Know Your Rights When It Comes To Debt

Knowledge is Half the Battle

It's easy for debt to overtake a person, especially during this time of economic recession. Maybe you lost your job, got a salary decrease or your interest rates shot up. When you get behind on your debt, odds are you're not aware of your rights and what your creditors can and cannot do.

Did you think that creditors can just keep calling you, morning noon and night? Nope, if you get a call early in the morning or late at night, then you can file a complaint. Are they threatening you with jail time? It's illegal to go to jail in the United States for owing money.

A creditor just wants his money and oftentimes don't care how they get it. They hire collection agencies that are more than willing and able to break the rules if it means you'll forsake feeding your family and instead give them a couple hundred dollars.

They'll try and set up payment plans that are way out of your reach, take money out of your bank account without your permission and if your payment is returned, they'll send it over and over again. Each time you'll receive a fee making your balance even lower.

You can get out of debt. It may take time and it won't be easy, but if you're willing to make a few sacrifices and try to work with the creditors, then you'll make it out. Don't try and avoid the creditors. If you talk to them, then they know you're trying to make an effort. They may not be the nicest people, but as I said before they want their money. If you're willing to give something to them, then odds are they'll work with you.

The power of being able to sell

Owning a business is a sure fire method to wealth.

I haven’t had a post about sales here and I thought it was necessary. We have heard many times how business development is the path to riches. A lot of very wealthy people own their businesses. In business, you need to know how to sell and not be shy about it.

Here is a Forbes article that I read and reread all the time to remember where my priorities when I am selling a product or a service. I want to talk about a few things here that will ensure that you will profit by selling either products or services.

Anything can be sold

In a market, any item or service can be sold, provided the appropriate buyer comes along. There will always be those that want cheap earphones, but then there are others who want the Shures and Boses of the world. The best way to sell something is to develop a strong knowledge about a product or service and stress its selling point to a prospective buyer to show why it is superior.

You might be charging more for a Dell laptop than a nearby store. But then you might be offering better service by actually taking a good look at any problems that may prop up in the future during the warranty period. Something the competitor does not do. You want to stress this fact to the customer. You'll be surprised how many will trade the higher price for convenience and for less hassle.

Know your customer

This requires a good insight into the customer and the best way to acquire this is to ask questions and listen carefully. Pay attention and take notes to ensure that you remember customer’s expectations.

Sales are hard and requires many things. An entrepreneur or aspiring business owner should aim to get some sales experience first as it will help them a lot.

The Fibonacci Tool

A commonly used technical analysis tool across the globe.

Fibonacci does not have to sound Greek. The natural numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) owe their introduction to Europe to a thirteenth century mathematician named Leonardo Fibonacci. Fibonacci might be famous for a lot of things, but it is the technical analysis tool - the Fibonacci Retracement - that is both relevant and important for us stock traders.

Stock traders love the Fibonacci tool because it is so popular among traders. It is a known fact that when a multitude of traders do the same thing, this will shift the market in a certain direction. This is true of Fibonacci and it is why traders use it as a sought after tool to reap rewards.

Not everything is rosy about this tool as you might have guessed (especially if you are a regular reader of my blog posts). The problem with the Fibonacci tool has to do with the subjectivity of the identification of the swing highs and swing lows in a stock's trend. Additionally, Fib levels are nothing more than support and resistance levels. Every support and resistance level will be broken and this will cause problems for traders.

Still, the Fibonacci tool is important to know about and should be used along with other tools for greater accuracy. Here is how to use the Fibonacci tool:

Identify a swing high first: this is a candle with at least two bars with lower highs on either side. The swing low bar is similar but it has higher lows on either side. Take a look at the image:


This is a great trading opportunity for an investor who has spotted the Fib levels. Watch for confirmation by way of the bounce which came off here at the 50 percent Fib level.

It is in trending markets that Fibonacci levels perform the best since the price will usually get support in an uptrend and continue to surge.

