Sell Your House Fast Via Advertising Tactics

Sell Your House Fast Via Advertising Tactics

Good Marketing

When you need something sold fast, how do you manage to get a potential buyer? Do you rely on traditional advertising methods such as phone advertising and door-to-door selling? Are you an advocate of flashy posters and radio ads? Or are you tech savvy enough to post your advertisements on social media over the Internet? Well which ever way you are looking to 'sell my home quickly'your advertising skills will ultimately determine how many people will be interested in your upcoming sale. Nowadays, the easiest and most cost-effective way to spread the word about your sale is via the Internet. Posting text or pictures on social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr won't cost you a thing. Plus, your advertisements can be viewed by just about anyone who has Internet access. Compare these benefits to posting a poster on your local bulletin board. Even though people may take notice of your poster, most of them would be too busy going about their daily tasks to read the details posted there. People hooked to the Internet, however, are more keen on remembering details. Perhaps it's because the words are easier to read on a computer monitor than on a bulletin board, and easier to understand than word of mouth as well.

Modern Advertising to Achieve Success

Internet advertising tactics can definitely help you sell your house fast. However, if you don't have any background on Internet sales and marketing, you might just end up being scammed by a fictitious online company that's really a hacker in disguise. The first step in Internet advertising is learning the different ways of garnering potential customers online. For example, there's the pay-per-click advertising method. Google.com popularized this Internet marketing style several years ago. It became an instant hit because it allowed Internet freelancers to cash in on pay-per-click ads while attracting potential buyers at the same time. Nowadays, though, there are other Internet advertising tactics that are cheaper and more attractive than pay-per-click. Almost every company on the Internet is utilizing search engine optimization, or SEO, in order to get a higher ranking in search results. A company increases its search engine ranking by accumulating articles and website links that focus on certain search keywords. The more material a certain company website has, the higher it will be ranked on the search engine results list. This tactic can sell your house fast, but it comes with a catch- you'll have to hire an SEO specialist to do the technical stuff for you. SEO tactics can't be learned overnight, and most of these require thorough knowledge of Internet operations and programming. Hiring an SEO specialist would allow you to sit back and relax as he or she makes the necessary adjustments to your website so that it'll be ranked higher on search engine results. Successfully having your personal website optimized can help you sell your house fast. Don't be hesitant on spreading the good news throughout social media networking- your SEO specialist can also help you score potential buyers by optimizing your social media networking accounts. 'Sell my home quickly' by taking advantage of the Internet.

Should First Home Buyers Build A New Home Or Purchase Existing?

Should First Home Buyers Build A New Home Or Purchase Existing?

There are many decisions to be made once you've decided to purchase a home. One of the biggest decisions first home buyers face is whether to purchase an existing property or build new. Building used to be left to subsequent home buyers and those who wanted a custom-designed residence. This is no longer the case. There are many builders who cater to first home buyers and middle income buyers these days. This means the question of building versus buying is relevant to buyers at every life stage and every income level.

How, then, do you decide if it's better to build or buy?

The Pros And Cons Of Building

Advantages of Building

Customisation. The biggest advantage of building is customisation. New houses can be built to the individual buyers' specifications. Even estate housing offers some level of customisation. Yet, they are less expensive than custom built designs.

Everything is new. New appliances and materials make it unlikely the buyer will need to make major repairs or replacements anytime soon.

• Improved energy efficiency. New construction is built to the latest building standards and use the most up-to-date technology. This makes them more energy efficient than existing housing.

Pride. Many buyers who choose to build enjoy the process of making all of the decisions and seeing their ideas come to life.

• Can be less expensive. Builder incentives can reduce the cost to the point where it is more affordable than purchasing existing.

Disadvantages of Building

Purchasing home and land. New construction requires the buyer to not only pay for the construction of the dwelling, but also to buy the land that it will be built on. Both can be expensive, even with discounts offered by builders.

Construction time. It takes time to build. Plans need to be drafted, reviewed and approved before construction can even begin. You'll need to wait for inspections to take place before the next steps can begin and you'll need to make decisions about finishing touches as you go along. Weather can cause delays as can unexpected factors such as soil stability. New construction can take several months or longer to build.

Costs can add up. The first price you're quoted may not be the final price. Prices can increase based on the level of customisation you choose, the size of the residence and the quality of the contractors you use.

The Pros And Cons Of Purchasing Existing

Advantages of Buying Existing

Typically cost less than building. You're paying for everything at once. No need to purchase land separately.

Everything is included. Appliances, landscaping and property structures such as garages, decks and sheds are already included in the price.

Less stressful. For many people, it is less stressful to buy existing than to build new. There are no worries about something going wrong during construction or delays turning your life upside down.

Established neighbourhood. The neighbourhood is established making it easier to determine the character of the area and whether or not it is a good fit for your family.

Shorter wait time until move-in. No need to wait for months for the home to be ready for move-in.

Disadvantages of Purchasing Existing

No chance of customisation. What you see is what you get with an existing home.

There may be problems due to aging or neglect. You have no control over what previous owners did to the property or how they maintained it.

High chance of costly repairs or replacement sooner rather than later.

• May not be able to find what you want. Depending on what is available at the time, you may not be able to find the home you want or need.

Ultimately, the decision to buy or build will come down to what kind of home you want, how much you can afford and whether or not you are willing to wait on new construction.

How to Make Money and Become More Productive

How to Make Money and Become More Productive

Most people don't just want to make money, they want to make more money. Unfortunately the majority think that they are going to accomplish this by working harder and longer. They fail to realize that the key to making more money is in becoming more productive. For this reason the need is to work smarter, not harder. Here are a few tips that I have learnt as a business owner that have helped me to become more productive.

Value your time. It has been said that "time is our most precious commodity", and apart from good health I would say that this statement is true. We all know the feeling when someone shows a lack of appreciation for our time. Often people who treat others with this lack of regard don't value their own time either. To become more productive, don't squander your most precious commodity and set clear boundaries so that others will value your time as much as you do.

Be good at what you do. There are those who will work their whole life eking out a living simply because they are mediocre at what they do. Artists are famous for this. Avoid falling in love with a career path before assessing if you have an aptitude for the work. Being honest with yourself in this regard will pay dividends. Find what you are good at first, then learn to enjoy doing that.

Have initiative. One of my favorite proverbs states: "He that is watching wind will not sow." If you are waiting for the perfect moment to take the first step toward achieving something, that moment is never going to come.

Be focussed and prioritize tasks. There is another saying that, "if one does not know to where they are sailing, no wind is a good wind." I watch even successful people run around like chickens with their heads cut off. To become more productive one needs to be "directing their blows so as not to be striking the wind." Be focussed and prioritize your tasks. Work diligently and do what needs to be done first, first, then move on to other, less urgent tasks.

Avoid distraction. Life has many distractions. When they appear they divide our focus and our energy starts to shift to "multitasking". Though running a load of laundry while working from a home office might be harmless enough, switching endlessly from project to project is definitely not. Try to turn your phone off or check e-mails only at prescribed times of day. People should respect that you are a busy person and understand if you don't get back to them within 5 minutes. If they don't understand, you don't want to be working with them anyhow.

Avoid debt. Though some debts may be necessary, by not reaching out for things before you can personally afford them will help you to avoid the burden of carrying an added debt load. Have you ever tried to push a wheelbarrow that has been piled up a little too high? Look at your financial path with this perspective. Yes, you might be able to push that load slowly, but start losing air in your tire and you could soon find yourself stopped dead, or even rolling backwards.

These words of wisdom regarding how to make money and become more productive have helped me to be happier and more productive in my career. If you diligently apply these principles in your life, I am sure that they will help you too.

Why A Commercial Mortgage Broker Is Important in Today's Hotel Lending
Environment

Why A Commercial Mortgage Broker Is Important in Today's Hotel Lending Environment

In the world of hotel ownership, commercial loan brokers are becoming more and more important. Commercial loan brokers, specifically mortgage brokers in this case, help with loan products and services related to the hotel and hospitality business. They will help you when you are not sure where to go or what to do with your mortgage, or if you need a mortgage. Brokers will also help you to determine which loans you may or may not be eligible or qualify for.

Commercial loan brokers and mortgage brokers do not lend out money, but simply evaluate what is a good deal and what isn't. These days, deals can be very hard to close in the hospitality business, and the market is not nearly as open and free as it used to be. The mortgage broker can help you find a good hotel lender, which is crucial when keeping a business running. All in all, mortgage brokers and commercial loan brokers are in the know when it comes to lenders and hotels.

Not only does a broker have a wealth of information, but they will keep you in the know too. One of the most important parts of a commercial mortgage broker's job is communication. The broker will make sure that you know all of the details of contracts and financial agreements presented by lenders.

Hotel lenders can have a tricky job at times. Hotels normally need to finance things from all sorts of different people, and with constant changes, lenders see this as a constant change in collateral. These are called other 'liens,' and sometimes hotel lenders need to talk to other financers to get everything in order. With this notion comes another reality. A lot of the time in the realm of hotel lending, borrowers need to open up lend agreements with multiple lenders. Hotels are expensive. This is due to the unstable economy that has been a problem recently. Again, a broker who is good at his or her job will help with all these conditions and obstacles.

A commercial mortgage broker will also help when it comes to what the lenders will be looking at before getting your loan. Lenders will look at management agreements, or who is in an agreement to be in charge. They will also look at other contracts, such as liquor licenses, or franchise agreements. All of these things affect how much money the hotel makes, and lenders want to know all the details regarding revenue.

In conclusion, a commercial mortgage broker is important because they are knowledgeable and can help you make smart decision regarding money. They do require a fee for their services, but in the unstable hotel economy that is present today, it is almost essential to get a broker.

Can Tenant Screening Reduce Risk When Renting Out Properties?

Can Tenant Screening Reduce Risk When Renting Out Properties?

Buying property to rent out is a good investment and over time this investment can offer good rewards. With this type of investment comes specific risks which need to be taken into consideration.

Anyone purchasing a property as an investment with the idea of renting it out to pay for their mortgage while getting their foot on the property ladder, needs to weigh up the risks and take the necessary steps to ensure they hand their keys over to someone who is honest and trustworthy.

When renting out a property you will meet many potential renters, each one should complete an application form, giving you all the relevant information needed, along with previous landlords and references.

Don't take the potential renter on face value. There are so many people that look trustworthy and yet, will run in the middle of the night because they don't have the money to pay the rental each month. This leaves you in serious financial trouble and having to come up with the money to pay the mortgage until you find another tenant.

