tips and tricks

Archive for the ‘tips and tricks’ Category

Making The Stock Market Work For You

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The savvy investor is able to make money in any market, up, down or neutral. He is also able to effectively use the money that he already has invested in the stock market to make more money.

Below are some of the ways in which you can effectively use money that you already have in the stock market to make you richer:

1) Invest an appropriate percentage of your portfolio in dividend stocks. 

The blue-chip dividend stocks that holds its value is one of the best investments that any stock market investor can make. These investments hold the value of the portfolio and give the investor the freedom to take more speculative risks with other investments.

The holy grail of dividend investing is a blue-chip company that does not ever slash its dividend. These companies can easily be found, as there are many websites dedicated to the specific purpose of monitoring the best dividend stocks.

2) Manage risk with your more speculative investments. 

Once you have the basis of your portfolio set in stone, you can begin the process of really living your money by a managed portfolio of speculative investments. The word “speculative” in and of itself sometimes conjures up negative images to the unseasoned investor. However, the word is simply use two separate different classes of investments. Properly managed, any group of investments has the ability to work out quite well over the long term for an investor.

Penny stocks are one of those speculative investments that require risk management in order to work. However, the best penny stocks are just as reputable as the best blue-chip companies. The only difference is that newer companies often have not had the time to establish themselves within their industries. There are also many websites dedicated to the best penny stocks to buy. Make sure that you are filtering the information that you take as objective, and you will do quite well with the speculative investments that have the ability to make you more money than investments with less exposure to the market.

3) Take advantage of stock splits and other moneymaking events. 

Many people miss out on easy money because they do not read the reports that are sent to them by companies and brokerage houses. Very often, these reports contain valuable information about stock splits and givebacks that simply require a signature or a return letter in order to implement.

When it comes to dabbling in the stock markets, knowledge is always power and you should never be afraid to research stocks as well as trends in the markets.  While it may seem intimidating, investing in the stock markets can have incredibly high returns that can pay off in terms of your retirement.  So instead of shying away from the stocks, consider responsibly giving it a go.

Sometimes You Have To Ask For What You’re Entitled To

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

My phone and internet connection have both been problematic since last Thursday.  We at first thought the phone problem was something to do with our own phone receiver, but then realized that it was affecting the internet as well (we have a bundled phone/internet/cable package all from the same provider) so, it being a service issue, called our provider to fix it.  They came on Monday morning, and thought they fixed the problem, but in fact, ended up making it worse.  Eventually they realized it was a bigger problem than just our house, and by Tuesday afternoon it was finally fixed.

The problem started out being intermittent outages, but by Monday became a continual problem that gave us zero service for the next 36 hours.  When I talked to the service representative on the phone, I asked if we were going to get a credit on our bill for the time we were without service.  She said yes, BUT.  To receive a billing credit, we would have to call the billing office and request it with our ticket number from our repair request.

We wouldn’t just get a credit automatically, even though they knew there was a problem, and I found that incredibly annoying and somewhat deceptive.  I am sure this is so that they don’t have to give out credits very often.  Most people probably wouldn’t call and request a credit on their bill for an outage, because they wouldn’t know they needed to.  But I am not fond of paying for service I am not receiving.  So call I did, and after a short discussion was credited for 5 days of phone and internet service (from when we reported the problem until it was finally resolved).

So if your service is interrupted – research your options.  Don’t pay for what you don’t have.

You Don’t Need That! 8 Tricks For Impulse Control

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

You walk into Babies R Us, armed with a big coupon off cases of diapers that makes the per diaper cost a sale like you’ve never seen before. You buy two cases of diapers, but also pick up a few things off the clearance rack. You might not need them, but they were cute and such a steal

Does this sound like you? It might not be diapers, but do you walk into a store to buy a specific item that is a great deal, but walk out with four other things you didn’t mean to buy? This type of impulse buying basically completely negates (or worse) any sort of savings you have from seeking out the initial deal. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone – it describes me too, until I realized that I was destroying my initial savings with my extra purchases. Babies R Us was one place I would go for a specific item and buy other things I really didn’t need, but it doesn’t stop there. As I was munching my chocolate skittles (so NOT as good as I thought they would be, by the way) as I walked out of the grocery store last week, I realized my impulse buying affects my sale shopping everywhere.

So, what to do? We have to shop, after all, even if we limit it as much as possible, it would be near impossible to completely avoid stores ever. Here are some ideas on how to stop buying impulsively and preserve your budget at the same time:

  1. Know the store. Know where things are located, and go right to them. Don’t browse.
  2. If you don’t know the store, ask immediately. Find a salesperson when you first walk in, and ask the location of what you need. Then go there.
  3. Have a list. Stick to the list.
  4. Avoid endcaps, clearance racks, and other sale areas, unless it involves something on your list.
  5. Go through your cart and put things back before you check out.
  6. Better yet, don’t use a cart. If you can carry what you came in for, don’t give yourself a cart and space to add extras.
  7. Be accountable to someone. A spouse, a family member, a friend, the internet… someone. If you have to own up to your impulses, you may be better about resisting them. My spouse is still making fun of me and the chocolate skittles…
  8. Give yourself a financial incentive for not buying impulsively.  Since I am paying down debt, I would pay an equal amount of my credit card debt off as I spent cash impulsively.  Now, I need to start doing that with the student loan payoff fund.

