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May 23 2015

Americans have limited financial knowledge, survey says

A new survey authorized by the Fifth Third Bank and performed by Research Now, reveals that Americans have limited financial knowledge and stability, based on The Corliss Group online magazine report.

The survey was conducted from March 5 to 17 and had 1,068 respondents.

Ninety percent of Americans didn't know that individuals under the age of 50 can make contributions up to $18,000 a year to a 401(k) plan.

57.9% of those surveyed said they were financially knowledgeable and 38.5% understood the annual percentage rate (APR) on their primary credit card.

In addition, 60% did not have sufficient savings to survive for at least 6 months.

A certified financial planner Eric Meermann, who is based in Scarsdale, N.Y., said that financial literacy is truly a big concern and based on the survey, it is not focused on nearly enough.

55.8% of those surveyed knew what a credit score measures. Meermann says that you should have a focus on getting a good credit score if you wish to be able to accomplish many things that a lot of Americans consider important. Simply because the better credit you have, the better terms and fees you can get on your debt.

Strikingly, only 13.3% of the younger generation knew the maximum amount they could put into a 401(k) plan for the year. This indicates that the gaps in finances and knowledge among Millennials were also surprising.

Stacie Haas, a spokeswoman for Fifth Third Bank says that when she was younger, she would see her parents balancing their checkbook and actually going to the bank to make a payment.

She thinks that you don't see that anymore, and she also thinks that kids these days don't grow up witnessing the daily management of money. It just happens around them or inside the cellphone or laptop.

"They do not understand there's a real management level to this. You don't just make it and spend it."

The Fifth Third Bank's senior vice president of community and economic development, Camino Smith says that younger people are not going to understand financial issues in school if they don't achieve it in home, because schools usually doesn't have a lot of financial literacy courses or themes provided within the curriculum.

Fifth Third Bank provides different type of financial literacy program such as the "young bankers club" that has educated thousands of fifth-graders about the benefits of maintaining a budget and other guidelines regarding money.

Another program instructs adults how to pay for a home, as well as retirement and higher education.

Smith added that there many Baby Boomers retiring who are not prepared for retirement, and somehow they're going to have to be supported or reduce their standard of living. And that's not good for the economy or the country as a whole.

He also thinks that if individuals make financial literacy more of a priority in the education system, it could truly help the next generation, and generations to come.

For more information and updates check our Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Blogspot or you can follow us on Twitter @CorlissGroupMag

May 04 2015

Financial Review Corliss Group online magazine: Ways to reduce your vulnerability on tax-related

10 ways to reduce your vulnerability on tax-related identity theft

Identity theft continues to be one of the major growing crimes in United States nowadays, and places a large burden on victims, businesses, non-profit organizations and government institutions, especially when filing tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Tax-related identity theft happens when somebody uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

Usually, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN.

Identity theft is a top priority for the IRS. They have already taken aggressive action to protect taxpayers and aid victims, with more than thousands of employees assigned to work on identity theft related situations. They also train employees to recognize return fraud and to help victims when it happened.

Because of this, the IRS prevented $14.6 million suspicious returns, and protected more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds from 2011 to November 2013.

You can't prevent tax-related identity theft because we are all vulnerable, but here are ways on how to reduce your chances of being a victim.

1. Safeguard all your personal information in a secured place at home and at work such as a safe with a locked combination. Don't leave it lying around.

2. If you wish to file by mail, do it at a post office, not from an unsecured mailbox in front of your house.

3. Use a secured computer on a protected network if you wish to file electronically. Remember not to do anything financial or tax-related on public Wi-Fi networks.

4. Beware of phishing scams. Phishing includes seemingly harmless emails being sent to you, asking you to verify certain things such as passwords, account numbers or credit/social security details. Any email looking for this kind of information must be an immediate red flag for you. Avoid opening emails that doesn't make sense to you or that comes from people or organizations that you don't know. It might be possible that they include viruses or worms. Remember that the IRS doesn't begin contact by email to specifically ask for your personal or financial information.

5. Protect your social security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Only carry them with you unless you are going somewhere where it will be absolutely necessary. Don't forget that identity thieves only need a social security number and some fake documents. It is much easier than selling drugs or stealing cars.

6. Tear up or shred any documents with identifying information on them. Don't just throw your old billing statements and other documents containing important information into your garbage. There are "dumpster divers" who are willing to go through old coffee grounds and rotten orange peels to get your data into their hands. Purchase crosscut paper shredder and completely destroy any piece of paper that has your credit card number, your social security number, or your bank account number on it.

7. Regularly monitor your financial accounts for there might be unusual withdrawals or credit card purchases.

8. Check your Social Security Administration (SSA) earnings statement every year.

9. Get your return done as early as possible. It really is in your best interest to file as early as possible.

10. Protect your computer. Some identity thieves now use advanced software to get your personal information such as login details and passwords. A strong and regularly updated firewall, anti-virus program and anti-spyware program will give most of the protection you need.

For more information and updates check our Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Blogspot or you can follow us on Twitter @CorlissGroupMag

May 02 2015

Corliss Online Financial Mag: Tips to become financially fit

Following are few easy tips made by Corliss Online Financial Mag that will help you move forward toward financial security and make your dreams become reality.

Put aside time and energy to talk

The first step to finding common ground with your finances is to take time to talk about money. Define your values and goals together with your family and clarify the difference between needs and wants. Don’t wait for a financial crisis to happen.

It is vital to instruct the children about the value of money and how to use it responsibly.

Make a budget

With your established values, you are now ready to create a budget. There are some tools out there to get you started such as Mint or You Need A Budget (YNAB), but a Microsoft Excel document will probably do the job. Choose something that you are comfortable with and actually work for you. Set a time every month to check in and evaluate your goals as well as your progress. Make adjustments or improvements based on your situation.

Pay your debts

Lots of individuals in debt feel trapped and bogged down, but always remember that even small steps can have a dramatic effect on financial stability. Just pay small amount above the minimum payment each month. As little as $15-$25 more could help you pay off a credit debt five to ten years sooner.

Use a flexible spending account

Assess with your employer. Several companies allow you to take money out of your paycheck pre-tax to pay for expenses such as health care. However, make sure that you only take out what you need.

Save for retirement

Due to compound interest, your money increases dramatically over time. A small contribution now can mean larger returns later.

Prepare for abrupt problems

Consider the things that can have a huge effect on your life later on. Build an emergency fund, set up a life insurance policy, and open a 529 plan — defined by Corliss Online Financial Mag as a tax-advantaged method of saving for future college expenses that is authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code — to begin saving for your children’s education.

 

 

March 24 2015

Japan signaled that it could join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after all if certain conditions were met satisfactorily.

 

This is despite the United States already expressing concerns regarding AIIB and its capability to pass social and environmental standards and China's already growing diplomatic influence in the region. Still, about 30 nations, including major EU members, participated in this economic project.

 

Now, even the notable allies of the US -- South Korea, Australia and Japan -- are reportedly reconsidering.

 

Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso announced that they are considering joining the AIIB if they can confirm that it has a "credible mechanism for providing loans". However, other Japanese senior officials remain doubtful if participating in a China-led bank could be truly advantageous.

 

"We have been asking to ensure debt sustainability taking into account its impact on environment and society. We could (consider) if these issues are guaranteed. We'll give it careful consideration from diplomatic and economics viewpoints. There could be a chance that we would go inside and discuss. But so far we have not heard any responses," commented Aso.

 

AIIB is also seen as a competitor of ADB (Asian Development Bank) which is a regional financial institution based in the Philippines. It is basically dominated by the US and Japan, with its leader customarily coming from the latter's finance ministry or the Bank of Japan.

