Posted by admin | Posted in money | Posted on 12-06-2012-05-2008
Q: I have two children with special needs and I am getting upset at all the criticism that special education costs the district and taxpayers too much money. I am worried that my kids will be blamed for some of the budget cuts by the other kids or …
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Posted by admin | Posted in free retirement | Posted on 12-06-2012-05-2008
This generation enjoys few of the advantages that enabled their grandparents' generation to build a worry-free retirement. By MSN Money partner 17 minutes ago this post comes from Tim Sullivan at partner blog get Rich Slowly. Over Memorial Day weekend, …
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Posted by admin | Posted in investing | Posted on 08-06-2012-05-2008
by Carl Delfeld, Investment U Senior AnalystThursday, June 7, 2012: Issue #1790
While Mexico’s challenges make headlines, its strengths are making money for investors.
I have noticed that many people go to great lengths to travel the world but inexplicably ignore sites in their own backyard. take me for example. I have lived in Colorado for about 12 years and have yet to visit the Grand Canyon.
And while I have visited more than 30 countries around the globe, I have not even been to Mexico. When in San Diego with my family on multiple occasions, I took a pass being a bit spooked by all the headlines on border drug and gang violence.
This type of thinking is unfortunately keeping many investors away from Mexico – a big mistake.
As I have highlighted at Oxford Club investment summits over the past year, while Mexico’s challenges make headlines, its strengths are making money for investors.
And Mexico’s strength is that that it has emerged as a major manufacturing and industrial power.
U.S. industrial production is still at pre-2007 levels while Mexico got back to this level in early 2011. 80% of Mexico’s exports are manufactured goods and trade now represents 60% of GDP – a figure that has more than tripled since 1980. Mexican exports hit a record high in April of this year.
My view is that Mexico is on the way to replacing China as the premier global manufacturing platform for selling into North and South American markets.
China’s huge advantage in labor costs is evaporating. in 2000, Mexico’s manufacturing wages were 240% higher than in China. now they are only 12% higher and given all the logistical issues and transportation costs that come with shipping parts to China and then bringing the final product back you can easily see Mexico’s advantage.
Mexico’s competitive edge is supercharged by a weak peso policy that has pushed the peso down an incredible 1,500% against the dollar since 1987 (though the peso is beginning to trend upward).
This is why American, European, Japanese, South Korean and, yes, even China are falling over each other to invest in Mexican production facilities. One example is the recent opening of Italian tire maker Pirelli’s first ever plant in Mexico. this ties in with Mexican auto production which was up 20% in April year-over-year.
Always keep in mind Mexico’s geographical edge next to two huge markets and as a Pacific Rim country, ready access to Asia-Pacific markets.
Let’s take a moment and look at the big picture. While U.S. debt is approaching 90% of GDP, Mexico is at 27%. America’s budget deficit is 8.6% of GDP while Mexico is at 2.5%. in addition, inflation in Mexico is at a manageable 4.4% and, unlike Brazil, has no restrictions on capital inflows.
Mexico is open for business worldwide. get a piece of the action but remember that picking the right stock for a country on an upward trend is not an afterthought – it is the most important part. One of my favorite picks – Grupo Simec (NYSE: SIM) – is up 13.7% so far this year while emerging markets as a whole are down 6.2%.
Simec provides the finished steel that goes into manufacnuring plants being built hand over fist by global companies taking advantage of Mexico’s edge. in 2011 sales were up 19%, operating income was up 123% while Simec posted in the first quarter of 2012 a 24% increase in net sales and a 145% jump in operating earnings. Sales within Mexico were up 33% as the company exports about half of its production.
The stock is still trading below book value, at merely 65% of sales and at only 6.4 times trailing earnings.
And there’s more where that came from. in today’s Investment U Plus, I share another undervalued Mexican industrial company that is poised for incredible growth. It’s currently trading at just 75% of its book value and just 6.6 times trailing earnings.
