Monthly Archives: February 2013

Investing in Stocks Can Be Tricky

There is a bright future that awaits you in stock investing. Most people would love to invest in stocks because the return on investment is huge. But the question is, do you still have plans to invest in stocks even after your retirement? Stock markets unlike real property, continues to increase. But when investing in stocks, it is important to remember that they fluctuate and sometimes, investors are at a losing end if they happen to buy shares when the dollar becomes weak or a company loses assets or value. Some are unlucky and buy into the market at the wrong time and end up losing thousands, if not millions of dollars investing, others however can make healthy profits with the right moves.

investing in stocks

The best thing that you can do when you are getting older is to limit investing in stocks because any major losses may make retirement a difficult time for you. The market trend, inflation rate and the price of gold can affect the overall condition of the stock market. If you are new to stocks, you should be aware that you have to endure a lot of stress while you are investing. A financial adviser can help you on how to invest your money. Investing in the stock market is almost similar to gambling only the difference is you did not bet your money. Instead you let your financial adviser provide you with advance and manage investments for you.

There are many stocks and assets that are used in the stock market that play a pivotal role in your investment. Gold and physical assets like oil are used in investing because these are fairly stable and continue to rise over time. The lure of investing is tempting; just imagine you are promised by your financial adviser to invest your money with a promise of 30 to 40 percent revenue back. Because of the tempting offers for stock investing, there are some fraudulent companies who promise you good future in the stocks. These fraudulent firms generally disguise themselves as a call center, calls expatriates working in multinational companies to set an appointment for a call from the financial adviser who will do business with them within 2 to 3 business days.

The financial adviser will call the expat within three days and would tell the victim to invest his money through shares of stocks, gold, or annuity. Whatever has transpired during the cold calling, the victim ends up penniless. This is not to discourage potential stock investors but the bottom line is never trust your money to a person whom you have not even seen in person, or a non-reputable trading platform. It is very important to do your homework when selecting an investment professional or trading platform. If you do care about your hard-earned money and retirement money, think twice before investing in stocks. Stock investing can be your good option to save for retirement but you have to choose the right people to act on your behalf and be sure they have your best interests in mind.

Investing in Silver an Alternative to Gold Investing

Silver like gold is a chemical element that commands a high price.  Silver is used in the making of jewelry like necklaces, bracelets, earrings and tiaras.  Since the discovery of silver thousands of years ago, it has been widely-used as a form of legal tender in many countries in the world. But when silver has lost its value its use as a legal tender or money has since stopped.  Silver is used widely in manufacturing and industrial purposes and also used for bullion coins for the purpose of investment.  It is amazing to note that the reserves for silver worldwide had reached over 530,000 tons three years ago.

silver investing

Silver plays a major role in the American and Canadian coins which are heavily valued by collectors for their value and uniqueness. There are millions of  silver leaf coins in Canada and silver eagle coins in the U.S. that are most sought-after by hobbyist and traders.  The Canadian silver maple leaf, which is their country’s national emblem, is used as legal tender at 5 dollars per ounce while other coins of this element can reach up to 20 dollars per coin. Investing in silver is a good option for those who want to manage their hard-earned money using physical assets.

However, the price of silver sometimes fluctuates because it depends on the law of supply and demand.  Silver is very much different with gold because it is volatile, like gas, there are times the price increases and other times it decreases. While it is true that silver investing is good, it is important to watch the market. Without watching the market, what you might have invested on it could end up giving you a low return on investment if sold at the wrong time.  The reason for this is the so-called liquidity in the market and the fluctuation occurrence that can happen because of the trend in prices of other commodities as well as the value of the dollar. The price of silver is estimated by buyers, sellers and investors.

When you are planning in investing in silver, think about the consequence if the value of silver continues to decrease. Always keep an eye on the market trend by checking it each day when the market ends, if the value of silver has been stable this is the time that you decide in investing. In the United States, there is no need for investors to hold the silver bullion, instead as proof of silver investing; an investor is awarded a silver certificate that bears their name as the owner.  In the past, some country’s forms of currency were issued as silver certificates.  The denomination bearing a silver certificate was 10 dollars, 5 dollars, and 1 dollar. This is no longer the case with the fluctuations in the value of silver.

Investing is a good way to prepare for retirement as well as provide you with some security.  Silver investing needs to be planned and not done drastically because you might end up losing money. Track investments or the money you put in investing in silver may disappear due to the volatility of silver prices across the market.

Best Finance and Investing Apps

Now we can stay in touch with our day-to-day financial investment activities anywhere and anytime because of our powerful feature oriented smartphones. It is seen that investors use smartphones to take care of their investments time-to-time due to availability of information on mobile devices, especially the valuable information found in finance and investment applications. These investment apps are very handy to use for both novice and experienced investors.

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By working on these apps, you can draw stock charts, maintain virtual portfolio and get necessary live stock prices on your smartphones or tablets at a click. Many of these finance and investment apps can be downloaded for free but for some you may have to shed a little money. Some of the apps are listed here that may help you to manage your finances efficiently and effectively.

