Tips For Investing, Saving And Managing Debt

Managing money may seem easy but most people find this task challenging. According to the 2013 Financial Literacy survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), most people are unable to manage their finances due to financial illiteracy. Figures from the aforementioned survey show that 43% of American adults are not saving enough money for retirement or emergencies. In addition, 37% of adults do not clear outstanding credit card debts at the end of the month. The good news is it is easy to get out of the debt trap. Here are some tips on how to save money and ultimately attain financial freedom:

Set Financial Goals and Invest Wisely

If you do not have financial goals, it is easy to spend all your money on unnecessary items. To avoid this outcome, Merrill Lynch’s director of Behavioral Economics, Michael Liersch recommends setting clear financial goals and pursuing them aggressively. Make sure you write your monetary policy goals down and commit yourself to achieving them. For example, if you set aside just $50 every week, you can build a small fortune at the end of a few decades. According to Merrill Lynch’s Wealth Management team, $50 saved every week translates to $2,500 every year. If you invest this amount in a tax-deferred account, you will have $80,000 at the end of 20 years. On the investment front, put your money in assets that you understand. Unless you are financial wizard, avoid fancy investments like derivatives and futures. Instead, go for binary options trading or trade assets like stocks, precious metals, or commodities. You could also invest in real estate.

Avoid Bad Debt

Many people acquire bad debt instead of good debt. When you take out a mortgage, you are acquiring good debt because the value of your residential home or commercial property is likely to appreciate. In addition, you can use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to borrow money to cover emergencies like paying hospital bills instead of withdrawing retirement funds. On the other hand, acquiring high¬-interest credit card debt is not a good idea because it will drain your finances. The rule of thumb is to carry out thorough research before acquiring debt. Compare rates from various lenders and determine how much you can afford to set aside for settling outstanding debts at the end of the month.


Create a budget of your monthly income and track spending carefully. This might seem like a no-brainer but many people fail to follow this simple rule and then spend a lot of money unwisely. You should budget for all essential items including electricity, food, car fuel, mortgage payments, health insurance payments, and rent. Moreover, make a list of sources of income such as salaries, consultancy fees, or DIY projects that bring in money. If you are spending more than you earn, you need to cut some of your expenses.

All said, it is relatively easy to manage debt and invest wisely. Nevertheless, you will have to set realistic financial goals and invest wisely to achieve them. This is in addition to avoiding bad debt as well as tracking income and spending.

Investing With Lending Club

Since savings accounts and certificates of deposit have average interest rates of less than 1% right now, it is tempting to look at other places to put your cash in order to get a better rate of return. One possible place to invest your money for a better return is Lending Club Investing. The median rate of return at Lending Club for loans between 12 to 18 months old is 7.7%. Of course, there is also much more risk investing in peer to peer loans than there is just stashing your money in an FDIC insured savings account.

I have invested with Lending Club in the past and was very pleased with my results. My returns were about 10%, which is better than average and probably was a result of being lucky. You shouldn’t expect to get similar returns, but getting better returns than a savings account is very likely. If you do invest with Lending Club you should make sure to spread out your loans. You can invest as little as $25 in a loan. That is how I made my investments. I broke up my investments to $25 a loan so that even if a particular loan went bad the most I would lose in that loan is $25. I did have some loans go bad and if you invest in very many loans you will likely have some loans default as well. If you are diversified enough with your loans though, you should still have a good rate of return even if you have some loans default. On the Lending Club site they show that having 100 loans or more greatly reduces risks in your returns.

If you have $5000 or more to invest you can use PRIME to invest for you. Picking loans can take quite a bit of time, but using PRIME makes the process automatic. You just set your investment criteria and it will do the investing for you.

If you would like to learn more about Lending Club Investing you can just click one of the affiliate links in this post or the one below.

