How Much is Gold and Silver Worth?

Investing in the stock market scares some people. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to the black box of Wall Street and that’s commodities. Of the commodities, there’s energy, metals, agriculture, meat & livestock, and consumer. Today we’re going to talk about metals – specifically silver and gold.

According to Money Metals Exchange, if you bought $100 worth of gold in 1971, it would be worth over $3,040 today. If you had bought silver in 1971, it would be worth over $1,200 today.

That amount of gold would by two 60″ LED Smart HDTV’s, six plane tickets to the Bahamas, and pay your annual electricity bill twice.

That amount of silver would pay for a weekend vacation for four, groceries for two people for four months, and three new SLR cameras.

The dollar is depreciating and holding physical metals instead of cash seems to be a great way to go to protect your money. It’s still not understood why the dollar is devaluating, but keeping your money in a timeless commodity is a great way to keep you and your family financially secure.

One hundred dollars in 1971 only retains about 17% of it’s former value, which illustrates the need for smart investing more than ever.

Read on in the infographic below.


Retirement Investing: Stocks versus Real Estate

There’s a lot of options for retirement investing and saving.

According to Safeguard IRA & 401K advisors, most Americans are still focused on investing in the stock market which often yields short-term gains. There’s alternative assets that people can look at that are sustainable and profitable and yield long-term growth.

Safeguard focuses on a self-directed real estate IRA. They recommend investing in real assets, like real estate, because it can hedge against inflation and losses from the volatility of the stock market.

Most Americans have a portfolio consisting of 70% stocks, both foreign and domestic, 5% short term investments, and 25% bonds.

In the recession of 2008, an incredible 3.5 million jobs were lost over the course of 3 years. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4.4% in 2007 to 8.7% in 2009. This meant that gross domestic product (GDP) also dropped. In 2007, GDP was at a high in the 2nd quarter to 3.1%. The lowest point was in the fourth quarter of 2008 at -8.2%.

Of course this meant that the stock market prices dropped. The DOW was at 12000+ in 2007 and dropped to 6,500 (almost half) in March of 2009. Of course this affected 401ks drastically. If your 401K was 200,000+, it’s likely you lost 25%. If your 401K was 100,000-200,000, you lost 21%.

There’s plenty more to read in the infographic below. Take a look.


Top 10 Mistakes Traders Make When it Comes to Taxes

Taxes are most people’s worst nightmare. Compiling a years worth of receipts, digging up transactions, and trying to save the most money possible isn’t fun. Small business owners have a lot of complications when it comes to tax time. Traders and active investors have their own sets of problems.

Fortunately, The Training Academy has provided us with a resource to highlight the top ten mistakes that most traders make when it comes to Uncle Sam and the IRS. According to them, the tax code is 73,954 pages long and contains almost 2,000 different publications and tax forms. This means that the tax game is incredibly complicated and hard to win at unless you can find the right loopholes. So let’s take a look at the top 10 mistakes.

  1. Not filing a return due to tax losses and minimal trading: failure to report minimal trading activity can lead to penalties, so file a return.
  2. Reporting gains on losses on Schedule C instead of Schedule D: IRS code limits losses to $3,000 so they cannot all be written off. Even if trading is your primary means of income, it must be on Schedule D.
  3. Paying Self Employment taxes on trading: no one wants to overpay! Trading income is not considered earned income and therefore isn’t subject to self employment taxes
  4. Mixing up tax treatment between securities, 1256 contracts, forex and options: confusing yes. They are different and therefore taxed differently.
  5. Using turbotax to prepare taxes: traders have complex taxes and cannot use the simple solution. Use an experienced firm when preparing taxes because Turbo tax won’t help you.

Curious to learn more? See the infographic below.


What’s a 1031 exchange?

So, 1031 exchanges. I don’t do them often and you probably don’t either. However, knowing what one is and strategizing for it in the future is vital to maximizing financial gains when selling investment property.

Fortunately, 1031 gateway has provided a great resource that simplifies this process for us.

Taxes are a “guaranteed loss” and let’s be honest, no one likes paying taxes. A 1031 exchange is a legal and perfectly effective way to defer taxes from capital gains of selling an investment property.

In a traditional sale, you would be taxed on the capital gain (sale price minus purchase price). This can include state and federal taxes with the potential for a small recapture due to depreciation.

A 1031 exchange is incredibly simple. You just take 100% of the profits from selling your investment property and directly reinvesting it in another investment property.

There’s a few rules

  1. Properties must be like kinds. You can exchange commercial for residential rental properties but personal properties can’t be used for commercial.
  2. All proceeds must be invested or you pay capital gains taxes on the leftover cash.
  3. The ownership title must be identical.

There’s more! Read on in the infographic below


The Cost of Prom

The Prom, which began in the 1800s at Ivy League colleges, has become a much anticipated (and expensive) event in a teens high school career. According to GoldenAsp, what was once a traditional school dance has now become the event to end all events. Elaborate and luxurious venues, expensive dresses, limos and after-prom parties are now part of the norm.

The cost of prom is rising each year and in 2014, parents are expected to shell out over $1,500 for their kid. For a girl, the average cost of getting all dressed up adds up to $633 while boys are around $325.

Surprisingly, parents who make under $50,000 per year pay more than parents who make over the national average. Even more surprising is that single parents pay 50% more on prom compared to what married parents spend.

