Category Archives: Investing

How Easily Could You Access Your Investments?

No one wants to have a reason to access cash in an emergency. However for most of us just such a situation will come to pass at one point or another. It could be a relatively minor emergency such as a broken refrigerator that needs mending. On the other hand it could be something major that requires a larger injection of cash. If you were to lose your job you may not find another one immediately for example. In this case you’d definitely need access to any cash you had saved up.

While we hope you never experience anything this major, it is wise to figure out how you would cope if this situation ever cropped up. The main task is to make sure you have three months’ worth of earnings saved up that are easy to get to at a moment’s notice. We’ve spoken about this before. This should be your first priority as it gives you an instant three month cushion to fall back on.

However, what should you do beyond this? We’ve all heard stories of people who are rich and yet they are struggling to get by from day to day. Normally they say something like this: “All my money is tied up.” There is no use being financially sound if you cannot actually access any of your money when you need it most.

So when it comes to your investments, it is wise to consider which ones you could cash in quickly if you needed to. Of course, you don’t want all your money in instant access accounts because they pay relatively poor. However you should make sure you have that three month cushion and then look for better investments beyond that.

Ideally you should have a varied portfolio that permits you access to investments at different times. For example you might have a long term savings plan that means you cannot touch a certain sum of money for five years. That’s fine, but don’t drop all your savings into it. Make sure you can keep some back so you can access them whenever you need to.

If you have stocks and shares, look into how easily you can cash them in. This might depend on whether you have invested in them directly or whether they are part of a managed fund. Always make sure you find out these answers before you need to know them, i.e. before you find you need to get at the cash. You should know the terms and conditions for accessing your money (with or without penalty) before you buy into the investment in the first place.

There is arguably nothing worse than needing money, knowing you have it and not being able to get at it. By focusing on this issue as soon as possible you will have confidence that you can get at your money should you ever need to. Having the peace of mind is worth a lot more than you might think.

How to Treat Investments like Regular Payments

One of our most popular posts is The Golden Rule of Smart Investing: Pay Yourself First. A lot of people have great intentions when it comes to investing. They know where and how they want to invest. All they have to do is free up the money to make it happen. They’ve even done a budget so they know they can free up the cash they need to sink into their chosen investment.

And yet it never quite seems to happen.

If this sounds familiar it’s probably because you aren’t putting your investments first. When you want to make sure you’re not spending more than you earn, you create a budget. One of the first things you’ll do is to write down the outgoings you have each month. You know the kind of thing – mortgage payment, utilities, phone bill and so on. These are all non-negotiable for the most part. If you don’t pay them you could lose your home or be in trouble in the courts.

When you want to invest and you’re not getting anywhere in getting things started, all you have to do is put your investment amount in with those regular outgoings. That’s it – that’s the simple rule that could transform your life.

If you haven’t already written down your list of bills and outgoings, do it now. Then add the amount you want to invest every month to that list. This will ensure you account for it in just the same way you would any other bill. If you don’t make this commitment and leave the cash sitting in your account throughout the month, you’ll always find a reason to spend it.

This change is pretty simple. Sure, it means you have to make arrangements to set up a transfer into a savings account every month, or into whatever investment vehicle you have set up. However, it makes sense to do this because you will then know your investment is up and running. You also don’t have to remember to transfer the money yourself each month. It’s all done for you and treating it like another bill means you won’t forget to account for it.

It doesn’t have to take long to sort this out. This payment is a payment to you, in a sense – a payment you can enjoy dividends from later on. Every day you delay is a day where you could be amassing cash and some interest to enjoy at a later date.

Even if you can’t set this up today, bookmark this post and allocate a little time in the coming week to sit down and make this happen. It’s great to have some knowledge that will benefit you, but you still have to act on that knowledge to truly benefit from it. If you don’t you’ll end up disappointed and wishing you’d set aside that time after all. Put yourself first for once – after all, you do owe it to yourself to do just that.

Incoming search terms:

Should You Trust ‘Safe’ Stock Investments?

Everyone dreams of finding the next Coca Cola or Microsoft. The stock market can deliver some huge profits on stock investments – but as we all know it can also deliver some pretty grim results as well.

You only need to perform a few quick searches on your chosen search engine to discover everyone seems to know the best and safest stocks to invest in. Who knew it could be so easy? Of course it is far from easy and that’s the point. If you are the type of person who would trust the recommendations made by someone you’ve only just met, these ‘safe’ stocks could harbor trouble. It’s easy to trust someone who claims to be an expert in investments. But it’s worth taking a moment to think about whether this is the right move to make. If you don’t know them, should you trust them to provide you with the information you need?

