What is the AEX 25 Index?

Online broker services offer traders the opportunity to buy and sell a variety of financial instruments, including positions on international indices. A stock market index represents the top shares listed on a particular exchange, and provides a clear indication of the health of a national economy.

A stock exchange brings together entities in need of financing. These include private and public companies, local authorities, the state, and agents with financing capacity such as savers and investors. The market helps entities acquire funds to finance the development, marketing, and distribution of their products or services, whether domestically or internationally.

Whereas some traders choose to invest in individual stocks, others opt to open positions on an index as a whole by trading ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds). This is in order to profit from the price evolution of a large group of the most important companies in a given country. ETFs are generally available only on the larger stock markets such as the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ, however, many investors prefer to identify more targeted opportunities on specific stocks.

Brokers like UFX.com allow you to benefit from advanced trading and charting tools when investing in the French index (the CAC40), the German index (the DAX30), and the Amsterdam Exchange index (the AEX 25).

What is the AEX 25 Index?

The AEX 25, representing the Amsterdam Exchange index, is made up of 25 large Dutch companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, ING Group, Philips, and Heineken. Financial stocks account for nearly 30% of this index, Consumer Goods make up more than 20%, followed by Consumer Services, representing almost 15%.

Launched in 1983, the AEX 25 is reviewed quarterly in June, September, and December while a full annual review is conducted in March. During its quarterly review, companies are often removed or added to the index.

The AEX is a market value-weighted (capitalization-weighted) index, which means that its constituent stocks are weighted differently according to the value of each company. This weighting is calculated by multipying the share price by the number of outstanding shares.

When investing in the Dutch stock exchange, traders should not only stay updated on economic news concerning the Netherlands, but also on all European countries. Stock exchanges in Europe are highly correlated and any trading activities between these nations can impact traders’ decisions. For example, in 2000 the Euronext NV was established following a merger between the Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam stock exchanges.

Trade agreements and the geopolitical environment also play important roles in the price evolution of a stock index, helping traders determine expectations and projections for future growth.

Tips to Keep the Debt Monster at Bay

Ever found yourself saying, ‘It’s really easy to spend money, but difficult to pay it back.’ If so, you’re not alone. Many folks struggle with managing their finances. Consider that Americans typically spend $1.33 for every $1 that they earn. That means the US is a highly indebted society, and these trends are growing. The problem is overspending. Living beyond your means is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, and sound money management is needed to curtail these excesses.

Psychologists attribute overspending to emotional drivers. People routinely spend money to feel better about themselves. We spend money to combat boredom, uplift ourselves, or to alleviate stress. Fortunately, there are many other ways to deal with these anxiety-ridden emotions, notably finding zero-expense activities such as exercising, reading and studying, or simply spending time with friends and family.

Are Credit Cards Lifesavers?

Households must guard against the debt trap at all costs. When debt becomes impossibly difficult to repay, owing to high interest payments, a negative spiral ensues. It’s important to prioritize debt repayments, debt management, and debt alleviation above all else. The problem with debt is that it rapidly accumulates, and the interest repayments become untenable. Topping the list are credit cards. These pieces of plastic, infused with sophisticated chip technology, can be lifesavers in an emergency. However, if managed improperly credit cards have the potential to worsen your financial situation.

Consider some of the fees that you are likely to pay on credit cards: cash advance fees which range from 2% through 4% of the amount that you are withdrawing, in addition to a fixed ATM withdrawal fee. There are also late payment fees to consider, often in the region of $39 +, and if you go over your credit limit, a fee of $35 + may be added on to your bill. Many credit cards offer their services at zero annual charge, but others can charge anywhere from $25 – $400 per year. That’s a significant drain on your finances, given that the APR on credit cards is extortionary to begin with.

Always Read the Fine Print

Your first order of business when trying to get out of debt is to manage your outstanding credit card balance well. Transfer your balance from high interest credit cards to a low interest credit card (be mindful of the transfer fees) and pay it down as quickly as possible. In this vein, it’s important to make more than the minimum monthly payment on your credit cards. Consider that credit card companies can change their interest rates at their discretion.

Read the terms and conditions of your credit card provider carefully – you certainly don’t want to be caught unawares. If you are delinquent in any of your credit card accounts, or other lines of credit, you may be penalized with higher interest rates. Another thing to be careful of is the rewards program on offer. You certainly don’t want to be paying a high annual fee and not recuperating your costs in the form of generous cashback offers, exclusive rewards, and related benefits.

