We have seen a number of dark days for stock markets all around the world in the past months. But how frightened should we be? Is the next Great Depression upon us? How can we distinguish a small crisis from a huge one? One way to deal with these questions and to calm our feelings of panic is to look closely at a single bad day. When we do that, the details can show us that the bigger picture may not be as bad as we fear, and, hopefully, quell our feelings of panic.

Let’s look back at September 29. On that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7% and the S&P dropped by 8.8%. The Dow’s declines were the largest since the 9/11 attacks, and the S&P had its worst day since Black Monday in 1987. Media headlines included comparisons to the “Crash of 1929” and even “The Great Depression,” but, in spite of all of this, were things really as bad as they seemed?

The first thing to do when we have a horrible day like this is to look at as many of the details as you can. Now, when you do this you should expect some bad news. But the real insight will come when you compare the details of a single bad day to the details of an even worse day that history has proven to be a true market crash.

So let’s put September 29 into perspective.

Before the US stock markets opened on that morning, bad news was already spreading. The financial crisis had reached Europe. Governments were forced to bail out the Belgium bank Fortis, the U.K. nationalized mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley, and Germany’s Hype Real Estate Holding. At home, Wachovia announced that it was in talks with several firms to be sold. Wachovia, in fact, did not fail, but scared customers had pulled their funds after Washington Mutual’s collapse.

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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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emergency-fund

In life you should expect the unexpected, and this is why you need an emergency fund. The best you can do is to prepare for emergencies that require access to additional money and having an emergency fund is the ideal solution.

None of us have the ability to foresee the future or predict the hurdles which lie ahead of us. This makes building an emergency fund a financial priority. People who are living on a lean-and-mean budget will have the toughest time setting aside money for emergencies. If it’s possible to squeeze out another $40 or $50 each month and put it in a money market account, it’s worth doing.

Establishing an emergency savings account is vital in good times and in bad. The purpose of the fund is to sock away three to six month’s living expenses. But this money could also be used when you’re staring at major, unplanned expenses such as a car breakdown or a leaky roof.

Housing a small rainy day fund should be a vital part of an individual’s financial goals. This is of high importance if you don’t already have readily available funds in your account for covering any unanticipated expenses. They provide financial security because they give you funds to fall back on if you become ill, or if you or your spouse loses your job, you incur large medical bills, or have an unexpected large bill such as a major car or home repair. You do not want to end up in a situation where you have to buy daily necessities on credit.

Saving your money in a small account for emergencies is definitely a better alternative to taking a loan or cashing in your long-term investments. If you take a loan, there is the additional burden of paying interest. Encashment of your investments before maturity means not only will you lose out the interest, but also some part of the original investment. This will also set you back significantly in your overall financial plan.

I echo the idea of treating the emergency fund as a bill, put the money away and don’t be tempted by the latest sale. Success at building an emergency fund depends on consistency of saving money on a regular basis and keeping this money separate from the general savings account. Otherwise you will be tempted to dip into these monies even if you simply run over your budget at a certain point.

The size of the special savings account will depend on your personal situation. I always advice my clients to keep between three to six months salary in the reserve. But you will have to decide on an appropriate amount based factors such as your Dependants and fixed monthly expenses.

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Stock prices reflect the trading decisions of many individuals and I have been thinking of starting a stock market prediction business. Clearly, there is a huge market for timely information of this type, and just as clearly, predicting the future is much easier than dealing with the realities of what is actually happening at the moment.

If investors could know what’s going to happen next, they could develop a plan to deal with it NOW; maybe Wall Street will help me get this new business up and running.

What’s that? Wall Street institutions already spend billions predicting future price movements of the stock market, individual issues & indices, commodities, and hemlines. Really? Is that right also? Economists have been analyzing and charting world economies for decades, showing clearly the repetitive cyclical changes and their upward bias.

