Friday, May 29, 2015

When is the Best Time to Buy Foreign Currency


money
Being Smart Essential – Buy Foreign Currency

Bob Atkinson of TravelSupermarket advises that one could save a tenner for every £100 one tends to spend abroad, by being smart. He states a traveller should `plan what one is going to do and how they are going to spend overseas though not any plastic. Look for credit and debit card which are designed for usage overseas.

The market-leading deals like the Halifax Clarity credit card and Norwich & Peterborough debit card, have no hidden currency loading fees or transaction fees. If one tends to spent for instance 600 euros on one of these cards they tend to actually spend about £470 based on the prevailing rates.

On comparing it to the worst option which is to rock up at an airport and actually buy euros without pre-ordering, they endup spending about £515 on the present day’s rate at some place like Heathrow’. He further adds `that’s a difference of around 10% which means it’s effectively like throwing away £10 for every £100 spent on holiday’.While purchasing holiday cash, most of the people leave it till the last moment and tend to completely ignore it at times till they arrive at the airport.

Commodity loaded with Poor Exchange Rate/High Transaction Fees

Several travellers generally pay more than the going rate for their holiday cash hence some advance planning could help them in avoiding poor exchange rates or exorbitant transaction fees. Most of them tend to leave this job at the last minute resulting in paying extra pounds or more.

Just as one would check for the best deals on hotels and flights, they should also do the same when it comes to purchasing foreign currency which is a commodity that is often loaded with poor exchange rate combined with high transaction fees. Individuals should avoid buying the holiday cash at the airport since it is the most expensive place to purchase the spending money and the rates are extremely bad since the providers have a captive audience.

The main issue is `time’ and one should be wise in thinking about currency much in advance prior to leaving for the holiday. The first step to be taken is to look at the exchange rates which would help in maximising how much local currency one would get from the exchange.

Euro, the single currency, till recently has maintained its strength and customers are recommended to purchase their euros when the pound could make gains against the single currency. In the meantime, sterling has performed more positively against the single currency and holidaymakers need not rush and buy euros now.

Knowledge on Value of Currencies

On the contrary, if one is heading out to the United States, one could be wise in purchasing dollars sooner instead of later since at the moment the pound tends to perform well against the dollar though the same is not expected to last. Gaining knowledge on the value of currencies one could be looking to purchase, could save them of money in the long run.

The only way to know if one is getting the best exchange rate is to be knowledgeable on what the currency rate is. Prior to the trip, one needs to check on currency converter to have an idea of what exchange rate to expect. If undertaking a prolonged trip, check on the rate periodically to remain updated of any major changes.

According to Alistair Cotton, corporate dealer at currenciesdirect.com states that `now is a very good time to be buying US dollars. We are still on multi-year highs and businesses and people travelling abroad this year should be taking advantage at these levels’.

Fastest/Simplest Method - Online

Lucy Lillicrap of AFEX comments `current levels provide an excellent opportunity to buy the dollar at rates rarely seen since before the financial crisis’. Jeremy Cook, chief economist at worldfirst.com on the other hand states that he `thinks that the US dollar will progress through the year as one of the best performing currencies in the G10 space as the economy continues to rebound.

The Federal Reserve is much like the Bank of England, trying to remain vague on when interest rate rises will come but a stronger economy, fuelled by strong domestic industry and receding fiscal drag will increase the pressure on Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to normalise policy sooner rather than later’.

According to Josh Ferry Woodard of TorFX, he states that `in the light of Fed chair Janet Yellen’s suggestion earlier that the interest rates could be raised in the USA by April next year, it is possible that the US dollar is the one currency that the pound may struggle to stay afloat against.

For this reason, it is a very good time to buy US dollars; the pound-to-dollar exchange rate may not reach levels this high for a long time’. The fastest and the simplest method to buy currency is online, on the internet where it would be easy to compare rates and one could also get a much better deal.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beware Credit Card Firms’ Odious Tricks


Credit_Card


Credit Card Companies – Reduced Rewards/Cash-backs


Starting a new business and making arrangements for the fund could at times come from friends or family or even a small business loan from the lender or financial institute. However, when these options seem to be unavailable, one could turn to credit card in availing the funds for a small business.

Credit card is not an invitation to spend money one does not own but the consumer needs to be cautious in using the credit card wisely. Several of the consumers do not take the trouble in reading the card statement carefully that would make them cautious of all the small charges which are imposed by the card company.

It means that a credit card is an easy packaged though a terribly priced personal loan which has the utilities but the charges seems to outweigh the benefits. Since updated EU clampdown on charges has been hitting on the profits, Credit card companies have reduced their rewards and cash-backs. Peter Jackson of Stockport speculates on the rewards that these credit card companies tend to hand out to consumers in a way to confuse them on how much they actually pay to use them.

