How to become successful in the insurance brokering business?

Insurance brokers stand for their clients. Selling policies is not at all a big deal if you have that eagerness and positive spirit to tackle your business environment effectively. Here are some useful tips that can be practiced by potential insurance brokers to stand out from other existing players in the business.

Understand your limitations thoroughly

The first and foremost thing is to understand you as a human being. Everybody has their own limitations. Before you face a client make sure you have enough knowledge about your capabilities in handling a buyer. Analyze your weaknesses and sharpen your personal traits. You have to know which areas you can shine and where you need to stay low. This is nothing but the real basics of becoming a thriving individual and the pathway to a successful career in the insurance industry.

insurance broker

Do enough groundwork

The next step is to perform enough groundwork about your client. Whoever the client is, never approach with a blind eye. You have to have enough knowledge about the person you are about to shake hands with. Do a brief analysis of the prospects and grasp as much information as possible. This will help you to prioritize your product explanations accordingly.

Do it today

Time is the key. It doesn’t wait for anybody. You may lose a prospective customer just because of a fraction of a second delay. The sooner you approach; the chances of business conversions are high.

Product catalogue customization based on customer attributes

This is very significant. This is one area most of the insurance professionals fail to consider. They always follow a predefined catalog for every client. They not even consider the pinpoint requirements of the clients and prioritize their product offerings accordingly. You have to take a different path. Grade the products as per the client’s needs. Then you have a better chance of winning policies.

Make yourself different from others

This the meeting phase. The rule is, never to fall into the common pool of “insurance sellers”. You have to market yourself in parallel with the product options that you exhibit. Let your prospect comprehend that you are different from the existing players. Let them have the idea of getting served from one of the top quality insurance professionals available in the industry right now.

Walk with your customer through the path you chose

This isn’t as easy as you perceive. It takes a lot of effort to gain the desired experience and soft skills. But once you have reached that point nothing can stop you from succeeding. You need to be determined in what you offer. Guide them through the best offers that you can provide. Make them know that the best their wish will satisfy with the finest you offer.

Practice taking notes

Never take this lightly. On a given day, if you have to visit clients who follow the same response pattern sometimes you may feel confused about their requirements. Persistence is the key to ultimate success. After the meeting, you may feel that you have everything in your mind. But chances of getting lost happen more often. This will make your follow up plan complicated. Sometimes the result will end up losing a prospective client. So always try to take notes on what he wants. It not only gives a positive intent to the client but also helps you to pick up on your conversation easily where you left off.

Always ask for references

References are an important tool. Never leave your seat without asking for references. Sometimes one small random mention will end you in a prospective business conversion. Be optimistic whenever you ask references. Never judge people based on their appearances. Make sure you had enough of them before you leave your seat.

Post meeting follow-ups

Priority is taking care of your prospects’ queries and solving them as soon as you can. Even though if you need something to escalate, make sure you own the rope and your prospects get what he wants. People expect quick replies and feedback. So always try to be an instantaneous professional.

Automate your business process

This is considered as a guaranteed option. Automating the business process with the help of a top-rated insurance management software not only helps you in managing the entire business processes but also helps you to create a futuristic and trustful image in the eyes of your customers.

Thus you can organize and track each and every stage of policy. These softwares assist you in managing prospects and renewal follow-ups, preparation of RFQs and quote comparison, collecting payments, and delivering policies to customers, their endorsements, and a lot more.

What are the Benefits of Money Management?

We all manage money. Does that mean we all know a thing or two about money management? Not really. Money management is an art that people can master if and only if they see money from an objective frame of reference and are damn serious about it. 

Every adult needs to learn money management. How they can learn it is a discussion best saved for some other post. In this post, I would like to demonstrate the benefits of managing money effectively. Some of the benefits are obvious while some are not so much.

Control over your finances

If you excel in money management, you gain control over your financial life. As strange as it may sound, most people don’t have control over their finances. They either spend extravagantly and max out their credit card or spend too little and waste their present for the sake of an imagined future. None of these is money management. True money management skills - when acquired - help you sleep calmly at night knowing your finances are perfectly in order. 

