What is Sub Prime Lending?

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Whenever any of the customer visits a bank asking for loan, every bank in India or abroad will ask for certain documents. These might vary from the type of loan to the various institutes. The main idea behind asking for documents is to ascertain the credibility of a customer from his/her credit card transactions or previous loan transactions and guess the background of customer’s financial capability. 

In India for example, if you try to get a home loan, you are asked your salary certificate and other loan details. This will indicate the capability of a customer to repay back the loan and also is an indicator of the amount of risk a bank is taking on that customer. The bank earn by charging interest rate on the loan.

The sub-prime lending came because there are lot of demand for loans in the market and the laws were less strict in terms of whom to give the loan. Hence banks started giving money to customers even with poor credit ratings. This implies that banks took more risk (knowing that the possibility of the repayment is less) as per the history of the customer. This is done, so that banks can charge customers higher interest rates and can get a huge profits. The idea is that even if few percent loans get defaulted, you still can recover the losses by charging those extremely high interests.

Subprime loans can offer an opportunity for borrowers with a less-than-ideal credit record to become a home owner. Borrowers may use this credit to purchase homes, or in the case of a cash-out refinance, finance other forms of spending such as purchasing a car, paying for living expenses, remodeling a home, or even paying down on a high interest credit card.

There was also a lot of fraud involved in this sub-prime lending. Since a bank can charge higher interest and administrative charges on a sub-prime lending, they even started giving such loans to borrowers who were well with their credit history.

Imagine if most of the borrowers start defaulting on the sub-prime loan taken. The lenders would suffer significantly and that is what happened. The financial complexity of how such simple thing can lead to the current US financial crisis is difficult to understand.

Saving Money from 10 Free Softwares

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I recently bought a black HP Pavillion desktop for around 30K INR. It came with a “Starter edition” of Microsoft Vista, and lot of pre-installed HP Junk. It is natural being a techie to start surfing for free software for replacing some of the junk that come with Windows and to save money from buying those expensive softwares. Here is a list of softwares that I daily use, some to increase my productivity, some to replace pre-installed softwares and some to save money instead of buying those expensive softwares :

1) K-Meleon Browser : No doubt Internet Explorer is junk and can be harmful in terms of unauthorized scripts or pop ups. So most people recommend Firefox. I love it, but with FF3, is extremely bloated and eats up huge amount of my RAM. I tries Opera and Safari but didn’t like anything. Then I found K-Meleon, which is based on Gecko layout engine. It comes with few useful extensions too. It is fast and have some unique features too. A simple example is switching proxies with one-click. I use different proxies for my home and office, and using K-Meleon, I can switch between them in just one click. Very useful for me. 

2) CClearner : A pretty neat system optimization software. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. I have used it without any side effects and it helps me keep Windows stable. CCleaner - Freeware Windows Optimization

3) Launchy : Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. A very handy tool, just press Alt-Space and it pops up, type whatever application you want to open say “word” or “vim”, it even shows various options. No need to go through “Start –> Programs” etc. Very productive and time saving and best mouse-free.

4) GNU Image Manipulation : GIMP is a free image manipulation software. It is extremely rich in features and can be very handy for amateurs as well as professionals for imagine retouching or any manipulations of image. It can be used for fun as well as for business purposes. Lot of people feel that it is very clumsy to use, but once you get hang of it, you will love it. You can do extreme makeover using GIMP, as the following example illustrates :

It surely is a replacement for Adobe Photoshop.

5) VLC Media Player : It can replace the default Media Player on Windows and is very versatile. It can almost play everything. It can play various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

6) Outlook Attachment Remover : If you are stuck with Outlook as I am (although ThunderBird is considered as it’s replacement, for me it botches some of my emails), this free outlook attachment remover is extremely handy, especially if you get lot of attachments in your emails. This became very helpful for my office system too, since it extracts emails from outlook and keeps it in a pre-specified folder and still keeps the link intact in the email. Very very handy.

7) AVG Antivirus : Instead of spending money for Norton/Symantec Antivirus, the same kind of protection can be obtained by installing the free anti-virus software AVG. It provides a really good protection and doen’t consume huge amount of your resources. With Norton, I always had problems that the system runs slower. AVG is super cool and it keeps updating the virus definitions.

8) Office : The worst part of Windows, is that it comes with lot of unnecessary pre-installed products like IE, but it does not come pre-installed with Microsoft Office. You need to pay extra money to get the Office installed. This is where OpenOffice comes into picture. It is as close replacement to MS Office as it can be.

9) PDF Creator : It is a very handy tool, if you frequently write documents and want to share it with everyone. PDF obviously looks better than word documents. Just install the PDF creator and “print” any document to convert it to PDF. Simple!!

10) GNU Cash : If you want to have a software for managing your personal finance or a small business, then don’t go spending those $$ for buying any software. GNU Cash is extremely good and it is free. It uses a double-entry system, which might be confusing at first, but the tutorials are very nice. It will take you just few minutes to install and start going. It will take some time to look into specific features your need, but almost all that is needed is present. I will be doing a full review of the product later in some other post.

Financial Game - Creditability

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For my earlier post, I received a comment from RaagvamDutt, telling me about reverse mortgage. I am aware of reverse mortgage and know that it can be handy for old couple with constraint income. It does not contradict my conclusions of the earlier post, rather it compliments it.

  • Buy a house at old age, for living in it, and if you income is not sufficient, put the house on reverse mortgage, to earn that extra income and still live in it.

I just downloaded a new financial game called Creditability. It looks to me a pretty interesting game. Here is what the website claims :

Creditability is set in four different environments: university, a shopping precinct, TV studios and a village. The purpose of the game is to successfully complete the various tasks and challenges within each environment, building up knowledge of money, credit and debt.

Here are some screenshots :

ss3                                   ss1