Nov 212014
 
When cutting expenses and finding ways to save money for retirement, a great vacation, college tuition or anything else, one of the first things to look at is insurance coverage. Below are some examples of common insurance types to consider.
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Life Insurance
Life insurance can come in different forms. The least expensive is term insurance. It provides coverage a specified amount of time. Cait, a fellow blogger also from Vancouver, recently wrote that she was able to buy a term life insurance policy for just $24/month. Usually the younger someone signs up for life insurance, the cheaper the premiums. However, there are other life insurance products such as permanent life insurance which will cover someone’s entire life and create a savings account that can be eventually used.
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Many insurance companies have an online presence these days. To research more about insurance in general, I think searching on Google for insurance agents is a good place to start for finding brokers near you. Then make an appointment with them to ask further questions. They can provide suggestions for how to reduce car insurance premiums or have a built-in savings account within a life insurance policy. Cait spoke with 3 different brokers before making her final decisions, so it’s okay to take your time. I’m really lucky to have group life insurance through my job. But if I wanted to have additional insurance I can buy private coverage as well.
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Car Insurance
For those who qualify, there are several ways car insurance can be inexpensive. There are discounts for people who have good driving records, and in some parts of the world, for students who have good grades in school. This is very useful for families with teenagers because their age group has the highest insurance rates. All policies have a deductible that you must pay before the insurance company starts to pay, but this deductible can be reduced every year if the driver maintains a good driving record.
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Home Insurance
A home is a large investment and proper home insurance coverage in important. However, there are ways to reduce the cost and still have excellent coverage. Bundling home and auto insurance with the same company can reduce the total premium by 10% or more. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy home and auto insurance from the same agency. :)  Installing fire and burglar alarms and other safety devices such as outdoor lighting could also help lower insurance costs. Personally I don’t have to worry about this one because my strata (HOA) corporation that runs the building takes care of it all. This is one benefit of living in a condo. :) My neighbours and I simply pay a monthly maintenance fees, and a small part of that is allocated to earthquake and fire insurance for the entire building. But as Jim mentions in the comments below we still need personal contents and flooding insurance.
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Business Insurance
This can prevent a company from bankruptcy. For example, having liability insurance is critical if customers enter the business premises or if employees go into the customer’s homes. If there is an accident, and the business is not adequately covered, the owner could have to pay from his or her own personal finances. It’s best to speak with a financial advisor specializing in business development to help select the right kind of coverage for a business.
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Random Useless Fact:
In the country of Denmark, the population of pigs is bigger than the population of people.
Nov 212014
 

The following post is written by staff writer, Peter.

Many finance bloggers are saying that they start to get a lot of search traffic regarding binary options and binary options trading. Some people even mail us asking if they should use binary options in order to save money or to increase their monthly revenues. For this reason I have created this very short guide that will tell people what binary options are and how they work.

When trading binary options you will have to predict into what direction the value of a financial asset will move during a certain time frame. The value of an asset can either go up or go down during a certain time frame. As such, seemingly your winning odds are 50%. Your winning odds would indeed be 50% in case you would be investing randomly without any thought behind it. However, that’s not how you are supposed to do it. You will have to make predictions based on real information such as research and so-called technical analysis, which is the analysis of the movement of assets using charts.

Does all this sound complicated? – Well, yes. And it actually is. The most important thing binary options companies do not reveal is that it’s actually very difficult to win in binary options. While you definitely can win in binary options, you actually need to put in some effort to make it.

There are of course a lot of scams out there as well. Unfortunately it seems that a very large number of binary options companies are pure fraud. There are definitely legit ones out there but for the average dude it’s very difficult to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. While you can find reviews of various binary options sites on different blogs and web pages, the majority of these sites get paid to post positive reviews, so you can’t even trust these sites either.

So, all in all, it might seem a good idea to just skip binary options from the list of investment opportunities you should be interested in. Instead, if you really want to trade and to invest into something, you should do this with legit Forex trading or traditional stock trading. Binary options are expected to change in the future and to more closely resemble to legitimate trading. This will happen once various countries decide to officially legalize and regulate this business. But this process is not expected to take place until several years in the future. So, in short, (for now at least) you should stay away from binary options.

