Showing posts with label Mutual fund. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mutual fund. Show all posts

Monday, August 11, 2014

How Safe Is Your Retirement Fund? 5 Things To Consider When Building Your Portfolio

When looking to retirement, you will want to save money and put it away in the right mutual funds and stocks. Otherwise, you are going to end up having a tough retirement. With this in mind, here are five things to consider when building your portfolio. 

Don't put all your eggs in one basket:

While you probably have heard this term before, you will want to listen to this advice. Think about it, if you look at the last few market downturns, you will notice that some stocks drop 90 percent, while others will not suffer as much. To avoid serious issues, make sure to buy mutual funds; or, if you don't want to buy mutual funds, invest in, at minimum, 15-20 companies. If you’re not sure where to start, there a ton of options out there when it comes to working with a professional. Look online, read reviews, talk to neighbors, there is a lot you can do. Thomson Schindle Green Insurance & Financial Services Ltd is one of those insurance companies up in Calgary and a great example of just how many options there are out there! 

Blue chips are best:

Without a doubt, if you are close to retirement, you don't want to look for the next Tesla, Facebook or Microsoft. No, you want your money to grow slowly and securely. Remember, while you might enjoy double-digit returns, you will hurt your chances at success if you keep buying lottery tickets.

Look for dividends:

If you are like most people, you will want to enjoy a steady income during your retirement years. To get this, you should buy some dividend stocks. Not only will you enjoy a decent ROI, but you can receive a quarterly check from the company. Then, you can use this money to fund your day-to-day life.

Check it out:

Every once in a while, you will want to look at your portfolio and see how it's doing. Otherwise, if you don't look at your returns, you will end up with lagging stocks and mutual funds that hurt your returns. Remember, there is nothing wrong with selling a losing stock if you want to make more money in the long run.


Without a doubt, if you are looking to retire and enjoy a safe and secure time in these years, you will want to buy bonds. While you don't need a portfolio full of bonds, you will want to buy a few. Ideally, when buying bonds, you should buy ones that will pay out. Remember, you don’t want to take a risk with this investment, especially if you are approaching retirement or already retired. Luckily, with municipal bonds, you can enjoy tax savings and a steady source of income.

With these five tips, you can enjoy a safe, secure and happy retirement. On the other hand, if you don't take it seriously, you will struggle to live a happy retirement.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Retirement Questions: Four Things You Need to Know About Annuities

retirement (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
There are so many questions most of us have about retirement, and often, we just push them to the backs of our minds and wish we didn't have to answer them. However, it's important to get prepared as soon as possible. Many looking to prepare for retirement don't know much about annuities, or even know that they exist. This is an important option that should be looked into. Annuities are forms of investments that provide investors monthly payments during retirement. It is important to learn about annuities before purchasing an investment contract. Find out as much as you can about this type of investment. You can learn more by asking the right questions from annuity providers to avoid making bad decisions.

1. Are there fees involved with Annuities?

While annuities are designed to provide investors with ways of creating regular payment during their retirement years, investors have to pay certain amounts of money to purchase annuity contracts. The fees charged for this type of investment vary and are determined by the insurance companies. Investors may have to pay different types of fees including mortality and administrative fees among others. When investing in annuities, research the fees and charges of different annuity providers to make an informed decision.

2. What type of investment is this?

Different types of annuity contracts are available for purchase including fixed, variable, and equity-indexed annuities among others. Fixed annuities offer fixed interest rates on retirement and fixed payment during retirement. Variable annuities offer investors greater control of their investment options. The returns of variable annuities are tied to investment returns of the annuities. Finally, equity indexed annuities are tied to financial indices.

3. How do Annuities affect Investors’ Financial Rating?

Many people view annuities as guaranteed investments. While this is true, the investment is guaranteed by insurance firms themselves. This means that investors have to choose insurance companies with good financial ratings.

Various tools can help investors compare insurance companies. Examples of such tools include financial ratings provided by reputable financial rating entities. These entities provide data on how companies are performing financially and whether investors should be worried about their retirement investments.

4. What Happens to your Money when you die?

Some annuities come with death benefits while others do not provide any form of death benefit for beneficiaries of deceased investors. People should find out if their annuity contracts obligate their insurance companies to pay their beneficiaries for a certain amount of time after they die.

Some annuity investments provide lump sum payments to beneficiaries upon the death of an investor. If an investor’s annuity contract does not have this provision, the insurance company will keep all the money paid in the investment if the investor died before using the money. This can have a significant impact on the financial status of the beneficiaries. Annuities become very important as you prepare to enter retirement. If you set up a fixed annuity now, you would be able to receive the benefits during your retirement period. Fixed annuities offer stability, guaranteed interest, and a set amount of money each year that those who get them can rely upon. It can be difficult to know what exactly is the best place to start with planning for retirement, and even then, it's tough to know what choices to make. Educating yourself more thoroughly on your options is a great place to start, and you should certainly look for answers to all your questions regarding annuities and retirement. Once you're satisfied you at least have an idea what your ultimate goals are, you should likely talk with a professional that can help you sort out how best to treat your personal finances now to be as well off during your retirement as possible. 

Information credit to PNW Annuities Services Seattle.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Six Tips on Investing your Money without Risking Losing it All

Investing in the stocks can be very rewarding, but it is also full of risks. You could easily make a huge profit or lose everything. There are a variety of different strategies you can employ when investing in the stock market. Some people like to take bigger risks with the possibility of larger gains. However, a lot of people just want to steadily grow their investment without the risk of losing it all. There are many strategies that a conservative investor can use to safely invest in the stock market without taking a lot of risk.

