Mutual Funds – An Introduction

Posted by buildingastronge on November 9, 2014 with No Comments as

Whether you are a savvy investor or just a beginner who wants to gets his or her feet wet in the investing world, there is a good chance that you know about mutual funds. By definition, mutual funds are investment vehicles that will allow you to buy investment holdings in various companies and markets, by buying just one investment vehicle.

For example, instead of buying separate stocks in hundreds of technology companies, one can simply invest in mutual funds with a technology portfolio. Below, you will find a few basic details about mutual funds that will help you understand the popular investment vehicle better.

How to choose mutual funds?

Mutual FundsThis is a very objective question that will depend on so many factors that are relative to you. For example, the choice of mutual funds for you will depend on factors such as your willingness to take risks, your investment horizon, your preferences to invest in certain markets and so on. So, if you are a investor who is interested in the communications industry and have a 10 year investment horizon and are also willing to take a fair amount of risk, you will look for mutual funds that have that similar criteria. The market is full of a diverse set of mutual funds and there is a very good chance that one of those mutual funds will match your needs, or at least come very close to matching your needs.

Be aware of risk

Though mutual funds are supposed to be baskets of investments in various sectors, industries and companies, they still do carry a fair amount of risk, especially in today’s market condition. So, when investing in mutual funds, one should always perform their due diligence to gauge the risk factor. Again, this will vary from person to person, depending on their investing aggressiveness and ability to take risks.

Invest in many mutual funds

This point of advice is along the lines of the tip that was just mentioned above. Though there are some large mutual funds that have a great diversification factor, it might still be a good idea to invest in many mutual funds, as opposed to dropping all your investment on one large mutual fund. When it comes to diversification in investment, there really is no maximum or what you call as overdoing, as long as the mutual funds or other investment vehicles are chosen with diligence.

Costs of investing in mutual funds

Mutual funds are put together by financial companies who will charge you for the convenience offered by mutual fund vehicles. Common fees will include front load and back load expenses. What this essentially means is that you will have to pay a %, typically about 5%, as a fee, when you get in and out of mutual funds. So, if you are investing $10,000 in mutual funds, you will have to pay $500 as a front load fee and invest the remaining $9,500 into the mutual funds. When you sell your mutual funds, you will again have to pay 5% of the sale price as a fee.  The fee structures varies from fund to fund and some funds will also charge you an expense ratio, where you will pay about 1-2% of your investment amount as ongoing expenses, for the duration of your investment in that particular fund.

Online Jobs From Home – Ways to Make Money Online

Posted by buildingastronge on November 7, 2014 (Comments Closed) as

If you are reading this article, it could probably mean that are one of the victims of the global economic recession, who might have been laid off or who might have had to sustain a pay cut. Or, it could just be that you are looking for ways to generate some additional income, to supplement your salary from your full time job.

Whatever the case may be, you must consider online jobs from home. Today, with the help of advanced communications in the form of the Internet, there are plenty of online jobs from home that will reward you with a handsome pay and actually even make you consider online jobs from home to be a full time option in the future.

Without much further ado, here is a quick introduction to online jobs from home.

Online jobs from home – Your options

Freelance yourself or your business

Online Jobs From HomeOne of the first online jobs from home that you should consider is freelancing. Visit sites such as elance.com, freelancer.com and similar sites to see if your skills are in demand. These freelance sites cater to accountants, graphic designers, software coders, journalists, editors and many other professionals. Do a quick search to see if people are soliciting any work that you are capable of doing. These online jobs from home are pretty easy to set up. You can quickly set up an account and send out some bids on projects that you want to do. It might take bit of trial and error and experimentation to land the first project or job from such sites although the going will get much easier after that. When approached properly, these online jobs from home can help someone establish a whole new career, as a freelancer.

These online jobs from home will also pay quite well. When you work for a company, you are given a paycheck that will not change regardless of how much effort you put into your work. But, with these freelance online jobs from home, you will get aptly rewarded for the time and effort that you put in.

If you have a small business that you think will appeal to an Internet audience, you could create an online business that will sell your products and services, thereby creating a job for yourself.

