How To Start Investing For Financial Independence, Part 1

Today, I am going to start a multi-part series about how to go from being a beginning investor to being "financially independent" in a steady and predictable way. At our website, we get tons of e-mails about how do I start, how do I start with little $ 's, etc., etc., etc. If you are asking this question, congratulations because you are ahead of most. All of us have been there at some point.

I must warn you …. What I am about to share here for free is what "gurus" across the nation charge thousands of dollars for in weekend seminars. The "secrets" disclosed are going to seem pretty simple because quite frankly, there are no secrets. The methods used here have been done for centuries and there is no real reason to complicate them. Let's apply these principles to see how fast someone might become financially independent without betting the farm.

Realize that everyone has wildly different starting points and different financial goals. For this series of articles, we assume that an individual has access to at least $ 15,000 liquid capital (or home equity) to start, is at least breaking even with their current income income expenses, and has decent credit to obtain financing. Note there yet? …. See the footnote below.

To start, what you need is to make your money grow while keeping your current income stream, and current expense level in place. I can not say this more plainly ….. To change your current financial path, you have to us your money and your time to grow additional income streams that increase wealth. There is many ways to do this but we are going to use investing in real estate as an example.

Now for beginners, here is the really bad news …… As an investor, you reap rewards by placing your money in HARMS WAY. You do everything in your power to minimize your risk but bottom line is that real investors make money by taking CONTROLLED risks. As investors get better, they learn how to make fantastic investment returns doing things that all their friends and relatives thing is crazy ….. However, they know exactly what risks are small in comparison to the potential Rewards.

One reason people really like real estate investing is leaseage; Ie, you can purchase an expensive property using 0-20% of your own money while financing the rest. So if you put 10% down for example, and then the property goes up by 20%, you have made a 200% return (ignoring expenses, taxes, etc. for simplicity). Of course this works in reverse … If the property drops by 20%, you have lost not only your original investment but have to come up with another 10% as well ….. Ouch!

For someone beginning, here is what I would suggest:
1) Look for an opportunity that will return at least 150% in 2 yrs or less;

2) Be mentally and financially prepared if the investment does not work out;

3) Have VERY good reasons why you do not think you will lose money …… You may not make as much as expected but you would rather not lose money at this stage.

4) Be patient. This single result should not either make or break you but it is crucial to a longer term plan.

In our Mastermind Group, we are bringing out a land project (see related article Land Investing that appears to meet these criteria (each investor has to decide for themselves.) So let's say the purchase price is $ 150,000, with 10% down and another $ 3,500 In closing costs. With good credit, then the financing obtained would make the land payments for 2 years while waiting for growth.

Now let's say after you did your analysis, looked at what had happened in the past, looked at why you thought more and more people would want this property, etc., you decide that you think this property will average 20% / Yr escalation over The next 2 years. MORE IMPORTANTLY, you decide that barring a major meltdown in the market, you think there is little chance that you can not at least break even after 2 years.

So if you end up being right about the growth, then you might net a tidy $ 43,000 (before taxes) or so after everything is considered. After long term capital gains at 15% let's say, then you just picked up about $ 36,000 of the "market's money". That is money that if you take a loss on the next investment will not be nearly as painful as if you lost your original money. When you combine this with your original investment amount, you now have around $ 55,000 of operating capital for step 2.

Realistically, you can not predict how much you will make from the investment. When I invest, I try to establish in my mind what is reasonable. Frequently, I have been surprised to the positive and made much more than expected. Sometimes I have made less. The key being put to yourself in a low risk situation where you have a strong reason to believe the market will go in your favor.

To accomplish this first step, let's look at what you really had to do:

1) Had to be willing to put $$ in harm's way;

2) Had to educate yourself enough to evaluate the risk and the opportunity;

3) Had to find the opportunity or be in a position to have the opportunity presented to them;

4) Had to act.

I would like to comment on the education side. As a former professor, I have seen very smart people spend 1,000's of hours and 10,000's of thousands of dollars educating themselves to "earn a living"; This is a great move in many cases. On the other side, I have seen very smart people who want investing to be a major source of income but will not spend any time or any money educating themselves.

