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Archive for May, 2012

Retirement Calculator: How Much Will It Cost You to Retire?

Many people have imagined a secured future by the time they have reached their retirement age.

However, only a few have truly worked out the estimated amount of that they need to hit the sack happily. This is because most people are not aware about the importance of using retirement calculators.

With retirement calculators, you can easily foresee the probable amount that you will earn by the time you retire. In this way, you can easily plan the necessary savings that you have to make to achieve your desired amount in the future.

Getting to know how much to save to arrive at your desired amount is easily computed on a yearly investment. From there, you can work towards a more achievable goal.

The computation, however, is greatly dependent on several factors. It does not necessarily mean that using retirement calculators will guarantee your future. Here is the list of the items that you have to consider when using retirement calculator:

1. Your present age and your desired retirement age

This will greatly affect the results in the retirement calculator. The available years from your current age up to your desired retirement age will determine the amount of savings you have to accumulate in order to reach your goal.

For instance, if you have lesser years to save, then your retirement calculator will tell you that to invest more money if you want to retire with considerable amount of disbursements.

2. Life expectancy

Your expected life expectancy will also affect the result in your calculator.

3. Inflation rate

4. Total Social Security Disbursements

5. Rate of ROI (return of investment)

These are just some of the probable factors that you have to consider when using retirement calculators. All of these things will have individual effects on the results. In the end, people tend to mix everything up and errors on computations are expected.

Financial experts recommend some feasible solutions to avoid possible confusions and errors in using the retirement calculator. Here’s how:

1. Be careful in choosing factors

Some people tend to choose some factors when using retirement calculator. Any considerable errors in the selection will constitute clear negative effects on the results.

Hence, it is important to be cautious in choosing a particular factor. Try to give some allowances as well.

For instance, if you will be using the “rate of return of investment,” it would be better if you will use a lower rate than what the current or even the best possible rate available. Things like this will not put your computation in a negative light.

2. Do not stop at a single computation

Experts recommend that you evaluate the factors that you have used during your first computation. Keep in mind that these factors may vary as the time pass by. Hence, it is best that you keep up with the flow.

3. Experiment

Do not stop from where you have started. In order to reach your desired retirement goal, it is best that you experiment on the variable factors that will greatly affect the results.

For example, inflation rate is highly changeable. Hence, experimenting on its different rates will provide you considerable low and high rates.

4. Always seek a professional

Do not depend on the tool alone. It is always important to seek the help of a professional. In this way, you can understand the use of retirement calculator better.

Knowing its pros and cons will help you understand the viability of retirement calculator. In turn, securing your future will be relatively easy.

What to look for in Moving Quotes?

1. Actual weight of the shipment or labor time The final charges on interstate relocation will normally be based on the actual weight of the shipment, whether it is more or less than the estimated weight. The quote that you receive should be based on a onsite estimate (unless waived) or a list of items that you wish to move. Anything that will be added or taken off the list will affect the price. The final charges will be based on the actual weight of the items to be shipped. Be sure to check what the charge per any additional pound is, as it may be different from the basic charge the quote is calculated by. On intrastate relocations the charge is usually based on the actual time of the move with a specified minimum of hours and a travel time or truck fee that covers the driving time from the moving company’s facility to your origin address and back. Check what the minimum charge is for the hours, if the travel time is fixed or actual, what would be the charge per hour over the estimated time and what increments of time you are charged by. You may be offered a flat fee for the move, usually based on an inventory list. Make sure the quote specifically indicates that the charge is a flat fee and find out what the charge per any additional item would be.

2. Packing materials You will usually have two options for packing:

Full packing The carrier (moving company) packs everything for you and is responsible to provide all the necessary packing materials. All the packing materials and packing labor should be included in the price. Make sure that the charge is not calculated separately for the packing charges rather than a price per pound (interstate) or price per hour (intrastate), as that means that your cost will depend on the actual use of packing materials. No packing You are expected to pack everything yourself and the mover will usually only provide moving pads/blankets to protect your furniture. Some companies will require specific packing for certain items, such as shrink-wrap for fabric, bubble for glass etc. some movers will not accept any container packing other than boxes (such as bags, totes, suitcases or plastic bins). Always be sure to read through your quotes and see if any requirements are specified as you will be charged extra by the movers for re-packing those items and for the packing materials they will provide.

