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Jeremy Schalf

Beware of Risky Investment Products

Understand what qualifies as a risky product – There is bound to be variation in what seems risky to people. Here’s our take on the riskiness of an investment product. Products that are far riskier than what you might be led into believing, those that come without any proper guidance and information about risk factors, and ones that are not eligible for any compensation if your markets tumble unexpectedly, are what qualify as risky, as far as the scope of this article is concerned Even though it is perfectly fine if you wish to invest in risky products considering the high rates of returns associated with them, it would be better if you used the suggestions in this article to fine tune your picks.

Investments that are too risky to be worthy of your money – Despite the strict regulations in the financial markets, there are investment products that are strangely extremely risky, and yet continue to get deposits because of strong marketing. Unregulated collective investment schemes are among such products, and come to you without any regulatory backing up. Exchange traded funds with ambiguous terms are also best avoided. There are some of these exchange traded funds that depend on the prices of assets and indexes that are pretty hard for you to understand and track. The result is that you are left helplessly bound, just watching your investments go haywire without any support system to fall back on. Traded life policy investments also qualify as risky investments, as the grounds they are based on are pretty tough to anticipate and understand. In such investment products, you get returns when policy holders die! Death bonds have been known to fail completely, and such a situation could nullify all your investments in such products.

What to look for in an investment? – When you are being pitched an investment product, make sure that you ask some tough questions. Also, don’t be dissuaded with the ultra small prints of the documents that are given to you in the name of disclaimers and terms. Use all the time in the world, and underline all the statements that look dodgy. Then, seek clarifications on them. There are chances that the person trying to sell to you will give you up, and that means that you’d have saved yourself from being fleeced. Look for money back clauses; if you find one, there’s great a great reason for you to consider the purchase deeply.

Managing Monthly Budget

Set up a budget and try to follow every step of it. The budget will show you the way you spend the money and the actual amount that you may spend this month. You will be able to save more funds for something bigger and more pleasant than just a simple pair of shoes or a new car tool. Compare the expenses with your salary. Are they the same? Or do you even waste more than earn?

Check the statement of account every month before posting your payment. Mistakes may occur everywhere. And the payment bills are not an exception. That is why it is so important to check all your bills and figure out the exact sum of money you owe. It may happen that you pay for something you did not buy. If you’ve found a mistake contact your issuer at once for figuring out the issue.

Managing of your finances does take some time but it is better to check everything than to fall behind with all the bills. At least you will be calm about your credit score.

Do not miss your payments as you may get into a trouble. If you do not pay all of your bills and loans in several months the debt collection notice may arrive and it will be a real trouble.

If an unforeseen situation has occurred to you, do not wait until your debt collector or a bank employee contacts you and reminds that you have not paid back yet. Let them know about your difficulties and maybe they will give you some extra time for coping with the issues.

In such situation there is an easy way-out – payday loans online. They have become very popular among consumers as they do not require a lot of efforts and time for sending a request for a loan. You will be able to get the required funds within 24 hours just sitting with your lap-top at home.

If you have got more than one credit card, focus on every bill. You can save much money if you pay back the full balance instead of keeping a revolving one.

Take a Fresh Look at Finances

  • Start with a clean slate. Review your financial situation and recent spending patterns. Is your spending aligned with your financial goals? Re-evaluate any bad money habits that may be holding you back from making better financial decisions. Remind yourself that healthy financial behaviors can become part of your daily routine.
  • Commit to financial stability. It’s easier to do something when you are intentional. Just like you set aside an afternoon to clean out the garage, set aside a few hours to clean up your finances. During this time, reflect, organize and make a conscious commitment to take responsibility for your financial future.
  • Create, update or review your plan of action. A financial plan provides a road map for spending and saving, and encourages you to allocate your money toward the items or experiences that matter most to you. Your plan should include how you will handle your day-to-day finances, achieve long-term goals such as paying off your home mortgage, retiring on your terms or going on your dream vacation. If a large expense comes along, you may need to re-evaluate your financial priorities. Adjust as necessary and then get back on track as soon as possible. Likewise, if you receive a raise or windfall, consider how the additional funds can be applied to your financial plan.
  • Spend within reason. Your plan can provide you with guardrails to keep long-term goals in sight as you satisfy near-term wants and needs. When you know your emergency fund, retirement and other goals are on track, you can purchase tickets to the big game or plan a family trip without any financial guilt.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Life can throw challenging curveballs. Unexpected events such as unplanned medical bills or losing your job can greatly impact your bottom line. Although you may not know when these curveballs are coming, assess your insurance policies to ensure you’re fully covered, and make an “emergency fund” one of your priorities. Consider reviewing your life, disability health, home and auto insurance policies with a financial professional, who can help you identify and close any gaps in coverage. If you’ve acquired artwork, collectibles, technology or other valuables, make sure they are covered under your current home insurance plan. Also, use this as a time to update beneficiaries on your policies if needed.
  • Find joy in the process. The desire to keep your finances in good order is an admirable aspiration, and it has lasting impacts. Focusing on your finances today may help you to secure a more comfortable financial future for you and your family tomorrow. Consider working with a financial professional to help create a plan to reach your goals. With renewed energy and a well-defined plan, you can feel good about your financial choices.

