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8 ways to protect your wealth from lawsuits

Posted January 30, 2012 at 1:37 am

by Jason Van Steenwyk

The best offense is frequently a good defense. No matter how astute a business person you are, or how skilled you are as an investor, or how lucky you are with your lottery tickets, it does little good if you leave your assets hanging like a slab of meat in the water for trial lawyers to sink their teeth into.

Let’s face it: America is growing increasingly litigious, and the more assets people think you have, the more tempting a target you will become for frivolous lawsuits.

If you are a business professional or if you own a business, you could be the target of a lawsuit at any time.

You could be hit by any of the following [continue]…


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Best 10 movies for great financial advice

Posted January 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm

“Great,” that is, if you believe crooked lawyers, con men and serial killers

by John Sullivan

Rudy Giuliani makes a habit of referring to “The Godfather” as “one of the best narratives on business management ever produced.”

An interesting take on the bloody crime classic, but not easily dismissed coming from a two-term mayor of one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas whose official title is now Sir Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, KBE (seriously).

It got us thinking of other celluloid pearls of wisdom that translate to real life.

With that in mind, here are 10 films that offer quality financial advice in addition to quality entertainment [continue]…


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How to regain control of your personal finances

Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:55 am

by J.D. Roth

Everywhere I turn, I see tales of financial doom and gloom. The stock market is crashing! The dollar is inflating! Oil is peaking and homes are foreclosing! If you listen to the breathless media, it’s 2008 all over again.

Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve learned from my mistakes in past meltdowns. Today I’m able to sleep well at night because whatever happens to the national economy, my personal economy is on solid ground.

You may not be able to sway economic policy in Washington, but you can build a strong personal economy by following financial fundamentals like these:

Stash savings. Some experts say you should have enough in savings to cover six months of expenses. Some say 12 months, and others say three. The exact number doesn’t matter. What matters is that if you lose your job you have enough money saved that you don’t have to panic.

[ Editor's Note:  See our Wealth  Wire article titled: Why parking cash is incredibly important ]

Limit debt. If you use debt, use it wisely. A mortgage isn’t a bad thing, and neither are student loans. A car loan is borderline, though, and borrowing to buy a television is foolish. Use debt only when needed. If you suspect financial trouble in the future, then strive to get rid of debt completely.



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Janitor stumbles across forgotten treasure

Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

via Yahoo Finance

A curious library caretaker in the Bavarian city of Passau has discovered a treasure trove of ancient silver coins and medals that went overlooked for more than two centuries. The surprise find is reportedly worth as much as six figures.

Janitor Tanja Höls had often passed by an unassuming wooden box stowed away in an archive in Passau’s historic state library, but it wasn’t until about two weeks ago that curiosity got the best of her and she was decided take a look inside.

What she found were dozens of coins, most of them made of silver. “I had no idea that I’d found a treasure,” the 43-year-old told the German news agency DAPD on Wednesday. But when she told the head of the library in the Bavarian city what she had seen, he soon realized their value.

“This find is a real bonanza,” Markus Wennerhold said, adding that it happened to coincide with preparations for the library’s 400th anniversary.

The library believes that the collection of 172 well-preserved coins likely belonged to Passau’s prince-bishops. Wennerhold suspects that they were hidden there around 1803 during Germany’s secularization, when such church assets were transferred to the state. They may have wanted to keep them out of the hands of tax officials.

Dating back from the years between the Roman Empire and Napoleon’s rule, initial Internet research has revealed that the coins are worth a [continue]…


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7 hidden dangers to your holiday finances

Posted December 8, 2011 at 3:50 am

by Sheryl Nance-Nash

The holidays are one big party as you merrily move from one event to the next. But amid all the good cheer, the season hides a sobering number of pitfalls for your finances, and not just ones that involve overspending.

Here’s a look at seven dangers that can send your season into a financial freefall, along with steps you can take to make sure the holidays are more happy than hazardous [continue]…


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13 smart things to do before year-end

Posted December 1, 2011 at 3:51 am

The holidays are a time for bargain shopping and enjoying family, but they’re also a good time to start becoming a new, more organized you.

by Brandon Ballenger

Maybe you’ve been too busy to notice, but the year’s almost over. So in between shopping trips, holiday preparations, and the rest of the daily grind, it’s time to take a breather and focus on some small things now that might make a big difference after year-end.

Maybe you’ve been putting off these tasks, or maybe they haven’t occurred to you. But with 30 days left in the year, you can take out this whole list doing just one thing every couple of days. And as Stacy said, most of these jobs won’t take an hour…

Review your credit history. Time required: less than one hour. At AnnualCreditReport.com you can get a free copy of your credit history — everything the three major reporting agencies have in your file. Your credit history doesn’t include your credit score, but this is the information used to tabulate your score, so you really need to check it for accuracy. Take 10 minutes to download it, then a half-hour looking it over to make sure all’s well.

Check out your tax situation. Time required: one to two hours. The window for some tax advantages closes at the end of the year, so now’s the time to look into possible credits and deductions – especially if you’re close to another tax bracket. Start by pulling out last year’s return, scoping out last year’s deductions, and seeing if there are actions you can take now to swell this year’s. Can you add more to your retirement plan at work? Can you take a deductible loss on an investment? Make a charitable donation?

Clear clutter. Time required: one hour to one month. There’s no better time than the holidays to turn your clutter into cash, or at least a tax deduction. The best way to approach your closets, attic, basement, or storage rooms is slowly – otherwise it’s too overwhelming. Pick one room, closet, or drawer per day, and spend a few minutes getting rid of stuff you haven’t touched in a year or more. If it’s easily sold, sell it online. If you’d rather help someone less fortunate, donate it. Either way, you’ll end up with more money, more deductions, less mess — and if you’re lucky, maybe even a re-gift.

