Venus Retrograde – Money, Love and Happiness

Venus rules your money, your relationships and above all, what makes you happy. One of the best things you can do during a Venus retrograde is to think carefully about what makes you happy, what brings love and joy into your life.

It’s a great time to complete any unfinished business you have around finances and relationships. For example, you may come up with a new plan for getting out of debt, you may be in an unhealthy business partnership that needs to be redefined or ended, you might have a great new business idea that needs more planning and structure before you can proceed.

In your relationships, people from the past may come back into your life so that you can resolve any unfinished business that might be preventing you from moving on with your life. Have you learned the lessons associated with this relationship? If you have been having challenges in a relationship, this could be a good time for a reconciliation.

Venus retrograde tends to slow everything connected with money and love giving you enough time to think about things and to see the bigger picture more clearly.

With Venus retrograde in Capricorn, it’s likely to be focused on money and business as Capricorn rules big business, debts, financial institutions, banking and insurance. Capricorn is also ruled by Saturn so you may need to restructure your finances and your relationships or anything that is not working for you in these areas. There could be endings and completions in order to make way for something new and more satisfying to come into your life.

Do you have enough balance in your relationships? Are you giving too much? Are you taking too much?

It is a good time to examine your spending habits, and with Venus retrograde in Capricorn, you may have to tighten your belt and only spend on what you need rather than what you want.

As this retrograde occurs over the holidays and the New Year, I would suggest waiting until after 20th December before buying any luxury or large items because you will probably find that there are huge price reductions and bargains galore to be had once Venus goes retrograde. I anticipate finding lots of great deals in the majority of the retail stores.

If you do buy anything during this time, make sure you keep all the receipts, warranties and guarantees as things can get lost during a retrograde. I once bought a coat during the Venus retrograde for$150.00 and I returned it to the store as it didn’t fit very well. Instead of refunding $150.00 onto my credit card, they refunded just $15.00! It took me months to get the rest of the money out of them.

On the personal front, you may meet someone and you may feel as though you are falling in love with them. Try to go slowly during the retrograde, take your time, because when Venus goes direct on January 31st 2014, this person may not be quite who you thought they were and you could end up being very disappointed. As long as you have gone slowly and you haven’t gotten yourself too emotionally embroiled, then you are not going to feel devastated if things don’t turn out as well as you had hoped.

Venus also rules the currency of a country, its money.

Around the world our economy is changing and crumbling and during this retrograde I wouldn’t be surprised if we see even more bankruptcies on a global scale and also on a personal level where people have just overloaded themselves with financial commitments that they are unable to keep.

If you have been working hard, you have no debts and your relationships are healthy and are founded on integrity and trust, then this Venus retrograde in Capricorn won’t affect you adversely. If however, you have been overspending and your relationships are toxic, then this may be a time of disruption giving you the opportunity to get your finances and relationships into balance once more.

Five Tips for Comparing Used Cars

Buyers looking for a new ride in 2014 will want to make sure they haven’t excluded used cars when shopping. The allure of a brand-new vehicle will always win over some people, but the truth is that used cars are more attractive than ever. A new vehicle loses up to 30% of its value within months after being driven off the lot, and the insurance rates are higher than with a pre-owned model. Those who are leery of buying from an individual seller can appreciate that dealerships are offering large selections of used cars, many of which even come with a factory warranty. The benefits to buying pre-owned are clear. If you’re in the market for a new set of wheels and are looking at used cars, consider these five tips throughout the process:

1) Don’t rule out the competition.
Most people go into the scouting process with a specific make and model in mind. The smartest
shoppers know not to rule out competing vehicles from other manufacturers. If you’re thinking about getting a Honda Accord, for example, make sure you test-drive a Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, or other midsize sedan.

