How to increase the value of your home: cheap ways to add value and increase your equity

The post How to increase the value of your home: cheap ways to add value and increase your equity appeared first on Oak Laurel.

How to increase the value of your home: cheap ways to add value and increase your equity.


Whether you are looking to enhance the beauty and functionality of your home for yourself or trying to make a solid sale:

A home is the representation of our inner self and inhabits lives for decades; we must realize that it makes sense to add items, remove some and alter certain aspects to increase the value. Now, of course, you can hire an interior designer and a whole assembly line to set up your home for tiptop luxurious appeal –

But that is not the only option:

This article is not just for those who want an improved home, but also for so many out there who are trying to sell the house at a good price.

Forbes quotes Adam Hade, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence, to make the case:

“Cheap tweaks can pay off big-time. ‘And even when these don’t equate to big dollars, they may help sell your property faster.’”

If you are looking for inexpensive ways to turn that house into a valuable home, look no further. The recommended aspects of a new exciting house await you. Read on and let this list illustrate the top 30 essential areas of improvement.


Kitchen makeover


Kitchen makeover

Kitchen makeover


A kitchen will almost always inevitably become the top concern for those looking to buy a house. A place for community building and nourishment holds a special place for us all.

These are some key areas which usually require upgrades:

  • Faucet
  • Cabinets
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Utensils
  • Paint
  • Tiles

A heartening seating facility in the yard

A heartening seating facility in the yard

A heartening seating facility in the yard


You want the house to look comfy and spacious. But then you want to be able to make most of that space. A smart and efficient distribution adds value to the house. Consider setting up a table in the yard or the porch to say your home has a place for everyone.

Bathroom facelift

Bathroom face lift

Bathroom facelift

It is important to never forget the most crucial aspects of th house. When unable to think of these things, ask yourself:

What do I usually notice and find important to me when I am at someone’s place?

One of the answers will be a bathroom. From a place of privacy to our personal needs, a bathroom says a lot about the house and level of attention that has been shown to the house.

Here are some key areas you can consider upgrading:

  • Old fixtures
  • Old Paint
  • Overused and messy towels
  • Shower and tiles which need some scrubbing and grease


Door knobs

Door knobs

It is small touch but somehow the look, the texture, the feel of it and how it physically opens to reveal a part of the house—

You have to admit there is something beautiful about the rather forgettable existence of a doorknob.

Try to go for doorknobs which are consistent with one another and the main décor of the house.




programming temperature inside home

Programming temperature inside your home


Efficient energy costs coupled with comfort skyrockets the desirability of your home. You understandably know by now the effect of a thermostat.

Thermostats account for a considerable chunk of the energy usage in the house. If not programmable, then you have no control over the bill.

Taking the temperature down a couple degrees can reduce the monthly costs significantly. Moreover, buyers will be sure to shortlist your home for this long-term savings ability when choosing a house.




Sometimes, as you have experienced, a new coat of paint not only makes the room new to our eyes but almost gives it a sense of different dimensions.

Be informed that potential buyers gravitate towards neutral colours.




Appliances following the colour scheme of the kitchen add to the resale value of the kitchen. If need be, order door panels and face panels for that. Even better, unscrew, flip around and screw it back into place.

Only when the budget permits, buy something new.

Outlet and light switches

outlet and light switches

Outlet and light switches

Quite honestly, these items have a tendency of quickly turning into eyesores.

  1. Get new ones for it’s inexpensive
  2. Switch things up, get a little artsy and paint them in the colour of the walls

Long overdue organization


Long overdue organization

Long overdue organization


Do you remember just a while back when paint adding dimension to the house was mentioned?

Right, well, illusions aside, nothing shrinks up a house the way clutter does. Rid yourself of all the mess and clutter and free up some space.

This offers some much-needed relief to you and also gives the potential buyer an opportunity to visualize how they would like to populate this empty canvass.

Efficient storage options

Efficient storage options

Efficient storage options

Just because we talked about creating more space does not mean taking up space is a bad thing. It is all about creating an easy and fast way to help a person imagine a home here.

You have already done that by freeing up the counter, arranging the bookshelves and getting rid of old toys and trophies and badly patched up broken vases to make space.

However, if you can add some affordable and easy to install storage options such as colour scheme consistent shelves around the house—

It can help the potential buyer see where they can keep their valuables thus move a step closer to finding the home of their dreams.







You and everyone who lives in a house know – it is time to upgrade those fixtures. Maybe not all, but there are always those few ones which have been thorns to think about. The time has come for a re-do.

It adds a lot of character and depth to the house. Look into:

  • Drawer pulls
  • Cabinet handles
  • Faucet
  • And anything you come across


Landscaping changes

Landscaping changes

Landscaping changes


Looks matter and especially whatever comes in front of our eyes first will help us decide if we want to come inside the house to see its personality.

  1. There is no need to hire a landscaper. You are plenty capable
  2. Get rid of weeds
  3. No more brown shrubs
  4. Get new plants as replacements; plants which are native to the area, drought resistant and of low maintenance

Add a room(s)

Add a room(s)

Add a room(s)

An additional room can drive up interest from potential buyers by a long margin. Here are the inexpensive ways of doing it efficiently:

  1. Carefully analyse the rooms in the house
  2. Separate the vital spaces
  3. Focus on what could be altered: office, den, unused storage/utility/recreational room
  4. Now, add a closet there or a portable wardrobe

Voila! You have a new room.


Vanity cabinets

vanity cabinet

Vanity cabinet

This is a great addition. A vanity cabinet not only offers a chance for further storage but well-chosen designs can give the house an extended identity. Buyers will see this as a major takeaway after visiting your house.




Nobody can enjoy the house if they cannot see the house. All the new additions and upgrades go to waste if there is insufficient light. Even if there is, a light which does not compliment the overall colour scheme of the room does not help advance your cause at all.

  • Outdated lighting fixtures should be upgraded
  • Dim rooms need more light
  • Check out the wattage before buying. Something adequately illuminating is needed here




There is only so much scrubbing and greasing you can do. At a particular point in time, that old faucet has to be replaced by a new one. It is non-negotiable.

