The Discreet Millionaire

Who do you consider rich? At what income are you considered rich? For now we'll put along the platitudes that say you're rich if you have your health, a happy caring family, close supportive friends and many interests. Of course these are the reasons we live for and money can not buy those treasures. But…

Who do you consider rich? At what income are you considered rich? For now we'll put along the platitudes that say you're rich if you have your health, a happy caring family, close supportive friends and many interests. Of course these are the reasons we live for and money can not buy those treasures. But as Spike Mulligan once said “Money does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”

These characteristics of the vast majority of millionsaires in the United States may surprise you:

  • Live in a less than $ 400,000 house.
  • More likely wearing a Timex watch.
  • Pay $ 15 or less for a bottle of wine.
  • Never paid more than $ 400 for a suit.
  • More likely to drive an Acura than a BMW.
  • Spend little on trendy brands and luxury items

Figures from the Tax Policy Center say if your annual household income is $ 107,628, you are in the top 20% of income earners. If you exceed $ 148,687, you are in the top 10%. The top 5% earn over $ 208,810. And if your house income is over $ 521,411, congratulations. You are one of those “1% ers” and likely demonized by those who view hard work and risk-taking as a matter of luck or good genes. However, like a company, your personal balance sheet should be the determining factor. If you make $ 200,000 a year it does you no good if you're spending $ 210,000.

You may in fact just appear rich instead of actually being rich.

Take for example the recent news about NBA legend Alan Iverson. Shockingly, a man who before age 35 had amassed a fortune more than the average person would have seen in a lifetime had blown it all. “Iverson blew through his money at an alarming rate on gaudy jewelry, expensive cars, and other frivolous purchases.” In 2012, a Georgia judge garnished his wages to satisfy a $ 859,896.46 debt to a jeweler. ”

Huh? Almost a million dollars to a single jeweler! Here is a man who not only looked rich but actually was rich. But because the desire to look rich overwhelmed him, he is now begging for change on the street. He does stand to get $ 30 million from a trust, but not until age 55. It will be interesting to see if he learns his lesson, if he can survive until then. My guess is that $ 30 million will be gone before he reaches “official” retirement age.

This is why net worth is a far better gauge of true wealth than income. The Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances indicates a net worth of $ 415,700 puts you in the top 20% of households. You are in the top 10% if your net worth is $ 952,200. (Dr. Thomas J. Stanley – author of The Millionaire Next Door – says that one in eight American households has a net worth of $ 1 million or more. That's close) If your net worth totals $ 1,863,800, you are in the top 5%. And if you have a household net worth of $ 6,816,200, ta daa- you are in the top 1% … and possibly frowned upon by redistributers who resent people that live beneth their means, save regularly and handle their financial affairs prudently.

Most millionaires are quite the opposite of being big spenders. They spend far less than they can afford on all commonly owned assets. The want to-be's, on the other hand, (people with average or higher than average income but little net worth) are merely “aspirational.” They buy expensive clothes, top-shelf wines, luxury cars and often more house than they can comfortably afford.

It's ironic the very same thing that makes them APPEAR rich prevents them from ever BEING rich.

How then do you become rich if you are not currently? The basic formula is pretty simple: Maximize your income (by upgrading your education or job skills). Minimize your liabilities (by living benefit your means). Save the difference in an IRA or 401K (I know easier said than done.) And follow proven investment principles.

Sure you must learn to be frugal. But eventually becoming financially free, to be able to do and go where you want, not have to depend on a bonehead of a boss or the federal government is what I consider rich. What a feeling.

Some people refuse to change, but the bottom line is clear: If you want to be rich, you have to stop appearing like it and actually start living like the many real millionaires you will not see on TV.

Business Process Outsourcing: Making Time for Business Owners to Explore Growth

It is common practice for many business owners to attempt to do as much as they can to maintain the needs of their businesses. Often times, this attempt to rely on themselves for everything becomes an impedingiment to creating an environment for the business to keep growing, flourishing, expanding, and succeeding. To rely on another…

It is common practice for many business owners to attempt to do as much as they can to maintain the needs of their businesses. Often times, this attempt to rely on themselves for everything becomes an impedingiment to creating an environment for the business to keep growing, flourishing, expanding, and succeeding. To rely on another person is perceived by many as giving up some of the control and responsibility – taking the easy road. However, a business owner needs to rely on others to free him- or herself up to focus on matters such as expanding their business, addressing challenges, etc. The key is to determine what business processes can be outsourced, what needs to be kept in house, and what scenarios would dictate outsourcing.

