McDonald’s sales beat estimates as turnaround gathers pace

Same-restaurant sales in its US restaurants rose a better-than-expected 1.3 percent, helped by demand for its all-day breakfast, the McPick 2 for $2 promotion and the introduction of Chicken McNuggets without artificial preservatives.

Analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix had expected a gain of 1.2 percent in the United States.

McDonalds, under Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook, has introduced all-day breakfasts, simplified sprawling menus and improved service to turn around its business amid intense competition from Burger King , Dunkin Donuts and smaller upstart chains.

McDonalds said global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 3.5 percent in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, handily beating the 1.5 percent gain expected on average by analysts.

The worlds largest fast-food chain reported net income of $1.28 billion, or $1.50 per share, compared with $1.31 billion, or $1.40 per share, a year earlier.

If you have to borrow, here’s how to do it smartly

Payday loans.

Furniture and appliance loans.

Private student loans.

Non-bank finance company lending.

As an example, the guide points out that overdraft lines of credit usually carry annual percentage rates or APRs of 9.9 percent to 18 percent or a flat per-item fee. The guide goes on to say, “A line extension of $100 for a couple of days could result in finance charges under $1.00 a big savings over a payday loan!”

A major component of consumer debt is acquired through credit cards. Many consumers have multiple cards, and many have more debt than they would like on more than one card. The guide advises that consumers might take one of two possible routes to whittle down those debts.

One strategy is called the “avalanche” method. Budget an amount to pay toward lowering your total credit card debt each month. Then, pick the debt with the highest APR and put the bulk of your budgeted amount toward eliminating that debt. Make at least the minimum payments on the other card bills.

When the highest APR bill is zero, use the same strategy on the amount with the next highest rate. Keep the same budgeted amount each month and knock down the balances one by one.

Another approach is termed the “snowball” method. Some financial experts say it focuses on the smallest debts first, while others say consumers focus on paying for the things that matter to them the most.

Leach is in the second school, saying, “Experts agree that the mortgage or rent gets paid first, followed by a vehicle loan payment, because in Maine, we need a car or truck to get to work!”

Some consumers will prefer the avalanche method, while others will find the snowball method more satisfying. The key is to choose a strategy and stick with it.

The Downeaster Common Sense Guide to High Interest/High Cost Loans details strategies to keep debt under control. The guide will be available soon at; click on “publications.” A hard copy is available free to Maine residents by calling the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 800-332-8529 (toll-free in Maine) or 624-8527.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, PO Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit or email

Ralph Nader-Formed Group Calls For Ban On Solar Industry Financing Schemes

Slocum said the nature of the contracts allow third-party actors in the solar industry to deny customers access to US courts in the event of a dispute over costs.

State utility regulatory commissions do not have jurisdiction over the solar leasing industry in the same way they do over traditional utilities, a state of affairs that leaves consumers with inadequate protections, Slocum wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

Public Citizen supports the solar industry, Slocum explained, but stated that the leasing schemes typically deny millions of low- and moderate-income families access to the solar markets.

Solar leasing is not a low-income access program, and it does not serve the needs of renters, those with poor credit, and those in structures unsuitable for rooftop solar, he wrote.

Nothing could kill this 44-yr-old civil engineer’s zest for life

KUNDAPUR : Fate paralyzed the life of Jayaram Shetty (44), a bright civil engineer diploma holder from Kandlur in Kundapur, Udupi district, but it could not kill his spirit to live independently. Shetty is paralyzed waist down) and is bedridden for the last 24 years.

He was injured while working on a excavation project inside a cave in Chiplun in Maharashtra in 1992. A part of the cave gave way and the debris fell on him, leaving him a paraplegic.

A philanthropist, along with Abhaya Foundation, an NGO, have been supporting him for the past seven years. They bought him a tilling machine which he used to rent out to local farmers. But after five years the tilling machine became unusable.

They then bought Jayaram a Maruti Omni which his friend Nagesh Shetty runs as a taxi and pays Rs 7,000 per month as rent.

But saddled with a vehicle loan of Rs 80,000, Jayaram pays Rs 4,000 as EMI, which leaves him with only about Rs 3,000 to feed his 92-year-old mother, sister and her family of four.

Speaking to Express, Jayaram said that his monthly medical expenditure is Rs 9,000 which can be met only if he gets monetary help. He added that Rs 22 lakh has been already spent for his treatment in 24 years. “My company, B T Patil and Company in Belgaum, had supported me after the incident. But since I need lifelong treatment, I have no option but to seek help from the generous hearts now” he says.

