Why Defensive Stocks Aren’t Safe Anymore


Egg cups full of money on desk Image downloaded by tanya corfield at 9:44 on the 23/07/14

Nervous investors should think twice before diving into so-called defensive stocks, especially those securities with high dividends. You might end up putting more risk into your portfolio than you realize.
Stocks that have less volatility than the overall market and pay higher dividends than most other stocks are often seen as a way to reduce risk in a portfolio. Traditionally, these are found in the defensive sectors, including consumer staples, utilities and health care.

Given the state of the world, it’s easy to see why investors would want to get defensive. The war in the Middle East is certainty getting hotter. Cities are under the threat of terrorist attacks, and tensions between Russia and Turkey increased when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border. Meanwhile, the European economy still looks saggy and the once-fast growing Chinese economy is decelerating. And the Federal Reserve looks set to start raising the cost of borrowing money sooner rather than later.

Sectors are trading at high multiples. The problem is

7 Secrets to ‘Regifting’ Without Getting Caught



Thinking of regifting this holiday season? You’re probably not alone.

A few years ago, 92 percent of those surveyed by the yard sale aggregator site Bookoo.com said that recycling gifts was OK, and almost as many were pretty sure they had received regifted items.

Done poorly, the practice can be downright insulting. Some of those surveyed reported receiving “gifts” such as 2-year-old fruitcake, monogrammed items (with someone else’s initials), fingernail clippers and a used toilet seat.

Then why regift? Several reasons:

  • It’s a budget booster. Having a couple of great things you can give means two gifts you won’t have to buy.
  • It’s eco-friendly. Instead of buying more stuff, you are recycling unused items.
  • It busts clutter. It helps clear your house of items collecting dust. These regifting guidelines can help you from crashing and burning on Christmas Day:

1. Make sure it looks new. Original packaging is best, folks. Something that’s been sitting unprotected on a shelf has likely picked up grime and might have faded where the sun hit it. If it’s been in the basement, it might smell musty.

If you have to blow dust off it, pass.

2. Remove

3 Risks of Investing in Annuities



Investing can be scary, especially in the short term. When you retire, it’s hard to watch the value of your lifetime of savings fluctuate as financial markets bounce up and down. Fear is a powerful sales tool.

Immediate annuities are an insurance product that prevents you from losing money and offers the benefit of guaranteed payments. However, there is a catch with those guarantees. Many annuities aren’t guaranteed to keep up with inflation, so the purchasing power of those guaranteed payments could decline over time. Tying up a significant portion of your money in an annuity also takes away some of your financial options and flexibility, because you can’t always get the money back out easily. And some annuities are outright expensive.

Here are some of the issues you could face if you invest your retirement savings in an immediate annuity.

Inflation risk. Inflation has been artificially low for years due to manipulation by central banks and the slow growth patterns of the economy. As a result, many people have forgotten how inflation can reduce the buying power of fixed income payments and guaranteed rates

As forecasts are based on the Forex market?

In trading on the Forex is based on the dynamics of exchange rates and precious metals. Accordingly, the more accurately you can predict changes in these rates, the more successful and more profitable to your forex trading. Thus, one of the main factors in Forex trading Forex becomes a forecast based on the analysis of the global financial market and exchange rate quotations. Accurate analysis is your key to success.

What is important for Forex analysts?

Analytics Forex – this is the original “raw material” for the forecast.

On exchange rates, the price of gold and other precious metals (gold forex, forex silver) is influenced by many factors. All of them should be taken into account in the analysis.

For the Forex market the most important are two types of analysis – economic analysis and technical analysis. Let’s examine them in details.

Economic or fundamental analysis of Forex

An analysis of developments in the economy, which could affect the dynamics of exchange rates and precious metals (Forex quotes). However, the daily volume of economic data is extremely large and process it one trader is simply unrealistic. So here is important principle on which significant for Forex information is separated from the insignificant prices.

Among the important information

A Guide to Negotiating a Better Interest Rate on Your Credit Cards

When you carry a balance on a typical credit card, the credit card company is simply extracting money from your wallet. If you carry a $2,500 balance for a year on a typical 20 percent APR card, that means you’re giving the credit card company $500 of your hard-earned cash just to keep that $2,500 balance. That’s $500 that just blows away in the wind. The higher the balance, the worse it is – and the higher the APR, the worse it is, too.

One of the best money-saving strategies is to simply reduce that interest rate. If you knock an interest rate down from 20 percent to 10 percent, you save $250 a year in the example above. That’s a lot of money.

The first step is easy: Just call the number on the back of your card. But you might need some help once you’re actually on the phone. Here are some tips for negotiating a better rate on your credit card.

