How To Choose A Forex Broker That Is Best For You?

The foreign exchange market is the world’s largest decentralized financial market. It’s a way bigger than the all other capital markets of the world combined. Daily trading turnover is more than 5 trillion dollars. A trader must choose a forex broker to get access to the market. There are so many retail forex brokers out there and not all of them are good and safe. Choosing the Best Forex Brokers who are suitable for your trading style is very important. But this task could be tougher especially if you don’t know what you should be looking for. Let us guide you to filter and choose a good broker that will serve your requirements. There are a number of things you should consider before you pick the right one.
A book, B Book
Let’s find out how to choose a forex broker in three steps given below:

1. Regulations and Security: of the choosing broker

The first and foremost quality of a good broker is – it must be well regulated by trusted regulators. Different countries have different jurisdictions.
NFA and CFTC are for the USA. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of UK is very famous for its reputation which covers the risk up to £50000 for an account. Obviously this isn’t cover for your trading losses.
ASIC of Australia is well known and CySEC is also popular, which is from Cyprus (EU). There are few other FX authorities which worth to consider like JFSA of Japan, BaFIN of Germany, SFBC of Switzerland, AMF of Canada.
Only a registration with these authorities does not necessarily mean your broker is regulated by them. Make sure your broker is regulated by your chosen regulator, having a simple registration number is not enough.

What should I do if my country doesn’t have FX jurisdiction?

This is a very common question by traders from 3rd world countries like Bangladesh, India or other Asian and African countries. Actually, you can trade under an FCA, ASIC or CySEC regulated broker. FCA is my favorite however, ASIC and CySEC are fine too. They even offer better leverage which might be helpful for traders who have smaller funds.

What about the security of investing fund and personal information?

You should ask about the capital solvency of the broker if you don’t find it on their website. Ignore the low invested brokers. Check the financial ability every three months with your broker (once you’ve decided). IronFX (a former leading broker) recently started holding all withdrawals requested by traders due to financial insolvency. You don’t want to be a victim of such a situation. A legal battle in court might take years to reach a verdict and even then, the terms may not be favorable to you. Don’t forget to check the liquidity providers of the broker. A good broker always puts your funds segregated with different banks.
A broker often collects personal data like ID cards, credit cards, birth certificates, passports, bank solvency papers to verify the trading account. So, you must inquire about their server security. This is equally important. FXCM, Oanda and other few leading brokers got hacked more than once between 2010-2015.

2. Types of Retail Forex Brokers: MM or STP broker?

There are basically two types of retail forex brokers. 1. Dealing Desk broker or Market Maker (MM), 2. No Dealing Desk broker (STP, ECN) and but there is a modern version of MM broker called ‘Hybrid Broker’ let’s discuss each of them.

Dealing Desk Brokers: Not always a villain

A dealing desk broker makes money through fixed spreads, swaps and from losses of a trader. All market maker (dealing desk) brokers process trading orders manually or sometimes by a computer system which runs into their own trading environment. They trade against you. Don’t be scared by that. In forex trading, there is always someone taking opposite side of your trades. In a real trading environment, other traders trade against your positions. You only make money when someone loses theirs.
Experienced traders often chooses a good MM broker to trade, as they have no problem with the liquidity. They provide their own liquidity.
But most MM broker serves their own interest and they may manipulate the market price and spread. Due to artificial price quotes they often re-quote during higher volatility. Sometimes, they do few bad practices like wider spreads to hunt the Stop Losses, add extra pips while you close a position, negative slippage is very common. It means they hang your trade for a couple of minutes and they don’t give you any profit if the price goes with your trading direction during that extra period but charge you if it goes against you!
However, well regulated and reputed MM brokers have a better trading environment, as competition between MM brokers is high these days. We don’t recommend any Market Making broker to new comers.

No Dealing Desk Brokers:

A no dealing desk broker act as a bridge between traders and liquidity providers (interbank). Positions taken by traders are automatically transmitted straight through the interbank. They are called STP brokers.

STP Brokers: They might not give you the best trading experience!

STP Brokers are often known as good brokers. These brokers have variable spreads and prices directly come from liquidity providers. All executions are automatic and there are no re-quotes. You might have slippage but no re-quotes. And their slippage is actually different than an MM broker. Sometimes a delay in execution can happen but you always got the price you executed, so this type of delay doesn’t affect your profit! And they don’t take the other side of the trade. They either take a small commission on trading volume or add a markup with the raw spread. They get 1:100 leverage from Liquidity Providers. Few drawbacks for a new trader such as: No swap free account, minimum contract size is 10k or 0.10 (in MT4), no negative balance protection etc!

What is ECN, True ECN, ECN+STP broker?

Electronic Communications Network (ECN) brokers are popular these days. They connect their traders to interact with other participants in the ECN network. The other participants could be a bank, retail traders or even hedge funds firms etc.
ECN brokers can offer much tighter spreads than everyday broker as they consolidate price quotations from different market participants. Their system is automatic and there are no re-quotes with the price. They can’t trade against their traders because they are matching trades for them with other participants. And they allow their traders to see ‘Depth of market’. ECN brokers usually charge fixed commission on trading volume.