 

The former president of ADB and current BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda cautiously said, "There are huge needs, demands for infrastructure investment in Asia. On the other hand, the World Bank and ADB have been helping countries in Asia to improve infrastructure for the last 50 years."

 

Despite being a China-led financial institution that the US is warning against, AIIB got Tokyo concerned of missing out on opportunity for more regional participation, reports Corliss Online Financial Mag.

 

Meanwhile, Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey said participating in AIIB has the potential to benefit local companies and should not adversely affect their relationship with the US. At any rate, he added that a final decision has yet to be made, although Corliss Online Financial Mag got reports that Australia could decide to formally join this week with as much as USD 2.3 billion in investment.

 

"There is a lot of merit in it, but we want to make sure there are proper governance procedures. That there's transparency, that no one country is able to control the entity. And because it's operating in our region, in our neighbourhood, it is important that Australia fully understand and look at participating in this Bank," said Hockey.

February 24 2015

Corliss Online Financial Mag: P&G to Sell 100 Brands

Consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble confirmed last week that they plan to sell off a total of 100 brands, suggesting deeper cuts than originally reported.

P&G confirmed they have finalized deals for 35 brands out of 100 that they are expecting to sell by 2016. The troubled company is also expecting to sell those brands that have collected a total sales in the USD 10 billion mark, contrary to the USD 8 billion it has previously announced.

According to Jon Moeller, P&G's Chief Financial Officer, the brand divestitures could reduce their annual sales by as much as 14% -- a pretty big difference from the original 10% estimate loss in total revenue.

Meanwhile, other officials of the company confirmed that those decisions are already the 'refined' version of their original plans and that they are only trying to consolidate their brand portfolio.

Most of the brands shortlisted in its divestiture plans have already been sold on account of their low performance. But Moeller is quick to point out though that the brands they are selling are not necessarily weak ones -- they are just underperforming in the eyes of the management.

P&G has previously sold its pet food brands along with a handful of laundry and beauty brands. According to experts, Wella salon and Braun appliances are next on the list. According to Corliss Online Financial Mag, the largest potential divestiture yet is the Duracell batteries to Berkshire Hathaway, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The battery maker reportedly generates USD 2.6 billion in revenue per year.

Procter & Gamble's CEO Alan Lafley said in a conference that they expect selloff to be completed in 5 months. He added, "We have had a lot of interest in the assets we want to dispose."

Corliss Online Financial Mag has previously reported Lafley announcing last year that P&G plans to concentrate on around 70 brands as a core group of the company.

December 22 2014

Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: WealthyU – Keeping You And Your Money Safe This Holiday Season

Every two seconds someone has their identity stolen. The holiday shopping season is in full swing and the scammers, crooks and identity thieves are on the prowl. 

Financial guru Deborah Owens joined Roland Martin on “NewsOne Now” to discuss what you can do to avoid becoming the next victim of fraud and how to keep you, your identity and your moneysafe from would be thieves this holiday season. 

One thing people can do to avoid being taken advantage of online is to be aware of phising schemes. These schemes present fake web sites that look like real web sites of retailers, banks and other financial institutions. 

Owens told Martin people can protect themselves by looking at the URL and making sure that there is an “http” and an “s” in the address. 

America’s wealth coach advises people to not “click on anything. Go to the actual website” of the online retailer you wish to purchase merchandise from. 

“The reason why this is so important at this time of year is because our guards are down.” Owens added, when we’re on a mission “to get that perfect gift what you need to understand is that [you] don’t [want to] make yourself somebody else’s gift.” 

Part of protecting yourself from potential thieves involves “being aware of your surroundings” and being conscious of what you are carrying on your person when you go out shopping. 

Owens cautioned us to not take all of our credit cards with us when we go shopping. She said, “one credit card and some cash is probably what you want to do so in the event, if something does happen” everything is not stolen and you don’t have to try to create all that information again.

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag is a stock-market education website designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. Corliss Group Online Financial Mag does this in a manner easy to understand and uses only relevant and essential information required to trade shares on the stock market.

December 20 2014

Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: The five best money moves you can make in December

We all tend to get excited and go over budget amid holiday festivities but make a few smart moves now, and you won't get caught off guard by monetary misfortune this holiday season.

Your halls are decked with tinsel and ornaments and your fridge is stocked with eggnog — and amid the holiday excitement, you haven’t looked at your bank account balance in weeks.

You’re not alone. It’s easy to get caught up in festivities and forget about budgeting. But make a few smart moves now, and you won’t be caught off guard by monetary misfortune.

Here are five money moves to add to your holiday to-do list.

1.) Invest in your future self: Contribute to your 401(k).

In 2013, 42% of middle-class Americans said that it was impossible for them to pay their bills and still save for retirement, according to a Wells Fargo study. But even if you can’t get anywhere near the annual 401(k) contribution limit of $17,500, try to put aside as much money as you can, says Ken Stanley, a NerdWallet advisor from Harper Stanley Financial Services.

“If you have the opportunity to contribute to a 401(k), especially if your employer is matching the contribution, please don’t leave any money on the table,” he says.

Jonathan DeYoe, NerdWallet advisor and principal at DeYoe Wealth Management, adds that it’s important to re-evaluate spending at the end of the year and see if you can afford to contribute more.

“Your future self is really going to appreciate your current self’s savings,” he says.

2. Protect your identity online.

About 28% of shoppers say they prefer doing holiday shopping online rather than in a store to avoid crowds, according to a 2013 study by global information firm Accenture. If you’re planning to skip the long lines this month, do your best to keep your online information safe.

Avoid looking at your online bank profile or making online purchases on public Wi-Fi. If you have lots of weak or duplicate passwords, now is a good time to change those. Monitor your credit card statements closely and report fraudulent transactions as soon as possible.

3. Give to charity – the smart way.

If you have some excess income at the end of the year and you want to give back, donating before Dec. 31 can help you benefit from tax incentives.

When donating, make sure your money is going to a worthy cause. Two-thirds of Americans don’t research the organizations they contribute to, according to a 2011 study by Hope Consulting. Check the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to find out more about where your money is going.

4. Start thinking about taxes.

Don’t wait until April to start thinking about taxes. For new parents or recently married couples, filing a W-4 before the holiday season could mean less tax withheld from each paycheck. That could make a big difference during the holidays, says Harry Krampf, a NerdWallet advisor and a tax expert at TaxVigilante.net.

“It’s one of those things that people have direct control over,” he says.

If you’ve seen some big changes this year, ask your employer about filling out a W-4.

5. Accidents can happen at any time – get covered.

If you don’t have health insurance through your employer, now’s the time to enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2015. If you choose to forgo health insurance this year, remember that you’ll have to pay a penalty, and in 2015, that will be more costly.

What’s important

Getting your financial life in order can be stressful, but once you’re done, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters. That makes all the budgeting, planning and investment worth it.

“It’s really about family coming together,” DeYoe says. “It’s about thankfulness, gratitude and really appreciating what we have.”

More tips or any economic issue that will help you? Corliss Group Online Financial Mag is here to help you. Corliss Group Online Financial Mag is a stock-market education website designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. You can also visit our blog site for more update.

December 18 2014

Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: 5 financial tips for the holidays

TORONTO – Younger Canadian shoppers say they plan to load up on gifts but not debt this holiday season. According to the annual RBC holiday spending intentions poll, while 94 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 said they are expecting to spend an average of $509.80 on gifts this year—up from $457.40 last year—over half say they plan to use cash or debit cards for their purchases while 18 per cent intend to use credit cards and pay off their balances.