There are plenty of affordable and attractive faucets out there. As mentioned before, a bathroom appeal goes a long way in making a home out of that house. You have made changes to the bathroom already, anyway. So why stop there?


Toilet replacement

Toilet replacement

Toilet replacement

Take a look at your toilet. Is it-

  • Old?
  • Cracked?
  • Broken?
  • Environmentally unfriendly?
  • Not functioning as well as it used to?

Then in that case, there is no greater solution than getting a new toilet. Delaying is only going to make a bigger deal out of it.

Outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting

We talked about the exterior; the landscaping and seating arrangement have all contributed greatly so far.

Do not stop there. Before a potential buyer or your own family members can enjoy it, before we get closer to experiencing the tactile nature of it, we must first lay out eyes upon it.

Visual senses must always be engaged with depth. Install some good lights, pretty up the house and repel robbers and burglars at the same time.



Call your tradesmen

Call your tradesmen

Call your tradesmen

It may seem like this article is focusing too much on external aspects. Alright, now let’s step into the beautiful house and go a layer inward.

Do not forget, the house has to be pretty, efficiently organized and safe. Certain things like this are best left to professionals.

  • Call your neighbourhood tradesmen: plumber and electrician
  • Check the electric usage
  • Fix faulty and, or, exposed wires and outlets
  • Detect water and gas leakage
  • Fix it all up and present a safer & must-have home for the buyer

Try crown molding

Try crown molding

Try crown molding

Simply because we are following a rather inexpensive route in this article does not mean we want cheap looking homes. In fact, all ideas so far are about making your home even more beautiful and inviting.

What has not been highlighted is the jewel that stands apart—

Crown molding.

This gives you the luxurious look and feel you wish for and offers a lot of creative ideas to make the house the most wanted property in the neighbourhood.


Floor Tiles

Floor Tiles

Floor Tiles

Floor tiles are sometimes the last thing we replace entirely. If you want to keep the old, discoloured tiles, then consider, at least, repainting them and giving the house the new base it deserves.

Or, just install new ones altogether.


Tech friendly

Tech friendly

Technology is a huge part of our lives. We need to incorporate it one way or the other. Install USB ports in the kitchen, living room and nightstands. A potential buyer will appreciate this home which thought of the future in a long-term way. Do not overlook these values.



Knock down a wall

knock down a wall

Knock down a wall

You have tried a lot of things and if you still feel unsure about space and new ideas – start breaking stuff!

Here’s what real estate expert Elizabeth Gatlin has to say about knocking down that nagging, unnecessary wall:


“Knocking down a wall to open up space is incredible, and it isn’t very costly. Most people these days are looking for more connectivity in their homes. Buyers love seeing from one side of a house to another. Small compartmentalized spaces are so 50’s, they went out of style decades ago….The only thing you need to know is if the wall is indeed load bearing or not. Either hire a professional or if you feel confident go up to your attic and check how the structure is framed above the wall….The overall cost is fairly low considering the impact it can have on your property value and your home living.”


It may seem a little aggressive, but the freeing feeling and the opportunities for creative ideas which arise sure make it a worthwhile move.

Raise your blinds and shutters game

Raise your blinds and shutters game

Raise your blinds and shutters game

Here’s what needs to go:

  1. Aluminum
  2. Vertical blinds


  • Get new shutters
  • Get wood blinds
  • Consider plantation shutters for a premium look

A new front door

A new front door

A new front door

A front door is a gatekeeper which either makes for an inviting home or becomes as forgettable as you can imagine.

  • Replace the front door
  • Consider repainting it if working off of a tight budget
  • Ensure the door is strong, visually appealing and keeps the house safe
  • Try a new paint


Carpet upgrade


Carpet upgrade

Carpet upgrade


Change your carpet or consider buying if you don’t own one already because—

  1. A carpet can quickly bring about a visual change in the furnishing
  2. It makes the room look cleaner
  3. Neutral coloured rugs are most appealing to buyers
  4. Has a long-lasting impact on the overall look of the house

Highlight the walkway

Highlight the walkway

Highlight the walkway

Now, let’s begin thinking about the curb not just visually and landscape-wise but as a guide. This is where a walkway best directs our eyes naturally to the entrance of the house. A symbol and a metaphor altogether.

Choose between:

  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Concrete
  • Rock

Furthermore, whichever one you choose should be consistent with the look and build of the house. Uniformity never went out of style, remember?

Lawn makeover

Lawn makeover

Lawn makeover

Just the same way personal hygiene can impact how people are drawn to you, the lawn indicates the level of concern put forth by the owners towards the house or the disrepair it suffered.

A lawn in a poor condition may not encourage the buyer to step inside even if the above interior changes had been applied.

Lawn maintenance and its recovery value are quite lucrative. Take advantage of it as soon as possible.


Get a realtor’s take on it

Get a realtor’s take on it

Get a realtor’s take on it


Consult a realtor to make sure you get advice tailored to your house. A lot of the tips here still apply, but you can get some additions by speaking to your local realtor. That way you can get a good estimate of what best suits your house.

Follow a structured checklist

Did you miss anything? Here’s RhodyLife to help us create our own checklist:

Follow a structured checklist

Follow a structured checklist

Concluding remarks

The method to this whole renovation madness is to simply improve upon what is already there. Look for ways to fix instead of buying all the time. Get creative and breathe new life into your wonderful home. Buyers want something vibrant and homely; a cold, polished metropolis straight out of a science fiction graphic novel is not the goal here. Now, go out there and bring your ideas to life.


Author Bio:

David Nicoll is a freelance writer who writes about finance, insurance and investment property related articles. He is always enthusiastic to promote local brands like St George Underwriting Agency, a leading landlord insurance provider in Australia.




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Basics of financial responsibility

The post Basics of financial responsibility appeared first on Oak Laurel.

When we hear an adult asking someone to be responsible, it is mostly about finances. To understand how to be financially responsible is very easy, you have to learn how to spend less than your earnings.

To live within your means and out of debts seems to be difficult in the current era. Why? Because of these credit cards and discount offers we call amazing. And have you ever wonder why you buy more than you want while shopping at the superstore? Well, the product placement is done in such a way that you end up buying things that were not on your list.

Now, enough with what happens, and let us begin with what should happen. Here are some basics of financial responsibilities you should know about.


