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Financial Lessons Americans Have Learned From the Past 10 Years

Being financially sound often takes learning hard lessons along the way. With help from MarketWatch and TheSimpleDollar.com we take a look at 15 financial lessons Americans have learned over the past decade. (The lesson on page 7 will surprise you.)

1. Managing stress will help you financially

Tired and stressed | seb_ra/ iStock/ Getty Images

“Virtually all of my worst spending mistakes in 2018 were during situations where I was stressed out and feeling completely overworked,” Trent Hamm of TheSimpleDollar.com says. He suggests working on alleviating your stress first, before you try throwing money at your problems.

Next: No-fun zone …

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

On the Ballot in Nigeria: How to Manage Oil Money

When Nigerians vote for their next president on Saturday, they face a choice between two candidates with different visions for the oil sector, which accounts for more than half of the government’s revenue.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also minister of petroleum, has called for increasing efficiency in the oil industry in Nigeria, Africa’s top crude producer, as he seeks reelection on an anticorruption and security platform that helped him win in 2015.

How I Created a $2.6 Million Beauty Brand in Retirement

From TAKE THE LEAP: Change Your Career, Change Your Life by Sara Bliss. Copyright © 2018 by Sara Bliss. Reprinted by permission of Gallery, an Imprint of Simon Schuster, Inc.

PREVIOUS GIG I became a management trainer in 1986, and I loved it from day one. I landed an interview through a friend’s husband, and then did a weeklong course to assess my capabilities. I did very well, and they offered me a job. I developed a three-day course called Personal Power and Influencing, which was designed to help people become better able to manage their work relationships and understand how their behaviors impact others.

AN UNEXPECTED DETOUR My granddaughter India was born in January 2012 and soon after was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal abnormality. I was needed immediately to help care for her two-year-old sister, Freya, as my daughter, Suzy, needed to stay at India’s bedside. It was clear that I could no longer work with clients, so I turned down all offers of work for almost a year. By October, however, India was able to go home and be supported by a team of caregivers. I still helped out when needed, but things began to return to a more normal routine.

RETIREMENT? NO, THANK YOU As India’s life propelled me into withdrawal from paid work, I was very much in need of a new challenge. I was 65 and spending a lot of time watching daytime TV and thinking I can’t just watch TV for the next 30 years! I felt that my life lacked purpose and direction. I had lost contact with all my clients during the year that India was in the hospital, and at my age I didn’t want to start all over from scratch trying to create new contacts. I wanted to try something new and different.

A BUSINESS IDEA BORN OUT OF FRUSTRATION I was finding it difficult to source makeup that worked well on my older face. I kept thinking that there must be other older women who felt as frustrated as I did, who would like to be offered some great products that would really work and help them look incredible. I decided to launch Look Fabulous Forever to create and sell the products I wanted.

WHAT THE MAJOR BEAUTY BRANDS DON’T GET There is nothing in a store likely to make older women feel comfortable about a beauty purchase. The sales assistants are all invariably young and heavily made up in a way that would look awful on an older face. The beauty brands don’t accept the fact that older faces are different from younger ones. Older faces are never used for advertising makeup. Recently, YSL named 25-year-old Cara Delevingne as its face of anti-aging. Need I say more?

PREPARING TO LAUNCH I used £40,000 [about $53,000] to start. I risked only an amount I could afford so that if it failed, I would not be materially affected. I set about finding a UK-based cosmetic manufacturer that would be able to formulate the makeup in the way I was suggesting. I literally googled “UK cosmetic manufacturers,” and I found one that looked promising and rang them up. The boss, Alan, was immediately enthusiastic about my idea and did me the enormous favor of making only two hundred of each product at a time. Now we are one of his best customers. To design packaging and create a logo, I worked with the daughter-in-law of a friend who is a graphic designer. The photographer was a contact from a teacher I knew and charged me very little. People seemed to warm to the idea and were very supportive of what I was trying to achieve.

FREE MARKETING In the first year of business, YouTube was the single most important way we had of attracting customers to our website. We had no marketing budget, so we had to use free social media platforms. I created two videos, plus before-and-after makeover photographs, with my friends as models to show how the makeup transformed older faces. Within four months, the two YouTube videos were getting 1,000 to 1,500 views a day, and orders started to come in from all over the world.

THE FINANCIAL REALITY I took no salary for two years and plowed every penny back into the business. Gradually the income grew so that we could afford higher overheads for things such as more staff and office space. We also attracted investment, and this has facilitated our very fast growth to current total profits in excess of £2 million [around $2.6 million]. Total profits in the first full year (2014) were £100,000.

