Advice about Mutual Fund Investing

Invеѕtіng іn mutuаl fundѕ аnd соmmоn ѕtосkѕ hаѕ іtѕ rіѕkѕ аnd rеwаrdѕ. Gеnеrаllу ѕреаkіng, whеn іnvеѕtіng іn mutuаl fundѕ, rіѕk аnd rеwаrd аrе dіrесtlу rеlаtеd.

Thе mоrе rіѕk уоu’rе wіllіng tо tаkе, thе grеаtеr уоur роtеntіаl rеwаrd. Thе lеѕѕ rіѕkу thе іnvеѕtmеnt, thе lеѕѕ rеturn уоu wіll rесеіvе. In а vеrу rеаl ѕеnѕе, thе rіѕk іѕ nоt ѕо muсh thаt уоu wіll lоѕе mоnеу; іt’ѕ mоrе thаt уоu wіll nоt mаkе thе rеturn уоu ѕhоuld wіth а rеаѕоnаblе rіѕk.

Thе lеаѕt rіѕkу tуре оf mutuаl fund іnvеѕtmеnt іѕ thе mоnеу mаrkеt fund, whісh рауѕ а vаrуіng rаtе оf іntеrеѕt оn уоur mоnеу. Yоu gеnеrаllу knоw аbоut hоw muсh уоur fund wіll rеturn, аnd thеrе іѕn’t а lоt оf rіѕk.

Thеrе іѕ lеѕѕ rіѕk іnvоlvеd іn а mоnеу mаrkеt fund thаn іn јuѕt аbоut аnу оthеr tуре. Hоwеvеr, whіlе уоu dоn’t hаvе tо wоrrу ѕо muсh аbоut lоѕіng mоnеу іn а mоnеу mаrkеt fund (thе rесеnt fіnаnсіаl сrіѕіѕ bеіng аn еxсерtіоn), thе fund mау nоt рrоduсе еnоugh rеwаrd fоr уоu tо mееt уоur lоng-tеrm fіnаnсіаl gоаlѕ.

Tо rесеіvе а hіghеr fіnаnсіаl rеwаrd fоr іnvеѕtіng уоur mоnеу, уоu nееd tо tаkе оn аddіtіоnаl rіѕk.

Shоrt- аnd іntеrmеdіаtе-tеrm bоnd fundѕ оffеr mоrе rеwаrd, but wіth ѕlіghtlу mоrе rіѕk thаn mоnеу mаrkеt fundѕ. Lоng-tеrm bоnd fundѕ аnd bаlаnсеd fundѕ аrе mоdеrаtеlу rіѕkу аnd оffеr mоrе rеwаrdѕ thаn ѕhоrt аnd іntеrmеdіаtе bоnd fundѕ.

Mоvіng uр tо а hіghеr rіѕk аnd hіghеr rеwаrd аrе grоwth аnd іnсоmе ѕtосk fundѕ fоllоwеd bу grоwth ѕtосk fundѕ аnd аggrеѕѕіvе-grоwth ѕtосk fundѕ.

Hіѕtоrу hаѕ ѕhоwn thаt іnvеѕtіng іn ѕtосkѕ whеthеr dіrесtlу оr thrоugh mutuаl fundѕ hаѕ rеwаrdеd іnvеѕtоrѕ wіth hіghеr rеturnѕ thаn іnvеѕtmеntѕ іn bоndѕ, mоnеу mаrkеt fundѕ, оr саѕh.

Bеfоrе уоu іnvеѕt, dеtеrmіnе hоw muсh rіѕk уоu аrе wіllіng tо tаkе tо rеасh уоur оbјесtіvеѕ. Thе furthеr аwау thоѕе оbјесtіvеѕ аrе іn tіmе, thе mоrе rіѕk уоu саn аѕѕumе іn уоur іnvеѕtmеntѕ.

If, fоr еxаmрlе, уоu’rе іnvеѕtіng fоr rеtіrеmеnt аnd hаvе 10, 20, оr mоrе уеаrѕ tо gо, уоu саn сhооѕе mоrе аggrеѕѕіvе іnvеѕtmеntѕ wіth роtеntіаl hіgh rеturnѕ оvеr tіmе. Vоlаtіlіtу іѕ nоt а rіѕk tо thе lоng-tеrm іnvеѕtоr. Thе mаrkеt’ѕ bіаѕ tоwаrd grоwth оvеrсоmеѕ vоlаtіlіtу wіth tіmе.