How Can You Live Frugally?

We have already established that spending money you don’t have is a recipe for disaster. Instead, look to other activities that are cost-effective and fun to pass the time. The benefit of low-cost rewarding activities far outweighs that of spending excessively and then having to worry about paying it back. People often confuse wants and needs. Wants are desires, and needs are requirements.

We need food, shelter, medical care, and transportation. We want sushi, palatial homes, Ferraris and the like. It is a fine line to balance our wants and needs, but that’s where living within your means comes into the equation. Frugal living allows you to plan for the unforeseen, put away money for retirement, and prevent the debt trap from ever occurring.

There are many theories on how best to deal with the urge to splurge. Some folks advocate freezing your credit card in blocks of ice and waiting for them to thaw when you feel the urge to spend. Others simply recommend cutting up your credit cards every time you are thinking of making a big purchase. What you are effectively doing in all cases is curbing your desire to spend money. That’s the first step in the right direction!

Your Guide to Making Money Trading

When you think of trading in the financial markets, what do you think of? For most people, they think of Wall Street types shouting on the phone or sitting behind a bank of computer screens.  Indeed, this image has been reinforced by a number of movies and other snippets of popular culture. However, the important question is whether this is exclusively the realm of sophisticated investors? Can an average person from their home pick up trading and make reasonable returns?

The answer is yes.

Trading online is now within the reach of millions of people worldwide. However, before you can actually embark on the trading route, there are a number of steps that you should follow.

1. Brush up on the Basics

Although one does not have to have Wall street experience and an education in finance in order to succeed in online trading, a certain degree of basic understanding is indeed required.

The trader should first cover the basics of finance and economics. This will help cement some elementary understanding of how changes in the global economic scene will impact on asset prices.

Similarly, a simple understanding of how supply and demand will usually drive asset prices is needed if one is to be expected to exectute trades on a broker platform.

Once you have an idea of how asset prices are likely to move given economic changes, you have to take the time to read up on the numerous financial instruments that you can trade.

There is Forex, Equities, Commodities and Crypto Currencies. Then, once you have decided what asset class you would like to trade, you need to decide on which particular assets within that class you want to trade.

I am generally of the view that when a trader specialises in a particular asset, they are able to learn all of the unique factors that could have an impact on that asset and hence be better than the competition.

It also helps to reach out to professional managed account traders in order to tap their brains for knowledge on how they manage trades and which asset classes / assets they are most comfortable trading.

2. Study the Instruments

Now that you have an understanding of the type of asset that you would like to trade, you have to narrow down the particular instruments that you would like to use.

There are a number of trading instruments but two of the most popular are CFDs and Binary Options. These two instruments differ in a few fundamental ways.

A CFD is a levered instrument where the trader will be taking a view on the spread of the asset price when opening the trade. A CFD is traded on margin which means that can indeed be quite a risky investment.

A binary option on the other hand, is an instrument with a defined downside risk (premium) and a defined payoff. This is sometimes why traders enjoy trading them as they know the amount that they are likely to lose on any given trade.

You can read more about binary options vs. forex and CFDs if you are interested in brushing up on the fundamentals.

3. Formulate a Strategy

Once you know what assets you would like to trade as well as the type of instrument that you will utilise for the trading, you need to formulate some sort of strategy before you decide to trade.

There are three types of strategies that you should at least have in order to increase your chances of success while trading. These are a money management strategy, a trading strategy and a risk management strategy.

A money management strategy is essential to you being able to keep control of the funds that you have in your account. It is also the strategy that you will use to strategically upsize or downsize the trade amount.

Similarly, you need to know what trades to place according to some sort of trading strategy. This could involve the use of some established disciplines like technical analysis, fundamental analysis or a combination of both.

You also need to be able to manage your risk. If you cannot control your impulses or take the risks at the right time then you are unlikely to take advantage of opportunities.

4. Find the Right Broker

This can be one of the most fundamental steps that the trader can take when they first start. Indeed, the broker that you select could impact on your profitability in a number of ways.

Firstly, the broker will be taking a commission and if the broker is not a legitimate broker, then the amount that they will be charging may be above market standard.