Tenant screening is a necessity, it eliminates risk and gives you peace of mind. This type of reporting does checks on your potential renter. It checks the information they have provided is accurate and enables you to see who told the truth when you met them face to face.

Always take the time to follow up on references. Don't think because the tenant screening gave you the green light you are ready to go. Always combine this reporting service with a follow up on previous landlords to ensure that the potential renters tick all of your boxes.

When you rent out an investment property, you want to know that you are handing your keys to someone who is honest and trustworthy. You want the peace of mind that they will keep your property in the best possible condition. This is impossible to know without following up on references.

The tenant screening report can also assist when it comes to the references. You may be given an address on the report which the tenant didn't advise you about. Its worthwhile checking up on this before handing over keys and signing a rental agreement. The tenant may have left this address off their application for a good reason and by giving them access to your asset, you deserve to know this reason.

It's essential that you always look at your property as an investment, as a business transaction. Even if you personally know the people wanting to rent the property, be sure to do the relevant tenant screening, again reducing your risk.

Unfortunately so many people will rent a property without having the funds to pay the rental amount. If they don't have a good credit score and have default payments against their name, you will never know until you do the relevant tenant screening reports.

Be aware that when you rent out a property without carrying out tenant screening, you may be facing serious financial risk. A tenant that leaves in the middle of the night without paying rent, you are left out of pocket until you can find a replacement tenant. This can take weeks, if not months.

If you have purchased a property with the intention of renting it out and are looking for the rental income to pay your mortgage, you cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to your tenant selection.

This is why you need to take every step to ensure that when you sign the lease and hand over the keys, you feel completely at ease that you have made the right decision.

How to Help Your Business Enjoy a Constant Cash Flow

How to Help Your Business Enjoy a Constant Cash Flow

One of the biggest problems facing small businesses today is cash flow. Since the economic crisis, more small businesses are entering the market than ever before.

This is thanks to the internet, giving people the opportunity to start up their own businesses from home.

As with any business, owning your own business comes with a level of risk and frustration, especially when it comes to finances. A business needs a good cash flow in order to survive, pay bills and ensure it has money in the bank to purchase stock and other essential items.

There are times when as a business owner you will need to take check payments or send goods to other companies, without an upfront payment. This means that you need to invoice the company and wait, sometimes thirty to sixty days before payment is made. Not the ideal situation when you're starting out. So what is the solution?

Unfortunately every business dealing is risky, there are no "sure things" when it comes to business. The risk you take will either work out in your favor or will leave you strapped for cash.

The first step is to carry out a find asset report on any customer that owes you money and has vanished. This happens often to companies throughout the world and is something you have absolutely no control over.

In most cases the customer is still around and even at the same address, they're just avoiding your phone calls and ignoring your demand letters because they don't have the money to pay. A find asset reports gives you insight into your customer, things you may not have known, such as another address, contact information for family members and more.

Using these find asset reports can assist you in locating your customer and demanding the cash that they owe you, to help your business stay afloat. Companies around the world use the find asset reports on their customers that ignore their demands for payment.

If you have supplied the goods or services, then you have a right to your payment. You need to know who your debtors are, carry out identity verifications before offering credit. If necessary run a credit history check on them to ensure they are trustworthy and reliable in making timely payments.

You cannot offer credit to anyone without checking all the bases and giving yourself the peace of mind that is needed to give credit to a complete stranger. The reality in today's market is that even doing the necessary credit checks and identity checks, people are still ending up in financial trouble and ignoring payment requests.

The find asset reporting is a way to ensure you find your customer and get the money you need. If they have purchased a vehicle, for example, and are missing payments, the find asset report can help you in the repossession of the vehicle.

From invoice to reporting should be done as quickly as possible. As soon as you realize there is a problem, it's time to call in an agency to assist. While this may cost you some money, getting payment is a huge advantage to give you the cash flow needed to pay your own bills.

What many customers don't realize is that you still have payments you have to make and when you're relying on money coming in from them, you cannot take any side steps. In fact you have to take every step necessary to get your item back or get payment, so you can make necessary arrangements to keep your own business name clean.

Requirements and Qualities of a Great Potential Tenant

Requirements and Qualities of a Great Potential Tenant

The difficulty of being a landlord comes in the gamble of new tenants. Their application may appear solid at first glance and all meetings have been pleasant interactions. Then, before landlords realize it, they are destroying property, disturbing neighbors, and are late on their rent. Performing proper tenant screening will help prevent bad eggs from getting in the building.

The process of tenant screening should fully evaluate prospective tenants. It is to decide if the tenant is likely to fulfill the terms in their lease or rental agreement while taking care of the rental property. The final decision comes down to full approval of a tenant, conditional approval such as requiring a cosigner, or denying a tenant entirely.

There are certain qualities landlords need to be on the lookout for in a great future tenant. First, they need to be willing to pay rent with the condition their income exceeds at least three times the monthly rent. Without reliable payment, eviction occurs which could give landlords thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Not only do tenants need to make enough to pay rent, they also need to be willing to pay on time. Some landlords see late rent as a benefit for the income they get from late fees. However, a tenant who pays late may stop paying completely. It is stressful when rent does not come in. This can be avoided by renting to tenants with a solid history of paying on time.

A tenant's job must be stable and long term. If they switch jobs often, or have long periods of unemployment, that could equal long periods of missed rent. A tenant must also be clean with good housekeeping skills. Since tenants will leave the complex one day, they need to be able to clean and orderly day to day, along with the ability to take good care of the rental property.

A tenant with an extreme criminal history should not be discriminated against, yet landlords also need to cautious. If possible, get in contact with a parole officer if crimes were recent. If they occurred many years ago with no known incidents since then, they are safe to approve in that aspect.

Drugs are a complete tenant deal breaker. Drug use will cause faulty payments, damage to property, and begin other illicit activities on the property, giving the landlord an unwanted reputation. Any illegal activities cause only stress and expense.

When screening tenants, consider how much stress they may cause in the future. If they are high maintenance and constantly demand the landlord's time and attention, they are probably not worth approving. These kind of tenants will cause the landlord problems. Only approve these tenants if finding other quality tenants has been difficult.

Tenants should be given a few minimum requirements they must meet in order to be applicable. These standards need to be placed in the ad which advertises rental availability. They can also be discusses in a pre-screening phone interview. It is imperative that all landlords perform a phone interview before showing the property. This saves time with false applications.

On the phone, verify the tenant makes three times the amount of monthly rent. This exact number for income will help filter out tenants who believe they can afford rent but actually cannot. A tenant must have references from past landlords. References from personal friends or family are a red flag on an application.

A tenant should not have been evicted in the recent past. If they have, they need to be denied approval. Criminal or drug activity in their backgrounds is another red flag that needs to be thoughtfully considered by a landlord. People may change their behavior, but the general rule is that behavior had to be at least two year prior with no signs of incident since then.

Expedience Is Not the Same Thing As Survival

Expedience Is Not the Same Thing As Survival

Donella Meadows, the environmental scientist, famous for her book, 'The Limits to Growth', famously once said of George W. Bush, the former President of the USA, that he cared as much about climate change as you might expect from a Texas oilman. In a sense, we are all 'oilmen'; we all care about what is immediately important to ourselves - our jobs, our lifestyles, our comfort and our leisure, and we care about the things that provide us with those - our economic systems.

And in some senses, that is how it should be - if our economy collapses, so do our lives, but, as Aldo Leopold once famously said, we should, "Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient." To which, we might place another comment by Ms. Meadows; that, "You may be able to fool the voters, but not the atmosphere. "

Our economic systems maintain and sustain us, that's for sure, but isn't it also true that the Earth sustains everything and everybody: ignoring the Earth and its needs is having far greater consequences than anything that can happen to our economic systems.

In 'Limits to Growth', Meadows outlines five variables that should be considered when making decisions that could result in environmentally global catastrophe. These five are world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. She might have added that a failure to take these into account will result in environmental disaster.

We are well aware of all this, and yet governments cannot agree on substantive and collective action vital to staying this progress of destruction. In the absence of real government action, we, the inhabitants of Earth can do something - we must, before it is not too late, and it is already late.

There are people everywhere who are attempting to live their lives as though something else mattered more than them. To most of us, we continue on blindly as if nothing was at stake, as if nothing depended upon us, as if we could do nothing.

To 'think outside the box' in common parlance, is what is required. As Donella Meadows also stated, "Your paradigm is so intrinsic to your mental process that you are hardly aware of its existence, until you try to communicate with someone with a different paradigm."

We might think our individual efforts too small to be significant, but we forget that governments owe their very existence to us, the electorate, to us the citizens of this world. Besides beginning to live a more environmentally consciously aware life, we should bring pressure to bear on our representatives, recalling first, that the pen is mightier than the sword!

Read more, write to your representative in government, give voice to your concerns before it is too late, and it is already late.

Can The Bible Help Me With My Finances?

Can The Bible Help Me With My Finances?

Can the Bible help me with my finances? Yes it can.

The reason I am saying that is that I found answers there that helped me with my own personal finances. There was a time in my life when my curiosity peaked and I spent a year researching only the passages of Scripture that pertained to finances. To my surprise I found multiple references to this subject called money. To say it peaked my interest is an understatement.

There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible and over 2,000 of these promises deal with money. Jesus spoke more about finances than he did about heaven, hell, and his second coming. Beginning in the book of Genesis we see concepts about money that still apply today.

To begin we need to look at some concepts about money that are outlined in the Scriptures;

1) The love of money is the root of all evil - there are so many crimes committed not because of money but because of an unhealthy love towards it. If we loved money less we would treat strangers better. People are reluctant to give because they can not see letting go of money.

2) You cannot serve God and money- God never says that He wants us poor; however he also never promised we would all be millionaires. His desire for us is that we seek Him first and not make the pursuit of money our life goal. We need to have enough resources to meet our family needs.

3) The worker is worthy of his wages - God believes in fairness. He wants us to be properly compensated for the work we do. Contrary to some beliefs, God wants us to work hard and be paid well for all that we do.

4) We must be content to experience joy with money - Money with joy is great. Nothing beats having money and people whom you love that you can share it with. You can have the best of both worlds with money and joy. That should make everyone happy.

5) Debt enslaves so we should strive to be debt free - Do the best you can to pay off your debts. The borrower is servant to the lender and being anyone's slave by force is not good. Financial freedom is God's plan for us all.

6) Your gifts make room for you - The gifts God has blessed you with are designed to make a place for you in the marketplace. Don't sell yourself short.

Follow the Bible's guidelines on money and watch your personal and company finances improve.

I dare you!