Know the Stock Market

The first thing you will need to do is learn about the stock market. There are many types of stocks including technology, businesses, large cap, and small cap. You should also know if the stock market is in a recession or a depression. A great way to learn more about the stock market is by taking a class or by reading the wall street journal or another investment journal. The more you know, the easier it will be to evaluate each stock and decide what the best decision will be on buying or selling.

Research the Stocks You Are Interested In

Read up on the stocks that you are looking to invest in. For example, if you are looking to invest in Apple stocks, find out how the company is doing. See if the stocks have increased or decreased recently and if the stocks prices are expected to rise or fall. You don't want to throw your money in blindly. It's best to get as much information about each stock you plan to invest in so that you can make the most educated decision.

Know Your Risk

You should determine how much risk you are willing to take in order to turn a profit. If you are not a big risk-taker, you will need to determine how to invest in stocks safely. Invest only a small portion of your cash in the stock market. You can lose your money, including any future interest as well as the principal. You can decrease your risk by consulting with a professional and gaining as much knowledge as you can about market trends and what is expected to happen with the stock market.


An important step in reducing the amount of risk you take on is diversification. Invest in many types of stocks including the technology sector, electricity, or international stocks as well as mutual funds and bonds. You should have at least ten different stocks in your portfolio. Invest only a small amount of your total into each stock. That way, if one you choose flops, at least you only lost a small percentage of your total investment.

Create an Emergency Fund

Since investing money in the stock market can be very risky, you should save up a large amount of cash that will last you six months in case of an emergency. You will know that you will have enough money in case you lose your investments. Investing is for your savings and your extra cash. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, so make sure you have back up savings in the meantime.

Rebalance Your Portfolio

You should always keep an eye on your portfolio. Re-balance the amount that you have invested in each stock so that one stock does not contain a large portion of the money you have invested. Experts recommend re-balancing your portfolio every six or twelve months.

Creating a well-balanced portfolio will help reduce your risk when investing in the stock market. Taking these steps should guarantee that you will not lose a large portion of your money. If you ever decide that you are taking on too much risk, then reevaluate what you are willing to invest and make changes to your portfolio.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top 5 Best Investment Ideas and Tips for Beginners

New to investing? Learn about various investment tools here and find out how to start investing your money.

As a beginner investor, navigating through the many different investment options available out there can be very difficult and a scary experience. Different types of investments carry with them varying amounts of risk and reward. There are a large number of potential investment pitfalls that can befall the unwary, first-time investor. To make things easier for you, here is a list of the top 5 best investment ideas for beginners. 

Top 5 Best Investment Ideas and Tips for Beginners: 

Real Estate

Despite the recent falls in property prices, real estate remains a good investment. It’s actually one of the well-protected investment options that keep on thriving and flourishing, even in developing nations. Real estate lets you combine the huge benefits of leverage with property value appreciation over the long term. 

The value of property typically increases over time, resulting in increased equity and creation of wealth. Also, the growth in value your investment experiences is sheltered from tax until you liquidate the property. Additional tax benefits can be realized through value-added tax deductions such as ability to deduct operating costs and cost of financing. 


As a beginner investor, it’s wise to invest in gold. This is simply because it provides an excellent hedge against inflation. In times of economic crisis, the government typically prints more currency. This results in increased money supply, which in turn causes inflation and ultimately decreased value of currency. Investing in gold provides a great way to secure your investments, as when the true value of currency decreases, the value of gold invariably rises. 

Today’s interconnected world economy means the economies of major countries are intrinsically linked. When the economy of one major country suffers, there is a knock on effect and major stock markets suffer as well. When stocks and shares fall, majority of investors usually choose to buy gold, which causes its prices to rise.


Forex investing offers the best return on investment. But the risks are higher compared to other forms of investments. Conventional investments, such as stocks, mutual funds and bonds, provide a good way to earn money from one’s savings. However, forex trading is more profitable compared to these investments. It’s also much less complicated and demanding but as profitable, if not more. 

With forex trading, you don’t have to monitor hundreds of stocks or wait for months to realize profits. You can make money huge amounts of money from trading in just a few currency pairs within a very short period of time. This is because the Forex market trading hours are a 24-hour, commission-free market that has no short-selling restrictions. 


Investing in insurance products is a great way to ensure that you’re well taken care of in times of emergency as well as during retirement. Insurance policies that come with an investment feature offer significant tax benefits, as the earnings on the plan are not usually taxed. These policies also provide a wide range of investment options, such as stocks, mutual funds, bonds and money market accounts. 

Additionally, they offer unmatched flexibility, where the plan may be increased with a lump-sum payment or borrowed in the event of a medical emergency or any other pressing financial need.

Your Employer’s 401k

Majority of employers offer a 401k plan through which employees can make their contributions toward their retirement savings. However, many employees don’t take full advantage of their 401k plan. Don’t be like them, as there are many benefits that you can accrue from investing in your company’s 401k. 

Contributing part of your salary to your employer’s 401k plan will allow you to enjoy a number of benefits, such as a tax break, tax-deferred growth, and a possibility of a matching contribution from your employer. To get maximum benefits, consider contributing approximately 20% of your income to your 401k, and avoid tapping into your 401k to meet your immediate cash-flow needs.

Lastly, it’s important to note that there is no guarantee that you’ll make money using any of these ideas. To succeed, you need to take the time to learn about the fundamental principles of each of these investment options as well as the right strategies that can help you make money. Also, remember you don’t have to invest in all of them to succeed. Just choose one or two options that you are most comfortable with and stick with it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Your Best Mutual Fund Investment Guide If Clueless

A Mutual Fund is a Finance Investment by convention of a basket of currency that is contributed to by any number of parties. The pooled money is then traded on the stock market. These accumulated funds are used to trade in several different companies in equal share to reduce the risk of what a company collapsing could do to the overall portfolio.

