Average Savings For Retirement By Age

Soaring technology stocks led the longest bull market in history during the 1990s, driving investors to shun stocks of dividend-paying firms.

The steady stock performance of more conservative firms just seemed pale in comparison. But now, rising interest rates and slowing corporate earnings are causing investors to again turn to the tried-and-true: high-quality firms with strong cash flows, solid earnings and a healthy dividend stream.

Companies that can commit to paying a regular dividend are ones that generally are fundamentally strong and optimistic about their future. A companys dividend history is a good indication of its willingness to share profits and demonstrate accountability to investors. In periods of market uncertainty, these qualities become especially appealing to investors.

Stocks of companies that pay dividends generally have less price fluctuation than stocks of non-dividend payers. The dividend can create a cushion and smooth out a stocks price volatility. Its important to remember, however, that although dividend-paying stocks can add diversification to your portfolio and help minimize volatility, they still involve risk.

The 2003 Tax Act added allure to dividend-paying stocks. It lowered the tax rate for individuals on qualified dividends from as much as 38.6 percent to just 15 percent, depending on your income tax bracket.

This appreciation for dividends has spawned a renewed interest in mutual funds that pay dividends like the American Century Equity Income Fund (TWEIX), which has been investing in dividend-paying stocks for more than a decade. The companies in the fund typically are well-established and fundamentally strong, have steady earnings, a solid balance sheet and a history of paying dividends.

The size of dividends also is on the rise. Three quarters of the companies in the S&P 500 Index pay dividends, and more than half of them increased their payouts during 2004. Thats proof of a lot of strong balance sheets. A business has to have the earnings to pay a dividend and a strong balance sheet to increase one.

Investors preference for dividend-paying stocks is likely to continue, and so will the ability of many companies to continue paying dividends. Several years of economic uncertainty have driven companies to cut costs, reduce debt and rein in their capital spending. That means many of them now have a lot of cash on their balance sheets.

This combination of lower debt and larger cash pools gives them the ability to increase dividends. Even with the current emphasis returning more cash to shareholders, the current dividend payout ratio is still below the historical average.

Retirement Options For Self Employed

Purchasing a new car is always an exciting time in life; however, it can also be confusing and time confusing, especially with so many different types of financing options available. Should you purchase your next vehicle outright or would it be better to lease it? Which option will be better financially for you? Read on for more tips to help you make the right decision for you and your finances the next time youre in the market for a new car.

Its important to understand that there is not a clear cut answer to this question. It really depends on your needs and situation. When considering whether it would be better to buy or lease, it is important to understand all of the terms regarding the lease. Generally, the lease will be for a specified period of time and you will probably be limited to the amount of mileage that can be placed on the vehicle. In the event that you go over that specified mileage at the end of your lease period, you will be liable for paying the overage. Lease agreements also pay what is known as a finance charge at the end of the lease agreement. So, it is important to understand that while your lease payments may be less than payments would be if you bought the vehicle outright, you will still be responsible for a sum of money at the end.

In addition, it should be pointed out that you do not build up any equity in a vehicle when you lease it, only when your purchase it. On the other hand, when you purchase a vehicle and drive it for a long period of time, while you do build up equity, that amount declines the longer you own the vehicle. With leasing, you have the advantage of only having to pay for what you use while with the buying option you must pay for everything, regardless of whether you use it or not.

Leasing gives you the advantage of obtaining lower payments and the option of having a new vehicle every two or three years. This can be important to many people because it provides you with the benefit of having the latest safety features on your vehicle and the comfort of knowing you wont have any warranty problems. If you dont care about whether you build-up equity in the vehicle and feel you wont go over the mileage limits then leasing may be the right option for you.

On the other hand, buying the vehicle outright; will mean higher monthly payments but the overall cost is about the same as leasing a vehicle, especially when all factors are taken into consideration, such as mileage overage payments and finance charges. Purchasing also gives you the benefit of actually owning the vehicle and if you opt to pay off the loan and keep the car, it can mean you wont have a vehicle payment. You must also take into consideration; however, that when the warranty expires you will be responsible for the cost of repairs. This can be offset when you take into consideration that you dont have to worry about going over mileage limits as with leasing. Additionally, there are no surprise costs at the end as there are with lease options. In the end you really need to give thought to your own situation, needs and desires.

