How NOT to invest for your retirement

 invest for your retirement

It is easy to get trapped into the wrong advice given by unscrupolous financial advisors trying to sell you what’s good for them and not for you. “No problem” they say. “You will double your investment” they claim, and you end up believing in their figures and their smile. There is another truth. If you do not want to end up like many people at or near retirement investing in the riskiest options ever, you should read carefully this infographic and evaluate your choices accordingly.

Many financial products are risky because they do not guarantee a steady return, but are instead linked to risky markets where you can have big gains… and big losses. In the more mature phases of one’s life, it is better to aim at something safer to invest your hard earned money. Did you know about the risks of these financial vehicles?

Variable annuities are not safe because they are linked to the mutual fund market. What about stocks? Well, better go to the casino instead. It’s important to make informed choices on such a critical aspect of our lives.

if you need the help of a qualified financial advisor, First Senior Financial Group is the team of professionals you need.

How to Fix Your Life When You’ve Spent Wayyyyy Too Much…

Did you spend too much money this year?  You can turn to debt consolidation solutions to manage your credit card bills.  However, this becomes a thorny issue if the you have a bad credit rating due to late or non-payment of debts.  If you find yourself in just such a predicament, you should let out a sigh of relief as you still have one option: a specialized bad credit debt consolidation loan.

Debt Consolidation Loans for People with Bad Credit Ratings

Some might scoff at the idea. How can a person with bad credit rating still get a fairly good deal? Well, there are indeed several companies who will still give a loan with a relatively better rate than the average percentage they could be paying on their credit cards.

Most credit cards explicitly state in their terms of agreement that should a credit card holder fail to pay their balances on time, the bank will raise the annual percentage rate to the default rate. In most cases, the jump in the APR is much higher than the introductory APR. In such a scenario, a borrower may just be paying the interest charges instead of the principal amount. This leads to a virtually endless debt cycle.

Bad Credit Debt Consolidation Options

Bad credit debt consolidation can either be secured or unsecured. What this means is that the lender may extend credit for the borrower’s debt consolidation loan with or without collateral. Collateral is any property of value which the lender may accept as an assurance that should the borrower default on his payments, the lender gets to keep or possess the said property.

Unsecured debt consolidation loans have higher interest rates and less favorable loan repayment terms than secured loans. This is understandable since the lender offering unsecured loans have a higher risk of the borrower defaulting on his loan. The fact that the borrower already has a bad credit rating aggravates the risks. Thus, the lender will charge high interest rates to offset possible default.

In the case of secured debt consolidation loans, the borrower can get better rates and terms. The lender in this case, has less risk than the unsecured loans lender. If the borrower defaults, he holds the deed to the borrowers’ property so he can easily recoup his losses.

Benefits of Bad Credit Debt Consolidation

The borrower will get to rebuild his credit record once he has obtained a debt consolidation loan. For instance, a borrower used to have debts from ten different lenders. With a debt consolidation loan, he will be able to trade his 10 different loans for just one. Though the principal amount owed is the same (perhaps with some service charges, too) records will show efforts toward debt burden reduction.

Having only one loan with possibly better rates (perhaps a fixed rate versus the previous variable rates) and better terms (perhaps a lower monthly minimum due) than the previous loans generally means better ability to make payments on the loan. Keeping up the monthly payments is also made easier by the fact that he will have only one lender to pay, one due date to remember and one interest rate to watch.

However, things can only get better if the borrower refrains from taking out another loan. This means curbing his desire to spend and exercising the utmost level of discipline so he can make the required monthly payments on time. No excuse will be good enough if one messes it up, again.

Belind Mills writes articles on personal finance and  debt, more of her articles can be seen at

5 New Year’s Resolutions To Make For Your Money

Financial DecisionsNew Year is a time when many people make promises to themselves which often involve being more positive, being healthier, and even being more responsible with their money. During tough economic times, it’s very important to remember that the financial decisions you make today will greatly impact your future. We look at some resolutions you can make for the coming year to help you build a better financial future:

1. Keep track of where your money goes

If you don’t keep track of your spending and saving every month, it’s definitely time to make the resolution start. It’s vital to keep track of your finances by logging all of your income and expenditure, as well as tracking interest earned on savings and the growth, or indeed losses, made by your investments. Christmas is a time when many people overspend, one last present, one forgotten relative or one new outfit for the special day, can lead many people to spend more than they have. Christmas is probably the hardest time of the year to keep track of your spending, but the New Year should be the time you resolve to put it right.

