3 MORE Ways to Free Up More Cash to Invest in 2014

In the last article we looked at three easy ways to find more cash to sink into your best investments next year. Now we have three more ways for you to get you into the saving and investing mood in time for 2014.

1: find ways to cut your food bill

There are countless ways you can do this, including couponing, which some people regard as something of a hobby. You can save incredible amounts of money doing this as well. Some ideas include using cheaper cuts of meat and making them go further by bulking out meals with cheaper vegetables. Look out for special deals that allow you to buy in bulk too. Just be sure you would usually buy these items and don’t be swayed by deals on things you wouldn’t normally buy anyway. Check the price against the single unit price as well, just to be doubly sure you are getting a discount worth having. Some stores are crafty and try to make things look better than they are.

2: refinance the mortgage on your property

One thing all homeowners should do is to check the terms of their mortgage every year or so. And yet few people do. This means there is every chance you could be paying more than you need to each month.

You have two choices here if you can refinance more cheaply. You can either keep paying the same as you were so you overpay on the mortgage and pay it off sooner, or save the additional cash for some other investment. The former is a great idea but make sure your mortgage allows for it.

3: stop spending!

This isn’t a frivolous addition to the list. Indeed it is one of the easiest and best things you can do when it comes to freeing up more cash to invest. The vast majority of us spend more than we really need to. Using the tips provided in this article and the ones in last week’s article will certainly help you invest more, but reducing your spending will do a lot to help as well.

Perhaps you can find some time over the festive season to think about your spending habits and whether you can change even just one or two of them. This should help you get an idea of where you waste money. For example you might treat yourself to a Starbucks coffee every morning on the way to work. It may cost a few dollars a time and over the course of a five day week this can really add up (especially if you buy a croissant or something similar for breakfast to go with it). If you add it up over the course of a month (or even a year) you might be surprised how expensive it can get. Buy a travel mug and make your own coffee to take on the go instead – it will save you $$$.

Starting From Zero: Investing for Newbies

If you’ve just left school or university, and you’re about to embark on your first full time position, congratulations are in order. This is a big time in your life – not just in terms of your career but in terms of your finances too. If you’ve attended college or university already you may have some student debts to pay off in the future, which makes it all the more important to focus on moving ahead with strong financial habits that will support you in the future.

Managing a larger income for the first time

Your first full time job won’t net you a huge income, but it is likely to be a lot more than you have ever received in the past. This opens the door to temptation, and the desire to spend it all as fast as you receive it. Don’t do this if you can help it.

Instead, take the time to sit down and focus on all the plans and goals you have for the future. Even if you have nothing in particular in mind at this stage, it still makes sense to start some good savings habits right from the start.

For example, make sure you figure out your outgoings each month and subtract them from the money you’ll earn. Even if all you do is get the best instant access savings account on the market today and put your money in there, you’ll be allowing it to build up while you decide what else you can do with it.

Is it too early to invest for your retirement?

It’s never too early for that. You don’t have to make it your first priority but it should be near the top of your list of financial things to do. The more you save and the earlier you do it, the more financially sound your retirement will be.

Take your time to make the decisions that will affect your future

You may start finding out more about the stock market and other investment opportunities that will come up. There is no need to focus on getting involved in these to begin with if it doesn’t suit you. Perhaps the most important thing at this stage is to learn more about various investments so you can figure out which ones will suit you best. No two people ever live the exact same lives, so you don’t need to follow the lives lived by others in order to find the results you want.

Whatever your initial monthly earnings are from your full time job, they will seem huge. However you will have deductions from your gross income before you get to see any of it, so you’ll have less to spend and invest anyway. This is one of the reasons why it makes sense to get things right from the very beginning. Learn about investing and saving now and you’ll be glad you took the time to do so. It will repay you long into the future.

Should You Think About Investing in Crowdfunding Projects?

