Investing 101: Before You Start Investing Money

Doesn’t it make sense to learn to invest (some basics) before you start investing money for real? Maybe a course called investing 101 or personal investing would be helpful. Here this retired financial planner relates a story, and then points the new investor in the right direction so he or she does not start investing uninformed.In the dean’s office of one of the largest universities in America, I recently asked if they offered investing 101, personal investing, or any finance course where the student could learn to invest. “After all, we all need to start investing money someday, and it is much to one’s advantage to be informed vs. uninformed, isn’t it?” That was my response when told, “no, or at least I can’t find one” by the dean. I was informed that they had well over 50,000 current students enrolled and offered THOUSANDS of courses in the various colleges throughout the university. But he could find no course under the heading of personal investing or investing 101, and he was in charge of the curriculum.We spent about an hour together searching and were both laughing out loud at what WAS offered. How about a course in “the art of falling down”? It’s offered. Investing 101? Which college in the university would offer such a course? “The athletic department is real big here; maybe they could help”, I suggested. After all, professional football players make big money. They need to learn to invest money (in case their career is short) and should start investing early. I knew a few players when I was a financial planner, but like most folks they tend to procrastinate when the money is flowing in. They’re too busy earning it, and don’t have the time to learn to invest.The truth of the matter is that I don’t find it funny that it’s difficult to find a down-to earth practical course that most people could truly benefit from, because as a new investor you need to learn to invest money before you start investing for retirement or any other financial goal. As a new investor you may not be able to find a financial planner you can work with or afford. Even if you found one, do you really want to start investing money with him or her without first getting your feet wet in the basics of personal investing? Let’s start at the beginning.Before you get into financial concepts like asset allocation and strategy, you should first learn the very basics: investment characteristics. How can you compare various alternatives to determine which best suit your needs, financial goals and comfort level? In other words, you need to decide what you are really looking for. And you need a list of factors to consider before you start investing money. For example, do you have a long term goal like retirement, and are you willing to accept a moderate level of risk? If so, there are numerous investment alternatives to consider, and you can also get tax breaks.On the other hand, if you have a shorter term financial goal and might need access to your money at a moment’s notice, that’s a totally different picture. You need to match your financial wants and needs to the various alternatives that have characteristics best suited to your personal investing goals. There is no single best choice for every financial goal. It’s a matter of give and take. I have a list of 5 factors you must consider and a few other things you should consider before making a decision. This is basic investing 101. Whether you are a new investor or you’ve been at it for a while and have never really taken the time to learn to invest – you should learn the basics.This is the first in a series of investing 101 articles I plan to write. In my next article I plan to put my list of characteristics you need to consider before you start investing money in black and white. Don’t feel bad if you are an uniformed new investor (or a want to-be). Do something and learn to invest starting with the basics.Once you have a handle on a few basic financial concepts you can start investing with confidence. Once you learn to invest you can reach your financial goals. If you think I’m trying to build your confidence, you are right. Stay tuned to investing 101 as we get back to basics. No offense to anyone at one of THE largest universities in the country, but there’s a void out there and I plan to fill it.

The Modern Dilemma – National Health Care

National health care is a hot issue all over the world at the moments, but in no country more so than in the United States. As health care is not provided free as a rule, there are major debates regarding affordability and value for money. Fewer and fewer people every year have insurance cover should anything happen to them and as a result society is beginning to deteriorate. Very few people would be able to afford expensive health care and thus fewer people are spending on it and prices rise to recoup lost costs and profits. The medical services suffer as a result.Companies used to provide healthcare as standard in every benefits package, but fewer are now offering it. Instead, they are finding ways around it, like using agency applicants rather than taking on individuals to fill job roles independently. Agency fees are generally lower than those charged by insurance companies to ensure that employees are sufficiently covered. However, as hazards in the workplace increase, the nation’s health is beginning to suffer and calls for a national health care system are growing in momentum and volume. A national health care system has already been implemented in the UK and has proved successful so there is a good model to base a US service on.Health costs in the USA are higher than anywhere else in the world at the moment, which does price it out of range for the average person on the street. However, as other national health care systems have proved, health care that is readily available as well as affordable can improve the economy and improve the nation’s health on the whole!Affording National Health CareIt is not a question of whether individuals could afford national health care because, by its nature, it is whether the government can. There are a number of ways that it could be funded. In most cases, the cost is actually funded via taxes. Nobody pays for individual care but there is a flat rate of tax added on to a bill at the end of the year. It could actually be taken straight from an individual’s pay packet every month so that it is not as noticeable for an individual.If it is deemed desirable to keep health insurance as it is now then it may be possible to offer a flat rate for individuals looking to take out the insurance for a national health care system, with the government subsidising it. This would make it more affordable and health care more widely available without adding a tax. However, what would happen if some individuals did not have national health care insurance? Would they be refused treatment? As a result of this question, there are a number of arguments that pick at the flaws. There is also nothing to say that the overall costs can be lowered.National health care does work if it is implemented correctly and it can dramatically improve the nation’s health as a whole, but there may be problems with initial implementation. As long as health care is made available for all at affordable rates, anything is worth a try!

