Jul 22 2014

Could a Passion for Motoring Drive Some Investment Wins?

By |July 22nd, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off on Could a Passion for Motoring Drive Some Investment Wins?|

By Patrick Foot, financial markets writer at IG. Find out how CFD trading works with IG.

Despite the rise of new technologies and green awareness, the motor industry is still a massive player in worldwide markets. It’s a sector fuelled by passion, with motoring brands and models receiving adoration rarely seen for companies like Google or Microsoft.

If you’re a petrolhead, though, life can be hard: cars are expensive to run and tend to drop in value fast. But can you offset your losses by turning you knowledge of motoring into some wise investment choices? The majority of major manufacturers list on stock markets both home and abroad, so there’s plenty of options out there…

Big players

All the manufacturers of America’s top selling cars last year have a listing on the stock market, though some are less direct than others. Both Chevrolet and GMC are owned by General Motors and Chrysler (maker of the Dodge pickup) is owned by Fiat.

In 2013, Ford produced the most popular model, the F-Series pickup (topping the charts for a 32nd consecutive year). The venerable motoring brand’s success in both the US and abroad has seen their share price perform handsomely over the past couple of years, almost doubling in worth.

Another American titan, General Motors, has had a similarly strong two years, growing slightly less than Ford at 91%. It is worth noting, though, that General Motors has so far had a rocky 2014, dropping in value considerably in the spring before picking up in the summer so far. It’s earnings season in the US at the moment, so General Motors will hope to push up the markets off of the back of some strong results. It will hope that the strong sales of the Chevrolet Silverado will help it achieve just that.

The next two best sellers are from Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda. Both companies have been busy proving that the recent turnaround in the motor industry isn’t just limited to American companies. Like General Motors, both Toyota and Honda have slowed a little this year, but are still trading significantly higher than two years ago. For Honda, that’s a respectable 33% uplift; for Toyota it’s an impressive 88%.

Specialist brands

So the story for the big names in motor manufacturing is an impressive return to an industry many thought was in for tough times.  But for true car aficionados an affordable, useful vehicle is never really enough – so what options are there for sports and luxury vehicle investment?

Those who enjoy the precision of German engineering can show their support with an investment in BMW, Daimler (owner of Mercedes Benz, amongst other makers) or Porsche. BMW, who trade under German moniker Bayerische Motoren Worke announced record sales for the first half of this year. They have had no dip to recover from on the markets, and except for a stall in 2011, have been steadily on the rise since the crash in 2008.

Daimler and Porsche are closer to their American and Japanese counterparts, with a rise beginning midway through 2012. Both have increased almost 90% in the past two years.

Those who prefer Italian cars have less to choose from, as Fiat own most of the major brands including Ferrari, Masserati and Alfa Romeo. The other notable car company, Lamborghini, are privately owned and as such not listed on the stock market. Fiat’s performance in the past two years, though, has outstripped many other companies on bigger exchanges. The company has grown 110% and shown promise ahead of their new listing as Fiat Chrysler on the New York Stock Exchange in a few months.

A green opportunity?

For those who prefer to enjoy their car without worrying about any negative environmental impact, plenty of electric options are available on the market now. And it’s a technology that is anticipated to take off in a big way in the future. Most of the companies mentioned above have some kind of electric model either on or hitting the market, but the two biggest players are probably Renault-Nissan and Tesla.

Tesla has shocked the market with its staggering rise in the past two years, shooting up a meteoric 550% in value. Those who got on board with Tesla in 2012 will now be seeing some amazing returns on their investment.

Across the board, motor enthusiasts have seen their industry pull of a successful period on the markets recently. If you think that may be set to continue, then take a look at your favourite car makers as they might be worth an investment. If you can predict the next Tesla, though, there’s some real money to be made.

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Jul 9 2014

How to Afford a One of a Kinda Engagement Ring

By |July 9th, 2014|General Personal Finance|1 Comment|

There are few things in life that take as much thought and planning as picking out an engagement ring. Tradition and media would have most believe it has got to be a diamond and big. But, for many people, it is far less about society’s tradition, than the more important one–which is what the ring represents.

One thing that the engagement ring should never do is put you into debt. There are many ways to save up for that special piece of jewelry. Even if you aren’t in a relationship but feel you want to one day be married, nothing can impress a woman more than showing the ability to think ahead and achieve goals.

·  Save up. Whether it is in a jar under your bed, or a special savings account just for that purpose, even if you only put aside the loose change in your pocket each day, it will add up.

