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Personal Finance

Common Investor Mistakes

  • Believing one guarantee covers everything. When you hear, “Your investment is guaranteed,” you’ve got to ask yourself, “What is guaranteed? Is the return guaranteed? Is my principal guaranteed?” Don’t take the word “guaranteed” at face value. Make sure you understand what’s guaranteed, then question who’s guaranteeing it. You don’t want your guarantee in the hands of Conned You Company.
  • Making a purchase or sale based on a previous price. “Picture framing” is an interesting and potentially dangerous behavior. It works like this: You believe an investment has a certain value. You’re so proud of that beautiful value that you take a mental picture of it, frame it, and hang it on your mind’s wall. Every day you look at that picture. You love it. Then one day the market goes down, and now your actual value is less than your picture. But you decide not to sell your investment until it matches that beautiful number that’s in your framed picture. You have to look at the investment and its future. Its past worth is not important. The picture you framed is irreverent. You have to look at the probable future of that investment, and sell if need be.
  • Owning too much of the same thing. Some people think they’re diversified, but in reality they are not. Make sure you have different things in your portfolio, so that some zig when others zag.
  • Not having an exit strategy. A rising market raises all ships, but it will go down eventually. If you don’t have an exit strategy, the market could take away all your gains when it falls. If you want financial peace of mind, you have to know in your heart that you have a strategy that can protect you from bear markets.

About Gold Coins and Rounds

The reason why all round shaped pieces of precious metal aren’t called coins, but also rounds, is that the word “coin” is reserved by the United States Mint for circulating currency minted by government mints world wide. Most investors that buy gold coins, does that because they consider them as a more secure product to invest in, since the coin is backed by a government and will most likely be in production for a long time.

The purity standard for these coins is somewhat different from silver. Since it’s such a malleable and soft metal, pure gold coins are very fragile and sensitive to mechanical wear and impact. In the old days when real gold was actually used to make circulating currency, the gold purity was lowered by adding silver and copper to the gold. This alloy is commonly know as crown gold and are still used today in some popular gold coins, like the American Gold Eagle (which features the statue of liberty on the obverse and a soaring eagle on the reverse). To compensate for the lack of gold in this alloy (91.67%), the American Gold Eagle is heavier than other coins. This makes the total amount of pure gold contained in the American Eagle coin exactly 100% of the weight stated on the reverse side of the coin.

Other gold bullion coins usually have a purity of about 0.999. In other words, they have less than 0.1% impurities. Canadian gold coins, like the Gold Maple Leaf made by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) are sometimes made with a purity of 0.9999, which is amongst the finest of all mass produced solid gold coins in the world. All of these coins are strictly for investing and collecting, and must be handled with the utter most care, since damaged, scratched, or otherwise out of state conditioned coins will have a reduced value.This will again affect the price of his investment, once the investor advertises his gold coins for sale.

Picking the Right Mortgage Advisor

  • Bank – The first tip is that you should not use a bank. You might be shocked at this but this is what people usually do, but then, they haven’t got all the information about the financial services that are available to them. A bank advisor will want you to choose the financial services that they offer. They have to meet targets and sell the banks services. So, they might not listen to your requirements as much as an independent advisor. They will just be interested in selling the banks financial services.
  • Independent Advisor – Your best bet would be to go with an independent mortgage advisor. This is because they will have access to everything that is available to you. They don’t have any allegiances to one service over any others, so they will listen to the requirements that you need, and then put you in touch with a service that is right for you. They won’t push you in one direction over another because it is better for them, or they get more commission. They will do their best for you, to make sure that you have a mortgage that is better for your circumstances.
  • Interest Rates – One of the most important things about your mortgage will be the interest rates. You need to make a choice between having fixed interest rates or variable interest rates. With fixed interest rates, you will pay the same amount of interest on your mortgage, so the monthly payments will be the same for the duration of your mortgage. This is better for some people because they are able to better plan their budget because they know how much will be coming out each month. However, other people will opt for variable interest rates. This is where the amount of interest that you will pay, will change depending on the market. So if the market is going well, then the interest will be lower. Therefore, your payments will be lower. But, if the market is bad, then you will pay high interest and your payments will be higher. Therefore, you won’t know how much the payment is per month. Some people choose variable rates because they think that they will have lower interest and so their payments will be less. But, they are taking a gamble because they might find that one month, their payments are incredibly expensive.
  • Comparison – It might be easier for you to use a comparison company because they will have access to all the services that are available to you. They will be able to key in your requirements, to their computer and with a simple push of a button; they will be able to find you the exact service that you need.

Setting Realistic Financial Goals

The first step in seeing yourself out of trouble is to estimate how big the trouble is in the first place. You need to create a spreadsheet containing your monthly net income and your expenditures. Be as detailed as you can, because it is important to see exactly why you can’t make ends meet and where you could possibly cut from in order to be able to recover.

The main rule of a healthy family budget is to always spend less money than you make. You should setup a savings account and direct 5%-10% of your earnings into it prior to paying any bills. Even 2% of your monthly income could be something if you stick to this habit long enough. The key thing here is to set this money aside before spending on everything else, otherwise your best laid plans won’t work, especially if you are already in trouble.