REAL WOMEN. NO BOTOX. We have a very high repeat-customer rate, which shows how much older women love the effect of the makeup. We use only real older women who have not had work done, including fillers and Botox. We never airbrush our images. This makes us stand out in an industry that cannot come to terms with an aging face and wants us all to chase youthfulness at any cost.

AGE IS AN ADVANTAGE I am my target customer, so I know how to talk to older women without being patronizing. When I appear on TV or speak on the radio, my voice and face are authentic, and my age is my greatest asset. The business has rejuvenated me and given me a great sense of purpose. I’m really passionate about confronting ageism in society and becoming a voice for older women everywhere who are feeling invisible, marginalized, and ignored.

 

Apple and Goldman Sachs to Offer Joint Credit Card – Report

Apple Inc. (AAPL)  has teamed up with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) to offer a new credit card that will help users manage their money, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The card will be available to the public later this year after a testing period involving employees, the newspaper reported. The plan is to offer extra features on Apple’s Wallet app that will let users set spending goals, track rewards points and manage balances, according to the article. The paper previously had reported on the venture, but the timing of the rollout wasn’t clear. 

Apple has been working on ways to penetrate into the lucrative financial-services industry, while Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street firm that historically has catered to the wealthy and institutions with businesses like bond trading and investment banking, has sought to diversify by offering products and services tailored to regular consumers.

Apple would get a bigger slice of revenue from credit-card charges than it currently takes from purchases made via its Apple Pay service, according to the article.  

Apple and Goldman Sachs are holdings in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells AAPL or GS? Learn more now.

Making More Money With Diversity

Jennifer LitwinGreenwich Associates

I began my career in the foreign exchange group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York over two decades ago. I was very lucky that I had three female bosses while I was there, and that I had two very good male mentors. When I would attend meetings or dinners with foreign exchange professionals at broker dealers and banks, however, I was almost always one of the very few women and certainly the only minority.

Fortunately, there are more women in financial services now, but a lot more should be done to recruit, retain, and promote them, not only because demographics in the US have changed significantly, but because it helps financial institutions’ bottom line. For the last five years, I have led or participated in TradeTech FX panels. Every year there has been a women’s breakfast to enable both women and men an opportunity to speak not only about challenges for women in the foreign exchange (FX) market, but how to attract and retain more women in what is still a very male dominated environment

I have been pleased to see that every year, there is an increasing number of very talented women who come to the TradeTech FX conference.  This year, the women’s session was upgraded from an early morning breakfast to a well-attended full-fledged afternoon event. Additionally, the second day of the conference there was a very interesting fireside chat, featuring Morgan Stanley Executive Director, Head of Americas MSET Macro Sales, Melanie Cristi, “How to embrace diversity and inclusion to enrich the workplace and make this your competitive advantage.”  Both events were led by Greenwich AssociatesSenior Vice President, Head of Relationship Management, Jennifer Litwin.

Fireside chat with Melanie Cristi and Jennifer LitwinMayra Rodriguez Valladares

This year, not only were there more women who attended the sessions at TradeTech FX, the women were more diverse in terms of ethnicity and ages. “It’s fairly well established that diverse is not the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking about professionals in our industry,” said Litwin “but I will give props where due – this room looks better and better every year.” It is important to start changing the conversation in foreign exchange markets and in the financial industry as a whole. Often, when people hear the word diversity, it is accompanied by the word challenging. Instead, Litwin would like “to help mold the perception that we should all start associating the words, ‘making more money’ with ‘diversity.’

Typically, it is common to understand and report on demographic diversity, such as gender, age, ethnicity or religion. But Litwin believes that “attention should also be paid to cognitive diversity.” Examples of cognitive diversity include “training, education, personality, and functional knowledge.”  This means that financial institutions should include people who have different styles of problem-solving and who can offer unique perspectives, because they think differently and have a wide variety of skill sets. Litwin is certainly a perfect living example of this. Before being a professional in financial services for over 20 years ago, she was an opera singer.  Anyone who has ever been as lucky as I have to hear her voice cannot help feel that opera fans lost a diva.