Funny, or strange would be more accurate, that the advice generated by the oracle of Wall Street always assumes that the current environment, good or bad, will be everlasting. Isn’t it this kind of thinking that prolongs the downturns and “bubbles” the advances– in all markets?

If it were true that our favorite pinstriped product pushers can actually predict the future, why would investors do what they do in response to the predictions? Why would financial professionals holler: “sell” at lower prices, and “buy at any price” when market valuations surge upward?

Here’s some experienced advice that you will not find on the “street of dreams”: Sell into rallies. Buy on bad news. Buy slowly; sell quickly. Always sell too soon. Always buy too soon. And by the way, who do you think is buying and selling the securities you have been told to dump or to hoard?

No self respecting guru would ever refute the basic truth that the market indices, individual issue prices, the economy, and interest rates will always move in both directions… unpredictably and forever.

This is where you need to focus your attention if you want to get through the investment process with your sanity. You must expect and plan for directional change and learn to use it to your advantage. Tranquilizers may be necessary to get you through the first few cycles, but if you have minimized your risk properly, you can thrive on the long-term, and very predictable, volatility of the markets.

The risk of loss cannot be eliminated. A simple change in a security’s market value is not a loss of principal just as certainly as a change in the market value of your home is not evidence of termite damage. Markets are complicated, and emotions about one’s assets are even more so.

Cyclical changes in all markets are predictable conceptually, just as knowing approximately where you are within a cycle is knowable actually. The key is to understand what your securities are expected to do within the cyclical framework.

Predicting individual stock prices is a totally different ball game that requires a more powerful crystal ball and an array of semi legal and illegal relationships that are unavailable to most investors. There are just too many variables.

Prediction is impossible, but probability assessment has enormous potential. Investing in individual issues has to be done differently, and with rules, guidelines, and judgment. It has to be done unemotionally and rationally, monitored regularly, and analyzed with performance evaluation tools that are portfolio specific.

This is not nearly as difficult as it sounds, and if you are a shopper who looks for bargains elsewhere in your life, you should have no trouble understanding the workings of the stock market. There are only three decision-making scenarios that investors need to master if they want to predict long-term success for their portfolios.

The “Buy” decision has two important steps: Step one allocates the available investment assets, by purpose, between equity and income securities, based on the goals of the investment program. It is done best using a “cost” based model. Step two establishes strict selection quality measures and diversifies properly within each security class.

The “Sell” decision involves setting reasonable profit taking targets for every security in the portfolio. Loss taking decisions must not be undertaken out of fear, and must be avoided during severe market downturns. Understanding the forces causing market value shrinkage is important and a highly disciplined hand at the emotion control button is essential.

Market Value is a decision making assistant… buy lower & sell higher than you buy.

The “Hold” decision is most common, and it regulates and moderates the process, keeping it less than frantic. Continue to hold on to fundamentally strong equities and income securities that are providing their normal cash flow. Hold weaker positions until the appropriate cycle (market, interest, economy) changes direction, and then consider whether to sell or to buy more.

Wall Street spins reality in whatever manner it can to make most investors unhappy, thus increasing new product sales. Your confusion, fear, greed, impatience, and need for a quick panacea fuels their profit engines, not yours.

What will the new decade bring for employment and career prospects? An interesting set of statistics posted by the Bureau of Labour offers some insight into trends and provides information on where career and business opportunities might lie.
1) Management and consulting services

Leading the list of five industries with the largest wage and salary employment growth potential in the ten years from 2008 to 2018 is the category of management, scientific and technical consulting services.

The sector falls under professional and business and could see an increase of 82% in employment figures. It will certainly prove to be the decade for consultants and professional advisors.

2) Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities

There is no prize for reckognising this as a growth area for employment. This field, falling under health care and social assistance, is considered to grow by 73% in providing employment and business opportunities.

