Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sure Hit Investments

Even in the most volatile of economic environments, there are still good investments to be had. And if there is anything that the recent recession and the current debt crisis of the United States and Europe have taught us, it is that certain companies are sometimes better than savings accounts when it comes to preserving and growing capital at a rate that overcomes inflation.

Below are some of the types of companies that are sure things, no matter the economy that surrounds it.

- The Brand Parents.

Though the wants of people change frequently with their economic situation, their needs never do. Companies that are positioned to take advantage of both normal and Giffen goods can hedge their bets in the worst of economies. Parent companies which own a lot of brands such as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Yum! Brands and other businesses such as these are positioned with Giffen good brands for bad times, which holds up profits and keeps the company from swinging any farther than the market does.

More importantly to the long term investor, companies like this often keep their dividends during rough economic times. If they do not, you can rest assured that they are investing the extra capital back into the company. This is the time to look for companies with the capital for acquisitions and good research and development, because when the economy bounces back, they will be in an even better position than they were before.

- Commodities.

Companies that deal with things that people will need no matter what are great bets in both good and bad economic times. Things like oil, gold, rice, bread, wheat - the farther back you can go in the production cycle, the safer you usually are. These companies can also act as hedges against inflation, because the basket of goods that inflation is based on contains the products that these companies make. So just like a TIP bond, if inflation drives up prices, they will also drive up the prices of the commodities, but demand will not go down as much as a luxury product, because the product is consumed based on need.

For the long term investor, it is essential to bet on the commodity itself or on the base company that manufactures the product, and not any derivative thereof. For instance, investing in gold is much better than investing in a gold mining company, whose profits depend on how much of the commodity that they actually find. You can also include businesses which specialize in delivery of these goods to the public, like Wal Mart.

- Blue Chips with Intellectual Property.

Products such as those made by McDonalds and Coke have a proprietary lock on the market, both in intellectual property and in brand recognition. It doesn't even matter if someone makes a product that tastes like Coke, people will still buy Coke. These types of businesses are usually invested in for the long term dividends.

This post was contributed by Kelly Austin from Higher Salary. Visit her site for information on the average pharmacy technician salary and guides to other popular careers.

5 Golden Rules of Personal Finance

This is the age of economic downturns and bearish markets. That is why you should constantly assess your financial condition. You must aim to be financially healthy so you would not end up as a casualty of the financial crises. Being complacent should be avoided first and foremost. For sure, you, just like everyone else, do not want to eventually drown in debt, fall into bankruptcy, and run out of cash to spare.

Personal finance need not be tedious. It would entail discipline on a personal level. To effectively manage your own finances, there are five golden rules that could serve as guidelines. They are as follows:

1. Spare some cash for your savings.

Be sure to save for the future. You need not allocate a huge portion of your regular income for savings. Start by sparing just a few dollars each day. This may also mean getting more frugal on your expenses. Always grab the opportunity to lower costs and save money. You may open a separate savings bank account for your spare money. If you would keep on saving on a daily or weekly basis, you might be surprised how much you could possibly save within a year.

2. Emerge out of debt.

Debt is not always bad especially when the amount is used to fund an investment or an emergency. However, be sure you would be able to properly and effectively repay your financial obligations in a timely manner. Loans accumulate and incur interest payments and other fees. The longer you keep such debts, the more money you would have to shed out to service the loans.

3. Set protection for what you own.

Invest in insurance products. Doing so would surely cost you a significant amount of money but the benefits would be more than worth it. You may insure your car, home, health, life, and other significant belongings. Insurance is a financial protection against risks and uncertainties that the future may bring.

4. Control your income.

These days, it is financial unhealthy for people to be content with a single source of income. You could still take advantage of your productivity through grabbing other income opportunities. The more income you generate, the better your finances would be, logically. You may start making investments that would surely bring about ideal returns. Do not forget to observe proper discipline when handling and controlling income flow.

5. Have some leverage.

Leverage your income. This could be somehow similar to controlling your income. Try to find and obtain income sources that would not be directly dependent on your efforts. You may invest your savings in real estate, mutual funds, or stocks. Establishing a small and home-based business may also be ideal. You could be sure your income potential would be bolstered exponentially. It is also assuring to know that your money could grow 24/7, even while you sleep. It is advisable not to quit your employment while holding such investments and/or small businesses so you could be sure income flow remains robust.

Andrew has been writing on personal finance over the last 2 years. Andrew specialises in business loans and low doc loans

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to Finance Tires

This guest blog post was written by Freedom Rims, a Responsible Military Lender since 1983. Freedom Rims offers military financing for rim and tire packages throughout the USA.

Financing your tires could be one of the most difficult things to do. When it comes to financing, you want to make sure you are getting the best deal. Fortunately, if you need a set of tires for your car but don't know if you can afford them right now, you'll be happy to know that most tire distributors offer financing options that will allow you to purchase your tires now and pay over time. This also allows you to upgrade to a higher-quality tire to save wear and tear on their vehicles. A little preparation and a few simple steps can have your car or truck rolling on a new set of tires soon.

