Saving for retirement in the new economy

Let’s face it. Most of the financial advice out there says something like this, “If you make on average $60,000 per year…” Most of the advice is designed for baby boomers about to retire. The young generation 35 years-old and under are not going to relate when their incomes range from $25,000 to $40,000. True their income may rise someday but there is a good chance it could decrease with the onslaught of lay-offs, downsizing and cost cutting. The wages their parents earned who worked at companies like GM making a combined income of benefits and wages in the $65 per hour range are not likely to be around in the future. Many of these companies have two-tier wage systems that hire new workers somewhere around $24 per hour (benefits and wages combined). Not only are low wages going to be a problem but also lack of employment opportunities, high interest mortgages, expensive college education, lack of social security income and major cut backs in all federal spending. So what strategies should a young person making his/her way in a “tough times” economy to do? The biggest advantage young people have is their age. Compound interest is a very powerful force that is likely to make or break a retiree. By putting away only $200 per month from the age of 30 and compounding it at 9% interest a young person could have around $500,000 by the time they are 67 years-old. Double that amount and you could be well over a million dollars. With a 401K offered by your employer it becomes very easy to save because it is pretax dollars that you don’t have to think about. You may also choose to put your money into a Roth IRA. Generally, the money is taxed before it is put away and then you don’t have to pay taxes on it in retirement. Not a bad deal when it has compounded for 30 years. The best retirement utilizes a combination of the two. It is beneficial to put away money automatically in your 401K and set a goal of putting away $100 or $200 per month into a Roth IRA. One may also consider reducing the cost of big expenditures and saving big money. The housing market is beginning to cool as baby boomers are leaving the market with their large incomes. It won’t be long before appreciation on houses has returned to a mediocre percent such as 3%-5%. As a young person trying to show his or her financial stuff they may want to buy the nicest houses they can get. Unfortunately that nice house also comes with a large mortgage payment. A good rule to follow is that your housing cost should not be over 25% of your household income. For example, If my wife and I make 70,000 (two young professionals at $35,000/year) than we could have a house that costs $1,400 per month. Because we are financial savvy, with a lot of energy, we bought an older house with an $800 per month mortgage payment, put our sweat equity in it, and watched its value increase 20%. Because we were under our $1,400 limit we also bought 10 acres for a nice cottage at $300 per month. Now we are increasing our long-term assets at a cost of $1,100 per month. What happens to the savings? Well they go into our retirement account. Of course one of the best ways of saving money is diverting your expenses into investments. Basically, “You don’t buy what you don’t need!” Go to discount grocery stores, take cheap vacations within driving distance, buy good quality clothes at discount prices, and stick to a solid budget. It is much easier to save money than it is to make more. Keep in mind that even though you don’t look as wealthy as your friends you are probably much wealthier financially. Trust me; no one gets out of college making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Therefore, don’t try and make your self look like it.

International investing why it makes sense

Of the world's 40,000 publicly traded companies, 77 percent are located abroad, a pretty good sign that there are compelling investment opportunities outside the United States. Viewed another way, 51 percent of the world's $38 trillion total market capitalization belongs to the international arena. U. S. mutual funds hold $491 billion in overseas investments. With so many potential investments outside the United States, investing internationally becomes a great way to diversify an equity portfolio. Some people contend that there is an increasing correlation in performance between the United States and international markets. But while world markets often tend to react similarly to news or developments occurring around the globe, over time, international and domestic markets tend to behave differently, helping to smooth out the ride in a diversified portfolio. Consider the performance of the Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index, which charts the progress of stocks in developed markets located in Europe, Australia and the Far East, versus the S&P 500, considered representative of the broader U. S. stock market. When one is going strong, the other tends to lag behind, and that has been the case going back as far as 1970.

In addition, when the MSCI EAFE outperforms the S&P 500, it has done so by a greater margin than when performances are reversed. In fact, during the past 10 years, the U. S. stock market has never been the leader in the global investment arena. Top performance has been the exclusive domain of international indices during that time, and the returns of the S&P 500 sometimes have lagged those of overseas peers by wide margins. Global funds invest about half in the United States and half in the rest of the world, making them a smart way for someone with little or no experience in international investing to test the waters. A good example is American Century Global Growth, whose managers scour the globe for the best growth investment opportunities for the fund's shareholders. You should consider the fund's investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before you invest.

The fund's prospectus, which can be obtained by calling or visiting American Century's Web site, contains this and other information about the fund and should be read carefully before investing.