Editor’s Note: To find out Carl’s exclusive Investment U plus pick for today along with our experts’ recommendations with each daily issue for pennies a day, click here.
Posted by admin | Posted in mistrial | Posted on 01-06-2012-05-2008
A Greensboro, N.C., jury has acquitted former presidential candidate John Edwards on one count of taking illegal campaign funds, but the judge declared a mistrial after the jury became deadlocked on five other counts.
“While I don’t believe I did anything illegal … I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins,” said Edwards, speaking after the trial and taking no questions from reporters. “if I want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly I don’t have to go any farther than the mirror. It’s me. it is me and me alone.”
Edwards, 58, was charged with taking illegal campaign funds in a political tempest that embroiled him in a scandal that included his aides, campaign contributors and his mistress — now the mother of the couple’s 4-year-old daughter. But the jury was not convinced that taking the money amounted to a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.
Jurors told Judge Catherine Eagles that they had reached a decision on each of the six counts, which she mistakenly took to mean that they had reached a verdict. it turned out that they had not come to a final decision on all the counts. She sent the jury back to its chamber to deliver a final decision, and the result was an acquittal on the charge of taking money from a wealthy donor. with no verdict on the other counts, Eagles declared a mistrial.
The jury deliberated for nine days in the trial, which was at times emotional and at other times bizarre, with testimony from staffers in his 2008 presidential campaign, including aide Andrew Young and his wife Cheri. The couple, having been granted immunity from prosecution, said they worked to conceal the fact that money coming from wealthy contributors intended for the campaign was actually being used to take care of Edwards’ then pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter.
That money — $1 million in donations — was given by Edwards supporters Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Texas lawyer Fred Baron. Cheri Young testified that she was assured that depositing the money in an account the two shared was legal. She said that in a conversation she listened to between her husband and Edwards, the candidate said his campaign-finance advisers told him there was nothing illegal about what he was doing.
Prosecutors said Edwards deliberately accepted the money and intended to use it to conceal Hunter and her pregnancy and that he “knowingly” violated campaign-finance laws to do so. The money, they said, was used to pay for Hunter’s medical and living expenses. Edwards was married to Elizabeth Edwards at the time. She died of cancer in 2010.
But his defense said Edwards did no such thing and was not trying to use the funds for Hunter. They countered that the Youngs kept the money and used it for their own gain, accusing them of attempting to cash in again by releasing a book about their experience with Edwards. neither Edwards nor Hunter testified in the trial.
In addition to his child with Hunter, Edwards is now raising two children, ages 13 and 11, and has a 30-year-old daughter, Cate. He admitted fathering Hunter’s child after newspapers publicized the affair between them and agreed to pay child support. The child now lives with her mother in Charlotte, N.C.
Edwards was also accused of falsifying documents and of conspiracy to receive the funds and conceal them. He was facing a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
Posted by admin | Posted in finances | Posted on 28-05-2012-05-2008
This blog post is essential reading, in my opinion.
Maybe a missing part of the list above is the right attitude toward money. that is, having means is a better situation to be in than being poor. I think this fits into number 3 but it is slightly more than what is said there. what I am trying to say is, having money is not a bad thing. go out and get some. Win with money.
I liked the millionaire next door and I'll see if the millionaire mind is available at the library. it sounds interesting. I have a supportive spouse and that's probably my strongest point. in the past I did very well with discipline and social skill, but I think those things have deteriorated quite a bit since college. Looking forward to reading this book.
Amen! Thomas Stanley also published "stop Acting Rich: …and Live like A Real Millionaire". it was published more recently (2009). It's sort of a rehash of the original Millionaire book, but good. I see you can pick up a good used copy on Amazon for less than $7.50.
I concur totally with the points raised in this article.
1) we still live well below our means. When we look back we see that we used to spend a lot more freely when we were worth a lot less. I am not sure why except that our "wants" are neglible these days.