As a result of the size of what a Mutual Fund’s trade is they get particular bulk discounts in the execution of trade orders. Traditionally there is a trade cost incurred during each trade which limits smaller trader’s activity sufficiently. When so much of a stock is being held onto, even the slightest price swing of pennies could amount to thousands of dollars of either profit or loss for the Mutual Fund Companies and the Private Investors that had funded them.

As a Private Investor the challenge is to spread the stocks you buy across several companies and industries. Due to the nature of the trade costs you will find it is not worth the fees to spread the trades out too much and will want to stay focused on a certain few companies. There are certainly benefits and negatives to both kinds of Investors, whether they are Institutional such as the Mutual Funds or Private such as an Individual.

The Private Investor benefits in such ways as the weight of their trades are so small that they barely impact the market at all where a Mutual Fund can cause a chaotic swing when a large bid is opened. Usually Mutual Companies put their funds into stocks slowly, just a small amount at a time so as to not interrupt the delicate balance of the Trading Volume. A chaotic move upward could even trigger a Double Top followed by a large dip in the price of a stock shortly after.

Financial Investments of this sort are always aided with some of the most complicated mathematics to provide detailed price trending reports to detect instability before it even happens. This method is referred to as Technical Analysis and when combined with the standard Fundamental Analysis it can identify profit opportunities seamlessly. Even many of the Private Investors have access to these mathematical tools as a result of the Internet whereas before it was restricted to Mutual Fund Companies.

Mutual Funds do not traditionally involve themselves in Illiquid Assets such as Penny Stocks or Microcap Companies due to the large volume of their trades. The execution time would be tremendous and the volume of what is being traded would undoubtedly disturb the chart pattern quite rapidly leading to momentum movements, potentially in an unfavorable way. The light weight of a Private Investors trades makes little to no difference in the machinery of the market.

If you are about to choose a Mutual Fund Portfolio Manager then make sure that you are completely aware of your fees before doing business. There are a lot of hidden fees usually in the fine print. Reading these line by line is very important to the safety of your investment money that you will retire on later in life.

Author Bio: Mark Long is a well-known finance writer as he worked his initial few days in Mutual Fund Company as Finance Investment specialist. Mark generally advises about Investment, Settlements, Annuities, retirement plans to his customers.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

4 Good Tips To Secure A Stable Retirement

There has been a lot of talk these days about retirement funds dwindling and the fact that many people may be forced to work late into their 70s. The truth is that those who plan ahead for their retirement and make intelligent investment decisions should have no trouble retiring when they feel the time is right. Here are four good tips that should ensure that you have a stable and financially secure retirement.

1. Invest in Stocks, Bonds and/or Mutual Funds

Investing is the best way to ensure that you have enough money to retire at a time of your choosing. While you may save up a lot of money through 40-50 years of working, investing gives you a chance to double or triple that sum by the time you retire. By conducting bond market research, buying stocks that you believe will rise in price, and researching the best mutual fund options, you will give yourself a great financial platform in retirement. Some prefer to invest in stocks and bonds independently. However, if you do not trust your knowledge of the markets, you may be better off letting a mutual fund handle the specifics of investing.

2. Keep Your Mind Sharp

Even if you have retired from your job, it is important to keep your mind fresh and stimulated every day. Find an intellectual activity that suits your personality. Whether it is reading a book, learning a new language, solving puzzles and riddles, or becoming a history buff, exercising your mind every day will help you stay healthier and livelier much longer.

3. Exercise Regularly

Keeping your body in the right shape is just as important as exercising your brain. While you are probably not going to be completing any marathons when you are 65 or 70, it is always good to walk a few times a week or head to the gym. Exercising will help you maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and keep your muscles and bones in tip top shape as you age.

4. Explore New Places and Things

Many people enter retirement and lose their purpose in life. No longer having to work everyday, they can become lost and confused in the adjustment period. Make exciting plans for retirement, such as visiting new continents, exploring new areas in your city, and meeting new people. Sometimes when we become adults and start having to spend all of our time working, we lose touch with some of the activities and hobbies that make us happy. Retirement is the perfect time to dust off your old guitar, or read that novel you always talked about reading. Not only will these activities broaden your horizons, but they will keep you excited and in good spirits.

Retiring can be daunting and overwhelming at the best of times, which is why you do not want to be unprepared. Secure your financial future, and make plans to keep you occupied during your retirement years. That way, retirement will be the next phase of your life, instead of being the beginning of the end.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Are Annuities A Smart Investment?

In the economic bust of 2008, we learned that easy credit is no way to stretch dwindling retirement funds. Many senior employees took early retirement trusting that their Market-dependent 401(k) would produce an income stream capable of sustaining their unexpected situation. When it did not, they turned to credit hoping to make it through to better days. As a result they wound up first in bankruptcy, then homeless, and finally destitute. If they and their employers had utilized annuities instead of Market driven investments to create retirement income streams, then a lot of grief might have been avoided.

It’s worth checking how much you need to retire with the lifestyle you want.

Annuities Are Sustainable Even In a Down Market

The rate of return offered by fixed annuity plans is based on the amount of time your money is kept out of your hands by the Annuity Fund. The usual holding period is 5 years or more. This means your money is untouchable during those years. In return for this commitment you will receive a guaranteed rate of return. This rate is usually fixed at 3% to 5% depending on the type of annuity you purchase and the length of time your money is held.