In truth there is no assured safe investment. Even the biggest and most established companies in the world can get things wrong sometimes. It’s this kind of error that sends share prices tumbling and investors reeling.

Put simply, if you want to invest in the stock market you need to be prepared for the prospect of losing money on your investments. Hopefully it won’t happen but it would be foolhardy to assume your stocks will always go up in value. Yes there are great returns to be had, but you run the risk of losing money by accepting the chance that you’ll get better returns. This is something you need to be happy about before you invest in the stock market – even if you are looking at the safest possible investments.

One question on your mind is probably how you can look for the safest investments in the first place. The best method is to take your time and search out as many options in as many different ways as you can. The more research you do the more knowledge you’ll have to work with.

It’s a good idea to look at the track records of each business you are thinking about buying shares in as well. This means you can see how they have performed over time. You may find they are fairly consistent and able to deliver reliable results. On the other hand this may be a company that typically experiences a lot of ups and downs in the stock market. Safe investments are probably easier to spot and verify through your own research than they are by any other means.

We all know anything can happen in life. This is just as true of the stock market as it is of anything else. Bear this in mind and remember that even the most secure investment can eventually turn out to be anything but. There are stock market investments that are safer than others, but nothing is truly safe. Keep this in mind when you consider your options.

Drastic Ways to Cut Down, Spend Less and Save More

Every now and then we publish a post that focuses on saving money. After all you need to free up the cash you want to invest, otherwise you won’t be able to achieve your goals.

Some people are better than others at cutting back. However, if you are looking around and wondering how on earth you could have some cash left to make an investment with, we’ve come up with a few more drastic ideas to try.

1: downsize

It doesn’t matter if you rent or pay a mortgage. Take a look around your home and consider whether you really need to live in the size property you are currently in. Of course if you’ve got a tiny property this is really a moot point. But it is worth considering.

The other option is to think about moving to a different area that is invariably cheaper. For example if you live in a city maybe you could move to the outskirts. You’ll need to weigh up travel costs as they’ll change, not to mention travel time, but it could work.

2: go veggie

This is pretty extreme for a lot of people. However, most meals are made more expensive for adding meat to them. Vegetarian meals don’t have to be dull or bland – in fact they can be quite the opposite. If you try to add, say, three or four veggie meals a week to your cookery repertoire, you’ll be surprised how much you can save. You’ll likely feel healthier for it too.

3: cut out cable

Plenty of us would say watching TV was a hobby. It can be a huge time drain though – not to mention a financial one too. Some people rack up huge amounts for their cable service each month. When you add up how much you’ll save over the course of a year you might be surprised.

The other good thing about this step is you’ll free up plenty of time to do other things. You might brainstorm other ways to save money and consider ways to invest it wisely. You might also come up with different ways to earn some extra cash. Not watching TV has a lot going for it!

There are plenty more things you can do to cut down on your outgoings so you can free up some cash to invest in whatever area you want to. The key thing is to have a plan. If you can do this you’ll stand a chance of finding savings in other areas as well. Being logical and looking into the more drastic ways to cut down on your outgoings is well worth doing. It might feel drastic to begin with, to say the least, but once you’ve gotten started you might be surprised how much cash is left at the end of the month.

Try it today and aim for a bigger investment fund by the end of the year. Now that’s a target worth aiming for.

Check Interest Rates Regularly to Stay in the Money

How often do you check the interest rates on your investments? Even if you found the best home for your surplus cash a few months ago, there is no guarantee the interest rate is still just as good. Things change regularly in the world of finance and investments, so you must be diligent if you want to get the best return on a regular basis.

Set it and forget it

Many of us are guilty of using the above method to set up our investments. We do the hard work to find the accounts offering the best deals in our situation and then forget all about them. It can be many months or (in the worst case scenario) years before we realise how poor the interest rate has become.

Clearly we need to take a different approach. We need to make sure we check on our investments regularly – something we should be doing anyway – to make sure they are still performing well for us.

Set a reminder

How do you remember other important tasks you need to do? Do you set reminders or alarms on your cell phone? Maybe you have a desk calendar – either online, on your computer or an old paper and pen version – that gets updated with important notes.

Whatever method works for you, add a reminder to your schedule to check the performance of your investments on a regular basis. Ideally a monthly check is good – interest rates can change at any time and you don’t want to miss out on more than a month’s worth of interest if you can help it. This is particularly important if you rely on your investments to provide you with an income. In this situation it is best to make sure your investment check happens every month without fail.

