Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Beware The Boom: Diversify Your Portfolio To Protect From The Bust

article imageThere’s always a “next big thing” in investing. In the early 2000s, it was Enron. In 2008, it was real estate. Seeing outlandish returns from high-performing sectors can lead investors to chase the herd and pour most of their capital into a narrow segment of the economy. It hasn’t worked out well in the past.

The most important protection you can provide for your portfolio is a diverse range of assets. While this seems straightforward, it can be difficult to put into practice. Let’s look at four ways you can diversify your holdings that may not be so obvious.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Is A Personal Loan The Answer To My Urgent Money Need?

Q: I need to get some money together in a hurry. Help! What can I do?
 
A: There’ll always be times in your adult life when you find yourself in need of a sizable amount of money without enough savings on hand. Maybe you’re drowning in debt, or you just spent some time in the hospital, or your car started breathing fire. Whatever the case, you need that money pretty quickly. For times like these, consider a personal loan. A personal loan is a loan of any amount of money, typically ranging from $1,000 to more than $50,000, which is not secured with collateral – that is, there’s no property backing the value of the loan. Personal loans may seem attractive, but they do come with some downsides. Is a personal loan right for you? And if so, how do you go about getting one?

Let’s take a look at four critical questions to ask yourself before you get a personal loan.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ain’t Nothing Like A Real Thing – Tips to Avoid Being Taken By Rental Scams

Friday, August 19, 2016

Whose Fault Is Fraud? The Complicated Reality Of Debit Card Transactions

When you use your debit card, you visibly see an actual interaction between three people.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Job Seekers And Social Media

Q: I’m a recent college grad who’s looking for my first real job. I know companies are looking at my online presence, but I don’t know what they’re looking for. What can I do to make my online presence an asset?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

From Summer Job To Just Plain Job: How To Turn Your Internship Into A Promising Career

You’ve fetched coffee, made copies and done all the typing and filing for an entire department. Congrats! You’ve finally finished your summer internship! In many ways, just going back to school would be a wonderful relief, but you might be looking for more.

Monday, August 8, 2016

It’s All Fun And Games ‘Til Someone Loses A Credit Card: Safety In Online Games

Before the cellphone era, gaming was a pretty secure business. You went to the store, bought a disk, a cartridge or deck of cards, and played it many times over until you grew bored of it. On the surface, today’s gaming seems like an improvement. The majority of gaming apps are free and they’re always available to play regardless to time and place. This convenience, though, does come with costs.
 
Obviously, the news surrounding the robbery of “Pokemon Go” players in O’Fallon, Missouri is one type of threat that mobile apps can pose. Be aware of apps that others can use to predict your location, and always keep an eye on your surroundings. That will keep you safe from the most obvious threats, but not from all of them.
 
It is incredibly convenient to have all your games on a single device you can keep in your pocket and have with you at all times. The downside is that everything else — your phone number, your email address, even your financial information — may all be on that device, too. With everything on one device, it’s become easier for online scammers to take what they want. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Be on the lookout for these three ways mobile games take your money, and know what you can do about them.
 
1.) In-app purchases
In-app purchases are deceptively simple. You “buy” a free game in the app store, thinking you got a bargain. You play the game for a few minutes, enjoying yourself as you assemble an army or destroy your friends at trivia or pop some bubbles. After a little while, though, you hit a snag — you’ve maxed out the number of games you can play in one day, and you’ll have to wait 24 hours to play again. You’re frustrated and upset. You’re willing to do anything you can to keep playing. And, lo and behold, the game offers you a solution. You can pay a small fee of $0.99 to continue playing — and paying.
 
Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution to this one: Either you cough up the $0.99 or you don’t. In cases like this, sometimes the best move is just not to play that game. The golden rule of the internet works here, too: if you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. Don’t support business models that work on addiction and deception. Find a different game. Sometimes it’s even better to find a game you have to buy once to feel a little more secure in knowing you won’t have to keep buying up to keep playing.
 
2.) Phishing scams
This scam, too, starts with the purchase of an innocent-looking app. In order to use it, the app claims, you need to set up an account with the app manufacturer’s website. Citing security reasons, it says the account will ensure mysterious strangers cannot come in and mess up your process playing tic-tac-toe and hangman. All it needs is your email account, and then for you to create a username and password. You input your email account, you come up with a username, and then you use the password that you use for everything. Just like that, you’ve given a company you know nothing about access to all the details of your online life. Any other system you use that password for can now be compromised.
 
Another version of the scam is the fake game login screen. An email looking like it’s from the game company will soon arrive. It will tell you to login through a link in the email to receive a fabulous in-game prize. Of course, there is no prize, and the email was a tool for scammers to collect your login information.
 
The best way to prevent this is through research. A quick search for the app you’re considering and the word safe is all you need. Look at the top three results. You can then make the smart decision about whether or both to give that app your email address.
 