Unlike stock portfolios and mutual funds, the income you receive from annuities does not fluctuate even when the Stock Market rises and falls. This is because annuity rates are anchored on highly stable investments such as US Treasury Notes and Bonds. Because the payout is spread over longer periods of time, Annuity Fund managers can react to changing economic conditions with thoughtful planning instead of panic. This enables them to give you the best annuity rate available. 

Stocks Can Produce More Income In a Shorter Time

While it is possible for an investor to grow wealthy over night in the Stock Market, every downturn produces its share of impoverished investors. It may be fun to pick the right stocks and watch your investment grow, but it is no laughing matter when the very safety net you depend upon to see you through rough times rips apart just when you need it most.

As this article explains, fixed annuity rates are not tied to Market performance. You will get your 3% return even if the Market drops to the floor. And even more important; you will get all the money back intact when the required holding period is up. You will also have made 3% interest on that money. And if, for some reason, you have to withdraw the money before the time is up, a predefined surrender fee will be imposed. But you will still get the majority of your money back. Can your Market-driven 401(k) make that claim?

Sanity and Safety

Make one bad investment in the Market and you can wipe out your retirement nest egg. Annuities offer investors few guarantees. However, most annuity plans are sane and safe. Most important: the money you put into an annuity will still be there after 5 years. Can your 401(k) portfolio make the same claim?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

3 Smart Investments

One of the major contributing factors to the economic crisis of 2008 was the lack of personal savings. Easy credit was a way of life through the early 2000's up until the crash, and consumers used that credit to fuel consumption. When the market tanked, wages dropped and jobs were cut, leading to a nasty decline in consumer purchases. Many of the newly-unemployed had no savings upon which to draw in order to maintain their level of spending. For those with adequate savings, however, the situation was much less dire. While you cannot prevent a widespread economic disaster, you can organize a plan to be prepared no matter the situation.

Traditional IRA or Roth IRA

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a legal construct of the Internal Revenue Code that allows investors to shield their savings from taxes. There are two forms of the IRA. The first form is a Traditional IRA, which allows savers to fund their retirement account with pre-tax dollars. Essentially, if you put money into a Traditional IRA, you can deduct that amount from your taxes. You can continue making annual contributions to your account and you won’t pay taxes on it until you start withdrawing from the account in retirement. The second type of IRA is the Roth IRA, which takes contributions of after-tax dollars. This means that when you withdraw from your Roth IRA in retirement, you will not pay any taxes on it. Also, the Roth IRA has more flexible rules for pre-retirement withdrawals from the principal. One of the great things about both types of IRA's is that you can put whatever investments you want in the accounts: stocks, bonds, real estate, baseball cards, etc.

Index Funds

Many investors think that stocks are the best way to make money over time. While that can be true, this strategy only works if you pick the correct stocks; if you pick the wrong stocks, you can lose your entire portfolio overnight. Unfortunately, many experts believe that it is impossible to reliably pick the correct stocks over time. Even if you do pick the right stocks, you have to buy them and sell them at the right time. One commonly-used strategy is to invest in mutual funds, which are managed by professionals who charge a fee and take a cut of the earnings. The problem is that most mutual funds do not consistently beat the market. Even those funds that do outperform the market will eat away at your gains with their fees. A good alternative is to invest in an index fund. An index fund is a fund that consists of stocks from a stock index, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor's 500. These funds are meant to track the economy as a whole, which consistently outperforms most mutual funds. Even better, index funds have much lower fees than a typical mutual fund, preventing the erosion of your investment.

401(k) Matching

One very common financial mistake happens when employees who are eligible for 401(k) matching by their employers do not contribute up to the full match. For example, imagine a 401(k) match of 50% of employee contribution on up to 6% of the employee’s salary. This means that your employer will put fifty cents in your 401(k) for every dollar you put in on up to 6% of your salary. If you make $100,000 per year, 6% of your salary is $6,000 and your employer will contribute up to half of that, which comes out to $3,000. If you do not contribute at least $6,000, you are literally turning down free money from your employer!

Investments can be confusing and dangerous. A few wrong moves and you can delay or even eliminate your retirement. There are no guarantees in life, and even fewer in investing. However, if you invest in IRA's, index funds and 401(k) matching, you are definitely giving yourself a major advantage.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Alert! The 5 Worst Mutual Funds Money Can Buy

When it comes to
money & markets, making investments is an important part of that economic system. It is vital when entering into the world of investments to learn how to choose them wisely, not only by learning what good investments are, but also learning what are very poor and dangerous investments. 

While it’s easy to rely on investment advisors to provide advice and help manage your portfolios, it’s critical to perform your own due diligence. Bad financial advice is generally chalked up to two specific reasons – self-interest and the advisor’s lack of performing due diligence. Both kinds of poor financial advice comes with its own consequences in the short term, but down the road, they will both result in poor performance or loss of money.

While mutual funds should be part of every investor’s portfolio, not all are created equally. Below is a list of 5 of the worst mutual funds you can invest in this year.

1. The Fairholme Fund

Fund manager Bruce Berkowitz endangered this fund by taking a bet on the recovery of Bank of America, St. Jones, CitiGroup and AIG. Unfortunately the bet was the wrong one to make, as now this fund has lost more than 35% year to date vs a loss 7% for the S&P 500. Close to $10 billion have poured out of this fund over the past year, proving that past performance does not predict future performance.

2. Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund

With gold being in the free fall that it is in, and the slim prospects for inflation on the horizon, it's no wonder that this fund is one of the worst investments that can be made. The Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund has lost over half of what it is worth since the beginning of the year, with a YTD return of -53%.

3. Diamond Hill Long-Short (DHCFX)

This fund has an equity with 1.00% of the load and a 2.56% ratio, so no matter what the market does, each investor will lose 3.56% of their principal. It has also trailed the S&P 500 and underperformed it by over 16% over the last 5 years, which is a big deal when over 3% of your investment is going just to pay for the fund.

4. Federated Prudent Bear Fund

One easy way to determine how a bear fund is doing is to look at the market: if the market is doing poorly, you can rest assured that the bear fund is doing poorly. And this one is no exception. With a YTD return of -13%, and the average return for the past 3 years being -16%, this is not a wise fund to invest your money into.

5. Fidelity Magellan

Despite how poorly this fund has consistently performed, many investors continue to stick with it. Trailing the S&P 500 over the past 1 year through 15 year rolling periods, and with $17 billion in assets under management, this fund has done so many things wrong that there is a wonder what a loyal following it continually has.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Investment Basics: Six Steps To Successful Long-Term investment

In order to successfully invest for a child’s educational costs and your own retirement, you must start now and think long-term. Investing successfully over the a longer period of time is not as complex as you might think. Keep these six steps in mind to help you make wise financial decision:

Don’t Time The Market

Day trading is something that became incredibly popular during the tech boom. Large amounts of cash combined with small upticks in the market, and frequent trades were able to create full time incomes for many investors. When it comes to long term investing however, less is more. There is no need to sit in front of your computer all day to be successful. Research an investment, select it, and stay with it.

Past Performance

Though past performance does not guarantee future success or failure, it can be a strong indicator, and should be thoroughly reviewed. Stocks and mutual funds are easy to track performance with earnings and rates of return. Many mutual funds mix stocks and bonds in order to diversify. There are plenty of experts with bond market research and investments tips that you can learn from to avoid past mistakes and understand the market better.

Don’t Panic

Remember that you are a long-term investor. Short term market fluctuations and sell offs are nothing to be feared. These should be viewed merely as buying opportunities where your cost basis can be greatly reduced by buying low to later sell high. If you panic and try to sell when the market drops just a little, you will end up losing much more. Again, think long-term, because there will be small dips and spikes in every stock.


Even excluding short term market fluctuations, as a wise investor, you should still review your portfolio periodically to ensure that your portfolio performance is on the right track. This may be an opportunity to invest more in a particular fund that is outperforming others. Keep in mind that diversification is still critical to ensure success.

Never Chase a Trade

You have completed your research and resolve to purchase a stock, bond, or mutual fund at a strike price. If something unexpected happens that no longer makes the trade an attractive one, don’t chase the trade, move on. Although it is good to invest long-term, that doesn't mean you should chase after an investment that is clearly not going to have a positive benefit for you in the long run.

Cheap is Not Always Good

Penny stocks may seem like a good idea because they allow you to execute large purchase orders with only a small cash investment. As with any investment, you must factor in risk. Penny stocks are so cheap because they are extremely risky. Though some risk is acceptable in the successful long term portfolio for diversification, penny stocks are too volatile, and should not be considered.

Investing for education or retirement can by simple when you take these tips into consideration. Understanding to to successfully invest long-term is essential to help you meet your financial goals. Remember these tips when investing, and you will be able to gain the return on your money that will make a significant difference for you financially.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Understanding Annuities: Fixed Annuities vs. Variable Annuities

With annuities, it's important to know what you're getting into. This is a huge decision that'll determine how much and how often you get paid during your retirement years. Should you go with a fixed annuity or a variable annuity? Let's take a look at some of the differences between fixed annuities and variable annuities, and you can decide which one sounds more along the lines of what you're looking to do with your money.

What Are They?

First things first, let's define them. A fixed annuity is a contract offered by an insurance company. You deposit money and the insurer agrees to pay a certain interest rate over a specified period of time. A variable annuity is an insurance contract that, at the end of the accumulation stage, the insurance company guarantees a minimum payment. The rest of the income payments can vary depending on the performance of the managed portfolio.

Essentially, variable accounts are similar to mutual funds. You can invest in one or more accounts, and those accounts can own stocks, bonds, or a combination of both. Variable annuities have more fees than mutual funds, though, which leads to them having a higher annual operating expense than mutual funds.

The Tax Differences

One important difference between fixed annuities and variable annuities is the way that they're taxed. With both fixed and variable annuities, any earnings remain untaxed as long as they within their annuity. However, if they're withdrawn, the earnings are taxed like normal income. If you draw before the age of 59, you'll pay a 10 percent penalty.

The earnings in your variable annuity are taxed at ordinary income rates instead of long-term capital gains rates. This essentially converts all long-term capital gains to ordinary income, which is a definite disadvantage for variable annuities because it boosts the share of your gains that go to the government. If you pull your money out within the first seven to 10 years, you'll have to pay an early withdrawal penalty. You may need to calculate different types of annuities to see which one works best for you.

The Safety Difference

A fixed annuity offers more security than a variable annuity, but the upside potential is very limited. With variable annuities, you accept more short-term volatility because the value of your investment will fluctuate with the value of the stock and bond markets. You're essentially looking at risk versus return.

With a variable annuity, if the market goes up, you're golden; if it goes down, you lose money. Fixed annuities are also based on the market, but they don't directly participate in it. The interest is paid out at certain intervals based on how well a specific measure of the market is performing.