Her strong work ethos, attention to detail, and ability to understand people from different backgrounds provide her a great ability to manage a team of ten relationship development professionals. Her group is comprised of 55% women. “A more interesting statistic” says Litwin, “is our wide spread in age– from recent college graduate to long-time industry veteran. “

Litwin has been leading discussion about women, diversity and inclusion at TradeTech FX for the last four years. She believes that “having a variety of backgrounds, personalities and individual perspectives obviously bring various points of view to discussions. These different perspectives bring different ways of problem solving.  There may be those who are more apt to use intuition, and some may test out ideas in a more systematic way. The important thing is that it contributes to a team’s ability to innovate, predict, evaluate, verify, and ultimately make strategic decisions. A high level of cognitive diversity means the team has a large repertoire of tools to solve problems and to be more profitable. The more challenging the task, the more valuable cognitive diversity becomes.”

Dr. Kathryn Kaminski, AlphaSimplex, and Jennifer Litwin, Greenwich AssociatesMayra Rodríguez Valladares

The challenge, however, is how do we make diversity in financial services be real and long lasting? Both the women in the afternoon session and Cristi had numerous suggestions:

  • Show your bosses and colleagues research that show the multiple financial and other benefits of diversity, for example:

  • Establish your brand. Define who you are and make sure that you find ways for your colleagues to know that you are a dedicated expert in your field.
  • Get a mentor, female or male, who can help you navigate political issues at work, and so that you can get promotions.
  • Become a mentor. As soon as women are in the workforce, mentor young women in college or primary and secondary schools. Let them know that women can have successful careers in foreign exchange and other types of financial services.
  • When faced with a micro aggression, that is, someone who makes you feel that you are too young or the ‘wrong’ gender or ethnicity to be in the industry, try humor or explaining calmly to the person that you very much belong in your profession.
  • Advocate not just for maternity, but also, paternity leave. If you are the supervisor of men, encourage them to take their paternity leave, so that both maternity and paternity leave are encouraged and so that maternity leave does not adversely impact your career.
  • Look for ways to speak at conferences, especially if you see panels that are ‘manels.’ Write the women who are at boards of companies organizing conferences, and ask them to encourage more female and minority participation in panels.
  • If you are an entrepreneur, look for ways to be quoted in the press. Find ways for journalists not to quote mostly men.
  • Always add more technical skills to your resume. Take live or online classes provided by financial education vendors or at universities.
  • Network, network, network. Continue networking with the women who have attended TradeTech FX. Network with your college and graduate school alumni associations. And look for professional women’s networking groups.

I look forward to continuing to network with the women at TradeTech FX and look forward to welcoming new ones in coming years.  I have just learned that Litwin sings the Canadian and US national anthems at the Security Traders Association National Conference in DC; with any luck she will sing at TradeTech FX next year.

 

Curbing Your Costs: How recycling right could save you money

Do you know what’s supposed to go in your curbside recycling bin?

Our garbage and recycling rates cost us hundreds of dollars every year, and now the people who manage our trash say putting the wrong thing in your recycle bin could be costing you money.

“By putting trash in your recycle cart, it’s actually creating more issues for us because we’re not able to send it to our material recycling facility,” said David Phillips, district manager for Waste Management in Collier County.

Whether it’s a cardboard pizza box or waxed milk container, knowing what you can and can’t recycle at the curb isn’t always straight-forward. Traditional, or curbside, recycling actually varies county to county, but taking some time to follow the rules could keep rates from piling up.

“If it takes more time for us to go through, pull material out, transfer it to different locations then where it’s supposed to go, it’s going to cost a lot more time and money,” Phillips said. “And eventually that will end up being passed on to the consumer.”

 

WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T RECYCLE AT THE CURB:

Phillips said during season, 20 to 30 percent more items that shouldn’t be there, called contaminates, end up in curbside recycling bins in Collier County. If a truckload of recyclables is more than 40 percent contaminated, the whole thing gets tossed.

“So if you’re the resident or the person that says, ‘I’m cleaning the material and making sure I’m doing it properly,’ it’s all for not at that point,” Phillips said.

“As soon as we see a plastic [grocery] bag, that’s contaminated load at this location.” -David Phillips, district manager for Waste Management in Collier County

For example, not all plastic is traditionally recyclable.

Plastic bags, like ones you get from the grocery store, are one of the most popular contaminates that many people don’t realize shouldn’t go in their recycle bin. They are recyclable, but only if returned to the supermarket. If they end up in your bin, all the recyclables you might have put inside could be going to the landfill instead.

“As soon as we see a plastic bag, that’s contaminated load at this location,” said Phillips, referencing one of Collier County’s Waste Management recycling transfer facilities.

Why does that matter?

If contaminates like plastic bags, rubber hoses, wires, Christmas lights, etc. are not caught and pulled out in time, they can get tangled in the machinery and shut down the system for hours at a time.