What determines price you pay for investment property

Copyright 2006 National Real Estate Network LLC The comparable sales in a one-mile area around the property will be the ones you want to be looking at. This is a general rule. There are many areas where you have do comparable sales block-by-block, or street-by-street. A comparable sale would be a similar property that has sold in the last six months compared to the one you are buying. For example, if you were going to buy a 1000 square foot, 3 bedroom house, brick, with attached 2 car garage, and full basement, you would want to look for similar properties in that one mile radius or closer, in some cases. If you are looking at a house that differs in size, square footage, bedrooms you will need to make adjustment in pricing to have a comparable to the target property. For example if the target property has a 3 bedroom house with basement, and you are using a comparable 3 bedroom house with no basement, you might have put a downward adjustment factor of $10,000 to compensate for the missing basement in order to get a real value of the comparable sale. You need to look at the amount of time the house was on the market (the number of days it took to sell the house). You don’t want to be basing your buy on a house that was on the market for long periods of time. If you use comparable sales that all took 10 months to sell and you are looking to buy the house, fix it up and sell it in 3 months, you sure don’t want to use these houses as “comps” that took 10 months to sell. So we now know how to determine what the house we are looking at would sell for. I am going to suggest that if you are getting into this business to be a landlord that you treat your rental business as if it were the business of finding, fixing, and reselling. I say this because most landlords will be selling at some point in time. So don’t just look at buying houses based on cash flow, or tax benefits. You need to look at it from the point of view that if you were to get sick tomorrow could you resell the property at a profit. Let’s talk about profit, after all this is a business and that is what you are after. So what is the profit you want to make in this business? That’s right; profit is where you want to start! Let’s assume that I am looking at houses that sell in 3-month period for $60,000. Let’s say we are looking at a house that needs a new kitchen, paint and carpet. If all those repairs were done, the house would sell most likely for $60,000.00 in three months based on comparable sales. So another way to say this would be that the after repair value of the home would be $60,000.00. Some nonconforming lenders and HUD 203-k mortgages use what is called a “subject to appraisal” (which is another way of saying the after repair market price). So we have a minimum profit goal for this $60,000.00 after market value home of $12,000.00. So we now build the model to determine what the maximum $ we want to pay for the house we found are. You now have to start adding in your cost? The costs you need to add up are as follows: a. Your time - What is your time worth? How much time are you personally going to be spending on the buy, rehab and etc? Put a dollar figure to your time. b. How much is the rehab going to cost? I have seen a lot of people in this business that are very experienced. The majority of them will tell you that their rehabilitation cost will run 1 Ѕ more than they expected or estimated. It’s a must to build in cost over runs. If you are a new investor take your estimated cost and double them for figuring your rehab. c. What is cost of your holding time? You need to look at how long you think it will take you to rehab the property. If you think it will take you 3 months to fix the property up – double the time to 6 months when doing the financial analysis. If comparable sales show 3-month selling time – double that time and cost. So if your property insurance, lights, gas, gas cutting, house cleaning, alarm system, mortgage payment are running you $800 month you need to take that cost times 12 months since we have double our 3 month rehabilitation time, and double our 3 month expected selling time. d. What kind of reserves for breakdowns have you figured in? I once had a partner in the rehab of a house where he put up the money for rehab up as his contribution. I chose a contractor (this one actually had been with me for awhile and did good work) and purchased the supplies. The contractor kept giving me updates but coming up with problems that needed more money to handle. The reality was that the contractor had actually returned for a refund all the supplies or sold them and took off to parts unknown after going through all the allotted money my investor had supplied for the rehab. Or this one---my partner researched the property at the city but “Oops, I don’t know why the condemnation notice wasn’t in the file but it is condemned and now requires a city team inspection which quadruples the cost. In addition, we are now on our third contractor—each of which requires money up front to get started. Or, you are almost done with the rehab and someone breaks in and steals all the Kitchen cabinets, the furnace, or all the siding off the house. At one point in my life I found out that rival contractors that I hired were breaking into each other’s jobs and stealing everything. (Not a good idea to have them all meeting on one day of the week to collect their checks—it gives them opportunities to know their rival’s business.) Or, oops, I am sorry the city water department read the wrong meter reading and you house is the one that had water flowing for a year because of squatters and you owe $3,000.00. Oops, that wall in the basement that just needs to be straightened out and supported is actually crumbling from a chronic water problem and you will have to dig a new basement. What if, half way through the rehab you find out you have a problem that requires you to “quiet the title” to make it clean and sellable? e. Don’t forget you might have mortgage costs for the buy and sell. You will also have other closing cost like commissions to realtors, title insurance, title fees and recording fees. All these need to be figured in your cost on the buy. f. Don’t fool your self into thinking you will be able to buy fix and sell a house in 6 months. Base your buy on cost over runs! If you do bring your project in on budget then you are going to be smiling. OUR EXAMPLE OF SETTING MINIMUM BUY PRICE: $60,000.00 Real estate commissions based 6% (3,600.00) closing cost seller pay 6% allowable closing subject to appraisal (after repaired value) project profit (12,000.00) cost for buyer, (title insurance, recording fees etc) ( 4,800.00) Cost of mortgage on buy (appraisal, mortgage cost) (4,600.00) use 12 months (taxes, gas, electric, grass, mortgage payments) ( 9,600.00) Rehabilitation cost – est. $7,000.00 (Double cost) (14,000.00) price you purchase property for: (11,400.00) 60,000.00 This may appear as extreme example of cost over runs. I have doubled your cost and assumed that you had a realtor sell the house. I am clear as a person who has seen a lot of people come and go in this business, you need to figure your cost high and you need to be able to do your own comps (comparable sales) I recommend that people get real estate license. Why? Because the advantage is that it will give you access to MLS (listing service), which will give access to sales reported to the MLS. More importantly, it will train you to be a knowledgeable buyer and know first hand what is required to have your real estate transactions comply with federal, state, and municipal restrictions. Plus, you will learn what is necessary to have the transaction be complete and within integrity guidelines. In addition, you will be putting you license with a broker who will be there to train you while doing your beginning deals. It requires 40 hours of classroom on Michigan real estate, plus passing a test to get your license---even if you don’t end up getting your license. The knowledge you get in these training courses is invaluable. I prefer to work with licensed investors, especially with challenged properties, because it assures me that the person you are working with has at least a basic level of knowledge of Real Estate. The more knowledgeable a person is, the more likely they are to achieve their goal. In fact some of the investors that have worked with me generally end up getting their license and sometimes even become licensed under the same broker I am. There are many reputable real estate schools. If you are not a realtor and you are looking for comparables, you can go on to your Internet server and look under real estate, there will be comparable sell section you can use.