With the ageing population in almost all parts of the world, it is not difficult to see that providing care for elderly people will be a substantial growth industry. Furthermore, as civilisations become more aware of the rights of disabled people, this in turn will lead to more inclusive care facilities for disabled people.

Besides the trend towards mainstreaming disabled people in schooling and the work environment there is a further push to allow disabled people to live independent lives. This particular trend will lead to a growth in the category described in number three.

3) Home health care services

Another winner in the health care and social assistance sector is the home health care service industry. This is considered to have growth potential of 46% for wage and salary employment.

Allowing the elderly to remain at home and providing assistance with care will become a more humane way of dealing with frail people. Add to this the care of disabled people at home rather than at institutions and one can see this sector could be in for a growth in employment opportunities.

4) Computer system designs

Systems design and related services falling under professional and business sector is considered a growth area in terms of wage and employment and is said to be growing by up to 45% in the period under discussion.

Technological innovation will provide for a large scale requirement for computer systems. Every gadget has a computer chip and operating system. Designing these will allow for more employment. Could it mean that computer science should become a compulsory subject in schools?

5) Retail trade

The retail trade may be growing and showing an increase in wage and employment opportunities of 40% during the term under discussion. Some of this growth could be diversified though in that the retail sector is showing particular growth in the online environment.

Some parts of retail will migrate more towards the computer system design skills set and move away from stacking shelves and ringing up goods on a cash register. Either way, retail will employ more people.

These are some interesting trends and it might be advisable for young people and members of the older generation finding themselves without traditional jobs to focus on acquiring skills in any of the above industry sectors.

Debt has become a major issue in the life of the Americans. In order to resolve this problem the two most valuable results are either debt settlement company or filing bankruptcy. But before you opt for any one of the above mentioned programs you need to know the advantages and disadvantages that would help you to choose the right kind of plan that would suit your pocket.

Determine the depth of your debt:

1) Demand a copy of your credit report from the credit card companies.

2) Recheck the information provided on the statement of the credit card companies. Search for any incorrect entries regarding personal information, account which are not liable to you and even accounts which are actually paid in full but showing an out standing balance.

3) Keep a record of the credit score which is also known as Fair Issac Credit Organization (FICO) score. FICO has been named after a software that calculates the credit score. The average FICO score on the ascending side is 500.

4) Add up all the balances that are due from your credit accounts, loans, both the secured and unsecured loans and also include the collection account.

All these information would help you to decide to make a choice between a debt settlement program and filing for bankruptcy.


Keep a check on the monthly finances:

Prepare a spread sheet where you can incorporate all the credit information regarding the income and expenditure. If you file for bankruptcy you have to present the average monthly income and that too before 6 months filing for bankruptcy petition. In both the cases debt settlement program or filing bankruptcy requires the calculation of the monthly income. Make a separate spreadsheet for the monthly expenses like groceries, insurance, education related cost and so on.

Now subtract the total amount of expenditure from the total amount of income, the amount which would be left can be used to repay the debts you have incurred. If you have a zero balance or negative balance then it shows that you cannot afford to pay off the debt.

How do you know that debt settlement is right for you?

• See if you can pay off your debt with the current income. If your income is less then the amount of your expenses then be sure that debt settlement program is not a good solution for you. It won’t be able to deliver you out of this financial crisis. If your monthly income is more than your expenditure then the debt settlement company can guide you with debt solutions
• Calculate the total amount of credit card debt you owe and find out whether you qualify to enroll for a debt settlement service. Choose a debt settlement company according to the total amount you owe as each company varies the credit card balance requirement.
• Choose a reliable debt settlement company. Avoid the companies which charge a huge up front fee. Choose the debt settlement companies which are accredited by Better Business Bureau. And ensure that the fee they are charging are affordable for your pocket.
• Prepare yourself regarding the negative aspect that surrounds a debt settlement company such as creditors call, damaged credit record and tax problems.

How do you know bankruptcy is right for you?