First and foremost, get rid of that credit card you have imposed yourself with. Using a credit card is fun; when you just keep on paying without actually getting any money out but if you do not be careful, you may end up in some serious problem that you do not want yourself in.

For people who do not like to carry around cash than go for a debit card instead of a credit card. Most people build up piles of debts just to relax for a while which exactly the opposite of financial responsibility.


If you are someone who reads finance related article a lot, then you must have heard of this B word often. People often tell me how much they hate doing the budget, but I always ask them to wait and see what it is doing to their financial life and if being honest; the pain you bear with the budget planning is all worth it.

To form a budget it is important to know where your income is coming and where is it going. But if you are someone who just hates to do it than try using an app like MINT to make your life easy. Following are the ten ways to stay healthy on a budget.

  1. Involve your family
  2. Emergency fund for emergencies only. What people do mostly is save up for an emergency and use that amount on something that may be listed as luxury or midnight craving for pizza.
  3. List down the items you wish to shop whenever you are out, whether it is grocery shopping or you are out to buy some dresses.
  4. Benefit yourself with technology as much as you can by installing applications that will help you stick to your plan.
  5. Treat yourself every month. Try to assign yourself some allowance to keep you motivated for keeping you motivated.
  6. Make your money invisible
  7. Update more and renew less. Try to keep things updated at your house, if you find something wrong with your car or an appliance or see the paint peeling off, get your hands dirty with it that very instant and make things right rather than changing it entirely.
  8. Home cook meal is the best option for you if you are looking for being more responsible financially. Your cost reduces to 50% when you start cooking at home.
  9. Bad habits may cost you more than you think. If you are a smoker or drinks a little too much then know that you are damaging yourself financially and your health is at risk too, and that will cost you hospital bills too.
  10. Hunt for the discounts whenever you can.


When you plan out a budget, develop an emergency fund too. It will help you in dark times and if not that then you may end up helping a friend or a family member.

Just make sure to keep this amount at a safe distance but that too in your reach. What happens sometimes is that people use their emergency fund on things that do not matter than regret afterward because a midnight craving cannot be counted as an emergency.


Author Bio: Sarah Smith has been a personal finance author for the last five years. She is also an independent and very passionate finance and investment advisor. She regularly posts at


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Debt Relief Options: What Are the Risks to be Considered

The post Debt Relief Options: What Are the Risks to be Considered appeared first on Oak Laurel.

Struggling with debt? Understand that you are not the only one going through this tough time. There are thousands of other people going through same situation. Just relax and get help! Countless options are available for you to get the needed relief.

Everyone’s financial situation is different so the first step is analyzing all options and deciding, which is the best suited option based on your financial crisis and circumstances. All of the five options discussed below will lead you to a debt free life. However, they will come with certain risks and effects on your credit report and finances so choose the right option with caution.

Monthly Minimum Payment:

The best of the debt relief solutions is the least complicated method and thus we are discussing it first. This involves an organized way of paying your debt on a monthly basis. This means by paying your minimum monthly amount against your debt will help you avoid any late payment penalties as well as other service charges and burdening interest on the overdue minimum amounts. By paying your minimum monthly amount, you will also work towards improving your credit rating. Paying only the minimum amount will however take very long before you are out of your debt but it will be the first step towards a debt free life, as long as you are not consuming the available limits after paying off once. If you can manage to pay more than the minimum payment on your debt, it will help you pay off the total debt sooner, resulting in less interest cost and better credit report.

Debt Consolidation:

The second recommended option is through the debt consolidation loans. By going with this option, you will pay off all your existing debts after getting a new loan at a lower interest rate. The debt consolidating loan can be in a form of loan with a lien on your property or your house. Using this option, you can focus on managing only one debt instead of multiple debt interests and payments at different rates with different payment dates. Moreover, you will be more focused on paying your monthly payments because your property ownership will be at risk, in case of non-payment or delays. Your credit report will be affected with this new loan, which will be repaired easily once you pay off all other existing debts.

Debt Settlement:

The third of the debt relief solutions is the debt settlement, which we can also call as the final settlement with the financial institutions after negotiation using a debt settlement agency. You should only opt for this if you are unable to pay your minimum monthly payment towards your debt. This is a tricky option and requires having a good debt settlement agent or debt relief company by your side. The debt settlement agent will carefully review your financial capabilities before taking up your case with any financial institution. The debt settlement process is a lengthy option where the financial institution takes you to the court after you are unable to make minimum monthly payments against your outstanding debt for at least a few months. Once in the court, your debt settlement agent will defend your situation with your lack of financial strength in paying in the full amount and a better negotiation by your agent will lead to a lower total payment against your debt.

Debt Management:

Debt management option is one of the very sought after debt relief solutions, in which you work with a debt management company that helps you not only to become debt free but also provides the counseling for managing your carefree spending habits. This option is very similar to the debt settlement option with the only difference of not getting any advice or counseling for managing your finances and spending with your debt settlement agent. The debt management company, just like the debt settlement agent, will negotiate better interest rates and total outstanding on your debts. The debt management company will consolidate your debt and pay on your behalf, which you will be paying to the debt management company. Working with a debt management company will have a negative impact on your credit report, which you should not be surprised about.


The last and least favorable option is filing for the bankruptcy. This option is rarely recommended by any financial advisor or any debt management company because it puts you in a danger of losing your assets. When you are filing for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy court evaluates the current situation of all liabilities and puts your assets for auction so that your liabilities and creditors can be paid off by using whatever liquid or fixed assets you have in your ownership. When you are filing for bankruptcy, it leaves your credit report in a very bad situation where getting any new credit line becomes difficult. During bankruptcy, the court may also decide to waive off any remaining liabilities if your assets are unable to pay for all your existing debts.

Author Bio:

Steven Rooyen is a husband, father, senior debt advisor and a financial consultant at Sort My Debt. With over a decade of experience in different financial fields, Steven has provided debt relief in Australia and helped people resolve their debt problems without applying for bankruptcy. While not doing that, you can find him reading books and hanging out with friends.g books and hanging out with friends.

Debt Consolidation Loans

You may be able to consolidate your high interest debts into your low interest home loan.

Bad Credit Home Loans

You may be able to get a home loan even if you have bad debt.

