It’s virtually impossible to know what size home you can afford if you aren’t fully aware of how much money you are earning and how much you are spending each month.

Start with your income: How much do you bring home after taxes and retirement plan contributions?

Next, look at your expenses: What are your necessary expenses? How much are you paying each month toward your debt? What additional expenses do you have that wouldn’t be deemed “necessary?” How much money do you have left (if any)?

This will help you see how much breathing room is in your current budget, what expenses might be on the chopping block and the space you have for additional home and mortgage expenses when buying a home.
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Here are a few money management pointers for women. Are there any aha moments for you when you read this list? Post your comment!

Tip 1: Balancing your cheque book is not rocket science
Contrary to what women believe or in many cases are lead to believe by the male influences in their lives, it is not difficult to work out personal finances. The basic principle is not unbelievably complex. What is paid into your account should cover what you pay out.

Spend what you have. In fact preferably not all you have, put some away. But start with balancing the incoming and outgoing as your first baby step towards financial intelligence.

And if that means cutting up the credit cards, then do so right now. If you cannot afford to pay the full amount due on your credit card at the end of the month, then you have a problem. You are trying to eat more than you have.

2) Take care of your own money
In line with balancing your own cheque book, let’s also understand then that you do not need to abdicate the money management function to anybody else. Regardless of what your father, uncle, partner et al says, guess what – you can do it yourself.

Just because you are a woman does not mean you are incapacitated, even handicapped, when it comes to working with your money. This you might have heard your father say often. Mother doesn’t know how to manage money; I can’t leave it to her.

Do not believe this. You can do the money sums. Trust yourself on this score. And in case you might not be able to add up to ten, go and do a course and learn.

3) Treat your money with respect
Where does it say in the handbook on life that you should throw your money at rubbish? You don’t need that expensive hair cut, the designer jeans, the brand spanking new car.
Because guess what. Nobody cares.
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wall-street-signBefore Wall Street and the media combined to make investors think of calendar quarters as “short-term” and single years as “long-term”, market cycles were used as true tests of investment strategies over the long haul. Bor-ing.

There were four types of standard analysis used by most financial institutions, Peak-to-Peak, and Peak-to-Trough being the most common found in annual reports. There were also basic differences in purpose and perspective in the old days, and a focus on results vs. reasonable expectations for actual portfolios.

Even more boring, and not nearly as profitable for “the wizards” as today’s super Trifecta, instant gratification, speculative, mentality.

Portfolio performance analysis was intended to be a test of management style and overall methodology, not a calendar year horse race with one of the popular averages. The DJIA was (I believe) originally conceived as an economic indicator, not as a market-performance measuring device.

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Investment markets got you down, Bunkie? Been blown away by derivative stun guns? When will portfolio market values move back to 2007 levels— and then what will you do about it?

It’s time to overthrow the evil Masters of the Universe and deactivate their weapons of financial destruction. Let’s outlaw the brainwashing that has changed how average investors look at and value their investment portfolios.

It’s time to exorcize the Wall Street demons and return to stocks and bonds— and to QDI, “the Force” for long-term investment portfolio security.

Speculating is complicated, even for financial rocket scientists. What most of us want (or would certainly settle for) is simplicity, stability, and reasonable growth in our productive working capital.

A return to plain vanilla investing strategies with operating procedures that minimize risk and encourage understanding of the financial markets needs to become part of our financial force field.

As bad as things have been since this black hole appeared, investment models true to fundamental concepts, simple strategies, and disciplined operating rules have probably bettered the market numbers in at least six important ways:

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indian_shares_zoom_180509Expectedly, after the resounding victory by the Congress Party in the general elections, markets skyrocketed as soon as the opening bell was sounded; eyeing a windfall in terms of government spending in a host of sectors to pump-prime the economy.

The sentiment was so strong in the trading community and the going was so good on the BSE Sensex that it reached the 17.24 per cent gain mark in no time, forcing the authorities to temporarily halt trading, when the circuit breaker* kicked in.

The same story repeated itself on the National Stock Exchange where the trading was also halted with the Nifty up by 17.33 per cent.

Within seconds of trading, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex vaulted 2,110.79 points, or 17.3 percent, to 14,284.21, triggering the historic shutdown Monday. Infrastructure, banking and real estate companies led gains. Trade was forced to close for the day, after the Congress Party’s definitive victory in national elections set the scene for long-delayed economic reforms

“The big question – is it a game changer? Can India get back to the high growth, high valuation of recent years? This event probably does open up meaningful possibilities, but there’s a lot to do, and there could be a lot in the way,” she said in a report.

Trading has never before been halted due to an upward swing in stock prices, according to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

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beckyquickwarrenbuffettA couple of days ago, I watched a short interview with the legendary investor Warren Buffett on an investment news channel. The interview was conducted shortly after the annual general meeting (AGM) of Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet said many interesting things—as he always does—but the really educational part of the interview was the contrast between the world that Buffett inhabits and the world that his interviewer seemed to come from.

It was like listening to members of two different species talk. If a fly (which lives for perhaps a few hours) and a tortoise (who can survive for a hundred years or more) had a conversation, it would probably sound like Buffett and that interviewer.

