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Archive for August, 2009

Four Ways to Avoid Bank Fees

Monday, August 31st, 2009

We’ve all been there at one time or another, signing up for an account at the local bank of your choice and thinking the deal is a great one only to get some hefty fees because of some fine print. Bank fees and fine print go hand in hand and it has been that way for quite some time. It can be difficult to understand all of the terms that the bank has involved in each account, but a wise consumer can avoid bank fees quite well if they do these things.

Four Ways to Avoid Bank Fees

  1. Ask Questions- If your bank is honest then they should answer every single question you ask them. While some personal bankers aren’t exactly thrilled to tell you about the fine print fees where they make money, if you ask most won’t lie to you about them. Never hesitate to ask about anything that you think could be a problem in the long run.
  2. Avoid Too Good to be True Deals- We’ve all seen them at some point or another, those deals that simply look too good to be true. The truth is most of the time these deals are indeed too good to be true. The deal is often only good for a short period of time, after which the deal goes badly and you will be unaware. Be very cautious of these deals!
  3. Stay Away from High Minimum Requirement Accounts- Some banks have a habit of forcing you to retain a very high amount in your account to avoid monthly account fees. If there is any question in your mind at all as to whether you can keep that minimum balance in the account do not open this type of account.
  4. Stick with Clear Cut Rules Only- The single best thing you can do is stick to accounts that aren’t too complicated for you and keep your money in places where the rules are simple to understand. You should never feel like you are having a difficult time understanding how the account or program works.

Double-dip recession for U.S. is ruled out!

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Here is some good news for Happy Friday! Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) said its Weekly Leading Index’s annualized growth rate soared to a 38-year high of 19.6 percent from a downwardly revised 17.4 percent the prior week, a number which was originally 17.5 percent.

ECRI has good reputation in predicting economic cycle. ECRI’s Weekly Leading Index is a composite index key USA weekly economic series. The limited availability of weekly data constrains the number of variables in the composite index, but this has not hurt the WLI’s predictive power. The weekly frequency of the WLI makes it a very timely gauge of the economy’s direction.

“With Weekly Leading Index growth continuing to surge through late summer, a double dip back into recession in the fourth quarter is simply out of the question,” said ECRI Managing Director Lakshman Achuthan, reinstating the group’s recent warning to ignore negative analyst projections. It appears that Obama team’s policies and strategies are working!

Related Link: No double-dip recession

Top five retirement tips for young people

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

It’s never too early to start planning for your retirement. The earlier you plan for retirement the more likely you are to be able to live a comfortable life and support your family once retirement time comes. Developing a solid retirement plan is crucial, and it can be done by anyone if they simply stay disciplined.

Top Five Retirement Tips for Young People

  1. Avoid Investing Fees and Expenses- Fees that may seem quite innocent over the short run really end up hurting a retirement portfolio in the long run. Fees and expenses that eat away at your overall return need to be minimized. Loaded funds must be avoided and mutual funds with high annual expenses are a big problem.
  2. Invest Tax Efficiently- Take advantage of things such as the Roth IRA or the Traditional IRA and avoid investments that will hurt you tax wise. Depending on your individual situation a Roth IRA may be better because it offers tax-free withdrawals during your retirement.
  3. Understand the power of compounding returns- It is important to understand just how crucial compounding your returns can be. An individual that understands just how beneficial compound returns is will be an individual that gets started with their retirement planning early!
  4. Plan on Retiring Later- Don’t set your retirement goals on retiring at a young age. As time continues to go by the retirement age is being pushed back, and don’t expect that to change anytime soon. You’ll be making a pretty large mistake if you decide that you should plan on retiring young, since it probably won’t be a valid option.
  5. Take Full Advantage of Company Matching- Employer matching 401k plans are one of the best deals you will ever get. An individual who takes full advantage of the maximum company match will be way ahead of the pack.

Top Four Low Cost High Return Mutual Fund Families

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

As an investor you should know that not all mutual fund families are created equal. Some mutual fund families are much more prone to loading their funds with extremely high fees and expenses, while others do their best to keep the fees and expenses low. The average performance of the mutual fund is also very important, so having taken these things all into account let’s take a look at the best mutual fund families.

