Monday, January 12, 2015

Where can I buy silver coins, gold coins and gold bullion at fairprices?

A 1914 half-sovereign minted in Sydney
1914 half-sovereign minted in Sydney (Photo: Wikipedia)

This is a common question we get here at Sometimes you'll get quoted a good price, but you'll want to make sure you're dealing with a reputable outfit. Do this by checking with the Better Business Bureau and checking if they have had any complaints filed against them. Companies with the most complaints tend to be those that use high-pressure sales tactics. Also make sure any business you patronize has been in business for a long time.

Online Gold & Silver Sellers

Here are some places to purchase gold and silver coins online:

  • Republic Monetary (

  • Rare Coin Wholesalers (

  • American Silver and Gold (

  • Universal Coin & Bullion (

Local Gold & Silver Sellers

Check your local yellow pages or an online gold dealer directory. Some likely businesses doing commerce in gold and silver coins include pawnshops and jewelry stores. Any gold dealer you frequent should be a member of the Professional Numismatists organization. If you deal with any business who is a member of the organization and deliberately misrepresents the value of their coins, you can file a formal complaint with them.

Types of Coins to Look For

Gold coins sell at a small premium compared to the spot price of gold. The reason for this is that the governments who meant these gold coins charge a fabrication fee. This premium usually ranges between 3% and 15%. Also stay away from collector's coins if you are just interested in using the coin as a store of gold.


Kruggerands are considered the standard for one ounce bullion coins and generally trade for a very small premium above the spot price of gold. The South African mint only charges a 3% premium on these coins above the minting cost. These are recognized as being the primary coin for investors wanting a physical store of gold in coin format.

British Sovereigns

Because there is a collectors market for British sovereign coins, they tend to trade at a slightly higher premium than kruggerrand coins. It should be noted that it's going to be easier to sell these coins making them a good purchase. If you purchase your British sovereigns in bulk, you can get this premium reduced. There are no capital gains taxes on these coins in the UK.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Choosing a Debt Settlement Strategy - What You Need To Know

What if I told you that sometimes people who try to help you end up hurting you? That's what often happens with debt consolidation, debt settlement and debt management companies looking to help you with your credit card debt. Let's consider each of these in turn, and you'll soon see why some of these options are worse than doing nothing at all.

  1. Get a debt consolidation loan. With debt consolidation, you take out one large loan and then use that loan to pay off all your smaller debts. This can be a good strategy, but what usually ends up happening is that the person just starts charging on their credit cards again. This leads to having to pay multiple creditors every month, which leaves the person right back to where they started from. The point is that unless you have a plan to achieve financial responsibility, you're likely to end up in the same mess as when you started.

  2. Bankruptcy.Although you might have a bankruptcy lawyer trying to sell you on filing bankruptcy, you first need to do some homework. It's often said that bankruptcy is one of the top five life-altering negative events that a person can experience. And although filing for bankruptcy was once an ideal way to erase your debts and reset all your financial records, recently passed bankruptcy reform laws have made it harder to erase your debts. The two major forms of consumer bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, so let’s compare the two.

    • Chapter 7 - The American Bankruptcy Institute says that approximately 50,000 people who file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy are rejected every year. Chapter 7 is the old personal bankruptcy strategy that's getting rarer to become approved for because most companies want to at least get some of their money back.

    • Chapter 13 - With Chapter 13, creditors tend to be more open to settling since they still get paid through a strict settlement system overseen by the courts. This leaves open the option for your creditors to garnish your wages, foreclose on your property and pick through your assets. this type of bankruptcy stays on your credit history for 7 to 10 years, which could effect your ability to qualify for mortgages and other consumer credit. The good news is that a chapter 13 bankruptcy can be part of a broader plan to be more financially responsible, and many who use this form of bankruptcy are able to reestablish good credit in time as long as they stick to their game plan for financial responsibility.

  3. Debt Settlement. This is where your creditors allow you to settle your debts for a fraction of what you owe (your creditors will usually offer to trim 25 to 50 percent off of your total debt amount). Although you can do this yourself, most people work with businesses that handle the debt negotiations for them. But here's where the surprise comes in for most people: the sum total amount you've been given in debt relief is reported to the IRS and ultimately counts as income when it comes time to file your taxes. That's not to say that you need to totally avoid using a debt settlement. Indeed, it might be the best strategy to combine a couple of techniques. For example, get yourself on a budget and start using the debt snowball strategy to get rid of your debts one by one. If the debt snowball strategy is currently out of reach, then maybe look into working with a debt settlement company. Whatever you do, come up with a plan and don't deviate from it.

