Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Better to Look Stupid . . .

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. . . than be stupid when investing.

Betting on the Super Bowl is easier than gambling on the stock market because you don’t have to do a lot of checking. To begin with, there are only two teams and one of them is sure to be a winner.

Rather than toss the dice against the vagaries of the various markets that contain thousands of stocks, you should do some shopping before buying. And make sure your information is from a reliable source, not some chat room.

Don’t even think about securities offered on the telephone or by e-mail and deal only with a securities firm that you know or one recommended by a person who is familiar with the investment industry. You might ask your tax preparer, attorney, or accountant for a referral.

Beware of promises of quick riches. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Be sure you understand the extent of the possibility of risk of loss as well as the prospect of gain.

Get all the facts and support them with more research. Don’t buy on tips or rumors.

When dealing with a securities salesperson, ask to see their Securities Commission licenses as well as information about themselves and their company.

If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask them to clarify it. Ask them to write it down so you can consult with someone who does.

Don’t be afraid of asking a stupid question. You’re only being stupid if you don’t ask a question about something you don’t understand.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 5, 2022 at 3:00 am

Posted in Finance

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Negotiate the Sticker Price

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It’s taken the current inflationary spiral to yank our attention onto the price of ordinary things around us we buy every day, from a gallon of gasoline to a slice of pizza.

A feeling of helplessness seems to have dropped around us as we either dig deeper into our credit-card debt or decide to bypass the purchase.

There is a way you can save a few bucks on your shopping trips. It goes under several names – negotiate, haggle, and make a lower bid are just a few. But the simple way is just ask.

Many vendors, major and minor, offer discounts to veterans and to seniors. But you usually have to ask. In many cases, such as seasonal close-out sales, shops will accept a price lower than advertised.

This is not as easy in major chains such as Target and Safeway and Home Depot, but if you ask for the store manager, you can deal directly with him or her.

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Recently, a relative was lounging around a jewelry store while his wife had a dental appointment. Several items had luxurious price tags but there were a few “deals” in one corner counter. A wrist watch caught his eye so, to pass the time and since he didn’t have a wrist watch at the time, he asked to take a closer look at it.

The sales clerk told him it was the last of a particular lot and that was why it was so cheap. The sale price was $140. That ended the conversation.

He thanked the clerk and put it back, sauntered around the store a bit more and then walked out. Seconds out of the door, the clerk called after him and asked how much he’d pay for the watch. My neighbor blurted out, “I have $100 in my pocket.” The clerk asked him to wait a minute and came back to tell him her manager would take it. 

He bought the watch and, checking its costs online when he got home, his watch was e-tailing at more than $700.

Acting like he didn’t want it cut his price without even haggling.

A nettlesome cost these days is the monthly cable/internet bill, which can get close to $300 a month if you opt for multi-cable service and high-speed internet service.

If you feel you’d like to lower the cost of your existing service, call and tell them you want to cancel your subscription. You’re likely to be connected with a company representative whose job is to keep customers and has all the latest promotional programs and fees at his or her fingertips.

Rather than complain about the lack of service for the price you’re paying, be nice. Point out you really appreciate what you’re getting but just can’t afford it on your income and budget.

You don’t have to accept the first offer. You might point out that you’re a senior and will have to shop around for a plan you can afford. And if you find one, you’d like to sign up for a long-term program so you don’t have to interrupt you service every few months.

All of this is designed to help the company rep you’re speaking with come up with the best program that suits you and keep on their list of customers.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 18, 2022 at 3:00 am

Posted in Finance

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Give Yourself a Few Thousand Dollars a Year

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This is for those of you who are members of a household with two or more cars.

You can gift yourself more than $9,000 a year, because that’s the average cost of auto

ownership, according to an American Automobile Association report.

As a neighbor commented, “That buys a whole lotta cab rides.”

Your car payments, interest on those payments, insurance, maintenance, gasoline, tires,

repairs, parking, license, depreciation and other auto-allied costs may not amount to that. Maybe

they’re more than that.

Doing a bit of arithmetic should be enlightening.

If you still have a job, check out the public transit-system service to and from the work site. Most urbanites live within half a mile — about a 10-minute walk — of a bus, trolley, or subway stop.

Public transit in most cities is likely faster than motorists’ commute time during rush hours

getting to and from work.

If you think it’s too far to walk to nearest transit stop, get a bicycle. Most transportation systems are equipped to allow bikes on board or on racks. And most stations have facilities for locking bikes.

If this is unworkable, see if carpooling is an option. If you go to a gymnasium regularly or to a particular restaurant or hangout or to regular service-club luncheons, check with those around you for rides. When all else fails, take a cab.

Remember, too, that you still have a car in the family. You’re only selling one, yours or your spouse’s.

If you’re no longer tied to an office or other workplace, the problem is much simpler.

Think about when you need a car and where you need to get to. You can take public transit to

sports events or for doctor or dentist appointments. Cabs are at the ready and your other

family car is your backup.

You’ll still use this vehicle to get groceries, visit relatives and go on motoring vacations.

The money you save can be used to pay off credit-card debt or to buy yourself goodies

you’ve always wanted. And you don’t have to do all the driving.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 22, 2021 at 3:00 am

Posted in Finance

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Her Only Extravagance . . .

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. . . one of my neighbors proclaims proudly about his wife, is that

she just likes to spend his money.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 13, 2021 at 3:00 am

Posted in Finance

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No Such Thing as a Stupid Question . . .

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. . . when you invest.

Betting on the Super Bowl is easier than gambling on the stock market. There are only two teams and one of them is sure to be a winner.

Rather than toss the dice against the vagaries of the various markets that contain thousands of stocks, investigate before buying anything. You wouldn’t go out and buy a car and then bring it home to check out its performance.