Rіѕk аnd Fund Tуреѕ

Yоur арреtіtе fоr rіѕk ѕhоuld dіrесtlу соrrеlаtе wіth thе tуреѕ оf mutuаl fundѕ thаt уоu іnvеѕt іn. It wоuldn’t mаkе ѕеnѕе fоr соnѕеrvаtіvе іnvеѕtоrѕ tо рut аll thеіr ѕаvіngѕ іn аn аggrеѕѕіvе-grоwth fund.

Alѕо, bесаuѕе thе dіѕtіnсtіоnѕ bеtwееn tуреѕ оf fundѕ hаvе bесоmе іnсrеаѕіnglу blurrеd оvеr thе раѕt fеw уеаrѕ, уоu саn’t аѕѕumе thаt а fund іѕ асtuаllу whаt іt bіllѕ іtѕеlf tо bе.

Thаt іѕ, а fund wіth thе wоrd “bаlаnсеd” іn іtѕ nаmе mау оr mау nоt асtuаllу bе а bаlаnсеd fund іn thе truеѕt ѕеnѕе оf thе tеrm. Thеrеfоrе, уоu nееd tо саrеfullу еxаmіnе thе fund’ѕ рrоѕресtuѕ аnd rесоrd bеfоrе іnvеѕtіng.

Wе rесоmmеnd thаt уоu rеѕеаrсh thе bаѕіс dаtа оf fundѕ tо lеаrn mоrе аbоut оnеѕ thаt іntеrеѕt уоu. Pеrhарѕ сhесk оut а mutuаl fund nеwѕlеttеr tо gаthеr mоrе іnfоrmаtіоn. Bу еxаmіnіng а fund’ѕ роrtfоlіо аnd thе dіvіѕіоn оf іtѕ аѕѕеtѕ bеtwееn ѕtосkѕ, bоndѕ, аnd саѕh, уоu саn uѕuаllу dеtеrmіnе whеthеr а fund іѕ fоllоwіng іtѕ ѕtаtеd оbјесtіvе.

If thе bаlаnсеd fund уоu аrе іntеrеѕtеd іn асtuаllу іnvеѕtѕ 50% оf іtѕ аѕѕеtѕ іn ѕmаll-сар fоrеіgn ѕtосkѕ, уоu’ll knоw thаt іt іѕn’t trulу а bаlаnсеd fund, but rаthеr а ѕmаll-сар glоbаl аggrеѕѕіvе-grоwth fund.

Aѕ fаr аѕ ѕtосk fundѕ gо, сhоісеѕ bеtwееn thе twо еxtrеmеѕ оf ѕаfеtу аnd rіѕk, іn аѕсеndіng rіѕk оrdеr, іnсludе:

Fіxеd-іnсоmе fundѕ, оffеrіng уіеld аnd рrісе ѕtаbіlіtу.

• Stосk іnсоmе fundѕ, рrіmаrіlу dеdісаtеd tо рrоduсіng а rеlаtіvеlу ѕtеаdу ѕtrеаm оf іnсоmе.

• Grоwth аnd іnсоmе fundѕ, whісh gіvе аlmоѕt еquаl аttеntіоn tо bоth grоwth аnd іnсоmе.

• Grоwth fundѕ, wіth аn оrіеntаtіоn tоwаrd lоng-tеrm саріtаl аррrесіаtіоn.



ICE LIBOR: Everything Forex Traders Need to Know About These 2 Acronyms

ICE LIBOR: Everything Forex Traders Need to Know About These 2 Acronyms

A lot of investors are familiar with the term LIBOR in financial markets but there are probably quite a few who are not familiar with ICE, or what the acronym stands for.

ICE LIBOR is actually the full acronym for the Intercontinental Exchange London Interbank Offered Rate, hence the reason it is shortened and often simply referred to as LIBOR.

Anyone using forex brokers to trade on financial markets needs to understand the significance of LIBOR and the influence that it exerts on price movements. Having a better understanding of the mechanics of LIBOR can help traders gain a potential edge and hopefully trade more successfully as a result of this greater level of comprehension.

ICE LIBOR explained

This sequence of letters can actually have a fairly profound effect on all our daily lives and ICE LIBOR is hugely influential on every loan that is made.

ICE LIBOR is basically a the average of the interest rates that a number of the world’s leading banks charge to each other for short-term loans, in effect, a wholesale rate rather than the retail price that consumers would be charged.

