Using Discounted Closed Ended Funds designed to Increase Income and Reduce Risk

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Its investment objective is to achieve a high level of after-tax total return through investment in utility securities. In pursuing total return, the Fund equally emphasizes both current incomes, consisting primarily of tax-advantaged dividend income, and capital appreciation.

Funds, Investment, Asset, Allocation, Portfolio, Bonds, Yield, Money, Advisor, Growth, Performance, Risk, Stock, Discount, Principle, Income, Profit, Invest, Equity, Diversify, Securities, Trades,

Currently focuses on: Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund (nyse: UTF)

Its investment objective is to achieve a high level of after-tax total return through investment in utility securities. In pursuing total return, the Fund equally emphasizes both current incomes, consisting primarily of tax-advantaged dividend income, and capital appreciation. Under normal market conditions, the Fund will invest at least 80% of its managed assets in a portfolio of common stocks, preferred stocks and other equity securities issued by companies engaged in the utility industry.

The Utility and Electrical industry is forecasted to grow at 8.5% for then next 5 years.*

Currently the Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund is at a 16.89% discount

That means for every $100,000 invested in principle you invest roughly only $83,000.

Using regression to the mean* theories believing that historical mean for US based closed end funds historically trade at a 5% discount we would forecast Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund would increase in principle about 12 percent assuming no change in the market value.

** Regression to the mean is a technical term in probability and statistics. It means that, left to themselves, things tend to return to normal levels, whatever that is.

Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund has a short but profitable history of growing principle

The current income from this fund is 6.14%

We believe due to the fact you could buy 100,000 dollars of income producing utilities that produce over 5% income or over $5,000 dollars per year for around an investment of $83,000. Those how invest with the much lower amount of $83,000 still has the same income of over $5,000 giving a much higher income of 6.14%

Performance:

“If you’re patient, buying funds at a steep discount can be extremely lucrative? For example, suppose you divided the closed-end universe into fifths, starting with the most expensive. The priciest 20 percent gained 48 percent in the past five years. The 20 percent with the steepest discounts, however, soared 160 percent.?***

To Reduce Risk

With an effort to reduce the risks associated with closed ended funds at deep discounts with high income we recommend diversification using many different asset classes and fund families utilizing asset allocation approach. In our growth and income model we use 7 different asset classes to provide a balanced portfolio. This structure was designed to minimize fluctuations. An event that might hurt one class of investments might benefit another. Two examples of this is after the 9/11 terrorist attack and the 2000 stock market crash. In both cases the stock market had a tremendous sell off, but the high grade bonds had very large rallies. During those two events the stock market and high grade bonds had no correlation. Many experts believe diversifying between non-correlated asset classes is the single best way to reduce volatility risk.

When building portfolio’s we use a selection criteria that focus on: unique asset classes, deep discount , high yield, consistency of payments, ongoing fee’s and other factors we incorporate into the selection are, past track record of the fund, and past track record of the management team, and of course the management team. We apply our selection criteria to over 600 closed ended funds with a goal to find only 1 or 2 in each asset class that fits our needs.

Simply don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If the assets classes are non-correlated this reduces the portfolio risk.

To summarize Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund:

1) A conservative industry
2) Diversifies investments inside the utility industry
3) An industry forecasted to grow at 8.5%
4) Investing at a 16.89% discount
5) Receiving a 6.14% current income
6) Regression to the mean would indicate principle growth of about 12% with no market change.

We forecast Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund to achieve industry growth rates plus regress to a more historic means these two combined events would indicate a total return of 10.9% percent per year over the next 3 to 5 years.

Randy Durig manages several Portfolios?including the Growth & Income Portfolio to see the full list go to www.durig.com or www.money-manager.us

Randy Durig owns Cohen & Steers Select Utility Fund in his discretionary client’s portfolios and in his personal account. Past performance is not a guarantee for future returns. All information we believe to be correct but make no guarantee to accuracy.

Durig’s Monopoly Blue Chip Portfolio National Performance Rankings: 3rd In the United States, Ranked by 3 year annual return, for Large Capitalization Blend, 4th Quarter 2005, By Money Manager Review.

Durig Capital is a registered investment advisor. If you know someone that would like to receive our research call toll free 877-359-5319.

For those looking for articles on closed and mutual funds Randy recommends www.investment-investment.us there are about 75 articles focused on mutual funds and Exchange trade funds.

