Senin, 30 Juni 2008

Super Rules, OK?

Do you rule your superannuation or does it rule you?

It's easy to fall for some myths about your super unless you do some clear thinking about who is in charge. Virtually all Australian employees now have a superannuation account, many have several, even more than they know about. We all hope to use this money to fund our retirement, but unless you look after your super then you are in danger of losing some of your money along the way.

Myth number 1. Someone else can look after my super. Only partly right. It is possible go through your working life letting your super run on autopilot, but you may be in for an unpleasant surprise if you don't keep an eye on your super. Make sure your employer is paying the correct amount, and that if your employer goes broke your super is still available.

If you change jobs you need to decide if you wish to 'roll over' the money into another fund. This is especially important if you change jobs frequently. You can find that you have relatively small amounts scattered over several funds, and in each you will be paying a management fee before you earn any distribution or interest. In the long term inflation will eat away at the value of your principle, even though the dollar amount stays the same. Many super companies provide a free service to consolidate small accounts for you. Use them.

Myth number 2. It's not my money until I retire. Dead wrong. It's your money, just like the rest of the money in your pay packet. Super funds are providing a service of managing your money until you can legally access it when you retire. You have control of it. After July 2005 you will have even more say about your money. If you are not happy with the service you should tell the service provider. If they can't fix your problem, then you can sack them and put your money elsewhere.

Myth number 3. I don't need to worry about it until I am at least fifty-something. Not really. Australians are enjoying longer lives and better health. You will need more money if you want to have more options in retirement. You will probably need to top up your super to achieve financial independence in your golden years. The sooner you start the better.

The Australian Government is generously giving away our money to help lower and middle income earners top up their super. It's called the superannuation co-contribution scheme. If you, or your spouse, are eligible you should make sure you get your share.

Fact number 1.Our superannuation is our money. To look after your super you need to learn about your rights and options. It's a long term task. You need to get information and advice. Don't rush, but start soon.

By Darby Higgs

Rules for Simplified Employee Pension Plans better known as a SEP Plans

A SEP is a special type of IRA. Under a SEP plan the employer creates an IRA account for each eligible employee, hence the name SEP-IRA. A SEP is funded solely with employer contributions. Employees do not make contributions to their SEP-IRA retirement account. Any money that goes into a SEP automatically belongs to the employee. Thus, the employee has the right to take his SEP IRA account money with him whenever he stops working for the company.

Any size business can establish a SEP, but the SEP retirement plan is utilized mostly by the self-employed and the small business with few employees. The SEP IRA rules dictate that if the business contributes for one employee, (i.e., the owner), then the business must contribute proportionately for all of the employees. With few exceptions, anyone who works for the business must be included in the SEP. However, you can exclude from participating in the SEP plan anyone who:

1. Has not worked for the company during three out of the last five years.

2. Has not reached age 21 during the year for which contributions are made.

3. Received less than $450 in compensation (subject to cost-of-living adjustments) during the year.

SEP IRA contributions to each employee for 2004 cannot exceed the lesser of $41,000 or 25% of pay for W2 recipients (20% of income for sole proprietors). The SEP IRA contribution limit goes up to $42,000 for 2005, and is subject to cost-of-living adjustments for later years. SEP-IRA rules do not provide for additional catch-up contributions for those 50 years old or over.

A growing number of self-employed individuals with no employees are abandoning the SEP-IRA for a newer type of retirement plan called the Solo 401(k) or Self-Employed 401(k). The two main reasons for the switch are 1) they can generally contribute much more to a Solo 401(k) than they can under a SEP IRA, and 2) Loans are allowed under a Solo 401(k), whereas loans are prohibited under a SEP-IRA.

Example: Henry, age 52, a realtor received $60,000 in compensation from self-employment income in 2004. For 2004, he could contribute a maximum of $27,152 in a Solo 401(k) versus a maximum of $11,152 under a SEP IRA.

However, the Solo 401(k) does not work for businesses with employees. Thus, if your company plans to hire employees or has a handful of employees, the SEP IRA may be your best choice as a retirement plan that is inexpensive and simple to operate.

By Daniel Lamaute

Justify Social Security ... Dont Save for Retirement

It is a common question when investors review their retirement plan-should we include social security benefits into our retirement income projections?

