Kaka – Football Genius

Kaka is undoubtedly a wonderful player, a fact confirmed by his World Player of the Year award, his Champions League winners medal and the huge number of fans he has, not just at the San Siro but all over the world.

What makes a player truly iconic is the unique style they employ out on the pitch. Kaka is so tall and strong and sometimes a little awkward looking, but his control and vision for that defence splitting pass is second to none. Nobody plays football like Kaka and that makes him a truly great footballer.

Another signature of a great player is that they will always rise to the big occasion. In the big matches, when it really matters, truly top draw players will always perform at their best. AC Milan’s Champions League victory in the 2006-07 competition was all about the Brazilian genius. In the semi final he bossed both legs of their tie with Manchester United, making other brilliant players look distinctly average.

The 2006 World Cup was another stage where Kaka truly reached the top of his game. In a Brazil side that so much was expected, they never really delivered but Kaka still came away with much credit. Critics recognised the fact that it was he who was at the centre of most of the good things Brazil did in the competition.

His unique style and big game performances mean that sales of Kaka football shirts have gone through the roof. A player that can sell shirts is always an important commodity to any top football club. AC Milan will want to tie him down to a lengthy contract to ensure other giants of world football don’t start sniffing around.

With players like Ronaldo and Messi rising to the top of the game, Kaka still sits at the top of the tree and is still young enough to enjoy the finest football of his career and join other great Brazilians in football’s hall of fame.

Investing 101: Before You Start Investing Money

Doesn’t it make sense to learn to invest (some basics) before you start investing money for real? Maybe a course called investing 101 or personal investing would be helpful. Here this retired financial planner relates a story, and then points the new investor in the right direction so he or she does not start investing uninformed.

In the dean’s office of one of the largest universities in America, I recently asked if they offered investing 101, personal investing, or any finance course where the student could learn to invest. “After all, we all need to start investing money someday, and it is much to one’s advantage to be informed vs. uninformed, isn’t it?” That was my response when told, “no, or at least I can’t find one” by the dean. I was informed that they had well over 50,000 current students enrolled and offered THOUSANDS of courses in the various colleges throughout the university. But he could find no course under the heading of personal investing or investing 101, and he was in charge of the curriculum.

We spent about an hour together searching and were both laughing out loud at what WAS offered. How about a course in “the art of falling down”? It’s offered. Investing 101? Which college in the university would offer such a course? “The athletic department is real big here; maybe they could help”, I suggested. After all, professional football players make big money. They need to learn to invest money (in case their career is short) and should start investing early. I knew a few players when I was a financial planner, but like most folks they tend to procrastinate when the money is flowing in. They’re too busy earning it, and don’t have the time to learn to invest.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t find it funny that it’s difficult to find a down-to earth practical course that most people could truly benefit from, because as a new investor you need to learn to invest money before you start investing for retirement or any other financial goal. As a new investor you may not be able to find a financial planner you can work with or afford. Even if you found one, do you really want to start investing money with him or her without first getting your feet wet in the basics of personal investing? Let’s start at the beginning.

Before you get into financial concepts like asset allocation and strategy, you should first learn the very basics: investment characteristics. How can you compare various alternatives to determine which best suit your needs, financial goals and comfort level? In other words, you need to decide what you are really looking for. And you need a list of factors to consider before you start investing money. For example, do you have a long term goal like retirement, and are you willing to accept a moderate level of risk? If so, there are numerous investment alternatives to consider, and you can also get tax breaks.

On the other hand, if you have a shorter term financial goal and might need access to your money at a moment’s notice, that’s a totally different picture. You need to match your financial wants and needs to the various alternatives that have characteristics best suited to your personal investing goals. There is no single best choice for every financial goal. It’s a matter of give and take. I have a list of 5 factors you must consider and a few other things you should consider before making a decision. This is basic investing 101. Whether you are a new investor or you’ve been at it for a while and have never really taken the time to learn to invest – you should learn the basics.