*Zacks Utility industry forecast
** Source http://www.visi.com
***Source USA Today newspaper

7 Tips on Preventing Identity Theft

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In the course of the day, you do many activities that put your personal information at risk – from writing a check at the store to charging merchandise in person or over the phone. You may not think twice about these transactions, but others might.

7 Tips on Preventing Identity Theft

In the course of the day, you do many activities that put your personal information at risk – from writing a check at the store to charging merchandise in person or over the phone. You may not think twice about these transactions, but others might.

Identity theft – when a perpetrator assumes someone’s identity for personal or financial gain, like stealing a credit card to make financial transactions in the victim’s name – is the fastest-growing crime in America.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, there were almost 10 million cases of identity theft in 2004, which cost consumers $5 billion.

The National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign, sponsored by the National Crime Prevention Council, aims to educate consumers about what they can do to prevent identity theft. The council offers the following tips.

* Do not give out your personal information unless you initiate the contact or know the person or company with whom you are dealing. Also, never disclose personal information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number, in response to an email. Legitimate businesses will not ask you to do this.

* Do not disclose your credit card number to an online vendor unless it is encrypted and the site is secure. Look at the first part of the Web address on your browser. It should read “https://.”

* Do not write your Social Security number or telephone number on checks or credit card receipts.

* Remove all documents with personal information from your hard drive before discarding your computer or sending it in for repair.

* Shred discarded documents, including preapproved credit card applications, bank statements, store receipts and utility bills. “Dumpster divers” can gain access to your personal information if such items are thrown in the trash.

* Cancel all credit cards that have not been used in the last six months. Open credit is a prime target for thieves.

* Order your credit report at least twice a year and report any mistakes to the credit reporting agency in writing.

If you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local police department as soon as possible. If your identity was stolen in one jurisdiction but used in another, you may have to report the crime in both jurisdictions.

Building Confidence in Your Retirement Future

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In the next 10 years, the first wave of America’s 76 million baby boomers will be retiring. Since today’s retirees are generally healthier and more active than their parents, they are looking forward to living longer and spending more time playing with grandchildren, pursuing hobbies or even trying new careers.

Building Confidence in Your Retirement Future

In the next 10 years, the first wave of America’s 76 million baby boomers will be retiring. Since today’s retirees are generally healthier and more active than their parents, they are looking forward to living longer and spending more time playing with grandchildren, pursuing hobbies or even trying new careers.

Investors enter retirement with more confidence if they have a thoughtful retirement strategy. Planning ahead helps those nearing retirement prepare for when company paychecks stop coming and the goal of accumulating assets gives way to generating income from those assets for retirement expenses.

While planning for and managing income in retirement may not sound like fun, it is the most effective way to be confident in your future. Consider the following.

* Calculate how long retirement will last. Since retirement doesn’t have a preset time limit, this first step can be particularly challenging. Many of our customers are surprised to learn that they are likely to live in retirement just as long as they worked. A 65-year-old couple retiring today, for example, should plan to have enough money to last at least 20 or 30 more years, according to a 2003 Fidelity study. When determining how long your money will need to last, realistically estimate the expenses that are likely in your own retirement and consider that you may live longer than you think – possibly into your 90s.

* Preserve and grow assets. Fear of a down market can cause some retirees to be too cautious, so they sell virtually all of their stock holdings. While they should protect their assets, retirees should recognize that they may also benefit from growth that can come from investing in the markets. In fact, long-term success may lie in a portfolio that includes an appropriate mix of stocks, bonds and cash. The key is to find an asset mix that is age-appropriate and generates enough income to help offset withdrawal requirements and the effects of inflation over time.

* Simplify to stay on track. Pre-retirees expect to manage an average of nine sources of income, including Social Security, multiple 401(k)s, annuities and personal savings, according to a 2004 Fidelity study. These assets are often held in multiple accounts at different financial institutions, making it difficult to develop and maintain a comprehensive investing strategy. For example, mutual funds from different firms may hold similar investments, potentially increasing risk to your portfolio through greater exposure to volatile markets or sectors.

To prevent this from happening, anyone five to seven years from retirement may want to consider consolidating various 401(k)s and other retirement accounts in one place, or finding a tool that easily provides a look at your entire financial picture in a single view.