Make sure you have a position to negotiate from. Have you been a customer of this company for years? Do you pay your bills? Do you also maintain a balance on this card? Could you financially survive if this

5 Tips for Better Spending Habits

While 2016 is in full swing, if you haven’t thought about a resolution yet, don’t give up. Maybe it’s time to make one that has the potential to stick. If you’re often wondering how money slips out of your wallet, consider becoming the crash test dummy for better spending habits. Test drive some of these ideas below to develop better ones.

Be your own cheerleader.

Patting yourself on the back after following through on a behavior you want to increase goes a long way to help cement a behavior. Ginger Dean, psychotherapist and website owner of GirlsJustWannaHaveFunds.com explains the power of rewards: “When making smart money choices, celebrate them by rewarding yourself. Yes, make rewarding yourself a habit. For example, when you make it through a pay period and adhere to your spending plan, treat yourself to something nice that doesn’t break the bank.” She points out that this creates what we call positive reinforcement, which helps you connect good decisions with positive rewards.

According to research by Wendy Wood, a social psychologist and provost professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California, a behavior only has to be rewarded initially to form a habit. So once the habit is

9 Ways Your Phone Can Slash Grocery Costs

Food is among the most expensive costs in the average American family’s budget. And we don’t make it any easier on ourselves by dining out so often in restaurants.

In fact, the average U.S. consumer spends nearly one-third of his or her food dollars in restaurants, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By cutting back on dining out, and enjoying the occasional home-cooked meal — you remember those, right? — you can save a lot of money.

Following are nine great websites and apps that can help you save at the grocery store, or that suggest ways to stretch your ingredients further.

Cash-back and coupon websites and apps

1. iBotta: This app is a frugal favorite, and it’s no wonder why: The app pays you cash back for groceries you need to purchase anyway.

Here is how it works: First, download the iBotta app. Then, look for deals on popular products. Once you find a deal you like, qualify for the offer by performing a simple activity, such as watching a video or filling out a survey.

Then, go to an eligible store — including Walmart, Target and many major grocery chains and drugstores — and purchase the item. After you have done so, take a

7 Frugal, Fabulous Alternatives to the Diamond Engagement Ring

Are you engaged? Getting engaged soon? Hoping to get engaged someday? No matter where you are in the process, it’s worth thinking about how you want to make the statement.

Many couples are finding that they don’t want to go the traditional route of offering the bride-to-be a diamond ring. Some choose something else because they want to make a statement, others because they disapprove of the diamond industry — and even others because they simply like another option better.

If you’re considering doing something non-traditional, there are many ways to personalize your engagement and make it stand out from others. Here are some frugal ideas for you. (See also: 7 Smart Ways to Save on a Wedding Dress)

1. Rings

Even if you choose to use a ring to symbolize your engagement, it doesn’t have to be a diamond. These options work if you like the symbolism of the ring but want more flexibility in the material.

  • Wooden Rings
    • There are so many wooden ring options to choose from! Many people like the fact that wood is a natural material and that trees symbolize both growth and rootedness — two ideas that are foundational to a marriage. Wooden rings sound like they might be big

Surveys Show How Debt Weighs on Romance

Money remains a leading cause of stress in romantic relationships, according to surveys released ahead of Valentine’s Day.

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid discussing finances, they say.

In a Country Financial Security Index Survey called “‘Til Debt Due Us Part,” more than 9 in 10 of the 1,000 respondents told the insurance company it is important to discuss finances with their significant others.

About 7 in 10 surveyed said they prefer to start conversations about personal finances within the first few months of a relationship or sooner. Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security at Country Financial, says in a press release:

If you haven’t discussed money with your valentine, consider starting the conversation sooner rather than later. Talking about finances as your relationship is budding can help quell financial quarrels down the road.

Millennials in the survey were more accepting of a significant other’s debt level. Nearly 2 in 3 said they would rather date a college graduate with significant student loan debt than someone who doesn’t hold a college degree.

Also, 2 in 3 millennials were concerned with their love interest’s debt, compared to nearly 8 in 10 of the general population. Almost 9 in 10 Americans over age 65 believe a significant

8 Surprising Things That Are Taxable

On the list of things you hate, somewhere in there is probably learning that something you didn’t think you had to pay tax on, you do.

Any money that comes into your life can be taxable, says San Diego-based tax attorney Sam Brotman.

“Technically, under Internal Revenue Code Section 62, the IRS can find a way to tax almost every way of receiving money … Even finding $20 on the street would be considered taxable, and the IRS would want their fair share of the money that you receive,” he says.

On a practical note, Brotman says most people don’t report that $20 bill, and “the reality of the situation also is that the IRS does not have enough enforcement resources to come after people who forget to declare little items on their return. It would cost them more to come after those people than they would get in tax revenue for the government.”

Still, $10 you won from a lottery ticket and $1,000 in winnings is another story. If you want a heads up on what unusual monetary situations are taxable, and what you should be reporting when you file, read on.