Explore investment opportunities

For people living from paycheck to paycheck, investment is a lofty word. But people who have their finances under control, know that it’s not a distant dream. A dream for sure, but an achievable one. 

money management

Earning money is an important aspect of money management. People who take money management seriously put extra emphasis on earning money. What better way to earn money than discovering new investment destinations and diving headlong? Money management encourages one to do that.

That being said, one must be able to discern true investment opportunities and not mistake them with get rich quick type scams. As mentioned already, mastering money management skills gives one the ability to spot the difference. Hence, those skills are essentials. 

Tracking your money

There are plenty of software online - both free and paid - to help you in this endeavor. With those software, money management becomes as easy as taking a walk in the park. 

Most people who fail at budgeting report their inability to track money. When all the earnings, no matter how small, and all the expenses, regardless of how large or small they are are tracked and listed in the monthly budget, one gets a 360° view of their financial lives. Tracking earnings and expenses is therefore important.

When you use custom software, you don’t have to create separate headings for your earnings and expenses as these are among the basic features of the software. By spending a little bit extra i.e. signing up for a premium plan, you can avail more robust features sorting income types and expense types, alert and notification on earnings and expenses, and more.

Early retirement, made possible

Early retirement is not a fad; it’s not humblebrag of a few lucky ones either. A lot of people are retiring early in their mid-40s thanks to their efficient money management skills.

Money management helps one set a savings target. We often set targets ourselves. The problem is, targets fixed by us are either unrealistic or too easy to achieve. When you inculcate money management, you learn to set achievable targets. Insights retrieved from monthly budget can make it easy. 

Next is meeting those targets. At this point, a bit of self-control is advised. Even if your heart desires to splurge on expensive stuff, spend carefully. A diverse investment portfolio is more than necessary if you hope to retire early. Find a consultant and get ideas. However, don’t depend too much on them. Take their advice but don’t blindly follow those advice. 

Handle credit better

A lot of people in the United States suffer from debt. The country’s cumulative debt is standing at an all time high of $21 trillion. Like many Americans, your finances look bleak unless you have a great credit score and are used to handle your credit card like a responsible adult.

Strategies around fixing your credit must start with evaluating your credit report. The score assigned on your credit report is called FICO score. A FICO score lower than 650 is bad. It limits your chances of getting a loan from a reputed lender. Additionally, you cannot bargain for a favorable premium rate with a low score.

Handling credit is all about improving your existing credit score and managing your card better. Money management skills prepare you for this. 

Reap all the benefits

I sincerely hope that you become an expert at money management and reap all the benefits discussed here. That being said, money management is more like a habit. Like every other habit, sticking to it can greatly benefit you while deviating from it can be risky for you. So take time and make yourself firm and determined. And then start managing money.

Tips for Freelance and Contract Workers Who Are Trying to Get a Mortgage

Like many people, you probably dream of having a house of your own. If you're a freelancer or contract worker, it's important to recognize the additional challenges that you may face when trying to get a home loan. For example, lenders may shy away from extending large loans to people without a steady paycheck. This guide provides some tricks to help.


Avoid Red Flags That Can Make It Harder to Get a Home Loan

These faux pas can set off alarm bells with lenders.

  • Learn about potential roadblocks to contractors and freelancers looking for a mortgage, like having a debt-to-income ratio that's too high.
  • Take steps to improve your credit score. If it's too low, lenders will be reluctant to extend a home loan.
  • Make sure you have sufficient savings for a down payment. Small down payments can be viewed with suspicion by lenders.
  • Consider a bank statement mortgage if you're a freelancer or contractor, and tax deductions make your income look smaller than it really is.

Structure Your Freelance and Contract Work to Save Money

These steps will organize your business and help you cut costs, so you have more money to put towards a down payment.

  • Set up a business bank account to separate your business and personal finances.
  • Talk to a business consultant for tips on improving your company's finances.
  • Find ways to reduce business overhead costs such as auditing your software subscriptions.
  • Save your old tax records, so you have the paperwork on hand you need to get a mortgage application done quickly.

Follow Best Practices to Reduce Additional Costs When Buying a House

These tips will save you stress, cash, and hassle.

  • Use a mortgage calculator to figure out how big of a home loan you need.
  • Research possible down payment assistance programs to see how you can minimize your mortgage reliance.
  • Consider buying a house in the winter season, when the market is less competitive.
  • Make a down payment of 20% so you don't have to get private mortgage insurance.