Rather than just offering a guarantee, variable annuities provide the opportunity for growth. Your return will depend entirely on how well the investment you select does, and may be greater or less than that of a fixed annuity. If you die before you begin receiving annuity payments, your heirs will receive at least as much as the total of your premium payments.

The Hidden Costs

Fixed annuities don't usually have hidden fees. If they do have a fee, it'll be an annual policy fee, which could run $25 to $50 annually, which can be waived if your investment meets a minimum specified amount. Variable annuities, however, have a ton of hidden fees and charges. They have mortality and expense risk charges, administrative fees, sales and surrender charges, and charges for optional benefits and riders.

It basically comes down to risk tolerance and how much control you want over the investment decisions. Fixed annuities have very little risk, but there's no growth potential. Variable annuities provide a much greater potential for growth, but there's a huge risk involved. Your investment decisions can impact the growth of the annuity. There's a lot of management involved with a variable annuity as well.

For a steady stream of income after retirement, a fixed annuity is the way to go. With little risk and a guaranteed minimum return, you know exactly how much you're getting. Variable returns are much riskier and nothing is really guaranteed; you shouldn't rely on variable annuities as a source of income. Sure, your investment could pay off big time, but you could be left without a retirement fund. If you've got the extra money, a variable annuity might be a fun venture, but otherwise, a fixed annuity seems like a much safer option.

Have an annuity tips from first-hand experience? Leave a comment below.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Retirement of Luxuries: How to Save for Your Retirement

It is advised by many financial experts that retirement should be of the utmost importance to everyone. Many people will start out saving small amounts at the appropriate time, and then increase the amount saved for their retirement over time. Retirement funds will increase as time passes, even though it will be subjected to inflation. However, it is better to have some money in a retirement or investment account than to have nothing at all. 

It is best to start by devising a plan for retirement and set realistic financial goals. Be sure to stick to the plan and specific financial goals. It is NEVER too early or late to begin saving for retirement. Of course, most people who don’t decide to save now may be able to work until they turn 70 years old. However, this is only true if those people remain healthy, can still run a business or are able to continue working. There are no guarantees for anyone. Many people are forced to maintain jobs after retirement because they didn’t save at a younger age. Some have to retire early due to illnesses, downsizing or disability.


If someone is working for an employer who offers the opportunity to participate in a 401K plan, they should jump at the chance. With this plan, the employer will usually match the contributions. The employee’s money will accumulate over time because this program allows for tax deferment and compounded interest. Employees should find out how much to contribute in order to receive an equal match from the employer. 

Pension Plan

If there is a pension plan offered by an employer, the employee should inquire about the plan and find out if they will receive coverage from the plan. Get the scoop on the individual benefit statement and what it would be worth. The employee should find out what would happen to the pension benefit if there is a switch in jobs. 


Diversify investments by putting savings into different portfolios. When investments are diversified, the risks will be lowered and the return on your investments will be improved. The investor should frequently review their investment strategies with a financial advisor because many things can change as the investor gets older, and as their goals and circumstances shift. 

Power Saving

If the prospective retiree has extra money such as a federal tax refund, they should add some of it to their nest egg. If the person were to cut down on spending, they would be able to add money to their nest egg. If the person changes jobs and is receiving a higher annual income, they should consider adding any extra funds to their nest egg. So instead of incurring more debt, the person should try to maintain the same lifestyle so that they can save more money in their nest egg. For those who do fall into debt and are unable to find a solution for their financial predicament on their own, services such as National Debt Relief are available for debt assistance and management. 

Other investments

Hire a financial advisor to see how to capitalize on other investments such as mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. The U.S. Treasury offers the opportunity to invest in guaranteed bonds that carries lower risks. As long as investments are diversified and funds are wisely allocated, the risks will be limited.

Dave Landry Jr. is a personal finance advisor and debt relief counselor who has been blogging his expertise for several years to help those in dire financial needs. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Early Investments Help You Financially after Retirements

In the past workers were enjoying the security of the pension plan, however today they are not that fortunate. These days it’s up to each and every worker to make preparations for their own retirement, meaning that they have to do some serious planning. Each one of us can enjoy a happy and a much financially secure retirement, however it is very essential to start preparing for it as early as possible.

Take Advantage of the Tax-Deferred Savings

“If you have an access to the 401k plan at your place of work, consider investing in it as much as you can really afford.

  • A 401k plan normally provides an opportune way of saving for your retirement and also reduces the current income taxes. 
  • That normally means that if you usually get refunds, investing in 401k boosts the size of that particular refund. 
  • If you owe money, the 401k reduces what you owe and to some extent tips the scales back to the refund.
  • In addition to the upfront tax savings, the cash that you invest in 401k accumulates on a tax deferred basis, denoting that the amounts are only taxed when you receive it once you retire.”

Ramp-up The Contributions

“If the 401k plan has an automatic escalation feature, make use of that benefit.

  • An automatic escalation feature normally increases the percentage of your contribution each year until the maximum that has been set by the plan. 
  • That makes investment for your retirement automatic and painless, eliminating the biggest impediment to investing in 401k plan in your firm. 
  • Avoid the inactivity when it comes to the 401k plans, signifying that you never adjust the contributions to account for the raises and a change in financial situation.
  • Placing your savings on an automatic escalation feature helps you to save more therefore accumulating a much larger retirement portfolio.”

Invest steadily

“Invest in dependable and steady stocks, and then leave your investments alone.

  • Some blue chip companies like AT&T or even Ford, had been in occupation for decades, and they have consistent and steady growth every financial year, making them a great opportunity for investing. 
  • Leaving your invested stocks alone ensures that you are giving them enough time that they require to perform to the fullest.”