No doubt you’ve heard of crowdfunding by now. The idea is you pledge a certain amount of money to a project through a crowdfunding website. If the project hits its target the money is used to set up a business or achieve whatever goal the project set out to achieve. Investors receive something in return for their investment, although the nature of the return depends on the specific project.

This form of investment has certainly made headlines in recent times. It has been around for a few years and plenty of projects have been successfully funded in that time. But is this the ideal investment opportunity for you?

Know your limits

The great thing about crowdfunding is you generally get to choose how much – or how little – you want to invest in a project. Sometimes this could be as little as five or ten dollars. This isn’t much of a risk if you believe in the project and feel supportive of it. However you can invest thousands and in this situation you are taking on much more of a risk. No matter how successful a new business start-up is at the beginning, it can fail – and for a number of reasons too.

What do you get in return?

You should be very clear on this before you invest. The rewards can be very diverse. The upcoming Veronica Mars movie – funded purely by fans of the former TV series – has granted walk on parts to those who invested a certain amount in supporting the making of the movie. Artists have given free tickets to exhibitions funded in this way, while businesses of all kinds have granted discounts to those who invest in the business model. Make sure you know exactly what you get in return for your investment.

Don’t expect miracles

This is definitely an innovative model for investing in all manner of different businesses and projects. This is undoubtedly what attracts many people to this form of investment. However you should be aware of the risks that are involved. Don’t be tempted to invest without finding out as much as you can about the project first. Furthermore you should consider a sensible amount to invest, rather than being tempted to sink too much into a single project.

Indeed, it is wise to follow the ‘eggs and basket’ theory, in that you should have more than one basket to put them in. If you spread the wealth, so to speak, you stand a chance of reaping more back for your investment.

It should be said that crowdfunding is not for everyone. It is an easy investment to make and there are plenty of worthwhile projects to look at. But it may not be right for you, especially if you want reasonable odds that you will get your money back and more besides. As a side dish to your main course it may work, but be sure to consider all the options before you start investing.

Does Age Have a Bearing on Investing?

This is an interesting question, and yet it may not be one that has ever occurred to you before. However when you look at it more closely, you’ll come to the conclusion that the investment goals of a 57 year old person will be very different from the goals set by an 18 year old. Indeed you could say the teenager may not have any goals at all because they’ve got plenty of time to think about stuff like that. Conversely the person who is nearing retirement has to think about their investment goals now, and whether it is too late to set up any new ones.

So yes, age certainly does have a bearing on how you invest, why you invest and what you hope to get out of it. It also stands to reason that you should review your investment goals from time to time. You might start out at the age of 20 with a firm investment goal in your mind. But if you let that goal stand and you reach the age of 30 before you review it, you may find it no longer serves your needs as it did originally.

This means it is well worth thinking about whether you should get different investments at different times of your life. In reality an investment that is ideal at the age of 18 isn’t as likely to suit someone aged 57. However there are conditions to that assumption. For example, if the investment was a short term deal it may be suitable for both age groups. However if it is a long term investment, perhaps over ten years or more, it may not be ideal for the person who is nearing retirement.

This is why it makes sense to think of your age and circumstances whenever you consider starting a new investment. It also makes sense to bear these factors in mind when you are thinking about changing an existing investment or bringing it to a close. Life changes and sends us curve balls from time to time, and what may have worked once may not work anymore once you get to a certain age.

Of course, every investment must be carefully considered before you jump into it with both feet. However some investments will make more sense to people of certain age groups than they will to others. For instance, someone aged 18 is in the perfect position to set up a pension for their retirement, even though this is several decades into the future. Someone aged 57 won’t consider this type of investment because they may only have a few short years until they retire. As you can see, age has a bearing here, and this isn’t the only situation it is relevant to.

So the next time you consider changing an investment plan or starting a new one, make sure you are able to bring your age into the equation. It may make your decision easier to make.

Could You Invest More Cash if You Were Self Employed?