As a contractor or freelancer, you may face some unique hurdles when you try to take out a mortgage. However, these aren't insurmountable challenges. The above tips and tricks can help you get past the roadblocks and get your dream home.

Liquidity and initial public offering

Liquidity is essential when looking at Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). This article will discuss the role liquidity plays in IPOs and some measures that can be taken to improve liquidity. It will also look at some of the benefits of a liquid market. 

Business strategies

What is liquidity?

Liquidity is a term used to describe a company's ability to meet its short-term obligations. In other words, it measures a company's financial health. A company with high liquidity has plenty of cash and can quickly pay its bills. 

Conversely, a company with low liquidity may have difficulty meeting its financial obligations. 

Why is liquidity so important? 

First, companies that can't pay their bills on time often face late fees and interest charges. This can add up quickly and strain the company's finances. Second, companies with high debt levels are more likely to default on their loans. This can lead to costly legal fees and damage the company's reputation. 

Finally, companies with poor liquidity may be unable to take advantage of opportunities that arise suddenly. For example, they may miss out on a lucrative contract because they don't have the cash on hand to cover the upfront costs. 

In today's competitive business world, companies need to maintain strong liquidity. This will help them avoid financial problems and stay ahead of the competition.

What are the benefits of being a publicly traded company?

Several benefits come with being a publicly traded company. One of the most significant advantages is that it provides a more efficient way to raise capital. By selling shares to the public, companies can quickly and easily raise the funds they need to finance new projects or expand their business. 

In addition, being a publicly traded company can also help to improve liquidity. This is because shareholders can readily buy and sell their shares on the open market, providing owners with a convenient way to exit their investment if they so choose. 

Finally, publicly traded can also increase a company's visibility and help build its reputation. This is because listed companies are subject to greater scrutiny from investors, analysts, and the media, which can help to highlight a company's strengths and performance. Overall, many benefits come with being a publicly traded company.

Are there any risks associated with going public?

Whether or not to go public is complex and depends on various factors. For some companies, going public can provide much-needed capital that can be used to finance growth or expand operations. However, there are also many risks associated with going public.

Perhaps the most significant risk is the loss of control. When a company goes public, its ownership is spread out among shareholders. As a result, the founders and managers may no longer have sole decision-making power. This can make it more difficult to implement long-term strategies and make the company more vulnerable to short-term thinking. 

Some compliance-related risks also come with being a public company. For example, companies must disclose certain financial information regularly, which can give competitors an advantage. Going public also entails a certain amount of paperwork and red tape, which can be costly and time-consuming. 

Overall, whether or not to go public is a decision that should not be made lightly. Both benefits and risks are associated with going public, and each company must weigh these factors carefully before making a decision.

How can companies prepare for an IPO?

Going public through an IPO can be a significant milestone for a company. It can also be a complex and time-consuming process. To ensure a successful IPO, companies must take care of some critical details in the months leading up to the offering:

  • They must choose the right investment bank to act as their underwriter.
  • They must assemble a team of experienced advisors, including accountants, lawyers, and PR firms. The company must also prepare detailed financial statements and undergo a rigorous audit.
  • They must create a realistic and achievable plan for using the proceeds from the IPO is essential.

By taking these steps, companies can increase their chances of successfully transitioning to the public markets.

With that said

Liquidity is essential for any company that wants to go public because it gives investors a way to get their money out. This liquidity allows companies to raise more money and reduces investors' risk. IPOs are becoming more common, and as they do, the importance of liquidity will continue to grow. Remember: no matter whether you're interested in the bond market, stock market, or crypto, always have a solid understanding of what you are doing.

Tracking Your Income Can Be Easier Then You Think

We all have an income. Some of us are paid each week, some people are paid twice a month and there are even those who get paid just once a month.  No matter when you get paid, it is your job to manage that money so you can make ends meet and still have something left over to put into a saving account.  Besides that steady income, some people also have money coming in from their investments. These people did their homework and then chose one or maybe a few investments to enter into.  To track this income, some people will have accountants and others might use a computer program and enter their earnings so they always know how much money they have and were it is coming from.