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How to Transfer Money to Another Country’s Bank Account: transferring money internationally between banks

The post How to Transfer Money to Another Country’s Bank Account: transferring money internationally between banks appeared first on Oak Laurel.

There are more options than ever before to do business internationally and some of the most significant changes are happening in the world of transferring money around the globe. Sending money overseas still has its issues for many, including long wait times, costs and security. Keep reading for more info how we got to the way things are when transferring money internationally between banks and about how to transfer money to another country’s bank account.

Basically, experts say the financial economy has to catch up with the dramatically shifted business world. Technology is becoming increasingly important and the competition for a spot on the world stage is creating change.

The Way Things Were

There have always been ways to move money from country to country. It’s in humans’ nature to seek out new business and expand. One of the first known money transfer systems were the Knights Templer.

The Knights were the security providers for travelers to the Middle East, particularly Jerusalem, after the Crusades. This was necessary as native factions continued to seek revenge for being driven out of their lands.

The Templers developed a system where people would give them money to send to these areas, either to a relative or for business.

It was recommended for travelers to allow the Templers to hold their valuables during travel, sending them a different way and returning their items once the travelers reached their destination. The Knights also acted as a secure bank deposit box.

A New Industry is Born

In America, the financial world shifted as more people moved out West. There quickly grew a need for the new pioneers to not only communicate with families back East, but to send and receive merchandise as well as money and gold.

Stage coaches were the primary source of transport for money and items, but that was risky as thieves often would lay in wait along the trail.

Wells Fargo entered the financial transportation market in 1852 with its stagecoaches safely transporting gold. The gold, sometimes weighing between 100 and 150 pounds, was put into the famous “treasure boxes,” along with other important items such as legal papers, checks and drafts. The green boxes traveled under the stagecoach driver’s seat.

Security was provided by what was known as the “shotgun messengers” protecting the driver. These men had the sole job of watching the area and warding off any potential thieves. Banks then became synonymous with safely sending money.

Even with these protocols, 27 Wells Fargo stagecoaches were robbed over the years with most of the robbers being tracked and apprehended by bank detectives.

Transferring money overseas began to rise in the 20th century in America when businesses grew and the country fought in two World Wars. It meant more soldiers abroad and those fleeing war-torn countries were migrating overseas.

The need for foreign communications grew and the telegraph company known as Western Union was there to fill it. Western Union started in 1851, like many other companies, when people started moving out West.

By the time of the World Wars, it was perfectly situated to perform communication tasks for the government such as sending telegrams to relatives of deceased soldiers. It participated in many government projects, some of which led to the creation of the Internet.

However, growing technology was eventually too much for the company to keep pace with and it began selling off its assets in the 1980s. That’s when Western Union began creating an international market for sending and receiving money. It became known as “the fastest way to send money worldwide.”

Sending Money Internationally Today

The Internet gave rise to new companies, like PayPal, which used it to digitally send money anyway in the world. That worked well as you could do it from home without going to a bank or to a Western Union office. Rates were cheaper than the traditional methods as well.

The world changed again with Bitcoin entering the world markets in 2009. Bitcoin was different because a person could send money anonymously, without it being tracked, as it was in all other methods.

Cryptocurrency has since risen out of the depths of the dark web to merge into mainstream society because of its convenience and cost effectiveness.

However, the real power brokers behind international money transfer is the blockchain providers. These are the technical engines that make accepting cryptocurrency possible. As the market and use for cryptocurrency grows, so grows the competition in blockchains.

What to Consider When Choosing a Method?

There is more than one factor when considering how to send money internationally.

You must consider:

  • The fee of sending the money.
  • The exchange rate cost.
  • The time it takes for the transaction to be completed.
  • Safety and security.
  • Rules and regulations of individual companies.
  • How you will use the service.

While most transmitting services post their fees up front, the exchange rate can change daily. That will affect your final cost as most services have an exchange rate markup. The lowest is 1 percent, but some can be as high as 10 percent.

What Are My Choices?

There are many ways to send money internationally today including:

  • Traditional banks
  • Western Union
  • MoneyGram
  • PayPal
  • OFX
  • TorFX
  • Prepaid Card Services
  • Cryptocurrency

There are various degrees of efficiency and cost with each of these services, so all of that should weigh into your decision of which to use.

One of the things to consider when choosing a transfer service for international money transmission is to know how you are going to use it. Some will need it to regularly conduct international business, while others may want to send small amounts of money home or pay a bill.

Will it be used regularly or just one time? How quickly is the money needed? These are questions to consider when trying to choose a service provider.

The important thing to remember is you are not bound to a method. You can change the way you transfer money abroad as your needs change.

Traditional Banks

Traditional banks have several ways to send money internationally, including computer and phone apps that allow you to send money directly from your account to another account easily with just a phone number.

The downside is they can be frightfully expensive. Many of the national banks charge $45 per transaction, making it financially impossible for individuals to send small amounts of money back home.

Another downside of using banks is the wait time. Some take up to three days to process payments abroad.

Western Union

Western Union’s advantage is it allows the recipient to pick up the money where they are located, so they get cash. That fact has proven a great asset to college students requiring more money from parents’ back home over the years.

But, like the banks, it is expensive to use for sending money internationally. Fees can rise as high as $80 and Western Union has a high exchange markup rate. Sometimes, it can also take days to receive the money when doing international transfers.


MoneyGram faces some of the similar problems as Western Union with lag time and expense, although it uses a computer platform model to deliver. Fees can be between $9 and $25 with its service.

Online Exchange Platforms

PayPal expanded its platform to include Xoom, which allows for international money transfers to occur in minutes. There are some restrictions though, including the $2,999 limit. and there is a mark-up of between 1 and 3 percent in the exchange rate. There is generally a $5 fee also.

There are other platforms that offer zero fees for transfer.

OFX gives you the convenience of both a mobile and a computer app. It has a low exchange rate markup of less than 1 percent and it even sends you an alert notifying you when the exchange rates will save you money.

It offers services to 91 countries, which is convenient for many.

The downside of OFX is that the recipient can’t pick up their money directly. The platform only exchanges between bank accounts. You must send at least $150 and it could take several days to process.