Entertainment is good, but it shouldn’t throw you into even bigger debt. Budget for some inexpensive entertainment every month, but consider cooking with friends rather than going to expensive restaurants, for instance.

When you make your family budget, don’t forget to include expenses that occur only once or a few times a year. Insurance, car maintenance or medical expenses may fall into this category. Don’t overlook them, because they are important and they will ruin your budget if you don’t expect and plan for them.

If you don’t make enough money to cover all your current expenses, consider what you could be cutting without suffering too much. You may be able to take the bus instead of driving your car, for instance, or maybe you could ride your bicycle. When shopping for groceries, you could watch and take advantage of special discounts, promotions or coupons. When you are at home, maybe you have the habit of keeping the lights on in all rooms, even if nobody stays there. Consider switching off what you don’t need. It’s good for your finances, as well as for the environment.

Create Holiday Financial Blueprint

  • Determine your large holiday occasions: Your large festive occasions: The holidays provide various favorable circumstances and the question become which event to attend. Selecting your major holidays assists you in assigning your money properly in your financial plan. Potentially, it also makes certain that a little part of your holiday financial planning is saved for unexpected occasions like spontaneous dinners or cocktails with friends.
  • Place¬†your attention on experiences rather than things: We are in a buying culture where we regularly are barraged to spend money. Television, radio commercials or even emails inform us of a sale and now while we are in stores flashing announcement highlights more products to purchase. For this reason, I encourage you to consider if a gift is what you really want to give. I have noticed that people desire mostly to connect and feel that they their lives have purpose. Think if you can provide human connection and meaning for those you love. An example is that your family can volunteer at a holiday soup kitchen and then have an intimate meal at home. Another example is to ask all family members to bring a dish in December to the family dinner. Also, one of my favorite things is to donate to a charity that has meaning for a loved one and give in their name. My uncle for instance is my Godfather and annually I donate to an organization in memory of my aunt who passed from Lupus complications. My uncle is not interested in gifts, but he enjoyed receiving the card acknowledging the gift the organization received in memory of his wife.
  • Intentional Giving: The song says “He’s (Santa) making a list and checking it twice”. I ask you to consider doing the same action. List the people you want to give including those that service your needs like the US Postal worker and your hair stylist. After making this list reviewing it see if someone on your list would benefit more from step 2, of connection and meaning. For those that remain on your list for a gift, decide the amount you are going to spend for each gift. Come up with an idea of how much you want to spend and finally seek promotional codes and coupons online that can help you save.

 

Free Up Money in Your House

Re-mortgage to release equity

When you buy a house, you get a mortgage for the amount of money that you need to buy the house. That is the way it works, but if you bought the house 20 years ago, then the house will be worth a lot more than when you sold it.

Therefore, you will get a new mortgage on the amount of money that the house is worth now. You pay off the old mortgage and then you have the difference left over for you to do what you want with.

Now, you will have to pay the money back on the new mortgage, but it is just a way of having the money now. Yes, you will have to pay the mortgage payments for a bit longer, but you have a lump sum in your pocket now.

You will have to think long and hard if this is something that you want to do because you will have to pay interest on the mortgage that you arrange to free up the equity.

Payments

If you have decided that you want to get a new mortgage, to access the equity, then you should be careful which mortgage you chose. You should look to keep the payments the same, so that you will still be able to afford the repayments.

If you end up with more expensive payments and you haven’t used a mortgage calculator to make sure that you can afford it, you might end up missing payments and if the worst comes to the worst, then you could end up losing the house and you will have nothing.

Interest Rates

When choosing a new mortgage to get access to the equity, you have to choose the mortgage wisely, based on the interest rates. For example, if you have $50,000 worth of equity in the house, so you re-mortgage the house, so that you can use the money for something else, but you have to pay $60,000 in interest, then you won’t have made a wise decision.

You would have leant more than you needed and you wouldn’t have made a single penny for yourself. You will have made the bank $10,000 though. Therefore, you have to make sure that the re-mortgage is worth it for you in the long run.

Live Financially Free

Simplify your lifestyle

When a trading company is at risk of being liquidated there are two things they focus on: cost savings and generating income. In other words simplifying the cost structure.

In personal finance terms this means simplifying your lifestyle. Sure, everybody would love to have the best gadgets and toys around but many people have these things at the expense acquiring extra debt which they have to pay off over years. What is the point of doing this? Usually media/peer pressure or image/reputation.

To begin to live financially free, take a look at your current expenses and see which items you currently pay for or have a loan against, such as a sports car or mobile phone contract. Ask yourself: do you really need these items? What would happen if you didn’t have these items. Start to think along these lines, and by simplifying, it will be much easier to live and reach financial freedom.

Multiple stream of passive income

When most people talk about earnings, they usually mean salary or working income. This is because from a very young age and throughout our childhood we are conditioned to “study hard to get a well paid job”. It’s no wonder that many people are struggling to be financially free. Earned income is good up to a certain point in your life – usually when you don’t have any alternative ideas on how to generate other types of income. Most people who stay in this zone, remain tied to their work. They work for their money. Rather than have money work for them.