The ICE part of the acronym refers to the Intercontinental Exchange, which is the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange and around 24 other exchanges and markets around the globe. Many traders and markets simply use the term LIBOR and don’t use the ICE reference on a daily basis.

More than one

LIBOR is the primary step in calculating interest rates on a range of different loans in different parts of the world.

There are in fact several LIBOR’s, and ICE issues their benchmark rates for loans in five different currencies on a daily basis, for seven separate maturities.

The currencies where these rates are set are the U.S Dollar, the Pound Sterling, the Euro, Japanese Yen and the Swiss Franc. The maturities quoted for range from an overnight rate, one week and then rates that hold for a period of up to 12 months.

The most commonly used LIBOR is the three month dollar rate and if you hear someone referring to a LIBOR rate without any further qualification, they will in all probability be referring to this quote in particular.

Moving on

You may well be familiar with the recent LIBOR scandal where an investigation was launched into the manipulation of interbank lending rates.

This is one very good reason why Intercontinental Exchange are especially keen on stressing the importance of using the full acronym ICE LIBOR, as their LIBOR calculations now differ from when it previously existed under the influence of the British Bankers Association.

Since the scandal broke in 2012, LIBOR needed to be rehabilitated and to move on, as well as provide a way of reassuring those using the system, that its integrity has been strengthened.

LIBOR has a role to play in financial markets and is meant to provide an accurate guide of what interest rates are rather than being influenced by what they should be, which is where the Fed and the Bank of England proffer their opinion.

Many millions are traded each day on the strength of ICE LIBOR quotes and although the rates are essentially based on opinion rather than hard data, it is still vitally important to pay heed to any trends that these figures reveal.

Spencer Dawson has his eyes on the Forex prize as a longtime investor. When he’s not investing or trading, he’s writing about it and posting on a variety of financial and investing blog sites.

Tidying up the payday loan sector

There has been a huge amount of scrutiny aimed at the payday loan sector in recent months. This is partly due to the rapid rise in popularity of these short term cash advances that have made their way to the UK from the US over the last decade.

With the current economic climate, many households have turned to payday loans for help then in time of need, when hit with an unforeseen expense. These households borrow what they need and repay it on their next payday, together with the interest and any charges.

Others, however, have spiralled into debt for a number of reasons. Some consumers have taken on several payday loans and have not been able to repay them, leading to ongoing and ever increasing debt. Many have also used a payday loan to service the payment on another debt – which reeks of financial distress.

Various government bodies, trade and voluntary organisations have now started to take note and apply pressure on the industry.

The main consensus is that used carefully and from an educated position, payday loans can help consumers in time of need, so legislation is aimed at tidying up the bad reputation and bad practices of certain companies within the sector rather than banning them all together.

In fact, since the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken over the responsibility for regulating this industry from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), The Guardian newspaper (01.04.2014) has reported nearly half of the payday loan companies have closed down.

In essence the new rules from the FCA have meant that:

Loans can only be rolled over a maximum of two times       

Research had shown that loans were being rolled over multiple times incurring more charges and interest – so the initial loan was not being repaid and the borrower went further and further into debt.

Now, after the loan rolls over more than twice, interest is frozen

Again, another way of stopping debt from mounting up.

Payday firms can now only attempt to take repayment using a CPA (continuous payment authority) twice

This has, in the past, led to complaints that people were having their accounts drained and leaving them unable to cope, causing further need for finance.

These changes are all good news for the consumer in that it helps protect them from unscrupulous lenders.

As well as the FCA, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are also looking into the industry and have made a couple of recommendations. Firstly they suggest that without a true comparison service, consumers can be charged £5 – £10 more than they should do if there were a true like for like comparison tool.

Secondly, they have recommended clear and upfront notice on charges should a borrower default on a repayment.

This combined with the FCA rules are designed to tidy up the industry.  But it is not just regulators taking the lead. Some of the bigger payday companies are becoming more transparent with the public to try and distance themselves from some of the rogue elements of this industry which, up until recently, has had very little regulation.

Wonga for example, the UK’s largest payday lender, has always welcomed regulation. It has even taken steps to make itself more transparent by sharing its (anonymous) borrower data. This means people can see their type of things they are lending money for and the type of customer they have, as one of the biggest criticisms of the industry is that they prey on the needy.

The site, named OpenWonga, shares not only statistics but also provides responses to criticisms and press comments as well as welcoming the opportunity to have an open dialogue with customers and journalists.