Companies – Hidden Charges


Jackson writes that `any perks that individuals tend to receive have been paid for, by themselves without their knowledge. What makes matter worse is the fact that because everyone pays the same prices in the vast majority of retail outlets, anyone without a cash-back deal is subsidizing the customers who do’.

 He further goes on the same point with regards to current accounts stating that `this has been going on for years in the form of free banking. Banks give free bank accounts and then make their profits from people going overdrawn’.

In all honesty, he could have made the same point about mortgages, energy bills or mobile phone charges and people with the time and energy seeking out the best deals tends to do well. Others get penalised through higher charges or fewer discounts. Jacksons continues that `instead of charging a fair price for a fair service, companies tend to put all their efforts in hiding charges.

Introductory Deals of Zero Percent – Odious Deceits


It ends up with the poor and financially illiterate supporting the well-off. Why is there no open and honest charge, without all the cross-subsidizing?’ he asks. He states that it is a fair enough question and the one which he constantly puts forth to financial institutes over the years.

There are few notable exceptions most of whom are too frightened of losing business should refrain from competing with the same marketing tricks which their rivals tend to have. The introductory deals of zero percent which credit cards tend to offer are one of the most odious deceits, since people get affected by huge balance transfer fees together with high charges towards the end of the term.

 The faster these tricks or deceits are barred, the better. Consumers should bear these facts in mind and be wary while using the credit cards and avoid the traps the card companies and banks utilise to entice consumers getting them to pay all kinds of penalties and fees.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Maximize Credit Card Rewards


Credit_Card_Rewards

Credit Card Rewards – Perks of Rewards Program


According to a 2011 research from Colloquy and Swift Exchange, the average household active in rewards program do not redeem a third of the rewards they tend to earn every year which could include credit card rewards. John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at Smart Credit.com comments that `there are a slew of people out there that has cards with points on all of them and they don’t even realize it’.

 The idea of receiving rewards credit card is to give the person the perks of the rewards program and the best way to ensure that one gets the most out of the rewards credit card is to use the right one and make sure it is paid off each month.

It could be used to the greatest advantage while also being aware of the possible pitfalls like leaving points on the table. The first problem is to ensure that the credit card and rewards program chosen matches the individual’s financial lifestyle.

 If the person travels a lot during free time, then a hotel or airline card could suit the individual while a gas credit card could be best for a road warrior. Those who would prefer an uncomplicated reward system could opt for cash-back credit cards, according to vice-president, Amy Lenander, of rewards programs at Capital One.

Cash Rewards Easy & Straightforward

She states that `cash rewards tend to be easy and straightforward as rewards can develop. Customers who prefer miles and points could save up for a big reward and dream up the possibility, whereas the cash-back customers tend to be more practical’.

Besides this, several cash back cards are provided with various ways of redeeming rewards like in the form of cheques, statement credits, charity donation or gift cards while others tend to automatically deposit the rewards directly in the bank account. It is essential to read the terms and conditions since not all cards are created equal even if they offer a similar form of reward program.

There are various forms of credit cards wherein some may require spending threshold prior to earning rewards while others cap the amount of rewards that is earned. Users should also be aware of blackout dates in redeeming travel rewards or the expiration date on points. Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at watchdog group Consumer Action also informs that these rewards programs are subject to change at any point of time.

Some Advanced Planning

Cash back cards could also involve some advanced planning and while most cards provide one percent to two percent cash back there could also be certain restrictions or requirements. These could include caps on spending in various categories or more rewards on purchases on gas, groceries or dining. Other cash back rewards programs could be even more difficult, with rotating categories needing quarterly registrations.

According to Bill McCracken, CEO of Synergistics Research in Atlanta, states that in some cases, consumers tend to pick the spending category and receive the rewards or the rewards are given to the highest spending category. This could mean more observing by the consumer in taking full advantage of their credit card.

Consumers should be alert for opportunities to double or triple their reward earning power. Lisa Hronek, senior analyst at Mintel Comperemedia informs that several issuers tend to offer an increased cash back return rate each quarter for certain categories usually the ones that go according to the season.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Equity Systematic Investment Plan - SIP


SIP
Stocks with good fundamentals are known to be some of the best ways of investment plans and investment in equity stocks has reaped phenomenal returns amongst various other assets if the same has been done in an organized manner with long time horizon. It is very important to select stocks and the right decision of the right price to enter in equity investment where most of the investors often tend to commit errors.

Equity Systematic Investment Plan or SIP is an instrument that tends to help an individual in avoiding the risk of timing the markets and enable wealth development in an organised or disciplined manner by averaging the cost of investments. Saving which tend to be small could create the big corpus in the long run. SIP enables the individual in building a portfolio on a longer time basis with small investment that are done at regular intervals thus reducing the danger of market volatility.

