Posts Tagged ‘dollars’

Lock, Stock & Money

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

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The idea of investing in stocks seemed like a bright prospect a few months back but now it sends shivers down the spines among prospective investors. Share investors have witnessed a tough time over the past six months. Investing in stocks or shares has always been a risky affair, but more so during the past few months as the stock prices went tumbling down, with a steep fall in the economy. Interestingly stock trading is not a new thing and its history can be traced back to the Romans, but the first company to issue stocks was the Dutch East India Company. They pooled in public investment and used it primarily for the building of ships.

Experts in the stock market claim that the one thing that is important for a person trading in stocks is his timing. Investors were quick to realize that they needed to be on the tip of their toes to trade effectively in the stock market. However in the olden days, not everybody had the time to keep a track on the stock prices on a daily basis, and that itself gave rise to a new profession- the Stock Broker. He kept a watch on all your stocks and helped you make a decision on what to buy and what to sell, and charged you a commission (called the brokerage) for his services.

With the advent of technology, the stock markets have seen a radical change over the years. Increasingly sophisticated broking software has not only made it easy for Stock Brokers to trade on the market, it has also meant that a newbie, with a little knowledge about the share markets can take a plunge. The internet has also made it easy for people to trade on stocks sitting at the comfort of their homes, with millions of dollars changing hands in a few milliseconds. Technology has made it possible for algorithmic trading to take place, wherein computer systems are programmed to buy or sell shares when a certain market condition is met.

As with all things related to money, the Stock Market has seen its share of financial scams amounting to millions of dollars. Among the various major scams that have hit the Stock Market hard, the earliest was in 1986 when Barry Minkow claimed to be building a multi-million dollar company and went public with a market cap of $200 million before being discovered that it was a mere scam. However the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person amounting to a whopping $65 billion was the one orchestrated by Bernard Madoff. He introduced his Ponzi scheme, where instead of investing the money offered to him by his clients it was simply deposited to his business account in Chase Manhattan Bank.

A totally different form of stock scam came into picture in the form of the boiler room. A lot of people have been hit most by boiler room scams, where a smooth talking salesman calls up and tries to peddle worthless shares to unsuspecting customers. Police have called it the biggest threat to households, much bigger than credit card frauds. These are called boiler room scams because the people involved operate out of cramped office spaces with desks and telephones. Police have estimated that there are about 500 boiler rooms operating out of Spain, employing over 400 people. Other favourite Boiler room destinations are USA, Dubai, Berlin and France.

With the economy in recession, investors are thinking twice before plunging into the Stock Market. With statistical figures showing that approximately more than 50% of American households invest in the stock market, it is something that is still considered to be a good investment. It is just a matter of time before the Stock Market hits back with a vengeance. Better hold on to your money until then.

Last Minute Christmas Gifts on a Budget

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

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money christmas treeTime is running short…only a few days left until Christmas. While many are rushing from store to store picking up last minute gifts, others are worried how they can afford to make their dollar stretch as far as possible on gifts this year. If you’re still trying to decide what to give someone in your life, here’s a few last minute, dollar-stretching ideas:

Always a good idea for everyone a gift of food offers endless possibilities. Candy and cookies, breads, sweet breads, muffins, an entire meal or even a mix; taking the time to prepare  something with your hands in thought of someone will show them just how much they mean to you. One of my favorite quick and easy gifts is taking a package of Oreo cookies and dipping them in white and milk chocolate separately. Then you can dip them in sprinkles or coconut or other toppings or just set them on wax paper to dry. Whatever tickles your fancy, your friends and family are sure to love this special treat. Another favorite food gift of mine, is my tradition of cooking an entire meal for my family during the holiday season … it frees up time for them, and it’s fun to get together and talk and relive memories we all share together.

Another great gift idea at the holidays is pictures. Pictures give us memories of special times in our lives. There’s no better gift than a memory to bring a smile to a loved one’s face. Frame a picture of yourself, your family or just your children. Give friends pictures of special moments shared between you. Everyone loves a great photo. Frames can range from exquisite to simple depending on tastes, but regardless the true gift is in the memories shared.

Homemade coupons make a great gift and don’t cost a lot at all. Remember as a child the coupons to Mom for a Hug and a kiss? Updated versions of those coupons can be just as fun…and special for the recipient. Try giving someone a coupon for a home-cooked meal on a busy night or a day spent together watching movies at home. Sometimes simple things go further than anything you can spend money on.

Try visiting stores that might be going out of business in your area to score extra savings on great gifts for those in your life. Many stores are having sales right now as they try to eliminate their inventory, many with discounts up to 70 and 90% off. You’re sure to find something for someone on your list and the savings will be great!

Finally, how about a donation on behalf of someone you know. What a great way to do something good for others and still give gifts that is meaningful for someone on your list. Think of causes that might be special to the person you’re giving on behalf of and look for local charities to donate to on their behalf.

