Five Steps To Personal Success

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a successful individual? What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and others have that we, ordinary people, do not? If you think about it for a while, you will realise that it’s not a matter of greater intelligence, but mindset or attitude is the key to these people’s success.

You can be successful if:

1. You have vision. A well known quote from Jonathan Swift states that: “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible“. You need to have good ideas, to see into the future and think of something that you can create in order to help large masses of people. Whoever invented the cell phone hinted that it will be used by large masses of people.

2. You have a strong ambition and believe in your success. If you do not believe in your own success, you won’t make it. It takes a great deal of effort and time to succeed. Do not expect immediate gratification, but think long term. Focus on success and not money! Others did it, so why can’t you? Fight for your success and focus on achieving it. Organise your time, make plans and stick to them.

3. Understand that risk is part of life. Most people feel secure if they have a regular full time job. If you like being secure and can’t stand to take chances, this is not for you. No business and no investment is 100% secure. We are dealing with probabilities and not certainties. You should learn how to make high probability decisions and stack the odds in your favour. If Warren Buffet would have been afraid to take chances, he wouldn’t be the greatest investor in the world today. This man takes his risks. Sometimes he makes a bad investment, but when he succeeds, he hits the jackpot.

4. Have a strong personality. There will be family members or friends telling you that what you are trying to do is risky and that you should stop. If you don’t have a strong personality, you will not be tough enough to resist their advice and give it a shot.

5. Think about users, not money. If you are creating products, ease of use (usability) should be your main concern. Think about the normal people that will use your product. If it’s too complex or too hard to use, they probably won’t bother.

Basic Methods For Financial Growth

When we have several thousand dollars just sitting around it’s not always the smartest thing to just go ahead and pay off your debts but people do recommend you to do so. Personally I think it’s better to invest and slowly pay off your debt than to pay off your debt right away because when you do need the money, you’ll just put yourself in debt once again. Here are a few ideas:

Start a Business

If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur then why not start your own business? There are many different things you could do and there’s no reason to do anything that’s a new way of doing things. Sometimes the older ideas work better than having brand new concepts. People do things that have been proven to make money. Internet businesses are just standard businesses but with a world-wide interface. Do things you’d normally do in a business but use the internet to innovate how you do it.

Invest in other business ideas

Businesses become successful only with some support from the outside community and sometimes they need investors. You could do that, invest for a small percentage of their business or a high return of interest. Sometimes it’s smarter to do the latter because the business might fail in the long run however if the business is a great idea and you feel confident that having a percentage will pay you off much more than the high interest rate in the long run, it’s a better idea.

Bank CDs

Some people prefer to invest into CDs and feel safer doing it that way. CDs are not complicated but have a minimum to invest in them. Sometimes they do have a maximum as well so be sure to do your research and figure out which CD would fit your needs best. The time period for the CD is also set so when you put money into a CD, often times you can’t take it out. Don’t put too much money into a CD because you might need that money before the CD is done.

Pay off Student Loans/Debt

If you are absolutely not sure what you want to do with that money, the best bet is paying off your student loans or debt. If you want to pay off or reduce what you owe, you’ll have lower monthly payments and that’ll help you in the long run. If you don’t have any debt then just put your money somewhere safe until you decide what to do with it.

Tips For Becoming A Successful Day Trader

Make your online day trading dream a reality.

Many people dream of becoming full time online day trading. In this day and age, anyone with an internet connection and a brokerage account can start trading stocks, commodities, Forex currencies, and futures from the comfort of their own home. However, statistically, most people who go into day trading fail.

It takes a lot of effort to become a successful day trader. You have to know the market, this only comes with experience. You have to be able to get control of your emotions to be able to see opportunities and act on them. The best way to get a leg up on the day trading competition is to have a mentor advice you through the early stages. Mentors are available for you. Unlike books and videos, mentors can answer questions and give you useful feedback. Mentorship is expensive but not as expensive as losing a small fortune on the stock market. Always make sure to look into the background of the mentor you get to make sure they are legit for the price.

When you are trying to make a living out of online day trading it is best to start out with money you can afford to lose. There will be a time for a day trader to use risk capital at some time in order to become successful however it is best to avoid the use of risk capital when just starting out as a full time online day trader. Remember that scared money being bet on the stock market never wins.