Mutual Fund

“Make sure that you contribute more frequently or even annually to a mutual fund.

  • A mutual fund is one of the safest long term investment opportunities that you will ever have, with yields above 10% common.
  • In many cases, you can withdraw your mutual funds without penalty as well as contributing to it as often as you may like.”

Agency Bonds or Treasury bonds

“Buy either the U.S. Agency Bonds or Treasury bonds.

  • Treasury bonds are normally guaranteed, but with lower interest rates. 
  • Agency bonds issued by the government agency rather than the Treasury are never guaranteed, but have much higher interest rates.”

Set Up Goals

“Set up a step by step plan.

  • Financial experts recommend that you set up your goals based on where you actually want to be 9, 6 and 3 years before getting to the retirement age. 
  • This gives you enough time to plan as well as execute your ideas and would let you modify your plan if it becomes hard to meet these goals.
  • Step up the speed of your plans as you approach the retirement age. 
  • Increase the frequency and the amounts of your contributions, and keep investing in additional stocks.” 

Pay Off Your Debts

“Come up with a good plan of paying off all the debts that you owe long enough before you retire.

  • This should be your objective of going into retirement without outstanding credit card debt; however you should also finish paying for your mortgage prior to retirement.”

Decide how much wealth you require to live comfortably

“Think about your day to day expenses, but make sure that you add things that you will want to do in the future that you aren’t doing now, such as pursuing a hobby or even traveling.

  • Take into consideration the price changes and inflation, and do not forget to plan for the unforeseen circumstances.”

Opt For Financial Planner

“Consider looking for some help from a financial planner who will help you to set up a good savings plan and investment.

  • This is very significant if you have little or no knowledge about the finances or if you’re looking to invest in large capital quantities and need the assistance of a professional.”

Crunch The Numbers

“The Internet has very useful tools available that can help you to figure out exactly how much you should be saving.

  • These tools are very simple to use. You just input what you want to be saving every month, and they calculate the estimated worth.”

Level Of Risk

"Make sure that you know your actual level of risk.

  • If you are conservative with your money you will need to set up smaller goals. 
  • People who are willing to risk can make loftier goals however they need to be much aware of their chances. 
  • Knowing your exact comfort level is the key to determining the plans and goals that you have once you retire. 
  • Assess your financial situation and commitments that you currently have will help you to determine the amount of money you need to put towards your retirement.”

Avoid Market Timing

“Even major experts in this industry have some troubles calling bear and bull markets, so your chances of getting everything right every time is very small.

  • People who try to time the markets usually end up getting in and out of it at the wrong time, and that can eat their profits in a long term. 
  • It’s always good to use the dollar cost averaging approach meaning that you invest a similar amount of money every month, despite how the stock markets are doing. 
  • This will allow you to accrue more shares when the stock market is down and profit when it recovers.

See your accountant, financial planner or call axa insurance contact number for more objective opinions on how you can save your money for retirement. You may not see some areas of your normal budget to cut more retirement money; however these professionals will convince you otherwise and can give you a much clearer picture of all the options that you have.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Personal Capital APP Review

This post brought to you by Personal Capital. All opinions are 100% mine.

In today's world it is more important than ever to keep track of our financial life. What we save, spend, and invest in is critcal to our success with money. Keeping track of these things has become more difficult with the increasing complexity of our lives. Keeping track of income, planning with a budget, and making sure our investments are on track can take up a lot of time.
PC_Logo_zps4cb7c0ab photo PC_Logo_zps4cb7c0ab.jpg
Sometimes we need to have this information at our finger tips. Luckily, we have a multitude of mobile computing devices that can make this simple. With Personal Capital's mobile app we can have all this important information close by.

The Personal Capital App, is available for the iPad, iPhone and Android; it allows you to see the overall picture of your finances. You can view all your financial accounts in one place. Your savings and checking account, mutual funds and stocks all displayed in an organized, easy to view way.

Personal Capital Benefits from Personal Capital on Vimeo.

The Personal Capital app is free to download and use. Plus has all these feature:

  1. Encompasses all your finances. Personal Capital gives you access to all your finances in one location.
  2. Gives you a broad overview of your investment portfolio. Many investors that have accounts with multiple brokers can view them all in one easy to view place.
  3. Personal Capital offers a great way to drill down into asset allocation and tax optimization.
  4. Check your investment fees by using the mutual fund fee calculator.
  5. Stay on top of your 401k with the free organizer.
I always found that the major complaint from people who want to keep their finances organized is the desktop and mobile apps we have today are just to hard to use. I have found that the Personal Capital app is very simple to use and this is the one thing that will keep me using it. I think this app has made looking after your finances no longer a chore.

I recommend you give the Personal Capital app a try. You can download it to your iPhone, iPad, and like me even your Android device.

If you want track your income and spending plus finally feel sure your doing all you can to be successful with your financial life. Use the Personal Capital app.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What to Look for in a Mutual Fund

Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hardest part about investing is taking that first step and buying that mutual fund. It can really be confusing because there are over 25,000+ mutual funds spread out in 100's of companies. Finding the mutual fund that is right for you and your goals can be difficult. has an interesting and helpful section on its website called "Investing Classroom". Here you will learn about Stocks, funds, bonds, and portfolios in simple and clear informational classroom style. After each lesson you are quizzed to check your understanding. I found the lesson on what to look for before buying a mutual fund interesting. There were five questions that you should be asking before writing that check.

How has it performed?