Remind yourself that if you buy something extra that you wouldn’t have bought elsewhere – you’ve just destroyed your savings in being a smart shopper. Resist the impulses, buy what you need and not what you want, and keep on saving money at those sales.

Craigslist Vs eBay

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I had a comment last week on one of my older posts about selling items on Craigslist asking me what I thought about Craigslist and eBay, and when to use which service to sell your unneeded or unwanted belongings. I haven’t been using either lately, and I have not used eBay anywhere near as much as I used Craigslist in the past, but I have had some success using both services. I’ve put together a little rundown of what I think of each, what I’d recommend using each for, and the pros and cons I’ve encountered. I am by no means an expert, but I do like to get rid of things and get paid to do so, which is basically the requirement for using them. :)

To me, Craigslist is a way to try and unload anything. It is free, so you basically can list whatever you want, and if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t a big deal. It just costs you the time it took to list the ad. Which, in my experience, is pretty minimal. I like to include a picture of the item I am selling, so that takes a little longer, but still, my time investment is small. You set the price you want to sell the item for, and Craigslist provides an anonymous email listing, so you can screen potential buyers and just not respond to people who send you annoying responses. One of the cons is that you may need to give out your address to have someone collect their item. I have gotten around this by choosing to meet people in public places unless the item was too big for me to transport, and also having other people home than me when I have someone come to my house. But most often, I met people in a parking lot of a busy shopping center or store. Using Craigslist, I have gotten rid of many items that I never thought I would, such as unused bottles of lotion, baby bottles, miscellaneous toys and baby clothes, and other such items. The other con, for me, is that since I don’t want to have people generally come to my house, the items I am selling have to be expensive enough to warrant the gas it will take for me to drive somewhere to meet someone. That also puts a limit on how small and random the items I sell can be. And, since it is free, some buyers don’t take things seriously and completely flake out on you. Which, to me, is annoying. So, in summary:

  • Craigslist Pros:
    • Can list anything for free
    • Small time investment
    • Can get rid of things you never thought you might
    • You can set your price, and refuse to sell for less
  • Craigslist Cons:
    • Might have people come to your house
    • If not meeting at your house, have to use gas to get to location
    • People are flaky

A final tip about Craigslist – this is a local service, so use it locally. Don’t respond to random people trying to get you to ship items here there and everywhere. Most likely, that is a scam of some sort. If you want to ship items, use a service where you’ll get your maximum audience – like eBay.

eBay has a wider audience, since it is not local service. This means that you’ll get more eyeballs on your items, and you can potentially sell for a bigger profit if things get bid up. However, since it is an auction service, if you want to set a minimum price for your item, that will cost you more. Which leads to a major con for me – it costs money to list on eBay. I don’t mind having to pay if the item sells, but even if you don’t sell your item, you have to pay a fee. You do get to relist for free, but I have had items that didn’t sell even with the free relisting, so I was still out the initial money to list the item. It is pretty easy to list items here as well – I found it took me more time than Craigslist but with practice I might have gotten better. However, you don’t want to list just anything – you want it to sell. You can search eBay for similar listings and what things have sold before, which is another plus – you can get a good idea of what might sell and what its value is. You also will have to ship items to buyers unless you choose to only sell for local pickup, and the item has to be worth someone wanting to pay for shipping for them to buy it. So that eats into your profit margin a little bit – a person isn’t going to buy an item worth $3 usually for $3 plus $5 shipping. And if an item is very large, you might not be able to find anyone willing to pay to have it shipped unless it is very valuable. So, in summary:

  • eBay Pros:
    • Wide audience
    • Search for past sales and current sales
  • eBay Cons:
    • Costs money to list
    • Have to ship items

On a personal level, I’ve had more success with Craigslist, but I have also have used it a lot more. I have only listed a handful of items on eBay, and although the items I sold there did sell for more than I had gotten for similar items on Craigslist, including the hassle of shipping and also having other items not sell, I didn’t make much more of a profit in the end using eBay than I did with Craigslist. For someone running a business, this would be different, but if you are simply trying to sell a few items to get them out of your house, and you aren’t setting up your own resale empire, Craigslist may be the way to go. But if you have unique or valuable items that are easily shippable and you want to get the best price for them, you may want to try eBay first. Good luck earning some snowflakes!

Do Not Get An Economic Stimulus Refund Anticipation Loan!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Over the past few weeks, I have been getting more and more searchers landing on my blog with the terms “refund anticipation loan economic stimulus“. And if what that means is that people are looking for a way to get a refund anticipation loan for their economic stimulus check, I just have one word to say:

Don’t.

First off, the IRS doesn’t even allow refund anticipation loans for the economic stimulus (code 0248), which means that you can’t just go down to your local tax preparer and request one. They can’t help you with that, and guarantee that they’ll get your stimulus check. Not that the idea of a refund anticipation loan is a good one under any circumstance, but you can’t even get this one through the normal channels.

Am I saying it is impossible to get a “stimulus anticipation loan”? No, because I am sure that where there is a demand, there will be a supply. Maybe payday loan places will offer them. I don’t know. But I know it is a bad idea.

Please, wait for your check. Keep all of your money instead of giving some of it to whomever you get a loan through. There’s a schedule on this post of when you’ll get your check, approximately. Don’t spend the money before you have it. Just wait for the check – it will be here soon enough.