Motif Creator Royalty Program Plus $100 Referral Bonus

A motif is a carefully researched and balanced collection of stocks/ETFs that reflect a specific idea or trend. You can begin by selecting a motif that intrigues you from our catalog. If it is right for you, you can purchase it as is, or customize it to meet your particular investment objectives. It costs $9.95 to buy or sell a motif.   Motif Investing Referral Link

You can also build your own motif from scratch, with up to 30 stocks or ETFs of your choice. Just click “Build a Motif” in the top navigation to get started. It cost $9.95 a trade to buy or sell a motif. An interesting option they offer is their Creator Royalty Program. Through this program you can build your own motif and when someone else buys the motif you created you get a royalty of $1 paid at the end of each quarter. You aren’t likely to get rich from building your own motif, but it is a nice way to make a little extra money. If you are already planning on building a motif for yourself, you might as well sign up for the Creator Royalty Program and make a little extra money.

To make this even a better deal Motif Investing is currently offering a couple of bonuses for signing up. I think the referral bonus is the best deal. If you sign up through my referral link you can get a $100 bonus for funding it with $1000 or more and executing at least one trade. This is a pretty good deal and I signed up through a referral link myself in order to get the $100 bonus. Here is my referral link if you would like to sign up. I will make money for you signing up as well so I appreciate any signups through my link. If you would rather get a link by email just leave a comment and I will send you a referral link.

They also have a different bonus that is available through the affiliate link below. This deal isn’t quite as good since it requires more trades. If for some reason you don’t want to go through my referral link this is another option.

The Resilience of the Euro: A Triumph of Monetary Control

To anyone with a vague understanding of the global economy, it would be reasonable to presume that the Euro (EUR) is continuing to depreciate in value. With the robust and powerful economy of Germany the latest to stall, a resolution to the crisis seems further away than it did within the depths of the Great Recession.

Despite the high unemployment, soaring debt and diminished manufacturing output, however, the eurozone’s single currency is actually displaying signs of robust growth. At the heart of this is more stringent money market conditions and controls, which is helping to cap debt and minimising the threat of further easing by the European Central Bank.

The Facts and Figures: How the Euro has risen from a Global Crisis

In terms of bare statistics, the euro rose to a six-week high against the U.S. Dollar and an impressive five-year peak against the Japanese Yen. While economists initially predicted that this may the result of disappointing economic data from America and China, however, it appears as though the Euro’s resilience has been inspired by tighter monetary controls and improved sentiment within the region. In fact, last week’s U.S. non-farm payrolls report delivered better than expected results, meaning that the Dollar should have experienced a significant surge in value.

Given that economic powerhouse China also delivered exceptionally strong trade numbers that exceeded expectations, the strong resurgence of the Euro seems even more mysterious at first glance. This seemingly illogical sequence of events is hardly helped by the tepid economic conditions that continue to blight the eurozone region, which despite third-quarter improvement remains at the mercy of significant debt and disproportionately high levels of unemployment. So what exactly is behind the robust performance of the Euro and its continued levels of growth?

The Truth behind the Euro and its Robust Growth

To begin with, the implementation of more stringent monetary controls has had a positive influence on the economy and financial markets. When the eurozone crisis began, countries were borrowing heavily and seeking out quantitative easing as a way of stimulating short-term growth. This is a flawed strategy, however, and one that has only increased the cumulative debt shared by the region as a single state. By adopting long-term measures and resisting the urge to borrow further capital, however, eurozone members are helping to stabilise the economy and improve investor tolerance for supposedly riskier currencies.

In addition to this, there is also the suggestion that strong labor and trade data from the U.S. and China is actively boosting the eurozone and the single currency. This is because these figures hint at a powerful economic recovery, which has the potential to exceed the expectations of economists and government officials from around the world. So while  predicted considerable investor caution prior to the release of the recent labor report in the U.S., it’s better than expected findings may prove to be a catalyst for global GDP expansion and recovery in the eurozone.

The Right Forex Trading Strategy for Your Personality

There are thousands of trading strategies out there which can be of potential use when you’re investing in the foreign exchange markets. Despite this, not all of them are suited to all people. This is because different kinds of people operate differently under the pressure of open markets, so depending on how you handle yourself in different situations should dictate which trading strategy you adopt. Here are 3 different trading strategies for 3 different personality types.