3. Extra services Such as additional insurance, storage, extra labor, taxes, fuel surcharges and processing fees. Additional services such as additional insurance coverage and storage will be added to your total cost and are probably very clear and acceptable by you. However, movers may charge you extra for stairs, elevators, bulky items, additional stops, hoisting of furniture, disassembly and reassemble of furniture etc. Always be sure to check if your quote includes any mentioning of these charges and if not be sure to get that in writing from your mover as part of your quote. In addition, other taxes and charges may apply and will normally be calculated as percentage of your total cost, such as taxes, fuel surcharges or processing fees for the use of credit cards to pay for your move. These will not always appear in your quote but should be mentioned under the terms and conditions or explanation of your quote/services. Again, be sure to check if these are added to your price.

In summary, movers may pretty much charge you for anything. Take the time to read and understand your quote, from start to finish, including all the small fine print. If anything is unclear or not specified, be sure to check with your mover.

What you need to know about a Rental Agreement?

A rental agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and the tenant that outlines the terms and conditions of the rental.

This contract document is made up of many components. They are:-

1. The rental agreement should be very specific on the subject of abandonment. It must clearly define the landlord’s options if the tenant leaves the property without notice?

2. It should outline the alterations that a tenant can make to the property. The rental agreement should clearly state the kind and extend of the alteration that is allowed or not.

3. The rental agreement should touch on the subleasing. As subleasing is very popular today, the rental agreement should state your stand very clearly on this subject to avoid future misunderstanding.

 4. The rental agreement should also state very clearly what will happen in the case of defaulting on a payment. The late fees should also be outlined in the rental agreement.  The tenant should know up front how much they will be penalized.

5. As a landlord you should have access to your property for inspection. The rental agreement should detail when and how you will be able to enter the property in order to inspect it, etc. State laws vary on this subject and your rental agreement should conform to the law of the state.

6.  The rental agreement should state who is responsible for the maintenance of the property. If it is a joint responsibility, it should clearly state who is responsible for what. 

7. Payment methods should be outlined on the rental agreement so that the tenant knows how they can pay the landlord.

8. Like maintenance, utilities are a huge part of any rental agreement.  It should be clear on who will pay what bill, as well as which utilities are included in the monthly rent.

All of the above are important components to any rental agreement. In addition since state laws differ, a rental agreement can have additional clauses depending on where you are located.

The first place, and usually the best place, that you may want to search for a rental agreement is on the Internet.  There are several websites that will supply you with the rental agreement form that you are looking for.  One of the more reputable services is located at www.rentalagreements.net

You have to pay a small price to purchase the rental agreement that is appropriate for your state but it is much better than drafting your own rental agreement and taking the chance of missing out on something that is crucial.

The other way to get hold of a rental agreement is to get in touch with a real estate agency. If you are lucky, they may even be able to supply you with a sample rental agreement that you can customize and use as your own.   A rental agreement is something that you must have if you are going to be renting out any property.  State laws differ and your rental agreement needs to meet the laws and requirements of your state in addition to also outlining every aspect of the lease in detail.

The China Factor

Unless you have been in a cocoon, you most likely are aware that China will in all probability become the next economic superpower in the world. The country’s economy is on steroids, growing at close to double digits over the past few years and this is not expected to change.

And if you understand the vast size of the country’s economic engine, you would also understand that China is a place where you need to have some capital invested. Of course, at the same time, you also need to fully understand the risk factors associated in investing in a country where the economy and corporate structure is strictly under the control of the communist-led government.

The concept of an open economy in China is debatable as there is the constant threat of government intervention at any time to suit the political agenda. Yet the risk is probably warranted given the vast growth opportunities that lie in the country for both multi-national companies and investors looking for some diversification outside of their borders. This region of the world will become the next big boom in economic growth as long as the Chinese government is willing.

A report just published by the Development Research Center of China’s State Council estimates that the country will report GDP growth of about 8% annually from 2006 to 2010. Based on the numbers we have been seeing, this estimate seems to be reasonable.