The payday or short term finance marketplace is not going to go away with such a demand for it, with revenues estimated by the CMA at £1.1billion in revenue.   But with more emphasis placed on regulation of lenders and the education of customers it is hoped that the short term finance sector will become a useful and manageable tool for consumers.


Increased lending to business is “false dawn” for SMEs

June 2014 was a hopeful month for UK SMEs dreaming of a release on the banks’ current stranglehold on lending to business. When the Bank of England released a report which indicated a long hoped-for increase in lending to businesses, it looked like UK SMEs may finally start to enjoy more accessible finance from high street lenders.

Unfortunately, this first flush of optimism since the credit crunch (which clammed bank loans to business tight shut), now appears to have been a “false dawn”. While lending to larger businesses has finally started to pick up, SMEs remain high and dry, in fact experiencing yet another drop in lending, this time of £200 million.

SMEs still seeking alternative finance

The picture from a small business’s position remains troubling. Lending to small businesses is continuing to decline, despite a general increase in lending to mortgage seekers and large corporations. While most commentators point the finger squarely at the Government and the banking sector, others have suggested that the problem is twofold. 82% of small businesses polled in Q1 2014 claimed that they were categorically not seeking finance.
This lack of “interest” in bank loans from SMEs is in part attributed to the number of alternative routes now open to small firms. Some companies have compiled a helpful run down of alternative business loans and it is these alternate routes, along with options such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, which are believed to be partially responsible for the drying up of SME interest in bank funding.

Yet the very fact that these  alternatives have thrived in recent years is down to the sustained lack of access to traditional bank finance for small businesses. With SMEs tired of being turned away and all-too-used to hearing the word “no” from the banks, is it any wonder that 82% simply no longer try?

Why are SMEs high and dry?

For years now, SMEs have listened to the Government promising to back British business. Cameronites have long extolled the small business as the powerhouse of the UK’s economy and our route out of recession. Yet, despite all the talk, schemes and political pressure on the banks, access to finance is still extraordinarily limited for the little guys.

Since the Bank of England began collecting data on lending to small, non-financial businesses in 2011, levels of lending have dropped steadily year on year. But with gross mortgage loans now at £51.8 bn in Q2 2014 (up 21% year-on-year) and overall business lending finally rising, why is this fresh wave of more accessible finance not reaching small businesses?

Risk averse banking

Aside from the aforementioned “lack of demand”, the answer has to be “extreme caution”. Small business is considered to be a very risky lending proposition for banks. While large enterprises with proven track records present a relatively dependable safe bet, small firms are uncharted, unproven and can often end up looking at taking voluntary liquidation.

A waiting game

It looks like, for now, the banks are playing a waiting game which small businesses have no option but to join. Signs of recovery as positive but, as our banks edge their way out of recession, there is a widespread sense of “softly softly catchy monkey”. With SME lending at the risky end of the lending spectrum, it seems natural (albeit infuriating) that, while our economy sets to work healing itself, our small businesses will have to accept limited access to finance until banks feel ready and strong-enough to take on more risky loans.

In the meantime, excuses about low demand from small business should be overlooked. Yes, there is a lack of interest from SMEs in bank loans, but this does not stem from a lack of need or desire for traditional bank funding. Instead it has its roots in defeatism.

An olive branch

Banks need to win back the trust and patronage of smaller firms and, to do this, they need to extend an olive branch. This means not giving up on fighting to provide more accessible SME business loans, however low demand in the market appears at first glance. If Government and organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) keep pushing and the British economy continues to recover, we can all hope to see bank loans for small businesses becoming more accessible. We’re all ready for a brighter day after this disappointing false dawn.

Learn How To Repair Your Credit With These Tips

Does your credit rating give you nightmares? These tips can help you properly repair your credit so that you can have a top notch credit score.

Getting a traditional home loan can be difficult, if not impossible, with imperfect credit. There is, however, alternative types of funding available that are offered by the banks. FHA and USDA are two such agencies who offer finance to those with lower credit scores, sometimes with low down payment and closing cost clauses. FHA loans even apply for someone who doesn’t have closing costs or the funds that are needed for down payment.

If your credit card has a balance of over 50% of your limit, it should be your number one priority to pay it off until the balance is under 50%. Your credit score can diminish with balances over 50%, so spread out the debt or pay off the credit cards.