This is the first in a series of investing 101 articles I plan to write. In my next article I plan to put my list of characteristics you need to consider before you start investing money in black and white. Don’t feel bad if you are an uniformed new investor (or a want to-be). Do something and learn to invest starting with the basics.

Once you have a handle on a few basic financial concepts you can start investing with confidence. Once you learn to invest you can reach your financial goals. If you think I’m trying to build your confidence, you are right. Stay tuned to investing 101 as we get back to basics. No offense to anyone at one of THE largest universities in the country, but there’s a void out there and I plan to fill it.

Five Things You Can Do With Promotional T-Shirts

Our customers sometimes surprise us with the innovative and unique ways that they use our promotional products and items. If you thought that the only way to use promotional t-shirts was to hand them out at a trade show, take a look at some of the ways that our customers have used hand screened promotional t-shirts to promote their businesses.

Customer Incentives

One local company teamed up with a charity to raise money with a cricket match. The gimmick? The company purchased 500 shirts imprinted with the company logo and the charity’s slogan, and sold them through their outlets. All profits from the t-shirts were contributed to the charity, and on game night, anyone who arrived wearing the promotional t-shirt was admitted free to the match.

Branding Your Marketing Team

Guerilla marketing, street marketing, whatever you want to call it – it’s the hot new way to market your product. Send out teams of teens to hand out free samples or promotional coupons on the street and dress them all in distinctive branded t-shirts. They’ll get noticed, which will get your company noticed.

Expand Your Product Audience

A local family restaurant’s clever marketing gimmick targeted new parents in the area. Their hospital take-home goodie bag included an infant size t-shirt with the restaurant logo and the imprint “Feed My Mom and Dad”. Attached to the label was a gift certificate for dinner for two when the parents brought baby in wearing his or her new t-shirt. To really spread the good will, the staff snapped a shot of baby in the t-shirt to hang on their “Brag Wall” – and families returned for years to point out baby’s first dinner out to relatives and growing children.

Make a Loud Statement at an Event

Stand out loud and proud. One company treats all of its employees to a night at the races as a special employee incentive. Before leaving, each employee gets a brightly colored t-shirt screen-printed with the company logo. Nearly every year since beginning the promotion, they’ve got extra publicity when the morning paper prints a photo of the whole crew out for a night on the town.

Reward Your Customers for Extraordinary Feats

A small ice cream shop has turned their promotional t-shirts into hot items with a simple gimmick. Their trademark ice cream concoction is a massive dish of four scoops, three sauces, whipped cream and cracked nuts. For years, they’ve rewarded anyone who can put away five of the monstrous treats in a single sitting with a t-shirt declaring their feat. You can’t buy one – you have to EARN the right to wear an Awful-Awful Big t-shirt.

T-shirts may be one of the most common promotional items given away, but they’re anything but boring. All it takes is a little creative genius to turn a £3 promotional t-shirt into a lifetime of business.

If you’re looking for promotional t-shirts, online is where you’ll find an enormous selection of t-shirts and other promotional clothing at the click of a mouse.

The Best Investment Portfolio for 2014 and Beyond

If you have an investment portfolio (like in a 401k plan) take a good look at it, because it might not really be the best investment portfolio for 2014 and beyond. If you are a new investor, don’t start investing money until you are familiar with the best funds to include in your portfolio in 2014.

Your investment portfolio is simply a list showing where your money is, and for most average investors consists primarily of mutual funds: stock funds, bond funds and money market funds. Here we discuss the best funds and asset allocation to achieve the best investment portfolio in the event that 2014 and beyond becomes a tough environment for investors. You may need to make changes in your existing portfolio; and you should also be aware of the following as a new investor before you start investing money.

