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London Olympics football: It’s "The Albert"

London is gearing up for the 2012 Olympics, and many are looking forward to the football matches that will be played during the event, as teams from all over the world will compete for the gold medal. Adidas, the official sportswear provider, recently revealed the name it had given to the ball to be used for the competition.

Soliciting suggestions from more than 12,000 UK residents, the sportswear company finally settled on “The Albert” as the official name for the ball. It sounds a bit odd if you don’t know London slang, or “cockney,” which tends to use sound-alike words. In this case, London’s famous landmark, Albert Hall, happens to rhyme with ball. The name was suggested by Derbyshire resident Robert Ashcroft.

“I can’t believe that my name was chosen for the ball that will have such a big part to play in the biggest sporting event on earth,” Ashcroft said. “The name was an obvious choice for me. With London hosting the 2012 Games it made sense to name a ball with the London cockney rhyming slang heritage.”

Thousands of people will descend upon London next year to watch the matches played with the new ball. This is a great time for ex-pats to head home, but if they can’t make it, it’s also a good opportunity to wire money abroad and assist loved ones with their celebrations.


United British football team hits roadblock

Controversy over the British football squad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London continues after a bizarre statement made by the British Olympic Association (BOA) turned out to be completely false.

The BOA released a statement that said an agreement had been reached between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to field a joint squad made up of players from all four countries. The idea of a Welsh player like Gareth Bale sharing the pitch with rumored England overage addition David Beckham understandably had many fans excited. However, it turns out there was no such agreement in place.

“The Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reiterate our collective opposition to Team GB participation at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, contrary to the media release issued by the British Olympic Association,” reads a joint statement signed by the heads of the three associations.

The four countries operate as separate entities in FIFA, with each fielding their own separate national teams, despite the fact that all make up the United Kingdom. While FIFA rules don’t apply to the Olympics, the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland delegations fear that they may lose their FIFA status and be forced to merge with England if they go ahead with the plan for a united team.

When the Olympic Games kick off in London for 2012, it’ll be a time of celebration for all U.K. citizens, regardless of how their teams end up doing on the pitch. Many of ex-pats living abroad will use international wire transfers to send moneyback home during the festivities.


Sending money online makes gap years a breeze

The concept of a "gap year" is decidedly European in nature, although it is slowly making its way around the rest of the world. Essentially, this is a year between high school and the beginning of college when a student will take some time and travel to new places before settling in to four more years of studying.

With school ending just a few weeks ago for many students, no doubt many will be planning their gap year adventures at this time. There's a lot to consider, and leaving for up to a year can definitely be on the expensive side. Students and parents will have to worry about finding a place to live, meals, travel expenses, safety and much more.

It's nearly impossible to budget out a year-long trip beforehand, and even if students plan on leaving for a shorter period of time, there are always unexpected difficulties that can arrive. That's why families need to have a backup plan.

An easy way to set parents' minds at ease is to remember that they can always send money online. This simple process allows families to wire money to their children no matter where in the world they are. The funds can be deposited directly into a bank account, picked up by the student at a number of locations or even delivered directly to a doorstep.

Gap years are ultimately about letting go and allowing a child to go off on their own before college. Yet parents can feel more comfortable knowing they have the safety net of international wire transfer services.


The basics of banking

For those who have just come to this country for the first time, the banking system can be a bit difficult to figure out. Fortunately, a few easy tips can help new immigrants become banking pros in no time.

It helps to know the advantages and disadvantages of banking. Unlike hiding money underneath your mattress, the money you save in a bank is completely secure and protected against theft – or a fire. There's also the convenience of banking. With a debit card, you can pay immediately with money stored in your account, and you'll also have access to ATMs free of charge. Finally, many savings accounts pay interest. While small, this can quickly add up and earn you more money.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks. Depending on the type of account you open, you may be subjected to fees and other surcharges. There can be a fee for basically everything – bouncing checks, overdrafting, stopping payments, monthly maintenance and more. These vary depending on the bank, so make sure you ask for a detailed explanation of fees before you sign up. Compare several banks to find the one right for your lifestyle.

Most banks also have a minimum balance requirement. If your account dips below this, you'll be subject to more fees. The minimum varies depending on the account. Usually, the higher the minimum balance, the more interest you earn.

Banking also comes into play when cashing or writing checks. Most employers support some type of direct deposit, where your paycheck will be added to your account directly. Your bank will cash your checks free of charge – something that you'll have to pay for otherwise. And finally, signing up with a bank gives you the ability to write checks yourself – just make sure you ask for a checkbook once your account is confirmed.