Spreadsheets Can Destroy Your Investment Portfolio

Spreadsheets Can Destroy Your Investment Portfolio

A lot of portfolio back tests (and their resulting charts) are just silly. Any moron can go into a spreadsheet to find what worked best in the past (especially when cherry picking dates). But it takes some real thinking to work out a strategy that can deal with future unknown risks.

You can't optimize for returns going forward because you don't know what those returns will be. So anyone designing a portfolio based only on what worked best in the past is making a major tactical error with their investments. A mistake that could destroy a retirement plan.

What I liked most about our "Forever" Portfolio is that it eliminates most risk. As a lifelong entrepreneur, I really believe that after 40 years of trading and investing, I understand the nature of the unknown and investing RISK. It's not about going into a spreadsheet, hand picking some dates and blend of assets to see what did best, and then going out and buying those investments. If investing were that easy we'd all be filthy rich!

Rather, back-testing can really only show you what DIDN'T work well in the past, so you can avoid repeating those mistakes, or at least be aware of those risks. Back-testing can never prove something will work best going forward. Also, back-testing will never show you extraordinary events, such as civil unrest, unprecedented government intervention in the markets, inflation, etc.

These risks need to have some diversification applied as well and the Forever Portfolio actually considers these risks that spreadsheet-only portfolios do not.

This is why I find it so absurd when some analyst or pundit claims that an asset like gold is "worthless" in an investing portfolio because of some biased spreadsheet work they did. I wonder if these people have ever gotten far enough away from their spreadsheets to see how the world markets really work?

Having some portfolio insurance like gold around is a really splendid idea. YES, the Forever Portfolio holds gold, silver and displays a good record with other assets likes stocks (mainly ETFs), bonds and cash. But what in history suggests this is not a good idea? Show me the flaw! Show me the data?

It doesn't matter what your chart is showed worked best over a particular time period. The fact is that concentrating your bets is dangerous, and sometimes your stocks and bonds don't payout on your timetable. This is just how life works. I am finding out more each day. Diversifying a little bit is prudent.

Using Charts Intelligently

Investing charts are one tool investors have, but I think they need to be used within their limits. Charts can't predict the future, but maybe they can guide you away from notably bad ideas. Likewise, they can also be useful to test out theories for big flaws you might have missed. Even then, they need to be used with some judgement about the unpredictable future and the idea that history has many ugly details buried within it that aren't simply explained in a chart of spreadsheet data. When looking at investing charts, just keep in mind that pretty colors and compelling growth patterns may not be enough to prevent disaster if you don't use the data intelligently.

Investor Decision Making: Risk and Uncertainty and Why the Distinction
Is Crucial

Investor Decision Making: Risk and Uncertainty and Why the Distinction Is Crucial

Financial markets, like other markets, are where supply and demand meet and price discovery takes place. And when financial asset prices are discovered, the market fulfills another important function - it prices risk. A price, in turn, can be interpreted as an implied probability-weighted average of all possible outcomes.

It is intuitive, therefore, to approach fundamental valuation by running this logic in reverse; identify possible outcomes, determine their impact and estimate their probabilities. The sum product of all of them represents a 'fair' valuation.

Risk and uncertainty

A problem arises when probabilities cannot be estimated and instead have to be guessed.

When you can make estimates, you are dealing with risk. When you are best-guessing, you are dealing with uncertainty.

The concepts of risk and uncertainty are quite obviously not exclusive to financial markets. Cambridge University has profiled a series of papers of risk and uncertainty more broadly. Their Professor David Spiegelhalter said "Making important decisions in the face of uncertainty is unsettling and difficult."

Needless to say, "unsettling" is not a pleasant feeling in financial markets. There are a number of examples.

Elections are part risk and part uncertainty. We can use opinion polls and other inputs to try to assign probabilities to various outcomes, but uncertainty remains, well, a certainty. How likely is a gaffe, revelation or external event? Will the politicians actually do what they've promised, and if not, then what instead?

As the number of moving parts increases, so does the difficulty in estimating with confidence and so therefore does uncertainty. Political outcomes are normally harder to predict when different sides are forced to negotiate; between different parties or differently controlled different chambers (as in the US) or to form a government at all (as in most European countries). How will negotiations shape up and what if they don't produce a budget (as in the US) or a fragile coalition government (as in Italy) or no government at all (as in Belgium not so long ago)?

A sting in the tail

Tail 'risks' are a special case. Though they are called 'risks', in some cases they are in fact uncertainties. With the US government shutdown and an approaching debt ceiling, what is the probability of the US defaulting, and how severe would be the consequences? The answer to the latter is likely "massive" and, largely as a result, the answer to the former is probably "tiny". But what do you get when you multiply "massive" by "tiny"? Using the 'probability-weighted scenarios' approach above, both the probabilities and the outcomes somehow have to be quantified. And with as many moving parts as either a nation's economy or its government have, such estimation is almost impossible to do with any real confidence.

It's not just politics. Another hot topic at various junctures has been terrorism. What is the probability of a terrorist attack, and (aside from the human consequences) what would be the extent of the economic or market impact? Historical data are useless if you think there has been a structural shift in the world (as after 9/11).

What about natural disasters? Logic dictates than almost all financial markets should price in some chance (however minute) of the 'big one' hitting Tokyo or Los Angeles. When, where exactly, how big and how markets would respond in each case, is anyone's guess.

Investor decision making in reality

In practice, uncertainty tends to be viewed in a binary fashion, with market participants considering the extreme scenarios and looking at limit-case payoffs in each.

Tail 'risks' are often priced according to sentiment. For example, when sentiment is positive, a low-probability, high impact negative outcome might be treated as negligible, while when sentiment is bad, its probability might be treated as implausibly high. This can be interpreted as a very significant 'risk' premium, due to the probability of the outcome occurring being unknown or unquantifiable.

Of course, while implying probabilities from prices is useful analytically, it should not be assumed that pricing reflects pure expectations. Aside from the treatment of tail risks mentioned above, there are many other considerations such as carry, positioning, flow, second-guessing of central banks and other policymakers and so on.

And moreover, there is more to consider in markets than valuation alone.

Where the risk vs uncertainty distinction becomes crucial

To reiterate: When you can make estimates, you are dealing with risk. When you are best guessing, you are dealing with uncertainty.

You may find that you're asked to discuss the implications of an election, a US government shutdown, the future of the Euro, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack investor decision making, or simply answer a 'logic' question relating to uncertain outcomes. Being able to call upon this type of analysis this in your investment banking interview (especially for a financial markets position) should help you considerably. While you don't need to be able to repeat the entire discussion, understanding and articulating these sorts of concepts is exactly what you should be looking to do.

Mortgage Brokers - More Reasons Why You Should Use Them

Mortgage Brokers - More Reasons Why You Should Use Them

Many refer to the 'good old days' for a variety of reasons... one of them is that once upon a time you had a bank manager that knew you and your family personally, they took an interest in you, and with the greatest of sincerity assisted you in your financial endeavours. Even if you only re-visited every ten years, they still knew what was going on and you didn't feel like you were telling a stranger your life story all over again just to get a top up on your home loan.

Today, we usually feel like just another number when we walk into a bank or financial institution to apply for a loan. Each time you go you are met with yet another unfamiliar face. Thankfully it doesn't have to be that way. The 'good old days' don't have to be a thing of the past! This is where using a broker really is beneficial. Not all reasons have to be financial - they are also personal! Your broker is someone who will not only know you, but also stay in touch and be interested in you and your family. In many cases it is not only home loans that your broker can assist you with - many are also able to arrange personal loans, insurances, deposit bonds and other financial products. How much easier it is to pick up the phone, say hi and make an appointment with someone you know and can trust for all of your financial needs.

This leads to another great service offered by brokers - in most cases they are happy to come to you at a time convenient to you. No more taking time off work, getting the kids baby-sat or rescheduling your life to fit in with the 9-5 opening hours of a lender.

Yet another reason is that brokers are not biased - they have no ulterior motive in writing your loan with a particular lender or product. Brokers are required to disclose their commission to you so you will always be aware of how, and how much they are paid! They are not limited to the products offered by one lender only.

Particularly in the case of buying a home do the services of a broker shine. With your authority, they will liaise with your legal team and also the real estate agent ensuring the entire process runs as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. This removes the additional running around, phone calls and stress that someone else would have... that someone else is you by the way!

Finally, let's face it, the more competition there is out there, the better off we all are. There are no end of complaints about the monopoly of a market in any industry. Having brokers out there representing so many lenders keeps the market - including the big guys competitive - and honest... well more honest at least.

I'm sure you will agree that there are plenty of reasons to be confident in using the services of a broker. I hope these articles not only highlighted this but also helped you in some way understand the finance industry and the important role mortgage brokers play.

Are Government Inflation Bonds Called I-Bonds For You?

Are Government Inflation Bonds Called I-Bonds For You?

I-Bonds are government savings bonds sold to you by the U.S. Treasury. They're not the old savings bonds bought for you when you were kids. But they're a way to invest money for the conservative part of your portfolio. Let's check out what they have to offer you...

The 'I' is for inflation protection. And that's one component of their earnings. I-Bonds carry two earnings components. One is its interest rate, but it tends to be quite low. That's because the other component adjusts the value of the I-Bond according to the inflation index. Inflation adjustments are done every 6 months.

Of course, as a government-issued bond, its security is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. If the government can't pay its debts we might as well throw in the towel. And if it pays with inflation-ridden dollars, then the I-Bond will be inflated appropriately to offset the loss in purchasing power of those dollars you bought it with.

I-Bonds offer two good tax benefits. Its earnings are free of state and local income taxes. The other tax break is that, although its earning are subject to federal income tax, these earnings are tax-deferred until you sell them. Tax-deferred income enhances the compounding rate of your investments. Interest from TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities), another inflation-protected government offering, doesn't get this tax-deferred break.

You can purchase I-Bonds as paper bonds ($50 minimum) or as 'online' electronic purchases - all in increments of $25. You're limited how much you can buy in a year: $5,000 for paper I-Bonds and $5,000 for electronic ones. So that's $10,000 per year per person - or $20,000 for a couple.

You should regard I-Bonds as longer term investments. That's because if you redeem them within the first 5 years of ownership, you'll lose 3 months of interest as a penalty. But you can hold them up to 30 years - and that's a lot of tax-deferral.

-To sum-up the benefits of I-Bonds:

* They are tax-free under state and local taxes, and tax-deferred under federal taxes.

* They offer two components to their earnings for you: an interest component, based on current interest rates, and an inflation adjustment to their dollar-dominated value every 6 months.

Remember its interest component will be less than current interest rates of other bonds since they have that inflation-protection earnings component. This is important if inflation really begins to kick in.