“It’s great to see these younger shoppers focused on managing their holiday expenses so they don’t have seasonal debts when the New Year begins – this is a wonderful gift to give to yourself,” said Maria Contreras, senior manager of savings accounts at RBC.

Want to have a debt-free new year? Here are five financial tips for the holidays.

Set a budget and stick to it

Have a financial plan in mind (or on paper) before you start checking off your holiday gift list. This will help ensure you’re only spending what you know you can afford.

Try to leave your credit or credit cards at home. By sticking to cash or debit cards, you can keep better track of where your money went.  If you use a reward credit card in order to earn “points,” just make sure you budget accordingly and pay off your debt in full and on time each month.

Curb your ‘got to have it’ shopping impulse

Count to 30 before impulse buying in a store; delay an online shopping decision by a few hours.

Keep a separate savings account for holiday/gift expenses

According to the survey, 67 per cent of Canadian shoppers don’t have a budget that includes saving for holidays/gift expenses. By setting up an account dedicated to saving for special expenses, your savings won’t get mixed in with your day-to-day cash.

Put aside a regular amount into your holiday expenses savings account

By saving $10 a week, for example, you’ll have over $500 by year-end. Invest that money in a high interest savings account and you can save even more for your next holiday season.

Look for coupons and discounts

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are likely to have some great sale discounts, coupons can also save you some money when it comes to shopping. If you’re shopping online, before you finalize your purchase, search the web for existing coupon or promo codes that can be used toward your item. You will be surprised how many external sites have promo codes that aren’t featured on the site you are shopping on.

The survey found that Quebec shoppers intend to spend the least on gifts this holiday season ($360.30) while those in Atlantic Canada and Alberta intend to spend the most ($700.90 and $699.70 respectively).

You want more economical related topic? Just visit Corliss Online Financial Mag. Our site is a stock-market education website designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. Corliss Group Online Financial Mag does this in a manner easy to understand and uses only relevant and essential information required to trade shares on the stock market. For more update, follow us on Twitter.

December 07 2014

Holiday Financial Review Corliss Group online magazine: Tips för att undvika att bli lurad

Tips för att undvika att bli lurad på Cyber måndag

WASHINGTON--Om du inte får i tillräckligt shopping under lång semester helgen, kommer du vara glad att slå mer försäljning på Cyber måndag.

Måndagen efter Thanksgiving är seriös verksamhet. Förra året, klickade konsumenterna sig till mer än $2 miljarder av Cyber måndag inköp online.

Men mitt i de bra erbjudandena, scammers är i vänta, också, och som har lett New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman att utarbeta en lista med tips för att hjälpa konsumenterna att kämpa mot skurkarna:

Handla bara på säkra Internet-anslutningar: inte bedriver någon transaktion som innebär personliga, finansiella eller kreditkortsinformation när du använder en öppen och oprioriterade Wi-Fi-anslutning. Osäkrade anslutningar är vanliga i offentliga utrymmen som transportnav och kommunala hotspots och i butiker och kaféer.

Vara försiktig med att shoppa, göra affärer eller skicka känslig eller personlig information ut på dessa nätverk, eftersom identiteten tjuven ofta staka ut öppna nätverk söker offer. Shopping och andra aktiviteter som involverar känslig information kan utföras säkert lösenord-beskyddat trådlösa nätverk, virtuella privata nätverk (VPN) eller hårdkodade Internet-anslutningar.

Endast behandla betalning på HTTPS-webbsidor: när du anger information om betalning online bör du kontrollera att HTTPS är i adressfältet att skydda dig mot identitetstjuvar och cyberbrottslingar. Webbadresser som börjar med https:// i stället för standard http:// skyddas av SSL, Internet security protocol. Webbsidor serveras över SSL skydda dig genom att kryptera känslig information, till exempel kreditkortsnummer, under transaktionen.

Inte luras av förväxlingsbart hemsida och domän namn: ägna särskild uppmärksamhet åt din återförsäljare URL när du handlar online. Bedragare använder varianter av kända företagets Internet-adress att försöka lura användare besöker falska webbplatser. De ofta mål användare via e-post eller sociala medier. Undvika att klicka på länkar från e-post eller sociala medier webbplatser. Se upp för webbplatser med webbadresser som skiljer sig från dem som legitima online-återförsäljare, samt länkar som visas äkta men direkt din webbläsare till en helt annan URL. För att säkerställa säker shopping online, Skriv URL-adressen för din önskade återförsäljare direkt i din webbläsare-- och se för stavfel.

Skydda dig genom att använda kreditkort: med tillkomsten av point-of-sale malware och skenande personuppgiftsöverträdelser, identitetstjuvar är nu mer sofistikerade och farliga än någonsin. Om du ska göra inköp online, kan du bäst skydda dig från riskerna med identitetsstöld och bedrägeri med hjälp av kreditkort. Kreditkort erbjuder i allmänhet bättre köp skydd och bedrägeri tvistlösning än andra metoder för betalning. Debet kort länk direkt till ditt bankkonto, potentiellt hotar hela kontot. Vissa banker erbjuder också tillfälliga kreditkortsnummer med en uppsättning köpa maximalt, vilket kan vara användbart för vissa transaktioner eller vissa konsumenter. Kom ihåg att kreditkort tar ut höga räntor, så det är bäst att använda kreditkort för endast dessa inköp du har råd.

Vara försiktig med alltför-bra-att-vara-true tävlingar och pris kampanjer: konsumenterna bör vara misstänksamma mot alla e-postmeddelanden, meddelanden eller inlägg på sociala nätverk främjande giveaways eller tävlingar som verkar för bra för att vara sant, såsom gratis högt värde presentkort, tabletter och smartphones. Dessa "tävlingar" är ofta bedrägerier för att mjölka konsumenter av pengar och/eller att samla in konsumenternas personuppgifter för återförsäljning. Äkta lotterier och tävlingar är vanligt förekommande på Internet. Du bör dock undvika någon tävling eller kampanj som kräver att du betalar pengar eller utföra någon form av finansiell transaktion. Också, tänka två gånger innan du deltar i kampanjer som kräver aktörer att registrera med flera tredjeparts webbplatser. ofta är dessa knep att bygga utskickslistor. Kampanjer som kräver att användaren anger mer än enkla kontaktinformation kan även vara falska eller drivs av bedragare som säljer konsumentupplysning för att samla in avgifter remiss!

Läs finstilt: brett formulerade erbjudanden och annonser ofta vilseleda konsumenterna att betala fullt pris för artiklar som de trodde var på rea. Konsumenterna bör noggrant granska Internet erbjudanden genom att läsa alla finstilta i reklammaterial, identifiera exakt märke och modellnummer till försäljning. Konsumenterna bör också undvika agn-och-switch annonser eller kampanjer som locka konsumenter med källare priser som inte är garanterat att vara i lager. Finstilta anger att kvantiteter är begränsade är en kontrollampa tecken på denna agn-och-switch taktik.

Se upp för dolda fraktkostnad: Internet shoppare kommer utan tvekan att hitta bra erbjudanden här semester säsong. Det är vanligt att Internet återförsäljare annonsera priser som inte faktor i frakt och hantering. Detta gör att Internet-återförsäljare prissättning visas lägre än vad konsumenterna faktiskt betalar. Den här julen, bör konsumenterna se till att granska alla frakt och hanteringskostnader innan de bestämmer sig någon online-inköp. När alla kostnader anses vara kan vad du kanske trodde var mycket Internet vara dyrare än din lokala återförsäljare.