2. Save more by repaying debt

Interest rates are very low, so putting your money into savings accounts will not earn you as much as it used to; you may also find that stock market investments are too risky for you. Repaying debt can therefore often be the answer. The interest rate you pay on unsecured debt, for example personal loans and credit cards, can still be high, even in these times of relatively low interest rates.

Why save and get an interest rate of 3% or 4% when you might be paying nearly 20% on your credit card debt?

3. Diversify your investment portfolio

If you are an investor, resolve to keep track of how well your portfolio is diversified in the New Year. Successful investors know how important it is to diversify your portfolio, between different asset classes, such as equities, fixed interest assets, property and cash, in order avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket. Working with a professional, trustworthy Independent Financial Adviser, who will guide you every step of the way, can be a great way to diversify with ease and confidence. Alternatively there are many websites available to help the DIY investor achieve the same objective.

4. Learn about investing

If you don’t know anything about investing your money, use the coming year to learn all that you can. The first step to successful investing is to educate yourself; the time you put into your financial education will certainly be rewarded in the future, as you make fewer mistakes.

There are a huge range of resources available to choose from. You could take a class in person or online, or you can read up on the subject by browsing through books, magazines and a select few of the countless websites on the subject. Of course each method is different some starting with basic concepts whilst others will look at the advanced techniques used by professionals.

Websites such as MoneySavingExpert or Motley Fool are a great place to start.

5. Choose an Independent Financial Advisor

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own investment decisions, then the answer is probably to find the right adviser.

Of course working with an adviser will mean you have to pay them, nothing comes for free, however, it should mean less mistakes are made and ultimately that you make more money, which at the end of the day is the main aim of investing.

Picking a professional who can teach you and help you grow your money at the same time is the perfect way to get on track quickly and easily. The right adviser will be able to understand your needs and address them in the best way for you, but be careful; the wrong advisor will lead you into making the wrong decisions, so do your research, interview a number of advisers, take recommendations and above all, choose wisely.

If you can’t get a recommendation for an adviser, try Unbiased to search for IFAs in your area.

Phillip Bray writes for Investment Sense and is an expert on all areas of personal finance including savings, investments, and pensions, particularly SIPPs.

Tips to Save Money on Any Budget

So many people these days become so caught up in the moment and how they can barely keep up with their bills. What many of these people don’t realize is that no matter how ‘tight’ money may be, there are always ways to go about making the most of the cash you do have and even have some left over to save. If this sounds impossible to you, then you should definitely read on because we can help you no matter how tough your situation may seem.

Every Penny Makes a Difference

Piggy savings bank

Too many people are so caught up in the short term and convinced that the long just is just out of reach that they do not realize how each day is an opportunity to save. Let’s say you are tempted to spend $2 on that coffee today. While it’s fine to treat yourself, why not take those few dollars once in a while and instead of spending them, put them in your savings account. $2 may not sound like much but 2 can quickly become 4, which becomes 8 and so forth. You’ll quickly start to see how those little extra expenses can help you in the future and when you have a high interest savings account, your money can add up quicker than you may think.

Know How Much You Spend and On What

A lot of people try to save so much and are overly strict on themselves. While this can work for a period of time, in the long run; if you restrict yourself too much, you are bound to go on a spending spree and all of your progress will seem like nothing. So, give yourself spending money from time to time so you don’t feel so limited. No one likes to feel like they are working for nothing.

Take some time to look at your receipts or credit card account and see how much you spend on what. This is going to help you to figure out where you may need to slow down a bit so you can save more.

Many people don’t realize how much they are spending because they choose to use credit cards or debit cards. Before you know it, your limit is reached and you are put in a tight spot. This is why you may want to try using cash for a period of time. This is going to allow you to better track what you spend and figure out what items you truly need and which things you can go without.

Shop for Deals and Hide What You’ve Saved

Money under the mattress

One of the best things you can do is to shop around and find the best prices. Even if you only save a few bucks here and there, you can take that money and pretend it was spent; because it would have been if you hadn’t checked various stores and put it into a savings account. You’ll be surprised how quickly this money can add up.

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Lisa Jackson is a financial advisor and tries helping people with financial issues. According to her contents insurance is very important for you if you want to avoid unfortunate incidents.