Impatient Ian

If you like things to happen quickly, you’d probably be suited to a strategy which allows you to make decisions quickly wherever you are. Therefore, you should download a forex trading platform app to your mobile phone and start day trading using strict limits which means that you can make profits quickly without putting yourself at risk. The only downside to this strategy is that unless you trade in volatile markets, there’s little chance of making large amounts of money, though caving in and participating in volatile markets could put you in a dangerous position.

Casual Kira

Do you like to take things easy? If you do, you’re probably not suited to fast-paced day trading. Instead, you should take your time on longer trades which last up to a week, as this will allow you to evaluate the market at your own leisure and make accurate predictions about when the trend you’re riding is about to turn. With this technique, you can set your limits quite high because unless your market is prone to fundamental geopolitical or socioeconomic problems, you’re likely to be able to see when a trend is about to buck way out in advance. This strategy might give you fewer instant wins, but playing the slow and long game can be a winning strategy.

Analytical Andrew

If you have the patience of a saint and the eyes of an eagle, you might be more suited to a strategy which favors fast thinking and accurate responses. For this, apply yourself in the world of chaotic markets by participating in short currency trades which move up and down with volatility. This will force you to make snap decisions on the currency trends you are riding because they have the potential to change with very little warning. If you succeed using this strategy, however, there’s a lot of potential to win big.

Why Global Stocks May be Running Out of Steam

The global economy has embarked on an unusual journey in the last twelve months, as despite pessimistic reports its has actually experienced noticeable growth. This is especially true in developed economies such as the U.S. and UK, while emerging nations have suffered from stagnation as the trends established last year have been reversed.

 There are signs that this growth is wavering, however, with the global economic recovery remaining fragile and decidedly unstable. This is having an impact on the financial markets, where global stocks appear to be running out of steam after a year of continued success. So while equities remain the best performing asset so far in 2013, investors may be wise to consider alternative options for the year ahead.

 Can Forex Options Provide the Answer?

 Another key investment vehicle for traders is currency, which may therefore offer a viable alternative in the months ahead. While the level of volatility and uncertainty in the forex market makes it extremely difficult to predict over a prolonged period of time , however, its recent robust performance and the margin-based returns available make it ideal for investors with a knowledge and a keen appreciation of risk. Investors will need to tread carefully, however, as currency value remains vulnerable to sudden and negative economic developments.

 The course of the Euro zone recovery will play a key role in the forex market in 2014, although it is unclear exactly which direction the region will head in. With the final revision of October’s Eurozone CPI data due to be unveiled over the weekend, however, investors will be offered a keen insight into what they can expect in terms of performance. After the preliminary numbers had a profoundly negative effect on the value of the Euro when they were released two weeks ago, it is clear that the forthcoming data will have a similar impact one way or another.

 More specifically, a downward adjustment is almost uncertain to send the value of the Euro plummeting further, while an upgrade would have the potential to trigger a long-term rebound. Either way, traders who are active in the forex market should be able to benefit, by either backing their Euro or investing their money in the U.S. Dollar (USD) or the ever-improving Great British Pound (GBP). This situation embodies the benefits of trading in the forex market during uncertain economic times, as while it is a volatile environment it always generates opportunities for traders to make a profit.

 In contrast, the value of equities are almost entirely dependent on positive economic sentiment, as recession triggers a reduction in consumer spending while the value of individual stocks begins to dwindle. While this does not necessarily apply to the type of blue-chip firms who are suitable for the dividend investment model, however, those in search of significant financial returns would do well to prioritise currency as the stock market depreciates.

A Brief Future of Financial Regulation

In the current state of international financial insecurity and volatility, new regulations are being implemented regularly alongside the revision of the old legislation. In order to comply with new financial rules, businesses have to know and understand these regulations to ensure they do not operate outside of the legal parameters – something that could see them landed with a substantial fine or even with a more serious penalty.

With the FSA now dissolved and financial regulatory powers being split in the UK between the FCA and PRA, it is now, more than ever, vital to ensure full compliance with such regulations, and to stay on top of the international rules that could affect you and your business. In this article, we take a brief look at the upcoming financial regulation aimed to be implemented now and in the near future.


Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD)

Expected start date: 22/07/2013

AIFMD will look to regulate hedge funds, private equity and other alternative investment firms in order to monitor them and regulate their activity. AIFMs will have had to apply with their home competent authority by the 22nd of July, 2014 in order to comply with this regulation (Some firms are exempt, so to check if the AIFMD applies to you, check the European Commission website).

Market Abuse Directive (MAD II)

Expected start date: 01/07/2014

MAD I was introduced in 2005 to regulate market abuse and ensure there was a proper flow of information into the market. The idea was to increase confidence in the integrated European market and to introduce criminal sanctions for insider dealing/market manipulation. MAD II will widen the scope of the original regulation to include financial instruments traded on MTFs, OTFs and OTC.


Expected start date: 01/06/2015

Intended to make the financial sector more transparent, the MiFIR implements further review and regulation. An obligatory report will have to be filed, strictly detailing all transactions. A tool called UnaVista ), developed by London Stock Exchange, allows firms to manage their reports and negotiate regulations without having to worry.

UCITS V Directive

Expected start date: 01/01/2015

UCITS V is the latest version of the original UCITS regulation that was introduced in 1985. The UCITS directive aims to protect retail investors and covers three areas: depositaries, UCITS management company remuneration policies and sanctions for breaches of UCITS law. It will affect any stakeholder in a European UCITS fund, including asset managers and depositaries, with the ultimate aim being to benefit the end investor.

What Should You Do With Your Bonds When Interest Rates Rise?

It can be difficult to know what to do with bonds when interest rates start to rise.  When interest rates rise bond prices go down.  This can cause the value of your bonds to plummet.  It can be tough to stay invested in bonds when the prices start to drop and it is especially tough to stay invested in bonds when you are not sure if staying invested is the right strategy.

One thing that can make a big difference in whether you stay invested in bonds is whether you hold actual bonds or you have your money invested in a bond fund.  If you have an actual bond you do not need to worry about the lower prices as much.  As long as you hold the bond to maturity you will get the promised price, unless something extreme – such as the bond issuer going bankrupt happens.  If you own actual bonds the only loss you would have is an opportunity cost.  The opportunity cost would be the difference between the interest rate paid on your bond and the interest you could have earned on a new bond paying higher interest.  Since bond price decrease as interest rates increase you usually won’t make any more money by selling your lower interest bond and investing in a new higher paying bond.  If the market operates efficiently you would only break even.  More likely you would lose a little money because of the transaction costs of selling the old bond and buying the new bond.

If you own a bond fund then you are more exposed to the lower bond prices due to higher interest rates.  This is because the bond fund has a new price every day that is based in part on the value of the bonds it holds.  One strategy if you have a bond fund is to sell as soon as interest rates start to rise.  It can be difficult to get the timing right on this.   I sold my bond fund earlier this year when interest rates were rising and the value of the shares of my bond fund had taken a dive.   As soon as I sold the bond fund interest rates stabilized and the bond fund is still worth about the same as it was when I sold it.  You also have to figure when to get back into the bond fund.  Since you don’t know when interest rates have stopped rising this is also difficult to determine.

Another strategy is to invest your money in a shorter term bond.  This leaves you less exposed to interest rate risk.   You might also consider investing in  a higher yielding bond.  These bonds are commonly known as junk bonds.  This strategy is based on the theory that the rising interest rates reflect an improving economy and thus the junk bonds are not as risky as their interest rates indicate.   Of course, with this strategy there is a risk that the interest rates don’t reflect an improving economy or the improving economy wasn’t enough to help the company that issued your bond and you end up with a bond that is worthless due to the issuer defaulting.

If you do sell your bonds you want to be sure that you are still properly diversified.   Selling all your bonds and investing the money in stocks leaves you exposed to losing a lot of money if the stock market crashes.  Whatever strategy you decide to pursue with your bonds due to rising interest rates, there will be some risk.  Make sure the risk is worth the potential reward.


Rules for Wealth Creation

Have you ever wondered why money comes so easily to some people, yet others seem to struggle for every penny they earn? The difference between the two types of people often lies in how they think about money and wealth. Here are some wealth creation rules to live by to help you become one of those who will always have more than what you need, instead of someone who never has quite enough.