Creating a thoughtful retirement strategy involves sharp focus and detailed calculations, and can force couples approaching retirement to face difficult considerations for the first time. Luckily, there are many resources available to help investors prepare their retirement strategy. Planning for the future is the key, however, and helps build financial confidence so that you can enjoy the retirement you have worked so hard to achieve.

Cynthia Egan is executive vice president, Fidelity Investments.

What is True Wealth?

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Is there more to life than money?

personal finance, financial planning, debt management

What is true wealth? What should you expect if you reach the end of the gold paved road to financial freedom?

If you have a million dollars, will you be satisfied? What about 10 million? Is true wealth a numbers game or do other factors enter into the equation?

Ebenizer Scrooge of Dicken’s The Christmas Carol was very wealthy for his time, but before meeting the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future,
he lived a miserable life, too cheap to even heat his own apartment.

Meanwhile his clerk, with his many children, was portrayed as happy and loving – a great father.

Of course this is fiction, but is there any truth to the story?

Many people will work incessantly trying to accumulate more and more wealth, but a trite joke is that their last words are never: “I wished I spent more time at
work.?
For some people the only answer to the question; “What is true wealth?”, is money pure and simple – the more money the better.

Others would be content to say that true wealth is having the peace of mind of being free of debt.

Another will say he is truly wealthy if he can lead the lifestyle he chooses regardless of cost.

Others might say true wealth is being healthy and surrounded by loving family and caring friends.

There are probably as many answers to this question as they are people to answer it.

You could live in a big house on the hill, have two Mercedes in the garage and a million in the bank and not enjoy life as much as the guy who works in the gas station and lives in a two room furnished apartment.

True wealth is what one perceives it to be. And if it were not so, we wouldn’t have policemen, firemen and soldiers who risk their lives protecting us rather than trying to work on Wall Street, making big bucks.

We wouldn’t have doctors who travel to third world countries, just to try to make some difference, rather than to stay at home with a thriving practice and a comfortable life.

We wouldn’t have all the volunteers this country has, who are ready and willing to help the sick, infirm or destitute ?or who suddenly turn up at disaster scenes willing to do anything to help.

This country wouldn’t have the millions of people who donate billions of dollars annually to the charities of their choice.

So even thought we concentrate on financial matters, it’s good to step back and realize there is more to true wealth than money.

I believe that having enough wealth to live a comfortable life makes lots of other things possible.

I also believe that being in debt is merely transferring your wealth to your creditors. While it may make them, or their shareholders rich, it really contributes little to your true wealth.

So my answer will be adopted from Mr. Spock’s famous Vulcan greeting: “Live Debt Free and Prosper.?

The Friendly Trend – Technical vs. Fundamental Analysis

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Technical analysts have flourished and waned in line with the stock exchange bubble.

The authors of a paper published by NBER on March 2000 and titled “The Foundations of Technical Analysis” – Andrew Lo, Harry Mamaysky, and Jiang Wang – claim that:

“Technical analysis, also known as ‘charting’, has been part of financial practice for many decades, but this discipline has not received the same level of academic scrutiny and acceptance as more traditional approaches such as fundamental analysis.

One of the main obstacles is the highly subjective nature of technical analysis – the presence of geometric shapes in historical price charts is often in the eyes of the beholder. In this paper we offer a systematic and automatic approach to technical pattern recognition … and apply the method to a large number of US stocks from 1962 to 1996…”

And the conclusion:

” … Over the 31-year sample period, several technical indicators do provide incremental information and may have some practical value.”

These hopeful inferences are supported by the work of other scholars, such as Paul Weller of the Finance Department of the university of Iowa. While he admits the limitations of technical analysis – it is a-theoretic and data intensive, pattern over-fitting can be a problem, its rules are often difficult to interpret, and the statistical testing is cumbersome – he insists that “trading rules are picking up patterns in the data not accounted for by standard statistical models” and that the excess returns thus generated are not simply a risk premium.

Technical analysts have flourished and waned in line with the stock exchange bubble. They and their multi-colored charts regularly graced CNBC, the CNN and other market-driving channels. “The Economist” found that many successful fund managers have regularly resorted to technical analysis – including George Soros’ Quantum Hedge fund and Fidelity’s Magellan. Technical analysis may experience a revival now that corporate accounts – the fundament of fundamental analysis – have been rendered moot by seemingly inexhaustible scandals.

