Sunday, May 29, 2016

4 Tenets for Finding Your Way in Penny Stock Investing

People will all tell you that penny stock investing is not a good idea. They will tell you that penny stocks are not reliable long term investments and that penny stocks will all fail in the end and that penny stocks are just schemes from corrupt individuals and much of the time these are things which can be true. However I’d counter that penny stock investing may be the last way for average individuals to play in the stock market. Penny stocks are for the most part quite affordable, they make sense for the investor who does their investment homework, and particularly in such a quagmire of an economy, penny stock investing is all that many people can afford. Still, you need to find your own way in the investing world and you need to do what makes sense for you. If penny stock investing does interest you, consider these four tenets to finding your way in penny stock investing.

Consider the Source: One of the easiest ways to get suckered into a bum bet in penny stock investing is to listen to unreliable sources of information. That is, the chat rooms, discussion boards, even websites like the Yahoo! Contributor Network. We are all just platforms for you to do your own discovery. Truth be told no one on any online chat rooms knows any more about what is going to happen in any particular stock than anyone else. If there were real information being spread in the blogosphere that is a crime called insider trading. Most companies; reputable or not; don’t want to have insider trading traced back to them. Not only does it involve jail time but it also makes their company less legitimate in the eyes of investors. Consider the source before you run after a flagging penny stock investment.

Consider Your Portfolio: What else is in your portfolio? Do you have a balanced investment sheet or is this something you do in small amounts? For every dollar you have invested in penny stocks, consider setting aside a dollar for, say, bonds. Or CD’s. Or savings. Or blue chip stocks. You have to have a balanced investment portfolio; there is no time like the present to divvy up your assets across a number of different investments.

Consider the Industry: What does the company you’re investing in produce? What is their market potential? Where do you see this business going in 1 year? 10 years? If your penny stock is trying to make waves in an already established industry, this could be a tough racket to enter. Consider the place in the market for this company’s product or service. Does this company deal in bio-technology and are they making partnerships with industry leaders? Or is this a very specific niche industry with not a lot of potential upside? If your company doesn’t have an innovative way of doing old business, then they’re just old business.

Consider Your Life: Okay this is a big one, you need to remember that these are investments which can (and very well may) go all the way down to nothing. That said, don’t go after penny stocks with rent money or your child’s lunch money in the hopes of flipping it for a double. You may track a penny stock down and up and down and up every day at these 100% turnaround points, but you can’t know that this is going to continue. Consider the fact that you need to still live your life with or without these massive gains.

Penny stock investing is not as easy as many think. It used to be that you could throw some money at the market and whatever stuck would go up 10-fold. This is not the current economy we live in. That said there still is money to be made in penny stock investing for even the small time investor. Go for it!

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4 Things I Have Learned Through Divorce

Allow me to paint you a picture. Not a literal picture, by any means. I am horrible at painting. I once tried to draw Godzilla as a child and it turned out looking like a Tyrannosaur. My lack of painting skills aside, I want to paint this picture for you with my words. My sweet, comfortable, sexy, sexy words.

I sit alone in a one-bedroom apartment. Though, I say alone, I am not completely alone. I mean, I was alone for the past five months or so, but not now. No, now I am harboring my sister and her three sons. So, it’s kind of a crowded household right now.

For the purpose of this scene though, let’s just say I’m alone. So, I’m alone, right? Let’s all agree on that. Ray is alone. Why am I alone? My last article was obviously a step in the right direction of personal growth. It was all about being a father and the amazement I had at the birth of my son! Apparently I didn’t grow as much as I thought I had, according to my now-estranged wife. Why do I say that? Thank you for asking unnamed reader! You’re always so caring. It’s because last May, I was served divorce papers and immediately kicked out of the house that I had been paying on for two years.