If you want to fix your credit avoid companies claiming they can remove all of your issues, even those properly reported. Sadly, harmful entries remain on your report for roughly seven years. But, you should remain mindful of the fact that errors can be deleted from your report.

The first step to repairing your credit is paying what you owe. It is key that you pay them on time and in full. Do the best that you can. Once you have started to pay towards your past-due accounts, you credit score will gradually improve.

You need to work with the companies from whom you have credit cards. Talking to them will help keep you from drowning further in debt and making your credit worse. Talk to the company and see if you can change your due date or monthly fees.

Don’t risk prison. There are plenty of credit scams that purport to erase your existing credit file and create a new one. These scams are not legal and there will be repercussions. Legal ramifications can cost a lot, and you may go to jail.

Close all your credit cards except for one as a means of repairing your credit. Making one monthly payment will be easier than paying off different bills. By doing this, you can concentrate on a single credit card payment, as opposed to a lot of smaller ones each month.

When you get your monthly credit card bill, check it over to see if there are any mistakes. If you spot any mistakes, contact the credit company right away to keep them from reporting the mistakes.

Bankruptcy should be a last resort. Bankruptcy does not drop from your credit report until ten years have passed, so you will deal with the fallout for a significant period of time. You may think that bankruptcy is your only option to rid yourself from debt, however look at your long term financial goals before deciding to file for it. Once bankruptcy has been filed, it could permanently halt your chances of ever obtaining credit again in the future.

When you pay your bills on time, you are keeping your credit score high. Whenever you fail to make your payments on time, your credit report is affected negatively. This can make it very difficult for you to take out a loan in the future.

Lowering the balances you carry on revolving accounts can improve your credit score. You can improve your score by lowering your balances. When balances are 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 percent of the total credit available, the FICO system takes note of it.

When you are having trouble paying your bills, debt collection agencies will start contacting you demanding payment. You have the option of sending a cease and desist letter to agencies to stop them from calling, but that doesn’t mean that your debt vanishes. These letters stop collection agencies that harassing debtors, but they don’t erase liability for the debt itself.

A nasty credit crunch can generally be caused by lacking the funds to pay off multiple debts. You should spread out the money you do have to spend so that all of your creditors get a share. Even if you are only making minimum payments, sending along at least a little money will mollify your creditors and prevent them from contacting collection agencies.

A good way to repair your credit is to begin to build it back up. Using a prepaid credit card will help to build your credit score, without the worry of late payments, and bad marks on your credit report. This will help you prove to lenders that you can be responsible, and are credit worthy

Write down a plan that guides you towards paying off your debts. Although these accounts won’t be expunged from your credit report, they will reflect the fact that you have paid them in full, and the problems you have encountered as a result of having unpaid debts on your report will be reduced or eliminated.

If you are having problems paying your monthly payments, contact your creditor and try to work out a payment plan. A creditor will often times work in conjunction with you to find a plan that they do not report to a credit score if you get a hold of them. This can help you get some breathing room. It can also help you pay the bills where you aren’t able to negotiate a different payment plan.

Begin reducing your debt. Creditors will look at your debt to income ratio. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, then your credit score will suffer. Because the majority of individuals do not have the cash on hand to pay all of their debts, the key is to commit yourself to a payment schedule.

In order to fix your credit, create a plan to begin eliminating your debt. Your credit score is damaged by large amounts of existing debt along with a history of late payments. Budget realistically, and set aside as much as possible to pay towards your outstanding debt. Being free from debt will enable you to raise your current credit score.

Your credit report doesn’t need to be the stuff that nightmares are made of. You can fix your credit and not let it bother you anymore. These tips can help you achieve a credit score you can be proud of.

The FTSE 100 & the Prompt Payment Code: Who’s Coughing Up?

Another month and yet more catastrophically high late payment figures hang over the heads of the UK’s SMEs. After a brief respite, late payments owed to our SMEs have rocketed past their 2012 peak to reach close to £40 bn. That’s £40 bn which should be in the kitties of our growth-starved SMEs. Meanwhile, large corporations are shouldering a tiny fraction of the UK’s late payments. They’re owed just £6.7 bn worth. To put the situation into even starker perspective: while SMEs with a per annum turnover of >£1m wait an average of 71 days for payment, their <£500m turnover, big corporate counterparts wait just 48.

The fight for faster payment

Associations and federations from the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) to the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) are up in arms, calling for greater transparency, more aggressive measures and even legal action to help get money flowing from large enterprises and to cut down on the scourge of late payment.