The field is the progeny of Charles Dow of Dow Jones fame and the founder of the “Wall Street Journal”. He devised a method to discern cyclical patterns in share prices. Other sages – such as Elliott – put forth complex “wave theories”. Technical analysts now regularly employ dozens of geometric configurations in their divinations.

Technical analysis is defined thus in “The Econometrics of Financial Markets“, a 1997 textbook authored by John Campbell, Andrew Lo, and Craig MacKinlay:

“An approach to investment management based on the belief that historical price series, trading volume, and other market statistics exhibit regularities – often … in the form of geometric patterns … that can be profitably exploited to extrapolate future price movements.”

A less fanciful definition may be the one offered by Edwards and Magee in “Technical Analysis of Stock Trends“:

“The science of recording, usually in graphic form, the actual history of trading (price changes, volume of transactions, etc.) in a certain stock or in ‘the averages’ and then deducing from that pictured history the probable future trend.”

Fundamental analysis is about the study of key statistics from the financial statements of firms as well as background information about the company’s products, business plan, management, industry, the economy, and the marketplace.

Economists, since the 1960’s, sought to rebuff technical analysis. Markets, they say, are efficient and “walk” randomly. Prices reflect all the information known to market players – including all the information pertaining to the future. Technical analysis has often been compared to voodoo, alchemy, and astrology – for instance by Burton Malkiel in his seminal work, “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”.

The paradox is that technicians are more orthodox than the most devout academic. They adhere to the strong version of market efficiency. The market is so efficient, they say, that nothing can be gleaned from fundamental analysis. All fundamental insights, information, and analyses are already reflected in the price. This is why one can deduce future prices from past and present ones.

Jack Schwager, sums it up in his book “Schwager on Futures: Technical Analysis”, quoted by Stockcharts.com:

“One way of viewing it is that markets may witness extended periods of random fluctuation, interspersed with shorter periods of nonrandom behavior. The goal of the chartist is to identify those periods (i.e. major trends).”

Not so, retort the fundamentalists. The fair value of a security or a market can be derived from available information using mathematical models – but is rarely reflected in prices. This is the weak version of the market efficiency hypothesis.

The mathematically convenient idealization of the efficient market, though, has been debunked in numerous studies. These are efficiently summarized in Craig McKinlay and Andrew Lo’s tome “A Non-random Walk Down Wall Street” published in 1999.

Not all markets are strongly efficient. Most of them sport weak or “semi-strong” efficiency. In some markets, a filter model – one that dictates the timing of sales and purchases – could prove useful. This is especially true when the equilibrium price of a share – or of the market as a whole – changes as a result of externalities.

Substantive news, change in management, an oil shock, a terrorist attack, an accounting scandal, an FDA approval, a major contract, or a natural, or man-made disaster – all cause share prices and market indices to break the boundaries of the price band that they have occupied. Technical analysts identify these boundaries and trace breakthroughs and their outcomes in terms of prices.

Technical analysis may be nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy, though. The more devotees it has, the stronger it affects the shares or markets it analyses. Investors move in herds and are inclined to seek patterns in the often bewildering marketplace. As opposed to the assumptions underlying the classic theory of portfolio analysis – investors do remember past prices. They hesitate before they cross certain numerical thresholds.

But this herd mentality is also the Achilles heel of technical analysis. If everyone were to follow its guidance – it would have been rendered useless. If everyone were to buy and sell at the same time – based on the same technical advice – price advantages would have been arbitraged away instantaneously. Technical analysis is about privileged information to the privileged few – though not too few, lest prices are not swayed.

Studies cited in Edwin Elton and Martin Gruber’s “Modern Portfolio Theory and Investment Analysis” and elsewhere show that a filter model – trading with technical analysis – is preferable to a “buy and hold” strategy but inferior to trading at random. Trading against recommendations issued by a technical analysis model and with them – yielded the same results. Fama-Blum discovered that the advantage proffered by such models is identical to transaction costs.

The proponents of technical analysis claim that rather than forming investor psychology – it reflects their risk aversion at different price levels. Moreover, the borders between the two forms of analysis – technical and fundamental – are less sharply demarcated nowadays. “Fundamentalists” insert past prices and volume data in their models – and “technicians” incorporate arcana such as the dividend stream and past earnings in theirs.

