future

The Smarter Way To Invest

Maybe more than ever before it’s vital to make your money work for you, which is why it’s a perfect time to think about investments.

While returns on savings are coming under pressure from low interest rates, inflation is still making things more expensive. There is still good money to be made from smart investing – which leads onto the big question: how do you keep your investments smart?

Money

Well the first thing you have to remember about any investment is that there is an element of risk involved. Regardless of what anyone says, there really are no sure bets so be under no illusions – when you invest your money you will be taking on a little bit of risk. You’ll have to balance this up against the rewards that are available.

Still interested? Then read on for a guide to making smarter investments.

Plan for success

The most important step you take on your road into investing is that of planning. Realising what you want from your investments is absolutely key to making smart decisions in the investment market. Take some time to evaluate some of the following questions:

  • What are your goals? What do you want from your investment? Take some time to think about the financial aspirations that you are saving towards and what your time frames are for achieving them. Be realistic though – it is important to go into any investment with your eyes open.
  • What’s your comfort zone? As we touched on a little earlier, investments carry a little risk but each carries a different level. The basic rule of thumb is the lower the risk, the lower the return so make sure you are comfortable with any investment you make. And if you decide to chase the big scores, be prepared to risk losing the money you put in.
  • What type of investment will fit in your comfort zone? This is the big question, and one which will depend very much on your own circumstances. There is a dizzying array of investment opportunities out there, from traditional share dealing to the slightly more unusual. Research the options available to you and measure them up against your goals before deciding if they are right for you.
  • Would you feel more comfortable getting some advice? It’s perfectly possible to enter the world of investments independently and the benefits of doing so are clear as you will be able to preserve your profits. However, it can be a complicated landscape and good advice can more than repay itself. If you feel like you’d benefit from a little help ensure that you go somewhere reputable for advice on your investments. This is one thing you don’t want to take a risk on.

Our top five investment tips

After you’ve asked those questions of yourself you’ll be in a much better place to start making effective investments. As you plan and then launch yourself into the investment market there are a few more useful pieces of advice which can help to maximise your returns and keep you away from potential pitfalls. Here are our top five:

  • Keep an emergency fund: If you want to be a smart investor cover yourself against the unforeseen events which can give your finances a real knock. Events such as unemployment and illness can seriously threaten your financial security so keep a selection of investments which you can tap quickly and easily.
  • Check the news: New developments in the investment market could affect your investment choices. Keep on top of them by regularly checking up on relevant news sites that cover the investment market.
  • Clear the decks: If you have any outstanding debts try to clear them before launching into an investment strategy. High interest credit cards will often charge you more than you could hope to make from your investments so work on clearing those debts before you begin investing. Otherwise any profits that you make from your investments could be quickly swallowed up.
  • Diversify your investments: The old adage “don’t put all your eggs into one basket” could have been written about investment portfolios. Keep a balanced portfolio, mixing up different shares and investments. This will give you a little more freedom to take risks as you can maintain a level of safety in other investments. And remember to periodically re-balance your portfolio to ensure you are not over-reliant on any one stock or fund.
  • Ask questions: As with almost anything where money is involved there are always rogue agents out there who are looking to scam you out of your money. The best way to combat these unscrupulous characters is to get informed. First off, familiarise yourself with some of the common types of investment fraud. Next remember to interrogate any investment opportunity you are presented with. If something sounds too good to be true then question it – more often than not it is exactly that.

Are you planning on making some investments? What are your plans?

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Cathering Halsey is a keen blogger that writes about a range of topics from technology to finance.


How to Plan For Your Future; It’s Never Too Late (or Early) to Begin

A lot of people seem to think one of two things: either they believe they are too young to worry about their future and that when the time is right they will know. Or, they think they have waited far too long and that any planning they do isn’t going to pay off.

We are here to tell you that planning for your future is something that can be done at any time. It does not matter how young you are and it does not matter how old you are. What matters is that everyone has a future. It doesn’t matter how much of it there is left because that is something that cannot be determined anyhow. Tomorrow may not be guaranteed but wouldn’t you much rather have some sort of plan to better your future than to just go by day to day without knowing what you would do in case of an emergency?