TransferWise is a United Kingdom company that offers services in many countries. The key advantage in this service is it has incredibly low exchange rates as it uses the same rates bank use when they exchange money.

This service is relatively inexpensive also, charging 1 percent of the sending amount, making it affordable for sending small amounts of money.

Prepaid Card Services

Prepaid card services offer security because it doesn’t come from your bank account and they also use electronic transfer, making them convenience. Their downside is in expense. These services charge to put money on the card and then again to actually use it to send money, making it a somewhat impractical method if you send money routinely.


Then there are the cryptocurrency methods, which are rapidly growing in number. There are literally dozens of blockchain companies out there with more starting up every day. However, there are two who are gaining ground in the world of international currency.

Ripple offers a seamless strategy for sending money abroad as it connects banks, digital providers and corporations. The base of its operations is XRP, which was developed for enterprise use.

XRP is used to provide on-demand liquid payments across borders. The company states this allows for both connectivity across payment networks, real time transactions, traceable transfers and lower operational costs. The lower costs equate to savings for users.

The company remains small, but is growing as it is becoming more recognized.

While Ripple is aiming its market at expanding businesses, another company wants its service to be for individuals sending money back home. has a platform for people immigrating from poor countries to send money back to families.

Co-Founder and CTO Jeb McCaleb said sending money should be as easy as sending an email. McCaleb, once an officer at Ripple, believes the global economy is not reaching its potential because of lagging financial systems with limited money in certain countries.

His company focuses on services to areas like the Philippines, Africa and India. He has four partnerships with financial institutions to allow for cross border money exchanges across Europe as well as Africa, India and the Philippines.

How Do I Stay Safe?

The federal government has guidelines for how you can keep your transfers to other countries safe and secure.

You should:

  • Verify the money transmitter is properly licensed.
  • Get a receipt. This will show how the money can be tracked.
  • Contact the transmitter if the transaction takes longer than 10 days.

Security when using any of these services is paramount. Obviously, the most secure forms of transferring money internationally are going to be traditional methods like banks or Western Union.

All money is tracked with these methods and all have both origination and destination codes. Staff is also trained to spot scams and have alerted the consumer and police when scams are recognized.

However, online platforms and cryptocurrency methods are also implementing safety protocols to protect money in transfer and delivery. They must in order to stay competitive in a tight market. You will need to look at each company’s standards individually to get a picture of their policies and protocols.

The federal government has a way to go to catch up on regulations governing all of these new and creative methods of transferring money abroad. Some current regulations may not apply directly to all the given methods. Still, it doesn’t hurt to investigate on how each method has applied federal laws to ensure the proper standards are met.


Understanding how international money transfer systems work and your options is the best way to avoid scams or problems. Those who perform transfers regularly will back these services.

As technology grows, there will be faster and easier options for conducting business overseas and choices will likely expand as well. This is positive for you, the consumer, as competition tends to lower prices for services.

The biggest advantage could be for entrepreneurs who seek to expand business in places in Europe and Australia. It is likely many may need to integrate payment systems into their online business platform to gain more international customers. This could mean a more global economy in the future.

About the Author

David Warren is a lead researcher and senior writer at HardStacks. He has been a financial engineer for over 30 years and has been investing in alternative assets since 2008. He has a passion for learning about economic cycles and educating others on how to protect and grow their wealth by investing in precious metals, real estate and cryptocurrencies.


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Home loan employment requirements: How you can get a home loan with a casual, part time job, self employed

The post Home loan employment requirements: How you can get a home loan with a casual, part time job, self employed appeared first on Oak Laurel.

Getting a mortgage can be both confusing and time consuming.  Home loan lenders all have different policies surrounding who they will accept as a borrower, which can make the process even more difficult.  The easiest way to find a lender who is likely to accept your home loan application is to talk with a  Mortgage Broker such as Oak Laurel.  Nevertheless, many people like doing their own research before making enquiries, and this article will explain in depth at the different types of employment, time required in your job and other conditions acceptable to lenders

What employment is generally accepted by home loan lenders?

Generally, most home loan lenders will accept the following types of employment:

An in depth look at the different types of employment.

Full time and Part time permanent.

Full time permanent employment is generally considered the most reliable and stable income by lenders, which improves your chances of getting approved.

How long do I need to be employed full and part time?

Whilst there are exceptions to most rules, the majority of lenders require that you have been in your job for 6 months and are not on probation.  If you have not been in your job for 6 months, many lenders can still accept your application if you have been in the same industry for at least 2 years.  Commonwealth Bank of Australia is also a notable exception to this rule, accepting 100% of permanent income from day 1 – requiring a payslip or employment contract as evidence.

Other acceptable income whilst working full time or part time.

As well as your base salary, most lenders are happy to look at proven income from:

  • Overtime – usually needs to be evidenced and averaged over 12 – 24 months. Lenders will generally only accept 80% of this income when looking at your affordability.
  • Bonuses and commissions – should be evidenced over 2 years.  Lenders will generally only accept 80% of this income when looking at your affordability.
  • Company car – 100% of your car allowance is usually allowed so long as it is permanent and ongoing.  If you are provided a fully maintained company car as part of your contract, many lenders will add $5,000 onto your income when calculating your affordability.

Casual Employment

Casual employment is often considered riskier by most lenders, with their lending criteria being stricter.  Nevertheless, your income will be accepted by lenders if you can prove a regular income over a acceptable time period.  An exceptions to this rule is Bank of China, who generally will not lend to casually employed borrowers.

How long do I need to be employed as a casual?

Most lender will accept casual employment once you have been with the same employer for either 6 or 12 months.  There are options if you have only been employed for 3 months on a casual basis.


Self-employment is often a high-risk high-reward affair for many people, and the banks look at it in a similar light. Self-employed applicants can often be very appealing to lenders, however they will first want to see that your business is stable and provides you with a consistent income before they are willing to give you a home loan.

What is I don’t have 2 years of tax returns?

Low-doc loans are for applicants that either:

  • Have been self-employed for 12 – 24 months (not all lenders accept 12 month ABN).
  • Have been employed for over 2 years but don’t have the financials for a full two years.

Low doc loans are available from many lenders, and generally only require your last 4 BAS statements and an “affordability statement” from yourself and/or a Certified Accountant’s letter.

