A Guide to Consolidating and Refinancing Student Loans

Student loan consolidation and refinancing can help you manage your debts, reducing monthly payments, creating more favorable terms, and ensuring you have more money in your pocket at the end of the month.  But how do these payoff strategies work, what are the differences between private loans and federal loans, and how much money can […]

A Guide to Consolidating and Refinancing Student Loans is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

The 10 Best Vanguard Index Funds to Buy

If you don’t have the time, the money or the expertise to buy individual stocks or bonds to build your investment portfolio, then consider the best Vanguard index funds. Index funds are a good way to start saving and investing for retirement. One reason is because the chance of making more money investing in index …

The post The 10 Best Vanguard Index Funds to Buy appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Stocks

To new investors, the stock market can seem mysterious and intimidating. Many people hear that buying stocks is risky, but they like the potentially high investment returns. Fortunately, there are some ways to make money investing in stocks that significantly limit your risk.

Just about every investor should own some amount of stocks, even during times of market volatility.

Just about every investor should own some amount of stocks, even during times of market volatility. I'll explain how to invest in stocks when you have little experience or money. You’ll learn the pros and cons of stocks and the best ways to own them to build wealth safely.

What are stocks?

Stocks are intangible assets that give you ownership in a company. That’s why they’re also known as equities or equity investments. Owning stock entitles you to part of a company’s earnings and assets.

Let's say a company needs to fund groundbreaking research, open a division in a foreign country, or hire a crew of talented engineers. Companies issue stock to raise money from investors for these types of ventures—it’s that simple.

Publicly traded stocks are bought and sold on exchanges such as the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). However, you can trade them only through a broker or investment firm.

When a stock increases in value, it’s called "capital appreciation." That’s a fancy way of saying that the price goes up. As I'm writing this episode, Facebook and Apple stock are selling on the NASDAQ exchange for $266.12 and $469.51 per share. Visa and Walt Disney stock are selling on the New York Stock Exchange for $202.41 and $127.92.

If you buy Visa at $202.41 per share and the price goes up to $210, you can sell it for a gain of $7.59 ($210 – $202.41). You can easily find current stock price quotes on sites like Google Finance and Yahoo Finance.

In addition to capital appreciation, some stocks also pay a portion of company profits. If so, it’s called a dividend stock and distributes dividend payments to stockholders. For instance, right now, Discover pays a dividend of $0.44 a share. If you own 1,000 shares of Discover, you'd be paid $440 in dividends over a year.

Dividend stocks pay you even when the share price goes down, so owning them is smart to hedge against potential market losses. You can find a list of dividend stocks on a site like Morningstar.

The pros and cons of investing in stocks

There are many advantages to investing in stocks. One is that you don't need much money to buy them compared to other assets such as real estate. Buying just one stock share makes you an instant business owner without investing your life savings or taking on significant risk.

Buying just one stock share makes you an instant business owner without investing your life savings or taking on significant risk.

Another advantage of making stock investments is that they offer the most significant potential for growth. Although there's no guarantee that every stock will increase in value, since 1926, the average large stock has returned close to 10% a year.

If you're investing for a long-term goal, such as retirement or a child's education, stocks turbocharge your portfolio with enough growth to achieve it. Over the long term, no other type of common investment performs better than stocks.

The main disadvantage of investing in stocks is that prices can be volatile and spike up or plummet quickly as trading volume fluctuates from minute to minute. News, earnings forecasts, and quarterly financial statements are just a few triggers that cause investors to buy or sell shares, and that activity influences a stock's price throughout the day.

Price volatility is why stocks are one of the riskiest investments to own in the short term.

Price volatility is why stocks are one of the riskiest investments to own in the short term. Investing at the wrong time could wipe out your portfolio or cause you to lose money if you need to sell shares on a day when the price is below what you originally paid.

But as I mentioned, you can minimize this risk (but never eliminate it) by adopting a long-term investing strategy.

What is diversification in stock investing?

In addition to taking a long-term approach, another key strategy for making money investing in stocks is diversification. Having a diversified stock portfolio means you own many stocks.  

People are often surprised to learn that it's better to own more investments than less. Diversification allows you to earn higher average returns while reducing risk because it's not likely that all your investments could drop in value at the same time.