Will Planning

You may have recently heard about online cash advance services and wondered if the rumors of how easy it was to apply for an online cash advance were true. Well they are! Indeed the online cash advance requirements are so simple anyone can apply!

In order to fulfill the online cash advance requirements you will need to have a current job and a valid bank account. Assuming you have both of these, you have just qualified to apply for an online cash advance. The only remaining question is how much you want to borrow. Normally the lender of an online cash advance will provide you with a percentage of your salary – with a minimum borrowed sum of $250 and a maximum amount borrowed being $1,000. You will not be asked to undergo a credit check and provide you can supply copies of your last pay-slip and bank account, the online application can be completed in less than 30 minutes.

With such simply online cash advance requirements, many borrowers find the service being offered is an ideal way to meet short-term cash-flow problems or to help them pay an unexpected bill. Youll need to be careful, however, that you do not become dependent on the services of online cash advance lenders as the interest charged is not cheapest way you can borrow. So while the simple online cash advance requirements make this a great way to get out of short-term trouble, dont make this form of borrowing part of your long-term financial planning.

That said, if you happen to have a bad credit rating then the minimal online cash advance requirements do make this service a god-send when it comes to finding a way to borrow money when no one else is willing to listen to your needs.

How To Calculate Retirement Income

This year President Bush signed a bill to change the bankruptcy law. This will go into effect this October of 2005. The new bankruptcy law will make it more difficult to file for bankruptcy. This may be bad news to individuals who are drowning in debt. On the other hand it is good news to business and individuals that work very hard to maintain good credit and not suffer from profit loss.

When the new bankruptcy law goes into effect it will be harder for anyone to file for chapter 7 and chapter 11 bankruptcy. Filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy will be your most likely option.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy? It is an option that is given to those who have any kind of steady income. Basically, anyone who has a job. It is a payment plan and not a way to wipe a way your debt. Which means the days of wiping the slate clean are over. However Chapter 13 does protect your assets. The court devises a payment plan in which you are to pay to a trustee that is appointed by the court. Usually the payments are to be paid off in three years time. There are some exceptions, but that is up to the courts to decide.

So now that the bankruptcy law is changing what are some things people should do to avoid debt?

One very important thing is to never live outside your own means. If you have credit cards dont use them as if you will have the money every month to pay the minimum balance. Be prepared for the unexpected such as a loss of your job or loss of any other source of income. This is where some people get into trouble. Protect yourself and your assets by being insured. Some people get into debt due to unexpected medical expenses or property damage. When you dont have a way to help cover these expenses you will find your self in some kind of debt.

Try and keep some money off to the side in case some kind of unplanned expense should arise. Have some kind of back up plan to avoid the need for bankruptcy.

One of the reasons for the bankruptcy law change is because of over use of the system. There are actually some people who pre plan filing for bankruptcy as they abuse their credit cards. It sounds hard to believe, but it is true.

One may ask how this is fair to the people who didnt do anything wrong and still landed them self in debt? Unfortunately changes in the law arent always fair to those who did nothing wrong. As the old saying goes, ” It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch”.

The only thing we can do now is become more responsible about our finances. Take more steps to avoid the need to ever file for bankruptcy.

How Much Needed For Retirement

Many finance firms are wiling to offer a sum of $1000 to those in need, provided the beneficiary has a provable source of income and agrees to repay the amount as per the firms outlined repayment schedule. However, needless to say that you would end up repaying more than you acquire from the cash advance firm. This is because the cash advance firm is likely to charge an interest on such credit lending.

Getting hold of a $1000 cash advance wont be a cinch by any means. You would have to carry out a preliminary research of reputable cash advance firms willing to lend $1000. Though its easy to find cash advance of around $250 to $500, you might have to shop around a bit in order to bag $1000. It is recommended to keep several options open during your quest for a cash advance. This way, if one cash advance firm leaves you high and dry, you could easily switch to another.

Sums of $1000 and below are considered trifling amounts by bigger loan firms standards. Therefore, it is highly unlikely to acquire a $1000 loan from a loan firm. However, cash advance firms are a viable option for people in urgent need of around $1000. Cash advance firms would gladly approve your application, provided you have a provable income source. But, cash advance companies normally charge a higher rate of interest relative to bigger loan firms.