Global macro investing strategy

S&P 500, United States Dollar/Japanese Yen & FTSE 100

Investing outside of the United States was a recommendation that I made on the last post on this blog. So I thought I'll act out this suggestion (mind you, I did get heat for this). I am basically going to be listing global indexes and securities that I am bullish about.

S&P 500

Hey, America is still part of the world the last time I checked. I think the fiscal cliff will soon be addressed appropriately (it's what I gather from the news and the politicians, anyway) and the holidays will drive stocks up. There has also been economic data that has been positive although the S&P 500 has declined the last week. The S&P is always an opportunity for a trader.

United States Dollar/Japanese Yen (USD/JPY)

Forex trading is a gold mine that hasn't been discussed as much on this Investment Talk blog. I promise to talk more about it and should even have a feature solely dedicated to it in upcoming posts. For now, I want you to know that I am bullish on the USD/JPY. Japan has been plagued with inflation and slow economic growth for as long as a decade. The USD has been on an upswing so this bodes well for the uphill trajectory of the USD/JPY.

FTSE 100

All this talk about Greece has made most investors shy away from European markets that are pretty distressed right now. But all is not bad across the pond. We have Britain coming out of a nine-month recession and the FTSE 100 surging as a result of news of a good Q3 earnings report. Investors should be cautious, though, as it could be due to mostly to the summer Olympics that were recently held in the United Kingdom.

Negotiating when buying a new car

Prepare yourself before you go.

I recently purchased a new car and I had a great time doing this. As a woman, I knew that it would be easier for the salesman to take advantage of me, so I made sure I was prepared.

The car I purchased is not brand new, but it is only about 1 ½ years old. It looks like new and has very low miles. When I finally chose this car and sat down to discuss the numbers on it, I knew that I had to be sharp when it came to this subject.

This all began while I was there trying to choose the car. I have a smart phone, so I was looking up facts and information on all of the cars I was looking at. I made sure that I told the salesman what I was doing, and I periodically offered bits and pieces of the information I was reading on my phone.

As I then sat in the finance office working out numbers with the salesman, he gave me an offer. Now, you have to keep in mind that the offer they give you is not the final offer. You can accept their offer if you choose, but if you want a better deal, you should counteroffer his offer.

This is exactly what I did. I ended up getting him to reduce the price of the car, increase the amount of my trade-in and offer me a two-year warranty that covers almost everything. Next time you go in to buy a car, be prepared to do this and you will get a better deal.

Debt doesn't have to rule you

It may take time, but you can conquer debt.

There are many people out there whom are buried in debt and just can't seem to get out of it. Unless you are so completely overwhelmed with debt that you choose bankruptcy, there is always a way out. It may take time, but if you try and stick to it, then the debt will melt away.

The first step in deciding to end your debt is to find out exactly how much debt you owe. Your credit report is an excellent tool to assess this information because anyone that wants their money will likely put the info on your credit report.

Once you know how much you owe and to who, then you need to know exactly how much money is coming in. Take you revenues and add them up for the month. This includes all wages, bonuses, freelance money, etc. If it isn't regular steady money, then estimate it to the best of your ability.

Perhaps, the most important step to make a list of your total expenses for the month. This has to be realistic. Everything from your mortgage and car payment to your weekly trip to the frozen yogurt stand. Take all the necessary expenses, the ones that you need every month such as utilities, payments etc. and add them up. This is the bare minimum you need to pay. This does not include credit cards or other monetary loans.

You need to use the information to create a budget and set aside a specific amount for debt relief. Contact the creditors and work with them to create a plan. If they aren't willing to negotiate or if you still can't get out of debt, then bankruptcy may be your only option.

Buying vs. leases

Which one is better?

I have never leased a car before, but I have conducted on research on the differences of buying and leasing. Both options are great and there are benefits of each.

If you buy a car, you will have payments to make for the next 36 to 72 months. You will most likely have a warranty on the car for a period of time, but this usually expires before you are finished paying it off. If you lease a car, you will also have payments to make for the same amount of time. The difference is that the car will be covered under a warranty for the entire time.

