In business, we often say that the customer is King and indeed, the consumer is the supreme authority, not only on which products and services they purchase but also on the economy itself. If consumers believe the economy is going well then they will continue to spend, but if they feel poor or they think the economy is tanking or that we are going into a recession, they will stop spending.Consumer economics is fascinating, especially the “consumer confidence” which appears to be 1/3 of the performance of our GDP. At the Online Think Tank, we follow it all very closely, especially right now – sinking dollar, subprime fallout, retail Q4 results, toy imports, auto sales, small business VS. box stores, etc.In the real estate sector, it is particularly important to have a strong consumer confidence level in the economy and the housing markets. The housing real estate market will rebound much faster if people have confidence in the real estate valuations and believe they will go back up. If homebuyers do not believe that the real estate prices will go back up then they will create a self-fulfilling prophecy and that is exactly what will happen.This is why it is very important for government officials, economists and the Fed to put a good spin on the future prospects of the economy and the housing market. If the stock market, real estate industry and consumers believe that this market downturn is only a short-term problem, then the problem will be over shortly. Some folks have criticized the Bush Administration’s plan to shore up the free fall of foreclosures and lack of confidence in the housing markets.Anything that the Bush administration or government can do to return the confidence is all good and even a mere public relations strategy is worthy of note. Having lenders and consumers talk to each other and giving everyone a brief timeout to prevent a landslide of foreclosures in the first half of the year of 2008 is a good thing. Currently, we all know that there is a lot of supply of homes for sale on the market and the prices are depressed and soft. Saying we are in a buyer’s market is somewhat of an understatement right now.Many buyers who are interested in buying a home are holding off or they are making completely lowball bids and each home seller, who takes such an offer helps drive the prices in the neighborhood down even further. This creates more homeowners who are upside down in equity that are willing to walk from their properties and leave the bank with the problems, thus putting more homes on the market – times about 3 million, which is predicted to happen in 2008.The best thing Real Estate Professionals, Federal Reserve, Bush Administration, Wall Street Analysts and Economists can do, is to explain rationally what is going on and help return the confidence to the market by staying positive – that’s true leadership. The real estate market goes through cycles and this is no surprise as every industry sector goes through rotations. At the top of the bubble there were obviously lots of deals going on based on irrational exuberance and when that balloon popped, the bottom dropped.If you are a real estate professional, I advise you to dump the negativity and start talking up your neighborhoods and communities. Talk about why you live in such a great area and why there is still demand for homes in your city. This is the best thing you can do to help the market return. It is time that all real estate professionals become part of the solution and not part of the problem. This is definitely something to contemplate in 2008.I would please like to have your “Personal Commitment” in writing below, by way of a comment stating that you will pull your weight in your market to help the residential real estate market return. This is serious and if you are not going to help solve the problem, then maybe you should find another profession? What say you?
What is Life Insurance?
You can take out Life Insurance to cover yourself and protect your loved ones in case you pass away earlier than expected. It helps to protect your family financially when you’re no longer around and can be used to pay towards Inheritance tax, replace a secondary income, and pay essential bills and expenses. You don’t want that feeling that your family could be struggling when you’re not around. Investing in Life Insurance gives you that reassurance and peace of mind that if something were to suddenly happen to you, there will be support for your family.How old do you have to be to take out Life Insurance?
When applying for Life Insurance, your age doesn’t matter you can be as young as 18 or as old as 64 years old. You do have to be a permanent resident of the UK though to take out a Life Insurance policy. However remember the older you get the more expensive the policy will be; because the older you get the more likely you are to pass away earlier.How many different types of policies are there?
There are two different types of Life Insurance, one called ‘Term Insurance’ which is usually cheaper and ‘Whole of Life Insurance’ which covers you throughout your life so therefore tends to be more expensive. Term Insurance usually runs for a set period of 25 years where the policy covers you if something bad were to happen to you. It would then pay out a cash lump sum to your family members and loved ones. The Whole of Life insurance pays out a lump sum too.Are their different types of term and whole of life insurance?
