bookmark_borderPrepare for First Meeting With Financial Planner

Organize Your Records

Your first step is making a list of all your assets, debts, and otherwise getting a comprehensive breakdown of your current financial standing. Most advisers will want to see tax returns, pay stubs, pension statements, investment and fund statements, and even your informal monthly budgets. If you can, try to have the past three years worth of records on hand before going to the meeting.

Decide What You Need

With your financial history in mind, you need to determine whether what you most need is financial planning, investment management, or both. Financial planning involves someone helping you create and execute a financial plan for your future, including IRAs and other tax strategies, as well as long-term investments to prepare you for retirement.

Investment Management on the other hand, takes a more aggressive approach to building wealth. If you are not interested in managing your own investments to aggressively build wealth, some people have had success using an investment manager to create a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and funds to grow your money so you have a bigger nest egg when you do retire.

Understand How Advisers are Paid

An important consideration when searching for a private banker is to fully understand how they are compensated, and in particular be on the lookout for any potential conflicts of interest they may have when managing your money. Some are paid by an hourly fee, or a flat price for services or a subscription.

Others receive a percentage of the assets they manage, or a percentage of the interest gained on the client’s account during a term. Still others receive commissions from companies selling financial products and mutual funds that may not be in their clients best interests. Know that you are getting a fair deal.

At The Meeting

When you go into the meeting do so with an open-minded and patient attitude. Be realistic in your expectations and do not expect answers to your problems to appear instantaneously. Also, listen to your instincts and initial feelings about the person you are dealing with. Do they seem straightforward and trustworthy? Or, in the worst cases, do they bully you into investments that you are not comfortable with? Be aware of anyone who promises the world.

bookmark_borderGive the Gift of Financial Literacy

A healthy savings habit is the gift that keeps on giving. All of life’s major money milestones – whether it’s for a down payment, starting a new business, or a long period of unemployment- require having cash in the bank. For your children, the feeling of being able to tackle challenges like these without parental support is both extremely liberating and a memory they will pass onto future generations. Although everyone’s situation is different, a good rule of thumb for those starting out is to put 10% of total income toward long-term goals (like retirement) and 10% toward short-term goals (like the emergency fund or a house down payment.) To help ensure success, we recommend having these savings deductions automatically withdrawn from a paycheck into separate accounts each month. We find that it’s much easier to not spend if you don’t see the money. And for those who’re receiving holiday bonuses for the first time, save at least 50% for the future. We promise that this practice will have you remembering the holidays in a positive light for years down the road.

Every year on TV we see the Grinch who tries to ruin Christmas. But for twenty-somethings, he’s going by a different name this year – debt. As a parent you’ve known for a while that there’s no such things as free money, but this is a new concept for young adults. Tour guides don’t discuss loan repayment strategies on the campus tour and credit card companies don’t emphasize their high interest rates while they tempt kids with free t-shirts on the Quad. Credit cards are one of the best ways to help establish good credit. They can also come with great perks, travel benefits and discounts. But, all of these “benefits” are only helpful if these cards are used responsibly. If you’re comfortable, help your child open their first credit card, but discuss with them the importance of paying it off in full each month. Show them how incredibly high the interest rates are on these cards – higher than the return any investment or savings account will ever earn them. We recommend starting with a low credit limit ($500 or less) for the first year or so while they grow accustomed to paying off the card each month. If your student was one of those kids that picked up one of those free t-shirt/credit card combos, but doesn’t remember what happened to either, it also would be a good idea to check out their credit report. This report will give you the details on the card, as well as help you monitor for fraud or identity theft. Although there are many online sites that will show you your credit report, there’s only one site, annualcreditreport.com, that’s authorized by the federal government to show your credit reports from all three reporting agencies each year.

bookmark_borderAdvantages of Collecting Rent Online

Controls management costs

Collecting rent online reduces property management expenses. This allows you to cut down on operation costs, and lets property management fees remain low, which is definitely an advantage for property owners.

Improves customer service

Instead of collecting and processing paper checks, your team can spend more time focusing on their marketing efforts and improving the relations with the residents.

Lessens past due accounts

Since there are different online payment options – such as PaypPal, eCheck and credit card – there will be a considerable reduction in late payments. In addition, mobile alerts that remind the residents that the rent is due, or when the due date is drawing near, usually prompts an immediate payment when your system is mobile device optimized.

Adds more security

Paying rent online gets rid of the risks involved with cash payments. Moreover, your insurance company is more likely to reduce your coverage when you do not maintain cash on-site.