Your Income

They might also have an inheritance that is paid quarterly and that too will be tracked and added to their net worth.  Being the victim of an accident that was not their fault can have them collecting compensation for their injuries. This is not an ideal way to collect money but it happens everyday and that is unfortunate.

Other forms of income can be alimony, dividends, interest, pension benefits, estate and trust income, rents, royalties and also benefits from your Social Security.  All this must be tracked as a form of income but doing it correctly is the trick.  You might hire an accountant to do this for you or you can learn to do it yourself and that way save yourself some money.

If you are a US citizen, it is your job to report all your income, no matter what its source from any country. This is required unless it is exempt under US law. Even gambling winnings, whether it be from a raffle, lottery or other gambling activity, must tracked and reported in your annual taxes.  With a little help, tracking your income is not as hard as you might think.

Get Proper Knowledge Of Mortgage Loans Before Applying For It

If you don’t have enough money to buy a new house, then you can take out a mortgage loan. Before you opt for a mortgage loan, you must decide the type of loan suitable for you and know the documents that you have to produce to make yourself eligible to take out the loan.

Mortgage Loan

Types of mortgage loans

(1) Fixed-interest mortgage loan

If you’re unable to take risk, you can opt for this type of mortgage loan. Here, your interest rate will remain same throughout the loan term. This will help you manage your finances accordingly as you’ll have to pay a fixed amount every month in spite of certain changes of interest rates in the market.

(2) Adjustable-rate mortgage loan

If you’re able to take risk, then you can take out an adjustable-rate mortgage loan. Here the interest rate will vary according to the changes in the market rates. The interest rates for the first few years, according to the term, are lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage loan. If you’re obtaining such a home loan, then you should be financially prepared to handle your increased monthly payment (if your market rate increases) after your low fixed rate period is over.

However, if you want to take out a mortgage loan, then you have to present yourself as a credit worthy debtor and should have the adequate documents and records of your financial status.

Records to be scrutinized

(1) Employment history

If you’re a permanent employee or have been working in a company for more than 2 years, then it will be easier for you to take out a loan. It is from your employment history they will mark you as a stable and consistent employee and based on this ground, they will judge your capability to repay the mortgage loan.

(2) Credit report

It won’t be a problem to opt for a mortgage loan if you have some debt on your credit card and you’re able to make on-time payments on your credit card bills. However, it is always better if you clear all your debts at least six months before applying you apply for a loan. Your credit score must be at least 700 to take out a conventional loan and 620 to obtain an FHA loan.

(3) Outstanding liabilities

According to lender’s criteria your monthly payment for liability should not exceed 36% of your monthly income. Thus, to take out a mortgage loan, you should try to reduce your monthly payments on liabilities.

(4) Cash and asset reserves

If you are able to produce a proof of the amount of cash and liquid assets that you have to your lender, then it will be easier for you to take out a mortgage loan. If you’re an employee or self employed, you have to present your income tax return, bank and investment account statements as a proof of your assets.

Choosing the right mortgage loan is a big decision. With proper research and comparison, you will be able to find out a home loan that will make your dreams of a new home come true, and will give your family peace of mind and financial security.

Credit Scores – Check Out The Dark Side Of These Numbers

It is a known fact that credit scores are quite important and play a major role in our financial lives. Unless you have maintained excellent credit scores, it will be difficult for you to qualify for a mortgage or any kind of unsecured loan. Unless you know how to manage your credit well, you will be in a complete mess.

Credit Score

Mixed files and the havoc they cause in our lives

Credit bureaus have to manage number of credit files regularly. Thus, the problem of mixed files is quite common. There are many people who face this issue. A case of mixed file happens when someone else’s information gets reported to your credit report and impacts your credit score in a negative way. The negative trade lines, if any, of the other person gets reported in your credit file and lower your score. Disputing it does not work most of times. The computers may wrongly verify the information without doing any investigation. Moreover, even if the dispute works, it may again get back to your credit report and lower you scores once again.

Pre-approved credit card offers and scores

You will find that you get continuous pre-approved credit card offers in the inbox of your e-mail. This might give you an idea that you have a good credit score. Thus, for months, you may not check your credit scores and report. But you should always remember that it is a marketing strategy of the credit card issuers to offer credit cards to everyone. Later on, when a person takes up the card, they decide upon the interest rate charged after checking his or her credit scores formally. As a result, you will find that these credit card issuers can easily send credit card offers to people who have recently gone through a bankruptcy or a foreclosure. Thus, don’t believe on these offers and always check your credit scores on a regular basis to avoid facing the darker side.