 

Nov 082014
 

Precious metals don’t provide a steady stream of income and sometimes require an annual storage fee. However, it could still make sense to invest in them for several reasons. First, the demand for gold in China and India is huge, and central banks all over the world buy them to hedge against political turmoil, hyperinflation, invasion, economic warfare, and environmental disasters – things that can happen at any time. Gold is a proven long-term wealth asset that’s useful when the market is sliding deep into crisis.

Gold is also bought as insurance against fiat currencies. When investors lose confidence in the dollar, gold prices go up and vice versa. Currently the price of gold is wavering at around $1,150 – $1,180 per ounce. Fifty years ago an ounce of gold could be traded for about 13 barrels of crude oil. Back then oil was under $10 U.S. a barrel. Today in 2014 oil costs more than $80 a barrel because the U.S. dollar has lost a lot of value. However an ounce of gold today is still worth about 13 barrels oil. :) People often discuss the strength of one currency against another. But in the long run no fiat currency can keep up with real money and hard assets.

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One way investors can get exposure to gold and be paid in precious metal dividends is through the GBI Physical Dividend Program. The Gold Bullion International Physical Dividend Program allows companies to pay shareholders with physical dividends rather than cash. GBI’s service is open to all publicly-traded companies that pay dividends.

The physical dividend program allows stockholders of participating companies to tailor-fit the dividend payouts. The dividends can be purely precious metals payment, or mixed with cash. Investors may change their dividend payout preference whenever they desire. After trying out the precious metals dividend program, investors may revert back to receiving pure cash dividends. Precious metals payments can be stored at GBI’s vaults or shipped to a location of an investor’s choice. The nice thing about GRC’s program is that it doesn’t add a premium to its minting costs. Shareholders only need to shoulder the fees of the shipping, handling, and production of the precious metal dividends. Gold Resource Corporation (GORO) is an example of a company that has implemented GBI’s program into its dividends. GORO has started their program since April 2010, offering gold and silver dividends in the form of double eagles, which are .999 fine gold and silver coins. The GBI program sounds interesting. I wonder if there are any companies in Canada that offers it.

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Random Useless Fact:

1 ton of discarded cell phones contain more pure gold than 1 ton of newly mined gold ore. (source)

Oct 312014
 

It’s that time of year again when we encourage kids to go beg for candy at random people’s houses. Yes, because taking candy from strangers when it’s dark outside is exactly the kind of thing we should be teaching children to do. :P Sometimes kids are forced to wear embarrassing costumes because parents think they look cute. Even animals are subject to such abuse. The National Retail Federation estimates that people will spend $350 million on Halloween costumes — for their pets. :lol: Some people make their own outfits, but it’s often more convenient to buy them from stores where the costumes are mask produced. :D

elsa-halloween-drinking-game

The Economics of Halloween

Halloween is big business. In the U.S. alone people anticipate spending an average of $80 this year on decorations, costumes, and candy, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s about 10% more than last year. Altogether Americans are expected to spend about $7.4 billion on Halloween in 2014. Which will be good for the economy. Below is a breakdown of the $7.4 billion U.S. Halloween spending by category.

  • Costumes – 38%
  • Candy – 30%
  • Decorations and Cards – 32%

October 31st is actually the chocolate industry’s most lucrative holiday for sales. More chocolate is purchased for Halloween than for Easter, Christmas, and even Valentines Day.

Chocolate will probably become more expensive in the future. It’s due to limited supply and a growing world wide demand. On the supply side the cocoa plant can only grow in very specific parts of the world, mainly near the equator in West Africa. Two countries in that area, Ivory Coast and Ghana, produce most of the global cocoa supply. It sounds like West Africa is a pretty sweet place to work in. :D But basically the production of cocoa cannot be easily scaled. And on the demand side consumers in developing economies of Asia and Latin American are quickly developing a sweet tooth for chocolate, with sales expected to increase by more than 20% over the next few years.