When to allow business process outsourcing

Business owners may recognize early on in their businesses (or it may take much longer) that they are too busy to continue to maintain the day to day books. They may be burning the candle at both ends, and they simply may not have enough time at the end of the day to do the paperwork, to pay the bills, address the invoicing, etc. The health of the business can be dramatically impacted by the lack of consistency in the paperwork. Bookkeeping is the number one task in small businesses that owners routinely neglect and struggle with managing in their operations. Employing business process outsourcing to do the bookkeeping will allow the paperwork to get done much faster than adding it to your list of ongoing tasks.

Another reason that a business owner may enlist business process outsourcing is when they acknowledge that they do not have the skill sets, knowledge or expertise to undertake the financial management of the business – this may include accounting, bookkeeping or both. He or she may also be lacking in the knowledge to use the software or technology that is required to successfully undertake the tasks.

In both of the above situations, if the issue is not acknowledged early enough, there can develop a backlog of paperwork, possible provide filing of taxes, payroll challenges or an overall mess to clean up. In this situation above all others, addressing this by business process outsourcing, such as hiring a financial firm that also provides accounting and bookkeeping resources and risk management, can help the business to keep running smoothly.

Benefits

There are many benefits to providing business process outsourcing in the area of ​​technology, accounting or bookkeeping; but one of the main reasons for a small business owner to consider outsourcing is the time and expertise that can be gained.

By passing off the day to day paperwork, a business owner can have more time to network, to build partnerships and grow the business, to focus on the big picture, and to avoid being overwhelmed by the accounting or bookkeeping. One gains even more when business process outsourcing is done with a firm that can address all the nuances of the business.

Many companies have multi-disciplinary teams that can streamline processes; many companies will work with you, your needs and your budget and help you build a long term plan to continue to use business process outsourcing. Some companies will even partner with you and your current in-house staff to create your plan, address your needs and implement requirements.

Should I Get a Home Loan or Continue Paying Rent – The Debate

The RBA recently released a paper announcing the percentage of property growth needed on an ongoing basis for a home loan to purchase property to be more advantageous than renting. The paper states that house prices around Australia have increased by 2.4 per cent, taking into account inflation and ownership costs, over the past 60…

The RBA recently released a paper announcing the percentage of property growth needed on an ongoing basis for a home loan to purchase property to be more advantageous than renting.

The paper states that house prices around Australia have increased by 2.4 per cent, taking into account inflation and ownership costs, over the past 60 years.

It claims, that if prices rise 2.9% per year moving forward, taking out a home loan and buying will beat rent over a period of eight or more years of ownership. However, if home values ​​only increase by the expected real rate of 1.7 percent, it will take more than 30 years.

The home loan v rent debate

The paper has sparked a lot of debt as to which option leaves you with a higher disposable income. Opinions are divided and large dependent on location and lifestyle.

RP data analyst Cameron Kusher confirmed location as a key variable in determining which option provided the best return, saying there are certain suburbs that would have reasonably outpaced inflation, making homes in these areas worthwhile investments.

“Realistically, most suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney have grown in excess of the (2.9 per cent) projection,” he said.

“Over the last 15 to 20 years we have definitely seen growth in excess of inflation most of the time.”

Others appeal that while interest rates may be at an all time low, it's difficult to save for a deposit when you are living, shopping and eating in the city in order to be close to work.

Former real estate agent Martin Beard used to own four investment properties, but sold them all and started renting.

“I look at the massive amount of money that gets tied up in your home … I live debt-free, basically,” he said.

“We live in a big home in a great suburb that is so close to everything with big living areas and a lock-up garage, so I am happy with the compromise.”

The income?

The RBA acknowledged there were limitations in the paper, such as non-financial benefits to owed your own home, including security of tenure, freedom to renewate and pride of ownership.