It is not clear why should fundamental analysis be considered superior to its technical alternative. If prices incorporate all the information known and reflect it – predicting future prices would be impossible regardless of the method employed. Conversely, if prices do not reflect all the information available, then surely investor psychology is as important a factor as the firm’s – now oft-discredited – financial statements?

Prices, after all, are the outcome of numerous interactions among market participants, their greed, fears, hopes, expectations, and risk aversion. Surely studying this emotional and cognitive landscape is as crucial as figuring the effects of cuts in interest rates or a change of CEO?

Still, even if we accept the rigorous version of market efficiency – i.e., as Aswath Damodaran of the Stern Business School at NYU puts it, that market prices are “unbiased estimates of the true value of investments” – prices do react to new information – and, more importantly, to anticipated information. It takes them time to do so. Their reaction constitutes a trend and identifying this trend at its inception can generate excess yields. On this both fundamental and technical analysis are agreed.

Moreover, markets often over-react: they undershoot or overshoot the “true and fair value”. Fundamental analysis calls this oversold and overbought markets. The correction back to equilibrium prices sometimes takes years. A savvy trader can profit from such market failures and excesses.

As quality information becomes ubiquitous and instantaneous, research issued by investment banks discredited, privileged access to information by analysts prohibited, derivatives proliferate, individual participation in the stock market increases, and transaction costs turn negligible – a major rethink of our antiquated financial models is called for.

The maverick Andrew Lo, a professor of finance at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, summed up the lure of technical analysis in lyric terms in an interview he gave to Traders.com’s “Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities”, quoted by Arthur Hill in Stockcharts.com:

“The more creativity you bring to the investment process, the more rewarding it will be. The only way to maintain ongoing success, however, is to constantly innovate. That’s much the same in all endeavors. The only way to continue making money, to continue growing and keeping your profit margins healthy, is to constantly come up with new ideas.”

Saving Money Around The House

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You spend the most time there, so it makes sense that your house represents your largest expense. Whether it is the day to day upkeep, and operating expenses, repair projects, or the rent or mortgage payment, you allocate a big portion of your income to your home. Because you spend so much money on it, take advantage of the following tips to start trimming your budget.

If you want to possibly save hundreds of dollars a year on your electric bill, make sure that any new ap…

You spend the most time there, so it makes sense that your house represents your largest expense. Whether it is the day to day upkeep, and operating expenses, repair projects, or the rent or mortgage payment, you allocate a big portion of your income to your home. Because you spend so much money on it, take advantage of the following tips to start trimming your budget.

If you want to possibly save hundreds of dollars a year on your electric bill, make sure that any new appliances you buy are energy efficient. You can find this information on the Energy Guide Labels that federal law requires of all major appliances.

Call your utility program and ask them if they have any cost saving programs such as load management programs or off hour rate programs. Enrolling in these could save you a substantial amount of money.

Ask your electric and/or gas company if they do a free or low cost home audit. They can identify ways for you to save hundreds of dollars a year on heating and air conditioning and often they will help you implement their suggestions for free.

Go over your phone bill and see if there are charges on it for services you don’t use, like three way calling or call waiting. You can save about $50 a year if you eliminate unused services.

When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes?4 hours a day!

If you use electricity to heat your home, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system. Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30% to 40%.

You can cut the amount of water you use showering in one year in half, by installing low flow shower heads.

Insulate your water heater and turn the thermostat on it down a few degrees, to save quite a bit on your bill.

Carefully placed trees can help to heat a cool your house. Studies show that just 3 trees strategically planted to give shelter and shade can save you up to $250 a year on heating and cooling.

Provide high efficiency lighting to your home by using linear fluorescent and energy efficient fluorescent compact lamps in your fixtures. They last 6-10 times longer and use less energy.

Use solar pathway lights in your yard to provide nighttime light. It costs less than using electricity to run security lamps.

Refrigerators with freezers on the top are more efficient and therefore more cost effective than those with freezers on the side.

Switching your washing machines temperature from hot to warm or cold cuts a loads energy use in half.

Gas dryers are less expensive to operate than electric dryers. The cost of drying a typical load of laundry in an electric dryer is 30 to 40 cents compared to 15 to 25 cents in a gas dryer. That savings adds up over the course of a year.