Now, I might sound bitter, but I know that there’s a silver lining in any situation. Except this one. There is no silver lining. More like an abyss that is an all-consuming tornado of emotions and tears. Oh, the tears. I may have trailed off from my picture painting. See? I told you I was horrible at painting and this is my metaphorical Tyrannosaur in writing. So the picture is, I tried really hard the first month to win back my wife. Well, I say I tried really hard. It depends on if drinking yourself to sleep every night and sending texts full of sadness is trying or just being pathetic. After about a month and a half, I accepted the situation and moved on the best way that I could. If you’ve read any of my previous stuff, you ought to know that I’m probably not the most graceful at acceptance. It was a difficult road, and there are many things I learned.

Don’t beg for her/him back

The biggest fault I have is that when I’m sad, man, I am sad. If you ever find yourself at the broken-hearted end of a divorce, one of the worse things you can possibly do for your self-esteem is beg. Much like a dog goes away disappointed when you fail to give him a pepperoni from your pizza, or hell, even the crust. Give that poor dog the crust, at the very least. Well, much like that poor dog, you walk away disappointed and kicking yourself for losing your composure like that. Don’t get me wrong, you will feel like crap either way, but you don’t have to belittle yourself at the same time. No one likes it when you beg, and the same goes for a relationship or marriage. Your ex-significant other will only see you as pathetic and sad, not as someone they want to spend the rest of their life with.

That first month I was a mess. I cried myself to sleep at night, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What I did do that was wrong was I let her know. That only reaffirmed her decision to divorce me because it showed that I obviously couldn’t handle the heat. Much like the heat of the oven burns my rugged man hands when I forget the oven mitts because I’m a man and I don’t do kitchen stuff.

Give your spouse what they want

If you find yourself with divorce papers in hand and you sincerely want to save this marriage, keep calm. There may still be time. Communicate your desire without argument, and if the other still feels divorce is the way to go, give them the space they so desperately want. Move out with all of your stuff in tow. That dresser that was yours? Take it. That TV? Still yours, buddy. Anything that you brought into the marriage that you didn’t buy together, take it all with you and don’t look back.

Now you’re probably asking me something like, “How is that supposed to save my marriage? I can’t just give up on it!” You aren’t giving up. You’re giving your spouse what they want, and it’s likely that during the course of the marriage, she/he felt that they weren’t getting what they wanted from you. In the second month of my divorce, I finally came and got everything I owned out of the house, packed it up and unloaded it at my new apartment. The next few weeks came with several calls from my estranged wife, who was obviously missing me at this point. However, I was trying my hardest to move on and was becoming quite successful at it. This still didn’t lessen the impact that her words had on my emotions. My sweet, damned emotions.

Date. Find dates, anywhere you can, just date someone

You might think that finding someone else will be counter productive to saving your marriage; I thought so too. But by the second month, I no longer cared, despite my wife showing signs of regret. If you let it be known that you’re a strong-willed person and you are moving on with your life, that will impress your spouse. It will also make them jealous and possibly crazy. Try not to let them get crazy. Crazy is bad. Crazy stalks you, throws you in a trunk, ties cinder blocks to your legs, throws you in a lake and leaves you for dead. That really isn’t good for anyone and most importantly not good for you. But yeah, the moving on part, it shows that despite what your spouse thinks, you’re grown enough to accept the situation and make good decisions for yourself and that you’re capable of moving on. A deep human flaw is that we all want what we think we can’t have. If your spouse sees that you’re out dating again, they may see that they have lost you and sure enough, they’ll want you back.

This very thing happened to me, my friends. By the third month, I was not exactly dating but I was hanging out with female friends that I hadn’t seen in years. My wife knew this, mostly because I’m an honest person and told her what I was doing. The fact that I had other women in my life that would be there for me seemed to bug her to no end. Albeit, she would never admit that, but jealousy is easy to spot. There was one significant friend in particular that I have, though and I never would’ve made it through the whole ordeal without her. I won’t expand anymore on this particular friend but it’s a good thing to have because that brings me to…

Fall back on your friends

When you get married, you lose touch with a lot of the friends you used to spend time with. It’s natural, and everyone understands it. Once those papers are served though, you now have all the time in the world to catch up on those friendships and rebuild old bonds. Without a good network of people that you trust, the days of divorce will be that much more rocky. Much like Rocky himself punching you in the face over and over. It feels a lot like that.