How long do I need to be self-employed for?

For the vast majority of lenders, 2 years of self-employment will be required, often with 2 years’ or financials to be provided before they will consider your application for a discounted rate.

What if I have been self-employed for less than 12 months?

If you have been self-employed for less than 12 months, there are still options available, however you will likely have to go to non-banks and alternate lenders.  Liberty financial will lend to borrowers who have only been employed for 6 months, whilst Bluestone will go as low as 3 months, although they will want a strong employment history in the same industry prior to you starting out under your own ABN.

Special considerations for certain professions

Whilst this only applies to a select few people, some banks will often give special considerations for people working in the following field:

  • Medical sector – Doctors and other medical professionals can get a loan at 90% LVR without paying Lender’s Mortgage Insurance with some banks.
  • Fire Fighters and Teachers – minimum employment requirements are significantly reduced for Fire Fighters and Teachers of they apply for their home loan with Firefighters Mutual Bank and Teachers Mutual Bank respectively.
  • Police Officers and their families – QBANK, formerly Queensland Police Credit Union, is committed to helping Police Officers and their families financially.  QBANK often has great home loan offers available exclusively to eligible members.

Other acceptable income types

Most banks will also look at other forms of income including, but not limited to:

  • Centrelink income – including Family Tax Benefit A and B, aged pensions, disability pension and widow pensions.
  • Child maintenance – lenders will often look at the age of the children, with maintenance for children over 14 years (or younger, in some cases), generally not being acceptable.
  • Investment income – including rent, dividends and share trading.
  • Super on a case-by-case basis.


Lenders will look at a lot of variables when deciding to approve your home loan, with each having their own opinion on what is acceptable.  Whilst the above should give you a good idea on what is needed regarding employment, it is always recommended you speak with a professional Mortgage Broker.

Disclaimer:  Whilst we aim to ensure all information is up-to-date, lending policies are constantly changing.  We take no responsibility for the accuracy of this information after the date of publishing.  Always seek professional advice before making a credit application.

AUTHOR: Zak Avery

BIO:  After studying Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at The University of QLD, Zak spent 6 months in Real Estate, before moving to Gladstone to begin a career as a Mortgage Broker.  In early 2017, Zak moved back to his hometown of Brisbane to start his own business: Blue Fox Finance.

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A Complete Guide to International Money Transfer from Australia

The post A Complete Guide to International Money Transfer from Australia appeared first on Oak Laurel.

It’s Easy If You Do It Smart!

In today’s fast-paced world, it is no surprise that people need to transfer cash internationally very frequently. The need is generally more intense for individuals who live or breathe the international life.

Businessmen, investors, stakeholders and individuals who deal globally will always need to move cash over political borders. Whether it is for storing cash in another bank account, for paying workers abroad, for purchasing real estate, or for any other reason, the need is always there.

Furthermore, the list of the reasons doesn’t stop there. Shouldn’t something be said about transferring pensions or paying for a home loan abroad? Need to give money to the relatives back home? Need to invest in something abroad? What about buying a vehicle abroad? The necessities are endless.

But, whatever the reason is, transferring money abroad can be challenging. As a result of increasing frauds, places like Western Union ask a million questions. Their no relation to the transaction is the greatest problem with such systems. In case you need to send your own cash this way, it’s truly a hassle.

Over that, there are charges. Banks and the Western Unions of the world have been known to charge high fees. Utilizing a bank is one of the simplest methods for sending cash abroad, but it is the most expensive one. So, which is an ideal approach to transfer money overseas? To figure out, let’s first discuss the ways in which you can make such type of transactions.

What Options Are Available For Sending Money Overseas?

There are a few different ways to send cash from Australia to another nation.

Bank Account Transfers

You can transfer money directly to an overseas bank account from your own bank account. It is also called as universal money transfer method, a telegraphic transfer, or a SWIFT or wire exchange. A few banks also offer online cash transfer services that enable you to send cash yourself to an abroad bank account. But, this can be a more costly alternative and it could take 2 to 5 days.

Online Money Transfer Companies

Online transfer organizations ask you to set up an account online and let you transmit your cash yourself over the web. The company then moves the cash to your recipient’s bank account.

This transfer technique can be fast and cheap, but you should be comfortable in making transactions on the web and know the account details of the person to whom you want to send the money. See more info about them here.

Cash Transfer – Using Money Transfer Company

Cash transfer organizations allow you to transfer your money using cash or EFTPOS. You can approach such organization at their storefront or utilize any outsider convenience store counter. The individual you send the cash to will collect the cash at the cash transfer office in their nation.

Some organizations will also allow transferring cash by using the internet or a bank card once you are done with the account set up with them. You just need to tell the recipient that you’ve sent the money and that they can collect it from their nearby office.

This sort of transfer is often quick – it could take only a couple of minutes – however, can be costly. Australia Post additionally offers money transfers which can be done at all Australia Post offices that have the Bank@Post sign showed. To learn more, you can see the information here.

Universal Money Order (IMO)

A more secure technique than sending a personal check abroad is to utilize an international bank draft. You give your cash to a bank and get an international ensured check in return. Then you post the check to your family or individual who then needs to deposit it into their account.

While they are secure, this strategy can cost more than others, and posting it will be slower than an electronic exchange.

A Few Easy Ways to Transfer Money Internationally

A Bank Transfer minus the Bank

A bank transfer enables you to send cash from your account in Australia to another bank account in abroad. There are numerous Australian and worldwide organizations that spend significant time in doing the very same thing, aside from with much lower charges and better exchange rates.

A few choices in Australia incorporate TorFX, XE, OFX, Western Union and World First.

In case you are sending more than $1000, ‘non-bank’ cash transfer organizations are less expensive because their charges are lower and their rates are more competitive. Transfer expenses differ between $10-$15 for less cash. Most organizations offer charge free transfers for sums over $10,000. Find out more here.


When you utilize Paypal to send cash abroad, the currency conversions rates are not incredible but the charges are nearly non-existent. It’s also super speedy when the individual you are paying has a Paypal account. .

In case you are paying somebody under $1000, for example to an abroad freelancer, Paypal is less expensive than utilizing a bank. This is because they don’t charge a bank exchange expense, which can vary in between $18 and $32.

