Monday, July 16, 2007

Financial Planning

Many people believe that long term financial planning is only important for the wealthy, or that it’s a task best left for professionals, but in reality there are many steps that the average investor can take to solidify his financial future. The first step in the financial planning process is to determine net worth. An investor’s net worth will serve as a jumping off point to begin thinking about his financial future.

Net worth is simply the sum of an investor’s assets minus the sum of his debts. Assets include all of an investor’s assets including real estate, securities, valuables and cash. The value to use in the calculation is the amount that all of those items could be sold for at the present time. Debts include mortgages, car loans and credit card balances, and should be subtracted from the assets to determine net worth.

Once this financial snapshot is detailed, you can address your specific goals. Always remember to think about both assets and liabilities. It is always nice to acquire new assets, but if assets are appreciating more slowly than debt is growing, net worth is decreasing. It is important to strike a balance between building assets and managing debt.

The goal of financial planning, then, is simply to find ways to increase net worth at a steady pace. Saving money, allowing assets to appreciate, and paying down debt will all contribute to this goal. Incoming cash minus expenses will reveal how much money is available to an investor at the end of a given time period. If this value is negative, expenses are outpacing income, and the difference will have to be paid from savings, decreasing net worth. This is obviously dangerous because if the situation doesn’t change, eventually the reserves will run out. If income sufficiently outpaces expenses, it might be time to start contributing to net worth in earnest by acquiring assets and eliminating debt.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Getting started to stock market

As soon as you begin to bring in enough money so that a portion of it may be a set aside for investing, a plan is necessary to take full advantage of that money. The amount of money available to invest also plays an important role in what investments can be purchased. Some investments are subject to limited access because they require certain minimum amounts. More generally, investing a greater amount of money opens the door to a portfolio with more risk and potentially greater returns. However, despite the importance of investing to your overall long-term financial situation, money for health, auto and life insurance and retirement plan contributions should be a higher priority, and should be budgeted for before beginning to invest. Additionally, investing should begin after high-interest debt, especially credit card debt, is paid off. Because after-tax returns will probably not exceed the interest rates paid on credit card debt, paying off the debt first will increase the amount of money you have each month.

After subtracting out essentials and debt, the first division to make within available funds is between savings and funds to invest. Savings allow for access to cash without the fees and lost opportunities associated with removing money from investments ahead of schedule. They should be highly liquid and will usually be located in a savings account, CD or other safe low-yield investment vehicle. Savings should include an emergency fund and funds for major near term purchases. To create a sufficient emergency fund, you should amass enough cash to pay bills for a couple of months in the event of unemployment to cover the costs of major auto repairs or similar unexpected major expenses.

Once those emergency savings are set aside, you can make decisions about where to invest the remainder of your money. These funds differ from emergency savings because they will expected to outpace inflation, taxes, and other drains on finances to serve as a source of income and security over long term. In order to achieve higher returns, your money will be subject to a somewhat higher level of risk than for the emergency funds you put in the safe but low interest investment. One of the most important aspects of investing is determining time horizons. Put simply, it is crucial to know when you will need the money. Common time horizons are based on large future expenses, such as retirement, college, houses or cars. Knowing when money will be needed allows for the most effective investment strategy to be tailored to fit the specific goals that have been outlined.

When funds for investing have been earmarked, it is time to decide how those funds will be augmented in the future. There are a variety of plans to maintain a steady pace of contributions to investments. Of course, the amount invested will have to be adjusted periodically as income and expenses fluctuate, but developing the habit of putting away some amount of money each month is an important part of building a successful portfolio.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Online Stock Market Trading

How to avoid the dangers of online stock market trading

Online stock market trading has made it possible for millions of individuals, especially those who are not keen on investing in stocks the traditional way, to play the stock market game. Almost anyone, from novice investors to expert day traders, can participate in online stock market trading.

But online stock market trading has many dangers and if you are nit careful you could end up losing instead of earning lost of money.

Online stock markets trading allow individuals to participate in the stock markets at greater speed. But because of this, it has also become easier to make investment mistakes. Therefore, the fundamentals of smart should still be applied in online stock market trading to avoid falling into traps.

One of the most common problems with first-timers in online stock market trading is they think they can make a lot of money online even without any investment skills and knowledge. This is probably brought about by stories of overnight successes. They must keep in mind that for every ten investors that makes lots of money from online stock market trading there are at least ten who lose money.

New online stock market traders think that they could survive in online stock market trading without any investment skills and knowledge is because markets have been bullish recently. For the past six or seven years, common investors made significant profits from any buy and hold strategy. Investors only start to realize the importance of being financially savvy when markets show bearish signals. That’s the only time they employ smart financial planning through diversification.