Uk first time buyers turn to overseas properties

Beth Collingz, PLC International Marketing Director for Pacific Concord Properties Inc's Lancaster Brand of Apart-Hotels or Condotels in the Philippines said a recent study published by UK National Savings & Investments found 84 per cent of 18 to 30-year-olds believe buying property abroad is a more viable option than buying in Britain. Young people buying abroad and renting in Britain are and will continue to be a growing phenomenon. They generally look at spending less than Ј200,000. This comes on the back of recent reports by Barclays Bank that revealed the number of Britons keen to buy property abroad has doubled to 18,000 in a year. When you consider these facts along with aging population, increased property wealth, Self-Invested Pension Plans and leisure lifestyle aspirations of the populous it is easy to see why many shrewd property investors are looking for better lifestyle and hassle free overseas ownership and why many advisors are looking aside from the traditional UK buy to let and Spanish holiday let for property options for Condotel Investments in the Philippines. Collingz said: “Since the Dollar value depreciated and UK Pound Sterling hit 96:1 on the Philippine Peso, my phone has been very busy with buyers from the UK interested in purchasing investment properties and holiday homes here in the Philippines. A lot of this interest is being driven by relatively cheap market prices in the Philippines compared to Europe, especially UK Housing prices, and easy payment options available for our Condotel Developments, but there are other factors, too. Offshore Property Investors, Foreign baby boomers as well as overseas Filipinos, are looking for ways to maximize their return on investments as they approach retirement, and so are purchasing second homes, particularly Condotel Investments where they can use the Condo for vacations and rent it out through In-House Management when not using the unit thereby gaining rental incomes that on today’s purchase prices, give a projected ROI on their investments of some 8-16% depending upon the mode of payment for the unit” Collingz, who also runs PLC Global Pinoy, an internet based marketing network specializing in Condotel Investments, indicated more than 85% of all sales in Metro Manila were to international clients. “These international buyers know it’s a buyer’s market in the Philippines right now - there are a lot of properties available and fewer local buyers,” Collingz said. “I’m working with clients who are purchasing their second property with me. We also have referrals from many of our prior customers and new clients who have found us through our Web sites, lancastersuites. com and plcglobalpinoy. com which include a special section for international buyers” Another major driving factor in overseas property investments from the United Kingdom is UK Tax Payers taking advantage of tax incentives and Investing their Self-Invested Pension Plan [SIPP] In Philippine Condotel Investment Real Estate for Rental Income and Retirement said Collingz. A Self Invested Pension Plan [SIPP] is a personal pension plan but with one very significant difference: administration is separate from investment content, giving the plan holder freedom to choose for himself and change the investments within it. The long-awaited rules on what savers can include in their personal pension plans were unveiled in April 2006 by HM Revenue & Customs. The Guidance Notes confirm that the Chancellor is permitting Self Invested Pension Plan [SIPP] holders to invest in hotels such as the Lancaster Brand of Condo Hotels in the Philippines. The only stipulation is that SIPP holders may not stay in their rooms. With more nights available for paying guests, this not surprisingly increases the room owners' returns. It is estimated there are now more than 70,000 plans holding over Ј14bn. A year or so ago, few people in the UK realized that they could manage their Pension Plan portfolios themselves, and even fewer knew that they could invest their SIPP retirement money in homes in the sun which now prove to be among the most popular potential investments to include in a SIPP If you’re considering using your SIPP to invest in real estate, there are some excellent reasons that you should choose Philippine Condotel Investment real estate to drive your retirement portfolio into high profit margins. The Philippines is ideal for this type of investment because a SIPP can establish title to a property in a country whose legal framework recognizes trusts – and a SIPP is simply another form of trust. “Investing in foreign real estate is neither as risky nor as tricky as a lot of people would have you believe. While land and housing prices in the U. K. have soared astronomically in the past decade, the world real estate market is a far different story. It’s still possible to buy a preconstruction Condotel suite at Lancaster – The Atrium located in Metro Manila, Philippines, for less than GBP Ј25,000.00” “The beauty of holding property in the Philippines is the low cost of property taxes and maintenance. A GBP Ј25,000 Condotel suite will only set you back GBP Ј100 in property taxes per year, and maintenance costs are similarly low. When you add in the tax-protected status of investments made in your SIPP, annual off plan property appreciation and the 8-16% returns through rental income through the Condotel advantage, you have an incredible ROI on a purchase of Philippine Condotel investment real estate” enthused Collingz. With preconstruction property in the Philippines appreciating at some 20% per annum not only do real estate investments look good but the rental income return in the Country is in excess of what many Pension Plans offer for the same or similar investment. Many new investors are looking to replace failed pension plans and other future saving schemes with a solid investment in Real Estate. “Clients are looking for investments that will give them an income for retirement as an alternative to traditional private pension plans that have failed. Most company pension plans are insufficient as are Government Pensions. Bank rates for Savings accounts are at record lows. Savvy investors are now looking for a more solid investment with potential for monthly income. Condotels in the Philippines fit the bill” Collingz said this potential, high rates of rental returns from Condo Hotel Investments, up to 16% per annum, opens up a huge market not traditionally looked at by Real Estate Agents and Brokers whom all so often run around looking for normal residential profile “buyers” without looking at the by far bigger picture of investments, investing and retirement. "We’re here to help our clients and advise them of emerging investment opportunities in the Philippines. Self-Invested Pension Plans and Lancaster Condotels, fit this bill exactly. Pacific Concord Properties, Inc., Flagship Lancaster Condo Hotel [Manila] development located along Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, is currently one of the hottest Condotel Investments in the Philippines. Lancaster - The Atrium is accepting Reservations for Studio, One, Two & Three Bedroom Suites adopting International Standard Escrow Trust Account “Buyer Safe” Easy Secure Payment Plans… with 6 year interest free payment terms or up to 12 year "In-House" financing available, full condo ownership and minimum monthly maintenance fees, you really should take a moment to look at this Philippine Condotel Investment Opportunity encouraged Collingz. Further info regarding Condotel Investments in the Philippines, Lancaster Suites currently available suites, price and terms of payment can be found on the firms website. Beth Collingz PLC International Marketing Networks

The ins and outs of day trading

: Day trading is one of the most popular forms of trading because the only components you need are a computer and an Internet connection. You can trade from almost any location you wish: your home, your office, the park, wherever suits you best. Because of this flexibility, day trading has the potential to be a very lucrative career for committed traders, but it’s definitely not something you should jump into without a little planning and forethought. To succeed at day trading, you must be willing to work hard, stay focused, and learn as many new strategies and techniques as possible, just like the pros. What Exactly IS Day Trading? Day trading is the practice of buying and selling financial instruments throughout the day. As the day progresses, prices will rise and fall in value, creating both the opportunity for gain and the possibility of loss. When traded strategically, the trends and fluctuations in the markets allow for quick profits to be made in brief periods of time. Keep in mind, however, that day trading is specifically designed to result in smaller earnings on a regular basis; it is NOT designed to result in huge fortunes through a single trade.

Day trading can be very profitable, but it is not a get-rich-quick scheme (though many seminars convincingly sell it as such). Nor is day trading a sure road to immeasurable wealth and success (as some hyped-up websites would have you believe). Quite simply, day trading is just like any other business venture: in order to be successful at it, you need to have a PLAN. It would be very risky to dive in head-first without looking. However, with the right tools – and with the knowledge of how to use these tools efficiently and effectively – the risks of day trading can be greatly reduced. How to Succeed With Day Trading Traders who enjoy the most success in day trading, regardless of whether they’re in it for a living or for some extra income on the side, generally have solid trading strategies and the discipline to stick to their trading plan.

Keep in mind that day trading is a very competitive field, and, in order to succeed, you need to maintain focus on a set of simple strategies which you can implement immediately, without hesitation. Remember, a proven, strategic trading plan can give you an edge over the rest of the market. Now, devising a trading strategy is all well and good, but you may be wondering how to determine whether or not YOUR strategy is a SUCCESSFUL strategy. There are a few ways to determine this. Most traders rely on back-testing. Back-testing allows you to take a closer look at a certain strategy and see how it would have performed in the past, thereby allowing you to predict with more accuracy how it will perform in the future. (NOTE: Although back-testing is an effective technique, be aware that past performance is not always indicative of future results).

Unfortunately, even with a tested, proven trading strategy, you are not guaranteed trading success. It takes something else. It takes discipline. A profitable strategy is useless without discipline. Successful day traders must have the discipline to follow their system rigorously, because they know that only trades which are indicated by that system have the highest probability of resulting in a profit. Whether you’re new to trading or have been trading for years, it’s all too tempting to place the entirety of your trust in graphs, charts, and software.

If only trading was as easy as that! Simply purchasing trading templates and computer programs does not guarantee your success as a trader. Too many hobby traders have tried that, and, unsurprisingly, they’ve failed. They bought the tools, but they didn’t have the knowledge they needed to succeed. As in all things, education will do wonders for the aspiring – and experienced – trader. Of course, this is not to say that software programs and markers are not helpful when it comes to day trading. On the contrary, many traders use technical indicators which are instrumental to their success – a few examples of these are the MACD, moving averages, and Stochastics.