Lorenzo Daetz from Charlotte County Solid Waste says that’s more money spent that could be avoided.

Lee County compost facility

“Ultimately the cost of having to stop that facility ends up at what you and I pay at the curbside because that’s part of the cost of recycling,” Daetz said.

While contamination isn’t the only factor that contributes to rising rates, it does play a part.

According to a 2018 study, China used to be a major importer of recycled goods around the world. Since 1992, many developed countries, including the U.S., had sent their plastic waste to China instead of recycling it on their own. But in 2017, the Chinese government banned imports of certain solid waste and recyclable materials, forcing countries to find new markets and the cost of recycling to increase.

Rate payers in Lee and Collier counties have seen a steady increase in rates since 2017. Charlotte County’s rates have stayed steady but Daetz says he doesn’t expect it to last.

“In the future, they’re going to be higher,” Daetz said “Until we’re able to as an industry be able to control contamination and have clean materials that the market wants.”

 

Phillips says in the U.S., there aren’t many new landfills being built. So the longer our landfills last, the less time and money we have to spend finding a new place for our waste.

“Once it’s full it’s full,” Phillips said.

 

So what can you do?

Molly Schweers from Lee County Solid Waste says at the county’s material recovery facility (MRF), workers pull roughly 50 tons of contamination from the recycle stream every day. She has some tips to help avoid that costly process.

1. KNOW THESE FIVE

When recycling at home, stick to these five materials:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Plastic containers
  • Aluminum

2. CLEAN IT UP

Before you put anything in your bin, make sure the item is clean. For example, wash off any peanut butter left over in the jar, and rinse out and empty any soda left in the can.

3. DON’T “WISH-CYCLE”

Avoid putting questionable items in your bin. It’s the most expensive kind of disposal. So if you can’t figure out if an item is recyclable, Schweers says you’re better off reusing it, donating it, or trashing it.

This Top Financial Advisor’s Secret Sauce Is Helping His Clients’ Grandkids

Eric FujimotoPhoto by Garrett Nose

When Eric Fujimoto, a fifth-generation Hawaiian, says that ohano (family) is at the heart of his Honolulu financial advisory firm, he means it.

His family’s Labrador, Hanky, whom he credits as “our best salesperson,” is featured on his firm’s website. Each member of his 12-person team takes turns cooking for a week, serving up family-style lunches in their high-rise office overlooking the beach in Diamond Head; he made beef stew and a local hamburger stir-fry on his last rotation. And when Ameriprise Financial gave franchisees the chance to name their practices, he hired a client’s daughter who had just came back to Hawaii from Chicago to start a marketing firm. They landed on Ho’ea—Wealth Advisory Group. That translates as: “To arrive, blessings to come.”

(Click here for the Forbes Best-In-State Advisor ranking and more.)

Fujimoto’s clients tend to be people who have worked hard and made it—“the millionaire next door, the humble wealth person,” he says. “You gravitate toward like people.” He grew up middle class: His mother is a retired office worker, his father a retired school teacher. He left Hawaii to go to college in California, came back to Honolulu for an M.B.A., and then at age 21 started as a financial planner at a predecessor firm to Ameriprise.

Now, 42, Fujimoto and his team at Ho’ea manage money for 800 clients. He and three other franchise advisors have $610 million assets under management. “We’ve been blessed,” Fujimoto says. A typical household account for the firm is $750,000. Fujimoto serves 225 families with $1 million or more. Most have built their wealth through real estate or small businesses and tend to know each other.

A dentist client he’s known since age 12 recently referred a new client couple (he was a restaurateur, she was a state employee) in their early 70s. They had an investment portfolio of $3 million, and they didn’t know if that was going to be enough. Fujimoto showed them how, with their $100,000-plus income from Social Security and pensions, no debt and full medical coverage, they had a lot to spare, given their spending needs. “For 40 years all they knew was to work hard, save and hope for the best,” Fujimoto says, noting that his task was to explain to them how to steward their wealth. So he turns the conversation to food.

“Imagine you’re at a potluck and halfway through you realize there’s an abundance. You’re apt to be more generous with the next person who comes for service, and at the end of the night, you’re packing up boxes for other families to take home,” Fujimoto says he told them.

The solution: a combination of legacy planning, charity, and spending on themselves and their grandkids. The couple started taking more than their minimum required distributions from their Individual Retirement Accounts, allowing them to fill up the wider brackets under the new tax law as a married couple (versus potentially filing single as a surviving spouse when brackets shrink in 2026). They started making their charitable gifts directly from their IRAs, saving them taxes under the new tax law since they now take a standard deduction. Finally, they made gifts to their four adult grandchildren to use as down payments on homes. “If their grandkids are happy, they’re happy,” he says.