Hybrid Model Brokers: Understanding “A book” and ‘B book”

You can call it an upgraded version of traditional MM brokers. It is very difficult to tell from the outside if a broker is STP or MM. Most MM brokers in modern days’ practice both MM and STP altogether by a hybrid model.
90% traders lose money and 10% earn. A broker can get massive revenue if they can identify those 10% traders and send them to the real market. They categorize traders and put them into an ‘A’ book and ‘B’ book.

A Book:

This is the actual STP market. Experienced traders, instructional traders, consistently profit making traders, traders with large investment usually get listed for A book. An MM broker doesn’t want to deal with them so they send the orders of these customers via an STP model to the market.

B Book:

New traders, traders with smaller funds, traders who use higher leverage with trades, traders who lost ~30% of the balance, traders who have more than 50% drawdown. Broker don’t pass their trades to the real market but keep them themselves. There is only one way to get rid of B book which is making a consistent profit. If you make profit consistently broker will automatically put you in the A book.
However, you will see the real face of B booking brokers if you have more than 50 percent floating negative positions. They will do everything to wipe your account (bad one). Pending orders are often misplaced, they will hunt your stop losses by widening spreads. Slippage that remains 5-10 minutes, sometimes even hours!

3. Internal broker information: Check list for choosing a broker!

Commission Cost and Spreads:

Check the details about the average spreads in normal time for major pairs as well as cross currency pairs. 1-2 pips for major pairs and 2-5 pips with the cross pairs are okay if a broker doesn’t charge commission. Make sure you understand the commission terms If the broker charges commission. A charge of $3-$10 for each standard lot are common among brokers.

Swap rates and rollovers/ Islamic accounts:

This is the most important thing to check if you are a swing trader. A swing trader might hold a position for weeks or even months. Higher Swap rates can eat a significant portion of your profit. Some brokers charge swaps rollover daily basis whilst some follow other time frames.
You should read and understand the conditions of an Islamic account if you need those. Most brokers offer conditional swap free for a limited number of days. Like 7 days, a month or something similar. And all currency pairs might not be swap free.

Margin Call and Big events interference:

You should ask how your trades will be closed if margin call happens (this is important if you are a new trader). All trades at once or one by one? (e.g. starts with larger volumes). STP brokers can’t offer less than 100% but MM broker can offer 20-30% margin for stop out!
Brokers often lower their leverage and increase the required margin ahead of significant events like fed rate hike, ECB major decisions, political events like Election on G10 countries by showing low liquidity cause. Ask them about it. Most often brokers provide 1:30 for the risk-related currencies, and 1:50 for others. Make sure you understand them when it happens.

Negative balance protections:

Forex trading involves high risk. A sudden and massive move against you can exceed your investment. The broker could file a lawsuit against you if you don’t clear the due payment. SNB’s floor ending decision for EURCHF caused a massive market move in few seconds in January 2015. No Stop loss worked due to heavy server load and people who had trades on the wrong side went into freefall and ended up with huge negative balances.
So, for your own safety, you should choose brokers who offer a negative balance protection so, your loss won’t exceed your investment. However, only MM brokers can offer this facility.

Deposit and withdrawal:

First, you should ask them the minimum deposit and withdrawal policy of the broker. And if there any fees during these process. Does the broker carry fees of the payment gateway?
Sometimes brokers accept digital wallet based currency for deposit but not for withdrawal (e.g. Axitrader). And there are other brokers they only allow you to withdraw your fund the same way you deposited. You should ask them how they process incoming and outgoing money.

B2B Transfers:

Sometimes it saves money and time if you can transfer funds between two brokers. Few brokers allow multiple B2B transfers, few one-time transfer, few are one-way transfer (only accept incoming). You should also ask if there any fees for that.

Trading platforms and Servers:

Make sure your preferred trading software listed with the broker you want to choose. I would say you to choose a trading platform that is available across the different operating systems like Windows, Mac, Android, iOS. The nearest trading server from your location would give you more accurate and faster trading experience.

Hedging:

Due to the regulatory body, not all brokers allow hedging practice. You make sure your broker allows that if you hedge in your trades.

Minimum Trading Volume / Contracts Size:

This is significant if your investment capital is smaller. Some brokers have different minimum contract size policy for their currency pairs and CFDs (S&P, Gold, Oil). Such as 1k (0.01 lot) with currency pairs and 10k (0.10 lot) with Gold (CFD). You should ask the support about their minimum trading volume policy. A true ECN broker can’t offer you less than .10 lot size, this is the minimum by most liquidity providers.