As a full time online day trader it is necessary for you to keep a journal of all your trades. This journal must be updated daily and contain all the trades you did that day as well as any relevant information concerning the future of those trades. By using a journal you will be able to keep track of your expense, strategy, and thought process associated with a day to day progress. It is an infinite learning tool as you can come back and examine your strategy and see what kind of results you were achieving. .Just like a business, you will be required to keep track of your expenses and keep them as low as you possibly can. This is mostly maintained by carefully selecting your brokerage firm. You might be able to cut expenses with your internet service provider and on computer equipment as well.

Determining Your Start Up Capital

Estimating start-up capital for a business should be done strategically. Every year, thousands of businesses go under because of the failure to determine at the outset how much it costs to run a company effectively. In today’s economy, it is more important than ever to know the green required to be successful. Read more to determine how best to estimate the start-up capital your business will require.

Step 1

Learn the industry. Collect resources from the library, online and local business centers to gain information about what is needed to operate the chosen business. Keep in mind that legal and accounting fees may vary, and so you should contact several law firms and accounting offices to learn how much per month will be required to handle potential payroll and legal agreements. According to D&B, “In order to determine how much seed money you will need, you must estimate the costs of your business for at least the first several months.”

Step 2

Determine how to cut costs early in the business operation. Equipment can often be leased instead of purchased, which could be cheaper depending on the use. Also, check prices from different sellers and take the average of the costs to establish an accurate expense calculation. However, if there is only one option, always round up it to the nearest whole number. This will help ensure that there will be enough money.

Step 3

Build relationships within the industry to learn what others pay. Obtain deals in writing, because they may be used as quotes for accurate expense calculations. Collecting quotes for all professional and major purchases will be necessary because you might not be able to find estimates online for your specific industry. Going to the primary source is always best when starting a new business for the most accurate costs of operation.

Step 4

Include any potential taxes and miscellaneous fees to ensure that nothing is left off the spreadsheet. These numbers will have to be estimated based on the current tax year based on IRS forms found within the IRS.Gov website. Local and state taxes may be found on most county websites in the business section. As for the spreadsheet, look for templates online from reliable sources, such as the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), which offers free or inexpensive guidance to business owners all over the country. Asking for historical advice from more experienced entrepreneurs may be very useful for professional fee calculations and some tax estimations.

Create A Monthly Budget This Weekend

Many families live month to month, paycheck to paycheck. Some people don’t even know how much they spend each month on bills, groceries, or shopping. If you don’t know how much you are spending each month it is very easy to find yourself buried in debt and in financial trouble. If you create a budget and revise it a little each month you will know exactly how much money you have and how much money you have to spend or save. Budgeting sounds like such a good idea, but I know it may not seem like it is a necessity.

When I first got married I remember my in-laws always asking me if I have a budget for the family. I finally just said yes so they would stop asking. At the time it didn’t seem like we needed one. Now 10 years later I see how right they were. A budget is very helpful to have and can be simple to make. By making a monthly budget I know how much money I will need to pay my bills and how much extra money I have to save or shop with for the month.

The first thing you need to do is write down how much income comes in every month. Some people I know use a spiral note book. I use excel to create a monthly budget.

After you know how much money you bring in every month begin writing down every monthly expense. Start with the expenses that stay the same every month. Mortgages, car payments, and cell phone bills typically stay the same. After write down an estimate for the other bills.

For gas and electric bills look at last month or last years bill to make an estimate for the month. For the credit card payments start with an estimate of the monthly minimum payment.

Some payments aren’t made every month, but still need to be accounted for in a monthly budget. If you pay $3000 a year for property tax, put $250 in the budget for the month. Do the same for car insurance, car tags, etc. If you budget for these every month, but actually put the money in savings or another checking account it won’t come as a hardship the month these bills are due.

Next put some money in a “rainy day” fund. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but I put some in this category and use for Christmas and birthday gifts, special treats for myself, etc.

Next put some money in savings. Even if you can’t save a lot each month it’s important to get in the habit of saving. Even if you only save a little right now it will add up and someday you will be glad you began a savings account.

After all the bills are accounted for see how much money you have left over. Hopefully you do have money left over. With the money left over you will need money for gas in your car, groceries, eating out, and any other activities you may do during the month. Divide the money among these categories. If you have credit card bills try to pay more than the monthly minimum to get the credit card paid off sooner. I divide the monthly extra money by 4 (for the four weeks of the month)

I use envelopes and write “groceries”, “eating out”, etc on the outside. At the beginning of the week I put the designated money in these envelopes and keep them in a safe place in my home. By doing this I know how much I can spend each week. At the end of the week I put the extra money (if there is any) in the savings or rainy day account. It may seem silly to create different envelopes, but this way you know where your cash is going (groceries, eating out, etc)

This may seem like a lot of work, but once you create an initial budget, it’s easy to adjust a little each month. When summer months come you will know to add more to the electric bill and if you don’t use credit cards you know the monthly payment will go down a little each month.