This technique is most appropriate for smaller sums i.e. under 500 where both parties have access to email and the individual getting the cash does NOT require it quickly. Keep in mind, if you transfer cash from paypal to another person’s Paypal, they will still need to get that cash through their bank account and this can take up to 5 – 7 business days.

Peer to Peer Transfer

Transferwise and CurrencyFair are the 2 greatest organizations that offer P2P transfers. Rather than going to a bank, they match individuals purchasing currency in one nation with individuals in different nations who are selling currency.

This matching enables them to offer better exchange rates. Sometimes, if they can’t discover a match, the charges and exchange rates could change. P2P transfers can be a significantly less expensive alternative for transfers amongst $1000 and $100,000.


You can utilize Bitcoin to send cash abroad but know that it can be a bit complicated, especially if you are not familiar with utilizing a digital currency. You’ll need to set up a wallet with a Bitcoin organization, as Coinjar, then add money to your online wallet in Australian dollars, convert it to Bitcoin and send it to the individual you are paying abroad. They additionally need to have a Bitcoin wallet and will then convert it to their currency.

Bitcoin transfer costs are much lower since you don’t have to experience any banks to send the funds. The exchange rates are better than a bank but you include some exchange rate hazard since you are converting currency twice rather than once.

Blockchain Technology

The upcoming generation of universal money transfer is blockchain. The Blockchain is the innovation behind Bitcoin that eliminates the need to visit a channel of banks for sending cash from one nation to another.

They have similar aspects to utilizing Bitcoin, including the advantage of super-quick payments and low transaction expenses. The principal difference will be the complexity. You won’t have to set up a wallet and the individual you are paying won’t require a digital wallet to get the cash.

Blockchain technology will enable international transfers to take place in seconds and at a small amount of the cost that bank transfers have. Shockingly, the innovation is still relatively new and needs more prominent acknowledgment from the regulators and banking fraternity. But, don’t be sad, you won’t need to wait for too long for this technology.

What is the Cost of Sending Money Overseas through Banks?

Numerous Australians believe that sending cash abroad through banks is a free service. But, the truth is a bit different. Research reveals how little Australians know about the costs involved with sending cash to another country. Considering one out of three Australians has sent cash abroad the level of understanding, or deficiency in that matter is stressing.

When sending cash to another country through your bank, you will be charged a universal cash transfer fee that could be up to $30, relying on the bank that you use. Your expense may even be based on the currency in which your cash is being sent, and you may likewise acquire an additional charge to speed up your transfer. And it doesn’t end there. When you send cash through your bank, you’ll most likely pay a margin of up to 5% on the everyday exchange rate.

Banks utilize something many refer to as the interbank rate to exchange cash with each other. This rate varies by the second, and you can check that rate simply by Googling something like ‘1 AUD to USD’. However, that is not the rate that the banks give you, they typically add up to 5% on the daily exchange rate, so on a $10,000 transfer, you could pay $500 over the expenses charged to send the cash.

When banks send cash from Australia abroad they charge a transaction fee and furthermore a margin on the genuine exchange rate. This is the reason you’ll be cited diverse trade rates when you get quotes from a few providers – they all charge their own margin. This margin is not usually transparent, so it can be hard to know exactly how much it’s costing you. As per a research, Australians are paying a tremendous $3.1 billion a year on poor exchange rates and abroad card charges.

Australians are being ripped off because of poor currency exchange rates and expense associated with the same. It’s not only individuals who are being ripped off. Small and medium-sized businesses are also loosing almost $150 million a year because of high fees for international money transfer.

It is also confirmed by the researchers that the most costly way to purchase foreign currency is through the banks. Most of the banks tell their clients that they just pay a little upfront fee for universal payments, however, in reality, the clients end up with paying much more. Enormous hidden charges are taken in the form of the exchange rates, generally without the client realizing.” And it is not just travelers who are paying this much price. Those sending money internationally to loved ones also end up paying a lot more.

World Bank figures demonstrate worldwide cash exchanges from Australians to their loved ones overseas is increased up to 26 percent in the five years to 2015, one of the greatest percentage increments in remittances of any nation in the world.

The banks have a lot of overheads than the online currency exchange services; however, it additionally could be that banks are exploiting their clients who don’t look around.

Factors to Keep in Mind While Sending Money Overseas

What service is the best to transfer cash abroad relies on the circumstance. For example, some services offer better terms for bigger measures of cash however the higher expenses make them less appropriate for exchanging smaller measures of cash.

Remember the following factors that play a major role in determining what is the best and the cheapest way to transfer cash abroad

  • The present exchange rate between currencies.
  • Are you sending one currency to another or keeping it same for example, transferring USD to a CAD account in Canada or transferring USD to a US Account in Canada.
  • How much cash you need to send (a little amount or large amounts).
  • Is it a one-time transfer or you may again need to send some money?
  • How rapidly you require the payment to arrive there.
  • The nation you are sending from and the nation you are sending to.
  • Where your funds start from (from a bank account, from a MasterCard, from a digital wallet, bitcoin or cash etc.).
  • Cost (how much money the process will cost you after all the fees and the exchange rate balanced out by all the advantageous and speed factors you get).
  • Safety – how ‘safe’ is the process you follow for money transfer.

Remember, a single offer never offers the least cost, the quickest speed, the best convenience, and the high security. You should balance these out to find a satisfactory deal. Some of the least expensive transfer cash abroad options are additionally the slowest and least convenient techniques, while the most costly alternatives are the quickest and frequently most convenient.


An easy homework is needed when it comes to transferring money abroad.

Once you get to know about the best alternatives that are available for you, sending cash internationally doesn’t need to be a headache. You should figure the expenses including exchange rates and fees related to the transaction. You should analyze different alternatives available before picking the one. Each strategy costs something, but you should ensure that more of your cash goes where it should – to your recipient, not to any third party.


Author Bio: Alex Smith is an editor and works at GCC Home Loans. He enjoys creating, uncovering and disseminating new and interesting perspectives on Finance, Investments and Mortgages.  GCC Home Loan provides Commercial Loans and Property Finance services throughout Australia.