As global demand continues to increase the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers like Mars, Mondelez, Barry Callebaut, and Nestle have to raise prices in order to maintain their profit margins. Hershey has already announced they’ve increased their wholesale price this year by 8%. The global chocolate market is expected to grow from $83.2 billion in 2010 to $98.3 billion by 2016 at an estimated annual growth rate of 2.7% from 2011 to 2016.

Have a fun night everyone. :) Stay safe. And for anyone who cares, just a friendly reminder to turn your clocks back on Sunday morning this weekend. ;)

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Random Useless Fact:
Many animal shelters won’t allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween, out of fear that they might be sacrificed or tortured during rituals.

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Oct 312014
 

The following is by staff writer, Peter.

If you accept credit cards in your business or you are planning to do that in the future, one of the things that you will need to do is to choose a credit card processing company. There are many different companies that you can choose from, so how do you choose the right one? Before you can pick one, you need to know what to look out for.

Not Reading the Fine Print14-10-credit-card-dealer

According to Skybank Financial, a huge mistake that a lot of business owners make when it comes to credit card processors is that they don’t read the fine print in the contract. This can be quite costly. You want to do more than just glance at the contract.  Check for the fees that they are charging up front, along with the hidden fees, penalties, and other things.  Even though credit cards are made to make life easier, the industry is also huge and they’re out to make money. They want to make as much money as possible from everyone.  If you’re not careful, you can be facing a lot more fees than you expect.

Bad Selection of Plans

Most of the companies that offer credit card processing via a POS system like Shopify also offer a lot of different plans that vary by services provided and price.  A huge difficulty for many business owners is deciding which of the plans is going to be best for their business. For example, one business might choose a certain plan that assumes there will be a lot of transactions every month. But this is going to likely be better for a larger chain that is able to meet those obligations. Another example would be a business that is rapidly growing conservative in their estimates regarding the type of service they’ll need. Maybe they underestimate how many transactions they’re going to have. This can result in a plan that’s insufficient or the business having a lot of fees.

Ignoring the Termination Fees

According to Singular Payments, this is one of the most common mistakes people make. When you are looking for a card processing company for your business, it’s essential to look at all of the information before you choose one. One of the most common types of fees that businesses often will ignore is the termination fee. This is what a company will use to lock their clients into contracts. These fees are really high and many of the processors ask that their clients sign an agreement for more than one year. Even though these seem innocent, this kind of contract often will lead to the provider charging you a fee for early termination. They also often may charge a penalty for liquidated damages due to lost profits.

Falling for the Bait & Switch

If you are looking for something and you think that it seems almost too good, you may want to look elsewhere. A lot of merchant services will lure businesses into something with a great rate or some other delectable item and then change it after you’re hooked. When you’re considering a company to process your credit cards, you want to ask them if they’re offering guarantees about what you’re being sold. Look for guarantees that offer protection against baiting and switching so that you know what you are getting into and you don’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises.

Not Reading Reviews

One of the best ways that you can find out about a credit card processing company is to read the reviews online. Look at the things that other people have said about the company and what they say about their fees, services, customer service, and anything else you want to know about the company. This is going to help you make the right decision.

Not Comparing Companies

In order to find the right processing company, one of the best things that you can do is to look at the different companies that are available. You may find one that you really like, but if you stop looking, you may miss out on one that you would have liked better. So compare the different companies and see what they have to offer, and then choose the one that is going to be best for you.

A gentlemen wrote about his own search for a credit card processing company and the problems that he had dealing with all the fees, manipulations, and other less-than-stellar tactics used by card processing companies for the New York Times. If you are concerned about finding the right payment processor, then follow in the NYT writer’s footsteps and tread warily, pay attention, and take your time to think.

When you take the time to learn what you shouldn’t do and what you should do, you will have a better chance of finding the right company for processing your credit card transactions. Take time and look for the one that suits you best and you will be less likely to make mistakes. If you want a good POS system, go visit Shopify and see what sort of services they can provide.