All in all, cash advance is a nice and quick way to acquire that much needed cash in a jiffy. But since the rate of interest is on the higher side, its best to take up a loan from a loan firm, if possible. In general, you should turn to a cash advance firm only when you have no other means of acquiring cash.

Individual 401K Calculator

We have all heard of the familiar indices such as the Dow Jones Industrials or the S&P 500, but we dont necessarily know how they relate to us as investors.

An index in a book helps us find a particular topic or subject within a big book, and similarly an index of stocks helps us to sample a much larger group of stocks, and to learn about the entire subject by watching just a portion of it.

The indices are basically just lists of particular stocks that meet certain guidelines or criteria for being included in the index.

For example, the stocks that make up the Down Jones Industrials meet certain qualifications. They are stocks in industrial companies, and they are stocks that are traded on the Down Jones. Furthermore, the creators of the index choose them because of the way they tend to represent the other stocks that fall into those categories. So when they choose index stocks, it is sort of like choosing a political representative who shares the views of the other people from his or her town or region. Because the stocks and their companies change over time, the indices are also changed. The Dow Jones index will usually add a new stock or two each year, and let others drop out of the index. In this way the most appropriate stocks are kept in the index, and then those who watch the changes in the index can get a general idea of the movement of the whole Dow Jones market of stocks.

One of the most interesting things about these indexed stocks is that you can purchase shares of the index, without having to go out and buy each individual stock in the entire index. Lets say that for instance you like Dow Jones stocks. You can buy an index fund that invests in the funds found in the Dow Jones index. If the stocks on average go up, so will your investment in the fund that is tied to them. By buying the index you get diversity to protect you from losses and to help you take advantage of gains.

You can buy all sorts of index funds that participate in various types of stocks, because an index fund is sort of like a mutual fund that buys a particular type of stock. If you want to invest in the Japanese stock market or the London stock market, there are funds you can buy that are exclusively tailored for investors like you. And if you like transportation stocks, you can buy an index fund of transportation stocks. The same applies to stocks related to silver, gold, livestock, European currency, or a number of other different assets.There are even index funds to help you buy and sell based on the ups and downs of the market in options and futures.

To learn about index funds, and which ones might look like attractive investment vehicles for you, you can follow them in business newspapers. Or better yet, ask your local stock-brokerage firm to give you more information about index funds, and what sectors or areas of emphasis they participate in or target on behalf of their index fund stockholders.

Savings Retirement Calculator

The good thing about bad credit is that you can fix it. If you start now, over time, your bad credit can turn into good credit, and you could qualify for the loans you want at the rates you want. The most important aspect of rebuilding your credit after it has been damaged is showing lenders and creditors that you are serious about repaying your debt and that you can be a reliable borrower over a significant period of time.

Negative account histories remain on your credit report for up to 7 to 10 years, depending on the type of action. Bankruptcy can stay on your report for up to 10 years, and collections drop off after 7 years.

Advice varies widely as to the best methods to rebuild your credit. Some points most experts agree on include:

  1. Starting small – Dont be intimidated by large debt amounts. Even small payments, made on a regular basis, will improve your payment history and, eventually, your credit score.
  2. Spending less than you earn – Borrowing money to finance a lifestyle that is beyond your means will only land you deeper in debt.
  3. Paying your bills on time – Building credibility as a borrower involves meeting your commitments to pay, early if possible.
  4. Keeping your balances low – When using your healthier or newer accounts, keep the balance that you owe between 25% and 50% of your line of credit. An average of 30% is suggested.

Other tips might not seem related to your credit score. Staying at least two years on the same job demonstrates steady employment, and you appear more stable to lenders. You can also open an emergency savings account. Contribute to the account a little at a time on a regular basis. This will not only appear as positive activity to lenders, but also will serve as reserve money to keep you from charging unexpected expenses. Finally, stop borrowing for a while. Certainly avoid borrowing more money from home equity or other lines of credit to pay off credit card debt. Shuffling the debt does not make it disappear.

When establishing new credit, it may be necessary at some point to open a new account once you have paid down your existing ones. Credit unions usually offer the best deals to people with damaged credit. If you are unable to qualify for a credit card, try a smaller company, such as a department store or gas station that might offer you a line of credit.