Once you've got your bank account nice and healthy, you can begin thinking about sending money back home. Online wire transfer services allow those living abroad to send and receive money quickly, easily and securely.

Nearly all banks also now offer online services. You can check your balance online, and even from your mobile phone. The abilities that each bank offers vary, but most allow you to do things like pay bills, transfer money between accounts, view your statement and check the status of any pending payments.


Financial safety tips when visiting another country

When you're traveling outside of your native country, you should take precautions to protect yourself financially. You should keep receipts and records of any money that you spend while you are abroad, so you can compare your records to those of your financial institutions. This could help you spot any unauthorized purchases or other unusual activity.

If you plan to use credit cards while you are abroad, you should inform your credit card company that you will be out of the country and provide them with the length of time that you will be making purchases internationally. Otherwise, any transactions that are made on foreign soil may be flagged as suspicious activity, and the credit card company could deny any purchases that you try to make. Should you happen to find yourself in such a position, you can ask friends or family to wire money to help you out of a jam.

People can send money directly to your bank account with a wire transfer company, which means that funds will be available immediately. This can save you the hassle of tracking down an office and making the journey to pick up a money transfer. It can be especially convenient if you do not speak the native language and are visiting an area where people might not speak yours either.

"If your financial institution offers daily balance alerts and other account management tools, sign up for them," Mike Urban, a fraud expert at a credit-score company told the Seattle Times.

It is also important to monitor any financial accounts while you are abroad to ensure that other people are not trying to access your information. Many banks and financial companies offer applications for smartphone users to check their account information on the go.

Take precautionary steps to protect yourself in case you lose your wallet or your credit cards, money and other personal information are stolen. You should write down all of your credit card and bank account numbers as well as the phone numbers you would need to contact your financial institutions in order to report the theft or loss. Keep this information somewhere safe in your hotel room or home in case of emergencies.

If your credit cards are stolen or lost while you are visiting another country, you can have family or friends send money to a wire transfer office. All you need is identification to prove that you are the recipient and you can get funds to help you out while you sort things out.

The U.S. Department of State recommends that while you are traveling outside of your country, you should never carry large amounts of money. While you are visiting another nation, your family can send cash via a money transfer service. They can have the company deliver the funds directly to you or send money to an office in the place that you are visiting, so you can pick it up while you are out and about in another country.

Hotels often have safes in guest rooms that you can use to store valuables and any cash and cards that you do not need on your person when you are out and about. If you are moving to another country, you may want to consider purchasing a safe to protect important documents and money.

Money belts are a common way to carry money safely on your person. They are worn beneath your clothes so pickpockets and other thieves will be less likely to target you. Wearing a money belt can be a good idea if you are planning on going to a fancy restaurant or spending the day shopping, but you are uncomfortable carrying money in a more conspicuous location.


Panama takes down U.S. in Gold Cup upset

International tournaments always provide an opportunity for “giant slayers” – small teams that take down big prey – to emerge, and it appears that’s exactly what’s happened with the Panama national football team.

This roster doesn’t boast anyone of international renown, and yet the team has been perfect in both of their CONCACAF Gold Cup performances thus far – taking down Guadeloupe and the mighty United States.

Panama was expected to beat Guadeloupe, but their upset over the U.S. was a shock to say the least. The Americans were heavy favorites going into the match, as they have never lost a group stage match in the Gold Cup. Yet Panama struck early with a beautiful goal from Luis Tejada in the 14th minute.

The U.S. then became their own worst enemy. Defender Tim Ream gave away a silly penalty to Panama after an errant kick struck Tejada in the box. Gabriel Gomez was able to slot the shot by superstar goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Panama retained the two-goal lead into the second half, but the Americans tried desperately to get back in the game. Clarence Goodson eventually struck for the red, white and blue in the 68th minute, and from then on Panama had some nervy moments as they tried to defend. A little luck certainly played into the victory as well – specifically on a Jozy Altidore cross to Chris Wondolowski that the American striker somehow skied over the crossbar despite being about four feet in front of a wide-open net.

Victories over a team like the U.S. don’t come very often for countries like Panama, and surely the whole country is celebrating right now and is eager for the team’s next match against Canada. No doubt many former residents will be using international wire transfers to send money back home to their loved ones to help with festivities.