Makes dispute resolutions easier and makes an audit track

Online rent payments generate a digital paper trail. If ever a resident claims that he/she paid online, you can check the system at once to confirm or refute the claim. With a fully incorporated property management software package, you can update owner statements, evaluate late fees and automatically trail split payments. The processing of rent payments and owner disbursements are more secure since sensitive personal info is never compromised. Your accounting group can just click to get a snapshot of those who have or have not paid to allow well-informed financial resolutions.

bookmark_borderEstablishing an Emergency Fund

Well, the truth is it can happen to any one of us so we have to get prepared. The second concern will be addressed in this discussion. Don’t underestimate your ability to save because in reality, you can start today to build a fund.

Experience being the great teacher that it is put a focus on setting aside money while you are employed for the proverbial “rainy day”. The recommendation is three months of fixed and variable expenses if:

  • You are single with a second source of income
  • You are married and both of you work with a similar income or
  • You are married and only one spouse works but you have a second source of income (income property for example)

What is a second source of income?

  • Alimony (if it is significant I.e. not just a few hundred dollars)
  • You are the beneficiary of a large trust fund
  • You consider yourself “financially well off” I.e. you have substantial investment income and/or other income coming in each month

If the above scenarios don’t apply then use six months as your emergency fund gauge.

Here are some things you can do to establish your emergency fund:

  1. Use a budgeting tool to figure out what your fixed and variable expenses are.
  2. Once you have a good handle on your expenses then determine if you need to multiply by 3 or 6 based on the information I discussed above.
  3. Open a separate account for your fund. Don’t mingle these funds with your day to day checking account, etc. I recommend using a tool like SaveDaily for this account because you can link it to your checking or savings account. You can have as little as $1.00 deducted and invested in your emergency account.
  4. Use systematic investing to build up your emergency account. It works like your 401(k). Again, taking a disciplined approach by having money automatically invested at different times during the month from your checking or money market account is a great way to start..
  5. Be disciplined and vigilant. Think of your emergency fund as untouchable except for those true emergencies like losing a job and/or unexpected healthcare expenses.

bookmark_borderMoney and Inflation

Inflation is crafty in his theft. He doesn’t take all the power of your money at once; he bleeds it slowly and steadily, counting on a general naiveté of money, banking, and financial markets to prevent the call for his head. Inflation hides his theft in a snowstorm of official-looking reports and statistics.

Inflation is egalitarian in his theft. Whether a man has 10 dollars or 10 million dollars, he’ll take six cents out of each dollar this year. He taxes each man in direct proportion to the amount of money he holds.

In distributing that money, however, inflation is the lowest type of thief. He takes the 60 cents from the poor man and the 600,000 dollars from the rich man and gives it all to the rich man less a few pennies for administrative expenses. Even when the rich man pays the wages of the poor man, inflation has again stolen a little of its value by the time poor man gets his hands on it.

Who is inflation and where did he come from? In times gone by, inflation was born on a printing press and in the counting houses of kings. Today, with just a stroke of a pen and the clicking of a computer keyboard in a central bank he springs to life.

In simplest terms, inflation is too much money chasing too few goods. In more technical terms, inflation is the result of a total money supply that has become undocked from the total goods and services produced. He owes his entire existence to money masters who have convinced themselves that the process of moving money from hand to hand and around the world is too messy to happen without their meddling.

Who are these money masters? They are lonely, twisted practitioners of the dismal science of economics, confident in their ability to succeed in a task which is beyond the capability of any group of men. With religious fervor they hold tight to their beliefs despite thousands of years of failure, and each quarter proudly proclaim, “this time, we got it right.”

But, it is only by chance that they actually make a correct decision. You see, to truly succeed, they must divine what every man, woman, child, business, corporation, investor, fund, speculator, government, nation, group, and natural force will do today, tomorrow, next week, and on into the future. By its very definition this is an impossible task, but prognostication is only part of the job.

Once the money masters compile their assumptions about assumptions, they must attempt to guide their ship down a narrow channel bounded on one side by confidence in the money they create and destroy, and on the other side by investments they have made in the infamously ravenous governments of the world. Any errors in navigation will take months to detect and years to correct.

If the money masters of the central bank create money faster than the rate of growth of domestic production, prices for goods and services will rise and that money will flow to other nations to buy their less expensive goods. Deluged with a surplus of that currency, foreign monetary exchanges discount it, which inflates the prices of foreign goods in terms of that currency.

The impossible task of predicting how many computers will be sold, how many houses will be built, and how fruitful the farmer’s field will be is further complicated by a government that spends more than it takes in. If the government issues more bonds than the money masters predicted, the central bank has to purchase those excess bonds to protect its previous investments. The supposedly omniscient money masters have to create more money than they intended to pay for them.

