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Newbie Mistakes in Precious Metal Investing

There’s enough talk of currency devaluation and potential market crashes to make the most stalwart among us think about investing in physical precious metals, even as a diversification.

Gold and silver are the most popular precious metals for investors; gold is much more expensive than silver, so if you can only afford silver at present, don’t worry, just go for it – it’s a start!

Before you start, though, take this very sage advice so you don’t fall prey to these rookie errors.

Going in blind

If you just pile in one day and buy everything you can afford, you could look at the prices of precious metals a week later and find that you bought at the height of the market and if you’d just waited, you could have bought a lot more with your funds. Watching the prices of metals for a while means you can avoid purchases when the prices are higher, then buy at the bottom of the market and watch your investment increase in value.

Not shopping around

You should always compare prices and find out more about the dealers you’re looking at. Some sellers are just out to make a quick buck and they’ll see your inexperience, which could make them sell to you at an artificially-inflated price. You’ve essentially thrown that extra money away, so spend some time getting a feel for market averages before you decide on the right dealer.

Buying scrap gold and silver

Just don’t do it! No-one wants to bother with tatty old jewelry at the best of times, let alone a financial crisis. Scrap gold and silver is not an investment unless you have your own smelter! In addition, your scrap gold and silver may have lower-than-ideal percentages of gold and silver in it!

Buying from an unverified online seller

If you go off the beaten track you increase the risk of buying fake products or coins and bars of low purity. Worse still, you could end up with entirely fake bars and coins or even nothing at all to show for your money. Make sure you only buy from well-established specialist bullion dealers – in person or online.

You don’t diversify enough

You should have larger and smaller bars and coins of at least two metals. Gold and silver are ideal, but if you can afford some platinum then buy it. You also need different sizes so that you’re not stuck trying to split a 1oz gold ingot in a time of emergency.

Not looking at the purity

You should buy as pure as you can – 99% or 99.9% – because bars and coins that are 90% pure don’t actually cost that much less and you may have difficulty shifting it when you need to. It’s better to spend $500 on silver that’s 99.9% pure than $450 on the same weight that’s only 90% pure.

Concentrating too much on metals

We still are using paper and electronic money, so don’t tie up all your funds in metals. We’re likely to be using paper money for ten or so years yet, so carry on paying your bills, grocery shopping and mortgage with your usual funds! Don’t overbuy on metals, you need some liquid assets for quite some time yet.

 

Penniless Preparations – 5 Tips For Buying a Car on a Budget

Time and tide wait for no man – or so the saying goes.  Neither does the relentless need to get to work, drop kids at school or pick up the groceries.

Whether you are a first time car buyer or an experienced driver who finds themselves a little short in the bank account with a dead car in the driveway, finding the best car deal on a budget just can’t wait.

Fortunately, with a little know-how there are some great deals out there if you know how to find them.

Tip 1 – Finance facts

Taking out a car loan makes sense as it frees up your cash for day to day expenses.  However, don’t wait until you have found the car of your dreams before thinking about getting the finance to pay for it.  Dealerships are renowned for the high cost of their financing and restricting your search only to car yards limits your options.

Car finance providers, such as Latitude offer the flexibility to purchase from both dealerships and private sellers; increasing your buying power.  They also provide the capacity to take a month off from repayments in the event of unforeseen hiccups or to adjust the repayments to suit your circumstances.

Tip 2 – Auctions

After a recent hail storm in Melbourne, many car dealerships, including Mercedes, found their entire fleet significantly and irreparably damaged.  The bulk of these luxury vehicles ended up in motor auction rooms – going under the hammer with no reserve.  This means in theory at least, that a buyer could pick up a brand new luxury car for $1.

Whilst the bargain buying wasn’t quite that good, the savings were nevertheless, substantial.  This windfall for buyers may have been a rare event but weekly motor auctions are held throughout the country and offer savvy buyers the chance to pick up cars at genuine bargain basement prices.

These auctions are a case of ‘buyer beware’ so take along a mechanically knowledgeable advisor.

Tip 3 – Old New

The good news is that as soon as a new car has been driven off the lot its value decreases by an average of 11%.  That means you can grab a bargain with low mileage simply by looking for demonstration or last year’s, models. The balance to this is that warranties may not be transferable so check.