It's a debate that's ongoing and everyone will have a different argument, as it all comes down to individual priorities, how soon you wish to buy, where you want to live and how you want to live.

So if you feel that now is the time to enter the property market and take out that home loan, then your first course of action should be to contact a mortgage broker, who will be able to guide you through the process of applying for a mortgage .

Fixed Rate Home Loans – The New Lender Battleground

Right now, you'll find plenty of news items telling us that a fixed rate home loan is a good idea. It's true – if you have ever considered this, there will never be a better time. If you have not, it's worth thinking about. The Big Four knows this, and they're all after your business.…

Right now, you'll find plenty of news items telling us that a fixed rate home loan is a good idea. It's true – if you have ever considered this, there will never be a better time. If you have not, it's worth thinking about.

The Big Four knows this, and they're all after your business.

They've jumped on the bandwagon and lowered their fixed rates to below the magic 5% mark. This is a possible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a stable monthly payment before rates begin to rise again (as they inevitably will).

Once the first of the Big Four banks lowered their five year fixed loan to below 5%, it was only a matter of hours before the other three started to follow. However, most other lenders have done the same and so the options may overwhelm you.

What is a fixed rate loan?

It is an agreement between the bank and the borrower that the borrower will be protected from rising interest rates for the period of the fixed rate. Most have a time limit – 3, 4 and 5 years are popular.

The devil is in the detail

A guaranteed monthly payment makes it easier to plan cashflow; but there are disadvantages.

Before you commit, make sure you know exactly what a fixed rate mortgage involves. Although many banks are becoming more flexible with these types of loans, some may include:

  • Not being able to pay down your mortgage – some banks will not allow any extra payments during the period of your fix rate while others limit the amount you can repay
  • You most likely will not be able to exit your loan during this period without a costly payout
  • Some do not offer redraw facilities

There is also the chance over the term of your loan that variable interest rates may actually be cut, but that's part of the deal when you sign.

Split loan

A popular choice is to fix a certain amount of your mortgage – say, 50% and leave the other 50% variable. This 'hedging your bets' option allows you to take advantage of the benefits of both types – a more stable monthly payment and the ability to take advantage of all of the benefits of a variable home loan.

What's your choice?

Ultimately, you'll need to decide if a fixed rate home loan suits your needs now and take into account the next 3-5 years. Write down the pluses and minuses, and then make sure you compare all of the options that are currently on the market. Finally, have your mortgage broker go over all the pres and cons for you.

6 Tips to Get Your Home Loan Approval First Time

The Paper Trail When applying for a home loan, the more information you can provide, the better your chances of having your mortgage approved. Buy a handy file to store all your documents including: Statements of all previous loans and credit cards Payslips – last 2 at least Most recent 2 income tax returns PAYG…

The Paper Trail

When applying for a home loan, the more information you can provide, the better your chances of having your mortgage approved. Buy a handy file to store all your documents including:

  • Statements of all previous loans and credit cards
  • Payslips – last 2 at least
  • Most recent 2 income tax returns
  • PAYG summaries
  • Most recent personal bank statement
  • Most recent credit card statement
  • Anything else you think is relevant

Have Your Credit Report Up to Date

Before anything, you will need to ensure that your finances are in order. Sit down and assess your credit report – this includes your personal history of all your credit accounts (cards, loans, mobile phone plans etc.), and all their associated repayment histories. These are the first things that your lender will be looking at when you apply for a home loan.

If It's Wrong – Dispute It

Misinformation and discrepancies will hurt your credit score and may cause your application to be denied, so consider speaking to a credit professional to help you dispute these issues.

If It's Outstanding – Pay It Off

Mortgage lenders will be assessing your ability to pay off debts on time. So, if you have anything outstanding, clear them up as soon as you are able to. If for any reason you have recently made a late payment or have paid off any delinquencies, it is probably a wise idea to wait at least 6 months before applying for a mortgage.

Home Loan Deposit Size

Lenders always give preference to those who put down larger deposits. Generally, they consider loans for 80% of the property value to be 'safe'. Keep in mind that they may be willing to stray from their normal lending policy, if you are willing to put down a large deposit. Borrowing less than 80% also means you can also be exempted from the Lenders Mortgage Insurance (a one-off fee that can be quite strict when assessing your mortgage).