However, though profitable day traders DO follow their indicators, they are also aware that nothing is 100% foolproof. You will not get rich on just a single day trade. Successful traders know that trying to hit a lucrative home run on just one trade is a sure way to get burned. The key is consistency. You need to devise a solid strategy that produces consistent trading profits, and you need to learn and adapt as your experience with day trading grows and evolves. In Conclusion… There’s no doubt about it: day trading can be a profitable and exciting way to earn money. And, with the right knowledge, you can radically reduce the risk, which will create even more opportunities for achieving trading success. If you are not willing to spend the time learning the techniques of trading, reading about new and improved trading strategies, and working wholeheartedly in a fast-paced trading environment, then day trading is probably not for you. However, if you have the drive, dedication, and discipline, day trading could seriously impact the shape and success of your financial future!

Discount brokers

Discount brokers are stockbrokers who help carry a wide variety of business deals. Generally, they accept orders for stock, stock options and futures trading deals. They are known by different names such as discount commodity brokers, discount stockbrokers and discount real estate brokers. Compared to full-service brokers, discount brokers buy and sell orders at a reduced commission. Discount brokers allow a person to buy "no-load" mutual funds at a reduced commission. Through an arrangement with a particular fund, free mutual funds are sometimes offered.

Discount brokers will often provide (for a small fee) a free 1-page Standard & Poor's Stock report on the stocks you are requesting and a 5-10-page research report. Twenty-four hour telephone stock quotes services are also provided, allowing the person to build trades. There are four types of discount brokerage firms, “full-service,” “discount,” “deep discount” and “computer or electronic.” Full-service discount brokers offer services that are identical to a full-service broker. They own local branch offices for personal service, newsletters, a personal account representative and considerable literature. Discount firms carry out the same functions as that of the full-service discount firms. The only difference is they don’t have local branches. Their commissions are around 1/3rd the price of a full-service agent. Deep discount brokers are stock brokers who execute only stock and option trades.

They have fixed commissions (flat fee) for any trade of any size. Computer or electronic brokers offer services similar to deep discount brokers. Their service is primarily aimed at computer users who trade via the internet. Some discount brokers, who cannot be clearly categorized, fall between "discount" and "deep discount." They cater to skilled, high-volume traders with high demands for quality service.

Practice your investment skills

You can practice your investment skills with a stock market simulation game. This is the best way to gain basic skill from this game before you actually investing real money in the stock market. Simulation games are usually played on the internet, where people can experience the thrill of investing in the stock market without any risks, costs or any fear of losing money when and if they make a poor investment decision. This game is very useful. Many teachers and professors of banking and finance are now using stock market simulation games to teach their students about the rudiments of investing in stocks. Most stock market simulation games come with a fee to get started, but there are some that are free of any charge.

One does not need have prior knowledge about the stock market to join. You may wonder how this game is about. This is how stock market simulation games usually work: First, players must register. After registration, players are given an initial sum of "virtual" money to invest in companies of their choice. Players build a portfolio of stocks by buying and selling shares in companies. Most stock market simulation games use real-time market data. The objective of most stock market simulation games is to increase the value of your portfolio of stocks so that it is greater than that of the other game players. Below are some tips on choosing a stock market simulation game: • Choose a stock market simulation game that is used and recommended by reputable colleges, high schools, middle school, investment clubs, brokers in training, corporate education courses and any other group of individuals studying markets in the U. S. and worldwide. • Choose a stock market simulation game that is comprehensive and easy to implement in any Finance, Economics, or Investments class. A good stock market simulation game should feature trading of stocks, options, futures, mutual funds, bonds from the U. S. and many of the world's major markets. • Choose a stock market simulation game that provides a valuable, reliable, and realistic trading simulation at a reasonable price to members and other individuals who are interested in learning more about investing and trading. The simulation game should also have some capability for testing a variety for investment strategies. • Choose a stock market simulation game that has a toll-free customer service phone number and excellent e-mail support for members. The support function should be able to quickly answer any questions that members/players may have. • Choose a stock market simulation game that is easy to use and easy to teach even to those who have never had any real hands-on investment experience.

Is a log cabin construction a good investment

Log cabins are generally low-maintenance houses since they are located in far out places and it is obviously not easy to get maintenance staff or equipment there. Log cabin plans tell the whole story. Most of the building material including the floor textures used in a log cabin requires very basic maintenance and it looks as good as new. The exterior of a log cabin has to face the nature’s wrath and thus is very simple to maintain. However, some people might like to keep the interiors of the log cabin in a very good condition and might use professional maintenance and restoration services. These services provide detailed maintenance services for the log cabin and do not come cheap. Some of the steps of maintenance for a log cabin include staining of the interior and exterior wood, chinking repair and replacement, borate treatment to safeguard against pests, stay dry, chemical strip and cob blasting. Deck cleaning and sealing are also important since that is where most of the time of the log cabin residents is spent. Log cabin plans should include inspection of the entire log cabin along with finishing of rough edges is part of the maintenance procedure.

If you are a log cabin owner and rent it out on frequent occasions to holiday-makers then good maintenance will go a long way to fetch you an attractive rental income. Apart from that, the overall value of log cabins tends to be higher if they are well maintained and clean. A quick search online will provide you with details of a number of agencies who deal in maintenance services for log cabins. It is advisable that you narrow down your selection to a few companies in the region where your log cabin is situated and take comparative quotes for them for the maintenance requirement and then make a decision.

Financial freedom

: Financial freedom eludes so many people these days who by all logical conclusions and observations should have obtained it. It’s commonly cited as one of the most important and sought after goals in life and yet is rarely attained. This article does not attempt to give you a magic formula for success but I do share with you the choices that made a difference to me and can, if you choose put you well on the path to freedom. Consumption You can choose to spend some or all of your money on “consumption” items. These include food, entertainment, holidays, housing, motor cars, hobbies, and so on. These are things we need to live on a day-to-day basis. They also consist of items that service the things we want and so improve lifestyle. Investment You can choose to spend some or all of your money on investment items such as revenue producing real estate, shares, interest bearing deposits, businesses that produce revenue, etc. Consumption or investment Two important factors need to be understood about the simple concepts of consumption and investment. The first factor is that spending on “consumption” items results in reducing the total value of your assets (net worth). Spending on investment items aims to increase your net worth. The second factor is that you have choice.