Top Four Mutual Fund Families

  1. Vanguard- Vanguard belongs in the top spot because of the way they have pioneered the mutual fund industry. They have set the bar for low cost mutual funds and have forced other mutual fund companies to lower their expenses to compete with them. A wide variety in funds available and some impressive returns certainly don’t hurt their cause either.
  2. T Rowe Price- T Rowe Price has done a great job of bringing new and unique funds to the market such as retirement mutual funds that have specific target dates. The Maryland-based company has also done a good job of keeping their expenses lower than most. They have top performing mutual funds in many different categories annually.
  3. PIMCO- Hands down PIMCO is the best of the bunch when it comes to offerings for bond related mutual funds. Bill Gross of PIMCO has a reputation as the leader in this industry. The company has consistently performed better than its rivals and its costs are fairly reasonable.
  4. Bridgeway- This mutual fund company specializes in small cap mutual funds, and doesn’t handle as much money as the rest of the families on this list. It is tough to deny Bridgeway a spot after looking at the returns from some of their best mutual funds over the last several years. The Bridgeway funds also have a name for being very socially responsible. In fact, Bridgeway donates 50% of its investment advisory fee profits to charity!

While there are certainly top mutual funds from other mutual fund families, these four families are a great place to start your search for a highly ranked low cost mutual fund.

10% off when you shop Sears Online

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

If you are thinking about buying expensive stuff from Sears, here is the chance to get 10% off. The catch is you need to order it online at sears.com. Enter the coupon code ExtraTenAug9 at checkout. The offer is valid till August 27, 2009.

Note: I am not promoting Sears in this blog. I just wanted to pass this news to all readers so that at least few of you can benefit from it.

Ben Bernanke Nominated for Second Term

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

The big news from the financial world today is that President Barack Obama has nominated Ben Bernanke for a Second Term as Federal Reserve Chief. With Bernanke standing at his side today Obama spoke of Bernanke’s wisdom and calm guiding hand through the economic storm of the past year. Reports are that President Obama thought it would be wise to keep Bernanke and the financial team that has weathered the crisis together for the foreseeable future.

Ben Bernanke’s approval to a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman isn’t completed until the Senate approves it. Senate Banking Committee leader Chris Dodd did indeed endorse the approval of Bernanke’s second term today, but he and others around Capital Hill said that there is no doubt that Bernanke will be questioned thoroughly and it could well get quite contentious at times. The moves that the Federal Reserve has made to help the economic are extremely unpopular with some in the Senate as well as with many of their constituents at home, so one can expect that Bernanke will be grilled before ever being appointed for his second term, which would commence on January 31st of 2010.

The majority of Senators will likely end up voting for a reappointment of Bernanke, so while the questioning will be tough, we can expect Ben Bernanke to serve a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman. The role of the Federal Reserve in the potential rebound of the American economy will be a huge one, so we will need to keep a close eye on what goes on with Bernanke and the rest of the Federal Reserve. A second term for Ben Bernanke likely means stabilization for the market at least at first, but only time will tell what the long-term picture will look like. Let’s hope that economic stabilization and eventually consistent economic growth are in the future.

Four simple ways to save money on gasoline costs

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Gasoline prices are rising again along with crude oil prices and it is once again costing more money to fill up that vehicle at the pump. While many people complain about fuel prices, there are quite a few people out there who don’t do everything they can to save money on gasoline costs. Saving money at the pump is more than just looking for the station with the lowest price. Here are some simple ways to save money on gasoline that you should implement now if you haven’t already.

Four ways to save on gasoline costs

  1. Easy on the accelerator- Acceleration is the prime time that fuel is burned so it is also the best time to save some gas and improve your car’s gas mileage. Go easy on the accelerator and gradually increase your speed, especially if you are driving an automatic.
  2. Get rid of that junk in the trunk-The average car has quite a bit of extra weight in it from junk that people forget to remove or just think can stay in the trunk or back seat. Realize that when you leave those items you purchased a month ago in the trunk you are cutting down on your gas mileage and costing yourself money.
  3. Use a gas rewards card- There are numerous credit cards that give you a large percentage back on gasoline purchases (sometimes as much as 6%.) Also, most gasoline stations have a rewards program card or some kind of point system that rewards you for using their brand on a consistent basis. Take advantage of these things!
  4. Keep the car tuned up properly- Keep the tires properly inflated, change the oil when it is supposed to, and service the air filter and spark plugs when needed. These kind of things can reduce the amount of drag on a car and improve fuel mileage.