Om Corliss Online finansiella Mag

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October 27 2014

Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: The Golden Rule of Startup Capital


The Golden Rule of Startup Capital: Don't Waste Money

Golden rule of business: Increase shareholder value.

Golden rule of investing: Buy low, sell high.

Most entrepreneurs know these golden rules. To a great extent, they are (or should be) obvious and self evident. They are "rules" because they set the foundation for business mission statements, goals and decisions.

There is another important golden rule that many entrepreneurs overlook, specifically startup entrepreneurs. It was recently driven home to me in an email from Mike Schroll, the founder of Startup.SC, a South Carolina business incubator with which I am currently working to develop my own startup idea. Working late one evening last week, my computer inbox "pinged" with his single-sentence message:

"I challenge you to achieve what you are doing with less capital."

Granted, my first reaction was that this was obvious. Of course, all businesses should try to do more with less. But as I started to consider my proposal in its current iteration, I did notice that I had built a "perfect-world" scenario for my capital-raise ask, which was significantly high. I have an ambitious goal, or BHAG, but I was treading dangerously close to a trap that many entrepreneurs fall into.

I estimated exactly how much money I needed to succeed.

The problem with this is that the "perfect" amount of money is a fallacy. Indeed, if you have a unique, revolutionary and proprietary idea, combined with the right amount of money it stands a significantly better chance of becoming a success. But most of us do not have this type of idea -- we just have an idea -- and investors have many investment choices and typically want to spread their risk around to many startups.

Ultimately, what investors want to see and what you need to consider is the amount of money needed to achieve two goals:

1. Getting your idea to market.

2. Growing your customer base as quickly as possible.

Because capital is scarce, startup capital that goes to anything else will be considered wasteful. For instance:

Personnel

About the only thing that is critical for success is personnel needed to get the startup launched. Engineers and programmers are expensive, and they are well worth the money in terms of developing the right minimum viable product or prototype. What should not be considered is a founders’ lucrative salary.

Unless you are a well known and sought-after founder (most of you are not), investors do not want valuable startup capital going to line your pocket. Be prepared to put in time and sweat to show your commitment, for which you will be rewarded with an investment.

Marketing and advertising

Customer acquisition cost is a key consideration for investors. If your strategy is just to spend money on advertising for the sake of spending money, then revisit your strategy. Approximating your return on marketing budget is critical, and though there is no way to be exact, demonstrating your critical thinking and understanding of its importance will make you appear much more credible.

Overhead

Precious startup capital should not be wasted on things such as offices, furniture, foosball tables and coffee bars, unless these things are critical for retaining key talent. Unless you are a sought-after founder with existing partnership with established venture capitalists, however, be prepared to bootstrap your way through development and launch.

Everything else

Everything else needed to get started, from legal to accounting to utilities to janitorial, needs to be kept at an absolute minimum. No founder is beyond sitting in a hot office or taking Clorox to the toilet bowl. If your dollars are not going to build your product and gain customers, then they are being wasted.

While this concept may be obvious, I personally have spoken to countless entrepreneurs who visualize the launch of their idea with a complete misunderstanding. Many mistakenly believe that they need a Google-esque office, unlimited vacation days and full benefits, when in reality a cinder block desk, Internet access and the unwavering commitment of an ambitious entrepreneur is really all you need.

For more Financial Reviews  from Corliss Group Online Magazine, visit our facebook page and follow us on twitter @CorlissGroupMag.

October 24 2014

Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine - Q&A: Foreign correspondence in China and Asia

Tracy Dahlby, former Tokyo bureau chief, National Geographic contributor and author of the new memoir Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook, looks back on a life of reporting on Asia

You got your start as a reporter for a financial newswire in Japan during the 70s, back when it was still big on heavy industry, but had begun shifting toward a consumer economy. China stories often echo that narrative these days, but was Tokyo ever so polluted?

I’d say “not as” but it could be pretty grim. I remember being profoundly disappointed when, in 1976, I climbed Mount Fuji for the first time only to stumble upon slopes strewn with trash. I wondered how the Japanese, who had a reputation, in poetry and prose, as world-champion lovers of nature could let their iconic mountain go to hell like that. So Fuji was my reigning metaphor. And it’s true that Tokyo often choked under a blanket of industrial smog. I don’t think it ever reached what China is coping with today. But it pays to remember that Japan got its pollution problems under control and, with the right policies, China has a shot at doing so too. How China does that while maintaining economic growth and meeting rising popular expectations is, of course, the compelling mystery.

Much is still made of the apparent economic similarities between China now and Japan during the boom years. You write in your book about covering both during your career -- what comparisons hold up, and which strike you as misguided?

During my brief time at the financial news wire in Tokyo, I took the stock market closings in my shaky Japanese and wasn’t always sure I’d got the decimal point in the right place. Frankly, I’m still a little amazed that the global economy survived. In writing about those times today, however, I very much feel China looking over my shoulder because there are the obvious similarities between Japan then and China now—the active, pointed pioneering of overseas markets and the gobbling up of vast sources of raw materials, the frenetic building of roads, dams, bridges and airports and, above all, the psychological transformation that comes to a country with rapidly rising consumer expectations. The big difference, of course, is a matter of scale and scope. What China has undertaken dwarfs other models and that’s what makes it such a wonderful, wrenching, gripping story to behold.

When and why did you first come to China as a journalist?

I made my first trip to China in January of 1978, about 14 months after the death of Mao Zedong. Beijing was a city of bicycles, Mao suits and, for foreigners, a Friendship Store that was not exactly consumer-friendly. It wasn’t easy for an American to get a visa back then. But a friend of a friend in Hong Kong, a wonderful local businesswoman, insisted that I apply and that I turn over my passport to her. It turns out she had been at school with a man who worked the other side of the fence for China travel and presided over the tourist visa stamp. So I found myself headed over the border by train to Guangzhou and then Beijing with a group of Japanese, American and Australian tourists. I somehow managed to report a story for The New York Times travel section on that jaunt at a time when China had become an alluring ticket for American travelers. So I guess you could say I started my China watching as half tourist, half hustling hack, and that’s pretty much the way I proceeded in my career, as a friend recently put it, letting myself “wander and wonder.”

There were earlier motivations, too. I was a typically restless undergrad in Seattle, Washington, living at home and eager to trade a ho-hum life for the excitement and adventure of the wider world. I’d heard reports of the Cultural Revolution on a radio in my bedroom that was ridiculously large—the size of a shoebox. Today, we can dial up tons of information about China on our smart phones or e-tablets. In those days, China was a black box, information was scarce, and what there was required strenuous decoding. That of course meant that China was a tremendous mystery that fired your imagination. You really wanted to get out to Asia and take a crack at trying to figure it out.

It's rare to go a week lately without a dust-up between China and any of the countries that ring the South China Sea. Did the region always seem destined for conflict, or did most seem to buy into China's "peaceful rise" sales pitch?

It’s remarkable to me how little has changed in the fundamental terms of that dispute over the last two decades, despite today’s frenetic foreign press coverage of China’s new harder line. I open “Into the Field” by recounting a nearly three-month reporting swing I took through the South China Sea immediately after Handover in Hong Kong in 1997. With the help of friends in Manila, I managed to talk my way out to the Spratlys with a transport plane full of rifle-toting Filipino military men. It was starkly beautiful out there but blessedly little was going on, at least on the surface. Then as now, the billion- or maybe trillion-dollar question was the extent of resources that might rest on the sea floor. Such visions, part analysis, part ambitious national dreaming, will, I’d wager, continue to ratchet up tensions as China continues to rise, peacefully or not.

China is the clear center of attention for the financial press in Asia, but reporting long-term can create something like tunnel vision. Where in the region, if anywhere, do you see untapped economic potential on the level of a China or Japan?