The report estimates that China’s GDP based on 2000 prices will hit USD$2.3 trillion by the end of the current five-year period in 2010.

In the subsequent 10-year period from 2010 to 2020, the report calculates a decline in the annual GDP growth rate to around 7%, which is still quite respectable. 

For investors, the estimated numbers are staggering but then China must be able to manage any inflationary and growth-related issues going forward as the country becomes richer.

The country’s middle class of several hundred million strong is booming as citizens move from the countryside to the cities in search of opportunities to increase their wealth.

As Chinese citizens make more money, they become more consumption driven. This in turn pumps up the demand for both domestic and foreign good and services. That’s why we are seeing such a mass flow of companies into China searching for growth opportunities.

The bottom line is you need to be in China at some point.  In future commentaries, I will examine some of the key Chinese stocks trading as American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in the U.S. Today, Tomorrow.

Honoring The Men and Women On This Memorial Day

For Our Freedom That Many Of Us Take For Granted, For All Of The sacrifices That Were Given By Many, May We All Honor The Men And Women Who Have Served Our Country Proudly As We Celebrate This Memorial Day Holiday! 

This Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day, which traditionally marks the start of summer, while Labor Day marks the end.  Do you know why we celebrate this day?
 
Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who have given their lives serving in the armed forces.  The holiday was originally created to honor the Union soldiers who had died while fighting in the Civil War.  Here are some interesting facts about Memorial Day—some you may know, some you may not!
 
• Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 and was originally called “Decoration Day.”
• Memorial Day was originally created to honor Union soldiers who’d died while fighting in the Civil War. Because of this, southern states did not observe Memorial Day until after World War I, when the holiday was expanded to include soldiers from all wars.
 
• The red poppy is a traditional symbol of Memorial Day (many veterans wear them to commemorate the day).
• The poppy was inspired by a World War I-era  John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields”:
• The phrase “though poppies grow in Flanders fields” in the poem is thought by some to refer to the blood stains from shallow graves where soldiers were buried.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
 
• In 1924, an artificial poppy factory was created in Pittsburgh, PA, and employed veterans who needed work.
• Memorial Day observance peaked in the first part of the 20th century, when aged Civil War veterans attended parades in towns across America.
• On the Thursday before Memorial Day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They patrol the cemetery 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. This tradition, called “Flags In,” has been in place since 1948.
• In 1968, Memorial Day was moved from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May in order to ensure a three-day weekend.
Please take a moment to honor those who served as you enjoy this holiday weekend with your family and friends.

What You Should Know About Foreclosure Investing

If you are interested in a way to get involved in the real estate industry you should look into foreclosure investing. Many people avoid this type of investing because they are not aware of the details that go along with it. By simply learning about foreclosure investing, you will be able to join this industry in no time at all.

The first thing that you need to know about foreclosure investing is who you will be buying the house from. Foreclosed homes are properties that have been taken over by the bank because the past owner failed to pay his or her mortgage. When this happens, the bank then needs to sell the property back to the public so that they can start to collect a profit again. The longer that the bank sits on a foreclosed home, the more money they are going to lose.

Being that banks are always in a hurry to sell properties back to the public, the buyer definitely has a huge advantage; this is what makes foreclosure investing so profitable for thousands of people ever year.

When you are looking to get into foreclosure investing you should realize that you will be able to find properties that are greatly discounted. It is not uncommon for a buyer to be able to find a property for up to 40% off of the market value cost. By purchasing properties at this price and then selling them back to the public, you can make a lot of money.

Another reason that foreclosure investing is so popular is because there are a lot of these properties to go around. In almost every city in the United States there are foreclosure properties available for purchase. The only thing that you have to do when getting into foreclosure investing is find the homes that you want, and decide how much you are willing to pay for them. This can be done by simply scouring your newspaper, or joining a service that will supply you with homes in your area.

Overall, foreclosure investing is a huge industry at the present time. There are people all over the country that have turned their love of foreclosure investing into a full-time job. If you are interested in getting involved with the real estate industry, there is no better way to do it than by investing in foreclosed properties.

The Different Types of Stock Markets

There are many different stock markets in the US. In most circumstances, the main markets that you will hear of are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and the NASDAQ.

