Owning Is Riskier Than Lending But More Rewarding

Owning Is Riskier Than Lending But More Rewarding

Approaching your retirement means shifting your investments more towards income-based investments and away from equity-based investments. You've less time to recover from equity losses and need to rely on investment income. Here's why...

At the heart of income-based investments are loans. The most prevalent income form is interest payments for the use of your fixed dollar-denominated loan to some institution. Examples of such investments are savings accounts, CDs, newly issued bonds, and the like. You loan your $1,000 to some savings institution or company and they promise to give you back that fixed dollar amount - $1,000 - in addition to paying you interest for the use of your money.

These are essentially contract arrangements; and being so, tends to suppress risk. Getting your money back to you with interest for its use are both critical concerns to you and the institution or company.

At the heart of equity-based investments is ownership. You buy 'into' some enterprise - as a shareholder. Companies and their shares are dollar-valued investments. By that I mean whatever the company - or your shares- is worth is 'valued' by people bidding to buy it. And that amount of dollar bid for its value changes with time.

Growing value of an equity-based investment - a company - is the chief concern of the company owners. Its value will increase because of better production, better services, or more demand by buyers for its goods and services for a variety of reasons. But lack of demand can also quickly decrease its 'dollar value' giving a loss to owners and shareholders.

Equity-based investments offer the opportunity for large increases in value (your reward) but often at large increases in loss of value (your risk).

So, generally equity-based investments are riskier than income-based investments. Higher rewards come with higher risk. Of course each of these two categories of investments has a sliding scale of riskier and more rewarding examples within them.

Inflation is the bane of fixed dollar-denominated investments (income investments). It's almost an assured risk - or rather loss. That's because the 'value' of a dollar - i.e. its purchasing power - generally decreases with time.

But by the same token, dollar-valued investments (equity investments) tend to automatically adjust for inflation. If a company maintains its same 'real' value, its dollar value will necessarily be greater if a dollar's value decreases.

Income-investments tend to offer less reward but at less risk then equity-investments. To grow wealth - i.e. growing value - you need equity investments. Equity markets have always increased over the long run. But you must be able to sustain yourself through market downturns.

Income-investments tend to preserve wealth when markets turn down. But they do so at the expense of growth. Because of that, retirees should shift to a higher fraction - perhaps 60% at least, of their portfolio to income-investments during retirement.

PCI Compliance: What Your Business Needs To Know

PCI Compliance: What Your Business Needs To Know

Accepting credit and debit cards for a business is a great way to open up revenue streams for a company. However, this doesn't come without risks. From hackers, to malware, to dishonest employees, merchants face a number of threats when it comes to the credit and debit card information they use from their customers. However, merchants need not fear when it comes to identifying safety precautions to keeping their customers financial information safe.

Known as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), these standards were developed to help merchants, as well as those who help in processing payments like banks and merchant service providers, set up a first line of defense against unwanted data breaches. These standards were formed to provide basic security precautions by establishing policies, procedures, network and software architecture, as well as additional measures to minimize the risks of your customers financial information from being compromised. So what does a merchant actually have to do to become PCI compliant?

Depending on the amount of transactions a merchant conducts, the requirements to become PCI compliant can vary placing you on a specific level of compliance. They are:

  • Level 4 - If your business does less than 20,000 eCommerce or less than 1 million physical transactions, you simply need to complete an annual risk assessment usaing an SAQ or conduct quarterly PCI scans.

  • Level 3 - If your business does 20,000 - 1,000,000 transactions per year, you will need to complete an annual risk assessment using an SAQ and conduct quarterly PCI scans.

  • Level 2 - If your business does 1 - 6 million transactions per year, you will need to complete an annual risk assessment using an SAQ and conduct quarterly PCI scans.

  • Level 1 - If your business does in excess of 6 million transactions per year, you will need to conduct an annual internal audit and conduct quarterly PCI scans.

Even when your business becomes PCI compliant, it is still an ongoing process. However, think of it like a 3 step process in the following manner:

  1. Analyze for any vulnerabilities your business may have that could make it vulnerable to a data breach.

  2. Fix any vulnerabilities your business may identify. If needed, do not store any cardholder data unless necessary until these issues have been fixed.

  3. Report any vulnerabilities to your merchant services provider and card brands by submitting compliance reports and any required validation records.

