Month : April 2013

Investing

The Will Smith Index: 4 Reasons Why You’re Losing Money By Ignoring It

Celebrities are on pedestals in every industry. You want that dress, that car, that new makeup she’s endorsing, that soda he’s drinking in that funny commercial. It’s the celebrity selling point, the Will Smith Index: if they endorse it, you should invest in it.

The Midas Touch

Midas Touch

Image via Flickr by missmareck

Look at Will Smith. He’s one of the biggest stars in the world. He can’t fail; even when he makes a bad choice, such as making Wild Wild West instead of The Matrix, he keeps people talking. He’s planned his career every step of the way, from creating clean raps to tackling TV to becoming one of the hottest actors ever. His movies routinely gross millions and he is a billionaire. Every A-list actor has something in common with Smith at the moment: whatever they touch turns to gold.

If Will Smith appeared on TV tomorrow endorsing a car that runs on Pepsi, everyone in the world would run out to buy both the car and as many cases of Pepsi as possible. If Angelina Jolie, his female counterpart in terms of talent and top billing, strutted the red carpet wearing mom jeans, women would break their necks to buy a pair—or ten. If a celebrity is popular and pleases the public, they make no wrong choices. Everyone wants what they have.

People Want to Become Celebrities

Regular people long to become like their favorite celebrities. They see fame, riches, the ability to travel anywhere and buy anything. They want that. They see plastic surgeons asking for Angelina’s lips and Scarlet Johansson’s cheekbones. When George Clooney premiered Caesar bangs, guys everywhere asked for the same look.

If Bruce Willis steps up for a brand of beer, the stock goes up. When Drew Barrymore says she loves CoverGirl, stores sell out of their cosmetics. In an effort to become more like their favorite celebrities, the public believes what they’re selling. The trick is this: rather than losing money by buying a celebrity endorsed product in bulk, start investing in that company. If Jennifer Lawrence, the new It-Girl, comes out for Doritos, don’t buy the chips, buy the stock.

Celebrities Inspire Big Emotions

The biggest actors and singers are popular for many reasons, but it mainly comes down to what they inspire. They make people feel things—happiness, sadness, anger, desire. Will Smith makes people happy. Angelina Jolie makes people feel sexy and smoldering. Ryan Gosling makes them feel romanced. Financial investors can and should prey on those emotions, because what do people do when they’re emotional? They buy things. Look for tips from a Fisher Investment Forbes Contributor and it instantly becomes clear: the more emotional a person is, the more likely they are to spend.

Influential Stars Influence the People

The biggest reason to take advantage of the Will Smith Index is because he influences people. Influential celebrities influence their fans. When a celebrity endorses a product, the fans buy. If the star makes it look believable, fans buy even more. Invest in those stocks and you’ll make more too. You’ll have to know how long to stay in before you unload what you have, but take advantage of that sweet spot and the money is yours.

Financial investors and planners need to make the most of star power. Once they do, then in theory, they become star makers themselves.

Money Management

Why You Never Make Time To Start A Budget

Through my early 20’s I never even thought of budgeting. I thought I knew where my money was going. I always wondered why I was running out of money before my next paycheck. I always just assumed that I just wasn’t making enough money. I was right, I wasn’t making enough money to spend the way I was spending money. If I had budgeted my money I would have realized I was making enough money if I curtailed my spending. But I was young and had no reason to fix my financial situation. Through the years I finally figured out why I never made time to budget.

You’re Afraid

Maybe you know deep down inside that you shouldn’t be spending so much money on going out at night or dining out. You enjoy spending your money this way and if you actually knew how much you were spending on these things you would realize you can’t keep it up and survive financially. Don’t be afraid, you have to think about what’s important in your life. Do you want to have fun now and worry about finances later? When do you think later is going to come? Just get your finances straight now and maybe you’ll realize you can cut back on other aspects of your spending and keep up what you like to do. Or maybe you’ll realize setting a budget for what you like to do doesn’t really reduce the value of it to you.

You Don’t Care to Budget

Perhaps you feel like you get by just fine. You have a some money stashed away and you seem to have a little bit of money in your bank account before your paycheck goes in. You feel like budgeting wouldn’t really have an impact on your finances. The truth is you don’t know unless you try. Just try it for a couple of months and I promise you will be surprised. If you could just realize that budgeting will help you free up more money to do things that you like and help you to save more money towards something that you want, you’ll want to budget. Saying you don’t care about budgeting pretty much says you don’t care about your future self and providing for that person.