What About The 12 Costs of Christmas?

Costs of Christmas

This infographic is produced by Webrevolve for the debt recovery and debt collection service CBC International.

Holiday tips for Tipping – Who, When and How Much

Holiday tipsAwhh, the month of December is upon us. The crisp cold air tickles your nose and makes your cheeks rosy, just like jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Beautiful lights and decorations span the world this time of year as we get into the holiday spirit. Before you are wrapped in the hustle and bustle of this busy season, it is time to plan your giving list to show the people around you just how much they mean to you. If you are wondering about how to show the many people who deliver you wonderful services throughout the year that you appreciate them, we have an excellent list to help guide you in determining what to give and, or, how much to tip for these individuals.

Paper Delivery Boy – TIP: $5-$25
He makes sure you know what is going on locally and internationally with the delivery of your daily paper. Rain or shine, he wakes up early to make sure you have a newspaper on your doorstep each morning. Depending on your budget and how good your delivery boy is, you should plan on tipping them between five and twenty-five dollars, along with a smile of appreciation.

Hair Stylist – GIFT or TIP: $15-$100
If you have a regular stylist who seeps you looking beautiful all year long, it is nice to show your appreciation with a Christmas gift or tip. If you plan on buying a gift, make sure you know your stylist’s interest and what she may appreciate, something that will allow her, or him, to indulge on themselves. Whether you plan on giving cash or a gift, you should plan on spending at least fifty-percent of the cost of your regular service.

Apartment Doorman – TIP: $20-$100
If you live in an apartment or townhome in a big city you probably enjoy the friendly return to a doorman. These important people not only open the door and keep watch on visitors, they also are wonders at hailing cabs, not to mention ensure those that enter belong in your building. Budget for their holiday tip ranges from twenty dollars to one-hundred dollars, depending on the type of the building you live in, and the bigger tips should go to those who serve you most.

Dog Walker – TIP: One Week’s Pay
This is the person who tends to your beloved four-legged child, giving your pup a change of scenery and much needed daily exercise. Plan on spending up around one week’s pay on this person for a holiday tip or gift. Remember, do not choose to give a gift unless you know the person well enough to know what they would appreciate.

Housekeeper – TIP: One Week’s Pay
She knows all of your dirty secrets, well at least where all the dirt is in your house. If you have a regular housekeeper who keeps your house clean and in order, giver her a big thanks with a nice holiday tip, as much as one week’s pay. If you enlist the help of a cleaning service and no not know your housekeeper or it changes often, a tip is not necessary.

Assistant – TIP or GIFT: $20 – $250
If you have an amazing assistant at work show them just how much they mean to you by giving them a nice tip for the holidays – at a minimum give them twenty-five dollars, but if they have been with you for a while and you have a nice position with the company do not hesitate to be more giving.

Teacher/Day Care Staff/Sports Instructor – TIP or GIFT: $20-50
These are the incredible people helping mold your child into the adult they will become. They not only teach your child, they treat them as one of their own. Show them your appreciation with a nice tip of holiday gift valued between twenty-five dollars and fifty dollars, depending on their job and your child’s love for them.

Apart from being a licensed veterinarian, Susan Wright is also a freelance writer. Susan enjoys sharing gift giving ideas for friends, family and pets.

Tricking Yourself Into Making Saving Money Fun

Money Saving TipsWith the economic climate still precarious and most families still having to cut their cloth according to a tighter budget, a lot of people are finding that they are having to seriously adjust their spending habits for the first time in their lives. Now that money is tight and credit unavailable, a great many people are having to keep a track of exactly how much they spend every week and having to make cuts in what they spend their money on. This might mean buying less clothes, cutting out one or two evenings out or reducing the amount the family spends on junk food. This can, to many people be very distressing and humiliating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, with a bit of careful thought it is possible to turn the whole process around and actually make saving money fun. This article will outline a couple of ideas how to do exactly that.

Firstly, think about how you get around. Travelling by car is probably one of your biggest expenses, particularly as the price of gas shoots ever higher. One way to fix this is to look at all of your journeys every week and work out which ones are necessary and which ones are unnecessary. If you work fairly near your home you could start going to work by bike instead of by car. Not only will you save a fortune in gas, you will also get fit to boot! Similarly, instead of taking the family out in the car every weekend, why not change your routine to include the occasional family day out on bikes? Fun, good for the family and best of all, free!