Another way Fujimoto crosses generations is by stressing college savings with all his families. He says they come back to thank him when they’re the only ones talking around the water cooler at work who have gotten kids and grandkids through top colleges debt-free. The typical approach is using the five-year annual gift-tax exclusion lump sum option (now $15,000 a year per child times five) to fund a 529 college savings plan. “Investing in your grandchildrens’ potential income stream via college planning is among the best return a grandparent could wish for,” he says.


The 2019 Money Moves To Make For Your Zodiac Sign

It’s mid-winter, and you’ve probably long forgotten about your New Year’s resolutions. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to be thinking about the money moves you want to make in 2019. And with tax season upon us, this is a great time to really think about your finances.

The financial forecast for 2019 may bring us some surprising twists and turns as Uranus (the planet of radical change) moves back into financially savvy Taurus on March 7, where it will stay until April 26, 2026. With Taurus being a sign that loves stability (and money), having a planet like Uranus in it for the next seven years will push us to think very differently in terms of how we earn and manage our cash. For some of us, this may mean earning our money by non-traditional means or placing less of a value on certain forms of material wealth, like flashy, expensive things.

However, with Jupiter, the planet of abundance and good fortune, at home in Sagittarius until December 2, 2019; many of us should not only find more opportunities to make money but opportunities to see that money increase.

Of course, responsible Saturn in Capricorn (along with a few game-changing eclipses on the Cancer-Capricorn axis) will be on hand to make sure that we’re focused on our financial security and saving for a rainy day.

Take a look at your financial horoscope for 2019 to find out what your sign can expect.

Aries

With the big moves that you’ll be making in your career, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to make the big money too.

However, with unstable Uranus in Taurus sitting in your money zone, you’ll have to be sure that you’re not spending your money as fast as you make it, as you could be faced with some unexpected expenses or financial dry spells. Uranus will be pushing you to redefine what you value in terms of your resources, your self-worth, and getting what you want.

The good news is that the changes you make will set you up for life.

Taurus

Things are looking up for you financially in 2019 thanks to expansive Jupiter in Sagittarius, especially if you’re married or in a long-term partnership, as your partner will experience some major growth in their income which could contribute to your financial security.

Though if you’re single, you could still experience a windfall too; either by way of tax or insurance pay out, an inheritance, a return on a financial investment, a loan, or a hefty commission. If you do receive a loan or an increase in your credit line, watch that you don’t borrow and spend more than you can afford to pay back.

Gemini

With the eclipses and responsible Saturn activating your financial sector, there’s a chance that you could score an opportunity to make more money, but you’ll have to stay on top of your cash. If debt has been an issue, you’ll find yourself working to pay it off while looking to ways that you can invest or make your money work better for you.

If you share financial obligations with someone else and you’ve been paying more than your fair share, you may need to have some tough conversations about cash and responsibility. It’s time to heal your wounds around scarcity.

Cancer

Things may have seemed a bit unstable for you financially because you were experiencing instability with your career. However, you can expect your financial forecast to improve as your career outlook improves too.

Some Cancers could receive a raise in pay courtesy of a new gig or a step up where they are currently. Still, your financial outlook will depend on how much you value yourself and the skills you’re bringing to the table. Look to 2019 to provide you with some teachable moments on the importance of knowing your worth and asking for what you’re worth with confidence.

Leo

While fun and adventure will be a big part of your agenda for 2019, don’t get too carried away with your spending as there’s a potential for you running up bills and expenses that you may not be able to cover. Why cause yourself that stress?

If you’ve had an unhealthy relationship to money, you’ll find that the eclipses and no-nonsense Saturn will be pushing you to make the necessary changes. Meanwhile, with Uranus in Taurus shaking up your career zone, your cash flow could change too, though it could be for the better. Be mindful if you’re lending out money.

Virgo

Your finances may seem a bit shaky during the first quarter of the year, but things should improve by the spring.

In terms of making money, you could bring in some income via a home-based business or by turning something you’re passionate about into something more. Your professional reputation will also be a hot topic and there’s a chance that you could land a new job or money-making opportunities through the people you know. Your network could be a valuable tool, so don’t be afraid to play up your strengths and toot your own horn, as you’ll never know who’s listening.

