Now is a Great Time to Get Into Investment Real Estate.
It has been over fifty years since real estate prices and interest rates have been this low at the same time. After the zillion megaton explosion of the real estate bubble, prices have dropped to all time lows and bargains abound. It does not take a genius to see that right now cash is king and if you have a few bucks set aside you need to look into investment real estate.
You need to be extremely careful however and use all of the tools at your disposal before making the leap. All you need to do is a drive a few blocks in any urban area to see all of the For Lease signs that are there, and many that have been there for a long, long time.
Because of the floundering economy, many businesses have gone belly up and one of the biggest casualties of the entire recession (can you say depression?) has been and will continue to be commercial investment real estate landlords. They are the ones that are left holding the proverbial bag when businesses collapse and tenants are forced to flee, many of them without paying any lease severance penalties. When businesses can no longer afford to stay in a commercial space for want of revenue, the onus goes onto the landlord to make sure that there is a great dialogue with the tenant.
In the old days a landlord would just evict a defaulting tenant without too much thought and then raise the lease prices for the next incoming business. With today’s epidemic of failing retail shops, service establishments, restaurants, auto and body shops, and ever other kind of small to medium sized businesses, investment real estate leasing space is begging for tenants.
The landlords can avoid a hasty departure by failing businesses by working with them to temporarily reduce or defer lease payments. This will give the establishment much needed breathing room and free up some cash flow. The benefit to the landlord is that he will eventually see some rents from the businesses when the economy picks up. One thing is for certain and that is that the economy will improve eventually. It may take longer this time to recover, but historically speaking, economies are cyclical and they always come back. When the economy and the failing businesses do recover the landlord will have looked like an angel to the business, eliciting loyalty, plus it will have made sound business sense.
For commercial real estate owners who cannot work out a plan for their tenants the consequences are grim. Take away that large payment each month and pretty soon you will feel it in your pocketbook, even if your pockets are deep. Many have been forced to default on their commercial loans and have watched their properties get seized by the banks.
If you are an investor looking to get into investment real estate then this is a great time. You can pick up an REO (bank owned) property for very little. Just make sure that you have a tenant or two lined up before you purchase or you could be the next one facing a foreclosure of your own.
These Days, I do All of My Banking Business Online.
I opened my first checking account about 14 years ago and did nearly all of my banking on my own. I’d balance my checkbook manually, and on those rare occasions I needed to check my balance for something, I would either call an automated system or simply wait for my monthly statement to arrive.
That all changed after a few years when I found that I could do my banking business online, and I have been doing it that way ever since.
I have to admit that I love doing my banking business online for a number of reasons. When I think back to the days of balancing my checkbook and making sure that everything jibed with my statements each month, I have to laugh a little, because it just seems so archaic.
It is so easy to go online, look up your bank account information and balance everything electronically. I can see what money I have coming in, check for fees being taken out, see when they are withdrawn from my account and adjust my records accordingly.
Another thing that I really love about doing my banking business online is that I can easily transfer money from my checking account to my savings account and vice versa. I try to put money from checking into savings every time I get paid, and there have been a few times that I had to take some money out of savings to cover some larger bills.
One of the biggest benefits of doing my banking business online is the fact that it is so much quicker than having to call the bank, go through a series of prompts, and then typing in your checking account number and password. Then you have to hear more prompts before it gets to the option of hearing your account balance.
If something was off, there was no way to see what the problem was and correct it until my monthly bank statement came. By doing my banking business online, I can look at my entire transaction history and see exactly what has been done with both my checking and savings accounts. There is a tremendous peace of mind that goes along with that.
I also like that fact that banking online allows you to look at other features the bank offers, such as IRA accounts and investment opportunities. It really helps in terms of financial planning, and you can research at your own pace without having to go to the bank to talk to a personal banker.
For me, performing my banking business online has made my life much easier. I know that it is not for everyone, as I know many people who still prefer to do it the old-fashioned way. I, however, could not imagine doing it any other way and would recommend trying it out to anyone interested in simplifying their life.
One popular type of small business that many people like to try out is to open a bar. Bars are usually locally owned, though there are some chains out there. The chains are the exception though. If you want to try a bar as a small business opportunity, you have to come up with a good bar business plan before you go into the bank to try to get some financing. There are many different types of bars out there, so know exactly what you want to do and where you want your business to go before you write up your plan. There is plenty to think about in this direction.