Tip 4 – Private pick-up

Buying a car privately is a double-edged sword.  The cost of the car is often lower than a dealership and open to negotiation but you are buying a car with an unknown history and without a warranty.

A number of reputable companies such as RACV and Redbook offer pre-purchase inspections to avoid the disaster of buying a lemon or someone else’s money pit.  To avoid having to outlay for inspections multiple times do your due diligence.  Ask pertinent questions such as:

  • Does the seller have a genuine reason for selling?
  • Does the car carry a valid roadworthy certificate (RWC)?
  • How does it drive? Does the car display:

○    Visible oil leaks

○    A clunking noise when turning the wheels

○    High engine temperature while driving

Tip 5 – Do the legwork

It may be obvious, but the best way to get the best buy for your buck is to shop around.  There are a multitude of online and physical car sites brimming with sellers keen to make a deal.  Each one will be driven by differing factors so some will be more open to negotiation than others.  It pays to ask questions to get an idea of vendors circumstances and motivation to sell.

Do your research about which cars are the most reliable on the market to optimise the chance that your purchase will not only save you money now but continue to do so for a long time to come.

Selling a used car is not easy.  Tyre kickers and time wasters abound.  If you are a genuine buyer with your finance organised and ready to go, you have put yourself in the driver’s seat to negotiate substantial savings.

Solar Saving – The Future of Australian Energy?

It is estimated that the Earth receives over 173,000 terawatts of energy every year; more than 10,000 times what humanity needs. The challenge, therefore, has always been collecting that energy. Solar power is generated when energy from the sun is converted into electricity or used for thermal energy.  Australia has the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent, and as a result, we also possess some of the best solar energy resources in the world. Despite this, solar energy accounts for only about 0.1 per cent of Australia’s total primary energy consumption.

Renewable energy policies and national targets, has resulted in substantial research and development programs related to solar energy across Australia. Furthermore, the Australian government has supported the future of Australian solar energy, by providing numerous financial incentives for choosing to switch to solar. With the highest rate of concentrated solar energy in the world and the increased development of solar thermal plants, it’s clear that solar power is the future of Australian energy.

Uses of Solar Energy in Australia

Solar energy systems in Australia are used to power homes, businesses, cars, appliances and cities. Australian homes with solar panels use the panels as either the primary or secondary source of electric power. Large scale concentrated solar power plants provide electricity to numerous businesses and homes, and also provided heated water for domestic use.

Many new Australian home designers have also embraced the use of solar energy systems when constructing new homes. These homes are constructed with specially designed roofing, windows and the overall architectural alignment to be facing the sun, providing favourable conditions for the collection of solar energy.

Why solar?

Financial benefits:

In the five years between 2008 and 2013, the cost of solar panels fell by over 50 percent.  While solar power systems are costly to set up, these costs can often be offset by Government incentives. As you create your own energy, you use less from the power grid, drastically cutting down your power bill. In most States and Territories you can also sell excess electricity back to the power grid, providing you with added cash if your panels generate more electricity than required.

Solar panels make your household free from the price increases of electricity companies. As a provider of your own electricity from a renewable source, you can reduce your household’s dependence on fossil fuels and energy providers. This also provides an attractive feature to your house, potentially adding market value.

Environmental benefits: Installing a solar power system at home can reduce your carbon footprint. Unlike traditional sources of electricity from the grid, solar energy is green, clean and renewable. It also does not release greenhouse gases or other pollutions when in use. Solar energy is now deemed one of the most important solutions to the global warming crisis.

Employment benefits: Solar power has become a job-creating powerhouse in Australia. In fact, money invested in solar power creates two to three times more jobs than money invested in coal or natural gas.

Energy reliability: Australia constantly suffers shortages and restrictions in oil and other forms of energy. Solar power provides energy reliability, as the rising and setting of the sun is extremely consistent. Seasonal and daily projections for the amount of sunlight to be received, and the ability for panels to store sunlight, makes solar power an extremely reliable source of energy.

Exciting developments

The development of cheaper, more efficient solar cells is key to the industry’s growth. An emerging type of technology, known as the “perovskite” solar cell, has been deemed by scientists as the face of the future. These cells are said to be cheaper and more efficient than their current silicon counterparts.

