The Investment School of Rock

October 18, 2018

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After more than three months, the market is basically flat for 2016. Oil has taken traders on a painful roller-coaster ride. And the only investment that seems to be shining still is gold with its gain of more than 15% this year.

Ask any smart investment adviser and they will all use one important word: diversification.

You don’t put all your eggs in one basket if you want to have some eggs for later.

The problem is that many investment gurus fail to tell you about some of the key options you have for preserving and steadily growing your wealth, protected from the market turmoil. (And there is still some significant turmoil on the horizon for stocks.) It’s more than just stocks and bonds. I’m even looking beyond having some exposure to precious metals.

There is one key asset that is uncorrelated to the stock market and has shown steady growth even during the Great Recession that too few investors have in their portfolios…

Collectibles such as rare coins, stamps, wine, art and comics have shown steady growth in value regardless of what’s happening in the stock market. But they are too often overlooked among investors as too complicated when it comes to using them to protect and growth their wealth. That’s why we’ve launched a service to provide valuable insight into the different aspects of the collectibles market.

Collectible Guitars

Today, I am chatting with Ted Bauman, a passionate collector with a long-standing interest in off-the-grid investments. Like many collectors, though, he has an area of chief interest – guitars.

Jocelynn: Why did you start collecting guitars?

Ted: Most collectors are either investors or players. I’m a player. In other words, I’m always on the lookout for guitars that I think will allow me to express myself in a particular way. I’ve basically narrowed my needs down to four types: Fender Telecasters, Fender Stratocasters, Gibson semi-hollow bodies and solid-body humbucker guitars. Each has its own use. The “twangy” Telecasters are primarily for classic music like blues, early rock ‘n’ roll and country. The Strats are ideal for funkier things that require a lot of tonal variation, whilst the hollow-bodies and humbucker guitars are for general use.

Only once I’m satisfied with the playability and tone of a guitar do I then start to worry about vintage, provenance, etc.

But investment collectors may look at it the other way around. They may focus on guitars that aren’t in very good condition but come from a specific year, have a rare characteristic such as an odd color or were once owned by someone famous. From there, they would make specific buying decisions within those parameters based on playability.

Jocelynn: How did you pull your collection together? Was there something you were looking for in each item?

Ted: Well, I collected most of my current guitars in South Africa when I lived there, so it was extremely hit-or-miss since the market is so small. There might be only a few dozen of a particular type of guitar in the entire country, so if I saw one for sale, I had to act quickly. That’s how I acquired the cream of my collection, my 1980 Gibson ES-335 – just saw it hanging there one day in a local music store and bought it on the spot (on installments, which they offered to professional players in those days). It is one of the first 200 of this model ever produced, as shown by the serial number and date stamp inside the body. That makes it a collector’s item.

On the other hand, in the early 2000s I started to spend more time visiting the U.S., and I bought my blonde Telecaster on such a trip. This particular guitar isn’t rare now, but it is of remarkably high quality, and I expect it to appreciate in value as the years go by. It’s one of my main playing guitars.

When it comes to Stratocasters, which I used to play exclusively but now use only occasionally, I’ve been through a whole series of them. I would play one until I found a better one, then buy the new one and sell the old one. I’m still doing that – I’m in the market for a Jeff Beck Signature Strat right now. I’m also in the market for a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 – he was just getting started as a luthier in Annapolis when I was a kid in Maryland, where I used to visit his shop, and now he’s one of the world’s top makers! His band even played at my senior prom. The Custom 24 is considered one of the finest all-around performing guitars in the world, and Paul occasionally releases ones that are made of especially rare woods. I’m waiting for one of those.

Jocelynn: When it comes to nearly any collectible, there’s always a big concern around proper storage. How do you store them all?

Ted: I keep them in my office! I have wall hooks set up for each of them, and they hang there tempting me to stop working and play. I think that’s better for their necks – to hang from the headstock with gravity keeping the neck straight.

I have a dehumidifier in the office to keep the humidity stable, so they don’t warp. Sometimes I leave them in their cases for extended periods, especially if I’m gigging a lot.

Jocelynn: It’s important for a collector to have an exit strategy. What do you do when you want to sell your guitars?

Ted: I’m not a pure investor, so I tend to sell them to fellow musicians. I have occasionally sold them on eBay – actually you can do quite well there since you reach a global market and buyers in foreign lands are often desperate to acquire a specific guitar.