When writing your bar business plan, you have to think about what type of bar you want to open. There are many, many different types, and what you choose will then give you more to think about when filling out your business plan. This will dictate the size of your bar, how many people you hope to have each night, what you want to have for inventory, and also what type of people you are going to have to hire and retain on staff. This will also dictate where you want to open and how many days and nights a week you will be open. Some types of bars do better on particular nights of the week.
If you want to open a bar that is more like a dance club, your bar business plan should reflect this. You want to have a larger space, as you want to have a larger crowd. The more space you have open for dancing, the more people you can draw. You also want to make sure you have a plan for a DJ and also you have to decide if you want to serve food. If so, do you want a restaurant type of setting or a simple bar area for easy foods that do not require a lot of preparation or time to eat.
Another type of bar you may want to open would be a bar that features live music at least a few nights a week. This type of bar has many variables. You have to have enough space. Many bars make the mistake of trying to fit a band into a bar that simply is not big enough, leaving the bands and the people attending frustrated with lack of space. Business will fall off eventually as people will find more comfortable places to go see live bands. You also have to decide how many nights a week you want to have bands and what you will want to do on those other nights to keep attendance up and to keep the bar turning a profit. These are key points in this type of bar business plan.
Lastly, you may want to have a bar that is more upscale and a bit more laid back. This type of bar as a more expensive decor and will be for the patron that may be out to meet someone special but does not like the average bar atmosphere. They also want to avoid loud bands and loud dance music. They may be more into sipping a martini than doing shots of liquor. This type of bar business plan may very well include a fine dining restaurant as well that can help keep profits up and gives the customer an entire night of entertainment rather than just some drinks.
What to Take into Account when Looking for a Bank Account.
These days, it is almost impossible to do business without a bank account. Whether you are shopping at your favorite store, making a purchase online or attempting to get money to someone in need quickly, the ability to do so with cash is becoming increasingly difficult. However, finding a bank account that fits your needs may be difficult, especially in this financial climate. Here are a couple of tips for finding the bank account that is right for you.
First, consider what your banking needs are. If you are someone who travels a great deal, you should probably consider banking with one of the bigger corporate banks, such as Chase with JP Morgan, Bank of America, or US Bank. These will have locations across the United States, creating convenience for you and saving you money at the ATM.
However, if you mostly work locally, you should consider setting up a bank account with a regional bank. These will usually be very friendly locations, and may provide you with better terms than what the corporate banks can.
Second, you should take your credit score into consideration. Many banks are going to look at your credit rating before they are willing to open up a bank account for you. This does not mean you need perfect credit to open up an account. However, it does mean you should be prepared to have to pay monthly service fees. This is the bank’s way of protecting themselves if you overdraft and never pay. Has that happened to you in the past? Consider second chance banking. Offered at a variety of banks across the United States, especially online, these banks will not look into your records with the Chex system, which gives you a chance to restore your credit while having access to banking resources.
Finally, think about what kind of services you need from your bank. A lot of the time, when you go to open a bank account, the banker working with you is going to try to entice you with all kinds of extras and perks. Offers will include things like special credit cards you can earn rewards with, or cash back rewards if you sign up for auto-bill pay. However, not all of these are good choices for every person. If you don’t have a lot of cash flow, an automatic deduction could put you in the red, and for many of us, that is not something we can afford. Read the fine print before you agree to anything with your bank account.
Having a bank account certainly has its perks. If you can find the right bank for you, it is absolutely worth it. Before you sign up, though, you should weigh your options carefully. Does this bank account meet your banking needs? Do I have a good enough credit score for this kind of bank account? Does this bank give me the right kind of services? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then it looks like you will have found your match.
Jobs Working from Home Have Now Expanded.
Experts agree that this recession and global economic downturn will more than likely continue for many months to come, if not years. Every month more and more people are filing for unemployment as small, medium and large businesses around the country become more streamlined in order to increase cash flow and stay running. This means fewer and fewer jobs for those millions of people that are searching for employment. It also signifies lower paying jobs for those that do have the luck to find them.