Change your money mindset. How you think about money and wealth is the single most important factor that determines whether you’re wealthy or not. If you hold any wrong beliefs about money, or believe that you don’t have enough, that thinking can hold you back from ever becoming wealthy. Instead, recognize the power that your thoughts have over the money in your life and embrace it. A good book to read to help you change your mindset about money is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. This book explains how your way of thinking can make you wealthy, or keep you from experiencing the riches you desire.

Be optimistic about wealth. Money is important in our society. Not having enough can be a very scary thought. But instead of being fearful of money, be optimistic. Visualize yourself having enough money to pay your bills and enjoying the finer things in life. What would it feel like to have a certain dollar amount in your bank account? Focus on that image and keep it foremost in your mind.

When you are optimistic about wealth instead of afraid of not having enough, you will be on the path to overcoming adversity and creating wealth.

Be willing to take risks. Realize there is some risk involved in creating wealth, but that anything worth achieving is worth the risk. Some people never experience the fulfillment they crave because they’re afraid of failing. Failure isn’t something to be feared. Instead of procrastinating and being afraid of failing, plan your actions carefully so you will be prepared no matter what happens.

Take action. Take action where your money is concerned. If you’ve been waiting for wealth to come along and find you, it’s time to start taking action to create wealth instead. If you own a business, be prepared to work harder and offer better services. Take positive steps that will help you create wealth.

Invest your money wisely.  Make your money work for you. The wealthy don’t keep their money in savings accounts. To protect the money you have and ensure it continues to grow, it should be invested in a fund that’s well-balanced between safe investments and risks. This is how the wealthy use money to create more wealth.

When you develop the right mindset toward money, take smart actions, and manage your money wisely, you will become a person who creates wealth and stop being someone who is afraid of not having enough.


Small Savings Can Add Up

Living on a budget is the key to financial freedom, but getting started can be frustrating.  When we look at our expenses and see all the bills we are paying every month, it is easy to throw your hands up in disgust.  But what about all those little expenses we incur?  You may be surprised to discover how much the little expenses add up.

It is easy to rule out cuts in small things.  A few dollars a month does not make a significant difference in the overall picture.  But a few dollars here and a few dollars there adds up to a few dollars more.  When you cut back on a lot of little things, you could end up with much more money at the end of the month.

Waste Not , Want Not

One thing we can do what is good for the budget is stop wasting so much.  This can apply to many areas of our lives.  From eating to home heating, waste equals money going down the drain unnecessarily.

Cooking for the family instead of eating takeout or eating out is a great way to save money.  But if you throw away food it reduces the benefit.  So if you have leftovers, do not let it end up in the trash.  Some dishes freeze well , and this makes for an easy dinner when you do not have time to cook.  You can also eat dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.

If your home is not well insulated, you’re probably losing a lot of money on heating and cooling.  Insulation cost some money up front, but pays for itself quickly.  If you have drafts coming in around your windows and doors, weatherstripping can help maintain the temperature of your home.

Most households spend an incredible amount on electricity.  This can be avoided in part by using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs. Turn off lights, televisions, computers and other devices when you’re not using them, and open blinds to take advantage of sunlight during the day.

Do yourself a favor : Do it yourself

Every time you pay someone to do something you could do yourself, you’re spending money unnecessarily.  This applies to small things like buying coffee instead of making your own, as well as larger expenses such as home repairs.

Many of us buy a coffee or a drink in a shop or cafe on the way to work in the morning.  This can really add up over time.  Instead, make your own coffee or buy soda in 2-liter bottles and pour some into a smaller bottle or cup to take with you.  The same applies to lunches.  Instead of jumping for fast food, grab a sandwich or something microwavable to take to work.

While not all are good in all types of repairs and maintenance, most of us can do some things for ourselves.  Maybe you could change your own oil instead of paying someone else to do it.  If the walls need painting, consider getting friends and family to help you do that instead of hiring a painter.  Things that you are able to fix yourself as opposed to having someone else repair for you can save a significant amount of money immediately.

When you add up the savings, little things can make a big difference in the budget.  So take a look at your budget and see what small expenses are lurking there.  If you can eliminate or reduce them, they could have a positive impact on your bottom line.