·  Don’t set a goal to save. One flaw in savings is trying to set unrealistic goals only to fall short, become discouraged and give up all together. If you start saving before you are anywhere even near ready to buy an engagement ring, you may find you have more than enough for the ring and other related expenses when the time does arrive.

For those who are already with that special some with whom and the idea of marriage is becoming a likelihood, and there is not a lot in the budget for shopping, it means time to be creative. A large part of the expense is the band the gem sets on.

·  Consider your band color. There is little getting around golden tones, but silvery shades are diverse and far more economical. Metals such as sterling silver and surgical steel can make it more affordable when ring shopping.

·  Make it unique. Most women get a diamond on a gold band, but why not give her something as unique and special as she is? Find a ring with color enhanced diamonds in her favorite shades, such as amethyst and silver or aquamarine and gold.

·  Get it handmade. You can even find sites where people will hand make for a lot less than large jewelers. Artisan wares come not only as a bonus to supporting independent business people, it can guarantee a one-of-a-kind ring. Many couples who are short on savings opt for smaller, more economical choices.

·  Be spontaneous. Some people get engaged with bubblegum machine rings and later on down the line replace them with a more permanent piece. If the engagement happens to come in a heat of the moment, passion and surprise can make even a clover seem like the most beautiful thing she has ever worn.

Aside from the wedding band, the engagement ring is something she will want to wear the rest of her life. It should be something that she will enjoy wearing. It should make her smile and be an expression of how much you know and love her. In the end, it is not what you wear, but why you wear it.

Jul 2 2014

3 Insurance Products You May Need But Didn’t Know Existed

By |July 2nd, 2014|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|Comments Off on 3 Insurance Products You May Need But Didn’t Know Existed|

Most people are familiar with and/or pay for things such as medical insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, and car insurance. If you’re really savvy about your personal finances, you might even know about things like gap insurance on a new vehicle purchase or long term disability insurance to ensure you protect your income from a bad accident or disease.

However, the insurance industry doesn’t end there. Here are some insurance product that you may have never heard of, but may want to consider if it makes sense for you and your family’s situation.

Wedding Insurance

Who knew that you could insure your wedding? I certainly didn’t, and never even thought about taking out an insurance policy as I was spending $20,000+ on my wedding earlier this year. Looking back, it is a product I wish I knew about.

What happens if your reception venue goes out of business? Or what if the photographer just doesn’t show up? What if you’re all set to get married and all of a sudden you need your appendix removed the night before the wedding?

Wedding insurance can cover all of these issues. For someone like me who spent well over $20,000 on my wedding, it might have been worth it to insure myself against some of these disasters. Luckily everything went great on my wedding day, but for just a few hundred dollars it could be worth it.

Multiple Birth Insurance


photo credit: Nicholas Valentin

No, my wife isn’t pregnant yet, but if we start trying to have a kid we may want to look into multiple-birth insurance. I’ve never had one but kids sound very expensive. The idea of having 2 at the same time a little scary.

If you are really worried about it, you can buy multiple birth or twin insurance, and the policy will pay you a lump sum if your wife blesses your household with twins (or more!).

That extra cash in your pocket will definitely help when you need to buy 2 cribs, twice the amount of clothes, diapers, food, and everything else that comes along with it. Plus you might need to drop the kids off with grandma and grandpa and use some of that money for a well deserved vacation!

Payment Protection Insurance

This is an insurance policy that you may have and not even know about it. If you have a loan out for a mortgage, vehicle, or some other large purchase, sometimes a bank will offer or include payment protection insurance, or PPI.

The purpose of PPI is to help you make payments against your loan if you lose your job, become ill, or even pass away (in which case it helps your spouse). It’s a popular product in the UK but is available in the US as well.

If you aren’t sure if you have this insurance, or if you have it but aren’t sure how to make a claim you can use a service like http://www.ppiclaimsadviceline.com to help you figure it out.

Readers: Have you heard of some other crazy insurance policies? Share them in the comments.

Jul 1 2014

Small Investments Any Business Should Make to Encourage Sales

By |July 1st, 2014|General Personal Finance|1 Comment|

Everyone knows the adage that you have to spend money to make money, but when your retail store is losing money, the last thing you want to do is spend more money. The issue is that without spending a little money right away, you could be missing out on some huge revenue. There are a few small investments you can make to encourage sales and recoup your money in a short period of time. Here are just a few of the great ideas you can start using right now to engage more and sell to your enthusiastic customers.