Gone for good it seems are much of the higher paying jobs that white collar workers depended upon to maintain them in the middle class. Many of the jobs that are available now are lower paying retail or service industry jobs and even for these lower end jobs there are thousands of applicants. Competition is high and many people are over-qualified for the jobs that are available. This is why getting jobs working from home seems like the most attractive option for an entire segment of the population.
In the old days jobs working from home were limited to envelope licking and letter writing for insurance companies or doctor’s offices. Today’s stay at home worker finds a large variety of hats to wear and can pull in some decent income. You need to be tenacious and there is stiff competition for these types of jobs working from home but if you are persistent and have a good resume and some good skills, you can make a good living and never ever leave your home office.
Imagine waking up each morning and not having to get dressed and go out into the freezing cold and scraping the ice off your car. Imagine not having to take the car out at all and saving all of that gas money and wear and tear on your vehicle. Imagine not having to fight traffic congestion for hours each day as you and your car crawl downtown. Jobs working from home allow you to avoid these things and lots more, like nagging bosses or backstabbing co-workers.
Put the coffee on and kick back on your sofa if you want, laptop in your lap (of course), wearing your pajamas, and start your day off right. All you need to do is keep scouring Craigslist each day for jobs that suit your skill sets. If you are a really good writer or technical writer (even better) you will find many jobs on Craigslist in your area. Look under jobs but also under gigs because that is where a lot of the writing jobs are. If you are a good photographer or artist, this is also the place to look.
Be careful when you reply to these gigs or jobs not to give too much personal information because a lot of these so-called ads are really scams. Never, ever give anyone your personal information such as social security number or date of birth until you meet them face to face and make sure that they are a real employer with real business. Of course, you should never ever send anyone any money, for any reason whatsoever.
My Relationship With Power Point Presentations has Certainly Evolved. My first experience with Power Point presentations was in high school, and I have to say that I hated them. I could not figure out how to make anything work, my visual displays looked infantile compared to the rest of my classmates, and worst of all, I was in front of the entire class while I was trying to give my presentation.
I was so embarrassed, I wanted to run out of class and never come back. I really had no idea why I was struggling so much with how to use Power Point, but I just could not seem to grasp how it worked, and of all of the Power Point presentations that were given that day, I received the lowest grade in the class.
I was very despondent when I left class that day, and I think that my teacher sensed it and took pity on me. The class was the first period of the day for me, and she told me to come by 15 or 20 minutes before class each day and work on it with her. I was quite relieved and agreed to do so.
Within a few weeks, Power Point presentations were a breeze for me, and I was delighted when my teacher told me that we would have another project later in the semester that involved a Power Point presentation. I would have a chance for redemption.
One thing she told me during one of those morning tutorials that sticks with me even to this day, because it was so accurate, is that Power Point presentations were the wave of the future. She said that in the business world, I would have to make them on a regular basis, and I had better understand how to do them inside and out.
During the Power Point presentations for the second project, I volunteered to go first, and mine was easily the best in the class. I had a couple of smiles and winks as I sat down; I guess the pride at how my hard work had paid off really showed in my smile as I walked back to my desk.
In college, I had to do numerous Power Point presentations, and they were really no problem at all. I actually begin to seek out classes that mentioned Power Point presentations in their descriptions, because I felt very comfortable making them.
What I ultimately found out was that my teacher was exactly right. I use Power Point presentations on a regular basis in my career, and they are very useful visual aids and learning tools. I often marvel at how far my relationship with these presentations has come ó from being a terrified 16-year old who had no idea what I was doing, to viewing them as something that are almost second nature.
Though there are many perks that come along with working from home, there are a couple of disadvantages as well. For one thing, you’re likely to be distracted by a number of mundane happenings, such as the doorbell, personal phone calls, barking dogs, raucous children, or even the television. It’s hard to stay on track when there are so many non-business things going on. Another problem is that some potential clients or customers might not take you seriously when they realize you work from home.
This is usually not an issue when dealing with other small businesses, but if you’re trying to land a major account, your mailing address on Shady Pines Lane doesn’t exactly scream “corporate bigwig”. That’s why many people elect to look for cheap office space rentals in their area.