2) I now manage 15 Fidelity accounts including ours and those of our three children. It's not a lot of work but it's a lot of responsibility because they total 8 figures and each have nice gains.
3) Social status has never been important to us, though living in a beautiful home in a great location and with a lovely garden is, especially since my parents were renters their whole life.
4) When I left home the day I got married I was giving my mother half of my paycheck for my board and keep – unheard of these days in the USA. I received BS and MS degrees without ever being a full time student and without any parental help.
5) our two daughters are both multi-millionaires, our son is getting very close to his first million.
6) I am no longer targeting market opportunities but I took full advantage of a great opportunity soon after I retired and marketed a mutual fund analysis program to 1601 customers of the commercial database that I use every day.
7) I was fortunate in deciding to become an aerospace engineer and never had a single day of unemployment and never a year without a nice raise – thanks in large part to the arms race generated by the cold War with the USSR.
I cannot overemphasize the fact that I wouldn't be where I am today without my loving and supportive wife that I first met in 1950 in England and have been married to since 1956, the year we emigrated, first to Canada, then to the USA.
I totally agree with points raised in this book.
Most important factors for me were:
1. choice of spouse
2. Working to develop a career than happens to pay well.
3. Living well below our income (need 1 & 2 to get to this point).
Melissa,You didn't say what career path you chose. There are quite a few good ones. Healthcare is a great field with the US population aging, new technologies coming along all the time, and no danger of your job being outsourced to countries with low labor rates. You also don't have to have an M.D. to have a really great and secure job in that field, often junior colleges can provide the needed qualifications.
These days I would also be taking a good look at jobs in any branch of government, be it city, county, state, or federal. they still provide good benefits and pensions and are not nearly as prone to layoffs as companies that have to show a profit.
"I have always succeeded by hard work, not raw ability."
Funnily enough almost everyone who succeeds says this. not sure there is 'raw ability', merely people who devote an exceptional amount of time to a particular subject. If you work really hard at being an artist you'd probably end up pretty good if you worked hard and efficiently at improving yourself.
Rob: I think that's the expected, humble, thing to say. it takes a sort of arrogance to say that your talent is so far above everyone else's that it has propelled you to success without requiring as much work as those around you, even though, in many cases, it's probably true.
The only somewhat-of-a-counter example I can come up with is that I remember hearing that tennis great John McEnroe claimed that he had more talent in his little finger than his rival Ivan Lendl, but that Lendl worked harder at tennis than McEnroe ever would. that was probably just trash-talk.
Even if you're born with talent, developing that talent into something useful takes hard work.
MattJ: I'm just trying to think what you can be born with to make you a better tennis player… better eye to hand co-ordination? More agility? I'm not convinced, I suspect key early developments at a very young age where we are very responsive are mistaken for talent.
I agree that living below your means is essential. I rented this as an audio book through my work a couple years back and it had a lot of great material in it. I highly suggest it to see how the normal millionaire thinks.
I agree with Mike that choice of spouse is important — tremendously so. Romance is great (and necessary), but choosing a life partner with some practical things in mind makes all the difference as to whether your life partner is really for life.
Financial compatibility is essential. If you and your spouse have differing values, beliefs and behaviors around money, at the very least you should be willing and able to set common strategic goals and then compromise on the tactical stuff (the nitty gritty of how to go about achieving those goals). Otherwise, I feel like there would be a lot of unnecessary unhappiness in your life together.
P.S. I have been married (to the same person) for 19-1/2 years.
EM,Among my children's acquaintances I have known a few dating couples that made a "Mistake" and then "HAD" to get married because of family beliefs. These marriages often ended in divorce, and we all know the financial and emotional impact that can produce. When I was dating back in the early 50's things were very different. Even when I left England in 1956 there had never been a divorce in either of our extended families – it just didn't happen. Another thing that never happened in my youth was "living together", that would have been an unthinkable family disgrace even in the unlikely event that the couple could afford to move out. The boy's high school that I attended had a student body that was 99.7% WASP with two Catholic students and one Jewish student out of 1,000, that were excused from the prayer service that started the school day. The all girl's high school that my wife attended had a similar makeup. Today's world presents many challenges that didn't exist when I was a young man.