The only way you’re probably ever going to start caring is if something traumatic happens in your life. When a point comes in your life that you don’t have any money to provide a life for yourself, then you’ll start caring. My point came when I ran out of money and I couldn’t afford a place to stay. I asked my dad to move back in with him and he actually said no. He knew if I moved back in with him my habits wouldn’t change. At the time I was really upset about it. Looking back it was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I had to take control of my own life and get it together. I didn’t have anything to catch me when I fell. With that I started to learn how to budget. It was a slow process but I eventually got my finances together where I could support myself.

I’m very lucky I had a turning point in my life that made me get my finances in order. I think everyone going through life just making it but not really doing anything to better their finances needs a point of do or die (not literally die) so they realize what they can do with their life. They could do so much more if they just took control of their finances.

Did you have a point in your life that caused you to have to look at your finances?

Money Management

Smart Ways to Spend Extra Money

It’s easy to be tempted by extra money or a floating credit balance into spending that little bit extra on frivolous endeavors such as grabbing take out or buying something extravagantly expensive.  But in most cases you should always be looking at that cash as a way to better your family and home, carefully taking control of your financial situation rather than letting the temptation get the better of you.  Before you spend all your extra income on something you might not need, consider a few of the better alternatives.

1.  Always make sure your bills are paid and up to date before you spend any of that extra cash on something else.  Ensuring that your car insurance is going to be paid on time and the electricity isn’t in danger of being shut off is much more important than any of the special things you might want.  A new computer might make your life a little easier, but is it a necessity?  Worry about the necessities first.

2.  If you’ve got a little bit of money left on your credit card, rather than using it for something of a luxury, use it for something important.  If your car has something that needs fixed quite badly, spend that money on the repairs.  If there’s something wrong with your house, take care of that before you think of buying frivolous items.

3.  On the other hand, if you’ve got a little bit of spare cash but you don’t have money on your credit cards or you’re behind on your credit cards, consider paying some of that down.  The longer that money stays on your card, the longer it will continue to draw in more interest, which will result in spending a lot more money in the long run.  Don’t let your credit card get out of hand; make sure that you take care of it before it gets out of control and you dig yourself into a rut you can’t get out of.

4.  If you have any bills such as a car payment or a house payment that can be paid early, it might be wise to put that extra cash toward an extra payment rather than spending it on something else.  If you aren’t sure what else to spend the money on, it might be better just to put it toward the debt since it could potentially free up some of your money later on.  Plus, you’ll need to make the payment anyway so whether you make it now or next month won’t really matter.

5.  If you own your home, you could put that money toward remodeling or renovating a part of your house.  Most renovations don’t cost too much, which means you should be able to invest in them with just a little bit of extra in your wallet, and the best part about them is that most of them can bring back quite a big investment later.  If you’re going to spend money on something, it’s better than you spend it on something that will give you a return later on in life.

There are a lot of smart ways that you can use the extra cash you’ve got burning a hole in your pocket and you should definitely look into these before you spend it on something you might not need.  Making smart decisions with your money now can fend off a headache later on in life and it will go a long way toward helping out your family.

Insurance

An Introduction to General Liability Insurance

In business, it’s a good idea to have a good general policy in place to protect your livelihood from undue risks during the conduct of your business. Even if you are careful with all your tasks, responsibilities and obligations whether from the perspective of service delivery or when selling a product, you can never be too sure that you’ve covered all the bases to prevent your company from incurring any liability. Protecting your business from these unforeseen liabilities requires a general liability insurance (GLI) policy so you are protected from claims like bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage related to the conduct of your business operations. 

One of the main advantages of general liability insurance is that it serves as a “catch-all” policy for most forms of business. This means that it covers and protects your business and ensures the security of your company’s assets in the unlikely event of a major emergency or catastrophe. Admittedly, it has its fair share of drawbacks like the fact that the premiums are not cheap but given all that it offers, any risk-averse business would certainly find comfort when under protection by general liability insurance. 