2) Take notes on the top contenders.
Keep casual, yet organized notes of things you do and don’t like about each of the vehicles you’re considering. On the notepad, include a checklist of things you need to inspect or ask about each vehicle. For example, list basic factors like odometer reading, body damage, gas mileage, and major repairs. Give each vehicle a score of between one and ten immediately after giving it a test drive so you’ll remember what your gut feeling was about it after sitting in the driver’s seat.

3) Give a detailed visual inspection.
Be sure to look over every square inch of the body, looking for any sign of damage, such as scrapes, dents, or rust. This exercise is about more than making sure it looks good, it’s also a way to look for signs of a potentially unreported accident. Don’t be afraid to speak up and insist on getting all the facts and history about any body damage you find.

4) Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured.
Purchasing a new vehicle is a big financial investment. You deserve to be able to think through your options without feeling pressured to make an immediate decision. While your gut feeling about the vehicles you look at is invaluable, it’s also important to compare each of the contenders in your own home, with a calm head and some dedicated time. Don’t let a dealer or individual seller bully you into making an on-the-spot decision.

5) Ask about a warranty.
It’s not uncommon today for many used cars to come with some type of warranty. Some of these warranties come straight from the manufacturer, while others are offered by the individual dealership. If a warranty is offered, get all the details on what exactly it covers. Some cover all potential issues, while others are limited in covering only the basics. It’s not uncommon for warranties to have a deductible, some as high as $150. Also pay attention to the fine print on a warranty, checking to ensure it is transferable to the vehicle’s new owner.

Tax Agent

The term “tax agent” will check with two totally different professions, each associated with taxes. In one sense, it’s someone from an agency which represents the government in investigation and assortment proceedings to form positive voters and make sure that businesses pay their taxes. The second meaning refers to someone who prepares taxes on behalf of somebody else, providing skilled help for individuals and companies who cannot or don’t wish to organize their taxes on their own.

Taxation is a fancy topic, and in several nations, the government permits tax agents to organize taxes for a fee, typically handling the submission method in addition. In most places, tax agents are certified by the government agency which is answerable of taxation. This can be designed to forestall cases wherever individuals create as tax agents and either don’t prepare taxes properly as a result of they are doing not shrewdness, or use their access to private monetary data for dishonorable functions.

Individuals seeking a tax agent will proceed to check the person’s qualifications, as well as permission to apply from the government.

Certified public accountants, tax attorneys, and certain different types of professionals will act as tax agents. Several belong to skilled organizations with their own certification programs and will use terms like “tax practitioner” or “tax preparer.” In some cases, individuals are solely allowed to use knowledgeable title if they’re properly qualified, and folks will report dishonorable use of skilled credentials to the parent organization.

The agent can raise purchasers to assemble up all their monetary documentation, as well as records concerning financial gain and expenses. Several work with their purchasers to certain areas for saving on tax returns and can raise a series of inquiries to confirm if somebody qualifies for explicit tax credits, deductions, and different edges.

Particularly for people that don’t seem to be aware of jurisprudence, this will be a valuable service, as they will study varied savings obtainable, like deductions for tuition, sure housing expenses, and different matters, counting on the country and also the tax year.

Once the agent is certain he/she encompasses a complete image of the client’s finances, he/she will prepare a legal document, victimization this data. He/she confirms that the data is correct and calculates the whole liabilities and tax or refund due. Most can prepare federal and regional taxes simultaneously, duplicating the data onto each set of forms. Once the forms are all finished, the agent has the consumer sign them and submits, usually electronically for speed.

CEOs: Are You Sure You Know Your Financial Condition? Your Financial Statements Are Hiding Risk

Companies that manage risk are safer and more secure, and their financial statements can be relied on. Companies that don’t manage risk are vulnerable and their financials are misleading.

You, as CEO, owe it to yourself to know if your financials are misleading. Your lenders will also be very interested, as well.