I once sold a Stratocaster to a guy in Latvia for a pretty good price. It was an early 1990s Strat Plus, a model made for only a few years, but considered a very high-quality performing guitar. I doubled my investment on that one. The sale took about a week to complete.

Jocelynn: Do you have any advice if I’m looking to start my own collection?

Ted: Decide what you’re in it for. If you want to make money as an investor, then focus on collectibles, especially older vintage instruments, such as late-1950s Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Teles and Strats. But be aware that it is a buy-and-hold market, so you have to be able to hang on to a guitar for a while until it appreciates.

On the other hand, if you’re a player-collector, like me, play as many versions of a particular guitar as you can before you buy one so you can be sure to get the one you really want. Either way, I strongly recommend working with a good dealer.

Know Your Options

Protecting your assets can feel like an uphill battle if you don’t know what all your options are. Collectibles are a great avenue for storing and growing your wealth, and you don’t have to be as involved in the collection as Ted to reap the benefits.

3 Investment Options To Top Up Your State Pension

October 18, 2018

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We all dream of having a beautiful life when we get old. Unfortunately, the state pensions aren’t enough. While this is the case it doesn’t mean that you can’t have more money at your disposal when you retire. To help you out, here are some of the ways in which you can top up your state pension:

Invest in stocks

A stock is a share of ownership of a company. When you own a share of a company you have a right of claiming company assets and earnings. The more the stocks you have, the more the ownership of a company you have. Stocks are attractive as ways of investing for retirement as they are long term. You also get to receive dividends at the end of a financial year.

While they are attractive, they also come with their fair share of risks especially if the company collapses or the shares lose value. To protect your money you need to research a lot before you invest in a certain company. There are plenty of technicalities involved with the buying and selling of stocks; therefore, to have an easy time find a reputable stock broker to handle your money. The blocker will guide you on the best company to invest in and any other intricacies involved.

It’s often said that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket; therefore, it’s wise that you spread your investment in different companies.

Try out bonds

A bond is a debt security. Bonds are attractive in that they carry a low risk compared to shares. When you buy a bond, you will be lending money to a federal agency, municipality, government or corporate entity. Upon investing in a bond you receive an interest during the life of the bond. Once the bond matures, you receive back your money.

Just like when buying shares, you need to take your time to research about them. Closely read a prospectus and gather as much information as you should.

Put your money in Real estate

The real estate sector is stable thus a great place to invest for the future. There are many ways of investing in the real estate. You can buy property for development or buy land and leave it idle for its price to rise. The trick to buying property is investing in areas that are growing fast thus your property’s value also rises fast.

Conclusion

These are some of the ways of topping up your pension. If you have the money, you should consider investing in all of the different ways for a comfortable future life.

What Is an Investment?

October 18, 2018

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One of the reasons many people fail, even very woefully, in the game of investing is that they play it without understanding the rules that regulate it. It is an obvious truth that you cannot win a game if you violate its rules. However, you must know the rules before you will be able to avoid violating them. Another reason people fail in investing is that they play the game without understanding what it is all about. This is why it is important to unmask the meaning of the term, ‘investment’. What is an investment? An investment is an income-generating valuable. It is very important that you take note of every word in the definition because they are important in understanding the real meaning of investment.

From the definition above, there are two key features of an investment. Every possession, belonging or property (of yours) must satisfy both conditions before it can qualify to become (or be called) an investment. Otherwise, it will be something other than an investment. The first feature of an investment is that it is a valuable – something that is very useful or important. Hence, any possession, belonging or property (of yours) that has no value is not, and cannot be, an investment. By the standard of this definition, a worthless, useless or insignificant possession, belonging or property is not an investment. Every investment has value that can be quantified monetarily. In other words, every investment has a monetary worth.

The second feature of an investment is that, in addition to being a valuable, it must be income-generating. This means that it must be able to make money for the owner, or at least, help the owner in the money-making process. Every investment has wealth-creating capacity, obligation, responsibility and function. This is an inalienable feature of an investment. Any possession, belonging or property that cannot generate income for the owner, or at least help the owner in generating income, is not, and cannot be, an investment, irrespective of how valuable or precious it may be. In addition, any belonging that cannot play any of these financial roles is not an investment, irrespective of how expensive or costly it may be.

