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.

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 $$$.

The Potential Dangers of Currency Investing

We’re all familiar with the currency markets in a limited way. For instance you might find out how much your currency is worth when transferred into a foreign currency before you go on vacation. But for many of us this is the limit when it comes to currencies.

For others though, the currency market is a source of potential investments. They try to sell one currency for another in order to make a profit. It sounds easy but as with any investment of this type, it can be incredibly difficult to make it work for you.

What are the risks?

As far as investments go, foreign exchange trading – or Forex, to give it its shortened and better known name – is one of the riskiest forms of trading you can try. This is because so many different variables can affect the outcome of a particular currency exchange. This is certainly not an investment vehicle you can take on casually. You must build your knowledge of the markets and of the news and events around the world that regularly influence them.

This is probably where many people go wrong. They see the big changes in currency markets and think they can make an easy profit in a matter of hours. While this is possible, the people who tend to get these results are experienced in the markets and know which signs to look for. It is very unlikely you would start trading currencies and make a big profit at the first time of asking. It’s much more likely you’d incur losses instead.

Be prepared to lose

According to statistics, the vast majority of people lose money when investing in the currency markets. More than this, the small percentage of people making a good income from it actually make losses more often than they make gains. The hope is that the gains will outweigh the losses when everything is added up over a period of time.

Do you have the skills needed?

This is the big question – and it’s one you need an answer to. You need to know whether you are willing to develop the skills and knowledge required to be one of the small number of people who can actually make some real profits out of this market. We’ve already mentioned there is no easy way to get into this area and start making money straightaway. Even the best investors lose money on their investments, and this market is particularly prone to that.

You have to be ready and able to handle fast changes within the market, so if you’re only able to spend a minimum length of time focusing on your investments, this may not be the area for you.

In short, don’t get caught up in the easy profits you’ll hear lots about when reading information on the currency markets. Profits are there to be made – but there are plenty of challenges to meet and surpass before you can even think about claiming them.

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.

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.

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.

3 Things You Absolutely Must Do if an Investment Fails

However good you are at picking investments, you will have one that fails every now and then. It is impossible to go through life picking all the right investments and never tripping up. If you could do that, you’d make a fortune making recommendations for everyone else!

If you’re relatively new to investing, it makes sense to be realistic in what you can achieve. To this end, here are three things you should do if you trip up with an investment and end up losing money.

1: don’t panic
Yes, it might be the first thing you think of doing, but it’s worth hanging fire before you do. Firstly, as we’ve touched on above, it pays to be realistic. However many investments you have, it’s logical one or two of them won’t turn out the way you’d hoped. This is part of the reason why we don’t put all our eggs into the one proverbial basket.

Take a fresh look at the situation once you’ve calmed down – it may not be as bad as you think. You might be able to minimize the damage or at least decide whether to exit the investment or whether to wait it out to see if it improves.

2: look at why it has failed
If your investment really has turned up its toes and died on you, find out why. In terms of stocks and shares, it could be you’ve bought and/or sold at the wrong time. The only way your failed investment will be a total failure is if you don’t learn from it to prevent the same thing happening again in the future.

For example, let’s say you have lost $1,000 on some shares. By looking at them more closely, you can see you sold at the wrong time. If you had paid attention to the latest news reports and guidance and hung onto them for another week, you’d have minimized your losses, even if you hadn’t made a profit.

3: consider the implications for the future
This really follows on from the point I made above. Let’s look at the failed shares example again. You have two thoughts to consider here. Will you chalk it up to experience and not worry about buying shares again, or will you learn from the experience and use that knowledge to assist you in future purchases?

The decision is yours of course, and it is a very personal one. Some people will be put off by the experience, whereas others will resolve to do better next time so they can choose more appropriate investments with more knowledge.

Whatever path you decide to travel down, you can see how following these three steps will be useful in every case. The more you know and understand about your investments and your approach to them, the easier it will be to minimize the failures you have. These three steps could even make it easier to achieve bigger and better successes in the future.

How Complex Should Your Portfolio Be?

Some people seem to think their investment portfolio isn’t doing the job unless and until it becomes highly complex in nature. But how true or helpful is this? Can you really say your investment portfolio is better for being more complex?

Too complex is as dangerous with regard to investments as being too simplistic. Striking the right balance can be tricky and it can sometimes feel as if you’re trying to get a pendulum to stop at the exact right point for you. Let’s look at the pros and cons of being simplistic or complex with regard to your investments.

The pros and cons of staying simple

The main advantage of keeping things simple is you will be able to gain a better understanding of where your investments are and what they are earning. The more you have the more complex it becomes and the more likely it is you will miss a trick somewhere.

Of course, keeping things simple can backfire on you too. This is because you can end up with too few investments that don’t really serve your needs as well as they should. However different people have different requirements so you have to think about whether a simple investment plan would suit you, or whether you want something more involved.

The pros and cons of being more complex

Here the main advantage is you can put money into a wider range of investments. However the downside is clear – there is a higher chance of investing in something you don’t fully understand. You may also find it harder to keep track of your investments, so you won’t find it as easy to see when they are no longer working as well for you.

What is the bottom line?

