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Did You Give Thanks this Weekend for the Fed’s Easy Money Policy?

This item was filled under [ Finance ]

Reflecting on this past Thanksgiving weekend, there was a lot to be thankful for, especially if you have been long in the stock market for the past four years. Now is a time for reflection.

The advance in the stock market has been stellar following the bottom in March 2009. The S&P 500 is up 171% since March 6, 2009 for a four-year annualized gain of about 38%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 is at a six-year high and over in Germany, the benchmark DAX is also at a record high.

However, the records in the stock markets are falling, not just in good old America, but worldwide. Of course, there are the exceptions, such as China, which I still consider to be undervalued and worth a look for investors searching for growth in foreign stock markets. In China, you can play almost anything due to the country’s insatiable appetite for goods and services. Some of the top areas for growth in China are the technology, health care, travel, and financial services sectors.

Yet while all of the stock market records are being set, I wonder if this is simply the new reality for stocks, ...

Millennials: It’s Not Too Late to Plan for an Early Retirement

This item was filled under [ Finance ]

The alarm buzzes. You hit snooze a few times before stumbling your way into the bathroom, wishing you could do something -- anything -- other than go in to work. Pasting a smile on your face and mumbling "good morning" to your coworkers, you settle into your desk for yet another day of gazing at the computer. Don't worry, millennials; only about 50 more years until you can retire. Thanks to an average student loan debt of $23,300, our generation's predicted retirement age has been pushed back a decade to 73.

But what if your sentence didn't have to be 50-plus years? What if you could put in your two weeks' notice at 33 and embrace an early retirement?

That's exactly what Justin McCurry did.

McCurry, 33, started his career as a transportation engineer and, at 24, decided he'd be retiring decades before his peers.

He never made more than $70,000 annually, so McCurry credits his "don't spend all you make" mentality for allowing him to walk away from employment in his thirties.

"I always maxed out my 401(k) and IRA and any other tax-deferred savings plan ...

How to Lower Your Site’s Bounce Rate

This item was filled under [ Business ]

On the Internet, a high bounce rate is the kiss of death — and a sure sign that your website and marketing strategy need a major overhaul. In order to better understand and analyze the success of your marketing campaigns, there are a plethora of web analytics tools to measure everything from time spent on site to cost per engagement, and it's easy to become paralyzed by the inundation of data. But bounce rate is one metric savvy marketers can't afford to ignore, as it measures how effectively your brand is resonating with visitors.

By definition, bounce rate is the percentage of site visitors who leave after visiting one page. Why would these users "bounce"? It's probably an indication that your site isn't providing the information the user seeks, the site could be taking too long to load or hard to navigate, or perhaps there's some larger disconnect between your site and your users. The simple metric is a general way to gauge the efficacy of your site.

Bounce rate is closely related to time spent (more on that in an upcoming Metrics That Matterarticle), as it's a measure of engagement that demonstrates ...

Are You Earning Too Little?

This item was filled under [ Finance ]

Underearners can overcome their low incomes by making some big life changes.

Personal finance author Barbara Stanny realized she was earning too little money when she interviewed women bringing home six figures or more for one of her books. "Of the first 15, three of them were writers. It was such an empowering thing for me to see. There were people doing what I was doing, but they were making more," she recalls. She committed to follow their lead, and before she finished her book, she had started earning six figures herself.

Earning too little money, which Stanny defines as earning less than you need or desire, despite efforts to do otherwise, is a problem so common that Stanny started giving workshops on the topic. Eventually, it became the subject of her next book, "Overcoming Underearning." Others have also tackled the issue:Underearners Anonymous, a support group based on a 12-step program, is dedicated to helping people who find themselves trapped in a low-income cycle. And Bari Tessler Linden, a popular financial therapist, addresses the topic in her work, too.

Tom Anderson, a freelance writer based in New York, ...

Yes, You Can Use Your Phone On a Plane. Just Not to Talk

This item was filled under [ Technology ]

As the business jet climbs past 10,000 feet, Gogo Inc.’s onboard wireless network latches onto the Internet, and digital addicts fire up their smartphones.

Fingers fly across keypads on this demonstration flight over Manhattan to let users try an app called Text & Talk from the largest U.S. airline Wi-Fi provider. Only there’s little talk.

As U.S. airlines navigate the new era of passengers allowed to stay connected through flights, technology may prove less powerful than American standards of etiquette. Gogo’s airline customers have told the company to block phone calls when the feature is added next year.

Allowing onboard phone calls would add “just another duty for the beleaguered flight crew, who will have to keep saying ‘ma’am, the pilot can hear you all the way up in the cockpit’ and ‘sir, there are three babies on board whom we hope not to awake,’” Judith Martin, known to readers of her newspaper column and books as “Miss Manners,” said in an e-mail.

Delta Airlines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. won approval to let passengers make more use of Wi-Fi connected devices including Inc.’s Kindles and ...