Comparing mutual funds is usually done by checking on their percentage performance of the 1 year, 5 year and 10 year time frame. Seeking funds with the highest gains would be your first choice but taking into consideration how a fund compares to funds in the same investment style is also important. You may find a fund that has a great percentage gain but in funds that are similar to it, it may be a laggard.

Many funds compare themselves to index funds like the S&P 500 index which is the industry benchmark. But many funds do not have similar investments to the S&P so it would be unwise to compare it. Finding like mutual funds and indexes that have the same type of investments would be a good way to compare.

How much risk does the fund take?

Investing is inherently a risky pursuit. You will find that the greater the return, the greater the risk so not looking into the risks involved with your mutual fund would not be wise. All mutual funds have risk so your job is to find funds that balance and minimize the risk. Price volatility of a fund is also a consideration. You could find funds with matched returns but the volatility of one could be much higher than the other.

There are four main risk measurements that appear in mutual fund shareholder reports. These include standard deviation, beta, Morningstar risk ratings, and Morningstar bear market rankings. It's also helpful to check out a fund's quarterly and annual returns in different market conditions to get a sense for its potential volatility.

What does it own?

When you buy a mutual fund it is always important to know what the fund owns. Does it have stocks, bonds or both? They all have different characteristics and levels of performance. The gains associated with stocks can be much more than bonds. The fund can own large, medium, and small stocks or a combination of them all. You need to find out what the fund owns so you can make intelligent decisions.

Some fund managers may only have 20 stocks in his portfolio or they may have 200. This amount of diversification may or may not be appropriate for your investment plan. 

Who is the manager and what is their style?

A fund manager that makes the investment decisions for the fund could be a single person or a committee of people. Who is in charge and their style is crucial to the direction and profitability of your investment. Find out if the manager that built the funds great performance is still at the helm. If they moved on, the performance will definitely change.

What are the fees the fund charges?

Your mutual fund has to charge fees to pay salaries, advertise, and generally pay all the bills of the company. Guess who pays them, you do. The fees come out of your investment balance whether you make money or not. It would be helpful to know these fees before you jump in. You may not think a percent or half of a percent is a big deal, but over time the difference really adds up. Seek funds with the lowest fees, it is an important criteria when choosing a fund.

Choosing a mutual fund is not really that hard. On you can use their mutual fund selection tool to choose the fund that meets all your criteria.

Monday, April 23, 2012

When Mutual Fund Management Changes Is It Time To Sell?

Asset Allocation on Wikibook
Asset Allocation on Wikibook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mutual funds come in many different types and styles. With over 5,000 different mutual funds out there, knowing the right one to choose is difficult. When you finally make the choice of a mutual fund you have the concern of when will be a time to sell it. What percentage of decline are able to endure. On the upside, when do you sell it to take profits. It's can be confusing.

Recently, Howard B. Schow, 84, a well-regarded manager of Vanguard mutual funds such as the $30.1-billion Vanguard Primecap, died of natural causes April 8 at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. Schow's years at Vanguard started when he landed the contract with Vanguard to run its new Primecap fund. Schow was at Vanguard and work along side Jack Bogle for many years.

Schow's management style cited the importance of patience to go along with savvy stock picking. "We don't go for 20% or 30% gains," Schow said. "We go for triples, quadruples, octuples. But that takes years." "A lot of doing well is drudgery," he added. These quotes come from a rare 1994 interview with Forbes magazine, the publicity-averse Schow cited the importance of patience to go along with savvy stock picking.

Now that Schow's influence on the company is gone, how will this affect the performance of the mutual fund if any. Should the investor jump ship or hang in there and see what happens?

According to, there are eight reasons to dump a mutual fund. Forbes advice is that there does come a time when selling is a good idea because even though buy and hold is recommended, it's not forever.

Portfolio Rebalancing.
In your mutual fund portfolio you have an asset allocation that conforms to your risk tolerance and long term investing plans. Some mutual funds do better than others and gain a disproportional percentage of the portfolio. Selling off the gainers and rebalancing the entire portfolio, through purchases and sales, puts your investments back into the asset allocation that your plan calls for.

Mutual Fund Changes.
Here is where Howard B. Schow's passing on can be a reason to sell the investment. Will his investment style continue on now that he is gone? He has been a manager for so long and his day to day influence even to the end could possibly influence the fund for years to come. But eventually his successors will flex their muscles and run things the way the want to, it's inevitable.

Investor Growth.
A novice investor usually starts out investing in mutual funds. They feel other forms of investing like stocks, bonds, real estate, and collectibles is to complicated while mutual funds are relatively simple. As the investor increases in experience, there is an urge to try out other types of investing.

Life Cycle Changes.
While in the accumulation phase, the investors prefers stocks as a big part of the portfolio. But as the investor's needs change they may want less volatility so they move away from equities. The investing goals may change causing a shift out of the market to more fixed and safer investments. Moving to safer products or college savings plans does restructure the portfolio.

Sometimes you just pick the wrong mutual fund. You may find that the fund is too volatile for their tastes. You could also have too many investments for one type of asset allocation and you want to adjust to simplify your portfolio.

Something Better Comes Along.
This doesn't refer to chasing the high flyer's or fad mutual funds. If you can find an investment that is doing something in a way that is better than what you have now, maybe you should consider moving to it. Finding mutual funds that are doing what you need to have done in the style you need it done in a way that will increase your return and save you money .

Tax Reduction.
Mutual funds held in taxable accounts, might be down substantially from their purchase price. They can be sold to realize capital losses that are used to offset taxable capital gains and thus lower taxes.

Keep in mind the sales charges, short term trading fees and taxes when you want to sell. If any of these factors don't apply then all the better reason to sell.

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