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October 19, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 19, 2012
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 19, 2012 I~GE $B (ARA)--In the dark about how to invest in gold? Despite gold's increasing value and popularity, many folks don't know where to get started. If that includes you, you're not alone. A recent survey shows that nearly half of U.S. investors don't believe they're knowledgeable enough about the precious metal to make a decision about adding gold to their portfolios. The World Gold Council highlights these five options to getyou started: -1. Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) Since 2004, U.S. inves- tors have been able to buy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) backed by physical gold through their brokerage accounts on a regulated stock exchange, just like a share of a company's stock. Ownership of gold ETF shares provides investors with a vehicle that reflects the performance of the price of gold bullion, less expenses o:: the ETF. With these gold .ETFs, individuals do not need to physically store gold. so no need for a safe or safety deposit box. Different types of gold ETFs are avail- able on the market but not all are 10~ percent backed by physical gold, so read the prospectus carefully and ask your financial adviser to help you select th'e one that best suits your needs. 2. Gold mining stocks With thi:~ option, you are investing in a gold-mining company, rather than gold bullion. Depending on the company, you may be able to generate income from dividends. While the value of gold stocks has historically been closely tied to the price of gold itself, other factors can determine the value of the individual companies More than 300 gold-mining com- panies are listed and publicly traded in the U.S. 3. GoldAccumulation Plans (GAPs) Similar to a conventiona! accumulation plan. GAPs allow investors to set aside a fixed amount of money every month in order to purchase gold on various days. This cost averaging cushions investors from short-term variations in the price of gold. When the account closes, investors could have one or more of the following alternatives: receiving bullion bars or jewelry or simply selling the gold for cash. 4. Gold bars Gold bars range in size from just a few grams to the 400 ounce London Good Delivery ~ars most people have only seen in the movies. There are nany different refineries that" ~roduce gold bars and most ,ompanies that sell g01d will ,ffer a variety of sizes to suit ~rious budgets. 5. Gold coins Issued by governments round the world, gold bullion oins are a popular choice investors. Their value is ~'imarily based on their fine gold c6ntent. Bullion coins differ from numismatic or collectable coins, which are valued on rarity, design and finish rather than their gold content. Many mintswill offer "proof" versions of the bullion coins at a premium to the gold content for collectors and those looking for an heirloom gift for milestone celebrations such as a birthday or wedding. American Eagle coins are a common form of bullion coin in the U.S. and other popular bullion coins that are widely available include the Gold American Buffalo, Canadian Maple Leaf, South African Kruggerrand and Chinese Panda and Austrian Philharmonic. Where to buy: Both bullion coins and gold bars may be purchased online or by phone from companies that special- ize in precious metals. "There are a number of ways to invest in gold and each can play its own role in your port- folio. Owning an ETF, bars or coins and mining shares may be viewed as complementary investments," says Juan Car- tos Artigas, Global Head of Investment Research at the World Gold Council The World Gold"Council (www.gold.org) provides use- ful information on why, how and where to invest in gold. The information provided is for educational purposes only. Consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions. D sape (ARA) The leaves are changing colors, children are back in school, and football rules theweekends once again. But don't forget another an- nual fall tradition - benefits open enrollment. This is the time of year when millions of employees across the country have a chance to review their benefits provided by their employer and decide what pro- grams to enroll in or change for the following year. As open enrollment season draws near, it is important to understand your health insurance options, as it's one of the biggest benefits pro- vided by your employer. Most companies typically set aside a two-week period between September and December for open enrollment. So be prepared, because if you miss this window of opportunity you likely cannot enroll in or change your health coverage until next fall. When reviewing their health coverage options, 50 percent of people spend only an hour or less reviewing their choices, says Rebecca Madsen, senior vice president of Unit- edHealthcare. But in many cases, consumers who spend quality time reviewing their health plan options can find ways to save money - whether it's through selecting a plan that better fits their expected health costs in the coming year. making sure their doc- tors are in their insurer's care provider network or evfiluating prescription drug coverage. Madsen suggests the fol- lowing tips and tools to help prepare for open enrollment: Three tips to help consum- ers select the best health plan: 1. Set aside enough time to review your health insur- ance options. It's important to review each of the health insurance plans that your employer offers. Remember that there's more to each plan than co-pays and premiums. For example, some plans offer vision exam coverage and different prescription drug coverage, while others may offer wellness programs that can lead to discounts on your premiums. Also keep in mind that health reform has changed insurance coverage in recentyears.As part of the new law. children under age 26 can be enrolled as dependents on their parent's plan, and many preventive care services, such as children's immunizatioris or mammograms, are typically covered by health plans at no cost to you. 2. Make sure your doctor is in-netwbrk -it can save you money on out-of-pocket costs. Ever/if you don't plan to make any changes to your health insurance this year, itls always good to ensure that any doctor you see regularly - or plan to visit in the coming year - is in your plan's care provider network. If you plan to visit a doctor or hospital outside of the network, be sure to understand how your costs" will differ from an in-network care provider. 