Creditors

I got these tips from Practicalmoneyskills.com a great source for financial tools. Ignoring creditors might not always be the best idea. If you talk to creditors they might be willing to change your interest rate and save you money.Here are some tips for talking with creditors:

  • Be cooperative, not angry.
  • Be prepared with a list of how much you owe.
  • Have all your financial records together and with you.
  • Listen. The bill collector might have ideas that will help you.
  • If you are having trouble with a particular bill collector, ask if you can speak with a different person.

Your Rights
Creditors do not have the right to harass you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that protects you. It forbids collectors from:

  • The use of threat of violence or other criminal means to harm a person, their reputation or property
  • The use of obscene or abusive language
  • Repeated calls with intent to annoy or harass
  • False affiliation with the government, including the use of a badge or uniform
  • Threat of arrest
  • Communication at unusual or inconvenient places and times

Click here for full article.

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Some Hope

I was looking at the business news section of BBC and I came across an article called ” Brooklyn: New York City’s hip start-up hub “. Brooklyn, NY seems to be the spot to start your dreams. Manhattan with its high expense and less room has fallen out of favor for many.

According to this article on BBC “The New York borough of Brooklyn has become a hub for the Big Apple’s cutting-edge crowd – and among them are a new generation of entrepreneurs kick-starting successful new businesses despite the economic gloom.” The article puts a spotlight on a group of entrepreneur who started a soda business called Brooklyn Soda Works. The drive from these young entrepreneur to start their company was admirable. One of the founders said that he would come home from work, grab a quick bite to eat, then go off to make sodas till three or four in the morning, and go back to work again later; they apparently did this for two years, seven days a week. The entrepreneur of Brooklyn Soda Works started producing the sodas at home and selling to friends. They are now selling the products in bars and restaurants. As I stated in the beginning Brooklyn is a lot easier to launch a business because of good real estate.

According to the article, “The borough used to be famous for its large-scale manufacturing and was home to companies like the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer – the US Navy Yard also employed thousands of people. But in recent decades, many factories closed down, and tens of thousands of Brooklyn’s industrial jobs were lost.As a result, commercial real estate became easily available – and much cheaper than Manhattan. Perfect for start-ups. In turn, markets like the Brooklyn Flea have become incubators for small businesses – a boon during the recent economic downturn.” Another product being produce in Brooklyn is called People’s Pops shops.

In conclusion, I think this increasing trend of small business starting outside of Manhattan  will continue. Manhattan will continue to be a favorite spot for many living and visiting NYC; due to its lack of space as well as increasing prices the charm of the outer boroughs will grow. Click here to find more information on People’s Pops Shops and read the full article. Do you know of any one who started a small business in Brooklyn.

ETF’s Worth a Follow

Name: SPDR FD TECHNOLOGY:

Symbol: XLK

Currently trading: $29.08

What I love: Well this is the perfect ETF if you want to dive into technology but aren’t sure which way to go. This ETF’s top five holdings are the best of the best in tech sector. They are Apple, Microsoft, IBM, AT&T and Google.

Name : VANGUARD ENERGY ETF

Symbol: VDE

Currently trading: $105.34

What I love: It’s a great ETF to have if you want to get into the energy field and diversify your portfolio. The top five holdings on this ETF are Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Schlumberger NV, Occidental Petroleum and Conoco Phillips.

Name: SPDR SER TR S&P PHARMACEUTICAL

Symbol: XPH

Currently trading: $56.69

What I love: This is another way to shore up your portfolio. This ETF invests in pharmaceutical. People are always getting sick and so they need medicine. This ETF falls away from ‘fashion stocks’ which is less exposed to the roller coaster emotions of people.

Name : CONSUMER STAPLES SELECT SECTOR SPDR

Symbol: XLP

Currently trading: $35.87

What I love: This ETF invests in consumer products. This is a way to tap into the everyday needs of people from toilet paper to food. The top five holdings are Proctor  & Gamble, Phillip Morris International, Coca Cola, Walmart and Pepsi.

Name: CURRENCY SH BR POUND ST TR

Symbol: FXB

Currently Trading: $160.65

What I love: This is another way of getting into currency trading.