When it comes to getting the family to save money there are a number of tricks you can use but the best way of making saving fun, particularly with the kids, is to invent some kind of saving game for you all to play. This might be done by setting challenges – who can go for the longest period without needing any money or spending any money aside from the bare essentials, for example. If you are on your own then you could set yourself a challenge when you go to the grocery store – to reduce your bill by 25% for example. Put any money that you save into a special savings account (or a jar) and see how much you can raise in a year.

One way of making savings at that grocery store is to change how you eat as well. Try getting a few friends together each week and taking turns cooking. Whether it’s a bunch of friends or a bunch of families the result is the same – both a great deal of savings in your budget and a more sociable entertaining schedule! Also, make larger portions of shared meals and then freeze them to snack on during the rest of the week.

Finally, look at how you spend your spare time. Are your hobbies and pastimes expensive? If you go to the movies a lot (which is ridiculously expensive these days) then get into the habit of taking your own drinks and popcorn rather than buying it at the theater. Or better still, don’t go at all and start watching everything as a family at home on DVD.  Instead of going to expensive theme parks go to free museums and instead of expensive sports events go to the park and play sports with your kids. Doing all of this will not just improve the quantities in your accounts, it will also improve the quality of your life.

Esther is a financial journalist and business blogger. She writes about all areas of personal finance affecting the consumer from tax relief to credit and store cards to factoring receivables.

Giving a Gift? Know About Gift Taxes

Giving a gift to a friend, family member or colleague is generally considered to be a good thing. However, the Internal Revenue Service may view it as a taxable financial transaction. If you are not careful, your gift may end costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in taxes. To get the most out of your gift giving experience, you need to know how the IRS treats the exchange of property and money for nothing or discounted compensation.

What Is Considered to be a Gift?

The IRS considers any property transfer that involves one person transferring ownership of that property to a second person without compensation or at a discounted rate as a gift transfer. This is true even when the transferring party did not intend the transfer to be a gift. For example, selling a family member a car below its market value is considered a gift giving exchange. Understanding this definition of gifting can help both parties avoid tax issues at the end of the year.

What Is the Gift Tax?

The gift tax was enacted to prevent people from avoiding the estate tax by giving away all of their property prior to death. What this tax does is set limits on how much you can give away each calendar year to a single person. For example, the 2012 limit was $13,000 per tax payer for gift recipient. This means that a single person can gift someone $13,000 a year, and a married couple can gift $26,000 a year to a single gift recipient. There is also a lifetime gift cap that cannot be exceeded. This lifetime cap was set at $5 million in 2011, but it is likely to increase in the future. If these gifting caps are exceeded, then the gift giver incurs a gift tax.

How Much Is the Gift Tax?

The gift tax is a high valued tax. In 2011 it was 35%. This means that if a gift was $26,000, $13,000 would be taxed at 35% for an added tax liability of $4,550.

Are There Exceptions to the Gift Tax?

There are several exceptions to the gift tax. For example the annual and lifetime gift caps do not apply to gifts given to spouses or to charitable organizations. Gifting money to cover someone else’s medical bills is also excluded from the annual and lifetime caps; however, in this case you have to make the payment directly to the health care provider.

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Author Byline: Meeka Samuelson is dedicated to helping others learn about personal finances.

A Solution to Consider If You Really Need to Split up

Split UpNobody enters into situations in life expecting the worst. You don’t buy a car, expecting that it will break down and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. You don’t apply and accept a job expecting that are going to fail, and possibly even get fired. You don’t decide to meet your friends at the pub, expecting that you will get into a big argument with them. The same holds true for interpersonal relationships. Nobody decides to live with another person, or even possibly get married, with the expectation that it will all go horribly wrong. And yet, it can happen.

There are times when personal relationships just don’t seem to be working out. If there’s a legal marriage in place, but it has been for less than a year, or if the couple want to see if they can ultimately make things work, and don’t want to get a divorce, a separation is the best choice. Although some parts of it can be as complicated as an actual divorce, it is certainly not necessarily as lasting, allowing couples to reconcile if they want to.