3. Look for incentive-based wellness programs. Many corn- hies are promotingweilness )grams that reward employ- for makinghealthy choices d being more engaged in zir own health. These plans uld save up to $1,000 or )re on annual premiums. zentive-based programs, ch as UnitedHealthcare's rsonal Rewards, provide uncial rewards for things ~'h as meeting specific cho- terol or body mass index tgets, or even signing up for elephonic or online health aching program. Three health tools designed help consumers learn more aut their health benefits and ~e money: 1. Use a health care cost dculator or estimator. Health 0st calculators enable you to 6timate the prices of medi- al treatments and services ktween different physicians ad hospitals. For example, InitedHealthcare's myHealth- are Cost Estimator provides a'etail-like comparison shop- lug; experience for more than 30 procedures andservicesby revealing side-by-side quality ly challenging to understand and estimated cost informs- what a formulary is or how tion for doctors and hospi, a Flexible Spending Account tais. Using a planning tool is differs from a Health Savings particularly important if you Account. UnitedHealthcare's are expecting any significant "health events in the next year, such as having a baby or un- dergoing surgery. 2. Take advantage of mo- bile apps and online tools to engage in your own health. Many health insurers have created apps and Web-based tools to help people locate a doctor, review claims, ask questions about their benefits and find more information about their health plans. For example, UnitedHealthcare's Health4Me mobile app helps plan participants easily find physicians, compare treat- ment costs, checkthe status of a claim or speak directly with a nurse for medical information at no additional cost. 3. Use xeliable online re- sources for a "Health Care 101" lesson. Many people don't un- derstand terms like co-pay and deductible, soit canbe especial- IJHC.tv is an online educa- tional resource where anyone can watch short videos on a variety of health insurance and wellness topics. Some videos include comedic skits as well as nationalhealthperamalit Similarly, HealthCareLane. comisavirtual communitythat explains a variety d different health benefits and wellness- related topics while interacting with the townspeolge, such as shopkeepers along blain Street or entertainers at the comnm- nit), Wellness Fair. Consumers usually have more than one option it comes to dmosing a health insurance plan, so it is im- portant to fully your options and choose the plan that is best for you and" your family. This year, don missany tosave some talo' steps toward better health. (ARA)--Despite a tur- bulent job market and economy, if you are a recent college graduate, there is much to be optimistic about as you leave campus and head out into the real world. No one ever says life on your own ~vill be easy, but post- graduate financial bliss can be a reality. These six tips from Thrivent Financial of- fer a starting point for recent graduates who are ready to put their education to work for a secure financial future. Get real about your pay- check Compared to the mini- mum wage jobs you survived on through college, the annual earnings at your first post-graduate job may give you dollar-sign eyes. Don't be fooled though; after taxes, benefits, living expenses and student loan payments, your remaining monthly spending money could amount to less than half of your'gross income. Being realistic about your paycheck doesn't mean you can't have any fun, though. That new car may have to wait a while, but with smart budgeting you can still enjoy the finer things in life with a clear conscience. Your credit score matters Thought you were done worrying about test scores? Think again. Whether you want to get an apartment, mortgage, car or a new job, your credit score says a lot about you and can make or break these important investments. Free credit reports are available at www.annualcreditreporY. corn, and for a small fee you can also obtain your credit score. Examine your report regularly for accuracy, and pay off any existing credit card debt as soon as pos- sible. Credit card interest ~ is wasted money, and out- standing debt can hurt your credit score. Take care of yourself first After expenses and taxes, your paycheck may look too slim for comfort, but protecting your assets, health and income is worth the additional cost. If you have an apartment, renter's insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your possessions. Health insurance is also a must, whether you get it through your employer or stay on your parents' plan. Your pay- check is worth protecting, too. D sability income in- surance is not just for those with physically demanding jobs, as most beneficiaries are on disability from ill- ness, not injury. Preparation for the unexpected comes at a small price: considering the costs associated with the alternative. Save for the fun stuff Again, being responsible with your finances doesn't mean you can't have any fun. You have worked hard to start your career, and de- serve to reward yourself. The best way to spend smartly is simply to spend less than you have. Diligent saving allows for the occasional splurge without having to feel guilty or anxious about your decision to spend. Con- sider directly depositing a certain amount from your paycheck into a savings ac- count for a "fun fund." ave for the grown-up -if, too Your parents' nagging my start to quiet now that pu've graduated, but their ~tirement planning advice i worth listening to. Start iwesting now, you won't re- get it. As you barely scratch he surface of your career, etirementseems a long way (f, but successful investors aderstand that the longer pur assets remain invested, he greater their potential for gowth. The cash you forfeit mw will pale in comparison b the amount you'll end up gtting back at the end of put (~areer if you start as arly as possible. )on't pass up free money Many employers offer Iretax savings throughbracket. If your employer heir retirement accounts, matchesapercentageofyour lecause your retirement retirement contributions, ontributions come out it is wise to contribute the lffore taxes, your taxablg maximum amount of their icome is decreased, savi :- match so as not to pass up pu money. For example, ~:: on "free money." !00 contribution your Money is just one of many arnings to a pretax retire- aspects of adulthood that nent account would reduce college graduates must pur paycheck by o~ly $75 if meet head-on to start liw ou're in the 25 percent tax ing independently. Personal finance may seem daunting, but don't be discouraged. The above-mentioned tips boil down to common sense: spend less than you stay protected through proper insurance, mai~ good credit and save forthe short and lo ng-term, and you will be off to a great financial the next chapter of your life. ~