A broker also has to have a really efficient and functional platform. The trader needs effective tools like charting, news feeds and seamless execution if they are to implement some of the strategies above.

Lastly, the broker should allow the trader to trade on a demo account with free money before any financial commitments. This will allow the trader to get comfortable with the platform and process before trading.

The broker must be regulated and have an established track record. IQ option is one of the best brokers one can use as a new trader. You should take a look at other online sources like this IQ option broker review in order to learn more about the broker.

4. Start Trading

Once you have set up an account with the broker and are comfortable with your trading on the demo, you can progress to the next stage and fund an account.

You should start small and make sure that you stick to all of the guidelines that you set yourself while trading on the demo account.

It is also really important that you are not dogmatic. Some of the best traders know that their strategies should be adapted and tweaked if the desired results are not being achieved.

One of the most critical things that someone should do when trading is to make sure that they are able to remove emotion from the decision making process.

Trading is all about being analytical and calculated. You need to be able to take the risks and hold back from trading based solely on your analysis of where the markets are moving and what the most optimal trade is.

Don’t Give Up

Although these steps may initially seem quite laborious to you, they are essential to you being able to trade profitably over the long term.

There will come times at which you may feel slightly disenchanted and question whether trading is really for you. These thoughts should not be able to cloud your judgement.

When you turn on your PC for the first time and try to trade, it may not be profitable. Trading is like everything else in life. What you put in is what you get out.

If you are dedicated and are willing to constantly evaluate your trading, you will be on the road to trading success and financial freedom.

The Sleepover Set Up: 3 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Friends Safe

They make you laugh and they make you cry; and if your hair isn’t graying, you’re pulling your hair out. But, the good times far outweigh the bad. Having children has been a blessing. Who knew how much you could love someone that can act like a tipsy undergrad when they’re cranky, right?

Making sure your kiddos are well-groomed, well-fed and well-loved is what it means to be a good parent. When you bring other kids into the mix, even if for just a night, everything can start to feel a little hairy.

Taking care of your own children is one thing, but watching over other people’s children is something else entirely, even if just for a night. When your kid comes up to asking to have a sleepover for their birthday, you can feel your body suddenly break into a cold sweat. “A sleepover?” You ask. “Wouldn’t you rather go to the movies instead with a buddy?”

Nope, they wouldn’t. Being the good parent that you are, you agree to the sleepover. Okay, so how do you prepare for a children’s sleepover?

Here are three ways to keep the little ones safe and having fun at your child’s next sleepover.

Chat Up the Parents

Before hosting the sleepover, call your child’s friend’s parents to discuss food allergies, nighttime routines and entertainment. Is their child allowed to see that latest installment of that hot new dystopic, or, are they only allowed to watch Disney? Can they eat peanuts, or do all nut provisions need to be removed from the house?

Lifehack writes that as the host parent, you need to make the sleepover’s activities clear to the other parents. With everyone in the know, the sleepover will have a better chance of going well as both the parents and children will know what to expect.

Set Up a List of Ground Rules

Kids (as you know) can get really excited, especially when they’re spending an evening away from mom and dad. To maintain some normalcy and authority, let the kids know that there are certain rules that are to be followed to make sure that everyone has a good time.

Rules should include:

  • No running in the house
  • No jumping on the furniture
  • No running with scissors at craft time (why do kids like to do this?!)
  • No eating after an adult has gone to bed
  • No screens after lights out

It’s necessary to set up a list of rules so that you can avoid a sleepover accident. Imagine that you didn’t tell your short-statured guests that there’s no running in the house. Ten minutes after visiting your home, one of your child’s friends runs full-speed into the sliding glass door. The door shatters and cuts them up, resulting in a trip to the ER. Not only is the child hurt, their parents can sue you for damages.

Rules will help to alleviate potentially nasty situations. For double protection, make sure your homeowners’ insurance can handle a home accident. It’s easy; compare homeowners’ insurance rates online and you’ll find a policy that’s sleepover proof.

Locked and Bolted

After you’ve gone to bed, the children will get a second wind and want to go tearing through the house, be it by playing hide-and-seek in the dark or crank calling their parents and other school friends.

Make sure the kids know that once it’s lights out, it’s time for bed. Make sure all doors and windows are locked (you don’t want the wandering outside) and that all electronics are protected with a passcode. Without the option to indulge in a little late-night fun, the kids will have nothing else to do but go to bed.