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TorFX Australia review

The post TorFX Australia review appeared first on Oak Laurel.

TorFX review

What is TorFX Australia?

Established in the UK in 2004, with more than one decade of successful history behind and 100,000 content customers online, TorFX is a well-recognized solution for anyone looking for an international money transfer with good rates and even better reputation. It is a leading service when it comes to foreign exchange and money transferring, with around 240 professionals employed and offices in Australia, USA, France, South Africa, the UK, India, Spain and Portugal. It is a trusted and awarded service, which provides foreign exchange, and international payments, both to individuals and businesses, with transactions over £3 billion made so far. TorFX is also regulated by ASIC, Investments Commission in Australia, making it a safe and reliable place for all foreign exchanges and international payments.

What are the benefits and why choose TorFX?

The history of successful transfers speaks for itself, but here are some more reasons to choose this international service:
1. The registration is free and straightforward. Unlike many other, this service does not obligate the customer. Making an account does not take much time and is done just by completing an application form.
2. Competitive exchange rates and the possibility of timing exchanges can ensure the best rate available. This is really great as customers can save money on foreign exchange transfers. There is a best rate guarantee, which ensures every customer gets to transfer the money at best possible rate available.
3. A low minimum transfer makes it easier for individuals to move smaller amounts of money, which is especially great for those who are transferring money to their families, staff or employees overseas.
4. Currency variations are not something to be concerned about because TorFX allows its customers to fix the current exchange rate in case of such currency movements.
5. The customer service is excellent and always open for questions, consultations, and advising.
6. Every customer can stay updated and receive the newest information about currency market, changes, essential data and related news, which helps keep track of personal finances more effectively.
7. This online money transfer service is unique for not charging any fees when transferring money, which makes it a real deal.


Is TorFX legitimate? Is TorFX safe?

TorFX is privately owned, but regulated by Investments commission and has a decade-long history of successful transfers, making it a safe way to transfer money overseas. Besides that, if you have any safety concerns or questions to ask, the customer service is available via phone or e-mail any time of the day. TorFX is under Anti-Money Laundering, as well as Counter-Terrorism Financing act, which all puts your transfers under protection and keeps your funds safe.

Who can benefit the most from TorFX?

As it offers fee-free transfers, TorFX is much more cost-effective than banks, and both individual and business can benefit from such transactions. This exchange and transfer service is an excellent platform for individuals who regularly transfer money abroad. Since TorFX takes zero commission, everyone who is looking for a money-saving way to move money can benefit from it. This means every customer will be fee-free, which is especially crucial for those who transfer large amounts of money. European expats, as well small businesses can also benefit, because of great exchange rates, good service, and extensive banking network. This transfer service is a specialist broker and makes all transactions much more straightforward and even more economical.

TorFX fees and exchange rates

The best money-saving element to take into consideration when considering using TorFX is its exchange rate that beats all the competitors. This is a way to save money when making transactions overseas. It is essential to take into consideration that transactions must be identical transaction and bear in mind it is crucial to have a provided rate via e-mail within 5 minutes of inquiry. Both online and transfers are fee-free, and the minimum transfer amount is 200 AUD, while there is no upper limit for transactions, which makes this international money transferring service particularly suitable for larger transactions. However, amounts above $25,000 need to be approved by a personal account manager. With TorFX there are no unpleasant surprises nor hidden charges and fees. Although deposits are usually free when it comes to online banking, it is essential to be aware that there may be some fees on the side of the financial institution which holds the recipient’s account.

Torfx best exchange rates

TorFX offers a best exchange rate guarantee, which means the customer will always get the best possible rate for the chosen transfer.

How does the TorFX money transfer process work?

Customers can transfer money online or by phone and to make a transaction, the customer has to make sure that the funds are sent in advance. The only way to send money to TorFX account would be a bank transfer since this service does not accept cash. The bank account, therefore, must be in your name. Payments from savings accounts usually take three days. If you want to transfer money from your credit card, you must withdraw funds from your card into another account. It usually takes up to one day to transfer the chosen amount to recipients account, but this depends largely on where the money is sent. Note that it might take a bit longer than 48 hours if the currency of your transfer is among those less used.
The first step is making an account and becoming a member of TorFX international money transfer community. Once you are registered as TorFX client online, you will get a call from your account manager in order to confirm your identity and verify your personal details. You will be asked what are your funds transfer needs, so the account manager can make sure you get exactly what you are looking for and your funds transfer is arranged. You will pay in sale currency and then the money will be transferred to your chosen recipient in the purchased currency. After you receive order confirmation, you must choose the recipient and leave relevant details. The rest is just between the service and the recipient’s bank.
To conclude, when transferring money overseas, there are three simple steps to follow. You need to book a trade and confirm your transfer. You will get a Contract note where you can read the terms of your chosen trade, and then asked to pay. The last step is the transfer, and this usually takes one to two business days.

What services doe TorFX offer to its customers?

There are many possibilities when it comes to transferring money online, and this international money transfer service has a lot to offer, starting from immediate money transfers and regular payments, to more specific transfers such as family payments, emigration or buying properties abroad.
1. Immediate money transfers. Immediate money transfers are available, no matter the reason of urgency. The customer can transfer money quickly overseas and all that in the best possible currency rate of the day.
2. Regular transfers. This service also offers a possibility to make regular monthly transfers, but, unlike with a regular transaction which can be made with $200 as a minimal transferring amount, this includes sums from $1000 to $20,000.
3. Family payments. Family payments are also regulated, without any fees on TorFX’s side.
4. Transfers for Immigration/emigration. Emigration is one of the major reasons individual make online transactions since it is in customers best interest to save money and make a safe transfer, which is exactly what this money transfer service offers.
5. Funds for international property purchases. Buying property overseas has also never been this easy and money-saving; You can fix the rate for a period of two years, so there are no drastic oscillations in the currency rate, at least as far you as a customer are concerned. This means that currency changes on the market won’t affect your purchase and in the end, you will know exactly the price of your property.


What types of foreign exchange are available?

TorFX offers two types of foreign exchange, for personal needs and for business. The first one includes services such as buying a property abroad, and the second one helps individuals grow their profits.

What currencies are available when transferring money?



Are you looking for the best way to transfer money overseas from Australia?


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