Lastly, you can purchase them online to save you the time and trouble of holding paper renditions of them.

FICO to Offer Scores Free

FICO to Offer Scores Free

Over half of all Americans say that they have no idea what their credit scores are. This isn't surprising; until fairly recently, those scores and the factors that affected them were carefully guarded secrets. As consumer credit protections were made stronger by the FCRA and other laws, credit reporting agencies have gradually demystified what makes good credit.

You can now get your credit reports free one time per year. But, to see your FICO score you have always had to pay a fee or sign up for a free trial of FICO's monthly monitoring service. But now, FICO is partnering with banks to give you free access to your score as soon as a bank requests it. So far, Discover, Barclaycard and First Bankcard have signed on to the program, and more banks are expected to join. Discover will provide your FICO score each month on your statement. The service will be offered to Discover It holders starting this month and other Discover card members later on.

What is a FICO Score?
Your FICO score is a three digit number between 300 and 850. The higher your score, the better. The score is affected by a number of weighted factors: length of credit history, on-time payments, types of credit used, the amount you owe and how recently you looked for new credit. The exact formula is kept a secret, but, FICO has shared that some factors, such as payment history count more than others, such as new credit inquiries. FICO is the score used by 90% of banks to determine your credit worthiness. While the score will generally be similar to other credit scores such as your Vantage Score, they will not be quite the same.

Knowledge is Power
Knowing your credit score can help you make financial decisions. If, for instance, you have a score that is too low to qualify for a home loan, you can avoid applying before fixing your credit. That way, your score does not take an additional unnecessary hit through an inquiry for a loan that you cannot afford. By the same token, if you discover that you have an excellent FICO score, you can apply for a larger loan or one at a better interest rate.

By staying aware of your FICO score and your credit reports, you can fix potential credit problems before they rob you of opportunities. See if a financial service that you use will be offering the new free FICO scores. Check your score regularly to ensure that bad entries on your credit record are not dragging it down and that you are taking advantage of the opportunities that you have earned.

Fore more information on how FICO will be offering free credit scores contact our office at 617-265-7900.

Structured Settlements - Let's Have An Insight!

Structured Settlements - Let's Have An Insight!

Structured settlement is a major concern associated with financial zone. It is a powerful tool constructed for injured people. People usually choose this tool instead of going for one-lump payment from the law-suit. Through this facility, people fetch regular payments for a specific time-frame in order to satiate future goals and needs.

Structured settlements have many financial advantages:

• Guaranteed payment which is delivered by the annuities to pay for your structured settlement.
• Lifetime exclusion from all sorts of taxes including income, capital and dividend gains taxes.
• Eligible for private and federal health care plans.

In simple terms, this settlement is a sort of financial security which can be earned by any individual. All you need is the information and motivation. In this article, we have tried to incorporate all the aspects of structured settlements for your knowledge. You can call it as insurance for your injuries, but you cannot consider it equivalent to health insurance. Through this financial tool, you can enhance your funds by reaching top-notch insurance companies. This money can be dispersed in different fashion as per your requirements and needs. You can acquire it for lifetime, on a monthly basis, quarterly, for a set time-frame, semi-annually, annually and in many other forms. One thing which I would like to mention is that you have to understand the importance of professional firms for structured settlements. Try to approach those firms which specialize in this financial tool and deals best.

Situation of each and every individual is different and therefore, if you are under the shelter of a professional, things will be sorted and accessible. This settlement is available for an individual as well as for the family. If you really wish financial security for your dear ones, fetch this financial tool instantly. It is very essential that you should be clear regarding your financial plan. Here, I would like to lend certain advice regarding the purchase of this financial security.

The first and the most important thing is that take enough time when you are on a hunt to find someone who can pay you bulk amount for your structured settlements. It is just proposed so that you can extract maximum funds. Make all your doubts clear and then move ahead with the company, so that you may not get ripped off. Secondly, the company which you have chosen should give you least pain over such issues. Never be hasty while making such important decisions as ultimately you are going to be the sufferer. Take ample time and then proceed.

Get surrounded by a company which is ready to answer all your queries. If you have a feeling that it is not lending the real answers, you might check out for another firm. The company should be in a phase to answer all your questions as a treat. Keep this aspect in mind and you'll directly reach the legitimate structured settlement company.

In this way, we can conclude that structured settlements can provide utmost security and funds to people. Just make your search efficient and lead a secure life ahead.

European Central Bank

European Central Bank

Is Now The Right Time To Invest In Europe?

In 2012 European Central Bank president Mario Draghi promised "to do whatever it takes" to maintain the Euro. The actions taken by the European Central Bank to shore up failing banks in troubled European economies appears to have born fruit. For the first time since 2011 the European Union is showing positive economic growth. This has attracted a large amounts of capital to region betting that the European economy may finally be recovering.

European Stocks Are Relatively Inexpensive According To Earnings

According to Citibank the typical European large cap stock has a price / ratio of about 12. That compares to about 18.4 for the S&P 500. In the past P/E ratios for the two economies have been relatively close, so the wide gap is interesting to note. It reflects concerns about the economic prospects and the stability of the Euro. But, it could also signal that Europe has not reached the same stage of recovery as the American economy. That may mean that European stocks represent a bargain opportunity to buy.

Another factor to consider is that many European companies are conducting much of their business abroad. This means that they may be being unfairly valued simply because their headquarters is located in Europe. European companies with a strong export focus and operations in Asia and the Americas may be a good investment even if the nascent economic recovery in Europe stalls.

GDP Growth On The Rise Once Again | European Central Bank

In the second quarter of 2011 GDP in the Eurozone started to grow for the first time since 2011. GDP growth for the quarter was 0.3%. Even the troubled economy of Portugal posted growth rates of 1.1%. Not all of the news was good however. Struggling economies such as Spain, Greece and Italy contracted, though by less than in the first quarter of the year. In Germany average wages recently increased by 5-6%. Those are significant gains which should translate to improved consumer spending in the region. Even Spain showed some signs of improvement. In the second quarter Spain saw a rise of 6% in exports.

The Success Of The Bailouts

Much of the credit for the economic recovery is being attributed to the bailouts. European authorities and banks have pledged that they will provide whatever funds are necessary to support struggling economy's banks. They have also bought government bonds of those countries to prevent complete financial free fall. Because this strategy is seen as being successful it is starting to improve confidence in the region.

Europe Looks Unlikely To Split

Germany and other leading European counties seem committed to maintaining the union. It is worth noting that Europe does not face another major political election until 2017. This suggests that there may be no significant political surprises for the next few years. That stability could help the larger nations in Europe to shore up the financial stability of the region.

Consider Financial Stocks

Financial stocks are often an excellent way to invest in a growing economy. Increased consumer and business lending has driven financial stocks in Europe higher and this trend is expected to continue next year. UK bank Loyd's has outperformed the S&P 500 this year, and financial company's like Credit Suisse and UBS have also done very well.

Risks And Potential Rewards | European Central Bank

While Europe has a whole seems to be showing definite signs of recovering there are some serious problems that investors need to be aware of before investing in the region. The unemployment rate in Spain stands at an astounding 26.9%, Greece is similarly high at 26.8%. These are signs of massive structural economic problems which won't be resolved simply with bank bailouts.

Even ECB Mario Draghi has described the recovery as "weak, fragile, as uneven". The ECB cites a number of different reasons why they may need to consider cutting interest rates including a strong Euro exchange rate, low inflation and weak lending to households and businesses. These threats have led the ECB to keep interest rates at a low of 0.5%.

Overall thought the risks in the economy are well known and attempts are being made to deal with them. With P/E ratios for stocks at around 12 much of this risk appears to be already priced in. The European Central Bank seems determined to continue its accommodating monetary policy which should help businesses in the region. This makes Europe appear similar to the economic situation in America in 2011. Europe may just be the next big investment opportunity.

Purchase Order Financing - A Powerful Resource for American Business

Purchase Order Financing - A Powerful Resource for American Business

There are two types of Purchase Orders: Those that are received from customers (called Demand Orders) and those that are issued to suppliers/vendors (called Supply Orders). In today's economy more and more suppliers are demanding full payment for product before it ships. That can place the manufacturer, distributor or importer in a severe cash flow challenge. Purchase Order Financing is a financial tool used by companies to help meet that challenge.

Missed Opportunity Costs

What would happen if you can't get your hands on the product you need to fill a customer order? Might you lose the business? If so, that's a missed opportunity. It means lost profit and a blemish on your reputation.

Missed opportunity costs are a major reason why companies are not as profitable as they could be. In a recent article, Abe WalkingBear Sanchez of A/R Management Group Inc., noted "Missed Opportunity Costs (MOCs) aren't listed on the P&L, but they can have a huge impact on the "bottom line." Once identified and reduced, MOCs contribute to both increased revenue and a reduction of both Fixed and Variable Costs."

Every business operates on the inflow and outflow of cash. Like blood flow, it is that which keeps the business running. The free flow of cash through the business enhances the ability to sell more product and service (which, after all, is why you're in business). If cash flow is constrained then a business may not have the funds it needs to pay suppliers and meet operating expenses. That, in turn, can result in missed opportunities.

The Rack

The Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 created a cash flow challenge for virtually every business. The impact was felt on many levels: General decline in business activity; lines of credit being reduced or rescinded; term loans being called; customers taking longer to pay; suppliers demanding payment prior to shipment; etc.

The last two (customers taking longer to pay and suppliers demanding payment prior to shipment) can be the most severe. When these two happen at the same time your business in on a virtual financial rack - being aggressively pulled in two opposite directions at the same time. Cash flow can dwindle to a trickle and missed opportunities will be everywhere.

Your Place in the Supply Chain

If your company is the first link of the supply chain (raw material provider) or the last link (selling to the ultimate consumer) the virtual financial rack is less severe as you will only be pulled in one direction. In either location the "pay before delivery" policy makes sense and can limit the severity of the impact.

If, however, you're in the middle of the supply chain, the impact can be severe. Why? Because you can't ship to and invoice your customer until you have received and/or produced the product. But you can't take possession of the product (or necessary components) until you pay your supplier. Consequently, unless you have adequate cash flow to cover the supplier demand, you are in limbo. And that could result in missed opportunities.

Options for Handling the Problem

If they are able to qualify, some companies will use a bank line of credit to manage this cash demand situation. Others who cannot currently qualify for a bank line have to wait until payment arrives from customers in order to have the cash necessary to pay their vendors. This greatly slows the flow of business activity. It inhibits growth and profitability.