Get Out from Behind the Counter

Customers love it when you’re on the floor offering to help or trying to speed up their shopping experience. The problem many retail store owners encounter is someone needs to be behind the counter ringing people up. In fact, there are new portable, wireless scanners that tie in with an iPad POS system which allow your sales team to be on the floor rather than stuck behind the counter. You can set up the sales floor as a large display rather than one where your customers pick out the items they want. According to Small Business Chronicle, as soon as you scan the barcode with the portable scanner, it will be entered into the system. Once this happens, the item can be pulled and bagged in the back. Everything is handled as the customer is picking out items. This not only makes it more convenient for the customer to walk around without being hindered by their selections. It also makes it possible for your customers to buy more. They will not concentrate on how many items they’re holding in their hands. Rather, they’re going to concentrate on the next item they want.

Manage Your Inventory Better

The POS system that’s tied to your barcode scanner that can be purchased by ecommerce solution provider like Shopify is a necessary tool whether you want to use the barcode scanner or not. You receive so many benefits from the POS system that Business Know How likens it to flying blind in an airplane with no controls if you’re absent of one. Since the iPad you have is a perfect outlet for you to install POS software, you can simply install the software and you’re on your way. Consider how you’re going to use the software. It’s perfect for managing your inventory, because all you have to do is input it all into the system and set it so every time you make a sale, it will draw from the inventory. As you start to develop a sales history, you can plan for slow or busy periods. You’ll never again have to turn customers away from buying what they want because you weren’t prepared for the rush you get every year.

Utilize Displays to Spark Conversations

Displays are a very important part of any successful business. If you take the time to purchase and set up displays which highlight your products, your customers will pay more attention to them. Make sure the display includes information about the product as well as some examples in which the customer can utilize the product in their life to solve a problem. Additionally, sales associates can show customers the product displays to foster sales, according to Transworld Business. Your display should include everything from color photos to graphics and even content centered on the product and its many uses. Remember to think about your customers and what they enjoy. If you know your customers, this should be an easy exercise. Don’t go overboard with your displays though. Setting up too many displays tends to detract from their power, because it is an assault on the senses.

Utilize iPads as Advertising Platforms

Everyone loves to interact with an iPad, or any other tablet for that matter. There’s something thoroughly engaging about being able to touch a screen and look up information. Best of all, the iPad provides the perfect environment to create an interactive environment. With technology being focused on as one of the biggest trends in retail, according to Marketing Week, it’s important to utilize it wherever you can. Rather than investing in major technological displays, you can purchase a few iPads and set them in holders which prevent users from hitting the home button. Set up software on the iPad to show all of your products or just to highlight the ones in front of the user. They can learn all about the products in a fun and entertaining way. Your customers are sure to tell all their friends about how cool it is to shop at your store as a result.

Jul 1 2014

Ensuring Financial Stability and Business Continuity with Reliable Chauffeur Insurance

By |July 1st, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off on Ensuring Financial Stability and Business Continuity with Reliable Chauffeur Insurance|

When starting a chauffeur business the glamour and hobnob with celebs is what attracts most amateur businessmen and chauffeurs. Picking important people up and dropping them at their destinations seem like an easy job. And indeed, when it comes to business, chauffeur business does seem like an easy and highly profitable way to earn money and get a slice of the celeb life.

What should make you think again?

What if your vehicle faces an accident with someone “important” on the backseat? What if that person decides to sue your company? You cannot simply wail and pine about the misfortune, but you must be prepared to fight back. There are a number of hurdles that stand in the way of a new business to become successful. Clouds of misfortune may loom over any and every successful business irrespective of current profit margin. One must be prepared to cross these hurdles and always end up on the right side of the profit margin.

Why insure your vehicle or your fleet?

Buying an insurance policy for your vehicle is not an option; in fact not having one is an illegal thing to do. However besides compulsion there are other reasons that should drive you to buy a chauffeur insurance policy. Did you know that insurance assets account for 12% of total global financial assets? This means that, insurance is seen in the light of a good investment by many successful businessmen in this world. Very practically speaking, if an insurance policy pays the damages to the third party as well as you, then it is indeed worth paying for.

Insurance and assurance


photo credit: flickr

Having an insurance means you are protected against third party damage. In case of a broken down car, you will be given a replacement car that will keep your business going. A chauffeur insurance is like the lifeline for a successful and profitable business. It will save you from paying the exuberant compensations or settlements, the expensive lawyers and other hefty expenses. A good insurance policy is much like an assurance of good business. Insurance is something that shields a budding business from the hard days.