That’s a good, tough question and journalists have a lousy track record when it comes to accurate prognostication, at least this one. I’d venture to say, however, that once investment and infrastructure gain even more traction in a place like India, China’s neighborhood becomes an even more competitive place. Add to that improvements in intra-regional trade and marketing ties between and among the countries of Southeast Asia and, barring the unfortunate and unforeseen, you have a recipe for sustained growth that will include China, perhaps be dominated by China, but will by no means rely on China alone.

In the mid-80's you were brought in from Tokyo to eventually serve as managing editor for Newsweek International. How did the view of Asia from NYC differ from your own when you returned?

It reminds you just how much times have changed. Back then America was focused on what was generally perceived as a Japanese economic juggernaut and the challenges posed by Japan’s ballooning trade advantages vis-à-vis the United States. Japan’s economic advance had energized a group of formidable “Japan-bashers” in business, government and the media that made the Japanese seem ten feet tall. The economic challenge was real enough but there was something else at work, too. By the end of the decade, the Soviet Union was into its final fizzle, and imploding, and America needed a new focus for its ambitions and anxieties, and Japan was “it.”

As time went on, of course, Japan proved a disappointing bogeyman. Its economy had bottomed out by the early 90s and lapsed into a marathon, years-long recession. China began to emerge as a new focus of concern. The 9/11 attacks and the aftermath shifted America’s central preoccupation to the war on terror, which may have deflected an even more intense focus on China as America’s new rival for superpower status. Today, of course,  bilateral relations with China have today become an intensely observed gauge of how and to what extent America will be able to maintain its pride of place in world leadership.

What we tried to do at Newsweek, back in the day, was to help provide readers with the context they could use to develop a clearer understanding of complications of U.S.-Japan relations—the historical, political and, I dare say, some of the psychological factors that not infrequently contributed to one of the two sides not really hearing what the other side was trying to say. Fast-forward 30 years, and the U.S. media faces a similar challenge in preparing Americans for China’s rise and how it will affect the way we live our lives and do business in this country.     

Freelance, especially in China, is the name of the game for many aspiring foreign correspondents these days. How did you make the jump from part-time to full-time reporting, and to what extent is the path you took still open to would-be journalists here?

My advice on that score never varies. As I say in my book, “Pick a part of the world you can fall in love with and plant yourself there for at least two years. Try your hand at freelancing. Teach English, tend bar, or give body modification classes—whatever it takes to ward off starvation. Meanwhile suck the place into your bones. Absorb its language and politics, its loves, hates, and idiosyncrasies, the alarming as well as the charming…. The place doesn’t have to love you back, at least not right away. But if doing journalism is your goal, make sure it’s somewhere the rest of the world wants to know about too.”

I think China admirably fills that bill. It’s both a place of endless fascination, big and small, and somewhere people who aren’t in China want and need to know about. In my case, in Japan, I used my freelance assignments to try to hone basic skills (and I had precisely none to start with), while I worked at the art of becoming pleasantly annoying until sources would agree to talk to me and somebody finally gave me a regular job.

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October 22 2014

Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: Japan's Amazing 25-Year Post-Bubble Drama

It's been quite a while since my last look at secular Japanese market and bond data. We're now just a few months from the 25th anniversary of the Nikkei 225's bubble top in 1989. The latest cyclical rally in the index hit an interim high at the end of December 2013, up 99.6% from its interim low in November of 2011, and a more recent interim high in late September was up 100.5% from that 2011 low. The steroid effect of massive monetary intervention has evolved into an ongoing drama of volatility.

What about Japanese government bonds? The closing yield of the 10-Year bond on the day the Nikkei hit its 2011 interim low was 1.53%. It was cut in half to 0.75% a year later when the Nikkei hit its November 2012 low shortly before the central-bank-driven rally. The yield fell to its 2013 low of 0.44% on April 4, the day that the Bank of Japan disclosed its radical redo of monetary policy. It rebounded to 0.94% on May 29, but it has since been nearly halved to 0.50%. Compare that with the US 10-Year note, which closed Friday at 2.31%.

The Nikkei in Historical Perspective

Here's a quick review of the Nikkei 225, the 10-year bond and inflation over the past three decades.

Nikkei 225 and Post-Bubble Rallies

The table below documents the advances and declines and the elapsed time for the major cycles in the Nikkei.

Nikkei

The Nominal versus Real Nikkei 225

For most major indexes, we expect to see a significant difference between the nominal and real price over a multi-decade timeframe. But Japan's chronic bouts of deflation have kept the two metrics rather tight. Note that I've used a log vertical axis for the index price to better illustrate the relative price changes over time. 

Nikkei 225

October 18 2014

Financial Tips Corliss Group online magazine: Put Yourself in Potential Investors' Shoes with These 4 Tips

When it comes to securing investment, the overwhelming challenge for most entrepreneurs comes from trying to determine how to make a convincing pitch. Fortunately, it does not have to be that difficult.

As an entrepreneur and MBA who was schooled in traditional investment raising, I have always been told that to find investment capital for your business, you needed a comprehensive business plan, detailing (among other things) S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), operations and marketing plans, and financial models showing projections, cash flow, return on investment, risk analysis, etc.

These days, I am working on a new startup idea with Startup.SC, a South Carolina startup business incubator that focuses on scalable technology companies. What I have learned over the past few weeks is that although there is no exact formula for successfully developing a pitch, start by asking yourself this simple question:

If you were an investor, what would you want to see in a pitch?

Quite simply, put yourself in the shoes of the investors you are pitching and focus on these things:

1. Customer acquisition, not revenue.

More than revenue projections, investors want to know how you are going to capture and retain customers. In a roundabout way, it is essentially the same thing (both deal with revenue), but while revenue projections can be formulaic and are for the most part completely pulled from the air, what speaks to investors is a clear, effective and executable plan for capturing customers and keeping them.

2. The jockey, not the horse.

Investors bet on jockeys, not horses. What investors want to see is that you are committed and able to fulfill the task of implementing your plan through challenges as well as successes, and that you are the type of person who is going to see it through to the end. Ultimately, a great idea is worthless without great execution. Prove that you are the person to carry out the vision.

3. Flexibility, not recipes.

You may have an idea of how you want to structure your company and your investments, but understand that every investor has different expectations, as do their partners and stakeholders.

4. Remember: Nobody wants to see you fail.

When negotiating with investors, entrepreneurs often get stuck in the wicked mind game of trying to determine who is making out the best. In reality, success depends mutually on two things: your passion and capabilities and your investors' money.

In the end, everyone loses if you fail, so it is in nobody’s best interest to create a situation that erodes any chance of success.

Additional Links:  

http://corlissonlinefinancialmag.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.pinterest.com/geraldhussen/corliss-online-financial-mag/

 

October 15 2014

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine on 4 Essential Money Mistakes Entrepreneurs Overlook

As I get rolling on a new startup with my partners at Startup.SC, a startup incubator in South Carolina, I am reminded of a few painful mistakes many entrepreneurs, myself included, make when starting a business.

Now, if you are starting a business, you probably have not put too much thought into how you are going to exit. There are, after all, countless considerations to make as you get started, from applying for business licenses, developing working prototypes to setting up your website. If you ever plan to sell your business or bring on investors to grow, how you run your business from the start is just as important.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to get started properly. Simply consider these four tips, often overlooked by most startup entrepreneurs.

