4 Innovative and Alternative Investments for Retirement

Planning for retirement is a daunting task for anyone. The fear of not having enough to live on after you have left the nine-to-five is a big motivator for starting to save early in your career. But it’s also one reason investors are turning to alternative investments in pursuit of higher, sustainable long-term returns.

Here are some top picks for alternative investments for retirement:

Bitcoin

Bitcoin has come of age.  Bitcoin, the virtual currency, is emerging as a new asset class that’s fast becoming mainstream, even gaining acceptance by regulators. Investing into Bitcoins for retirement is now possible via a self-directed IRA. This qualified individual retirement account is currently the only U.S.-based fund approved by the IRS that allows investors to keep the digital currency in their retirement portfolios.

The process of adding Bitcoins to your self-directed IRA (SIDRA) is simple and fast.

The regulations and rules for the Bitcoin IRA are the same as for standard self-directed IRAs, which means no access to your money until you’re 59½ (or pay a penalty for early withdrawal). While individuals can simply own Bitcoins as well, Bitcoin IRA provides a structured way to do so with the benefits of tax-advantaged retirement saving and without the hassle of safekeeping.

Real Estate

Investors who want to diversify, generate returns and hedge against inflation often turn to real estate. Individuals can park money in a good commercial or residential property and benefit from rental income while the value of the property appreciates over time.

You can also hold real estate through a real estate investment trust (REIT) or in a self-directed real estate IRA. While real estate has its shortcomings, a Morgan Stanley survey of millionaires finds that it is still the most traditional and popular alternative asset class.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer or social lending works in a way that is advantageous to both borrowers, who get loans at interest rates lower than banks, and lenders, who can earn higher rates of return than bank deposits provide.

We recommend choosing more than one peer-to-peer platform from which to lend out money to minimize your risk from defaults. These include Lending Club, Prosper, Upstart, Funding Circle, Peerform, Pave, Daric, BorrowersFirst and SoFi.

Gold

One of the few tangible liquid assets, gold has traditionally played the role of an effective inflation hedge. While over the years its correlation with stock prices has risen (hence it’s not the best way to diversify), it remains the mainstay in times of crisis. You can hold gold as bars, coins or jewelry, of course, but there are more innovative ways to invest, including gold exchange-traded funds, gold mutual funds investing in companies involved in gold mining, and gold futures and options.

There is also the self-directed IRA route – either gold on its own, or along with other precious metals, such as platinum and silver. Overall, irrespective of the form, an allocation of 5% to10% towards gold is considered ideal for an investor’s portfolio

The Bottom Line

Given that some alternative assets are still maturing, a smart course might be to combine one or more of them with traditional investments for a balanced retirement portfolio.

Alternative or nontraditional investments have advantages over traditional assets like stocks and bonds, including high income levels, diversification, risk substitution and a hedge against downside. One way to invest in these assets is via a self-directed IRA’s.  As always, speak to your financial advisor before investing in any of these alternatives.


15 Great Jobs That You Can do from Home

Looking for a good paying job?  Here are just 15 of the hundreds that you can start from your home.  In fact, some of these pay better than regular 9-5 ‘desk’ jobs.

1. Affiliate Marketer

For those unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, it’s simply referral marketing where you earn a commission. Let’s say that you have a website and refer a book on Amazon. When the visitor clicks the affiliate link and buys the books, Amazon will pay you a percentage of the sale.

2. Animator

Are you an artistic and creative individual who is able to create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other types of media? Then you can work at home as freelance animator. We’ve seen animators make between $25 to $106 an hour on sites like Upwork.com

3. Baker/Caterer/Chef

If you have a knack for baking or cooking, then turn your passion into a side business. From your own kitchen you could start a catering or personal chef business. If you’re a baker, you could sell you goods to friends, neighbors, online, or at local farmer’s markets.

4. Blogger

Blogging is inexpensive and easy to start. It could be as simple as you just writing about your favorite music, food and even jobs you can do from home! Eventually, this hobby can start generating some money for you.

5. Bookkeeper

Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a CPA to start bookkeeping. Just sign-up for a bookkeeping course at a community college or even online. Once completed you can start earning. The median salary is $34,000. There are some stay at home bookkeepers making upwards of $70,000.