Panama’s win, combined with their earlier win over Guadeloupe, means that the team could end up winning their group, something no expert would have predicted going into the tournament. If Panama beats Canada, they win the group and get a slightly easier route to the finals. Canada or the U.S. still have a chance to win based on goal differential, and most believe that the U.S. will put in quite a few against a weak Guadeloupe side.

Still, Panama is almost all but assured of going through to the next round of the Gold Cup, which is certainly reason enough for the celebrations to begin.


Final results of the 2010-2011 Bundesliga

One of the defining factors of European soccer is that the dominant teams tend to win again and again, but the German Bundesliga has proven itself immune to that rule over the past five years, with four different teams taking home to the title.

This year, it was Borussia Dortmund that ended up on top of the league, capturing their seventh title overall and first since 2002. Dortmund ended up with a seven-point advantage over Bayer Leverkusen, which looks like one of the strongest up-and-coming squads in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen has never won the title, so look to them to be hungry contenders next year. Both of these teams will also start in the playoff round of the Champions League.

Finishing third this season was powerhouse Bayern Munich, in what has to be considered a disappointing campaign. Last season, Bayern advanced all the way to the finals of the Champions League, where they lost to Inter of the Italian Serie A. They were again eliminated by Inter in the Champions League this season, although this time in Round 16. Bayern has earned a berth in the Champions League next year with their third-place finish, but they’ll have to win a playoff to do so.

No doubt that fans of these three teams will be celebrating their success this season as they prepare for what’s sure to be an exciting year of top-tier European competition next season. Those who want to contribute to their family’s festivities back home send family and friends an international wire transfer.

As far as the Europa League goes, two teams have already qualified. Hannover 96, in fourth place overall, will start in the playoff round, while FSV Mainz 05 will begin the third qualifying round. The final Europa League spot will go to the winner of the DFB-Pokal tournament final, and it should be an interesting match to say the least.

A rare feat has occurred this year in that a team from the second division has made it all the way to the end, with MSV Duisburg looking to punch their ticket to European competition. They’ll have to get by Schalke 04, a team that performed extremely well in the Champions League this year despite a terrible performance in the Bundesliga. Schalke 04 is obviously the favorite, but the underdogs never go down easily in matches of this magnitude. Either way, it’s a win-win for the fans – they either get to see an excellent team in Schalke 04 next year, who would have a very good chance of winning the entire Europa league, or the underdogs is MSV Duisburg, who would be fun to watch in international competition.

The German soccer system is interesting in that it uses a somewhat rare system for determining promotion and relegation. All leagues guarantee the top two finishers of the lower league are promoted, but many have a playoff for the four teams placed 3rd through 6th in order to earn promotion. In Germany, the 3rd placed team in the second league actually plays the 16th placed team from the top league in a two-legged matchup, with the winner advancing on aggregate.

This year, it was Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach fighting to stay in the Bundesliga against VfL Bochum, looking to be promoted from the second division. Monchengladbach took a 1-0 lead in the series during the first leg, but with one match to play VfL Bochum could very well end up in the Bundesliga next season.

Regardless of that matchup, it’s already been decided that Eintracht Frankfurt and FC St. Pauli will be sent down, while winners of the Bundesliga 2 Hertha Berlin and runners-up FC Augsburg will join the top division next season.


Learning languages in your new country of residence

One of the most difficult parts of moving to a new country is learning the language. For adults in particular, picking up a new dialect can be a very trying experience, but with a little preparation, it may be easier than you think.

When learning a new language, the earlier you can begin, the better. Even if you won't be moving for a while, consider purchasing an online program or enrolling in a language class in your native country. That way, you won't be at a loss when it comes time to make the big move.

Participating in a class with a friend or family member may be helpful. Learning something with a loved one can make the experience more enjoyable, and it will allow you to practice the new language even after class has ended.

There are other small things you can do to improve your language skills. For instance, change the language on your mobile phone. Though this may not teach you very many words, it will help you adjust to seeing a new language on a regular basis.

The language learning experience doesn't end after you've moved, even if you have already completed your schooling. There will likely be slang words that you didn't learn in class, and you'll also have to develop your conversational skills.

Most importantly, be confident! Languages are easier after you practice, so you should try and speak to people in the new dialect as much as possible. This may mean stumbling through a few difficult conversations, but if you explain that you're new to the language, it's likely that people will be understanding.

Additionally, you should try to limit the amount of reading and talking you do in your native language, at least for a while. If you've moved with your family, consider making a rule that you must use the new language during dinner time or after 5pm.