One of the big differences in buying and leasing involves the car after the time frame is up. If you purchase a car and pay it off in three years, the car will be yours after the three years is up. You can keep the car, sell it or trade it in and you will be able to advantage of its value. If you lease a car, you will simply turn the car in when the lease is up and you have nothing of value left. This is probably one of the biggest determining factors that cause people to avoid leasing cars.

One of the reasons people do lease cars though is because of the warranty. If something breaks while you are leasing the car, you will not have to pay for the repairs. Almost all repairs are covered under the lease that you have.

What to do with your money?

The Obama re-election and your investments.

The first thing I want you to do is to read the USA Inc. report written by Mary Meeker. I am quite an optimistic person, but even people like me need to be fed with information like this that borders on pessimistic to get a real perspective of where the U.S. is heading. While we’re on the subject of reading, let me recommend that I only recently picked up The Undercover Economist, which is sure to answer a lot of your elementary economics questions and more.

With this book, I am hoping to keep it simple and eschew the complex financial instruments that I have talked about and hopefully will dive into more later. Fiscal cliff has become a popular phrase as of late and it is something that I have talked about quite a bit already.

Actions to take now

  • Explore and invest in mining companies

I guess the obvious choice is health care stocks now that Obamacare is saved for the next four years. But why enlighten you on easily observable stuff. That is why I went with these mining companies since commodities such as gold and silver will be the last resort for investors faced with an ailing US economy and falling dollar.

  • Invest in Clean Energy Source companies

President Obama’s approach for energy independence was a stark contrast to Romney’s. Somewhere in the United States, electric vehicle manufacturers will be breathing a sigh of relief!

  • Invest outside the United States

It really appears as though inflation could creep up and it could be even more rampant because of the fiscal troubles. The U.S. credit rating could be further downgraded because Obama’s plans for taxes and government spending simply don’t solve the problems facing the U.S. economy (don’t worry, even Mitt Romney’s didn’t). Embrace the global economy!

High Frequency Trading

Playing the game of a few milliseconds!

I really felt that a post on this ultra-fast trading that relies on high tech machinery was a must on this Stock Fest blog. High Frequency Trading (HFT) is all about speed. Even a few milliseconds of time being created will lead to millions of dollars worth of profitable trades.

HFT is the quest to make faster and faster trades. Computers make tens of thousands of trades even when the price of a security goes from $65 to $65.01 to generate fairly good profits.

HFT firms across the globe are happy to pay the high fees necessary to make financial trade data transmission faster by a few milliseconds. High frequency traders now trade in the crucial financial markets such as London and Tokyo in addition to New York.

Highly complex algorithms and advanced mainframe computers will quickly parse through the financial data made available and pinpoint the prospects for HFT.

The CEO of Huawei Marine Networks, Nigel Bayliff tells us about the value of a couple of milliseconds: “A couple of milliseconds can roll out to a $20-million difference in [a trader’s] account at the end of the month.”

HFT firms are more than willing to shell out millions for even more blistering fast transmission speeds.  To put these astronomic costs into perspective, let's look at a recent project: A transatlantic cable being laid cost a staggering $400 million. The plus point of this project: HFTs save five milliseconds! But these milliseconds make all the difference.

Start gathering your tax documents

By starting now, you will be better prepared.

It may seem like it was just tax season last week, but unfortunately this is not true and it will be approaching soon. If you have a lot of documents needed for tax preparation, you should start now.

It is already almost the middle of November and tax seasons will be starting in approximately six weeks or so. If you are like many people, you may wait until the last minute to gather the documents that you need, but this is not recommended. This is a great way to forget things and to sacrifice your tax return because of the things you forgot.

A lot of people will make an appointment to have their taxes prepared and they will wait until the day before the appointment to get this stuff ready. There is a better option though. If you start now, you will feel less stress and you are likely to receive a higher tax refund. By starting early, you will be better prepared and will have time to really think things over.

When the end of the year rolls around, you will not be like the rest of us who are scrambling around trying to find all of the information we need to have our taxes prepared. This is a good idea for anyone, and it can make a difference in your tax return. If you have a very simple return that doesn’t require a lot of documentation, this is probably something that would not offer a lot of benefits to you.