The markets are basically where people and companies trade securities. The market is the arena in which the players gather to trade.

The New York Stock Exchange has been around since 1792. It is located on Wall Street in New York City. The NYSE is the largest and best-known stock exchange in the country. It also has very stringent requirements for companies to join its listings. A company must be financially strong and show signs of being an industry leader to join the NYSE. Companies strive to belong to this market, and even pay annual fees for membership.

When a brokerage describes itself as a member of the NYSE it means that the firm has bought a seat on the floor of the NYSE. This means that there is actually an employee on the floor of the exchange buying and selling stock. This is an expensive investment for a firm, costing well over a million dollars.

The American Stock Exchange is similar to the NYSE in that it conducts its trading on a trading floor. The floor is filled with traders who buy and sell securities. The AMEX has been located in Manhattan since 1921. It is known as a major exchange for not only stocks, but also options. You will tend to find slightly riskier and smaller stocks listed on the AMEX, which operates under the NASDAQ-AMEX Market Group, a subsidiary of the National Association of Security Dealers.

NASDAQ, or the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, is the youngest of the three major markets. It may also be the one you have heard the most about through the news. It lists just about every stock in the industry, but it is best known for listing technology companies. In fact, it is where you will find many major technology stocks, including Microsoft and Intel. It was launched in 1971 and was the first over-the-counter stock market. It links buyers and sellers via a computer network.

Brokers and dealers will market the stocks by maintaining an inventory in their own accounts. They will buy or sell when they receive an order from an investor. You will find that start-up companies that are issuing stock in an initial public offering will often list on the NASDAQ.

When it comes to buying stock, knowing where to find certain types of stock is important. Each market often specializes in slightly different types of stocks.

Why Should You Get A Capped Mortgage?

Many people who get variable rate mortgages find that they can mix the security of a fixed rate mortgage whilst still having variable rates by getting a capped mortgage plan. If you are looking for a variable rate mortgage then you should seriously consider putting a cap on the mortgage. Here is some useful advice about whether or not you should proceed with a capped mortgage:

What is a capped mortgage?

Capped mortgages are a type of variable rate mortgage. A variable rate mortgage means that the interest rate on your repayments can vary. By putting a cap on the interest rate, it means that even if your interest rate changes, it can only change by so much. There is an upper limit on what you can pay, but if the interest rate falls then you will pay less. Capped mortgages are the option in between variable and fixed rate mortgages.

What are the advantages?

The obvious advantage of a capped mortgage is that you can benefit from variable rates but never have to pay above a certain limit. This allows you to take advantage of potentially lower rates, but also adequately budget each month and have peace of mind that your payments will not rise above a certain amount. In many ways, a capped mortgage is the best of both worlds. If you think that interest rates are going to go down, then getting a fixed rate mortgage now would be unwise as the fixed rate will be uncompetitive in a year’s time. Also, if you think that interest rates are going to rise then you want to have an upper limit on how much you can be charged. If you want a mixture of security and cheap prices, then a capped rate mortgage is for you.

The pitfalls

However, all of these benefits come at a price. Capped mortgage rates are usually higher than fixed rate or variable rate starting prices, because you get so many benefits. Also, there are not as many lenders willing to offer capped rate mortgages because of the obvious benefits to the borrower. You usually have to have a good credit history and even then it can be hard to get a capped mortgage. However, if you don’t mind paying a slightly higher rate and want the chance to get lower prices as well as being able to budget, then a capped rate mortgage is for you.

Getting a capped rate mortgage

As previously mentioned, there are fewer lenders offering capped rate mortgages than other types of mortgage. This makes shopping around an easier task, but it is still necessary to do so in order to find the best deals. If you are still unsure about whether or not a capped rate mortgage is suitable for you, then speak to an independent financial advisor. Even if you already have a mortgage, you might be able to negotiate a deal with your current lender and put a cap on your variable rate mortgage.

Popular Backyard Activities for Adults

When most of us think of backyard activities, children come to mind.  While children may enjoy being outside, they are not the only individuals who enjoy participating in backyard activities.  In fact, many adults also enjoy being outside in their yards.  Whether you are retreating your backyard alone or with some friends, you may want to think of some fun or relaxing backyard activities. This can easily be done by examining some of the most popular backyard activities, especially those that are designed with adults in mind.