Customer support:

No services are perfect and therefore you must pick a broker that you could easily contact when you need. A 24/5 live chat or a call back customer support is good. Quick response from a support is crucial for me.
Last but not the least, choosing an online forex broker is not that easy. You should always prioritize your trading methods. A broker could promise the whole world when you ask them. But you should consider trading a demo account with them first and see how the trading environment actually is. I would suggest you choose two or three top brokers for demo practice and pick one from them for funding with real money to get the best for you.
To become a successful forex trader, you have to learn trading first. Only picking a good broker won’t make you profitable. You can learn forex trading for free and strategies those work on our website.
Wish you all the best.
Shaon Bhuiya is a price action trader, Fund Manager, Coach and Forex Blogger. He is highly regarded for his unique ‘Core Price Action’ trading strategy. Learn more about him here at FxTemper. Follow him at Twitter @Shaon77

Why You Should Consider Switching Health Insurance

Long wait times to speak to actual humans, small annual limits and exorbitant annual rate rises are just some of the reasons why many Australians question the value of their private medical cover.  Perhaps you just got a very small rebate on a consultation or you simply do not use your extras cover.If this is you, it may be time to switch your health insurance cover.But what is the best health insurance in Australia? Overall, it will largely depend on your own circumstances, but in short, it is a level of cover that works with your lifestyle.
Health Insurance
See below for our tips about the important things to consider when you’re reviewing your health insurance.

Bigger is not always better

Be aware that even the highest levels of private hospital insurance will not provide rebates for all procedures, consultations or surgeries. A procedure like labiaplasty is unlikely to be covered if it’s undertaken for purely cosmetic reasons for example, so shop around to see exactly what you will receive in benefits and rebates even on the highest level of cover. On the topic of benefits, if you’re considering switching cover, check to see if any additional waiting periods or restrictions of benefits will apply whenmoving fundsor changing yourlevel of coverage. It may mean planning the timeline in which you switch to avoid missing out on rebates you would have otherwise received. Another factor to be mindful of when switching, is whether any excesses for private hospital stays will reset from when you sign up to a new fund by calendar year, or by financial year. It’s frustrating having to pay an excess for a private hospital stay if you are just outside the period in which your limits have reset.

Tax time

Remember, if you earn over a certain amount you will need to pay the Medicare levy surcharge. So if you are dropping down your cover to save money, it might be the most cost effective to dial down the extras, as you need private hospital cover to avoid the surcharge. In other words, come tax time you will get less back in your return if your earn over 90k for singles and 180k for families, as a percentage of your taxable income will be subject to the surcharge on a sliding scale if your cover is inadequate.

Family

Your relationship status is also cause to review you level of health cover. When you have a significant other in your life, teaming up for your tax and health insurance can deliver some real cost savings. It’s good to know that couples with children and without are subjected to the higher family tier income bracket for the Medicare levy surcharge and some funds will have slightly cheaper joint policies so you’ll pay less on your health insurance premiums. Others may have options such as a combined excess where if one of you has a private hospital stay and the other also needs to in the same year, the excess will only be charged once.Vice versa, if you end a relationship, the same fund may not suit your needs as a newly single individual, so find a fund with cover that suits your solo lifestyle best rather than defaulting to a singles policy from your current health insurance company.

Employment

Switching jobs is also a good time to review your health policy. Although not as common these days, some companies will offer subsidised health care options that will be more budget friendly. Other industries, like defence, will have dedicated health funds that are not open to the general public and are often run as not for profit and offer better benefits. If you suddenly become eligible for a new health fund because you have taken up a new position, examine their product disclosure statement carefully as you will often be at an advantage to get cover through them.

6 Common Scams to Avoid When Selling Your Car

While selling your car privately may get you more money, it also exposes you to a great deal of risk. The days of popping an ad in your local paper are no more, and while the internet gives us some great ways to sell our cars, it also exposes us to more scams.
Selling Your Car
Use this guide to avoid getting caught out. 

Selling Your Car

Using a local garage or reputable company to get cash for cars in NSW is the safest method. Also, if you are going to advertise your car, use a “safe number” option if the advertiser happens to offer one. This means that people who call won’t see your real number, which helps to minimise the possibility of it being used and abused by scam artists and cold callers. 

Describing Your Car

When it comes to describing your car, remember the principle of ‘buyer beware.’ In other words, if you know of a problem with the car, describe it honestly and accurately. That way, scam artists cannot come back weeks later claiming something is wrong and wanting a refund. 

Car Viewings

One of the most common scams is when someone offers to buy your car without even booking a viewing, offering to sometimes pay more than what you are asking for it, and asking you to cover the cost of transporting the car to them. Never agree to this, as they will eventually ask you to pay the shipping costs upfront, usually to a bogus company that they have specifically set up to rip you off. If a prospective buyer does come to see your car, make sure you have someone else with you for safety’s sake, and that you meet in a public space. 

Identity of the Buyer

You can greatly reduce the risk of being caught out if you can satisfy that the buyer is the real deal. If you receive a call from a landline, for example, the caller tends to be less dodgy then  they are using a mobile number. Also, if their email address is made up of their full name, it is a lot less likely to be a scammer than if it is an email address made up of a meaningless string of numbers and letters. You can always ask potential buyers to bring some sort of proof of identification with them when they come to view your car. This will usually put off scammers. 

Going for a Test Drive

Test drive scams tend to go something like this: the scammer asks to test drive your car, but suggests that you drive it first. Then, when you swop over, they slide across and drive away, leaving you stranded wherever you are. To avoid this, take the keys out of the ignition and always keep them on you. Also, make sure they have insurance cover before letting them drive. 