Credit Cards Are Getting More Popular Again — Just Not Among Millennials

Credit card usage in the United States is on the rise, but young adults are bucking that trend, according to anew analysis by the New York Times.

While Americans are borrowing more with household debt, including credit cards and auto loans, climbing by $35 billion in the past quarter that growth isnt coming from young people. In fact, the proportion of people younger than 35 with credit card debt is at a nearly30-year low.

A Bankrate surveyfrom this spring had similar conclusions, finding that only one third of adults aged 18 to 29 own a credit card at all.

Researchers said the drop in millennials credit card debt reflects a conservatism among young people who came of age during the financial crisis, as well as new rules that have limited how much credit card companies can market to college students.

Its pretty clear that young people are not interested in becoming indebted in the way that their parents are or were, payment industry expert David Robertson told the New York Times.

One scary trend? Because people (of all ages) with better credit are still skittish about credit cards, companies are now more actively marketing to people with poor credit: Lenders have been issuing credit cards to so-called subprime borrowers at the highest rate since 2007 the onset of the financial crisis.

Subprime borrowers often end up payingmuch higher fees, which is great for card companies, and terrible for those trying to climb out of debt.

Credit cards areone of the few business lines working for banks right now, the Wall Street Journal wrote in May, adding that banks have been aggressively targeting consumers by raising credit limits.

Now, while racking up credit card debt you cant afford can certainlyendanger yourfuture, not having a credit card at all can also lead to serious financial setbacks down the line.

The biggest problem is that if youre not using credit cards, then youre not proactively building your credit history, which will make it harder for you tosecure a mortgage or an automotive loan later in life.

People with shorter credit histories also tend to have lower credit scores, and are likely to have to accept higher interest rates.

A smart move: Open a credit card with no annual fee and perks like cash back and then pay it off on time each month.

Not only will you be investing in a better credit history, but if you always pay on time (or early) and read the fine printso you know how to best use your card perks,you could net out with more cash than when you started.

6 Ways the North American Clean Economy Agreement Will Affect Business

Within a week, two continents embarked on widely divergent paths. Europe’s union took a potentially fatal blow, whileNorth Americacommitted to a deeper relationship: Canada, the US, and Mexico issued a joint commitment to building a clean economy. It’s a big step forward for cross-border cooperation, and the ramifications for energy producers and users (that is, everyone) could be enormous.

The North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership covers a lot of ground. The biggest commitments are:

  • Generating 50% clean power by 2025
  • Reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40% to 45% by 2025
  • Aligning appliance, equipment, and vehicle fuel efficiency standards
  • Further integrating the electric grid across borders to build resilience and security
  • Implementing policies that support the historicParis climate accords — ie, limiting global temperature rise to2 degreescelsius, and perhaps even holding it to 1.5 degrees celsius
  • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, and calling on G-20 to do the same

The agreement touches on a range of other issues that could impact many industries. But just looking at these big commitments, they’ll clearly reverberate through governments and business in six key ways.

The US must lead on renewables. The 50% clean power target initially made the biggest splash, and for good reason. Let’s unpack what it means for the energy system. The goal soundsaggressive, but the continent is closer than you’d think. The definition of “renewable” here includes not just the obvious (wind, solar, and geothermal), but alsothe more controversial sources of hydropower and nuclear. By that broad definition, North America is already at about 38%. So the goal is tough, but achievable.

But make nomistake: according to my model, reaching the goal is almost entirely on the shoulders of the United Statesfor two big reasons. First,the US generates 82% of the energy on the continent. Second,Canadais already well beyondthe 50% mark (with 59% from hydro alone). So even if Mexico hits its aggressive target of going from 22% to 35% renewable, the US will have to go from 33% to 46%.

It’s a big move. In a simplistic scenario where the USonlybuilt more wind power, wewould need to add 3 times as much as we did over the last decade. If onlysolar, wewould need to average eight times the amount built in 2015, every year, through2025. The growth in renewables is phenomenal, sothe sector could be up to the task. But there’s a problem in another part of the equation, nukes, which could shift attitudes toward that source of power.

I spoke with Cristin Lyon, the Partner and Practice Lead for Grid Transformation for management consulting firm Scott Madden. She pointed out that states and utilities are currentlyplanning to close some nuclear plants. “To the extent that we continue to take nuclear plants offline,” Lyon said, “we’re going in the wrong direction.”