No matter where you are in your life, if you are reading this then make today that day. Today is the day that you can make a change. We want to help make sure that your future is bright and that it’s something you can look forward to, never dread. Even if the unspeakable were to happen, you are going to be okay and that’s because you are going to have the proper tools to get yourself by.

Keep in mind, these are just the basics. There are a large number of things you can do to save money and prepare for all sorts of things. Today we are focusing on some of the easiest and most simple ways to plan for your future. As always, be sure to mention any tips or tricks you have learned along the way because our members would be happy to hear them and you never know, we might just learn a thing or two from you as well.

Make a List                                                                                                                                          

The first thing you want to do when planning for your future is make a list. When you begin, you do not want to worry about the minor details. Don’t take time right now to think about the ‘how’ but just write anything that comes to your mind down. Maybe you want to save more money or get a house, finish school; whatever the case may be. Write these things down without any limitations. You can always go back and change things later. This list is something you should have the rest of your life. It is going to be something that you add to, make changes to and remove items from as you feel it’s necessary. So, what you put on there today may not necessarily be what you are focusing on tomorrow but every bit counts because something you come up with today may inspire you in a much greater way later on down the road.

Figure Out What Your Strengths and Weaknesses Are

Knowing your strengths is important because it helps you to find the jobs that fit your personality and the things you enjoy most in life. What many people don’t realize is that you also want to know your weaknesses, and know them well. You see, these may be things that can help you in the long run. If you are slow at typing for example, you may not want to have a desk job but this may mean you can write fast so you could be really good at other jobs. Try not to think of weaknesses as things that hinder you because they are truly going to help you. What can hinder you is not knowing what your weaknesses are.

Check In Regularly

Remember that list we told you to make? This is going to be like your own personal Bible. This is the list that you should be reading every single day (if it’s very long, you can break it down into short term and long term so you aren’t reading everything all the time). This is going to keep you focused on the tasks at hand and remind you of what your motivators are. Maybe you want that new car or you want to get out of debt. By keeping these things in the front of your consciousness, you are going to be much more likely to work harder and find ways to get the job done quicker than you may even realize.

Save a Percentage of What You Earn

This is probably one of the hardest things to do, but it is pretty simple if you have your job already doing it for you. Take a percentage of every paycheck and put it in a savings account. While 25% sounds like a large chunk, if this is something you can afford; you are going to be glad you did later on. Just completely forget about it. Sound hard? If the money already comes out of your paycheck anyway, you probably aren’t going to remember at all. Doing it on your own can be tough though so be cautious of that. It can be very easy to get caught in the “I need” trap and spend money that you shouldn’t be.

Talk of Your Future as If It’s Already Set in Stone

A lot can be said about positive energy. It has been proven that those who are sick can get better by believing they will. Your brain is powerful. You want something bad enough then keep telling yourself it is going to happen. Talk about your future as if it has already arrived. Picture yourself driving that new car or in that new relationship. As crazy as it may sound, the more you practice this, the easier it gets. It truly does work. Talk about “when” you have that new home, not “if”. Your words have a drastic affect on the outcome of your life.

Focus on Your Health to Live a Long and Healthy Life

Of course, you could have everything you ever wanted but it wouldn’t really mean much if you weren’t healthy enough to enjoy it. Instead of putting money and working above everything else; remember to take care of yourself. Eat the best you can and work out any chance you get. A healthy body means a healthy mind and a longer life means you are going to have more time to enjoy the great things that you have accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

Don’t Give Up No Matter What Happens

We don’t care if it seems like the sky is falling. There is never reason to give up. Look at all the stories that you see on the web or on the news about people who literally were told they had only a month to live and they are still alive and doing well 10 years down the road. You want to know the difference between them and those who lost everything? They didn’t give up. Like we mentioned above, our minds are amazing things. They can do much more than we even realize. Keep your goals in mind and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot reach them. Use what others say as fuel to the fire.