You’re showing assets on your balance sheet and the silent promise is that those assets will continue to be there even following a disaster. Also liabilities are shown and, subject to uncontrollable events, those liabilities should not dramatically, suddenly increase, or at least that is the wish of those reviewing your financial statements, and it is your wish as CEO as well. There is no assurance achieved by the audit process that either of these conditions are the case. In fact, companies that do not manage risk may look more profitable in the very short run, because they have reduced short run expenses by ignoring risk management.

Here’s a way to conceptually quantify what we’re talking about:

RISK CAPITAL

A firm needs capital to finance its daily operations — to cover payroll, rent, materials and all the other corporate activities. Call this Operational Capital. This is measured by traditional financial statements.

A firm also needs capital to finance risk — to pay for things that unexpectedly go wrong like fire, flood and lawsuits. This is called Risk Capital, and is not measured by traditional financial statements.

There are three sources of risk capital:

1. Cash that the firm has on hand. To be sufficient, it would have to be an awfully significant amount, and it would probably not survive because of competing demands for its use.

2. Off-balance sheet capital such as a credit line which would be tapped in the event of a loss which had to be financed. The loan would have to be paid back, however.

3. Insurance. With insurance the financial consequences of loss are transferred to an insurer in return for the premium.

Additionally, risk management is broader than just insurance. Losses can be prevented by safety or quality control efforts, and risk can be transferred to customers, business partners, subcontractors, etc. via contract. This reduces the need for risk capital.

The risks to which the firm are subject are potentially catastrophic. The entire facility could be destroyed, or the company could owe $50 million to a plaintiff at the whim of a jury. How is management of these risks reflected in financial statements? Not at all!

Financial statements do not consider the need for risk capital. A cursory look at an insurance schedule comprises the due diligence. Whether limits are adequate in relation to actual exposure and whether terms and conditions (the actual policy language — all 1000’s of pages) are adequate is a crap shoot. The other elements of a risk management program — the loss control and contractual transfer — would not be factored in at all either. Bottom line: risk is not even considered on a qualitative basis – not to mention quantitative.

When the convention of risk capital is not used to make comparisons between firms, they all look alike — the financials do not reflect the difference. As the saying goes: “All boats float alike when the weather is calm.” Risk always uses capital. If it is not funded it creates a deficit. Only after a disaster does the deficit finally surface – a metaphoric contrast to the company itself which is under water.

RISK ADJUSTED RETURN ON CAPITAL

Consider two companies that generate a 15% return on equity. One manages risk completely, while the other is subject to the mercy of the gods. Until something happens they appear to be equal according to the financial statements. Mysteriously, there is an abundance of notes to the financials, but nothing substantive on risk management or the lack thereof.

The true measure is return on “economic capital” the total of operational capital plus risk capital.

Firm activities will generate risk and a certain amount of capital is required to handle that risk. To the extent risk is prevented or transferred to other parties, less risk capital is required. If risk is financed via insurance, that is utilizing off-balance sheet capital and that reduces the need for on-balance sheet capital. (The premium is reflected as an expense on the income statement).

If both firms generate $.15 for every dollar of capital that is measured by the financials, then the return on equity is 15% (.15/1.00) for each. If Company A manages risk completely via loss control and insurance, then risk capital required is zero. The risk adjusted rate of return for Company A is truly 15%. Company B, though, doesn’t even attempt to manage risk. By default loss will have to be paid out of cash or loans. Assume risk capital of $.75 is required for every dollar of operational capital. The risk adjusted rate of return for Company B, then, is.15/(1+.75) = 8.5%.

So traditional financial statements show the two companies to have the same ROE. The risk adjusted financials, though, show the big difference between the two.

The SEC sporadically validates this concept by reacting to crises and advising public companies that they need to disclose how they are managing certain risks – terrorism and cyber risk being two recent examples. The SEC might not realize that just noticing and reacting to the risk of the event that just happened is not actual risk management. Two principles of risk management are that a) historic losses need a very long experience period to be valid predictors, the more severe and remote the loss, the longer it needs to be; and b) recency bias (the tendency to focus on what just happened) is a psychological phenomenon you should not be fooled by. But, again, we thank the SEC for illustrating financials are not complete without incorporating the risk component.