It’s an interesting question isn’t it? Plenty of Americans are employed with businesses of all sizes, but in recent years there have been an increasing number of self employed people carving out their own businesses as well. This is partly due to the economic crisis, as more and more people have been made redundant. Armed with a redundancy package (if they’re lucky) and no prospect of an employed position in sight, many people are looking to create their own opportunities instead.

The picture of self employment is often painted as a challenging one. You’ve no guarantee where the next job is coming from and you might end up with a very uncertain cash flow. However, many self employed people are doing well, and when you compare this to the uncertainty of being employed, you can see there may not be such a big gulf between the two after all.

All of which brings us to the question posed in the title: could you invest more cash if you were self employed as opposed to employed? Would it really be possible to do this?

Every situation is different

No two people are ever the same, whether they are self employed or not. An employed person on a low wage might save more than a self employed person on a high income, simply because they have better savings habits. But let’s consider a level playing field here for a moment in terms of income and the working situation you might be in.

Let’s suppose there are two people each earning $40,000 a year. One is employed and the other is self employed. By the nature of self employment, this person is able to earn money from a number of sources (clients). The employed person relies on their company to pay them their wage. If the employer lets them go, they’re out of a job and have no more cash coming in.

In contrast, if the self employed person loses a client, they still have other clients to fall back on. Their income might dip, but they can go out and look for other clients to make up the shortfall. Indeed, they can also look for new clients to earn still more money.

Which is best?

This is where the difference becomes clear and you see why there is a greater chance of saving more if you are self employed. Clearly the real difference comes when discipline and good savings habits come into the fray. However, there is more potential here to earn more money as a self employed person. Since you are in control, you can create all manner of schemes and ideas to bring in more money and more benefits to you and your business.

Of course not everyone is cut out for self employment. Whatever position you are in and however promising your future looks, make sure you set good financial habits in motion now. They will help you achieve the level of savings you want to have in the future.

What Should You Do if You Simply Cannot Save for the Future?

The focus of this blog is to start investing money: sinking it into one or more investments so you have a nest egg to fall back on in the future.

However, all this relies on the fact you have at least some surplus cash to play with. What do you do if this isn’t the case yet you still want to invest for the future – or at least save something in case you need some cash in an emergency?

Having the ability to identify fruitful investing options, and at the same time know when and how to save the proper amount, is a skill most professionals need time to hone.  Due to the internet this special education is now more available than ever, with degrees like masters in accounting online helping people understand the importance of financial acumen and the ability to operate in the profession

Paring things down to the basics

This is step one, if you will. We all have a lifestyle we are used to. Sometimes we may need to strip this back so we can free up more cash for one reason or another. You can do this here if you haven’t already done so. Many of us could strip back our outgoings to the absolute basics if we needed to – and in some instances it is possible to strip things back a little further. You only need to read some of the inspiring blogs and articles that focus on providing tips and hints on eating on a dollar a day and other subjects to see how true this is.

Have you pared things back to the basics yet or do you still have more work to do? Re-evaluate your life in every area and see whether you can free up some cash so you are able to set some savings aside, even if you cannot invest anything else.

Things change

Many people go through periods in their lives when saving money is not an option. If, even after going through the stage above, you find you can’t free up any spare cash, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you can’t still read and learn about saving for the future. You may just come across a way of doing it that would work for you. Indeed, you may discover a new method for making a little extra cash to help you along the way.

The moral of this story is to make sure you are always open to the idea of saving money. Even if you can only save a dollar or two every now and then, it instills in you a mindset that will help you through the hardest financial times. It will also lead you towards a brighter financial future, and this alone can be a positive experience when you are trying to save money for some reason.

The only way you will never save money for the future is if you decide it cannot be done. Even if this is true at present, it’s not a good idea to succumb to this mindset – it may just follow you around for longer than you’d like. As you can see, if you take the right stance you might just change your fortunes for the better. If you can do that, you could start saving money for the future sooner than you might at first think was possible.

Should You Invest in Your Own Online Business?