No matter what your view on nuclear power, the math gets harder if we close those down during this critical decade in the climate fight. But, even so, the economics of renewable energy continue to get better fast. Andthe growth of corporate renewables is accelerating. Big guys like Google, Apple, Dow, Owens Corning, Microsoft, Ciscobought 3.4 Gigawatts of wind and solar last year.

There will be increased pressure on utilities and energy giants. A deep shift in energy markets, including the agreement’s goals onmaking the grid more flexible and resilient, will change how utilities and energy companies need to operate. It’s continuing the bad news for coal — but that’s already priced into those companies’ valuations, which have dropped more that 90% in the last 5 years.

Utilities, too, will face more regulations and pressure to increase the percentage of renewable energy on their grids. To aid in this, the US government will need to leaninto the Clean Power Plan, which pressures energy providers to cut carbon (that is, assuming the eight Supreme Court justices leave the law standing after temporarily freezing it while challenges move through the lower courts).

The natural gas industry will have to face its “leakage” problem. The new partnership’s methane goal is particularly fascinating. A bit of history: As the fracking boom took off, carbon emissions in the US actually went down…in theory. Measured at the power plant, natural gas burns much cleaner, so the numbers initially looked good.

Pay heed to your spouses credit score

If both, your partner and you, have a good credit score and continue to maintain it by making diligent repayments, taking a loan becomes easy. Your combined income and healthy credit profiles will enable you to qualify for larger loans at more attractive terms, including a lower interest rate. Given the good credit record, lenders are confident that the two of you have both the means and the willingness to fulfil your loan obligations.

When one spouse has a poor credit score

In such cases, the outcome depends on how poor the credit score is and the lenders evaluation method. There are a few lenders that look solely at the monthly income and not at the credit scores when processing loan applications. You may be able to secure a loan with them if both of you have substantial incomes but a poor credit history.

If your salary account or main transaction account is with a particular bank, approach that bank first. If your spouse has a poor credit score but a healthy bank balance or relationship, inform the lender about the reasons for the poor score. Some banks may be willing to give you a loan as they have insights to your financial history.

Spouses score around 700: Your spouses credit score may not be great, but it is certainly not very poor either. It is likely that public sector banks may not want to lend to you, but some other lenders may be willing. Your preferred bank may reject your application or lend a smaller amount at a slightly higher interest rate.

If you are the primary applicant with a moderately good score and much higher income while your partner, the secondary applicant, has a high score, the situation can work in your favour. Lenders may give you better terms. More importantly, your spouses score will prevent a lender from rejecting your application. Bear in mind that a loan rejection too drives credit score lower.

Spouses score in 500-600 range: While there is no magic number that guarantees loan approval, even in joint loans lenders prefer it if both applicants have a score of 750 or more. If your partner has a slightly lower score, it will raise red flags during the loan approval process. In the worst case, your joint application may be rejected.

Lenders are naturally nervous about lending to someone who does not have a good history of responsible financial behaviour. If at all a lender is willing to sanction a loan, you might be offered fairly unattractive terms and conditions like a higher interest rate or smaller loan amount. This happens because lenders want to impose tighter restrictions and thereby safeguard their money.

If you choose to apply for a loan with a partner who has a bad score, it will not affect your individual score, but your chances of securing the loan will be significantly compromised.

Is it a better idea then to apply for a loan on your own if your spouse has a poor credit score? Here, too, the answer is not straightforward. You could choose to apply individually, without your spouses score having a negative impact on the lenders decision. While this may result in your loan getting easily approved, it could affect your chances of qualifying for a large loan amount. While you may be credit healthy, your single income may not suffice to get you the large loan amount that you are seeking.

How to become financially fitter in 30 minutes

So, while once upon a time it was family and friends who threw in their two cents for free, now anyone with an Internet connection can reap the benefitsĀ of free tips from finance professionals.

Here are our tips for shaping up, fast.

Find any lost super

An alarming amount of superannuation sits unclaimed in funds every year.

Super can go missing when a person changes funds or gives the wrong details to an employer.

And while relatively easy, finding lost super is often a task that goes into the too hard basket for busy workers.

If you think you might have super waiting for you out in the ether, try this quick search via the Australian Taxation Offices website.

You can also check with AUSFund – a non-profit that holds lost super from 35 Australian super funds.

Meet ed

If you think your budgeting tools need sharpening, it might be time for you to meet ed, ME Banks quick and easy online finance school.

Classes range from money basics, to managing debt and living with a home loan.

For those in need of a financial plan, try this class on budgeting.

Unlike many finance tools online, eds classes are easy on the eye and over before you know it.