Purchase Order Financing is another option. Purchase Order Financing is a funding method used by middle-supply chain companies to help manage the cash flow demand of acquiring product. A financial service company will advance the funds necessary to pay the supplier so that you can have access to the merchandise. Funds provided are based on hard Demand Orders from your customer that result in a Supply Order to one or more of your vendors.

It's important to note that companies that offer Purchase Order Financing will not engage if you are purchasing merchandise to increase on-hand inventory. That is to say, they won't pay for merchandise you "hope" to sell. But they will fund the acquisition of merchandise that is pre-sold (i.e., that for which you have Demand Orders from customers).

Some Invoice Factoring companies also provide Purchase Order Financing. Some companies do stand-a-long PO Financing. However, both type of company will require that, if you use PO Financing, you have an Invoice Factoring facility in place. This is because the reimbursement of the PO advance comes directly out of proceeds from your customer invoice.

This, in turn, means that the gating factor to qualify for PO Financing is your ability to qualify for Invoice Factoring. Together Invoice Factoring and PO Financing can solve the cash flow problem and take your company off the financial rack.

How to Save Money on Groceries

How to Save Money on Groceries

"A penny saved is a penny earned" - Benjamin Franklin

Groceries use up a major portion of your monthly expenditure. And when it comes to groceries, saving money is an art. It is easy to save money on groceries and to not over spend. It's even easier if you say good bye to impulse buying.

Here are some tips for saving money on your next grocery shopping trip.

Make a List
Make a list of all the items that you need as you start running out of the products you use. Go online, search for brands and compare their prices. Mention those brands and their prices on the list. If possible purchase generic brands and products from the store you go to.

Avail Discounts
Availing discounts is the simplest way to save money on groceries. Junk mail is often filled with discount coupons on various consumer goods. These coupons can also be found online and on the back of the packaging of the product as part of a promotional activity. Find out if and when there is a sale at the store you shop at. Also, certain stores offer points for the money you spend at the store and discounts can be availed by using those points so do check the receipt.

Follow a Budget
Before going to a store, based on the items you need, set a budget. And more importantly, pay with cash. Carry a little over the exact amount. This way you won't spend on things you don't need. Also, buy non perishable goods in bulk as they will cost you less. For perishable goods never forget to check the expiration date. If the date is due in a small period of time do not buy more than the quantity you require.

Scheduling Groceries
Go for grocery shopping when you are in a hurry. One more tip is that you should refrain from going grocery shopping when you're on an empty stomach, this will save you from spending on snack items. Also, try not to take your kids. Children tend to ask for treats while they're at the store, if you have children leave them at home.

Check the Bottom and the Top Racks
Product placement plays an important role in the market place. Hence, the most expensive products are placed at the eye level of the customer. The trick is to know that cheaper alternatives can be found either on the lower or on the upper racks.

This way you can save money on groceries. The first few times you'll have to make an effort, but with time you will get into the habit of purchasing the right products.

Points to Consider When Applying for a Patient Loan

Points to Consider When Applying for a Patient Loan

If you are having problems paying your medical bills, you should consider applying for a patient loan. This is a kind of personal loan that will help you cater for any medical costs. Before applying for patient loan, there are several things you need to consider.

First and foremost, do you have other alternatives? For example, can you borrow from your family or friends? Do you have any savings that you can use? It is necessary that you explore any options you may be having before applying for a loan. Interest rates are charged on patient loans. The higher the interest rate, the more you will pay for the loan.

Another point to consider is the cost of the loan. Like most people, you are likely to be concerned about the interest rates. However, you should know there are other charges and fees associated with patient credit. There are charges for making early repayments and for reducing the interest rate. Make sure you read through the fine print and do not be afraid to ask questions where you do not understand. It is important to note that different lenders have different rates and charges. Comparing what three or four lenders have to offer is key to getting a good deal. Most lenders post their loan charges and interest rates on their websites so the Internet is a good place to research on potential lenders.

It is also necessary to consider if you can afford the loan. Before applying for a loan, you need to remember that you will be required to make monthly payments. You must be sure that you will be able to make all the necessary payments without defaulting. Do not underestimate the need for a fall back plan. In case you lose your source of income, you need to be certain that you will be able to continue repaying the loan before you find another job. What this means is that you need to have ample savings that will serve as a cushion should you encounter problems. Planning is of utmost importance before applying for a personal loan therefore talk to a financial advisor before applying for the loan.

The last thing to consider is the loan repayment period. Depending on the lender and the size of the loan, you may have between a year and several years to repay the loan. Depending on your situation you can choose to repay the loan after a short time or after an extended period of time. The monthly payments will be cheaper if you choose to repay the loan over a long period of time. In order to find out how much you will be repaying each month and also how much you will have repaid in the end, you can use the many available online calculators.

A patient loan is a personal loan you can use to pay for your hospital bills. Before applying for the loan, you should first explore other alternatives. Consider your ability to repay the loan and whether you are getting the best rates in the market.

How to Get a Mortgage If You Are Self-Employed

How to Get a Mortgage If You Are Self-Employed

Most lenders would not think of taking such a risk. Self-employment is best described as the person owning about twenty to twenty-five per cent of a business. If you declare yourself as a self-employed person, you would have to present proof of income and have a bank account of about three years.

Qualifying for a Mortgage as a Self-Employed Person

Regardless of the fact that you do fit the criteria as set out above, you will find that it would be harder to qualify for a loan if you are self-employed. The requirements they would look at are:

  • Your overall income: What this means is that your income might fit the income criteria different to the usual basic salary income.
  • The way your tax is calculated and whether you have some equity tied up in the business as well.
  • If you personal accounts are in order, this tow might sway the lender to decide in you favour.

These factors might be the way in which you have proof of income. As a result, the lender might deem suitable to offer you the mortgage. However, it is not always necessary to have proof of income, but whether you are able to borrow as much as you would like to.

Some Tips to ensure that you qualify

You need to make sure that you do the following:

  • Keep your accounts up to date so that you have a clean record
  • Use a chartered accountant or one that is certified.
  • Work at making sure that your company has a steady or consistent income.
  • If you do tie up some of your profits in the company, make sure that it is not too much.
  • If possible, try to have a sizable deposit, which could increase your chances of getting a mortgage.

The Type of Mortgage you could get

The calculation of your monthly income is not always stable. It can differ drastically from one month to the next, and even from one year to the next. What would happen then is that the lender might look at your average income over three years.

You could, as a result, qualify for any of the number of mortgages that a normal employee would. The reason is also that many directors of companies would tie up their own profits in their business rather than take it as an income. This will be taken into consideration, and will determine the kind of mortgage for which you could qualify.

Protecting RFID Credit Cards From the Dangers of Wireless Theft

Protecting RFID Credit Cards From the Dangers of Wireless Theft

New credit cards, Radio Frequency Identification cards in particular, make shopping and other transactions a lot easier. However, many are wondering if these new cards are actually safer than the traditional ones. A lot of consumers are worrying that the security technology behind these RFID cards can easily be hacked by identity thieves. The good news is that there are a number of simple steps that you can do in order to protect yourself and your sensitive information from such criminals.

Quick Overview on Radio Frequency Identification Credit Cards

All of the major credit card companies offer these new chipped cards. From Visa, you can get the PayWave. MasterCard is calling its new cards as PayPass. ExpressPay is the new card you can get from American Express. The Zip card is from Discover. All of these cards have a built-in RFID chip into them.

Instead of having to follow the traditional and standard checkout method, wherein you would have to swipe your card and wait for your receipt, all you would have to do is place your RFID card near (around 1 to 4 inches away) the scanner. This then results in much faster transactions. In addition, you no longer have to remove or take out your card from your wallet just to have it scanned.

The Dangers that Wireless Theft Poses on New RFID Credit Cards

Unfortunately, the higher level of convenience that the RFID bring comes at a cost. Along with the merchant's, store's, or seller's reader, unscrupulous individuals may also target your card and get the information stored in it. Criminals such as identity thieves can purchase a cheap scanner, put it inside their bags, stand near you, and take what they need. Again, they can do this while your card is still inside your wallet, which is inside your pocket or purse.

With these potential dangers in mind,card issuers have taken the necessary steps to counter these criminal acts. These include changing security codes after every transaction, which then puts a stop to fraudulent charges after a single use. There are also some who require answering of additional security questions. Will these work?

Special Credit Card Cases- Helping Protect your RFID Credit Card Information

Despite the increased security that card issuers have implemented, wireless theft is still rampant. You can still become a victim of such criminal activities if you are not cautious enough with your credit and debit cards. It is also because of the above mentioned method on how such cards are used that raises questions on how you can protect them. Fortunately, there are simple ways on how you can make your transactions much safer. One of these is through the use of a special RFID anti-theft credit card holder.

So where can you find such a case? Well, the Internet is one of your best sources for these products, just like with anything else. You will easily find a reliable, thin hard aluminum case that will help you make all your cards more secure. As long as you choose a reputable online seller, you can rest easy knowing that identity thieves will have a hard time stealing you information, as it will block RFID scanning activities.

If you are worrying about these cases clashing with your outfit or your style, you do not have to. You will find cases designed specially for women featuring sleek and cool designs. Many of these being sold online are also available in a variety of colors.

If you are worrying about these cases clashing with your outfit or your style, you do not have to. You will find an RFID credit card casefor women featuring sleek and cool designs. Many of the card holdersfor women being sold online are also available in a variety of colors.

Precision Trading Ground Rules

Precision Trading Ground Rules

When making the transition from a pure speculator to trading the market like a speculator, a set of ground rules must be put in place. The first ground rule is the decision to choose a trend. No matter what time frame you buy and sell in, there is an overall trend that the market is moving in. In fact, as of this writing gold, oil, and the euro had all been on a bullish trend for over four years. During that time there have been pullbacks in the market-counter-trends. Once the market reached certain plateaus the trend would resume. Therefore a conscious decision must be made to actively trade either the trend or the counter-trend.

The best choice is to actively trade the counter-trends; then an option can be purchased as a hedge on the trend. With this trading combination, you operate just like a true hedger. There are two ways to look at this trade. The first way is that you are protecting your counter-trend trades by using an option as a hedge. The second way you can look at it, which is more in tune with why the markets were developed, is that your option trade is following the trend, generating income gradually, and you are protecting that asset, almost like a true hedger's cash position, every time you are actively trading the counter-trend. No matter how you look at it, you are getting the best of both worlds, trend and counter-trend, yet as an active trader you are reducing your commission by almost 50 percent.

The average active trader is constantly buying and selling in and out of the market, attempting to catch a few ticks from a stock index, or a few pips from currencies, or a few cents from stocks-all of them attempting to outperform the market. By using an option as a hedge to follow the trend, there is no need to flip-flop between being either long or short. You are successfully placed in both positions simultaneously. Using options as a hedge is completely separate and distinct from two other option strategies-option-spot or option-futures strategies.