Even though at times it may be overwhelming for a merchant to combat the theft of cardholder data, security standards like PCI are available to help businesses like yours. But remember that PCI compliance is not just smart but also required.

Top 10 Tips to Choose a Reliable Moneylender

Top 10 Tips to Choose a Reliable Moneylender

In case you feel that you are running short of money in your quest to invest in a huge deal like a home, you might need the services of a seasoned expert. In this context, you may need some short-term loans too. But irrespective of the kind of loan you are seeking, you should exercise care and caution while setting out to search a moneylender.

As you are about to invest a huge amount of money, you need to be proactive in following certain guidelines while choosing a moneylender or company.

a) Firstly, you need to inquire about their reputation

You can do this by interacting with the present customers (or the past ones) that have engaged them for some sort of loan deals. These feedback and opinions you get are trustworthy enough and also indicate the reliability of these companies.

b) Check if they offer reliable, high-quality and round-the-clock customer services

You should be able to contact them anytime you need an urgent solution.

c) Stay away from fraudulent companies or individuals

At the same time, make sure you are not carried away by any type of false promises put forth by dubious moneylenders; there may be several evil motives hidden in some cases.

To avoid falling into their trap, it is better to approach a professional financial advisor that can guide you clearly, using their diverse and dependable experience in handling various negotiations and investment deals.

There are a few other selection criteria to choose a reliable money lending company or individual, such as:

a) Analyzing their credibility in the related industry

b) Determining their success rate

c) Assess their track record by analyzing their client testimonials

d) Carefully assessing their professional qualities like sincerity, dedication, hard work and reliability

e) Determining their level of commitment in terms of customer satisfaction, level of operation, availability, accessibility and proficiency

f) Assessing their interest rates and comparing them to those offered by the other local moneylenders. In addition, try to gather more information about the current market conditions to get a rough idea of how your deal will proceed.

g) Checking the areas of their operation and knowledge about the market conditions

Once you have analyzed the lender based on the above criteria, you can discuss the other elements of the deal elaborately. During this meeting, be clear while putting forth your requirements, such as the amount you require, your repayment capacity, etc.

Based on your budget and other specifications, you can rest assured to get a suitable solution from the lender, which is in your favor.

How Do I Tell Employees About Fees?

How Do I Tell Employees About Fees?

Don't wait for employees to come to you with questions about the 404(a)(5) regulation fees that will be appearing on their retirement savings plans. It's time to start preparing to distribute fee disclosures explaining these fees before 401(k) statements are received. Initial fee disclosures were to be given to participants by August 30, 2012 and the first quarterly disclosure was by November 15, 2012.

When employees open up their statements they will see the fees that the plan is paying and what is being charged to their specific account. According to a 2011 study, 71 percent of Americans with a 401(k) don't think they pay any fees.

Stay ahead of employee questions and deadlines by following these suggestions:

Get the message out now. Communicate the fee disclosures to employees. Let your employees know as early as possible that their statements will clearly show the fees paid by the plan. Employees should know what the fees mean and should know that the fees are not new, they are simply more transparent due to the 404(a)(5) regulation. This regulation allows both plan advisors and employers to be open about fees with affected employees.

Customize your form. Use the Department of Labor's (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) template to provide multiple types of disclosures that will help employees understand the fees being paid for services rendered and to compare investment alternatives on their own.

Urge employees to visit the new website provided by the Department of Labor to better understand their Retirement Plan Fees.

Discuss the types of fees in your plan. The economies of scale might mean that employees are getting a good deal on fund fees, possibly at lower institutional rates than an individual employee would pay to invest in the same fund through a retail mutual fund account.

Remind employees that 401(k)'s are a good deal. Focus on the keys to financial success - active participation, strong deferral rates, company match, tax deferral, investment education and retirement support - along with fees.

Make certain that your employees understand that these fees are not new. In the past, fees were included in the net investment results but were not as visible as now required by the new 404(a)(5) regulation.

Overall, the new fee disclosures will create a more clear depiction of retirement plans and associated fees, allowing employees to see the benefits of a 401(k) plan.

What To Do When You Want To File A Pension Complaint?

What To Do When You Want To File A Pension Complaint?

