2014: Where to Invest Money in Mutual Funds

If you are an average investor you should invest money in mutual funds, but knowing where to invest will be a real challenge in 2014. So, let’s first eliminate places you don’t want to go and then focus on where to invest money to make the best of it.This game I call ELIMINATION, and it’s really an application of the scientific method you may have learned in general science class, tailored to determine where to invest. Once you know your alternatives, you eliminate the real losers. Then you pick your best alternatives or choices from those that are left.First, eliminate mutual funds based on the costs involved when you invest. Avoid those with sales charges (loads). There is no good reason to pay money just to invest money in mutual funds. Go with NO-LOAD choices. Then eliminate those with yearly expenses of 1% or more. These costs and other information can easily be found in a fund’s description. When you invest $10,000, it can cost over $500 for sales charges (loads) and $200 or more for yearly expenses.Now that we’ve eliminated the high cost alternatives, the question is where to invest money in 2014 and beyond to cut costs and (by doing so) increase our investment returns. Answer: no-load, index funds. Total cost to invest can be less than 1% per year, period. All costs simply reduce the value of your account, and in a real sense is money that comes out of your pocket.Next, let’s look at the categories or choices available based on where a fund will invest money for its investors: stocks, bonds and the money market. We’ll start with the stock alternatives, keeping in mind that for 2014 and beyond… low, but rising interest rates are in the forecast. Eliminate growth and volatile small-company-stock choices. They are riskier and generally pay little if anything in dividends. Where to invest money: look for funds that have terms like high quality, dividends, and growth AND income on their description page. Look for a dividend yield of 2% or more.In the low-interest rate environment of 2014, a 2% or higher stock dividend yield looks attractive compared to earning considerably less than 1% at the bank; and this dividend helps to support stock prices should the stock market decline. Alternatives paying little in dividends offer no such cushion in a declining market. For further diversification there’s another option as to where to invest: sector funds that specialize in areas like gold, natural resources, and real estate stocks.In the bond arena eliminate choices described as highest quality or long-term in nature. Where to invest money: medium quality, intermediate-term bond funds. Medium quality alternatives invest mostly in corporate bonds that are graded as medium to high quality. They pay considerably higher dividends than the highest quality choices that often load up on U.S. treasury bonds, resulting in considerably lower dividends for investors. The somewhat higher risk of medium quality vs. highest quality is not substantial.On the other hand, long-term bond funds pay higher dividends than intermediate-term alternatives, but with this higher dividend comes a substantial increase in investor risk. If interest rates heat up and climb in 2014, all bond investments will lose money – but the long term variety will get crushed. Rising interest rates send bond values down. In your search for where to invest money in the bond department for 2014 and beyond, definitely avoid long-term choices. Long term spells “high risk” for investors when interest rates threaten to go up.Now let’s talk about where to invest money for safety. For the money you invest that must be safe, eliminate both the stock and bond categories from consideration. Go with money market funds. These investments do not fluctuate in price, they pay dividends based on current interest rates, and there are no sales charges (loads) to worry about. In the super low interest rate environment of 2014, expect about as much in dividends as your bank pays in savings and checking accounts: about zero. If rates do go up as forecast, you can expect their dividends to rise as well. In 2007, before the financial crisis, money market funds were paying about 5%. In 1981 when interest rates peaked they paid 20%!In summary, here’s where to invest money in mutual funds for 2014 and beyond. In the stock arena invest in no-load stock index funds that invest in high quality dividend-paying stocks. In the bond fund department go with no-load bond index funds that invest in intermediate-term, medium to high quality corporate bonds. Where to invest money for safety: money market funds.Don’t work against yourself in deciding where to invest money in mutual funds. In both the stock and bond categories you can avoid costly sales charges (loads). You can also cut yearly expenses (and all of your choices will have them) when you invest money in index funds. These do not pass high management costs on to investors. They keep costs low by simply investing in line with a stock or bond index to duplicate its results.In other words, index funds do not pay money managers big bucks to TRY to out perform an index (like the Dow Jones Industrial Average). In deciding where to invest money in mutual funds in 2014 and beyond keep the following thought in mind. Few, if any, money managers have a proven track record of out performing the indexes on a consistent basis. You rarely get what you pay for when you invest money in mutual funds with high investor costs.

