All That Glitters May Well Be Gold

As someone who prides himself on making smart financial decisions and investments, the commodities market has made for an interesting read this year. In search of new income streams, I happened to stumble across trading and spread betting, courtesy of a review site I found – – and having been attentive to the market changes over the past few months, decided to try a fun account to see just how right my instincts were.

There are two major commodities this year that have peaked my interest in terms of a money-making opportunities. The first is Oil which has seen a torrid decline from over $100 per barrel in 2014 to a sub-$27 level in February, finally start to claw back some of its’ losses to the $43 mark currently. While Petroleum is the most traded commodity on the market, it wasn’t this one that caught my eye the most, it was the price of Gold.

At the start of this year the price of Gold was sitting around the $1060 mark having fallen over $100 since the start of November. But since the start of 2016, the price of the commodity has increased by a remarkable $200 to over $1260 meaning nearly a 19% increase in the price in just under 4 months. This may tie in with the decision by the FED to postpone further rate rises or just that with Oil being such an undependable alternative at the second and currencies being harder to predict thanks to shock events like Brexit, that Gold is a stable longer-term investment that acts as a safe haven for those looking for low yield options. Certainly in the short-term, this week has seen the price of Gold jump yet again as people have retreated from the cancelled Oil strike in Kuwait and the waning Dollar which is almost directly tied to the price of the commodity.

Is it too late to get involved I can hear some of you asking already? Well the reality is no – there is plenty of volatility to come and as long as you are patient enough to learn the basics of trading and spread betting, then opportunity is rife. Setting correct stop losses in place means that you can never lose more than you can afford to, and if you stick to your original script and place small bets, then you should optimistically be walking away with a profit rather than a negative bill. Just remember to try it out first for free and negotiate everything including a great bonus before you invest your own money on the markets.

6 Ways to Make an Early, Penalty-Free Withdrawal From Your Retirement Fund

After years of contributions to your retirement fund, you may need to withdraw money to pay for an expense. Typically, withdrawals made from retirement accounts, e.g. a 401(k) or IRA, made before age 59 ½ are subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. There are some instances that you can take money from your retirement fund without having to pay the penalty. You may, however, still be subject to income taxes on the amount you withdrew.

Use it for Medical Expenses

You can withdraw from your retirement fund to pay for medical expenses that aren’t covered or reimbursed by your health insurance company. The total amount of the expense must not exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income and withdrawal must be made in the same year the medical expense occurred.

This exception applies to: Qualified plans like a 401(k), IRA, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, and SARSEP Plans

Pay Health Insurance Premiums After a Job Loss

You can make a penalty-free withdrawal from your IRA to pay health insurance premiums for yourself, your spouse, or dependent children if you lose your job and collect unemployment for 12 consecutive weeks. Unfortunately, this penalty-free withdrawal doesn’t apply to 401(k) plans.

This exception applies to: IRA, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, and SARSEP Plans

Use It for Higher Education Expenses

You’re allowed to use retirement funds to pay for college-related expenses including tuition, fees, and room and board for yourself, your spouse, your children, or grandchildren. (Room and board only qualify for students who are enrolled at least half-time.) The early withdrawal must be used to pay for education expenses at a qualified institution to avoid the penalty.

This exception applies to: IRA, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, and SARSEP Plans

Use it Towards Your First Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to $10,000 ($20,000 for couples) to use toward the purchase of your first home. The home purchase doesn’t have to technically be your “first” home purchase. The IRS only requires that you haven’t owned a home that served as your primary residence within the previous two years.

This exception applies to: IRA, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, and SARSEP Plans

Cover Expenses After a Disability

The IRS allows you to withdraw from your retirement fund without paying a penalty if you’ve suffered “total and permanent disability. You’ll have to provide documentation you’re your physician or insurance company to show you qualify.