In conclusion, there are lots of great, inexpensive last-minute gift ideas. It just involves getting a little creative and thinking outside the box. Good luck and have a great holiday!

Has Las Vegas Luck Run Out?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

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dollar vegasThe current global recession is affecting cities across the globe. With the holidays fast approaching, many thoughts ordinarily turn to travel. But on the brink of a global recession, many families are staying put and avoiding costs wherever possible. No stranger to holiday travel, the thought of spending the holidays at home just didn’t seem right to me. Several months ago, I found a great deal on airfare and now I plan to embark upon a trip to the once a recession-proof oasis of Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s right, Sin City! But it seems that even Vegas can’t seem to escape this recession.

Over the years, Las Vegas has grown as speeds so fast that even frequent visitors had trouble keeping up with the growth. Conventions and the entertainment industry have made this desert oasis and beacon for global tourism. In fact, since the 1970s, Las Vegas has remained recession proof. Yet one question, remains on the minds of most Las Vegas Loyalists, “how will this recession affect Sin City”?

Veteran Vegas travelers, my spouse and I are no strangers to the Las Vegas Lights. This trip however, we expect to be a little different. Not only did we receive drastic discounts on airfare and hotel rooms, we’re still plan to make changes on our own in order to protect our nest egg. We’re packing a little lighter to avoid airline luggage fees and leaving more cash at home than we ordinarily would. We were able to score a great room at the Bellagio with a view of the fountains for less than we paid for a room at the same hotel without the view of the fountains back in August. However, one thing I’m quite confident of, the slot machines and the lights will still be on the gambling capital of the world when we arrive this week.  We’ve already purchased tickets to see two well-known shows on the strip and there were no discounts available on those.

In a city where money will get you whatever your heart desires, it’s difficult to imagine Las Vegas not incurring some sort of substantial slow-down in the days and months to come. With tourism as the nearly sole industry in this desert city, Las Vegas is known for its growth and expansion. Already, over 20,000 construction jobs have dried up in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has launched a new $12 million three-month national campaign in order to attempt to entice conventions to Las Vegas and the dollars spent within them. The city’s convention business has been slipping in recent months as several annual conventions have seen fewer attendees and shorter stays among those that are attending.

So how will our upcoming trip to Las Vegas fair in the midst of a recession? Only time will tell. There’s still a lot to do in Vegas that doesn’t involve gambling. You can bet that we will take advantage of the “Duece’s” public transit line offering $5 bus fare all the way down the strip and onto Freemont Street. We’ll take in our shows, gawk at the Bellagio fountain and enjoy the free laser-light display on Freemont over three blocks of roof covering the street.

A Backyard Full of CASH???

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

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dollar cash goldAs we enter into what is expected to be one of the largest recessions in our nation’s history, individuals throughout the United States are faced with the question: “what should I do with my money”? During the Great Depression, many individuals hid cans of coins in their backyards due to their mistrust of the banking institutions. More and more individuals have lost confidence in our current banking system and have begun to question the safety of one of their most safely guarded possessions: money. But what is the best way to protect one’s cash?

Over the years, we’ve all heard of random places to hide money: under the bed, in the freezer, buried in the backyard, in the Bible but where is the best place to put it? My grandmother hid cash for years in the back of her closet between some old quilts that were never used. No one knew about this until after the passed. My husband’s grand-father hid his money throughout his home. He told his widow from his deathbed to throw nothing away in that house without fully going through it. Still to the day, she’ll be going through some old book or other item and stumble upon a $100 bill. Perhaps this was his way of always making sure she was taken care of, but more than likely; he felt it was safer than putting his money in a bank. A close family friend is said to have “millions” of dollars buried in his backyard under a fig tree and while I don’t know if it’s true or not, it does make for a good legend. I’ve often wondered if upon his death, anyone will visit his backyard with a shovel to look for buried treasure!

Of course, burying cash in the backyard is nothing new. During the Great Depression Era, it was common for folks to make “treasure maps” and place their valuables in the ground in coffee cans or old metal boxes. Today a “Ziploc” brand bag, placed in a piece of PVC pipe is a common way to bury cash five feet into the ground. In fact, there’s even an “invention” floating around on eBay called the “Midnight Gardner”. The device is actually a simple twelve by four inch capped, watertight PVC pipe which is said to hold as much as $4,000 in gold, silver, or cash.

Is it a good idea to bury cash? Some say it’s not as the paper money will lose value due to inflation. These individuals recommend investing in gold bullion and burying that as it will hold it value better than cash. There are those that say if the economy got to the point that money invested in banks was gone, that paper money would hold no value either. Others still insist that burying money/gold/etc is a bad idea because it can be easily forgotten or lost. Then, there are those that say that any attempt at “playing it safe” and pulling money out of the economy only worsens the effect of the recession.

In the end, I’m of the opinion that what to do with money is a personal decision and should be made by each individual with regards to what they feel is the safest route for them. As for me, I’ve got a personal stock of cash that I’m seeking a place to hide away for a “rainy day”.