If the poor man gets a raise next year, he may, again, be able to afford the goods he could earlier this year. If not, his standard of living is continually decreased. Meanwhile, the government spends the newly-created money with wealthier corporations and individuals, giving them the benefit of using the money before prices become inflated.

bookmark_borderEarn a Pretty Profit With Diamond Investing

Let’s now take a moment to talk about how your investments are affected when a company starts to suffer losses. Companies seeking money from investors usually do so when they are in a tight financial spot that requires them to seek financial help. They turn to the general public when looking for that financial assistance. In these types of situations, the investments made are often in the form of shares, investment bonds, or debentures, with the investor receiving a share of profits if the financial tide turns for the company. These investments are a loan of sorts, with the advantage to the company being that they do not need to pay interest. Each investor, or shareholder, receives dividends and profit share that is dependent on the type of contract signed at the time of the investment. In the case of diamond investing, the investor receives a diamond in return for giving money to the company. They do not receive any interest or profits from the company after that transaction, but they are free to sell the diamond for a profit when the value of diamonds on the open market is on the rise.

One of the great benefits of owning a diamond, besides the status and luxury of the gem, is that it will never see its value decrease, even in cases where the demand for diamonds decreases during a particular period. The supply and demand elements that so often drive the stock market are simply not in play with diamonds, making this investment one where you simply cannot lose. Given the status and luxury of diamonds, which are very often held by kings and queens of many different countries, your investment will be one that is very wise indeed.

The diamond market never experiences a decrease in value. One thing to be aware of is that there are two kinds of diamonds out there: miners across the world dig for natural diamonds, but there are also some synthetic varieties that are hand-made in a laboratory, with the synthetic diamonds often on the market alongside the natural stones, which can help drive inflation. Diamond companies fall under the category of either a public or private limited company, with that distinction usually dependent upon the part of the world where the company resides. Some companies also fall into the semi-government category, which is where the company is owned in part by the government and in part by the residents of the country.

bookmark_borderStrategies of Pair Options Trading

Pair options is a form of trading where you can compare between two stocks. As a trader, your choice is to analyze which stock will outperform the other over a period of time. In this form of trading, you can get the advantage of the fact that it is free of the volatility of the market.

We are all aware of the explosive nature of the trading market. If you are not careful enough, you might end up striking deals that can culminate into losses. However, those who choose to invest in pair options trading will end up opting for deals that will contain less of risk. Those who are tired of the fluctuating market conditions should make it a point to check out options trading and opt for it.

When you are choosing pair options methods that you must use, here are the key strategies which you need to bear in mind.

Different people can choose varying strategies for the sake of making the right kind of investment. One of the best strategies which you can possibly use is to buy a call on such a stock which seems to have the potential to move higher in the days to come. At the same time, you should also invest in a stock that falls in the same sector but is likely to fall down. Doing this will prevent you from suffering terribly because of the unexpected changes and volatility of the stock market.

Further, you need to be sure that you have studied the market thoroughly. There is no doubt about the fact that the trading market is going to change a great deal. When you are looking to make the right kind of investments which will turn out to be profitable, the key is to check the details thoroughly.

Trading is not a field where you can afford to be reckless or complacent. You have to be sure that you have examined all the main points. Check out the main assets, the kind of rise and fall they had, their market history and the future projections as well. With all these points in mind, it will be easier to find the right kind of future projections and this shall improve the ease with which you can make the right kind of profits.

Take all the time you need for the sake of coming to the right decision. When you have done so, you will be able to improve your odds of making profits when you choose pair options trading. The risk factor is considerably lower when you are thoroughly prepared with the details.

Trading is an extremely risky field and there are too many troubles that can occur. This is why you need to keep these strategies in mind. A lot of people are choosing to opt for pair options trading and when you are looking to participate in the same field, it is important to be prepared with the background details. Make sure that you are carrying out your part and digging the details so that you can make the most out of your trading choices.

bookmark_borderFourth Quarter Finance Tricks

We have just entered the fourth quarter of the tax season, which means tax return filings are just around the corner. Now is the time to start organizing your documents and receipts for tax preparation time. Having your paycheck stubs and proof of expenses that can be deducted from your tax liability is the best way to ensure you pay only what you owe or, if you’re lucky, get a nice return check.

Did you get married? Relocate for a job? Have a child? Drive a lot of miles for your job? Pay interest on student loans? or even suffer an injury or illness that cost you thousands out of pocket? All of these, and more, are deductions that could significantly lower your tax liability. Make sure to have proof of these expenditures to show your tax professional.