Budgeting For College Funds

Ensuring your children obtain good and quality education is crucial. This is often labeled as the greatest legacy you can leave with your child. Most parents want the best for their children but cringe at the price they have to pay for quality education. Unfortunately, signs abound that there will be no respite any time soon. Tuition fees keep increasing day by day. The only logical thing to worry about is how to save money for your children’s education in the easiest possible manner.

To meet the skyrocketing financial demands of your children, you have to save. The best method that you can adopt here is to start setting some money aside right from the birth of the baby. This might sound ridiculous, but it is not in any way impossible. People have done it, and it has paid off greatly. They end up having enough by the time the child is ready to be a college student.

Another way to save money for your children’s education is through scholarships and grants. You children can benefit from any of these when they merit them. Try to encourage and motivate your children to see that they take their studies seriously. These scholarships and grants take the burden of payment off you and allow you save more money or focus on other things that require your financial attention.

Also, you could go for a trust fund if you are financially capable. The interests of these funds mature with the growth of your child. This fund will be at your disposal and would bail you out when you need to pay for your child’s education. If you are weak financially and can not afford this, there are other methods through which you can save money for your children’s education. Deposit your little amount in a savings account with a high interest rate. Then plan towards increasing the size of the savings at every available opportunity. This means more interest yield and more money for the education of your child.

Banks and other financial institutions also offer services that revolve around funds that grow depending on the amount invested or the deposits made in batches. Approach them and other investment firms that can help you out. They invest in stocks with your money and convert it back to cash and bonds when you are ready to use it.

Simple things such as reducing your withdrawal rate to save more and increase the amount of interest you get from your bank can also help save money for your children’s education in the long run. It’s never too late to adopt any of these practices.

Budgeting For Your 401K

Many people are struggling to make ends meet in today’s society. In most cases, it does take two incomes to make it work. With the rising cost of living many people have depleted savings or have not been able to start a savings plan. The United States is considered one of the richest countries in the world, but we have one of the lowest savings rates.

A lot of elderly people are depending on social security to provide enough income to live on, but it was not designed for that. Social Security is supposed to be a supplement to a retirement or savings to help the elderly pay for the necessities of life. With the baby boomers starting to reach retirement age, our Social Security system will be in jeopardy. Many people believe that the money that is taken out of their pay and designated for Social Security is going into an account for their retirement. That is not the case. The Social Security payments that we are making today is being paid to recipients today. It is up to the individual to begin a savings plan or retirement account on their own.

Setting up a budget is one of the best ways to overcome the problem of debt and beginning a savings plan. Many people are at a loss as to how to start a budget that works for them. Budgets that do not include any extras are hard to continue. People get discouraged and give up. One of the most important things to remember when setting up a budget is to pay yourself first. Begin with putting ten percent of your pay into a savings account on the day you are paid or as soon as you can. Look for a savings accounts that pays the highest interest rate.

When setting up a budget, you must first take into account your income for the month minus the ten percent used for savings. You must then figure your spending pattern, this should include all utilities, credit cards, insurances, taxes, along with an estimate of groceries, medical, automotive expenses, clothing, and personal necessities. The best way to see a spending pattern is to get a receipt for every dime you spend. It may take a month or two to get a spending pattern, but you will need this to set up a reasonable budget that will be easy to live with. Do not totally cut out money used for entertainment, such as dining out, theaters, family outings. One important thing to do is cut up all but one credit card. Keep the one that charges you the less interest. Keep this one credit card only for emergency situations and try your best not to use it.

Make separate list for bills and income. You must then decide in what order to pay the bills you have. The most important are the things you must have to survive, shelter, food, and utilities and transportation. Look over your spending pattern to see what you can give up or how to reduce the cost of the things you do need. Think about raising deductibles with insurances, clipping coupons for only the items that you use, packing your lunch or carpooling.

The easiest way to set up your budget is with the envelope method. Make an envelope for each of your bills. Each week, put one quarter of the amount required into each envelope. With credit cards, only put in what the minimum payment is at first. In four weeks time, you will have the money to pay each bill. It will take a little time to get caught up if you are behind, but you will not get further behind if you use this method. If you find that there is not enough money to pay the bills you have each month, you must further reduce your spending or find an additional source of income. It may be that you will have to sacrifice items in order to stick to your budget. Remember, if you call the collectors and let them know what you are doing, many will work with you.

