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Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes – Secure Places to Stash Your Cash

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You might well, sooner or later, end up in possession of sensitive papers or other portable assets of great value that should be kept in a safe place – like an offshore safety deposit facility.

What kind of things are we talking about? Any valuable papers. Things like automobiletTitles, Coins (rare), Passports, Bearer Shares, Citizenship Records, Bills of Sale, Pension records, school transcripts, trust documents, immigration papers, rare stamps, mortgage documents and so on. You may also wish to store data such as USB memory sticks or backup DVDs securely off-site.

A safety deposit box is also recommended by many experts for estate planning purposes. To pass the contents of a safe deposit box to your heirs without any formalities, all that is necessary is that another person have access and a key. This is accomplished by having the inheritor be a signer on the box. If you don’t want them to have access during your lifetime, you keep the key and arrange for it to be delivered to them in a sealed envelope with instructions, upon your death or disablement.

Should you Use a Bank or an Independent Safe Deposit Box Company?

Generally the best solution is to rent a safety deposit box in a reliable major, first class bank – not just a box company. Many banks will require that you also have an account with them and that withdrawals to pay the box rent be authorized in advance.

Why should you use a bank rather than an independent safe deposit company? Because independent companies seem to fold or get robbed with great regularity. Like public storage facilities, they are also frequently used by less desirable characters.

On the other hand, a private storage outfit may not require any identification to open a box. They may accept any nom de plume you care to give them. Customers may be admitted on the basis of a plastic card without any need to sign in. As such a box is not linked to any account or payment facility, it behooves the user to pay several years in advance. This will avoid the box being opened and the contents sold for non-payment of rent.

One client told me the sad story of how after a long hospital stay due to cancer, he discovered that his box in a public self-storage unit had been opened after a year for non-payment of rent. The contents were sold at auction. He had a collection of old stock certificates that were worthless as stocks, but of great value to collectors. One had a rare original signature of inventor Thomas Edison. They were disposed of as scrap paper.

The Best Countries for Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes

Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg are traditional safe havens that are perfect for safe deposit boxes. A good country for a box is one where there is no need to show a passport or go through any formal border controls. This is not the case with Switzerland – unless you take your chances on one of the very few unmanned border crossings!

Vienna and Zurich airports are also convenient national airline hubs. You can conveniently pass through these countries when travelling between other cities. Just arrange a stop over long enough to visit your stash; putting in or taking out what you need. For a safety deposit box locale you don’t need to seek out a tax haven. Any peaceful, stable country where property rights are respected is just fine.

Almost all banks offer safety deposit boxes. If yours is located in a country where you have no problems, it doesn’t matter much which one you use. But you should have at least one person you trust who knows about the box and is able to access it. If you have an accident it is important that your box not be forgotten or abandoned.

Keep the Key Safe!

When you have opened the box, consider depositing the key in a sealed envelope with the bank’s safekeeping office or your personal private banker. By doing this you ensure that the key won’t be discovered on your person or among your possessions by anyone with dubious intentions, like your soon-to-be ex-wife.

Many bank safety deposit boxes have two keys – one is held by you. The second (a general pass key) is kept by the bank. Only with both can the box be opened.

In the very latest high-tech safe deposit boxes, there is no key. These safe-deposit boxes can be opened only with fingerprint scans. Another solution is to use boxes in places where they have combination locks. Experienced safe-crackers are good at opening combo-locks. They are less secure than complex keys – in our experience. We are likewise not keen on secret memorized numbers. Why? Because we have more than once forgotten an important combination or password.

Be sure that you can access the box without showing ID, in case you lose it and need to get at your backup copies that you thoughtfully secured within the box! Some banks, particularly those in Zurich, want to see and photocopy ID every time you access your box – even if you are well known. Where ever your box may be, be sure you are introduced to several of the staff who can help you access your box without ID should you need to. Tell them to take a good look and remember you personally so you can always access your box or the money in the account without any identification. Tell them your favorite stupid joke or story and tell them to remember it so that you can tell it again many years later. Then they will remember you!

Shhh… Can You Keep a Secret?

Don’t just take a safe deposit box key and keep it on a gold chain around your neck at all times. This is something that movie villains do.

If you want something secret, always think ahead. Don’t tell anyone about it. Leave the key and instructions with your personal banker or someone you trust implicitly. Also think ahead! Leave death instructions in your box – just in case something happens to you. These can be written, or can be on a CD in video form. Your box will be opened after about a year or two of inactivity – if and when the annual fees don’t get paid.

