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New Year, New Hope: Plan Your Finance to Yield the Best Return

Finance InstitutionForget what some people said about how bleak the year 2009 is. The truth is, all we need right now is financial planning.

The premise – plan your finance well, and it will deliver you from financial woes that hit many who unprepared in 2007 and 2008.

The significance of financial planning in 2009

Financial planning has always been important.

Unfortunately, not all people believe the fact, until they were hit by financial problems. ‘Thanks’ to recession, the financial problems are magnified – due to the recession, financial planning has never been this important in the history of the mankind!

Particularly in 2009, financial planning is probably your most important task to do, either for your business finances or personal finances.

Creating a form of safety net or save haven for your money and finance will not only help you survive the recession, but also triumph over it.

Even better, you need to find a way to utilise all financial knowledge and tools you have to yield the best return for every penny or cent you have.

Here’s several plan ‘items’ you should consider thinking about.

Plan #1: Saving and deposit account – forget about it! Says hello to precious metals

As we know, banking and financial institutions are one of the hardest hit in today’s recession. In the US, the Fed squeezes record-amount of fund to keep those institutions afloat. Why? One of their fear: People rush to close their accounts.

However, in my opinion, that’s what you suppose to do – forget your saving and deposit account.

I’m not suggesting you to close your saving and deposit accounts – they are important parts in diversification. What I’m suggesting you is NOT to put too much money in them.

With the rising inflation in every part of the world, your saving and deposit accounts interest rates are becoming more and more insignificant.

You need to get back to what all the money in the world should base upon – gold and the other precious metals. Although the price of the metals are sky high, they are one of the safest investment forms today.

Plan #2: Utilise your credit cards better

Unlike most financial planners suggest, I suggest you not to cut your credit cards.

Instead, I recommend you to consolidate your credit cards – transfer your existing credit cards to lower APR ones or to credit card issuers that offer the most perks and rewards.

How to know which ones you should transfer balance to or apply for, invest some time to browse the Net for reviews and recommendations on credit cards issuer. Credit card sites offer alternatives you can consider, including which credit cards are good for what purposes.

My favourite credit cards story is that of my colleague’s – he shop for his business needs with his business credit cards. With tens of thousands dollar month after month business spending made on his credit cards, he is enabled to vacationing regularly and staying in luxury hotels, courtesy of his business credit card issuers – a win-win situation for credit card issuers and holders.

Plan #3: Cut bad debts, utilise good debts

When I say ‘utilise your credit card better’ in plan #2 above, I think credit cards as your ‘bridging’ in your financial planning. That being said, avoid using credit cards for loan purposes, as the interest rates are high.

Instead, cut any debts related to credit cards. In fact, cut any debts that are aimed to people with low credit scores, such as payday loan. Not that payday loan is not useful – it does in certain circumstances – but you should consider a lower interest loans that brings positive cash flow to your pocket.

Happy holiday and happy planning!

You need a break somehow, and be prepared for the coming 2009. Remember the butterfly effect I mentioned in my previous articles – what you do and think about your finances will affect your community – being positive is contagious, and it will eventually end the recession somehow.

I wish you have a happy holiday and happy planning!

Image by Zach Alexander.

Stock Market Crash in 2008 – Will It Recover by 2010?

Economic RecoveryNobody can really predict when the stock market turmoil will peak, including the recession, but a chart and article from the Daily Kos gives us a quite legitimate starting point to guesstimate on when the economy is prospering (again.)

The S&P Market Index Chart

sp_from_1825From this chart, the block represents a year and the columns represent a range of return on the S&P index.

We can learn that in the middle column, those are the typical years where the market has risen from 0 to 10%. This bell-shaped chart looks ‘normal’ in economic situation, but have a look at the left-side of the bell chart – yes, there goes the year 2008, at -50% S&P market index change.

A certainly lackluster year, 2008 is as bad as the worst stock market crash in the history of S&P, back in 1931.

What does it mean? Welcome to one of the worst years in stock market history! Hopefully, the 2009 will not be the worst year of the stock market history. But, even if the record breaking happened, I still believe somehow that economic recovery is right on the corner.

How well do the government react to the fact?

The US government, through the Fed, are trying to do what they think will save the US economy – record breaking funding to save banking and financial institutions, such as AIG, from collapsing.

Although not the best possible solution, as I think doing so will eventually bury US economy deeper into recession – perhaps not today, but most probably in the near future, what the Fed did is arguably give much needed friction to slow down not only the US recession, but also global recession.

Are there still hope?

Well, the 1931 crash did followed by a big rebound in 1933, where the stock market achieved a 60% return. Will this also be the case, that the crash in 2008 will be followed by similar improvement in 2010?

Although highly inaccurate, hopefully such assumption will become a reality – the sooner, the better.

As I already stated in my previous posts, I think that the negative sentiments make global economic recovery slow, as financially and psychologically distressed people will likely to react in skepticism toward any efforts to recover the global economy.

So, I conclude that all is coming back to the media – what the media preach will affect the recovery process, as people will ‘blindly’ count on the media (including on the experts), rather than their own common sense and financial knowledge, to seek ways to quit recession.

Hopefully the media (including this blog) can affect the recovery in a positive way.

Image by Alan_D.

Eventually, How You Survive the Recession Depends on Your Financial Intelligence

MoneyI once asked by my reader in my other blog – When do you think the recession will end, and how?

I really am having a hard time to answer the question. So may opinions from experts and public, as well.

To tell you the truth, I can’t imagine how the recession will end, and when will it eventually ends.

Some experts say that the recession will peak within 2 or 3 years, and things will improve gradually from there – so, rough road ahead.

Regarding how the recession will end, here’s an interesting estimate – According to this article, the average recession lasted for 10.8 months. Therefore, according to the data, on average, the recession should end last November 2008, and the longest would probably ended on April 2009.

Not exactly the case, in my opinion. Why?

Negative sentiment drive today’s recession more than before

I think that today’s recession might not be your typical recession. The emotional turmoil is as bad as the economic turmoil, in such a way that people left with unsecurity, uncertainty and negative thinking.

Even though the economy is supposedly rebounded on November 2008, the economic downturn inertia will lengthen the recession, even beyond what’s estimated as the long recession mentioned in the article above, April 2009.

As a non financial expert, but a self-made student of human behaviour, I view the recession will go well over April 2009, and will reach the peak on mid or late 2010.

I’m not sure, but neither the expert.

The best survival tool: financial education

Regarding how the recession will end, my answer would be this:

As everything in life – such as the ripple in a lake decreases when the wind speed decreases – after the panic, buzz and negative sentiment sustain themselves in people, the recession will gradually peaked and the economy will rebound – all with viral effects, as sentiment is contagious; The positive outlook of the economy will gradually, in itself, improve economy situation.

The question: How to accelerate economy sustainability?

The answer: As people start to gather themselves and start to learn from the situation, their financial intelligence increases gradually, and the new understanding will accelerate economy recovery – eventually.

The availability of money guides and money information, especially online, will help people to learn better, faster.

Nowadays, the phrase “Time is money” has never been this true before – the faster people learn, the sooner recession will end – the knowledge will set you free.

Image by emdot.