  1. Prior to searching for a new set of tires, you need to come up with how much you want to spend in total and how much you can afford in monthly payments. 
  2. Research tire distributors. Often times, local and online distributors offer a wide selection of merchandise along with affordable financial options that you wouldn’t get with a larger company, so it’s worth it to look into all of it. Don’t forget to ask about shipping costs with online sellers, because it might be financed into the total and make a noteworthy addition to your payments. 
  3. Choose a tire distributer that meets your needs. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible. While some financing options are best for smaller purchases, other might be the better choice for larger purchases. Most distributors make themselves available for questions, but you have to make the initiative to ask the right questions. 
  4. Choose a financing option. In general, tire distributors offer financing options that allow you to spread your payments over 3, 6 or 12 months. Another potential option may be to apply for the financier’s credit card to pay for the tires. As long as you pay off the tires within a specified time, you will usually be offered a low-to-no interest financing option. 
Be sure to shop around for different promotions and read the fine print. All financing comes with strings attached, and tire financing is no different. It’s important to know and understand the details about penalties and payment dates and to avoid incurring extra costs inadvertently.
When it comes to financing your tires, you will likely find the price you want if you research the different tire promotions. Tire promotions are fairly competitive, especially among online distributors. You may find the tires you want at one location, but the price of another distributor is more appealing. See if the distributor with the tires you want would match the cost of the other. This is called price matching and it’s not uncommon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shop shop shop – the annuity conundrum

When it comes to retirement, in reality it’s something that many of us don’t want to have to think about – well not just yet anyway. Getting older, not being able to do many of the things we enjoy, and no longer being able to fill our days with work is something that we sometimes like to skim over with a nice pair of rose coloured glasses, but in reality it is something that we will all face one day.
When it comes to retirement we all want to make sure that we have an ample amount of cash saved to spend as we please on holidays and most importantly our grandchildren! For this reason, making sure that you do your homework about annuities, however painful and confusing it could be, can really pay off in a long term scenario.

This annuity stuff – it’s confusing!
It’s easy to be confused and overwhelmed when it first comes to looking at annuities. Pensions are big business and there are so many companies out there trying to promote their own packages that frequently we feel overwhelmed by information, which in many cases we don’t really understand.
Picking the right annuity package can seem like an incredibly daunting task and with the added pressure of a lifetime lock in clause, we can really feel like we need to make the right decision to affect our income for what could be the next 30-40 years. 

What should I really be looking at?
At the end of the day you take out an annuity for one reason – to make yourself money, and you want to make sure that whatever package you choose, it works for you. You need to take into account your health situation and any other factors that might affect your pay out. If your health is poor and you have poor lifestyle habits then you may be eligible to claim an enhanced annuity which could ensure you a larger pay out over a shorter period of time. 

Why should I shop around?
In reality shopping for an annuity is just like shopping for a new pair of shoes, or an item of clothing – we like to window shop and work out exactly what we want and then we search through a number of different retailers until we find a price that we are happy to settle for. Research has suggested that retirees could make a saving of up to 40% by simply switching their choice from their pension provider to an alternative annuity provider.

I thought I had to keep my pension provider?
Not at all! In 1975 the UK Government introduced a law to promote fair competition between all pension providers, ensuring that everyone was able to pick and choose between different companies to gather a better rate for their annuity. So despite the fact that you may have held your pension with one company for your entire life, when it comes to annuity time you are free to leave them and take up with another company offering you a better package.

The Annuity Specialist are qualified UK annuity advisors and have over 40 years collective experience in the financial services market.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Credit Cards vs. Cash Savings – Which is Better for an Emergency?

With the economy the way it has been for the last few years, financial experts everywhere have been voicing the importance of managing your money and having a plan for the unexpected. This is true in good times as well, but when unemployment is at 10% and the consumer market seems stagnant, it has a way of magnifying any problem in a financial plan.

The majority of Americans do not have enough cash available to ride out a three month time period if they suddenly lost their income. At the same time, many Americans would have a hard time coming up with enough money if their car engine blew. When talking to these people, they usually say they can just use their credit cards to get through the rough patch and then start paying them off on the other side.

This brings up a good question that financial experts have discussed for years. “What is the best way to prepare for a financial emergency?”

The two main approaches people take are credit cards and cash savings. Credit cards can be convenient because they are available instantly and can provide a sense of security for the cardholder. They immediately have access to a line of credit and often times they can pull out cash if they really needed to.

On the flip side of the argument is cash savings. While most people would probably prefer to have a large sum of cash available for emergencies, many find it difficult to have the discipline to save the money in the first place.

If you talk to just about any financial planner or counselor they are going to tell you the best way to handle an emergency is with cash. The benefits greatly outweigh those of credit cards and provide a sense of security that even the best cards cannot give. When sitting on a sizeable amount of cash, it truly is easier to sleep at night.

Pay and Forget it – When your car breaks down and requires $2000 in repairs, when paying with cash you can leave the problems at the dealer. You do not have a monthly reminder when the credit card bill comes for the next 6,12 or even 24 months.

Cash Amount Cannot be Arbitrarily CutCredit card companies have the ability to at any time reduce your useable credit limit. Unfortunately, this can happen right as you may need funds to cover an emergency. Once your credit line is reduced, your debt to income ratio can rise and make it more difficult to get another credit card for an emergency.

Cash is King – When that same $2000 car repair bill comes, you run a higher chance of getting a discount when paying with cash. The business does not need to pay the credit card processing fee and may be more willing to give you a deal to save you money.

Cash is Certain – Unless there is a major disaster or civil unrest, you can be confident that cash will get you out of most emergencies you will find yourself in financially. With the uncertain climate within the banking industry, you cannot be certain your credit card emergency plan will be around for the long haul.

No Interest – When paying with cash, you know the total is the final amount you will have to pay. Credit cards carry some of the highest interest rates in the consumer lending realm and that $2000 car repair bill can easily be $3000 or more when all is said and done.

There is no question that saving up an emergency fund is the safest and most secure way to handle the unexpected. Most people find the act of saving the money to be the most difficult. Set a goal of 3-6 months of living expenses and start socking away money every month, just like a 401k or other retirement plan. The key is consistency and planning. Keep track of monthly income and expenses and each time there is extra money lying around, add it to the pile. With a little determination and time, anyone can get there.

This post was provided by Eric Stauffer, a small business advocate who assists businesses with their credit card processing. His organization reviews companies such as TSYS and helps small businesses find reputable merchant services outfits to work with.