We are not necessarily advocating for a change in the way financial statements are produced – that is for the CPA world to decide. We are saying that the financials do not stand alone, and if your CFO is not reporting on risk management, you’re not getting the whole story.

Managing profits can’t be separated from managing “losses” – ( not losses in the accounting sense). Ignoring risk is to make profits and net worth dependent on luck. We know we can’t really rely on quarterly profits because numbers can be manipulated in such a short time frame. Even years of continuous profit and growth can be unreliable if risk is not managed. A truly robust firm is one that manages risk while at the same time producing the consistent financial numbers the CFO is so proud about.

CEO, don’t be lulled into complacency by misleading financials

© Licata Risk & Insurance Advisors, Inc., 2014

Easter Crucifixion Ritual Has Roots in Babylon and Sun Worship

Those who favour the New Testament and have never looked properly into Old Testament prophecies are greatly misled. There are two Gods described in the bible. The first is the Spirit of the Universe and Creator of all things (Isaiah 45:4-8 OT) while the other is the Trinity God of the Indian Vedic that supports the Christ or mate to the Mother God of Babylon (NT). So which is right?

My knowledge into these things did not suddenly start but have been ongoing through previous lives. My reincarnation and passage into this life proves there are no such things as heaven or hell while devils, angels and saints are designed by religious leaders to mislead, confuse, manipulate and gather in the vulnerable to their congregations. The idea of an eternal life in the sky gathers them in while the threat of burning forevermore is the lock on the door keeping them there.

To begin with the dead have no living nerves and without them there is no feeling. It is only in a living body that one can feel so it is only through reincarnation that we can continue in life. The promise is that God’s people will inherit the earth, not heaven.

The idea of floating around in the cosmos forever is so appalling that to me that it would be hell. What would one do there? Paradise is painted as a place of castles, rivers, buildings, kings and angels and yet why don’t we see them. If they exist surely they would have been found by now, especially with all the space travel and so forth.

If something cannot be sensed by either touch, sight, smell, taste or feeling then it does not exist. In Isaiah 34:4 the Spirit stated that all of the host of heaven will fall down. In verse 8 we read that it will happen in the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion.

Jeremiah 25:31 promises that at the ends of the earth a noise shall come to deliver that controversy and God will plead with all flesh. It states that the wicked will be given to the sword. Among the many visions given to me the day was shown as a line stretched while and an enormously bright light, representing the Spirit, was at either end of it. In the middle it was shown as noon where it was almost dark.

There a man on a cross stood high above the crowd that were reaching up to him. Isaiah 59:10 states that they grope for the wall at noonday as in the night for they are desolate as dead men. That is when Jesus Christ appeared for the day is 4,000 years long. It brought extreme darkness and the controversy that God has with the nations and that they have with Mt. Zion.

The Internet was given to enable these promises to be kept. Through it everyone everywhere have access to the knowledge that is going forth to declare that all religions have their roots in Babylon, the Islamic city of the Amors. They moved west and built other cities one of which is Mari (Mary) named after the sun-star they observed through the Ziggurats. Their next city was Roma (reverse Amor) and they never gave up on their religion or gods. There they became the Romans

The sun-star is formed when light passes through an aperture and divides into the beautiful colors of the rainbow. It is so attractive that men devised a way to marry her by dying on the cross before sunrise. That was called ‘noon’ before Constantine changed it to midday. He was an Amorite heavily involved with the sun-worshiping Islamic religion of Babylon.

He established the Catholic Church based on its principles. He invented Jesus Christ according to Revelation 13:13-18 and he forced everyone to worship the image or be killed. He built the first Vatican and Christian churches and his religion was the first in the line of Christian faiths spawned of it. Later Jerome compiled the New Testament to give the organisation a text to work by.