About Buying Gold Online

Investment

Are you planning to invest your whole capital in gold? Considering the ups and downs of the economy, it is important to know where you should invest and when is the best time to do it. There is a long list of factors that can affect your investment, but with a little planning and research, you can find a way that will safely preserve your money for future investments and also allow you to earn profit from it.

Learn

There are many things about gold that you need to learn. Its value is based on its weight and purity. The closest to the purest form is the 22-carat gold. Also, many pieces of jewelry and coins are not made from pure gold. Their value is computed based on the price for each troy ounce of gold. At present, this is worth around $1336, but this figure will change from time to time. Therefore, you have to be certain that the prices on the web are equivalent to the present value.

Seller

Choosing an online seller is an area where you have to be extra cautious. The seller should be transparent and provide all the possible details. Go to the official website, then look for contact information such as a telephone number and address. Avoid sites that only use emails or P.O. boxes for communication. Opt for a seller that has a physical store and offers gold on the web to reach out even more customers.

Description

Always remember to inspect the description of gold which you like to buy. Look for indications on the weight and purity of gold. Try to buy gold that comes with a picture. At times, it is best to purchase gold bullion that come with a distinct stamp or mark that you are familiar with, which is a sign that they are authentic. It is difficult to determine the weight and purity of gold when all you have are pictures.

Steps To Organize And Pay Your Bills

Create a list of all your outstanding expenses and debts

If you have to pay for something, make sure that it gets added to this list. Categorize the items where possible (fixed vs. monthly expenses, bi-weekly expenses, and one-time expenses.) Put the most expensive payment at the top and the lowest one on the bottom.

Develop a budget that ensures you can pay these bills and expenses each month

Do you know how much money you make each month? If your expenses add up to more than you’re making, you need to evaluate your spending. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Call your cell and landline providers, and ask them to review your current plan to see if there are any new promotions that would lower your bill. Do the same for your cable bill. In other words, do what it takes to save money each month instead of throwing it away on unnecessary expenses.

Determine due dates as soon as bills arrive

Do NOT file bills away “for later!” – especially not until you’ve read and examined the due date. Instead, do this:

  • Open bills immediately upon receipt
  • Determine the due date
  • Circle the due date so it’s easy to find later, and
  • Do a quick check to see if the charges look correct.

Secure a designated place for incoming bills

As soon as you open your mail, place all bills in a location you’ve designated for bills only. This eliminates the possibility that the bills get lost before you pay them. Don’t forget that late payment may result in late fees or extra interest you can easily avoid. You can also sign up for paperless statements. Caution: If you decide to go the paperless route, be sure to download and review the statements monthly and file them in a folder on your desktop or in the cloud. It is of utmost importance that you have an organized digital filing system in place. You will understand the importance when you need to retrieve a statement. Depending on your comfort level with technology, consider using FileThis software that allows you to link your online accounts to automatically fetch all of your online statements in PDF format.

Set up a routine

There are a few payment options from which to pick. You can:

  • Pay all of your bills with paper (i.e., checks and envelopes)
  • Integrate your bills with electronic banking for a seamless process
  • Use both e-banking and paper (so most of your bills are handled online while you make some payments, such as income taxes, with traditional checks)

Some people review and pay any bills as soon as they receive them in the mail. Others prefer to create a standing appointment of an hour or two on a specific day to handle the task. To ensure the payments are always processed and received before their due dates, figure out what works for you. Then, stick with it.

Keep all bill paying statements and supplies you need nearby so you can handle the job efficiently.

Remember: there is some lag time from when you send a payment to when it’s received by the person or company you owe. Not scheduling your bills on time has the potential to affect your credit rating in a profound way.

Use financial software to keep track of bill paying

Financial software from Quicken, Mint and your bank’s proprietary software helps organize your bills and payments. These systems also help you set realistic budgets and help track spending to reach your financial goals.

Debt Negotiation Strategies

Before Negotiations

The biggest mistake people make when attempting to negotiate with creditors is failure to prepare. It is crucial that you have an idea of what you want to get out of the negotiation before you even contact your creditor. Take a look at your monthly budget and income to determine the amount you can realistically afford to repay. You need to know the state of your financial affairs and how they can best be met by a deal with your creditor. Ask whether you need a temporary suspension of payments or just a lower monthly payments. Evaluate whether a lower interest rate would be enough to reduce your monthly payment or do you need a modified payment schedule.