@Melissa: Me too!! I'm in the same boat as you with the HORRIBLE career choice. and yes, it was an awful decision (although, decades back when I chose it, I had no idea that it would turn bad), and although I've worked extremely hard, and have been frugal, I've ended up quite poor.
So, I feel your pain. I suggest that you go back to school to learn something else. I am back in college now for an accounting degree. I really hope it will pay off, despite my old age.
@ Melissa> I chose graphic design. Actually, I fell into it by accident, but it's been my career for the past decade.Just because that is what you are doing now doesn’t mean you have to continue to do it. If you fell into it then you can still make a conscious move out of it today. The book _What Color is Your Parachute?_ had a section on career changes. It’s been years since I’ve read it but I seem to remember that one of the keys was to try to find a position that uses many of your existing skills, so that you can get value from your current training.
You could start by looking at related fields that might pay better. For example, right now you probably are designing documents for your customers. could you design user interfaces for an application or web page instead? I don’t know if it pays well or not, but it can certainly add a lot of value.
I’m sure there would be new things for you to lean, but wouldn’t it be worth learning new skills to get out of a dead end job?
Posted by admin | Posted in retirement | Posted on 26-05-2012-05-2008
With all the news about rising student loan debt and disappointing investment returns, this may be a question on your mind if you have tuition bills coming up, whether for you or one of your children. I know it’s a question I’ve received both on our financial helpline and from a friend of mine who was recently accepted to grad school. So let’s take a look at some of the factors to consider before raiding your retirement account?
How would you access the money?
There are 3 main ways to get money out of a retirement plan. The worst way is a hardship withdrawal from your current employer’s plan. That’s because the withdrawal would be subject to a 10% penalty if you’re under age 59 1/2 and you make not be able to contribute to your plan for as long as 6 months, which means you could miss out on part of your employer’s match too.
Instead of taking a withdrawal, you might be able to borrow from your plan. The advantage here is that you can repay the money back and avoid taxes and penalties and the interest goes back into your own account. The disadvantage is that the loan usually has to be paid back within 5 years so those payments can be pretty steep. if you leave your job, any remaining loan balance after 60 days could also be considered a withdrawal and subject to taxes and penalties.
If you have IRAs (or previous employer plans that can be rolled into an IRA), this may be your best bet. That’s because IRAs can be used for higher education expenses penalty-free and don’t need to be paid back. You may still have to pay taxes on the withdrawal but if you take the withdrawal in a year that you reduce your work hours, you could end up paying little or no taxes on it since you’ll likely be in a lower tax bracket. (Roth contributions can be withdrawn tax-free for any purpose, including education expenses.)
What else would this cost you?
If you’re not paying a tax penalty, it may seem like the answer is nothing, especially compared to the interest you’d pay on a student loan. However, there is also something economists call opportunity cost, which is the gain that you’re giving up by not having that money invested in your retirement plan. while that opportunity cost may not have been very high over the last few years (or even negative if you lost money in the market), future returns are a different story. In fact, periods of below average returns in the stock market tend to be followed by period of above average returns (economists call this “reversion to the mean.”) How much depends on how aggressively you invest. as a rule of thumb, I estimate aggressive portfolios (about 80% or more in stock) to earn about 8% over the long run, moderate portfolios (about 60% in stock) to earn about 6%, and conservative portfolios (about 40% or less in stock) about 4%.
Of course, the other side of the equation is what you’d be otherwise paying in student loan interest. This also depends on what you can qualify for, although student loans are relatively low across the board and may also be tax-deductible. That’s why it’s generally considered “good debt,” along with mortgage and car loans, and preferable to depleting a retirement account for most people.
How would this affect your retirement?