Pay Time

Cash is the best way to get paid when selling your car, but there are still risks. Scammers have been known to use counterfeit notes, which you may not realise until you deposit the notes into your bank account. Others plan to burgle the seller on the day, knowing there will be cash involved. You can overcome both scams by insisting on the buyer drawing cash out of the bank in front of you and letting them watch you pay it right back into your account.
By being extra careful with the people or company you deal with, you can avoid getting caught in a scam. If you want to get the most of your car, only deal with a reliable company.

How to Build Rising Passive Income with Dividend Growth Stocks

Covering your expenses with passive income creates true financial independence.  When all your expenses are met with income that is not tied to the amount of time you spend creating it in any way, you are free to spend your time however you like.
Work becomes something you do if you want to, not because you have to.  True financial independence is difficult to achieve.  In my view, the best way to achieve a reliable growing passive income stream that will eventually cover all your expenses is through investing in high quality dividend growth stocks.

The Basics of Dividend Growth Stocks:  Dividends

Dividend growth stocks are (as the name implies) stocks that have a history of paying rising dividends.  Their dividends are growing.
This creates a powerful effect.  Take a stocks like Target (TGT).  Target stock currently pays a dividend yield of 4.4%.  This means that for every dollar invested in Target, the company is paying out $0.044.
Put another way, shares of Target are currently trading for ~$57, and the company is paying out dividends of $2.40 per year.  Target pays its dividend quarterly, so a shareholder of Target would expect $0.60 in dividends per share of Target every quarter.
Dividend Growth Stocks
For a company to pay out a dividend every quarter, it must be profitable (or have a lot of cash in the bank and expect to be profitable soon).  In Target’s case, the company is very profitable.  In fact, Target has generated $2.73 billion in after-tax profits over the last 12 months on sales of $69 billion.
Investing in dividend stocks means you are (in general) investing in companies that are making money.  It sounds like common sense, but it’s very true – invest in companies that make actual money – you will avoid the pitfalls of ‘the next big thing that never was’ investments this way.

The Basics of Dividend Growth Stocks:  Growth

The previous section discussed the ‘dividend’ aspect of dividend growth stocks.  Dividends create passive income.  Taking dividend payments and reinvesting them into the stock that paid them (or other dividend stocks) creates rising dividend income over time.
If Target never increased or decreased its dividend, and you reinvested the company’s 4.4% yield buy purchasing more Target stock, your passive income stream would grow by 4.4% a year while reinvesting dividends.
But Target has a long history of paying rising dividends every year.  Target has increased its dividend payments for 45 consecutive years.  Think about that for a second…  Target has managed to pay its shareholders more in dividends every year for over 4 decades; through bull markets, bear markets, recessions, inflation, and deflation.  The company has proven it can reward shareholders in a variety of economic conditions.
Over the last decade Target has increased its dividends at an amazing 18.8% a year.  This level of dividend growth is unsustainable for Target.  The company managed to grow its earnings-per-share at a more modest 4.6% a year over the last decade.
Dividend growth cannot outpace earnings-per-share growth unless the company raises its payout ratio.  The payout ratio is simply the percentage of earnings the company pays out in dividends.  At its core, dividend growth is tied to earnings growth.
Now, if Target manages to grow its dividends at just 4.6% a year over the next decade like it did over the last decade, shareholders who reinvest dividends back into Target stock will realize passive income growth of 9.0% a year (4.4% dividend yield + 4.6% dividend growth).
An investment compounding at 9.0% a year will double in about 8 years.  This is the power of dividend growth investing – compounding your wealth over time.

Other Great Dividend Growth Stocks

Target is not the only corporation with a long history of paying rising dividends.  There is a select group of 51 stocks called the Dividend Aristocrats that are all in the S&P 500 and have paid rising dividends for 25+ consecutive years.
Interestingly, the Dividend Aristocrats Index has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 2 percentage points a year over the last decade – with less volatility.
Target is a Dividend Aristocrat.  A few other household name Dividend Aristocrats are listed below:

  • AT&T (T)
  • 3M (MMM)
  • Coca-Cola (KO)
  • PepsiCo (PEP)
  • Wal-Mart (WMT)
  • Exxon Mobil (XOM)
  • Procter & Gamble (PG)
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

A portfolio built of high quality dividend growth stocks (like those found in the Dividend Aristocrats List) purchased at fair or better prices is very likely to produce steadily rising dividend income over time.

Final Thoughts on Fair Prices and Diversification

Creating rising passive income from dividend growth stocks means you will have to build a dividend growth stock portfolio.  This means investing in many dividend growth stocks.
A portfolio build from 20 to 30 names is likely sufficiently diversified between companies.  Diversification is only achieved by diversifying in different industries and sectors.  A portfolio comprised of 30 different oil and gas stocks is not diversified, as an example.
In addition to diversification, intelligent investors will also pay attention to value when investing in dividend growth stocks.  Buying into great dividend growth stocks when they are trading at lofty price-to-earnings multiples will likely result in poor long-term results.  Here’s what Warren Buffett (perhaps the greatest investor of all time) says about when to buy:
“Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
It is possible to build a rising passive income stream from dividend growth stocks that will eventually cover (and beyond) your expenses.  It takes time, patience, and commitment to let the power of compounding dividend growth work for you – but the end result is more than worth it.
This is a guest post by Ben Reynolds at Sure Dividend.