Many SMEs are taking matters into their own hands, flocking to information professionals like RM Online to make use of free company check tools and additional services which can reveal the payment histories of potential clients. These checks can uncover past patterns of late and missed payments, dig up CCJs against the company in question and even reveal a company’s assets to give SMEs a clear indication of whether or not their prospective client has the means to pay promptly.

In a bind

Information gleaned from company checks may be power, but unfortunately it is the biggest companies who hold all the cards. However revealing and red-flag raising a company check may be, if there is a substantial contract on the table and the client in question could work wonders for an SMEs reputation, it’s virtually impossible to say no on the basis of a history of late payment. Big firms generally have their pick of suppliers, SMEs can simply like it or lump it.

That’s why the BMF have been calling for a “name and shame” approach to late payment. They want the payment practices of large corporations to be made public. This would encourage large businesses to pay promptly, without SMEs being forced to stick their necks (and valuable contracts) on the line to protest against poor payers.

The FTSE 100 & the PPC

This call for concrete, aggressive action comes after the clear failure of the Government’s half-hearted PPC (Payment Protection Code). Large companies were encouraged to sign up to this voluntary code, committing to timely payment. From the FTSE 100, 60 initially failed to respond entirely, 4 originally refused to sign and 1 sent a “holding letter” which was never followed up. The good guys who put pen to paper included: Vodafone, Reckitt Benckise and Serco, but what about those who didn’t?


  • The supermarket chain was one of four companies who refused to sign the PPC not because they rejected the “principal of paying on time” but because they had issues with the PPC itself. In 2012, the company again came under fire for its very lengthy payment terms (75 days for all non-food suppliers). In October 2013, after sustained pressure from a campaign headed by The Telegraph, the retail giant gave ground and signed up.
  • Dell

Another member of the FTSE 100 named and shamed in The Telegraph’s campaign, Dell were revealed to have paid 15 days late on 90 day payment terms. That’s a 105 day wait for payment, 75 days over the industry standard 30 day payment period. The company are still yet to sign  the PPC.

  • Bupa
    The healthcare giant may have made the point that according to their standard terms their invoices are paid “45 days from the end of each month” but that didn’t stop the company from paying up to 130 days after invoicing. After their occasionally unreasonably long terms were revealed, Bupa signed the PPC in January 2013.

The PPC: A pure publicity stunt?

Yet more major players in the FTSE 350 and FTSE 100 have since signed the PPC, yet it appears that it could all be a lot of hot air. The PPC asks signatories to pay on time according to their own terms yet, with most FTSE 350 standard terms far exceeding the 30 day standard, SMEs on the ground are yet to see any true benefit. Could it be time for more aggressive measures? Many small businesses certainly think so…

Top Tips for Selling Your Van

Top Tips for Selling Your Van

If it’s time to sell on your trusty old van, there are a few things to consider before you put up that ‘For Sale’ sign.

Check out the competition

Obviously, you want to get the best deal possible for your vehicle. Before you do anything, take a look at what other sellers are asking, to get an idea of its worth. Compare your van to similar models on second-hand car sites, newspaper classifieds and dealerships to determine its demand and current market price.

Get the paperwork done

Any potential buyer is going to want to see documents like your registration certificate, service history, MOT certificates and any other relevant records. Buyers may regard an organised seller more favourably, so make sure everything’s on file if they have any questions.

Give your car a makeover

First appearances definitely count when it comes to used vehicles, so book it in for a service and a thorough clean and polish. Any minor dents or scratches should also be touched up before anyone takes a look at it. It might cost a bit upfront, but you’re more likely to get a higher sale price when it looks its absolute best.

Decide how you want to sell

Do you want to go through with a private sale, car dealer or trade-in? There are pros and cons to each option and it’s something to carefully consider. A private sale is more likely to get you a better deal, but it’s also quite time consuming. Car dealers and trade-ins are much easier but you’ll need to lower your expectations (or be prepared to really haggle!).

Create an advertisement

If you decide to go down the private sale path, then you need to make your van stands out from the rest. Design a catchy ad that highlights all the key information straight up – make, model, year, engine size, mileage, price, colour, added extras, and of course, your contact details. Use all your social networks by posting updates on Facebook, Twitter and car sales groups.