Reward Yourself for the Small Accomplishments

One mistake many people make when trying to plan for the future is spending too much time there. Instead of focusing on what you want all the time, take a moment to look around and enjoy what you already have. This is also the case when it comes to the goals you are setting for yourself. While long term goals are fantastic and a necessary part of change and growth, they are not the only types of goals you should be spending energy on. Make sure you take the time to enjoy the little goals because we are creatures that desire quick results. So, allow yourself that luxury. Tell yourself you are going to wake up early for an entire week. Goals like this are going to send you into instant success and that is going to keep you motivated because accomplishing a goal feels good so reward yourself and don’t get too stuck in the future. Live in today!

Things You Should Avoid Doing While Planning Ahead

A few things we wanted to warn you of are overestimating and expecting change without action. As we touches on a bit earlier, so many of us naturally expect results quickly. This is why we said small goals are important to keeping you on track. Not only do many of us tend to set goals that are too high, making us feel as though we have failed when we reached them but many people also do not realize how much work we are going to have to put in, in order for our lives to change. Change cannot happen if you keep doing things the same. If you want a different life, you have to do things you’ve never done before.

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Laura Roberts is a financial advisor and works as a freelancer. She has a lot of information regarding Lost Super which may be of help to you.


Three Things About My Finances I Wish I Could Tell My College Self

Three Things About My Finances I Wish I Could Tell My College Self

As we move through life, we sometimes find ourselves thinking about what we would have done differently if given the chance to do it all over again. One area that I find I think about most is in relation to finances.

Although little can be done today about the what-if’s of yesterday, if I had the opportunity to teach my college self anything, it would have to do with how to better handle finances. It really is true that the decisions we make early in life, can have a major effect on how we live in the future.

Stay Out of Debt

The best piece of advice I would give to my college self would be to stay out of debt. It seems that college students are prime targets for credit card companies. The lure of easy money and the ability to purchase things without actually having to have the cash available to do so is a hard temptation to resist. If you must have a credit card, click here first to compare interest rates and terms.

Credit card debt, however, can lock you into years and years of increasing payments if it isn’t put under control immediately or better yet, not entered into at all. Many students today are leaving college with debt from both student loans and credit cards putting them already behind the 8-ball before they even earn their first real paycheck. Therefore, it’s important to steer clear of debt. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending the next decade or longer just trying to pay it off.

Start Saving Early

Although saving money is the furthest thing from most college students minds, it is essential to get into the good habit of setting at least some money aside on a regular basis. By initiating this habit early in life, it is likely that you will continue to practice good savings habits throughout your entire life. And this is essential if you want to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement or even before.

Nobody ever said that you had to wait until you turn 65 to retire. And, by starting to save money early you could very well have the opportunity to retire at an age much younger than 65. A nice nest egg will give you the choice of how and where you want to live and the first step to getting there is to begin saving at an early age even while still in college.

Purchase a Home

As a college student, buying real estate was nowhere close to being on my radar screen. In fact, even the idea of renting a small apartment was iffy. Back in those days, though, it was certainly great to have my own place – even though, unfortunately, it really wasn’t my place.

The apartment I rented belonged to my landlord and that landlord collected rent from me, as well as all of his other tenants month after month after month. Because of that, I helped my landlord build equity in his property and to move closer to owning the property free and clear.

Over the years, I’ve realized that if only I had purchased my home earlier in life, I too would have equity built in that property and would likely be very close to owning the property free and clear.

One reason that many young people shy away from purchasing a home versus renting is that they feel they don’t have enough money saved for a down payment. But, with today’s first time home buyer deals, coupled with low interest rates, owning a home could be much easier than you think. If you are able to lock into a low fixed rate mortgage, you may even end up paying far less in mortgage payments than you would to rent an apartment that is owned by someone else!

For those who are in college today, the financial picture in the economy is far different than it was in the past. But there are still great opportunities out there to save and invest – while keeping yourself as far away as possible from debt.

When not writing finance articles for blogs and online publications George Gallagher helps graduates find student loan consolidation with not-for-profit credit unions.


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