Can credit scores be color-blind?

When we speak of the darker side of credit scores, we will have to look out whether or not the credit scores are color blind. This actually means that we need to know how they affect the minorities. It should be noted that many consider credit scores to be color blind as they are solely based on the information provided on the credit report. But as every culture has their own way of judging and deciding on finances, what gets reported on the credit report may not give you the full picture. There are many communities who are responsible about their finances and pay their loans and rents on time but don’t like to use credit cards. As ample revolving credit does not get reported on their credit report, their scores don’t improve. Thus, they are at a disadvantage here.

Thus, the creditors and lenders should understand that credit score is not always the sole thing here. The credit scores do not always give you the right picture about the financial condition of a person. It does not always show how responsible a person is.

Mortgage Crimes That You Must Be Aware Of

The market is full of criminal activities in all sectors. The mortgage crimes and fraudulent activities are increasing a lot. Mortgage fraud takes place when the con artists find people struggling with their mortgage payments or are in hurry to sell their homes off. These things can only be avoided if you deal with known and reputed companies and organizations. There are other steps to deal with your mortgage payments rather than going for foreclosure. But there are certain fraud scams that take place and ruin you financially.

Mortgage Crimes

Important and devious mortgage scams to be aware of

There are many ways you can be scammed if you’re not careful. You must take careful steps or ask an expert when you’re dealing with a mortgage lender. Take a look at the mortgage crimes you must avoid:

1. Excess pricing

If you see that the purchase price of the house is too high to be bought, don’t go for it. If you ask any other lender about the price and get the minimum one, then the previous lender was trying to scam you. Before you go along with any home buying, you must consult with your agent so that he can get all the required information from the lenders about the price and other details. Always deal with experts so that you don’t fall into any sort of scams.

2. Undisclosed items

If you’re charged extra amount for the home by the seller which is not put in any documents, it’s a clear case of mortgage crime. Have everything on your purchase documents so that you know the amount of money you’re paying and the use of that money. If you strike a new deal with the home seller to give him an amount of money which is not written in the documents and even the lender doesn’t have any knowledge about, it’s one of the mortgage crimes.

3. Unknown second mortgage

Not only sellers and lenders, but also borrowers can commit mortgage fraud. If a borrower is not asked for a down payment, he can commit the crime by borrowing the down payment from the seller and in exchange giving him an unknown and silent second mortgage. This is hidden and unrecorded and the lender is unknown about the whole thing.

4. Lying on application

If you’re a buyer and want to take out a mortgage to buy the property, you need to give your details in an application form. But if you give wrong information or lie on your form, then also you’re committing a mortgage fraud. You need to write everything about your salary and other important details. If you keep things away from your lender, you’re committing mortgage fraud.

These are the 4 different types of mortgage fraud you commit if you undisclosed things from your lender. These things will help you understand how a mortgage crime takes place and prevent it. You may also get involved in mortgage crimes without any fault of yours. But if you take help of experts and disclose everything, you can easily get out of these situations.

Questions You Should Ask To Your Insurance Agent For Cheaper Insurance

Are you shopping around for affordable auto insurance? There are a few questions which you should ask to your insurance agent to have a clear view regarding the terms and conditions on your policy. Here are 4 questions which you should ask to your insurance agent before buying an auto insurance policy.

Question 1: What discounts can you qualify for?

Answer 1: While getting auto insurance quotes from an insurance agent to buy a suitable policy, you should at first enquire what discounts you qualify for. Make the appropriate searches such as "can I get a bespoke truck insurance policy?". This will help you reduce the cost of your policy. Most of the companies offer discounts such as, safe driver discount, good student discount, etc. which you may be eligible for.

auto insurance

Question 2: What does your auto insurance policy cover?

Answer 2: It is quite important to enquire the type and amount of coverage offered by the insurer. You should clearly understand this before buying a policy. It is advisable to not rely on verbal talk; always go through the terms and conditions carefully and check policy exclusions so that you’re well aware of the policy you've chosen.

Question 3: If you require new parts for your vehicle, will your insurer cover them?