What potential online stock market investors need to realize is that online stock market trading is really no different from traditional stock market treading. The web hasn't changed the fundamentals of smart investing it has only made it easier to invest. Individuals – like most professional day traders - should still have a set of rules and guidelines to help them avoid the dangers of online stock market trading.

Like in traditional stock market trading, the first thing you have to do is to arm yourself with basic information about the company you’re investing into so as to avoid “gambling.”

Perform some fundamental analysis to determine if the stock is worth the price. You can do this by researching. Good source are websites of major brokerage houses, finance publications and mutual-fund companies.

Because online stock market trading is easier, it becomes tempting to trade often. But it's tough to beat the market on a consistent basis. For the long term, a buy-and-hold strategy is the best way to invest even in online stock markets.

Ethanol Investment Market Stock

Ethanol and its significance in the stock market investing world

In the bid for the world’s search for alternative sources of energy as time is currently running out given the current scarcity of crude oil, there have been numerous initiatives by companies to develop the potential of different alternatives to crude oil such as natural gas and ethanol.

Ethanol is a colorless, clear liquid with an agreeable odor. This is the natural component of ethyl alcohol. Corn, wheat, potatoes and other plants can produce starch that is made into ethanol by the process of fermentation. It can be used as fuel by mixing it with the regular gasoline and this becomes gasohol.

These sources of alternative fuels are currently one of the faces of future technologies that are being developed and researched on by many technology energy companies listed in the stock market. These technology companies have been popular picks of long-term technology savvy investors for more than 5 years.

The potential of ethanol has been the focus of a lot of technology companies in stock exchanges most commonly those listed in the NASDAQ stock exchange. The popularity of this resource as a future alternative to fossil fuels has been recognized in the stock market and numerous initiatives for research and development to make this a renewable source of energy has been ongoing for quite some time.

Although investment performance returns from these alternative energy companies may not yet be as competitive as the established companies that are currently in the business of the popular fossil fuels, the technology for these alternative fuel companies may still be a long way of waiting as the issue of having the necessary infrastructure to produce and distribute alternative sources of fuel like ethanol will take quite some time.

Investors that are optimistic on the future of these alternative energy companies believe that the technology will still require longer waiting. Aside from the waiting of new discoveries, the infrastructure and distribution of energy products produced from alternative energy sources like ethanol will still be more costly.

It will also not necessarily be competitive at its initial stages of introduction to the stock market investors as compared to the established production and distribution processes of companies producing fossil fuel energy products.

While the wait for the availability of alternative energy sources to the public may still be long and initially costly, the world will still have to push forward the developments of alternative energy sources as the world reserves of fossil fuels are already depleting and sooner or later the alternative sources of energy will have to be much more of a priority not only of companies engaged in its development but also of the general public as well.

Stock Market Crash Course

Stock market is like a market place for businessmen. In a public market, goods are sold to the public. In a stock market however, stocks are sold to the public. Company stocks are sold in the form of shares. The more shares a person buys in a company, the higher his or her stocks are for that particular company.

The stock market consists of the primary market and the secondary market. Primary market is where companies raise finances for their operating expenses by selling shares to investors. The secondary are investors who buy and sell those shares to other investors. Their decisions are constantly based on changing market conditions.

A stock market is like an auction house. It is a systematic method of buying and selling. In a stock market though, it is a common sight to see people shouting and gesturing at one another.

The buying and selling of stocks begins in different places. If a person decides to purchase stocks in a particular company, a broker is contacted. This broker in turn takes the money of the investor and coordinates with a floor broker at the stock exchange. Usually a floor broker works for the broker or with the company selling the stocks.

At the stock exchange, floor brokers purchase the stock that the investor wants. When a deal is consummated, it is made known to a broker and the investor becomes a stockholder of the company.

That investor may decide to sell the stock. This is usually done when the price per share has gone up. This entails profit for the investor. For example, if a person bought 100 shares at $20.00 per share and the price increased to $25.00, selling those 100 shares results in $500.00 profit.

The economic principle of supply and demand is the driving force of the stock market. The number of shares of stocks that are open to the public dictates the supply and the number of shares that investors want affects the demand.

Movement of stocks in a certain market causes the constant changes in the prices of stocks.

For example, if most people believe that the economy is growing, they would buy more stocks. But if the economy is in a downfall, their tendency is to sell their stocks.

Many businessmen choose to make a long term investment in the stock market. There are instances where stocks decrease in value causing a stockholder to lose money. The stock market does not guarantee profit. The better a person is in reacting to the changes at the stock exchange; the better his chances are for profit.