Category Archives for "Save Money"

Order and Optimism in Your Financial Life

financial order and optimism

In a previous article, I stated that to gain a sense of control over spending and especially over credit card debt, people must know how much they owe on each of their cards.  And they should put this in writing.  It’s important to grab a pen and paper or create a spreadsheet and list these balances.  Specifically, the balances should appear from smallest to largest.  Why make this list?  And why from smallest to largest?  The short answer is Order and Optimism.  The “long” answer (well, not so long) follows.

Order: At times, when people carry credit card debt, they practice what I call “The Ostrich Method.”  You may have seen an ostrich stick its head in the sand.  Makes it difficult to see, right?  We humans sometimes do the same thing (figuratively) when we don’t want to face the truth about something…like credit card debt.  “If I ignore it, it will go away, yes?”  No!  “The Ostrich Method” simply leads to other bad habits, including increased ignorance and a lack of organization.

By opening all of your latest statements and listing the current balances, you  establish a sense of order.  You take the guesswork out of the picture and replace it with knowledge.  This empowers you!  You see exactly what you are facing (what you owe; the minimum payment due; the interest rate; etc).  This is good!  Instead of an estimated balance, you now have an exact balance.  And you’ve condensed this information from several separate statements to one list.  You’ve gone from scattered to succinct; a little shift makes a BIG difference.

Optimism: Now, I draw your attention to the fact that you’ve listed the balances from smallest to largest.  “Why is that important?” you might ask.  Well, let me start by referring to a line in my book, Master The Card: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Debt…Forever!: “Money is as much psychological as it is material.”  It’s natural to get overwhelmed by credit card debt.  The amount does not matter.  $1,000….$100,000…more…less.  If you are worried about how you will pay off the debt, then you are overwhelmed.  It weighs on you: thus, the psychological part of the quote.  So by listing your balances from smallest to largest, you can train your eye (and ultimately your mind) on the card with the lowest balance.

For example, say you have balances on four credit cards and you list them as follows:

Card A:    $600.00

Card B:   $1,050.00

Card C:   $1,500.00

Card D:   $2,700.00

Instead of adding up the grand total on the four cards or even looking at any combination of the cards, which can be scary, focus your attention on Card A.  Which seems more manageable: Card A or the other cards?  Card A, of course.  And it’s very likely that you’ll say to yourself, “$600?  I can pay that off pretty quickly.”  Great!  Now do it.  Focus your attention and as much money as you can on paying off that card ASAP, while paying the minimum on the other cards.  By doing this, Card A is paid off in short order AND you gain a sense of victory, an important psychological component when getting out of debt.  You’re now optimistic and know that in due time, you’ll pay off the other cards in the same fashion.

Order and optimism are essential when freeing ourselves from credit card debt.  They were at the heart of my liberation process.  Order and optimism give us a plan and hope.  With this knowhow and confidence, we can overcome any obstacle.

MUST READ: Joe Paretta’s article, Do You Know What You Owe?

Joe Paretta is an author, speaker, and coach. His first book, Master The Card: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Debt…Forever! (Balboa Press, 2010), is one which he considers “a labor of love.”  After accumulating $12,000 in credit card debt, Joe changed the way he thought about and used money and credit cards. As a result, he has been free from credit card debt for many years and coaches others to freedom, too. To learn more about Joe or to purchase his book, visit his website www.joeparetta.com.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Five Stages of Debt: Which Stage Are You In?

debt stages

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By: Allison Martin

Debt Stage 1: Denial

In this fast-paced world, many are moving at such a rapid manner that they forget to pay attention to the minor details of major items, including outstanding debt. The average consumer at this stage either fails to calculate how much debt they are in or turn a blind eye (as if it doesn’t exist). Either way, this is a dangerous position to be in. The longer the debtor denies or ignores the issue, the more rapidly the debt will increase (as a result of interest or the minimum payment trap).

Debt Stage 2: Realization

At this stage, the debtor has decided to face the music and come to terms with the situation at hand. They have taken the time out to list the details of each debt and analyze the situation. The list includes but is not limited to: creditor’s name, balance interest rate, minimum payment, and balance. Realizing that a problem exists is not necessarily negative in nature because the debtor is now at a crossroad. They must make a choice to rectify the situation or continue to let it spiral out of control. Hopefully, the debtor will make the correct choice and select the first option.