Solar power is now predicted as becoming dominant form of power, both on an industrial and individual scale. With research and development contributing to better and more efficient devices, new solar products providing the ability to store energy for longer periods are on the horizon. As a leading source of renewable energy, solar energy is set to change the future of energy in Australia forever.

Bio: Laura Costello is a recent graduate of a Bachelor of Law/International Relations at Latrobe University. She is passionate about the law, the power of social media, and the ability to translate her knowledge of both common and complex topics to readers across a variety of mediums, in a way that is easy to understand.

Ladies Night

ladies nightLadies nights are such a treat. On Monday I was lucky enough to have a dear friend organize a fun ladies night with dinner at Nel Centro and see a performance of The Moth Radio at The Schnitz.

It was a lovely evening and also a real reminder of how much my life has changed in the past couple of years. The decade I spent living in Washington was punctuated with sometimes frequent get togetherness with ladies, whether it be brunch, lunch, or an occasional night out.

We joked about being “ladies that lunch”, but I realize now that we blissfully were. I say this in all the best ways. I enjoyed it immensely. I like the ritual of getting together with someone for a good meal or a coffee. It feels good. We need to find ways to connect and share.

Though I often demonstrated some kind of restraint, I was used to spending what, even I, would consider to be a fair amount of money eating out. I remember realizing that I would often spend as much as my entire family would eating out in the 80s. Times have changed, and the dollar doesn’t go as far as it did back in rural Oregon, but it still feels helpful to keep such comparisons in mind.

Nel Centro is the best of Portland cuisine. It reminds me of meals I’ve had in DC or NYC, but feels very Pacific NW as well. I had already been there for breakfast and lunch meetings in the last year, but ladies night dinner was definitely a treat with a few extras. The whole package of a cocktail, pasta, and dessert will set you back around $40. Breakfast is more on the affordable luxury scale.

Since I was most often eating out solo, this also made it easier to splurge than with a family. Now the family makes a splurge without trying.

I’m reminded of how much I enjoy meals out with friends and that it is well worth it to prioritize what makes you feel great. Everyone has their own splurges. What are yours?

Cheers,

Miel

What to Expect from US Dollar, Gold, and Oil in 2015?

The past 2014 will undoubtedly take its place in the history. That year risks had been growing around Ukraine and the Middle East. One of the main events was the collapse of oil prices. As early as in June, 2014 barrel cost about 115$, but in the last days of the year quotes slumped to  56$.

What shall we expect in 2015 year?

Oil market

Main reasons of oil prices collapse in 2014:

– Increase of hydrocarbons production in the USA from 9.8 to 11.5 mln barrels per day;

– Recession in countries of the European Union led to decrease in consumption and prices of hydrocarbons;

– Growth of supply in Iran planning to increase production twice and Libya’s return to the market;

Technological factor: improvement of technology of production and decrease of prime cost as the result.

Now you can witness disproportion between demand and supply – each day, it is produced for 600-700 thousand of barrels more than is required by market.

Analytics of the US investment banks assume that within two first quarters of 2015 year this index can grow up to 1,25 mln barrels per day. This factor will put a strong pressure on oil quotations so that we can see how Lows of 2008 year are refreshed. At that time, cost of Brent was 36$ per barrel.

US dollar

The main global currency was boosted by growth of the US economy which was growing with the fastest pace for the last 11 years. US department of commerce revised its GDP estimation and defined it up to 5% per annum. Such estimation was justified by a higher consumer demand  and expenses of business. It was the fastest pace since 2003. It was reported earlier that US economy grew for 3.9%.

Its intensive growth in 2014 lays a solid foundation for 2015 and we can expect that the US currency will be consolidated against its major competitors.

Gold

In conclusion let’s talk about gold. Since there is no inflation risk in the USA and on the contrary, deflation presses Europe, there is no ground for traders to invest in gold: savings are not depreciated. It can make precious metals less popular and quotes of gold may get to 1100$ per ounce.

Confident growth of the US economy will support global markets through 2015, whereas low oil prices will have a positive effect for the economic growth in general.