Will this mean having work longer or retire with less income? This factor really applies more if you’re a parent of a child. if it’s for your own education, you can always use the savings from lower loan payments to contribute more to your retirement plans and make up the difference (assuming you have the discipline to do that). On the other hand, I wouldn’t count on junior contributing to your retirement fund. if you’re thinking of using your retirement account for your child’s education, you might want to run a retirement estimator and see what difference it would make to your retirement.
This brings us to another issue. no matter how much we love our children, we should always make sure our retirement is on track before contributing to their education. think of how airplanes tell us to secure our own oxygen mask in an emergency before we help our children with theirs. if your own finances are in good shape, you can always help your kids pay back their loans but unfortunately, there’s no financial aid for retirement.
****** Are you looking for an unbiased answer to your own financial question? Once a week, we’ll be responding on this blog to questions from our Financial Helpline or posted on our Twitter or Facebook site.
Erik Carter, JD, CFP® is a resident financial planner at Financial Finesse, the leading provider of unbiased financial education for employers nationwide, delivered by on-staff CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. For additional financial tips and insights, follow Financial Finesse on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Alec MacGillis of the NewRepublic has been doing some fine campaign reporting this year and here he offers a smart look at what may be the most important state of all in November–Ohio. the most striking part of the piece for me, one that illuminates an essential conundrum for Barack Obama, occurs when MacGillis goes door to door with a labor-affiliated political organizer in a white working-class neighborhood in Columbus:
At the next house, a slightly chaotic scene swirled around James Tichenor, a 50-year-old who works at a local McDonald’s. a van missing a wheel sat jacked up on the driveway; an armchair lay on its side in front of the house; a 16-month-old boy, the son of Tichenor’s deceased niece, cried inside the house. [The organizer Theresa] Bruskin forged ahead, taking it in stride when Tichenor said he had no e-mail address (“I don’t know nothing about computers”) and that he could not give any money (“Right now, I’m pretty well busted”). he told me he wasn’t sure who he was voting for. I asked: Wouldn’t Obama’s health care law help him? he shook his head, saying he couldn’t afford the $51 per week bare-bones health plan offered by McDonald’s. I told him I was pretty sure that, if his employer didn’t offer decent, affordable coverage, he would qualify for Medicaid, which Obamacare will greatly expand. he said he’d never heard anything about that: he worked nights and didn’t watch the news.
But even if Tichenor watched the news, would he have learned about his rights under the Affordable Care Act? I doubt it. Indeed, the Obama Administration has been loath to advertise the most important provision of the bill: that the working poor would be eligible for free medical care or for health insurance stipends on a sliding progressive scale, according to income. why hasn’t the President done this? Because the vast majority of Americans already have health insurance and are not too keen on giving out freebies in these tough economic times. a case can be made that they’re already paying for mr. Tichenor’s health care: when he or his family members get sick, they undoubtedly show up at the local emergency room and the rest of us pay for it–but that’s a difficult case to make. It involves a compound sentence. It involves policy arcana. and it also involves a political calculation.
Obama’s advisers obviously have calculated that making a big deal out of free medical care for the working poor, and perhaps winning the support of marginal voters like Tichenor, would lose far too many middle class votes. and so the Obama campaign has emphasized more popular, if peripheral, aspects of the bill, like the provision that forces insurance companies to cover everyone, even those with chronic or pre-existing conditions; or the provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26.
I find this all very sad. the moral purpose of universal health care was to provide coverage for those hard-working Americans who don’t have the money to pay for it (Non-working Americans already receive coverage via Medicaid). If Obama is constrained from talking about the real reason for Obamacare because of a political calculation, it may pay some dividends in November. or it may not: the President hasn’t sold his plan for what it actually is and so people, out in places like Ohio, understand neither the plan nor his reasons for pushing it. Those who oppose it fear the worst. Those who might benefit from it, and vote for the President, don’t understand the remarkable thing Obama has done for them.