Use a Mortgage Broker

A mortgage broker can help you prepare for your loan application so you have the best possible chance of approval, mortgage brokers have access to a wide range of competitive variable, fixed rate and split rate loans from a large panel of leading lenders. This way, you can feel confident knowing you'll get the most competitive interest rates available for your home loan from any of the lenders available to your mortgage broker.

Are YOU Tired of Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

Early on in life, most people believe they have plenty of time to save for retirement or save for unexpected things that come up along the way. Obviously, that is a fallacy. Today, most Americans have no Emergency Fund. Their emergency fund is the credit card! It's funny when a client tells you, “I'll start…

Early on in life, most people believe they have plenty of time to save for retirement or save for unexpected things that come up along the way. Obviously, that is a fallacy.

Today, most Americans have no Emergency Fund. Their emergency fund is the credit card!

It's funny when a client tells you, “I'll start saving when I have no more debt.” My question is to them, “Do you have a plan to pay off your debt?”

Their response is usually “No, not really”, or, “We use our tax returns to pay it off.” My response, “What did you do last year?”

Their response, “Paid off debt.” Year before? Paid off debt. You see the trend here?

No one really has a defined plan to pay off their debt. People will go out of their way way to either, Avoid Pain or Gain Pleasure … to avoid the problem.

One thing is for sure … THE PROBLEM IS GROWING FASTER THAN THE SOLUTION.

The average American household carriers $ 15,000 in credit card debt. That's not counting car loans, student loans, mortgage, etc …

The average American household income is $ 51,000.

As you can see here, there is a financial division between MAIN Street vs. WALL Street!

The rich keep getting richer, and the middle class keep moving further and further down the wealth later into poor or poverty. They can not gain any financial altitude.

As we were growing up in school, we were talking about currency … A penny, nickel, dime, and quarters, but no one ever taught us how to turn that penny into a quarter!

People today are more focused on paying off debt than paying themselves first. I'm not saying, not pay off your debt, but if you strategically planned out your personal financial situation, you could do both.

Then they tell you, “I heard this on the internet or TV.” My response … “OK, do those people sit down and actually go through your personal situation with you?” The fact is, everyone's situation is different and I've never had any family or person with the same situation.

The internet and television can be a prescription or a poison. If I went and read an article on your career or job, do you think I could do it as well as you could? You can not believe everything you read or hear on the TV or Internet. Most of the time, it probably does not apply to your situation.

Or they say, “Well my friend told me …” Is your friend financially independent and out of debt? “No …” So why are you taking advice from them?

Sometimes it can feel like there is no hope to get ahead financially, but the fact is, with a few little tweaks in your budget and personal financial situation, it can make a huge difference!

There is a high cost to waiting and TIME is our WORST enemy!

When you're in your 20's (depending on the age your start), you could save (hypothetical) $ 200-500 / month and hit $ 1 million in retirement 40 years later.

If you start in your 30's, to hit that same number at that same time, you will need to save $ 500-1,200 / month. If you're in your 40's, $ 1,500- $ 5,000, when you have 10 years or less to retirement, you will need to save $ 5,000- $ 15,000 to hit that same number to retire at the same time as that person who decided to save $ 200 / month at age 20.

The best way to put time on your side is to start saving today!

We need to stop thinking small and start thinking BIG. Create a VISION for ourselves and turn our excuses into reasons “WHY” we are going to get things done!

If your WHY is big enough, the what and how will come naturally, if you put yourself in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by the right people, your life could change dramatically.

If you thought you were doing something right your entitlement life, to later find out it was wrong, when would you want to know?

Centralized Banking by Government of India

Indian PM Mr. Narendra modi launched Jan Dhan Yojana, a mega financial inclusion plan for poor and common man having no access to formal banking facilities. The objective is not only to help establishing formal banking system in India for all but also to have centralized banking by the government of India. This will in…

Indian PM Mr. Narendra modi launched Jan Dhan Yojana, a mega financial inclusion plan for poor and common man having no access to formal banking facilities. The objective is not only to help establishing formal banking system in India for all but also to have centralized banking by the government of India. This will in turn bring economic development and strengthen the government by accumulating funds to India rather than routing funds to international foreign banks. This is a great initiative that will not only help all classes in India, but also bringing social and economic growth across the nation.