It wasn’t until I saw something that I shouldn’t have seen of my estranged wife’s, the details of which I will not disclose, that I decided it was time to reach out. So I reached out to this one particular person that I haven’t seen in years, but she has been there for me through many hard times. It’s important to have that one friend that you can count on, that you can tell anything to and vice versa. The type of friend that if you woke them up at 3 in the morning, they wouldn’t chase you away with a shotgun. Those friends are hard to find, but they are out there, and everyone needs at least one.

I learned a lot in the past five months. A lot about myself, a lot about my values and even a lot about human nature. I’ve learned that even if your life comes crashing down around you, we are all our brother’s keeper. What I mean by that is we all need someone. Don’t withdraw into yourself and allow it to tear you up inside. You have a life, live it, even if it isn’t with the person you thought you were going to live it with. No matter who you are, there are people out there that care. Hold onto those people, because they will be there when you need them most.

I’d like to end this on the note that my wife and I are in talks of working things out now. We do have an 18-month-old son together, and he truly is my world. Through the hardships that I have been through with my wife, it’s going to take a lot, and I mean a lot, to fix the marriage. If it doesn’t work though, I know that I’ll be OK because I have an amazing family and the best friends that I could ask for.

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4 Things to Know About the IRS Appeals Programs

The IRS has an assortment of provisions in place to protect a taxpayer’s rights. One of those rights that an individual is free to exercise is to request an appeal. Here are four important questions I may need to ask about the IRS appeals process.

What can Appeals do for me?

According to the IRS web site, Appeals “serves as an informal administrative forum for any taxpayer who disagrees with an IRS determination. Appeals provides a venue where disagreements concerning the application of tax law can be resolved on a fair and impartial basis for both the taxpayer and the government. The mission of Appeals is to settle tax disagreements without having to go to the Courts and a formal trial.”

What actions can I appeal?

Most decisions of the IRS can be appealed. These include the proposed assessment of taxes and the collection of the tax.

There are two programs that the IRS uses to administer the appeals process. They are a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing and the Collection Appeals Program (CAP). See the articles linked below for an explanation of these two programs.

Through these programs, a taxpayer can request to appeal the intent of the IRS to take collection actions (such as a levy or the filing of a lien), the filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien or the issuance of a Notice of Levy on wages or bank accounts, a notice of a defaulted Installment Agreement, or a notice that the IRS has rejected my request to make installment payments.

Other appealable actions include property seizures, a denial of request to have property discharged from a lien, a denial of request that the IRS subordinate a lien, and a denial of request to have a lien withdrawn.

I can also request the appeal of the assessment of a Trust Fund Recovery Penalty, the rejection of my Offer in Compromise, the denial to have penalties abated, and disallowed audit reconsideration claims, although all these appeals are handled separately from the above CDP and CAP programs.

Do I qualify for an appeal?

Yes, if I have a notice from the IRS that outlines my appeal rights. All appeal rights are provided in writing and accompany an IRS notice advising of one of the actions discussed above. If I only have a tax bill from the IRS, and there is no mention of the option for an appeal, then the appeal program is not an option for me.

If my concern solely rests with an inability to make payment, then an appeal is not appropriate. However, contact the IRS and they will review eligibility to have the debt deferred due to financial hardship.

How do I request an appeal?

If using the CDP program to appeal one of the actions reviewed above, request an appeal by filling out and submitting Form 12153, Request for a Due Process Appeal. If applicable, this form will accompany the notice. The IRS generally gives 30 days to request this.

If requesting an appeal under the CAP program, use Form 9423, Collection Appeals Request. Alternatively, request a CAP appeal of one of the above actions over the phone, or, if the IRS says the account has been assigned to a Revenue Officer, by speaking directly to him or her.

Other appeal options are outlined through the branch that oversees the program, such as the appeal of a denial of an Offer in Compromise.

More from this Contributor:

What is an IRS Collection Due Process appeal?

What is the IRS Collection Appeal Program?