1. Prepare your general ledger.

Setting up your accounting books may seem bland and tedious, especially for entrepreneurs without experience. Many rely on off-the-shelf accounting software, which provides general guidelines and templates to get you started. These are fine and completely acceptable for most startups, but to fully understand the financials of your company and, in the future, provide the evidence of the value you have built, you should give your set up careful consideration. Although a little pricey, it would benefit you to hire a professional when getting started.

2. Keep business business.

It is completely acceptable for entrepreneurs to pay for a variety of expenses with company funds, so long as those expenses meet the generally acceptable accounting standards (GAAP) for business expenses. Too many entrepreneurs, however, use company funds for personal use, trying to justify it with very liberal interpretations of GAAP or simply improperly reporting.

Not only could this get you in hot water with the IRS and open you up to a great deal of liability, it will be difficult in the future to separate these expenses when valuing your company. From the onset, it is best to just keep all personal expenses out of the business.

3. Report all revenues.

It is not difficult, and definitely enticing, to skim money from the business at the start, especially if you do most of your business in cash. Again, not only could this ultimately get you in trouble with the IRS, but it undervalues your business in the long run. It is going to be difficult to prove value and growth if you are not reporting real numbers from your business.

4. Keep careful records and receipts.

OK, excluding personal expenses and reporting all of your revenue just means giving more of your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam in terms of taxes. Not necessarily true. If you understand the extent of what you can expense and, more importantly, you keep copious records of your activity (both for audits and due diligence of potential buyers and investors), you can ultimately work down your taxable income without hurting the value of your company.

Grab yourself a good book or, better yet, find yourself a trusted professional advisor to learn how to best run your business this way.

I was part of a business team that looked at investing in businesses a number of years ago. It was not uncommon to meet an entrepreneur of a small business whose only proof of success and value was a shoebox full of cash. A few would emphasize that the company was paying for personal utilities, auto expenses and even groceries and that we should consider these expenses as part of the value.

The problem was that they often could not prove these claims satisfactorily because they had not accounted for them properly. In the end, it hurt the valuation of their company and gave us tremendous leverage during the negotiations.

Most entrepreneurs are not thinking about an exit when they are in the startup stages of a business. If you ever have a goal to divest or grow through investment, how you run your business before you start is just as important as after.

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October 13 2014

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine: 10 Things Liberals Believe the Government Does Well

Is there anything that big government does well? I mean sure, our military is really pretty practiced at breaking things and shooting people; which (I guess) explains why they are being sent to fight Ebola. (If that logic escapes you, don’t worry… I think a lot of us feel that way.) And yeah, the IRS is pretty good at separating me from my hard-earned money; but, then again, so is Banana Republic. At least Banana Republic has the good taste to compete for my cash.

This basic question (“What does big government do well”) seems to confound liberals. We on the right have been asking it for decades… And we still haven’t been able to solicit a single honest answer from defenders of of the state. In fact, satire, sarcasm, and a little incredulity, is the general response from our esteemed colleagues on the other side of the ideological divide. I did, however, receive a list of “ten things government does well” from someone over the weekend. Of course, I couldn’t help but share it (and a few observations of my own) with the rest of the world:

Things that Government does well

(According to someone who I assume is a card-carrying member of Obama & Company):

1. Protecting our freedom

So that little dust-up in the 1770s was because government was just protecting our freedoms too vigorously?

2. Giving away land to common people

Um… What property are we talking about here? Because as far as I know, the government isn’t actually a “producer” of land – which tells me that the land it gives away to “common people” was first confiscated from someone else… Sure, government has turned “redistribution” into an art form, but I don’t think the forcible confiscation and redistribution of land coexists real well with “number one” on this list.

3. Educating everyone

The national graduation rate is a mere 75 percent; and only half of U.S. adults can name all three branches of government… Watch a few “fan interviews” of the Jersey Shore, and then keep a straight face while telling me that government has done a great job educating our youth.

4. Helping us retiring with dignity

Because nothing is more dignified than depending on a paternalistic government Ponzi-scheme for financial security in your golden years, right?

5. Improving public health

Ebola. (And on the off-chance that you’re still not skeptical, here’s another one-word answer: Healthcare.gov.)

6. Building our transportation network

Federal data shows there are roughly 63,000 “structurally deficient” bridges in the US. Of course, this doesn’t even skim the surface of roadways that are deteriorating on a daily basis. Heck, on my way to the convenience store, I routinely have to dodge a pothole that has the capability of swallowing my Jeep Rubicon. And all of this deterioration is despite the massive amount of time and energy our state, local, and federal governments have dedicated to “stimulating” the economy with a little rush-hour timed construction work. (I actually have a running theory that my home state has no storage unit for traffic cones… After all, that’s the only logical reason for blocking off a four mile stretch of a major interstate so crews can repaint 25 foot of the HOV merging lane.)

7. Investing in communications

Sure, the government owns the radio frequencies… Too bad they haven’t been able to develop a dependable way to alert President Obama to impending scandals before the media breaks a story.

8. Building our energy supply

Because nothing says “efficient use of taxpayer funds” quite like a bankrupt green-energy company in California.

9. Inventing the future (NASA)

Wait… “Inventing” or “investing”? Because last time I checked, “Muslim outreach” wouldn’t necessarily fall under either one of those categories. (Well… Unless our defense against ISIS is far worse than even conservatives fear.)

10. Defeating totalitarianism

Right. So government is super effective at killing the effects of overbearing government. This makes total sense.

 

October 10 2014

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine: Trust Facebook for investing advice? Not Yet

Social media and financial advice aren’t such an easy match after all.

Sure, the initial attraction is obvious. With one stroke, advisers can woo clients with regular investment tips on Facebook and Twitter, building an audience and drumming up business. Then, after establishing a rapport with their followers, they can follow up with one-on-one video conferencing to clients on Skype or FaceTime without leaving their screens.

But back up a minute.

Old-fashioned, face-to-face communication is still key, advisers say, even for those who use social media extensively. In-person meetings are a must to glean nuances about risk tolerance and financial needs that clients may not even realize about themselves, let alone be able to communicate. Worse, pat advice on Facebook and Twitter can run the risk of looking like a hot tip and other worthless advice littering some investment websites.

So, how best to proceed on social media? Here are some things to consider:

1. Set the right tone

Being on social media is about “being where the people are. It’s about being engaged, sincere, genuine and contributing something of value. And over time, you build relationships,” said Will Britton, a financial adviser in Kingston.

For him, social media is a place to begin a conversation. For instance, he hopes to open dialogues with his regular roundup of stories from financial media, acting as a mini news service for people following him on Twitter. By linking to these stories and affixing his Twitter tag, he’s effectively handing out electronic business cards to the world.

“My presence [on social media] is enough for people to know what I do professionally. There’s certainly some professional content, whether it’s sharing links to worthwhile articles or videos or stuff that I come across.”

It’s a faux pas, though, to look like someone selling something, he said.

“I try to stay away from overt marketing, A) because we get into compliance issues from an industry point of view, and B) I just don’t think that that’s what the people on those platforms want anyway. They’re looking for connections and conversations and engagement. They’re not looking for spam and ads and ‘Come buy this from me,’” he said.


2. Differentiate between public and private

Investment professionals need to draw a clear line between public and private, a line that’s not always clear in social media, nor in real life.

Take this easy scenario: a conversation at a children’s hockey game. In the stands, parents inevitably get to talking. Often the topic will turn to money and, sooner or later, an investment pro such as Mr. Britton will have to mention that he’s a financial adviser.

That’s when another parent may get serious and ask a direct question about the family’s finances. That’s when the informal conversation needs to stop and continue in private. It’s best to think of social media as a giant referral service for investment advisers, he said.