You can choose between spending on consumption or investment items. Of course, the best spending patterns are those that aim to attain a balance between spending on consumption and investment items. Choosing consumption or investment You now know the difference between consumption and investment spending and that you can choose between the two. All you need to do is to think before you spend. Consumption spending can contribute to your lifestyle (driving a new car is fun, even if it was bought on credit and has created a liability of three to five years of payments).

Investment spending provides income and wealth. Shades of Grey There is, of course, some spending that is not clearly defined as consumption or investment. Buying your own home is considered by many to be an investment. It isn’t! The purchase usually is financed and the repayments are a liability. The upkeep of a house costs money. There are rates and taxes payable on it. You do not get any revenue from it. If you plan to sell it in a few years to make a profit on its increased value, then it may be an investment. However if you have to buy another house to live in are you really any better off? Investment spending is necessary for building wealth In order to build wealth, some investment spending is necessary. The more that goes into investment spending, the bigger and quicker your wealth will grow. However, if too much goes into investment spending, and not enough into consumption, then lifestyle can become meagre.

But you can choose. Accumulation over time Most people are not born rich. Certainly, some inherit wealth, but consequently may not appreciate it. A few win wealth in lotteries, but ironically, perhaps because they have not worked for it, or are not used to it, could end up squandering the temporary riches. Everyone, however, has one thing in common. The same amount of time goes past for each of us, and at the same rate.

How you employ that time is significant. Imagine that at the age of 21, you invested $1,000 at an average annual rate of return of 10%, and then by the time you reach 65, you would have accumulated over $70,000 without doing anything else. If at the age of 21, you invested $1,000 at an average annual rate of return of 10%, and each month invested an additional $100, then by the time you reach 65, you would be a millionaire, without doing anything else. If you did neither of these things, then the same time would pass, and you would not have accumulated any wealth. These examples of investment, quite deliberately, use amounts of money that are affordable by most, and if spent on investment, rather than consumption, would probably not be missed.

In terms of investing, time is on your side. Of course, you may not be 21 any more and you may wish to accumulate wealth at a faster rate. This is possible by increasing the amount invested, and the annual rate of return. It is not possible to systematically accumulate significant wealth (millions) without looking at a timeframe of several years (say 5 to 10). If you are trying to make more money in less time, then your objectives may not be realistic. Perhaps a lottery ticket, crossed fingers and large amount of luck could produce your desired result, but don’t hold your breath waiting. The power of compounding In the above examples there is an additional factor at work. The entire return was reinvested and participated in earning the same rate of return as the original investment.

None of the investment return was withdrawn and spent on consumption items.

The gambling of investment options

Forex. For knowledgeable investors, or for the gunslinger-gambler type of investors, this is a familiar word that will probably bring either a smile or a scowl and not much in between the two. For everyone else Forex can sound like anything between a delivery service ripping off a more familiar name to a strange science fiction type of alien monster. Obviously it is neither: forex is referential to currency trading. Basically, when investors talk about forex, they are talking about trading one nation’s currency for another, and then selling down the line in the hope that changes in international markets will cause a profit. These are also sometimes referred to as currency speculations. There are an increasing number of trading companies that are moving to online web pages that allow for currency speculation online. These companies provide an online trading platform for investors, or any individuals that want to speculate on the exchange rate between any two world currencies. The obvious hope is to make a profit when the value of the currency changes in the investor’s favor.

The forex market is familiar to a lot of people, as it is considered the largest market in the world with daily reported volume of over 1.8 trillion. The interesting thing about forex trading is that since it is an international trading scheme, a web site that is set up internationally can be open since 24/7 since somewhere in the world there is always a market open. Somewhere around the world, a financial center is open for business, and banks and other institutions exchange currencies, every hour of the day and night with generally only minor gaps on the weekend. Basically foreign exchange markets follow the sun around the world, giving traders the flexibility of determining their trading day. While there are a lot of different ideas and strategies for how to best go about trading, the end goal is fairly simple. Buy a currency when it is low, and then sell it when it is high. For example, suppose one dollar is worth one hundred yen. $100 then equals 10,000 yen. Now wait for a year. Suppose the United States economy slows down, has some major warning signs, but Japan is doing great. Now one dollar does not equal 100 yen, but 75. Another way to look at this is that a year ago 100 yen equals $1, but now 75 yen equals $1. Now your 10,000 yen can be sold for $133.33. The investor just made 33% in one year! That is forex, and the promise of this type of one year turn around is what has investors from all walks of life playing the table in hope of making a Vegas type score.

Investing how to profit using formulas

A classic Wall Street yarn, concerning a young man who was in the early stages of learning to be a professional speculator goes something like this. The young man had a problem, so he went to an elderly gentleman noted for his shrewd investment judgment, for advice. The young man had taken on quite an extensive line of stocks, but the market looked a bit over-valued and so he was thinking that his positions carried too many risks. He wondered if he shouldn't perhaps sell. He was so worried about it that he was having trouble sleeping. The old man's advice was simple and direct: "Sell" he said. "Sell back to the sleeping point." Although there is no doubt that this advice smacks of ambiguity, there is a simple wisdom in it. We may safely assume that neither the young man nor his elder adviser knew which way the market was going, but both were aware that the market was sufficiently shaky to cause legitimate worry. Translated into somewhat more orthodox investment terms, the advice meant - Sell enough of your stocks so that a market collapse won't destroy you, but keep enough so that if your fears turn out to be groundless, and the market rises, you'll still profit to some extent - in the meantime, get some sleep. At first glance, it may seem a bit cynical on the old man's part not to outline for his young disciple an exact and detailed course of action.

But he couldn't be honest and at the same time guarantee that he knew exactly what action might turn out to be best. Furthermore, the young man didn't want someone to tell him precisely what to do. All he wanted was some help in easing the pressure and the help he received was clearly sensible. How to Find the Sleeping Point In a real sense, investment formulas are designed to help you in the same way that the old man's advice helped his young friend - they inject an element of caution in your investing when caution seems advisable, they reduce the provision for caution when risks seem relatively low and permit you to benefit when prices rise. In addition, once you incorporate a formula into your investment program, it works more or less automatically, allowing you to sleep nights in the full knowledge that you are continuously hedged against various unforeseen possibilities. But just as the investment sage left it up to the young man to decide exactly what his "sleeping point" might be, you can select a formula appropriate to your own temperament, financial circumstances and proclivity to insomnia. Any formula can be adjusted to suit the needs and preferences of any investor. Although formulas are designed to give un-hedged, unambiguous and unbiased indications for action, the investor should not feel that he is surrendering all personal control over his investments when he adopts a formula. The reason behind this logic is clear. It's because each investor selects the formula that will fit his own individual comfort level. A formula doesn't try to tell you what to do - it merely helps you do what you are already doing more profitably. For example, formulas cannot tell you which stocks to buy or currency to trade. The whole premise of using formulas is based on the fact that those using them are normally quite sophisticated and that they know what kind of investment vehicle they are interested in, how to select them and where to go for advice in their particular area(s) of interest. However, by supplementing their knowledge with considerations of the equally important questions of when to own and in what quantity - formulas can supply a valuable added dimension to their investment results and assist in the management of their portfolio on a more professional level. Along this same line, it is worth mentioning that although the true purpose of a formula is to supply the investor with an investment policy which is definite in its instructions at all times, you need not feel that you must follow the formula precisely in order to profit from it. You cannot, of course, ignore it altogether if you expect to benefit from it, but you can profitably use it as a touchstone or a general guide without swearing eternal allegiance to its dictates. You might, for example, want to use a formula, but also desire to increase or decrease your risks at various times for a variety of reasons. Your use of the formula will show you how far you are departing from your original plan and will give you a well-ordered program to come back to when you are ready. This article may be reproduced only in its entirety.