How to appeal an IRS notice

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4 Things You Never Knew Could Harm Your Credit Rating

If you’re a little paranoid these days that everything could harm your credit – you should be. More and more companies and creditors are turning in payment records to the credit bureaus because potential damage to your credit rating is great at scaring people in paying bills. In some cases, seemingly benign actions can do huge damage to your credit score.

Renting a Car

Car rental companies, such as Budget, perform credit inquiries when you rent a car with a debit card, because the company wants to determine whether you are likely to have enough money to cover any damage. Credit inquiries usually do no more than 5 points of damage (out of 850), but people with the highest credit ratings can see a drop of up to 35 points, according to Lynnette Khalfani-Cox of DailyFinance.

Parking Tickets

Sending parking tickets to collection agencies is the new “it” thing for governments to do these days. Instead of letting citizens get away with not paying fines, governments are finding that they profit more from selling the debt at a discount and eliminating the administrative costs of collecting on tickets than attempting their own collection efforts. A collection account could do more than 100 points of damage.

Renting an Apartment

Landlords want to know that they won’t have to hunt you down for rent every month, so they often run a credit check. A credit inquiry related to renting an apartment will hurt you score like a check from a car rental agency, however, you can never really know if a landlord wants to run a credit check. Private lessors often do not run checks because of the cost involved, but some landlords might just charge an application fee to offset the costs of running a credit check.

In addition, rental histories are beginning to appear on consumer credit reports, notably those from Experian. The good thing is that Experian only started reporting late payments in 2012, so there is no need to worry about missed payments from 2011 and earlier.

Retailer Financing

It seems innocuous enough that retailers would help customers finance expensive items, such as furniture and large appliances like fridges and stoves. The major credit bureaus, however, consider consumer finance loans the worst type of loan to have because people taking these loans tend to have no other option. Thus, while you typically need a credit card and traditional loan, such a mortgage, to build a credit history, store financing should ding your credit rating.

Avoiding Credit Damage

Always pay off balances owed to a creditor or business as soon as possible. You never know when a company will decide to sell a debt to a collection agency, even loans less than $50. I know I had an unpaid gas bill for $25 that ended costing my credit rating about 50 points.

Ask rental companies, landlords and anyone else that provides you a service if they perform a credit check. In general, you want no more than one or two credit checks within a 12-month period.

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4 Things You Need to Know About Media Mail

The US Postal Service’s Media Mail has been a very popular shipping option recently because it costs less than other alternatives. However, there are 4 important things that you must know before you mail your media with this service.

1. It is only for books, sound recordings, recorded video tapes, printed music, and recorded computer-readable media.

The USPS heavily restricts the items that can be shipped through Media Mail. While the term media may seem like a very broad category, it is very specific on the USPS website, referring to “books, sound recordings, recorded video tapes, printed music, and recorded computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes).” The USPS reserves the right to inspect packages shipped through Media Mail to ensure that they qualify for this rate. If they inspect any packages and determine that it is not eligible to be shipped under Media Mail, the recipient will be liable for the additional charges. While this may be rare, it has occurred in the past.

2. It can be slow.

Media Mail is in the lowest tier in terms of priority (below First Class Mail). Because of this, items sent through Media Mail can take quite a while to arrive at their destination. Basically, these packages are transported if space permits meaning that they are sometimes left in USPS facilities if there is a large amount of Express, Priority, and First Class mail. This can be especially problematic during the holidays when there is a large surge of mail.

Most of the time, Media Mail can be relatively quick; however, in some cases, it has taken up to three weeks.

3. It is not for fragile items.

Because Media Mail is intended for books and other durable material, postmen often treat the packages as if they were unbreakable. While most books would be fine, it can be damaging if the book is a collectible and/or fragile. If you are sending something of value, other shipping methods are strongly suggested.

4. It is not always the cheapest option.

Media Mail rates are cheapest for heavier packages. For lighter packages

Media Mail is a great new service that allows people to ship certain media for a greatly reduced price. However, it is important to understand what the service means before choosing it.