7 Sure-fire ways to Save Money on Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are expensive. Many homeowners who undergo kitchen renovations always seek for ways to save dollars on this item. Some gave up their dreams of having custom cabinets and went for prefabricated ones. Others ended up going over budget because they still went for custom-made cabinetry.
custom-made cabinetry
However, there’s a way to get stunning kitchen cabinets even if you’re on a tight budget. You have to be keen on the details from the kind of wood to the number of drawers you build. Here are the rest:

Determine the most affordable door style

Looking at photos from a home improvement magazine or website, you’ll know that there are a lot of cabinet door styles. You may find cabinet doors with intricate designs charming. There are also ultra-smooth and matte surfaces that catch a lot of attention. Our Melbourne architects advise you not to fall in love with all of them—choose the three cabinet door styles that you like the most. Once you have your top 3 selection, you may now compare their prices. If your first batch of choices doesn’t fit your budget, ask your designer for some friendly advice.
Designer tip: The cabinets with slab doors are generally inexpensive and gives you a modern or contemporary kitchen look. Traditional shaker style doors also cost less than others, depending on the manufacturer.

Replace cabinets with open shelving

This kind of storage requires more maintenance as it also keeps dust and dirt inside it, but it won’t break your bank account.You can try open shelves that are attached to a wall like in this kitchen:
cabinets
Or standard open storage under the kitchen island like this:
kitchen island
Either way, this can save you thousands of dollars in construction.
Designer tip: Avoid overcrowding this type of storage so it’s easier to clean it. You can use a damp cloth to wipe all the dust inside.

Look for affordable wood

Oak is a popular wood used in manufacturing kitchen cabinets. It’s more affordable than cherry, maple, and birch. If you don’t fancy the look of oak, go for hickory.
Designer tip: At the end of the day, the price of the wooden cabinet depends on the cabinet maker. Search for the most affordable yet quality makers near you!

Explore the beauty of laminated cabinets

Laminate cabinets are less expensive than wood. In fact, it’s the go-to kitchen cabinet on homeowners who want modern kitchen
designs. It also comes in a wide variety of colours and designs. You use the money you save for kitchen frills such as stylish faucets or cabinet knobs and pulls.
Designer tip: Lengthen the life of your laminate cabinets by placing delamination heat shields near the range. It’s best to keep the cabinet away from the stove, oven, or microwave. Use a sink mat to protect this type of cabinets from moisture.

Sacrifice unnecessary cabinet upgrades

There’s a lot of gimmicks that cabinet makers do to make their work and your cabinet awesome. Upgrades such as full-extension slides and soft-close hinges will only spike the cost of your cabinetry. It’s only an add-on, you can get good looking and functional cabinets without these.
Designer tip: You can eliminate the unnecessary slides and hinges of your cabinets but you can’t say no to a good looking door pull. These frills will help preserve the surface of your cabinets and drawers.

Pullouts are luxurious

Any pullout drawer also increases the cost of your cabinetry, whether it’s a sliding shelf, trash bin, or pot storage. Some pullouts are useful, some are plain unnecessary.
Designer tip: You have to weigh if the pullouts you want are worth it for the convenience it can bring in your kitchen.

Opt for more cabinet doors than drawers

Creating drawers are costlier than cabinets. You will need more material to complete a set of drawers, not to mention the time needed to ensure that each piece fits smoothly together. You can save several hundreds of dollars on this one.
Designer tip: Have fewer drawers that differ in sizes to balance the number of cabinets. This makes your drawers.
The less customisation and fewer details and you do on your cabinets, the less you’ll pay. That’s the one rule in cabinetry that you should always remember. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with boring cabinets when you’re low on budget. Be strategic in order to get the design that you want at a low cost. You can use the money you save on other decorative details that enhance the looks of your kitchen.

The Basics of Managing Investment

Investing in different markets may seem like a straightforward business. You put your money in the most lucrative options and reap the rewards as they come. However, as an investor you can’t just sit back and expect return on investment to keep incoming. You need to work for it, because the only investment portfolios that bring sustainable rewards are the ones that are properly managed.
Investment strategies
Here’s how you can manage your investment portfolios better.

Balance the Risk and Rewards

When you’re creating an investment portfolio, you can’t just go on blindly investing in anything and everything that comes your way. Investing is an art. It requires careful consideration, structure, and forward-thinking to formulate a portfolio that is balanced for both risk and reward. What you need to understand as an investor is that risk is inevitable – it comes with every type of investment. However, the level of risk for different investment types may vary significantly, and so will the rewards attached to each. High risks bring high returns, but keeping only high risk investments exposes you to the possibility of losing everything if things don’t go your way.
So balance the risks and rewards. Be smart!