There is every chance that he wrote Matthew which repeats the story of Krishna (Chrishna) as that of Christ. It also contains church laws which he took from the Imperial Islamic religion along with the festivals, order of mass, calendar, costumes, instruments and laws. There is also a chance that his cohort, Augustine Bea, was the author of Luke.

The Vatican appointed the latter to create another religion to credit that of Constantine’s. Recently published on the Internet is a report that a priest working in the Vatican library came across evidence to this effect. It appears from that statement that Bea located a man named Mohammed and established the Muslim branch of Islam. He may then have compiled the Koran while kings and leaders were encouraged to accept the new prophet and to promote him as such.

With Easter celebrations just a few days away it is important for people to reflect on just who and what they are worshiping.

Lease A Car With Bad Credit Versus Buy Here Pay Here Car Dealers – Which Option Is Better?

Car leasing can be one of the trickiest things that an average person can come across. Though it is not an option that everyone would be looking forward to, it is slowly becoming quite popular. However, one of the common assumptions here is that people who have a bad credit can lease a car instead of buying one. You must understand the different between leasing a car and renting a car. Though both the situations may appear quite similar, they are actually not. A lease contract and a rental contract are very different from each other. Leasing occurs for a specific time period of 24 to 60 months. Leasing is typically done for a new car and the credit score of the person leasing the car and other requirements are exactly the same as someone who is financing or buying a new car. Therefore, car leasing is done only to those people who have a good credit score (typically 700 or higher). If you have a lower credit score, then you would have to give a considerable down payment for the car.

You also need to understand that when you lease a car, you would have to maintain it as your own and all the financial responsibilities would be the same as buying a new car. The lease payments would be made monthly, throughout the lease term. Moreover, you would also have to make sure that the car is in a good condition till the end of the lease period. If you are thinking about leasing a car with a bad credit, we suggest you to go otherwise. It is not always the best option for people with a bad credit score and the financial responsibilities are huge and you are not able to maintain your vehicle in your own way.

However, there are many dealers who have started to provide bad credit car leases on older cars as well. These used car lease agreements are quite different from the typical auto lease agreements. The old car lease agreements are actually rental agreements. You do not own the car during the rental agreement. When the period is over, the car becomes your own. This is also called a “rent to own” agreement. It is a great option for people who have credit issues. You can go to the Buy Here Pay Here car dealers in your neighborhood and look for the right options there. You can also chose to own the car by simply purchasing financed old cars from BHPH dealers through their in house financing programs.

Finding the Best Nursing Home for Your Loved One

My husband’s aorta split in the fall. It’s winter now and he has been in the hospital for almost three months. He had two non-invasive surgeries, one major surgery, and four follow-up wound procedures. Now that his major wound is healing, according to federal regulations, he must be dismissed from the hospital. But he faces a huge barrier.

During life-saving surgery my husband had a spinal stroke and his legs don’t work. Even with intense physical therapy, his legs will probably never work, and he can’t return to our home because of all the stairs. Unless I can come up with a solution, my husband will be transferred to a nursing home. I decided to do a little detective work and it was an eye-opener. You may be in a similar situation. These criteria will help you choose the best place for your loved one.

Learn about your state’s definitions and regulations. You may do this by entering the name of your state, followed by such words as statutes, definitions, licensure, fees, and inspection. If you’re willing to use lots of ink and paper, print out this information for future use.

What rating does the nursing home receive from the state? My state, Minnesota, has categories of standards, including the minimum nursing staff, developing care plans, and quality of care. Four stars are the standard, yet many nursing homes in my area fail to meet it.

Meet with a social worker. The hospital my husband is in has social workers for each department. Two social workers contacted me immediately. I met with one of them and she was helpful and knowledgable about current regulations. A savvy social worker can save you time and angst.

Visit the facilities. Chances are you can’t visit all the homes in your area, so limit your visits to the top possibilities. I didn’t call ahead and make an appointment. Instead, I dropped in for a surprise visit and tour. Turns out, the colorful brochure about the home was far better than the reality.