As an investor you should receive statements periodically which show you where your money is. The problem is that many investors do not give these statements, which clearly show you your asset allocation and your investment portfolio, the attention they deserve. That can be a problem. For example, if you had 50% of your portfolio allocated to stock funds in early 2009, you could have two-thirds of your money in these funds now. If the stock market takes a big hit, you stand to take a big loss. Let’s take a look at stock funds and the best funds for investing money there first.

The stock market and many diversified stock funds have gone UP in value about 150% in less than 5 years, and numerous financial analysts expect a correction (stock prices to go DOWN) in 2014. If your investment portfolio shows that more than half of your assets are invested in stock funds consider cutting back to 50% or less. If you are a new investor ready to start investing, allocate no more than 50% to diversified stock funds. The best funds: those that invest in high quality, dividend paying stocks vs. growth funds that pay little in the form of dividends. This is your first step in putting together the best investment portfolio for 2014, because it cuts your potential losses.

The best investment portfolio also includes bond funds, which have been good solid investments for over 30 years. Why? Interest rates have been falling, which sends bond prices and bond fund values higher. Problem: interest rates have hit all-time lows and appear to be heading higher. Higher interest rates create losses for bond fund investors. Many investors have an investment portfolio loaded with bond funds and are totally unaware of the risk involved if rates go up. If you are getting ready to start investing money you need to know this as well. When interest rates go UP, bonds and bond fund values go DOWN. That’s about the only iron-clad rule in the investment world.

Allocate no more than 25% to 30% of your total investment portfolio to bond funds to cut your risk. The best bond funds are categorized as intermediate-term funds, where the investment portfolio of the fund invests in bonds that mature (on average) in 5 to 10 years. These are the best funds now because they pay a respectable dividend with only moderate risk. The worst funds to hold now: long-term funds that hold bonds maturing (on average) in 15, 20 years or more. When you review your investment portfolio, get rid of these because they will be big losers if (when) interest rates shoot upward. New investors who want to start investing money: avoid them and allocate about 25% of your money to intermediate-term bond funds to avoid heavy risk.

Sometimes the best investment portfolio is loaded with aggressive stock funds and includes longer-term bond funds. Now, looking at 2014 and beyond, is probably not one of those times. For many years now losses in stock funds have been offset by gains in bond funds. Today the problem for investors is that even the best funds of both varieties could get hit if the economy falters and interest rates rise significantly. That makes investing money today a real challenge… one that few investors are prepared for.

So, let’s say that you start investing money with less than 50% going to the best funds in the stock department and about 25% allocated to the best funds in the bond universe… or you adjust your existing investment portfolio to these levels… where do you invest the rest of it? Even though interest rates are still historically low, you bite the bullet and invest it for safety to earn interest. In a 401k plan your best safe investment is likely the stable account, if your plan has one. Otherwise, the best fund for safety is a money market fund (even though they presently pay almost no interest). When rates go up, they should pay more. Or you can shop the banks for the best rates on short-term CDs, or savings accounts.

I expect that 2014 and beyond will be a challenging time to start investing money or to manage an existing investment portfolio. On the other hand, now you should have a handle on the best funds to consider when putting together the best investment portfolio possible. Remember, you must stay in the game in order to get ahead over the long term; but sometimes moderation is your best course of action.

Questions First Time Investors Should Ask Before Investing

It is easy to find people’s opinion on how to invest in the stock market as everyone has a different angle on what to expect in the stock market at every point in time, but most of the time people’s opinion may be very confusing. The most common problem that new investors do have is how to determine good investments from the bad ones, what to invest on, what time to invest among others. Some of the questions that you need to answer so as to make a good decision when you want to invest are highlighted below.

Is This a Good Time to Invest in Stocks?

On the off chance that you are taking a gander at money markets amid a lofty decrease, you may think it is a terrible time to begin investing. On the off chance that you are taking a gander at it when stocks are reviving, you may think it is a decent time.