That’s it, you’re ready to host! Have fun planning the sleepover!

Overcoming the Obstacles of a Criminal Record

They say crime doesn’t pay, and they’re right. Crime doesn’t pay, it costs. Crime costs the victims, it costs society, and it costs the perpetrator once they are caught, tried, and convicted.

Nearly 70 million Americans currently live with a criminal record, most of whom are convicted of nonviolent offenses involving drugs and firearms possession. Whether sentenced to six months of community service or six years of a hard time, many soon discover after release from their punishment that the price for their poor choices has not yet been paid in full.

It turns out society has imposed many ways in which a criminal record continues to cost an individual long after they’ve done their time. Those in this situation – particularly those who have long ago learned their lessons and genuinely wish to be good citizens – are faced with some genuinely tough obstacles going forward.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome them for the patient and the informed:

Restoring Rights

Though one could always make some kind of argument to the contrary, it’s not likely the ability to own a gun and the ability to vote are critical for earning a living. However, if someone with a criminal record decides to try and reinstate these rights, it can become an expensive proposition if they opt to go straight to a lawyer versus doing most of the legwork and research themselves.

For instance, someone with a criminal record seeking to own firearms can get the process started online. Resources for how to restore gun rights will include sections on various state laws, as each state has their own pathway to reinstatement. Convicted persons living in Texas will discover they regain the right to keep a gun in their home five years after release from confinement or probation. No need to pay a lawyer $300 to tell you something found online.

The ability or inability for someone with a criminal record to vote in a local, statewide, or national election also varies from state to state. Before picking up the phone and calling a local attorney charging by the minute, give the ACLU executive summary on voting with a criminal record a look. It lays out the complicated but otherwise useful truth regarding voting rights for convicted criminals across the United States.

Finding Employment

Restoring rights and upholding them is nice and all, but most folks with a criminal record won’t start thinking about that until they land themselves a steady job and the financial security it brings. Unfortunately, the requirement to inform a potential employer of one’s criminal record means many otherwise qualified applicants never get that final phone call. Proponents of discriminating against convicted criminals in the workplace might say “Expand your horizons, relocate to find new opportunity!” and consider it a generous piece of advice to provide, but what about those bound by the geographical restrictions of parole and probation?

There are two ways for those with criminal records to increase the chances of employment. The first is education. While there are plenty of universities with exceptionally selective standards where a criminal record is not easy to overcome, many others are welcoming of anyone with the aptitude and desire to learn. A college degree doesn’t erase a criminal conviction, but it does make an individual more qualified for employment as well as demonstrate to potential employers a person’s dedication to a reformed way of life.

The other way for convicted criminals to better their odds of getting a good job is to have their record expunged. This essentially means having the criminal record sealed, after which it is legal to not disclose it to a potential employer. Now, having a criminal record expunged is not some magical process wherein one pays a lawyer a certain amount of money and *poof* their criminal past is suddenly gone. Many states will deny a request for expungement based on the severity of the crime, and other factors may prevent the process from occurring successfully. However, similar to restoring gun rights, an expungement is possible without a lawyer.

We expect those guilty of committing a crime to do the time. However, this time often extends long past what the judge sentenced due to a number of restrictions and policies aimed towards those with a criminal record. While it may never be possible to completely rid oneself of the cost of mistakes, it is possible to overcome the obstacles these mistakes create in order to spend the future making up for them.

How are your Retirement Plans Going? Tips for a Brighter Future

All the experts tell us that the most important thing about a pension is to start saving early. But the reality is that many people, for plenty of good reasons, simply cannot save for retirement in their early working years. So what can they do to improve their prospects as retirement draws closer?

Start Where You Are

OK, so you didn’t start saving for a pension in your 20s. It is no good just bemoaning that omission. Now is the time to do what you can, not to worry about what you cannot change.

Start by having a good hard look at your finances today. Analyze your income and expenditure and work out where the money is going. Look for every way to divert money from unnecessary spending into retirement saving. There may still be more urgent priorities, like paying off credit card debts, but even a small amount put into a pension fund will get you going in the right direction.

Maximize Your Savings

Pension saving is a special category of finance, due to extra help that you can get from both government and employer.