  • ChartIQ Practice Trading Simulator:This app is available on iPad and costs around $1.99. By using this app you can choose a market scenario like a trending market and can analysis several charts which can make you accustom in the different trading environments.
  • FRED Economic Data: – This app which is downloaded from app stores for free is available on iPhone, iPad and Android. It is very useful for those customers who are unaware of Federal Reserve Economic Data.
  • Chaikin Power Tools: – This app is available on iPhone for trading and market watching. Marc Chaikin, a stock market expert, developed this app which aims at providing all the necessary financial information needed by an investor for buying and selling of stocks. Both stock as well as options trading is supported on this app with relevant real time alerts of various news stories.
  • ABUKAI Expenses: – ABUKAI is a great app which helps you to track and manage all your expenses for a financial venture. This app can be downloaded from Android market, Apple’s app store and Blackberry’s AppWorld.
  • PageOnce Money & Bills: – PageOnce, another famous app, provides finance services to the investors on mobile. According to market trends the demand for this app has increased by 300% in the last one year. It helps you to manage your finance account on your phone in one location by delivering a complete overview of cash, investment, due payment and credit card transactions.
  • WikInvest Portfolio Manager: – This app is available on a number of platforms like iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 and can be downloaded for free from various app stores. By using this app you can pull your account related information from anywhere and can manage your portfolio’s performance with time.
  • CNBC Real-Time: – This app can be downloaded for iPhone, iPad and Android for free. This app make you visualize the real-time data and provide you with live quotes for future market.
  • uValue: – Aswath Damodaran, stern valuation guru, designed this app for valuation modeling on iPad.

This represents a very short list of apps. There are many more available in the market which you can consider to enhance your investment options.

TurboTax Review

With tax season upon us confusion and questions reign about what to do and how to do it. What does e-filing mean? What is a W4? When do I need to do this by and when is my refund showing up? As well if you are like me it is time to stop asking dad or the family accountant to do it for you. It really is that sad last stage of knowing you are a grown up. But it doesn’t really have to be sad since with taxes come tax refunds and you may be owed back a substantial chunk of change. The question becomes which tax software or tool is best for me. The most popular and used choice is TurboTax, with its easy to use interface and low price point it is an obvious choice for many people.

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To use TurboTax simply go to Turbotax.com. TurboTax is made by Intuit the same company which also owns Mint.com so they are known for easy to ease and solid finance products.

You can start your tax return on TurboTax for free. But if you want added features and options it will cost you. Due to a glitch in their system there is no way to “downgrade from an option” once it has been selected so we recommend starting with the cheapest “Free Edition” to begin with. They also have a Deluxe edition for $29.99 a Premier edition for $49.99 and a Home & Business edition for $74.99.

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That one penny off really makes all of the options are bargain but we would say that the Deluxe option is really all that most of you will need.

After you hit start the interface is very straightforward simply copy over the information from your prior received W4’s and 1099’s and you are good to go. The software as you go pretends to do some voodoo and magically eek you out the biggest return possible but it is all rather normal math functions to determine your actual return. Heck if you wanted to you could do this all yourself just the e-filing features that TurboTax offer allows for it to really save you time and convenience.

We were honestly curious if the return was different between the same person filing with the Basic Free version and the Deluxe edition. We actually had mixed results. On one of our tests the results were the same but on the case where the individual had moved to NYC and had only lived there for half the year the Deluxe option actually gave them a giant return.

In the case above the Basic edition had pegged the individual for owing an additional $500 in city taxes but in reality the user hadn’t lived in the city for the full year so they were actually owed a $500 a refund. This led to a NET $1,000 difference in tax outcome for this user when testing out the two products. The Deluxe version with it’s more thorough questioning was able to pick up on this while the basic version had overlooked it. For this reason we do recommend the Deluxe edition.

After completing all the form inputting it should only take about 10 minutes. The software does one last check and you are ready to e-file. You will most likely be charged a fee for filing your state return some where in the $20 to $30 range, but your federal taxes will be filed for free. The total cost for you will be in the realm of $50 and total time from start to finish should only be about 30 minutes, you can even finish it in 10 minutes or less. Doing your taxes has never been easier. Also be sure to save your TurboTax account so you can just use it again for next year and save even more time.

Tax Preparation Checklist

Before filing your taxes this April 15th there are some simple things you need to have with you. We have made the below list to help you out. Feel free to print out a copy of the below and check off the information as you put it together so you are set to do your taxes when the time comes. We also recommend putting this checklist on the outside of a folder which can contain all of the documents as you find them. Then when you are done with taxes for the year you can store the full file in your filing cabinet to have it for next year and for the next couple of years in case you ever audited.

Personal Information

  • Social Security numbers and dates of birth for you, your spouse, your dependents
  • Copies of last year’s tax return for you and your spouse (helpful, but not required)
  • Bank account number and routing number, if depositing your refund directly into your account (You can find this on your check book or by logging into your online bank account)

Information about your income

  • W-2 forms for you and your spouse
  • 1099-C forms for cancellation of debt
  • 1099-G forms for unemployment income, or state or local tax refunds
  • 1099-MISC forms for you and your spouse (for any independent contractor work)
  • 1099-R, Form 8606 for payments/distributions from IRAs or retirement plans
  • 1099-S forms for income from sale of a property
  • 1099-INT, -DIV, -B, or K-1s for investment or interest income
  • SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits received

Adjustments to your income

  • Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid (or loan statements for student loans)
  • Form 1098-T for tuition paid (or receipts/canceled checks for tuition paid for post-high school)
  • Records of IRA contributions made during the year
  • Records of moving expenses
  • For teachers: Canceled checks or receipts for expenses paid for classroom supplies, etc.

Taxes you’ve paid

  • State and local income taxes paid

These are some of the most common forms and documents you will need to complete your taxes. You should have received copies of most of these by February 1st since employers and other institutions are required to mail them out by then. If you think you are missing a document be sure to contact that party before filing your taxes since you don’t want to risk being audited.