Once you are caught up and bills are getting paid when they are due, look to see how much money there is at the end of the month. Take any extra money and use it to pay on the bill with the smallest balance due that charges interest such as a credit card. Once that particular bill is paid completely, use the money from that bill to pay off another, then another. Soon you will have bills paid off, and you will have extra money for savings. If you are paying on a mortgage, send an extra hundred dollars a month and have it applied to the principle of the loan. You will end up saving a lot on your mortgage and you home will be paid off sooner.

Do not change your spending pattern once your bills are paid, you still need to fund your savings. You must try to save as much as you can, and then think about opening an IRA or contributing money to your 401K plan if your employer offers one. Set a goal and do your best to achieve it.

Funding your retirement is one of the goals that must be worked on long before you retire. Sticking to a budget and increasing your savings is the easiest way to achieve this lifelong goal.

7 Money Saving Tips

The good financial times are gone and we all need to tighten our belts and save more money. Even if our economy begins to stabilize, it is important that we begin to build on our savings for the uncertain future. We have seven creative ways that you and your family can use to save more money:

1. Save Money By Creating a Budget
You would think this is a logical step for most people and you would be right. Unfortunately, most people do not do it. Seeing in black and white what you have exactly going in and coming out can be a wake up call. Most financial experts will tell you that this is by far the most important first step to take in controlling your finances.

2. Include the Unexpected in Your Budget to Save Money
While building that budget, make sure you include those unforeseen expenditures. Things like car maintenance, vacations, medical, kid’s activities, and such can destroy your bank accounts along with your budget. Make sure you include for them.

3. Save Money by Counting to Five
Remember when we would impose the five-second rule when you dropped food on the floor? Take that same advice and take a breath, count to five, and then decide if making that purchase is necessary. Impulse buying is the biggest culprit to anyone’s budget.

4. Save More Money by Disconnecting the Phone Wire
Unless you are still in the Stone Age, you do not need a wired phone. Nobody is using it anymore, unless you are a telemarketer disturbing someone’s dinner. Save yourself about $50 a month and disconnect it.

5. Learn to Save Money on Your Cable Bill
Remember back when you first signed up for cable they offered you tons of channels for a great “introductory rate.” By now, that introduction has gotten old and your cable bill has taken itself to new heights. Seriously look at what you are paying for and reduce that cable bill. No one and I mean no one needs 24 hours of “Animal Planet.”

6. Save Money by Removing Temptation From Your Sight
We all have been shopping online and many of those online retailers give you the opportunity to store your credit card number with them, just to make it convenient for you. That can be a major security problem so remove them if you have done it. Make sure you have to input those credit card numbers each time you buy something online. Chances are if you need to input it, you will not buy it. It also stops you from buying something on an impulse. See “Count to Five” above.

7. Get Your Family Involved in Saving More Money
The last time you went out for dinner and a movie with your spouse, it probably cost close to a $100 maybe $150 with the babysitter thrown in. Now, a family game like Monopoly and take out pizza will probably set up back about $25. Not only do you get to save some money, you get some great bonding time with the family.

Agriculture Stocks Worth Looking At

At the moment hard commodities, tech and energy have been garnering the lion’s share of attention. A number of commentators have pointed out that, long term, the agricultural business looks like it can only go up. Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” has stated several times on his show that agricultural could be at the beginning of a twenty year bull market. Potash, Monsanto and Deere are commented on regularly on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” Here are some stocks and securities in the agriculture sector that I find interesting. All trade on the NYSE. Factual information is from and was gathered after closing on 12/30/09 from each security’s chart.

Symbol: MON Price: 82.61 PE: 21 Div Yld: 1.29%
The main interest in Monsanto comes from their genetically altered seed business. Monsanto’s seeds enable foods to be grown in harsher environments and produce higher yields. As food demands increase
worldwide so should demand for Monsanto’s seeds.

Del Monte Foods
Symbol: DLM Price: 11.59 PE: 9 Div. Yld: 1.8%
Del Monte specializes in fruits and vegetables. Performance has been improving and several analysts have raised ratings on the stock the past few months. Many are still neutral. Continuing improvement should move more analysts into the buy column and increase the stock price.

Barclays Livestock Sub Index Fund
Symbol: COW Price: 27.99
This exchange trade fund tracks indexes of hog and beef futures. As other parts of the world become more affluent demand across the globe for these products should rise. Like most exchange traded funds it can be used as a trading vehicle, but also can be used as a long term sector investment.