To me, this is a recipe for disaster. By the time we finish this series, you will see that with a few simple steps, implemented over time, many people can easily produce more money than their regular job. Tomorrowmore, many people will put 100's of thousands of dollars at risk but know almost nothing about what they are doing. If you chose the path of making your investment dollars grow steadily with time, I hope this does not end up describing you.

** Footnote: If you are not yet at that level, here is what I suggest. First, read Michael Masterson's book called "Automatic Wealth". This is an excellent book on how to quickly change your financial position while staying employed. Next, I would read Van Tharp's new book called "Safe Paths To Financial Freedom". Van uses a very different thought process from many and so adds a great deal of rounding. Like anything else, you will not agree with everything written in these books but they provide some great thought processes. When you have some capital and are cash flow positive, they come back and revisit this article.

Automotive Industry at a Glance

The World Automobile Industry is enjoying the period of relatively strong growth and profits, yet there are many regions which are under the threat of uncertainty. Carmakers look for better economies, market conditions which are ideal to have a successful stay in the industry. The automotive industry has a few big players who have marked their presence globally and General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, and DC are among them. It has also been suggested that automotive industry has accelerated more, after the globalization period, due to easy accessibility & facilities among nations and migrants among giant automakers of the world.

Moreover, the advances in industrialization led to a rise in the growth and production of the Japanese and German markets, in particular. But in 2009, the global car and automotive sales industry experienced a cogent declination which was during the global recession, as this industry is indirectly dependent on economic returns in employment and spending making, it vulnerable. While demand for new and used vehicles in mature markets (eg Japan, Western Europe and the United States) fell during the economic recession, the industry flourished in the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Boost in global trade has enabled the growth in world commercial distribution systems, which has also inflated the global competition among the automotive manufacturers. Japanese automakers in particular, have initiated innovative production methods by adapting and modifying the US manufacturing model, as well as utilizing the technology to elevate production and give better competition. The World Automotive industry is dynamic and capable, accounting for approximately one in ten jobs in developed countries.

Developing countries often resort to their local automotive sector for economic growth opportunities, possibly because of the vast links that the auto industry of the country, has to other sectors. China is by far the largest market for sales followed by Japan, India, Indonesia, and Australia. Sales figures of 2005 to 2013 indicate that sales for vehicles in China doubled during this period, while Indonesia and India also benefited. However, there was a slump in sales during this time in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Interestingly, this year competition in the truck segment has become more intense, with the three big US automakers striving for supremacy in both performance and fuel economy. The Japanese are not giving up, either, with both Toyota and Nissan launching new pickups in 2015.

India is the seventh largest producer of automobiles globally with almost an average production of 17.5 million vehicles with the auto industry's contribution amounting to 7% of the total GDP. It has been estimated that, by 2020 the country will witness the sale of more than 6 million vehicles annually. India is expected to be the fourth largest automotive market by volume in the world where, two-wheeler production has grown from 8.5 Million units annually to 15.9 Million units in the last seven years and tractor sales are expected to grow at CAGR of 8-9 %, In next five years, making India a potential market for the International Brands. As 100% Foreign Direct Investment is allowed in this Sector, India is expected to have a speedy expansion, to, soon to become the largest automobile Industry. While India is the second largest manufacturer of two-wheelers and largest of motorcycles, it is also estimated to become the 3rd largest automobile market in the world by 2016 and will account for more than 5% of global vehicle sales. As large number of products are available to consumers across various segments, providing a large variety of vehicles of all types, manufacturers aim towards customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Following the FDI policy, entry of a number of foreign players with reduced overall product lifecycle and quicker product launches have become a regular occurrence in the automotive industry of the country. Indian auto market is seen as the potential market which can dominate the Global auto industry in coming years. Moreover, giant dealers and manufacturers are inclining towards the country because of ease of financial norms as well as an environment so conducive to support in their projects.

With Narendra Modi's Make in India Campaign, the automotive industry is expected to witness quite a few changes, where 800 Cr have been allocated in the Budget to promote the Energy and Hybrid Vehicles manufacturing. This move is expected to cut down the prices making these electric and hybrid vehicles cheaper and more eco-friendly. It is also expected that this move will shrink down the carbon dioxide emissions to 1.5% till 2020. This program will subsidize the purchase of new hybrid and electric cars, as well as other vehicle types. It specifies incentives of up to 29,000 rupees for scooters and motorcycles, and up to 138,000 rupees for cars. Three-wheeled vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and buses will also be eligible for incumbents of varying amounts as well.

