Tag Archives: interest rates

value of money

Time Value Of Money And Planning

Understanding the general concept of the time value of money can help consumers plan appropriately for future needs and today’s wants. This concept applies to how a consumer may save, invest and make decisions on lending needs.

Many of us are familiar with the idea that the earlier one starts saving the more he or she will have in the future. This may be the case, but it’s also important to be familiar with present value of money and debt, future value of money and debt, and the beginning period and ending period of saving.

When a consumer considers how these concepts work together, it can provide the consumer with the valuable information needed to effectively plan for the future. A good example is credit card debt. If one were to calculate the length of time and amount of finance interest paid to credit card companies by only paying the minimum payment, it would shock most of us.

Saving for future needs is important. We must understand that the dollars we save today (present value of money) will most likely be worth less in the future. So how can we make decisions to save and take advantage of time value? Let’s consider a scenario of saving for retirement in an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) annually. Investors have a choice to save at the beginning (beginning period) of each year rather than saving at the end of the year (ending period of investing). Using this strategy, an investor can earn more on his or her money by contributing the same dollar amount annually at the beginning of the year rather than at the end of the year.

Investing consistently and taking advantage of different types of accounts sponsored by employers, deferred-tax saving retirement accounts and after-tax saving accounts can help consumers plan for retirement. Many employers offer match savings, as well as company contribution, just for signing up for the employer retirement plan. It’s important to take full advantage of the match. Also, some plans offer both a Traditional (pre-tax) deferred saving as well as (after-tax) Roth saving plan. Each of them has specific benefits, and if used properly, they can be a valuable piece of a consumer’s planning strategy. Keep in mind that withdraws prior to age 59-1/2 may result in a 10 percent IRS tax penalty, in addition to any ordinary income tax. IRA and Roth IRA accounts can also be used in addition to employer sponsored plans.

The traditional employer plan and individual retirement plans allows consumers to save on a tax deferred basis; however, he or she will need to account for ordinary income taxes during distributions. Where as, Roth contributions allow for after-tax contributions and tax-free growth and withdraws. By combining these options, and starting sooner rather than later, consumers can take advantage of the time value of money as well as using all options available.

As consumers, it’s not only important to take advantage of the time value of money by investing early, but it’s also important to manage debt in a similar way. Present debt and future debt are key ingredients to manage and can make or break consumer’s future plans. By applying the same concepts to debt management, one can see the value of using time as a way to structure debt for the consumer rather than the financing institution. For example, be wary of committing to long-term debt. When committing to long-term debt, consider a plan to payoff the debt early by making additional payments. Applying the time value of money in this case will save consumers a lot of money in the long run and reduce debt sooner. Also, keep in mind that lower interest rates will help save consumers finance cost. A little extra planning can greatly benefit consumers.

These concepts can be very valuable with practice, practice and more practice. Consumers can become experts in controlling their way of using time value of money and planning for future needs. For more information, visit jacobgold.com.

Securities and investment advisory services offered through ING Financial Partners, Inc. Member SIPC. Jacob Gold & Associates, Inc. is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by ING Financial Partners, Inc. This information was prepared by Michael Cochell of Jacob Gold & Associates, Inc. and is for educational information only. The opinions/views expressed within are that of Michael Cochell of Jacob Gold & Associates Inc. and do not necessarily reflect those of ING Financial Partners or its representatives. In addition, they are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Neither ING Financial Partners nor its representatives provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your financial professional, attorney, accountant or tax advisor regarding your individual situation prior to making any investment decisions.
Economic Crisis

Why The U.S. Will Survive, Thrive Through The Economic Crisis

There has been an overabundance of media buildup over the past three or four years concerning the economic crisis and condition of the U.S. with many doomsday scenarios. There is no doubt that some of these media concerns and fears expressed, whether blown out of proportion or not, are real. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the time, knowledge or inclination to filter the hype to completely understand, as much as necessary, of how the doomsday scenario propaganda by the media can be brought down to their own personal lives and everyday decisions they need to make respect to their finances.

My lifetime occupation of about 35 years has been helping Canadians and Americans to do business, move to or invest in one another’s respective countries. It always intrigues me, even when I am providing serious personal or business advice, of how often people make critical financial decisions, most often erroneously, based on the media-hyped topic du jour.