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Credit Card Processing for Lawyers – Attorney Privilege

If you run an individual law practice or a small law firm, but profits aren’t quite what you had hoped they would be, you may be surprised to learn that accepting credit cards can be the solution you’ve been waiting for. Credit card processing for attorneys can help improve your ability to collect accounts receivable and thereby improve your cash flow and profits. Credit card processing for attorneys isn’t as complicated or expensive as many people think it is, and it has many surprising benefits.Many attorneys wait until they have finished their work to bill the client, but this opens the door for clients to receive services without paying for them. It is much better to request retainer fees and other advance payments upfront. When these payments can be made via credit card, clients are surprisingly receptive to the idea. In part, this is because they know that if for some reason you don’t deliver those services, they can always initiate a chargeback (disputing a charge) through their credit card company. It also helps that for many people credit cards don’t feel like “real” money, so they are more willing to make advance payments before having received your services.Small law firms or individual law practices that bill their clients only after they have provided services are often stymied by the need to be their client’s advocate while simultaneously being a creditor. These two roles place opposing demands on the attorney. It is difficult to passionately argue in your client’s best interest when there are outstanding bills to be paid. Both the lawyer and the client feel uncomfortable in that situation. Fortunately, credit card processing for attorneys provides an easy solution.When you let your clients pay by credit card, you free yourself of the role of creditor, instead allowing the credit card company to play that role. In this way, you can focus on your primary role of advocate, ensuring that you act in the client’s best interest at all times. As described above, this is especially true when you accept the credit card payment as an upfront retainer fee, so that you receive the funds in advance. After all, you can always refund money to your client later, but it’s much better to have the money before the work is done than to request payment (perhaps in vain) after you have finished all the work.Many attorneys are leery of letting their clients use credit cards as a payment method, because they believe that their practices are too small to justify the expense of credit card processing, as it will negatively impact their bottom line. They have heard horror stories about the hidden fees and misleading policies associated with traditional credit card processing services, and therefore prefer to rely on cash and check payments. Yet credit cards are often the simplest, most direct way for your clients to pay you, and the process isn’t as expensive as you may fear.Traditionally, attorneys and other professionals working individually had to secure an expensive, traditional merchant account and then buy or lease a credit-card-swiping terminal. Then, each time they wanted to process a payment from a client, they had to make a carbon copy of the card and call to request authorization. This was not only expensive, but also time-consuming and a distraction from the professional’s main line of work. Fortunately, today there are better options – specifically mobile credit card processing for attorneys.Small business owners and professionals, including many attorneys, find that mobile credit card processing is an excellent option for their work environment. It allows them to accept credit or debit card payments from their clients wherever the work is done, without being tied to a fixed office. If you have a telephone, cell phone, or PDA (and who doesn’t?), then you already have all the equipment you need for mobile credit card processing. With this technology, you can easily request advance payment of all the anticipated fees, accepting your clients’ payment information on the spot.Mobile credit card processing for attorneys is quick and simple to get started. First, you will need to get a merchant account, enabling your clients’ credit card payments to be deposited into your bank account. You may be able to apply for one through your regular bank, but this may be time-consuming and difficult, especially if you don’t have an excellent credit history. A much simpler and more straightforward process is to use the services of a merchant account provider that will help you open a merchant account with minimal fees as quickly as possible. The pragmatic “Dial Pay” or “Accept by Phone” program is an affordable, easy-to-setup program, offering you the convenience of using any phone to dial a toll-free number.At the voice prompt, you enter the following information: your merchant identification number (provided by the merchant account processor), the client’s credit card number with expiration date and the sale amount of the transaction. Other optional key-in codes exist such as the merchant processor’s bank ID (again provided by the merchant account processor), the customer code of the cardholder and the sales tax. It is advisable, although not required, to expand the dial pay program and key in the customer’s address (so that you can perform an address verification match) and the CVV2 code. The CVV2 is a security feature of the credit card, found in the signature panel on the back of Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards, three digits long; American Express cards reveal the CVV2 code on the upper right hand side of the card, above the credit card number, and contains four digits. Inputting the CVV2 code ensures that the client has the credit card in his/her possession.While keying in more information will lengthen the time to complete the transaction, it is better to include more information than less so that a given transaction will not downgrade to a non-qualified status, the highest discount (percentage) rate that can be assessed.Dial pay offers inherent advantages, including the following:- It is relatively inexpensive to setup and use. While the discount and transaction fees are typically higher per transaction than those offered through other credit card programs, the monthly fee is lower than just about any other method to accept credit cards. In addition, many merchant account providers waive standard credit card fees for their dial pay program, such as the batch fee, monthly minimum fee, etc.;- The learning curve to use dial pay is not steep and attorneys can figure out the process within a couple of minutes. (I advise all lawyers to test the dial pay system with their own credit card first so that they can become comfortable with the dial pay process.);- It can be employed just about anywhere you are – as long as you have a working phone;- Record keeping is relatively easy. Monthly statements will be mailed to the merchant, listing all dial pay transactions for the month;- Transaction information is easily accessible. You can track batch totals and daily activity by dialing the dial pay authorization number and getting back into the system. Online reporting may also be available. Of course, any merchant account provider will have a history of your transactions, too; and finally,- Dial pay offers credit card processing capability to attorneys who do not operate their practice out of a physical location and/or those without an Internet presence.Expounding on the inherent benefits of a dial pay program is not meant to negate exploring the option of accepting credit cards via a wireless or stationary credit card terminal. Depending on the nature of the lawyer’s circumstances, either payment vehicle may prove useful. Alternatively, a virtual terminal – a web-based interface where the clients’ credit card information is securely entered manually – may easily fulfill processing needs. (Please note that the discount and transaction fees associated to swipe a card are also less than the rates assessed to key in a transaction. However, it is imperative to examine all of a program’s relevant rates, including any startup and/or possible termination fees, to make an informed decision as to which service to utilize.)In order to take your law firm’s profitability to the next level, lawyers need to investigate credit card processing options as a means to more effectively collect fees from clients for present, future, and even past, services rendered. In turn, clients will appreciate the ease and convenience of making payments using their debit and credit cards.Once in place, your merchant account should run on automatic mode, causing little, if any disruption in your accounts receivable process. Attorneys can then concentrate on their core competency – feeling unburdened – knowing that they will be compensated for their efforts!