Other Factors Come into Play

If a couple has children, their welfare should be of primary concern. There are likely to be more affected than the adults by the break up. Children are basically defenceless against the decisions of their parents, especially if they are young. Any agreement or understanding that the parents come to must take the overall safety and happiness of their children into serious consideration. Apart from that, there are obviously economic issues that need to be resolved, as well as logistical ones. Who is going to stay in the house, and who is going to move out? Typically, the men are the ones that wind up leaving, taking up residence hopefully nearby, so as to be able to interact with the children is much as possible.

The trend of having children living with one parent has been increasing over time. In 2006, over 23% of the children in Great Britain were living in a single-parent household. This really is a shocking statistic, when one considers that just twenty five years earlier, only 7% were in the same situation. There is also a severe economic impact which affects children living in a single parent household. Over 37% of children live in poverty, compared to only 18% for children that live in families where both parents are present.

Making the Difficult Decisions

If a couple come to the conclusion that the only course left for them at the present time is to get aseparation, they should adequately prepare themselves for it. This means not only thinking through what is best for their children, but also trying to reach an agreement as to how to divide the economic resources that are available. This can mean not only a home, but also bank accounts, savings accounts as well as any investments or other assets that may be held jointly. It is also extremely important to get some reliable legal counsel. This can easily be obtained from several organizations or groups that are specifically set up to offer such advice.

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Where To Buy A Live Christmas Tree In Queens

Chrsitmas treeThere’s nothing that will quite capture the spirit of the holidays more than having a live Christmas tree. Just because you live in Queens doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this seasonal tradition, as there are a number of locations where you can buy a live tree that are right in your neighborhood.

Green Point Trees

If you’d rather not worry about hauling your tree home or disposing of it after Christmas, perhaps Green Point Trees can help. This company will deliver, set up, and dispose of your live Christmas tree so you won’t have to worry about it. They’ll even decorate it for you for an additional charge. Several packages are available, all of which include a 6 to 7 foot Douglas fir tree. You can even upgrade to a larger tree if you’d like, and this company also sells accessories such as tree stands. For more information or to schedule delivery, call the company at 800-399-7796.

Queens County Farm Museum

Perhaps you’d rather go all out and experience a bit of the country while you’re picking out your Christmas tree. If that’s the case, you’ll want to visit Queens County Farm Museum. This working farm is just a short drive via Grand Central Parkway. While you’re here, you can explore many of the historic farm buildings, view livestock, watch farm equipment in action and of course, pick out a Christmas tree. You’ll not only find a huge selection of trees, but plenty of wreaths and poinsettias to help brighten up your home for the holidays as well.

Rite Aid

If you happen to be out picking up a prescription, visit a Rite Aid pharmacy so you can also select a live Christmas tree. Two locations here in Queens are currently offering live trees for sale. The first one is the store located at the corner of Northern Boulevard and 86th Street, where you’ll find trees located in front of the store’s entrance. There are also live Christmas trees being sold at the store located at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 58th Street. This store is directly across from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and you’ll find trees located in the parking lot that’s adjacent to this facility.

Tree Kiosks

Several tree kiosks are located in the Queens area. While you’re out and about, you just might run into a few of the ones located at:

• 46th Street at Northern Boulevard
• 30th Avenue at 33rd Street
• Woodhaven near Metropolitan Avenue
• 37th and 81st Street
• Northern Boulevard at 87th Street
• Roosevelt and 91st Street

As it gets closer to Christmas, more tree kiosks are bound to be popping up in the area. Keep an eye open for them as you’re traveling along Roosevelt Street or Northern Boulevard this holiday season.

Home Depot

The Home Depot carries a huge selection of live Christmas trees each season, and the average price for these trees are around $40 each. There are several locations here in the Queens area including:

5010 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
7509 Woodhaven Boulevard
Queens, NY 11416
73-01 24th Avenue
East Elmhurst, NY 11369
11220 Rockaway Boulevard
South Ozone Park, NY 11420

7509 Woodhaven Boulevard
Glendale, NY 11385
13220 Merrick Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11434

A live Christmas tree adds a bit of nostalgia to the season and provides a sense of calmness and tranquility among the bustle that’s associated with this time of year. If you live in Queens, you’ll be glad to know that finding a live Christmas tree can be easy and affordable to do, not to mention the fact that there’s a wide selection to choose from.

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Jeff is a blogger who lives in Queens area. Currently, he works on online visibility improvements for ArverneByTheSea project placed also in Queens area.

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