The numerous different opinions as portrayed on the news media have created fear in the minds of many Canadians investing in the U.S. or even Americans doing the same. Most rational observers would agree there is no doubt that the U.S. does have to do something relatively soon deal with these concerns. How the U.S. deals with these concerns is probably where the focus of people’s attention should lie.

I believe the U.S. will both survive and thrive through this economic crisis for the following reasons:

  • U.S. remains the largest free economy in the world, about 40 percent of the total world financial market.
  • Most of the U.S. debt is internal debt — American-to-American as opposed to American with other countries.
  • At the very hint of any crisis anywhere in the world, investors continually to rush to the U.S. dollar and U.S. treasuries as the safest place to hold their funds on the planet. This not only provides a lot of liquidity for the U.S., but it also keeps U.S. interest rates servicing its debt very low.
  • Like Canada in the 1990s, and Greece, Italy and Spain in 2011, governments eventually come to the realization they must take decisive and painful actions to reduce their debt burden down to manageable levels. I’m sure the U.S. government will come to that point soon if they haven’t already.
  • The U.S. has the largest gold reserve of any country in the world, and we all know what has happened to the value of gold over the past decade.
  • U.S. is the largest exporter of food items that help feed the world; people need to eat so the demand is reliable and growing.
  • The U.S. federal government is considered the biggest landlord in the world owning or controlling billions of dollars of commercial land and properties.
  • Because of the rule of law, knowhow and freedom given to its citizens, the U.S. continues to lead in innovation continuing to create the largest and some of the most successful corporations in the world like Apple, Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, IBM, Boeing, and the list goes on.
  • The U.S. continues to be the destination of choice for legal immigrants from around the world most of whom are very well educated. Because of immigration and one of the best birthrates in the developed economies of the world, U.S. has sustainable population growth whereas other countries, such as Japan, indicate their populations are shrinking.
  • The U.S. and its citizens have been rated the most charitable in the world.
  • The latest in oil and gas drilling technology and the new discoveries in the Dakotas along with the Keystone pipeline from the Canadian oil sands indicate that the U.S., in a very short time, could be at least North American energy independent and will no longer need to import oil from the Middle East or other unfriendly areas of the world.
  • The U.S., in its 235-year history, has gone through substantially worse crises and rebounded with equal or greater economic growth.

For more information about KeatsConnelly, visit keatsconnelly.com.

Investing advice

Investors Can’t Avoid Risk, But They Can Minimize It With Education

For most investors, retirement plans took a turn for the worse, specifically in the last few years. They are faced with more challenges and require more discipline when planning for their “nest egg.” Many can remember when they were able to focus on basic techniques such as saving and investing to earn a conservative return. Today, this is not the case.

There are many more factors when investing that are out of our control. There are more influences from our government, politics, financial institutions and international economies. There has always been and will always be a mixture of economics and politics that will affect our economy. However, in the last few years we have seen much more government involvement than usual. Monetary and fiscal policy, which for years have helped to navigate our economy, now play an even larger role. What does this mean for the individual investor? A lot. This requires more responsibility, planning and action from investors.

Investors’ risk today is substantial. We can, however, reduce some of our risk by keeping involved and planning appropriately for our retirement needs. Many of today’s risks include inflation, interest rates, the economy, markets, and now real estate. To reduce risk we must understand it. We then can begin to develop techniques and strategies to limit our risks. I would first recommend that you to seek the advice of a financial planner and have active communication with him or her regarding your goals and needs. I would like to point out that active communication is critical, so as an investor you can evaluate all of your financial decisions objectively throughout your planning process.

Recently, many investors have been tested on their strategies and techniques for investment planning. Hopefully, they can benefit from the downturn they have experienced in the last couple of years and learn from it. If investors pay extra attention and educate themselves about the risks of today’s market, they can prepare for future economic changes.

We will all certainly face new and unknown challenges in our future; systematic risk is unavoidable. With the right counsel and guidance, one can plan accordingly to avoid big mistakes in investing. These mistakes can be controlled, not by the performance of the investments, but by investor behavior.

Michael CoachellEditor’s note: This month’s personal finance column was written by Michael Cochell, associate vice president at Jacob Gold & Associates Inc. Jacob Gold will return next month.