Sometimes a safe deposit box is forgotten for decades. About seventy years after the criminal mastermind and reputed billionaire Al Capone died in prison, a closed bank that he once owned in Chicago was found to have a long forgotten, secret locked underground vault registered in his name. His money had never been found. A national television network bought rights to show the drilling and re-opening of this vault ‘live on TV.’ Many people, myself included, tuned in for the grand opening. We thought it would be an event to equal the discovery of King Tut’s fabulous tomb in Egypt. What happened? It was a good show with a let-down for an ending. Apparently, someone with a spare key to Al Capone’s safe deposit facility had arrived there first. Nothing of the slightest interest was in the vault.

Will Your Secrets Die With You?

Most offshore banks will require that you have a bank account with them and that they be authorized to withdraw your annual safety deposit box rent payments from that account. With such instructions and automated payment you could be dead for many years before you are presumed dead and your box is drilled. Thus your banker should perhaps be instructed to open your instructions (not your box) in case he doesn’t hear from you for a certain period of time, like say three years. Better yet, your banker should be instructed “after 3 years of no contact, please contact my attorney, XYZ, or your kids, wife, best friend.” Someone you trust should have instructions on what to do with your assets in the event of your death, disappearance or disability. Your banker should be told what to do or how and when he is to contact those persons who will surely know where you are.

Perhaps someone you trust, who has nothing to gain from suing you, should be given a sealed power of attorney or an assignment plus a valid will so that all loose ends are tied up. Without this, in Switzerland for instance, the bank just keeps your assets! Simple as that. In English speaking countries there is usually an escheat law covering dormant accounts and abandoned safe deposit box contents. In England, unclaimed money and assets go to ‘The Crown.’ In California, box contents and accounts dormant for over seven years go to the Teachers’ Pension Fund.

In such cases, the heirs have only a very limited time to make claim. Most never do because they never learn of the assets.

Your Anonymous Safe in an Austrian Palace

The Swiss and the Austrians generally excel at running discreet safe deposit facilities. In nearly all countries, ID is required to rent a safe box. But in Austria, at the time of writing, there is one safe deposit company offering anonymous safes. It has been around for years and was highly recommended by a reader. It’s a good place to store second passports, bank cards and other PT paraphernalia that you may not want to keep in your home country.

This company has its facilities in the basement of a beautiful Viennese palace. It’s name is Das Safe and its website is http://www.dassafe.com If you are in Vienna, you can visit them at Auerspergstrasse 1. We predict they will stay in business for a long time to come, but for how long they will be allowed to take anonymous business is open to question.

Other recommended safe deposit facilities in Austria are at the Schoellerbank branches (where no key is required – access is regulated by an electronic fingerprint scan) and at the Raiffeisenbank in the ‘secret’ enclave of Jungholz.

A Reliable Safe Deposit Company in Prague

Another service we know of is Prague Safe Deposit in the Czech Republic. They require valid ID to open a box. The service from then on is highly professional and discreet with no ID required for later access. You can pay up to five years in advance. Entry to the main vault is self-service with a swipe card system at the main door. You can give the door card and key to anyone. They can then gain access to your safe-box without the need to meet any staff or identify themselves in any way.

This particular enterprise is a joint venture between one of the Czech banks and the Chequepoint chain of money changers. It has been around since 1992. They are located in the basement of an old bank building just off the famous Wenceslas Square. They welcome visitors to stop by and inspect the facilities. The street address is 28 Ijna 13. The website is not currently available in English, but if you do visit them you will find they speak English.

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Source by Peter Macfarlane

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Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?

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Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program

Direct Sales Agents

Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.

Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.

Colleges and Universities

Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.

Freelancers

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.

Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.

Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions

There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.

Advertise!

The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.

Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.

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Source by Lina Stakauskaite

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Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them

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The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.

The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?

Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.

Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.

Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon

First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.

Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:

  • 2006 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
  • 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
  • 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
  • 2020 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2020 to? – Prices Decline

*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.

The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.

Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound

Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.

Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.

Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.

To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.

Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care

If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.

However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.

Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.

This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”

Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price

This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”

However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.

Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.

Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.

Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price

Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.

Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.

Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.

During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.

The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.

Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission

Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction

Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.

For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.

In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.

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Source by Robert W. Dudek

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Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer

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Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:

1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers

If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.

2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer

It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.

3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part

Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?

4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer

It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.

5) Brand is important

Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider

If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.

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Source by Damien Oh

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