It seems the closer an investor is to retirement, the more likely he/she will include social security benefits into the analysis. Younger investors, however, may feel compelled to omit such benefits. They must then become mavericks on the retirement front. The choice is yours, but before you decide the influence of social security on your future, remember the following points:

When Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the social security act in 1935, he stated that social security gives some protection to American families. One reoccurring theme of his statement focused on assistance, not 100% protection. In the President's words, "the law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation (source:

For many, the Social Security Administration has raised the age of full retirement from 65 to adopt a more stringent schedule. This may be an addition of a couple of months or a couple of years. The administration justifies the increases due to longer life expectancies and general healthier life styles.

For example, those born after 1960, your full retirement age is 67. Going forward, we should ask ourselves "what other changes will be made to social security?" If you would like a complete schedule of retirement ages for full benefits, I recommend you visit Social Security's website at

An opinion adopted by many is to consider social security in part the closer you are to retirement. For example, if you are sixty years of age and plan on full retirement in five years, you should consider an analysis based on your current projected benefits. Even with the proposed reform plans, preservation of benefits is a priority for eligible citizens age 50-55 and older.

If however you are thirty, it may be better for you to omit such projections. The result will be overfunded personal savings. Thus social security will be an added benefit and not the benefit.

Consider the troubling issues of the 2004 OASDI Trustees Report: future scheduled benefits for today's young workers could be reduced by 27% or more if amendments to the current plan are not adopted.

Young workers should take note of this report. Do not rely on social security and concentrate on personal savings.

In conclusion, you have a risky option-there is only one way to justify social security, don't save for retirement. If this is your chosen route, be prepared for difficult times ahead.

By Wardlaw's


Has your broker ever told you that a stock is "overbought" or "oversold"? He probably went on the explain that the stock you own (I hope you didn't) had gone down so far that it now was oversold and due for a rally. He might also have encouraged you to buy an equal amount to "dollar cost average" your position so that when ("if"- he didn't say that, I did)) it did go back up you could "get out even". He might even say you "could make a fortune".

Waiting to get out even is the great trap that is preached by all the big Maul Street brokerage houses. What is even worse is most brokers and financial planners believe it. What happened to all those beautiful company reports sent to you telling how wonderful this stock was before you bought it. Maybe you better read those back to him. Brokerage companies do not want you to sell.

When any stock is going either up or down for any extended period of time it does seem logical that it can become overbought or oversold, but let's examine what that means to your ownership.

The reason a stock started up is because the underlying profit projection is going to produce substantial profits that will make the stock more valuable. At some point it is going to reach a true valuation and should stop advancing. What usually happens is it goes beyond true valuation to what could be called overbought (over valued) and then starts down. You may be encouraged to buy when a particular stock becomes "hot" and everyone is buying it. When all the sheep are buying you want to be a seller or you will also be sheared.

Suppose all this was in anticipation of future profits that did not materialize? Then the rise would turn over and head down. This would be more likely for a smaller company than one of the giants, but giants have been toppled. If any fraud was involved the company might even go bankrupt.

Think back to WorldCom that went to the moon and was finally flushed down the sewer. Did it EVER while it was tanking become oversold for a rally? Not hardly because there was no value. Unless you truly understand how to trade overbought and oversold situations the best thing to do is keep your hands in your pockets.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Overbought and oversold is in the mind of the buyer/seller.

By Albert W. Thomas

Is Starting A Business For Me? What To Consider Before Starting A Business

Do you have the right temperament?

Starting a small business is one of the most serious decisions that a person can take in life. Positively, it often results in higher income levels than one could achieve as an employee together with the unique buzz of being your own boss but conversely it also can be stressful, will demand longer working hours and will probably reduce your ability to take long holidays.

Do you have a definite business idea?

The desire to be your own boss is not enough to succeed. Empirical evidence clearly shows that those who do best normally have previous work experience in their chosen business field or have conducted thorough research.

Research, Research, Research!

Before committing to setting up a new business carry out as much research as possible, perhaps contacting any representative and professional bodies for their input and advice. In addition, it is important to note local market conditions as, unless you have a unique selling point, it is very difficult to succeed where a local market is saturated with established competitors. In addition, it is always wise buy a few pertinent general business books as most will encapsulate the basics of creating a successful business - The formula being remarkably consistent from sector to sector.

Hope for the best but expect the worst!

By definition most entrepreneurs are positive but ironically such optimism can often be their worst enemy, so always leave a sufficient financial safety blanket.

Keep non-essential costs to a minimum.

Many new business people overspend on hardware, expensive computers, printing etc. If your business does not require people physically coming to a shop or office do not waste money on office rental or even employing a secretary. In many cases, a serviced or virtual office will create the right impression at a fraction of the cost of having your own office.

Get Expert Advice

Today many government bodies and banks offer free business start up advice. In general such advice may not be all encompassing and may have certain vested interests but by seeking such advice from a number of different suppliers you should end up with a fair understanding of how to develop your new business.