The internet has changed our lives in an incredible number of ways. Perhaps most notably, it has given many people the opportunity to set up businesses from home. New business opportunities have been created that many people can have a go at.

However, does this mean you should invest in a business of your own on the internet?

If you are thinking of doing just this, with the hope of generating a new line of income in the process, here are some points you should be aware of.

1: you can start with very little money

This is good to know if you are on a tight budget. There are enough free services online to make it possible for people to get started making a small amount of money without investing anything up front.

There are also other opportunities for you to make money while investing just a small amount upfront. For example, you can easily set up your own website by purchasing a domain name and hosting for just a few dollars a year. Most people could afford this and create a blog that recommended products from free to join affiliate programs. This alone has the potential to generate anything from a few to a significant number of dollars per year.

2: you can build a business in your spare time

This is one of the main points that attract people to earning money online. Regardless of what job(s) you do now, you can find spare time in which to build a business of your own. Plenty of other people have done so before you – could you be next?

3: there are plenty of scams out there – make sure you’re not a victim of one of them

Never part with any cash to get a job opportunity; you’re often better off setting off on your own path. By all means research different opportunities and find reviews of what other people think. But make sure you don’t fall for any smooth selling.

4: it really is possible to build your own business

Who knows, you might even earn more from doing so than you’d ever earn working for someone else. You do need to work for it though – don’t assume it will come easily or without making any mistakes.

Since there are several opportunities you can go for online, you might also want to consider which one will suit you best. The worst mistake you can make is to do something simply because someone else is doing it and achieving success with it. It doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be successful too. The trick is to find your passion – that’s what will earn you the money you need to succeed.

In the end, there are ways to invest in your own business on the internet. But you need to be diligent and do your research to find the best opportunity around for you today. Make sure you make the most of your opportunities and seize the moment to make your business work.

Three Months In: How Are Your Financial Goals Shaping Up for 2013?

It may still seem as if the festive season only finished yesterday, but in fact we are nearly a quarter of the way through the ‘New Year’. This provides the perfect opportunity to assess the financial goals you made at the beginning of January, to see how they are progressing.

It means you have a chance to look back over the last three months to see what you have achieved during that time. Have you done what you wanted to do? Have you achieved some short term goals yet? Perhaps you have already ticked off some of your goals and set new ones. Perhaps you are well on the way to accomplishing some of your longer term goals. Perhaps you have yet to begin making any real progress at all, despite setting goals at the start of the year.

Look back and create a progress report

Don’t just look back on the last three months and think about them randomly. Make some notes. What worked? What didn’t work? Which goals are well on the way to being achieved? Which ones are you struggling to get close to?

It’s worth thinking about what you can realistically achieve at this point. It may be you have a savings target set for the end of the year, and you are not yet 25% of the way there. However this doesn’t mean you cannot still hit your target. You should still focus on redoubling your efforts to get there; you never know if an unexpected source of cash could come up, or you might get a promotion. Having a goal often makes unusual things happen – things you may never expect. A progress report is simply a good way of looking at where you are.

Look ahead and revise your goals if necessary

There are lots of reasons why you may need or want to revise your financial goals for 2013 at this stage. For example you may have achieved something you wanted to do. Perhaps one short term goal was to save $500 over those first three months to put towards some home improvements. Now you can invest in those improvements, tick the goal off your list and make a new one to replace it.

Another reason may be that your initial goal just isn’t working. Perhaps you have tried approaching it in a variety of ways and nothing has worked. In this situation you may have to revise your goal or scrap it altogether. There are normally ways to achieve any goal you set for yourself, but it could be that you don’t yet have the knowledge or the finances to achieve the goal you originally set.

Once you have reviewed your goals, think about doing the same again at the end of June. This is the halfway point of the year, and it provides an ideal time to review your progress at that point as well. It also means you can review the results of any adjustments you make at this stage. So you see this is the best way to ensure you hit all your goals.

Should You Look Into Unusual Investments?