Other online jobs from home that you can consider

When it comes to online jobs from home, the freelancing option discussed above is your best bet. However, if you do not have any marketable skills, you can still make money online by doing some simple tasks such as data entry or some grunt work that will just require some common sense. To access such online jobs from home, visit sites like Amazon Turk to bid on low skill jobs that are solicited on a daily basis.

In general, you should try to avoid online jobs from home that will require you to spend some money to access the job. If you see commercials like “Fill out surveys and make $10 an hour”, it could be worth trying if it is free. However, if the website developer asks you $50 to access these “secret” online jobs from home, simply move along as there are plenty of scams when it comes to online jobs from home.

Low Interest Credit Cards – What You Should Know?

Posted by buildingastronge on November 5, 2014 (Comments Closed) as

If you possess credit cards, it will not be uncommon for you to constantly receive offers on low interest credit cards that will offer you 0% on balance transfers, low APR% and so on. However, before you jump in an sign up for one of these low interest credit cards, you must be aware of the following aspects.

The offers for low interest credit cards will usually come with some really small fine print. Many people who sign up for low interest credit cards are those who do not read through the fine print. Sometimes, the fine print will dramatically reduce the cost saving appeal of low interest credit cards as the card might have several loopholes that will actually cost you money instead of saving you money.

Some of these loopholes and dirty tricks used by credit card companies are discussed below.

Things to watch out for while applying for low interest credit cards

0% balance transfer – What will you pay after the offer period?

Low Interest Credit CardsMost of the low interest credit cards will offer a 0% balance transfer for a period of about 6-9 months, depending on the card issuer. If you plan on paying off your credit card balance within this time period, it would definitely be a good idea to avail the new low interest credit card. However, if you are still going to be making payments on your credit card beyond the introductory balance transfer period, you must take a serious look at the applicable APR% that will then be charged on your balance. Some low interest credit cards will actually charge notoriously high interest rates after the end of an introductory period.

Also, some of the low interest credit cards will require you to spend a certain amount on their credit cards to avail the low interest APR. Toss such offers into the trash as there are many credit card companies that will not require any kind of minimum spending to give you a low interest on your credit card.

Is it a good idea to constantly sign up for 0% balance transfers offered by various credit card companies?

Initially, it might seem like a good idea to just keep transferring the balance of a credit card to a new credit card that will offer 0% balance transfer. For example, a person might be paying 20% interest on an outstanding balance of $1,000. They might get an offer in the mail that will allow them to transfer their credit card balance to a new credit card account that will not charge them any interest for 6 months. As the 6 months come to an end, one can again look to transfer their credit card balance to another low interest credit card offer that will offer a 0% balance transfer for another 6 months, not paying any interest in the process.

While it is perfectly legal to do the above, one must understand that their credit score will drop every time they apply for a new credit card, whether or not they get approved. So, while it may seem like a street smart option to save money on interest, it is never a good plan for establishing long term credit that will be credible.

Time Management Tips

Posted by buildingastronge on November 3, 2014 (Comments Closed) as

Have you ever felt like you have had a whirlwind of a day, only to be disappointed with your blotchy productivity? If that is the case, you are definitely in need of some time management tips that will allow you to prioritize your tasks and increase the value of the effort and time that you put into work.

Here are some very important and popular time management tips that will help you get started in the right direction.

Keep time management realistic – Time management tips #1

Time Management TipsBefore you start fantasizing about how you can double, triple or even quadruple your productivity, you must realize that a day will still have only 24 hours to it, regardless of the quality of your time management skills and execution. So, keep your goals realistic and practical.

Start by identifying the time you waste – Time management tips #2

Unless you analyze your activities, you will never realize that skimming through those personal emails or your favorite social network is eating up a lot of time that can otherwise be used productively. During the day, keep an eye out on the clock to see how many minutes you spend on activities that you would consider recreational. If the duration is out of control, you know how can begin to fix your time management.

Come up with some serious prioritizations – Time management tips #3

The most important time management tips will always revolve around prioritization. Before the start of a day’s work, you will simply have to prioritize your tasks in such a  way that essential tasks get complete, no matter what kind of setbacks you suffer from. Implementing such priorities quite seriously will allow you to stay focused and apply your valuable time and efforts on the most important tasks on hand. Following your priorities will create tight deadlines that will make you consciously skip out on unimportant tasks such as checking personal emails or taking personal calls or chatting with co workers.