Debt Stage 3: Depression

If the debtor owes an excessive amount of money to a creditor(s), it is expected that they will experience some sort of depression. (Some skip this stage depending on personality type). A lot of debt incurred in the United States is a result of the “gotta have it” mentality. It has been ingrained in many minds that it is okay to finance items that are desperately desired, even if they will cost way too much money in the long-run. If you don’t agree, take a glance at all the loan and credit card products that exist around us and you will think again. Depression typically sets in when the debtor realizes that they engaged in impulse spending or purchased items that they couldn’t afford.

Debt Stage 4: Perseverance

The debtor will experience this stage if they decide to tackle their outstanding debts. At first, progress will be gradual since the debt repayment process can be lengthy and tedious. However, once the debtor notices just how much they have reduced the outstanding balances, they will have the desire to press on and remain persistent in the debt repayment process until everything is paid off. This stage can be empowering to many because it demonstrates the rewards that result from persistence and determination with anything that an individual does in life, whether or not it involves personal finance.

Debt Stage 5: Bliss

Once all debt is eliminated, the former debtor will more than likely be filled with joy as if he or she is on top of the world. After all, the debt repayment process can be an emotional roller-coaster for many because it takes a lot out of a person. Making sacrifices along with changes in spending habits and personal finance lifestyles as a whole in order to repay outstanding obligations is hard work. However, it pays off in the long run when the individual is released from bondage with the creditor(s), financially free, and has resources to explore the various elements that life has to offer without having to borrow from anyone.

Which debt stage are you in?

Allison is a Financial Coach who educates individuals from a Christian perspective on financial goal-setting, budgeting, saving, debt management, and wealth building. Make sure to check her out at FinancialCoachingForYou.com

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Thrift Shopping: How To Get More With Limited Cash

thrift shopping

Shoppers who have big bank balance don’t think much about the cost of an item before buying, whereas people with a limited shopping budget would be much concerned about the price tags. If you also choose an item after looking at its price tag then you might want to know how to lower your shopping bills to save a good amount of money. In this article, we have discussed the same in order to help you better.

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Five Ways Fantasy Baseball is Like Personal Finance

We tend to think of personal finance as a complicated subject, and it can be. It doesn’t need to be, though. Do you like to play Fantasy Baseball? Many of the concepts used in Fantasy Baseball also apply to keep your personal finances in order. Just like in baseball, you need to have a good strategy, get rid of poor performers, fire bad coaches and make sure you have all of your bases covered. In financial terms, that means choosing investments that perform consistently, evaluating the performance of your investments regularly, seeking out the advice of the best financial advisors and making sure your future is protected with solid savings and elimination of debt. 

The Importance of Strategy

Just as anyone who knows anything about baseball wouldn’t just pick their players blindly, neither should you approach your finances this way. You want players who are consistently good, not just players that have knocked it out of the park a time or two and the performed poorly for the rest of the season. Consistency and reliability is key. This can be applied to your investment strategy to make safe investments. Those that promise big returns in a short amount of time sound appealing, but if they don’t perform well over time consistently, you may lose big time. 

Evaluate What Works and What Doesn’t

On your Fantasy Baseball team, there were likely players who performed well last year and others that were a huge disappointment. In order to avoid the same mistakes you made in the last season, you’ll keep what works for you and change the other positions. You should continually evaluate your finances this way. If your short term, high yield CD performed well during the past five years (hit a homerun), you may want to continue investing for another five. If that stock your brother-in-law talked you into has been so volatile that you’ve developed an ulcer due to all the worry, count your losses and consider it a lesson learned. 

Be a Star Player

Most Fantasy Baseball teams choose their pitcher first. A good pitcher can make or break a team. You’re the pitcher when it comes to your personal finances. Your every move should be calculated. Don’t just throw your money out into the void hoping you’re making good decisions. Aim for a target. 

Put Me in, Coach

Just like baseball teams have coaches, your financial advisor, your accountant and your attorney are the coaches of your financial life. Do you have good or bad coaches? Some promise the world. They’re all hype and no delivery, though. If you’re not seeing a good return on your investments, you may want to consider “firing” your coach and hiring a new one. Don’t keep playing for a losing team. 