Benefits

The options hedge strategy has many great benefits for the active trader; commissions can be reduced, strict trade management strategies can be followed, and trading systems can be properly tested for their viability.

Being able to reduce commissions can justify the risk management strategy alone. Active traders are constantly in and out of the market. If they are actively trading the S&P 500 or some other stock index, racking up several hundred to several thousand trades per month is not unheard-of. There is constant buying and selling pressure, with the ultimate goal of making a fixed daily amount; $500 to $1,000 per day is the typical target.

Reality smashes into any ideal goals that active traders have once they see how much they lose on the losing trades and the amount they rack up in fees and commissions. Regardless of how much or how little they pay in commissions, they can easily find themselves generating twice as much cash activity, in losses and commissions, as they take home as profits. Using an option to follow the trend requires only one commission, and the only loss involved is the erosion of premium. This saves active traders 50 percent of the commissions that they would have usually paid, along with cutting in half their potential for losses in their active trading.

Not all active traders attempt to buy and sell back-to-back. There are some traders who focus on momentum trading only, so on any given day they are only long a market or short a market. While they may not get a reduction in commissions, they will benefit from having the option playing cleanup if the momentum of the day is not in sync with the overall trend of the market.

Another key benefit is the ability to refine entry and exit signals. When the entry is limited to a specific type of situation, in this case counter-trends, trading entry signals can be honed. Whether these signals work or not will quickly become apparent without the trader needing to be wholly committed. This also allows for easier journaling of specific trading strategies.

If all of these benefits aren't enough, futures traders also have the ability to reduce their margins. Whenever they combine options to diminish their risk, regardless of how they do it, margins are reduced at the commission merchant level.

Pitfalls

Picking the right option is the largest pitfall when implementing this option hedge strategy. Years ago a British television game show, The Weakest Link, was imported to the United States. Losing contestants were told, "You are the weakest link!" Every time the option as a hedge strategy is proposed, those words ring in my head. The strategy is sound in both theory and practice, but the strike price of the option is essential to its success. That may mean that the average active trader may not be able to afford to use this strategy if the option is expensive or if the option exceeds the price of the underlying asset by too much.

For those active traders who focus on the Emini markets, their commissions and day trading margins can be exceptionally reasonable. As long as a trader is willing to not hold a position overnight, the margin for the Emini S&P can be as low as $250 per contract. The standard Emini S&P contract margin typically runs over $4,000, depending on volatility, when a contract is carried overnight. The day trading margin and overnight margin are tremendously different. This difference allows traders with as little as $2,000 in their accounts to trade the Emini S&P. This has to be taken into account when suggesting to active traders to use options as a hedge for their trading.

There are only two types of options that can be purchased to hedge a position, an in-the-money option and an at-the-money option. Either of these options can follow the trend effectively while the active trader executes counter-trend trades. The primary drawback is expense.

Finally, no matter whether the trader purchases an option for the front month or for a further-out month, he must balance the expense of the option against what his day trading margins are and what the ultimate goal is in protecting himself.

What You Should Know About Trading Psychology

What You Should Know About Trading Psychology

Because trading is all about numbers, and the way they go up and down, anyone who has not tried it probably has the impression that it is the sort of hobby or career that needs a calculator brain. As most people would not claim to have this facility, they might believe that they could not succeed at trading.

Once you have tried it, you rapidly come to realize that trading is much more emotional than that. It is your feelings and fears that limit your success, much more than any digits you may be watching. Thus, trading psychology is a crucial topic for anyone who wants to win on the Forex markets.

You may have waited for "the stars to align", the perfect setup for what should be a profitable trade. Many times this would be sufficient, even though a winning trade introduces its own mental problems. But sometimes the charts will totally let you down, and in many ways that is the hardest part of trading to deal with.

After all, it was a trade where everything was right and you followed your trading strategy. How on earth did you get it so wrong? Stop there. While it is totally natural, that is just the wrong question that you should be asking yourself.

The real world does not prepare you for the mental anguish of trading. In the real world you would want to know what you had done wrong, and try and avoid that mistake in the future. When you start trading, you cannot help bringing the same attitudes to the table. You need to learn a new way of thinking to cope with the markets.

Back to the question. If everything was right and you followed your trading strategy, you did not get it wrong. You need to congratulate yourself on keeping your focus and following through, rather than allowing circumstances to distract you from your trading plan. You do not control the markets, and neither do all the indicators that you choose to refer to.

The point is that the markets will do what they do, and you are simply trying to identify probabilities when you place your trades. Probabilities dictate that you will have some winning trades and some losing trades, and there is no way that you can know for sure in advance which will be which. Therefore you need to take all the trades that your trading plan requires, and accept each individual outcome.

If you have tested your strategy before using it with real money, then you know that on balance you will profit by applying it consistently. You must rely on that knowledge and not allow any results to make you change it "on-the-fly". This is truly one of the hardest lessons to ingest, but necessary for your long-term performance.

This is not to say that trading strategies cannot be improved. Certainly, you can review your plan in the cold light of day, and apply tweaks to it if it seems appropriate. However, if you choose to fly by the seat of your pants, altering your trading plan while in the heat of the moment, it is likely that your trading career will be foreshortened.

6 Best Ways to Make Money On the Internet

6 Best Ways to Make Money On the Internet

Making money online is the new way to supplement one's income. The Internet offers many avenues through which one can make money. However, some methods work better than others. Given below are some of the best ways to make money through the Internet:

Sell Your Own Product

The first and foremost way to make money online is by selling your own product. You may sell any product, such as mushrooms. You could even sell eBooks on various topics.

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

After you could create a website, you need to provide detailed information about the product. However, you lose a significant amount of traffic if you are not in the first couple of pages of search results.

SEO basically optimizes your website for certain keywords. When potential customers search the Internet for these keywords, your site will then rank among the first few results, thus increasing your chances of converting sales.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is another way to ensure that you appear on the top of the results page. You have to choose and bid on keywords and depending on how much you bid, whenever someone searches for the keyword, your ad will appear on the side of the page in the Sponsored Results section. Selecting the right keyword is essential and you can use various tools, such as the Google Keyword Tool to help you in the selection.

Email Marketing

You can even market your product or services through email marketing. In this method, you build a list of contacts, or subscribers and you regularly send them emails with relevant information. You keep them updated through your mails and eventually, they might even buy your products or services. In this manner, you are always in contact with your potential clients and you use email to attract them to your services.

Affiliate Marketing

If you do not have any product to sell, you can help other people to sell their products or services. With affiliate marketing, you basically agree to advertise other people's products on your website for a certain fee that varies. You might get paid a certain amount depending on the number of people who viewed the ad. You might even not be paid unless someone clicks on the ad and follows it to the product website. Sometimes, the person might have to buy the product for you to receive money.

Buy Advertising

Similar to affiliate marketing, you can even get advertisers to bid for your website in order to place their ads. Using Google AdSense, you can specify the kind of ads you want to display on your website. Advertisers registered with Google AdSense will then bid for your space in a real-time auction and the highest paying advertiser will be displayed on your website. You can then earn money by marketing their ads on your website.

With these methods, you can easily increase your online revenue and make better use of your resources on the web.

Is Your Retirement Plan at Risk?

Is Your Retirement Plan at Risk?

A lot of media has focused this past week on President Obama's desire to limit tax-deferred retirement plans to no more than $3,000,000 in assets saying that was adequate to fund any normal person's retirement. President Obama's goal of course is to find some method to raise adequate money to continue the out of control spending that takes place in Washington and there is a huge pool of money sitting in retirement plans; a delectable treat for any politician. Will this happen though? Will the establishment in Washington think it's a good idea to raid people's retirement plans like the Cyprus government did people's bank accounts?

In prior articles, I've written about Teresa Ghilarduci and the New School of Economics; a highly progressive establishment teaching economics of a non-traditional nature. During the 2008-2009 debacle Ms. Ghilarduci testified before Congress that tax-advantaged retirement plans are no more than theft from the government and should be done away with in lieu of a government guaranteed retirement system. Her argument is fundamentally that people are too stupid to manage their own money and too subject to being manipulated by unscrupulous fund managers who have the audacity to charge for their services. Further, given this ineptitude on the part of individuals to provide for their own retirement, the government should provide that in a system akin to Social Security. One retirement plan for all! And yes, if that sounds familiar, that's the direction of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) - one medical plan for all.

Well the problem with the New Schools propositions which have now made their way to the White House is simply that it won't work. The claim that Social Security has been a wonderful program that has worked oh so well is a fantasy. The reason Social Security worked so well is that since its inception, it had a larger and larger pool of people paying in to a smaller number of retirees. As a demographic shift takes place over the next 20 to 30 years, the Ponzi scheme will collapse leaving U.S. taxpayers holding the bag - as always. The reason is simple; whereas Social Security calls for the incoming funds paid by taxpayers to be invested in "non-marketable securities with the full faith and credit of the United States" that means only government securities (debt) so special government bonds were created for Social Security that pay below market interest rates. Presently of the $17 trillion on U.S. Debt, around $5 trillion of that is owed to Social Security. So while the mathematics of Social Security has worked while the baby-boomers worked, the politicians spent the money and now that the baby-boomers are retiring, the cash is gone so either the Trust converts some of that $5 trillion into cash (hard to do since the U.S. government doesn't have the cash) or it raises taxes. Either way, to call the program a success is a misuse of the word "success".

Secondly, the thinking on the New School ignores basic human nature as so many of these well intended programs do. Many of the retirement plans that would cross that magic (and highly arbitrary) $3 million mark are plans owned by small and mid-size private companies. Guess what, when the owner isn't able to contribute any more, the plan will get shut down leaving the pain on lower and middle income workers. Furthermore, but in the same line of thinking, the New School ignores the political reality that an arbitrary $3 million will be lowered over time. Just like any "tax the rich" scheme, it never really hits the rich, that's not where the money is. The people that will ultimately pay for this are the people with between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in their retirement plans and that is NOT a huge amount of money with which to retire.

So the idea is a bust from the get go. The really good news is that you don't need to worry about it today. There is no way this will pass Congress and with a 2016 election only 3 years off, this idea is dead on arrival. But, you should be aware that the thinking of people like those in the New School of Economics is not dead and they will continue to push an agenda of utopian egalitarianism as long as they can, and as long as it doesn't apply to them!