Set a course for a more positive attitude towards your investments

It’s easy to become lazy when it comes to investments. We arrange them, sink the money into whatever account, bond or other investment vehicle works best, and that’s it. The rest takes care of itself.

But of course we have to keep an eye on these investments otherwise we may find they take a downward turn. As we’ve seen, this can happen very easily and it does happen to plenty of people every single day.

The most important thing to remember is that you and you alone are responsible for your investments. Interest rates change all the time and it is important to always get the best return if you want to make sure you can stay ahead of inflation. This alone can diminish the value of your investments, and when it is combined with lower interest rates you can see the damage it can do.

If you do just one thing with your investments today, make sure it’s this: set a reminder for the next available weekend to spend an hour or so checking interest rates. You will be glad you did.

Procrastination and Its Dangerous Role in Investing

Do you procrastinate? Let’s put it this way – if you’re a human being like me, you probably procrastinate. We all do it from time to time, some of us more often than others. Sometimes it doesn’t do much harm to put things off for another day. However on other occasions it can do a lot of damage – and this applies just as much to your finances as it does with many other areas of your life.

Its effects on compound interest

If you remember a couple of weeks ago I created a post about compound interest. You can click through the link to read more about it if you wish, but the main concern here is that the power of compound interest will be greatly affected if you start procrastinating about your savings.

If you plan to save, say, $100 a month every month for ten years, you’ll have $12,000 by the end of that period of time. However you’ll also have additional cash that has built up through the interest that has been added over the years.

Now if you start by saving money each month but then put off continuing with it for a while, you’ll have a lot less to show for your efforts by the time you get to the end of the ten year period (or however long you’re saving for).

Its effects on your security

Everyone would like to have financial security throughout their lives. However, unless you happen to get lucky and win the lottery, you’re likely to have to invest for it instead.

Again, if you procrastinate and you put off looking for the right investments to suit your needs, you’ll end up saving a lot less over time. This also means you’ll have proportionately less security to fall back on as you get older.

It could even lead you to exercise kneejerk reactions

Who knew procrastination could be so dangerous? This is probably the worst part about putting off your investment decisions. There is bound to come a day when you realize you haven’t yet acted to protect your financial future. When this happens you might end up acting faster than you should. You may cast around for ideas and potential investments, diving into one or more of them without due care and attention. If this occurs you could end up losing money rather than saving it.

As you can see if you turn the occasional bout of procrastination into a serious habit you could be heading for financial trouble. Always make sure you can get the best habits in place now and try not to procrastinate over anything if you can help it. This will improve your life in lots of different ways, both in terms of cementing good habits into daily life and in terms of developing a nest egg for the future you can hopefully rely on. If you know you have a tendency to procrastinate, perhaps now is the time to make changes.

Is It Really Possible to Get Rich Quick?

If it were possible we’d all do it, or so the saying goes. Getting rich quick is appealing for all kinds of reasons, not least the fact you’d have no money worries and you could achieve most if not all of your dreams. But can it actually be done?

How long does it take?

The whole idea behind getting rich in a hurry is to amass as much cash and wealth as you can in the shortest possible time. However we all have very different ideas of how short this time period should be. For example I might think six months is a short length of time, whereas you may think along the lines of a week or so. We all have different dreams and expectations.

How can it be done?

There must be a zillion ways to do it. Even in product creation realms there are an infinite number of products that haven’t been thought of or created yet. If you could think up and create one of them it could make you rich pretty quickly.

Let’s get to basics here. No one ever got rich from working in a regular job. If you work in this capacity you will only ever help make someone else rich. You need to be serious about amassing your own wealth and that can only come from one or both of two methods – investing and/or earning your own money.

One thing you must have in order to successfully get richer through your life is knowledge. You need to know what works, what doesn’t and how to maximize your efforts. For example if you want to amass more cash more quickly, you need to trim your outgoings as well as bringing in more money. You could say there are many roads that can lead you to your ideal goal.

Of course the fastest way to get rich quick is to buy a lottery ticket that just so happens to be a big winner. But we all know that is incredibly difficult to do. So you have to find your own way of making the cash you need. This can be done in all kinds of ways. You can be an affiliate marketer. You can cash in on all manner of skills or abilities you may have. In short, you must find the way that will work for you.

Getting rich quickly is subjective in nature. Most of us would be eager to amass lots of riches in a matter of days or even minutes if we could. However you should think of it like this. Getting rich in the next 12 months would be a great achievement if you could make it happen, wouldn’t it? To this end, the speed is not the most important thing to think about. Instead you should focus on the means and the opportunity. If you get this bit right you will certainly gain more wealth than you would otherwise have done.