Four common retirement account mistakes to avoid

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Your retirement account is something that you should take very good care of, since that is precisely what will help you take care of yourself and your loved ones when you retire. If you are going to make a mistake in investing, you don’t want to let it be inside your retirement portfolio. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Four common retirement investment account mistakes to avoid

  1. Speculating inside the account- The retirement account is not a place where speculation should occur at all. Far too many people try to be the hero and use things such as options or other extremely speculative asset classes inside a retirement investment portfolio. Yes you can be more aggressive when you are younger, but that doesn’t mean you should run rampant speculating in such an important investment portfolio. Save the speculating for your regular investment brokerage account.
  2. Using the retirement account like a bank account- Please understand that using something such as a 401k retirement account or an IRA as a bank account to pull money out of for special projects or odds and ends is a terrible idea. The retirement account should stay intact unless the money absolutely must come out for a dire reason.
  3. Not accounting for your goals and age- With a retirement investment account you should always plan specifically for your individual situation and what you will need. As time goes on and it becomes clear exactly what your needs will be you can modify your plan.
  4. Not taking advantage of employer matching- If you have any kind of retirement account with an employer matching contribution you should take advantage of this as much as you can. These company matching 401k plans can be a major boost to your bottom line.

Protect that retirement account and don’t make these huge mistakes with this very important money.

Avoid loans unless absolutely necessary

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

A loan is defined as an arrangement between a lender and a borrower through which the lender will give the borrower money or property and the borrower agrees to repay the debt, with interest, in a specific period of time. Over the course of your life it is almost a certainty that you will have to take out some kind of loan at one time or another. Most commonly a home equity loan or some type of home mortgage loan will need to be taken out. When these loans are taken out you need to make sure you are getting low interest loans, and receiving the best deal possible. Though some loans are inevitable, a wise consumer will be very cautious about using loans.

Loans require that the borrower pay interest over the holding period, and that interest can build up quite quickly. While some people find using cash loans a wise choice, it really isn’t unless you have no other options available to you. The mindset of thinking of a loan as a normal bank account can really get a person into trouble. Taking that money out of savings to pay for a project may be difficult, but at least you aren’t having to pay any interest on a loan.

Sometimes it is better to take a step back and realize that this new project you are about to begin by taking out a loan really isn’t worth the debt it will put you in. Even if you get low interest loans, there is still interest that needs to be paid back and it will still put you behind financially.

Loans are a great product and something that can be a great help to people in need, but the reality is you should avoid using loans unless you absolutely must!

Top three work at home jobs for extra income

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

If you are like many people and you are feeling the pinch of the downturn in the economy, you just might want to consider some legitimate work at home jobs that you can do at your own pace. Since there are so many work at home scams such as envelope stuffing and multi-level marketing, the real and legitimate work at home jobs have gotten a bad name. The truth is there are some real work at home jobs that can serve as a boost your income and most of them have a very flexible schedule.

Three Great Work at Home Jobs for Extra Money

  1. Freelance writing or blogging- You need to be a solid writer, but you don’t necessarily have to have a degree in journalism. You simply need to be able to write and keep people’s attention. There are many web content sites that accept freelance articles from authors, or if you want to start your own blog and try to make money using Google Adsense you can do that as well.
  2. Customer service representatives (Call Center Representative)- There are quite a few companies that hire customer service representatives to work part-time from home. These opportunities usually pay hourly, but some do include some insurance and benefits as well. The companies are generally quite flexible when it comes to your schedule with them.
  3. Medical Transcription- You have to be careful when looking for medical transcription jobs since some of them are scams, but there definitely are plenty of real and legitimate opportunities in this field. The health care field is a real area of growth in the work at home area, so I would expect these positions to increase in the coming years.

Remember to treat these jobs as a real job, since that is exactly what they are. These kinds of opportunities can help you add quite a bit of cash to your budget if you are a hard working and stay on top of your duties. Take advantage of the opportunities available to work at home for extra cash.

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