Diversification allows you to earn higher average returns while reducing risk because it's not likely that all your investments could drop in value at the same time.

For instance, if you put your life’s savings into one technology stock that tanks, you’re in trouble. But if that stock only makes up a fraction of your portfolio, the loss is negligible. Having a mix of investments that responds to market conditions in different ways is the key to smoothing out risk.

Diversification isn’t a guarantee that you’ll make a killing with your investments, but the idea is that as some investments go up in value, others may decline and vice versa. It prevents you from “putting all your eggs in one basket,” financially speaking. 

RELATED: How to Invest in the Perfect Portfolio

How to create a diversified stock portfolio

If you think creating a diversified stock portfolio sounds difficult or time-consuming, I want to put you at ease. Buying one or more stock funds is a simple and inexpensive way to achieve instant diversification. 

Funds bundle investments of stocks, bonds, assets, and other securities into packages convenient for investors to buy. They’re made up of many underlying investments. Some funds may focus on one asset class only, such as international stocks, others may have a mix of asset types, such as stock and bonds.

Depending on the investment firm you use, you may see the following types of funds:

  • Mutual funds are collections of assets that are managed by a fund professional. They give you a simple way to own a portfolio of many stocks. Shares can be bought or sold only at the end of the trading day when the fund’s net asset value gets calculated.
     
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds because they’re baskets of assets. However, they trade like an individual stock on an exchange and experience price changes throughout the day.
     
  • Index funds are a mutual fund that aims to match or outperform a particular index, such as the S&P 500. They typically come with low fees and may be comprised of thousands of underlying investments.
     
  • Target date funds are a type of mutual fund that automatically resets the mix of stocks, bonds, and cash in its portfolio according to a selected time frame, such as your estimated retirement date.

How much stock should you own?

Stocks or stock funds should be an essential part of every investor's long-term portfolio. If you're young and have a long way to go before retirement, consider owning a large percentage of stocks. Though prices will go up and down in the short term, you're likely to see prices trend up and give you an impressive return over time.

But if you're nearing or already in retirement, take a more conservative approach to preserve your wealth. That doesn't mean eliminating stocks from your portfolio entirely but instead, owning a lower percentage.

There's a rough rule of thumb that says you should subtract your age from 100 or 110 to find the percentage of stocks to own.

There's a rough rule of thumb that says you should subtract your age from 100 or 110 to find the percentage of stocks to own. For instance, a 40-year-old should consider holding 60% to 70% of their investment portfolio in stocks. The remainder would be in other asset types such as bonds, real estate, and cash.

These investment allocation targets are not hard rules because everyone is different. To design your ideal allocation strategy, you can use an online resource, such as Bankrate's Asset Allocation Calculator.

What's important to remember about making money with stocks is that the amount you own should change over time. When you have decades to go before retirement, take advantage of as much growth as possible by investing mostly in stocks. As you get closer to retirement, devote more of your portfolio to bonds and cash, which preserve the wealth you worked hard to accumulate.

The Widow or Widower’s Guide to Social Security Benefits

The loss of a spouse is devastating, and in that situation, the last thing you want to worry about is money. Unfortunately, as a widow or widower, money is often one of the most important things to think about. And Social Security benefits are usually one of the first—and trickiest—financial resources to navigate. To help… Read More

The post The Widow or Widower’s Guide to Social Security Benefits appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Buy a HUD Home at the Hudhomestore Website?

Using the Hudhomestore to buy a HUD home is easy. If you’re looking to buy a HUD home, the Hudhomestore website is the best place to do it. It can be found here at hudhomestore.com. HUD homes are listed for sale at the site. While anyone can buy a HUD home, you will need to …

The post How to Buy a HUD Home at the Hudhomestore Website? appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

16 Natural Remedies to Relieve Itchy Mosquito Bites

Papaya

Can’t stop scratching a bug bite? Just place a piece of papaya (the fleshy part, not the skin) on it. Papaya contains an enzyme called “papain,” whose protein-digestive properties helps to decompose insect venom, which will stop both itching and swelling.