When you think about investments you probably think of stocks, shares, mutual funds and various other investments of a similar ilk. However you have more options than this, including some rather unusual investment opportunities you may wish to consider.

So let’s focus on some of these now, so you can see whether your interest is piqued by them.


For many people wine is something to be drunk and enjoyed on an evening spent with friends and family. For others, certain choice wines are to be invested in with an eye to the future.

There are certainly plenty of wines that appreciate in value over the years. Of course you have to know your stuff – it’s not enough to buy a few bottles from the local store and put them away for a few years to capitalize on your investment. However if you are willing to focus on learning more about wine – and in particular which wines to look out for and invest in – this could be worth sinking some money into.


The more you know and understand about art, the easier it will be to stand a chance of investing successfully in this medium. This is perhaps one of the more challenging but unusual ways to invest some cash.

However there are some simple rules you can bear in mind. Don’t aim to buy expensive artwork from famous artists. Instead, look for ones who have not yet been discovered. If it turns out you have an eye for the best artists who achieve fame in the future, your investments could appreciate by a significant amount. In addition, make sure you recognize the importance of quality and store your artwork properly so it does not become damaged.


This is another example of a tangible investment you can think about. Memorabilia can relate to investments in lots of different areas. For example you could invest in sports memorabilia, or opt to sink some money into toys from years gone by. You may even find you already own a few things of this ilk that have a value beyond what you originally bought them for.

This often begins as a hobby for many people; indeed there is arguably a lot more enjoyment to be had from investing in memorabilia than there is from investing in stocks and shares.

What could you invest in?

These three suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unusual investments. They should perhaps act as an additional way of investing your money as opposed to being an alternative to stocks, shares and whatever else you invest in. However it is wise to make sure you don’t just view these possibilities as quirks. You need to be sure you apply the same diligent research as you would to any other investment before sinking your money into it.

This is all part of not having all your eggs in one basket. As you can see, it is worth having a few more unusual baskets in your collection too.

Penny Stocks Could Cost You a Pretty Penny

Okay so the title is designed to catch your eye. But if you are thinking about investing in penny stocks it is worth realizing you could lose a lot of money in doing so.

This is not meant as a scare story, merely as a way of reminding you that investing in penny shares doesn’t make them any less volatile or safe than regular shares. Indeed, they are generally even more volatile, which is the reason why they are available so cheaply anyway.

Think about the value of a company before you invest

Let’s say Company A has shares valued at one cent each. Company B has shares valued at $6.78 each. Clearly there is a lot more value in the shares of Company B than those of Company A. This is because penny shares are made available by those companies who show promise for the future. They are created largely to generate funds to put back into the company so it can expand and develop.

Of course we all know lots of companies and businesses fail in their early days. So your task is to invest in penny shares released by companies that have the biggest potential for a great future. Lots of people wish they’d invested in IBM or Microsoft when their shares first came out. They’d be worth a lot of money by now. And when you think about the idea behind penny shares it is easy to see how such an investment can seem extremely tempting.

The reality behind penny stocks and shares

Let’s take a look at the reality of the situation now. The truth is penny shares are affordable for many people looking at getting into the stock market. But they are the riskiest shares of all. You may be able to afford more shares from Company A than you ever could from Company B, but that doesn’t mean it is a wise investment.

The bottom line here is to consider how much you can afford to invest – and also to lose. There is a bigger chance of penny shares nosediving in value and becoming worthless than there is of shares in any other company doing the same thing. There are exceptions of course, which is why you should never invest in any types of stocks or shares unless you know what you are doing and what to expect.

Many people say you should only invest money you wouldn’t miss when it comes to penny shares. There is a lot of truth in this. You should never really invest in it to gain a particular amount of money in return. It is far more speculative than other shares, which is why they are not for everybody.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid them at all costs of course. It just means you should be aware of the pros and cons and of what you are investing in. The more you understand about penny shares, the better your chances are of getting it right.