Ask about extra fees. For example, a private room costs extra and these costs are probably not covered by your loved one’s insurance plan(s). You may have to pay extra to rent a wheelchair. for certain prescription meds, or for recreation therapy. Keep careful track of these costs.

Pick up brochures and other written information. Create a manilla file for each nursing home. Store these files in a handy place. After I visited the nursing home that had the wonderful brochure and a lesser reality, I jotted down notes about my visit on the brochure. “I’m not going there,” my husband declared.

If you can, talk with families who have a loved one at the nursing home. What are the nursing home’s pluses? What are the minuses? How does their loved one feel about the quality of care he or she is receiving? This is one of the most important decisions of your life. Make sure the nursing home meets personal and state standards before you enroll your loved one.

Copyright 2014 by Harriet Hodgson

6 Practices To Becoming An Empowering Leader

What could you achieve by being an empowering leader?

There is no single way to define leadership. For decades, leadership has been the subject of research, which has resulted in close to a 1000 definitions. However, from studying what the most prominent writers had to say on the subject, the following 6 practices provide an extremely useful template for understanding how to become an empowering leader.

Practice #1: An Empowering Leader Has Driving Passion To Realize Their Vision

Great Leaders have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and a passion for making that vision a reality. This means:

  • They know clearly what they want, and work passionately to make that happen.
  • They do not meander throughout the day in a state of half-consciousness
  • They do not allow event and circumstances to determine what will happen to them.
  • They are concerned with outcomes.
  • They use their vision to rise above adversity, setbacks, and even failure.

Practice #2: The Empowering Leader Is Egoless

In his book, Good To Great, author Jim Collins performed an in-depth study of companies that proved to be far more successful than they more traditional counterparts. He found that one of the distinguishing features of these companies was the personal nature of their leaders, which he labeled Level 5 Leadership. Many of the most effective leaders are humble. Although dogged about achieving their visions they aren’t interested in the press clippings or credit.

Practice #3: An Empowering Leader Builds And Maintains Relationships Of Trust

Empowering leaders build and maintain a special relationship with their followers: a relationship based upon trust. You can have a wonderful vision within the organization; but if trust is low or absent, then you fight an uphill battle to implement your vision since is takes the collective efforts of many people to realize anything worthwhile.

Trust could be defined as confidence in your relationship with others and consists of three parts: confidence in their competence, integrity, and fairness. In other words, when we trust someone:

  • We believe that this person is capable of achieving business results.
  • We believe that we can count of the individual to do what he/she says.
  • And we believe that this person cares about our own interests as well as their own.

When trust is low, relationships are characterized by alienation, competition and conflict rather than collaboration and goodwill.

Practice # 4: The Empowering Leader Unleashes The Motivations and Commitments Of Those They Lead

The work of high performance leaderships is to unleash the creative potential of people by creating conditions in which they can meaningfully contribute to their jobs and the company. In traditional (vs High Performance) organizations, managers issue orders and directive which people carry out without a lot of input and thought. This practice can stifle personal initiative and creativity. People wait to be told what to do and learn to do things by the book instead of using their own minds to improve the work they are doing.

Practice # 5: An Empowering Leader Is A Social And Organizational Architects

What does the word “Architect” mean to you? What do you think of when you hear that leaders are architects?

  • The greatest leaders understand that their purpose is more than their own legacy. It is to create an organization or institution which outlasts them and continues to add value for years to come.
  • In his bestselling book Built To Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras report on the qualities of premier companies. These companies were not built solely on a great idea or a charismatic leader, both which come and go with time. Instead, the found of such legendary companies as Hewlett Packard, Merck, 3-M, GE and P&G all took an architectural approach to building their organizations.
  • Another example is our founding fathers. Most important about them was not their momentary leadership, but rather the institution they built – the structure and processes they put in pace upon which our society continues to thrive today. It is the organization, not just the idea that commands the attention and respect of the greatest leaders.