You may want to look into getting a secured credit card. Offered by several banks and credit unions, secured credit cards are a positive way to show lenders that you can pay bills on time and be trusted with credit. To use a secured credit card, you will deposit a sum of money into a savings account and pay a small yearly fee to the institution offering the card. If you deposit $500, you will have a line of credit up to $500. Using your card on a regular basis and paying it off monthly in full could lead to a traditional line of credit. Once the bank or credit union sees that you are capable of maintaining your secured account, they may extend an offer to you with a fair interest rate.

Another option is to have a friend or relative co-sign for a line of credit with you. This step is risky because you are not only gambling with your loved ones good credit, but also with their good faith.

After a few months of good behavior, order copies of your credit report from all three credit agencies and check for improvements or errors. Be sure that negative information that you have remedied has been removed. File any complaints in writing and check your report again in a few months to ensure that the changes have been made.

Repairing damaged credit is time-consuming but well worth it, both to your peace of mind and to your pocketbook.

Retirement Planning Checklist

Small business is again in transition. Many employees, now working from home, are no longer tied to a geographic office and the woes of commuting. This is a relatively new phenomenon with hints of explosive sector growth in the days ahead. As this turbulent economy has forced downsizing, offshore restructuring and closures in large companies, many new entrepreneurs have been born. These are people, who instead of tirelessly attempting to find new employment and possibly enduring the same fate as previously experienced, are now starting small businesses and enjoying the benefits and perils of self-employment.

Theres an old story telling of an Admirals decision to fight a battle against overwhelming odds. It seems that he was approaching the coast of an enemy land, with a larger naval force closing in from behind and a great army approaching from the land ahead. He prayed and then addressed his men. He announced that their battle weary forces would land on the beach ahead, dig in and prepare for the upcoming battle. There was no turning back and no other alternative. He ordered their ships burned after they landed. Their only choice was to fight to win or perish. They defeated their enemy because he eliminated any other escape route. They were fixed on the goal of survival and none other.

That is the same attitude we as entrepreneurs must take. We can not afford to be denied. We must grow and prosper or our business will surely perish. We must constantly be looking for ways to cost-effectively market our business and increase sales. We must control costs and have sufficient cash flow for daily operations. Each of us must be persistent, relentless and vigilant. As CEO, we are the manufacturer, the sales team, the marketing department, legal office, accounting office, human resources manager, IT manager, the webmaster and so on. We cant afford to be all these positions. Our job is to sell! We must locate cost effective resources to help us grow and protect our investment in our business.

The growth of the internet has changed our marketplace as well. Years ago, a small business owner decided upon a geographic chunk of the market and set up shop. Today, that shop is typically located in an office at the entrepreneurs home. The marketplace is now the world. The costs of marketing products and communicating worldwide are so low that almost anyone can take part in this revolution. Sophisticated voice mail, cell phones, email and effective ecommerce web sites now provide the illusion of size and grandeur for even the smallest home-based business. The end customer typically has no idea whether their supplier is local or across the world. He may be dressed in a shirt and tie or in his pajamas! All that typically matters is that the exchange of product and services is successfully made for a profit.

It is critically important for the small, home-based entrepreneur to be aware of resources available to her as she makes this great leap. Too many people leap prematurely into business only to fail because of poor planning and insufficient financial resources. Do not get caught in this trap. Dont quit your day job until you have enough cash on hand to pay the bills for at least a year into your new venture. Become aware of and develop the resources available to you. You want everything possible going for you as you make this leap of faith into the entrepreneurial world.

There are incredible resources, partially funded by the State and private resources, available at little to no cost to entrepreneurs, with the purpose of aiding the successful growth of small business. There are also numerous magazines devoted to small business, home-based business, marketing, sales, accounting, etc. Get tuned in to these and other resources available to you. Read your industry publications to stay abreast of competition and other facets of your business interests.

A single legal issue, FACTA problem, accounting error or marketing miscue can put you out of business. In the case of FACTA, insufficient security or poor record-keeping these days could find you legally responsible for a single employees identity fraud issue, which may end up being very costly. A single lawsuit or vendor dispute can shut you down. Many entrepreneurs are ignorant, ill-prepared and under-schooled with regard to these and other issues. Do not get caught in the deadly ignorance trap.