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If You’re Ready to Take on the World, Focus Is Key to Global Success

This item was filled under [ Business ]

Whether you sell digital downloads or designer diapers, there’s a big wide world out there full of opportunities. It has never been easier for small and medium sized businesses to reach a global marketplace and attain global success. It’s not just theory, it’s actually happening. In 2011, export sales from from businesses with under 500 employees were estimated to be worth $1.7 trillion.

In June, the US Small Business Administration published an excellent article here on Small Business Trends that outlined six steps to check if your business is prepared for exporting. It’s full of useful information and links to invaluable resources.

But there’s one thing I’d like to add that’s a key ingredient, vital to the success of all overseas ventures: Focus.

Geographical Focus

They say it’s a small world — but it’s not that small. Unless you have a product or service that can be delivered anywhere at all with equal efficiency, it’s important to target specific territories and develop success in those locales before moving on to the next. That way, any obstacles (and there are bound to be some) should remain a manageable ...

Need a Great Business Idea? Start With a Blank Piece of Paper

This item was filled under [ Business ]

A blank piece of paper (or, in today's technology-driven world, a blank document) can be a pretty intimidating sight. The pressure to be creative and fill the page with original ideas is often overwhelming for entrepreneurs, leading them to become frustrated and give up on their projects, especially if that project is coming up with a new business idea.

If you're one of those entrepreneurs who is afraid of a blank piece of paper, you'd better face your fear, and fast: That paper could be the one thing you need to gain that spark of inspiration and discover an untapped market. Michael Gerber, an entrepreneur, author, speaker and INC Magazine's "No. 1 small business guru," believes that the only two things required for entrepreneurial innovation are an empty page and what he calls a "beginner's mind." This mindset, which Gerber teaches entrepreneurs to do in his 12-week program called The Dreaming Room, is all about learning how to start fresh and innovate — every single time.

"To innovate, you must constantly invent," Gerber told BusinessNewsDaily. "You don't invent by fixing what you've already created. You start with blank paper and ask questions in ...

Poll: Older Americans Say ‘No’ to Social Security Changes

This item was filled under [ Finance ]

CHICAGO -- Raise the age at which you can begin collecting full Social Security benefits? Older Americans say no. They also veto reductions in the cost-of-living increase.

But a poll finds support among those 50 and older for raising the cap on earnings that are taxed to fund the Social Security program so higher-income workers pay more.

The survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds passionate opposition to any change in the way Social Security benefits are calculated that could result in smaller annual raises.

Some 62 percent of respondents expressed opposition to such a proposal, compared with 21 percent who supported it.

The chained CPI, or consumer price index, has been proposed as a new way of calculating the cost-of-living adjustment, but it would reduce raises.

"I really think it's a sacred cow," said Margie Nugent, a 55-year-old farmer from North Umberland, Pa. "They shouldn't touch it."

Some 58 percent oppose gradually raising the age when retirees qualify for full benefits, while 29 percent support it. About one-third believe people should be eligible for full benefits before 65. ...

RBS unveils plan for £38bn internal bad bank

This item was filled under [ Business ]

(Financial Times) -- Royal Bank of Scotland on Friday announced plans to transfer £38bn of its riskiest loans into an internally managed bad bank, with the aspiration of running down the portfolio within the next three years.

The part nationalised bank said the move -- designed to clean up its balance sheet and position it on the path to reprivatisation -- would trigger an impairment charge of £4bn-£4.5bn in the final quarter of the year, which would probably result in a "substantial loss" for the full year.

To offset that -- and boost capital -- RBS planned to accelerate the divestment of its US arm, Citizens, by launching an initial public offering in 2014, a year earlier than planned. It expected to sell the business in its entirety by the end of 2016.

That should help it increase its core tier one capital -- a key measure of financial strength -- to a new target of 12 per cent by that point, it said.

RBS also launched a review of its businesses, IT operations and organisational structure aimed at improving its focus on customers. It said the results of this review, including plans to sharply reduce ...

How Moms On-the-Go Engage with Brands

This item was filled under [ Marketing ]

As moms spend more time on their smartphones and tablets, they also engage more with brands. From social media to shopping to advertising, moms see a lot more from brands because they’re constantly connected through these devices. With that comes many opportunities for brands to target moms with specific messaging around the device, which is a new world for many. Let’s look at the key mobile touch points for this powerful audience:

Social Media

In 2012, 46% of moms visited social media sites multiple times each day. This is a big jump from 37% in 2011 and 32% in 2010.Why the love for social media? Moms trust the opinions of other moms, and social media allows them to connect and share about products or brands they use and trust.

The rise of social media usage among moms emphasizes the need for mom-focused brands to have a strong, clear, and consistent social media presence, accessible through desktop, tablet and mobile platforms. However, there is still much room for improvement: only 14% of mobile websites integrate with the Facebook “Like” function and just 31% include product detail sharing on Facebook.Without the technology in place for customers ...

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