The used cars sector in India has emerged as one of the major industries due to its easy accessibility and lower rate of interests. But growth in used car sales are lower than new car sales as people still prefer to purchase new cars as opposed to buying used ones. A big reason of this could be the fact that there is a reduced supply of used cars, and high prices of these used cars are pushing the consumers to opt for the low priced new cars. But despite the lower growth compared to new cars segment, used car industry has been showing a fast and steady growth. According to the industry analysts, the sales of used cars are expected to boost up in the next few years.

Till last decade, consumers were involved in unorganized sector of Used vehicles industry, there were no organized players to assist the consumers in buying used vehicles, and about 60% of used vehicle sales were customer to customer where there is a trust factor. The remaining sales were managed by the local dealers. But then in 2001, Maruti came with the first company of selling used cars in 2001- Maruti True Value. Despite the automotive industry witnessed slow sales numbers in the last few quarters, the used or pre-owned car segment is growing fast, and is likely to accelerate in future. In fact in the last fiscal year, more used cars were transacted, 10% more than the new ones, according to the assessment by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. And Honda Siel Car India Ltd. With the organized players stepping in, the used cars market has benefited from fair deals, warranties, better retail network, reliability, transparency, easy availability of finances. These have all made buying a used car easy. Organized used car showrooms provide the platform to the prospective consumers to choose cars from various brands and segments. Car makers have realized the potential of used car market and are making conscious decisions to operate in the pre-owned car sector also. Beside exhibiting multiple brands, the branded used car retailers, also offer one-stop shop for all inquiries and grievances. All the major Car dealers have now established their pre-owned car segment retail showrooms, Maruti True Value, Ford Assured, Hyundai Advantage and Toyota U Trust are some of the major used car dealers.

Constant decline in fuel prices and better financial policies in the past year are the factors that are being expected to be the reasons for the number of new buyers to be increased in the market, which declined in 2013-14. But during this period, one segment that benefited from this decision was the used vehicle market, with increased awareness, financial reforms and organized firms. Most of these used cars Buyers are younger people who prefer buying Pre-owned cars which come at lower prices and they get a good bargain for the same. Indian used vehicle market which is still, almost quarter of new vehicle market is growing at a rapid pace. The Pre-owned car sector is expected to grow by 15-18% in coming years.

Also with the rising in number of organized players have boosted the amount of confidence people are putting in buying a pre-owned car. These players not only offer a good line up of used cars but also offer finance & extensive vehicle check facility for 100% customer satisfaction.

The Automotive Industry is an important part of every economy as it is interrelated to growth of sectors of the economy. India as one of the progressing economy is resolving towards making its automobile industry more and more highly competent, linking it to overall development. With the Make in India Campaign and promotion of eco-friendly vehicles, India is expected to soon become the largest automobile industry globally. Used vehicle industry is expected huge gains with more and more people resolving to it along with the growth in the new car market. With more resources for the buyers and sellers, the automotive industry is expected to flourish meritoriously in coming future extremely taking the country forward.

Online Shopping For School Supplies

This season, when it comes time to back-to-school shopping, many parents have decided to switch to online shopping for the supplies and even Dell computers their children need. One could find anything and everything on a child's list for school through various online stores and Internet sites that are connected to real brick and mortar stores. Besides being convenient, getting supplies for school through online vendors, there is also a money saving incentive. Most of the online stores are significantly cheaper than the real world stores, even those connected to a real world store.

Canada online shopping is a big deal because they save even more money and taxes when they shop through the Internet rather than in the brick and mortar stores. Many of the online stores will offer free or very low cost shipping if a person's order total goes over a certain amount and with school supplies, this is easy to do. From notebooks to crayons and staples and pens, most of the online stores carry everything a student will need to outfit them for the new semester ahead.

Now is the time to begin hunting for bargains with all the back-to-school sales, even if one does not have a child going to school. These discounts are for everyone and anyone; They do not have to be a student in order to save money on things like laptop computers, folders, rulers and high tech calculators. Canadian online shopping consists of many different electronics, school supplies such as notebooks, pens, papers and books as well as discounts on clothing and shoes, everything a student would need to go back to school.