Diversify

Another thing successful investors are careful about is diversifying their investment portfolios. They make a conscious effort to spread the money they invest over a broad variety of asset classes. This allows them to hedge the overall investment risk they face. Having different types of investment assets in your portfolio creates a balance in the returns you can expect on your investments. Even if the returns on one class of assets are declining, there will be another class that is reaping higher returns than before. So invest in stocks and bonds, put your money in gold or silver, or rent out your house without an agent – diversify!

Monitor

Part of effective investment management involves constant monitoring of the investments you’ve made. Building an investment portfolio and leaving it like that for eternity will at some point make it redundant and sometimes even bring losses unless you closely monitor their progress. The important thing to understand is that investment markets are usually volatile, with several factors influencing their performance. You need to see which investments are still profitable and still in line with your strategies, and the ones you need to get rid of.

Rebalance

It doesn’t matter whether you choose to invest in gold and silver or take up foreign exchange trading – investing is always a long-term process. Hence, it is important to manage your investments in a way that creates a balanced portfolio. However, as the financial markets keep evolving, you will find yourself in scenarios where your investment portfolio seems out of balance. Make sure you regularly revisit your strategy and alter your asset allocations (if required) to rebalance your portfolio and align it with the new market trends.
Whatever you choose to do, it pays to stick to a well-thought investment strategy. The considerations discussed in this post will help you ensure your investments have the stability to withstand the unavoidable fluctuations of the investment market.

Retail-Leasing Hotspots: How to Spot One and What to Look For

To lease or not to lease, that is the question! When you’re evaluating spaces, many business owners turn to established hotspots as locationswhere the market has already performed well.But how to find one that best suits your retail needs? See below for several factors to consider when you are seeking your next lease for a new venture.
Firstly, keep an eye on residential market conditions in order keep tabs on where future hotspots may spring up. As residential house prices increase or higher density living options spring up outside central business districts, increased patronage of an area will demand a higher demand for goods and services. This is especially the case if the nearest retail outlets are far away from a booming residential development or not accessible via multiple means. This may not be in an overly expensive area, but rather one primed for growth so be prepared to broaden your horizon as to where a hotspot maybe located. Be aware though, that opening a lone corner shop in a residential neighbourhood will not lead to the creation of a retail leasing hotspot, unless there is ample space for a series of retail outlets to congregate in a close by region.
Also related to the residential sector with implications for commercial property leases is a trend called PRS (private rented sector) or ‘build to rent’ housing market model. While it remains uncommon in the Australia context at present, eyes are on the UK’s investment in this type of housing which sees large developments maintained under single ownership instead of individual owners. Here, retail leasing has the potential to be more strategically organised whereby a landlord may consult or provide options for specific retail outlets that best suit their PRS project. The right vision and planning could lead to the swift creation of retail leasing hotspots to cater to large amount of residents in new or established areas as a result of increased residential property supply.
commercial business
A rise of the cultural industries in an area is also a strong indicator of an emerging retail hotspot as the production of creative products and services gather individuals with disposable incomes to consume these commodities or sell them themselves. Location in this instance becomes of heightened significance and can drum up competition for leases as creative clusters emerge where people seek inspirational and suitable locations to network, create and sell. Co-working spaces are often a part of these creative clusters, so be on the lookout for those in more urban contexts which may indicate a retail hotspot that is rapidly emerging.
Another way to determine whether an area in a hotspot for retail is to simply investigate the average amount of days that commercially leased properties are on the market for. Multiple, empty stores may indicate a declining retail precinct or pending redevelopment of the area, so be sure to identify the contributing factors before prematurely ruling an area in or out of your search for a perfect retail lease. Also be wary the type of leases available, perhaps all the available leases offer properties too large, small or the wrong type of zone. So know what type of location will provide the best location for your business rather than simply migrating to a popular area, but a consideration of the general attractiveness of a precinct may also be relevant for your deliberations.
Finally, the best hotspots for retail success will have sufficient and convenient foot traffic, therefore assess the availability or parking or public transport so people can access your commercial business. If you are in a particularly busy location, a premises that offers rear parking is also a solid investment, but be prepared to pay more in rent to have this convenience. Such an investment will generally pay off, as some estimates suggest a further 20% in sales can be earnt when onsite parking’s an option for customers in popular areas.

How to Get your Mortgage Provider to Permit You to Sub-Let Rooms

One of the attractive ways to reduce your mortgage payment is by subletting a spare room in your home. It might seem like a cool idea of using rental income to offset a portion of your monthly mortgage payments. However, nothing comes easy when it comes to money. There are quite a few things that would bother like the tax you pay also the benefits that you are entitled to.
Mortgage
Before you set your mind to sublet a spare room in your home, know these potential problems that might affect or support your decision.

Know the rules of the house!