  4. Debt Management Services. These companies will take over your debt and manage it by making all the monthly payments and distributing the money among your creditors, with whom they' ve often worked out lower payments and lower interest rates. The problem with this strategy is that when you later try to get a consumer loan, mortgage or FHA home loan, you will be treated just like if you'd filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and conventional mortgages may consider you credit tarnished.
Whatever course of action you choose to take regarding your debt, please remember to make your decision based on what is best for your long-term financial goals and not just what's easy or expedient at the moment.

Can dividend stocks replace bond income?

Three yields for US treasuries are at historically low levels. By investing in and dividend paying stocks or mutual funds that invest in these dividend earners, investors can get a steady stream of income from these equity investments. But there are risks that come with investing in stocks. The most important risk is that the value of the stock could plummet, causing the investor to suffer capital losses. Here are some more things to keep in mind when investing in high dividend stocks.

English: H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company ...
Antique Preferred Stocks and Common Shares Certificate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Dividend paying stocks are larger and often more established companies. This means that during bull markets when stock prices are increasing, high dividend stocks rarely grow as fast.

  • Bond prices fluctuate according to interest rate trends. Stock prices vary according to market sentiment, which includes the value perception that the market has of the company and investors' confidence in how well the economy is performing in general.

  • Diversify your various income sources. Mix in bonds together with your high dividend stocks. Those who can't tolerate risk and volatility should weight their portfolio more towards stock. For example, 65% dividend paying stocks and 35% bonds would be a good portfolio for someone seeking regular income that can deal with market volatility.

  • Choose from a variety of high-yield stocks and bonds when putting together your portfolio. For your dividend paying stocks, mix large cap stocks with the stocks of smaller companies. Also consider adding high dividend stocks from foreign markets. As far as bonds, you'll want a portfolio with varying maturity dates. These could be convertible bonds, US treasuries and high-yield corporate bonds of companies that have a lower credit rating.

  • Consider reinvesting your dividends instead of taking them out as income. By using your dividend payments to buy more stock in the same company, you will be maximizing your capital growth and increasing the net value of your portfolio.

  • If you don't have a lot of money to invest but still want diversification, consider purchasing exchange traded funds (ETFs) instead of mutual funds. Since proper diversification of investing in different stocks and bonds requires at least $10,000, many investors instead opt to purchase mutual funds. Mutual funds though have expenses associated with them, which cuts into the dividend return they provide. For example, the Allianz NFJ Dividend Value Fund is a highly regarded fund. But its yield is only in the 2 to 3% range, while having an expense ratio of 1.06%. This cuts you're your effective yield. If you're going to invest in mutual funds, consider a company like Vanguard that is known for its low expense ratios. For example, the Vanguard Dividend Growth fund has an expense ratio of .34% while achieving a yield in the 2 to 3% range. A better option for many are ETFs, which are baskets of stocks that are sold as shares. Some example ETF's (with their expense ratios in parentheses) include SPDR S&P Dividend (.35%), Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (.18%) and the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index (.40%).

  • Compare apples to apples by looking at your dividend stocks' overall return. To properly assess the overall performance of a high dividend stock, you need to add in the dividends that it pays when calculating how much the stock has grown.

Spend Less Than You Earn

Open Multiple Checking Accounts at Your Bank

This is a strategy to help you stay within your budget while paying your expenses. Opening multiple checking accounts will allow you to focus each account on certain types of expenses. The idea is to fund each account up to the point where you can cover your expenses. The setup works like this:

  • Open two free checking accounts at the same financial institution. Fund the first checking account to cover your expenses that occur every month (telephone bill, cable, rent/mortgage, utilities). You should direct deposit your paycheck into this checking account since it will be your main account.

  • Create a second free checking account at the same financial institution. You shouldn't have any problems doing this as checking accounts are the bread and butter of how banks make money, so the more the merrier for them. The second checking account will cover infrequent expenses like insurance payments as well as car maintenance expenses, lawnmower and home repair expenses, etc. The 2nd checking account will be funded by regular automated transfers from your first checking account.

  • Set aside an emergency fund of at least $500 but if you can afford it $1,000 or more. As you become financially more solvent, you'll want to have stashed away enough money to cover 3-6 months of living expenses.
Add up all your expenses that you pay every month. This is the amount for which you need to fund your checking account. Try to bring this amount down every month with the eventual goal to slash it by 40%. A good place to start is by selecting a few of the luxuries that you can do without.For example, the grocery store you frequent may be a little upscale. You could also cut back on eating out as well as magazine subscriptions. And another fairly easy option: trade in your car for something that's not only older and less expensive but also gets better gas mileage.