Narendra modi's financial inclusion drive is to help the poor open bank accounts and to integrate the poorest with formal banking system in India. On the other hand, its attractive benefits to account holders as debit cards, overdraft facility up to Rs 5000, accident insurance cover of Rs 100000, life cover and medical cover of Rs 30,000. The high aim is to help poor who do not have bank accounts and are not aligned to the Indian national banking system.

The Prime Minister aims to integrate 7.5 crore households to have bank accounts by next year. This initiative will help allow people from rural and urban areas to open bank accounts with PM's Jan Dhan Yojana. Integrating common man is a great initiative to centralized banking system in India and people from villages who have no access to banking facilities will be greatly benefited. This will be facilitated with 7000 branches and 20,000 new ATM centers in the country.

Government of India provides many other schemes for the welfare of its citizens, but the benefits are not reached to common man. Post Offices are fully government owned bodies and provide many policies for the benefit of citizens. These are safe investment options allowing great savings and earn good interest on long term investments.

There are many such policies by IPO like Kisan Vikas Patra, National Savings Certificates (NSC), Public Provident Fund (PPF), Senior Citizen Savings Scheme, Post Office Monthly Income Account Scheme, Post Office filing deposit and savings account etc.

There are several benefits of investing in post office schemes:

– These schemes are offered directly by Government of India.
– Safest, secure and risk-free investment options.
– No Tax Deduction at Source (TDS).
– The instruments can be purchased from any Post Office anywhere in India.
– Attractive rates of interest

Post office savings as an Investment avenue is most convenient for investors from all classes, this is common not only in urban but also rural areas. The Indian Postal Services and the schemes offered by it, have gained high public trust and confidence of common people. India possess the largest network of postal offices in India with nearly 160,000 branches spread across the country.

Various accounts offered by Indian Post Offices include:

Savings Account: Post office savings account works same as savings account in a bank. This is convenient for people in rural areas who have limited banking facilities. This account can be opened with minimum of Rs.50 and maximum of Rs.1,00,000 by an individual.Withdrawal from the account is by cheque and there is no restriction on withdrawals, unlike commercial banks. Interest earned from your savings is tax free under section 80 of income tax act and interest is higher by 1 to 2% than other commercial banks.

Post Office Recurring Deposit Account: Recurring deposit account is systematic way of saving money. The scheme is meant for those investors who want to deposit a fixed amount regularly on monthly basis in order to get a tidy sum after 5 years on the maturity of the account. The recurring deposit account can be opened at any post office. Period of maturity of account is 5 years. Sixty equal monthly deposits shall be made in an account in multiples of Rs.5 subject to a minimum of Rs.10. The scheme covers free life insurance cover after receiving contributions for 24 months on account of denomination of Rs. 5, Rs. 10, Rs. 15 or Rs. 20. One must have no withdrawals or defaults during the first two years to enjoy all benefits of the policy. Premature closure of account is permitted after expiration of three years. In case of premature closure of account, the interest at the rate applicable to post office saving account will be payable.

Post Office Monthly Income Scheme (MIS): is one investment option which offers guaranteed regular monthly income post its maturity and very good returns with annual rate of interest from 8.4% to 9% good as any fixed deposit with banks. The Post Office Monthly Income Scheme (MIS) provides for monthly payment of interest income to investors. It is meant for investors who want to invest a lump-sum amount initially and earn interest on a monthly basis for their livelihood. The scheme is therefore, a boon for retired persons.

However, there is a need for little improvement, private companies do a lot of promotion and reach out to every individual who also may not be interested to purchase a policy will tend to buy. Private companies are just a phone call away and the agents would reach to interested individual in person. However, so is not the case with government policies, one has to really struggle to buy a policy. Post offices are easiest and convenient options to reach out to every individual and masses.