Getting a rent out of subletting a room can make home ownership more affordable but on the other hand it is essential to know the terms and conditions stated in your mortgage lease or agreement. Few points to consider:

  • Once you have scrutinized the clauses in the mortgage lease then you can decide on how to proceed with the plan.
  • In general, most mortgage agreements have a clause that you need permission to sublet your home or a part of it. Note: Subletting is different from accepting a lodger.
  • If you’re planning to get a temporary lodger who is in town for a short-term and you know that you don’t need permission, then go for it.
  • But if there is a clause in your lease that states you need permission from the lender to accept a lodger, then it is advisable to get permission.
  • If you fail to abide by the rules or conditions in your lease, then there are chances that your lender can take you to court.

Talk to your lender

Knowing the rules of the house is not enough; sometimes it is better to talk it out with the lender about your plans. If you have found an eligible tenant then it is better to let your lender know about it. Building a rapport with the lender can help solve many problems.
In general, personal mortgages are for the borrower’s use of the house but if you abide to certain conditions then your lender will be reasonable. As long as you stay in the same house with the tenant, your lender will not have any problem.
There are few things to consider which your lender would want to ensure:

  • Make a formal agreement stating that the tenant won’t have any rights of the house if it is repossessed, duly signed by the tenant and the lender as well.
  • A consent form duly signed by the tenant stating they are well aware that the house is mortgaged. Also, inform your lender about the consent form so that you don’t end up in trouble if the tenant tries to vandalize the property or keep the arrangement to them. This can save you from any legal implications even if you are caught as your mortgage lender would know about it in advance.
  • Don’t forget to collect a security deposit from the tenant before they move in, to cover any potential damage to the house which exceeds normal wear & tear.
  • In case the lender feels that the terms match with that of using property for commercial purposes or if you fail to follow the original terms & conditions, then the lender has all the rights to raise the interest rates, convert your mortgage to a more appropriate deal or on the worse can drag you to court.

Other factors that play a role here:

The first step is to discuss things with your mortgage provider or the lender about your plans of subletting in order to pay off the mortgage at the earliest. But informing the lender is not the only thing to do, there are quite a few things that play a role apart from the lender’s consent.
Following are the factors that you need to consider before subletting your home or a part of it:

  • Rental income is also taxable!

If you are planning to generate a minimum monthly income through rental, then keep a track of the fact that taxes will slurp a few dollars out of your rental revenues. Don’t worry; there is a threshold limit to the rental beyond which the rent becomes taxable. If your rental income is within the threshold limit then you can gain all the benefits from this income.

  • Don’t forget the insurance!

Once you have decided to let third-party inside the house, it is important to the house owner’s building insurance. It is one such essential document that you need to produce before the mortgage lender to grant permission.  The terms and conditions may vary with the type of agreement and it is advisable to approach a professional to know it in detail.

Summing up:

It is important to know about the pros and cons of subletting your home or a part of it before you decide on it. Getting an eligible tenant is just one essential step but seeing the actual benefits is a wise move. Now, you have an idea of how to get in talks with the mortgage provider to sublet rooms.

10 Things You Can Learn About Your Business with Instagram

Out of many social media applications, Instagram is the one that comes in the list of top five most used applications worldwide. Instagram is the ultimate app for everyone to use and make use out of. One may think that Instagram is all about uploading and editing pictures, but that’s not it.
Many people have established a business through Instagram. One may wonder that how a company is established through an application, but nowadays, these things are possible, mostly because of the vast usage of social media. People all around the world use social media very frequently.
Business with Instagram
Many people are involved in this money making process through Instagram or any other social media application.
The people who are already aware of this thing should know that there are some strategies you can use in order to learn more about your business with Instagram, these strategies are as following:

#1 Optimize your content:

As an Instagram user, you should always be aware of what you’re posting. Your content should be so attractive that people would want to open your account and follow you. You should also know that what feature of Instagram is to be used on which post to improve your business and attract more people. For instance, if you use tags, you should always choose tags that are most viewed by people, or you can also see at what time people are engaged with Instagram the most so that you can start posting at that time. These simple strategies can help you enhance the way you’re running your business on Instagram.

#2 Be Aware Of What To Post:

Many pictures start a ‘trend’ on social media specifically, Instagram. In order to increase your business, you should always know what kind of trends are in at that specific time and use those trends in your pictures to grasp the attention of your followers. For instance, Tv Show host Graham Norton is aware of what people like to see, which is why at the start of his show, he is always showing something that people are mostly talking about, this is why people like to watch his show more often. You can use many popular photos and videos that would increase the marketing of your Instagram account. It will help people understand that you are aware of the latest on-goings and they would want to follow you.

#3 Engage people to follow you

If you want to gain popularity or want to start a business that would run for long, you should always spread it as much as you can. It’s always better to connect your Instagram account with other networks such as Facebook or Twitter as well.
Another important thing that Instagram users know about is hashtags. If you use popular hashtags, you can grasp the attention of more people.
You can also like and comment on other popular posts to let people know about your existence and comment something that people would like to read, and once they like what you say, they would want to visit your page and follow you!
You can also use tools and services like Vibbi to promote your Instagram by buying Instagram likes and followers.