Market Vectors Agribusiness Fund
Symbol: MOO Price: 44.04
More diversified than COW, Moo tracks the Dax Global Agribusiness Index. As a result it has holdings in a variety of subsectors. Potash, Deere, and Monsanto are amongst it’s top holdings. For the investor seeking to invest in a single security in the sector Moo looks like a viable candidate.

Deere & Co. (John Deere)
Symbol: DE Price: 54.77 PE: 27 Div. Yld: 2.04%
The leading producer of farm equipment, as world agriculture increases, so should sales of Deere’s equipment.

Symbol: POT Price: 109.07 PE: 13 Div. Yld: .37%
The leading producer of fertilizer. As world demand for agricultural products increases, so should demand for fertilizer. This would mean increased sales, prices and margins for Potash long term..

Symbol: DD Price: 34.05 PE: 46 Div. Yld: 4.80%
Technically a chemical company, Dupont is a stealth play on agriculture. About 25% of their business comes from genetically altered seeds, similar to Monsanto. If you like both chemicals and agriculture, Dupont deserves your consideration.

Full Disclosure: I am not employed in any fashion by any firm in the securities industry nor do I have a business relationship of any type with the companies mentioned. As of this writing I do not have any holdings in Deere & Co or Del Monte. I hold less than 2 shares of the other securities mentioned to keep on their mailing lists. This is not an offer to buy or sell any security, nor is it a recommendation. These are simply my thoughts on these securities. Please consult your own investment adviser and research any security thoroughly before making any investment.

Options For Financing Home Improvement

Many people see making home improvements as a great way to make a house feel like a home. You can see the popularity of home improvement projects, when you turn on your television and watch the multitude of programs that show you how to renovate your house. While home improvement projects may look like fun, the biggest challenge in completing one is getting any money you might need to complete the home improvement project.

These days, getting a home improvement loan from your lender is fairly easy. And as a homeowner, there are actually several options you might consider to finance your home improvement projects.

One option is to refinance your entire mortgage. This is considered to be cash-out refinancing whereby you take a new loan out for a higher amount than your current principal. Let’s say that you own a home worth $200,000 and have $100,000 left on the current mortgage, you could refinance and take out a new loan of $150,000. You would then have an additional $50,000 in cash to pay for your home improvements.

The refinancing option is a good way to go if you are planning a rather expensive project. It is also a good option if you can find a good deal on the interest rates and if you are able to find a lender that will waive the surcharges and fees associated with refinancing.

By using the equity that you have already, you would have the option of refinancing your entire mortgage so that you could get the full $50,000, or you can choose to take out a smaller home equity loan. While it sounds extremely tempting to take the full amount available to you, it is important to understand that you will basically have to start from scratch on repaying your mortgage, if you take the full amount of the equity you have built up in your home.

If you are currently paying at a low interest rate and the refinancing option would be at a higher interest rate, then you may not want to pursue the refinancing alternative. If interest rates are higher now than when you originally took out your mortgage you may find it wise to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) instead. This way you will only be repaying the cash that you actually need and use. If you get a HELOC and have $50,000 available, you may find that you only need to spend $20,000 on your home improvement projects. This means that you will only be repaying the $20,000 that you spent, not the full $50,000 that you could have spent; and you will have the comfort of knowing that the remainder of the money is available if you need it.

These loans are not for everyone. If you have not owned your home for very long, then using your equity for home improvement projects may not be the best route to go. The reason for this is because you really have not had a chance to accumulate very much equity.

Equity is determined by calculating how much of your homes’ mortgage you have paid off and how much your home is appraised for. For example, if you purchased a $200,000 home and have paid off $100,000 of the mortgage, then your available equity would be in the neighborhood of $100,000. This is of course assuming that your home is still being appraised for $200,000. The amount that you can actually take out for the home improvement loan will vary from lender to lender and their individual policies.

It is also important to understand that, as a general rule, home improvement loans like the ones mentioned above should only be considered when you need a large sum of money to complete your projects. If your proposed project is under $10,000, then it may not make financial sense to use your homes’ equity; you may want to consider an unsecured loan or a personal loan instead. While you might be paying a higher interest rate with these types of loans, it makes more sense financially than taking out an entire new mortgage on your home and paying the lender fees and associated fees.

As you can see, there are many options available to homeowners to get the money that they need for your home improvement projects. It is always a good idea to turn to experts in the mortgage industry, to determine which option is the best for you and your current situation.