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Determine Your Risk Tolerance

Each individual has a risk tolerance that should not be ignored. Any good stock broker or financial planner knows this, and they should make the effort to help you determine what your risk tolerance is. Then, they should work with you to find investments that do not exceed your risk tolerance. Determining one’s risk tolerance involves several different things. First, you need to know how much money you have to invest, and what your investment and financial goals are. For instance, if you plan to retire in ten years, and you’ve not saved a single penny towards that end, you need to have a high risk tolerance – because you will need to do some aggressive – risky – investing in order to reach your financial goal. On the other side of the coin, if you are in your early twenties and you want to start investing for your retirement, your risk tolerance will be low. You can afford to watch your money grow slowly over time. Realize of course, that your need for a high risk tolerance or your need for a low risk tolerance really has no bearing on how you feel about risk. Again, there is a lot in determining your tolerance. For instance, if you invested in the stock market and you watched the movement of that stock daily and saw that it was dropping slightly, what would you do? Would you sell out or would you let your money ride? If you have a low tolerance for risk, you would want to sell out… if you have a high tolerance, you would let your money ride and see what happens. This is not based on what your financial goals are. This tolerance is based on how you feel about your money! Again, a good financial planner or stock broker should help you determine the level of risk that you are comfortable with, and help you choose your investments accordingly. Your risk tolerance should be based on what your financial goals are and how you feel about the possibility of losing your money. It’s all tied in together.

About Online Trading

The invention of the Internet has brought about many changes in the way that we conduct our lives and our personal business. We can pay our bills online, shop online, bank online, and even date online! We can even buy and sell stocks online. Traders love having the ability to look at their accounts whenever they want to, and brokers like having the ability to take orders over the Internet, as opposed to the telephone. Most brokers and brokerage houses now offer online trading to their clients. Another great thing about trading online is that fees and commissions are often lower. While online trading is great, there are some drawbacks. If you are new to investing, having the ability to actually speak with a broker can be quite beneficial. If you aren’t stock market savvy, online trading may be a dangerous thing for you. If this is the case, make sure that you learn as much as you can about trading stocks before you start trading online. You should also be aware that you don’t have a computer with Internet access attached to you. You won’t always have the ability to get online to make a trade. You need to be sure that you can call and speak with a broker if this is the case, using the online broker. This is true whether you are an advanced trader or a beginner. It is also a good idea to go with an online brokerage company that has been around for a while. You won’t find one that has been in business for fifty years of course, but you can find a company that has been in business that long and now offers online trading. Again, online trading is a beautiful thing – but it isn’t for everyone. Think carefully before you decide to do your trading online, and make sure that you really know what you are doing!

Why Should I Make a Budget?

You say you know where your money goes and you don’t need it all written down to keep up with it? I issue you this challenge. Keep track of every penny you spend for one month and I do mean every penny. You will be shocked at what the itty-bitty expenses add up to. Take the total you spent on just one unnecessary item for the month, multiply it by 12 for months in a year and multiply the result by 5 to represent 5 years. That is how much you could have saved AND drawn interest on in just five years. That, my friend, is the very reason all of us need a budget. If we can get control of the small expenses that really don’t matter to the overall scheme of our lives, we can enjoy financial success. The little things really do count. Cutting what you spend on lunch from five dollars a day to three dollars a day on every work day in a five day work week saves $10 a week… $40 a month… $480 a year… $2400 in five years….plus interest. See what I mean… it really IS the little things and you still eat lunch everyday AND that was only one place to save money in your daily living without doing without one thing you really need. There are a lot of places to cut expenses if you look for them. Set some specific long term and short term goals. There are no wrong answers here. If it’s important to you, then it’s important period. If you want to be able to make a down payment on a house, start a college fund for your kids, buy a sports car, take a vacation to Aruba… anything… then that is your goal and your reason to get a handle on your financial situation now.

Choosing a Broker

Depending on the type of investing that you plan to do, you may need to hire a broker to handle your investments for you. Brokers work for brokerage houses and have the ability to buy and sell stock on the stock exchange. You may wonder if you really need a broker. The answer is yes. If you intend to buy or sell stocks on the stock exchange, you must have a broker. Stockbrokers are required to pass two different tests in order to obtain their license. These tests are very difficult, and most brokers have a background in business or finance, with a Bachelors or Masters Degree. It is very important to understand the difference between a broker and a stock market analyst. An analyst literally analyzes the stock market, and predicts what it will or will not do, or how specific stocks will perform. A stock broker is only there to follow your instructions to either buy or sell stock… not to analyze stocks. Brokers earn their money from commissions on sales in most cases. When you instruct your broker to buy or sell a stock, they earn a set percentage of the transaction. Many brokers charge a flat ‘per transaction’ fee. There are two types of brokers: Full service brokers and discount brokers. Full service brokers can usually offer more types of investments, may provide you with investment advice, and is usually paid in commissions. Discount brokers typically do not offer any advice and do no research – they just do as you ask them to do, without all of the bells and whistles. So, the biggest decision you must make when it come to brokers is whether you want a full service broker or a discount broker. If you are new to investing, you may need to go with a full service broker to ensure that you are making wise investments. They can offer you the skill that you lack at this point. However, if you are already knowledgeable about the stock market, all you really need is a discount broker to make your trades for you.