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4 Tips for Booking Your Band at Bars

Booking your band at a bar can be a bit daunting to bands that are just getting into the bar scene. Here are some tips from St. Louis artist John Krane, whose CD is available:

1. Be polite and concise. Bars typically field requests from dozens of bands to book a particular night, especially in cities of any reasonable size, so the best way to get your foot in the door is to show respect and say exactly what you want from them. Have a demo ready with no more than 3-6 songs, tell them where you’ve played before, what your typical draw is, and what kind of music you play. I prefer to introduce myself face-to-face to the bar owner, but if you’re calling in, you need to be even quicker and ask what the process is for booking a show, then following whatever instructions they give you (uh, within reason, I suppose).

2. Feel out price. When the booking person at the bar asks you how much your band would want, tell them that it varies according to night, size of room, etc. Ask what they typically pay and take what they offer. If they give a range, say that the higher number of the range is perfectly fine. There, I just made you some money. Use it to buy my CD.

3. Take a bad night. You’re probably not going to get a Friday or Saturday at the hottest bar in town if your band hasn’t proved itself, so be willing to take a bad night, a Sunday, or Tuesday, for instance, to prove yourself. Once you have the show booked, don’t book any other gigs around it and promote as hard as you can. Use word of mouth; if you get 6 close friends to commit to bringing 5 people each, that’s a pretty decent crowd for most bars. Once they see that you’re serious about your shows, you can ask for a good night and most bars won’t mind giving you a great spot.

4. Be honest. If you can’t bring 100 people, don’t say that you can. You might get the gig, but you’ll never get asked back, and good booking is a long term process. If you can only bring 20 people or so, try for a small bar or ask to be put on a bill with an established band. Offer to make and put up flyers, handle the door charge, or handle some other small task; most bars are pretty kind to bands that are trying to get their foot in the door, as long as those bands are willing to earn their keep.

5. Perform. Do well, practice a lot before the show. Bring lots of people and make sure they’re having fun. There, not so hard, eh?

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4 Time Tested Stop Smoking Methods...That Don't Work

Smoking is said to be a harder addiction to kick than heroin, yet many people kick the cancer sticks every year. Many more fail. Here’s a look at a few common stop smoking methods that not only don’t work, but they may even make your addiction worse.

1. Cold turkey. The problem with simply deciding that you’re not going to start smoking that next cigarette is that it cultivates a sense of being denied something good. Your mind has spent a lot of time convincing itself that it derives pleasure from cigarettes or whatever form of tobacco you use, and stopping cold turkey is telling yourself, “this is something I enjoy, but I’m going to stop doing it.” You’ll want to smoke more and more, and no matter how long you go without smoking, you’ll still have the psychological addiction. If and when you do begin smoking again, your addiction is likely to be even worse than before.

2. Hypnosis. Many smokers try to use hypnosis to convince themselves that they get nothing out of smoking. This can be effective, but the problem is that hypnosis is only as good as the hypnotist, not all smokers respond to hypnotherapy, and it’s expensive. Only go to a hypnotherapist if they’ve been recommended to you by another smoker, and check to make sure that any therapist you’re considering actually has experience helping smokers–party-trick hypnotists won’t do the job.

3. The patch/gum/other nicotine replacement therapy. Again, this type of therapy merely ingrains the belief that you need smoking to be happy. The nicotine is still being fed into your system, and when it’s stopped, it remains as strong as ever. Weaning works with infants, but not with smokers. The smoking habit is more of a psychological addiction than anything else, and nicotine replacement therapies just encourage that addiction. Besides, consider the problem from the perspective of one of the companies that makes nicotine gum or patches: what incentive do they have to cure your smoking habit? They’ve got a much bigger incentive to get you hooked on their own products.

4. Other replacements. Some smokers think that they need to replace their cigarettes not with nicotine-containing devices, but with carrot sticks, gum, and other “soft” replacements. Again, this makes smoking seem more attractive to the smoker’s mind, not less attractive. The physical habits of reaching for and smoking a cigarette are easy to break, but the mental addiction isn’t, and the carrot sticks and gum simply serve to remind smokers of what they think they’re missing.