Libra

With unstable Uranus in Taurus moving into your zone of debt and finances, you’re going to have to play it smart when it comes to your cash.

On the bright side, Uranus will be working on your behalf to help you with becoming debt free. It’s also possible that you could end up coming into money when you least expect it, perhaps by way of your partner or someone else.

If you share a financial obligation with someone else, the stars could also push you to set some boundaries and put an end to a messy money situation. Create a new financial story for yourself in 2019.

Scorpio

It’s big bank for you when it comes to 2019 as growth-oriented Jupiter in Sagittarius will be camped out in your zone of income for the year. As such, you might find yourself with an abundance of job opportunities to choose from or find your pay or your cash flow significantly increasing.

Still, with all of this good fortune coming your way, it will be important for you to recognize that you deserve it as a keen sense of self worth will be your way to attract more of what you want. Just don’t overdo it on the spending.

Sagittarius

You’re the cosmic darling of the year with Jupiter, your planetary ruler, at home in your sign. This means that there’s a good chance that you can surpass your financial goals with all of the professional opportunities that you’ll practically stumble onto.

However, with no-nonsense Saturn in Capricorn camped out in your zone of income, and the eclipses landing across your financial sector, now is not the time for handling your finances or your goals with an ad-hoc approach. This is your shot to build something that will last, so don’t squander it. Honor your worth. Stability can be yours.

Capricorn

You might find yourself focused more than usual on your finances, and one reason for this is the eclipse in Leo that’s landing in your zone of debt and finances at the top of the year.

Look to this eclipse (and Saturn in Capricorn) to help you with asserting your confidence so you can move away from an unfulfilling job situation, using money as a means of proving your worthiness to others, or denying yourself of the things you desire.

It’s also possible that you could find yourself being offered financial support from someone else. Don’t let stoicism block your blessings.

Aquarius

If you’ve been the sole provider in your household or people within your family circle have become too dependent on your financial help, this year you could find yourself looking to make some necessary changes that will help to take some of the financial burden off of you.

At the same time, your finances should get a welcome boost as 2019 brings you in contact with a few influential people that can connect you to opportunities that pay well. Though you may prefer to work alone for much of the year, networking could be a jackpot. It’s your year to thrive.

Pisces

Your financial hopes and wishes could come true this year, though it may require some confidence and taking a few risks to get what you want. It’s possible that you could receive a step up the career ladder, which could also bring a step up in pay.

If things have felt a bit unstable recently, trust that they won’t be for long. Though the way that you think about money and stability may need to change. Make sure the time and energy you’re investing in getting what you want is being put towards the things you really want. Tame your impulses.

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How to successfully manage your investment property

To hire or not to hire a property manager? that’s the question that faces first-time property investors and there’s no clear answer either way.

While a manager might cost you a few extra hundred dollars a month, it can often cost you a lot more in the long-term to forgo one, according to property investment adviser Margaret Lomas of Destiny Financial Solutions.

“I usually urge people to have a good long think about whether they want to be a property manager or a property investor because you probably can’t do both effectively,” Lomas told Your Money Live.

Self-managing

Pros: Those who do choose to manage their own property generally do so to save money, keep a close eye on their investment and ensure their own standards are upheld.

Cons: However, it comes at the cost of investors’ time and effort, restricting where they can invest and restricting the size of their portfolio.

Using a property manager

Pros: A manager can generally better vet and pick the right tenants from a larger pool, access credit and rental histories, carry out frequent inspections to keep on top of maintenance, and attend tribunals if issues such as rental arrears do arise.

Cons: Aside from eating into your rental yield, a good agent shouldn’t come with any added drawbacks.

“Understand that money saved does not equate to money earned and that property management fees are also [tax] deductible,” Lomas said. “That does make them only a small cost.”

Dodgy agents, however, might try to charge you hidden fees, be overstretched and unable to properly attend to your portfolio or use inexperienced staff.

Finding the right manager

Lomas does, however, have some tips for how to find the right person for the job, which begins with treating them like an employee.

“Choose your manager as if they’re a staff member and carry out that interview,” she said.

“Don’t set and forget. You have to oversee and review your manager regularly just as you would a staff member but just be careful you don’t over manage to the point where you might as well be managing it yourself,” she said.

“Have really short termination periods in the contract so that you can easily remove a bad manager.”

Finally, when presented with a contract, be prepared to negotiate terms and always remember that you’re able to change anything that you like.

Watch the full segment above.

Read more: How this 31-year-old amassed an $18 million property portfolio
More: What to do if your house price keeps falling
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