Seek the help of a scheduler software -Time management tips #4

Most office computers will come with MS Outlook. MS Outlook has a very easy to use scheduler that will allow you to layout your daily work, in prioritized compartments of time. Outlook can be set up in such a way that reminders about pending tasks can pop up before a certain time, as specified by you. This will allow you to be constantly reminded of the need to streamline your work in such a way that work gets done, according to schedule.

Don’t do it all alone – Time management tips #5

The ones who suffer with time management are usually those who like to work alone, without the help of others. However, time management is very difficult if one does not outsource or delegate work like they are supposed to. Not involving other team members will also drag down the efficiency of the team. Give your teammates a chance to work with you. It might be a bumpy road in the initial stages, but, after a while, you will find that it is an immense help for your time management.

Dog Leash Training – Getting the basics right

Posted by buildingastronge on November 1, 2014 (Comments Closed) as

Have you ever wondered about why your dog pulls on his leash when you take him out for a walk? When your dog heads outdoors, he is immediately fascinated by the environment that he is not very used to. Neighbors, kids playing on gardens, birds and even traffic are all a big distraction for him, making him want to earnestly explore his surroundings. During those brief moments, he just forgets about you and the leash just becomes an obstacle to his adventures.

If you are frustrated and worried about how your dog keeps tugging away at his leash, while on walks, don’t worry. Most dog owners start out that way. A few good pointers on dog leash training, as suggested below, will help you take your dog out for a casual stroll without the heavy pulling and tugging. After all, it is you who should be walking your dog and not the other way around.

Buying the right equipment for dog leash training

Dog Leash TrainingFirst, you must accept the fact that your dog will pull on his leash for the first few walks. It is almost impossible to expect a new dog to walk by you, obediently, as soon as you take it for a first walk. Hence, you want to purchase a collar that will not snap and let your dog go loose. This is especially important if you have a fairly large dog who will have enough force to make an ordinary dog collar snap.

Go to your pet store and ask for a collar that is specifically made for dogs that pull on their leash. These collars will usually have a second loop around the regular collar that will pull tight when the dog moves too far away from you, prompting it to automatically come closer to get some slack and make it easier for itself.

Having such a special collar will allow you to both train your dog and also keep it safe from road accidents or just from running away and getting lost.

Train your dog with a command when you go for a walk

Just before you leave the driveway of your home, pause a bit and use a command to let your dog know that you are about to take him for a walk. Use the same command every day. It could be something like “Walk”, “Let’s walk” or “Let’s roll” or whatever it is that pleases or amuses you. It must be a very clear command that you must repeat every day, to make your dog understand and relate to it.

Stop walking when your dog pulls on his leash

This is the most critical step that you will have to use when training your dog on how not to pull on his leash. Every time he begins to pull or tug away, simply stop in your tracks and don’t let him go any further. If he has any other kind of training, ask him to heel or kneel to let him know that you are not happy about what he is doing. You must make him sit down and become calm. Once he does that, use the command that we talked about earlier, to get him walking again. This will allow you to both reinforce the walking command and also use it as a way of communicating your warning, that you will walk him only if he abides by your rules of not pulling on the leash.

You might have to do this several times if you have just begun to train your dog although it will make things much easier in the long run.

Reward your dog for staying close to you

It is easier said than done to keep your dog obedient when he is out for a walk. There might just be way too many distractions for him to stay interested in your commands. If this is the case, you are going to need the help of some treats that will grab his attention. Just when you feel that he is walking too far away from you, call out his name and give him a treat. You will have to do this several times in the beginning although he will eventually begin to stay closer to you, even if you don’t hand out as many treats.

Try to reduce the interval of treats in a gradual manner as the discipline slowly sinks in on its own. It will usually happen within just a couple of weeks, with most dogs.

What should you do if your dog doesn’t adhere to any kind of dog leash training?

Sometimes, you might be extremely frustrated at the way your dog completely ignores you, pulling in every direction possible. When this happens, you should cut short your walking trip abruptly and head back home. He will obviously not like it. Though it is tough love, you have to use it if your dog is particularly disobedient. When this happens a few times, he will think twice about pulling on his leash as he known that he risks the possibility of seeing his walking privileges being severely compromised.