Posted by admin | Posted in retirement | Posted on 18-05-2012-05-2008
The average American will face a 28% income shortfall in retirement, according to a recent survey by Fidelity Investments. and that’s just the broad percentage: In dollars-and-cents terms, Gen Xers will be scrambling to find an extra $1,700 a month to cover living expenses, while baby boomers will fall a whopping $2,100 a month short of what they need to maintain their current standards of living.That may sound like an insurmountable problem, but don’t throw in the towel. As Fidelity’s Kathy Murphy says, “finding the money to fill the income gap is not unattainable.”But if you want to do so, “take action now — and the sooner the better.”
Read the story on DailyFinance hereHere are five relatively easy steps you can take — some as soon as today — that will help prevent an income deficiency when you do retire.1. Boost your Stock Exposure.If you’re 40 or younger, adding a higher percentage of stocks to your portfolio with a lower allocation to bonds will allow your portfolio to grow more quickly than if you were in a “safer” allocation focused on a higher bond exposure.Stocks have historically grown at roughly 10% a year, but even an allocation of 83% stocks and 17% bonds (as Fidelity hypothetically uses) could return 8.4% a year.unfortunately, if you’re older than 40, a higher allocation to stocks is riskier and — although it could help your portfolio grow more rapidly — could have a detrimental effect on your investments if you retire during a bear market.2. Save more. a Lot more.Most Americans still don’t participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s. and this is a colossal mistake.Many employers will match contributions, essentially putting free money into your account. plus, a savings plan like a 401(k) is an easy way to force yourself to save. Money will come out of your paycheck before you can ever touch it.for both baby boomers and younger workers, ratcheting up your contributions to an ideal 10% of your salary alongside a hypothetical employer match of 3% will have a huge, positive effect on your portfolio when you retire.3. Wait a Little Bit Longer to Retire.This tip may not be an easy one to accept, but it could have nearly as large an effect on your retirement income as boosting the amount you save.first, working longer means a few more years of contributing to your 401(k) and a few more years of letting the contributions you’ve made over your career continue to grow. and this means you’ll ultimately have more to withdraw when you eventually retire.Second, it means you’ll be able to delay relying on Social Security — a move that could result in as much as a 76% higher payout.the only caveat to this is that if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ll be retiring when the Social Security system is facing serious strain — so you’ll want to put more of an emphasis on working longer to save even more money.4. Get an Annuity.Annuities often get a bad rap — and for good reason. Many are expensive, designed to rip you off rather than give you the assured stream of income you’re after.
But although there are trade-offs that come with even the best annuity, the upside is that you have assurance that at least a portion of your money will safely be there for the remainder of your life.You don’t need to buy an annuity with all the money you’ve saved — in Fidelity’s example, annuitizing just 40% of the portfolio turned out to be a smart move.this tip is especially helpful if your family has a history of celebrating 100th birthdays.5. Receive Help from your House.The trick here isn’t to apply for a reverse mortgage, or take out a home equity loan. but when you retire, chances are you won’t need as large a house as you’re used to.By trading down to a smaller house (or even moving to a less expensive area), you’ll have additional money you can put toward living expenses in retirement.How Much will these Tips Net You?In Fidelity’s hypothetical calculations, these five tips resulted in a Gen Xer with a $225-per-month surplus when he retired. and the baby boomer — who began with a monthly shortfall of $2,100 — was able to close that income gap substantially and end up with a shortfall of just $375.Of course, there are even more useful methods to ensure a wealthy retirement — many of which could close that gap even further. but whichever path you decide on, you will always have to be the one to take the first steps.this article was written by Motley Fool analyst Adam J. Wiederman. Click here to read Adam’s free report on how to ensure a wealthy retirement.
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Posted by admin | Posted in clothes | Posted on 17-05-2012-05-2008
A-List Treasures, exclusive and full service women owned web-based auction company is on a publicity mission to be recognized by celebrities who want to be green and recycle their clothes, household items, and collectibles, to raise money for their …
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