Individuals have the option of choosing between Quantity based and Amount based SIPs, in Mutual Funds, Stocks, ETFs as well as Gold. Quantity based SIP is a type where a fixed amount of quantity of shares of a desired company is purchased at a predefined frequency while Amount based SIP is a fixed amount which can be decided by the individual intending to invest in selected share at predefined frequency.

Disciplined & Long Term Time Horizon

The formula for calculating Quantity is SIP Amount/Market price of the said share. Fractional value is ignored and the order is placed for the remaining quantity. In the case of Quantity based SIP the quantity which is to be purchased is specified by the individual and is fixed at the time of placement of order according to the desired frequency.

The order value is then calculated depending on the usual market price of the scrip while execution of the order. In order to have a long term wealth development through the equity market, it is essential to have a disciplined and long term time horizon that have integral features of SIP. The following features would make an appropriate choice for equity market –
  • Disciplined and simple approach to investment
  • Based on concept of Rupee Cost Averaging
  • Investment possible with small sum of money invested recurrently to mount up wealth
  • Flexible intervals like Daily/Weekly/Fortnightly/Monthly basis
  • Flexibility with regards to Amount or Quantity based SIP
Avoid Majorly in Aggressive Funds

While investing in equity funds through SIP, though one will gain the rupee cost averaging benefits at the time of the volatile market phase, one should also avoid investing majorly in aggressive funds such as sector, thematic and mid-cap funds. One cannot guarantee better returns in excessive aggression.

On the contrary it could make your portfolio risky and probably disrupting the life stage with regards to investment goals. However, with mid-caps as a section of the portfolio, majority of it could comprise on large cap funds. Individuals often tend to start SIPs without a second thought on the amount they intend to invest comfortably. Often they try to make up for the lost time and then find it difficult to continue with their SIPs after a period of time.

This results in a stop of their investment and their long term life stage goals. Hence with systematic investment plans one should start conventionally and increase their investment amount gradually over a period of time ensuring stability.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

3 Valuable Lessons from the NASDAQ Bubble


NASDAQ Bubble

The NASDAQ Bubble


Looking back, one can recall that the big capitalization technology stocks which controlled the NASDAQwere wildly overrated by out-dated measures. The Wall Street Journal had published on March 14, 2000, a prominent article - `Big Cap Tech Stocks are a Sucker Bet’. This article was contributedby the Wharton School finance professor and fellow Kiplinger’s columnist, Jeremy Siegel. He was of the opinion that `several investors of present time are undisturbed by history and by the failure of any large cap stock ever to justify, by its subsequent record, a (price-earnings) ratio anywhere near 100’. Bubble is a change and the nature of bubbles is that no one can predict when they could pop. If Nasdaq seemed to be overvalued in 2000, it was also overvalued in 1999 as well as 1998 and 1997. This resulted in investors rushing to buy stocks in late 1990s with the intention of not missing out on profits which their colleagues would be making. Most of the buyers overloaded their portfolios with big cap tech stocks with the belief that they could later sell to make a profit.


Education from the NASDAQ Bubble

Three of the most valuable education from NASDAQ bubble -
  • Diversification - The main lesson from Nasdaq COMP, -0.63% bubble was diversification. Having ones’ savings in one high beta sector of financial markets would give rise to substantial risk of long lasting loss. Though the NASDAQ took fifteen years to break, an investor owning a 60%/40%stock/bond portfolio beginning on March 1, 2000 was at risk for less than four years. Besides, while NASDAQ was scrabbling its way back to break even, one generated an annualized return of 5.5% though not bad at buying while it was at its peak
  • Price compression creates tail risk–Investors get involved in years’ worth of future returns into a very short time period. If the underlying entity does not give the actual value which it was priced in, this would give rise to disequilibrium. In other words, you would get investors who priced in high growth that does not seem to be profitable. When understanding dawns, the price decompresses and the bigger the compression, bigger is the decompression. As the Nasdaq bubble tend to get expanded, investors were looking forward to gain profits of the Internet, pricing in years’ worth of profits in a very short span of time. This means that they priced in a 15 years value of profit in a few years. When one fails to diversify accurately, one could be exposed to their savings being at risk. They should allocate their savings accurately to avoid being exposed to huge risk to their portfolio.
  • Avoid chasing the next hot thing for maximizing returns –If one intending in maximising the primary source of income and allocating some of the income in, with the intention of planning for the future, proper allocation of saving is essential. The purpose of savings is not actual return maximization; on the contrary, return maximization within the boundaries of suitable risk taking. If one is a real saver on the lookout for stability, then the main portfolio goal is not simply a protection against purchasing power loss but the risk of long lasting loss. This means that it could be probably unwise to overweight the portfolio in favour of purchasing power protection.
Conclusion 

Most of the investors unfortunately turn to the stock market as a place where they could raise their profit and improve their financial status. In their eagerness to reach high, the risk factor is often overlook and sometimes ends in disaster. Caution needs to be exercised in every plan of investment to earn the fruits of a good labour.