Neither one of the times is fundamentally great or terrible in the event that you are investing for the long haul (10 years or more). Nobody can anticipate with any level of assurance which way the share trading system will move at any given time; yet over the long haul, stock markets has constantly moved higher. Each bear advertises is trailed by a buyer market (when stock costs rise). Verifiably, positively trending markets have endured any longer than bear markets, and the additions of buyer markets have more than counterbalance the misfortunes in bear markets

How Much Risk Should I Take?

A standout amongst the most essential fundamentals of investing is the cozy relationship amongst risk and returns. Without risk, there can be no profits. You ought to will to accept more risk on the off chance that you are looking for more noteworthy returns. In that regard, risk can be something to be thankful for, yet just in the event that you take into consideration adequate time to let the inescapable market cycles happen. By and large, in the event that you have a more drawn out venture time skyline, you ought to will to expect a more noteworthy measure of risk, on the grounds that there will be more opportunity for the market to work through the here and there cycles. Generally, understanding financial specialists have been compensated with positive long haul returns.

New investors are regularly encouraged to put fundamentally in common money, which can give moment enhancement, offering the most ideal approach to lessen risk. By putting resources into a couple of various shared assets speaking to various resource classes, (for example, expansive development stocks, global stocks or bonds), you can lessen unpredictability significantly promote without yielding long haul returns.

On the off chance that you are beginning an investment program by investing incremental measures of cash on a month to month basis, you will profit by dollar cost averaging. When you invest an altered measure of cash on a month to month premise, you get some share costs at a higher cost and some at a lower cost because of market changes. At the point when the market decreases, your settled dollar sum will purchase more shares. After some time, the normal cost of your shares ought to be lower than the present market cost. By utilizing dollar cost averaging, your drawback risk will be alleviated after some time.

What Is My Investment Goal?

The most vital question to consider before making any invest is, “What Is My Investment Goal?” Your ventures will contrast boundlessly if, for instance, you are attempting to spare cash for retirement as opposed to attempting to spare cash for an up front installment on the house. Things being what they are, ask yourself, “Is this venture prone to help me meet my objective?”

What Is My Risk Tolerance?

If your investment objective is to profit as would be prudent and you can endure any hazard, then you ought to invest in the National Lottery. Putting resources into lotteries, be that as it may, practically promises you won’t achieve your venture objective. There are speculations for each level of risk resilience. But if you are not a high-risk taker, investing in long-term investment is the key.

What Happens if This Investment Goes to Zero?

Among the 12 stocks in 1896 stock list, only General Electric is still in operation, the other eleven firms in the first record have either gone bankrupt or have been gobbled up. There is a genuine plausibility that any investment you make could go to zero while you claim it. Ask yourself, “Will I be monetarily crushed if this speculation goes to zero?” If the answer is yes, don’t make that venture.

What Is My Investment Time Frame?

As a rule, the more extended your investment time allotment, the more risk you can take in your investment portfolio since you have more opportunity to recuperate from a mix-up. Likewise, in case you’re putting something aside for retirement, and you’re decades from resigning, putting resources into something illiquid (like an investment property) may bode well. “Does this venture bode well from a planning perspective?”

When and Why Will I Sell This Investment?

If you know why you are putting resources into something, you ought to have an entirely smart thought of when to sell it. On the off chance that you purchased a stock since you were expecting 20 percent income development for each year, you ought to anticipate offering the stock if income development doesn’t live up to your desires. On the off chance that you purchased a stock since you enjoyed the dividend yield, offer the stock if the profit yield falls.

Who Am I Investing With?

It is extremely hard to judge the character and capacity of anybody in light of a two-passage portrayal accessible in an organization’s yearly report or a common store outline. However, you ought to at any rate know with whom you are entrusting your money. What is their past record? Things to hope for are long fruitful track records and good dividend and turnover.

Do I Have Special Knowledge?