Save Time With These Payroll Products

Save Time With These Payroll Products

Payroll is one of those aspects of business that many are reluctant to change, but it's worth evaluating from time to time and this is a good time of year to do it. If you decide to make a change, you have time to be up and running with your new payroll system by the first of the year (or sooner if you want).

Over the years my opinion has changed as to who should handle the payroll tax payments and tax filings. While I have many clients who are competent and can certainly handle payroll, I often find many would be better off doing another aspect of the business. Payroll can be a time-consuming task and mistakes can be costly. 40% of small businesses pay about $850 (many much higher) each year, so you could quickly wipe out any savings from doing it yourself. If Intuit makes the mistake, they pay the penalties and interest. Having Intuit handle your payroll can also help prevent fraud. Having that extra layer of protection is worthwhile for many businesses. So here are the two Intuit products where Intuit handles the tax payments and filings for you.

Intuit Full Service Payroll (IFSP)- For my clients who do not need job costing, I always recommend at least looking at the Intuit Full Service Payroll. With IFSP, you simply enter your hours online and Intuit takes it from there! It's a flat fee per month - doesn't matter how frequently you pay your employees, which is highly unusual. Most payroll services will charge you not only on the number of employees you have, but the frequency as well. Full Service Payroll includes direct deposit, making the tax payments and filing the tax forms. Reports are included and the integration with QuickBooks is seamless (at no extra charge). For many businesses when comparing IFSP to another payroll service, you can't beat the price. And many businesses like having the tax payments taken out of their account when it's due instead of with each payroll. Of course that means setting the money aside, but why not hang onto your cash for as long as you can?!

Intuit recently added the ability to do Classes with IFSP and Job Costing on the account level which makes this product a viable option for many more businesses now!

Intuit Assisted Payroll: If job costing is important to you, my preferred payroll product is still the Intuit Assisted Payroll. Many of the job cost reports pull from the Items list and not the Chart of Accounts. While the Intuit Full Service Payroll will let you do job costing, it's at the Account level and not the Items level. So you still miss out on some of the really good reporting. I've worked with clients who outsource their payroll with a provider other than Intuit and then we have cumbersome workarounds to get the job costing in, which is expensive in terms of manpower and still not as good as if the payroll had been done in QuickBooks. Assisted Payroll is simple to use from within QuickBooks (PC desktop versions only) and Intuit handles the payroll taxes and filings for you. All of your payroll reports are inside QuickBooks and there is no importing or exporting.

But if you still want to do payroll yourself, you have two other options - Intuit Online Payroll (IOP) and the Enhanced Payroll. The advantage of the Intuit Online Payroll is like it sounds - you can do your payroll anywhere you have Internet access and it works with all the QuickBooks products. Enhanced is for PC desktop products only.

The Enlightening Role of Binary Options Brokers

The Enlightening Role of Binary Options Brokers

Binary option trading has provided a great source of income to the traders as the trading procedure is quite swift and convenient. Although every aspect of this innovative trading is profitable, still a thorough knowledge is imperative to succeed in this field. Binary options brokers are efficient and culpable for providing relevant and essential trading tips to the traders in order to enhance their profits. They are responsible for facilitating the trade of their investors so that they can earn substantial amounts.

The prominent and exceptional binary brokers educate the traders through different educational equipments proffered by them. These equipments include: eBooks, webinars, seminars and many forums. You can easily check the reliability and efficiency of these brokers through various reviews and articles present on different websites. Another promising aspect of these brokers is the delivery of demo accounts. These demo accounts are regarded as the practice accounts for learning binary options. The beginner traders can use these demo accounts and improve their trading skills to a great extent.

Demo accounts are like an asset for most of the newcomers who lack ample knowledge regarding binary options. By utilising these practice accounts, traders can accumulate handsome profits. The motto of these accounts is to minimise the losses considerably. Even seasoned traders can make full use of these demo accounts and test all their trading strategies before implementing in real-time trading. This is an efficient mode to shield your profits and improve your skills. This is also regarded as paper trading as paper money is involved in demo accounts. Every aspect of virtual trading is similar to real-time trading except the real money.

Expert trade alerts and signals are also one of the most profitable aspects of binary options brokers. These signals are solely for the convenience of the traders so that they can analyse and evaluate their trade efficiently. Proper and schematic planning is mandatory for conducting binary options. With the help of these expert trade alerts, traders can monitor and keep an eye on the market trends effectually. These signals are delivered through various sources including email. As a matter of fact, these alerts are offered for free as well as they are paid. It is solely your choice to opt for paid or free signals.

So, this was all about binary options brokers in a precise form. I hope you must have exposed to some enlightening aspects of these brokers. Get associated to experience wonders.

SEPA Software and SEPA Solutions: An Innovative Money Transaction Method

SEPA Software and SEPA Solutions: An Innovative Money Transaction Method

The European Union has been formed keeping in mind the different types of needs and necessities of the European companies and the European citizens. But this at the same time involves a huge population. The pressure is hugely felt in the banking sector where a requirement of a unified system of banking and money transaction is hugely felt. Computer networking was the perfect answer to this pressure and the software that helped the most was SEPA software.

What Is SEPA Software?

SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area and it is a unified system where different kinds of money transaction and banking facilities are clubbed together. To bring uniformity, consistancy and smoothness in the operations, 27 countries of the Europena Union are included in this process with an addition of four more countries outside the union namely Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.

Essential Know-How about Sepa Software

• SEPA solutions run by the software will bring a change in the banking and payment sector as experts believe that such a system has never been brought into practice in such a large scale. 8000 banks, 300 million customers and around 15 million companies are inculded within this service. Besides there are involvement of software suppliers, public corporations and clearing corporations as well.

• If SEPA solutions are fully absorbed in the system then there are different advantages of it. Payments can be conducted through a single bank and in one instalment using the similar terms laid for other types of apyments.

• The system has not been fully implemented but it aims to work on those areas where cross-borfer payments take place smoothly. This actually helps the national market of the countries to come under one roof which eventually improves the entire financial sector of the member state of the European Union. Earlier the overall cost on making transaction croos-border actually involved a lot of money that were spent mainly on administration and infrastructure. This expenditure has been hugely curtailed under this system.

• Any customer can make payments to a payee present in a different country within the union with ease with the use of a one set of payment plan only.

SEPA solutions or rather SEPA software is an extremely phenomenon which has been first conceived on 2008. SEPA software or solutions has different types of payment strantegies and schemes which were gradually implemented one by one. The first method implemented was credit transfer in the inaugural year. Direct debits and debit cards- these two schemes were implememted in the succeeding years. The European Commision took considerable time for ensuring the leagal strength of this scheme. Hence the Payment Services Directive (PSD) came after 2008. The Eutopean banks together formed a European Payment Council (EPC) which laid the infrastructural framework of SEPA. SEPA Credit Transfer, SEPA Direct Debit and SEPA Cards Framework were the three foundations on which the EPC worked to built the SEPA solutions and software schemes.

How the Financial Landscape of Pet Pharmaceuticals Has Been Changed by
the Internet

How the Financial Landscape of Pet Pharmaceuticals Has Been Changed by the Internet

Introduction

The late 1980's and early 90's brought about the birth of the consumer internet. Still written off by many companies as a novel invention, a secondary market, the internet was not a major concern. Since the mid 1990's, with more and more people becoming connected to the internet, the potential for companies to reach consumers right in their homes began to be realized. Since then the internet has brought about a great change in the way business is conducted. Companies began allocating resources to internet development initiatives. The World Wide Web brought companies and investors together into a rapidly evolving market.

The .com bubble that emerged from 1997-2000 followed subsequently by a bust immediately thereafter left many internet startup companies of the time underfunded. The pet products industry gave us one of the most notable failures of the .com bubble, Pets.com. Initially well-funded, with an advertising budget that bought super bowl ads, the company failed due to a poor distribution model.

Though overshadowed by Pets.com, another pet related company emerged through the internet bubble and over the last 15 years, has impacted the distribution model of the Pet Pharmaceuticals and OTC industry. This paper will explore the economic and financial impact of Pet Meds Express Inc on the Veterinarian and Pet Pharmaceuticals market and analyze the path the company followed to become the largest online Pet Pharmacy in the world.

The Evolving Pet Meds Industry

In January of 2012, Dr. Doug Mader, former president of the North American Veterinary Conference moderated a heated debate between PetMeds Express and the Veterinarian community. This debate was due to the way PetMeds express generated revenue, by changing the distribution chain in the Veterinarian Pharmacy industry. Until PetMeds Express started an online pet pharmacy, Veterinarians held a sort of monopoly on distribution of pet meds. But how does a relatively small company in the Pharmaceutical industry make this kind of impact? PetMeds Express understood the potential of the internet early and creating a new market.

To better understand the effect that PetMeds Express is having on the pet pharmaceuticals industry, it is important to first understand the industry that they operate within. Zoetis, Pfizer pharmaceuticals animal health medications offshoot, estimates that the growing global food demand in emerging markets for animal proteins and the increased standard of living in emerging markets have helped the animal medicines and vaccines market grow to the currently estimated $22Billion market. Within this global market, PetMeds Express participates in a $4Billion dollar U.S. industry, according to their estimates. Multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers develop and sell pet pharmaceutical products, they sell directly to Veterinarians.

Within a $4Billion market, the internet has allowed a new company to come in and change the distribution system, even without the support of the manufacturing companies. Though PetMeds Express makes up only 6% of the US Animal Pharmaceuticals market, the company brought to light the potential within this market niche attracting competitors and the attention of bib box retailers, something that could cause further thinning of revenues and margins if PetMeds Express cannot align with manufacturers in the near future.

Animal Pharmaceutical Distribution in the US

Since the major pharmaceutical companies have refused to work directly with PetMeds Express to date PetMeds Express needed to navigate the supply chain in a creative way. Instead of buying from, manufacturers directly, PetMeds express has been forced to buy from a 'gray market' of distributors, assumed to be Veterinarians that order in large quantities to supply the company, though PetMeds Express representatives have not confirmed their supply sources.

Individual Veterinarian practices that dominate this market have voiced concern that the growing internet and retail 'big box' approach is eating away at one of their profit centers. Prior to this competition, Veterinarians' enjoyed a relatively non-competitive market. Animal owners would visit a Veterinarian, and due to convenience, would purchase medication directly from the Vet. This practice started to be threatened with the emergence of the PetMeds Express model, though Veterinarians still enjoy the major market share of around 67% according to PetMeds Express investor data. We must keep in mind that this figure represents individual Veterinarians and group practices together. These practices do not share in the same economies of scale as PetMeds Express, nor do they individually represent major competitors.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Foster and Smith Inc, a major competitor of PetMeds Express Inc, was founded in 2003. The Dr. Foster & Smith brand was also an early entrant to the internet market. Though the company is stock was up to an estimated $250 Million6 in 2008 and has since been estimated at around $170 Million. They are close in market cap to PetMeds Express with distribution via the internet as well, however, they are grouped in with the Veterinarians in the 67% market share. Assuming other variables are equal with this private company, they could make up a relatively similar +/-6% of the Veterinarian market, leaving around 60% of the current market to traditional Veterinarians.

