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.

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.

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.

Should you take out an Income Cash Advance?

Many finance firms are wiling to offer a sum of $1000 to those in need of a short term loan, provided the beneficiary has a provable source of income and agrees to repay the amount as per the firm’s outlined repayment schedule. However, needless to say that you would end up repaying more than you acquire from the cash advance firm. This is because the cash advance firm is likely to charge an interest on such credit lending.

Getting hold of a $500 cash advance won’t be easy by any means. You would have to carry out a preliminary research of reputable cash advance firms willing to lend $1000. Though it’s easy to find cash advance of around $250 to $500, you might have to shop around a bit in order to bag $1000. It is recommended to keep several options open during your quest for a cash advance. This way, if one cash advance firm leaves you high and dry, you could easily switch to another.

Sums of $1000 and below are considered trifling amounts by bigger loan firms’ standards. Therefore, it is highly unlikely to acquire a $1000 loan from a loan firm. However, cash advance firms are a viable option for people in urgent need of around $1000. Cash advance firms would gladly approve your application, provided you have a provable income source. But, cash advance companies normally charge a higher rate of interest relative to bigger loan firms.

All in all, cash advance is a nice and quick way to acquire that much needed cash in a jiffy. But since the rate of interest is on the higher side, it’s best to take up a loan from a loan firm, if possible. In general, you should turn to a cash advance firm only when you have no other means of acquiring cash.

If you live in  the UK , see what the most common types of household units are and what they like to spend their money on.  Learn more about the basics by checking out our infographic.

QuickQuid provided me with this Infographic and they’re one of UK’s premier, short-term cash lenders.

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.

How Often Do You Review Your Investment Plans?

We all know how important it is to invest in our futures. For some this may mean investing in new skills so we can earn more money. For others it may mean searching for stocks and bonds that seem likely to bring in the best returns. Still more people will consider investing in property. Some are likely to do all three (and more besides).

This is why you need an investment plan, so you can be sure you are going in the right direction. However it is not just a case of setting up a plan and then forgetting all about it. Just as our lives change direction from time to time, so our investment plans can change too. A plan you set up five years ago with good intentions may no longer be relevant today, so it makes sense to review it from time to time.

How to review an investment plan

Firstly make sure you have the time to sit down and carefully look through the plan. Remind yourself why you set it up in the first place. What goals did you have in mind? What were your aims at the time? Once you remind yourself of the answers to these questions you can see whether they are still applicable to how you live your life today.

The next step is to mark those sections of the plan that are still valid. Not everything will change, and some investments may still prove worthwhile. The trick is to separate the parts that are still working from the parts that no longer prove their worth. By doing this you can narrow things down to the parts that need attention.

What should you do when changes are needed?

You will need to consider whether you can change or stop certain investments without losing money. For example you may only be four years into a five year investment plan that would lose you money if you were to quit now. In this situation it is best to continue for the remaining period and then switch the money into another investment. You can use the intervening time to find something more suitable.

In other situations you may be able to terminate an account or investment with no such trouble. However before you do this it is best to consider the other options you have available. Once you have revised your investment goals and your investment plan, you can focus on where to move your money to. Once you have all the answers you need, you can move ahead and make new investments where required.

You can see how important it is to review your plans every now and then. Even if you only do it once a year it is one of the most important things you can do to keep an eye on the security of your future. Just because something works now, it doesn’t mean it will continue to work in the future. Finding the right investments is always something to work on.

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 Understanding Commodities Spreads

Let’s face it, the term commodities spread betting is enough to make most people’s eyes glaze over. But if you’re thinking about getting involved in commodities trading, it makes sense to find out everything you can about spread betting. If you don’t you could end up with a major loss on your hands. And since you’re understandably looking to make some cash from this form of investing, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be very good news.

The good news

Spread betting on commodities can be done tax free. So there is your first indication that this is worth a closer look.

The bad news

Well not so much the bad news but the realistic news – spread betting is a risky proposition. It’s a bit like penny stocks – they’re cheap and attractive and you can make a lot of money on them if you pick the right ones. But if you get it wrong (as many people do) you could lose a lot of cash. Spread betting is much the same.

So what is spread betting?

Well it is a form of betting, let’s get that clear. You are betting on whether a particular commodity is going to go up or down in value. For example you might think grain is woefully underpriced at the moment and is ripe to rise in value. So you put a spread bet on that fact and hope you’re right. If you are right you’ll make money on your bet. If you’re wrong you’ll lose the money.

Some people compare spread betting to wagering cash on a horse race. You can look at form and history and use those as a guide to what could happen in the future. But of course anything could happen in the actual event, and that is what makes spread betting so risky.

A key tip for improving the odds

One thing you can do is to become educated in the commodities you want to put spread bets on. For example you can learn more about house prices and where they currently stand if you are interested in putting spread bets on them. Or you can look into any other commodities to see how they work and where the prices currently stand.

Another good tip is to practice and follow spread betting and examples of betting to see whether you have got things right. Think of it as using play money to see whether you would have made a profit on your chosen bet. This is a good way to play realistically and to set aside those romantic notions that you’ll always be in with a successful result.