What is required in favor of citizens is, to promote these government policies and reaching out to masses. Most of the post offices in small villages will have these schemes available at only the centralized post offices. People who want to buy these policies do not have the buying options through online, or by visiting nearest post offices. They are routed to the central bank to purchase these policies. If a person is interested to buy a policy by government or post office, his interests should be served by providing door to door service or at near post offices.

Beyond the Basics: Choosing a Financial Planner

When looking for a financial planner, begin with the basic requirements. You want your advisor to: – be a certified financial planner, – have ten years of experience in the business, – manage over $ 100 million of assets, and – possess a clean regulatory record. And of course, you want your planner's philosophy to…

When looking for a financial planner, begin with the basic requirements. You want your advisor to:

– be a certified financial planner,
– have ten years of experience in the business,
– manage over $ 100 million of assets, and
– possess a clean regulatory record.

And of course, you want your planner's philosophy to align with yours. But those are just the minimum standards. I think you should go beyond the basics when choosing someone to trust with your money. You should look for:

Face-to-face meetings: If you contact an advisor using an 800 number, do you really know who's on the other end of the line? It could be a 22-year-old with three seconds of experience in the business. It could be someone who is told what to say by the teleprompter in front of them, and what only job is to practice that speech in order to say it with authorization. You do not want that. You want to be able to sit across the desk with someone you can talk to, someone who can work with you. You want face-to-face meetings.

An exit strategy: Imagine you are retired or about to retire when a bear market comes along. If your firm does nothing about it and you lose 25-40% of your money, are you going to be a happy client? I do not think so. You want a firm that has an exit strategy that can keep you out of harm's way as much as possible.

Frequent communications: Think about what you want from a financial planner. If you're like most investors, I bet what you're really looking for is peace of mind. You want to play golf, go on vacation, and spend time with your family, all without worrying about your finances. I believe that's best delivered through communication. My firm sends an email to our clients at least once a week. Every time something happens, we make sure our clients are informed. By letting our clients know what we're thinking, what we're going to do, when we're going to do it, and how we're going to do it, our goal is to help them sleep at night.

When you choose a financial planner, do not just cover the basics. Give yourself a chance to have peace of mind you want by asking for what you need.

PLAYING NEAR THE FISCAL CLIFF

In November, Money Matters advised our clients to take half of their stocks off the table. We were concerned about the fiscal cliff. We were afraid that the argument was going to turn into a spitting contest, that taxes would go up, and we'd have the risk of a recession. So we took some profits and said, “We'll sit half of this one out.” We went back in the market last week because that risk was no longer there. “But is not there still a risk?” some people ask. “What about the debt ceiling? Are not you worried about that?”

Top 10 Cheapest Online Discount Commodities Futures and Options Brokers for 2014

Disclaimer: I have no affiliations with any of the firms listed below. I have used some of them for trading. The reviews below are based on my experience which could differ from yours or another. Please do your own research. With the current increase in activities as well as participation of self-directed traders in the…

Disclaimer: I have no affiliations with any of the firms listed below. I have used some of them for trading. The reviews below are based on my experience which could differ from yours or another. Please do your own research.

With the current increase in activities as well as participation of self-directed traders in the commodities futures market. Finding a good quality, online futures broker with cheap rates, can be exhausting, yet important.

The fees and commissions in trading are very significant and can reduce a trader's profit or increase their losses.

I have been involved, traded futures and options, as well as used multiple trading platforms for over 10 years and will provide a summary / ranking of the top 10 cheapest online discount futures and options brokers beginning with the best.

You might be surprised to find some brokers on the list you never heard of before. A simple explanation is. Some of the well-known companies spend a lot in advertisement and getting their brand name out there. The cost is then transferred to the traders who end up paying more in agreements and fees. While the cheaper brokers keep their overhead costs low, so they can afford to charge very low responsibilities.

For traders, an ideal broker needs to have

– Very low responsibilities to trade futures & options. The exchange and NFA fees are typically standard for all traders and brokers.

The missions below are advertised rates by the brokers.

– Free or very cheap, stable and reliable trading platforms.

– Easily contactable customer service or support.

Top 10 Cheapest online discount futures & options brokers are:

1) Blue Futures (bluefutures.com)

Commission: $ 0.99 per side

Blue Futures is one of the cheapest online futures & options brokers, as well as one of the top brokers that provide fast execution to traders. An example of one of the brokers that limit their overhead / marketing cost, to maintain a low commission rate for traders.