Review/rebalance investments. Time required: less than one hour. Investments like your retirement plan shouldn’t [continue]…


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Sheltering billions through art

Posted December 1, 2011 at 2:37 am

by David Kocieniewski

As he stood in the opulent marble foyer of a Fifth Avenue mansion late last month, greeting the coterie of prominent guests arriving at his private art gallery, Ronald S. Lauder was doing more than just being a gracious host.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Neue Galerie, Mr. Lauder’s museum of Austrian and German art, he exhibited many of the treasures of a personal collection valued at more than $1 billion, including works by Van Gogh, Cézanne and Matisse, and a Klimt portrait he bought five years ago for $135 million.

Yet for Mr. Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder fortune whose net worth is estimated at more than $3.1 billion, the evening went beyond social and cultural significance.

As is often the case with his activities, just beneath the surface was a shrewd use of the United States tax code. By donating his art to his private foundation, Mr. Lauder has qualified for deductions worth tens of millions of dollars in federal income taxes over the years, savings that help defray the hundreds of millions he has spent creating one of New York City’s cultural gems.

The charitable deductions generated by Mr. Lauder — whose donations have aided causes as varied as hospitals and efforts to rebuild Jewish identity in Eastern Europe — are just one facet of a sophisticated tax strategy used to preserve a fortune that Forbes magazine says makes him the world’s 362nd wealthiest person.

From offshore havens to a tax-sheltering stock deal so audacious that Congress later enacted a law forbidding the tactic, Mr. Lauder has for decades aggressively [continue]…


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Your neighborhood millionaire isn’t telling you these 19 things

Posted November 22, 2011 at 12:53 am

by Len Penzo

That’s right.  Although having a million bucks isn’t as impressive as it once was, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.

In fact, Reuters reports that in 2009 there were 7.8 million millionaires in the United States.

That’s a lot of people, people.  And the odds are one or two of them are living near you.

Heck, one of them might even be your neighbor.  In fact, the odds are very good that it is your neighbor.

But, Len, you don’t know my neighbor.  That guy doesn’t look anything like a millionaire.

Well, guess what?  Your suburban millionaire neighbor called (oh yeah, we go way back) and the two of us had a nice little chat.

Here’s a few things he shared with me – but apparently doesn’t want to tell you.  (No offense, I’m sure.)

1. He always spends less than he earns.  In fact his mantra is, over the long run, you’re better off if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor.

2. He knows that patience is a virtue. The odds are you won’t become a millionaire overnight.  If you’re like him, your wealth will be accumulated gradually by diligently saving your money over multiple decades.

3.  When you go to his modest three-bed two-bath house, you’re going to be drinking Folgers instead of Starbucks.  And if you need a lift, well, you’re going to get a ride in his ten-year-old economy sedan.  And if you think that makes him cheap, ask him if he cares.  (He doesn’t.)

4. He pays off his credit cards in full every month.  He’s smart enough to understand that if he can’t afford to pay cash for something, then he can’t afford it.

5. He realized early on that money does not [continue]…


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10 things stores won’t say about black friday

Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:50 am

Read this before heading out on the toughest shopping day of the year.

by Annamaria Andriots

1. “Black Friday’s popularity is on the skids…so prepare for more marketing.”

Despite all the hype surrounding Black Friday, the number of consumers who plan to hit the stores and shopping malls on Nov. 25 may be down again this year. According to a recent survey conducted by management consulting company Accenture, 44% of consumers say they’re likely to shop on that day, down from 47% in 2010 and 52% in 2009.

To lure more shoppers, retailers are rolling out new marketing strategies, says Larry Woodard, chair of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ New York Council. Consumers who’ve provided their cell phone numbers to stores in the past can expect text messages touting Black Friday deals.

Social media advertising is also on the rise. Macy’s, for example, has been announcing Black Friday deals on Facebook each week since Oct. 31, including 50% off Sharper Image iPhone/iPod docking stations and 40% discounts on coffee makers and espresso machines.

These sneak previews can be a plus for consumers, say experts. By knowing Black Friday prices in advance, shoppers can decide whether it’s worth holding off until the big day. Consumers can also follow retailers on Twitter and Facebook for more Black Friday and holiday deal information.

Next:  “We ruined Thanksgiving”


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The $200,000-a-year mine worker

Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Resources Boom Fuels Demand for Underground Labor, Spurs Skyrocketing Pay; a $1,200 Chihuahua

via The Wall Street Journal

One of the fastest-growing costs in the global mining industry are workers like James Dinnison: the 25-year-old high-school dropout from Western Australia makes $200,000 a year running drills in underground mines to extract gold and other minerals.

The heavily tattooed Mr. Dinnison, who started in the mines seven years ago earning $100,000, owns a sky-blue 2009 Chevy Ute, which cost $55,000 before a $16,000 engine enhancement, and a $44,000 custom motorcycle. The price tag on his chihuahua, Dexter, which yaps at his feet: $1,200.

A precious commodity himself, Mr. Dinnison belongs to a class of nouveau riche rising in remote and mineral-rich parts of the world, such as Western Australia state, where mining companies are investing heavily to develop and expand iron-ore mines.

Demand for those willing to work 12-hour days in sometimes dangerous conditions, while living for weeks in dusty small towns, is huge.

“It’s a historical shortage,” says Sigurd Mareels, director of global mining for research firm McKinsey & Co. Not just in Australia, but around the world. In Canada, example, the Mining Industry Council foresees a shortfall of 60,000 to 90,000 workers by 2017. Peru must find 40,000 new miners by the end of the decade.

Behind this need for mine workers is a construction boom in [continue]…


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