Disclosure: These ETF’s will go up and down in value, be sure to check for the cost and tax efficiency as well as returns. Research, research, research.

Grateful for What You Have

As I always do I was browsing through the internet finding stories or ideas that caught my eye and I came across one from the NY Times called “For Spaniards, Having a Job No Longer Guarantees a Paycheck ” by . Know I know what you might be thinking, ‘ hey this is supposed to be a blog about receiving information to make the best financial decision’ but every now and then we need a reminder that things could be worst. At the present moment we are facing an economic picture that isn’t all that rosy with high unemployment and congressman that are acting like spoil children. But when you like at a headline like this it makes you grateful for what you have.

According to the NY Times article, “Over the past two years, Ana María Molina Cuevas, 36, has worked five shifts a week in a ceramics factory on the outskirts of this city, hand-rolling paint onto tiles. But at the end of the month, she often went unpaid “. Suzanne Daley goes on to say that despite unpaid wages Molina shows up everyday; afraid to quit out of fear that she will never get the $13,000 owed to her or that she wont find another job. The situation has gotten so bad that many workers have taken their companies to court. As a result the courts are jammed and proceedings take longer than in previous years. Can you imagine something like that on a large-scale happening in the United States ?

Click here to read the full article

A 529 Plan and Work

According to CNN Money,”Someday soon, your employer may match your contributions to a 529 college savings plan, just like it does with your 401(k).” I don’t have much knowledge about this plan other than some people using it as a way to build funds to pay for their kids college. The plans are typically sponsored by states. Tax benefits and rules vary by states; some shopping around is needed. If you have kids or for whatever reason want to save for college than having an employer match your contribution to A 529 could be very useful. CNN Money goes on to say that “One company is already pioneering this concept. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility, a credit reporting and monitoring firm for businesses, is now offering a 529 college savings plan to its 600 employees that matches annual contributions up to $2,500 for salaried workers and $1,000 for hourly employees, dollar for dollar.” This is an excellent way to invest in the future of your employees and can be a great motivational tool. At a time of high college cost this could be a powerful tool for many families.  The pioneering company of  Dun & Bradstreet is providing the blueprint for it’s A 529 contribution program, called EdAhead, to other companies free of charge; I really hope this trend continues. Click here to read the full article.

Considered a Person But Cant do Jail

So corporations are considered people but can’t go to jail. I don’t get it,  corporations are considered people but get luxuries that most people can’t. The question of how far we are willing to consider corporations people in good and bad times was raised by a CNN Money headline “HSBC: Too big to jail?”In case you havent read the story it goes like this, HSBC is accused of laundering money for the Mexican drug cartel. The bank broke the law several times despite repeated warnings. According to CNN Money “To make matters worse, HSBC received multiple warnings. U.S. regulators ordered the bank in 2003 to strengthen its anti-money laundering controls, and did so again in 2010 after finding it had continued to ignore suspicious transactions.”The record of dysfunction that prevailed at HSBC for many years was astonishing,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. “Today, HSBC is paying a heavy price for its conduct.”  I understand that shutting down HSBC will create massive job loss and serious economic harm but considering the seriousness of this violation something more serious needs to be done besides , “HSBC compliance officials have had their bonuses clawed back, and most of HSBC’s senior management has been replaced since the conduct at issue, which stretched from the mid-1990s to 2010” this according to CNN Money.

Stocks worth a Follow

Apartment Investment and Management : Symbol  AIV

Currently trading: $25.68

What I love: It’s a good stock to have if you want to invest in apartment management and construction. The housing market is doing some recovery but to give you an edge its something I would strongly consider. The stock is also good at paying dividends which you can use to reinvest.

Wisdom Tree Emerging Market Equity: Symbol  DEM

Currently Trading: $ 54.80

What I love: Well it’s surely another way to diversify your portfolio. Emerging markets in Asia and Brazil have a lot of room to grow. As always be cautious before you get in.

IPATH DJ-UBS COTTON: Symbol  BAL

Currently trading: $48.67

What I love: It’s a highly rated stock by Merriledge. It also has consistent good returns. But be warned it has extreme volatility potential so if you are a cautious investor it might not be the best for you.