Tips for Choosing High Yield Mutual Funds

If you are considering investing some cash in mutual funds, it makes sense that you’d want to invest in the best ones you can find. So called high yield funds are the best ones to look for, since they provide you with the opportunity to enjoy the highest possible yield you can.

So with that in mind, here are some tips on choosing the best high yield mutual funds on the market today.

Do your homework

It should go without saying, but it is surprising how many people are so eager to invest in these funds they’ll slap their money down on anything that looks good. They do this without researching it properly first, so it makes sense to ensure you don’t fall into this group.

Start looking online to see how many mutual funds are out there that fall into this type. Of course you shouldn’t just trust everything you read. Everyone is keen to stress the positives without focusing too much on the negatives. This means it’s your job to do both.

There are plenty of well known and reliable websites that are long established online that can be relied upon to give out good information. If you search for the phrase ‘high yield mutual funds’ you will find lots of these sites popping up on the first page of Google. Use these results to help you find the companies you need to look at more closely.

Choose a fund that fits in with your investment plans

It goes without saying that most mutual funds will perform better over the long term as opposed to the shorter term. But there can be a difference between investing for five years and fifteen years. Think about the goal you have in mind and how long you want to save for, and consider which funds most closely match your ideal.

You may find some perform better over the period of time you want to save for, in which case you should add these to your shortlist. Now it is time to delve into each individual fund more closely. Find out everything you can about each one – get the literature and speak to those managing the funds if you can.

You should also bear in mind that while looking at the most successful mutual funds for this year will help in some ways, it doesn’t necessarily mean those same funds will perform just as well next year. Be sure to look back over a longer period, say five years or more, to get a more accurate pattern.

As you can see, it is wise to focus on the details of all the high yield mutual funds you have come across that you are thinking about sinking money into. Choose the one that appeals to you the most. While you cannot get rid of the risks inherent in investing in this type of fund, you can vastly reduce them and hopefully get the highest yields in the process.

Low Minimum Mutual Funds to Consider Investing In

Are you looking to invest in some mutual funds for the future? Many people are, and yet the toughest problem of all is finding ones that are affordable. Even a cursory look will reveal plenty of mutual funds that require $1,000 and up to invest in.

If you need a much lower minimum fund to consider, perhaps these will be of use to you. Remember though that it is a good idea to look into all these funds in more detail before considering whether you should invest in them or not. Remember too that it’s not just a question of whether you are able to afford to invest in a particular fund – it’s a question of whether the fund is set out as you would like it to be.

American Funds American Mutual Fund Class A

This is a mutual fund with a very affordable $250 as the minimum investment you need to get through the door. It has performed well over the past year and is a large cap investment fund, so it might be worth a closer look if you want a super low investment amount to work with.

American Funds AMCAP Fund Class A

Here we have another fund that only requires a $250 minimum to get in. In common with the above fund it has done well during the last year, so it could be a good one to consider. This is a growth fund, whereas the one mentioned above is a value fund.

FAM Value Inv (Fenimore Asset Management)

Do you want the maximum number of $500 options to consider? Here is another one to add to your list. It is a blended fund and has risen by more than 12% in the past year.

American Funds EuroPacific Class A

If you feel that even $500 is a little too much to stretch to at the moment, you will be pleased to know you can invest in mutual funds for even less than this. How about trying $250 for example? In this case the fund has performed exceptionally well once again over the space of the last year, giving you more to think about if you want to keep your initial investment as low as possible.

American Funds New World Class A

One final suggestion for you here – and it also requires a minimum of just $250 to get started. As the name would suggest it points to a selection of new markets to invest in, and has performed well over the past year. Remember though that the long term is the idea for this fund, rather than a quick investment for quick profits.

So there you have it – a few suggestions worth exploring in more detail if you only want to sink a few hundred dollars into your first mutual fund. The more you learn and the more you know, the easier it will be to figure out which mutual fund will be the best one for you.