For many companies, the fourth quarter is a common time for open enrollment season for health insurance and retirement funds. If you are employed by a company that offers benefits it is important to watch for these particular events each year. After the launch of the Affordable Healthcare Act, many people found themselves with better, but also much more expensive, healthcare plans. Open enrollment is the perfect time to make changes to your elective healthcare coverage and retirement benefits at no penalty. Most often, these types of changes aren’t allowed or at least not without a penalty outside of open enrollment. Check with your employer this fourth quarter to see if you can lower your healthcare costs and increase your retirement contributions to put you on a stronger foot.

While most people tend to wait last minute for holiday shopping, the truth is that two-thirds of Americans overspend on holiday purchases. Between buying more than necessary and the excessive use of credit cards to fund these purchases, the holiday season can bring as much financial bloat to your accounts as does all the delicious food does to your waistline.

Start planning now for this holiday season by developing a plan for your gift list. Know who you are buying for and how much you can afford to spend before hitting the shopping malls. Cut back on other expenses for the next two months and put that savings into a holiday fund. Don’t start the New Year with more debt over one day’s party worth of fun. Focus on family time and not what’s wrapped under the tree.

bookmark_borderConvenience of Online Banking

Easy to organize the banking documents:

Online banking has helped the banking industry in going paperless to quite an extent. It saves people from the hassle of maintaining a separate folder for all the important banking documents.

Keeping track of all the essential documents is time consuming and tedious. Online record maintaining is the better way of managing your financial records, in an organized manner. You could print out the documents whenever you need them. It is also convenient to send soft copy of bank statements on emails, or rather than faxing or couriering them. They get delivered instantly, and it is free too.

Security:

Although net banking brings about a lot of convenience in terms of savings on time and money, you will need to make sure that your login information does not reach any unauthorized person.

Banks offer secure environments for making transactions, and they also use advanced security measures to protect their customer information. These days, most of the online bank accounts are also linked to the user’s cell phone, where they receive the security code in order to login successfully.

Please be reminded, that some hackers might send you emails by impersonating your bank. Under any circumstances, do not click on the links that you receive on emails to login to your banking accounts. Always key in the web address of your bank manually in the address bar of your browser, and then log into your account. Also use the virtual keyboard for additional security.

bookmark_borderLure of Easy Money

Society and its priorities change with the seconds of the change in time. Whereas morality and integrity were of utmost significance at a time in an obscure past, the priority of society, today, is amassing heaps of wealth. One may question, why not? If, having more zeros after a figure in your bank statement, surely, means having a greater influence and a vaster dominion over the world, then why are you playing the guilty conscience card on us?

Well, but, I say, wasn’t it us, in the first place, to form a direct proportion between wealth and influence in the world? You, seriously, cannot tell me that this is how it has been since time immemorial! About time we embarked on some insightful journey, wouldn’t you say?

If money was really directly proportional to influence, then the exemplary case of the second caliph of Islam, Umar ibn al-Khattab r. a., for instance, would be a scientific anomaly!

It was in 637 AD that after a prolonged siege of Jerusalem, the Muslims finally took the city. While Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, had fled, Sophronius, the Greek Orthodox patriarch, surrendered the city on the condition that no one was to be harmed. The terms were observed and the patriarch gave the key to the city to Umar ibn al-Khattab r.a.

Umar r. a. entered Jerusalem, to sign the peace treaty, with humbleness, walking in by foot alongside his servant who was comfortably being conveyed by a camel. Umar r. a. and the servant had been travelling by foot and on the camel in turns (Muir: 135).

When Sophronius met the Ameer-ul-Mo’mineen, Umar r.a., one of the most influential men in the history of Islam and the rest of the world, he was dressed in his travel-stained battle tunic, while Sophronius was attired in sumptuous robes. Sophronius was very surprised to find the Commander of the Muslim world dressed in anything but royal clothes and even questioned Umar r.a. about the simplicity of his apparel, to which he replied that Allah SWT doesn’t “demand extravagance”.

The Patriarch then explained that he did not wear all the regalia to adorn himself but to ‘check the confusion and anarchy in the world’ and he was “God’s office”. In other words, for the sake of appearances, he had to portray in his dressing that he was a representative of God. It is, indeed, the concept of appearances that has confused us as to what influence is in actuality. That confusion has, consequently, led to forgetting the reason behind the creation of lofty appearances earlier in time, even if it was a result of flawed thinking.

Sam Polk, a former hedge-fund trader and founder of a non-profit organisation, Groceryships, brilliantly scrutinized the reality of the addictive rat race of amassing money in a New York Times article saying that the money-spawning Wall Street, in reality, is “a toxic culture that encourages the grandiosity of people who are desperately trying to feel powerful”.