The Budget – The Ultimate Financial Management Tool

A carpenter uses a set of house plans to build a house. If he didn’t the bathroom might get overlooked altogether. Rocket Scientists would never begin construction on a new booster rocket without a detailed set of design specifications. Yet most of us go blindly out into the world without an inkling of an idea about finances and without any plan at all. Not very smart of us, is it? A money plan is called a budget and it is crucial to get us to our desired financial goals. Without a plan we will drift without direction and end up marooned on a distant financial reef. If you have a spouse or a significant other, you should make this budget together. Sit down and figure out what your joint financial goals are…long term and short term. Then plan your route to get to those goals. Every journey begins with one step and the first step to attaining your goals is to make a realistic budget that both of you can live with. A budget should never be a financial starvation diet. That won’t work for the long haul. Make reasonable allocations for food, clothing, shelter, utilities and insurance and set aside a reasonable amount for entertainment and the occasional luxury item. Savings should always come first before any spending. Even a small amount saved will help you reach your long term and short term financial goals. You can find many budget forms on the internet. Just use any search engine you choose and type in “free budget forms”. You’ll get lots of hits. Print one out and work on it with your spouse or significant other. Both of you will need to be happy with the final result and feel like it’s something you can stick to.

Spend Wisely to Save Money

Have you ever noticed that the things you buy every week at the grocery and hardware stores go up a few cents between shopping trips? Not by much…just by a little each week but they continue to creep up and up. All it takes for the price to jump up by a lot is a little hiccup in the world wide market, note the price of gasoline as it relates to world affairs. There is a way that we can keep these price increases from impacting our personal finances so much and that is by buying in quantity and finding the best possible prices for the things we use and will continue to use everyday… things that will keep just as well on the shelves in our homes as it does on the shelves at the grocery store or hardware store. For instance, dog food and cat food costs about 10% less when bought by the case than it does when bought at the single can price and if you wait for close out prices you save a lot more than that. Set aside some space in your home and make a list of things that you use regularly which will not spoil. Any grain or grain products will need to be stored in airtight containers that rats can’t get into so keep that in mind. Then set out to find the best prices you can get on quantity purchases of such things as bathroom items and dry and canned food. You will be surprised at how much you can save by buying a twenty pound bag of rice as opposed to a one pound bag but don’t forget that it must be kept in a rat proof container. You can buy some clothing items such as men’s socks and underwear because those styles don’t change, avoid buying children’s and women’s clothing, those styles change and sizes change too drastically. Try to acquire and keep a two year supply of these items and you can save hundreds of dollars.

Rebates – Reward or Rip Off?

Rebates have become increasingly popular in the last few years on a lot of items and certainly on electronic items and computers. Rebates of $20, $50 or $100 are not uncommon. I’ve even seen items advertised as “free after rebate”. Do these rebates come under the heading of “too good to be true”? Some of them do and there are “catches” to watch out for but if you are careful, rebates can help you get some really good deals. The way a rebate works is that you pay the listed price for an item then mail in a form and the bar code to the manufacturer and they send you a refund thus reducing the price of what you paid for the item except with a time delay of several weeks. Rule #1. Rebates from reputable companies are usually just fine. You can be pretty sure you will get the promised rebate from Best Buy, Amazon or Dell but you should probably not count on getting one from a company you’ve never heard of. If you really want the product and are OK with paying the price listed then buy it but don’t count on actually getting the refund. Rule #2. Check rebate expiration dates. Many times products will stay on the shelf of a retailer after the date for sending in the rebate offer has expired so check that date carefully. Rule #3. Be sure you have all the forms required to file for the rebate before you leave the store. Rebates will almost always require a form to be filled out, a receipt for the purchase and a bar code. Rule #4. Back up your rebate claim. Make copies of everything you send in to get your rebate including the bar code. Stuff gets lost in the mail all the time and if the rebate is for $50 it’s worth the trouble to back up your claim.

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