During Negotiations

Once you have an idea of what you can afford to pay and how you may be able to achieve that plan, contact your creditor. Debt negotiations are always better before you miss a payment, as creditors are often more willing to make changes if they feel you were proactive. However, if you have already missed a payment don’t worry. You may still be able to secure a deal through persistence and flexibility. It is important that you remember debt negotiations are simply that, a negotiation. This means that you have to be willing to be flexible in what you want and how you want it. Creditors do not owe it to you to negotiate and they are essentially doing you a favor. Come into the negotiation with an open mind and patience. Always be polite and work with the lender until you come to an agreement you can live with.

After Negotiations

If you were able to successfully negotiate a deal, congratulations. However, now is the most crucial time for you. It is extremely important that you stick to your negotiated plan and not miss a payment. Missing a payment now could mean the end of your deal and even delinquency fees. If you think you might miss a payment, contact your creditor before this happens. You may be able to make further changes to your deal or request a onetime extension. Remember to monitor your credit report for changes and stay on top of creditors to report the most accurate information at all times. Having an updated credit report will significantly improve your credit standing while you work to get out of debt and rebuild your financial future.

Get Lean and Mean With Money

Operate an efficient money production line

Imagine that your life was like an assembly line at a manufacturing company. Just like the person in charge of production, you would want to ensure that none of the raw materials were wasted and that you got as much finished product as possible out of your machinery time and employee effort.

Let’s review the Japanese words for inefficiencies — muda means idleness or wastage of resources when trying to complete a task; mura is the unequal or unbalanced use of different resources; while muri means the excessive or unreasonable use of a resource which could put it at risk.

In order to get the most out of the money you earn or have on hand to further your goals, you need to eliminate these types of inefficiencies. Your aim, like that of a profitable corporation, is to utilise your financial resources in ways that will allow you to get an optimal return on your money.

Don’t squander your money resources

One of the areas you may need to address is the wasteful use of money in your current spending. Do you try to find the best shopping deals to cut back on your grocery bills? Do you conserve on your usage of utilities such as light, water and petrol to get the most while spending the least?

Do you habitually use credit cards or payroll loans to finance consumer purchases? The interest you pay on debt actually represents money that has been inefficiently expended; you could have channeled those funds into productive use instead of making the financial institutions richer.

Another area of inefficiency is when you have money that sits idly in a non-interest bearing account, or funds that are not generating as much return for you as possible. You can get better interest rates on your money by simply switching from a savings account into a fixed deposit.

Try to maintain your money balance

You also need to determine if there is an imbalance or unevenness in your use of money. Are you putting too much of your resources into some areas while ignoring other important ones? Preparing a detailed budget will help you to see where you may be inefficient with your allocation of funds.

Use a budget calculator to itemise your compulsory bills and non-essential expenses over the course of a year. Are you satisfied that your expenditure items are all worthwhile, or do you need to eliminate some of your spending excesses?

Your money choices may help you with, or hinder you from achieving your goals. Consider if you could become leaner by directing more funds into savings and investments for your future needs such as buying a home, putting your children though college or planning for retirement.

Don’t overload your money capacity

You also need to assess if you’re putting yourself under financial pressure by having unreasonable expectations of what you can accomplish with the money you have. You need to be realistic about the kind of lifestyle you can afford based on the income you earn, and try to live within your means.

Let’s say that you want to buy a newer car to reduce your repair costs, but the loan repayment that would be required would jeopardise your ability to pay your other bills. Don’t think that you’ll be able to catch up if you stretch to get the vehicle; you’ll only overburden your budget with that debt.

You also have to make the right decisions when investing your money. You could lose your funds by trying to get improbable returns from get-rich-quick schemes or chancy business plans. Be practical about what you can gain given your level of experience and your ability to absorb risk.

Ways to Support Your Fight Against Debt

  • Celebrate success. Did you make it a month without running out of cash? Celebrate! You used to use credit cards and payday loans to make it through, now look at you. Maybe you finally paid off one of the direct lenders or used a credit card to get rid of your payday loan debt. Celebrate the move towards a positive direction. You have already begun to save money for the next month. That’s a step in the right direction. Don’t ignore even the smallest improvements, celebrate them.
  • Stay upbeat. Don’t let yourself get into a slump. Get some exercise every day to keep you mind, body and spirit strong. It is also a great way to alleviate frustrations.
  • Don’t forget to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine… and it is free! GO have a good time and give your mind a break. You can’t dwell on your debt all day.
  • Free fun. Change the ways your family entertains one another. You don’t have to go out and spend money to have fun together. Not only will you save money but you will nourish family relationships. Take a walk, go for a hike or bike ride, play a game together or plant a garden together. You’ll be teaching your children a good lesson along the way.
  • Feel blessed, it could be worse. Okay, so you are in debt. Count your blessings that you have your health, you still have a roof to live under and food on the table. On those bad days when you want to give up, remind yourself of all the blessings you have with you each day.
  • Accept any situation you can’t change. Maybe your finances fell apart when you lost your job or a family member fell ill. It is what it is and you can’t change what happened, so accept it. You are alive and tomorrow is a new day. Make it a good one.