The Future Is Now: Your 3-Point Plan for Building Wealth This Year

In the financial atmosphere of today, one of the biggest common concerns is with retirement. With life expectancies increasing and prices rising, the price of the golden ticket out of the rat race is higher than ever. Sitting idly by as your employer 401k gains pennies at a time is no longer a sure thing. To unlock the potential of your retirement fund, it is essential that you become more proactive with your saving efforts today, and there are a few very simple things you can do to get the most out of your money in 2014.

Play it Safe, but Savvy

As an investor gaining experience, you may encounter a variety of potential investment types, some of which can seem extremely lucrative. However, a universal truth in finance is that the greater the potential reward of an investment, the greater the risk. What seems like a way to make a fortune overnight today could see you wake up without your investment tomorrow, so it is important to minimize your risk.  You can use the Suncorp superannuation calculator when you’re planning your retirement, to get a good idea of your current retirement status.

A mutual fund represents an outstanding balance of safety and potential. These professionally managed investment tools are composed of various stocks owned by a group of people. They are run by veteran investment professionals and typically well-diversified, so it is a safe bet that your money will grow in such a fund.

Keep Your Costs Down

You can find a rock-solid investment prospect, but if your capital is constantly being eaten up by taxes and fees, you are limiting your ultimate reward. Open an IRA with a no-load mutual fund, which allows you to transact shares of the fund with no management fees. Many no-load funds perform comparably to their fee-laden counterparts, and more of your investment is free to work for you. A Roth IRA is an excellent option, as it allows you to invest tax free as long as you meet the requirements.

To be eligible for a Roth IRA, you must earn less than $114,000 as an individual and $181,000 as a married couple. Every dollar saved will be there when you need it, and avoiding unnecessary fees will ensure that it has as much company as possible.

Diversify

Mutual funds are generally reliable, but do not offer the most in expedient profits, as current interest rates are at record lows. For this reason, a mutual fund should be only a part of your total investment portfolio. These crawling interest rates make an ideal market for bond funds. A bond is a certificate given by an issuer to a holder in exchange for money. It is essentially a loan and accrues interest over time that is paid to the holder.

When interest rates are low, the issuer’s debt to the holder lowers and increases the value of the bond. Placing money in a bond fund is a way to gain a stake in this value, although if interest rates increase the bonds will quickly lose value. Fortunately, interest rates are currently at a near-standstill, making bond funds a good short-term investment, although rates are forecasted to rise in the coming months.

The high debt level also makes a money market fund an excellent option as well. In a money market fund, investors provide capital to a pool in the same manner as a mutual fund, but the money is used by the managers to invest in financial securities such as Treasury bills and other money funds such as commercial paper, which provides liquid assets to companies to increase their immediate liquidity in exchange for a share in the future profits. It can provide nearly all the stability of a bank account with a higher potential yield, particularly in 2014, where companies will continue to struggle with liquidity in the wake of trying economic times.

Growing wealth in 2014 is much the same as it always was: if you use your resources wisely, you will be rewarded with profit. A mutual fund is a great base for your financial plan this year and any other, but when it comes to building money right now, a bond fund could yield higher returns short-term and a money market fund is potentially the most lucrative investment type in the current marketplace. All three of these investment types have their own unique benefits and should be incorporated into a balanced financial portfolio.

Understanding the Power of Compound Interest

Most of us need some encouragement when it comes to getting our savings in order. However there is one area of interest you may not have thought about. In fact you may not even be aware of it.

We’re talking about compound interest and the power it has to increase the amount of savings we have. Basically if you get paid interest on your savings – no matter how much it might be – you will benefit from compound interest. So let’s find out how it works.

Saving an initial amount

For the sake of ease and argument, let’s say you have a spare $100 you want to sink into a savings account. The account pays 2% in interest on an annual basis. This means by the end of the first year your $100 will have earned $2 in interest, since this is 2% of the amount you have saved.

This is where it gets interesting (if you’ll forgive the pun). Let’s assume you don’t save any more cash in year two and the interest rate stays the same. Now you’ll have $102 in your savings since you’ve added on the previous year’s interest. So if we work out 2% of $102 we get $2.04. This means we’d have a total of $104.04 at the end of year two.

Finding the best interest options

This is just an example of course but it shows how powerful compound interest can be. This is particularly true when you’re focusing on larger amounts. It’s easy to see how much you can add to your capital amount when you focus on compound interest. It’s also easy to see how important it is to find the best rate of interest you can. It will make a difference year on year the further ahead you go.