Curious? See more in the infographic below.


Statistics of the Average Freshman

According to Citizen’s Bank, college freshman show a lot more commonality than you might think. Starting college can be a scary, yet exciting time in life and it might be comforting to know that your fellow classmates aren’t all that different from you (even though it might seem like it!).

The average ACT score was 21.1 and the average GPA was 3.0. Average SAT scores for math was 514 out of 800. For reading and writing, it was 496 out of 800 and 488 out of 800.

The average yearly college tuition is $8,655 for public four-year in-state universities and $21,706 for public four-year out-of-state universities. Private four year colleges rack up tuition at a rate of $29,056 per year. And out of the 20 million Americans attending college each year, close to 60% use student loans to cover the cost.

Most freshman were accepted in to their first-choice college at a rate of 76%. Business is the most popular major with 14.4% of students choosing that. In close second is health with 14.1% of students. Biology takes third place with 12.6% and engineering is in fourth with 10.4%.

An overwhelmingly 79% of freshman plan to live in a dorm for their first year and the average student gets 5-6 hours of sleep. And 83% of college students plan to graduate in four years.

See the infographic below.


Deciphering Your Financial Award Letter

College debt can haunt you for years, following you around until that education of yours is completely paid off. Many apply for financial aid, but not everyone gets it. And the people who do receive aid almost have to find some sort of key to translate the seemingly encrypted document. According to Citizens Bank, these financial aid letters are a big part of choosing which college you can afford. Fortunately, they’ve provided the key to all the acronyms and an explanation of what each means for you.

  • COA: Cost of Attendance. This award letter provides information for one year at a time and includes estimated tuition, books, supplies, room and board. The cost of tuition can rise by almost 15% by senior year.
  • EFC: Expected Family Contribution. Based on your family income and college savings, this is the amount the government believes your family can contribute. Most schools subtract this amount before deciding the aid they can provide to you.
  • Out-Of-Pocket Cost. This is the remaining amount before any loans are applied. This is an important figure when comparing colleges because you will probably have to cover it with your savings, loans, or work study.
  • Net Cost. This is the out-of-pocket cost minus need based loans. You still have to pay back Perkins loans and subsidized Stafford Loans.
  • Scholarships and Grants. Sometimes called “gift aid”, you don’t have to pay these back. This includes need-based grants, school scholarships, or merit scholarships.

See more in the infographic below!


What Do You Know About Student Debt?

Most people know that a college education is key to a successful career. Those who establish themselves in the corporate working world without an education are few and far between. Since the summer is sadly over and school has started back, KNCTR has released an infographic detailing the student debt situation.

The amount of outstanding student debt in the United States is approaching 1.2 trillion dollars and the average college student owes $24,301. Canada’s student debt isn’t a small number either at 15.1 million dollars with students expecting to graduate with an average of $26,297 in debt. For either of those, its enough to buy a brand new car.

Canadian students expect to pay off their loans in an average of 6.4 years while 2/3 of Americans are on the 10 year repayment plan. About 37,000,000 Americans have student debt, which is the equivalent of 512 Arizona State campuses.

Interested in learning what you can do to keep student debt to a minimum? Read on in the infographic below.

The Credit Ratings of Superheroes

Who among the many superheroes has the worst credit rating? According to Aspire Money, your favorite people may not be as financially viable as the comics or movies make them appear. Take Ironman for example. Tony Stark transformed his fathers company in to a multi-billion dollar industry for advanced weaponry munition for the United States Government. Yet the cost of being Ironman is more than you might thing. Even with the multi-billion dollar company, the cost of all the gadgets, technology, property, cars etc is 1,029,437,579.03 exactly. Hopefully Tony Stark is as good with money as he is with spending it. We wouldn’t want Ironman to declare bankruptcy would we?

Spiderman, the scientific researcher and part time photographer inherited his superpowers from the bite of an infected spider. For many years he fought the green goblin with his side job of taking photographs for a newspaper. Without a steady wage, it’s likely that even after Spiderman landed his dream job at Horizon Labs, he has some credit card debt to pay off, making his credit rating a little less than desire-able.

Curious to find out who has the worst credit rating. I’ll give you a hint, he hates kryptonite and wears tights. Perhaps he, or any other of the superheroes, can get personal loans for poor credit from Aspire Money?


Big Names Who’ve Gone Bust

You’d think that movie stars and other celebrities raking in the cash wouldn’t have money problems. Think again. There are plenty of the rich and famous that overspent or made terrible financial decisions. More than once.

According to What IVA?, the top ten big names who’ve gone bust starts with Kerry Katona who couldn’t afford the final £82,000 of a £417,000 tax bill. She declared bankruptcy in 2008.

Coming in second is Shane Filan, the singer of Westlife. After investing in property in Ireland, the singer owed £4.5 million in 2011 when prices were 50% lower than when he bought in 2006. He declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Singer and songwriter Elton John declared bankruptcy in 2002. He overspent every month by two million dollars and spent $450,000 a month on flowers alone.

Actor Nicholas Cage owed $6.2 million in taxes and declared bankruptcy in 2009. This was most likely after his $2.3 million purchase of a medieval castle in Germany.

Burt Reynolds was $10 million in the hole after a bitter divorce from Loni Anderson. He declared bankruptcy shortly after in 2009.

Curious to find out who else of your favorite celebrities are no longer financially viable? Read on in the infographic below.