Make Sure All Your Bases Are Covered

Are all your bases covered? Your fantasy baseball team will have all the bases covered to keep the runner from stealing bases. They’re prepared to catch the ball and tag someone out if needed. They’ve got their eyes on the ball. So should you have all of your bases covered financially. Having all your bases covered in your financial life means that you have 3-6 months’ worth of savings, you are fully funding your retirement account, you have eliminated your bad debt and you are meeting all of your financial obligations. 

Will Carter has provided this article to you, for high returns he goes to Cambist.

Do You Know What You Owe?

financial inspection

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There’s an old saying, “Knowledge is power.”  There’s a level of truth to that.  When you have knowledge of something, you have the potential to apply it and possibly improve your life.  This philosophy works with regards to credit card debt.  Read on and see why.

Frequently, I speak with people who tell me, “I’d like to get out of credit card debt.”  One of my first questions for them is “How much do you owe?”  All too often, they respond in silence or they look at me as if I am from another planet.  Then, there are those few “brave” souls who, upon hearing this question, look to the ground and have the courage to mumble, “I don’t know.”  (And, of course, that, too, is the implied answer of those who do not verbally respond).  If you don’t know how much you owe, it is difficult, and dare I say Impossible, to be debt free.  And there are also those people who don’t know what they owe, don’t want to know how much they owe, and even expect to die in debt.  This article is NOT for them.

On the other hand, if you are one of those people who genuinely says, “I want to be free from credit card debt, but how do I start?” then you are seeking knowledge.  You want assistance; you want answers.  You want to be debt free.  But first, you must know how much you owe.

Here is a series of steps to help you:

1) Know How Many Credit Cards You Have:  For some people, this is simple.  “I have two.”  “I have three.”  “I have five.”  For others, who have a longer credit/buying history or have a problem or addiction to credit cards, as I did, he answer might not be as simple.  Either way, just take your time and make sure that you account for every credit card that you have.

2) Know Which Cards Have Outstanding Balances Depending on how many cards you have, there may be some on which you are carrying balances and others that are at zero.  Back when I was a “chronic” credit card user, I had between 12 and 14 “pieces of plastic.”  The majority had outstanding balances and a few were at zero.  Sometimes, I would look at those few cards that had a zero balance and “convince” myself that I did not have a problem with credit card debt.  That was the ultimate in denial!  Since our eventual goal is to be completely free from credit card debt, we will focus on those cards with balances due.  NOTE – Take those cards with zero balances and put them safely away.  Do NOT use them!

3) Know What You Owe On Each Card:  Some of your credit cards might have a high balance, while others have a low (or no) balance.  The key here is to know exactly to the penny what you owe on each card.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down the name of the card and the balance due.  Do that for every card.  List the balances from smallest to largest.  (In an upcoming article, I will address the significance behind this).  Something to keep in mind: It is more important to know what you owe on each card than it is to know the grand total of your credit card debt.  This, too, will be addressed, in detail, in later articles.  But for now, suffice it to say that you are gaining knowledge: you know what you owe on each card and  you are becoming aware of how often you use the card (as well as where, why, etc.).

4) Know That You Can Do This!:  It is easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about credit card debt.  I know that I was when I first decided to change my habits and pay off my debt.  But by becoming proactive and determined, I focused on the task at hand and as a result, I have been free from the albatross of credit card debt for many years.  Keep in mind that many people have already done this.  You will, too!!

Remember that “Knowledge is power.”  Now that you know exactly what you owe, you are ready to go!

Joe Paretta is an author, speaker, and coach. His first book, Master The Card: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Debt…Forever! (Balboa Press, 2010), is one which he considers “a labor of love.”  After accumulating $12,000 in credit card debt, Joe changed the way he thought about and used money and credit cards. As a result, he has been free from credit card debt for many years and coaches others to freedom, too. To learn more about Joe or to purchase his book, visit his website www.joeparetta.com.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Planning a Vacation on a Budget? Check Out These Tips …

vacation budget tips

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Traveling is a popular pastime for many people and once a year vacation trips are quite common. Budgeting for a holiday is something that should be done all year long and not just in a few frantic months before the trip.

One of the best things to do to ensure you have an enjoyable and affordable trip is to carefully select a travel destination that has a favorable exchange rate. If you do happen to run out of money, it is always possible to get an international money transfer.

Travel to destinations with a favorable exchange rate

In some countries the U.S. dollar will go twice as far, allowing you to enjoy stays in hotels that would be out of range in many countries. Traveling to a destination that has a favorable exchange rate does not mean that you have to put up with a mediocre vacation. Quite the opposite is often true, as some of the cheapest countries to travel to can also be the most delightful.