Focusing on Medical Health Care Concerns

Almost half of the nearly 5 trillion dollars in medical and health care related activities can be accounted for in the US. It is obvious that our country has well trained professionals, outstanding technology and a vast array of medication designed to address health concerns. Yet, why is medical care so costly and problematic for so many individuals to receive?The Growth of Medical CareFor most of the worlds more developed countries the medical field is one of their largest industries. If you count the money generated by medication sales, diagnostics, nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, and other ancillary activities it is quite easy to see why the medical industry accounts for 10-20% of a country’s gross production.In the US alone there are nearly 800,000 medical doctors, more than 5000 hospitals and millions of health care workers. One of every dozen US citizens works in health care now and this number is expected to grow. Still there are not enough workers and facilities to handle the 20 million outpatients that are currently being seen every day. This staggering amount of outpatient visits does not include the average daily count of 4 -5 million hospitalized patients.The vast, complex health care industry in the United States is one that attracts people from around the globe. Switzerland and Germany both have large medical industries, but these countries run their health care differently from the US. Could it be possible that our nation’s health care will soon be undergoing a radical type of change?Answers are Difficult to FindIs the answer to the current health care dilemma as simple as nationalizing health care for all? Will this possibility only make the situation worse? How will the medical resources be allocated among the various segments of our society? These are only a few of the questions that are waiting to be answered.Controversial TopicToday medical health has become a controversial subject among many groups of citizens. There is talk of overhauling the medical system as we now know it. We are also hearing predictions that the government will try to restructure the nation’s health care system. Although much of this rhetoric has been publicized for a number of years it seems that people are becoming more polarized by the possible changes that are now constantly making headlines.The Senior Citizens Have their own ConcernsThe elderly population in the US is keeping a close eye on what is being proposed because health care and medication issues are of great concern to them. Medical and insurance coverage for people 65 and older have undergone many changes since the 1980s. Most senior citizens are very vocal about their displeasure with the way Medicare is addressing the problems, and they are also worried about what the future might hold. The costs of health care and medication needs are extremely high for senior citizens as a whole. Every year they are fearful of having their benefits cut even further, and now they have new worries regarding medical care.Groups at RiskIt has been just a few short weeks since Governor Sara Palin galvanized many citizens with her predictions and comments about “death panels” and nationalized health care. While there were many people who rallied around her statements, the mere possibility of such radical notions began sending shock waves through the nation. This was particularly unnerving to a large percentage of our elderly population. It was also causing concern among advocates for the poor and disabled. Even parents and caretakers of people with physical and mental challenges were becoming alarmed, and feeling threatened.Future Allocation of Health Care Resources?Could it be possible that Medical professionals would possibly agree to form commissions that would allocate health care resources to those they deemed most deserving? This thought was both frightening and “Orwellian” in prospect. A careful review showed that there was no written documentation that actually stated such possibilities, but this did not alleviate the fear and worry of many ordinary citizens. Just the idea that access to hospitalization or medication needs might one day be restricted was enough to generate small scale panic in many communities across the nation.Problems, Problems, ProblemsMedical concerns, health care and affordable medication plans are major sources of worry for everyone today. Insurance coverage is very expensive. There is a growing trend among companies to provide less employee and family benefits in order to cut costs. In some cases this is making it difficult for employees to participate in the insurance plans being offered by their employers. However a growing number of families are too cash strapped to afford health insurance premiums on their own. This is creating a “Catch 22″ type of environment with people unable to afford the cost of becoming sick as well as the cost of being insured.The Answer is CooperationIt is hard to know where the main problems are within the health industry. Some people want to find fault with the high paid physicians and medical specialists and others point the finger of blame at hospitals that seem to be pulling in billions of dollars annually, yet are constantly complaining having too little money. Malpractice lawyers, government regulations and insurance companies have also played a part in today’s health care woes. The answer is not going to be easy to find, and every group associated with the medical industry will need to step up to the plate and help out.