Were you a smoker? How did you quit? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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4 Things to See on a Trip to Berlin

The capital of Germany, Berlin, has a rich history. Architectural treasures and momentous events color this city and give it its character. There are a number of things that you can do on a visit to Berlin, including entertainment, drinking, eating, drinking, and sightseeing. And drinking. But there are four things that you should not overlook on a visit to the city. Your trip will be greatly enhanced when you keep these things in mind.

Murdered Jews of Europe Memorial. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe opened in May of 2005. It is near downtown, so it is easy to visit while you are taking care of other business or looking at other things. Plus, it is close to public transportation (this is the best way to travel, no matter where you are in Europe). A beautiful garden is one of the more serene features of the memorial. Stories and histories of the Jewish victims of World War II are displayed, some with photos. It serves to remind us of what we should not let happen again, to any race or people.

East Side Gallery. Another monument to Germany’s painful past, the East Side Gallery is the name given to the longest stretch of what remains of the Berlin Wall. Artwork covers its length, much of it in bright colors (contrasting almost-jarringly with the bleak cityscape). Emotional and political statements are present, and some of the artwork is quite good.

St. Nicholas Church. This centuries-old church is an example of architectural work in progress. Some portions of St. Nicholas Church date back to before 1307. The church is one of the many edifices built in honor of the saint known for his giving, that later became the Santa Claus of legend. Ornamental towers and a presbytery are among the features added through the centuries. During World War II it was hit by bombs, and the ruined sections were not rebuilt. It is meant to testify of war’s destruction.

Chartlottenburg Palace. For lovers of Baroque architecture, this palace is a must-see. Even for those who do not have a particular for love architecture, this immense building is well worth seeing. A guided tour is not necessary, and you can take in the grandiose rooms on your own. However, there are some opulent treasures that can only be viewed as part of the tour. Pick up an information sheet on your way in though (available in many languages), since the tour is only conducted in German.

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4 Tips for Changing Your Guitar's Tuning Keys

Whether your guitar’s tuning keys are rusting over, falling apart, not staying in tune, or you just want to upgrade your axe, you might consider switching out the tuning pegs. Here are a few things to consider before changing any guitar’s tuning keys.

1. Buy the right tuning keys. Obviously, you need to match the make of your guitar to the tuning keys you’re buying, but many guitarists don’t realize that within a certain design of a guitar, there might have been many different tuner types used as the design of the guitar progressed. A good example is Gibson SG guitars, whose vintage tuning keys are a different size and operate differently from their modern tuning keys. Make sure whatever tuning keys you’re buying, they’re actually approved for use with your guitar. There are a number of guitar forums that can help you confirm that you’re getting the right tuning keys.

2. Consider hiring a professional to switch them out. While it’s not incredibly difficult to switch out tuning keys, you might want to pay a professional guitar repair tech $20-30 to switch them out for you, unless you’ve got an affinity for doing your own guitar repair. If they switch out the tuning keys, a guitar tech will often take care of any problems that may result, and you won’t have to worry about damage to the headstock from trying to get the original tuning keys off. That being said, if you do decide to do it yourself, it’s not ridiculously difficult to switch out a guitar’s tuning keys.

3. Changing tuning keys is as simple as removing the old ones and putting on the new ones. How simple that actually is depends on your guitar, but you’ll usually be removing a hex nut and possibly unscrewing a tuning key to get it off. Google your guitar’s model and “switch tuning keys” or “tuning pegs” to get specific information for your model of guitar.

4. Check your intonation. Once everything’s switched, it’s a good idea to make sure that your guitar’s intonation’s OK, and play it for a while to get a sense of the new tuners, which you may need to tighten or loosen. To check the intonation, by the way, you’ll get the best tuner you can find, tune your guitar perfectly, and then check the harmonic at the 12th fret of the guitar to see if it’s also in tune.

Do you have any other tips for switching out guitar tuning keys? Post in our comments section below.

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