According to the Retirement Benefits Acts, if an employee or a member of a company scheme is discontented with the decision of the custodian, manager, or the trustee of the scheme, that person can submit a letter of request addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, stating that he or she wants the decision to be reviewed, to make sure that it is in harmony with the provisions provided in the scheme. This letter should also be copy furnished to the custodian, manager and the trustee of the scheme. Aside from the members, other parties such as service providers, sponsors, and trustees are likewise entitled to ask authorized personnel to make decisions on disputes and complaints filed involving retirement benefits.

Once your retirement or your pension complaint is received by the authority, it will be their duty to investigate and decide on what the resolution would be. An authority's decision is necessary and concluding, and can be imposed in a court of law. If you believe that your case needs more investigation, you can challenge the decision of the authority by appealing to a tribunal - which is set up under the Retirement Benefits Act.

If you believe that there are acts or behaviours that negatively affect your pension plan, and if you feel that your investment is unsafe or you feel injustice on your part, it is only safe to talk to professionals who could give you advice on how to file a pension complaint, or get a clearer explanation of what is actually happening within your company scheme.

If your complaint involves government pension, outside funds management, retirement benefits, pension complaints, find out the grounds before filing for one, and find the most appropriate organization that can help you file your complaint.

Authorized personnel or organizations that specialize in complaints usually ask the same requirements before processing your complaint. Some requirements included are your formal written complaint, an initial dialogue between you and the other party, filled up complaint form, and others. Once you have filed your complaint, you are given 2 weeks to wait for an acknowledgement from the firm. Your complaint will then be processed for further review, set for a court trial, and other procedures that will lead to the resolution of the problem.

Disputes or miscommunications often happen, and you don't have to blame others, or you don't have to feel bad that you filed a complaint against your company. There are reasons why things happen, and to make things right, the first step to do is let the authorities to know. This way, you will achieve justice and get what's right for you.

But There Is Not Enough Gold, Is There?

But There Is Not Enough Gold, Is There?

One of the 'Big Lies' about Gold is that there is not enough Gold around; after all, Gold is valuable because it is scarce, so Gold cannot be used as 'money'... right? Well, no, not right at all. In reality, this particular 'Big Lie' is three 'Big Lies' rolled into one.

The first lie is that the quantity of money in circulation is crucial to the state of the economy, and determines recessions, booms, etc. After all, we hear about 'money supply' and 'fine tuning' the economy practically every day. Rest assured Mr. Bankster and Mr. G'man want our attention on this... not on the truth.

The bland truth is that the quantity of money in circulation has NO effect whatsoever on the economy... ! Read the last statement again, carefully, because it probably goes against everything you have ever heard... from Mr. Bankster, from Mr. G'man, and their bought and paid for 'economists'. Once again; the quantity of money in circulation has no effect whatsoever on the economy... zero, nada.

OK, may you find this hard to believe... trust me, it took me a long time and a lot of study to understand how and why this is true. It is vital to understand that the quantity of money is irrelevant if we expect to understand what really goes on. History is full of examples that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the quantity of 'money' in circulation is absolutely irrelevant... if we have eyes to see.

Surely you have heard of the cases of 'New Pesos' replacing 'Old Pesos'... or 'New Lira' replacing 'Old Lira'? This happens every time a currency is so debased that million, billion, and even trillion unit bills must be printed. A cup of coffee may cost three billion Lira... and it becomes impossible to add more zeros to the bills... lest the bills become the size of bed sheets.

At this time the G'man decides to issue a new currency... and in the process lops six zeros from the 'old' currency. That is, a billion Old Lira note is replaced directly by a new one Lira note. Think about this; every billion Old Lira is replaced by ONE Lira... and there were millions of the old Billion Lira notes in circulation... they are all gone, all replaced by One Lira notes.

The money supply just shrank, overnight, by a factor of one billion. Not by a percent or two as usually claimed by the 'fine tuning' money supply 'experts'... but by a factor of one hundred billion percent. Yet, the next day, life goes on as usual... incredible, yes? Of course, it is easy to see why.

The price of a cup of coffee was three billion Old Lira; the price of a cup of coffee is now three New Lira. Meanwhile, the average wage was thirty billion Old Lira per hour... and is now thirty New Lira. One hour's pay in Old Lira bought ten cups of coffee. Surprise, surprise... one hour's pay in New Lira will also buy ten cups of coffee.

Nothing has changed... in relative prices that is. Clearly the quantity of money is irrelevant... only relative prices count. Or, to be more precise, only the purchasing power of money vs wages counts.