Online investing

If you are looking for a great way to make money from the comfort of your own home and you do not have a lot of money to start with, I would like to suggest to you an investment you probably have never heard of before. It is the largest and oldest financial market in the world, yet it is relatively unfamiliar to most people. Until just a few short years ago, it was primarily the domain of huge financial institutions and multinational corporations. Thanks to the internet, it is now possible for the average investor to get involved. So what is this market opportunity i am suggesting? It is called Forex, and stands for foreign currency exchange. It is a market in which one country's currency is traded against another. But it is a purely speculative market. No physical exchange of currencies ever take place.

It is totally different from common markets like stocks and futures and does not take place on a regulated exchange. In the U. S., Forex is traded around the clock between Sunday evening and Friday evening. This makes it a perfect part time business as you can pick your own hours to trade. It has a daily trading volume of over one and a half trillion dollars, thirty times larger than the volume of all the U. S. equity markets combined. This tends to make it a highly liquid market and thus a desirable market to trade.

There are many advantages to trading currencies over traditional investments like stocks, bonds and commodities. It has an up to 200 to 1 leverage for margin trading. Standard $100,000 unit currency lots can be traded with as little as one percent margin. Mini lots can be traded with as little as one half percent margin. Price movements are highly predictable. They tend to follow trends, so it is fairly easy for technical traders to spot new trends and breakouts, thus leading to many opportunities for entering and exiting trades.

Start up costs are low. You can open up a mini account with as little as 300 dollars. There are no commission fees. Most brokerages will allow you to start up a demo account where you can practice making live trades with fake money. This allows you to become proficient with trading procedures without the risk of losing your hard earned dollars. You owe it to yourself to at least check out this opportunity and see if it is for you.

Hyip s versus autosurfs which is better for you

A high yield investment program is essentially an investment in which you have the choice of how much you can invest in the program, hoping for a high yield. Any amount can be invested in a HYIP, and in fact small amounts works rather well for HYIP’s, but there is an advantage (and disadvantage) to using large investments. An autosurf is better known as a “traffic exchange”; a person buys advertising that is placed in rotation with other advertisements. Each advertisement usually lasts less than 30 seconds before it is replaced with another ad. The viewer has the option to click on the ad for more time to look at it. By viewing ads, a person can accrue an income, and some people actually accrue hundreds daily, especially as accounts usually have some kind of compound interest attached to them. To upgrade the account level, money must be invested into the account (making autosurfs an investment opportunity). Both plans can yield a substantial return depending on time and money invested. HYIP’s offer potentially higher yields, but also have higher risks involved. On the other hand, autosurfs offer lower yields and require much more work.

Depending on what kind of money you are looking for, and what kind of investment plan better fits your model, either one can work well for you. HYIP’s are excellent if you just want to invest, and the risk isn’t an issue for you. After all, they do offer substantial yields for the money invested, and it’s mostly just a matter of looking at various HYIP’s to find the one that you’re satisfied with. But, the risk involved can turn people off, especially if the investor doesn’t like risk, or can’t afford to risk any funds. An autosurf has no risk, and offers a compound rate on any moneys generated by the person, but requires actual work in order to accrue the money. Still, the lesser risk can be seen as an advantage. Both plans carry a small side risk: They can lead those involved into ponzi schemes. In essence, some HYIP’s and autosurfs require new investors to pay off old investors, rather than using funds generated by the investments to pay off all investors. By doing so, they are using a ponzi scheme, which is illegal. The danger of HYIP’s is well-known, and autosurfs carry with them the added problem of not being registered as investment companies. Always investigate any business you plan on investing any time or money into, especially if it’s online. If you enter into either with your eyes open, then they can represent good investments. Just consider what you end goal is, and how much time and/or money you can put into it, as well as what kind of risk factor you want. By deciding that, you make the decision as to which is better for you. Just remember to check out all the variables, and plan accordingly.

02 rebates reward or rip off

Rebates – Reward or Rip Off? Rebates have become increasingly popular in the last few years on a lot of items and certainly on electronic items and computers. Rebates of $20, $50 or $100 are not uncommon. I’ve even seen items advertised as “free after rebate”. Do these rebates come under the heading of “too good to be true”? Some of them do and there are “catches” to watch out for but if you are careful, rebates can help you get some really good deals. The way a rebate works is that you pay the listed price for an item then mail in a form and the bar code to the manufacturer and they send you a refund thus reducing the price of what you paid for the item except with a time delay of several weeks. Rule #1. Rebates from reputable companies are usually just fine. You can be pretty sure you will get the promised rebate from Best Buy, Amazon or Dell but you should probably not count on getting one from a company you’ve never heard of. If you really want the product and are OK with paying the price listed then buy it but don’t count on actually getting the refund. Rule #2. Check rebate expiration dates. Many times products will stay on the shelf of a retailer after the date for sending in the rebate offer has expired so check that date carefully. Rule #3. Be sure you have all the forms required to file for the rebate before you leave the store. Rebates will almost always require a form to be filled out, a receipt for the purchase and a bar code. Rule #4. Back up your rebate claim. Make copies of everything you send in to get your rebate including the bar code. Stuff gets lost in the mail all the time and if the rebate is for $50 it’s worth the trouble to back up your claim. [Insert Your Resource Box Here] (Words: 322)