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Best Methods of Making Money Online Without Any Investment

The desire to make huge money is in a perpetual increase, particularly the desire to make money from home. A lot of people are searching for easy ways to making money online and millions of people are already getting this done. There is no age barrier when it comes to affluence, and this is the reason why anyone, irrespective of his/her age, that is reading this content will learn a lot and most likely start to make money from home today. Are you a work at home mom, a student, or just a person looking for online jobs? Commence on perusing this article, for it will teach you different ways to earn money without investment.Here are three easy ways to making money online:1. Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate Marketing is another profoundly effective way to earn money without investment. However, investing money in getting traffic may seem as a better affiliate marketing approach. Affiliate Marketing has to do with promoting a product or website to get a commission based on a prior agreement. It is one of the best paying online jobs and anyone that wants to earn money without investment can give it a try. Truly, this is one of the easy ways to making money online, but it is better for people with good social media presence or high traffic blog or website. However, if you like this type of online jobs but do not have a website, you can venture into CPA marketing rather. CPA (Cost Per Action) marketing is a type of affiliate marketing where you get paid for making people take some actions. Some of the platforms I recommend to anyone interested in CPA marketing are Maxbounty, Peerfly and Clickbooth.2. Taking Online Surveys: It is almost impossible to list out different easy ways to making money online without including online surveys. This is because it is conspicuously stress-free to start and earn. I know you might be wondering how possible it is to make money from home by just answering questions. Yes, it is very possible and millions of people are out there earning thousands of dollars by just taking online surveys. A lot of researchers are out there looking for you and I to answer their questions, which will determine a lot in an existing or prospective business. Personally, I highly recommend this type of job to anyone that wants to make money from home by doing something very easy and convenient. The major difficulty in taking online surveys is knowing the right platform to do this. Some platforms pay as low as $1 while some pay as high as $75.I recommend earning with Panda Research if you are interested in taking surveys. You can earn up to $75 for taking a survey on Panda Research and you are also given $5 instantly for signing up.3. Freelancing: You may have heard of freelancing and wondered what exactly it may be. Freelancing has to do with working for different individuals or companies right in the comfort of your home. It is one of the most convenient online jobs anyone can do. Some of the platforms I recommend to anyone interested in freelancing are listed below:• Fiverr• Upwork• FreelancerThe opportunities and earnings in freelancing are immeasurable. According to Forbes, Charmaine Pocek, who is a freelancer on Fiverr, earns $38,000-$48,000 per month. Being an online freelancer is pretty easy; it requires just signing up, setting up your account based on your interested niche and searching/waiting for buyers. Indubitably, that is a pretty easy way to earn money without investment. Some freelancing niches in high demand are Digital Marketing, Writing, Graphics & Design, amongst many.

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