Another point to be aware of is how often the interest is calculated. If it is calculated once a day you will fare better than if it is only calculated once a month. Bear in mind it doesn’t matter how often the money actually gets paid into your account – all that matters from your point of view is how often those calculations are worked out.

As you can see, this is one more reason why you should think about compound interest when it comes to getting your savings up and running. You will be able to increase the savings you can amass over time simply by paying attention to this rule.

Some people choose to withdraw the interest on savings accounts and spend it instead of leaving it in there. However as you can see it is wiser to keep everything together so you can earn even more interest in the following years. Over time the amounts can really add up, giving you more cash to fall back on if you should ever need to dip into it. Now you know how powerful compound interest can be, you can make the most of saving with it on your side.

How Can You Focus on Investing When You’re Having Trouble Financially?

Lots of people are stretched financially at the moment. If you are in this situation it can be frustrating to read advice on how to save and invest money. You might be finding it hard enough to get from one paycheck to the next without suffering a shortfall in the meantime. How on earth could you be expected to save as well?

In truth the very process of thinking about saving can get you moving in a different direction. It can mean you have the chance to think about your financial situation in a way you may never have done before. Most of us get into ruts in our lives, and our finances are no exception. We eat the same foods, live by the same routines and yes, spend money in the same ways. It takes a lot to break old habits and get into new and better ones, but there are ways to do it that help us achieve our new goals.

So what should you do if you are struggling financially but a part of you still wants to save?

The best thing to do initially is to simply find some time to sit down and think about your finances in depth. For many people this can be nerve wracking. It’s a process of facing facts. If you know your finances need work the best thing to do is to roll up your sleeves and get to work. They won’t resolve themselves, but if you take the time to take a closer look at them you might find you can do something about them more easily than you may think.

Another thing to think about is the habit of saving. This is actually quite different from saving money and deciding where to invest it. For example, some say the habit of popping a dollar into a pot each week will help you save more in the future. Now a dollar a week won’t save you any more than $52 over an entire year. However it will help you develop a saving habit that will go with you your entire life. It’s not the dollar that matters – this is almost symbolic. It’s the regular savings habit that matters.

Once you start exploring your financial life in more detail you will probably start to view your life in a different way. Things that were essential suddenly don’t seem that way. You start seeing the dollars you spend on certain bills and you wonder about ways to reduce them. Over time you may even find you can make some savings after all. Things may not become a lot easier but you may find an easier financial path to take, even when things are tough.

These processes can lead to a brighter future – one where you can manage more easily and start to free up some cash to sink into investments as well. When you achieve this you know you are starting to get somewhere.

Are You Suited to Socially Responsible Investing?

We have written about this before on this website, but we haven’t focused on whether you would be an ideal candidate for this type of investment. Most of the time people invest in companies or investments because they offer the potential of a good return. However, if you want to make sure your principles are still intact after making specific investments, you may wish to think more about socially responsible investing.

Just to recap, in case you didn’t read our previous article on this topic, this form of investment focuses on sinking your cash into investments that do not clash with your beliefs. For example you may be against animal testing. If this is the case you want to make sure you do not inadvertently invest in companies that support this cause.

Clearly there is a little more work involved if you want to use this method to ensure you only invest in companies you believe in. You must ensure you look into the nature of each company so you know exactly what they do and don’t do. If you don’t do this a lot of the process will be down to guesswork.

The best course of action if you want to look into this in more detail is to consider your existing investments. There is little point investing in sound and ethical companies if you have other existing investments that do not meet with these values. It will also give you some practice in looking for the right investments and in researching what specific companies do or don’t have to offer.

Once you have done this you can consider new investments. Some people look directly at green companies or those that are involved in areas that are forward thinking. For example you might look to invest in companies providing green energy rather than in existing gas and electric companies. You may also consider looking into fledgling companies that have green credentials rather than looking at larger companies that are already well established.

As you can see it makes sense to consider the different types of companies and opportunities available prior to delving into the topic in more detail. Many people would be keen to invest in a responsible manner, but they do not always feel prepared to do the required research to ensure they choose the right companies. Do you fall into this bracket? It is virtually impossible to pick a socially responsible investment without doing your homework, so make sure you have the ability to set aside some time to do this before you dive in.

There is every reason to suspect that this form of investing will flourish in the future. Indeed it has a solid history and has been getting more popular as time has gone on. If you want to add your cash to investments that have the welfare and future of our world at stake, it is time to think seriously about investing in a socially responsible manner.