#4 Follow your followers

The one thing that people love the most is when they’re followed back by popular accounts. If you show the importance of the people who follow you by following them back, they would like to stay more engaged with you. This way, you would develop a relationship with your followers, and they would probably suggest you to their other fellows as well. This strategy is simple and makes people be engaged with your account.

#5 Share relevant but appreciative pictures:

When you’re posting on Instagram, especially while running an account, you don’t just post something abruptly; you post on the basis of what is relevant to your account’s requirements. You can post millions of pictures, and you wouldn’t be able to grab your audience until you post something that people would appreciate. Don’t bore your audience by continually posting irrelevant material. Post something that is relevant to your account and something that people would look at and feel great! Also, you can post something that people can relate to, for instance, if you post a quote every day that would relate to people, they would like that.

#6 Leverage Photo Contests on Instagram:

On Instagram, you can start photo contests with photos on Facebook. This is done by sharing the same hashtag as they shared on Facebook. This technique is very popular and can help you increase your audience’s attention. For example, Samsung used the hashtag #LiveInTheMoment to promote their Instagram photo contest. You can use many popular photos or compare your brands. You can make people enter your Instagram photo contest so that they would be engaged with your account. The more people you engage, the better. Since this technique is being used so frequently, it would be a great help for you to establish your business.

#7 Keep Updating your profile:

The best way to let people know what you do is by keeping them updated about your account. You can change your bio or add something new to your account to keep people engaged. The more you spread your information, the more people would learn about you. Also, you should never forget to add your website’s link to your bio and to every picture you post so that people would know that you’re putting an effort to what you’re doing. You can also create a hashtag for your account that you can use in every picture/video you post. That would help increase your availability as well.

#8 Showcase your brand and employees:

If you’re the owner of a brand and you’re running an Instagram account in the name of that brand, you should always showcase the new things that your brand is bringing out, that way people will be aware of the new things you’re bringing out. Also, another great promotional activity is through showcasing your employees. If you show how much effort you’re putting into your work, people would be more engaged with you plus appreciating your employees’ work creates a good impact on people.

#9 Give your followers the best visual experience:

Post content that is pleasing to the eye. People like to believe what they see and what they should see is something soothing and appreciative. You should always post the content that would give your followers an amazing visual experience instead of boring them. Post something nice and post something every day so people would stay linked up with your account.

#10 Post promotional videos:

Another way to establish and enhance the importance of your Instagram account is through posting promotional videos. People love being motivated towards something, which is why you should always post something that would encourage people to do something new every day. Promotional videos can be made easily, with a little touch of Instagram filters and good content used, your promotional video would be ready to be displayed in front of your followers. This is an excellent way to engage your followers and let them know that you care for them.

Using Opportunity Cost Analysis to Increase Savings

Generally speaking, people look at savings as a simple matter of putting away as much money as possible. It’s the money that one has right now that’s the core of the issue – how much of it needs to be spent versus how much of it can be put away for later. This is certainly one way to save money, but it’s not necessarily the most efficient way to build long-term wealth.
To build up wealth over time, one must not look at money as an end unto itself, but rather the means by which something may be accomplished. The key to building up savings is realizing the opportunity cost of spending and saving.
direct lender

What is Opportunity Cost?

Opportunity cost is a function of choice. It is possible to think of it as the cost of doing one thing instead of doing another thing. At its heart, an opportunity cost is what you lose out on by doing one thing over another. If you spend a dollar on a candy bar, for example, you have not only reduced your savings by a dollar but also incurred the opportunity cost of being unable to invest that dollar. Likewise, saving a dollar carries with it the opportunity cost of being unable to use the dollar for any other purpose.

Opportunity as Growth

Businesses use opportunity cost all the time to determine how they will use money to grow in the future. Since every decision carries with it both a risk and a reward, it’s necessary to figure out which opportunities will allow the business to reach its goals. When a title loan company decides to lend, for example, it is determining that spending money (via the loan) is worth the opportunity to recoup that loan plus interest. A cost might be incurred, but it’s worth the risk to make a profit.

Look at Opportunities

As an individual, you can look at all of your decisions as a clash of opportunities. Spending money is not just spending money – it’s missing out on the opportunity to put that money to work. If you decide to spend a few hundred dollars on a night out, you’ve missed out on the chance to invest that money. A good opportunity analysis would allow you to see that investing the money now could lead to a greater payoff in the future. Once you subject all of your spending decisions to this kind of analysis, you can have a better idea of how your choices will impact your future.

The Value of Spending

One of the most difficult things to understand about opportunity cost is the fact that it is sometimes better to spend money than to save it. In this case, it’s because the cost of not spending is actually higher than the cost of spending. A good example might be buying a car. While purchasing a car is, on its face, a move that reduces one’s overall wealth, it carries with it the benefit of greater mobility. Failure to buy the car might have a higher opportunity cost if owning a vehicle is necessary for making more money in the future.
Opportunity cost analysis can allow you to determine not just how to save, but how to spend. Looking at your finances through this lens puts you in a position to determine what will help you to generate the most long-term happiness. Your savings will continue to grow as you realize that every chance you have to spend is also a chance you would have to save and invest.