• Look for other option other than bankruptcy if that can pull you out from the financial catastrophe. On line search can give innumerable options like debt settlement programs, debt management programs and so on.
• Do you qualify for filing bankruptcy? Just search for bankruptcy code on line and there are even books which can explain the bankruptcy in much easier way. Hire a bankruptcy attorney who can give you an able guidance and make you aware whether you qualify filing for bankruptcy or not.
• There are many chapters in filing for bankruptcy see in which chapter you qualify before filing for bankruptcy read through the rules and guidelines associated with each of the chapters.
• Keep it in mind that bankruptcy remains on your credit record for a long time, So if you file for bankruptcy you should prepare your self that you are going to ruin the credit record for next seven years.

So it’s your call to choose the right plan for you which would help you to burden you from the horrid night mare of debt.

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Dan was a single guy living at home with his widowed father and working in the family business.

When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided to find a wife with whom to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.

“I may just look an ordinary man” he said to her, “but soon my father will die and I will inherit $200 million”

Impressed, the woman asked for his business card and three days later, she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at Financial Planning than men.

Most people never forget their first love. I’ll never forget my first trading profit — but the 600 1970 dollars I pocketed on Royal Dutch Petroleum was not nearly as significant as the conceptual realization it signaled.

I was amazed that someone would pay me that much more for my stock than the newspaper said it was worth just weeks ago. What had changed? What had happened to make the stock go up, and why had it been down in the first place? Without ever needing to know the answers, I’ve been trading RDSA for over 40 years!

Looking at scores of similarly profitable, high quality companies in this manner, you would find that: 1) most move up and down regularly (if not predictably) with an upward long-term bias, and 2) that there is little if any similarity in the timing of the movements between the stocks themselves.

This is the “volatility” that most people fear and that Wall Street loves them to fear. It can be narrowly confined to certain sectors, or much broader, encompassing practically everything. The broader it becomes, the more likely it is to be categorized as either a rally or a correction.

Most years will feature one or two of each. This is the natural condition of things in the stock market, Mother Nature, Inc. if you will. Don’t take her for granted when she gets high, and never ignore her when she feels low. Embrace her volatile moods, work with them in whatever direction they travel, and she will become your love as well.

Ironically, it is this natural volatility (caused by hundreds of variables human, economic, political, natural, etc.) that is the only real “certainty” existent in the financial markets. And, as absurd as this may sound until you experience the reality of it all, it is this one and only certainty that makes Mutual Funds in general (and Index Funds in particular) totally unsuitable as investment vehicles for anyone within seven to ten years of retirement!

How many Mutual Fund investors have retired recently with more liquid financial assets than they had 12 years ago, way back in 1999? There will always be rallies and corrections. In fact, it is worthwhile to “go back to the future” to establish a realistic long term investment strategy.

In the last forty years, there have been no less than ten 20% or greater corrections followed by rallies that brought the market to significantly higher levels. The DJIA peaked at 2700 before its record 40% crash in 1987. But at 1700, it was still 70% above the 1000 barrier that it danced around with for decades before — always a higher high, rarely a lower low.

The ’87 debacle was followed by several slightly less exciting corrections, but the case was being made for the more flexible, and realistic, Market Cycle Investment Management Methodology. Modern Portfolio Theory was spawned by great minds selling future predicting snake oil; Mother Nature, Inc. is a much too complicated enterprise, even for them.

Call it foresight, or hindsight if you want to be argumentative, but a long-term view of the investment process eliminates the guesswork and points pretty clearly toward a trading mentality that keys on the natural volatility of hundreds of Investment Grade Value Stocks (Google IGVSI).

During corrections, consider these simple truths: 1) although there are more sellers than buyers, the buyers intend to make money on their purchases; 2) so long as everything is down, don’t worry so much about the price of individual holdings; 3) fast and steep corrections are better than the slow attrition variety; 4) always accept even half your normal profit target while buying opportunities are plentiful; 5) don’t be in a rush to fill your portfolio, and if cash dries up before it’s over, you are managing the process correctly.