The second big lie is based on the first big lie... if money supply is crucial (lie # one) then the G'man must carefully manage it... (lie # two). Let's take an economy with 300,000,000 people... like the USA. If we add $1,000,000,000.00 (one billion Dollars) to the money supply that sounds like a big number... but it only comes to $3.33, that is three Dollars and thirty three cents, per US citizen... now honestly, would it make any significant difference to your 'economy' if someone gave you three Dollars and thirty three cents? Methinks not...

On the other hand, suppose that the $1,000,000,000.00 (one billion Dollars) were given to ONE person... now that would surely make some difference to that person. But this is exactly what happens when a billion of new 'money' is printed... one person gets the whole billion; Mr. G'man gets the billion, and gets to spend it any way he chooses. This is called seignorage... profit made by the money issuing agent. It is more accurately called 'legalized counterfeiting'.

Contrast this to that 'barbarous relic', the Gold Standard. Gold cannot be counterfeited, but has to be earned (or stolen openly). Gold is earned by either trading value for value, or by digging it out of the earth at full cost and with much sweat. Just like you and I earn our living... not like Mr. G'man, who makes us take his freely printed paper, at gunpoint, calls it 'Legal Tender', taxes us, and makes us sweat to pay him back.

Not like Mr. Bankster, who prints paper freely, and then has the audacity to not only demand that we pay his 'money' back in full, but demands that we pay him interest for the privilege of using his 'money'. This is my definition of usury; create paper chits, pretend they are money, then charge real interest for the use of it... and if you or I try to print the chits, guess what happens? Only Mr. Bankster has the privilege of counterfeiting legally. His bedfellow Mr. G'man sees to that.

Under the Barbarous Relic, money supply took care of itself. If it cost 11 Gold coins to mine and refine 10 Gold coins, no one would do it... On the other hand, if Gold was really scarce and valuable, and it cost only 9 Gold coins to mine and refine 10 new Gold coins, miners would get to work, and balance would be restored... in the long term. Short terms fluctuations are impossible.

The third big lie is a bit of a paradox, and we need to see both sides of this paradox in order to understand Gold. First, Gold is indeed a precious metal; to mine Gold today, tons of rubble must be dug up and sifted to find grams of Gold... indeed, this is why rubble cannot be money; it is far too easy to get new supplies... new gravel 'money' would be almost as easy to create as new paper 'money'.

The paradox kicks in when we look at the supply of Gold on hand... remember, Gold has been money for thousands of years, and Gold was recognized as being precious and valuable far longer than its use as money in circulation... so Gold has been mined and hoarded since time immemorial... long before written history.

Thus, even though new Gold is very difficult and expensive to extract, there is an enormous supply of mined and refined Gold around. It would take about 80 years of mining at current rates to dig up as much new Gold as already is known to exist. This is called the 'stock to flow' ratio... and it means that the supply of Gold is steady, not subject to disruption on a new mine discovery.

As supply is steady, so value is also steady... and by steady I mean steady over centuries, not just over a few weeks or months. By comparison, all non-monetary commodities like copper, crude oil, grains etc. have stock to flows measured in weeks, not decades.

This is logical if you think about it; if there was a glut of zinc, like a year's supply, the price would collapse. The value of all commodities except Gold and Silver... the monetary metals... declines rapidly with excess supply. Guess what the value of freely printed paper does.

The demand for the monetary metals Gold and Silver is endless. There is never a 'glut' of Gold or Silver. Indeed, only real interest paid in real Gold or Silver can lure hoarded monetary metals out of their hoards.

Today, we get no real interest... and so most Gold and Silver is in hiding, awaiting the day of freedom... the day it will once again be safe and legal to earn, to hoard, and to spend Gold and Silver instead of counterfeit paper; real money instead of Bankster's debt notes masquerading as money.

Having a Financial Aid Consultant Is the New Best Way to Pay for
College.

Having a Financial Aid Consultant Is the New Best Way to Pay for College.

Having your very own personal financial aid expert continually looking out for your interest is as valuable as having a very good defense attorney. Throughout our society we have become increasingly depended upon the services of experts to advices us on the most complex and challenging parts of our lives. Just like a tax professional helps prepare our taxes, a personal trainer help us get in shape, a nutritionist picks our meals, a financial planner help us with our finances or even a realtor help us find our dream home. A personal financial aid consultant works on their client's behalf helping them and their families navigate through the constantly changing and often complex financial aid process.