If you pay into a 401(k) scheme through your company payroll, that money goes into your pension pot free of tax. Moreover, your employer may well make a matching contribution. There will be a limit on the amount of matching contribution the employer will make, and there is a limit on the total amount that can be put into a scheme in any one year, although over-50s can contribute an extra “top-up” amount.

It is well worth your while finding out exactly how much your employer will contribute, and take as much advantage as you can.

Instead of, or as well as, a 401(k) scheme, you might consider putting your money into an Individual Retirement Arrangement. These are not managed by an employer, so there is no matching contribution, but they are transferable between jobs and often have lower charges.

Using Your Home

If you own your own house, this is a good source of potential to help with your retirement. One option would be to downsize and to release some of the equity that you have. This can help you with your expenses (although it would be a finite resource) or be invested into a means to increase your income. Try to keep track of the equity that you have as you approach retirement.

Property can also generate income, for instance by taking in rent-paying boarders or running a small bed-and-breakfast business.

Saving on Your Car

As well as earning in retirement, you can make a hobby out of saving money. The costs of running a car are often underestimated by those who are used to a company car. A good way to build a rewarding hobby that will also save money is by learning how to maintain and repair your own car. Good manuals are available for all makes of cars; for instance, fans of Swedish technology who get hold of a Volvo service repair manual can do a surprising amount of their own work.

Continue Earning

Retirement is not necessarily a time to stop earning money altogether, but an opportunity for a new way to earn. If your retirement fund is not likely to keep you in the style you wish, now may be a good time to start preparing for a different work pattern—one in which you can be in control of your time.

Look at your hobbies, and consider if any of them can be turned into productive work. Artists, musicians, and writers may well be able to find work through the internet; people with experience in home maintenance will always be in demand; builders of toys may find a ready market locally.

Now is a good time to build your skills to a marketable level, and to plan the contacts you will need when the time comes.

Alternatively, if you have professional qualifications, you may find that you are in demand to work occasionally or part-time into retirement. Know whom you should inform of your availability—while you are still in the loop.

A New Start

Retirement is not the end of a working life, but a new phase. For a lucky few, that will mean a life completely relieved of the necessity to earn a living, but for many others, it is an opportunity to change gear, and to be productive in a new way. Maximizing your pension pot is a good start, but it is not the end of retirement planning.

How To Teach Your Children To Manage Their Money

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about how to manage their money. Keeping track of your spending and managing your finances is something that everyone struggles with from time to time. We all know that a direct payday loan lender can be necessary to help you get by until the next pay day, but teaching your children how to budget is a skill for life and will hopefully keep them out of debt in the future.

Teach Them The Value Of Money

Most children don’t grasp that money needs to be spent carefully and isn’t just used for buying the things they want. The easiest way to show children the value of money is to talk about it when you are food shopping. Ask them to help you to choose the items you put in your trolley and explain whether they’ve chosen the best value item. Point out deals and cheaper alternatives, this will teach them to shop by value and shows them how expensive some items can be!

A Savings Jar

Children who instantly get everything they ask for don’t learn the true value of money. Teaching them that they must wait and save up before they can buy something they want is an important money management lesson. Although a savings account can be useful for older children, a savings jar is a good way to visibly demonstrate to children that the pocket money they save is building up over time. This makes the purchase more satisfying and teaches children the importance of savings and being patient.

Give Them An Allowance

Some parents may disagree with giving their children money. But giving children a small monthly, or weekly, allowance is a good way to teach them some basic budgeting skills. If they know that their allowance is the only money they will have to spend that month, they will soon learn that they can’t have the latest new toy or game every week.  If your children still impulsively spend their money as soon as they get it, try challenging them to wait a few weeks.

If an allowance isn’t something you are comfortable with then offer them the chance to earn their pocket money by completing basic house hold chores. This shows them that hard work can be worthwhile, setting them up for the future.

Keeping Track

Try to encourage your children to keep track of their spending in a notebook. Try to put a fun spin on it by making it a game or giving them an old purse to keep their recipients in. This will help you to explain that some of the things your children are buying- typically things like sweets or the latest fad- are using up a big chunk of their allowance. Alternatively, show them how you manage the family budget. Explain that you have to work so you can afford to buy all the things on the list, so they understand that money doesn’t just get given to you by the bank!