Putting money away into a travel fund on a monthly basis is one of the best ways to ensure there are enough funds by the time the planned holiday arrives. How much you put away is really up to your budget and how much you can afford to save without depriving yourself of essentials. Saving for a trip should not involve enduring hardship and going without the things you enjoy.

Doing an internet search for cheap travel destinations is a good way to get started. Check around to see what other travelers have to say about the destination. Others who have been to the country you are planning to travel to probably have good tips and advice on local customs. Being prepared ahead of time is the greatest money saver because it lets you budget accordingly.

Buy essentials like sun cream at home

Buying all the essentials for the trip is best done before leaving the U.S. Items that are used by tourists are often a lot more expensive in foreign countries. While many things are very inexpensive, store vendors do take advantage of the fact that tourists need items such as sun cream or mosquito repellent.

These items are then sold for about three times what they would normally be worth. So, buying these types of items is a good idea before traveling.

Airlines now have strict regulations about the size of containers that can be brought on planes, so it may be necessary to transfer the contents of bottles into airline approved container sizes. Most people don’t use up everything they bring along, but if you do, make sure to shop in local stores that are away from the tourist hangouts. This way, you can pay the prices that local residents do.

Buying clothes on trips is something that many people do. It is possible to buy well-made items for a fraction of the price that you would pay in the United States. The best bet is to stay away from the high-priced boutiques that cater to tourists. To really get a taste of the colorful fashions available, it is necessary to visit areas off the beaten path.

Vendors in many foreign countries are used to haggling over prices and if you want to save money, this could be something to try. It is considered almost a sport to haggle over prices, so you need not feel uncomfortable. Only do this in countries where this is an accepted part of life. Using some of these ideas should allow you to enjoy an affordable holiday.

Andrew Griffiths is a graduate of Loughborough University and Liverpool University in the UK.  He is a self-employed blogger and a freelance writer for MoneySupermarket.com.

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The ‘3 Es’ of Credit Card Debt

credit card debt

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Why do people have credit card debt? There are many answers to that question. But in the 17 years I have spent studying this topic, I have noticed that the reasons fall within three primary categories, which I call “The 3 Es”: Emergencies, Ease, and Entitlement. I have also learned that while some circumstances are unavoidable, others are created by choice and that there are ways to prevent these situations, with a basic sense of awareness and a change of mindset and habit.

Emergencies

In short, “life happens.” People get sick. Jobs are lost. Cars break down. Kids break bones. All too frequently, we do not have enough money in savings to cover these unexpected occurrences. How can we? A large percentage of people live paycheck to paycheck and struggle just to cover their monthly expenses. So, emergencies “throw them for a loop.” With seemingly nowhere else to turn, they whip out one of their credit cards and breathe a sigh of relief…until the bill comes in. Depending upon the magnitude and cost of the emergency, people could carry this debt for many months…even years.

Alternative – An effective way to prepare oneself for the unexpected is to build an Emergency Fund. Many financial planners suggest having an account that can cover three to six months of expenses, when fully funded, depending upon the number of people in your family, your monthly bills, etc. While this is the ultimate goal, I believe that simply having something, no matter how small, in an emergency fund is essential, so when the unexpected happens, we don’t have to pay for it entirely, if at all, with credit cards. Also, replenish the emergency fund as soon as possible And yes, build it to the three to six month range, if possible, so you are ready for the next emergency.

Ease

“That will be eighty dollars and sixty-five cents, please.” “OK,” you say to yourself. “Hmm. I think I’ll use my Visa today.” Whip. Swipe. And Return. You have made your purchase. Easy, right? It sure is! It is easy to reach into your wallet, grab the card, use it, and put it back…It is also easy to run up a lot of debt that way. So many of us have been conditioned to swipe the credit card without much thought. We want as much ease as possible, especially regarding finances. Credit cards provide the easiest way to get what we want quickly and the easiest way to rack up consumer debt. In my days as a chronic credit card user, I would swipe the card for nearly every purchase, only to get the statement at month’s end and think, “I don’t remember buying half of this stuff!” Couple that with the fact that the pleasure that the purchase once provided had now faded and I was left with nothing but an outstanding balance. Easy is NOT always good!