Cheap office space rentals are popular for small business owners because having a workspace away from home eliminates the problems I just mentioned. Now instead of having to run things out of the spare bedroom, you can retreat to a private suite that gives you the peace and quiet you need to get things done. Moreover, independent studies have concluded that most people tend to be more productive when they actually get dressed and work in a professional environment.
Sure, we all think we’d like to lounge around in our pajamas all day as we telecommute, but the reality is that we’re more likely to accomplish our daily tasks when we head out to our office space rentals instead of staying at home. And of course clients are more apt to consider your venture to be a legitimate operation if you have separate offices than if greet them in your living room.
It’s easy to find cheap office space rentals in any area, even without the help of a real estate agent. You can simply check local classified ads or online listings at Craigslist and similar websites. Or, if you have a specific locale in mind, all you have to do is drive out there in person to see if there are any vacancies available. In this type of economy, it shouldn’t be difficult to get a good deal on office space rentals. One thing you’ll have to decide before committing to one of these offices is the period of your lease agreement. Short-term leases typically carry a higher monthly rent, but the obvious benefit is that you won’t be locked in forever. Long-term leases might work in your favor if your business is relatively established, but could end up hurting if things go south in a hurry. You’ll have to examine your own finances to make this call.
On the whole, office space rentals can be a smart decision for small business owners looking to establish themselves as serious players in their field. It’s one thing to start a company out of your garage, but if you’re still there five years later, something’s wrong!
Bank Failures have led to IRS Tax Problems.
Each April 15th when the tax man comes knocking (not literally) millions of Americans scramble to get their returns filed on time. The lines are long at the Post Offices but not as long as they used to be in the days before filing over the internet became available. Now all you need to do is click and your tax return is filed.
Due to the economic downturn of the past several years however, many hundreds of thousands of hard working Americans have found themselves facing mounting IRS tax problems due to their inability to pay their tax debts at the end of the year. These IRS tax problems are especially prevalent among self employed people and small business owners. These people, the backbone of the American economy, have been literally ground into the dirt by IRS agents and unfair tax laws.
Several years ago when the economy was cranking along, many 1099íd self-employed contractors would just wait until the following year to pay their taxes instead of paying quarterly as is recommended and in fact, required by law. They did not mind paying the whole tax burden from the previous year plus some minor penalties in exchange for having more of their income available to spend during the previous year.
This practice was especially prevalent among Real Estate agents and mortgage brokers and loan officers. Many of these service industry professionals were making great money back in the real estate boom days before the latter part of 2007 when the economy as a whole started to seriously tank and banks stopped lending.
The main problem and the reason many real estate professionals are now faced with large scale IRS tax problems is that no one could see the end was coming. The gravy train of the early 2000s came to a screeching halt after the summer of 2007, but was not apparent until much later that year and into the beginning of 2008.
The problem was that banks continued to take loan applications by borrowers and real estate agents and loan brokers continued to take applications from their clients as if nothing was wrong. The first signs of trouble began late in 2007 when many borrowers and home buyers began to be declined for their loan applications after many months of waiting and repeated requests from the banks to turn in more and more documentation.
Banks tightened credit and in fact stopped lending but did not tell anyone. If the banks had just told their clients that they were no longer lending many experts agree that it would have helped to forestall this horrible situation we are now facing. For example, if you as an agent knew for a fact that the bank was not going to give a loan to your clients (home buyers) then you would have been more careful and saved your earnings from earlier on and had enough the next year to pay your taxes owed.
The banks and lending institutions knew they were not going to give out loans but they decided it was in their best interest not to advertise that fact to the world. In fact many banks hid their toxic assets and played illegally with their balance sheets to make it look like there was nothing wrong and be able to make money on the stock market.
Citigroup was one of the worst when it came to these illegal practices and the government is currently making a half hearted attempt to prosecute them but with mixed results. The problem is that Citigroup is too big to fail and we all know what that means: they will be protected while the rest of us have to face our IRS tax problems without any help from the government. Where is the bailout for ordinary hard working folks? Nowhere to be found it seems.
A Word of Unintuitive Investment Advice.
If you think about it, the whole philosophy to all investment advice boils down to telling you how to buy at a low enough price, and then sell when the prices look up. But somehow, nailing the right time, is nearly impossible – especially at a time like last year when the markets were on a roller coaster – on its way into an abyss. Even the conservative mutual fund market, had such a hard time finding the right times to buy and sell last year, they actually did more poorly than the Standard & Poor’s index benchmarks.