Ensure good financial health of your business with the right policy

The type of vehicle you drive, the number of vehicles and the type of trade will determine the best suited policy for you. Private hire and public hire are the two main categories of insurance policies. Private hire includes all vehicles that ply on a pre-arranged or pre-booked basis. And the public hire deal with minicabs, regular cabs etc. you may own a single luxury car or a fleet of regular cars, you will find a policy that was tailor-made for you. If you are the owner of a fleet, it is better for you to insure all of them together instead of individually.

Annual payment policies, complete compensation options, replacement vehicles, there are hundreds of reasons beside compulsion which should lead you to opt for a chauffeur insurance policy. Having a policy makes sure that your business thrives even when faced with tricky challenges.

Jun 23 2014

5 Degrees That Are Worth The Investment

By |June 23rd, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off on 5 Degrees That Are Worth The Investment|

We’re told at a young age to pursue what we love and that everything will fall into place when we pursue our passions. Millions of people follow this advice when entering college and find themselves studying music, history, philosophy, psychology, sports management, or similar programs. While these all teach valuable life skills that lead to a more fulfilling life, the job market’s demand for these skills is notoriously limited. If you’re looking for a degree that will pay for itself, try one of these five excellent programs.

1. Graphic Design

graphic design

Image via Flickr by University of Salford Press Office

If you’ve got a flair for creativity and like to create something new every day, a degree in graphic design may be right for you. Graphic designers develop every part of a business’ visuals to capture the audience’s attention. Graphic designers might choose color palettes and shapes for user interfaces, develop eye-catching banner photos and flyers, retouch photos, and oversee practically all visual materials that represent the company they work for. Most businesses will need a solid graphic designer at some point, whether it’s just a one-time project or for ongoing long-term needs. Demand will always be high for these clever and talented individuals, and with a median salary of $44,150, the pay isn’t too bad either.

2. Criminal Justice


Image via Flickr by West Midlands Police

A criminal justice degree is ideal for people who would like to be a part of the thin blue line that protects honest, law-abiding citizens from those that might want to do them harm. There are many types of occupations that fall under the criminal justice umbrella, including crime scene analysts, game wardens, detectives, attorneys, substance abuse counselors, and many more. What all these individuals share is a desire to uphold the law and help protect the greater good of society. Many of these jobs have great salaries and require a human touch, meaning they won’t be replaced by machines or computers anytime soon (or ever, really).

3. Medicine


Image via Flickr by Seattle Municipal Archives

A degree in medicine or anything else that falls under the health care industry is a popular choice for people who are blessed with both a sharp mind and compassion for others. However, getting a start in this field requires many years of education and on-the-job training — which makes sense, since you’re literally making the difference between life and death on a fairly regular basis.

Bearing this in mind, you should still not be intimidated by the amount of education required for a career in medicine. It is arguably easier than ever to earn a degree in the field, such as an RN-to-BSN, with online schools. They not only allow you to balance classes with your current life, but your credits are also easily transferable, so there is no need to feel trapped in a particular program. It only takes moments to go online and see if a particular institution is right from you, and it’s the first step to landing an immensely rewarding and high-paying career in the field.

Physicians and surgeons have a very healthy job outlook and were raking in around $187,200 a year in 2012. Degrees in medicine usually come with a high price tag, but many are willing to take that burden knowing the high reward that awaits them after all those years of school.

4. Accounting


Image via Flickr by kenteegardin

If you enjoy working with numbers and problem-solving, you’ll feel right at home with an accounting degree. With job openings in virtually every city in the nation, accountants are responsible for tracking and maintaining complex budgets for businesses and government agencies. You’ll gain valuable insight into the dynamics of taxes and economics, all while bringing home a pretty hefty paycheck — in 2012, accounts had a median wage of $63,550, and have the potential to make upwards of six figures as they advance through their careers.

5. Law


Image via Flickr by ~ Paige ~

A degree in law opens the door to one of the most lucrative careers out there. In a nutshell, lawyers are responsible for interpreting law and making sure their clients don’t break it. Unlike TV courtroom dramas, lawyers actually spend a majority of their profession reviewing and writing legal texts and navigating a tricky bureaucracy. But with all that hard work comes some great pay — the median salary of a lawyer in 2012 was $113,530. However, it’s very difficult to enter this field without a graduate level degree, so you may want to get your undergrad in something like criminal justice first.

A college education is a big investment, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

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