“I think a lot of the time, people definitely aren’t going to the Yellow Pages [to find advisers], and I don’t even know if they’re going to Google any more,” he said. “They are crowdsourcing that information. They’re going to their community, wherever it is, whether it’s online or off, and saying, ‘Hey, does anyone know a good financial planner?’”


3. Social media still isn’t seen as a replacement for traditional financial news sources

There’s skepticism surrounding social media as an information source in the investment community.

Institutional investors remain particularly wary, according to a global poll by communications network AMO conducted in January this year. Their survey of 105 institutional investors in 12 countries found that 85 per cent feel that social media sites are generally not reliable for financial news.

Yet, at the same time, they also indicate a future for it, with 82 per cent saying that social media is growing in importance in financial communications. Thirty-nine per cent of these are prone to looking at investment forums for work regularly or occasionally, and 28 per cent consult them under exceptional circumstances. LinkedIn was the most popular of the social media sites, with 59 per cent consulting it at some point, although a large 41-per-cent segment reported never using it professionally. About 46 per cent reported ever consulting Twitter professionally.

Similarly for retail investors, an online survey in August of 2013 for BMO InvestorLine found that social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, were still slow to be seen as reliable investment-news vehicles. Only a third of the 1,020 Canadian investors surveyed said they use social media for investment insights.

In comparison, 69 per cent of those investors surveyed said they found TV current events and business news trustworthy, and 55 per cent said the same for newspapers and magazines. So linking to more traditional news sources may still be a good habit for advisers online, rather than linking to blogs, forums or other social media.

All of this suggests that social media continues to make inroads, but it still has a way to go.


4. Organize online advising more effectively

Victor Godinho, a financial planner in Toronto and still in his early twenties, sees social media as perfectly suited to the 20- to 40-year-old crowd he caters to. Every Friday, he posts a financial tip on his social media sites, from Instagram and Facebook to Twitter and Pinterest. He has a client in Ottawa with whom he conferences on Skype.

Yet he adds that Skype and social media require a more effective use of time, rather than just chatting for an hour in his office. “You need to keep their attention [online], or you need to make sure they’re on the same page as you, considering you’re in two different locations.”

It’s a supplement to in-person meetings. “Every year when we do our annual review, we’ll meet in person,” he said, and “when you’re in-person, you’re inclined to talk more than just business.”

But for a video conference, advisers need to send clients documents ahead of time. Time onscreen needs to be managed more efficiently, and the meeting needs to move along at a faster speed. More pre-planning is required to make the meeting more effective. It requires a different communication skill, with a focus on not wasting time.

“If you can make that easier on your client, that’s the best thing you can do,” Mr. Godinho said.



About Corliss Online Financial Mag

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag is a stock-market education website designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. Corliss Group Online Financial Mag does this in a manner easy to understand and uses only relevant and essential information required to trade shares on the stock market.

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag was formed because of the lack of stock-market-related websites that impart the steps required to begin trading safely; thus, our step-by-step guide to buying shares.

August 23 2014

Corliss Online Financial Mag Investing in small business ventures

What can an individual who lives on a small salary do to invest and augment his income somehow? Here are some tips to follow:

1. Invest in something close to your heart

Whether it is in music or cooking, investing in a small venture will have a greater chance of surviving and even achieving reasonable success if it involves doing something close to your heart or within your experience as a person or as a worker. If you work as a waiter, why not learn as much as you can about some way of improving a recipe or a drink and come up with your own sideline you, or with a partner, can run during weekends or after work?

We hear this advice often and yet not many take it to heart or are brave enough to actually do it. Many feel it takes too much effort and money to start a business. This is not true, in general. Making a single unique jacket or fashion accessory and selling it can be the one step you need to encourage yourself to make more. Even a used item such as a broken sofa, if repaired and furbished to look attractive might bring you some income you never thought you could have from what you already have.

Oftentimes, all it takes is a lot of imagination and a dose of courage to jump right ahead on a new venture you never tried before.

2. Learn the basic math

Any business, small or big, will depend largely on good and proper basic accounting. Learning the fundamental methods of bookkeeping will go a long way to controlling the flow of resources and understanding the nature of your business finance. We all knew about the Chinese who, for many centuries, used the abacus to make sure they got the entire math figured out. With the calculator or the PC today, the job has become even easier and more efficient as we can keep records as well of our transactions.

Still, there are other tricks we can avail of to make the task easy and more enjoyable. Finger-Math can be a tool one can learn and use during those hectic moments when technology Is not around to your aid. Mental math is a trick we can also develop to enhance our acuity in this area. Whatever suits your personality and style, make sure the math is a primary focus in your business. Remember, math is but a tool to make your work easier; but loving the work can make a lot of difference in how you conduct the business.

3. Know you product

Knowing your product is as important as how much you price it eventually. You may have a good round figure for your product’s price; but if you have not truly known your product (what it directly provides, what value it adds to its user, how it can be enhanced beyond its basic use), you will not fathom its true worth for you and for your customer.

Knowing your product goes beyond appreciating its innate value. Peanut butter is not just for making bread taste better or eating by itself. It can also be used for adding flavour to other recipes or with other food (try it with banana). And unless you tell people it can be used as so, they will never discover its other uses. Advertising or showing it in your packaging can be the step you need to do to enhance your product’s value and appeal as well as its price.

4. Know your customers

Not all people will want to buy your product or service. How to change their mind is the challenge you must never give up on. Changing your approach may allow you to capture certain customers you know patronize other brands. Price reduction, although it is not always the best thing to do or other come-ons, such as giveaways or freebies, may help promote your product in certain market locations you wish to capture.

Talking to people and being sensitive to their needs will help you get a clearer picture of your prospective customers.

5. Know your competitors

Knowing your customers will teach you how to appreciate and know your competitors indirectly as well. If you feel your product is better than your competitors and yet you cannot break into the bigger share of the market , then there must be something wrong with your product or your marketing approach.

Companies who have been in the business for many years have a lot to teach you how to go about your own venture. Get as much information from them directly through visiting their stores and factories or indirectly through reading books, magazines and websites.

6. No matter how many competitors you have, you can still join in if you are unique

Unless every corner in your area has a small variety store, you can still put up your own as long as you provide a unique feature in your business. Delivering your product while others wait for buyers can be your advantage in these busy times. Or, you can have orders picked up at certain times to encourage people to buy fresh vegetables, fruits or meat, for instance. The trick is to make your customers feel special and given a personal touch. Adding something nobody else provides may be the advantage you need to keep the competitors behind.

7. Find out what works for you and your product

Eventually, you will have to experiment and make a lot of mistakes as to how you can improve your product, your price and your style of operation. But things will change as economic and social realities also change ad adapting creatively will allow you to stay afloat. Being prepared for such eventualities ahead of others will help you reduce risks and manage your business well.

In the end, running a business may take more and more of your time and may lead you to give up your day-job. If you feel the time is right, then go ahead. Most business-people started that way. Make up your mind at the very start that the option is always present. It is just a matter of time when you will take the brave jump.

July 20 2014

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine: Essential Money Tips for New College Grads

Graduation is the theme all around my neighborhood. It is a time of excitement and big dreams. Unfortunately in most cases, personal financial sense is not a taught at college.

Once out of college, going from living broke to a big paycheck every month can easily encourage lifestyle inflation and a downward spiral of bad financial habits. Hence, it is essential to establish a good personal finance foundation to avoid getting trapped in a lifetime of debt. Here is a checklist I would hand over to a new graduate to make sure they start on the right path.

Earn

Learn to network efficiently: Invest time in networking. Learn about your colleagues. Find a mentor and build relationships at every level, both above and below yours.