At one point, the interviewer asked Buffett to comment on how his companies would cope with the downturn. Buffett replied that things were certainly down at the moment but he expected them to be OK in three to five years. I could see that the mere mention of a time scale like three to five years had derailed the interviewer’s thought process. Coming as she did from a world where three to five hours or at most three to five days is the standard unit of time, the idea of an investor talking in years seemed to have thrown a spanner in her works.

Next, she pulled out the day’s newspaper and drew the old man’s attention to a news item that US unemployment was up to 700,000. She wanted to know what he thought of the news. Buffett said that he was sure that five years from now, the employment situation would be much better than it was today. Again, this epic timescale put an end to that line of questioning.
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buy-stocks-now1The right time to get back in the market may be just around the corner. With global economies sinking, sometimes dramatically, it can be a scary thought to put your hard-earned money on the line. However, a smart investor will realize that golden opportunities are appearing if proper research is done.

If you look at a long-term chart of the Dow Jones average, you will see that it is currently at some of the 2002-2003 levels. It has dropped dramatically since the financial collapse of 2008-2009, but it is still in familiar territory. It may take another two years or more for a large upswing in the markets, but at least we hope that the Dow will not drop below 7,000 points. That may bring hope and some peace of mind about starting to invest again.

Dollar Cost Averaging

The concept of Dollar Cost Averaging comes to mind in the current market situation. It is the process of buying stocks or similar investments on a regular basis, such as once a month, using a fixed amount of money. When prices are low, you are able to buy more shares. When prices are high, you buy fewer. In this way, you are able to take advantage of temporary low prices. This is especially helpful for long-term investments, such as retirement accounts. It may go against human nature to buy stocks when everything is falling and red but in fact it can lead to a bigger payoff if done correctly.
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The Working Capital Model (WCM) looks at investment performance differently, less emotionally, and without a whole lot of concern for short-term market value movements. Market value performance evaluation techniques are only used to analyze peak-to-peak market cycle movements over significant time periods.

Security market values are used for buy and sell decision-making. Working capital figures are used for asset allocation and diversification calculations. Portfolio working capital growth numbers are used to evaluate goal directed management decisions over shorter periods of time.

WCM tracking techniques help investors focus on long term growth producers like capital gains, dividends, and interest— the things that can keep the working capital line (see Part One) moving ever upward. The base income and cumulative realized capital gains lines are the most important WCM growth engines.

The Base Income Line tracks the total dividends and interest received each year. It will always move upward if you are managing your equity vs. fixed income asset allocation properly. Without adequate base income: 1) working capital will not grow normally during corrections and 2) there won’t be enough cash flow to take advantage of new investment opportunities.

The earlier you start tracking your dependable base income, the sooner you will discover that your retirement comfort level has little to do with portfolio market value.
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header_2Every correction is the same, a normal downturn in one or more of the markets where we invest. There has never been a correction that has not proven to be an investment opportunity. You can be confident that governments around the world are not going to allow another Great Depression “on their watch”.

Every correction is different, the result of various economic and/or political circumstances that create the need for adjustments in the financial markets.

While everything is down in price, as it is now, there is actually less to worry about. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

In this case, an overheated real estate market, an overdose of financial bad judgment, and a damn the torpedoes stock market, propelled by demand for speculative derivative securities and Hedge Funds, finally came unglued.

But it is the reality of corrections that is one of the few certainties of the financial world, one that separates the men from the boys, if you will. If you fixate on your portfolio market value during a correction, you will just give yourself a headache, or worse.

Few of the fundamental qualities that made your IGVSI securities sound investments just two years ago have permanently disappeared. We’ll be using credit cards, driving cars and motorcycles, drinking beer, and buying clothes twenty years from now. Very few interest payments have been missed and surprisingly few dividends eliminated.

Only the prices have changed, to preserve the long-term reality of things—and in both of our markets.
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earns_citigroupsffmi_embeddedprod_affiliate3Citigroup became the latest bank to post better than expected results for its first quarter. The bank on Friday said net income of $1.6 billion, compared with a loss of $5.11 billion in the quarter a year ago. Citigroup’s problems are far from over, but it had its best quarter since late 2007.

The bank reported a loss to common shareholders of $966 million after massive loan losses and dividends to preferred stockholders. But before paying those dividends, the bank had net income of $1.6 billion.

Overall, Citigroup’s results were better than expected. The company reported a loss per share of 18 cents, which was narrower than the 34 cents analysts predicted. A year ago, Citigroup suffered a loss of more than $5 billion, or $1.03 a share.

Citigroup’s revenue doubled in the first quarter from a year ago to $24.8 billion thanks to strong trading activity. Its credit costs were high, though, at $10 billion, due to $7.3 billion in loan losses and a $2.7 billion increase in reserves for future loan losses.

Citigroup has been one of the weakest of the large U.S. banks, posting quarterly losses since the fourth quarter of 2007. But in March, CEO Vikram Pandit triggered a stock market rally after he said that January and February had been profitable for Citigroup.
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