To understand the value of a Consultant and why so many families are turning to them for help, you must first understand the cost to obtain a college education. According to a recent College Board report, college tuition has risen all across the country. According to the report the average in-state public college tuition grew to $22,261 per academic year while private college tuition rose to $43,289 per academic year. While only two-thirds of full-time students receive grants or federal tax breaks, many are left to foot the bill themselves. According to another report by the Institute for College Access & Success Project on Student Debt, two-third of the class of 2011 held student loans upon graduation, and the average owed was $26,600. According to the U.S. Department of Education 13.4% of those borrowers will default on their student loans within three years after graduating.

Traditional Help Resources

Historically, 1 in 7 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms has errors or inconsistencies which are one of the major reasons students lose some or all of their financial aid. With regard to additional grants and scholarships outside of the FAFSA, many families simply don't know where and when to look, how to look or have no time and energy to look and they just end up getting frustrated trying of compete for the free aid. Most of these issues could be avoided by using a consultant but unfortunately most students and families rely on traditional resources which offer limited support in trying to get financial aid.

Traditionally, families get their financial aid information and help from four main sources:

High school guidance counselors - for many families of college bound students their guidance counselors are their first source of information and help. Unfortunately, most counselors are so over worked and are usually not adequately trained and up to date with the constantly changing policies and regulations in the college funding process. These inadequacies can cause family thousands of dollars in aid.

Your financial aid office - maybe the best place to information, with adequately trained staff with up to date knowledge of policies and regulations, however they have their challenges too. Most Colleges don't provide information on additional grants and scholarships outside of what their school provides. Their biggest challenge however is the huge workload of thousands of students who apply or reapply for aid every year. This huge volume of students weakens the ability of advisors to spend adequate time with each student which leaves the student and their family to fend for themselves in the application process.

The internet -The internet can be a good source of help but without an expert to decipher all the information and protect you there is a risk of errors and even fraud.

Parents and Friends - yes parents provide the support and insights which are helpful but may don't have up to date information. While family can spend hours in front of a computer screen and hours more around the dining room table filling out forms they may never really know if the information they are providing is helping or hurting their eligibility.

Why a Financial Aid Consultant?

There are several benefits to having a consultant none more significant than the fact that the consultant is your employee whom you have hired and can fire. His or her sole job is to be constantly looking out for your interest and making sure that you are in the best financial situation during and after you have graduated from college. Many families are finding it economically smart to invest a few bucks now in a consultant who can help them save thousands in student debt in the future.

These are some of the services that a financial aid consultant provides:

  • Assists you in the filling out financial application forms.
  • Ensures you meet all deadlines.
  • Helps you in your search for more grants, scholarships and loans.
  • Ensures you receive the maximum aid you qualify for.
  • Guides you step-by-step through the entire process.
  • Saves you time and money by helping you receive financial aid.
  • Helps determine your eligibility.
  • Determines if you are receiving a fair financial aid offer.
  • Offers you relevant information on all different types of aid.
  • Provides an estimate of your expected family contribution.
  • Recommends schools that offer you the best package.
  • Assists in appeals.
  • An independent advisor provides you that peace of mind of knowing that you've received the best financial aid you're entitled to.

Caution!

If you decide that a financial aid consultant is right for you, you should take some precautions. Like everything, using a consultant has its own sets of challenges so here are 5 tips that you should use:

  1. Even though there are tremendous benefits in using a consultant, remember the FAFSA application is free so you should never pay excessive fees for a consultant service.
  2. Choose a consultant that is well versed in the laws and availability of each type of government and private education programs - preferably an insider with tremendous experience.
  3. Choose a consultant that been recommended by a friend or family member who can vouch that the consultant offered great value to them.
  4. Avoid any consultant that is not honest, ethical or completely open with you.
  5. Make sure your consultant is willing to sign the FAFSA, as any professional will sign the document that they prepare for clients - this ensures that they will stand behind and back the application if further issues or question should arise and remember to get a detailed receipt.

Dealing with the financial aid process for college is overwhelming for many students and parents. More and more students and their families are finding comfort in knowing that they have an expert on their side. As the cost of college continues to rise they know that they have a trained professional who they have employed to help them navigate the financial aid process. A personal consultant is the resource that ensures families and students get all they can when it comes to loans, grants and scholarships.

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