POWERSHARES FINANCIAL: Symbol  PGF

Currently trading: $18.37

What I love: Even though I am not a big fan of going into investing in any Bank stocks this is a good one to look at. I like the relatively low price for pretty good returns. It’s also perhaps the best way to limit your exposure to banks if you are like me and not a big fan of bank investing.

Disclosure: These are just ideas and not saying you should go an get it. Please do research before you buy.

MorningStar

            I hope you have heard of MorningStar.com and if you haven’t than its time that you explore the site.  Considering that this blog is about finance you can easily figure out where I am going with this post. The website is designed to easily get you to the information you need. Even though it’s free to surf the site a person needs a membership to get the full benefits of MorningStar. Nevertheless, the first section of the website is Portfolio where once you are a member you can track and use different tools to pick stocks as well as other investments. The second section is Stocks where a visitor can get the most up to date news on stocks as well as advice on different issues related to stocks; the advice comes in articles or videos. My favorite parts of the stock section are the Stock Screener and Cheap Stocks With Best Year-to-Date Returns. The second section of the site is called Bonds. In this section users get the most up to date news on bonds, advice from professionals and screen different types of bonds. My favorite sections of the bonds are Calculators which gives you an idea of earnings and Investing Classroom which goes over some important need to know information on bonds.

A fourth section of the website is Mutual. The Mutual section is about mutual funds. In this section users are able to screen funds for investments, hear and read the views of analysts. What I really like about this section is that analysts are rated for their performance by MorningStar. Furthermore, just like stocks and bonds; mutual funds are also rated by MorningStar. A fifth section is ETF;  If you don’t know what ETF’s are please look back into the archives of this blog because I posted an explanation of ETF’s.  ETF’s are great investment tools because it limits your exposure to potential dramatic decrease in investment value. Morningstar’s ETF’s section has a screener for investment and you can get the most up to date news on this financial instrument.

A final section I would like to describe on MorningStar is Real Life Finance. This section has information on Family finance, how to start investing, saving for college, investing for retirement, investing while you are retired, making the best out of your portfolio and minimizing taxes.

Dont let Debt be the Grinch

Debt can be a serious problem if mismanaged. Around the holidays an already bad debt problem can exploded into a serious issue if not managed. In order to avoid trouble set up a budget and do not go over it. A great site to explore setting up a budget is Mint.com. I know it may seem tempting to charge it and the pressure to give the best present to your family or loved ones might seem persuasive but shun it. Below is a great tip on how to start managing debt. If you want more ideas click here

Write it Out
Do you truly know how much debt you have? Begin by manufacturing a list of everything you owe, whether it’s a mortgage, a credit card balance, student loans or even money you on loan from family or friends. Write down:

  • The lender’s name
  • The quantity you owe
  • The term or condition of the loan
  • The interest rate and fees

Happy early holidays and let’s make next yr the greatest. : )

 

Bite of the Apple

According to CNNMoney Apple will begin to make some Macs in the USA. This is good public relations move from Apple after they received heavy public relations damaged for the work conditions in its overseas factories. According to CNNmoney “In interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek and NBC’s Brian Williams, Cook said that “some production” of the Mac will be brought back to the United States. That’s a switch for a company that outsourced most of its Macintosh manufacturing to China in the late 1990s. Apple confirmed to CNN that it would be investing $100 million in the transition, and that U.S. production will begin sometime next year.” The article goes on to say that  Apple isn’t making any significant  shift to its production scheme. The Macintosh is by far the smallest of Apple’s “core four” products (iPhone, iPad and iPod are the other three) in terms of unit sales. Apple sold 18 million Macs in the past four quarters, compared to 125 million iPhones.

So in the end this move by apple is a drop in a bucket but at least some more manufacturing jobs are moving back to the United States at a time of heavy unemployment. I really wish for economic patriotism of some sort. Here we have Apple, one of the most profitable American company in the world with over a billion dollars in cash with most jobs overseas when our unemployment rate is still high. Perhaps the we should make the same statement  JFK made to the  American people to these multinational companies “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country ”