Alternative – The best way to avoid using credit cards is to leave them at home. “What!?!” I know; this shocks some people. But you can’t go into credit card debt if you don’t have them with you. “What if I memorize the account number?” Well, then there’s a bigger issue, beyond the scope of this article. But for our purposes, at least temporarily or until your spending habits are under control, go on a steady “cash diet.” That way, you will not add to your debt, you improve your chances of lowering your current debt levels, and (AND THIS IS A BIG “AND”), you will start thinking more constructively about your purchases. It “hurts” a little when we spend cash. We feel something leaving our wallets…and our lives…and that sense of loss makes us consider our purchases more carefully than when we simply swipe the credit card. We start to distinguish a WANT from a NEED (the focus of an upcoming article). This is a HUGE step in the right direction. Eventually, you will mange your credit cards as easily as you once used them.

Entitlement

You work hard, two jobs, in fact. The boss has been “on your back” for a month. Then you go home and have to take the kids to soccer practice, band rehearsal; you have to pay the bills, finish the laundry. You deserve to “kick back” a bit. You deserve some “Me Time.” You’re right; you do! But for many people, men and women alike, “kicking back” translates to several sessions of “Retail Therapy”: at the mall, at the home improvement store, etc. Yes, you do deserve some “Me Time,” but “Me Time” does not have to “break the bank.” When a sense of entitlement overwhelms our sense of logic…and our money…problems start. The busier we get, the more stressed we become. The more stressed we become, the more entitled we feel. The more entitled we feel, the greater the chances of rising credit card debt. Entitlement usually starts small. But it rarely stays small. As responsibilities and stress levels rise, we tend to want larger, more expensive items to “satisfy” us. That also means a greater reliance on credit cards. And likely, growing debt on a monthly basis….and More Stress!

It does not have to be that way.

Alternative – Here’s a suggestion that some folks may see as “sacrilege.” But here goes: REDUCE the “To Do” list. You may not be able to reduce your responsibilities at work, but maybe you (and your kids) are overscheduled outside of work and school. We’ve become a society of “do’ers,” frequently operating on “automatic pilot,” simply to check another item off our list as if it were a “badge of honor.” If we don’t have at least a half-dozen items there, we think that we are underachievers. If we are not exhausted when our heads hit the pillow, we feel unsatisfied. Some parents have said to me, “If (kid’s name) is not doing all of these activities, (he/she) won’t get into college!” Usually, my response is “Nonsense.” And this comes from having taught on the college level for 16 years. Grades do play a role in gaining college admission, you know. Simply put, we are living “Quantity Lives” when we should be living “Quality Lives.” And we are training the next generation to live the same way: overwhelmed, stressed, and entitled. Reduce the unnecessary activities in your family. Spend more time together at home as a family unit. This will add to your quality of life and greatly diminish the belief that we are entitled to a houseful of stuff.

Joe Paretta is an author, speaker, and coach. His first book, Master The Card: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Debt…Forever! (Balboa Press, 2010), is one which he considers “a labor of love.”  After accumulating $12,000 in credit card debt, Joe changed the way he thought about and used money and credit cards. As a result, he has been free from credit card debt for many years and coaches others to freedom, too. To learn more about Joe or to purchase his book, visit his website www.joeparetta.com.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

Cars can be expensive, but for many people, they aren’t a luxury. If you depend on an automobile to get around, you will be concerned with prolonging your car’s life and saving your hard earned cash. Here’s how to get more miles for your money, and spare yourself the additional stress and expense that comes from a neglected automobile.

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6 Practical Money Management Skills Every College Student and Recent Grad Need to Know

money management skills for college students

College life is a hell of a roller-coaster experience, and every current student or recent grad can relate. From attending lectures, living alone possibly for the first time in one’s life, being the sole custodian of one’s finances and, of course, enjoying the newfound freedom, it is an experience one will forever remember.

But as they say, freedom comes with responsibilities. For a college student, one among these responsibilities is how you prudently manage your money and steer away from screwing up. It is in college where both the money-savvy and the extravagant chart the course of their lives.

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Your Money: The Best Investment I Ever Made

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange June 11, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Chris Taylor / REUTERS

New York (June 12) – In this choppiest of stock markets, it’s very easy to get discouraged. The S&P 500 just had its worst month of the year, the Facebook initial public offering was a wreck, and all those rumors out of Europe aren’t helping anything.