There is only one type of ‘Whole of Life’ insurance, which covers you for the whole of your life but tends to be more expensive. It also helps protect your family financially when you aren’t around any longer, whereas the term insurance runs for a set period, so if you pass away after the set period your family will not receive a pay out. There are types of Term Insurances, which offer different things for you; these are listed below.Family Income Benefit: This form of Life Insurance helps to provide a second income to your family each month, to help replace yours when you are not around. It pays a monthly tax-free cash lump sum to your loved ones and children. It can be purchased as a ‘add-on’ to your current policy or as a policy alone; this policy is normally chosen by people with kids as it’s best suited for families. You don’t want your children to suffer too much and having financial help set up will help create a future for them.Level Term Insurance: This Life Insurance policy won’t rise during inflation and has a set payment over a set period of time. For example, if you were to claim a few months into the policy or 20 years, the amount paid out to your loved ones will stay the same. It ensures your policy payment won’t change and protects your family and loved ones if something bad and unexpected were to happen to you. It’s a good policy to take out if you want a set amount of money that you want to be paid out to your loved ones after your death. The money is normally used to cover the cost of mortgages.Decreasing Term Insurance: It’s in the name really; the policy decreases on a flat rate as the policy runs in line with the balance remaining. It’s normally used to pay for mortgages. It is paid out as a lump sum, if something were to happen to you, to your loved ones.Increasing Term Insurance: Like Term Insurance the amount you are insured for changes each month, but in this case it rises with inflation. The premiums may change but the cover is always based on the health of yourself when you first took the policy out.How much does Life Insurance cost?
It all depends on a range of circumstances such as; how old you are, your Body Mass Index, general living style and whether you have smoked within the last year. All provider’s or policyholders will check your health before hand so it is worth getting fit and healthy to save yourself a lot of money in the long run. It also depends on the type of policy you take out and whether you purchase any ‘add-ons’. It’s good to compare policies and see which is right for you before you end up paying or not paying for something you may or may not need. The younger you are and the healthier you are; the cheaper it is.If I write my Life Insurance in trust will my loved ones still pay Inheritance tax?
No, they won’t on the insurance policy; the policy bypasses the tax scheme as you have written it in trust. It means that your Life Insurance policy will not be counted within the total amount of assets you have. Therefore protecting the lump sum of money from Inheritance tax. It goes straight to your family and loved ones. This doesn’t mean to say they won’t have to pay any Inheritance tax altogether. They will still need to pay for 40% of tax on assets over £325,000. As your Life Insurance policy is no longer included within your assets, as it is written in trust, your family has a lesser chance of paying Inheritance tax. Although if they do have to pay Inheritance tax it will still help to reduce the amount they pay.
Investment in a precious metal like gold is one of the best investment decisions that you can ever make, especially during these tumultuous economic times. In fact, investing in gold can safeguard your portfolio against dangers of inflation, wars and natural disasters as well as fluctuations in stock prices. However, like with any other investment option, gold investing does come with its share of risks; and you need to understand and mitigate such risks in order to realize the desired returns on your investment.Benefits of investing in goldIt is human to seek a rationale for doing something, especially when money is involved. Here are three key benefits that you can realize from gold investments.1. Protection from inflationDuring times of inflation, money tends to lose its purchasing power resulting in a rise in the cost of living. However, forces of inflation never affect gold prices. Thus, investing in gold can be an excellent way of cushioning your money from the forces of inflation, resulting in great returns on capital.2. LiquidityOne of the greatest benefits of investing in gold is its high liquidity or how quickly you can offset your gold for cash. If you have ever tried to get quick cash from your home or car sale, then you understand how difficult it can be finding the right buyer with the right offer. The same is not true of gold. Exchanging gold for cash is very easy. All you need to do is get to a precious metal dealer in your area and sell your gold at the current market value. No hassle!3. Safe investmentDuring tough as well as good economic times, gold has retained its reputation as a safe investment option. For example, an ounce of gold could have bought you a piece of suit at the turn of the 20th century. Today, and ounce of gold is selling for about $1300, which is more than you need for a nice piece of suit. The same cannot be said the dollar which have lost its value significantly over the past century. This makes gold investments the best choice for investors who are looking for the best retirement saving plans.Gold investments: Your optionsGold investments come in various forms. All you need to do is identify your investment goals. If all you want is grow your portfolio and make profits at the right time, then you might want to consider investing in physical gold. This can be in the form of gold bars, coins or biscuits. Here are some of the best gold investing options that you might want to consider.1. Physical goldGold was one of the first forms of legal tender in the world. If you are considering investing in physical gold then you may want to buy gold coins and bullions. The best way to do this is by buying government produced gold coins and bullions. These are commonly used as currency and are more expensive than other types of gold investments. Examples of gold coins that you may consider buying include American Eagle Coins and Canadian Maple Leafs.2. Gold IRA investmentIf you are looking for a retirement planning tool, then you need to invest in gold IRA. IRAs OR Individual Retirement Accounts were created by the IRS to help American citizens save for their retirement. There are two types of gold IRA investment options — gold roth IRA and conventional gold IRA.Gold is justly referred to as the ultimate haven for investors. Investing in gold can provide you with a great hedge against currency weakening, economic and natural crises as well as forces of inflation and deflation. When the going gets rough and other investment options take a beating, gold investments will always deliver positive returns. In addition, unlike currency, gold has a real intrinsic value, retaining its purchasing power through generations.