Start a case study file: By "case study file," I mean make a list of all your accomplishments rather than a list of projects you worked on. For example: Cut 20 percent of production costs while maintaining the same product quality. Include information on which project and what you did to achieve that. This will be of great use in many situations like an annual review, a salary negotiation or a new job search. In addition, keep your resume updated at all times.

Promote your personal brand: As a job candidate, 86 percent of potential employers will look at your social profiles, so spend some time cleaning up all your social media profiles.

Spend

Create a budget: You might feel like you are flush with cash going from a student's pay to a full-time-job's pay. Create a budget even before you get your first paycheck. Continue as much as possible to live like a student and set money aside for your future goals.

Save

Pay yourself first: The first bill you should pay each month should be to you. Before you pay for your groceries, before you pay your mortgage, before you do anything else, put money aside in your savings. Most people will wait to pay all the bills and save the money left over. It is fine in theory, but the problem is there is almost never anything left over. If you pay yourself first, even if it seems impossible initially, you will learn to live with what is left over. This way you will always spend less than you earn.

Borrow a book or two on finances: Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with as much personal finance knowledge as possible. I recommend "I Will Teach You to be Rich" by Ramit Sethi, if you are just starting out.

Start an emergency fund: Establish a rainy day fund as soon as possible. Start with $1,000 to cover small emergencies, then move on to saving 'X' number of months' expenses to make sure a sudden job loss or illness won't put you in debt.

Think five and ten years ahead: Right now your 20-year-old self might say that you are never going to get married or you will always be renting. But in five or ten years, it is very likely you would have changed your mind completely. Do yourself a favor and start saving for standard goals anyway -- a wedding, down payment for a house, or your dream vacation. If you don't end up spending money on a wedding, you can always reallocate it to another goal.

Invest

Get started today: Time is the most powerful ally when it comes to investing. Many people keep waiting to learn everything about investing to start. Don't get stuck on debate minutiae. Get started with some basic, low expense, index funds -- total stock market or life-cycle funds. As you learn more about investing, you can adjust them accordingly.

Don't pass up free money: If your company offers a 401(k) plan, especially with matching funds, take full advantage of it. Sign up to contribute the maximum. That way you will never see the money in your wallet, you won't miss the money, and you won't be tempted to spend it.

Borrow

Manage your debt: If you have student loans or credit card debt, pay them off aggressively, starting with the highest interest rate loan.

Avoid consumer debt: I do not believe credit cards are evil, but they are not for everyone. Understand the pros and cons of credit cards. Do not buy things you cannot afford. If you want something, save for it.

Build your credit: Unless you are determined to pay everything in cash, you need decent credit to get a good interest rate on your loan, whether a car loan or a mortgage. Even if you are in the cash camp, it is still a good idea to maintain a great credit score as it is now used by utility and insurance companies to give you preferred rates.

Protect

Insure adequately: When you are in your 20s, you might feel invincible and be tempted to skip health insurance to save money. Don't! Accidents happen, and so do sudden illnesses. If your company offers health insurance, that is most likely the cheapest option. If you are under 26, you can also check the cost of insurance as a dependent on your parents' plan. If you are single with no dependents, you probably don't need life insurance, unless you have a loan that someone else co-signed for, if that is the case, insure yourself at least to cover that loan amount.

Nobody cares more about your money than you do. By setting up a good financial foundation, you are setting yourself up for success.

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July 10 2014

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine - Top 7 Financial Tips From Nancy J. Lapointe, Navigate Financial

I was asked at a social wine event, “What are the most important tips you have learned that people typically don’t know, but need to know?”   That is a loaded question and very subjective.  Basically, you are asking me what I think people need to know and giving me permission to get on my high horse.  That sounds like fun!

1. At age 70 ½, Required Minimum Distributions are not an option on some IRAs.  You have to take the distribution. However, you do not have to spend the money.

2. Credit cards are loans and could have very high interest rates.  Avoid paying credit card interest.

3. Income is income and money is money, so leaving money in a low interest account, while paying a high interest credit card seldom makes sense, even if the money in the low interest account came from your Grandmother.  Pay yourself back at zero interest and get rid of the credit card interest.

4. A Home Equity Line of Credit is not an emergency fund.  It is an open loan with interest and it must be paid back.  It is a good stop gap measure as you build up a proper emergency fund for you situation.  An emergency fund needs to be accessible and be cash or cash equivalent.  An emergency is an event out of your control such as accidents, illness, etc.

5. An emergency is not paying your property taxes or getting new tires.  Those are expenses of living and you should plan for these types of costs.

6. A car is a mode of transportation and not a reflection on your self esteem. Be reasonable in buying depreciating assets.

7. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Professional and a Broker are not interchangeable.  If the CFP® Professional is practicing according to the CFP Board of Standards, he or she is consistently striving to integrate the client’s plans with the client’s activities.  A broker is trained to manage investments and to focus on performance and investment related opportunities.

Nancy LaPointe is a financial advisor located at Navigate Financial, 4520 Intelco Loop SE, Suite 1D, Lacey WA 98503. She offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. She can be reached at 360-628-8175. This communication is strictly intended for individual residing in the states of AZ, CA, GA, IA, MT, NM, OH, OR, WA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products  and services.

June 15 2014

Financial Blog Corliss Group Cybercrime Could Cost Global Economy Over $500 Billion

McAfee report paints grim picture of lucrative industry, despite incomplete data.

Cybercrime could be costing the global economy as much as $575 billion annually, according to a new report from McAfee.

The Intel-owned security company based its estimate on a range of sources, from government agencies to NGOs and academic institutions, counting both direct and indirect costs.

The report, Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime explained the methodology as follows:

“This study assumes that the cost of cybercrime is a constant share of national income, adjusted for levels of development. We calculated the likely global cost by looking at publically available data from individual countries, buttressed by interviews with government officials and experts. We looked for confirming evidence for these numbers by looking at data on IP theft, fraud, or recovery costs. In addition to a mass of anecdotes, we ultimately found aggregate data for 51 countries in all regions of the world who account for 80% of global income. We used this data to estimate the global cost, adjusting for differences among regions.”

However, the vendor cautioned that “differences in the thoroughness of national accounting”, as well as underreporting of incidents and the difficulty of valuing IP all make calculations an imprecise art.

High income countries lost more as a percentage of GDP, which could be because they have better accounting systems in place and/or that their IP is more valuable and therefore a bigger target for criminals.

The $575bn figure therefore comes from extrapolating a global total from high loss countries. It could be as low as $375bn if McAfee had extrapolated from “all countries where we could find open source data”.

On the other hand, the figure would be $445bn if the firm aggregated costs as a share of regional incomes, it said.

Whatever the final figure, it’s clear that richer countries in Europe, North America and Asia lost the most, because they are bigger targets and provide a better return on investment for the hacker. For example, G20 countries are said to have lost $200bn to cybercrime.

The UK, at 0.16%, had one of the lowest losses to cybercrime as a percentage of GDP, while the US (0.64%), came just ahead of China (0.63%) but trailed the most affected G20 nation: Germany (1.6%).

McAfee warned that as more businesses and consumers move online and more devices connect to the internet of things, cybercrime will continue to grow. IP theft, a “tax on innovation” will also increase as those countries which acquire it become more adept at building a competitive advantage.

Aside from calling for improvements to technology and defences, the report urged governments to work harder on creating best practice cybersecurity standards and cross-border law enforcement agreements.

It added that they must do a better job on accounting for cybercrime losses to provide a more comprehensive picture on where deficiencies lie.

For the record, McAfee's report last year estimated cybercrime losses of $100-500bn annually.

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