Thus, today, the focus of our society has been reduced merely to the goal of generating easy money. Money that is easily earned does not worry about the path or means chosen for reaping it. Every professional field has ample of evidence with this regard, in fact, every professional field has become an example of this problem.

Whether it is a doctor prescribing extra medications or recommending unnecessary laboratory tests to earn extra commission; or a judge ‘fixing’ a case with a politically influential defendant in return for a nomination to be elected to the District Court; or even a teacher passing a failing student, who goes to his/her house for private tuitions; or the role of media in selectively portraying jigsaws of a scenario that misrepresents the entire picture of truth to please governments and ruling powers of the world; the evil of easy money tempts and ensnares us with its shiny traps in every sphere and every nook and corner of our lives.

Deep down everyone knows between right and wrong. Every one of us feels a pang of guilt when we are about to board the bus leading to bribery, dishonesty, greed, et cetera. The effects of friction between our conscience and our choice are terser, initially. However, with time and continuality, the friction smoothens out and choosing a wrong, but an easier path, to our goals doesn’t seem to disconcert us.

In fact, calculated steps are taken by big businesses and governments to erase the divide between what is the right or wrong method and/or means of earning an honest livelihood, as it, ultimately, means expansion and prosperity for them in this chain reaction. So is the case with Islamic finance and the concept of Sukuk – Sharee’ah bonds.

A conventional bond is a certificate which, as per the terms set, when once bought from the issuer requires the issuer to pay the holder of the bond the face value in addition to the agreed amount of interest when it reaches maturity, or to pay other benefits, such as prizes given by drawing lots, or payment of a fixed amount, or any rebate. It is an asset-based investment, where the holder of the bond, strictly, does not have ownership of any tangible assets associated with the investment they made, save the certificate.

According to the Islamic Fiqh Council, having any kind of dealing with bonds of the above stated terms is haraam (forbidden) no matter whom it is issued by and no matter what name it is given as a disguise, according to the Sharee’ah (Islamic law), because they are riba-based loans, and riba (interest) is haraam in Islam.

The reason why Islam strictly forbids dealing in interest in any arrangement is because it is deemed an exploitation. In Islam, if a person contributes towards the capital of any business, they should be entitled to ownership of the associated assets and an equal bearer of the profits and loss of the assets they are backing.

There have been Muslims, who, despite knowing that interest is forbidden in Islam, have voluntarily dealt in it, because of the lure of easy money. However, there has been a great number of Muslims, who have consciously avoided going down this path, adhering strictly to their religious doctrines. This, evidently, was a big loss for banks and businesses that were interest-oriented. Therefore, to include that large section of the Muslim population that avoided dealing in interest-based money, the big fish in the world of finance, came up with the idea of “Islamicizing” banks and other concomitant businesses, and as a result, bonds, too.

What started off with a façade of a sincere attempt at creating Islamic banks, which was a huge success among the Muslim masses, very soon overtly degenerated into the capitalist pothole. The only difference that remains today betwixt common banks and Islamic banks is the inclusion and/or exclusion of the term Islamic. The products on offer at Islamic banks are the same that are offered by a conventional bank, barring the difference in English and Arabic terminology.

Semantics does not really qualify as a stamp of religious approval and, frankly, accounts to nothing. A spade is a spade no matter what colour it comes in. The fact is that 97% of the world’s money is intangible, created not by the governments, but by banks when loans are made. That money is only visible in our bank statements. Therefore, if banks were creating Islamic finance products, it obviously was not going to be based on tangible cash, as it only existed in electronic form.

Correspondingly, Sukuk (bonds) are also one of the concomitant features of “Islamic” banking and have been extensively endorsed by many Islamic banks. The market of Sukuk has rapidly augmented in recent years with a net worth of billions of dollars. So much so, that CNBC called the year 2014 as the year of Sukuk bonds.

Traditionally, what differentiated Sukuk (bonds) from conventional bonds was that the buyer of Sukuk became its legal owner of a portion of an/some asset sold by the issuer. The buyer is then allowed to rent that portion of the asset(s) to the issuer.

Consequently, the assets should be tangible, with physical substance rather than an intangible asset. Perceptibly, this concept is much more secure than that of the conventional bond dealing with electronic money – a substitute for hard cash.

It was not that the concept of Sukuk was drastically different than conventional bonds that made it such a hit, but, predominantly, the fact that they were backed by religious scholars that ignited its phenomenal growth. Since Sukuk issuers did not follow this traditional concept but a tweaked concept of Sukuk bonds, where the buyer does not get ownership of the assets that he/she buys. The namesake Sukuks were just as intangible as the conventional bonds, which is in violation of the Sharee’ah.