Okay, so maybe we can’t all be John Paulson. The hedge-fund kingpin famously made $15 billion in a single year by betting against the housing market, inspiring the book “The Greatest Trade Ever”.

But let’s take a page from another book and draw on Norman Vincent Peale‘s “The Power of Positive Thinking”.

We talked to a few prominent market watchers about the best investments they ever made. What they picked, how they picked it, and what they ultimately learned from it.

We all have our investing successes, even if they’re relatively modest. By learning from other people’s home runs, here’s hoping we can hit a few ourselves.

Name: David Rosenberg, Chief Economist and Strategist, Gluskin Sheff

Investment: Bonds and gold

The story: “The best strategy call I ever made in my career was what I refer to as the ‘bond-bullion barbell’. It basically means having exposure to two types of assets — bonds and gold — that serve as refuge in this tumultuous post-bubble deleveraging cycle. I’ve been on that for a decade now, and they’ve been wonderful safe havens. They’re natural hedges; gold hedges against inflation, bonds hedge against deflation. Nothing moves in a straight line, of course, and there have been corrections along the way. But bonds and gold are in secular bull markets, and when you can identify big long-term trends like that, the clouds part and help you make great decisions. Some people think you can only make money in equity bull markets, but that’s just not true.”

What he likes now: Corporate bonds — Thanks to strong balance sheets and minimal default prospects. “The high-yield market now offers an 8 percent coupon on average, which in my view adequately compensates you for any recession-induced delinquency risks.”

Name: Robert Shiller, Yale University economics professor and author of “Irrational Exuberance”

Investment: Stocks

The story: “I made the decision in the early ’80s to invest 100 percent in the stock market. At that time the market was priced very low, because people were overreacting to high inflation and interest rates. In times like those people don’t tend to want stocks, because they can get high returns on bonds or even savings accounts.

So the average price/earnings ratio for stocks was around six, which I thought was grossly underpriced. Eventually I pulled most of it out in the late ’90s, when the stock market experienced a bubble and became totally overpriced. In the meantime, I made something like 10 times my money. When big events like that happen, you can time the market.”

What he likes now: A very conservatively positioned portfolio. “Stocks are still my biggest single holding, but I’m worried because they seem highly priced. My inclination is to stay in the market, but to not be aggressive about it.”

Name: Conrad Herrmann, senior vice president, Franklin Equity Group

Investment: Apple

The story: “We originally bought Apple in 2003, when it was priced in the teens. Now it’s one of the biggest companies in the world, and priced at almost $600, but it actually had a relatively tiny market cap at the time. It only had three percent of the computing market, but we liked its fundamental characteristics, and thought it could gain some market share. They had just launched the iPod, but this was long before revolutionary products like the iPhone or the iPad.

Most importantly, Steve Jobs had come back to the company. Jobs was a real visionary, and an agent of transformational change, who some people compare to Thomas Edison. Back in 2003 the company’s future wasn’t clear, and you never really knew what was going to happen. But it turned into a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity.”

What he likes now: U.S. equities. In particular “the technology sector, where companies can focus on doing more with less. Also companies that can either maintain margins, or continue to increase margins through pricing power.”

Name: Barbara Corcoran, founder, The Corcoran Group

Investment: Manhattan townhouse

The story: “It was 1981, it was a townhouse at 49 E. 10th St. in Greenwich Village, and I tried absolutely everything not to buy it. I was desperate to open a small brokerage office in the Village, because I felt the neighborhood was turning around and was going to explode.

I hunted everywhere, couldn’t find anything, and finally saw a ‘For Sale’ sign on this six-story building with 10 apartments. The broker refused to rent the ground floor to me, but said he would sell it to me for a little under a million bucks. I had never signed a mortgage in my life, but for some reason a bank loaned me 95 percent of the money.

The other day I had it appraised at $7.7 million, and it still makes me a 20 percent profit, year after year. It’s the little building from heaven. I’ve bought many buildings in Manhattan over the years, but no investment has done nearly as well as that first one.”

What she likes now: Investing in small businesses, everything from cake companies to medical-device manufacturers, stemming from her role in the ABC series Shark Tank. “I’m finding it far more exciting to roll up my sleeves and help young entrepreneurs build their fortunes, instead of checking out boiler rooms.”

(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)

(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance. Editing by Lauren Young, lauren.young@thomsonreuters; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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