There is more opportunity available today than ever before for the wise entrepreneur. Get all you ducks in a row before you make the fateful leap into the new world marketplace. Be smart, learn all you can as quickly as possible and take action on your ideas. Like the Admiral, be determined to win in the face of what may appear to be overwhelming adversity.

Virginia Retirement

What would you do with an extra $886 each year? Pay off your credit cards? Get braces for your child? Make an extra mortgage payment?

For anybody, $886 is a lot of money. But that is exactly how much you and every man, woman and child end up paying each year to cover the cost of litigation in America. According to a new survey by Tillinghast Towers Perrin, tort lawsuits – civil cases involving an injury or wrong – cost Americans $260 billion in 2004, or $886 per citizen.

Americans are justifiably outraged by this sobering statistic. They want to know how this happened and what can be done to fix the problem.

In the past decade, more plaintiffs lawyers have exploited flaws in our legal system in search of jackpot justice. They tend to sue companies with deep pockets. Then they shop around the country looking for courts and judges who will most likely rule in their clients favor, regardless of the merits of the case. While clients may or may not end up with a generous verdict or settlement, trial lawyers almost always make out well, taking home millions for themselves.

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform is fighting back. One way we do that is by letting the public know which states have the fairest or most balanced legal systems. ILR just released its fifth survey of state liability systems, conducted by Harris Interactive. Over 1,400 corporate counsels ranked the best to worst.

This years top five states are Delaware, Nebraska, Virginia, Iowa and Connecticut. And the worst, West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Hawaii. Dishonorable mention goes to Wisconsin, which dropped 13 places in just two years.

Why the ranking? Because companies are reluctant to do business in states with a reputation for lawsuit abuse. And frivolous lawsuits drive away jobs, businesses and doctors. In the end, lawsuit abuse hurts you and your pocketbook.

American Funds Retire

There are so many car financing options available how do you know which one is right for you? Read on to obtain information about all of the different options available and how to determine which one will provide you with the best benefits.

Many people take advantage of an option known as dealer financing. This is when you handle the financing of your new vehicle directly through the lender. Now, that doesnt necessarily mean youll be making your payments directly to the dealer. Usually, they work with a finance company to provide the financing to you. There are definitely some benefits to this option. First, depending on your situation you may be able to obtain extremely low interest rates; in some case you may be able to obtain a zero percent interest rate. In order to obtain this special rate; however, you will need to have excellent credit with no problems. If you have any problems at all on your credit history you will not qualify for the special interest rate although you will probably be able to still obtain a loan; just at a higher rate. When your credit report is not perfect ask yourself whether you could get a better deal at a bank.

Bank financing is an option that is typically available as long as your credit history is good. This means it doesnt have to be perfect but you shouldnt have any major flaws either. If you have already worked with the bank in the past this will increase your chances of obtaining a loan. While a bank interest rate may not be as low as what a car dealer can offer for individuals with excellent credit, it may be better than what you could obtain at the dealership if your credit is only good.

Another option you may wish to consider is credit union financing. Of course, this option is only available if you belong to a credit union. If you do happen to have a credit union membership; however, the rate available to you may be much better than what you can obtain through a bank or dealership.

These days it is also quite easy to simply go online and surf around for a quote from an online lender. This option has become so popular many lenders are now willing to compete with one another and offer very attractive rates. In the event you do not have perfect credit, this can be a good option for you; just make sure you fully understand all of the terms of the loan before accepting it.

Another option would be to simply borrow the funds from a family member of friend. Of course, this is extremely risky because it could cause problems in your relationship in the event that you run into a problem with the payments. But, if you cant obtain a loan elsewhere because of credit problems this may be a good option.

Finally, you may wish to consider refinancing your home or taking out a home equity loan in order to finance the cost of your new home. This basically allows you to pay cash for your vehicle with the proceeds of the loan and then paying back the money through the refi loan. In some cases you may be able to get a better interest rate with this route than you would with a traditional bank auto loan. In addition, the interest you pay on the loan is tax deductible. Like other options; however, there are some disadvantages. With this option, be aware that you could be putting your house at risk, not just your car, if you run into a problem and cant make the payments in the future.