Consider a Franchise.

The risks of establishing your own business are considerably reduced by buying a well known and established franchise. In many cases, the franchisor can often help with finance, computer software and business methodology. The downside is that if you really are aiming for the heavens then becoming a franchisee is unlikely to result in untold riches!

Austen Osborne

Protecting the Tax Advantage of Your Deferred Compensation

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 imposed strict new rules on non-qualified deferred compensation plans. Beginning in 2005, deferred compensation programs that are not in compliance with the new rules may be taxed as wages, slapped with a 20% excise tax, plus charged an interest penalty.

Given the potentially huge tax consequences for non-compliance with the rules, you should consult with your organization's benefit specialist and your tax professionals to figure how your compensation might be affected by these new rules.

Deferred compensation plans are often used to provide for the deferral of salary, incentive compensation (i.e., commissions or bonuses), or supplemental compensation for top executives, independent corporate directors, and individual board members. The new rules apply to nonqualified deferred compensation plans at taxable and tax-exempt organizations.

An option for independent corporate directors and individual board members who receive 1099 income for their services may consider is to freeze their nonqualified plan and adopt a qualified plan such as the "one person defined benefit plan", called the Solo-DB Plan. Qualified retirement plans are exempt from the requirements of the American Jobs Creation Act.

The Solo-DB plan allows the highest deductible contributions possible in a qualified retirement plan. For example in 2005 one can contribute up to $170,000 of compensation into a tax-deferred Solo-DB plan.

Defined benefits plans have been around for a long time. But, recent pension legislation has raised the contribution and deductibility limits as well as simplified plan fund requirements. Thus, defined benefit plans like Solo-DB have become much more attractive to upper-income individuals with self-employment income. The Solo-DB plan will allow you to aggressively fund your retirement while cutting your taxes significantly.

Individuals who qualify for the Solo-DB plan include sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small business owners age 45 or older who can contribute more than $41,000 annually to the plan for at least three years.

By Daniel Lamaute

Are You An Investment Dummy Like Me?

I am good at a few things. I can certainly market well and I consult with others about how to bring more attention to their products and services on the internet for a living.

I am a fair musician. I love music and play all sorts of percussion instruments and even dabble with the guitar.

I can cook better than most guys. I can survive in the wild with nothing more than a good sharp knife.

But ask me how to best manage my investments and grow and protect my wealth, and I am like a deer staring into the headlights of oncoming traffic. Paralyzed with doubt, fear, and inexperience.

Much like my clients are when they come to me for marketing advice.

It wasn't until a new client came to me with an idea for a new book he had written on active investment strategies called "Scientific Wealth Strategies" that I realized I might not be far from figuring this whole investment and wealth protection thing out for myself.

In fact, just by consulting with him on the marketing of his book I picked up a lot of new information that has taken a grand portion of my doubts and fears away.

As I began to wrap up our contract I found I was looking more and more at the information in his book from a personal interest as a solution to my worries about whether I was doing everything right with my investments.

First thing I learned is that I was following the vast majority of others who think the same way about investing. "Throw it in something we think is safe and leave it there." And I realized that we are all being lulled into low return funds and investments masked as great returns in a bad economy.

Then I learned what I could do to take the same amount of capital I had in low return investments and actively manage it for far greater returns than what most people generally assume are the best returns you can get these days with 401ks, IRAs, and stocks.

In short, I was learning about investing on my terms. I was learning because my client, C.C. Collins, had chosen to write for people like ME instead of a bunch of learned investment "geeks."

Finally someone had written about investing strategies in a language that I could understand and about strategies I could feel comfortable in applying without feeling as though I was being a risk taker or putting my money in jeopardy.

This is no small feat. I feel most people who are like me are conservative with their investing, and don't become active in the management of their investments, because we much prefer the relative piece of mind we get from letting a "professional" handle the decisions.

Now that I feel more comfortable in the knowledge I have gained from this easy to understand yet incredibly powerful source of investment and wealth buidling knowledge, I have no doubt my investment future is much brighter and is going to bear much more fruit than the track I was on before I met C.C.!

So if you are an investment "dummy" like me, I strongly urge you to take the first step in becoming a relative investment "whiz" by checking out Scientific Wealth Strategies for yourself.

It will really empower you to take charge of your investments and push you to get more from your hard earned dollars than you are currently netting!

Scientific Wealth Strategies

eBook and Software with calculators, investment terminology definitions, and many, many more useful tools.

By Jack Humphrey