3.) “Bonus credit” 
This one begins in the same way an in-app purchases scam does. You buy the app, you play the app for awhile, and it suddenly says you can’t play anymore today. In this case, though, it’s not that you’ve run out of time, it’s that you’ve run out of credits, coins, or some other form of in-app currency that lets you play the game. Once you’ve paid all your coins for the day, there’s nothing for you to do but wait. All you have to do to get more is watch an advertisement or take an IQ quiz. The advertisements are, surprisingly, almost always legit, but the “IQ quiz” will include an agreement to pay $10 a month on a phone bill!
 
This scam is especially sneaky because crooks don’t need access to a credit card number or a login. All that’s necessary is for one user on a family plan, even a child, to click through a service agreement without reading it carefully. Then, the whole family’s on the hook. If you don’t go through your bill carefully every month, these charges can add up, and fast.
 
For this one, awareness and common sense are the keys. Once you know that the quiz is a scam, simply avoid taking the quiz – at least the quiz that asks for your phone number. Avoid apps that ask you for purchases to play the game. Research apps before you give them any personal information.
The gaming industry has long passed the simplicity of Pong and Pac-Man, but as long as you keep your personal security your number one priority, they can still be just as fun.

Friday, August 5, 2016

College Visits

Q: My kids are gearing up for some college campus visits. I’m excited for their future, but concerned for my family’s financial present. How can we see all the schools we’re considering?
 
A: College planning is exciting for both students and parents, but when you add up the cost of hotels, meals, airplane tickets and gas money, excitement can easily turn to nausea. It seems like just visiting the colleges can cost more than attending them! It’s even worse if you’ve got more than one promising scholar and they’re wanting to see places spread as far across the country as you can imagine. Let’s take a look at some ways to help make this part of the college search affordable.
 
1.) Get help from the school
 
Many schools offer discounted lunches, hotels stays, free shuttle service or even free airfare. Blog.collegegreenlight.com keeps a list of every college that offers fly-in programs and it’s updated annually. If your target school isn’t on the list, it’s always worth a phone call to the admissions office. Not only can they connect you with resources to make your trip more affordable, they may also be able to arrange meetings with professors or other students who can make your trip more worthwhile.
 
2.) Tour from home
 
You can conduct a tour from the comfort of your own home with the help of the internet. Many college websites have all the information you’d learn from a college tour and more, including a virtual tour visitors can take on their own time. You can even go to youvisit.com to browse over 100 virtual tours, complete with video tours and real students acting as tour guides. As a bonus, many schools consider “informed interest” an important factor in an application decision. This means that the more facts your child learns about a college that they can mention off-hand in an essay, the better their chances are of getting in.
 
3.) Translate visits into savings
 
Some colleges offer fee waivers for students who visit. Most fees are only about $50 (unless you’re applying to one of the big name schools – Harvard charges as much as $75 per application). But $50 multiplied by the average of seven schools each student applies to in a given year adds up to $350 you just saved by visiting the college in person.
 
4.) Schedule for efficiency
 
Most college tours take less than an hour, and most “college towns” have many colleges within a short driving distance. If you want to speed through, going for quantity over quality, you can hit quite a few in one day. But while the tour might be quick, it might not show as much “demonstrated interest” in a college if you were to dine and dash. To get the most application boost from your visit, you have to take the time to stay for an info session. Be sure to provide complete and accurate information to the school so they can match easily it with your application. If it’s an important college, it might be a good idea to stay for an interview. Using a schedule like this, it’s best to plan to visit one school in the morning and another in the afternoon to make the most out of this “vacation.”
 
5.) Tour with a group
 
College group tours are growing in popularity. They save you hundreds of dollars while making sure your child sees as many as 21 colleges in eight days. These tours cover the cost of hotels, transportation and meals. They also take the burden off your shoulders of deciding which schools are the best for your child to see and when. Your child can also meet other high schoolers who are looking at colleges, and be able to take comfort in someone else going through the same thing they are. It’s also a great way to ensure your student can get to visit schools while preserving some of your vacation days! You can check out some of these tour groups at college-visits.com and campusvisitexperts.cetours.com.
 
College may be the best time of any young person’s life, and your child deserves to find a college that’s a good fit. The touring stage of that process always seems frantic and panicky, and like it’s draining your wallet day by day. It’s definitely the hardest part for you as a parent before you have to say goodbye in the fall. But if you just take the time to look into the resources you have, you can find the school of your child’s dreams without turning your savings into a nightmare.
 
Your Turn: How did you save–or how do you plan to save–on checking out colleges?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Advice From The Bottom: What Losing A Million Dollars Taught Entrepreneurs About Finance


A million bucks sounds, to most people, like absolute security, because being a millionaire seems like it would put you in a strong financial position for life. If your car were to break down or you lose your job, a million dollars could solve those problems pretty easily.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in personal finance. Even a million dollars can go away quickly through a string of bad luck or poor decisions. Learn the lesson from these ex-millionaires to keep a tight grip on what you have.