For students who are going off to college or universities that will be staying in a dorm or apartment, they need more items then the typical school supplies. These students will need home furnishing type supplies and most of the time; These types of items are also on sale at this time of year. These items consist of bed spread sets, desk and chairs, organizers for a desk, organizers for bathroom necessities for those who share a bathroom with others, small kitchen appliances and area rugs as well soft style floor seating.

There are many smaller office supplies or desk equipment that one may need during the course of a semester that they should purchase now to save themselves from running out and getting it later. Things such as a three hole puncher, ruler, protractor, paperclips, brads, rubber bands, masking and scotch tape, sticky notes, erasers, scissors, colored pencils, markers, glue and white-out. These things may not be used everyday but could be used at some point in the semester for a special project and it would be nice to have them on hand.

A lot of online shops will ship faster service for a small fee if someone needs a certain supply right away for a project. For example a poster board in a certain color or a type of scissors with a wavy edge. These are items that would cost less to purchase online then at the local supply store or book store and saving money is what college students need to do everywhere they can.

There are a couple of things to beware of when shopping online. One is the shipping and handling fees. Most companies are reducing their shipping fees in order to bring in more customers. However, they are raising their handling fees to make up for this lack of income. An individual would be wise to shop around for an online shop before filing their shopping cart they will no doubt save even more money.

There are also some stores online that will charge taxes and other that do not. There is no law that says an online store needs to collect taxes from a state where they are selling to. For example if a person lives in Missouri and they are shopping at a place in Texas, they may have to pay a Texas state tax online but they do not have to pay Missouri state taxes. This is something to watch out for.

Porter’s Five Forces Model And Internet Competition

According to Porter’s Five Forces Model, in my opinion, competition has increased overall as a result of the internet and e-Commerce. The internet and IT has made it possible to both focus on the top and bottom lines and market share is expanded and costs are cut. Many products and services exist just online, major companies have gone online to successfully augment the brick and mortar corporations, and the playing field is all the way to edges of cyberspace, wherever that is. We will further evaluate this stepping through all five forces.

Buyer power is higher when buyers have more choices. Businesses are forced to add value to their products and services to get loyalty. Many loyalty programs include excellent services that customers demand on-line. Customers want to solve their problems and many times they are more successful on-line than on-phone. Also, we see internet savvy businesses springing up offering more valuable goods and services at lower costs. Now with the advent of eBay, many people are assuming roles as drop shippers. Individuals can have a thriving business selling goods of larger companies without having to carry inventory.

Supplier power is higher when buyers have fewer choices from whom to buy. As mentioned earlier, drop shipping has increased the amount of suppliers available. All an individual has to do is form and agreement to sell products for the company. The company takes care of all the logistics. The same is true of associates programs that Amazon.com and Google.com offer. Associates allow a webmaster to earn money by recommending products from others. This increases supplier offerings.

Threat of substitute products or services is high when there are many product alternatives. This is different than having many suppliers. Examples of alternatives are exchanging brand names, substituting credit card capabilities, and looking at better values from cheaper sources. The internet allows this with the “global economy”. I can substitute my product by purchasing from companies overseas where labor, services and products are cheaper, but of comparable quality.

Threat of new entrants is high when it is easy for new competition to enter the market. Well, what have we been talking about? Now, small operations can open shop with less than $10.00 per month and make a lot of money. As inventive as people are, there are always opportunities to do improve a product or service or just create and sell something new. Recently, many new entrants have made even more money authoring Ebooks that tell others how to do what they did. Rivalry among competitors is high when competition is more intense within industries.

On-line book stores and catalog companies are an excellent example. Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com are very competitive. However, there are many also smaller niche affiliate bookstores that when combined take a great deal of market share. They offer even more competition. However, both major bookstores have used IT to create value for their customers. These values include associates programs, ease of payment and shipping and many, many others.

The internet offers avenues of competition to existing companies and opportunities for start ups. Now businesses can enter the market on-line with few barriers to entry. Porter’s Five Forces Model can help demonstrate the attractiveness of starting your on-line business. A business person should use the model to identify competition, make a plan, and implement the process.