Managed forex accounts eur usd outlook 2008 1 3

The US dollar was the big story in 2007 — if you were selling it. Compared to 2001, the value of the dollar has gone down by 40 percent against the euro. And values at the beginning compared to the ending of 2007 were significantly down: the dollar was down about 13 percent versus the euro, 10 percent versus the yen, and 8.5 percent versus the pound sterling. Its value was at such a record low that supermodels and popular rappers made public their preference for getting paid in Euro, no dollars, please. The US dollar did stop skidding towards the end of 2007, but the question now becomes: has the dollar bottomed out or will the slide continue in 2008? Why the Dollar Weakened in 2007 The dollar seemed so weak in 2007 because the rest of the global economy continued to grow even as US growth stalled, due in part to steady demand from the Middle East, China and India markets. Countries acted more independently, as illustrated by the Australian central bank’s decision to increase rates to stave off inflation at precisely the time the US Federal Reserve was cutting interest rates. Before December in fact, interest rate cuts happened only in the US. In short, some sort of decoupling occurred in the global economy, and this was a key factor to the strengthening of the other currencies and the weakening of the US dollar. There are signs, as we begin 2008, that the phenomenon will no longer obtain this year and the global economy will again move more closely in step. In the latter half of 2007, economic growth in the UK and Canada slowed down indicating that the two countries were being weighed down by the weak US economy. In addition, the shock waves of the US subprime mortgage crisis have also shaken the financial markets of many countries, particularly the UK, where growth in the past years has depended on housing, mortgages, and the public sector. There are also signs of strain in the Eurozone, notwithstanding the ECB’s hawkish position on monetary policy. The pressure to reduce rates will increase if growth continues to weaken further in the US or in other countries. The pressure already forced the UK Bank of England to cut rates in December and more cuts are forecast for 2008. Interest rate cuts will be the thing to watch in the currency market. The US Fed has already lowered interest rates 100bp in 2006 and another reduction will be more in line with expectations; but if the Eurozone begins to lower rates, this would be a significant departure from current policy, which could signal a major change in the outlook for the euro. Where US Economy Is Going The big question is whether or not the US economy is going into a recession, which would seriously impact global growth. Majority of the American public thinks the economy is already in recession, according to polls released in December. Public perceptions notwithstanding, economists think otherwise. A Business Week survey on 54 economists in December showed that the group believes the country will reflect a 2.1 percent growth by the end of 2008 (it registered 2.6 percent growth in 2007). They believe that although the first half of 2008 will be difficult, consumer spending will not stop, albeit more restrained. Fundamentally, the forecast of no recession rests on the assumption that the Federal Reserve will continue its round of rate cuts. Although financial losses in the subprime sector will continue, consumer confidence will depend largely on the Federal Reserves actions to support economic recovery.

Wealth management solutions options abound

Wealth management is a difficult concept to grasp for many people, especially in terms of investment and savings for the future. With options like stocks, bonds, 401K’s, 529’s, and more, choosing the right wealth management option can be tough at best and impossibly confusing in many circumstances. That’s why there are wealth management firms who are experts in these services and exist soley to help guide high net worth individuals through the aches and pains of wealth management and private banking, as well as educating people on where to put their money and how each investment will help their finances grow. Private Banking If you are interested in learning more about the various ways to invest your money or plan for retirement, you should perhaps look into private banking options. In private banking, you have a direct account manager that you can contact any time with any questions regarding your account and how your assets are being handled. There are many options for investment through private banking, and most are fairly simple to understand, making this a preferred option for many individuals who are unfamiliar with wealth management. Wealth Management Services For those who don’t quite understand the concept behind wealth management services are available from a number of avenues to assist in the determination of how to handle finances. Wealth management means more than sticking to a budget; it also means planning for the future, and various institutions can assist in teaching individuals how to manage their money, as well as in providing complete wealth management services. Wealth Management Firms Have you considered a wealth management firm? You’ve spoken to private bankers and don’t like the options they provide for wealth management. You aren’t a fan of computers, so you don’t want to invest in wealth management software. However, you need a customized solution for your assets to build at a greater rate, and you have no idea where to invest. Wealth management firms are built on the basis of helping you to follow the right avenue. With a personal advisor, you’ll be able to configure your investment options to achieve your specific goals with as much or as little input as you feel is necessary. Wealth Management Software You may also consider the benefits of wealth management software. Many people have a hard time managing their finances enough to plan from paycheck to paycheck, much less to have a goal for the future. When it comes to wealth management, most people are completely flustered by the thought of having a budget that considers not only the groceries to buy tomorrow, but also the ones you’ll need to buy after retirement in 40 years. Wealth management software is a helpful tool in building your financial plans so that you can feel comfortable with your current lifestyle, be assured that you’ll have the assets you need in the future, and can fulfill some of your dreams in the interim.

Basic investing rules

Investing your money can be a great way to ensure your financial future. With the right investment choices, you can be sure to have money for emergencies, to put towards the education of your children, and to have available when the time comes for you to retire. There is a key word in the preceding phrase however - “right”. If you make the wrong investment choices, you may just end up where you started or worse, flat broke. Most people who invest wisely by making the right decisions with their money follow the same basic investment pattern, although they may define it by another name. It might be that you are the cynical type who chooses to believe that the basic rules could not possibly be as easy as they seem, in an area that seems so complex. It is true.

However, that these rules have withstood the test of time. First of all, make sure that the money you choose to invest is indeed earmarked for the purpose. As in any form of gambling, there is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost when it comes to investing. Do not put up money that you cannot afford to lose should the market take a downturn. One rule that people seem to refuse to apply in any area of their lives, including the world of investing, is lean not on your own understanding.

Most of the time, this is the result of people balking at entrusting another person with their money, believing that with a little understanding they can work the market themselves. This reasoning is fundamentally flawed. In the first place, most people will not be able to begin to unravel the complicated graphs, pie charts, and statistics by which the investment world relates its information. In order to understand what the numbers mean, you will need to have some basic training. There may come a time after you have had some experience in the market that you will be able to make sound decisions on your own, but the initial get-your-feet-wet phase is not the time to attempt it. Check the background of the advisor you choose, as there are a lot of brokers out there looking for a quick fleece. The best brokers will have years of experience, a variety of investment backgrounds, and will probably cost you much less than you might think. Think long term. Unless you invest millions of dollars initially, it will take time for your investments to mature and begin to accumulate substantial gains. The best investments are proven over time, and thus it is best to place your funds in long term choices.

The details of this are plain - it is best to forget about this money in terms of a cash fall back, at least for a number of years. Diversification is an oft-flogged truism of the investment world. A good portfolio will include cash and cash equivalents (GICs, fixed annuities), growth investments (stocks), and growth and income investments such as mutual funds. Diversification ensures that you do not have all your eggs in one basket should any part of the market experience a downturn. Note that diversification means not only investing in several areas, but also making sure that no one area contains a disproportionate percentage of your funds.