A celebrated investment expert feels that normal individuals have a tremendous favorable position over investment experts in fields where they work in light of the fact that no investment professional will ever know more around an industry than somebody who works in it. Ask yourself, “Am I putting resources into something I know something about, or am I putting resources into something that some specialist know something about?”

I couldn’t care less how great something sounds. In the event that I don’t totally see how it functions, I won’t put resources into it.

In the event that an investment can’t be clarified obviously, it implies one of two things:

The individual clarifying it doesn’t comprehend it either, or there’s something about the investment that the individual is attempting to stow away.

On top of that, one of the greatest keys to investing admirably is adhering to your arrangement through the good and bad times.

That is difficult. Indeed, even the best investment methodologies have enormous down periods that make you reconsider. Adhering to your arrangement in those extreme times requires a practically religious-like conviction that things will pivot.

Furthermore, the best way to have that sort of conviction is to comprehend why you’re investing the way you are and what every bit of your arrangement is accomplishing for you. Without a solid comprehension, you’ll more likely than not safeguard at the main indication of inconvenience.

Why Do I Still Own That Investment?

It is a smart thought to intermittently look through your investment portfolio to ensure regardless you need to claim your stock. Offering an investment for a misfortune or offering a major champ is exceptionally troublesome. Be that as it may, the greatest distinction amongst beginner and professional investors is that professional investors don’t have passionate ensnarement with their investment and can strip themselves of their investment without kicking themselves if the investment keeps on picking up esteem.

Should I Be Managing My Own Investments?

It is extremely difficult for beginner investor to perform well than a professional investment expert. If you don’t have sufficient energy or slant to deal with your investment, you ought to think about paying an expert to do it for you. Every investor wants to make profit, so there is no harm in trusting your investment in good hand.

Ease Into the World of Investing

The United Nations does it. Governments do it. Companies do it. Fund managers do it. Millions of ordinary working people – from business owners to factory workers – do it. Housewives do it. Even farmers and children do it.

‘It’ here is investing: the science and art of creating, protecting and enhancing your wealth in the financial markets. This article introduces some of the most important concerns in the world of investment.

Let’s start with your objectives. While clearly the goal is to make more money, there are 3 specific reasons institutions, professionals and retail investors (people like you and me) invest:

  • For Security, ie for protection against inflation or market crashes
  • For Income, ie to receive regular income from their investments
  • For Growth, ie for long-term growth in the value of their investments

Investments are generally structured to focus on one or other of these objectives, and investment professionals (such as fund managers) spend a lot of time balancing these competing objectives. With a little bit of education and time, you can do almost the same thing yourself.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is how much risk you’re comfortable with. To put it more plainly: how much money are you prepared to lose? Your risk tolerance level depends on your personality, experiences, number of dependents, age, level of financial knowledge and several other factors. Investment advisors measure your risk tolerance level so they can classify you by risk profile (eg, ‘Conservative’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Aggressive’) and recommend the appropriate investment portfolio (explained below).

However, understanding your personal risk tolerance level is necessary for you too, especially with something as important as your own money. Your investments should be a source of comfort, not pain. Nobody can guarantee you’ll make a profit; even the most sensible investment decisions can turn against you; there are always ‘good years’ and ‘bad years’. You may lose part or all of your investment so always invest only what you are prepared to lose.

At some point you’ll want to withdraw some or all of your investment funds. When is that point likely to be: in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years? Clearly, you’ll want an investment that allows you to withdraw at least part of your funds at this point. Your investment timeframe – short-term, medium-term or long-term – will often determine what kinds of investments you can go for and what kinds of returns to expect.

All investments involve a degree of risk. One of the ‘golden rules’ of investing is that reward is related to risk: the higher the reward you want, the higher the risk you have to take. Different investments can come with very different levels of risk (and associated reward); it’s important that you appreciate the risks associated with any investment you’re planning to make. There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, and your bank deposits are no exception. Firstly, while Singapore bank deposits are rightly considered very safe, banks in other countries have failed before and continue to fail. More importantly, in 2010 the highest interest rate on Singapore dollar deposits up to $10,000 was 0.375%, while the average inflation rate from Jan-Nov 2010 was 2.66%. You were losing money just by leaving your savings in the bank.