Prior to selecting the policy that’s best for your business, you should think about the nature or type of your business as it relates to perceived risks. A common example used to explain this is to compare and contrast a contracting business and a web design business. It’s obvious that if you are a building contractor, your insurance coverage is more comprehensive than if you were a web design company. Businesses that carry higher risks are best suited for general liability insurance while lower risk businesses are more suited to Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) that combines general liability and property insurance at affordable rates. Suffice it to say, risk assessment is at the core of making sound decisions towards which policy works best for the type of business that you have. 

If you want to know more about general liability insurance, you should start by talking to insurance agents from the popular insurance firms in your area. In the US, Progressive and Geico are big companies that offer general liability insurance for small businesses. You need to compare quotes, assess coverage versus premium fees, and other details. If you are truly at a loss, you can enlist the services of a local attorney to do the review for you in order to find the plan that suits your needs best. 

Remember; your business will never be truly immune from liability regardless of how careful you are. Rely on general liability insurance to protect your company so you can continue doing your business without fear of being sued by partners and customers alike.

Home Ownership

First Home Buyer Grants: Find out What May Be Available to You

home buyerIf you’re looking to buy your first home, there are some helpful financial incentives available from the Australian government that you can take advantage of. Buying your first home has significant cost outlays, so it pays to understand exactly what you may be entitled to. The Victorian state government offers several incentives to first home buyers. Keep reading to find out about the various grants, bonuses and boosts that you may be able to take advantage of when you’re ready to get into your first home.

It always pays for first home buyers to seek advice from an official government website about exactly what is available to them in the way of government incentives. Australia has a huge number of mortgage providers so it always helps to shop around. It’s often easiest to call up a mortgage broker such as Smartline and get them to do the work for you.

Recent Stamp Duty Changes

Before we get into what government grants are available to first-home buyers in Victoria, it may help to understand the recent changes that took place in early 2013 regarding stamp duty costs, and any other changes that have been set out for 2014 and beyond. The great news is that the Victorian government is offering significant discounts for first home buyers looking to enter the property market in 2013. The discount on stamp duty costs is increasing from 20 percent in 2012 to 30 percent in 2013 for any home with a value of up to $600,000. A buyer looking at a $600,000 home can benefit from a savings of up to $3,000 on stamp duty costs. Combine this with the first-home-owner grant of $7,000 and you can save $10,000 on the purchase of your new build.

This good news is set to only get better. In early 2014, the stamp duty discount is due to increase to 40 percent, and in September 2014 it is set to increase to 50 percent. It seems that now might be the right time to look at entering the Victorian property market. What’s even better is that this discount applies not only to used homes but also to new build house and land packages.

First Home Owner Grant

The First Home Owner Grant is designed to assist those trying to get their foot onto the property ladder. The grant consists of a $7,000 lump-sum payment to those who are eligible. Candidates are not means-tested and the grant is available to buyers looking to spend up to a maximum of $750,000. The grant can be used to purchase a used home or a new build home.

There are eligibility criteria that must be met for the First Home Owner Grant. The basic eligibility criteria are as follows.

  • The buyer must not have received a grant in any other state or territory of Australia.
  • The buyer must not have owned any residential property prior to 1 July 2000.
  • The buyer cannot be acting as a company, and must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The buyer must be a permanent resident or Australian citizen.
  • The buyer must occupy the home as their primary residence for a period of at least six months.

There are numerous criteria exemptions for specific circumstances that the Commissioner of State Revenue has the authority to waiver or rule on, and each application for the First Home Owner Grant is taken on an individual basis.

Other Types of Government Incentives

Each state or territory in Australia offers their own specific first home buyer incentives, and each can differ in the amount given, the eligibility criteria and how the grant can be used. Originally introduced 1 July 2000, these grants were designed to offset the effects of GST on buying a home, and help people get onto the property ladder. It is a national scheme that is directed and funded separately by each state or territory. Some states offer various other grants, bonuses and boosts designed to help first home buyers purchase house and land packages. However, not all states offer these extra incentives. Those that do can be subject to change at any time. It always pays for first home buyers to seek advice from an official government website about exactly what is available to them in the way of government incentives.

About the Author: This article was submitted by Andrew Davis. Andrew has been selling home and land packages in Victoria for the past 4 years and writes regularly for various sites and publications. For more information about Elmswood Estate you can visit the website.

image source: http://www.123rf.com/photo_3485804_couple-with-boxes-moving-into-new-home-smiling.html