn. This options brokerage is SIPC insured so you can have peace of mind when you deposit your money with them.

Why Is OptionsHouse So Popular?

Depositing and Withdrawing from My OptionsHouse Account

When you first deposit money with a broker you will probably want to trade right away. OptionsHouse accepts wire transfers so you can get trading right away. What about nasty fees that banks charge for wire transfers? No problem, OptionsHouse will reimburse your wiring fee for the initial deposit. Initial minimum funding is only $1000 for a cash account but if you want to trade on margin, the minimum initial deposit is $2000. Make sure you use the wire reimbursement code, WIRE25REFUND. It’s also easy to take a withdrawal. If you sent money via wire, you can withdraw the next business day. If you used an ACH transfer, it will take a little longer because the funds have to settle in your account before they are allowed to release them. So just keep that in mind when you are getting ready to withdraw. Also remember that if you sell stocks, the sale takes 3 days to settle before cash is in your account. Then you will be able to withdraw pretty easy by wire, ACH or physical check. There is no minimum account balance so you don’t have to worry about getting charged if your account drops below a certain amount.

What Can I Trade In My OptionsHouse Account?

Options and Stock Trading with OptionsHouse

OptionsHouse allows you to trade stocks, ETFs and of course options. They also offer mutual fund investing and free DRIPs. A DRIP is a dividend reinvestment plan. When you receive cash dividends in your OptionsHouse account, based on your choice, they will automatically reinvest that dividend without charging a trading fee. Reinvesting dividends allows your investment to compound over time. There are several options for trading options. You can trade weeklies, quarterlies and the standard monthly options as well as LEAPs. If you decide to open an IRA with OptionsHouse, you have several trading choices. Once your IRA account is approved and funded, you can buy shares of stock and buy call and put options. You can also sell covered calls and cash-secured puts.

What are OptionsHouse Fees?

Low Commissions and no Hidden Fees

With all of these features, you would think that OptionsHouse charges the same as a full service broker. Well the good news is that although you will get the service and attention that a full service broker would give you, you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get it. OptionsHouse is a discount broker that offers stock trades for as low as $3.95. Need to call a broker to place your trade? That’s also only $3.95. There are many brokers that charge upwards of 20 dollars for broker assisted trades. For options trading, up to 5 contracts are only 5 dollars. For more, there is a flat fee of 8.95 plus 15 cents per contract.

OptionsHouse Account Types

Pratice accounts, IRAs and Individual accounts

  • Individual
  • Corporate
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Joint
  • UTMA
  • UGMA
  • Trusts
  • Partnerships
  • Investment Clubs
  • Educational IRAs

Ready to switch? They will cover any account closing fees that your old broker might charge.  Start your investing journey with Options House today! Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. In addition, electronic trading poses unique risk to investors. System response and access times may vary due to market conditions, system performance and other factors. OptionsHouse provides neither investment nor tax advice. Prior to buying or selling an option, a person must receive a copy of Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options (ODD). Copies of the ODD are available from your broker, by calling 1-888-OPTIONS , or from The Options Clearing Corporation, One North Wacker Drive, Suite 500, Chicago, Illinois 60606.