Answer 3: You should enquire this when getting auto insurance quotes. There are some insurance companies which guarantee to cover OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts while others pay only for after market parts. The latter are comparatively cheaper than the parts made by your original manufacturer.

Question 4: What will happen if you cancel your policy?

Answer 4: While getting auto insurance quotes, check out the consequences you’d have to face if you need to cancel you policy. It may happen that you’re getting a better insurance policy from a different insurer and you need to cancel your existing policy. The insurance companies have different rules regarding how the unpaid premium will be refunded to you if you cancel your policy. Some of the insurance companies charge a cancellation fee while some other companies use ‘short rate’ method to calculate how much amount will be refunded to you. You must know the insurers can charge this fee even if you cancel the policy the day you buy it.

Apart from above, you should also enquire about multiple policy discounts while getting auto insurance quotes. This is because often insurance companies offer discounts when you buy your home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, etc. from a single company. So, if a company is offering multi policy discounts, then you can purchase all your insurance policies from it so as to reduce the premium cost of your policies significantly. However, before doing so, check the financial strength rating of the company to make sure that you’ll be compensated when you have to make a claim.

Have you ever wondered how to go about planning a frugal road trip?

Road trips can be a fun way to travel, especially when you're in great company. 

Sharing driving costs with friends or family is definitely a huge financial advantage. Without doubt, it's cheaper than buying separate train or airline tickets to travel. 

Personally, I'm a big fan of road trips. 

First, you get to save money on travel costs. And second, you get to see so many different and interesting places before you even arrive to your destination!

road trip

However, even if road trips are considered frugal by definition, this particular way of travelling can get expensive if you're not careful.

Here's how I manage to keep costs down and plan a frugal road trip every single time. 

1. Saving money on gas

With a bit of planning, you can definitely manage to save money on gas

Here are 4 useful tips to lower the cost on fuel

- Fill up your tank when and where it's most convenient, before leaving. If you have certain gas stations in your area that drop prices on certain days, take advantage! 

- Check your tire pressure. Not only is this a recommended safety precaution (who wants to deal with flat tires), but it helps save on gas as well.

- Drive efficiently, and you'll lower your overall gas consumption. Keeping a constant speed while driving helps a great deal. Knowing when to change gears influences fuel consumption as well. All in all.. learn how to drive efficiently and you'll spend less money on gas!

- Pack light, so your car won't have to struggle to carry all the weight! It's true, it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since lots of stuff can fit in a car! But truth be told, the lighter you pack, the less fuel you'll consume.

- Avoid getting lost. Although driving around cluelessly can turn out to be an exciting experience, it can take a toll on your total gas consumption.

2. Packing food and drinks for the road

It's impossible not to find a fast food joint along the way. Or a restaurant. Or even a gas station that sells food!

Problem is, this is where road trips can drill a hole in your budget.

To save money, make sure to pack enough food to avoid buying any along the way.

Personally, I plan ahead by doing some light shopping before the actual road trip. 

My shopping list includes ingredients for sandwiches to brown-bag, fruit that lasts in a cooler bag and salty or sweet snacks (what's more thrifty than brown bagging your snacks on a road trip?)

Don't forget to pack drinks as well. Buying them along the way is the opposite of frugal.

3. Budgeting for pit stops

As a bonus, packing your own food on a road trip saves time. Nevertheless, you might want to make a pit stop and stretch your legs or sit down while enjoying your lunch!

The great thing with frugal road trips is, you can plan ahead and include some pit stops beforehand!

To save money, search for affordable gas stations along the way. Pin them on your map to avoid paying ridiculous prices for gas elsewhere.

Stopping to visit a landmark can also turn out to be an interesting experience. Just make sure to budget properly if you're expected to pay entrance fees.

4. Planning ahead for sleeping arrangements

Have you thought about where will you spend the night?

If your trip takes more than 1 day before arriving to your destination, book a room in advance! 

In certain circumstances, some might consider sleeping in the car. It's a full proof way to save money, but doesn't work every single time.

By planning ahead, you'll know for sure you'll have a place to sleep waiting and you'll lower the costs by having plenty of choices to compare ahead of time. 