Employee awards. Were you an especially productive employee last year? You may

4 Times It May Pay to Go Into Debt

Debt is a four-letter word of the bad kind, according to some people. The type of thing that shouldn’t even be considered by responsible adults. However, not all finance professionals agree debt is something to be avoided.

“Not all debt is created equal,” says Gary Poch, vice president of global consumer services for Equifax. “There may be some types of good debt.”

Specifically, experts told U.S. News it may pay to go into debt for one of the following four reasons.

Reason No. 1: To Buy a House

For many people, home ownership is only possible through debt in the form of a mortgage. The average cost of a home sold in November 2015 was $374,900, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That price makes it impossible for many U.S. families to pay cash for property, unless they save for years or even decades.

That’s not something people should have to do, says Finder.com CEO Fred Schebesta. “I’m a big believer in saving money, but it’s better to do some things while you’re young,” he says. Rather than waiting until the kids are grown and there is cash in the bank, taking out a mortgage at a younger age can improve a family’s quality of

Why You Need Financial Cheat Days

When we think of “cheat days,” we tend to think of a sweet treat or indulgent meal that breaks a cycle of strict dieting. A cheat day is meant to satisfy cravings, and it’s a great way to incorporate foods you normally wouldn’t include in your diet without ruining your metabolism. Similarly, a financial cheat day can help you budget better and prevent an overindulgent, perhaps impulsive, shopping spree.

There are plenty of financial resolutions that can help fatten your wallet this year. You can check your credit card history, increase your savings or adjust your lifestyle to live well below your means. The Internet and mobile apps make it easy to monitor spending, and even blogs like this one provide helpful tips on how to maximize your savings. But sticking to a strict money diet can be mentally exhausting, and even the most diligent saver can suffer the occasional slip up here and there.

The discipline and patience needed to stick to your financial resolutions can be taxing, just like how following a strict diet can drive you crazy. Just like a cheat day when you diet, allowing yourself the occasional financial celebration can help you feel indulgent without going overboard.

10 Things Millennials Should Do to Reach the Next Financial Level

Millennials have had a rough road when it comes to money. Not only did they come of age during the Great Recession, which made jobs scarce and benefits even scarcer, but many saw their parents lose big time in the stock or real estate markets, which scared them off of making their own investments. Still, there’s no more time for excuses, because millennials are all grown up and taking on increasing amounts of responsibility. From mortgages and parenthood to caring for aging parents, millennials are facing big financial milestones, whether they’re ready or not.

According to Bank of America’s Year-End Millennial Snapshot, which analyzed 2015 data from over 3,500 millennials, this young cohort of 20- and early 30-somethings continues to struggle financially: a tough job market, hesitancy to invest and student loans are just a few of the challenges in their way to prosperity. Still, the data suggest they are firmly committed to achieving financial independence one day. About half of millennials said the Great Recession changed the way they think about saving, investing and spending, with 40 percent saying they are more reluctant to invest in the stock market and 36 percent saying they are more hesitant to buy a

How to Put Yourself on a Money Diet

For the past six years, Eliza Cross, a professional blogger and freelance writer in Denver, has put herself on what she calls a “money diet.”

Not that she coined the phrase. “Money diet” is a term that’s been around since at least the 1980s. For a stretch of time, maybe a week and often a month, you spend no money, except on essentials like groceries, gas and medicine. Unlike a food diet, where you want to lose pounds, the goal is to gain money. And if you do it right, Cross says, you should have more money than usual at the end of the month, and you may gain better financial habits as well.

Cross has been putting herself on a money diet every January, for all 31 days. She writes about it and commiserates with her readers on her blog, HappySimpleLiving.com.

And while Cross does it every January – “it’s a good time of year when we’re motivated to make changes in our lives, and a lot of us have been spending a lot over the holidays,” she says – you can obviously go on a money diet any time. That said, some parts of the year are probably more challenging than

Top 10 Most Embarrassing Money Topics

Being financially literate, or understanding all aspects of your financial life, is crucial to becoming confident about money. But often, we’re too embarrassed or uncomfortable to talk about money openly.
According to a 2013 Wells Fargo survey of over 1,000 adults, 44 percent of respondents said “personal finances” is the hardest topic to discuss with others, followed by “death” at 38 percent and “politics” at 35 percent.

Money topics such as debt, student loans, salary, credit scores and even saving for the future can cause paralyzing anxiety. A 2014 National Foundation for Credit Counseling study on financial literacy showed that only 2 in 5 adults believe that, if their money could talk, it would say. “We’ve been a successful team.”

So to help improve your relationship with your money, we’ve raised 10 potentially embarrassing money topics and offered some suggestions to tackle them with confidence.