You'll also want to brush up on your reading skills, so consider purchasing a book in the new language. It may be wise to read something you've already read, so that you will be able to make connections between the new language and your own prior knowledge.

If you have friends and family back home who are planning to join you in your new country, consider sending money online to help them get a head start on their own language development.


What to do with a vehicle when moving to a new country

If you are planning on moving to a new country, you may be wondering what you should do with your vehicle. While moving small items can be done easily by shipping them through a moving company or on your own, vehicles are much larger, and pose more of a challenge.

Much of the issue depends on what type of move you are making. If you are emigrating to a country that can be reached by driving, then it may be easier to move your vehicle yourself. This is most practical for short moves, such as from one European nation to another.

Moving a vehicle over longer distances may require you to enlist the help of a professional service. There are a number of companies that offer assistance moving cars, and some may even be able to do so for a lower price than what it would cost to drive the vehicle on your own.

If you want to save extra mileage, then it may be wise to find a company that offers to move the vehicle on a truck, rather than one that will drive the automobile for you. This can also result in less of an environmental impact.

If you are moving overseas, you will need to move your car by boat in order to have their vehicle in their new country of residence. There are a number of private services available that will make this process easy, and it’s best to do research before making a final decision. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website to ensure that the company is legitimate.

When you have decided on a company, there are a few additional steps necessary before the car is ready to move. It’s always best to clean it thoroughly inside and out, and be sure to remove any personal items.

Most car companies will perform an inspection of the vehicle before shipping it, and it’s best for you to do so as well. When the automobile arrives in the new location, be sure to look it over thoroughly to ensure that it is in the same condition it was before you moved.

Moving to a new country can be an expensive process, and many people rely on family and friends who have already moved to a new country to wire money to help support the effort.


Inteligencia Financiera: Ahorrando en tiempo de crisis

Ahorrar significa simplemente guardar dinero para usarlo después. Es una actividad incluso saludable que produce tranquilidad emocional para enfrentar tiempos difíciles.

Sin embargo, el ahorro puede tornarse algo difícil de realizar especialmente en un ambiente donde el fantasma de la crisis financiera pasada aún se siente, entre despidos, alzas en los precios de la gasolina, y de la comida entre otros, sólo pensar en ahorrar para la comunidad latina pareciera un problema.

 Mantener un ahorro disponible nos permite estar preparados para el futuro, suplir gastos inesperados, planear vacaciones, e incluso si estamos habituados a enviar dinero a nuestros países esta suma podría incrementarse.

Lo primero que tenemos que identificar es nuestro ingreso y cuanto gastamos. Debemos identificar entre nuestros gastos fijos mensuales, como la renta o hipoteca, seguros, préstamos, y gastos variables mensuales como impuestos, comida, ropa, gasolina, arreglos del carro, reparación de la casa, entretención, etc.

Luego que identificamos nuestros gastos, sabemos dónde va el dinero y tenemos más control y sabemos cuánto dinero necesitamos para cubrirlos. No obstante, nos podemos encontrar con sorpresas, como cuando nuestros gastos son mayores que nuestros ingresos, ahí estamos en un problema.

La fórmula del ahorro es simple, nuestros ingresos deben ser mayor que nuestros gastos, para ello tenemos dos opciones aumentar los ingresos o reducir los gastos.

Sabemos por experiencia propia que aumentar los ingresos es difícil, pero reducir los gastos es posible una vez que los hemos identificado, sin mencionar que nos daremos cuentas de gastos innecesarios que hacemos sin darnos cuenta.

Podemos ahorrar dinero siguiendo unos pasos sencillos:

Gastar menos, esto incluye también no comprar lo que no pueda pagar. Suplir necesidades en lugar de deseos es la clave.

Disminuir y evitar las deudas, un consejo es pagar un poquito más del mínimo en las tarjetas de crédito para así ir reduciendo el capital. Reemplazar las tarjetas de crédito por débitos, así gastaremos lo que dispongamos.

Revisar los estados de cuentas, encontraremos servicios que no hemos solicitado o no usamos, como en el teléfono residencial, coberturas de seguros que no necesitamos, y cargos por mantención en servicios bancarios que pueden ser eliminados por ejemplo al abrir una cuenta de ahorro.

Hacer una lista, para comprar de manera inteligente en el supermercado.

Destinar efectivo a una cuenta de ahorro adquirir el hábito de poner algo de nuestro ingreso en un fondo para ahorro. Requiere disciplina, pero es motiva el hecho de ver como los fondos van creciendo.


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