Vapo-Rub

That jar of vapor rub at the back of your medicine cabinet isn’t just good for breaking up chest congestion, you can also use it to stop mosquito and other bug bites from itching and swelling. Just dab a little on the spot, and you’ll stop scratching in seconds, thanks to the combination of menthol and eucalyptus.

Whipped Cream

Covered in mosquito bites? Get some relief with a surprising ingredient: whipped topping. The same nondairy topping that you’d use for ice cream or pies also helps stop insect bites from being so darn itchy.

Mouthwash

To help reduce the itchiness associated with insect bites, try applying an antiseptic mouthwash (such as Listerine) to the area with a cotton ball.

See also: How to Get Rid of Bad Breath Naturally

Bar Soap

Ease mosquito and other bug bites by rubbing them with some dry bar soap like Ivory. It will provide quick relief from itching!

If you don’t have any bar soap on hand, you could also use hand soap (it’s just harder to keep on the bite!).

Tea

Tame that painful bug bite with a little tea. Soak a bag of black tea in warm water and then apply it to the bite. The tannic acid will help reduce swelling and pain.

Alka Seltzer

If it’s bug season and your family has got the itch, apply this solution to the affected areas for relief: Add two tablets of Alka Seltzer to a half a glass of water. Use a cotton ball to rub this into your bites, and let it sit for 30 minutes

Milk of Magnesia

Want to eliminate the itch from a bug bite? Look no further than the milk of magnesia in your medicine cabinet. Dab a little bit on the spot, and the antacid will stop the itchiness in its tracks.

Hemorrhoid Cream

You may have heard that hemorrhoid cream can relieve undereye puffiness, but did you know it could also help your mosquito and other bug bites? Applied topically, it will reduce the pain and the swelling of an insect bite.

Deodorant

We love this quick fix for an insect bite! Just rub antiperspirant or deodorant over the spot and the itch will go away. It contains some of the same ingredients as anti-itch creams.

Related: 6 All Natural Ways to Get Rid of Body Odor

Antacid

Here’s a clever use for that roll of antacids you’ve got at the bottom of your purse: an itch reliever! Crush one tablet with enough water to make a paste and spread it over any itchy spots for relief, especially mosquito bites.

Thousand Island Dressing

We know this one sounds a little goofy, but it actually works. The next time you get a bug bite, try applying a little thousand island dressing to stop the itch.

Toothpaste

Have a bug bite that won’t stop itching? Get relief with a dab of toothpaste (the white, non-gel variety works best) and it will take the itch away as well as a dab of calamine lotion does.

Rubbing Alcohol

A great way to stop mosquito (and other) bites from itching is with a dab of diluted rubbing alcohol. In fact, ammonia is the main ingredient in many of the itch-relief products currently on the market. Just mix four parts water for every one part alcohol. You can also use ammonia in place of the rubbing alcohol.

Caution: Don’t apply rubbing alcohol or ammonia if the skin is broken near the bite! It will sting.

Meat Tenderizer

If you’ve just come back from a long weekend camping, you’ll love this tip. Use meat tenderizer to treat insect bites! Moisten a teaspoon of tenderizer with a little water and rub it immediately into the skin. Commercial meat tenderizers contain papain, the same enzyme as papaya. It actually decomposes insect venom, easing itchiness and swelling.

Aspirin

The next time you get a bug bite, crush an aspirin tablet and rub it into damp skin. The active ingredient in aspirin, salicylic acid, is an anti-inflammatory, and it will reduce the pain of the swelling and itching. 

Just for fun: How to Solve Your Biggest Summer Problems

For more ways to deal with insects and bites from all around the internet, check out our Bug and Pest Natural Remedies board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit?

If you have bad credit and need a car loan, there are some challenges when compared to obtaining a standard car loan. However, pick your head up because there are a handful of great lenders that specifically tailor their programs to people with bad credit. We researched the landscape of lenders that can help you […]

The post What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

How to Stop Using Credit Cards

The post How to Stop Using Credit Cards appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

The reason most people are in debt is due to credit cards. These little pieces of plastic tempt you with high limits and low payments.  They are simple to use and often a hard habit to break.  You have to teach yourself how to stop using credit cards and end the cycle of more debt. … Read More about How to Stop Using Credit Cards

The post How to Stop Using Credit Cards appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.