When you are drying jeans in the dryer, throw a towel or two in with them. The towel will draw moister from the jeans, cutting down on dry time.

With a little thought and minimal effort you can save hundreds of dollars a year around your house. Start saving today, and imagine how much more money you will have in your bank account in the future.

Creating Surplus Cash For Savings and Investments

860

Living below your means is more a matter of self-discipline. A few adjustments here and there could be all it takes to have the necessary funds available for saving and investing.

Saving, investing, money, debt, spending less, credit cards

You know you need to be saving money but you never seem to have enough at the end of the month or worse, you are further in debt.

Living below your means is more a matter of self-discipline. A few adjustments here and there could be all it takes to have the necessary funds available for saving and investing.

Some mutual funds can be opened up for as little as $200 with minimum contributions around $50.

Here’s a list of ways to save money by spending less.

*Open up bank accounts that have little or no service fees. Keep a cushion to avoid accidental bounced checks. These can eat you alive. Be sure to maintain your minimum balance to avoid service charges.

*Try to avoid banks that charge you a transaction fee for using their debit cards. If you have no choice, plan how much money you will need in a given period and then withdraw it all at once to avoid too many transaction fees.

*Compare credit cards. Look for the ones that have little or no annual fees. It’s not too hard to find those with no annual fee.

*Avoid specialty store charge cards as they often have interest rates six or seven points higher than major credit cards.

*Never choose a card based solely on incentives or reward programs. These include auto reward points and air travel miles. These cards may lead you to spend more money over time than you can afford.

*Most importantly, avoid unnecessary interest charges by paying off the complete monthly balance. You can avoid hundreds of dollars in interest expenses on an annual basis.

*When you buy a car, consider buying one that is one to three years old. A one-year old car will be about 20% to 30% less than a new car. A three-year old car is a good buy because it could be around half the price of a new car. A car depreciates the most in its first three years. After that the depreciation levels off and it will lose less of its value.

*Another good saving when buying a used car is you will pay less for the insurance.

*When going on vacation, consider staying in your home state instead of long distance trips or even international travel. It’s often cheaper to travel within your own borders, that way, you avoid visa and passport costs, border hassles, currency exchanges, tropical shots, medication, and additional health insurance. Frequently, people travel thousands of miles to see sights not nearly as spectacular as what’s next door.

*You should consider off-season vacations. Travel at a time when everyone else is at work or school, and the staff will actually be glad to see you. You may also save 50% or more on the usual travel expenses.

*Avoid large cities and tourist traps; you’ll save a ton by avoiding these places, where you pay more to eat, drink, sleep, and travel. If you do decide to visit a big city, consider accommodations in a smaller town close by.

*If you have a lot of credit card debt at high rates, look into consolidating your debt at a lower rate.

*Refrain from making impulse purchases. Exercise self-discipline.

*Refinance your mortgage or debt at a lower rate.

*Refinance your car loan at a lower rate.

*Shop around for cheaper car insurance rates. There can be a big difference.

*Lower your phone bill by using self-control on long distance calling.

*Use a phone card for long distance or international calls.

*Use coupons when you shop.

*Don’t buy things just because they are on sale.

*Wait for things to go on sale before buying them. Keep a record of when things go on sale. Some items will seasonally go on sale. Ask stores when certain things will go on sale.

*Buy generic, or non-name brand merchandise. Most times the quality is just as good.

*Stop smoking. This habit is extremely expensive.

*Contribute the maximum each year to your 401K or to an IRA.

*Remember, paying down debt is also a way to save money. If you can make extra payments on your mortgage or go for a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year mortgage. The savings are enormous.

*Reduce the number of times you eat out. Oftentimes eating out at a restaurant involves paying a lot of money for over-priced and over-sized meals. For healthy meals and to save money, eat at home.

*Watch videos or DVDs at home instead of going to the movies. Pop your own popcorn instead of paying a lot for theater popcorn.

*Evaluate your entertainment and recreational activities. Many are very expensive to participate in. There are many others that are just as fun and entertaining that are at the fraction of the cost.

*Don’t try to compete with your friends and neighbors. Sometimes, an apparent prosperous lifestyle can be an illusion. Those illusions come with a lot of debt. It’s much better to have peace of mind.

Be alert. There are always ways to save money. Soon you will yourself with money you never knew you had. The key is to put that money to work for you instead of spending it.