As previously mentioned, many adults use their backyards to relax. If you are looking to do this, you may want to examine your backyard or patio furniture.  The furniture that you have available may make it possible, or even impossible, to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in your yard.  Popular furniture, used to help achieve relaxation, may include lounge chairs or hammocks.  If you do not have any comfortable lawn or patio furniture, you may want to consider purchasing some.  Most, on and offline retail stores, carry a fairly large selection of patio furniture.

Although many adults use their backyards as a source of relaxation, others use it for excitement.  If you are looking for fun backyard activities, there are literally an unlimited number of things that you can do. These activities may include playing sports games, going for a swim, or having a barbecue.  All of these backyard activities are ideal for individuals of all ages, especially adults.

If you are interested in playing sports games in your backyard, you will have to think about the games that you would be interested in playing. You may also want to examine whether or not you would be playing alone or with someone else. If you are interested in playing a game by yourself, basketball or a singles game of horseshoes may be ideal. In addition to being ideal for singles games, horseshoes and basketball are also great games for when more than one player is participating.  Additional multiplayer games may include soccer, football, tennis, badminton, or volleyball.

The above mentioned games are ideal because just about everyone one can participate in them.  Most backyards are able to accompany a number of different backyard sports games.  However, to go swimming, you will have to have a pool.  Even though pools are popular, not everyone has one. If you are unable to have an in-ground or an above ground pool installed in your backyard, a kiddie pool maybe a nice alternative.  While kiddie pools are designed with small children in mind, they are great for wading in hot weather, even for adults. 

A barbecue is another backyard activity that is enjoyed by many adults.  Since most households already have a grill, you may not have to purchase anything besides your food.  If you do not have a barbecue grill, many small ones can be purchased for around twenty dollars.  Barbeques are great backyard activities, all on their own, but they also work well in conjunction with swimming or other outdoor activities.

In addition to enjoying, the above mentioned, popular backyard activities for adults, you may also want to make up your own.  Whether you create your own unique game or stick to traditional backyard games, it is likely that you will be pleased with your decision to entertain yourself outside.  There are many adults that just enjoy being outside, even if they are not participating in anything particular.

Will Your Bank Give You The Best Mortgage?

Many of us tend to form a relationship with our bank even in these times of big banks. This does not mean, however, you should look to your personal bank for a mortgage.

Will Your Bank Give You The Best Mortgage?

It is a common misconception for people to assume that their bank will give them the best mortgage. It is a natural thing to assume, especially since people have often been banking with the same institution for many years and they feel comfortable with them. However, the fact is that if you limit yourself to going directly to your bank and getting a mortgage from them without looking elsewhere you are most likely shooting yourself in the foot. You are restricting the possibility of other options that might be better for you and this is never a good thing.

There is no doubt that your own bank might give you the plan you want. There is a chance that they will give you a good offer that would be tough to beat by any considerable margin elsewhere. However, this is just a chance. You will only know if it’s anything more than a chance by actually looking elsewhere. Sure, the comfortable and trust factors weigh in, and these can be major factors since you want to trust the institution that is giving you such a large amount of money for such an important thing, but there are many other trustworthy lenders out there that may have a better offer for you. Keep in mind that your bank will probably sell your mortgage to another lender within the first year.

The first place to go is to other major banks and lending companies which you know of. By going to these first, you are going to major companies which are trustworthy. Most major banks offer fairly similar rates, but it is still worth it to check around. In fact, you would be crazy not to check around. You may get yourself a quarter or half a percentage point off, which might seem small but can actually turn out to saving you thousands of dollars in interest payments. These other banks might also have other incentives or better options that you will want to consider. If you own a business, they may even offer you a better deal in an attempt to pick up that business.

There are plenty of other lending companies you can check with, both major and minor, online and offline. It is to your benefit to check as many as possible and not settle with your own bank just because they are the first place you check. Getting a mortgage is a huge thing and it is important to get the right mortgage plan for you, and this will only be done properly if you evaluate your options.