Currently, PetMeds Express represents a small Cap stock with a market cap of $257,212,860 in 2012. Despite PetMeds Express' relatively small segment of the market, there is cause for worry among the Veterinarian community. In 2004, when the company went public, the industry was estimated to be at $3Billion and PetMeds reported revenue of $93,994 left the company with only 3% of the market at that time. Compare that with 6% of the $4Billion dollar current market and we see the trend of this online retailer's market segment growing. However, as with any business, past performance does not guarantee future profits.

PetMeds isn't the only threat to the Veterinarian retail pharmaceutical segment. The company's growth attracted competition and now the distribution includes The "veterinarians, online and traditional retailers." In fact, it is the retail segment that is beginning to lower margins for PetMeds Express and creates a problem the company must address and work to overcome

In efforts to continue maximizing shareholder value, retailers like Wal-Mart and Target also want a larger slice of the pet medication segment. Their large volume purchasing power makes them a great threat to both the Veterinarians and the new online retail segment in which PetMeds operates. In 2011 and 2012 PetMeds Express has started seeing the effects of a highly competitive market slow down growth, increase the cost of new customers and reduce profit margins.

Ethics and Risk in the Pet Medicine Industry

When PetMeds Express entered the market, they were depending on consumers that enjoyed the convenience of purchasing over the counter medications on the internet as well as those consumers whose veterinarians either did not carry various prescribed medicines. Veterinarians however, receive about 25% of their revenue from the sale of prescriptions that they write and fill. As the company evolved, so did PetMeds Express business model, which ended in some ethical problems that the company faced. As with all publicly traded companies, PetMeds express had to figure out how to increase profits but how could they increase sales of prescription medications and thus increase profits?

This problem initiated an innovative idea that would allow consumers to call up, consult with a Veterinarian over the phone and immediately receive a prescription, which was converted to an order and sent out to the customer. This was an excellent way for the online prescription drug retail business to grow. If customers could skip the Veterinarian visit all together, PetMeds Express could capitalize on more pet owners that valued convenience and generate another income stream through their Veterinarian consultations. However, this method of selling prescriptions without actually seeing the animal did not sit right with the rest Veterinary community. Already worried that the growing online company could eat into the Veterinarian's revenue stream from medication sales, PetMeds Express had crossed an ethical line that caught the attention of the Veterinarian community as well as regulators.

Only three years into operations in 1999, PetMeds Express was disciplined by the Florida Board of Pharmacy for the over the phone prescriptions. The company received a $30,000.00 fine, but more than this, they upset the Veterinarian community. Though the company immediately complied, this former practice continues to come up, even at the 2012 North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC).

At the 2012 NAVC, a petition by Birmingham, AL Veterinarian, Dr. Doralee Donaldson, drew 149 signatures and ended up with PetMeds Express withdrawing as a sponsor of the event. Instead, representatives of PetMeds Express showed up to the NAVC and did a panel discussion, attempting to mend ill feelings from the Veterinarian community. Moving forward, PetMeds express intends to work with the Veterinary community, encouraging regular Vet visits and attempting to show Veterinarian's that there is room in the market for both interests.

Financial Analysis

PetMeds was the first non-veterinarian owned commercialized online pet pharmaceutical company and first public company in the space. When new competition in the online space along with the competition from the retail segment began, profits began to get sluggish. By reviewing data taken from the company's annual reports, we can see that PetMeds Express has experienced a decline in total revenues since 2010. Profit Margins stayed close to 10.5% in the years from 2008 to 2010, however 2011 and 2012 saw year over year declines, with a margin of just less than 7% for 2012.

By analyzing the online company from a different approach, we can see how the company is maximizing the potential of their people. According to Lowell L. Bryan of McKinsey Quarterly, an excellent measure an internet era company's performance is profit per employee. In addition to measuring returns on invested capital, this shows the contribution made by the team members. Bryan says that "from 1995 to 2005, the top 30 largest companies in the world (ranked by market capitalization) have seen their profit per employee rise to $83,000, from $35,000."

Using this methodology to analyze the annual profit to number of employees taken from PetMeds Express annual reports, we see they had their best year in 2010 with profit/employee of $114,546. The stock has suffered in the last couple years and so has the profit per employee; in 2012 the profit/employee was down to $80,478. Not bad for a small cap company.

The drop in profits is due to several factors, including the poor economy, which is causing pet owners to be more cost conscious, increased entrance into the market by other online retailers like Amazon.com, and an increase in competition from large retail chains like Wal-Mart, Target, Wal-Greens. This means that PetMeds Express must advertise more, and lower their prices to stay competitive, thereby lowering profit margins in the short term until other strategies, including additional advertising, help the company grow.

By examining the graph on the right, we can see how PetMeds Express has performed against the market. This graph shows how $100 invested in 2007 would perform if invested in PetMeds Express vs. the S&P 500, Russell 2000 and Nasdaq Composite Indexes. From 2008 to 2010, their stock experienced high growth and performed well against the market with the $100 investment at $187.09. However this changed in 2011 when the company experienced more competition and lower profit margin and pricing. If we look at the trend in 2009 PETS enjoyed a 48.5% gain, followed in 2010 by a 35% gain. In 2011 there was a 28.5% loss and a 21.9% loss in 2012 which puts the stock back on par with the other indexes, however still trending down.

Ratio Analysis

PetMeds Express has grown quickly and carved out a niche internet based distribution system for pet OTC and prescription drugs. By looking at the company's solvency, liquidity and profitability, through ratio analysis we can see if there are some financial causes for concern outside of the slipping profits. We can get a better understanding of this by looking at the company's financial ratio's based on the last 4 quarters ending March 31, 2013

Liquidity

The company has a current ratio of 8.03 which is very high. This leaves the company in a good position if they need to acquire related competitors. This number is also due to the large amount of inventory the company, which can be seen by removing the inventory in the quick ratio of 5.81. The Net Working Capital is $59,162, so there is no immediate risk of the company running out of money.

Use of Assets:

The 12 month inventory turnover ratio is at 5.83. If we compare this to the largest Pet retail store, PetsMart, their 2012 inventory turnover ratio was at 7. If compared with a human pharmacy, the industry standard is 12. Even though PetMeds Express is below this, they also have higher overhead and a larger inventory holding expense. This lower ratio could also due to inefficiencies in the gray market system PetMeds Express must purchase through.

Profitability:

The return on assets ratio is.19 while the return on equity ratio is.21, so even though the company's profit margin for 2012 was.07, they are still doing well for their shareholders. On top of this, the profit margin increased to from.07 to.09 during the first quarter of 2013, perhaps an indicator that the company is finding ways to lower their costs, or that the increase in marketing in response to more competition is beginning to work. By continuing to watch this number, we will get an idea of the potential for PetMeds Express to remain competitive.

Debt Indicators:

The total debt ratio of.11 and the debt to equity ratio of.12 shows that PetMeds Express may not be fully utilizing their leverage. Since they have hit a couple of rough years of declining profits, they should consider investing in other companies that could strengthen their position.

PetMeds Express has also experienced year over year drop in EPS in 2011 and 2012. EPS was 1.14 in 2009 and began to decline to.92 in 2011 and.78 in 2012. The PE Ratio in 2012 was 14 and is currently listed at 15.14 Based on this the price investors are willing to pay would be about 18 for 2012.

Using the 2012 PE ratio and analyzing some of PetMeds current market competitors in the pet and pharmacy business, we get an average P/E ratio of 19.5. Using this number we can multiply the industry average with PetMeds EPS of.82 leaving us with about $16 per share intrinsic value. It seems Pet Meds stock could be slightly undervalued currently.

Future Potential

PetMeds Express must do something to close the gap between their current and previous performance. The additional advertising the company started in the last 2 years has started helping them rebound. What are some other options the company may have?

Since PetMeds Express depends on the gray market for distribution, they have a high level of risk if large box stores leverage their purchasing power and connections to gain an advantage. PetMeds Express could manage to negotiate wholesale agreements directly from the pharmaceutical manufacturers, lowering their overhead. However this type of distribution would likely be available to their competitors as well if opened up.

The company is relatively financially healthy and facing a highly competitive market. Perhaps they could consider a partnership with the competition. An obvious partnership would be with one of the large retailers like PetsMart. Both Pet retailers face competition from Wal-Mart and other larger retailers. A partnership could open a new shared revenue stream for each company as well as potentially sharing their purchasing power. Though cannibalization of some other products couple play a role in the potential benefit of offering PetMeds pharmaceuticals at the popular and growing store front retailer. Though PetsMart has their own online retail, they do not carry pharmaceuticals. Perhaps the established brand of PetMeds Express would be able to handle the pharmaceuticals that these companies currently do not carry.

Perhaps looking to one of the leaders in the global pharmaceutical industry, like Pfizer, can give us some insight into the future potential of the market. Pfizer recently re-branded their Animal Health division into Zoetis, showing that Pfizer see's the potential in this segment enough to brand for it specifically. With some good business decisions focused on creating partnerships, especially with the pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, PetMeds Express can continue to define itself as the online force to be reckoned with in the animal medicine industry.

Conclusion

The company has made it through some rough beginnings including several legal battles. They pulled through the internet.com bubble and grew into the largest Animal Pharmacy with 6% of the market. After examining the company's financial ratios, it appears that the company is currently healthy. This is likely one of the reason's Zack's average brokerage rating for this stock is a hold.

After reviewing the company's history and current stock performance we get a picture of an innovative company that grew with technology, but now must continue to be agile and adapt to change as competition catches up. PetMeds Express has gained 6% market share within the US Pet Pharmaceuticals industry since the company started in 1996. This growth attracted competition to the distribution chain. These competitors include other online retailers and large national discount retailers that are forcing prices lower and decreasing profit margins. In total, Since PetMeds Express was a pioneer in the nationalized pet pharmacy model during a fast moving internet era, they have been a major influence in Veterinarian's losing 33% of this market and changing the distribution model within the industry in 17 years.

In the future, as countries become more developed, eat more proteins and own more pets, the need for animal pharmaceuticals will also grow. If PetMeds Express can find a way to exploit the growing global pharmaceutical market, they will open up a new world of revenue and profit.

Back to Top