Practice #6: An Empowering Leader Acts From Positive Beliefs About People and Situations

For true leaders, the glass is not half-full, it’s brimming. They believe all of the exemplary leaders we have studied, that they can change the world or, at the very least make a dent in the universe”

– Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders, 1985

Unfortunately, many of our beliefs are negative rather than positive. We think the closet is full of boogey men instead of guarding angels. If you are called into the bosses office, you may feel anxious and wonder if you are in trouble.

Strengthening vs. weakening beliefs:

  • “Everything happens for a purpose” vs. “Bad always happens to me”
  • “People are basically good” vs. “You can’t trust anyone”
  • “There is no such thing as failure” vs. “I just can’t win”
  • “We can do it” vs. “We’ll never make it.

Here are a few affirmations that can be repeated over and over again.

  • I am a positive and energetic leader who achieves outstanding results
  • I am a compassionate leader who brings out the best qualities in others.
  • I am well-balanced in my personal, family and business life.
  • I am a great communicator and believe in continually sharing my vision with everyone I come in contact with.

The content in this post inspired by our High Performance Leadership program, specifically from one of the modules called Practices of Empowering Leaders. The program was created by The Center for Organizational Design, Inc./360 Solutions LLC, of which I am a licensee.

I offer High Performance Leadership training, development, coaching, workshops, seminars and keynotes on this subject matter. For more information, please contact me at (800) 560-4649 or robert@focusonperformance.net.

What Credit Score Do I Need To Get A Car Loan?

Buying a car is one of the most important necessities of life. However, in the crunching economic times, you might not have the cash you would need in order to buy a vehicle. However, this doesn’t mean that you should not be buying one. You can go to the auto financing agencies. However, they would be asking for your credit score in this case. They might deny you the coverage or ask for a baffling interest rate that would certainly not suit your current financial position. The score is the numerical value that is being provided to all the citizens by the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. A lot of people ask what number they need in order to buy a car on loan. This post would help you in understand it and car loans better.

Though there are no specific rules that mention what specific number you need in order to get an auto loan, the companies generally prefer people who have 700 or higher. Such people can easily get a car financed from any of the lenders at good interest rates. In case yours is below 700, your options would be lesser but you would still be able to get a good deal if you make a little more effort. The lenders would change the criteria and the lenders terms. However, you might definitely have a lot of problems if your number is below 650. Some traditional and conservative lenders would definitely not be considering your application with a credit score below this.

However, there are many finance companies that consider applications with a score of 500 or higher. In this case, your interest rate and the down payment for the vehicle would be significantly higher. So, the right auto score to get a car loan is 500, but if you want to land in the safe zone, try to be as close to 700 or higher as possible.

In case your credit score is not appreciable, you can go to the Buy Here Pay Here car lots. These dealers would be financing your car on their own. To get a car financed from them, you do not have to show your credit bureau score at all. Therefore, you would have a lot of options, no matter how low it is. Instead, they look at your financial situation as a whole. For example. what is your income, how long have you been employed, and do you have proof of residency. Keep in mind that although their cars work fine, these dealerships often do not carry new or later model vehicles.

The Last NATO President?

Is Barack Obama the last NATO president? The answer may lie in a tiny corner of Russia, wedged deep within NATO territory.

Kaliningrad, the city that serves as the administrative center of the Kaliningrad Oblast, was once the German city of Konigsberg. (An oblast is an administrative division in many Slavic countries, including former members of the Soviet Union.) Kaliningrad Oblast became Soviet territory when Stalin pushed borders west at the end of World War II. The region adjoins Lithuania, which had been occupied and annexed by the Soviet army in 1940. After a battle with Hitler’s forces for control of the region, the Soviets reconquered Lithuania and it became one of three Soviet Baltic republics, along with Latvia and Estonia.