And it wasn’t just for last year either; this is the way investing in mutual funds and stock markets turns out, if you look at it over a long enough period of time. It’s been like they tell you about casinos – over the long run, the house always wins.
The reason things pan out so badly, is that, the investment in the stock market (or even most mutual fund committees) is mostly dealt on by either an amateur investor or a short-sighted professional whose formulae know no better; and there is hardly anything scientific about the way the amateur investment process goes about its business.
People like that love to buy stocks like they buy cars – if it looks good, and a couple of your friends have it, how bad can it be? They probably haven’t heard of investment advice from the conscientious investors, that recommends investment strategies like asset allocation. These do sound kind of intimidating, but give it a listen, and you’ll know that just about anyone could swing these.
These complicated terms really just mean this: invest regularly in so many different kinds of companies and stocks, that poor performance in no one area will stick it to you that hard. A properly spread-out holding of bonds, stocks and real estate that take the counsel of all kinds of well-recognized indexes, is where you’re supposed to put your money.
What people do usually, is, when they see something going up, they wait for a while to make sure that it does keep going up, and then they buy: when the stock is close to topping out. And then when it heads down, they wait a while to make sure that it really is heading down, and sell when it is near its personal worst in a race to the bottom. This common investment strategy is all about momentum. And if you check with your friends on what to buy, and not an analyst, you tend to get momentum investment advice like this.
A non-intuitive (but valuable) piece of investment advice you need to look into is the one that asks you to invest in stocks that are at their worst. If you are investing for the future, usually it’s the ones that are doing their worst right now, that stand the best chance of improving. Within reason. As perverse as this seems, it does work.
What happens in real life when you try this kind of investment advice?
There are many investment companies like Vanguard, that try to do just this, and their mutual funds have been barely touched by the recession. I actually found that putting your money in a mutual fund that invests half in stocks and bonds, gets you nearly an 8% return annually. Being a little extra partial to the stocks, usually brings you an even better return. In a financial climate where people are losing their shirts, this seems pretty good.
Internet Banking Services have Revolutionized the Industry.
There once was a time when you had to drive to your local bank to get your bank statement or check your balance. There was also a time when we drove a horse and buggy to get to work. If you are not using internet banking services provided by your bank or lending institution then you have not joined the 21st century yet my friend and are probably living in some cult religion that does not recognize any form of invention or even electrical power.
Chances are you are still churning butter by hand and milking cows in the barn while tuning up your fiddle for the hootenanny later on that night.
Internet banking services have absolutely revolutionized the way that banks do business in several key ways. Remember just five or six years ago when you walked into a bank and there were huge lines every payday (1st and 15th)? Now you step into a bank and you are immediately greeted (accosted) by one or several managers before you even get into line, which is probably small. The line is small for good reason since there are usually five to six teller windows open and usually no more than two or three customers in line, or anywhere inside the facility for that matter.
Behind the tellers are usually the Teller Manager and the Assistant Manager and they patrol back and forth down the line like prison guards suspicious of an impending escape plot. These managers will also greet you and ask you how your day is going or how your weekend was or any one of several insipid rhetorical questions that they really donít care to hear the answer for.
Since most people now use internet banking services provided by all of the major banks and most of the smaller ones too, there are less and less reasons for any of them to actually enter the bank building itself. Not surprising is the fact that once you get into the bank building the only patrons there are senior citizens who either are not computer literate or are just looking for someone to greet them and ask them ridiculous questions. You canít ask an 80 year old person a question like how their day is going because you will get an earful and then some.
I have seen grown men break down and cry because the senior would just not stop yapping, bless their kindly wrinkly old hearts. There should be classes at the local senior centers on how to run a computer and get on the internet. Old folks should not be denied the pleasures of the internet. They have just as much right as you or I to receive spam and Trojan viruses which will destroy their computers and lead to identity theft.
Why should they be exempt from Nigerian or Ghana bank scams or MLM pyramid schemes designed to rob them of their social security money? Many seniors love to email and chat online back and forth and has led to an explosion of knitting websites and subsequent forums.