The bottom line is you should be able to understand your portfolio. If you can’t understand it you’ll end up with no idea of whether it is performing well for you or not. You cannot make a confident decision about an investment if you cannot understand it properly.

Some people rely on advisers to give them the information they need to build a portfolio. Yet while advisers can be useful to an extent, there is a tendency to rely on them a little too much. This is why you need to make sure you can understand your own investments instead of taking the easy route and trusting someone else’s explanation and signing on the dotted line. This is never a good way to approach things and it should not be your main method for choosing investments. Do your own homework and make sure you understand every investment you sink money into, whether it is one investment or ten.

There is no clear answer to the question of complexity. Yet it is fair to say being either too simplistic or too complex makes it more likely you will run into problems in some way. Consider your own investment plan and ask yourself whether it veers into either extreme.

Diversifying Your Home’s Investments the Right Way

Diversifying your assets is one of the smartest decisions someone could make when it comes to reducing risk in their investments.  In terms of your home, this essentially means that should the market take a turn somewhere down the road, you’ll have made enough investments into your house in various areas that you won’t be entirely affected by what’s happened.  It gives you much more freedom later when it comes to your money.

Those homeowners who take up residence in Texas will be able to peruse an interesting website that collects information on all of their local electricity providers and find a wealth of helpful knowledge about what people can do to help increase the value of their homes.  They have compiled great lists of the different upgrades and daily routines one can take to help grow their house from just a living space to a much better investment.

One of the biggest investments homeowners can put into their homes is taking the time to reevaluate and replace their front doors.  This is the first thing people will notice about the house, outside of the yard area, and it’s an extremely easy way to get interest as many people have the tendency to judge a book by its cover when it comes to browsing homes.  A stable and good looking entrance into your home can give you a return of as much as eight-five percent on this particular investment.

Windows are one of the most expensive upgrades that can be made when investing in your home, but it’s also one of the most important if you’re really looking to get a good recovery from the money you’re putting into your house.  For most households, much of the heat or air conditioning goes quite literally straight out the window all year round, making them one of the biggest absorbers of energy and utilities.  Quick fixes such as caulking or those store-bought draft mats can help this a little bit, but if you really want to put your money in the right place, you’ll need to upgrade those panes. If you’re lucky enough to live in Florida, there are numerous credits and incentives in place you can take advantage of in upgrading your windows.

There are tons of windows on the market now, both premade as well as completely customizable and homeowners can find anything between energy efficient models to those that help keep out the sunlight for the most part.  Figure out what it is you’re looking to do (cut down utilities, keep down the sun’s glare, allow better airflow, etc), and replace them accordingly.

Homeowners should keep in mind that the current real estate experts are saying that natural lighting is one of the biggest assets a home can have in the current market.  More than ever consumers are obsessed with large windows that allow in tons of light and give houses a nice organic feeling, particularly if there is a nice backyard or garden to be seen.  These types of windows will bring the biggest return later down the road.

For many people, their homes are their biggest investments so it only makes sense to do what they can to keep their assets as profitable as possible, which includes diversifying where they put their money.  There are quite a few ways that homeowners can invest further into their homes and still be able to get most of that money back, especially if they research the market.


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.

Should You Use the Internet to Explore Investment Ideas?

It’s amazing how quickly the internet has become such an integral part of our lives. Most of us are easily old enough to remember clearly a time when the internet didn’t exist and there was no such thing as email, let alone online shopping.

Of course many of us use the internet for research and exploration purposes just as much as we use it for other reasons. However not all internet sources are reliable. If you are using the internet to explore various investment ideas, it is important to ensure you verify your sources and only go to those you know you can trust.

Here are some tips on how to make sure you don’t go astray when you do your research in this way.

Start with well known sources

There are plenty of reliable sources you can use as a starting point. Websites belonging to banks and other financial organizations will provide you with lots of facts. Just remember they will usually only present the information as it pertains to their own business. For instance they’re not going to present their own investments as anything other than the best ones on the market. They’re certainly not going to mention the competition!

Bear this in mind as you explore the vast array of information the internet has to offer.

Use blogs as another source of information and opinions

Blogs tend to focus more on opinions than regular web articles do. They are often written in first person from a single viewpoint, so they can provide further insight into a particular investment opportunity.

However you should make sure you seek out opinions from both sides of the fence. For example you might come across a blog written by someone who has made a lot of money on the stock market. They would understandably be enthusiastic about the possibilities the stock market offers to those who are willing to dip their toes into this area. However they may not make any mention of the potential downside of this area.

To this end you need to find a blogger who is perhaps against the stock market or hasn’t had a lot of success with it. This way you can find both sides of the equation and evaluate them both in your own time.

Bottom line – you must come to your own conclusions when doing research online

Finding investment advice online is much the same as deciding whether or not to buy a book. You read about the book, you read a selection of positive and negative reviews, you think about them and then make the decision on whether to get it or not. Also, make sure that you have money to invest. Don’t add to your debt by taking a payday loan online just because you learnt about a stock thats a sure thing.

Of course choosing a book isn’t as important as choosing investment advice. However you may still go to the same place to get the information you need to make that decision – namely the internet. So by all means enjoy researching investment topics online, but just make sure you edit and censor the information you receive before acting on it in any way.