Start meeting potential buyers

Try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to calls, test drives and inspections. Always accompany a potential buyer on the test drive, and make sure they have the proper van insurance cover in place. Before you start negotiations, have your absolute lowest price in mind and never go under. Don’t panic and give it all away at once.

Finalise the sale

Once you’ve agreed on a price, make sure you have your payment options sorted so you can conduct an easy and professional transaction. After they’ve driven away, don’t forget to update your van insurance to reflect your new situation.

Talking Loans for Young People

If you are a newly graduated ex-student having just entered the workforce, it can be impossible to afford everything you need and want without borrowing.  Unfortunately, given the lack of credit history and earning capacity, credit options for young people are often limited.  So what alternatives are available and which one should you pick?

Why do you need the money?

The first thing to consider before applying for any credit is your reason for borrowing.  Some common situations calling for extra finance include:

  • Needing a new piece of equipment like a laptop or tablet for your studies or work
  • Paying for tuition fees
  • Investing in appropriate business attire for a job interview or to start full time work – we all know that a couple of suits, a few ties and shirts and some decent shoes can cost a small fortune.
  • Relocating to be closer to your work or studies.
  • Being hit with an emergency or an unexpected bill like car repairs or major dental work.
  • Starting a new business.

Note that the above reasons are all one-off costs in nature, because if you need regular borrowing to fund everyday needs, then you should do some budget planning to reassess your spending habits.

Credit alternatives

The credit alternatives available to you depend on whether you are looking for short term loans like or longer term finance.  For example, somewhere like Wo nga will offer a loan for an average of 17 days, according to their website, borrowing on average £300 (which could cover the cost of a laptop, for instance.) However, if you need long term support for big items like tuition fees or to fund a business start-up, then you should consider loan products tailored for those purposes.

For students looking for help with education costs, student loans not only offer the lowest interest rate, they are also repayable only once you start working.

For those who are looking to start their own business, you should check your eligibility for the start-up loan government scheme for entrepreneurs.  If you are eligible, you will be provided with both financial and ongoing mentor support.  A personal loan is another option, although it is likely to be quite difficult to obtain such a loan from a high street bank or traditional lenders.

For short term borrowings, young people often turn to credit cards and payday loans.

Credit cards can be great because they come with extra protection for purchases between £100 and £30,000 against theft, damage or if they are substandard.  The downside however, is that they can change your spending habits significantly, causing you to spend more than you can afford.  Since credit cards offer a continuous line of credit and you will only need to repay minimal amounts each month, it takes a lot of financial discipline not to keep borrowing and end up in huge debt.

With short term loans such as payday loans from, you can borrow up to £400 as a new customer or £1,000 as an existing customer.  The total amount you will need to repay, including both interest and principal, is calculated at the beginning of the arrangement.  Their predictable repayment schedule means you know what to expect each month and you can even make early repayments without penalty charges.  Indeed, 9 out of 10 customers would recommend their services to their friends.

Which borrowing option should you pick?

The key to finding the right product is to work out how much you need to borrow and how much you can afford to repay without overstretching your finances.  If you fail to make repayments, you will be hit with additional charges as well as a dent in your credit rating.  You should also keep in mind that whilst products like credit cards might seem convenient, the risk of out-of-control credit card debt is very real.

How to improve credit score

Lenders look at a number of factors when considering your credit application, such as your credit history, the job you have, the salary you earn, and whether you have any assets.  As students and new graduates often face higher interest rates and lower borrowing limits due to a lack of credit history, it is important to do everything you can to improve your credit score.  Simple things like making sure your name is on the electoral roll, spacing out credit applications and most importantly, keeping up repayments on any outstanding loans can be of huge help in building up a solid credit profile for the future.

Online Customer Service Techniques That Won’t Disappoint

The Internet has definitely opened a lot of doors for everyone. Known as the great equalizer, the Internet can make millionaires out of self-made businessmen and they can also add millions more to the pocketbooks of already established entrepreneurs. By being an online merchant, overhead costs such as rent are eliminated putting less strain on the wallet of someone who is still starting out. However, just because you are isolated from your clients through a monitor does not mean that customer service in the online setting is dead. Customers, whether online or offline, still want to feel important and valued by entrepreneurs whose businesses rely on them to flourish.