Most of the problems with Mutual Funds and much of the increased opportunity in individual stock trading are functions of growing non-professional equity ownership. Everyone is in the stock market these days whether they like it or not, and when the media fans the emotions of the masses, the masses create volatility that rarely under-reacts to market conditions.

Rarely will unit owners take profits, particularly if they have to pay withdrawal penalties or taxes. Even more unusual are expert advisors who encourage investors to move into the markets when prices are falling. A volatile market creates opportunities with every gyration, but you have to be willing to transact to reap the benefits.

A necessary first step is to recognize that both “up” and “down” markets are forces of nature with abundant potential. The proper attitude toward the latter, will make you much more appreciative of the former.

Most investment strategies require answers to unanswerable questions, in an effort to be in the right place at the right time. Indecisiveness doesn’t cut it with Mamma — in or out too soon is not an issue with her. But wasting the opportunities she provides really ticks her off.

Successful investment strategies require an understanding of the forces of stock market nature, and disciplined rules of portfolio management. If you can transition back to individual securities, you will do better at moving toward your goals, most of the time, because the opportunities are out there — all of the time.

So let’s adopt some new rules for this investment game and learn to live with them for a few cycles: Let’s buy IGVSI stocks new and old at lower prices during corrections. Let’s take reasonable profits on those that go up in price, whenever they are kind enough to do so.

Let’s examine our performance based on the results of these trading transactions alone and at market cycle examination points for a smiley faced change of pace. And one other thing:

Let’s drink a toast to an uncertain and volatile Mother Nature, and, of course, to our first loves.
Author Steven Selengut

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There are a variety of reasons, both fundamental and technical, to believe that a market crash is almost upon us. This crash will affect virtually all world markets, including and especially the big Western Markets, which have thus far escaped the devastation already afflicting the developing markets.

The precipitation for the current fall in equity markets across the globe has been China’s devaluation of the Yuan which has made the market much more nervous about deflation and competitive devaluation of currencies by countries across the board.

Current market situation is a symptom of problems that have been building since January. Nothing really has changed structurally since the 2008 crisis.

The weeks ahead will give many opportunities, but right now to look for them and put money doesn’t make sense.

The slide in US stock markets is way away from temporary. As of Friday last week, S&P 500 was almost at the same level as was in 1999. This is by no means is a temporary correction for US markets.

I am not just focusing on the US markets, but they will all get taken down – European markets including the UK, and Far Eastern markets such as Hong Kong, Japan and India as well. The Sensex ended over 1,600 points down today, the biggest in over seven years.

The basic and fundamental reasons for a market crash now are big and obvious – the ravages of deflation and depression brought about by extremes of debt which must cut into corporate profits – in Japan the debt situation is now hopeless, the Sovereign debt crisis set to crush Europe and probably destroy the euro, the collapse and implosion of the monstrous debt fuelled bubble in China which is already underway, an accelerating currency crisis in the Far-East exacerbated by the recent Chinese devaluation of the Yuan, and the collapse also already underway in Emerging Markets.

Panic is stalking global markets today, fuelled by fears of a worse-than-expected slowdown in China, which is bound to have a ripple effect in an increasingly interconnected world economy.

Ace investor Warren Buffett once famously said: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” Any takers?

The Stock Markets are clearly gripped by fear, and it looks like it will grow in the days ahead.

So, should investors become greedy at this point in time and look at buying quality stocks now or on further declines? To be honest I personally believe we are entering a risk off period, it will be a good idea to wait for a risk on period.

Things have gone beyond being called a phase of correction. It is not a good situation for markets. There is reasonable pain ahead of us, it is clear that a crash of perhaps unprecedented proportions in on the cards.

The tone and tenor of the stock market changes from time to time – and now may be a good time to stay out until the current choppy climate changes.

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