No minimum opening account balance.

Trading Platforms: Their trading platforms are free, excellent, stable and easy to use. It comes with live streaming charts and quotes and the ability to place a trade or cancel all outstanding orders with just one click, among other things.

As a day trader, I still use this broker because of how fast and real-time their products are.

Easily contactable customer service: In a generation where phones send you to answering machines, asking you for extensions or keeping you on hold with some elevator music, before being able to speak to someone. This guys really impressed me. I am still to have a problem reaching someone at this company. Besides having a human being immediately pick up the phone when I called as opposed to a machine asking me to dial more digits, I have also been able to get my questions answered through the online live chat on their website, surprisingly on a weekend.

For these reasons and some others, I believe Blue Futures is the top online futures broker. Hope they keep it up.

2) Trade Station (tradestation.com)

Commission: $ 1.20 per side

Trade station has a low commission rate and also offer opportunities to trade futures. Trade station places its trades through RJ Obrien, one of the largest futures trading commission in the business.

$ 5,000 minimum opening account balance

Trading Platforms:

Their trading platform is also easy to use with live streaming quotes and also provide charts. With their platform, you can sort or rank symbols based on indicators.

Easily contactable customer service:

As a former customer, it was easier for me to reach them via email. You get assigned to an account representative making any other rep you get on the phone attributable to help. I actually had an experience with my initially assigned account rep, who preferred to go home early than to provide assistance to me, a new customer at the time. I had to ask for a new account rep.

3) Trade Monster (trademarker.com)

Commission: $ 1.50 per side

Trade monster is another low commission online broker. They also provide access to the securities markets

Trading Platforms:

Platform offers real-time streaming quotes & charts with technical analysis.

Easily contactable customer service:

Unable to reach on weekends or after hours.

4) Apex Futures (apexfutures.com)

Commission: $ 1.99 per side

The commission Apex Futures charge can also be considered low, compared to the rates charged by majority of brokers in the industry.

Trading Platforms:

Apex provides real-time quotes and charts.

Easily contactable customer service:

They are contactable with online chat features, except on weekends.

5) Ace Commodity Trading (acecommommity.com)

Commission: $ 1.99 per side

$ 1.99 is a low and competitive rate in the business.

Trading Platforms:

Ace clears trades through Vision Financial Markets, which gives traders access to live streaming quotes

Easily contactable customer service:

Unable to reach on weekends.

6) Think or Swim by TD Ameritrade (thinkorswim.com)

Commission: $ 2.25 per side

Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade, is a company which commercials you might have seen on various financial networks. I use TD Ameritrade to trade stocks. I wish their responsibilities in securities trading is lower. I had some unhappy incidents involving unexpected and surprising fees of $ 35 on several occasions.

Trading Platforms:

Web based platform with quotes

Easily contactable customer service:

I expect to be kept on hold after navigating through the voice machine in before speaking with someone. I once had a rep hang up on me as I tried to figure out why I was being charged a fee so much, it put me on margin call. I called back and spoke to another rep that explained everything andave me a reason not to worry.

7) ProActive Futures

Commission: $ 2.25 per side

$ 2.25 can still be considered a low commission, compared to rates charged by most brokers.

Trading Platforms:

You will need to check the trading platforms that they have to offer. Some are free and others may cost you per trade or monthly fee.

Easily contactable customer service:

I have had no reason to contact them. Unable to comment.

8) E Trade

Commission: $ 2.99 per side

E-Trade is another company which commercials you might have seen on various TV networks

Trading Platforms:

Web based platform with quotes

Easily contactable customer service:

Not a fan of companies that make you talk to a machine just to try and reach a human being or to solve a problem. Even worse, when the machine misunderstands your words.

9) Options Express

Commission: $ 3.50 per side

A Charles Schwab company, which commercial you may have seen on several network stations.

Trading Platforms:

Web based trading platforms

Easily contactable customer service:

Unable to reach on weekends.

10) DT Futures

Commission: $ 3.50 per side

$ 7 per round turn advertised on website.