1. Spending well above your means. Though keeping up with the Joneses feels like a problem we should have grown out of in high school, we are all guilty of this from time to time. Insisting on paying for dinner out with that friend who makes twice what you do so that you can impress her is just

4 Golden Rules of Investing

Whether you’re new to investing or a market veteran, these time-tested tips can help you build your fortune.

Rule Number 1: Diversify. Since some investments zig when others zag, divvy your money across several investment categories, from stocks to bonds to real estate. Also diversify within categories. Diversification spreads risk and guards against a catastrophic decline in any one investment.

Rule Number 2: Rebalance. Review your portfolio yearly to make sure your mix of investments hasn’t strayed from your original goals. If it has, sell investments that have performed well and use the proceeds to invest in underperformers to regain balance.

Rule Number 3: Dollar-cost average. Fear can cause investors to miss buying opportunities when prices are low. Euphoria can cause them to buy high. By investing the same amount in the same investments on a regular basis, dollar-cost averaging takes emotion out of the equation.

Rule Number 4: Keep costs down. You can’t control how much your investments earn, but you can control how much you pay to invest in them. Save by using an online discount broker, and stick with low-fee index funds and actively managed no-load funds.

Read more about how to be a better investor

How Good is Your Employer’s 401(k)?

BrightScope recently identified the industries with the best 401(k) plans. Which industries came out on top?

Our rating system is based on how quickly the average participant in a given 401(k) plan is going to accumulate the money we believe someone needs to retire comfortably within his or her industry. Law firms, utilities, mining companies and airlines were top scorers because they typically offer plans with low fees and some form of profit-sharing. Employees in these industries are highly educated and well paid. They tend to contribute at a higher rate than do employees in lower-ranked plans, and they let those dollars grow over time.

How can I tell if my company’s 401(k) plan isn’t up to snuff?

High plan fees are a red flag. But remember that fees vary depending on plan size, industry and other factors. And fees pay for services; a 24-hour help line through which employees can get great advice may be worth the money. Also, the investment menu should meet your needs. If you’re nearing retirement, for example, make sure there are investment options that will get you there securely — for instance, a low-volatility fixed-income investment such as a stable-value fund.

Haven’t people sued their employers for offering

The Best Credit Cards for Customer Satisfaction

Lindsay bought a memory foam mattress from a store that guaranteed no interest financing for two years. Fourteen months after the purchase, interest charges surfaced on her bill.

A credit card David did not open showed up on his credit report as delinquent. The debt, which he discovered because he kept getting denied new credit, will remain on his credit history for seven years.

Joyce’s son purchased a wedding band on her credit card without her approval. When she contacted the jeweler, the store refused to do anything about it.

Though their names have been changed for this article, these are all real complaints consumers have filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Credit Card rankings​ take into account consumer stories​ like these to evaluate credit cards on the market​. One factor of the methodology​, customer experience, uses CFPB complaints to determine how satisfied customers are with their credit cards.

Of the 18 credit card companies U.S. News reviewed, the issuers offering the best customer experience included American Express, BB&T and JPMorgan Chase.​ ​

To control for differences in the size of credit card issuers (banks and credit unions that offer credit cards)​, U.S. News divided

7 Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

Here’s the simple truth: Your low credit score is costing you a fortune.

Folks with the best credit get the best terms when it comes to mortgages, car loans and credit cards. They get the lowest interest rates and the lowest fees. They get the biggest sign-up bonuses. They’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt when asking to get a fee waived or a credit line increased. Add it all up and you get an awful lot of reasons to make 2016 the year you get your credit in shape.

How exactly do you that, though? Well, it won’t always be easy and it won’t always be quick, but the good news is that it can be done. The truth is that you have more control over your credit than you think. You just have to put in the work.
Here are some ways that you can boost your credit score in 2016.

1. Get your credit report, and report any errors you find.

Any move to boost your credit score must begin with checking your credit report. Get a free copy of your report from all three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com,

How to Avoid Holiday Season Credit Card Rip-Offs

“Buy now, pay later” is the modern way of life. Credit cards are a highly profitable business for the companies that issue them, so it’s no surprise that banks continue to inundate consumers with credit card offers, especially during the shopping frenzy of the holiday season. These come-ons are among several financial traps lurking out there today.

Visa (V), MasterCard (MA), Discover Financial Services (DFS) and American Express (AXP): Their cards are common fixtures in hundreds of millions of wallets around the world. According to Federal Reserve data, the average credit card debt per card-holding U.S. household is $16,140. In total, the average American consumer owes $918.5 billion in credit card debt.

You probably get credit card offers in the mail all the time; the volume of unsolicited offers tends to increase the day after Thanksgiving. Here’s some important information that will help you sort through the pitches and separate the good values from the rip-offs.

The Introductory Rate

The introductory rate, or “teaser rate,” expires after a designated period of time. Federal law requires introductory rates to remain in effect at least six months after signup. This rate is below market and typically applies only to balance transfers and cash advances, although they