I'm always excited when planning a frugal road trip and can't help but look forward to what to see and do, even on a short stay! Finding ways to save money and keep travel costs to a minimum is a perky added bonus.

How a 401(k) Differs from an IRA

Is there an advantage to a 401 (k) that you cannot find with an IRA? You can answer this question for yourself and save for your retirement accordingly by learning how a 401(k) differs from an IRA.


An Overview of a 401(k) Retirement Account

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account. People who work for companies that offer 401(k) accounts are generally eligible to participate in the retirement savings program once they meet the necessary qualifications, which may include completing a training period of 60 to 90 days or working at least 34 hours per week.

Moreover, your employer may automatically enroll you in the company-sponsored 401(k) once you meet the qualifications without you having to ask to participate in it first. Your contributions to your account may also be deducted for you from your paycheck, saving you the effort of having to fund your account yourself.

The amount you can contribute each year can be subject to change. However, for the 2016-2017 tax year, you can contribute up to $24,000 to a 401(k) as long as you are age 50 or younger. If you are over age 50, you can contribute up to $18,000.

A 401(k) does not allow you the freedom to choose from a wide variety of stocks, bonds, and other assets to invest. You must choose from a pre-selected list chosen by your employer. 

An Overview of an IRA

An IRA, or individual retirement account, comes in two primary forms: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. No age limit exists for opening an IRA; anyone can open and fund this type of retirement account. To open and fund a traditional IRA, you must be under 70 ½ years of age and have an earned source of income. 

As with 401(k) accounts, the amount you can contribute each year may vary. You can check with a financial adviser like James Dondero to verify the amount that you can pay into your IRA. 

The 2016-2017 tax year allowed people 50 and under to pay in up to $5500 to an IRA. People over the age of 50 could pay up to $6500. When you open an IRA, you can choose from a variety of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and other investments. You can open an IRA by consulting with a financial analyst like James Dondero or at financial institutions like:

  • A bank 
  • Brokerage firm
  • Insurance company
  • Investment firm

It is important that you allow a certified management accountant like James Dondero to guide you in funding your IRA if you are unsure of what to invest in or how much to contribute to the account. 

Top Personal Finance Tips

Money is a difficult subject and keeping track of your finances can be hard. Especially when lavish lifestyles seem so effortless online, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overspending. You might need to utilise other forms of finance when you’re faced with an emergency too. Some people have used a short term loan when they didn’t have funds readily available for a crisis, but you might want to get your finances secure for the future so you don’t need to outsource each time. Here are some top tips to help you get your personal finances in a better place. 

Personal Finance Tips

Create A Realistic Budget

The first step to getting your finances in order is to create a budget. Don’t go crazy and limit yourself to barely any money each week, otherwise, you’ll end up splurging eventually and spending more than you would have normally. Make sure your budget is realistic and considers your outgoings and lifestyle. There are lots of ways to make little cuts here and there, but don’t go overboard and make it difficult to stick to. 

Make Small Savings Little And Often

Saving doesn’t have to be putting hundreds away each month that you only end up dipping back into anyway. Instead, try putting smaller amounts away more often. For example, if you buy coffee 5 times a week on your way to work, why not cut it down to 2 times a week. Once on a Monday to get you ready for the week, and once on a Friday as a little treat. Then pop the money that you would have spent on the other 3 days into your savings. It might not seem like much at the time, but after a couple of weeks, it really adds up. 

Use A Calendar

You’ve probably got a fair few outgoings each month, and special occasions like birthdays and trips away, so why not add them all onto the same calendar. Having your month marked out clearly will allow you to see what you need to spend in advance, and you’ll easily know if you need to save a little more for something that’s coming up in the next few months. 

Restrict Impulsive Buying

We’re all guilty of splurging on an expensive treat for ourselves after having a bad day, and that’s fine once in a while. It’s when impulsive buying becomes a habit that it’s a problem for your finances. Do your best to resist the urge to buy a new pair of shoes when you only recently bought a pair. When buying, there’s a difference between needing and wanting, and most of the time we merely want the products so try not to spend unnecessarily. 

Reduce Your Outgoings

Take a look at all of your outgoings and see if any of them can be reduced. For instance, are you paying out a lot for streaming services? If so, try and cancel your subscriptions for the ones you don’t actually use. You could also look at paying off more of your debts. This way, in the long run, you’ll have more money each month as you won’t still be paying them off. 