6. Consulting

If you have experience and knowledge in a specific area, then share it with others. For example, if you’re an accountant or lawyer, then you can provide advice to small businesses for a pretty penny. You could also consult businesses on how to use a new software program or how to become more environmentally-friendly.

7. Direct Salesperson

This will require a little investment upfront, but you’ll receive all the tools and resources to get started. However, you’ll receive 20 percent to 35 percent of sales in commissions. And, you can find a direct sales opportunity to match your passion since there are companies that sell jewelry, coffee, wine, pet products, or gardening supplies.

8. Ecommerce Store Owner

There are different types of eCommerce business models; drop-shipping, wholesaling, manufacturing, white-labeling, and subscription. And, thanks to sites like Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce, you can quickly launch your own ecommerce store.

9. Grant Writer

Universities, hospitals, and nonprofits are organizations that need to apply for grant money. Since these can be difficult to write, they turn to talented grant writers. As a grant writer you can make between $40,300 to $67,000 per year.

10. Graphic Designer

Businesses are in need of someone to design their logo, website, or visual ads. If you have a degree or certification in this area, you can make a comfortable salary or $45,000 annually. This is starting, the better you get, the more clients will refer other clients over to you. Here is a killer guide I put together on how to build a website that should help you get started.

11. Pet Groomer

Do love being around animals? Are you also patient enough to clean and style pets? If so, this is a perfect home-based business.

12. Programmer

Learning a programming language, such as Ruby, can make around $61 per hour. Not too shabby. If you’re interested, here’s a handy programmer guide to get you on your way.

13. Realtor

While you can run a reality business from your home, as long as you have your state’s real estate license, you still have to show potential buyers the home. And, don’t forget that you also have to prepare the home for showing too. However, thanks to technology, you can become a virtual realtor where you can show a property without having to physically be there.

14. Tax Preparer

And now with the new Tax law recently passed, you can be in high-demand if you understand the new laws. Even though this is a seasonal gig, you can make a salary of over $30,000. Don’t forget to register with the IRS before you start this home-based business.


5 Other Cryptocurrencies Besides Bitcoin You Can Cash in On

Unless you have been hiding under a rock these last few months, then you have certainly heard about Bitcoin, and its meteoric rise from just under $1,000 dollars for one Bitcoin a few months back to now over $18,000!

Going by the current trend, cryptocurrencies are here to stay but how many of them will emerge leaders amid the growing competition within the space will only be revealed with time.

Bitcoin – the granddaddy of them all - has not just been a trendsetter, ushering in a wave of cryptocurrencies built on decentralized peer-to-peer network, it’s become the de facto standard for cryptocurrencies​.

The currencies inspired by Bitcoin are collectively called altcoins and have tried to present themselves as modified or improved versions of Bitcoin. While some of these currencies are easier to mine than Bitcoin is, there are tradeoffs, including greater risk brought on by lesser liquidity, acceptance and value retention.

Since Bitcoin prices are soaring new highs, The Hub looked at six other cryptocurrencies.  Who knows which one will be the next Bitcoin?

Here they are in no order:

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin, launched in the year 2011, was among the initial cryptocurrencies following bitcoin and was often referred to as ‘silver to Bitcoin’s gold.’ It was created by Charlie Lee, a MIT graduate and former Google engineer. Litecoin is based on an open source global payment network that is not controlled by any central authority. Other than developers, there are a growing number of merchants who accept Litecoin.

Ethereum (ETH)

Launched in 2015, Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control or interference from a third party.

During 2014, Ethereum had launched a pre-sale for ether which had received an overwhelming response. The applications on Ethereum are run on its platform-specific cryptographic token, ether. Ether is like a vehicle for moving around on the Ethereum platform, and is sought by mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside Ethereum. According to Ethereum, it can be used to “codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything.” Ethereum is second in market capitalization after Bitcoin among all cryptocurrencies. 

Zcash (ZEC)

Zcash, a decentralized and open-source cryptocurrency launched in the latter part of 2016. “If Bitcoin is like http for money, Zcash is https," is how Zcash defines itself. Zcash offers privacy and selective transparency of transactions. Thus, like https, Zcash claims to provide extra security or privacy where all transactions are recorded and published on a blockchain, but details such as the sender, recipient, and amount remain private. Zcash offers its users the choice of ‘shielded’ transactions, which allow for content to be encrypted using advanced cryptographic technique or zero-knowledge proof construction called a zk-SNARK developed by its team.