There is another feature of an investment that is very closely related to the second feature described above which you should be very mindful of. This will also help you realise if a valuable is an investment or not. An investment that does not generate money in the strict sense, or help in generating income, saves money. Such an investment saves the owner from some expenses he would have been making in its absence, though it may lack the capacity to attract some money to the pocket of the investor. By so doing, the investment generates money for the owner, though not in the strict sense. In other words, the investment still performs a wealth-creating function for the owner/investor.

As a rule, every valuable, in addition to being something that is very useful and important, must have the capacity to generate income for the owner, or save money for him, before it can qualify to be called an investment. It is very important to emphasize the second feature of an investment (i.e. an investment as being income-generating). The reason for this claim is that most people consider only the first feature in their judgments on what constitutes an investment. They understand an investment simply as a valuable, even if the valuable is income-devouring. Such a misconception usually has serious long-term financial consequences. Such people often make costly financial mistakes that cost them fortunes in life.

Perhaps, one of the causes of this misconception is that it is acceptable in the academic world. In financial studies in conventional educational institutions and academic publications, investments – otherwise called assets – refer to valuables or properties. This is why business organisations regard all their valuables and properties as their assets, even if they do not generate any income for them. This notion of investment is unacceptable among financially literate people because it is not only incorrect, but also misleading and deceptive. This is why some organisations ignorantly consider their liabilities as their assets. This is also why some people also consider their liabilities as their assets/investments.

It is a pity that many people, especially financially ignorant people, consider valuables that consume their incomes, but do not generate any income for them, as investments. Such people record their income-consuming valuables on the list of their investments. People who do so are financial illiterates. This is why they have no future in their finances. What financially literate people describe as income-consuming valuables are considered as investments by financial illiterates. This shows a difference in perception, reasoning and mindset between financially literate people and financially illiterate and ignorant people. This is why financially literate people have future in their finances while financial illiterates do not.

From the definition above, the first thing you should consider in investing is, “How valuable is what you want to acquire with your money as an investment?” The higher the value, all things being equal, the better the investment (though the higher the cost of the acquisition will likely be). The second factor is, “How much can it generate for you?” If it is a valuable but non income-generating, then it is not (and cannot be) an investment, needless to say that it cannot be income-generating if it is not a valuable. Hence, if you cannot answer both questions in the affirmative, then what you are doing cannot be investing and what you are acquiring cannot be an investment. At best, you may be acquiring a liability.

How to Take Good Beach Photos

October 18, 2018

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When you play at the beach, you must want to take some good pictures to keep the happy moments. When the sexy bikini is showing your charming figure, the wide beach hat is highlighting your elegant temperament and the sunglasses is featuring your mysterious smile, you are happy like a baby. But most importantly, you are having fun with your loved family or friends. So undoubtedly, you want to keep such beautiful memories in mind for a longer time. There is another easy way: taking wonderful pictures. However, not everyone is good at making all kinds of nice poses in front of the camera. Don’t worry, this article will suggest some very simple but really nice poses to you.

Recommendation 1: You can ask your traveling companion who is holding the camera to capture your turning around moment with a big smile and looking straight at the camera. Capturing the exactly turning moment is the key to make this pose successful, which requires privity between you and the photographer.

Recommendation 2: Back facing the camera, you can fondle your hair with your left hand and take your large brim hat with the right hand. Your should face towards the direction of the wind at beach, so your hair and brim hat will sway like dancing along with the wind. What a beautiful moment that would be!

Recommendation 3: When the sunshine become soft at dusk, you can capture the scene when the sun is sitting in the horizon of the sea. Stand on your toes and ask your partner to squat, with the sunset ornament your body, you would become part of the beautiful sight.

Recommendation 4: You can make a good use of the sands. Sands can be the easiest tool for taking beach photos. Actually it can be very useful for many poses. Today I recommend you this simple one: just fiddle up the sands and shoot the exact moment when they are spreading down, PS with a nostalgic grounding color, your eyes won’t want to leave such a picture in the photo albums.

Recommendation 5: You can also lie down at the beach to let your companion take the photo from your head side. With both of your hands at the wide brim beach hat and kneels stay higher than your head, you can make a lovely photo pose. The hat is better being white, the same color with the clouds, or blue, the same color with the sky and the sea.