But when the Soviet Union broke up and the Baltics became independent states – and more recently, members of NATO – Kaliningrad remained part of Russia, now isolated from the rest of the country, sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland.

Estonia and Latvia have large ethnic Russian minorities, as is the case with Ukraine, and Lithuania has Kaliningrad practically at its back door. All three of the Baltic states are as suspicious of Russian interests as they are potentially vulnerable to Russian economic or military aggression. Many of the pretexts that Vladimir Putin has used to justify intervention in Crimea, which he then annexed, and his threats against the other parts of Ukraine could easily apply to Lithuania and its neighbors. Lithuania faces the added twist that Russia could claim that future intervention there is an attempt to “rescue” an isolated Russian outpost.

“We are following the situation with [Russia’s] increased military readiness and drills at our borders,” Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters, according to Reuters. (1) She also said that Lithuania and Poland could raise the issue with NATO, and has called Russia “dangerous” and “unpredictable.” Estonia and Latvia have both refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Crimean secession referendum.

The question then becomes whether NATO members in general, and Obama in particular, can really be expected to honor their mutual defense commitment, in which an attack on one is treated as an attack on all. Clearly, this commitment is something the leaders of the Baltic states are counting on: Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, was explicit that entry into NATO was an “insurance policy” against Russia. (1)

But it is not at all certain that NATO would honor that policy if called upon.

Would Germany, for example, send military forces back to the Baltic in defense of states that the Nazis overran when they invaded the USSR in 1941? I think it is unlikely, despite pledges of support from Germany’s foreign minister. To make it even less likely, Putin and his associates have been quick to denounce pro-West Ukrainians as fascists. It sounds bizarre to American ears, but to a country that lost over 20 million of its people in World War II, any hint of German military muscle-flexing strikes a strong emotional chord. Putin’s stance against Ukraine’s pro-West factions has propelled his popularity within Russia to multiyear highs.

If Germany won’t intervene to protect its eastern neighbors, is Obama a credible deterrent? In light of the president’s vacillations on Syria and almost ludicrously weak sanctions in the face of the Crimean annexation, would Putin seriously expect him to send troops to defend Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital? Or, for that matter, to defend Warsaw?

After all, few Americans could find Vilnius, or even Lithuania, on a map. Obama is not the kind of leader to explain why they should bother.

As Stephen Blank, a senior fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council, said of Putin, “[He] counted on the weakness, irresolution and confusion of NATO and Obama and, sad to say, he was right.” (2) The Baltic states have cause to worry that Putin will decide that the lack of a strong response regarding Crimea and Ukraine is encouragement enough for further incursions in the region should he be inclined to make them.

Marko Mihkelson, who chairs the Estonian parliament’s foreign policy committee, tweeted, “If West does not wake up to Russian aggressive foreign policy today, tomorrow will be too late.” He is certainly not the only citizen of the Baltic states who fears such an outcome.

The same week Putin annexed Crimea, Obama invited G-7 leaders for an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Ukraine. But given that, at the time of the meeting, member countries could not even seem to agree on whether Russia was suspended from the G-8 or simply not invited, the sign is not as hopeful as it might be. Vice President Joe Biden visited Poland and Lithuania the same week, but the lack of significant American action is likely to speak louder than its vice president’s words.

Putin makes no secret of his resentment of NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s borders. Already his government has convinced the interim government in Kiev to disavow any intention of joining NATO. For Putin, a major success and political goal would be to remove NATO from the Russian frontier by separating the Baltic republics from their post-Soviet allies. He – and the Baltic states, along with the rest of the world – must wonder whether Obama and NATO are prepared to stop him.

If not, for all practical purposes, NATO is extinct, and Obama will be the president who presided over its demise.

Sources:

1) Reuters, “Ukraine crisis stokes Baltic nerves over Russia”

2) NBC News, “Under Pressure: Obama Weighs Options on Next Move with Russia”