Get An Income For Life

A life income annuity, sometimes called a single premium immediate annuity, is the type of product that corporations use for pensions. If you work for a company and you’ve accumulated money in your pension plan, when you retire you get an income for the rest of your life. The product that underlies that pension and monthly income is a life income annuity. Not only can you buy this same product on your own, but you may get a better deal than you’d get with a corporate pension. When companies shop for these annuities, they don’t look for the highest income for their employee, but the lowest cost to them. By for shopping it yourself you can probably get a better income than you would through your company. Of course, you want to be sure that the company offering your annuity will be around as long as you are, so be sure to investigate it thoroughly.

What exactly is a life income annuity? First let’s talk about what it’s not. It’s not a deferred annuity. It’s not an accumulation annuity, or a fixed annuity, or a variable annuity, or one of those indexed annuities. It’s an income annuity. You put a lump sum of money into the annuity and it pays you back an income for the rest of your life. You can make sure to adjust for inflation, choose a flat income for the rest of your life, or structure it lots of different ways. Once you decide upon an income, the annuity guarantees you that income for the rest of your life, no matter how long you live.

There is a disadvantage. Once you put money into the life income annuity you can’t get it back out. You have exchanged a lump sum payment for an income. If you need money for an emergency, you don’t have access to it anymore. We recommend to our clients that they don’t put more than 25 percent of their investible dollars into these products. For some people, this can be a deal-breaker.

There’s also an advantage. You can get a pretty decent income. The amount is determined by your age and by interest rates. You can find annuities that promise a better than average return on your investment, guaranteed for the rest of your life.

If you decide that an annuity is right for you, be sure to thoroughly investigate the company selling the annuity. You want to make sure it will be around as long as you are.

Ultimate Savings Apps for Non-Savers

Digit

Digit works by analyzing your bank account and expenses. Once it has established a trend, it will make deposits to an FDIC-insured account based on what funds you have remaining after your expenses have been paid, typically between $5 and $35, every couple of days. The automatic savings deposits make Digit great for those that have difficulties in depositing savings themselves. The service is free for the first 100-days but a fee of $2.99 is charged monthly after the free period. Another great feature of Digit is how fast money is deposited back into your bank account once you make a withdraw. In the event of a financial emergency, you can expect your deposit the next business day.

The downside to Digit is that you will have to keep an eye on your checking account since the amount withdrawn can vary week-to-week. If your account is overdrawn because of a withdrawal made by Digit, they will refund the overdraft up to two times. The app lets you set a minimum account balance that will prevent Digit from making withdrawals once your account falls to a specific amount. Another drawback to this app is that you do not earn interest on what you save, the company that runs Digit keeps the interest your funds have earned.

Qapital

Qapital works in the same fashion as Digit but allows for more control. You can establish various “rules” that control your automated savings. An example of one of the rules is that you can tell Qapital to roundup charges to the next dollar amount when you use your credit or debit card and deposit that excess into your FDIC-insured Qapital account. Qapital also lets you make lump sum deposits, great for when you have extra funds available. Other great features of Qapital include additional rules for increasing and controlling your savings and a social feature that lets your friends and family track your progress and to help encourage your savings growth.

While there are no fees associated with using Qapital, your savings will not collect interest. As with Digit, Qapital keeps the interest earned on your account as payment for providing you with their services. However, if you are the non-saver that is tech-savvy, this is the app for you.

Acorns

If you want an autonomous way to save that will allow for more investment options, take a look at Acorns.com. Even though Acorns rounds your purchase to the nearest dollar like Qapital, it is different in that it is actually an investment app and not simply a savings platform. The money Acorn saves for you is placed into an investment platform and unlike Qapital and Digit, you keep the returns you make on the investments. The cost to use this app is only $1 per month as long as your account balance remains below $5,000. Once you have over $5,000 in your Acorn account, Acorn takes ¼ of a percent of your account balance. An additional bonus to using Acorns is that if you make a purchase from one of their partner companies, such as Blue Apron and Hulu, the company will give a percentage of your purchase back to your Acorns account.

The downside to Acorns is that your account balance may go down since this is an investment platform and dips in the market where your money has been allocated will cause a decline. Also, withdrawing money from your account isn’t exactly fast. When you request for electronic funds transfer your invested shares have to be sold to cover the withdraw. However, if you’re serious about saving and investing but lack the discipline to do so, you might want to give Acorns a once over.