CDRates

CD Rates Inching Higher Again

Bank-issued certificates of deposit rates are inching up, but if your one-year CD is maturing, you’re probably not going to like what’s being offered. That’s because CD rates took a dramatic drop in the past year as the Federal Reserve marched through a series of reductions starting last summer. The downward spiral was triggered by a belt-tightening credit crunch and a pervasive housing downslide.

Rates plunged as much as 325 basis points in the past year, dropping to as low as 2 percent from 5.25 percent.

Early last summer, it was not uncommon to see banks offering 5 percent interest or more on certificates of deposit. Then came the steady stream of rate cuts, and CDs were paying in the neighborhood of 2 percent. Now we’re seeing rates flirting with 3 percent, and teasers that are a tempting couple of percentage points higher.

Does the move to higher ground indicate that an economic turnaround has begun? Not necessarily, say banking experts.

“Rates are down considerably from what a consumer could have gotten last summer,” says Herb Kaufman, professor of finance and vice chair of the Department of Finance at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. “Now they’ve come back a little bit. They’re trending up as banks try to rebuild their deposit base and retain the deposits they have.”

Kaufman and Rick Robinson, regional investment manager for Wells Fargo Wealth Management Group, agree that one of the reasons for the modest increase is the perception that the Fed is not likely to reduce interest rates anytime soon. Another factor is inflation.

Robinson says the Fed is taking a wait-and-see approach to determine how the economy responds to seven rate cuts and whether inflation will remain somewhat subdued or will increase.

Kaufman notes that inflation, fueled by gasoline and food prices, appears to be accelerating.

“As that happens — and the feds are very conscious of that — you can expect banks will have to reflect the rise in inflation with their CD rates,” Kaufman says.

A significant improvement in the credit market adds to the likelihood of CD rates continuing to drift upward through summer, Kaufman says. He expects to see CD rates somewhat higher than they were last spring.

Is the inching up of CD rates a good or bad sign for the economy?

“I’d say it’s a little bit of a good sign,” Kaufman says. “It wouldn’t happen if the Feds weren’t comfortable with the credit market. Concerns have eased. Banks are comfortable to bid up rates, which means some of the constipation in the credit market has eased.”

The rise in interest rates could be tied to various factors.

“It’s usually a signal that the economy is beginning to do well or that the Federal Reserve wants to slow down the economy,” Robinson says. “Or it could mean that interest rates go higher because of supply and demand, because of inflationary pressures.”

But Robinson cautions: “A small uptick in rates is not a signal that we’re out of the woods or that economic growth is turning around. I still think it will be subdued in the second half of 2008. We expected low growth for the first portion of this year, and we expect to pick up the pace slightly in the second half.”

Another word of caution for investors: “Some banks might offer teaser rates of 5 percent for three months,” Robinson says, “but when it matures and resets, the rate will be consistent with what other banks are offering. Any bank in Arizona must remain competitive with the bank on the opposite corner.”

The creep upward of CD rates is a good sign for aging investors who rely on income from these investments to maintain their lifestyle. Conversely, the drastic decrease in rates since last summer was hurtful, especially for seniors.

“There is less money in their pocket,” Robinson says. “As their CDs matured, if they reinvested their money they’re more likely earning less than they earned previously. They have less to live on.”

Kaufman, too, says the increase is a good sign for retirees, so long as the rise does not pose a threat to economic recovery. Because of the roller-coaster ride the stock market has been on, some investors seeking a safe haven switched to CDs covered by the FDIC.

The collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns & Co. in March spawned some movement to CDs and safer, less volatile investments, including government-backed bonds. Robinson calls it “a flight to quality.”

“In the summer of 2007, banks went through a confidence crisis,” Robinson says. “Investors were worried. Some banks experienced an outflow of deposits, given investor concerns over their viability. That concern seems to have lessened. As the crisis grows longer, more information becomes available, which lessens the panic. People can understand the viability of their institution.”

The reason for the subtle increase in CD rates is anybody’s guess.

“Some banks might be willing to take a loss on deposits to shore up their capital base,” Robinson says. “They may want to increase deposits because they see opportunities to make loans. There are myriad reasons why rates go up, fluctuating in small increments of five to 10 basis points. It could be strategic or market related.”