How to invest wisely and make your money grow

Wise investments of your spare funds can be a great way to grow rich. These days, savings accounts offer very low interest and it is a waste to allow your money to lie in them. Based on your appetite for risk and your financial needs, you have various other investment schemes and options to choose from. It is always safer to have a diversified portfolio, that is, to spread you money around in various types of schemes, so that the risks and returns get balanced out. The company you work for would have a 401(k) plan which is always a safe bet. In this scheme, they will deduct a part of your salary every month and give it to an independent financial source to manage the investment, so that you get a healthy return at the end of your tenure. For those of you with greater risk-taking ability, stock markets or mutual funds can be a good idea. In stock markets, you can buy shares of companies listed on the stock exchange. Usually, good companies offer dividends along with a fair return on your investment.

Dividends are not mandatory, but a lot of companies like to distribute their profits among shareholders as dividends. Some companies prefer to reinvest the profits into expansion projects instead of declaring dividends. These reinvestments in turn should lead to further profits. However, the stock markets are unpredictable and a lot of people who dabble in stocks with the purpose of making some quick bucks may end up with losses instead. Mutual funds are relatively safer investments, though they are also subject to market risk.

Mutual funds are investments made in the stock market by financial managers with a fund collected from actual investors. There can be sector-specific mutual funds for instance those that invest in Pharmaceutical or IT or infrastructure companies only. Whatever be the mode of your investment in the markets, it is vital that you track these on a regular basis. If the prices of your shares or mutual funds decline at a time when there is a slowdown in the economy as a whole, there is no need to panic and sell at a loss. The markets will quite likely bounce back to where they were or perhaps even better.

However, if the markets are strong and yet, the value of your mutual funds is on a decline, it could mean it is not well invested and it would be advisable for you to sell and move your money into something that will generate better returns. A financial consultant can advise you about the market situation and what types of investments will suit your needs best.

Building financial security steps 1 to 3

We would all like to think of ourselves enjoying the good things in life, not having to stress about finances, and not having to be concerned about growing old, poor. But if we are currently living from pay cheque to pay cheque, never seeming to get ahead or having any savings, how do we change things? Where do we start in our quest for financial security? The best thing we can do, is sit down, take a deep breath and contemplate the differences between the haves and the have nots, the achievers and the laymen. What is it that the successful and wealthy do, that is different to us? What are the principles that they utilise to create wealth? Once we find out the principles that others who have created financial security have used, it seems that then the only step left would be for us to try and duplicate the process. Following is a list of some of the wealth building principles that I have discovered in my study of and conversations with successful people.

These concepts have been utilised extensively by those who have already created enormous wealth. 1. Use the power of Compounding Interest/Growth. John D. Rockerfeller once described compounding interest as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Compounding is also referred to as Rate & Time because the longer the time, and the higher the growth rate, the greater the effects of compounding become. Compounding works by letting any interest earned get added to the initial investment, and then the next lot of interest is calculated on the sum of the two, and so on. Interest is earned on interest. This gives the effect of exponentially increasing the value of an investment. One of easiest ways to calculate how compounding interest works with different rates of return is to become familiar with the Rule of 72. This rule states that “The number of years that it will take for your money to double is 72 divided by the interest (growth) rate”. Therefore if you have $1,000.00 invested at 10% interest, then the number of years that it will take for your money to double to $2000.00 is 7.2. 72 divided by 10 = 7.2 2. Use the tried and true method of investing in residential real estate. Statistics show that over 98% of the world’s millionaires have made their money through property. It should really not come as a surprise, because everyone needs a place to live, and generally at least one third of the population are renting. Property is a necessity, so it can never go out of fashion. As the population increases, so does the need for housing. The laws of supply and demand therefore will ensure that prices keep rising. Banks consider property to be one of the most secure investments and because of this they will loan you a high percentage of the value. This leads to the next principle. 3. Using Other Peoples Money or Gearing is a tool used extensively by the wealthy. Why is using Other People’s Money so important? The reason is that it is possible to use “leverage”, also known as “gearing” to obtain a greater result, than you could have obtained using only your own contributions. The word leverage comes from “lever”. As you know a small amount of force applied on one end of a lever, can produce force far greater than what was initially exerted. A lever has the effect of multiplying the power exerted. In the case of investing, it is referred to as leveraging when you use just a small portion of your own money, say 10% deposit on a $300,000.00 house, and borrow (leverage) the rest, in this case 90%. The capital growth that you benefit from is then calculated on the full $300,000.00, not just the $30,000.00 that you personally contributed, having the effect of multiplying your capital gain. Gearing allows you to purchase a far more expensive property than you could if you were using only your own money. Controlling assets of a higher value means that compounding growth has more to work on, and therefore your net worth will increase much quicker. Gearing allows you to build an investment portfolio more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

The hurrier i go the behinder i get

When are Social Security checks potentially loans and not benefits? Why, when you have "excess earnings" of course. In today's economy, many senior citizens still work during their "retirement" either because they want to or, all too often, because they must to make ends meet. Retirees who want to work as well as collect social security retirement benefits must plan their compensation carefully if they want to avoid losing some or all of their social security benefits. In order to collect social security "old age" benefits, you must be "retired." Congress has reasoned that if you earn more than a specified amount, you are not "retired" and, therefore, are subject to having some or all of your benefits eliminated. Congress does allow you some earnings before your benefits are jeopardized. The amount of allowable earnings depends on your age. If you are over 65, there is no limit on the amount you may earn and still collect your full benefit. If you are at least 62, but younger than 65, you may earn up to $12,480 in 2006 before your benefits are affected.

The earnings limit is adjusted each year for inflation. If you earn in excess of the limit, you must repay some or, potentially, all of the benefits you receive. For every $2 you earn over the $12,480 limit, you must give up $1 of benefits. A special rule applies in the year in which you retire. In the initial retirement year, no matter how much is earned for the year, no benefits will be lost for any month in which you earn $1,040 (1/12 of $12,480) or less. For purposes of the retirement test, "earnings" are defined as "wages" earned as an employee or the "net earnings" of a self-employed person.

The earnings must result from work performed after retirement. "In kind" payments of goods or services in exchange for work are considered earnings. Retirement plan distributions, rents, capital gains, interest, dividends and other investment-related income do not count as "earnings" for this purpose. You are required to report estimated earnings in excess of the limits. Benefits are then adjusted to reflect the amount owed, based on the estimate. Actual earnings figures should be reported by April 15 of the following year. Further adjustments may then be made based on actual results. An example will illustrate how Social Security benefits are reduced when a retiree has “excess earnings.” Mr. Baker is a 63 year old retired carpenter who receives $500 per month in social security benefits.

During 2006 Mr. Baker earns a net of $14,000 for some cabinets he makes and sells. Mr. Baker's Social Security benefit will be reduced by $760 ((14,000 –12,480)/2). This brief article is no substitute for a careful consideration of your unique personal situation. Before making any significant retirement planning or tax strategy, consult your financial planner, attorney or tax advisor, as appropriate.

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