Quick question: So what generally happens when you need more income? Well, your habits will automatically have you thinking about “earning” more money. So you go out to find a second or third job. This is a sure fired way to get stressed out and becoming ill, since your have to be working to earn your money and there’s only 24 hours in any single day, so your earning potential is very limited. It’s not multiple streams of income, but rather multiple streams of passive income that is the key to financial success.

Learning to Save Money

It is no wonder that American’s cannot save. There is nothing in our culture that promotes keeping your income. You need to keep up with the Jones’s. If you don’t have the bigger house or the new car, you’re not successful in life. We are taught from a young age that image is everything, so buy it.

While there is nothing wrong with having things, it is important to know how to save money to be able to get them. Saving and living within your means gives you the best chance of affording the things you want without overextending to get it. It is possible. You can start getting onto the road of saving.

First, you need to have a reason to save. Why do you need to keep your money? What are your goals? Having clearly defined goals will help establish a discipline to help meet that objective. Maybe the goal is to save for a car, a house, a trip, or retirement. Once you know where you want to go, then you can start the journey on how to get there.

Next, you need to find the money. The sage old advice says to save 10% of your income. Well, that is easier said than done. The point is that you need to start somewhere. Many financial institutions have financial calculators on their websites that can help calculate how much you need to save each month to get to a certain dollar amount in a certain number of years. This information is helpful because if you don’t know what the end number is then you won’t know how much to put away. For example, if you save $150 a month for 20 years with a 3% interest rate, you will have a bit under $50,000 at the end.

Now you ask, where can you find the money to put aside? This is where priorities come into play. This step might take some sacrifice. Unfortunately, not many people were taught delayed gratification growing up, but here is where it comes in handy. Sacrifice a little today for a better tomorrow. Is going out 4 or 5 times less a month worth $50,000 down the road?

This is where a budget can be a life saver. Again, many financial websites have templates that can be used to help figure out what your monthly expenses are compared to your income. This will be helpful in seeing areas that might be cut to help set aside some funds for the future. You must live within your means today so you can live your dreams tomorrow.

Last, is consistency. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. If you stop putting the funds aside, you are robbing from yourself. Yes, there are always reasons for wanting to spend the funds you earmarked for savings. There is always a gift to buy or a sale at the mall, but if you budget correctly, you should have money for these occasional wants and needs.

Prevent Elderly Financial Exploitation

Seniors make up for one third of the nation’s net worth, which makes them a considerably easy target for advisors looking to exploit them financially. Ninety percent of abuse comes from family members or trusted others like, financial advisors. According to a 2007 University of Miami study, since many elder suffer from cognitive impairment, investment skill deteriorates dramatically after the age of 70. Warning signs of elder financial exploitation often include sudden reluctance to discuss finances, unusual unexplained cash withdrawals and wire transfers.

Between 2008 and 2011, a Metlife Study of Elder Financial Abuse found a 12 percent increase in the dollar amount of which elders were being defrauded. One of the most common scams targeting seniors are “free lunches,” marketed as educational presentations. However, these meals often end up as sales pitches for investment products with misleading claims. The elderly are put in a situation where they are given a hard sell for unsuitable investments, and pressured to buy investment products after accepting a free meal.

Another instance in which elders fall victim to financial exploitation is via unsolicited phone, mail or e-mail pitch. In this case, they are tempted with financial products and services, like low-cost, high-yield investments. Another common tactic advisors use to exploit elders is to omit or misrepresent information about the costs and risks of a product. Equity indexed annuities and variable annuities are the most common products used because they promise a fixed income throughout retirement. Variable life insurance, mutual funds and universal or whole life insurance are other bad investment products advisors market to seniors.

These products are sold without any disclosure of risk, which most often includes extremely high commission rates and liquidation penalties. It is normal for seniors to end up in situations where they don’t have access to liquid assets in retirement.

Benefits of Independent Investment Advisors

Understand exactly what you are paying

Independent RIAs charge a fee based on a percentage of total assets managed. This fee structure has many advantages. It’s simple, transparent and easy to understand, helping to avoid surprises. It also gives your advisor an incentive to grow your assets-when you succeed, your advisor succeeds.

Advice for your complex needs

Independent RIAs provide services that address a variety of complex investment needs that often arise when you accumulate wealth, such as assisting you with the sale of a business, complicated tax situations, trusts and intergenerational issues. They can also help you prepare for future goals including college funding, debt management, and retirement planning. They should be your point of contact for every financial issue that may come up.

You won’t be sold a “Product”

An Independant RIA is not paid on commission. This means they will not push loaded mutual funds, non-public REITS, whole life, variable annuities, or other hard to understand products (which historically have high commission rates for the brokers who sell them). This means you are receiving objective advice with out any conflicts of interest.

Enjoy a different kind of relationship

The goal of an RIA is to help find solutions that are closely aligned with client needs and objectives, and many independent RIAs enjoy a deep, personal relationship with their clients through regular, ongoing interaction.