Have An Emergency Fund

Being hit with an emergency that you can’t afford can be scary. To eliminate the horror of receiving an unexpected bill through the door, try and build up some emergency funding. Keep it separate from your savings account and it’s money that you don’t touch unless you’re in a genuine crisis. 

Don’t Spend Just Because

If you receive a nice bonus at work or you get an increase in your yearly salary, don’t let it immediately affect your lifestyle. Just because you have more money coming in each month, doesn’t mean you have to spend more. If you do come into more money, try living on your previous budget and putting the extra into your savings account. After a few months, if you realise you could spare a little more towards your budget, then do so. But don’t spend more money for the sake of it. 

Keeping your finances in check doesn’t have to feel impossible. Making small changes to your spending and the way you save can make a massive difference. Even though you might cut down on your spending, it doesn’t mean you have to go without. You can still enjoy some of life’s little luxuries without breaking the bank. Try forming a healthy budget and putting some money away each month and you’ll soon notice your finances improving. 

Binary Options in Australia: what to know

Binary options is a trading method in which you speculate on the rise or decline of an asset. An option is a contract representing a right to buy or sell stock at a specific price within a certain time frame. You can think of binary options as bets whose value will fluctuate. The price for this bet may be fixed ahead of time, or it can move based on market conditions.

Binary Options are a more straightforward financial tool than most and can take many forms, from high-low trades to forex trading and commodities trading. They have no complicated graphs and charts, but if uneducated about them, they can prove to be even riskier than standard futures trading due to higher early withdrawal fees and stricter regulations.

Regulation of Binary Options In Australia

When trading binary options in Australia, it is crucial to be aware of the regulations that are in place. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the regulatory body that oversees all financial products and services in Australia, including binary options, is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Binary options fall under 'derivatives', which derive their value from an underlying asset.

Binary Options in Australia

Firms offering binary options trading in Australia are not required to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence. Due to the lack of regulation, many binary options trading companies pop up under the impression they do not need to adhere to regulations or protect their client's funds.

The ASIC does, however, make the distinction that binary options are 'financial products' if they offer leverage and derivatives. Due to this, many Australian brokers operate outside the law with no protection for you as a trader.

Binary Options Platform Types

Before starting work on your Binary Options portal, you should research platforms available on the market since there are a few different types.

Whichever platform you decide to go with, make sure you test it on a demo account before trading with real money.

How to Trade Binary Options

There are two ways to trade binary options, High/Low and One-Touch trades. The most popular of these is the High/Low trade which involves betting that the price of an asset will fall between a fixed range at a particular time.

An example of this might be: Say you believe that the Australian dollar (AUD) will close below .72 against the US dollar (USD), so you buy an AUD/USD binary option with a strike price of .72 and an expiry time of 30 minutes. If, at any point during those 30 minutes, the AUD/USD rate falls below .72, then your bet wins, and you receive double your original investment as profit. You can think of this as buying one AUD/USD currency pair for $0.72 and selling it back at $0.76, making a profit of $0.04 per pip.

If, however, the AUD/USD rate finishes the 30 minutes at .7275 or higher, then your binary option will expire out of the money, and you will lose your initial investment.

One-Touch options are similar to High/Low trades but with one key difference - the trader is betting that the asset's price will touch a certain target level before the expiration time, rather than finishing within a set range.

It could be something like betting that Google stock will close at or above $1100 by the end of the day. If it does, you would have made a successful One-Touch trade and received a payout of upwards of 200% on your investment.

Risk Management

No matter which type of binary options trade you are making, it is always important to remember to use risk management techniques. It means ensuring that you never risk more than you can afford to lose and setting stop losses on your trades to protect yourself from significant losses if the market moves against you.

Choosing a Broker

When choosing a broker, it is vital to research who you are entrusting your money with thoroughly. Reputable Binary Options brokers will have a licence from an external regulator.

Australian investors looking at either High/Low or One-Touch trades should consider whether the broker offers expiry times beyond 60 seconds since these are often provided on some more popular platforms.

Finally, you should always check whether your broker offers the option to receive payouts in cash or if they require you to trade out first before any money is paid. Here is another fantastic article about technical oscillators