All in all, a nice wide brim hat is a good helper to take beautiful beach photos. Welcome to see such hats of new designs in Newchic. They are my inspirations of this articles.

Tips for Shooting Interiors

October 18, 2018

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Tip 1: You need a good digital camera with a tripod. When photographing an interior, you want to make sure that everything is clear and sharp. I use F11 (aperture) and 1/2 second (ISO 200) in most cases. Sometimes if you want to get a blurred background on a close-up shot, then you will want to shoot with a wider aperture, or the smallest f-stop your camera will allow (e.g. F1.8).

Tip 2: Use a wide angle lens. Shooting wide can make the room look great, especially when in Hong Kong, the size of the property is most likely less than 100 sq. meters. In a confined space, sitting tight into one corner while you try to get the other three corners in just looks wrong. You shouldn’t shoot all three walls into one picture. Showing the highlights of the interior design features is important. About the lens, anything in the 16-24mm range on full frame (or the APS-C equivalent which equates to 10-16mm approx. on some less expensive camera) is great. I often use 17mm full frame for my wide interior work.

Tip 3: Sufficient indoor and natural lighting are both important. Light up the room. If there is good natural light coming through the windows, use that as well. Adjust the overall feeling of the lighting to a balanced and optimized level.

Tip 4: Find the best angle. Take time to explore different angles to shoot from. Decorate the room with small artistic items, plants or anything you like to add a bit of creativity. We can’t all afford a tilt-shift lens to keep perspective in check, so it’s a really good idea to shoot with the camera at or slightly above mid-room height. This means you can keep the camera aimed out straight to keep the walls vertical. While the perspective distortion you get can be corrected in post-production, it’s much easier to get it right in camera. This is another reason to use a tripod as well.

Tip 5: Use post-processing software, e.g. Photoshop or Lightroom. You should bring the Highlights down and open up the Shadows. Next bring the Blacks down to ensure that the contrast lost from opening up the Shadows doesn’t impact the image too much.

Tip 6: Go vertical for staircases and other special feature. This is also important if you want to share the pictures on the web, as most images are horizontal in the interior photography world. Some vertical images could light up your portfolio. Verticals usually mean letting the eye fill in gaps, so make use of the composition to show hints of the room.

Essential Photography Tips for Beginners

October 18, 2018

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Learning the art of photography is fun and fascinating at the same time, photography is now much easier than what it was back in the days, when photographers need to expertise a lot of technical knowledge about photography before they can actually start, but now with the advance photography equipment and accessories, you can just start clicking images anytime, though at a later phase you will learn techniques that will fine tune your photographic skills further.

In this article we will discuss the essential photography tips for beginners:

The first question that every photographer has is “How do I take a great picture?”

1. Make mistakes: “Every expert was once a beginner” remember this one line before starting. When you are new there is nothing to lose, make as many mistakes as you can, but don’t get frustrated with your mistakes, learn from them and develop your skills further.

2. Get as close as you can, to your subject, try to fill the gap around your subject by approaching as close as you can to him, this will fill the frame of your picture with the subject only, you will see the difference between the pictures clicked from a close distance than when you clicked the same subject from a far distance. You will see the fine detailing of your subject.

3. Click as much as you can: We all know that “practice makes a man perfect” this can be said rightly for all the new photographers reading this article, if you are a new photographer, click as many pictures as you can, of the same or of different subjects to find your masterpiece with different angles. This will help you in mastering technical skills of photography.

4. Use the light: If you learned how to take advantage of a light source and utilise the source of light whether it’s a natural source like the sun or an artificial source of light like a lamp or something, you can make an ordinary picture look extraordinary.

5. Using flash: If you are a new photographer, you might think that you only need a flash when it’s too dark or when you are clicking pictures indoor, but this is not true. You might have come across a very common problem of uneven shadow patterns, those have spoiled your shots, when you were taking pictures in the bright sunlight, to resolve this issue you need to on the flash of your camera and put extra light on your subject, this will help you in getting rid of those shadows.

6. Invest in books: Read about the experts in the field of photography, as you can learn more about the techniques used by them and get inspired by their great work. Merely having an expensive camera and accessory won’t guarantee you great pictures; if you have the right technique you can even click extraordinary pictures with the help of a simple Smartphone