Today, there are many, many types of investments (‘asset classes’) available. Some – such as bank deposits, stocks (shares) and unit trusts – you’re already familiar with, but there are several others you should be aware of. Some of the most common ones:

  • Bank Deposits
  • Shares
  • Investment-Linked Product1
  • Unit Trusts2
  • ETFs3
  • Gold4

1 An Investment-Linked Product (ILP) is an insurance plan that combines protection and investment. ILPs main advantage is that they offer life insurance.

2 A Unit Trust is a pool of money professionally managed according to a specific, long-term management objective (eg, a unit trust may invest in well-known companies all over the world to try to provide a balance of high returns and diversification). The main advantage of unit trusts is that you don’t have to pay brokers’ commissions.

3 An ETF or Exchange-Traded Fund comes in many different forms: for example, there are equity ETFs that hold, or track the performance of, a basket of stocks (eg Singapore, emerging economies); commodity ETFs that hold, or track the price of, a single commodity or basket of commodities (eg Silver, metals); and currency ETFs that track a major currency or basket of currencies (eg Euro). ETFs offer two main advantages: they trade like shares (on stock exchanges such as the SGX) and typically come with very low management fees.

The main difference between ETFs and Unit Trusts is that ETFs are publicly-traded assets while Unit Trusts are privately-traded assets, meaning that you can buy and sell them yourself anytime during market hours.

4 ‘Gold’ here refers to gold bullion, certificates of ownership or gold savings accounts. However, note that you can invest in gold in many other ways, including gold ETFs, gold Unit Trusts; and shares in gold mining companies.

With the advent of the Internet and online brokers, there are so many investment alternatives available today that even a beginner investor with $5,000 to invest can find several investment options suited to her objectives, risk profile and timeframe.

Diversification basically means trying to reduce risk by making a variety of investments, ie investing your money in multiple companies, industries and countries (and as your financial knowledge and wealth grows, in different ‘asset classes’ – cash, stocks, ETFs, commodities such as gold and silver, etc). This collection of investments is termed your Investment Portfolio.

Some level of diversification is important because in times of crisis, similar investments tend to behave similarly. Two of the best examples in recent history are the Singapore stock market crashes of late-2008/early-2009, during the US ‘Subprime’ crisis, and 1997, during the ‘Asian Financial Crisis’, when the price of large numbers of stocks plunged. ‘Diversifying’ by investing in different stocks wouldn’t have helped you very much on these occasions.

The concept and power of compounding are best explained by example. Assume we have 3 investments: the first returns 0.25% a year; the second returns 5% a year; and the third returns 10% a year. For each investment, we compare 2 scenarios:

  • Without compounding, ie the annual interest is taken out of the account.
  • With compounding, ie the annual interest is left (re-invested) in the account.

Let’s look at the returns over 25 years for all 3 investments, assuming we start off with $10,000 in Year 0:

  • With 0.25% return a year, your investment will grow to $10,625 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $10,644 after 25 years with compounding.
  • With 5% return a year, your investment will grow to $22,500 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $33,864 after 25 years with compounding.
  • With 10% return a year, your investment will grow to $35,000 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $108,347 after 25 years with compounding.

This shows the dramatic effects of both higher returns and compounding: 10% annual returns coupled with 25 years of compounding will return you more than 10 times your initial investment. And 10% returns are by no means unrealistic: educated investors who actively manage their portfolio themselves and practise diversification can achieve even higher returns, even with some losing years.

People of all ages and backgrounds need practical and customised guidance in developing their financial knowledge and skills in order to reach their financial goals. In this article we’ve tried to describe in simple terms some of the most important concepts and principles you need to understand on this journey.