This exception applies to: Qualified plans like a 401(k), IRA, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, and SARSEP Plans

Withdraw Any Excess You Paid

The law only allows you to contribute a certain amount to your retirement plan each year. If you mistakenly contribute too much, you can withdraw the excess without penalty. You have until the tax-filing deadline, usually April 15, to withdraw excess contributions from your retirement fund. Otherwise, you face tax penalties.

This exception applies to: Qualified plans like a 401(k)

401(k) Loan as an Alternative

If you need to make an early retirement account withdrawal that doesn’t meet any of the requirements to make a penalty-free withdrawal, you can take a loan against your 401(k) if your employer offers it. A few caveats: you must repay the loan within five years, you miss the opportunity to earn compound interest, and the full balance of the loan may be due if you leave your job before the loan is completely repaid.

Tax Implications

Make sure you consult with a tax professional to completely understand the tax implications of withdrawing from your retirement fund. Keep all your documents and receipts related to withdrawal and usage of the funds in case you need them for your tax return.

5 Top Ways to Boost Your Store’s Monthly Revenue

Revenue is the amount of money that comes into the business, predominantly through sales activities. It has nothing to do with profit or tax breaks. It is the total amount of money generated by that business. A poorly run business might generate a lot of revenue only to fail due to lack of profitability. That is called profitless revenue.

You can generate profitless revenue by selling everything at cost or less. The smartphone industry likes to tout the number of units sold vs. the competition. But practically all of the profitable revenue is controlled by Apple and Samsung. Between those two, Samsung sells the majority of phones. But Apple makes the vast majority of the profits.

If you are going to stay in business, you have to generate profitable revenue. Here are five tips for doing just that:

1. Get People Talking

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful sales boosters there is. It is common knowledge that bad news will travel halfway around the world while good news is still putting on its boots. But there is some good news for good news. A recent study shows that positive word of mouth has a bigger impact than negative.

Crest Financial has been recognized as one of the fastest companies in Utah. Those positive Crest Financial reviews are an important part of their success. Because it provides a necessary service for other companies, those businesses also benefit from positive word of mouth. You can grow your profitable revenue by utilizing the oldest tool of the trade.

2. Breach the Credit Barrier

No one has $5,000 lying around to buy furniture. That’s got to be financed. The barrier to entry is not the price on the sticker. It is the credit worthiness for a reasonable financing offer. Because there is no credit needed with Crest Financial, many retailers are choosing this service to make no-credit financing available to their customers for up to $5,000. Stop letting profitable revenue walk out the door for lack of credit.

3. Free Shipping

Web Marketing Today, along with innumerable studies, suggests that higher than expected shipping and handling costs are the top reasons for abandoned shopping carts online. Offering free or heavily discounted shipping is a tried and true strategy to increasing revenue, but to make that revenue profitable, you will need to consider the following:

  • Offer free shipping only on items up to a certain price.
  • Offer free shipping only on orders that exceed a certain price.
  • Limit free shipping to standard ground.

The idea is to use free shipping strategically. Ill-considered free shipping can increase revenue, but destroy profits. Use this method wisely.

4. Order It

The power of Amazon is that ordinary consumers can order any item they want from anywhere in the world at a reasonable price. When a consumer walks into a local store to purchase a specific item that is not in stock, it leads to frustration that costs you revenue. The customer can just whip out their smartphone and have the item ordered before they leave the store.

The Internet is never truly out of stock, and neither should you be. You should have systems in place to order and drop-ship the item so that it is a part of a seamless transaction. “Out of stock” is meaningless in the Internet age. Either you will order it for the customer and get the revenue or they will do it themselves. Make sure your business is set up to do the ordering for them.

5. Help Them Find It Elsewhere

If the customer wants something that you just can’t provide, don’t let them leave with a bad taste in their mouth. You can still send them on their way with positive feelings by redirecting them to where they can find what they’re looking for. You may not gain revenue that day, but you will make a friend for the life of your business. The long-term relationship is just as good as a sale.

In your pursuit of revenue, don’t forget that you are in it to make a profit. Revenue is treading water. Profit is swimming like Michael Phelps.


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