Shy away from securities offered on the telephone or by e-mail. Deal only with a securities firm that you know or one recommended by a person who is familiar with the investment industry. You might ask your tax preparer, attorney, or accountant for a referral.

Beware of promises of quick and too-good-to-be-true profits as well as high-pressure tactics by the sales people.

Don’t be afraid of “asking a stupid question.” You’re only being stupid if you don’t ask questions about something you don’t understand and still go ahead and invest your money on it.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 30, 2021 at 3:00 am

Posted in Finance

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To Be a Big Gun in Business . . .

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. . . get yourself an M B A

and make sure you don’t get fired.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 20, 2021 at 9:44 am

Posted in Finance

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Lending to Family Member Not Good Business

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Neither a family borrower, nor a family lender be, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

Shakespeare also wrote that lending money to a friend is an excellent means of losing both your friend and your money. But with a relative, you lose your money and the family ties become frayed.

A colleague lent in-laws half the price of a home to help them acquire the property. It didn’t take long for the in-laws to resent the situation. Not only have they not paid off any of the loan, they’re no longer speaking to their benefactor.

It’s been estimated that as much as $65 billion is lent to a family or friend.

It seems logical for people to turn to their parents or siblings in time of fiscal misfortune.

But before you dig into your pockets to bail out a relative, ask yourself several questions.

First of all, do you need the money? If you do, how are you going to be able to go after it when your relative shows no sign of repaying you?

If the borrower-to-be has a history of overextended credit cards, late rental payments, or job-hopping, you’re foolish to expect the money will be repaid.

The use of the money is an important factor. If the loan will be used to enable a family member to complete a college education or help elderly parents keep their home or give a start-up boost to a family entrepreneur, you might give the matter serious thought.

Making a loan to your grandson and his wife so they can splurge on an anniversary cruise or to a daughter who collects race horses makes much less sense.

Parents have another concern: giving a loan to one child may spark jealousy in the other children.

Family and financial experts agree on one major point: worse than the loss of money in any of these person-to-person transactions is the fracture of the relationship. In many cases, the borrowers, either through guilt or resentment, distance themselves from their benefactors.

Putting things in writing can avoid some of the personal pitfalls. This is a financial transaction and should be treated as such.

Lender and borrower should agree upon and write down the amount of the loan, interest rate, and payment schedule. If you need to run it buy an attorney, do so. It’s a good idea to have the signing of the loan document witnessed or notarized.

If the person makes a request for money and doesn’t see it that way, you can suggest bluntly that if he or she wants charity, ask for it.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 19, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Finance

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With Inflation Hoisting Prices . . .

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. . . we’ll soon have to get a loan to buy stamps

so we can mail in our payments.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 17, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Finance

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Tax-Preparer Can Help You Enjoy Christmas

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While spending money may be taking most of your attention during the Christmas Season, you should take a moment to make some plans on how to save some money before the end of the year rolls around.

You can join the millions of taxpayers who accounted for more than $470 billion in tax-deductible charitable donations last year. Just make sure your check is in the mail before Dec. 3 and always get a receipt for anything you give to a non-profit group.

Take care if you’ve finally decided to fork over the family flivver to a charitable organization. The Internal Revenue Service has cracked down on abuses of this practice. No longer do you deduct the Blue Book (considered the market price) figure listed for your ancient auto. The norm now is to take what the organization gets for the vehicle when it is auctioned off.

As with all tax-related matters, discuss your plans with your tax preparer before making any decisions.

When you review your charitable-giving for the year, you might consider a gift of stocks and bonds that will not only elicit smiles from the recipient of your largess, but make yourself feel financially merry, too.

Review your investment portfolio. If you have some money-makers that could shove you into deeper tax-paying waters, consider giving a portion of them to your favorite charity to lighten your tax burden.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 15, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Finance

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No Need to Gag on Gasoline Prices

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If you no longer need a family car — you fly to vacations, walk to the grocery, and take cabs to the dentist — you’ll save yourself tons of money.

You have no car payments, no insurance premiums no maintenance costs, and no need to haul a pocketful of credit cards to the nearest gasoline pump to fill your tank. The money you save buys a ton of cab trips.

The thought of not having a vehicle parked in the garage or driveway makes most people shudder. The thought of conspiracies, government meddling, foreign control, distribution problems, and a host of other reasons, real or imagined, driving up the cost of a gallon of gasoline prompt these same people to carp and complain. Fuel prices are getting as much talk time these days as does the weather.

Just as a few adjustments will help you beat the weather, such as heading south if it’s cold or for the beach if it’s too hot, there are a multitude of moves you can make to avoid being hammered by rising gasoline prices if you don’t want to sell your car.

Plan your trips. If you have a list of chores to do, take a moment to mentally map out the shortest route to combine them all. In other words, don’t drive to the dry cleaners, then drive back home to drop off the clean clothes, and head to the nursery to pick up some houseplants, drop them off at home, and then motor to the supermarket for groceries.

After cutting down on the length of your trips, reduce the number of trips. When you’re not driving, you’re not using gasoline.

Mechanics and motorists pretty well agree that speeding slurps up the gasoline. “Speed limit” driving not only is safer, it saves you money.

At the pump, you don’t always have to buy the highest-rated premium gasoline. Your vehicle manual will tell you the octane-level your vehicle requires.

Keep your tires inflated properly. Under-inflated rubber causes “drag” and requires more fuel to propel your vehicle. Lift the hood and inspect your air filter. If it’s dirty, replace it. If you don’t know where it is, check your manual.

Check the oil level. And the transmission fluid level. Adding oil or fluid when required is no more complicated than pouring coffee into a cup.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 1, 2021 at 5:00 am