Customer service is an important part of any business because this determines how loyal your customers will be to you. Moreover, customers love to talk, and they can either talk your business up to their family and friends, or they can turn your entire business upside down. Frank Media even goes on to drive the point home by showing that one upset customer can tell 6,000 of his or her online friends about a negative online business experience. When you operate your business entirely through the Internet, customer service becomes trickier to master because you don’t interact with your clients the same way you would if you ran a physical store. Whether you’re thinking of ways to improve your business’ current customer service or if you’re still in the planning stages of trying to start an online store, your business would benefit from the following online customer service techniques.

Develop a Comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Site

Especially if you operate a small business where you are the entrepreneur, sales person and customer service agent all rolled into one, you need to come up with a system that emphasizes self-service without putting that much burden on your customers. So that you don’t have to keep answering online queries from your customers, which can you pull you away from your other functions, you can pre-empt all of the questions your customers would ask you and integrate all of them together with their answers in one FAQ page. You can even include videos and interactive tutorials if it helps your customers. The time you spend in composing a very exhaustive FAQ page will pay off later on in terms of more time for you to manage your business meanwhile keeping your customers happy at the same time. Practical Ecommerce recommends this approach as a number of online vendors have seen great results by employing this strategy.

Treat Each Customer Concern as Urgent

Ever wonder why people love Superman so much? It’s because he is the personification of speedy responsiveness. Whether the problem is a burning building or Lois Lane falling from a helicopter, you can be sure that Superman will be able to save the day in the nick of time. The fact that he shows up promptly whenever he is needed builds confidence in him. You must pattern your customer service strategy on how Superman works. By being prompt in your responses whenever your customers present to you a concern of whatever magnitude, you slowly build a culture that fosters confidence and reliability. While there may be glitches every now and then, your customers will still continue to be loyal to you because they know that you’ll be on top of things in a snap.  You can choose to respond to your customers via phone or e-mail. However, the almost real-time element that social media platforms are known for is also something you can take advantage of. Shep Hyken even suggests going further by being proactive and anticipating your customers’ needs.

Use Autoresponders to Thank and Apologize to Your Customers

Inasmuch as you would like to be like Superman in the paragraph above, you realistically won’t be able to respond to every complaint and sale just mere seconds after the message was sent. That is fine; you don’t have to beat yourself up for that. However, that does not excuse you from not acknowledging that the complaint or order was received. This is when autoresponders fit into the picture. An autoresponder will automatically send out a reply to your customers should they shoot you an e-mail. Make a separate account for sales and customer inquiries, and, likewise, set up corresponding autoresponder messages.

For sales, make sure that your message starts with a thank you to your customer. Also detail in your message the specifics of the when the order is expected to reach your customer and what the customer can do should the order not reach him or her by then. If you want to up the customer service factor, you can even add a special surprise like an online coupon redeemable during the customer’s next purchase. On the other hand, if the message is an autoresponse for complaints, then start off by apologizing. Follow through by reassuring your customer that you are going to fix the issue or make a response as soon as you can. Better yet, include a timeframe for when your customer should hear back from you. Entrepreneur advocates doing so.

Your Portfolio: What You Should Know About Stock Market Investments (Part 2)

Purchase large, popular stocks. If you are new to the market, these options can fill your portfolio with stocks that offer lower risks for their investors. You can then branch out a little, choosing stocks from midsize or small companies. Smaller companies may have the potential to experience exponential growth quickly but they also come with a greater risk of losing money.

Trading stocks online is a good way to save money. Stock trading firms online are more cost effective than the normal brokerage firms. Do your homework to get the best rate. TradeKing and Fidelity are a couple of good, solid choices.

Do you want to invest in stocks? Are you clueless? Look into a investing seminar. You can pay a small fee to attend these, and you can learn a lot of information from experienced stock market professionals.

Get ready to make long-term investments. It can be volatile at times to invest, and people can lost a lot of money in the process. If you are willing to take the occasional short term loss, you will have better long term profits.

It’s very important that you select an industry that you have some familiarity with. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to look at the stock and understand it’s movement. It’s so tough to succeed if you’re not knowledgeable in an industry and don’t know about key industry trends and metrics.

First, look to the ratio of price to earnings and the total of a stock’s projected return when you’re considering adding that stock to your portfolio. A good rule of thumb is that the ratio of price to earning be less than two times the projected return. In other words, if you see a stock that you feel will return 10 percent, the PE ratio should not exceed 20.

Researching each company you invest in, including profit margins, purchasing power, past trends and reputation, can help anyone do better with the stock market. Instead of relying on hearsay, make sure you stay informed with the times! If you use the tips you have learned here, you will profit from your investments.

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