Dash

Dash (originally known as Darkcoin) is a more secretive version of Bitcoin. Dash offers more anonymity as it works on a decentralized mastercode network that makes transactions almost untraceably. Launched in January 2014, Dash experienced an increasing fan following in a short span of time. In March 2015, ‘Darkcoin’ was rebranded to Dash, which stands for Digital Cash and operates under the ticker – DASH.

Monero (XMR)

Monero is a secure, private and untraceable currency. This open source cryptocurrency was launched in April 2014 and soon spiked great interest among the cryptography community and enthusiasts. The development of this cryptocurrency is completely donation-based and community-driven. Monero has been launched with a strong focus on decentralization and scalability, and enables complete privacy by using a special technique called ‘ring signatures.’ With this technique, there appears a group of cryptographic signatures including at least one real participant – but since they all appear valid, the real one cannot be isolated.

The Bottom Line

Bitcoin continues to lead the pack of cryptocurrencies, in terms of market capitalization, user base and popularity. Nevertheless, virtual currencies such as Ethereum and Ripple which are being used more for enterprise solutions are becoming popular, while some altcoins are being endorsed for superior or advanced features vis-à-vis Bitcoins. Going by the current trend, cryptocurrencies are here to stay but how many of them will emerge leaders amid the growing competition within the space will only be revealed with time.


Here’s How to Get the Best Deal When Buying a New Car

No single consumer purchase causes more headaches, more irritation and leads to more buyer’s remorse than a car purchase. Nothing even comes close to it.

And with good reason: Car dealerships love fees and extras perhaps more than anyone else.

They rarely tell the entire truth about their prices, blurring the lines between the sticker price, invoice price and out-the-door price.

They try to upsell you on extras like window tinting, fabric protection, and extended warranties.

And they play games with you when you just want to buy a car, doing the “I’ll-talk-to-the-manager” while you stew in a cubicle for 15 minutes wasting your time.

The result can be up to 20 percent profits on some sales for the dealership. But it can leave you feeling ripped off.

Follow These 5 Financing Tips and Walk Away a Winner Everytime

Before setting foot in a dealership you should pre-arrange financing for your new car.  This will save you time, hassle and a lot of money. Then, ask the dealer to beat the best rate you have.  If they can – great!  If not, you can rest assured that you still have the best rate you can get, and the confidence to walk away.

You’ll be surprised how much more leverage you have to negotiate on a great price for your new baby.

Know Your Credit Score

You need to know what your credit score is, and you can get that from any of the three major credit reporting companies. Federal law guarantees you one free credit report each year.

Get Pre-Arranged Financing

Next, you want to walk into the dealership with pre-arranged financing. This means you need to shop around for the best loan rates. The car company might offer the best deal. Ask them to beat what you’ve already determined is your best deal on financing.

Check For The “True” Sale Price

There is the sale price and then there’s ‘the real sales price’. Use a service like TrueCar or Edmunds to determine a fair selling price for the new car you want. If your preferred dealership is not one of those guaranteeing a good price through these services, ask the sales manager at the dealership you’d like to use to match it.

Sell Your Current Car

Try not to make the deal more complex with a trade-in, especially if you owe more on the trade-in than the car is worth. You will always get more for your old car by selling it on your own. If you don’t want to do that, then you’ll need to accept less money for it in exchange for easy disposal.

Skip The ‘Extra’s’

As we said in the beginning of the article - don’t buy extras. Many dealerships load every car it sells with things like paint protection, anti-theft devices, window tinting, spoilers, service contracts, you name it. And people think they must pay for this stuff. Walk away from any dealership that posts what is called an “addendum sticker” next to the factory window sticker, listing fat-profit upgrades as though you have no choice in the matter.

When you have financing in place, dealerships will fall all over themselves to sell you a car.  Why?  Because they know they don’t have to be concerned about your credit, and you’re ready to buy.

You are now in the proverbial driver’s seat.  If you don’t like the deal or price, then just walk away and find the one you like.