Trading Platforms:

Fire tip trading platform

Easily contactable customer service:

I have had no reason to contact them. Unable to comment.

Mastering Your Money

I Need More Money Money is the root of all evil. Money can not make you happy. Money does not solve your problems. Money is not everything. All this negative opinions about money. Opinions not facts. No wonder people are broke, struggling, and in debt. People associate greed, evil, and other bad things with money.…

I Need More Money

Money is the root of all evil. Money can not make you happy. Money does not solve your problems. Money is not everything. All this negative opinions about money. Opinions not facts. No wonder people are broke, struggling, and in debt. People associate greed, evil, and other bad things with money.

But if money is so bad. Then why do you work all week for it? Why do people play the lotto, start businesses, and go to Las Vegas to win it? People scratch and claw for overtime. People work 2 to 3 jobs for money. Why? Because they need more of it. Churches need money, charities ask for contributions, and schools are always begging for help. Those institutions need money.

You think you need more money to pay your bills, pay your debts, and put food on the table. The truth is more money will not solve your problem. Most people get a raise every year and still are broke. Most working people have doubled their incomes and still are at the mercy of their debt. You hear horror stories of athletes and entertainer losing all of their fortunes. Did not they make more money?

The Truth About Money

I opened this article with some of the most popular sayings about money. I call them opinions and not facts. I said money is the root of all evil. You hear that a lot. People say, “The Holy Bible says it.” Well it does not. Timothy 6:10 says, “For the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds evil …” So do not love money.

Another saying is money can not make you happy. But studies show that spending money makes people happy. When you get a raise, work overtime, or receive that tax refund check, the first thing you do is think about spending that money.

Money Is not everything. Another opinion and not fact. If it is not everything why are people working 60-80 hours per week? What is all the overtime for? Why do we borrow it to take vacations, buy furniture, and appliances? Why are we working so hard to pay off the debts that bought the stuff we could not afford in the first place? Sounds like it's everything to me.

Money is Amoral

Money is neither good nor evil. It's just like a brick. A brick can be used to build a wall, house, or building. Things that can help people. It can also be used as a weapon and hurt people. Same brick but it is the user that determinates if it is used for good or evil.

Money is a tool to use for the exchange of goods and services. It's not emotional you can not hurt it. It does not cry. You never actually lose money it just ends up somewhere else. Those who learn to control it can multiply it. Those who can not end up broke and in debt. Your money does what you want it to do.

When you detach yourself away from money and do not get emotional. You see it as a tool to better your life. Let go of those old notions. Those misconstrued myths that hold you back and actually make you a slave to money. Get control of your money and make it work for you.

Your Bank Account

I can look at your bank account and see what your priorities are. Are you a giver, saver, spender, or debtor? Your spending habits reveal your character. Do you delay gratification? Do you have a long-term view for your family's finances? Are you planning to create wealth for the future?

Money Woes

The lack of self-discipline, self-mastery, and guidance are the cause for most people's money worries. The inability to delay gratification causes people to go into debt and spend all or more than they make. This creates a financial crisis and most people are one paycheck away from a financial disaster.

Mind Shift

It takes a mind shift to go from spending beyond your means to living frugally, saving, and investing your money. A change of attitude and a long term view is the only way people can get control of their finances.

Income increase do not help. As income arises so does expenses. You have to practice the wedge principle. Drive a wedge between your investments and your expenses. Do not spend everything you make. Leave that raise, overtime, and bonus alone. Apply it to debt or savings.

Practice the 1% Formula.

To get control of your money practice the 1% formula. This is a simple step to start reeling in your finances. Beginning this month you are only going to live off 99% of your total income. You are going to put 1% of your income towards a savings account. The next month you are going to increase that to 2% and then 3% until you get to 10% of your income being saved.

That is a 10 month process. Some of you can do this now. But for those who have never saved or followed a financial plan this is a start. There are a ton of books on the market that teach you how to control your money. I like the Total Money Make Over, by Dave Ramsey. I paid off all my consumer debts in 10 months on his program.

Get control of your money now. Pick up a book, join a Financial Peace University Class, or download some audio. Making more money will not solve your problems. But getting control of your money will.